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| Chapter XIX |
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But besides other things the action of Miriam the prophetess also
gives rise to these surmisings of ours. Directly the sea was crossed
she took in her hand a dry and sounding timbrel and conducted the
. By this
story may mean to imply virginity, as first perfected by Miriam; whom
indeed I would believe to be a type of Mary the mother of God1475
. Just as the timbrel emits a loud sound
because it is devoid of all moisture and reduced to the highest degree
of dryness, so has virginity a clear and ringing report amongst men
because it repels from itself the vital sap of merely physical life.
Thus, Miriam’s timbrel being a dead thing, and virginity being a
deadening of the bodily passions, it is perhaps not very far removed
from the bounds of probability1476
| 1475 δι᾽ ἧς οἶμαι
words are absent from the Munich Cod. i.e. the German; not from
Vat. and Reg. Ambrose, Ep. 25, has “Quid de alterâ Moysi
sorore Mariâ loquar, quæ fœminei dux agminis pede
transmisit pelagi freta,” when speaking “de gloriâ
that Miriam was a
virgin. However, we can but guess and surmise, we cannot clearly prove,
that this was so, and that Miriam the prophetess led a dance of
virgins, even though many of the learned have affirmed distinctly that
she was unmarried, from the fact that the history makes no mention
either of her marriage or of her being a mother; and surely she would
have been named and known, not as “the sister of Aaron1477
| 1476 τοῦ
,” but from her husband, if she had had
one; since the head of the woman is not the brother but the husband.
But if, amongst a people with whom motherhood was sought after and
classed as a blessing and regarded as a public duty, the grace of
virginity, nevertheless, came to be regarded as a precious thing, how
does it behove us to feel towards it, who do not “judge” of
the Divine blessings1478
the flesh”? Indeed it has been revealed in the oracles of God, on
what occasion to conceive and to bring forth is a good thing, and what
species of fecundity was desired by God’s saints; for both the
Prophet Isaiah and the divine Apostle have made this clear and certain.
The one cries, “From fear of Thee, O Lord, have I conceived1479
| 1478 S. John viii. 15. “Ye judge after
the flesh.” It is Gregory’s manner to make such passing
allusions to Scripture, and especially to S. Paul.|
;” the other boasts that he is the
parent of the largest family of any, bringing to the birth whole cities
and nations; not the Corinthians and Galatians only whom by his
travailings he moulded for the Lord, but all in the wide circuit from
Jerusalem to Illyricum; his children filled the world,
“begotten” by him in Christ through the Gospel1480
| 1479 Gregory here quotes from LXX. Cf. Is. xxvi. 18, and also
. In the same strain the womb of the Holy
Virgin, which ministered to an Immaculate Birth, is pronounced blessed
in the Gospel1481
; for that birth did
not annul the Virginity, nor did the Virginity impede so great a birth.
When the “spirit of salvation1482
Isaiah names it, is being born, the willings of the flesh are useless.
There is also a particular teaching of the Apostle, which harmonizes
with this; viz. each man of us is a double man1483
one the outwardly visible, whose natural fate it is to decay; the other
perceptible only in the secret of the heart, yet capable of renovation.
If this teaching is true,—and it must be true1484
because Wisdom is speaking there,—then
there is no absurdity in supposing a double marriage also which answers
in every detail to either man; and, maybe, if one was to assert boldly
that the body’s virginity was the co-operator and the agent of
the inward marriage, this assertion would not be much beside the
| 1484 πάντως δὲ
ἀληθὴς, κ. τ.
λ. So Codd. Reg. and Morell., for
Gregory alludes to 2 Cor. xiii.
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