Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 15.--The Teaching of the Apostle on This Subject.
Accordingly the apostle also, speaking apparently with this passage in view, declares: |But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had them not; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as though they used it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away. But I would have you without solicitude.| This entire passage (that I may express my view on this subject in the shape of a brief exposition of the apostle's words) I think must be understood as follows: |This I say, brethren, the time is short.| No longer is God's people to be propagated by carnal generation; but, henceforth, it is to be gathered out by spiritual regeneration. |It remaineth, therefore, that they that have wives| be not subject to carnal concupiscence; |and they that weep,| under the sadness of present evil, should rejoice in the hope of future blessing; |and they that rejoice,| over any temporary advantage, should fear the eternal judgment; |and they that buy,| should so hold their possessions as not to cleave to them by overmuch love; |and they that use this world| should reflect that it is passing away, and does not remain. |For the fashion of this world passeth away: but,| he says, |I would have you to be without solicitude,| -- in other words: I would have you lift up your heart, that it may dwell among those things which do not pass away. He then goes on to say: |He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.| And thus to some extent he explains what he had already said: |Let them that have wives be as though they had none.| For they who have wives in such a way as to care for the things of the Lord, how they may please the Lord, without having any care for the things of the world in order to please their wives, are, in fact, just as if they had no wives. And this is effected with greater ease when the wives, too, are of such a disposition, because they please their husbands not merely because they are rich, because they are high in rank, noble in race, and amiable in natural temper, but because they are believers, because they are religious, because they are chaste, because they are good men.