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Chapter XIV.—Virginity a Gift of God: the Purpose of Virginity Not Rashly to Be Adopted by Any One.

Consider besides how, in addition to the words already quoted, he commends the state of virginity as a gift of God. Wherefore he rejects those of the more incontinent, who, under the influence of vain-glory, would advance to this state, advising them to marry, lest in their time of manly strength, the flesh stirring up the desires and passions, they should be goaded on to defile the soul. For let us consider what he lays down:26072607    1 Cor. vii. 36. [On virginity, see Taylor, i. 426, ed. London, 1844.] “But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely towards his virgin,” he says,” if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let him marry;” properly here preferring marriage to “uncomeliness,” in the case of those who had chosen the state of virginity, but afterwards finding it intolerable and grievous, and in word boasting of their perseverance before men, out of shame, but indeed no longer having the power to persevere in the life of a eunuch. But for him who of his own free will and purpose decides to preserve his flesh in virgin purity, “having no necessity,”26082608    1 Cor. vii. 37. that is, passion calling forth his loins to intercourse, for there are, as it seems, differences in men’s bodies; such a one contending and struggling, and zealously abiding by his profession, and admirably fulfilling it, he exhorts to abide and to preserve it, according the highest prize to virginity. For he that is able, he says, and ambitious to preserve his flesh pure, does 323better; but he that is unable, and enters into marriage lawfully, and does not indulge in secret corruption, does well. And now enough has been said on these subjects.

Let any one who will, take in his hand the Epistle to the Corinthians, and, examining all its passages one by one, then consider what we have said, comparing them together, as to whether there is not a perfect harmony and agreement between them. These things, according to my power, O Arete, I offer to thee as my contribution on the subject of chastity.

Euboulios. Through many things, O Gregorion, she has scarcely come to the subject, having measured and crossed a mighty sea of words.

Gregorion. So it seems; but come, I must mention the rest of what was said in order, going through it and repeating it, while I seem to have the sound of it dwelling in my ears, before it flies away and escapes; for the remembrance of things lately heard is easily effaced from the aged.

Euboulios. Say on, then; for we have come to have the pleasure of hearing these discourses.

Gregorion. And then after, as you observed, Thaleia had descended from her smooth and unbroken course to the earth, Theopatra, she said, followed her in order, and spoke as follows.

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