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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Chapter VII.—The Case of a Heathen Whose Wife is Converted After Marriage with Him Very Different, and Much More Hopeful.

If these things may happen to those women also who, having attained the faith while in (the state of) Gentile matrimony, continue in that state, still they are excused, as having been “apprehended by God”483483    Comp. Phil. iii. 12, and c. ii. sub fin. in these very circumstances; and they are bidden to persevere in their married state, and are sanctified, and have hope of “making a gain”484484    Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 16 and 1 Pet. iii. 1. held out to them.  “If, then, a marriage of this kind (contracted before conversion) stands ratified before God, why should not (one contracted after conversion) too go prosperously forward, so as not to be thus harassed by pressures, and straits, and hindrances, and defilements, having already (as it has) the partial sanction of divine grace?  “Because, on the one hand, the wife485485    Tertullian here and in other places appears, as the best editors maintain, to use the masculine gender for the feminine. in the former case, called from among the Gentiles to the exercise of some eminent heavenly virtue, is, by the visible proofs of some marked (divine) regard, a terror to her Gentile husband, so as to make him less ready to annoy her, less active in laying snares for her, less diligent in playing the spy over her.  He has felt “mighty works;”486486    Magnalia.  Comp. 2 Cor. xii. 12. he has seen experimental evidences; he knows her changed for the better:  thus even he himself is, by his fear,487487    Timore. a candidate for God.488488    Comp. de Or., c. iii. (med.), “angelorum candidati;” and de Bapt., c. x. sub fin., “candidatus remissionis.”  Thus men of this kind, with regard to whom the grace of God has established a familiar intimacy, are more easily “gained.”  But, on the other hand, to descend into forbidden ground unsolicited and spontaneously, is (quite) another thing.  Things which are not pleasing to the Lord, of course offend the Lord, are of course introduced by the Evil One.  A sign hereof is this fact, that it is wooers only who find the Christian name pleasing; and, accordingly, some heathen men are found not to shrink in horror from Christian women, just in order to exterminate them, to wrest them away, to exclude them from the faith.  So long as marriage of this kind is procured by the Evil One, but condemned by God, you have a reason why you need not doubt that it can in no case be carried to a prosperous end.


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