On Monogamy - Tertullian
Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I. Different Views in Regard to Marriage Held by Heretics, Psychic,
Heretics do away with marriages; Psychics accumulate them. The former marry
not even once; the latter not only once. What dost thou, Law of the Creator?
Between alien eunuchs and thine own grooms, thou complainest as much of the
over-obedience of thine own household as of the contempt of strangers. They
who abuse thee, do thee equal hurt with them who use thee not. In fact,
neither is such continence laudable because it is heretical, nor such
licence defensible because it is psychical. The former is blasphemous, the
latter wanton; the former destroys the God of marriages, the latter puts Him
to the blush. Among us, however, whom the recognition of spiritual gifts
entitles to be deservedly called Spiritual, continence is as religious as
licence is modest; since both the one and the other are in harmony with the
Creator. Continence honours the law of marriage, licence tempers it; the
former is not forced, the latter is regulated; the former recognises the
power of free choice, the latter recognises a limit. We admit one marriage,
just as we do one God. The law of marriage reaps an accession of honour
where it is associated with shamefastness. But to the Psychics, since they
receive not the Spirit, the things which are the Spirit's are not pleasing.
Thus, so long as the things which are the Spirit's please them not, the
things which are of the flesh will please, as being the contraries of the
Spirit. "The flesh," saith (the apostle), "lusteth against the Spirit, and
the Spirit against the flesh."  But what will the flesh "lust" after,
except what is more of the flesh? For which reason withal, in. the
beginning, it became estranged from the Spirit. "My Spirit," saith (God),
"shall not permanently abide in these men eternally,  for that they are
Chapter II. The Spiritualists Vindicated from the Charge of Novelty.
And so they upbraid the discipline of monogamy with being a heresy; nor is
there any other cause whence they find themselves compelled to deny the
Paraclete more than the fact that they esteem Him to be the institutor of a
novel discipline, and a discipline which they find most harsh: so that this
is already the first ground on which we must join issue in a general
handling (of the subject), whether there is room for maintaining that the
Paraclete has taught any such thing as can either be charged with novelty,
in opposition to catholic tradition,  or with burdensomeness, in
opposition to the "light burden"  of the Lord.
Now concerning each point the Lord Himself has pronounced. For in saying,
"I still have many things to say unto you, but ye are not yet able to bear
them: when the Holy Spirit shall be come, He will lead you into all
truth,"  He sufficiently, of course, sets before us that He will bring
such (teachings) as may be esteemed alike novel, as having never before been
published, and finally burdensome, as if that were the reason why they were
not published. "It follows," you say, "that by this line of argument,
anything you please which is novel and burdensome may be ascribed to the
Paraclete, even if it have come from the adversary spirit." No, of course.
For the adversary spirit would be apparent from the diversity of his
preaching, beginning by adulterating the rule of faith, and so (going on to)
adulterating the order of discipline; because the corruption of that which
holds the first grade, (that is, of faith, which is prior to discipline,)
comes first. A man must of necessity hold heretical views of God first, and
then of His institution. But the Paraclete, having many things to teach
fully which the Lord deferred till He came, (according to the
pre-definition,) will begin by bearing emphatic witness to Christ, (as
being) such as we believe (Him to be), together with the whole order of God
the Creator, and will glorify Him,  and will "bring to remembrance"
concerning Him. And when He has thus been recognised (as the promised
Comforter), on the ground of the cardinal rule, He will reveal those "many
things" which appertain to disciplines; while the integrity of His preaching
commands credit for these (revelations), albeit they be "novel," inasmuch as
they are. now in course of revelation, albeit they be "burdensome," inasmuch
as not even now are they found bearable: (revelations), however, of none
other Christ than (the One) who said that He had withal "other many
things" which were to be fully taught by the Paraclete, no less burdensome
to men of our own day than to them, by whom they were then "not yet able to
Chapter III. The Question of Novelty Further Considered in Connection with
the Words of the Lord and His Apostles.
But (as for the question) whether monogamy be "burdensome," let the still
shameless "infirmity of the flesh" look to that: let us meantime come to an
agreement as to whether it be "novel." This (even) broader assertion we
make: that even if the Paraclete had in this our day definitely prescribed a
virginity or continence total and absolute, so as not to permit the heat of
the flesh to foam itself down even in single marriage, even thus He would
seem to be introducing nothing of "novelty; "seeing that the Lord Himself
opens "the kingdoms of the heavens" to "eunuchs,"  as being Himself,
withal, a virgin; to whom looking, the apostle also'himself too for this
reason abstinent'gives the preference to continence.  ("Yes"), you
say, "but saving the law of marriage." Saving it, plainly, and we will see
under what limitations; nevertheless already destroying it, in so far as he
gives the preference to continence. "Good," he says, "(it is) for a man not
to have contact with a woman." It follows that it is evil to have contact
with her; for nothing is contrary to good except evil. And accordingly (he
says), "It remains, that both they who have wives so be as if they have
not,"  that it may be the more binding on them who have not to
abstain from having them. He renders reasons, likewise, for so advising:
that the unmarried think about God, but the married about how, in (their)
marriage, each may please his (partner).  And I may contend, that
what is permitted is not absolutely good.  For what is absolutely
good is not permitted, but needs no asking to make it lawful. Permission has
its cause sometimes even in necessity. Finally, in this case, there is no
volition on the part of him who permits marriage. For his volition points
another way. "I will," he says, "that you all so be as I too (am)." 
And when he shows that (so to abide) is "better," what, pray, does he
demonstrate himself to "will," but what he has premised is "better? "And
thus, if he permits something other than what he has "willed"'permitted not
voluntarily, but of necessity'he shows that what he has unwillingly granted
as an indulgence is not absolutely good. Finally, when he says, "Better it
is to marry than to burn," what sort of good must that be understood to be
which is better than a penalty? which cannot seem "better" except when
compared to a thing very bad? "Good" is that which keeps this name per se;
without comparison'I say not with an evil, but even'with some other good: so
that, even if it be compared to and overshadowed by another good, it
nevertheless remains in (possession of) the name of good. If, on the other
hand, comparison with evil is the mean which obliges it to be called good;
it is not so much "good" as a species of inferior evil, which, when obscured
by a higher evil, is driven to the name of good. Take away, in Short, the
condition, so as not to say, "Better it is to marry than to burn; "and I
question whether you will have the hardihood to say, "Better (it is) to
marry," not adding than what it is better. This done, then, it becomes
not" better; "and while not "better," not "good" either, the condition being
taken away which, while making it "better" than another thing, in that sense
obliges it to be considered "good." Better it is to lose one eye than two.
If, however, you withdraw from the comparison of either evil, it will not be
better to have one eye, because it is not even good.
What, now, if he accommodatingly grants all indulgence to marry on the
ground of his own (that is, of human) sense, out of the necessity which we
have mentioned, inasmuch as "better it is to marry than to burn? "In fact,
when he turns to the second case, by saying, "But to the married I
officially announce'not I, but the Lord"'he shows that those things which he
had said above had not been (the dictates) of the Lord's authority, but of
human judgment. When, however, he turns their minds back to continence,
("But I will you all so to be,") "I think, moreover," he says, "I too have
the Spirit of God; "in order that, if he had granted any indulgence out of
necessity, that, by the Holy Spirit's authority, he might recall. But John,
too, when advising us that "we ought so to walk as the Lord withal did,"
 of course admonished us to walk as well in accordance with sanctity of
the flesh (as in accordance with His example in other respects). Accordingly
he says more manifestly: "And every (man) who hath this hope in Him maketh
himself chaste, just as Himself withal is chaste."  For elsewhere,
again, (we read): "Be ye holy, just as He withal was holy "  'in the
flesh, namely. For of the Spirit he would not have said (that), inasmuch as
the Spirit is without any external influence recognised as "holy," nor does
He wait to be admonished to sanctity, which is His proper nature. But the
flesh is taught sanctity; and that withal, in Christ, was holy.
Therefore, if all these (considerations) obliterate the licence of marrying,
whether we look into the condition on which the licence is granted, or the
preference of continence which is imposed. why, after the apostles, could
not the same Spirit, supervening for the purpose of conducting
disciplehood  into "all truth" through the gradations of the times
(according to what the preacher says, "A time to everything"  ),
impose by this time a final bridle upon the flesh, no longer obliquely
calling us away from marriage, but openly; since now more (than ever) "the
time is become wound up,"  'about 160 years having elapsed since
then? Would you not spontaneously ponder (thus) in your own mind: "This
discipline is old, shown beforehand, even at that early date, in the Lord's
flesh and will, (and) successively thereafter in both the counsels and the
examples of His apostles? Of old we were destined to this sanctity. Nothing
of novelty is the Paraclete introducing. What He premonished, He is (now)
definitively appointing; what He deferred, He is (now) exacting." And
presently, by revolving these thoughts, you will easily persuade yourself
that it was much more competent to the Paraclete to preach unity of
marriage, who could withal have preached its annulling; and that it is more
credible that He should have tempered what it would have become Him even to
have abolished, if you understand what Christ's "will" is. Herein also you
ought to recognise the Paraclete in His character of Comforter, in that He
excuses your infirmity  from (the stringency of) an absolute
Chapter IV. Waiving Allusion to the Paraclete, Tertullian Comes to the
Consideration of the Ancient Scriptures, and Their Testimony on the Subject
Waiving, now, the mention of the Paraclete, as of some authority of our own,
evolve we the common instruments of the primitive Scriptures. This very
thing is demonstrable by us: that the rule of monogamy is neither novel nor
strange, nay rather, is both ancient, and proper to Christians; so that you
may be sensible that the Paraclete is rather its restitutor than institutor.
As for what pertains to antiquity, what more ancient formal type can be
brought forward, than the very original fount of the human race? One female
did God fashion for the male, culling one rib of his, and (of course) (one)
out of a plurality. But, moreover, in the introductory speech which preceded
the work itself, He said, "It is not good for the man that he be alone; let
us make an help-meet for him." For He would have said "helpers" if He had
destined him to have more wives (than one). He added, too, a law concerning
the future; if, that is, (the words) "And two shall be (made) into one
flesh"'not three, nor more; else they would be no more "two" if (there were)
more'were prophetically uttered. The law stood (firm). In short, the unity
of marriage lasted to the very end in the case of the authors of our race;
not because there were no other women, but because the reason why there were
none was that the first-fruits of the race might not be contaminated by a
double marriage. Otherwise, had God (so) willed, there could withal have
been (others); at all events, he might have taken from the abundance of his
own daughters'having no less an Eve (taken) out of his own bones and
flesh'if piety had allowed it to be done. But where the first crime (is
found)homicide, inaugurated in fratricide'no crime was so worthy of the
second place as a double marriage. For it makes no difference whether a man
have had two wives singly, or whether individuals (taken) at the same time
have made two. The number of (the individuals) conjoined and separate is the
same. Still, God's institution, after once for all suffering violence
through Lamech, remained firm to the very end of that race. Second Lamech
there arose none, in the way of being husband to two wives. What Scripture
does not note, it denies. Other iniquities provoke the deluge: (iniquities)
once for all avenged, whatever was their nature; not, however,
"seventy-seven times,"  which (is the vengeance which) double
marriages have deserved.
But again: the reformation of the second human race is traced from monogamy
as its mother. Once more, "two (joined) into one flesh" undertake (the duty
of) "growing and multiplying,"'Noah, (namely), and his wife, and their sons,
in single marriage.  Even in the very animals monogamy is recognised,
for fear that even beasts should be born of adultery. "Out of all beasts,"
said (God),  "out of all flesh, two shall thou lead into the ark,
that they may live with thee, male and female: they shall be (taken) from
all flying animals according to (their) kind, and from all creepers of the
earth according to their kind; two out of all shall enter unto thee, male
and female." In the same formula, too, He orders sets of sevens, made up of
pairs, to be gathered to him, consisting of male and female'one male and one
female  What more shall I say? Even unclean birds were not allowed to
enter with two females each.
Chapter V. Connection of These Primeval Testimonies with Christ.
Thus far for the testimony of things primordial, and the sanction of our
origin, and the prejudgment of the divine institution, which of course is a
law, not (merely) a memorial inasmuch as, if it was." so done from the
beginning," we find ourselves directed to the beginning by Christ: just as,
in the question of divorce, by saying that that had been permitted by Moses
on account of their hard-heartedness but from the beginning it had not been
so, He doubtless recalls to "the beginning" the (law of) the individuity of
marriage. And accordingly, those whom God "from the beginning" conjoined,
"two into one flesh," man shall not at the present day separate.  The
apostle, too, writing to the Ephesians, says that God "had proposed in
Himself, at the dispensation of the fulfilment of the times, to recall to
the head" (that is, to the beginning) "things universal in Christ, which are
above the heavens and above the earth in Him."  So, too, the two
letters of Greece, the first and the last, the Lord assumes to Himself, as
figures of the beginning and end! which concur in Himself: so that, just as
Alpha rolls on till it reaches Omega, and again Omega rolls back till it
reaches Alpha, in the same way He might show that in Himself is both the
downward course of the beginning on to the end, and the backward course of
the end up to the beginning; so that every economy, ending in Him through
whom it began,'through the Word of God, that is, who was made flesh, 
'may have an end correspondent to its beginning. And so truly in Christ are
all things recalled to "the beginning," that even faith returns from
circumcision to the integrity of that (original) flesh, as "it was from the
beginning; and freedom of meats and abstinence from blood alone, as "it was
from the beginning; "and the individuality of marriage, as "it was from the
beginning; "and the restriction of divorce, which was not "from the
beginning; "and lastly, the whole man into Paradise, where he was "from the
beginning." Why, then, ought He not to restore Adam thither at least as a
monogamist, who cannot present him in so entire perfection as he was when
dismissed thence? Accordingly, so far as pertains to the restitution of the
beginning, the logic both of the dispensation you live under, and of your
hope, exact this from you, that what was "from the beginning" (should be) in
accordance with "the beginning; "Which (beginning) you find counted in Adam,
and recounted in Noah. Make your election, in which of the twain you account
your "beginning." In both, the censorial power of monogamy claims you for
itself. But again: if the beginning passes on to the end (as Alpha to
Omega), as the end passes back to the beginning (as Omega to Alpha), and
thus our origin is transferred to Christ, the animal to the
spiritual'inasmuch as "(that was) not first which is spiritual, but (that)
which (is) animal; then what (is) spiritual,"  'let us, in like
manner (as before), see whether you owe this very (same) thing to this
second origin also: whether the last Adam also meet you in the selfsame form
as the first; since the last Adam (that is, Christ) was entirely unwedded,
as was even the first Adam before his exile. But, presenting to your
weakness the gift of the example of His own flesh, the more perfect
Adam'that is, Christ, more perfect on this account as well (as on others),
that He was more entirely pure'stands before you, if you are willing (to
copy Him), as a voluntary celibate in the flesh. If, however, you are
unequal (to that perfection), He stands before you a monogamist in spirit,
having one Church as His spouse, according to the figure of Adam and of Eve,
which (figure) the apostle interprets of that great sacrament of Christ and
the Church, (teaching that), through the spiritual, it was analogous to the
carnal monogamy. You see, therefore, after what manner, renewing your origin
even in Christ, you cannot trace down that (origin) without the profession
of monogamy; unless, (that is), you be in flesh what He is in spirit; albeit
withal, what He was in flesh, you equally ought to have been.
Chapter VI. The Case of Abraham, and Its Bearing on the Present Question.
But let us proceed with our inquiry into some eminent chief fathers of our
origin: for there are some to whom our monogamist parents Adam and Noah are
not pleasing, nor perhaps Christ either. To Abraham, in fine, they appeal;
prohibited though they are to acknowledge any other father than God. 
Grant, now, that Abraham is our father; grant, too, that Paul is. "In the
Gospel," says he, "I have begotten you."  Show yourself a son even of
Abraham. For your origin in him, you must know, iS not referable to every
period of his life: there is a definite time at which he is your father. For
if" faith" is the source whence we are reckoned to Abraham as his "sons" (as
the apostle teaches, saying to the Galatians, "You know, consequently, that
(they) who are of faith, these are sons of Abraham"  ), when did
Abraham "believe God and it was accounted to him for righteousness? "I
suppose when still in monogamy, since (he was) not yet in circumcision. But
if afterwards. he changed to either (opposite)'to digamy through
cohabitation with his handmaid, and to circumcision through the seal of the
testament'you cannot acknowledge him as your father except at that time when
he "believed God," if it is true that it is according to faith that you are
his son, not according to flesh. Else, if it be the later Abraham whom you
follow as your father'that is, the digamist (Abraham)'receive him withal in
his circumcision. If you reject his circumcision, it follows that you will
refuse his digamy too. Two characters of his mutually diverse in two several
ways, you will not be able to blend. His digamy began with circumcision, his
monogamy with uncircumcision.  You receive digamy; admit circumcision
too. You retain uncircumcision; you are bound to monogamy too. Moreover, so
true is it that it is of the monogamist Abraham that you are the son, just
as of the uncircumcised, that if you be circumcised you immediately cease to
be his son, inasmuch as you will not be "of faith," but of the seal of a
faith which had been justified in uncircumcision. You bare the apostle:
learn (of him), together with the Galatians.  In like manner, too, if
you have involved yourself in digamy, you are not the son of that Abraham
whose "faith" preceded in monogamy. For albeit it is subsequently that he is
called "a father of many nations,"  still it is of those (nations)
who, as the fruit of the "faith" which precedes digamy, had to be accounted
"sons of Abraham." 
Thenceforward let matters see to themselves. Figures are one thing; laws
another. Images are one thing; statutes another. Images pass away when
fulfilled: statutes remain permanently to be fulfilled. Images prophesy:
statutes govern. What that digamy of Abraham portends, the same apostle
fully teaches,  the interpreter of each testament, just as he
likewise lays it down that our "seed" is called in Isaac.  If you are
"of the free woman," and belong to Isaac, he, at all events, maintained
unity of marriage to the last.
These accordingly, I suppose, are they in whom my origin is counted. All
others I ignore. And if I glance around at their examples'(examples) of some
David heaping up marriages for himself even through sanguinary means, of
some Solomon rich in wives as well as in other riches'you are bidden to
"follow the better things; "  and you have withal Joseph but once
wedded, and on this score I venture to say better than his father; you have
Moses, the intimate eye-witness of God;  you have Aaron the chief
priest. The second Moses, also, of the second People, who led our
representatives into the (possession of) the promise of God, in whom the
Name (of Jesus) was first inaugurated, was no digamist.
Chapter VII. From Patriarchal, Tertullian Comes to Legal, Precedents.
After the ancient examples of the patriarchs, let us equally pass on to the
ancient documents of the legal Scriptures, that we may treat in order of all
our canon. And since there are some who sometimes assert that they have
nothing to do with the law (which Christ has not dissolved, but
fulfilled),  sometimes catch at such parts of the law as they choose;
plainly do we too assert that the law has deceased in this sense, that its
burdens'according to the sentence of the apostles'which not even the fathers
were able to sustain,  have wholly ceased: such (parts), however. as
relate to righteousness not only permanently remain reserved, but even
amplified; in order, to be sure, that our righteousness may be able to
redound above the righteousness of the scribes and of the Pharisees. 
If "righteousness" must, of course chastity must too. If, then, forasmuch as
there is in the law a precept that a man is to take in marriage the wife of
his brother if he have died without children,  for the purpose of
raising up seed to his brother; and this may happen repeatedly to the same
person, according to that crafty question of the Sadducees;  men for
that reason think that frequency of marriage is permitted in other cases as
well: it will be their duty to understand first the reason of the precept
itself; and thus they will come to know that that reason, now ceasing, is
among those parts of the law which have been cancelled. Necessary it was
that there should be a succession to the marriage of a brother if he died
childless: first, because that ancient benediction, "Grow and multiply,"
 had still to run its course; secondly, because the sins of the fathers
used to be exacted even from the sons;  thirdly, because eunuchs and
barren persons used to be regarded as ignominious. And thus, for fear that
such as had died childless, not from natural inability, but from being
prematurely overtaken by death, should be judged equally accursed (with the
other class); for this reason a vicarious and (so to say) posthumous
offspring used to be supplied them. But (now), when the "extremity of the
times" has cancelled (the command) "Grow and multiply," since the apostles
(another command), "It remaineth, that both they who have wives so be as if
they have not," because "the time is compressed;  and "the sour
grape" chewed by "the fathers" has ceased "to set the sons' teeth on
edge,"  for, "each one shall die in his own sin; "and "eunuchs" not
only have lost ignominy, but have even deserved grace, being invited into
"the kingdoms of the heavens: "  the law of succeeding to the wife of
a brother being buried, its contrary has obtained'that of not succeeding to
the wife of a brother. And thus, as we have said before, what has ceased to
be valid, on the cessation of its reason, cannot furnish a ground of
argument to another. Therefore a wife, when her husband is dead, will not
marry; for if she marry, she will of course be marrying (his) brother: for
"all we are brethren."  Again, the woman, if intending to marry, has
to marry "in the Lord; "  that is, not to an heathen, but to a
brother, inasmuch as even the ancient law forbids  marriage with
members of another tribe. Since, moreover, even in Leviticus there is a
caution, "Whoever shall have taken (his) brother's wife, (it) is
uncleanness'turpitude; without children shall (he) die; "  beyond
doubt, while the man is prohibited from marrying a second time, the woman is
prohibited too, having no one to marry except a brother. In what way, then,
an agreement shall be established between the apostle and the Law (which he
is not impugning in its entirety), shall be shown when we shall have come to
his own epistle. Meantime, so far as pertains to the law, the lines of
argument drawn from it are more suitable for us (than for our opponents). In
short, the same (law) prohibits priests from marrying a second time. The
daughter also of a priest it bids, if widowed or repudiated, if she have had
no seed, to return into her father's home and be nourished from his bread.
 The reason why (it is said), "If she have had no seed," is not that if
she have she may marry again'for how much more will she abstain from
marrying if she have sons?'but that, if she have, she may be "nourished" by
her son rather than by her father; in order that the son, too, may carry out
the precept of God, "Honour father and mother."  Us, moreover, Jesus,
the Father's Highest and Great Priest,  clothing us from His own
store  'inasmuch as they "who are baptized in Christ  have put
on Christ"'has made "priests to God His Father,"  according to John.
For the reason why He recalls that young man who was hastening to his
father's obsequies,  is that He may show that we are called priests
by Him; (priests) whom the Law used to forbid to be present at the sepulture
of parents:  "Over every dead soul," it says, "the priest shall not
enter, and over his own father and over his own mother he shall not be
contaminated." "Does it follow that we too are bound to observe this
prohibition? "No, of course. For our one Father, God, lives, and our mother,
the Church; and neither are we dead who live to God, nor do we bury our
dead, inasmuch as they too are living in Christ. At all events, priests we
are called by Christ; debtors to monogamy, in accordance with the pristine
Law of God, which prophesied at that time of us in its own priests.
Chapter VIII. From the Law Tertullian Comes to the Gospel. He Begins with
Examples Before Proceeding to Dogmas.
Turning now to the law, which is properly ours'that is, to the Gospel'by
what kind of examples are we met, until we come to definite dogmas? Behold,
there immediately present themselves to us, on the threshold as it were, the
two priestesses of Christian sanctity, Monogamy and Continence: one modest,
in Zechariah the priest; one absolute, in John the forerunner: one appeasing
God; one preaching Christ: one proclaiming a perfect priest; one exhibiting
"more than a prophet,"  'him, namely, who has not only preached or
personally pointed out, but even baptized Christ. For who was more worthily
to perform the initiatory rite on the body of the Lord, than flesh similar
in kind to that which conceived and gave birth to that (body)? And indeed it
was a virgin, about to marry once for all after her delivery, who gave birth
to Christ, in order that each title of sanctity might be fulfilled in
Christ's parentage, by means of a mother who was both virgin, and wife of
one husband. Again, when He is presented as an infant in the temple, who is
it who receives Him into his hands? who is the first to recognise Him in
spirit? A man "just and circumspect," and of course no digamist, (which is
plain) even (from this consideration), lest (otherwise) Christ should
presently be more worthily preached by a woman, an aged widow, and "the wife
of one man; "who, living devoted to the temple, was (already) giving in her
own person a sufficient token what sort of persons ought to be the adherents
to the spiritual temple,'that is, the Church. Such eye-witnesses the Lord in
infancy found; no different ones had He in adult age. Peter alone do I
find'through (the mention of) his "mother-in-law"  ,'to have been
married. Monogamist I am led to presume him by consideration of the Church,
which, built upon him,  was destined to appoint every grade of her
Order from monogamists. The rest, while I do not find them married, I must
of necessity understand to have been either eunuchs or continent. Nor
indeed, if, among the Greeks, in accordance with the carelessness of custom,
women and wives are classed under a common name'however, there is a name
proper to wives'shall we therefore so interpret Paul as if he demonstrates
the apostles to have had wives?  For if he were disputing about
marriages, as he does in the sequel, where the apostle could better have
named some particular example, it would appear right for him to say, "For
have we not the power of leading about wives, like the other apostles and
Cephas? "But when he subjoins those (expressions)which show his abstinence
from (insisting on) the supply of maintenance, saying, "For have we not the
power of eating and drinking? "he does not demonstrate that "wives" were led
about by the apostles, whom even such as have not still have the power of
eating and drinking; but simply "women," who used to minister to them in the
stone way (as they did) when accompanying the Lord.  But further, if
Christ reproves the scribes and Pharisees, sitting in the official chair of
Moses, but not doing what they taught,  what kind of (supposition).
is it that He Himself withal should set upon His own official chair men who
were mindful rather to enjoin'(but) not likewise to practise'sanctity of the
flesh, which (sanctity) He had in all ways recommended to their teaching and
practising?'first by His own example, then by all other arguments; while He
tells (them) that "the kingdom of heavens" is "children's; "  while
He associates with these (children) others who, after marriage, remained (or
became)virgins; "  while He calls (them) to (copy) the simplicity of
the dove, a bird not merely innocuous, but modest too, and whereof one male
knows one female; while He denies the Samaritan woman's (partner to be) a
husband, that He may show that manifold husbandry is adultery; 
while, in the revelation of His own glory, He prefers, from among so many
saints and prophets, to have with him Moses and Elias  'the one a
monogamist, the other a voluntary celibate (for Elias was nothing else than
John, who came "in the power and spirit of Elias"  ); while that "man
gluttonous and toping," the "frequenter of luncheons and suppers, in the
company of publicans and sinners,"  sups once for all at a single
marriage,  though, of course, many were marrying (around Him); for He
willed to attend (marriages) only so often as (He willed) them to be.
Chapter IX. From Examples Tertullian Passes to Direct Dogmatic Teachings. He
Begins with the Lord's Teaching.
But grant that these argumentations may be thought to be forced and founded
on conjectures, if no dogmatic teachings have stood parallel with them which
the Lord uttered in treating of divorce, which, permitted formerly, He now
prohibits, first because "from the beginning it was not so," like plurality
of marriage; secondly, because "What God hath conjoined, man shall not
separate,"  'for fear, namely, that he contravene the Lord: for He
alone shall "separate" who has "conjoined" (separate, moreover, not through
the harshness of divorce, which (harshness) He censures and restrains, but
through the debt of death) if, indeed, "one of two sparrows falleth not on
the ground without the Father's will."  Therefore if those whom God
has conjoined man shall not separate by divorce, it is equally congruous
that those whom God has separated by death man is not to conjoin by
marriage; the joining of the separation will be just as contrary to God's
will as would have been the separation of the conjunction.
So far as regards the non-destruction of the will of God, and the
restruction of the law of "the beginning." But another reason, too,
conspires; nay, not another, but (one)which imposed the law of "the
beginning," and moved the will of God to prohibit divorce: the fact that
(he)who shall have dismissed his wife, except on the ground of adultery,
makes her commit adultery; and (he) who shall have married a (woman)
dismissed by her husband, of course commits adultery.  A divorced
woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commit any such act without
the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in
that adultery is crime in the way of marriage? Such is God's verdict, within
straiter limits than men's, that universally, whether through marriage or
promiscuously, the admission of a second man (to intercourse) is pronounced
adultery by Him. For let us see what marriage is in the eye of God; and thus
we shall learn what adultery equally is. Marriage is (this): when God joins
"two into one flesh; "or else, finding (them already) joined in the same
flesh, has given His seal to the conjunction. Adultery is (this): when, the
two having been'in whatsoever way'disjoined, other'nay, rather alien'flesh
is mingled (with either): flesh concerning which it cannot be affirmed,
"This is flesh out of my flesh, and this bone out of my bones."  For
this, once for all done and pronounced, as from the beginning, so now too,
cannot apply to "other" flesh. Accordingly, it will be without cause that
you will say that God wills not a divorced woman to be joined to another man
"while her husband liveth," as if He do will it "when he is dead; " 
whereas if she is not bound to him when dead, no more is she when living.
"Alike when divorce dissevers marriage as when death does, she will not be
bound to him by whom the binding medium has been broken off." To whom, then,
will she be bound? In the eye of God, it matters nought whether she marry
during her life or after his death. For it is not against him that she sins,
but against herself. "Any sin which a man may have committed is external to
the body; but ] (he) who commits adultery sins against his own body." But'as
we have previously laid down above'whoever shall intermingle with himself
"other" flesh, over and above that pristine flesh which God either conjoined
into two or else found (already) conjoined, commits adultery. And the reason
why He has abolished divorce, which "was not from the beginning," is, thatHe
may strengthen that which "was from the beginning"'the permanent
conjunction, (namely), of "two into one flesh: "for fear that necessity or
opportunity for a third union of flesh may make an irruption (into His
dominion); permitting divorce to no cause but one'if, (that is), the (evil)
against which precaution is taken chance to have occurred beforehand. So
true, moreover, is it that divorce "was not from the beginning," that among
the Romans it is not till after the six hundredth year from the building of
the city that this kind of "hard-heartedness"  is set down as having
been committed. But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without
divorcing (their partners): to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage
will not be lawful.
Chapter X. St. Paul's Teaching on the Subject.
From this point I see that we are challenged by an appeal to the apostle;
for the more easy apprehension of whose meaning we must all the more
earnestly inculcate (the assertion), that a woman is more bound when her
husband is dead not to admit (to marriage) another husband. For let us
reflect that divorce either is caused by discord, or else causes discord;
whereas death is an event resulting from the law of God, not from an offence
of man; and that it is a debt which all owe, even the unmarried. Therefore,
if a divorced woman, who has been separated (from her husband)in soul as
well as body, through discord, anger, hatred, and the causes of
these'injury, or contumely, or whatsoever cause of complaint'is bound to a
personal enemy, not to say a husband, how much more will one who, neither by
her own nor her husband's fault, but by an event resulting from the Lord's
law, has been'not separated from, but left behind by'her consort, be his,
even when dead, to whom, even when dead, she owes (the debt of) concord?
From him from whom she has heard no (word of) divorce she does not turn
away; with him she is, to whom she has written no (document of) divorce; him
whom she was unwilling to have lost, she retains. She has within her the
licence of the mind, which represents to a man, in imaginary enjoyment, all
things which he has not. In short, I ask the woman herself, "Tell me,
sister, have you sent your husband before you (to his rest) in peace? "What
will she answer? (Will she say), "In discord? "In that case she is the more
bound to him with whom she has a cause (to plead) at the bar of God. She who
is bound (to another) has not departed (from him). But (will she say), "In
peace? "In that case, she must necessarily persevere in that (peace) with
him whom she will no longer have the power to divorce; not that she would,
even if she had been able to divorce him, have been marriageable. Indeed,
she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and
fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her
sacrifice) on the anniversaries of his falling asleep. For, unless she does
these deeds, she has in the true sense divorced him, so far as in her lies;
and indeed the more iniquitously'inasmuch as (she did it) as far as was in
her power'because she had no power (to do it); and with the more indignity,
inasmuch as it is with more indignity if (her reason for doing it is)
because he did not deserve it. Or else shall we, pray, cease to be after
death, according to (the teaching of) some Epicurus, and not according to
(that of) Christ? But if we believe the resurrection of the dead, of course
we shall be bound to them with whom we are destined to rise, to render an
account the one of the other. "But if 'in that age they will neither marry
nor be given in marriage, but will be equal to angels,'  is not the
fact that there will be no restitution of the conjugal relation a reason why
we shall not be bound to our departed consorts? "Nay, but the more shall we
be bound (to them), because we are destined to a better estate'destined (as
we are) to rise to a spiritual consortship, to recognise as well our own
selves as them who are ours. Else how shall we sing thanks to God to
eternity, if there shall remain in us no sense and memory of this debt; if
we shall be reformed in substance, not in consciousness? Consequently, we
who shall be with God shall be together; since we shall all be with the one
God'albeit the wages be various,  albeit there be "many mansions", in
the house of the same Father  having laboured for the "one penny "
 of the self-same hire, that is, of eternal life; in which (eternal
life) God will still less separate them whom He has conjoined, than in this
lesser life He forbids them to be separated.
Since this is so, how will a woman have room for another husband, who is,
even to futurity, in the possession of her own? (Moreover, we speak to each
sex, even if our discourse address itself but to the one; inasmuch as one
discipline is incumbent [on both].) She will have one in spirit, one in
flesh. This will be adultery, the conscious affection of one woman for two
men. If the one has been disjoined from her flesh, but remains in her
heart'in that place where even cogitation without carnal contact achieves
beforehand both adultery by concupiscence, and matrimony by volition'he is
to this hour her husband, possessing the very thing which is the mean
whereby he became so'her mind, namely, in which withal, if another shall
find a habitation, this will be a crime. Besides, excluded he Is not, if he
has withdrawn from viler carnal commerce. A more honourable husband is he,
in proportion as he is become more pure.
Chapter XI. Further Remarks Upon St. Paul's Teaching.
Grant, now, that you marry "in the Lord," in accordance with the law and the
apostle'if, notwithstanding, you care even about this'with what face do you
request (the solemnizing of) a matrimony which is unlawful to those of whom
you request it; of a monogamist bishop, of presbyters and deacons bound by
the same solemn engagement, of widows whose Order you have in your own
person refused? And they, plainly, will give husbands and wives as they
would morsels of bread; for this is their rendering of "To every one who
asketh thee thou shalt give!"  And they will join you together in a
virgin church, the one betrothed of the one Christ! And you will pray for
your husbands, the new and the old. Make your election, to which of the
twain you will play the adulteress. I think, to both. But if you have any
wisdom, be silent on behalf of the dead one. Let your silence be to him a
divorce, already endorsed in the dotal gifts of another. In this way you
will earn the new husband's favour, if you forget the old. You ought to take
more pains to please him for whose sake you have not preferred to please
God! Such (conduct) the Psychics will have it the apostle approved, or else
totally failed to think about, when he wrote: "The woman is bound for such
length of time as her husband liveth; but if he shall have died, she is
free; whom she will let her marry, only in the Lord."  For it is out
of this passage that they draw their defence of the licence of second
marriage; nay, even of (marriages) to any amount, if of second (marriage):
for that which has ceased to be once for all, is open to any and every
number. But the sense in which the apostle did write will be apparent, if
first an agreement be come to that he did not write it in the sense of which
the Psychics avail themselves. Such an agreement, moreover, will be come to
if one first recall to mind those (passages) which are diverse from the
passage in question, when tried by the standard of doctrine, of volition,
and of Paul's own discipline. For, if he permits second nuptials, which were
not "from the beginning," how does he affirm that all things are being
recollected to the beginning in Christ?  If he wills us to iterate
conjugal connections, how does he maintain that "our seed is called" in the
but once married Isaac as its author? How does he make monogamy the base of
his disposition of the whole Ecclesiastical Order, if this rule does not
antecedently hold good in the case of laics, from whose ranks the
Ecclesiastical Order proceeds?  How does he call away from the
enjoyment of marriage such as are still in the married position, saying that
"the time is wound up," if he calls back again into marriage such as through
death had escaped from marriage? If these (passages) are diverse from that
one about which the present question is, it will be agreed (as we have said)
that he did not write in that sense of which the Psychics avail themselves;
inasmuch as it is easier (of belief) that that one passage should have some
explanation agreeable with the others, than that an apostle should seem to
have taught (principles) mutually diverse. That explanation we shall be able
to discover in the subject-matter itself. What was the subject-matter which
led the apostle to write such (words)? The inexperience of a new and just
rising Church, which he was rearing, to wit, "with milk," not yet with the
"solid food"  of stronger doctrine; inexperience so great, that that
infancy of faith prevented them from yet knowing what they were to do in
regard of carnal and sexual necessity. The very phases themselves of this
(inexperience) are intelligible from (the apostle's) rescripts, when he
says:  "But concerning these (things) which ye write; good it is for
a man not to touch a woman; but, on account of fornications, let each one
have his own wife." He shows that there were who, having been "apprehended
by the faith" in (the state of) marriage, were apprehensive that it might
not be lawful for them thenceforward to enjoy their marriage, because they
had believed on the holy flesh of Christ. And yet it is "by way of
allowance" that he makes the concession, "not by way of command; "that is,
indulging, not enjoining, the practice. On the other hand, he "willed
rather" that all should be what he himself was. Similarly, too, in sending a
rescript on (the subject of) divorce, he demonstrates that some had been
thinking over that also, chiefly because withal they did not suppose that
they were to persevere, after faith, in heathen marriages. They sought
counsel, further, "concerning virgins"'for "precept of the Lord" there was
none'(and were told) that "it is good for a man if he so remain permanently;
"("so"), of course, as he may have been found by the faith. "Thou hast been
bound to a wife, seek not loosing; thou hast been loosed from a wife, seek
not a wife." "But if thou shalt have taken to (thyself) a wife, thou hast
not sinned; "because to one who, before believing, had been "loosed from a
wife," she will not be counted a second wife who, subsequently to believing,
is the first: for it is from (the time of our) believing that our life
itself dates its origin. But here he says that he "is sparing them; "else
"pressure of the flesh" would shortly follow, in consequence of the straits
of the times, which shunned the encumbrances of marriage: yea, rather
solicitude must be felt about earning the Lord's favour than a husband's.
And thus he recalls his permission. So, then, in the very same passage in
which he definitely rules that "each one ought permanently to remain in that
calling in which he shall be called; "adding, "A woman is bound so long as
her husband liveth; but if he shall have fallen asleep, she is free: whom
she shall wish let her marry, only in the Lord," he hence also demonstrates
that such a woman is to be understood as has withal herself been "found" (by
the faith) "loosed from a husband," similarly as the husband "loosed from a
wife"'the "loosing" having taken place through death, of course, not through
divorce; inasmuch as to the divorced he would grant no permission to marry,
in the teeth of the primary precept. And so "a woman, if she shall have
married, will not sin; "because he will not be reckoned a second husband who
is, subsequently to her believing, the first, any more (than a wife thus
taken will be counted a second wife). And so truly is this the case, that he
therefore adds, "only in the Lord; "because the question in agitation was
about her who had had a heathen (husband), and had believed subsequently to
losing him: for fear, to wit, that she might presume herself able to marry a
heathen even after believing; albeit not even this is an object of care to
the Psychics. Let us plainly know that, in the Greek original, it does not
stand in the form which (through the either crafty or simple alteration of
two syllables) has gone out into common use, "But if her husband shall have
fallen asleep," as if it were speaking of the future, and thereby seemed to
pertain to her who has lost her husband when already in a believing state.
If this indeed had been so, licence let loose without limit would have
granted a (fresh) husband as often as one had been lost, without any such
modesty in marrying as is congruous even to heathens. But even if it had
been so, as if referring to future tim, e, "If any (woman's). husband shall
have died, even the future would just as much pertain to her whose husband
shall die before she believed. Take it which way you. will, provided you do
not overturn the rest. For since these (other passages) agree to the sense
(given above): "Thou hast been called (as) a slave; care not: ""Thou hast
been called in uncircumcision; be not circumcised: ""Thou hast been called
in circumcision; become not uncircumcised: "with which concurs, "Thou hast
been bound to a wife; seek not loosing: thou hast been loosed from a wife;
seek not a wife,"'manifest enough it is that these passages pertain to such
as, finding themselves in a new and recent "calling," were consulting (the
apostle) on the subject of those (circumstantial conditions) in which they
had been "apprehended" by the faith.
This will be the interpretation of that passage, to be examined as to
whether it be congruous with the time and the occasion, and with the
examples and arguments preceding as well as with the sentences and senses
succeeding, and primarily with the individual advice and practice of the
apostle himself: for nothing is so much to be guarded as (the care) that no
one be found self-contradictory.
Chapter XII. The Explanation of the Passage Offered by the Psychics
Listen, withal, to the very subtle argumentation on the contrary side. "So
true is it," say (our opponents), "that the apostle has permitted the
iteration of marriage, that it is only such as are in the Clerical Order
that he has stringently bound to the yoke of monogamy. For that which he
prescribes to certain (individuals) he does not prescribe to all." Does it
then follow, too, that to bishops alone he does not prescribe what he does
enjoin upon all; if what he does prescribe to bishops he does not enjoin
upon all? or is it therefore to all because to bishops? and therefore to
bishops because to all? For whence is it that the bishops and clergy come?
Is it not from all If all are not bound to monogamy, whence are monogamists
(to he taken) into the clerical rank? Will some separate order of
monogamists have to be instituted, from which to make selection for the
clerical body? (No); but when we are extolling and inflating ourselves in
opposition to the clergy, then "we are all one: "then "we are all priests,
because He hath made us priests to (His) God and Father." When we are
challenged to a thorough equalization with the sacerdotal discipline, we lay
down the (priestly) fillets, and (still) are on a par! The question in hand
(when the apostle was writing), was with reference to Ecclesiastical
Orders'what son of men ought to be ordained. It was therefore fitting that
all the form of the common discipline should be set forth on its fore-front,
as an edict to be in a certain sense universally and carefully attended to,
that the laity might the better know that they must themselves observe that
order which was indispensable to their overseers; and that even the office
of honour itself might not flatter itself in anything tending to licence, as
if on the ground of privilege of position. The Holy Spirit foresaw that some
would say, "All things are lawful to bishops; "just as that bishop of Utina
of yours feared not even the Scantinian law. Why, how many digamists, too,
preside in your churches; insulting the apostle, of course: at all events,
not blushing when these passages are read under their presidency!
Come, now, you who think that an exceptional law of monogamy is made with
reference to bishops, abandon withal your remaining disciplinary titles,
which, together with monogamy, are ascribed to bishops.  Refuse to be
"irreprehensible, sober, of good morals, orderly, hospitable, easy to be
taught; "nay, indeed, (be) "given to wine, prompt with the hand to strike,
combative, money-loving, not ruling your house, nor caring for your
children's discipline,"'no, nor "courting good renown even from
strangers." For if bishops have a law of their own teaching monogamy, the
other (characteristics) likewise, which will be the fitting concomitants of
monogamy, will have been written (exclusively) for bishops. With laics,
however, to whom monogamy is not suitable, the other (characteristics) also
have nothing to do. (Thus), Psychic, you have (if you please) evaded the
bonds of discipline in its entirety! Be consistent in prescribing, that
"what is enjoined upon certain (individuals) is not enjoined upon all; "or
else, if the other (characteristics) indeed are common, but monogamy is
imposed upon bishops alone, (tell me), pray, whether they alone are to be
pronounced Christians upon whom is conferred the entirety of discipline?
Chapter XIII. Further Objections from St. Paul Answered.
"But again, writing to Timotheus, he 'wills the very young (women) to marry,
bear children, act the housewife.'"  He is (here) directing (his
speech) to such as he denotes above'"very young widows," who, after being,
"apprehended" in widowhood, and (subsequently) wooed for some length of
time, after they have had Christ in their affections, "wish to marry, having
judgment, because they have rescinded the first faith,"'that (faith), to
wit, by which they were "found" in widowhood, and, after professing it, do
not persevere. For which reason he "wills" them to "marry," for fear of
their subsequently rescinding the first faith of professed widowhood; not to
sanction their marrying as often as ever they may refuse to persevere in a
widowhood plied with temptation'nay, rather, spent in indulgence.
"We read him withal writing to the Romans: 'But the woman who is under an
husband, is bound to her husband (while)living; but if he shall have died,
she has been emancipated from the law of the husband.' Doubtless, then, the
husband living, she will be thought to commit adultery if she shall have
been joined to a second husband. If, however, the husband shall have died,
she has been freed from (his) law, (so) that she is not an adulteress if
made (wife) to another husband."  But read the sequel as well in
order that this sense, which flatters you, may evade (your grasp). "And
so," he says, "my brethren, be ye too made dead to the law through the body
of Christ, that ye may be made (subject) to a second,'to Him, namely, who
hath risen from the dead, that we may bear fruit to God. For when we were in
the flesh, the passions of sin, which (passions) used to be efficiently
caused through the law, (wrought) in our members unto the bearing of fruit
to death; but now we have been emancipated from the law, being dead (to
that) in which we used to be held,  unto the serving of God in
newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter." Therefore, if he bids us
"be made dead to the law through the body of Christ," (which is the
Church,  which consists in the spirit of newness,) not "through the
letter of oldness," (that is, of the law,)'taking you away from the law,
which does not keep a wife, when her husband is dead, from becoming (wife)
to another husband'he reduces you to (subjection to) the contrary condition,
that you are not to marry when you have lost your husband; and in as far as
you would not be accounted an adulteress if you became (wife) to a second
husband after the death of your (first) husband, if you were still bound to
act in (subjection to) the law, in so far as a result of the diversity of
(your) condition, he does prejudge you (guilty) of adultery if, after the
death of your husband, you do marry another: inasmuch as you have now been
made dead to the law, it cannot be lawful for you, now that you have
withdrawn from that (law) in the eye of which it was lawful for you.
Chapter XIV. Even If the Permission Had Been Given by St. Paul in the Sense
Which the Psychics Allege, It Was Merely Like the Mosaic Permission of
Divorce'A Condescension to Human Hard-Heartedness.
Now, if the apostle had even absolutely permitted marriage when one's
partner has been lost subsequently to (conversion to) the faith, he would
have done (it), just as (he did) the other (actions) which he did adversely
to the (strict) letter of his own rule, to suit the circumstances. of the
times: circumcising Timotheus  on account of "supposititious false
brethren; "and leading certain "shaven men" into the temple  on
account of the observant watchfulness of the Jews'he who chastises the
Galatians when they desire to live in (observance of) the law.  But
so did circumstances require him to "become all things to all, in order to
gain all; "  "travailing in birth with them until Christ should be
formed in them; "  and "cherishing, as it were a nurse," the little
ones of faith, by teaching them some things "by way of indulgence, not by
way of command"'for it is one thing to indulge, another to bid'permitting a
temporary licence of re-marriage on account of the "weakness of the
flesh," just as Moses of divorcing on account of "the hardness of the
And here, accordingly, we will render the supplement of this (his) meaning.
For if Christ abrogated what Moses enjoined, because "from the beginning
(it) was not so; "and (if)'this being so'Christ will not therefore be
reputed to have come from some other Power; why may not the Paraclete, too,
have abrogated an indulgence which Paul granted'because second marriage
withal "was not from the beginning"'without deserving on this account to be
regarded with suspicion, as if he were an alien spirit, provided only that
the superinduction be worthy of God and of Christ? If it was worthy of God
and of Christ to check "hard-heartedness" when the time (for its indulgence)
was fully expired, why should it not be more worthy both of God and of
Christ to shake off "infirmity of the flesh" when "the time" is already more
"wound up? "If it is just that marriage be not severed, it is, of course,
honourable too that it be not iterated. In short, in the estimation of the
world, each is accounted a mark of good discipline: one under the name of
concord; one, of modesty. "Hardness of heart" reigned till Christ's time;
let "infirmity of the flesh" (be content to) have reigned till the time of
the Paraclete. The New Law abrogated divorce'it had (somewhat) to abrogate;
the New Prophecy (abrogates) second marriage, (which is) no less a divorce
of the former (marriage). But the "hardness of heart" yielded to Christ more
readily than the "infirmity of the flesh." The latter claims Paul in its own
support more than the former Moses; if, indeed, it is claiming him in its
support when it catches: at his indulgence, (but) refuses his
prescript'eluding his more deliberate opinions and his constant "wills," not
suffering us to render to the apostle the (obedience) which he "prefers,"
And how long will this most shameless "infirmity" persevere in waging a war
of extermination against the "better things? "The time for its indulgence
was (the interval) until the Paraclete began His operations, to whose coming
were deferred by the Lord (the things) which in H's day "could not be
endured; "which it is now no longer competent for any one to be unable to
endure, seeing that He through whom the power of enduring is granted is not
wanting. How long shall we allege "the flesh," because the Lord said, "the
flesh is weak? "  But He has withal premised that "the Spirit is
prompt," in order that the Spirit may vanquish the flesh'that the weak may
yield to the stronger. For again He says, "Let him who is able to receive,
receive (it); "  that is, let him who is not able go his way. That
rich man did go his way who had not "received" the precept of dividing his
substance to the needy, and was abandoned by the Lord to his own opinion.
 Nor will "harshness" be on this account imputed to Christ, the Found
of the vicious action of each individual free-will. "Behold," saith He, "I
have set before thee good and evil."  Choose that which is good: if
you cannot, because you will not'for that you can if you will He has shown,
because He has proposed each to your free-will'you ought to depart from Him
whose will you do not.
Chapter XV. Unfairness of Charging the Disciples of the New Prophecy with
Harshness. The Charge Rather to Be Retorted Upon the Psychics.
What harshness, therefore, is here on our part, if we renounce (communion
with) such as do not the will of God? What heresy, if we judge second
marriage, as being unlawful, akin to adultery? For what is adultery but
unlawful marriage? The apostle sets a brand upon those who were wont
entirely to forbid marriage, who were wont at the same time to lay an
interdict on meats which God has created.  We, however, no more do
away with marriage if we abjure its repetition, than we reprobate meats if
we fast oftener (than others). It is one thing to do away with, another to
regulate; it is one thing to, lay down a law of not marrying, it is another
to fix a limit to marrying. To speak plainly, if they who reproach us with
harshness, or esteem heresy (to exist) in this (our) cause, foster the
"infirmity of the flesh" to such a degree as to think it must have support
accorded to it in frequency of marriage; why do they in another case neither
accord it support nor foster it with indulgence'when, (namely), torments
have reduced it to a denial (of the faith)? For, of course, that (infirmity)
is more capable of excuse which has fallen in battle, than (that) which (has
fallen) in the bed-chamber; (that) which has succumbed on the rack, than
(that) which (has succumbed) on the bridal bed; (that) which has yielded to
cruelty, than (that) which (has yielded) to appetite; that which has been
overcome groaning, than (that) which (has been overcome) in heat. But the
former they excommunicate, because it has not "endured unto the end: "
 the latter they prop up, as if withal it has "endured unto the end."
Propose (the question) why each has not "endured unto the end; "and you will
find the cause of that (infirmity) to be more honourable which has been
unable to sustain savagery, than (of that) which (has been unable to
sustain) modesty. And yet not even a bloodwrung'not to say an
immodest'defection does the "infirmity of the flesh" excuse!
Chapter XVI. Weakness of the Pleas Urged in Defence of Second Marriage.
But I smile when (the plea of) "infirmity of the flesh" is advanced in
opposition (to us: infirmity) which is (rather) to be called the height of
strength. Iteration of marriage is an affair of strength: to rise again from
the ease of continence to the works of the flesh, is (a thing requiting)
substantial reins. Such "infirmity" is equal, to a third, and a fourth, and
even (perhaps) a seventh marriage; as (being a thing) which increases its
strength as often as its weakness; which will no longer have (the support
of) an apostle's authority, but of some Hermogenes'wont to marry more women
than he paints. For in him matter is abundant: whence he presumes that even
the soul is material; and therefore much more (than other men) he has not
the Spirit from God, being no longer even a Psychic, because even his
psychic element is not derived from God's afflatus! What if a man allege
"indigence," so as to profess that his flesh is openly prostituted, and
given in marriage for the sake of maintenance; forgetting that there is to
be no careful thought about food and clothing?  He has God (to look
to), the Foster-father even of ravens, the Rearer even of flowers. What if
he plead the loneliness of his home? as if one woman afforded company to a
man ever on the eve of flight! He has, of course, a widow (at hand), whom it
will be lawful for him to take. Not one such wife, but even a plurality, it
is permitted to have. What if a man thinks on posterity, with thoughts like
the eyes of Lot's wife; so that a man is to make the fact that from his
former marriage he has had no children a reason for repeating marriage? A
Christian, forsooth, will seek heirs, disinherited as he is from the entire
world! He has "brethren; "he has the Church as his mother. The case is
different if men believe that, at the bar of Christ as well (as of Rome),
action is taken on the principle of the Julian laws; and imagine that the
unmarried and childless cannot receive their portion in full, in accordance
with the testament of God. Let such (as thus think), then, marry to the very
end; that in this confusion of flesh they, like Sodom and Gomorrah, and the
day of the deluge, may be overtaken by the fated final end of the world. A
third saying let them add, "Let us eat, and drink, and marry, for to-morrow
we shall die; "  not reflecting that the "woe" (denounced) "on such
as are with child, and are giving suck,"  will fall far more heavily
and bitterly in the "universal shaking"  of the entire world
 than it did in the devastation of one fraction of Judaea. Let them
accumulate by their iterated marriages fruits right seasonable for the last
times'breasts heaving, and wombs qualmish, and infants whimpering. Let them
prepare for Antichrist (children) upon whom he may more passionately (than
Pharaoh) spend his savagery.He will lead to them murderous midwives.
Chapter XVII. Heathen Examples Cry Shame Upon This "Infirmity of the
They will have plainly a specious privilege to plead before Christ'the
everlasting "infirmity of the flesh!" But upon this (infirmity) will sit in
judgment no longer an Isaac, our monogamist father; or a John, a noted
voluntary celibate  of Christ's; or a Judith, daughter of Merari; or
so many other examples of saints. Heathens are wont to be destined our
judges. There will arise a queen of Carthage, and give sentence upon the
Christians, who, refugee as she was, living on alien soil, and at that very
time the originator of so mighty a state, whereas she ought unasked to have
craved royal nuptials, yet, for fear she should experience a second
marriage, preferred on the contrary rather to "burn" than to "marry." Her
assessor will be the Roman matron who, having'albeit it was through noctural
violence, nevertheless'known another man, washed away with blood the stain
of her flesh, that she might avenge upon her own person (the honour of)
monogamy. There have been, too, who preferred to die for their husbands
rather than marry after their husbands' death. To idols, at all events, both
monogamy and widowhood serve as apparitors. On Fortuna Muliebris, as on
Mother Matuta, none but a once wedded woman hangs the wreath. Once for all
do the Pontifex Maximus and the wife of a Flamen marry. The priestesses of
Ceres, even during the lifetime and with the consent of their husbands, are
widowed by amicable separation. There are, too, who may judge us on the
ground of absolute continence: the virgins of Vesta, and of the Achaian
Juno, and of the Scythian Diana, and of the Pythian Apollo. On the ground of
continence the priests likewise of the famous Egyptian bull will judge the
"infirmity" of Christians. Blush, O flesh, who hast "put on" 
Christ! Suffice it thee once for all to marry, whereto "from the
beginning" thou wast created, whereto by "the end" thou art being recalled!
Return at least to the former Adam, if to the last thou canst not! Once for
all did he taste of the tree; once for all felt concupiscence; once for all
veiled his shame; once for all blushed in the presence of God; once for all
concealed his guilty hue; once for all was exiled from the paradise of
holiness;  once for all thenceforward married. If you were "in
him,"  you have your norm; if you have passed over "into Christ,"
 you will be bound to be (yet) better. Exhibit (to us) a third Adam,
and him a digamist; and then you will be able to be what, between the two,
About 160 years having elapsed, pp. 59, 61.
If the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written a.d. 57, and if our
author speaks with designed precision, and not in round numbers, the date of
this treatise should be a.d. 217'a date which I should prefer to accept.
Bishop Kaye,  however, instances capp. 7 and 9 in the Ad Nationes as
proving his disposition to give his numbers in loose rhetoric, and not with
arithmetical accuracy. Pamelius, on the other hand, gives a.d. 213.
On the general subject Kaye bids us read cap. 3, with cap. 14, to grasp the
argument of our enthusiast.  In few words, our author holds that St.
Paul condescends to human infirmity in permitting any marriage whatever,
pointing to a better way.  The apostle himself says, "The time is
short; "but a hundred and sixty years have passed since then, and why may
not the Spirit of truth and righteousness now, after so long a time, be
given to animate the adult Church to that which is pronounced the better way
in Scripture itself?
Our author seems struggling here, according to my view, with his own rule of
prescription. He would free the doctrine from the charge of novelty by
pointing it out in the Scripture of a hundred and sixty years before. But
how instinctively the Church ruled against this sophistry, condemning in
advance that whole system of "development" which a modern Tertullian defends
on grounds quite as specious, under a Montanistic subjection that makes a
Priscilla of the Roman pontiff. Let me commend the reader to the remarks
upon Tertullian of the "judicious Hooker," in book ii. capp. v. 5, 6; also
book iv. cap. vii. 4, 5, and elsewhere.
Abrogated indulgence (comp. capp. 2 and 3), p. 70.
Poor Tertullian is at war with himself in all the works which he indites
against Catholic orthodoxy. In the tract De Exhort Castitatis he gives one
construction to 1 Corinthians 9:5, which in this he explains away; 
and now he patches up his conclusion by referring to his Montanistic
"Paraclete." In fighting Marcion, how thoroughly he agrees with Clement of
Alexandria as to the sanctity of marriage. In the second epistle to his
wife, how beautiful his tribute to the married state, blessed by the Church,
and enjoyed in chastity. But here  how fanatically he would make out
that marriage is but tolerated adultery! From Tertullian himself we may
prove the marriage of the clergy, and that (de Exhort Cast., last Chapter)
abstinence was voluntary and exceptional, however praiseworthy. Also, if he
here urges that (cap. 12) even laymen should abstain from second marriages,
he allows the liberty of the clergy to marry once. He admits St. Peter's
marriage. Eusebius proves the marriage of St. Jude. Concerning "the gave
dignity" of a single marriage, we may concede that Tertullian proves his
point, but no further.
In England the principles of the Monogamia were revived by the eccentric
Whiston (circa A.D. 1750), and attracted considerable attention among the
orthodox,'a fact pleasantly satirized by Goldsmith in his Vicar of
On the general subject comp. Chrysost., tom. iii. p. 226: "Laus Maximi, et
quales ducendae sint uxores?
 [Written against orthodoxy, say circa a.d. 208. But see Elucidation
 Gal. v. 17.
 In aevum; eis ton aiōna (LXX.); in aeternum (Vulg.).
 Gen. vi. 3.
 Comp. 1 Cor. xi. 2; 2 Thess. ii. 15, iii. 6. Comp. the Gr. text and
the Vulg. in locis.
 See Matt. xi. 30.
 John xvi. 12, 13. Tertullian's rendering is not verbatim.
 See John xvi. 14.
 See Matt. xix. 12. Comp. de. Pa., c. xiii.; de. Cult. Fem., l. ii. c.
 See 1 Cor. vii. 1, 7, 37, 40; and comp. de Ex. Cast., c. iv.
 1 Cor. vii. 29.
 1 Cor. vii. 32-34.
 Comp. ad Ux., l. i. c. iii.; de Cult. Fem., l. ii. c. x. sub fin.;
and de Ex. Cast., c. iii., which agrees nearly verbatim with what follows.
 1 Cor. vii. 7, only the Greek is thelō, not boulomai.
 1 John ii. 6.
 1 John iii. 3.
 There is no such passage in any Epistle of St. John. There is one
similar in 1 Pet. i. 15.
 Eccles. iii. 1.
 1 Cor. vii. 29.
 Comp. Rom. viii. 26.
 Septuagies. See Gen. iv. 19-24.
 Comp. Gen. vii. 7 with 1 Pet. iii. 20 ad fin.
 Comp. Gen. vi. 19, 20.
 See Gen. vii. 3.
 See Matt. xix. 6.
 Eph. i. 9, 10. The Latin of Tertullian deserves careful comparison
with the original Greek of St. Paul.
 See John i. 1-15.
 1 Cor. xv. 46.
 See Matt. xxiii. 9.
 1 Cor. iv. 15, where it is dia tou euangeliou.
 Gal. iii. 7.
 This is an error. Comp. Gen. xvi. with Gen. xvii.
 See Gal. iii. iv. and comp. Rom. iv.
 See Gen. xvii. 5.
 See Rom. iv. 11, 12, Gal. iii. 7; and comp. Matt. iii. 9; Joh viii.
 See Gal. iv. 21-31.
 See vers. 28, 31.
 See Ps. xxxvii. 27 (in LXX. xxxvi. 27); 1 Pet. iii. 11; 3 John 11.
 Dei de proximo arbitrum. See Num. xii. 6-8; Deut. xxxiv. 10.
 See Matt. v. 17.
 See Acts xv. 10.
 Matt. v. 20.
 Deut. xxv. 5, 6.
 See Matt. xxii. 23-33; Mark xii. 18-27; Luke xx. 26-38. Comp. ad
Ux., l. i.
 Gen. i. 28. Comp. de Ex. Cast., c. vi.
 See Ex. xx. 5; and therefore there must be sons begotten from whom
to exact them.
 Comp. de Ex. Cast., c. vi.
 See Jer. xxxi. 29, 30 (in LXX. xxxviii. 29, 30); Ezek. xviii. 1-4.
 Matt. xix. 12, often quoted.
 Matt. xxiii. 8.
 1 Cor. vii. 39.
 "Adimit;" but the two mss. extant of this treatise read
"admittit" = admits.
 Lev. xx. 21, not exactly given.
 Lev. xxii. 13, where there is no command to her to return, in the
Eng. ver.: in the LXX. there is.
 Ex. xx. 12 in brief.
 Summus sacerdos et magnus patris. But Oehler notices a conjecture
of Jos. Scaliger, "agnus patris," when we must unite "the High Priest and
Lamb of the Father."
 De suo. Comp. de Bapt., c. xvii., ad fin.; de Cult. Fem., l. i. c.
v., . ii. c. ix.; de Ex. Cast., c. iii. med.; and for the ref. see Rev. iii.
 Gal. iii. 27; where it is eis Christon, however.
 See Rev. i. 6.
 Matt. viii. 21, 22; Luke ix. 59, 60.
 Lev. xxi. 11.
 See Matt. xi. 9; Luke vii. 26.
 See Mark i. 29, 30.
 See Matt. xvi. 13-19. Comp. de Pu., c. xxi.
 See 1 Cor. ix. 1-5.
 See Luke viii. 1-3; Matt. xxvii. 55, 56.
 Matt. xxiii. 1-3.
 See Matt. xviii. 1-4, xix. 13-15; Mark x. 13-15.
 Alios post nuptias pueros. The reference seems to be to Matt. xix.
 See John iv. 16-18.
 See Matt. xvii. 1-8; Mark ix. 2-9; Luke ix. 28-36.
 See Luke i. 17.
 See Matt. xi. 19; Luke vii. 34.
 See John ii. 1-11.
 See Matt. xix. 3-8, where, however, Tertullian's order is reversed.
Comp. with this Chapter, c. v. above.
 See Matt. x. 29. Comp. de Ex. Cast., c. i. ad fin.
 See Matt. v. 32.
 Gen. ii. 23, in reversed order again.
 Comp. Rom. vii. 1-3.
 Comp. Matt. xix. 8; Mark x. 5.
 See Matt. xxii. 30; Mark xii. 25; Luke xx. 35, 36.
 Comp. 1 Cor. iii. 8.
 Comp. John xiv. 2.
 Matt. xx. 1-16.
 See Matt. v. 42; Luke vi. 30. Comp. de Bapt., c. xviii.
 1 Cor. vii. 39, not rendered with very strict accuracy.
 See c. v. above.
 See de Ex. Cast., c. vii.
 Comp. 1 Cor. iii. 2 with Heb. v. 11-14.
 1 Cor. vii. 1, 2.
 See 1 Tim. iii. 1-7; Tit. i. 6-9.
 1 Tim. v. 14.
 Rom. vii. 2, 3, not exactly rendered.
 Comp. the marginal reading in the Eng. ver., Rom. vii. 6.
 Comp. Eph. i. 23, and the references there.
 Acts xvi. 3; see Gal. iii. iv.
 Comp. Acts xxi. 20-26.
 See Gal. iii. iv.
 See 1 Cor. ix. 22.
 Gal. iv. 19.
 Matt. xxvi. 41.
 Matt. xix. 12.
 See Matt. xix. 16-26; Mark x. 17-27; Luke xviii. 18-27.
 See Deut. xxx. 1, 15, 19, and xi. 26. See, too, de Ex. Cast., c.
 See 1 Tim. iv. 1-3.
 See Matt. xxiv. 13, and the references there.
 See Matt. vi. 25-34.
 See 1 Cor. xv. 32.
 Matt. xxiv. 19; Luke xxi. 23. Comp. ad Ux., l. i. c. v.
 Concussione. Comp. Hag. ii. 6, 7; Heb. xii. 26, 27.
 Comp. Ex. i. 8-16.
 Comp. ad Ux., l. i. cc. vi. vii.; and de Ex. Cast., c. xiii.
 See Rom. xiii. 14; Gal. iii. 27.
 Or "chastity."
 Comp. 1 Cor. xv. 22, en tō Adam.
 See Rom. vi. 3.
 P. 40, Kaye's Tertullian.
 P. 24, Kaye's Tertullian.
 Comp. Bacon, Essays, No. viii., Of Marriage and Single Life.
 Comp. Ex. Cast., cap. viii. p. 55, supra, with the Monogam., cap.
viii. p. 65, supra.
 Comp. Apparel of Women, ii. cap. ix. p. 23, supra.
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