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Chapter XII—Of the Need for Some Protest Against the Psychics and Their Self-Indulgence.

For, by this time, in this respect as well as others, “you are reigning in wealth and satiety”10911091    1 Cor. iv. 8.—not making inroads upon such sins as fasts diminish, nor feeling need of such revelations as xerophagies extort, nor apprehending such wars of your own as Stations dispel.  Grant that from the time of John the Paraclete had grown mute; we ourselves would have arisen as prophets to ourselves, for this cause chiefly:  I say not now to bring down by our prayers God’s anger, nor to obtain his protection or grace; but to secure by premunition the moral position of the “latest times;”10921092    See the Vulg. in 1 Tim. iv. 1, 2; 2 Tim. iii. 1; and comp. therewith the Greek in both places. enjoining every species of ταπεινοφρόνησις, since the prison must be familiarized to us, and hunger and thirst practised, and capacity of enduring as well the absence of food as anxiety about it acquired:  in order that the Christian may enter into prison in like condition as if he had (just) come forth of it,—to suffer there not penalty, but discipline, and not the world’s tortures, but his own habitual observances; and to go forth out of custody to (the final) conflict with all the more confidence, having nothing of sinful false care of the flesh about him, so that the tortures may not even have material to work on, since he is cuirassed in a mere dry skin, and cased in horn to meet the claws, the succulence of his blood already sent on (heavenward) before him, the baggage as it were of his soul,—the soul herself withal now hastening (after it), having already, by frequent fasting, gained a most intimate knowledge of death!

Plainly, your habit is to furnish cookshops in the prisons to untrustworthy martyrs, for fear they should miss their accustomed usages, grow weary of life, (and) be stumbled at the novel discipline of abstinence; (a discipline) which not even the well-known Pristinus—your martyr, 111no Christian martyr—had ever come in contact with:  he whom—stuffed as he had long been, thanks to the facilities afforded by the “free custody” (now in vogue, and) under an obligation, I suppose, to all the baths (as if they were better than baptism!), and to all the retreats of voluptuousness (as if they were more secret than those of the Church!), and to all the allurements of this life (as if they were of more worth than those of life eternal!), not to be willing to die—on the very last day of trial, at high noon, you premedicated with drugged wine as an antidote, and so completely enervated, that on being tickled—for his intoxication made it feel like tickling—with a few claws, he was unable any more to make answer to the presiding officer interrogating him “whom he confessed to be Lord;” and, being now put on the rack for this silence, when he could utter nothing but hiccoughs and belchings, died in the very act of apostasy!  This is why they who preach sobriety are “false prophets;” this why they who practise it are “heretics!”  Why then hesitate to believe that the Paraclete, whom you deny in a Montanus, exists in an Apicius?

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