Aphrahat’s Demonstrations

Let us observe the appointed time of the glorious bridegroom, that we may enter with Him into His bride-chamber……..Let us purge our seed from thorns, that we may produce fruit a hundred-fold….Let us visit our Lord in the persons of the sick, that He may invite us to stand at His right hand……Let us be diligent workers, that we may obtain our reward with those of old…..Let us prepare as offerings for the King desirable fruits, fasting and prayer……Whosoever is training for the conflict, let him keep himself from the world. Whosoever wishes to gain the crown, let him run as a winner in the race….Whosoever wishes to fly from the darkness, let him walk while he has light. ……The children of the Good fear not the Evil, for He has given him to be trampled by their feet…….When he makes himself like darkness unto them, they become light. And when he creeps upon them like a serpent, they become salt, whereof he cannot eat. If he makes himself like the asp unto them, then they become like babes. If he comes in upon them in the lust of food, they, like our Redeemer, conquer him by fasting. And if he wishes to contend with them by the lust of the eyes, they lift up their eyes to the height of heaven. If he wishes by enticements to overcome them, they do not afford him a hearing….. If he wishes to come in against them by sleep, they are wakeful and vigilant and sing psalms and pray……If he inflames them with the desire of Eve, they dwell alone, and not with the daughters of Eve.
Therefore, my brethren, if any man who is a monk or a saint, who loves the solitary life, yet desires that a woman, bound by monastic vow like himself, should dwell with him, it would be better for him in that case to take (to wife) a woman openly and not be made wanton by lust. So also again the woman, if she be not separated from the solitary, it is better for her to marry openly. Woman then ought to dwell with woman, and man to dwell with man. And also whatever man desires to continue in holiness, let not his spouse dwell with him, lest he turn back to his former condition, and so be esteemed an adulterer. ….
Warning to women of the Order
O you virgins who have betrothed yourselves to Christ, when one of the monks shall say to one of you, I will live with you and you minister to me, thus shall you say unto him:— To a royal husband am I betrothed, and Him do I serve; and if I leave His service and serve you, my betrothed will be angry with me, and will write me a letter of divorce, and will send me away from His house; and while you seek to be honoured by me, and I to be honoured by you, take heed lest hurt come upon me and you. Take not fire into your bosom, lest it burn your garments; but be in honour alone, and I also alone will abide in my honour. And as concerning these things which the Bridegroom has prepared for the eternity of his marriage feast, make a wedding-gift and prepare yourself to meet Him. And as for me, I will make me ready oil, that I may enter in with the wise virgins and may not be kept outside the door with the foolish virgins.
Instructions to the solitaries
Hearken then, my beloved, unto that which I write unto you, namely, whatsoever things
become solitaries, monks, virgins, saints. Before all things it beseems the man on whom the yoke is laid, that his faith should be firm; as I wrote to you in the first epistle; that he should be zealous in fasting and prayer; that he should be fervent in the love of Christ; and should be humble and mild and wise. And let his speech be peaceful and pleasant, and his thought be sincere with all. Let him speak his words duly weighing them, and set a barrier to his mouth from harmful words, and let him put far from him hasty laughter. Let him not love the adornment of garments, nor again does it become him to let his hair grow long and adorn it, or to anoint it with sweet-scented ointments. Let him not recline at feastings, nor does it become him to wear gorgeous apparel…… Let him put away from him a crafty tongue; let him drive from him envy and wrath, and cast away from him crafty lips…….
therefore love virginity, the heavenly portion, the fellowship of the Watchers of heaven. For there is nothing comparable with it. And in those that are thus, in them Christ dwells. Therefore read in this whatever I have written unto you, you and the brethren, the monks that love virginity.
Read then and learn. Be zealous for reading and for doing. And let the Law of God be your meditation at every time.