43.For they loved the glory of men. The Evangelist expressly states that those men were not guided by any superstition, but only endeavored to avoid disgrace among men; for if ambition had greater influence over them than the fear of God, it follows, that it was no vain scruple of conscience that gave them uneasiness. Now, let the reader observe how great ignominy is incurred before God, by the cowardice of those who, from the fear of being hated, dissemble their faith before men. Can any thing be more foolish, or rather, can any thing be more beastly, than to prefer the silly applause of men to the judgment of God? But he declares that all who shrink from the hatred of men, when the pure faith ought to be confessed, are seized with this kind of madness. And justly; for the apostle, in applauding the unshaken steadiness of Moses, says that
he remained firm, as if he had seen him who is invisible,
By these words he means that, when any person has fixed his eyes on God, his heart will be invincible, and utterly incapable of being moved.
Whence, therefore, comes the effeminacy (31), which causes us to give way to treacherous hypocrisy, but because, at the sight of the world, all our senses grow dull? For a true sight of God would instantly chase away all the mists of wealth and honors. Away with those who look upon an indirect denial of Christ as some trivial offense, or, as they call it, a venial sin! For, on the contrary, the Holy Spirit declares that it is more base and monstrous than if heaven and earth were mingled.
To love the glory of men means, in this passage, to desire to enjoy reputation among men. The Evangelist, therefore, means, that those men were so much devoted to the world, that they were more desirous to please men than to please God. Besides, when he accuses of this crime those who denied Christ, he, at the same time, shows that the excommunication, which the priests abused, contrary to all that was right and lawful, had no value or efficacy. Let us know, therefore, that all the excommunications which the Pope now mutters against us are mere bugbears to frighten children, (32) since we are fully convinced, in our own consciences, that he aims at nothing else than to lead us away from Christ.