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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.—The Irksomeness and the Enemies of Virginity.

Thou desirest, then, to be a virgin?  Knowest thou what hardship and irksomeness there is in true virginity—that which stands constantly at all seasons before God, and does not withdraw from His service, and “is anxious how it may please its Lord with a holy body, and with its spirit?” 324   Knowest thou what great glory pertains to virginity, and is it for this that thou dost set thyself to practise it?  Dost thou really know and understand what it is thou art eager to do?  Art thou acquainted with the noble task of holy virginity?  Dost thou know how, like a man, to enter “lawfully” upon 325 this contest and “strive,” 326 that, in the might of the Holy Spirit, 327 thou choosest this for thyself, that thou mayest be crowned with a crown of light, and that they may lead thee about in triumph through “the Jerusalem above”? 328   If so be, then, that thou longest for all these things, conquer the body; conquer the appetites of the flesh; conquer the world in the Spirit of God; conquer these vain things of time, which pass away and grow old, and decay, and come to an end; conquer the dragon; 329 conquer the lion; 330 conquer the serpent; 331 conquer Satan;—through Jesus Christ, who doth strengthen thee by the hearing of His words and the divine Eucharist. 332   “Take up thy cross and follow” 333 Him who makes thee clean, Jesus Christ thy Lord.  Strive to run straight forward and boldly, not with fear, but with courage, relying on the promise of thy Lord, that thou shalt obtain the victor-crown 334 of thy “calling on high” 335 through Jesus Christ.  For whosoever walks perfect in faith, and not fearing, doth in very deed receive the crown of virginity, which is great in its toil and great in its reward.  Dost thou understand and know how honourable a thing is sanctity? 336   Dost thou understand how great and exalted and excellent is the glory of virginity? 337



1 Cor. vii. 34.


Lit. “descend to.”


2 Tim. ii. 5.


The words, “in the might of the Holy Spirit,” appear to obscure the sense.—Beelen.


Gal. iv. 26.


Rev. xii. 7.


1 Pet. v. 8.


2 Cor. xi. 3.


Lit. “the Eucharist of the Godhead.”  This is an evidence of later date than the sub-apostolic age.—R.]


Matt. xvi. 24.


Lit. “crown of victory.”


Phil. iii. 14.


i.e. continency.  [The use of the terms “sanctity,” “holy,” etc., in the limited sense of “continency,” “chaste,” etc., is strong evidence of the later origin.—R]


The last two sentences properly belong to chap. vi.

Next: Chapter VI