Perfect Consecration and Devotion to God: what it Is.
That which is laid down in the Book of Numbers, [2641] "greatly to vow a vow," serves to show, as, with a little more explanation, I proceed to prove, that chastity is the great vow above all vows. For then am I plainly consecrated altogether to the Lord, when I not only strive to keep the flesh untouched by intercourse, but also unspotted by other kinds of unseemliness. For "the unmarried woman," it is said, [2642] "careth for the things of the Lord, how she may please the Lord.;" not merely that she may bear away the glory in part of not being maimed in her virtue, but in both parts, according to the apostle, that she may be sanctified in body and spirit, offering up her members to the Lord. For let us say what it is to offer up oneself perfectly to the Lord. If, for instance, I open my mouth on some subjects, and close it upon others; thus, if I open it for the explanation of the Scriptures, for the praise of God, according to my power, in a true faith and with all due honour, and if I close it, putting a door and a watch upon it [2643] against foolish discourse, my mouth is kept pure, and is offered up to God. "My tongue is a pen," [2644] an organ of wisdom; for the Word of the Spirit writes by it in clearest letters, from the depth and power of the Scriptures, even the Lord, the swift Writer of the ages, that He quickly and swiftly registers and fulfils the counsel of the Father, hearing the words, "quickly spoil, swiftly plunder." [2645] To such a Scribe the words may be applied, "My tongue is a pen;" for a beautiful pen is sanctified and offered to Him, writing things more lovely than the poets and orators who confirm the doctrines of men. If, too, I accustom my eyes not to lust after the charms of the body, nor to take delight in unseemly sights, but to look up to the things which are above, then my eyes are kept pure, and are offered to the Lord. If I shut my ears against detraction and slanders, and open them to the word of God, having intercourse with wise men, [2646] then have I offered up my ears to the Lord. If I keep my hands from dishonourable dealing, from acts of covetousness and of licentiousness, then are my hands kept pure to God. If I withhold my steps from going [2647] in perverse ways, then have I offered up my feet, not going to the places of public resort and banquets, where wicked men are found, but into the right way, fulfilling something of the [2648] commands. What, then, remains to me, if I also keep the heart pure, offering up all its thoughts to God; if I think no evil, if anger and wrath gain no rule over me, if I meditate in the law of the Lord day and night? And this is to preserve a great chastity, and to vow a great vow.

[2641] Numbers 6:2 (LXX.).

[2642] 1 Corinthians 7:34; quoted from memory.

[2643] Cf. Psalm 139:4, and cxli. 3.

[2644] Psalm 45:2.

[2645] Isaiah 8:1. The LXX is quoted from memory. The meaning, however, is nearer the original than the E.V. Cf. Keil and Delitzsch, Bib. Com., in loc.

[2646] Cf. Ecclus. vi. 36.

[2647] to poreutikon, the power of going.

[2648] Divine.

chapter iii far best to cultivate
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