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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 18

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 18.—The Same Continued.

But now, I pray you, look a little more attentively, and observe how he contrives to find a name wherewith to cover again what he blushes to unfold. “For,” says he, “Adam begot him by the power of his members, not by diversity of merits.” Now I confess I do not understand what he meant by the latter clause, not by diversity of merits; but when he said, “by the power of his members,” I believe he wished to express what he is ashamed to say openly and clearly. He preferred to use the phrase, “by the power of his members,” rather than say, “by the lust of the flesh.” Plainly—even if the thought did not occur to him—he intimated a something which has an evident application to the subject. For what is more powerful than a man’s members, when they are not in due submission to a man’s will? Even if they be restrained by temperance or continence, their use and control are not in any man’s power. Adam, then, begat his sons by what our author calls “the power of his members,” over which, before he begat them, he blushed, after his sin. If, however, he had never sinned, he would not have begotten them by the power, but in the obedience, of his members. For he would himself have had the power to rule them as subjects to his will, if he, too, by the same will had only submitted himself as a subject to a more powerful One.

Next: Chapter 19