3Nothing through strife or vain-glory. These are two most dangerous pests for disturbing the peace of the Church. Strife is awakened when every one is prepared to maintain pertinaciously his own opinion; and when it has once begun to rage it rushes headlong (98) in the direction from which it has entered. Vain-glory (99) tickles men’ minds, so that every one is delighted with his own inventions. Hence the only way of guarding against dissensions is — when we avoid strifes by deliberating and acting peacefully, especially if we are not actuated by ambition. For ambition is a means of fanning all strifes. (100)Vain-glory means any glorying in the flesh; for what ground of glorying have men in themselves that is not vanity?
But by humility. For both diseases he brings forward one remedy — humility, and with good reason, for it is the mother of moderation, the effect of which is that, yielding up our own right, we give the preference to others, and are not easily thrown into agitation. He gives a definition of true humility — when every one esteems himself less than others. Now, if anything in our whole life is difficult, this above everything else is so. Hence it is not to be wondered if humility is so rare a virtue. For, as one says, (101) “ one has in himself the mind of a king, by claiming everything for himself.” See! here is pride. Afterwards from a foolish admiration of ourselves arises contempt of the brethren. And so far are we from what Paul here enjoins, that one can hardly endure that others should be on a level with him, for there is no one that is not eager to have superiority.
But it is asked, how it is possible that one who is in reality distinguished above others can reckon those to be superior to him who he knows are greatly beneath him? I answer, that this altogether depends on a right estimate of God’ gifts, and our own infirmities. For however any one may be distinguished by illustrious endowments, he ought to consider with himself that they have not been conferred upon him that he might be self-complacent, that he might exalt himself, or even that he might hold himself in esteem. Let him, instead of this, employ himself in correcting and detecting his faults, and he will have abundant occasion for humility. In others, on the other hand, he will regard with honor whatever there is of excellences, and will by means of love bury their faults. The man who will observe this rule, will feel no difficulty in preferring others before himself. And this, too, Paul meant when he added, that they ought not to have every one a regard to themselves, but to their neighbors, or that they ought not to be devoted to themselves. Hence it is quite possible that a pious man, even though he should be aware that he is superior, may nevertheless hold others in greater esteem.
(98) “Sans pouuoir estre arrestee;” — “ being capable of being arrested.”
Κενοδόξοι persons whose object is to acquire power, and who, if they see others superior to themselves, are offended. (Gal_5:26.) This
κενοδοξία vain-glory, produces contentions of all kinds; and it produces this evil besides, that persons who have gone wrong, and who might have been restored to truth and virtue by humble, friendly admonition, are often, by the interference of vain-glorious, ostentatious instructors, confirmed in error and vice.” — Storr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. 40, p. 132, note. — Ed.
(100) “Est le sufflet qui allume toutes contentions;” — “ the bellows that kindles up all strifes.”
(101) “Comme quelqu’ a dit anciennement;” — “ some one has said anciently.”