Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/Of Holy Virginity/Section 22
22. And now by plainest witnesses of divine Scriptures, such as according to the small measure of our memory we shall be able to remember, let it more clearly appear, that, not on account of the present life of this world, but on account of that future life which is promised in the kingdom of heaven, we are to choose perpetual continence. But who but must observe this in that which the same Apostle says a little after, “Whoso is without a wife has thought of the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord: but whoso is joined in marriage has thought of the things of the world, how to please his wife. And a woman unmarried and a virgin is divided; she that is unmarried is careful about the things of the Lord, to be holy both in body and spirit: but she that is married is careful about the things of the world, how to please her husband.” Certainly he saith not, hath thought of the things of a state without care in this world, to pass her time without weightier troubles; nor doth he say that a woman unmarried and a virgin is divided, that is, distinguished, and separated from her who is married, for this end, that the unmarried woman be without care in this life, in order to avoid temporal troubles, which the married woman is not free from: but, “She hath thought,” saith he, “of the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord; and is careful about the things of the Lord, to be holy both in body and spirit.” Unless to such a degree, perchance, each be foolishly contentious, as to essay to assert, that it is not on account of the kingdom of heaven, but on account of this present world, that we wish to “please the Lord,” or that it is on account of this present life, not on account of life eternal, that they are “holy both in body and spirit.” To believe this, what else is it, than to be more miserable than all men? For so the Apostle saith, “If in this life only we are hoping in Christ, we are more miserable than all men.” What? is he who breaks his bread to the hungry, if he do it only on account of this life, a fool; and shall he be prudent, who chastens his own body even unto continence, whereby he hath no intercourse even in marriage, if it shall profit him nought in the kingdom of heaven?
- cf. de Bon. Conj. 10.
- 1 Cor. vii. 32, 33, 34
- 1 Cor. xv. 19