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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter 25. Those, on the other hand, who do this in a perverse spirità

On Christian Doctrine In Four Books by St. Augustine

Chapter 25. Those, on the other hand, who do this in a perverse spirità

25. Those, on the other hand, who do this in a perverse spirit, make war upon their own body as if it were a natural enemy. And in this matter they are led astray by a mistaken interpretation of what they read: |The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other.| For this is said of the carnal habit yet unsubdued, against which the spirit lusteth, not to destroy the body, but to eradicate the lust of the body -- i.e., its evil habit -- and thus to make it subject to the spirit, which is what the order of nature demands. For as, after the resurrection, the body, having become wholly subject to the spirit, will live in perfect peace to all eternity; even in this life we must make it an object to have the carnal habit changed for the better, so that its inordinate affections may not war against the soul. And until this shall take place, |the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh;| the spirit struggling, not in hatred, but for the mastery, because it desires that what it loves should be subject to the higher principle; and the fleshy struggling, not in hatred, but because of the bondage of habit which it has derived from its parent stock, and which has grown in upon it by a law of nature till it has become inveterate. The spirit, then, in subduing the flesh, is working as it were to destroy the ill founded peace of an evil habit, and to bring about the real peace which springs out of a good habit. Nevertheless, not even those who, led astray by false notions, hate their bodies would be prepared to sacrifice one eye, even supposing they could do so without suffering any pain, and that they had as much sight left in one as they formerly had in two, unless some object was to be attained which would overbalance the loss. This and other indications of the same kind are sufficient to show those who candidly seek the truth how well-founded is the statement of the apostle when he says, |No man ever yet hated his own flesh.| He adds too, |but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church|.
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