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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Two Epistles Concerning Virginity.: Chapter III

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.—True Virgins Prove Themselves Such by Self-Denial, as Does the True Believer by Good Works.

For virgins are a beautiful pattern to believers, and to those who shall believe.  The name alone, indeed, without works, does not introduce into the kingdom of heaven; but, if a man be truly a believer, such an one can be saved.  For, if a person be only called a believer in name, whilst he is not such in works, he cannot possibly be a believer.  “Let no one,” therefore, “lead you astray with the empty words of error.” 305   For, merely because a person is called a virgin, if he be destitute of works excellent and comely, and suitable to virginity, he cannot possibly be saved.  For our Lord called such virginity as that “foolish,” as He said in the Gospel; 306 and because it had neither oil nor light, it was left outside of the kingdom of heaven, and was shut out from the joy of the bridegroom, and was reckoned with His enemies.  For such persons as these “have the appearance only of the fear of God, but the power of it they deny.” 307   For they “think with themselves that they are something, whilst they are nothing, and are deceived.  But let every one constantly try 308 his works,” 309 and know himself; for empty worship does he offer, whosoever he be that makes profession of virginity and p. 56 sanctity, “and denies its power.”  For virginity of such a kind is impure, and disowned by all good works.  For “every tree whatsoever is known from its fruits.” 310   “See that thou understand 311 what I say:  God will give thee understanding.” 312   For whosoever engages before God to preserve sanctity must be girded with all the holy power of God.  And, if with true fear 313 he crucify his body, he for the sake of the fear of God excuses himself from that word in which the Scripture 314 has said:  “Be fruitful, and multiply,” 315 and shuns all the display, and care, and sensuality, 316 and fascination of this world, and its revelries and its drunkenness, and all its luxury and ease, and withdraws from the entire life of 317 this world, and from its snares, and nets, and hindrances; and, whilst thou walkest 318 upon the earth, be zealous that thy work and thy business be in heaven.



Eph. v. 6.


Matt. xxv. 2.


2 Tim. iii. 5.


Lit. “let every one be trying.”


Gal. 6:3, 4.


Matt. xii. 33.  [More probably Luke vi. 44.—R.]


Or “consider.”  There is no play on words in the passage quoted (2 Tim. ii. 7), nor perhaps was this intended in the Syriac.


2 Tim. ii. 7.


Lit. “true in fear of God.”  The reading is probably faulty.—Beelen.


The ellipsis is usually to be thus filled up in these epistles.  [In similar cases which follow, italics will not be used.—R.]


Gen. i. 28.


Or “the sensual pleasures.”


Or “from all intercourse with.”


Either something is here omitted by the transcriber, or Clement has varied the form of expression.—Beelen.

Next: Chapter IV