The powers that be are not needlessly to be irritated. One must not lend one's ears to flattery.
217. I Think we must take care, lest in being led on by too great a desire for glory, we should abuse the powers that be, and arouse the minds of the heathen, who are opposed to us, to desire persecution, and excite them to anger. How many do some cause to perish, that they themselves may continue to the end, and overcome their tortures!
218. We must also look to it that we do not open our ears to flatterers. To allow oneself to be smoothed down by flattery seems to be a sign not only of want of fortitude, but a sign of actual cowardice.
On temperance and its chief parts, especially tran-quillity of mind and moderation, care for what is virtuous, and reflection on what is seemly.
219. As we have spoken of three of the virtues, there remains but the fourth for us to speak of.hyperlink This is called temperance and moderation; wherein, before all else, tranquillity of mind, the attainment of gentleness, the grace of moderation, regard for what is virtuous, and reflection on what is seemly are sought and looked for.
220. We must keep to a certain order in life, so that a foundation may be laid with our first feelings of modesty, for that is the friend and ally of calmness of mind. Avoiding over-confidence, averse to all excess, it loves sobriety, guards what is honourable, and seeks only what is seemly.
221. Let choice of intercourse come next. Let us link ourselves with older men of approved goodness. For as the companionship of people of our own age is the plea-santer, so that of our elders is the safer. By their guidance and the conduct of their lives they give colour to the character of younger men, and tinge them as it were with the deep purple of probity. For if they who are ignorant of a locality are very glad to take a journey in the company of skilled guides, how much more ought young men to enter on the path of life, which is new to them, in the company of old men; so that they may not go wrong, and turn aside froth the true path of virtue. For nothing is better than to have the same men both to direct us in life, and also to be witnesses of how we live.
222. One must also in every action consider what is suitable for different persons, times, and ages, and what will also be in accordance with the abilities of individuals. For often what befits one does not befit another; one thing suits a youth, another an old man;one thing does in danger, another in good fortune.
223. David danced before the ark of the Lord.hyperlink Samuel did not dance; yet David was not blamed, while the other was praised. David changed his countenance before the king, whose name was Achish.hyperlink If he had done this without any fear of being recognized, he would certainly not have escaped the charge of levity. Saul also, surrounded by the company of prophets, himself prophesied. Yet of him alone, as though he were unworthy, was it said: "Is Saul also among the prophets?"hyperlink
Every one ought to apply himself to the duties suited to his character. Many, however, are hindered by following their fathers' pursuits. Clerics act in a different way.
224. Each one knows his own powers. Therefore let each one apply himself to that which he has chosen as suitable to himself. But he must first consider what will be the consequences. He may know his good points, but he must know his faults also. He must also be a fair judge of himself, so as to aim at what is good and avoid what is bad.
225. One is more fitted for the post of reader, another does better for the singing, a third is more solicitous for exorcising those possessed with an evil spirit, another, again, is held to be more suited to have the charge of the sacred things. All these things a priest should look at. He should give each one that particular duty for which he is best fitted. For whither each one's bent of mind leads him, or whatever duty befits him, that position or duty is filled with greater grace.
226. But as this is a difficult matter in every state of life, so in our case it is most difficult. For each one is wont to follow his parent's choice in life.hyperlink Thus those whose fathers were in the army generally enter the army too. And others do the same with regard to the different professions.
227. In the clerical office, however, nothing is more rare than to find a man to follow his father's footsteps,hyperlink either because the difficulties of the work hold him back, or continence in the uncertain days of youth is too difficult to hold to, or the life seems to be too quiet for the activity of youth. So they turn to those pursuits which are thought to be more showy. Most, indeed, prefer the present to the future. They are fighting for the present, we for the future. Wherefore it follows that the greater the cause in which we are engaged, the more must our attention be devoted to it.
On what is noble and virtuous, and what the difference between them is, as stated both in the profane and sacred writers.
228. Let us then hold fast modesty, and that moderation which adds to the beauty of the whole of life. For it is no light thing in every matter to preserve due measure and to bring about order, wherein that is plainly conspicuous which we call "decorum," or what is seemly. This is so closely connected with what is virtuous, that one cannot separate the two.hyperlink For what is seemly is also virtuous-and what is virtuous is seemly. So that the distinction lies rather in the words than in the things themselves. That there is a difference between them we can understand, but we cannot explain it.
229. To make an attempt to get some sort of a distinction between them, we may say that what is virtuous may be compared to the good health and soundness of the body, whilst what is seemly is, as it were, its comeliness and beauty. And as beauty seems to stand above soundness and health, and yet cannot exist without them, nor be separated from them in any way-for unless one has good health, one cannot have beauty and comeliness-so what is virtuous contains in itself also what is seemly, so as to seem to start with it, and to be unable to exist without it. What is virtuous, then, is like soundness in all our work and undertaking; what is seemly is, as it were, the outward appearance, which, when joined with what is virtuous, can only be known apart in our thoughts. For though in some cases it seems to stand out conspicuous, yet it has its root in what is virtuous, though the flower is its own. Rooted in this, it flourishes; otherwise it fails and droops. For what is virtue, but to avoid anything shameful as though it were death? And what is the opposite of virtue, except that which brings barrenness and death? If, then, the essence of virtue is strong and vigorous, seemliness will also quickly spring forth like a flower, for its root is sound. But if the root of its purpose is corrupt, nothing will grow out of it.
230. In our writings this is put somewhat more plainly. For David says: "The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with splendour."hyperlink And the Apostle says: "Walk honestly as in the day."hyperlink The Greek text has eusxhmonwj-and this really means: with good clothing, with a good appearance. When God made the first man, He created him with a good figure, with limbs well set, and gave him a very noble appearance. He had not given him remission of sins. But afterwards He, Who came in the form of a servant, and in the likeness of man, renewed him with His Spirit, and poured His grace into his heart, and put on Himself the splendourhyperlink of the redemption of the human race. Therefore the Prophet said: "The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with splendour."hyperlink And again he says: "A hymn beseems Thee, O God, in Sion."hyperlink That is: It is right and good to fear Thee, to love Thee, to pray to Thee, to honour Thee, for it is written: "Let all things be done decently and in order."hyperlink But we can also fear, love, ask, honour men; yet the hymn especially is addressed to God. This seemliness which we offer to God we may believe to be far better than other things. It befits also a woman to pray in an orderly dress,hyperlink but it especially beseems her to pray covered, and to pray giving promise of purity together with a good conversation.
A twofold division of what is seemly is given. Next it is shown that what is according to nature is virtuous, and what is otherwise must be looked on as shameful. This division is explained by examples.
231. Seemliness, therefore, which stands conspicuous has a twofold division.hyperlink For there is what we may call a general seemli-ness, which is diffused through all that is virtuous, and is seen, as one may say, in the whole body. It is also individual, and shows itself clearly in some particular part. The first has a consistent form and the perfection of what is virtuous harmonizing in every action. For all its life is consistent with itself, and there is no discrepancy in anything. The other is concerned when there is any special action done in a virtuous course of life.
232. At the same time let us note that it is seemly to live in accordance with nature, and to pass our time in accordance with it, and that whatever is contrary to nature is shameful. For the Apostle asks: "Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered; doth not nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? For it is contrary to nature." And again he says: "If a woman have long hair, it is a glory unto her."hyperlink It is according to nature, since her hair is given her for a veil, for it is a natural veil. Thus nature arranges for us both character and appearance, and we ought to observe her directions. Would that we could guard her innocence, and not change what we have received by our wickedness!
233. We have that general seemliness; for God made the beauty of this world. We have it also in its parts; for when God made the light, and marked off the day from the night, when He made heaven, and separated land and seas, when He set the sun and moon and stars to shine on the earth, He approved of them all one by one. Therefore this comeliness, which shone forth in each single part of the world, was resplendent in the whole, as the Book of Wisdom shows, saying: "I existed, in whom He rejoiced when He was glad at the completion of the world."hyperlink Likewise also in the building up of the human body each single member is pleasing, but the right adjustment of the members all together delights us far more. For thus they seem to be united and fitted in one harmonious whole.
What is seemly should always shine forth in our life. What passions, then, ought we to allow to come to a head, and which should we restrain?
234. If any one preserves an even tenor in the whole of life, and method in all that he does, and sees there is order and consistency in his words and moderation in his deeds, then what is seemly stands forth conspicuous in his life and shines forth as in some mirror.
235. There should be besides a pleasant way of speaking, so that we may win the good-will of those who hear us, and make ourselves agreeable to all our friends and fellow-citizens, if possible. Let none show himself to be given to flattery, nor to be desirous of flattery from any one. The one is a mark of artfulness, the other of vanity.
236. Let no one ever look down on what another, least of all a good man, thinks of him, for thus he learns to give regard to the good. For to disregard the judgment of good men is a sign of conceitedness or of weakness. One of these arises from pride, the other from carelessness.
237. We must also guard against the motions of our soul. The soul must always watch and look after itself, so as to guard itself against itself. For there are motions in which there is a kind of passion that breaks forth as it were in a sort of rush. Wherefore in Greek it is called ormh, because it comes out suddenly with some force. In these there lies no slight force of soul or of nature. Its force, however, is twofold: on the one side it rests on passion, on the other on reason, which checks passion, and makes-it obedient to itself, and leads it whither it will; and trains it by careful teaching to know what ought to be done, and what ought to be avoided, so as to make it submit to its kind tamer.
238. For we ought to be careful never to do anything rashly or carelessly, or anything at all for which we cannot give a reasonable ground. For though a reason for our action is not given to every one, yet everybody looks into it. Nor, indeed, have we anything whereby we can excuse ourselves. For though there is a sort of natural force in every passion of ours, yet that same passion is subject to reason by the law of nature itself, and is obedient to it.hyperlink Wherefore it is the duty of a careful watchman so to keep a lookout, that passion may not outrun reason nor utterly forsake it, lest by outstripping it confusion be caused, and reason be shut out, and come to nothing by such desertion. Disquiet destroys consistency. Withdrawal shows cowardice and implies indolence. For when the mind is disquieted passion spreads wide and far, and in a fierce outburst endures not the reins of reason and feels not the management of its driver so as to be turned back. Wherefore as a rule not only is the soul perturbed and reason lost, but one's countenance gets inflamed by anger or by lust. it grows pale with fear, it contains not itself in pleasure, and cannot bear joy.
239. When this happens, then that natural judgment and weight of character is cast aside, and that consistency which alone in deed and thought can keep up its own authority and what is seemly, can no longer be retained.
240. But fiercer passion springs from excessive anger,hyperlink which the pain of some wrong received kindles within us. The monitions of the psalm which forms the opening of our subject instruct us on this point. Beautifully; then, has it come about that, in writing on duties, we used that declaration of our opening passage which also itself has to do with the direction of duty.
241. But since (as was but right) we there only touched upon the matter, as to how each one ought to take care not to be disturbed when wrong is done him, for fear that our preliminary remarks should run to too great length, I think that I will now discuss it a little more fully. For the occasion is opportune, as we are speaking on the different parts of temperance, to see how anger may be checked.
The argument for restraining anger is given again. Then the three classes of those who receive wrongs are set forth; to the most perfect of which the Apostle and David are said to have attained. He takes the opportunity to state the difference between this and the future life.
242. We wish if we can to point out three classes of men who receive wrongs in holy Scripture. One of these forms the class of those whom the sinner reviles, abuses, rides over rough-shod.hyperlink And just because justice fails them, shame grows, pain increases. Very many of my own order, of my own number, are like these. For if any one does me, who am weak, an injury, perhaps, though I am weak, I may forgive the wrong done me. If he charges me with an offence I am not such an one as to be content with the witness of my own conscience, although I know I am clear of what he brings against me; but I desire, just because I am weak, to wash out the mark of my inborn shame. Therefore I demand eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, and repay abuse with abuse.
243. If, however, I am one who is advancing, although not yet perfect, I do not return the reproaches; and if he breaks out into abuse, and fills my ears with reproaches, I am silent and do not answer.
244. But if I am perfect (I say this only by way of example, for in truth I am weak), if, then, I am perfect, I bless him that curses me, as Paul also blessed, for he says: "Being reviled we bless."hyperlink He had heard Him Who says: "Love your enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you."hyperlink And so Paul suffered persecution and endured it, for he conquered and calmed his human feelings for the sake of the reward set before him, namely, that he should become a son of God if he loved his enemies.
245. We call show, too, that holy David was like to Paul in this same class of virtue. When the son of Shimei cursed him, and charged him with heavy offences, at the first he was silent and humbled himself, and was silent even about his good deeds, that is, his knowledge of good works. Then he even asked to be cursed; for when he was cursed he hoped to gain divine pity.hyperlink
246. But see how he stored up humility and justice and prudence so as to merit grace from the Lord! At first he said: "Therefore he cursed me, because the Lord hath said unto him that he should curse."hyperlink Here we have humility; for he thought that those things which are divinely ordered were to be endured with an even mind, as though he were but some servant lad. Then he said: "Behold my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life."hyperlink Here we have justice. For if we suffer hard things at the hand of our own family, why are we angry at what is done to us by strangers? Lastly he says: "Let him alone that he may curse, for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on my humiliation and requite me good for this cursing."hyperlink So he bore not only the abuse, but left the man unpunished when throwing stones and following him. Nay, more I After his victory he freely granted him pardon when he asked for it.
247. I have written this to show that holy David, in true evangelical spirit, was not only not offended, but was even thankful to his abuser, and was delighted rather than angered by his wrongs, for which he thought some return would be granted to him. But, though perfect, he sought something still more perfect. As a man he grew hot at the pain of his wrongs, but like a good soldier he conquered, he endured like a brave wrestler. The end and aim of his patience was the expectation of the fulfilment of the promises, and therefore he said: "Lord, make me to know mine end and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know what is wanting to me."hyperlink He seeks, then, that end of the heavenly promises, when each one shall arise in his own order: "Christ the firstfruits, then they that are Christ's who have believed in His coming. Then cometh the end."hyperlink For when the kingdom is delivered up to God, even the Father, and all the powers are put down, as the Apostle says, then perfection begins. Here, then, is the hindrance, here the weakness of the perfect; there full perfection. Thus it is he asks for those days of eternal life which are, and not for those which pass away, so that he may know what is wanting to him, what is the land of promise that bears everlasting fruits, which is the first mansion in his Father's house, which the second, which the third, wherein each one will rest according to his merits.
248. We then must strive for that wherein is perfection and wherein is truth. Here is the shadow, here the image;hyperlink there the truth. The shadow is in the law, the image in the Gospel, the truth in heaven. In old times a lamb, a Calf was offered; now Christ is offered. But He is offered as man and as enduring suffering. And He offers Himself as a priest to take away our sins, here in an image, there in truth,hyperlink where with the Father He intercedes for us as our Advocate Here, then, we walk in an image, we see in an image; there face to face where is full perfection.For all perfection rests in the truth.
We must reserve the likeness of the virtues in ourselves. The likenessofthe devil and of vice must be got rid of, and especially that of avarice; for this deprives us of liberty, and despoils those who are in the midst of vanities of the image of God.
249. Whilst, then, we are here let us preserve the likeness, that there we may attain to the truth. Let the likeness of justice exist in us, likewise that of wisdom, for we shall come to that day and shall be rewarded according to our likeness.
250. Let not the adversary find his image in thee, let him not find fury nor rage; for in these exists the likeness of wickedness. "Our adversary the devil as a roaring lion seeketh whom he may kill, whom he may devour."hyperlink Let him not find desire for gold, nor heaps of money, nor the appearance of vices, lest he take from thee the voice of liberty. For the voice of true liberty is heard, when thou canst say: "The prince of this world shall come, and shall find no part in me."hyperlink Therefore, if thou art sure that he will find nothing in thee, when he comes to search through thee, thou wilt say, as the patriarch Jacob did to Laban: "Know now if there is aught of thine with me."hyperlink Rightly do we account Jacob blessed with whom Laban could find naught of his. For Rachel had hidden the gold and silver images of his gods.
251. If, then, wisdom, and faith, and contempt of the world, and spiritual grace, exclude all faithlessness, thou wilt be blessed; for thou regardest not vanity and folly and lying. Is it a light thing to take away from thy adversary the opportunity to speak, so that he can have no ground to make his complaint against thee? Thus he who looks not on vanity is not perturbed; but he who looks upon it is perturbed, and that, too, all to no purpose. Is it not a vain thing to heap up riches? for surely to seek for fleeting things is vain enough. And when thou hast gathered them, how dost thou know that thou shall have them in possession?
252. Is it not vain for a merchant to journey by night and by day, that he may be able to heap up treasures? Is it not vain for him to gather merchandise, and to be much perturbed about its price, for fear he might sell it for less than he gave? that he should strive everywhere for high prices, and thus unexpectedly call up robbers against himself through their envy at his much-vaunted business; or that, without waiting for calmer winds, impatient of delays, he should meet with shipwreck whilst seeking for gain?
253. And is not he, too, perturbed in vain who with great toil amasses wealth, though he knows not what heir to leave it to? Often and often all that an avaricious man has got together with the greatest care, his spendthrift heir scatters abroad with headlong prodigality. The shameless prodigal, blind to the present, heedless of the future, swallows up as in an abyss what took so long to gather. Often, too, the desired successor gains but envy for his share of the inheritance, and by his sudden death hands over the whole amount of the succession, which he has hardly entered upon, to strangers.
254. Why, then, dost thou idly spin a web which is worthless and fruitless? And why dost thou build up useless heaps of treasures like spiders' webs? For though they overflow, they are no good; nay, they denude thee of the likeness of God, and put on thee the likeness of the earthy. If any one has the likeness of the tyrant, is he not liable to condemnation? Thou layest aside the likeness of the Eternal King, and raisest in thyself the image of death. Rather cast out of the kingdom of thy soul the likeness of the devil, and raise up the likeness of Christ. Let this shine forth in thee; let this glow brightly in thy kingdom, that is, thy soul, for it destroys the likeness of all vices. David says of this: "O Lord, in Thy kingdom thou bringest their images to nothing."hyperlink For when the Lord has adorned Jerusalem according to His own likeness, then every likeness of the adversary is destroyed.
The Levites ought to be utterly free from all earthly desires. What their virtues should be on the Apostle's own showing, and how great their purity must be. Also what their dignity and duty is, for the carrying out of which the chief virtues are necessary. He states that these were not unknown to the philosophers, but that they erred in their order. Some are by their nature in accordance with duty, which yet on account of what accompanies them become contrary to duty. From whence he gathers what gifts the office of the Levites demands. To conclude, he adds an exposition of Moses' words when blessing the tribe of Levi.
255. If, then, in the Gospel of the Lord the people themselves were taught and led to despise riches,hyperlink how much more ought ye Levites no longer to be bound down by earthly desires. For your portion is God. For when their earthly possessions were portioned out by Moses to the people of our fathers, the Lord suffered not the Levites to have a share in that earthly possession,hyperlink for He Himself would be the strength of their inheritance. Wherefore David says: "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup."hyperlink Whence we get the name "Levite," which means: "Himself is mine," or "Himself for me." Great, then, is his honour, that God should say of him: Himself is Mine. Or, as was said to Peter about the piece of money found in the fish's mouth: "Give to them for Me and for thee."hyperlink Wherefore the Apostle, when he said: "A bishop should be sober, modest, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not covetous, nor a brawler, one that rules well his own house," also added: "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let them also first be proved, and so let them serve, being found blameless."hyperlink
256. We note how much is required of us. The minister of the Lord should abstain from wine, so that he may be upheld by the good witness not only of the faithful but also by those who are without. For it is right that the witness to our acts and works should be the opinion of the public at large, that the office be not disgraced. Thus he who sees the minister of the altar adorned with suitable virtues may praise their Author, and reverence the Lord Who has such servants. The praise of the Lord sounds forth where there is a pure possession and an innocent rule at home.
257. But what shall I say about chastity, when only one and no second union is allowed? As regards marriage, the law is, not to marry again, nor to seek union with another wife. It seems strange to many why impediment should be caused by a second marriage entered on before baptism, so as to prevent election to the clerical office, and to the reception of the gift of ordination; seeing that even crimes are not wont to stand in the way, if they have been put away in the sacrament of baptism.hyperlink But we must learn, that in baptism sin can be forgiven, but law cannot be abolished. In the case of marriage there is no sin, but there is a law. Whatever sin there is can be put away, whatever law there is cannot be laid aside in marriage. How could he exhort to widowhood who himself had married more than once?
258. But ye know that the ministerial office must be kept pure and unspotted, and must not be defiled by conjugal intercourse; ye know this, I say, who have received the gifts of the sacred ministry, with pure bodies, and unspoilt modesty, and without ever having enjoyed conjugal intercourse. I am mentioning this, because in some out-of-the-way places, when they enter on the ministry, or even when they become priests, they have begotten children. They defend this on the ground of old custom, when, as it happened, the sacrifice was offered up at long intervals. However, even the people had to be purified two or three days beforehand, so as to come clean to the sacrifice, as we read in the Old Testament.hyperlink They even used to wash their clothes. If such regard was paid in what was only the figure, how much ought it to be shown in the reality! Learn then, Priest and Levite, what it means to wash thy clothes. Thou must have a pure body wherewith to offer up the sacraments. If the people were forbidden to approach their victim unless they washed their clothes, dost thou, while foul in heart and body, dare to make supplication for others? Dost thou dare to make an offering for them?
259. The duty of the Levites is no light one, for the Lord says of them: "Behold I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, instead of every first-born that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel. These shall be their redemption, and the Levites shall be Mine. For I hallowed unto Me all the first-born in the land of Egypt."hyperlink We know that the Levites are not reckoned among the rest, but are preferred before all, for they are chosen out of all, and are sanctified like the firstfruits and the firstlings which belong to the Lord, since the payment of vows and redemption for sin are offered by them. "Thou shalt not receive them," He says, "among the children of Israel, but thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it. They shall bear the tabernacle and all the vessels thereof, and they shall minister in it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward the Levites shall take it down, and when the camp is pitched they shall set up the tabernacle again. And the stranger that cometh nigh shall surely be put to death."hyperlink
260. Thou, then, art chosen out of the whole number of the children of Israel, regarded as the firstfruits of the sacred offerings, set over the tabernacle so as to keep guard in the camp of holiness and faith, to which if a stranger approach, he shall surely die. Thou art placed there to watch over the ark of the covenant. All do not see the depths of the mysteries, for they are hid from the Levites, lest they should see who ought not to see, and they who cannot serve should take it up. Moses, indeed, saw the circumcision of the Spirit, but veiled it, so as to give circumcision only in an outward sign. He saw the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth; he saw the sufferings of the Lord, but he veiled the unleavened bread of truth in the material unleavened bread, he veiled the sufferings of the Lord in the sacrifice of a lamb or a calf. Good Levites have ever preserved the mystery entrusted to them under the protection of their own faith, and yet dost thou think little of what is entrusted to thee? First, thou shalt see the deep things of God, which needs wisdom. Next, thou must keep watch for the people; this requires justice. Thou must defend the camp and guard the tabernacle, which needs fortitude. Thou must show thyself continent and sober, and this needs temperance.
261. These chief virtues, they who are without have recognized,hyperlink but they considered that the order resting on society was higher than that resting on wisdom; though wisdom is the foundation, and justice the building which cannot stand unless it have a foundation. The foundation is Christ.hyperlink
262. First stands faith, which is a sign of wisdom, as Solomon says, in following his father: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."hyperlink And the law says: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, thou shalt love thy neighbour."hyperlink It is a noble thing to do one's kindnesses and duties towards the whole of the human race. But it is ever most seemly that thou shouldst give to God the most precious thing thou hast, that is, thy mind,hyperlink for thou hast nothing better than that. When thou hast paid thy debt to thy Creator, then thou mayest labour for men, to show them kindness, and to give help; then thou mayest assist the needy with money, or by some duty, or some service that lies in the way of thy ministry; by money to support him; by paying a debt, so as to free him that is bound; by undertaking a duty, so as to take charge of a trust, which he fears to lose, who has put it by in trust.
263. It is a duty, then, to take care of and to restore what has been entrusted to us. But meanwhile a change comes, either in time or circumstances,hyperlink so that it is no longer a duty to restore what one has received. As, for instance, when a man demands back his money as an open enemy, to use it against his country, and to offer his wealth to barbarians. Or, if thou shouldst have to restore it, whilst another stood by to extort it from him by force. If thou restore money to a raving lunatic when he cannot keep it; if thou give up to a madman a sword once put by with thee, whereby he may kill himself, is it not an act contrary to duty to pay the debt? Is it not contrary to duty to take knowingly what has been got by a thief, so that he who has lost it is cheated out of it?
264. It is also sometimes contrary toduty to fulfil a promise,hyperlink or to keep an oath. As was the case with Herod, who swore that whatever was asked he would give to the daughter of Herodies, and so allowed the death of John, that he might not break his word.hyperlink And what shall I say of Jephthah,hyperlink who offered up his daughter in sacrifice, she having been the first to meet him as he returned home victorious; whereby he fulfilled the vow which he had made that he would offer to God whatever should meet him first. It would have been better to make no promise at all, than to fulfil it in the death of his daughter.
265. Ye are not ignorant how important it is to look to this. And so a Levite is chosen to guard the sanctuary, one who shall never fail in counsel, nor forsake the faith, nor fear death, nor do anything extravagant, so that in his whole appearance he may give proof of his earnestness. For he ought to have not only his soul but even his eyes in restraint, so that no chance mishap may bring a blush to his forehead. For "whosoever looketh on a woman to desire her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart."hyperlink Thus adultery is committed not only by actual committal of the foul deed, but even by the desire of the ardent gaze.
266. This seems high and somewhat severe, but in a high office it is not out of place. For the grace of the Levites is such that Moses spoke of them as follows in his blessing: "Give to Levi his men, give Levi his trusted ones, give Levi the lot of his inheritance, and his truth to the holy men whom they tempted in temptation, and reviled at the waters of contradiction. Who said to his father and mother, I know thee not, and knew not his brethren, and renounced his children. He guarded Thy word and kept Thy testimony."hyperlink
267. They, then, are His men, His trusty ones, who have no deceit in their hearts, hide no treachery within them, but guard His words and ponder them in their heart, as Mary pondered them;hyperlink who know not their parents so as to put them before their duty; who hate the violators of chastity, and avenge the injury done to purity; and know the times for the fulfilling of their duty, as also which duty is the greater, which the lesser, and to what occasion each is suited. In all this they follow that alone which is virtuous. And who, where there are two virtuous duties, think that which is the more virtuous must come first. These are in truth tightly blessed.
268. If any one makes known the just works of the Lord, and offers Him incense, then: "Bless, O Lord, his strength; accept the work of his hands,"hyperlink that he may find the grace of the prophetic blessing with Him Who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.
286 Cic. de Off. I. 27.
287 2 Sam. [2 Kings] vi. 14.
288 1 Sam, xxi. 13.
289 1 Sam. xix. 24.
290 Cic. de Off. I. 31, §114.
291 It has been supposed that St. Ambrose in this passage by "father" means "spiritual father," in whose hands the teaching and guidance of the young was put. But there is no reason why the word should not be taken in its ordinary sense. If so, however, the father must have been in one of the inferior orders only, or else his children must have been born before he was admitted to the priesthood. For elsewhere (I. 258), as here, St. Ambrose clearly shows that absolute continence is required of priests, after entering on their sacred office.
292 Cic. de Off. I. 27.
293 Ps. xciii. [xcii.] 1.
294 Rom. xiii. 13.
295 The words decorum and honestum being used in different senses, it is not possible to give the points in a translation as in the original.
296 Ps. xciii. [xcii.] 1.
297 Ps. lxv. [lxiv.] 1.
298 1 Cor. xiv. 40.
299 1 Tim. ii. 9, 1 Tim. ii. 10.
300 Cic. de Off. I. 27, §96.
301 1 Cor. xi. 13, 1 Cor. xi. 14.
302 Prov. viii 30, Prov. viii 31 [LXX.].
303 Cic. de Off. I. 29, §102.
304 Cic. de Off. I. 38, §137.
305 "inequitat." Ed. Med. has "inquietat."
306 1 Cor. iv. 12.
307 S. Matt. v. 44.
308 2 Sam. [2 Kings] xvi. 12.
309 2 Sam. [2 Kings] xvi. 10.
310 2 Sam. [2 Kings] xvi. 11.
311 2 Sam. [2 Kings] xvi. 11, 2 Sam. [2 Kings] xvi. 12.
312 Ps. xxxix. [xxxviii.] 4.
313 1 Cor. xv. 23.
314 Heb. x. 1.
315 Cf. St. Amb. Enarr. in Ps. xxxix. [xxxviii.].
316 1 Pet. v. 8.
317 S. John xiv. 30.
318 Gen. xxxi. 32.
319 Ps. lxxii. 20 [LXX.].
320 S. Mark x. 23.
321 Num. xviii. 23.
322 Ps. xvi. 5.
323 S. Matt. xvii. 27
324 1 Tim. iii. 2-10.
325 The question kept coming up from time to time: Did Baptism annul all previous impedimenta ordinationis? Even in the fifth century, as Pope Innocent I. (Ep. XXIX.) shows some maintained that as Baptism puts away all sins committed previous to its reception, so also it removes all impediments to ordination. This same idea St. Ambrose combats here.