Jerome answers the second, third, and fourth propositions of Jovinianus.
I. (c. 1-4). That those who have become regenerate cannot be overthrown by the devil, Jerome (c. 1) puts it that they cannot be tempted by the devil. He quotes 1 John 1:8-ii. 2, as showing that faithful men can be tempted and sin and need an advocate. The expressions (3) in Hebrews vi. as to those who crucify the Son of God afresh do not apply to ordinary sins after baptism, as supposed by Montanus and Novatus. The epistles to the Seven Churches show that the lapsed may return. The Angels, and even our Lord Himself, (4) could be tempted.
II. (c. 5-17). That there is no difference (morally) between one who fasts and one who takes food with thanksgiving. Jovinian has quoted (5) many texts of Scripture to show that God has made animals for men's food. But (6) there are many other uses of animals besides food. And there are many warnings like 1 Cor. vi. 13, as to the danger arising from food. There are among the heathen (7) many instances of abstinence. They recognize (8) the evil of sensual allurements, and often, like Crates the Theban, (9) have cast away what would tempt them; the senses, they teach, (10) should be subject to reason; and, that (11) except for athletes (Christians do not want to be like Milo of Crotona) bread and water suffice. Horace (12), Xenophon and other eminent Greeks (13), the Essenes and the Brahmans (14), as well as philosophers like Diogenes, testify to the value of abstinence. The Old Testament stories (15) of Esau's pottage, of the lusting of Israel for the flesh-pots of Egypt, and those in the New Testament of Anna, Cornelius, etc., commend abstinence. If some heretics inculcate fasting (16) in such a way as to despise the gifts of God, and weak Christians are not to be judged for their use of flesh, those who seek the higher life (17) will find a help in abstinence.
III. (c. 18-34). The fourth proposition of Jovinianus, that all who are saved will have equal reward, is refuted (19) by the various yields of thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold in the parable of the sower, by (20) the
stars differing in glory of 1 Cor. xv. 41. It is strange (21) to find the advocate of self-indulgence now claiming equality to the saints. But (22) as there were differences in Ezekiel between cattle and cattle, so in St. Paul between those who built gold or stubble on the one foundation. The differences of gifts (23), of punishments (24), of guilt (25), as in Pilate and the Chief Priests, of the produce of the good seed (26), of the mansions promised in heaven (27-29), of the judgment upon sins both in the church and in Scripture (30-31), of those called at different times to the vineyard (32) are arguments for the diversity of rewards. The parable of the talents (33) holds out as rewards differences of station, and so does the church (34) in its different orders.
Jerome now recapitulates (35) and appeals (36)against the licentious views of Jovinianus, which have already induced many virgins to break their vows; and which, as the new Roman heresy (37), he calls upon the Imperial City (38) to reject.
1. The second proposition of Jovinianus is that the baptized cannot be tempted by the devil. And to escape the imputation of folly in saying this, he adds:
But if any are tempted, it only shows that they were baptized with water, not with the Spirit, as we read was the case with Simon Magus. Hence it is that John says, 1 John 3:9-10
Whosoever is begotten of God does no sin, because his seed abides in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil. And at the end of the Epistle, 1 John 5:18
2. This would be a real difficulty and one for ever incapable of solution were it not solved by the witness of John himself, who immediately goes on to say, 1 John 5:21
My little children, guard yourselves from idols. If everyone that is born of God sins not, and cannot be tempted by the devil, how is it that he bids them beware of temptation? Again in the same Epistle we read:
If we say that we have no sins, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. I suppose that John was baptized and was writing to the baptized: I imagine too that all sin is of the devil. Now John confesses himself a sinner, and hopes for forgiveness of sins after baptism. My friend Jovinianus says,
Touch me not, for I am clean. What then? Does the Apostle contradict himself? By no means. In the same passage he gives his reason for thus speaking: 1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. And hereby know we that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps his word, in him verily has the love of God been perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him: he that says he abides in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked. My reason for telling you, little children, that everyone who is born of God sins not, is that you may not sin, and that you may know that so long as you sin not you abide in the birth which God has given you. Yea, they who abide in that birth cannot sin. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
For what communion has light with darkness? Or Christ with Belial? As day is distinct from night, so righteousness and unrighteousness, sin and good works, Christ and Antichrist cannot blend. If we give Christ a lodging-place in our hearts, we banish the devil from thence. If we sin and the devil enter through the gate of sin, Christ will immediately withdraw. Hence David after sinning says: joy which he had lost by sinning. 1 John 2:4 truth: commandments we keep not. To him that knows what is good, and does it not, it is sin. James 2:26
As the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead. And we must not think it a great matter to know the only God, when even devils believe and tremble.
He that says he abides in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked. Our opponent may choose whichever of the two he likes; we give him his choice. Does he abide in Christ, or not? If he abide, let him then walk as Christ walked. But if there is rashness in professing to copy the virtues of our Lord, he does not abide in Christ, for he does not walk as did Christ. 1 Peter 2:22
He did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: when he was reviled, he reviled not again, and as a lamb is dumb before its shearer, so opened he not his mouth. To Him came the prince of this world, and found nothing in Him: although He had done no sin, God made Him sin for us. But we, according to the Epistle of James, James 3:2
all stumble in many things, and
no one is pure from sin, no not if his life be but a day long. Proverbs 20:9 For who will boast
that he has a clean heart? Or who will be sure that he is pure from sin? And we are held guilty after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Hence David says,
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. And the blessed Job,
Though I be righteous my mouth will speak wickedness, and though I be perfect, I shall be found perverse. If I wash myself with snow water and make my hands never so clean, yet will you plunge me in the ditch and my own clothes shall abhor me. But that we may not utterly despair and think that if we sin after baptism we cannot be saved, he immediately checks the tendency: 1 John 2:1-2
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins. And not for ours only, but also for the whole world. He addresses this to baptized believers, and he promises them the Lord as an advocate for their offenses. He does not say: If you fall into sin, you have an advocate with the Father, Christ, and He is the propitiation for your sins: you might then say that he was addressing those whose baptism had been destitute of the true faith: but what he says is this,
We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and he is the propitiation for our sins. And not only for the sins of John and his contemporaries, but for those of the whole world. Now in
the whole world are included apostles and all the faithful, and a clear proof is established that sin after baptism is possible. It is useless for us to have an advocate Jesus Christ, if sin be impossible.
3. The apostle Peter, to whom it was said, John 13:10
He that is bathed needs not to wash again, and Matthew 16:18
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, through fear of a maid-servant denied Him. Our Lord himself says, Luke 21:31
Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat. But I made supplication for you, that your faith fail not. And in the same place,
Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. If you reply that this was said before the Passion, we certainly say after the Passion, in the Lord's prayer, Matthew 6:12
Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. If we do not sin after baptism, why do we ask that we may be forgiven our sins, which were already forgiven in baptism? Why do we pray that we may not enter into temptation, and that we may be delivered from the evil one, if the devil cannot tempt those who are baptized? The case is different if this prayer belongs to the Catechumens, and is not adapted to faithful Christians. Paul, the chosen vessel, 1 Corinthians 9:27 chastised his body, and brought it into subjection, lest after preaching to others he himself should be found a reprobate, and 2 Corinthians 12:7 he tells that there was given to him
a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. And to the Corinthians he writes: 2 Corinthians 11:3
I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ. And elsewhere: 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
But to whom you forgive anything, I forgive also: for what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, for your sakes have I forgiven it in the person of Christ: that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices. And again: 1 Corinthians 10:13
There has no temptation taken you, but such as man can bear; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. And, 1 Corinthians 10:12
Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. And to the Galatians: Galatians 5:7 1 Thessalonians 2:18 1 Corinthians 7:5
Be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency. And again: Galatians 5:16-17
But I say, walk by the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other: that you may not do the things that you would. We are a compound of the two, and must endure the strife of the two substances. And to the Ephesians: Ephesians 6:12
Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Does any one think that we are safe, and that it is right to fall asleep when once we have been baptized? And so, too, in the epistle to the Hebrews:
For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Surely we cannot deny that they have been baptized who have been illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God. But if the baptized cannot sin, how is it now that the Apostle says,
And have fallen away? Montanus and Novatus would smile at this, for they contend that it is impossible to renew again through repentance those who have crucified to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. He therefore corrects this mistake by saying: Hebrews 6:9
But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak; for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which you showed towards his name, in that you ministered unto the Saints, and still do minister. And truly the unrighteousness of God would be great, if He merely punished sin, and did not welcome good works. I have so spoken, says the Apostle, to withdraw you from your sins, and to make you more careful through fear of despair. But, beloved, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation. For it is not accordant with the righteousness of God to forget good works, and the fact that you have ministered and do minister to the Saints for His name's sake, and to remember sins only. The Apostle James also, knowing that the baptized can be tempted, and fall of their own free choice, says:
Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he has been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him. And that we may not think that we are tempted by God, as we read in Genesis Abraham was, he adds:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no man. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. God created us with free will, and we are not forced by necessity either to virtue or to vice. Otherwise, if there be necessity, there is no crown. As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that pities and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession. For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. Sirach 27:5
Potters' vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation. And in another place it is written: Sirach 2:1
My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation. Again, the same James says:
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholds himself, and goes away, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism. He tells us that James 2:10
whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. Which of us is without sin? Romans 11:32
God has shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Peter also says: 2 Peter 2:9
The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. And concerning false teachers: 2 Peter 2:17-18
These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved. For, uttering proud words of vanity, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those who had just escaped, and have turned back to error. Does not the Apostle in these words seem to you to have depicted the new party of ignorance? For, as it were, they open the fountains of knowledge and yet have no water: they promise a shower of doctrine like prophetic clouds which have been visited by the truth of God, and are driven by the storms of devils and vices. They speak great things, and their talk is nothing but pride:
But every one is unclean with God who is lifted up in his own heart. Like those who had just escaped from their sins, they return to their own error, and persuade men to luxury, and to the delights of eating and the gratification of the flesh. For who is not glad to hear them say:
Let us eat and drink, and reign for ever? The wise and prudent they call corrupt, but pay more attention to the honey-tongued. John the apostle, or rather the Saviour in the person of John, writes thus to the angel of the Church of Ephesus:
I know your works and your toil and patience, and that you bore for my name's sake, and hast not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you left your first love. Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you, and will move your candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. Similarly He urges the other churches, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, to repentance, and threatens them unless they return to the former works. And in Sardis He says He has a few who have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with Him in white, for they are worthy. But they to whom He says:
Remember from whence you are fallen; and,
Remember how you have received, and heard, and keep it, and repent, and so on, were of course believers, and baptized, who once stood, but fell through sin.
4. I delayed for a little while the production of proofs from the Old Testament, because, wherever the Old Testament is against them they are accustomed to cry out that Matthew 11:13 the Law and the Prophets were until John. But who does not know that under the other dispensation of God all the saints of past times were of equal merit with Christians at the present day? As Abraham in days gone by pleased God in wedlock, so virgins now please him in perpetual virginity. He served the Law and his own times; let us now serve the Gospel and our times, 1 Corinthians 10:11 upon whom the ends of the ages have come. David the chosen one, the man after God's own heart, who had performed all His pleasure, and who in a certain psalm had said,
Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord and shall not slide. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart, even he was afterwards tempted by the devil; and repenting of his sin said,
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness. He would have a great sin blotted out by great loving-kindness. Solomon, beloved of the Lord, and to whom God had twice revealed Himself, because he loved women forsook the love of God. It is related in the 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 Book of Days that Manasses the wicked king was restored after the Babylonish captivity to his former rank. And Josiah, a holy man, was slain by the king of Egypt on the plain of Megiddo. Joshua also, the son of Josedech and high-priest, although he was a type of our Saviour Who bore our sins, and united to Himself a church of alien birth from among the Gentiles, is nevertheless, according to the letter of Scripture, represented in filthy garments after he attained to the priesthood, and with the devil standing at his right hand; and white raiment is afterwards restored to him. It is needless to tell how Moses and Aaron offended God at the water of strife, and did not enter the land of promise. For the blessed Job relates that even the angels and every creature can sin. Job 5:17
Shall mortal man, he says,
be just before God? Shall a man be spotless in his works? If he puts no trust in his servants, and charges his angels with folly, how much more them that dwell in houses of clay, among whom are we, and made of the same clay too. Job 7:1
The life of man is a warfare upon earth. Lucifer fell who was sending to all nations, and he who was nurtured in a paradise of delight as one of the twelve precious stones, was wounded and went down to hell from the mount of God. Hence the Saviour says in the Gospel: Luke 10:18
I beheld Satan falling as lightning from heaven. If he fell who stood on so sublime a height, who may not fall? If there are falls in heaven, how much more on earth! And yet though Lucifer be fallen (the old serpent after his fall),
his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the muscles of his belly. The great trees are overshadowed by him, and he sleeps beside the reed, the rush, and the sedge. He is king over all things that are in the waters— that is to say in the seat of pleasure and luxury, of propagation of children, and of the fertilisation of the marriage bed.
For who can strip off his outer garment? Who can open the doors of his face? Nations fatten upon him, and the tribes of Phenicia divide him. And lest haply the reader in his secret thought might imagine that those tribes of Phenicia and peoples of Ethiopia only are meant by those to whom the dragon was given for food, we immediately find a reference to those who are crossing the sea of this world, and are hastening to reach the haven of salvation:
His head stands in the ships of the fishermen like an anvil that cannot be wearied: he counts iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. And all the gold of the sea under him is as mire. He makes the deep to boil like a pot: he values the sea like a pot of ointment, and the blackness of the deep as a captive. He beholds everything that is high. And my friend Jovinianus thinks he can gain an easy mastery over him. Why speak of holy men and angels, who, being creatures of God, are of course capable of sin? He dared to tempt the Son of God, and though smitten through and through with our Lord's first and second answer, nevertheless raised his head, and when thrice wounded, withdrew only for a time, and deferred rather than removed the temptation. And we flatter ourselves on the ground of our baptism, which though it put away the sins of the past, cannot keep us for the time to come, unless the baptized keep their hearts with all diligence.
5. At length we have arrived at the question of food, and are confronted by our third difficulty.
All things were created to serve for the use of mortal men. And as man, a rational animal, in a sense the owner and tenant of the world, is subject to God, and worships his Creator, so all things living were created either for the food of men, or for clothing, or for tilling the earth, or conveying the fruits thereof, or to be the companions of man, and hence, because they are man's helpers, they have their name jumenta. 'What is man,' says David, 'that you are mindful of him? And the son of man, that you visit him? For you have made him but little lower than the angels, and crownest him with glory and honour. You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field: the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas.' Granted, he says, that the ox was created for ploughing, the horse for riding, the dog for watching, goats for their milk, sheep for their fleeces. What is the use of swine if we may not eat their flesh? Of roes, stags, fallow-deer, boars, hares, and such like game? Of geese, wild and tame? Of wild ducks and fig-peckers? Of woodcocks? Of coots? Of thrushes? Why do hens run about our houses? If they are not eaten, all these creatures were created by God for nothing. But what need is there of argument when Scripture clearly teaches that every moving creature, like herbs and vegetables, were given to us for food, and the Apostle cries aloud 'All things are clean to the clean, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving,' and 1 Timothy 4:3 tells us that men will come in the last days, forbidding to marry, and to eat meats, which God created for use? The Lord himself was called by the Pharisees a wine-bibber and a glutton, the friend of publicans and sinners, because he did not decline the invitation of Zacchæus to dinner, and went to the marriage-feast. But it is a different matter if, as you may foolishly contend, he went to the dinner intending to fast, and after the manner of deceivers said, I eat this, not that; I do not drink the wine which I created out of water. He did not make water, but wine, the type of his blood. After the resurrection he ate a fish and part of a honey-comb, not sesame nuts and service-berries. The apostle, Peter, did not wait like a Jew for the stars to peep, but went upon the house-top to dine at the sixth hour. Paul in the ship broke bread, not dried figs. When Timothy's stomach was out of order, he advised him to drink wine, not perry. In abstaining from meats they please their own fancy: as though superstitious Gentiles did not observe the rites of abstinence connected with the Mother of the Gods and with Isis.
6. I will follow in detail the views now expounded, and before I come to Scripture and show by it that fasting is pleasing to God, and chastity accepted by him, I will meet philosophic argument with argument, and will prove that we are not followers of Empedocles and Pythagoras, who on account of their doctrine of the transmigration of souls think nothing which lives and moves should be eaten, and look upon him who fells a fir-tree or an oak as equally guilty with the parricide or the poisoner: but that we worship our Creator Who made all things for the use of man. And as the ox was created for ploughing, the horse for riding, dogs for watching, goats for milk, sheep for their wool: so it was with swine and stags, and roes and hares, and other animals: but the immediate purpose of their creation was not that they might serve for food, but for other uses of men. For if everything that moves and lives was made for food, and prepared for the stomach, let my opponents tell me why elephants, lions, leopards, and wolves were created; why vipers, scorpions, bugs, lice, and fleas; why the vulture, the eagle, the crow, the hawk; why whales, dolphins, seals, and small snails were created. Which of us ever eats the flesh of a lion, a viper, a vulture, a stork, a kite, or the worms that crawl upon our shores? As then these have their proper uses, so may we say that other beasts, fishes, birds, were created not for eating, but for medicine. In short, to how many uses the flesh of vipers, from which we make our antidotes against poison, may be applied, physicians know well. Ivory dust is an ingredient in many remedies. Hyena's gall restores brightness to the eyes, and its dung and that of dogs cures gangrenous wounds. And (it may seem strange to the reader) Galen asserts in his treatise on Simples, that human dung is of service in a multitude of cases. Naturalists say that snake-skin, boiled in oil, gives wonderful relief in ear-ache. What to the uninitiated seems so useless as a bug? Yet, suppose a leech to have fastened on the throat, as soon as the odour of a bug is inhaled the leech is vomited out, and difficulty in urinating is relieved by the same application. As for the fat of pigs, geese, fowls, and pheasants, how useful they are is told in all medical works, and if you read these books you will see there that the vulture has as many curative properties as it has limbs. Peacock's dung allays the inflammation of gout. Cranes, storks, eagle's gall, hawk's blood, the ostrich, frogs, chameleons, swallow's dung and flesh— in what diseases these are suitable remedies, I could tell if it were my purpose to discuss bodily ailments and their cure. If you think proper you may read Aristotle and Theophrastus in prose, or Marcellus of Side, and our Flavius, who discourse on these subjects in hexameter verse; the second Pliny also, and Dioscorides, and others, both naturalists and physicians, who assign to every herb, every stone, every animal whether reptile, bird, or fish, its own use in the art of which they treat. So then when you ask me why the pig was created, I immediately reply, as if two boys were disputing, by asking you why were vipers and scorpions? You must not judge that anything from the hand of God is superfluous, because there are many beasts and birds which your palate rejects. But this may perhaps look more like contentiousness and pugnacity than truth. Let me tell you therefore that pigs and wild-boars, and stags, and the rest of living creatures were created, that soldiers, athletes, sailors, rhetoricians, miners, and other slaves of hard toil, who need physical strength, might have food: and also those who carry arms and provisions, who wear themselves out with the work of hand or foot, who ply the oar, who need good lungs to shout and speak, who level mountains and sleep out rain or fair. But our religion does not train boxers, athletes, sailors, soldiers, or ditchers, but followers of wisdom, who devote themselves to the worship of God, and know why they were created and are in the world from which they are impatient to depart. Hence also the Apostle says: 2 Corinthians 12:14
When I am weak, then am I strong. And 2 Corinthians 4:16
Though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. And Philippians 1:23
I have the desire to depart and be with Christ. And, Romans 13:14
Make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Are all commanded not to have two coats, nor food in their scrip, money in their purse, a staff in the hand, shoes on the feet? Or to sell all they possess and give to the poor, and follow Jesus? Of course not: but the command is for those who wish to be perfect. On the contrary John the Baptist lays down one rule for the soldiers, another for the publicans. But the Lord says in the Gospel to him who had boasted of having kept the whole law: Matthew 19:21
If you will be perfect, go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and come, follow me. That He might not seem to lay a heavy burden on unwilling shoulders, He sent His hearer away with full power to please himself, saying
If you will be perfect. And so I too say to you: If you wish to be perfect, it is good not to drink wine, and eat flesh. If you wish to be perfect, it is better to enrich the mind than to stuff the body. But if you are an infant and fond of the cooks and their preparations, no one will snatch the dainties out of your mouth. Eat and drink, and, if you like, with Israel rise up and play, and sing 1 Corinthians 15:85
Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. Let him eat and drink, who looks for death when he has feasted, and who says with Epicurus,
There is nothing after death, and death itself is nothing. We believe Paul when he says in tones of thunder: 1 Corinthians 6:13
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats. But God will destroy both them and it.
7. I have quoted these few passages of Scripture to show that we are at one with the philosophers. But who does not know that no universal law of nature regulates the food of all nations, and that each eats those things of which it has abundance? For instance, the Arabians and Saracens, and all the wild tribes of the desert live on camel's milk and flesh: for the camel, to suit the climate and barren soil of those regions, is easily bred and reared. They think it wicked to eat the flesh of swine. Why? Because pigs which fatten on acorns, chestnuts, roots of ferns, and barley, are seldom or never found among them: and if they were found, they would not afford the nourishment of which we spoke just now. The exact opposite is the case with the northern peoples. If you were to force them to eat the flesh of asses and camels, they would think it the same as though they were compelled to devour a wolf or a crow. In Pontus and Phrygia a pater-familias pays a good price for fat white worms with blackish heads, which breed in decayed wood. And as with us the woodcock and fig-pecker, the mullet and scar, are reputed delicacies, so with them it is a luxury to eat the xylophagus. Again, because throughout the glowing wastes of the desert clouds of locusts are found, it is customary with the peoples of the East and of Libya to feed on locusts. John the Baptist proves the truth of this. Compel a Phrygian or a native of Pontus to eat a locust, and he will think it scandalous. Force a Syrian, an African, or Arabian to swallow worms, he will have the same contempt for them as for flies, millepedes, and lizards, although the Syrians are accustomed to eat land-crocodiles, and the Africans even green lizards. In Egypt and Palestine, owing to the scarcity of cattle no one eats beef, or makes the flesh of bulls or oxen, or calves, a portion of their food. Moreover, in my province it is considered a crime to eat veal. Accordingly the Emperor Valens recently promulgated a law throughout the East, prohibiting the killing and eating of calves. He had in view the interests of agriculture, and wished to check the bad practice of the commoner sort of the people who imitated the Jews in devouring the flesh of calves, instead of fowls and sucking pigs. The Nomad tribes, and the Troglodytes, and Scythians, and the barbarous Huns with whom we have recently become acquainted, eat flesh half raw. Moreover the Icthyophagi, a wandering race on the shores of the Red Sea, broil fish on the stones made hot by the sun, and subsist on this poor food. The Sarmatians, the Chuadi, the Vandals, and countless other races, delight in the flesh of horses and wolves. Why should I speak of other nations when I myself, a youth on a visit to Gaul, heard that the Atticoti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and that although they find herds of swine, and droves of large or small cattle in the woods, it is their custom to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds and the breasts of their women, and to regard them as the greatest delicacies? The Scots have no wives of their own; as though they read Plato's Republic and took Cato for their leader, no man among them has his own wife, but like beasts they indulge their lust to their hearts' content. The Persians, Medes, Indians, and Ethiopians, peoples on a par with Rome itself, have intercourse with mothers and grandmothers, with daughters and granddaughters. The Massagetæ and Derbices think those persons most unhappy who die of sickness— and when parents, kindred, or friends reach old age, they are murdered and devoured. It is thought better that they should be eaten by the people themselves than by the worms. The Tibareni crucify those whom they have loved before when they have grown old. The Hyrcani throw them out half alive to the birds and dogs: the Caspians leave them dead for the same beasts. The Scythians bury alive with the remains of the dead those who were beloved of the deceased. The Bactrians throw their old men to dogs which they rear for the very purpose, and when Stasanor, Alexander's general, wished to correct the practice, he almost lost his province. Force an Egyptian to drink sheep's milk: drive, if you can, a Pelusiote to eat an onion. Almost every city in Egypt venerates its own beasts and monsters, and whatever be the object of worship, that they think inviolable and sacred. Hence it is that their towns also are named after animals Leonto, Cyno, Lyco, Busyris, Thmuis, which is, being interpreted, a he-goat. And to make us understand what sort of gods Egypt always welcomed, one of their cities was recently called Antinous after Hadrian's favourite. You see clearly then that not only in eating, but also in burial, in wedlock, and in every department of life, each race follows its own practice and peculiar usages, and takes that for the law of nature which is most familiar to it. But suppose all nations alike ate flesh, and let that be everywhere lawful which the place produces. How does it concern us whose conversation is in heaven? Who, as well as Pythagoras and Empedocles and all lovers of wisdom, are not bound to the circumstances of our birth, but of our new birth: who by abstinence subjugate our refractory flesh, eager to follow the allurements of lust? The eating of flesh, and drinking of wine, and fullness of stomach, is the seed-plot of lust. And so the comic poet says,
Venus shivers unless Ceres and Bacchus be with her.
8. Through the five senses, as through open windows, vice has access to the soul. The metropolis and citadel of the mind cannot be taken unless the enemy have previously entered by its doors. The soul is distressed by the disorder they produce, and is led captive by sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. If any one delights in the sports of the circus, or the struggles of athletes, the versatility of actors, the figure of women, in splendid jewels, dress, silver and gold, and other things of the kind, the liberty of the soul is lost through the windows of the eyes, and the prophet's words are fulfilled: Jeremiah 9:21
Death has come up into our windows. Again, our sense of hearing is flattered by the tones of various instruments and the modulations of the voice; and whatever enters the ear by the songs of poets and comedians, by the pleasantries and verses of pantomimic actors, weakens the manly fibre of the mind. Then, again, no one but a profligate denies that the profligate and licentious find a delight in sweet odours, different sorts of incense, fragrant balsam, kuphi, œnanthe, and musk, which is nothing but the skin of a foreign rat. And who does not know that gluttony is the mother of avarice, and, as it were, fetters the heart and keeps it pressed down upon the earth? For the sake of a temporary gratification of the appetite, land and sea are ransacked, and we toil and sweat our lives through, that we may send down our throats honey-wine and costly food. The desire to handle other men's persons, and the burning lust for women, is a passion bordering on insanity. To gratify this sense we languish, grow angry, throw ourselves about with joy, indulge envy, engage in rivalry, are filled with anxiety, and when we have terminated the pleasure with more or less repentance, we once more take fire, and want to do that which we again regret doing. Where, then, that which we may call the thin edge of disturbance, has entered the citadel of the mind through these doors, what will become of its liberty, its endurance, its thought of God, particularly since the sense of touch can picture to itself even bygone pleasures, and through the recollection of vice forces the soul to take part in them, and after a manner to practice what it does not actually commit?
9. At the call of reasoning such as this, many philosophers have forsaken the crowded cities, and their pleasure gardens in the suburbs with well-watered grounds, shady trees, twittering birds, crystal fountains, murmuring brooks, and many charms for eye and ear, lest through luxury and abundance of riches, the firmness of the mind should be enfeebled, and its purity debauched. For there is no good in frequently seeing objects which may one day lead to your captivity, or in making trial of things which you would find it hard to do without. Even the Pythagoreans shunned company of this kind and were wont to dwell in solitary places in the desert. The Platonists also and Stoics lived in the groves and porticos of temples, that, admonished by the sanctity of their restricted abode, they might think of nothing but virtue. Plato, moreover, himself, when Diogenes trampled on his couches with muddy feet (he being a rich man), chose a house called Academia at some distance from the city, in a spot not only lonely but unhealthy, so that he might have leisure for philosophy. His object was that by constant anxiety about sickness the assaults of lust might be defeated, and that his disciples might experience no pleasure but that afforded by the things they learned. We have read of some who took out their own eyes lest through sight they might lose the contemplation of philosophy. Hence it was that Crates the famous Theban, after throwing into the sea a considerable weight of gold, exclaimed, philosophy, that is to say, to live in luxury and yet not to be hampered by the vices attendant on luxury, he deceives himself. For if it be the case that even when far distant from them we are frequently caught in the snares of nature, and are compelled to desire those things of which we have a scant supply: what folly it is to think we are free when we are surrounded by the nets of pleasure! We think of what we see, hear, smell, taste, handle, and are led to desire the thing which affords us pleasure. That the mind sees and hears, and that we can neither hear nor see anything unless our senses are fixed upon the objects of sight and hearing, is an old saw. It is difficult, or rather impossible, when we are swimming in luxury and pleasure not to think of what we are doing: and it is an idle pretence which some men put forward that they can take their fill of pleasure with their faith and purity and mental uprightness unimpaired. It is a violation of nature to revel in pleasure, and the Apostle gives a caution against this very thing when he says, 1 Timothy 5:6
She that gives herself to pleasure is dead while she lives.
10. The bodily senses are like horses madly racing, but the soul like a charioteer holds the reins. And as horses without a driver go at break-neck speed, so the body if it be not governed by the reasonable soul rushes to its own destruction. The philosophers make use of another illustration of the relations between soul and body; they say the body is a boy, the soul his tutor. Hence the historian tells us
that our soul directs, our body serves. The one we have in common with the gods, the other with the beasts. So then unless the vices of youth and boyhood are regulated by the wisdom of the tutor, every effort and every impulse sets strongly in the direction of wantonness. We might lose four of the senses and yet live—that is we could do without sight, hearing, smell, and the pleasures of touch. But a human being cannot subsist without tasting food. It follows that reason must be present, that we may take food of such a kind and in such quantities as will not burden the body, or hinder the free movement of the soul: for it is the way with us that we eat, and walk, and sleep, and digest our food, and afterwards in the fullness of blood have to bear the spur of lust. Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler. Whosoever has much to do with these is not wise. And we should not take such food as is difficult of digestion, or such as when eaten will give us reason to complain that we got it and lost it with much effort. The preparation of vegetables, fruit, and pulse is easy, and does not require the skill of expensive cooks: our bodies are nourished by them with little trouble on our part; and, if taken in moderation, such food is easier to digest, and at less cost, because it does not stimulate the appetite, and therefore is not devoured with avidity. No one has his stomach inflated or overloaded if he eats only one or two dishes, and those inexpensive ones: such a condition comes of pampering the taste with a variety of meats. The smells of the kitchen may induce us to eat, but when hunger is satisfied, they make us their slaves. Hence gorging gives rise to disease: and many persons find relief for the discomfort of gluttony in emetics,— what they disgraced themselves by putting in, they with still greater disgrace put out.
11. Hippocrates in his Aphorisms teaches that stout persons of a coarse habit of body, when once they have attained their full growth, unless the plethora be quickly relieved by blood-letting, develop tendencies to paralysis and the worst forms of disease: they must therefore be bled, that there may be room for fresh growth. For it is not the nature of our bodies to continue in one stay, but go on either to increase or decrease, and no animal can live which is incapable of growth. Whence Galen, a very learned man and the commentator on Hippocrates, says in his exhortation to the practice of medicine that athletes whose whole life and art consists in stuffing cannot live long, nor be healthy: and that their souls enveloped with superfluous blood and fat, and as it were covered with mud, have no refined or heavenly thoughts, but are always intent upon gluttonous and voracious feasting. Diogenes maintains that tyrants do not bring about revolutions in cities, and foment wars civil or foreign for the sake of a simple diet of vegetables and fruits, but for costly meats and the delicacies of the table. And, strange to say, Epicurus, the defender of pleasure, in all his books speaks of nothing but vegetables and fruits; and he says that we ought to live on cheap food because the preparation of sumptuous banquets of flesh involves great care and suffering, and greater pains attend the search for such delicacies than pleasures the consumption of them. Our bodies need only something to eat and drink. Where there is bread and water, and the like, nature is satisfied. Whatever more there may be does not go to meet the wants of life, but are ministers to vicious pleasure. Eating and drinking does not quench the longing for luxuries, but appeases hunger and thirst. Persons who feed on flesh want also gratifications not found in flesh. But they who adopt a simple diet do not look for flesh. Further, we cannot devote ourselves to wisdom if our thoughts are running on a well-laden table, the supply of which requires an excess of work and anxiety. The wants of nature are soon satisfied: cold and hunger can be banished with simple food and clothing. Hence the Apostle says:
Having food and clothing let us be therewith content. Delicacies and the various dishes of the feast are the nurses of avarice. The soul greatly exults when you are content with little: you have the world beneath your feet, and can exchange all its power, its feasts, and its lusts, the objects for which men rake money together, for common food, and make up for them all with a sack-cloth shirt. Take away the luxurious feasting and the gratification of lust, and no one will want riches to be used either in the belly, or beneath it. The invalid only regains his health by diminishing and carefully selecting his food, i.e., in medical phrase, by adopting a
slender diet. The same food that recovers health, can preserve it, for no one can imagine vegetables to be the cause of disease. And if vegetables do not give the strength of Milo of Crotona— a strength supplied and nourished by meat— what need has a wise man and a Christian philosopher of such strength as is required by athletes and soldiers, and which, if he had it, would only stimulate to vice? Let those persons deem meat accordant with health who wish to gratify their lust, and who, sunk in filthy pleasure, are always at heat. What a Christian wants is health, but not superfluous strength. And it ought not to disturb us if we find but few supporters; for the pure and temperate are as rare as good and faithful friends, and virtue is always scarce. Study the temperance of Fabricius, or the poverty of Curius, and in a great city you will find few worthy of your imitation. You need not fear that if you do not eat flesh, fowlers and hunters will have learned their craft in vain.
12. We have read that some who suffered with disease of the joints and with gouty humours recovered their health by proscribing delicacies, and coming down to a simple board and mean food. For they were then free from the worry of managing a house and from unlimited feasting. Horace makes fun of the longing for food which when eaten leaves nothing but regret.
Scorn pleasure; she but hurts when bought with pain.
And when, in the delightful retirement of the country, by way of satirizing voluptuous men, he described himself as plump and fat, his sportive verse ran thus:
Pay me a visit if you want to laugh,
You'll find me fat and sleek with well-dress'd hide,
Like any pig from Epicurus' sty.
But even if our food be the commonest, we must avoid repletion. For nothing is so destructive to the mind as a full belly, fermenting like a wine vat and giving forth its gases on all sides. What sort of fasting is it, or what refreshment is there after fasting, when we are blown out with yesterday's dinner, and our stomach is made a factory for the closet? We wish to get credit for protracted abstinence, and all the while we devour so much that a day and a night can scarcely digest it. The proper name to give it is not fasting, but rather debauch and rank indigestion.
13. Dicæarchus in his book of Antiquities, describing Greece, relates that under Saturn, that is in the Golden Age, when the ground brought forth all things abundantly, no one ate flesh, but every one lived on field produce and fruits which the earth bore of itself. Xenophon in eight books narrates the life of Cyrus, King of the Persians, and asserts that they supported life on barley, cress, salt, and black bread. Both the aforesaid Xenophon, Theophrastus, and almost all the Greek writers testify to the frugal diet of the Spartans. Chæremon the Stoic, a man of great eloquence, has a treatise on the life of the ancient priests of Egypt, who, he says, laid aside all worldly business and cares, and were ever in the temple, studying nature and the regulating causes of the heavenly bodies; they never had intercourse with women; they never from the time they began to devote themselves to the divine service set eyes on their kindred and relations, nor even saw their children; they always abstained from flesh and wine, on account of the light-headedness and dizziness which a small quantity of food caused, and especially to avoid the stimulation of the lustful appetite engendered by this meat and drink. They seldom ate bread, that they might not load the stomach. And whenever they ate it, they mixed pounded hyssop with all that they took, so that the action of its warmth might diminish the weight of the heavier food. They used no oil except with vegetables, and then only in small quantities, to mitigate the unpalatable taste. What need, he says, to speak of birds, when they avoided even eggs and milk as flesh. The one, they said, was liquid flesh, the other was blood with the colour changed? Their bed was made of palm-leaves, called by them baiæ: a sloping footstool laid upon the ground served for a pillow, and they could go without food for two or three days. The humours of the body which arise from sedentary habits were dried up by reducing their diet to an extreme point.
14. Josephus in the second book of the history of the Jewish captivity, and in the eighteenth book of the Antiquities, and the two treatises against Apion, describes three sects of the Jews, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. On the last of these he bestows wondrous praise because they practised perpetual abstinence from wives, wine, and flesh, and made a second nature of their daily fast. Philo, too, a man of great learning, published a treatise of his own on their mode of life. Neanthes of Cizycus, and Asclepiades of Cyprus, at the time when Pygmalion ruled over the East, relate that the eating of flesh was unknown. Eubulus, also, who wrote the history of Mithras in many volumes, relates that among the Persians there are three kinds of Magi, the first of whom, those of greatest learning and eloquence, take no food except meal and vegetables. At Eleusis it is customary to abstain from fowls and fish and certain fruits. Bardesanes, a Babylonian, divides the Gymnosophists of India into two classes, the one called Brahmans, the other Samaneans, who are so rigidly self-restrained that they support themselves either with the fruit of trees which grow on the banks of the Ganges, or with common food of rice or flour, and when the king visits them, he is wont to adore them, and thinks the peace of his country depends upon their prayers. Euripides relates that the prophets of Jupiter in Crete abstained not only from flesh, but also from cooked food. Xenocrates the philosopher writes that at Athens out of all the laws of Triptolemus only three precepts remain in the temple of Ceres: respect to parents, reverence for the gods, and abstinence from flesh. Orpheus in his song utterly denounces the eating of flesh. I might speak of the frugality of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Antisthenes to our confusion: but it would be tedious, and would require a work to itself. At all events this is the Antisthenes who, after teaching rhetoric with renown, on hearing Socrates, is related to have said to his disciples,
Go, and seek a master, for I have now found one. He immediately, sold what he had, divided the proceeds among the people, and kept nothing for himself but a small cloak. Of his poverty and toil Xenophon in the Symposium is a witness, and so are his countless treatises, some philosophical, some rhetorical. His most famous follower was the great Diogenes, who was mightier than King Alexander in that he conquered human nature. For Antisthenes would not take a single pupil, and when he could not get rid of the persistent Diogenes he threatened him with a stick if he did not depart. The latter is said to have laid down his head and said,
No stick will be hard enough to prevent me from following you. Satyrus, the biographer of illustrious men, relates that Diogenes to guard himself against the cold, folded his cloak double: his scrip was his pantry: and when aged he carried a stick to support his feeble frame, and was commonly called
Old Hand-to-mouth, because to that very hour he begged and received food from any one. His home was the gateways and city arcades. And when he wriggled into his tub, he would joke about his movable house that adapted itself to the seasons. For when the weather was cold he used to turn the mouth of the tub towards the south: in summer towards the north; and whatever the direction of the sun might be, that way the palace of Diogenes was turned. He had a wooden dish for drinking; but on one occasion seeing a boy drinking with the hollow of his hand he is related to have dashed the cup to the ground, saying that he did not know nature provided a cup. His virtue and self-restraint were proved even by his death. It is said that, now an old man, he was on his way to the Olympic games, which used to be attended by a great concourse of people from all parts of Greece, when he was overtaken by fever and lay down upon the bank by the road-side. And when his friends wished to place him on a beast or in a conveyance, he did not assent, but crossing to the shade of a tree said,
Go your way, I pray you, and see the games: this night will prove me either conquered or conqueror. If I conquer the fever, I shall go to the games: if the fever conquers me, I shall enter the unseen world. There through the night he lay gasping for breath and did not, as we are told, so much die as banish the fever by death. I have cited the example of only one philosopher, so that our fine, erect, muscular athletes, who hardly make a shadow of a footmark in their swift passage, whose words are in their fists and their reasoning in their heels, who either know nothing of apostolic poverty and the hardness of the cross, or despise it, may at least imitate Gentile moderation.
15. So far I have dealt with the arguments and examples of philosophers. Now I will pass on to the beginning of the human race, that is, to the sphere which belongs to us. I will first point out that Adam received a command in paradise to abstain from one tree though he might eat the other fruit. The blessedness of paradise could not be consecrated without abstinence from food. So long as he fasted, he remained in paradise; he ate, and was cast out; he was no sooner cast out than he married a wife. While he fasted in paradise he continued a virgin: when he filled himself with food in the earth, he bound himself with the tie of marriage. And yet though cast out he did not immediately receive permission to eat flesh; but only the fruits of trees and the produce of the crops, and herbs and vegetables were given him for food, that even when an exile from paradise he might feed not upon flesh which was not to be found in paradise, but upon grain and fruit like that of paradise. But afterwards when God saw that the heart of man from his youth was set on wickedness continually, and that His Spirit could not remain in them because they were flesh, He by the deluge passed sentence on the works of the flesh, and, taking note of the extreme greediness of men, gave them liberty to eat flesh: so that while understanding that all things were lawful for them, they might not greatly desire that which was allowed, lest they should turn a commandment into a cause of transgression. And yet even then, fasting was in part commanded. For, seeing that some animals are called clean, some unclean, and the unclean animals were taken into Noah's ark by pairs, the clean in uneven numbers (and of course the eating of the unclean was forbidden, otherwise the term unclean would be unmeaning), fasting was in part consecrated: restraint in the use of all was taught by the prohibition of some. Why did Esau lose his birthright? Was it not on account of food? And he could not atone with tears for the impatience of his appetite. The people of Israel cast out from Egypt and on their way to the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey, longed for the flesh of Egypt, and the melons and garlic, saying: Exodus 16:3
Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots. And again, Numbers 11:4-6
They despised angels' food, and sighed for the flesh of Egypt. Moses for forty days and forty nights fasted on Mount Sinai, and showed even then that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word of God. He says to the Lord,
the people is full and makes idols. Moses with empty stomach received the law written with the finger of God. The people that ate and drank and rose up to play fashioned a golden calf, and preferred an Egyptian ox to the majesty of the Lord. The toil of so many days perished through the fullness of a single hour. Moses boldly broke the tables: for he knew that drunkards cannot hear the word of God.
The beloved grew thick, waxed fat, and became sleek: he kicked and forsook the Lord which made him, and departed from the God of his salvation. Hence also it is enjoined in the same Book of Deuteronomy: Deuteronomy 8:12-14
Beware, lest when you have eaten and drunk, and hast built goodly houses, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord your God. In short the people ate and their heart grew thick, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart: so the people well fed and fat-fleshed could not bear the countenance of Moses who fasted, for, to correctly render the Hebrew, it was furnished with horns through his converse with God. And it was not, as some think, to show that there is no difference between virginity and marriage, but to assert his sympathy with severe fasting, that our Lord and Saviour when he was transfigured on the Mount revealed Moses and Elias with Himself in glory. Although Moses and Elias were properly types of the Law and the Prophets, as is clearly witnessed by the Gospel: Luke 9:31
They spoke of his departure which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. For the passion of our Lord is declared not by virginity or marriage, but by the Law and the Prophets. If, however, any persons contentiously maintain that by Moses is signified marriage, by Elias virginity, let me tell them briefly that Moses died and was buried, but Elias was carried off in a chariot of fire and entered on immortality before he approached death. But the second writing of the tables could not be effected without fasting. What was lost by drunkenness was regained by abstinence, a proof that by fasting we can return to paradise, whence, though fullness, we have been expelled. In Exodus 17:8 Exodus we read that the battle was fought against Amalek while Moses prayed, and the whole people fasted until the evening. Joshua 10:13 Joshua, the son of Nun, bade sun and moon stand still, and the victorious army prolonged its fast for more than a day. Saul, as it is written in the first book of Kings, pronounced a curse on him who ate bread before the evening, and until he had avenged himself upon his enemies. So none of his people tasted any food. And all they of the land took food. And so binding was a solemn fast once it was proclaimed to the Lord, that Jonathan, to whom the victory was due, was taken by lot, and 1 Samuel 14:24 could not escape the charge of sinning in ignorance, and his father's hand was raised against him, and the prayers of the people scarce availed to save him. 1 Kings 19:8-11 Elijah after the preparation of a forty days fast saw God on Mount Horeb, and heard from Him the words,
What doest thou here, Elijah? There is much more familiarity in this than in the
Where are you, Adam? of Genesis. The latter was intended to excite the fears of one who had fed and was lost; the former was affectionately addressed to a fasting servant. 1 Samuel 7:7 When the people were assembled in Mizpeh, Samuel proclaimed a fast, and so strengthened them, and thus made them prevail against the enemy. 2 Kings xviii The attack of the Assyrians was repulsed, and the might of Sennacherib utterly crushed, by the tears and sackcloth of King Hezekiah, and by his humbling himself with fasting. So also the city of Nineveh by fasting excited compassion and turned aside the threatening wrath of the Lord. And Sodom and Gomorrha might have appeased it, had they been willing to repent, and through the aid of fasting gain for themselves tears of repentance. 1 Kings 21:27-29 Ahab, the most impious of kings, by fasting and wearing sackcloth, succeeded in escaping the sentence of God, and in deferring the overthrow of his house to the days of his posterity. Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, by fasting won the gift of a son. At Babylon the magicians came into peril, every interpreter of dreams, soothsayer, and diviner was slain. Daniel and the three youths gained a good report by fasting, and although they were fed on pulse, they were fairer and wiser than they who ate the flesh from the king's table. Then it is written that Daniel fasted for three weeks; he ate no pleasant bread; flesh and wine entered not his mouth; he was not anointed with oil; and the angel came to him saying,
Daniel, you are worthy of compassion. He who in the eyes of God was worthy of compassion, afterwards was an object of terror to the lions in their den. How fair a thing is that which propitiates God, tames lions, terrifies demons! Habakkuk (although we do not find this in the Hebrew Scriptures ) was sent to him with the reaper's meal, for by a week's abstinence he had merited so distinguished a server. David, when his son was in danger after his adultery, made confession in ashes and with fasting. He tells us that he ate ashes like bread, and mingled his drink with weeping. And that his knees became weak through fasting. Yet he had certainly heard from Nathan the words, 2 Samuel 12:13
The Lord also has put away your sin. Samson and Samuel drank neither wine nor strong drink, for they were children of promise, and conceived in abstinence and fasting. Leviticus 10:9 Aaron and the other priests when about to enter the temple, refrained from all intoxicating drink for fear they should die. Whence we learn that they die who minister in the Church without sobriety. And hence it is a reproach against Israel: Amos 2:12
You gave my Nazarites wine to drink. Jonadab, the son of Rechab, commanded his sons to drink no wine for ever. And when Jeremiah offered them wine to drink, and they of their own accord refused it, the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Jeremiah 35:18
Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever. On the Luke 2:36 threshold of the Gospel appears Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, the wife of one husband, and a woman who was always fasting. Long-continued chastity and persistent fasting welcomed a Virgin Lord. His forerunner and herald, John, fed on locusts and wild honey, not on flesh; and the hermits of the desert and the monks in their cells, at first used the same sustenance. But the Lord Himself consecrated His baptism by a forty days' fast, and He taught us that the more violent devils cannot be overcome, except by prayer and fasting. Acts 10:4 Cornelius the centurion was found worthy through almsgiving and frequent fasts to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit before baptism. 2 Corinthians 11:27 The Apostle Paul, after speaking of hunger and thirst, and his other labours, perils from robbers, shipwrecks, loneliness, enumerates frequent fasts. And he 1 Timothy 5:23 advises his disciple Timothy, who had a weak stomach, and was subject to many infirmities, to drink wine in moderation:
Drink no longer water, he says. The fact that he bids him no longer drink water shows that he had previously drunk water. The apostle would not have allowed this had not frequent infirmities and bodily pain demanded the concession.
16. The Apostle does indeed 1 Timothy 4:3 blame those who forbade marriage, and commanded to abstain from food, which God created for use with thanksgiving. But he has in view Marcion, and Tatian, and other heretics, who inculcate perpetual abstinence, to destroy, and express their hatred and contempt for, the works of the Creator. But we praise every creature of God, and yet prefer leanness to corpulence, abstinence to luxury, fasting to fullness.
He that labours labours for himself, and he is eager to his own destruction. And, Matthew 11:12
From the days of John the Baptist (who fasted and was a virgin) until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and men of violence take it by force. For we are afraid lest at the coming of the eternal judge we be caught, as in the days of the flood, and at the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrha, eating and drinking, and marrying, and giving in marriage. For both the flood and the fire from heaven found fullness as well as marriage ready for destruction. Nor need we wonder if the Apostle commands that everything sold in the market be bought and eaten, since with idolaters, and with those who still ate in the temples of the idols meats offered to idols as such, it passed for the highest abstinence to abstain only from food eaten by the Gentiles. And if he says to the Romans: Romans 14:3
Let not him that eats set at nought him that eats not: and let not him that eats not judge him that eats, he does not make fasting and fullness of equal merit, but he is speaking against those believers in Christ who were still judaizing: and he warns Gentile believers, not to offend those by their food who were still too weak in faith. In brief this is clear enough in the sequel:
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself: save that to him who accounts anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of meat your brother is grieved, you walk no longer in love. Destroy not with your meat him for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking. And that no one may suppose he is referring to fasting and not to Jewish superstition, he immediately explains, Romans 14:2
One man has faith to eat all things: but he that is weak eats herbs. And again,
One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord: and he that eats, eats unto the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, unto the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks. For they who were still weak in faith and thought some meats clean, some unclean: and supposed there was a difference between one day and another, for example, that the Sabbath, and the New Moons, and the Feast of Tabernacles were holier than other days, were commanded to eat herbs which are indifferently partaken of by all. But such as were of stronger faith believed all meats and all days to be alike.
17. My opponent has dared to maintain that our Lord was called by the Pharisees a wine-bibber and a glutton: and from the fact of His going to marriage feasts and from His not despising the banquets of sinners, I am to infer His wishes respecting ourselves. That Lord, so you suppose, is a glutton who fasted forty days to hallow Christian fasting; Matthew 5:6 who calls them blessed that hunger and thirst; John 4:32 who says that He has food, not that which the disciples surmised, but such as would not perish for ever; who forbids us to think of the morrow; who, though He is said to have hungered and thirsted, and to have gone frequently to various meals, except in celebrating the mystery whereby He represented His passion, or in proving the reality of His body is nowhere described as ministering to His appetite; Luke 15:19-31 who tells of purple-clad Dives in hell for his feasting, and says that poor Lazarus for his abstinence was in Abraham's bosom; who, when we fast, Matthew 16:17-18 bids us anoint our head and wash our face, that we fast not to gain glory from men, but praise from the Lord; who did indeed after His resurrection eat part of a broiled fish and of a honey-comb, not to allay hunger and to gratify His palate, but to show the reality of His own body. For whenever He raised anyone from the dead He ordered that food should be given him to eat, lest the resurrection should be thought a delusion. And this is why Lazarus after his resurrection is John 12:2 described as being at the feast with our Lord. We do not deny that fish and other kinds of flesh, if we choose, may be taken as food; but as we prefer virginity to marriage, so do we esteem fasting and spirituality above meats and full-bloodedness. And if Peter before dinner went to the supper chamber at the sixth hour, a chance fit of hunger does not prejudice fasting. For, if this were so, because our Lord John 4:6 at the sixth hour sat weary on the well of Samaria and wished to drink, all must of necessity, whether they so desire or not, drink at that time. Possibly it was the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, and he hungered at the sixth hour after two or three days' fasting; for I could never believe that the Apostle, if he had eaten a dinner only one day previous and had been blown out with a great meal, would have been hungry by noon next day. But if he did dine the day previous, and was hungry next day before luncheon, I do not think that a man who was so soon hungry ate until he was satisfied. Again, God by the mouth of Isaiah says what fast He did not choose:
In the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and afflict the lowly: you fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness. It is not such a fast that I have chosen, says the Lord. What kind He has chosen He thus teaches:
Deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the houseless poor into your house. When you see the naked cover him, and hide not yourself from your own flesh. He did not therefore reject fasting, but showed what He would have it to be: for that bodily hunger is not pleasing to God which is made null and void by strife, and plunder, and lust. If God does not desire fasting, how is it that in Leviticus He commands the whole people in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, to fast until the evening, and threatens that he who does not afflict his soul shall die and be cut off from his people? How is it that the graves of lust where the people fell in their devotion to flesh remain even to this day in the wilderness? Do we not read that the stupid people gorged themselves with quails until the wrath of God came upon them? Why was the man of God at whose prophecy the hand of King Jeroboam withered, and who ate contrary to the command of God, 1 Kings 13:24 immediately smitten? Strange that the lion which left the ass safe and sound should not spare the prophet just risen from his meal! He who, while he was fasting, had wrought miracles, no sooner ate a meal than he paid the penalty for the gratification. Joel also cries aloud:
Sanctify a fast, proclaim a time of healing, that it might appear that a fast is sanctified by other works, and that a holy fast avails for the cure of sin. Moreover, just as true virginity is not prejudiced by the counterfeit professions of the virgins of the devil, so neither is true fasting by the periodic fast and perpetual abstinence from certain kinds of food on the part of the worshippers of Isis and Cybele, particularly when a fast from bread is made up for by feasting on flesh. And just as the signs of Moses were imitated by the signs of the Egyptians which were in reality no signs at all, for the rod of Moses swallowed up the rods of the magicians: so when the devil tries to be the rival of God this does not prove that our religion is superstitious, but that we are negligent, since we refuse to do what even men of the world see clearly to be good.
18. His fourth and last contention is that there are two classes, the sheep and the goats, the just and the unjust: that the just stand on the right hand, the other on the left: and that to the just the words are spoken: Matthew 25:34
Come, you blessed of my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. But that sinners are thus addressed: Matthew 25:41
Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. That a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor an evil tree good fruit. Hence it is that the Saviour says to the Jews: John 8:44 parable of the ten virgins, the wise and the foolish, and shows that the five who had no oil remained outside, but that the other five who had gotten for themselves the light of good works went into the marriage with the bridegroom. He goes back to the flood, and tells us that they who were righteous like Noah were saved, but that the sinners perished all together. We are informed that among the men of Sodom and Gomorrha no difference is made except between the two classes of the good and the bad. The righteous are delivered, the sinners are consumed by the same fire. There is one salvation for those who are released, one destruction for those who stay behind. Lot's wife is a clear warning that we must not deviate a hair's breadth from right. If, however, he says, you object and ask me why the righteous toils in time of peace, or in the midst of persecution, if he is to gain nothing nor have a greater reward, I would assert that he does this, not that he may gain a further reward but that he may not lose what he has already received. In Egypt also the ten plagues fell with equal violence upon all that sinned, and the same darkness hung over master and slave, noble and ignoble, the king and the people. Again at the Red Sea the righteous all passed over, the sinners were all overwhelmed. Six hundred thousand men, besides those who were unfit for war through age or sex, all alike fell in the desert, and two who were alike in righteousness are alike delivered. For forty years all Israel toiled and died alike. As regards food, an homer of manna was the measure for all ages: the clothes of all alike did not wear out: the hair of all alike did not grow, nor the beard increase: the shoes of all lasted the same time. Their feet grew not hard: the food in the mouths of all had the same taste. They went on their way to one resting place with equal toil and equal reward. All Hebrews had the same Passover, the same Feast of Tabernacles, the same Sabbath, the same New Moons. In the seventh, the Sabbatical Year, all prisoners were released without distinction of persons, and in the year of Jubilee all debts were forgiven to all debtors, and he who had sold land returned to the inheritance of his fathers.
19. Then, again, as regards the parable of the sower in the Gospel, we read that the good ground brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold; and, on the other hand, that the bad ground admitted of three degrees of sterility: but Jovinianus makes only two classes, the good soil and the bad. And as in one Gospel our Lord promises the Apostles a hundred fold, in another seven fold, for leaving children and wives, and in the world to come life eternal; and the seven and the hundred mean the same thing: so, too, in the passage before us, the numbers describing the fertility of the soil need not create any difficulty, particularly when the Evangelist Mark gives the inverse order, thirty, sixty, and a hundred. The Lord says, John 6:56
He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As, then, there are not varying degrees of Christ's presence in us, so neither are there degrees of our abiding in Christ. John 14:23
Every one that loves me will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that is righteous, loves Christ: and if a man thus loves, the Father and the Son come to him, and make their abode with him. Now I suppose that when the guest is such as this the host cannot possibly lack anything. And if our Lord says, John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions, His meaning is not that there are different mansions in the kingdom of heaven, but He indicates the number of Churches in the whole world, for though the Church be seven-fold she is but one.
I go, He says,
to prepare a place for you, not places. If this promise is peculiar to the twelve apostles, then Paul is shut out from that place, and the chosen vessel will be thought superfluous and unworthy. John and James, because they asked more than the others, did not obtain it; and yet their dignity is not diminished, because they were equal to the rest of the apostles.
Do you not know that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost? A temple, He says, not temples, in order to show that God dwells in all alike. John 17:20-23
Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe in me through their word; as thou, Father, in me, and I in you, are one, so they may be all one in us. And the glory which you have given me I have given unto them. I have loved them, as you have loved me. And as we are Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, so may they be one people in themselves, that is, like dear children, partakers of the divine nature. Call the Church what you will, bride, sister, mother, her assembly is but one and never lacks husband, brother, or son. Her faith is one, and she is not defiled by variety of doctrine, nor divided by heresies. She continues a virgin. Whithersoever the Lamb goes, she follows Him: she alone knows the Song of Christ.
If you tell me, says he,
that one star differs from another star in glory, I reply, that one star does differ from another star; that is, spiritual persons differ from carnal. We love all the members alike, and do not prefer the eye to the finger, nor the finger to the ear: but the loss of any one is attended by the sorrow of all the rest. We all alike come into this world, and we all alike depart from it. There is one Adam of the earth, and another from heaven. The earthly Adam is on the left hand, and will perish: the heavenly Adam is on the right hand, and will be saved. He who says to his brother, ' thou fool,' and ' raca,' will be in danger of Gehenna. And the murderer and the adulterer will likewise be sent into Gehenna. In times of persecution some are burnt, some strangled, some beheaded, some flee, or die within the walls of a prison: the struggle varies in kind, but the victors' crown is one. No difference was made between the son who had never left his father, and his brother who was welcomed as a returning penitent. To the labourers of the first hour, the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh, the same reward of a penny was given, and what may perhaps seem still more strange to you, the first to receive the reward were they who had toiled least in the vineyard.
21. Who is there even of God's elect that would not be disturbed at these and similar passages of Holy Scripture which our crafty opponent, with a perverse ingenuity, twists to the support of his own views? The Apostle John says that many Antichrists had come, and to make no difference between John himself and the lowest penitent is the preaching of a real Antichrist. At the same time, I am amazed at the portentous forms which Jovinianus, as slippery as a snake and like another Proteus, so rapidly assumes. In sexual intercourse and full feeding he is an Epicurean; in the distribution of rewards and punishments he all at once becomes a Stoic, He exchanges Jerusalem for Citium, Judæa for Cyprus, Christ for Zeno. If we may not depart a hair's breadth from virtue, and all sins are equal, and a man who in a fit of hunger steals a piece of bread is no less guilty than he who slays a man: you must, in your turn, be held guilty of the greatest crimes. The case is different if you say that you have no sin, not even the least, and if, although all apostles and prophets and all the saints (as I have maintained in dealing with his second proposition) bewail their sinfulness, you alone boast of your righteousness. But a minute ago you were barefooted: now you not only wear shoes, but decorated ones. Just now you wore a rough coat and a dirty shirt, you were grimy, and haggard, and your hand was horny with toil: now you are clad in linen and silks, and strut like an exquisite in the fashions of the Atrebates and the Laodiceans. Your cheeks are ruddy, your skin sleek, your hair smoothed down in front and behind, your belly protrudes, your shoulders are little mountains, your neck full and so loaded with fat that the half-smothered words can scarce make their escape. Surely in such extremes of dress and mode of life there must be sin on the one side or the other. I will not assert that the sin lies in the food or clothing, but that such fickleness and changing for the worse is almost censurable in itself. And what we censure, is far removed from virtue; and what is far from virtue becomes the property of vice; and what is proved to be vicious is one with sin. Now sin, according to you, is placed on the left hand, and corresponds to the goats. You must, therefore, return to your old habits if you are to be a sheep on the right hand; or, if you perversely repent of your former views and change them for others, whether you like it or not, and although you shave off your beard, you will be reckoned among the goats.
22. But what is the good of calling a one-eyed man Old One-eye, and of showing the inconsistency of an assailant, when we have to refute a whole series of statements? That the sheep and the goats on the right hand and on the left are the two classes of the righteous and the wicked, I do not deny. That a good tree does not bring forth evil fruit, nor an evil one good fruit, no one doubts. The ten virgins also, wise and foolish, we divide into good and bad. We are not ignorant that at the deluge the righteous were delivered, and sinners overwhelmed with the waters. That at Sodom and Gomorrha the just man was rescued, while the sinners were consumed by fire, is clear to everyone. We are also aware that Egypt was stricken with the ten plagues, and that Israel was saved. Even little children in our schools sing how the righteous passed through the Red Sea, and Pharaoh with his host was drowned. That six hundred thousand fell in the desert because they were unbelieving, and that two only entered the land of promise, is taught by Scripture; and so is the rest of your description of the two classes, good and bad, down to the labourers in the vineyard. But what are we to think of your assertion, that because there is a division into good and bad, the good, or the bad it may be, are not distinguished one from another, and that it makes no difference whether one is a ram in the flock or a poor little sheep? Whether the sheep have the first or the second fleece? Whether the flock is diseased and covered with the scab, or full of life and vigour? especially when by the authoritative utterances of His own prophet Ezekiel God clearly points out the difference between flock and flock of His rational sheep, saying,
Behold I judge between cattle and cattle, and between the rams and the he-goats, and between the fat cattle and the lean. Because you have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, until they were scattered abroad. And that we might know what the cattle were, He immediately added: Ezekiel 34:31
You my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men. Will Paul and that penitent who had lain with his father's wife be on an equality, because the latter repented and was received into the Church: and shall the offender because he is with him on the right hand shine with the same glory as the Apostle? How is it then that tares and wheat grow side by side in the same field until the harvest, that is the end of the world? What is the significance of good and bad fish being contained in the Gospel net? Why, in Noah's ark, the type of the Church, are there different animals with different abodes according to their rank? Why stands the queen upon the Lord's right hand, in raiment of wrought gold, in a vesture of gold? Why had Joseph, representing Christ, a coat of many colours? Why does the Apostle say to the Romans:
According as God had dealt to each man a measure of faith. For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another. And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that teaches, to his teaching; or he that exhorts, to his exhorting: he that gives, let him do it with liberality; he that rules, with diligence, and so on. And elsewhere: Romans 14:5
One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. To the Corinthians he says:
I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters: but God that gives the increase. Now he that plants and he that waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God, you are God's husbandry, you are God's building. And again elsewhere:
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder I laid a foundation, and another builds thereon. But let each man take heed how he builds thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man builds on the foundation, gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble: each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall reveal it, because it is revealed in fire: and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire. If the man whose work is burnt and is to suffer the loss of his labour, while he himself is saved, yet not without proof of fire: it follows that if a man's work remains which he has built upon the foundation, he will be saved without probation by fire, and consequently a difference is established between one degree of salvation and another. Again in another place he says: 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Here, moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Would you be assured that between one steward and another there is a great difference (I am not speaking of bad and good, but of the good themselves who stand on the right hand)? Then listen to the sequel:
Do you not know that they which minister about the sacrifices, eat of the sacrifices, and they which wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? Even so did the Lord ordain that they which proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: and I wrote not these things that it may be so done in my case: for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel. For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward: but if not of my own will, I have a steward-ship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the gospel. For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. You surely cannot say that men commit sin by living by the Gospel, and partaking of the sacrifices. Of course not. The Lord himself made the rule that they who preach the Gospel, should live by the Gospel. But an Apostle who does not abuse this freedom, but labours with his hands that he may not be a burden to anyone, and toils night and day and ministers to his companions of course does this, that for his greater toil he may receive a greater reward.
23. Let us hasten to what remains. 1 Corinthians 12:4
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but the same God who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. And again: 1 Corinthians 12:12
As the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. But he precludes you from saying that the different members of the one body have the same rank; for he immediately describes the orders of the Church, and says:
And God has set some in the Church, first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And a still more excellent way show I unto you. And after discoursing more in detail of the graces of charity, he added:
Whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part: but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part shall be done away. And afterwards we read:
But now abides faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. And again: 1 Corinthians 14:5
I would have you all speak with tongues, but rather that you should prophesy: and greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues. And again: 1 Corinthians 14:18
I thank God, I speak with tongues more than you all. Where there are different gifts, and one man is greater, another less, and all are called spiritual, they are all certainly sheep, and they stand on the right hand; but there is a difference between one sheep and another. It is humility that leads the Apostle Paul to say: 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain: but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. But the very fact of his thus humbling himself shows the possibility of there being apostles of higher or lower rank, and God is not unjust that He will forget the work of him who is called the chosen vessel of election, and who laboured more abundantly than they all, or assign equal rewards to unequal deserts. Afterwards we read, 1 Corinthians 15:22
As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be now alive. But each in his own order. If each is to rise in his own order, it follows that those who rise are of different degrees of merit. 1 Corinthians 15:39
All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. Like a learned commentator, you have explained this passage by saying that the spiritual differ from the carnal. It follows that in heaven there will be both spiritual and carnal persons, and not only will the sheep climb there, but your goats also.
One star, he says,
differs from another star in glory: this is not the distinction of sheep and goat, but of sheep and sheep, star and star. Lastly, he says, human race; but he introduces the sun and moon, and you cannot possibly reckon them among the goats.
So, says he,
is also the resurrection of the dead— the just will shine with the brightness of the sun, and those of the next rank will glow with the splendour of the moon, so that one will be a Lucifer, another an Arcturus, a third an Orion, another Mazzaroth, or some other of the stars whose names are hollowed in the book of Job. 2 Corinthians 5:10
For we all, he says,
must be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad. And you cannot say that the mode of our manifestation before the judgment-seat of Christ is such that the good receive good things, the bad evil things; for he 2 Corinthians 9:6 teaches us in the same epistle that he who sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Surely he who sows more and he who sows less are both on the right side. And although they belong to the same class, that of the sower, yet they differ in respect of measure and number. The same Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says: Ephesians 3:10
to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God. You observe that it is a varied and manifold wisdom of God which is spoken of as existing in the different ranks of the church. And in the same epistle we read, Ephesians 4:7 grace is poured out as we can receive.
24. In vain, therefore, do you multiply instances of sheep and goats, of the five wise and five foolish virgins, of Egyptians and Israelites, and so forth, because retribution is not in the present, but will be in the future. Hence we find that the day of judgment is promised at the end of all things, because the judgment is not now. For it would be absurd to call the last day the day of judgment, if God were judging at the present time. Now we sail the ship, wrestle, and fight, that at last we may reach the haven, be crowned, and triumph. But you, with no less adroitness than perversity, make the life of this world illustrate that of the world to come, although we know full well that here unrighteousness prevails, there, righteousness:
until we go into the sanctuary of God, and understand the end of those men. The saint does not die one way, the sinner another. Those who sail the same sea have the same calm and storm. A violent death is not one thing to the robber, another to the martyr. Children are not born one way of adultery and prostitution, in another of pure marriage. Certainly our Lord and the robbers incurred the same penalty of crucifixion. If the judgment of this world and of that which is to come be the same, it follows that they who were here crucified side by side, will also be esteemed of equal rank hereafter. Paul and they who bound him, sailed together, endured the same storm, escaped together to the shore when the ship was broken with the waves. You cannot deny that the prisoner and the keepers were of unequal merit. And what were the circumstances of that same shipwreck of the Apostle and the soldiers? The Apostle Paul afterwards related a vision, and said that they who were with him in the ship had been given to him by the Lord. Are we to suppose that he to whom they were given, and they who were given to him, were of one degree of merit? Ten righteous men can save a sinful city. Lot together with his daughters was delivered from the fire: his sons-in-law would also have been saved, had they been willing to leave the city. Now there was surely a great difference between Lot and his sons-in-law. One city out of the five, Genesis 19:18-21 Zoar, was saved, and a place which lay under the same sentence as Sodom, Gomorrha, Admah, and Zeboiim, was preserved by the prayers of a holy man. Lot and Zoar were of different merit, but both of them escaped the fire. The robbers who in the absence of David had laid waste Ziklag, and made a prey of the wives and children of the inhabitants were slain on the third day in the plain, but forty men mounted on camels fled. Will you maintain that there was some difference between those who were slain and those who made good their escape? We read in the Luke 13:4 Gospel that the tower of Siloam fell upon eighteen men who perished in the ruins. Certainly our Saviour did not regard them as the only sinners: but they were punished to terrify the rest: it was like scourging a pestilent fellow to teach fools wisdom. If all sinners are punished alike, it is unjust for one to be slain while another is admonished by his comrade's death.
25. You raise the objection that all Israelites had the same measure of manna, an homer, and were alike in respect of dress, and hair, and beard, and shoes; as though we did not all alike partake of the body of Christ. In the Christian mysteries there is one means of sanctification for the master and the servant, the noble and the low-born, for the king and his soldiers, and yet, that which is one varies according to the merits of those who receive it. 1 Corinthians 11:27
Whosoever shall eat or drink unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Does it follow that because Judas drank of the same cup as the rest of the apostles, that he and they are of equal merit? But suppose that we do not choose to receive the sacrament, at all events we all have the same life, breathe the same air, have the same blood in our veins, are fed on the same food. Moreover, if our viands are improved by culinary skill and are made more palatable for the consumer, food of this kind does not satisfy nature, but tickles the appetite. We are all alike subject to hunger, all alike suffer with cold: we alike are shrivelled with the frost, or melted with the broiling heat. The sun and the moon, and all the company of the stars, the showers, the whole world run their course for us all alike, and, as the Gospel tells us, the same refreshing rain falls upon all, good and bad, just and unjust. If the present is a picture of the future, then the Sun of Righteousness will rise upon sinners as well as upon the righteous, upon the wicked and the holy, upon the heathen as well as upon Jews and Christians, though the Scripture says, Malachi 4:2
Unto you that fear the Lord shall the Sun of Righteousness arise. If He will rise to those that fear, He will set to the despisers and the false prophets. The sheep which stand on the right hand will be brought into the kingdom of heaven, the goats will be thrust down to hell. The parable does not contrast the sheep one with another, or on the other hand the goats, but merely makes a difference between sheep and goats. The whole truth is not taught in a single passage: we must always bear in mind the exact point of an illustration. For instance, the ten virgins are not examples of the whole human race, but of the careful and the slothful: the former are ever anticipating the advent of our Lord, the latter abandon themselves to idle slumber without a thought of future judgment. And so at the end of the parable it is said, Matthew 25:13
Watch, for you know not the day, nor the hour. If at the deluge Noah was delivered, and the whole world perished, all men were flesh, and therefore were destroyed. You must either say that the sons of Noah and Noah for whose sake they were delivered were of unequal merit, or you must place the accursed Ham in the same rank as his father because he was delivered with him from the flood. At the passion of Christ all wavered, all were unprofitable together: there was none that did good, no not one. Will you therefore dare to say that Peter and the rest of the Apostles who fled denied the Saviour in the same sense as Caiaphas and the Pharisees and the people who cried out, John 19:6
Crucify him, crucify him? And, to say no more about the Apostles, do you think Annas and Caiaphas, and Judas the traitor guilty of no greater crime than Pilate who was compelled against his will to give sentence against our Lord? The guilt of Judas is proportioned to his former merit, and the greater the guilt, the greater the penalty too. Wisdom 6:7
For the mighty shall mightily suffer torment. An evil tree does not bear good fruit, nor a good tree evil fruit. If this be so, tell me how it was that Paul though he was an evil tree and persecuted the Church of Christ, afterwards bore good fruit? And Judas, though he was a good tree and wrought miracles like the other Apostles, afterwards turned traitor and brought forth evil fruit? The truth is that a good tree does not bear evil fruit, nor an evil tree good fruit, so long as they continue in their goodness, or badness. And if we read that every Hebrew keeps the same Passover, and that in Exodus 21:2 the seventh year every prisoner is set free, and that at Jubilee, that is the fiftieth year, Leviticus 25:13 every possession returns to its owner, all this refers not to the present, but to the future; for being in bondage during the six days of this world, on the seventh day, the true and eternal Sabbath, we shall be free, at any rate if we wish to be free while still in bondage in the world. If, however, we do not desire it, our ear will be bored in token of our disobedience, and together with our wives and children, whom we preferred to liberty, that is, with the flesh and its works, we shall be in perpetual slavery.
26. As for the parable of the sower which makes both good and bad ground bear a triple crop, and the passage from the apostle in which upon Christ as the foundation one man builds gold, silver, costly stones, another wood, hay, stubble, the meaning is perfectly clear. We know that in a great house there are different vessels, and to wish to contradict so plain a truth would be sheer impudence. Yet that Jovinianus may not triumph in a lie and quote the instance of the apostles by way of discrediting the hundred fold, sixty fold, and thirty fold, let me inform him that in Matthew and Mark a hundred fold is promised to the apostles who had left all. And I would tell him further, that in the Gospel of Luke we find much more, that is πολύ πλείονα, and that there is absolutely no instance in the Gospels of a hundred standing for seven; and that he is convicted either of forgery, or of ignorance; and that our cause is not prejudiced by the fact that in one Gospel the enumeration begins at a hundred, in another at thirty, since it is a rule with all Scripture, and especially with the older writings, to put the lowest number first and so ascend by degrees to the higher. For instance, suppose one to say that so-and-so lived five and seventy and a hundred years, it does not follow that five and seventy are more than a hundred because they were first mentioned. If you do not on the side of good admit the difference between a hundred, sixty, and thirty, neither will you do so on the side of evil, and the seed which fell by the wayside, upon the rock, and among thorns, will be equally faulty. But if the former three, or the latter three, on the side of good, or on the side of evil respectively, are one and the same, it was foolish instead of speaking of two things to enumerate six kinds, and all the more because according to the account of the parable in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Saviour always added:
He that has ears to hear, let him hear. Where there is no deep inner meaning, it is useless to draw our attention to the mystic sense.
27. You give it as your opinion that, since the Father and the Son make their abode with the faithful, and since Christ is their guest, nothing is lacking. I suppose, however, that Christ's abiding with the Corinthians was one thing, with the Ephesians another: it was one thing, I say, for Him to abide with those whom Paul blamed for many sins, another for Him to dwell with those to whom the apostle revealed mysteries hidden from the beginning of the world; one thing for Him to be in Titus and Timothy, another in Paul. Certainly among them that have been born of women, there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. But the term greater implies others who are less. And Matthew 11:11
he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. You see then that in heaven one is greatest and another is least, and that among the angels and the invisible creation there is a manifold and infinite diversity. Why do the apostles say: Luke 17:5
Lord, increase our faith, if there is one measure for all? And why did our Lord rebuke His disciple, saying: Matthew 14:31 Jeremiah 31:31
Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers. And so on after: Jeremiah 31:33-34
I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them. The context of this passage clearly shows that the prophet is describing the future kingdom, and how can there possibly be in it a least or greatest, if all are to be equal? The secret is disclosed in the Gospel: Matthew 5:19
Whosoever shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall teach, and not do, shall be least. Luke 14:9 The Saviour taught us at a feast to take the lowest place, lest, when one greater than us came, we should be thrust with disgrace from the higher place. If we cannot fall, but only raise ourselves by penitence, what is the meaning of the ladder at Bethel, on which the angels come from heaven to earth and descend as well as ascend? Surely while on that ladder they are reckoned among the sheep and stand on the right hand. There are angels who descend from heaven; but Jovinianus is sure that they retain their inheritance.
28. But when Jovinianus supposes that the many mansions in our Father's house are churches scattered throughout the world, who can refrain from laughing; since Scripture plainly teaches in John's Gospel that our Lord was discoursing not of the number of the churches, but of the heavenly mansions, and the eternal tabernacles for which the prophet longed? John 14:2-3
In my Father's house, He says,
are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and will receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. The place and the mansions which Christ says He would prepare for the apostles are of course in the Father's house, that is, in the kingdom of heaven, not on earth, where for the present He was leading the apostles. And at the same time regard must be had to the sense of Scripture:
I might tell you, He says,
that I go to prepare a place for you, if there were not many mansions in my Father's house, that is to say, if each individual did not prepare for himself a mansion through his own works rather than receive it through the bounty of God. The preparation is therefore not mine, but yours. This view is supported by the fact that it profited Judas nothing to have a place prepared, since he lost it by his own fault. And we must interpret in the same way what our Lord says to the sons of Zebedee, one of whom wished to sit on His left hand, the other on His right: Matthew 20:23
My cup indeed you shall drink: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left hand, is not mine to give, but it is for them for whom it has been prepared of my Father. It is not the Son's to give; how then is it the Father's to prepare? There are, He says, prepared in heaven, many different mansions, destined for many different virtues, and they will be awarded not to persons, but to persons' works. In vain therefore do you ask of me what rests with yourselves, a reward which my Father has prepared for those whose virtues will entitle them to rise to such dignity. Again when He says: John 14:3
I will come again, and will receive you unto myself: that where I am, there ye may be also, He is speaking especially to the apostles, concerning whom it is elsewhere written,
That as I and thou, Father, are one, so they also may be one in us, inasmuch as they have believed, have been perfected, and can say,
the Lord is my portion. If, however, there are not many mansions, how is it taught in the Old Testament correspondingly with the New, that the chief priest has one rank, the priests another, the Levites another, the door-keepers another, the sacristans another? How is it that in the Ezekiel 44:10 book of Ezekiel, where a description is given of the future Church and of the heavenly Jerusalem, the priests who have sinned are degraded to the rank of sacristans and doorkeepers, and although they are in the temple of God, that is on the right hand, they are not among the rams, but among the poorest of the sheep? How again is it that in the river which flows from the temple, and replenishes the salt sea, and gives new life to everything, we read there are many kinds of fish? Why do we read that in the kingdom of heaven there are Archangels, Angels, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim, and every name which is named, not only in this present world, but also that which is to come? A difference of name is meaningless where there is not a difference of rank. An Archangel is of course an Archangel to other inferior angels, and Powers, and Dominions have other spheres over which they exercise authority. This is what we find in heaven and in the administration of God. You must not therefore smile and sneer at us, as is your wont, for making a graduated series of emperors, præfects and counts, tribunes and centurions, companies, and all the other steps in the service.
29. It is mere trifling to quote the passage: 1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost, for it is customary in Holy Scripture to speak of a single object as though it were many, and of many as though they were one. And Jovinianus himself should know that even in a temple there are many divisions— the outer and the inner courts, the vestibules, the holy place, and the Holy of Holies. There are also in a temple kitchens, pantries, oil-cellars, and cupboards for the vessels. And so in the temple of our body there are different degrees of merit. God does not dwell in all alike, nor does He impart Himself to all in the same degree. A portion of the spirit of Moses was taken and given to the seventy elders. I suppose there is a difference between the abundance of the river, and that of the rivulets. Elijah's spirit was given in double measure to Elisha, and thus double grace wrought greater miracles. Elijah while living restored a dead man to life; Elisha after death did the same. Elijah invoked famine on the people; Elisha in a single day put the enemy's forces in the power of the city which they besieged. No doubt the words,
Do you not know that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost, refer to the whole assembly of the faithful, who, joined together, make up the one body of Christ. But the question now is, who in the body is worthy to be the feet of Christ, and who the head? Who is His eye, and who His hand?— a distinction indicated by the two women in the Gospel, the penitent and the holy woman, one of whom held His feet, the other His head. Some authorities, however, think there was only one woman, and that she who began at His feet gradually advanced to His head. Jovinianus further urges against us our Lord's words, John 17:20-21
I pray not for these only, but also for those who shall believe in me through their word: that as I, Father, in you and thou in me are one, so they all may be one in us, and reminds us that the whole Christian people is one in God, and, as His well-beloved sons, are 2 Peter 1:4
partakers of the divine nature. We have already said, and the truth must now be inculcated more in detail, that we are not one in the Father and the Son according to nature, but according to grace. For the essence of the human soul and the essence of God are not the same, as the Manichæans constantly assert. But, says our Lord: John 17:23
You have loved them as you have loved me. You see, then, that we are privileged to partake of His essence, not in the realm of nature, but of grace, and the reason why we are beloved of the Father is that He has loved the Son; and the members are loved, those namely of the body. John 1:12-13
For as many as received Christ, to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe in His name: which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Word was made flesh that we might pass from the flesh into the Word. The Word did not cease to be what He had been; nor did the human nature lose that which it was by birth. The glory was increased, the nature was not changed. Do you ask how we are made one body with Christ? Your creator shall be your instructor:
He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he that eats me, he also shall live because of me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven. But the Evangelist John, who had drunk in wisdom from the breast of Christ, agrees herewith, and says:
Hereby know we that we abide in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. If you believe in Christ, as the apostles believed, you shall be made one body with them in Christ. But, if it is rash for you to claim for yourself a faith and works like theirs when you have not the same faith and works, you cannot have the same place.
30. You repeat the words bride, sister, mother, and affirm that all these are titles of the one Church and names applied to all believers. The fact goes against you. For if the Church admits but one rank, and has not many members in one body, what necessity is there for calling her bride, sister, mother? It must be that she is the bride of some, the sister of others, the mother of others. All indeed stand on the right hand, but one stands as a bridegroom, another as a brother, a third as a son. Galatians 4:19
My little children says the Apostle,
of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you. Do you think that the children who are being born and the apostle who is in travail are of equal rank? And the folly of your contention that we love all the members alike, and do not prefer the eye to the finger, nor the hand to the ear, but that if one be lost all mourn, is proved by the lesson which the apostle teaches the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 12:22-24
Some members are more honourable, others excite the sense of shame: and those parts to which shame attaches are clothed with more abundant honour; whereas our comely parts have no need of our care. Do you think that the mouth and the belly, the eyes and the outlets of the body are to be classed together as of equal merit? Luke 11:34
The lamp of your body, he says,
is your eye. If your eye be blinded, your whole body is in darkness. If you cut off a finger, or the tip of the ear, there is indeed pain, but the loss is not so great, nor is the disfigurement attended by so much pain as it would be were you to take out the eyes, mutilate the nose, or saw through a bone. Some members we can dispense with and yet live: without others life is an impossibility. Some offenses are light, some heavy. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe a farthing. We shall have to give account of the idle word no less than of adultery; but it is not the same thing to be put to the blush, and to be put upon the rack, to grow red in the face and to ensure lasting torment. Do you think I am merely expressing my own views? Hear what the Apostle John says: 1 John 5:16
He who knows that his brother sins a sin not unto death, let him ask, and he shall give him life, even to him that sins not unto death. But he that has sinned unto death, who shall pray for him? You observe that if we entreat for smaller offenses, we obtain pardon: if for greater ones, it is difficult to obtain our request: and that there is a great difference between sins. And so with respect to the people of Israel who had sinned a sin unto death, it is said to Jeremiah: Jeremiah 7:16
Pray not thou for this people, neither entreat for them, and do not withstand me, for I will not hear you. Moreover, if it be true that we all alike enter the world and all alike leave it, and this is a precedent for the world to come, it follows that whether righteous or sinners we shall all be equally esteemed by God, because the conditions of our birth and death are now the same. And if you contend that there are two Adams, the one of the earth, the other from heaven; and that they who were in the earthly Adam stand on the left hand, those who were in the heavenly are on the right hand, before we go further, let me ask you a question concerning two brothers: Was Esau in the earthly Adam, or in the heavenly? No one doubts that you will reply, he was in the earthly. In which was Jacob? Without hesitation you will say, in the heavenly. How then was he in the heavenly when Christ had not yet come in the flesh— Christ who is called the second Adam from heaven? You must either reckon all before the incarnation of Christ in the old Adam, and even the just in the man from the earth, and then they will be on the left among your goats; or, if it be impious to give Isaac the same place as Ishmael, Jacob as Esau, the saints as sinners, the last Adam will date from the time when Christ was born of a Virgin, and your argument from the two Adams will not benefit your sheep and goats, because we have proved that in the first Adam there were both sheep and goats, and that of those who were in one and the same man, some stood on the right hand of God, others on the left: Romans 5:14
31. As regards your attempt to show that railing and murder, the use of the expression raca and adultery, the idle word and godlessness, are rewarded with the same punishment, I have already given you my reply, and will now briefly repeat it. You must either deny that you are a sinner if you are not to be in danger of Gehenna: or, if you are a sinner you will be sent to hell for even a light offense: Wisdom 1:11
The mouth that lies, says one,
kills the soul. I suspect that you, like other men, have occasionally told a lie: for all men are liars, that God alone may be true, and that He may be justified in His words, and may prevail when He judges. It follows either that you will not be a man lest you be found a liar: or if you are a man and are consequently a liar, you will be punished with parricides and adulterers. For you admit no difference between sins, and the gratitude of those whom you raise from the mire and set on high will not equal the rage against you of those whom for the trifling offenses of daily life you have thrust into utter darkness. And if it be so that in a persecution one is stifled, another beheaded, another flees, or the fourth dies within the walls of a prison, and one crown of victory awaits various kinds of struggle, the fact tells in our favour. For in martyrdom it is the will, which gives occasion to the death, that is crowned. My duty is to resist the frenzy of the heathen, and not deny the Lord. It rests with them either to behead, or to burn, or to shut up in prison, or enforce various other penalties. But if I escape, and die in solitude, there will not at my death be the same crown for me as for them, because the confession of Christ will not have been to me as to them the cause of death. As for your remark that absolutely no difference was made between the brother who had always been with his father, and him who was afterwards welcomed as a penitent, I am willing to add, if you like, that the one drachma which was lost and was found was put with the others, and that the one sheep which the good shepherd, leaving the ninety and nine, sought and brought back, made up the full tale of a hundred. But it is one thing to be a penitent, and with tears sue for pardon, another to be always with the father. And so both the shepherd and the father say by the mouth of Ezekiel to the sheep that was carried back, and to the son that was lost, Ezekiel 16:62-63
And I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall know that I am the Lord: that you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth ever more, because of your shame, when I have forgiven you all that you have done. That penitents may have their due it is enough for them to feel shame instead of all other punishment. Hence in another place it is said to them, Ezekiel 36:31-32
Then shall you remember your evil ways, and all the crimes wherewith you were defiled, and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the wickedness that you have done; and you shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have done you good for my name's sake, and not according to your evil ways, nor according to your evil doings. The son, moreover, was reproved by his father for envying his brother's deliverance, and for being tormented by jealousy while the angels in heaven were rejoicing. The parallel, however, is not to be drawn between the merits of the two sons (one of whom was temperate, the other a prodigal) and those of the whole human race, but the characters depicted are either Jews and Christians, or saints and penitents. In the lifetime of Bishop Damasus I dedicated to him a small treatise upon this parable.
32. And if a penny was given to all the labourers, those of the first, the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh hours, and they came first for the reward who were the last to work in the vineyard, even here the persons described do not belong to one time or one age, but from the beginning of the world to the end of it there are different calls and a special meaning attaches to each. Abel and Seth were called at the first hour: Enoch and Noah at the third: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the sixth: Moses and the prophets at the ninth: at the eleventh the Gentiles, to whom the recompense was first given because they believed on the crucified Lord, and inasmuch as it was hard for them to believe they earned a great reward. Many kings and prophets have desired to see the things that we see, and have not seen them. But the one penny does not represent one reward, but one life, and one deliverance from Gehenna. And as by the favour of the sovereign those guilty of various crimes are released from prison, and each one, according to his toil and exertions, is in this or that condition of life, so too the penny, as it were by the favour of our Sovereign, is the discharge from prison of us all by baptism. Now our work is, according to our different virtues, to prepare for ourselves a different future.
33. So far I have replied to the separate portions of his argument; I shall now address myself to the general question. Our Lord says to his disciples, Matthew 20:26
Whosoever would become great among you, let him be least of all. If we are all to be equal in heaven, in vain do we humble ourselves here that we may be greater there. Of the two debtors who owed, one five hundred pence, the other fifty, he to whom most was forgiven loved most. And so the Saviour says, Luke 7:47
I say to you, her sins which are many are forgiven her, for she has loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. He who loves little, and has little forgiven, he will of course be of inferior rank. The householder when he set out delivered to his servants his goods, to one five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Just as in another Gospel it is written that a nobleman setting out for a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and return, called the servants, and gave them each a sum of money, with which one gained ten pounds, another five, and they, each according to his ability and the gain he had made, received ten or five cities. But one who had received a talent, or a pound, buried it in the ground, or tied it up in a napkin, and kept it until his master's return. Our first thought is that if, according to the modern Zeno, the righteous do not toil in hope of reward, but to avoid the loss of what they already have, he who buried his pound or talent that he might not lose it, did no wrong, and the caution of him who kept his money is worthy of more praise than the fruitless toil of those who wore themselves out and yet received no reward for their labour. Then observe that the very talent which was taken from the timid or negligent servant, was not given to him who had the smaller profit, but to him who had gained the most, that is, to him who had been placed over ten cities. If difference of rank is not constituted by the difference in number, why did our Lord say,
He gave to everyone according to his ability? If the gain of five talents and ten talents is the same, why were not ten cities given to him who gained the least, and five to him who gained the most? But that our Lord is not satisfied with what we have, but always desires more, He himself shows by saying,
Wherefore did you not give my money to the money-changers, that so when I came I might have received it with usury? The Apostle Paul understood this, and Philippians 3:13 forgetting those things which were behind, reached forward to those things which were in front, that is, he made daily progress, and did not keep the grace given to him carefully wrapped up in a napkin, but his spirit, like the capital of a keen man of business, was renewed from day to day, and if he were not always growing larger, he thought himself growing less. Six cities of refuge are mentioned in the law, provided for fugitives who were involuntary homicides, and the cities themselves belonged to the priests. I should like to ask whether you would put those fugitives among your goats, or among our sheep. If they were goats, they would be slain like other homicides, and would not enter the cities of God's ministers. If you say they were sheep, they will not possibly be such sheep as can enjoy full liberty and feed without fear of wolves. And it will be plain to you that sheep indeed they are, but wandering sheep: that they are on the right hand, but do not stand there: they flee until the High Priest dies and descending into hell liberates their souls. The Gibeonites met the children of Israel, and although other nations were slaughtered, they were kept Joshua 9:27 for hewers of wood and drawers of water. 2 Samuel 21:1 And of such value were they in God's eyes, that the family of Saul was destroyed for the wrong done to them. Where would you put them? Among the goats? But they were not slain, and they were avenged by the determination of God. Among the sheep? But holy Scripture says they were not of the same merit as the Israelites. You see then that they do indeed stand on the right hand, but are of a far inferior grade. Jonathan came between David, the holy man, and Saul, the worst of kings, and we can neither place him among the kids because he was worthy of a prophet's love, nor among the rams lest we make him equal to David, and particularly when we know that he was slain. He will, therefore, be among the sheep, but low down. And just as in the case of David and Jonathan, you will be bound to recognize differences between sheep and sheep. Luke 12:47-48
That servant, which knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. Lo! More or less is committed to different servants, and according to the nature of the trust, as well as of the sin, is the number of stripes inflicted.
34. The whole account of the land of Judah and of the tribes is typical of the church in heaven. Let us read Joshua the son of Nun, or the concluding portions of Ezekiel, and we shall see that the historical division of the land as related by the one finds a counterpart in the spiritual and heavenly promises of the other. What is the meaning of the seven and eight steps in the description of the temple? Or again, what significance attaches to the fact that in the Psalter, after being taught the mystic alphabet by the one hundred and eighteenth psalm we arrive by fifteen steps at the point where we can sing:
Behold, now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord: ye who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Why did two tribes and a half dwell on the other side of Jordan, a district abounding in cattle, while the remaining nine tribes and a half either drove out the old inhabitants from their possessions, or dwelt with them? Why did the tribe of Levi Numbers 18:20 receive no portion in the land, but have the Lord for their portion? And how is it that of the priests and Levites, themselves, the high priest alone entered the Holy of Holies where were the cherubim and the mercy-seat? Why did the other priests wear linen raiment only, and not have their clothing of wrought gold, blue, scarlet, purple, and fine cloth? The priests and Numbers 7:5 Levites of the lower order took care of the oxen and wains: those of the higher order carried the ark of the Lord on their shoulders. If you do away with the gradations of the tabernacle, the temple, the Church, if, to use a common military phrase, all upon the right hand are to be
up to the same standard, bishops are to no purpose, priests in vain, deacons useless. Why do virgins persevere? widows toil? Why do married women practise continence? Let us all sin, and when once we have repented, we shall be on the same footing as the apostles.
35. But now we have just sighted land: the foaming billows have been rolling mountain-high: our ship has been borne aloft, or has rushed headlong into the depths beneath: little by little the haven opens to the view of the weary and exhausted sailors. We have discussed the married, widows, and virgins. We have preferred virginity to widowhood, widowhood to marriage. The passage of the apostle, in which he treats questions of this kind, has been expounded, and particular objections have been met. We also took a survey of secular literature, and inquired what was thought of virgins, and what of those who had one husband; and by way of contrast we pointed out the cares which sometimes attend wedlock. Then we passed to the second division, in which our opponent denies the possibility of sinning to those who have been baptized with complete faith. And we showed that God alone is faultless, and every creature is at fault, not because all have sinned, but because all may sin, and those who stand have cause to fear when they see the fall of men like themselves. In the third place we came to fasting, and inasmuch as our opponent's argument fell under two heads, and he appealed either to philosophy, or to Holy Scripture, we also furnished a several reply. In the fourth, that is the last section, the sheep and goats on the right hand and the left, the righteous and the wicked, were distributed into two classes, the intention being to show that there is no difference between one just man and another, or between one sinner and another. To prove the point Jovinianus had accumulated countless instances from Scripture which apparently favoured his view, and this contention we rebutted both by arguments and illustrations from Scripture, and pulverized Zeno's old opinion no less with common sense than with the words of inspiration.
36. I must in conclusion say a few words to our modern Epicurus wantoning in his gardens with his favourites of both sexes. On your side are the fat and the sleek in their festal attire. If I may mock like Socrates, add if you please, all swine and dogs, and, since you like flesh so well, vultures too, eagles, hawks, and owls. We shall never be afraid of the host of Aristippus. If ever I see a fine fellow, or a man who is no stranger to the curling-irons, with his hair nicely done and his cheeks all aglow, he belongs to your herd, or rather grunts in concert with your pigs. To our flock belong the sad, the pale, the meanly clad, who, like strangers in this world, though their tongues are silent, yet speak by their dress and bearing.
Woe is me, say they,
that my sojourning is prolonged! That I dwell among the tents of Kedar! that is to say, in the darkness of this world, for the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. Boast not of having many disciples. The Son of God taught in Judæa, and only twelve apostles followed Him. Isaiah 63:3
I have trodden the wine-press alone, He says,
and of the peoples there was no man with me. At the passion He was left alone, and even Peter's fidelity to Him wavered: on the other hand all the people applauded the doctrine of the Pharisees, saying, John 19:6, 15
Crucify him, crucify him. We have no king but Cæsar, that is in effect, we follow vice, not virtue; Epicurus, not Christ; Jovinianus, not the Apostle Paul. If many assent to your views, that only indicates voluptuousness; for they do not so much approve your utterances, as favour their own vices. In our crowded thoroughfares a false prophet may be seen any day stick in hand belabouring the fools about him, and knocking out the teeth of those who offend him, and yet he never lacks constant followers. And do you regard it as a mark of great wisdom if you have a following of many pigs, whom you are feeding to make pork for hell? Since you published your views, and set the mark of your approval on baths in which the sexes bathe together, the impatience which once threw over burning lust the semblance of a robe of modesty has been laid bare and exposed. What was once hidden is now open to the gaze of all. You have revealed your disciples, such as they are, not made them. One result of your teaching is that sin is no longer even repented of. Your virgins whom, with a depth of wisdom never found before in speech or writing, you have taught the apostle's maxim that it is better to marry than to burn, have turned secret adulterers into acknowledged husbands. It was not the apostle, the chosen vessel, who gave this advice; it was Virgil's widow:
She calls it wedlock; thus she veils her fault.
37. About four hundred years have passed since the preaching of Christ flashed upon the world, and during that time in which His robe has been torn by countless heresies, almost the whole body of error has been derived from the Chaldæan, Syriac, and Greek languages. Basilides, the master of licentiousness and the grossest sensuality, after the lapse of so many years, and like a second Euphorbus, was changed by transmigration into Jovinian, so that the Latin tongue might have a heresy of its own. Was there no other province in the whole world to receive the gospel of pleasure, and into which the serpent might insinuate itself, except that which was founded by the teaching of Peter, upon the rock Christ? Idol temples had fallen before the standard of the Cross and the severity of the Gospel: now on the contrary lust and gluttony endeavour to overthrow the solid structure of the Cross. And so God says by Isaiah, Isaiah 3:16
Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save every man his life, and believe not the false prophets which say, Peace, peace, and there is no peace; who are always repeating,
The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.
Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish things; they have not laid bare your iniquity that they might call you to repentance: who devour God's people like bread: they have not called upon God. Jeremiah announced the captivity and was stoned by the people. Jeremiah 28:13 Hananiah, the son of Azzur, broke the bars of wood for the present, but was preparing bars of iron for the future. False prophets always promise pleasant things, and please for a time. Truth is bitter, and they who preach it are filled with bitterness. For with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth the Lord's passover is kept, and it is eaten with bitter herbs. Admirable are your utterances and worthy of the ears of the bride of Christ standing in the midst of her virgins, and widows, and celibates! (their very name is derived from the fact that they who abstain from intercourse are fit for heaven). This is what you say:
Fast seldom, marry often. You cannot do the work of marriage unless you take mead, and flesh, and solid food. For lust strength is required. Flesh is soon spent and enervated. You need not be afraid of fornication. He who has been once baptized into Christ cannot fall, for he has the consolation of marriage to slake his lust. And if you do fall, repentance will restore you, and you who were hypocrites at baptism may have a firm faith in your repentance. Be not disturbed by the thought of a difference between the righteous and the penitent, and do not imagine that pardon even gives a lower place; rather believe that it takes away your crown. For there is one reward: he who stands on the right hand shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Through counsels such as these your swine-herds are richer than our shepherds, and the he-goats draw after them many of the other sex: Jeremiah 5:8
They were as fed horses: they were mad after women: they no sooner see a woman than they neigh after her, and, shame to say! Find scriptural authority for the consolation of their incontinence. But the very women, unhappy creatures! Though they deserve no pity, who chant the words of their instructor (for what does God require of them but to become mothers?), have lost not only their chastity, but all sense of shame, and defend their licentious practices with an access of impudence. You have, moreover, in your army many subalterns, you have your guardsmen and your skirmishers at the outposts, the round-bellied, the well-dressed, the exquisites, and noisy orators, to defend you with tooth and nail. The noble make way for you, the wealthy print kisses on your face. For unless you had come, the drunkard and the glutton could not have entered paradise. All honor to your virtue, or rather to your vices! You have in your camp, even amazons with uncovered breasts, bare arms and knees, who challenge the men who come against them to a battle of lust. Your household is a large one, and so in your aviaries not only turtle-doves, but hoopoes are fed, which may wing their flight over the whole field of rank debauchery. Pull me to pieces and scatter me to the winds: tax me with what offenses you please: accuse me of luxurious and delicate living: you would like me better if I were guilty, for I should belong to your herd.
38. But I will now address myself to you, great Rome, who with the confession of Christ have blotted out the blasphemy written on your forehead. Mighty city, mistress-city of the world, city of the Apostle's praises, show the meaning of your name. Rome is either strength in Greek, or height in Hebrew. Lose not the excellence your name implies: let virtue lift you up on high, let not voluptuousness bring you low. By repentance, as the history of Nineveh proves, you may escape the curse wherewith the Saviour threatened you in the Apocalypse. Beware of the name of Jovinianus. It is derived from that of an idol. The Capitol is in ruins: the temples of Jove with their ceremonies have perished. Why should his name and vices flourish now in the midst of you, when even in the time of Numa Pompilius, even under the sway of kings, your ancestors gave a heartier welcome to the self-restraint of Pythagoras than they did under the consuls to the debauchery of Epicurus?
Source. Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/30092.htm>.
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