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Of Holy Virginity by St. Augustine

Section 25. Nor indeed hath the Holy Spirit failed to speak what should be of openà

25. Nor indeed hath the Holy Spirit failed to speak what should be of open and unshaken avail against these men, most shamelessly and madly obstinate, and should repel their assault, as of wild beasts, from His sheep-fold, by defences that may not be stormed. For, after He had said concerning eunuchs, |I will give unto them in My house and in My wall a named place, much better than of sons and daughters;| lest any too carnal should think that there was any thing temporal to be hoped for in these words, straightway He added, |An eternal name I will give unto them, nor shall it ever fail:| as though He should say, Why dost thou draw back, impious blindness? Why dost thou draw back? Why dost thou pour the clouds of thy perverseness over the clear (sky) of truth? Why in so great light of Scriptures dost thou seek after darkness from out which to lay snares? Why dost thou promise temporal advantage only to holy persons exercising continence? |An eternal name I will give unto them:| why, where persons keep from all sexual intercourse, and also in the very fact that they abstain from these, have thought of the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord, do you essay to refer them unto earthly advantage? |An eternal name I will give unto them.| Why contend you that the kingdom of heaven, for the sake of which holy eunuchs have made themselves eunuchs, is to be understood in this life only? |An eternal name I will give unto them.| And if haply in this place you endeavor to take the word itself eternal in the sense of lasting for a long time, I add, I heap up, I tread in, |nor shall it ever fail.| What more seek you? What more say you? This eternal name, whatever it be, unto the eunuchs of God, which assuredly signifies a certain peculiar and excellent glory, shall not be in common with many, although set in the same kingdom, and in the same house. For on this account also, perhaps, it is called a name, that it distinguishes those, to whom it is given, from the rest.

Footnotes:

Is. lvi.4, 5. [See R.V.] c26. What then, say they, is the meaning of that penny, which is given in payment to all alike when the work of the vineyard is ended? whether it be to those who have labored from the first hour, or to those who have labored one hour? What assuredly doth it signify, but something, which all shall have in common, such as is life eternal itself, the kingdom of heaven itself, where shall be all, whom God hath predestinated, called, justified, glorified? |For it behoveth that this corruptible put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.| This is that penny, wages for all. Yet |star differeth from star in glory; so also the resurrection of the dead.| These are the different merits of the Saints. For, if by that penny the heaven were signified, have not all the stars in common to be in the heaven? And yet, |There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another of the stars.| If that penny were taken for health of body, have not all the members, when we are well, health in common; and, should this health continue even unto death, is it not in all alike and equally? And yet, |God hath set the members, each one of them, in the body, as He would;| that neither the whole be an eye, nor the whole hearing, nor the whole smelling: and, whatever else there is, it hath its own property, although it have health equally with all. Thus because life eternal itself shall be alike to all, an equal penny was assigned to all; but, because in that life eternal itself the lights of merits shall shine with a distinction, there are |many mansions| in the house of the Father: and, by this means, in the penny not unlike, one lives not longer than another; but in the many mansions, one is honored with greater brightness than another.

Footnotes:

Matt. xx.9, 10 1 Cor. xv.53

1 Cor. xv.41, 42

1 Cor. xii.18

John xiv.2

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