woman lest you are distracted from the grace of God. But when you have rejected the fire of theseed, then pray with an undisturbed conscience. And when your prayer of thanksgiving," hesays, "descends to a prayer of request, and your request is not that in future you may do right,but that you may do no wrong, then marry. But perhaps a man is too young or poor or suffersfrom weak health, and has not the will to marry as the apostle's saying suggests. Such a manshould not separate himself from his brother Christian. He should say, I have come into thesanctuary, I can suffer nothing. And if he has a presentiment that he may fall, he may say,Brother, lay your hand on me lest I sin, and he will receive help both spiritually and physically.Let him only wish to accomplish what is right and he will achieve his object.3. "Sometimes, however, we say with our mouth 'I wish not to sin' while our mind is reallyinclined towards sin. Such a man does not do what he wishes for fear lest any punishmentshould be in store for him. Human nature has some wants which are necessary and natural, andothers which are only natural. To be clothed is necessary and natural; sexual intercourse isnatural but not necessary."I have quoted these remarks to prove in error those Basilidians who do not live purely,supposing either that they have the power even to commit sin because of their perfection, orindeed that they will be saved by nature even if they sin in this life because they possess aninnate election. For the original teachers of their doctrines do not allow one to do the same asthey are now doing. They ought not, therefore, to take as a covering cloak the name of Christand, by living lewder lives than the most uncontrolled heathen, bring blasphemy upon hisname. "For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers" as far as the words "whose endshall be like their works."4. Continence is an ignoring of the body in accordance with the confession of faith in God. Forcontinence is not merely a matter of sexual abstinence, but applies also to the other things forwhich the soul has an evil desire because it is not satisfied with the necessities of life. There isalso a continence of the tongue, of money, of use, and of desire. I t does not only teach us toexercise self-control; it is rather that self-control is granted to us, since it is a divine power andgrace. Accordingly I must declare what is the opinion of our people about this subject. Our viewis that we welcome as blessed the state of abstinence from marriage in those to whom this hasbeen granted by God. We admire monogamy and the high standing of single marriage, holdingthat we ought to share suffering with another and "bear one another's burdens," lest anyonewho thinks he stands securely should himself fall. It is of second marriage that the apostle says,If you burn, marry.
5. But the followers of Carpocrates and Epiphanes think that wives should be commonproperty. Through them the worst calumny has become current against the Christian name.This fellow Epiphanes, whose writings I have at hand, was a son of Carpocrates and his mother