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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

St Gregory of Nyssa On Virginity, Complete

Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson

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Page 29

This is always happening whenever any one in a lively heart conceives all the integrity of the Spirit, and brings forth wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption too. It is possible for any one to be the mother of such a son; as our Lord says, "He that doeth my will is my brother, my sister, and my mother [1439] ." What room is there for death in such parturitions? Indeed in them death is swallowed up by life. In fact, the Life of Virginity seems to be an actual representation of the blessedness in the world to come, showing as it does in itself so many signs of the presence of those expected blessings which are reserved for us there. That the truth of this statement may be perceived, we will verify it thus. It is so, first, because a man who has thus died once for all to sin lives for the future to God; he brings forth no more fruit unto death; and having so far as in him lies made an end [1440] of this life within him according to the flesh, he awaits thenceforth the expected blessing of the manifestation [1441] of the great God, refraining from putting any distance between himself and this coming of God by an intervening posterity: secondly, because he enjoys even in this present life a certain exquisite glory of all the blessed results of our resurrection. For our Lord has announced that the life after our resurrection shall be as that of the angels. Now the peculiarity of the angelic nature is that they are strangers to marriage; therefore the blessing of this promise has been already received by him who has not only mingled his own glory with the halo of the Saints, but also by the stainlessness of his life has so imitated the purity of these incorporeal beings. If virginity then can win us favours such as these, what words are fit to express the admiration of so great a grace? What other gift of the soul can be found so great and precious as not to suffer by comparison with this perfection?

[1439] S. Matt. xii. 50.

[1440] sunteleian. Cf. S. Matt. xiii. 39; and Heb. ix. 15.

[1441] epiphaneian; Tit. ii. 13.

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