LETTERS OF ST. AUGUSTIN
LETTERS XCIX TO CXI
(INCLUDING LETTER TO DEOGRATIAS)

LETTER XCIX. (A.D. 408 OR BEGINNING OF 409.)

TO THE VERY DEVOUT ITALICA, AN HANDMAID OF GOD, PRAISED JUSTLY AND PIOUSLY BY THE MEMBERS OF CHRIST, AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

1. Up to the time of my writing this reply, I had received three letters from your Grace, of which the first asked urgently a letter from me, the second intimated that what I wrote in answer had reached you, and the third, which conveyed the assurance of your most benevolent solicitude for our interest in the matter of the house belonging to that most illustrious and distinguished young man Julian, which is in immediate contact with the walls of our Church. To this last letter, just now received, I lose no time in promptly replying, because your Excellency's agent has written to me that he can send my letter without delay to Rome. By his letter we have been greatly distressed, because he has taken pains to acquaint us 4 with the things which are taking place in the city (Rome) or around its walls, so as to give us reliable information concerning that which we were reluctant to believe on the authority of vague rumours. In the letters which were sent to us previously by our brethren, tidings were given to us of events, vexatious and grievous, it is true, but much less calamitous than those' of which we now hear. I am surprised beyond expression that my brethren the holy bishops did not write to me when so favourable an opportunity of sending a letter by your messengers occurred, and that your own letter conveyed to us no information concerning such painful tribulation as has befallen you, -- tribulation which, by reason of the tender sympathies of Christian charity, is ours as well as yours. I suppose, however, that you deemed it better not to mention these sorrows, because you considered that this could do no good, or because you did not wish to make us sad by your letter. But in my opinion, it does some good to acquaint us even with such events as these: in the first place, because it is not right to be ready to "rejoice with them that rejoice," but refuse to "weep with them that weep;" and in the second place, because "tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."1

2. Far be it, therefore, from us to refuse to hear even of the bitter and sorrowful things which befall those who are very dear to us! For in some way which I cannot explain, the pain suffered by one member is mitigated when all the other members suffer with it.2 And this mitigation is effected not by actual participation in the calamity, but by the solacing power of love; for although only some suffer the actual burden of the affliction, and the others share their suffering through knowing what these have to bear, nevertheless the tribulation is borne in common by them all, seeing that they have in common the same experience, hope, and love, and the same Divine Spirit. Moreover, the Lord provides consolation for us all, inasmuch as He hath both forewarned us of these temporal afflictions, and promised to us after them eternal blessings; and the soldier who desires to receive a crown when the conflict is over, ought not to lose courage while the conflict lasts, since He who is preparing rewards ineffable for those who overcome, does Himself minister strength to them while they are on the field to baffle.

3. Let not what I have now written take away your confidence in writing to me, especially since the reason which may be pied for your endeavouring to lessen our fears is one which cannot be condemned. We salute in return your little children, and we desire that they may be spared to you, and may grow up in Christ, since they discern even in their present tender age how dangerous and baneful is the love of this world. I God grant that the plants which are small and still flexible may be bent in the right direction in a time in which the great and hardy are being shaken. As to the house of which you speak, !what can I say beyond expressing my gratitude for ),our very kind solicitude ? For the house which we can give they do not wish; and the house which they wish we cannot give, for it was not left to the church by my predecessor, as they have been falsely informed, but is one of the ancient properties of the church, and it is attached to the one ancient church in the same way as the house about which this question has been raised is attached to the other.3

LETTER C. (A.D, 409)

TO DONATUS HIS NOBLE AND DESERVEDLY HONOURABLE LORD, AND EMINENTLY 'PRAISEWORTHY' SON, AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

1. I would indeed that the African Church were not placed in such trying circumstances as to need the aid of any earthly power. But since, as the apostle says, there is no power but of God," 4 it is unquestionable that, when by you the sincere sons of your Catholic Mother help is given to her, our help is in the name of the Lord, "who made heaven and earth "s For oh noble and deservedly honourable lord, and eminently praiseworthy sone lord, and eminently who does not perceive that in the midst of so great calamities no small consolation has been bestowed upon us by God, ' in that you, such a man, and so devoted to the name of Christ, have been raised to the dignity of proconsul, so that power allied with your goodwill may restrain the enemies of the Church from their wicked and sacrilegious attempts ? In fact, there is only one thing of which we are much afraid in your administration of justice, viz., lest perchance, seeing that every injury done by impious and ungrateful men against the Christian society is a more serious and heinous crime than t if it had been done against others, you should on this ground consider that it ought to be punished with a severity corresponding to the enormity of the crime, and not with the moderation which is suitable to Christian forbearance. We beseech you, in the name of Jesus Christ, not to act in this manner. For we do not seek to revenge ourselves in this world; nor ought the things which we suffer to reduce us to such distress of mind as to leave no room in our memory for the precepts in regard to this which we have received from Him for whose truth and in whose name we suffer; we "love our enemies," and we "pray for them." ' It is not their death, but their deliverance from error, that we seek to accomplish by the help of the terror of judges and of laws, whereby they may be preserved from falling under the penalty of eternal judgment; we do not wish either to see the exercise of discipline towards them neglected, or, on the other hand, to see them subjected to the severer punishments which they deserve. Do you, therefore, check their sins in such a way, that the sinners may be spared to repent of their sins.

2. We beg you, therefore, when you are pronouncing judgment in cases affecting the Church, how wicked soever the injuries may be which you. shall ascertain to have been attempted or inflicted on the Church, to forget that you have tim power of capital punishment, and not to forget our request. Nor let it appear to you an unimportant t matter and beneath your notice, my most beloved and honoured son, that we ask you to spare the lives of the men on whose behalf we ask God to grant them repentance. For even granting that we ought never to deviate from a fixed purpose of overcoming evil with good, let your own wisdom take this also into consideration, that no person beyond those who belong to the Church is at pains to bring before you cases pertaining to her interests. If, therefore, your opinion be, that death must be the punishment of men convicted of these crimes, you will deter us from endeavouring to bring anything of this kind before your tribunal; and this being discovered, they will proceed with more unrestrained boldness to accomplish speedily our destruction, when upon us is imposed and enjoined the necessity of choosing rather to suffer death at their hands, than to bring them to death by accusing them at your bar. Disdain not, I beseech you, to accept this suggestion, petition, and entreaty from me. For I do not think that you are unmindful that I might have great boldness in addressing you, even were I not a bishop, and even though your rank were much above what you now hold. Meanwhile, let the Donatist heretics learn at once through the edict of your Excellency that the laws passed against their error, which they suppose and boastfully declare to be repealed, are still in force, although even when they know this they may not be able to refrain in the least degree from injuring us. You will, however, most effectively help us to secure the fruit of our labours and dangers, if you take care that the imperial laws for the restraining of their sect, which is full of conceit and of impious pride, be so used that they may not appear either to themselves or to others to be suffering hardship in any form for the sake of truth and righteousness; but suffer them, when this is requested at i your hands, to be convinced and instructed by incontrovertible proofs of things which are most certain, in public proceedings in the presence of your Excellency or of inferior judges, in order that those who are arrested by your command may themselves incline their stubborn will to the better part, and may read these things profitably to others of their party. For the pains bestowed are burdensome rather than really useful, when men are only compelled, not persuaded by instruction, to forsake a great evil and lay hold upon a great benefit.

LETTER CI. (A.D. 409.)

TO MEMOR,2 MY LORD MOST BLESSED, AND WITH ALL VENERATION MOST BELOVED, MY BROTHER AND COLLEAGUE SINCERELY LONGED FOR, AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

1. I ought not to write any letter to your holy Charity, without sending at the same time those books which by the irresistible plea of holy love you have demanded from me, that at least by this act of obedience I might reply to those letters by which you have put on me a high honour indeed, but also a heavy load. Albeit, while I bend because of the load, I am raised up because of your love. For it is not by an ordinary man that I am loved and raised up and made to stand erect, but by a man who is a priest of the Lord, and whom I know to be so accepted before Him, that when you raise to the Lord your good heart, having me in )'our heart, you raise me with yourself to Him. I ought, therefore, to have sent at this time those books which I had promised to revise. The reason why I have not sent them is that I have not revised them, and this not because I was unwilling, but because 1: was unable, having been occupied with many very urgent cares. But it would have shown inexcusable ingratitude and hardness of heart to have permitted the bearer, my holy colleague and brother Possidius, in whom you will find one who is very much the same as myself, either to miss becoming acquainted with you, who love me so much, or to come to know you without any letter from me. For he is one who has been by my labours nourished, not in those studies which men who are the slaves of every kind of passion call liberal, but with the Lord's bread, in so far as this could be supplied to him from my scanty store.

2. For to men who, though they are unjust and impious, imagine that they are well educated in the liberal arts, what else ought we to say than what we read in those writings which truly merit the name of liberal,- "if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."' For it is through Him that men come to know, even in those studies which are termed liberal by those who have not been called to this true liberty, anything in them which deserves the name. For they have nothing which is consonant with liberty, except that which in them is consonant with truth; for which reason the Son Himself hath said: "The truth shall make you free."2 The freedom which is our privilege has therefore nothing in common with the innumerable and impious fables with which the verses of silly poets are full, nor with the fulsome and highly-polished falsehoods of their orators, nor, in rifle, with the rambling subtleties of philosophers themselves, who either did not know anything of God, or when they knew God, did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; so that, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and. changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts, and to creeping things, or who, though not wholly or at all devoted to the worship of images, nevertheless worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.s Far be it, therefore, from us to admit that the epithet liberal is justly bestowed on the lying vanities and hallucinations, or empty trifles and conceited errors of those men- unhappy men, who knew not the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, by which alone we are "delivered from the body of this death," 4 and who did not even perceive the measure of truth which was in the things which they knew. Their historical works, the writers of which profess to be chiefly concerned to be accurate in narrating events, may perhaps, I grant, contain some things worthy of being known by "free" men, since the narration is true, whether the subject described in it be the good or the evil in human experience. At the same time, I can by no means see how men who were not aided in their knowledge by the Holy Spirit, and who were obliged to gather floating rumours under the limitations of human infirmity, could avoid being misled in regard to very many things; nevertheless, if they have no intention of deceiving, and do not mislead other men otherwise than so far as they have themselves, through human infirmity, fallen into a mistake, there is in such writings an approach to liberty.

3. Forasmuch, however, as the powers belonging to numbers s in all kinds of movements are most easily studied as they axe presented in sounds, and this study furnishes a way of rising to the higher secrets of truth, by paths gradually ascending, so to speak, in which Wisdom pleasantly reveals herself, and in every step of providence meets those who love her,6 desired, when I began to have leisure for study, and my mind was not engaged by greater and more important cares, to exercise myself by writing those books which you have requested me to send. I then wrote six books on rhythm alone, and proposed, may add, to write other six on music,7 as I at that time expected to have leisure. But from the time that the burden of ecclesiastical cares was laid upon me, all these recreations have passed from my hand so completely, that now, when I cannot but respect your wish and command, -- for it is more than a request, -- I have difficulty in even finding what I had written. If, however, I had it in my power to send you that treatise, it would occasion regret, not to me that I had obeyed your command, but to you that you had so urgently insisted upon its being sent. For five books of it are all but unintelligible, unless one be at hand who can in reading not only distinguish the part belonging to each of those between whom the discussion is maintained, but also mark by enunciation the time which the syllables should occupy, so that their distinctive measures may be expressed and strike the ear, especially because in some places there occur pauses of measured length, which of course must escape notice, unless the reader inform the hearer of them by intervals of silence where they occur.

The sixth book, however, which I have found already revised, and in which the product of the other five is contained, I have not delayed to send to your Charity; it may, perhaps, be not wholly unsuited to one of your venerable age.s As to the other five books, they seem to me scarcely worthy of being known and read by Julian,9 our son, and now our colleague, for, as a deacon, he is engaged in the same warfare with ourselves. Of him I dare not say, for it would not be true, that I love him more than I love you; yet this I may say, that I long for him more than for you. It may seem strange, that when I love both equally, I long more ardently for the one than the other; but the cause of the difference is, that I have greater hope of seeing him; for I think that if ordered or sent by you he come to us, he will both be doing what is suitable to one of his years, especially as he is not yet hindered by weightier responsibilities, and he will more speedily bring yourself to me.

I have not stated in this treatise the kinds of metre in which the lines of David's Psalms are composed, because I do not know them. For it was not possible for any one, in translating these from the Hebrew (of which language I know nothing), to preserve the metre at the same time, lest by the exigencies of the measure he should be compelled to depart from accurate translation further than was consistent with the meaning of the sentences. Nevertheless, I believe, on the testimony of those who are acquainted with that language, that they are composed in certain varieties of metre; for that holy man loved sacred music, and has more than any other kindled in me a passion for its study.

May the shadow of the wings of the Most High be for ever the dwelling-place' of you all, who with oneness of heart occupy one home? father and mother, bound in the same brotherhood with your sons, being all the children of the one Father. Remember us.

LETTER CII. (A.D. 409.)

TO DEOGRATIAS, MY BROTHER IN ALL SINCERITY, AND MY FELLOW-PRESBYTER, AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

1. In choosing to refer to me questions which were submitted to yourself for solution, you have not done so, I suppose, from indolence, but because, loving me more than I deserve, you prefer to hear through me even those things which you already know quite well. I would rather, however, that the answers were given by yourself, because the friend who proposed the questions seems to be shy of following advice from me, if I may judge from the fact that he has written no reply to a letter of mine, for what reason he knows best. I suspect this, 'however, and there is neither ill-will nor absurdity in the suspicion; for you also know very well how much I love him, and how great is my grief that he is not yet a Christian; and it is not unreasonable to think that one whom I see unwilling to answer my letters is not willing to have anything written by me to him. I therefore implore you to comply with a request of mine, seeing that I have been obedient to you, and, notwithstanding most engrossing duties, have feared to disappoint the wish of one so dear to me by declining to comply with your request. What I ask is this, that you do not refuse yourself to give an answer to all his questions, seeing that, as you have told me, he begged this from you; and it is a task to which, even before receiving this letter, you were competent; for when you have read this letter, you will see that scarcely anything has been said by me which you did not already know, or which you could not have come to know though I had been silent. This work of mine, therefore, I beg you to keep for the use of yourself and of all other persons whose desire for instruction you deem it suited to satisfy. But as for the treatise of your own composition which I demand from you, give it to him to whom this treatise is most specially adapted, and not to him only, but also all others who find exceedingly acceptable such statements concerning these things as you are able to make, among whom I number myself. May you live always in Christ, and remember

me.

2. QUESTION I. Concerning the resurrection. This question perplexes some, and they ask, Which of two kinds of resurrection corresponds to that which is promised to us? is it that of Christ, or that of Lazarus ? They say, "If the former, how can this correspond with the resurrection of those who have been born by ordinary generations, seeing that He was not thus born? 3 If, on the other hand, the resurrection of Lazarus is said to correspond to ours, here also there seems to be a discrepancy, since the resurrection of Lazarus was accomplished in the case of a body not yet dissolved, but the same body in which he was known by the name of Lazarus; whereas ours is to be rescued after many centuries from the mass in which it has ceased to be distinguishable from other things. Again, if our state after the resurrection is one of blessedness, in which i the body shall be exempt from every kind of wound, and from the pain of hunger, what is :meant by the statement that Christ took food, and showed his wounds after His resurrection? For if He did it to convince the doubting, when the wounds were not real, He practised on them a deception; whereas, if He showed them what was real, it follows that wounds received by the body shall remain in the state which is to ensue after resurrection."

3. To this I answer, that the resurrection of Christ and not of Lazarus corresponds to that which is promised, because Lazarus was so raised that he died a second time, whereas of Christ it is written: "Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him."4 The same is promised to those who shall rise at the end of the world, and shall reign for ever with Christ. As to the difference in the manner of Christ's generation and that of other men, this has no bearing upon the nature of His resurrection, just as it had none upon the nature of His death, so as to make it different from ours. His death was not the less real because of His not having been begotten by an earthly father; just as the difference between the' mode of the origination of the body of the first man, who was formed immediately from the dust of the earth, and of our bodies, which we derive from our parents, made no such difference as that his death should be of another kind than ours. As, therefore, difference in the mode of birth does not make any difference in the nature of death, neither does it make any difference in the nature of resurrection.

4. But lest the men who doubt this should, with similar scepticism, refuse to accept as true what is written concerning the first man's creation, let them inquire or observe, if they can at least believe this, how numerous are the species of animals which are born from the earth without deriving their life from parents, but which by ordinary procreation reproduce offspring like themselves, and in which, notwithstanding the different mode of origination, the nature of the parents born from the earth and of the offspring born from them is the same; for they live alike and they die alike, although born in different ways. There is therefore no absurdity in the statement that bodies dissimilar in their origination are alike in their resurrection. But men of this kind, not being competent to discern in what respect any diversity between things affects or does not affect them, so soon as they discover any unlikeness between things in their original formation, contend that in all that follows the same unlikeness must still exist. Such men may as reasonably suppose that oil made from fat should not float on the surface in water as olive oil does, because the origin of the two oils is so different, the one being from the fruit of a tree, the other from the flesh of an animal.

5. Again, as to the alleged difference in regard to the resurrection of Christ's body and of ours, that His was raised on the third day not dissolved by decay and corruption, whereas ours shall be fashioned again after a long time, and out of the mass into which undistinguished they shall have been resolved, --both of these things are impossible for man to do, but to divine power both are most easy. For as the glance' of the eye does not come more quickly to objects which are at hand, and more slowly to objects more remote, but darts to either distance with equal swiftness, so, when the resurrection of the dead is accomplished "in the twinkling of an eye,"1 it is as easy for the omnipotence of God and for the ineffable expression of His will 2 to raise again bodies which have by long lapse of time been dissolved, as to raise 'those which have recently fallen under the stroke of death. These things are to some men incredible because they transcend their experience, although all nature 'is full of wonders so numerous, that they do not seem to us to be wonderful, and are therefore accounted unworthy of attentive study or investigation, not because our faculties can easily comprehend them, but because we are so accustomed to see them. For myself, and for all who along with me labour to understand the invisible things of God by means of the things which are made,3 I may say that we are filled not less, perhaps even more, with wonder by the fact, that in one grain of seed, so insignificant, there lies bound up as it were all that we praise in the stately tree, than by the fact that the bosom of this earth, so vast, shall restore entire and perfect to the future resurrection all those elements of human bodies which it is now receiving when they are dissolved.

6. Again, what contradiction is there between the fact that Christ partook of food after His resurrection, and the doctrine that in the promised resurrection-state there shall be no need of food, when we read that angels also have partaken of food of the same kind and in the same way, not in empty and illusive simulation, but in unquestionable reality; not, however, under the pressure of necessity, but in the free exercise of their power? For water is absorbed in one way by the thirsting earth, in another way by the glowing J sunbeams; in the former we see the effect of poverty, in the latter of power Now the body of that future resurrection-state shall be imperfect in its felicity if it be incapable of taking food; imperfect, also, if, on the other hand, it be dependent on food. I might here enter on a fuller discussion concerning the changes possible in the qualities of bodies, and the dominion which belongs to higher bodies over those which are of inferior nature; but I have resolved to make my reply short, and I write this for mind so endowed that the simple suggestion of the truth 'is enough for them.

7. Let him who proposed these questions know by all means that Christ did, after His resurrection, show the scars of His wounds, not the wounds themselves, to disciples who doubted; for whose sake, also, it pleased Him to take food and drink more than once, lest they should suppose that His body was not real, but that He was a spirit, appearing to them as a phantom, and not a substantial form. These scars would indeed have been mere illusive appearances if no wounds had gone before; yet even the scars would not have remained if He had willed it otherwise. But it pleased Him to retain them with a definite purpose, namely, that to those whom He was building up in faith unfeigned He might show that one body had not been substituted for another, but that the body which they had seen nailed to the cross had risen again. What reason is there, then, for saying, "If He did this to convince the doubting, He practised a deception "? Suppose that a brave man, who had received many wounds in confronting the enemy when fighting for his country, were to say to a physician of extraordinary skill, who was able so to heal these wounds as to leave not a scar visible, that he would prefer to be healed in such a way that the traces of the wounds should remain on his body as tokens of the honours he had won, would you, in such a case, say that the physician practised deception, because, though he might by his art make the scars wholly disappear, he did by the same art, for a definite reason, rather cause them to continue as they were? The only ground upon which the scars could be proved to be a deception would be, as I have already said, if no wounds had been healed in the places where they were seen.

8. QUESTION II. Concerning the epoch of the Christian religion, they have advanced, moreover, some other things, which they might call a selection of the more weighty arguments of Porphyry against the Christians: "If Christ," they say, "declares Himself to be the Way of salvation, the Grace and the Truth, and affirms that in Him alone, and only to souls believing in Him, is the way of return to God,' what has become of men who lived in the many centuries before Christ came? To pass over the time," he adds, "which preceded the rounding of the kingdom of Latium, let us take the beginning of that power as if it were the beginning of the human race. In Latium itself gods were worshipped before Alba was built; in Alba, also, religious rites and forms of worship in the temples were maintained. Rome itself was for a period of not less duration, even for a long succession of centuries, unacquainted with Christian doctrine. What, then, has become of such an innumerable multitude of souls, who were in no wise blameworthy, seeing that He in whom alone saving faith can be exercised had not yet favoured men with His advent ? The whole world, moreover, was not less zealous than Rome itself in the worship practised in the temples of the gods. Why, then," he asks, "did He who is called the Saviour withhold Himself for so many centuries of the world ? And let it not be said," he adds, "that provision had been made for the human race by the old Jewish law. It was only after a long time that the Jewish law appeared and flourished within the narrow limits of Syria, and after that, it gradually crept onwards to the coasts of Italy; but this was not earlier than the end of the reign of Caius, or, at the earliest, while he was on the throne. What, then, became of the souls of men in Rome and Latium who lived before the time of the Caesars, and were destitute of the grace of Christ, because He had not then come?"

9. To these statements we answer by requiring those who make them to tell us, in the first place, whether the sacred rites, which we know to have been introduced into the worship of their gods at times which can be ascertained, were or were not profitable to men. If they say that these were of no service for the salvation of men, they unite with us in putting them down, and confess that they were useless. We indeed prove that they were baneful; but it is an important concession that by them it is at least admitted that they were useless. If, on the other hand, they defend these rites, and maintain that they were wise and profitable institutions, what, I ask, has become of those who died before these were instituted ? for they were defrauded of the saving and profitable efficacy which these possessed. If, however, it be said that they could be cleansed from guilt equally well in another way, why did not the same way continue in force for their posterity? What use was there for instituting novelties in worship.

10. If, in answer to this, they say that the gods themselves have indeed always existed, and were in all places alike powerful to give liberty to their worshippers, but were pleased to regulate the circumstances of time, place, and manner in which they were to be served, according to the variety found among things temporal and terrestrial, in such a way as they knew to be most suitable to certain ages and countries, why do they urge against the Christian religion this question, which, if it be asked in regard to their own gods, they either cannot themselves answer, or, if they can, must do so in such a way as to answer for our religion not less than their own ? For what could they say but that the difference between sacraments which are adapted to different times and places is of no importance, if only that which is worshipped in them all be holy, just as the difference between sounds of words belonging to different languages and adapted to different hearers is of no importance, if only that which is spoken be true; although in this respect there is a difference, that men can, by agreement among themselves, arrange as to the sounds of language by which they may communicate their thoughts to one another, but that those who have discerned what is right have been guided only by the will of God in regard to the sacred rites which were agreeable to the Divine Being. This divine will has never been wanting to the justice and piety of mortals for their salvation; and whatever varieties of worship there may have been in different nations bound together by one and the same religion, the most important thing to observe was this how far, on the one hand, human infirmity was thereby encouraged to effort, or borne with while, on the other hand, the divine authority was not assailed.

11. Wherefore, since we affirm that Christ is the Word of God, by whom all things were made and is the Son, because He is the Word, not a word uttered and belonging to the past but abides unchangeably with the unchangeable Father, Himself unchangeable, under whose rule the whole universe, spiritual and material, is ordered in the way best adapted to different times and places, and that He has perfect wisdom and knowledge as to what should be done, and when and where everything should be done in the controlling and ordering of the universe,--most certainly, both before He gave being to the Hebrew nation, by which He was pleased, through sacraments suited to the time, to prefigure the manifestation of Himself in His advent, and during the time of the Jewish commonwealth, and, after that, when He manifested Himself in the likeness of mortals to mortal men in the body which He received from the Virgin, and thenceforward even to our day, in which He is fulfilling all which He predicted of old by the prophets, and from this present time on to the end of the world, when He shall separate the holy from the wicked, and give to every man his due recompense,- in all these successive ages He is the same Son of God, co-eternal with the Father, and the unchangeable Wisdom by whom universal nature was called into existence, and by participation in whom every rational soul is made blessed.

12. Therefore, from the beginning of the human race, whosoever believed in Him, and in any way knew Him, and lived in a pious and just manner according to His precepts, was undoubtedly saved by Him, in whatever time and place he may have lived. For as we believe in Him both as dwelling with the Father and as having come in the flesh, so the men of the former ages believed in Him both as dwelling with the Father and as destined to come in the flesh. And the nature of faith is not changed, nor is the salvation made different, in our age, by the fact that, in consequence of the difference between the two epochs, that which was then foretold as future is now proclaimed as past. Moreover, we are not under necessity to suppose different things and different kinds of salvation to be signified, when the self-same thing is by different sacred words and rites of worship announced in the one case as fulfilled, in the other as future. As to the manner and time, however, in which anything that pertains to the one salvation common to all believers and pious persons is brought to pass, let us ascribe wisdom to God, and for our part exercise submission to His will. Wherefore the true religion, although formerly set forth and practised under other names and with other symbolical rites than it now has, and formerly more obscurely revealed and known to fewer persons than now in the time of clearer light and wider diffusion, is one and the same in both periods.

13. Moreover, we do not raise any objection to their religion on the ground of the difference between the institutions appointed by Numa Pompilius for the worship of the gods. by the Romans, and those which were up till that time practised in Rome or in other parts of Italy; nor on the fact that in the age of Pythagoras that system of philosophy became generally adopted which up to that time had no existence, or lay concealed, perhaps, among a very small number whose views were the same, but 'whose religious practice and worship was different: the question upon which we join issue with them is, whether these gods were true gods, or worthy of worship, and whether that philosophy was fitted to promote the salvation of the souls of men. This is what we insist upon discussing; and in discussing it we pluck up their sophistries by the root. Let them, therefore, desist from bringing against us objections which are of equal force against every sect, and against religion of every name. For since, as they admit, the ages of the world do not roll on under the dominion of chance, but are controlled by divine Providence, what may be fitting and expedient in each successive age transcends the range of human understanding, and is determined by the same wisdom by which Providence cares for the universe.

14. For if they assert that the reason why the doctrine of Pythagoras has not prevailed always and universally is, that Pythagoras was but a man, and had not power to secure this, can they also affirm that in the age and in the countries in which his philosophy flourished, all who had the opportunity of hearing him were found willing to believe and follow him ? And therefore it is the more certain that, if Pythagoras had possessed the power of publishing his doctrines where he pleased and when he pleased, and if he had also possessed along with that power a perfect foreknowledge of events, he would have presented himself only at those places and times in which he foreknew that men would believe his teaching. Wherefore, since they do not object to Christ on the ground of His doctrine not being universally embraced,- for they feel that this would be a futile objection if alleged either against the teaching of philosophers or against the majesty of their own gods, --what answer, I ask, could they make, if, leaving out of view that depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God within which it may be that some other divine purpose lies much more deeply hidden, and without prejudging the other reasons possibly existing, which are fit subjects for patient study by the wise, we confine ourselves, for the sake of brevity in this discussion, to the statement of this one position, that it pleased Christ to appoint the time in which He would appear and the persons among whom His doctrine was to be proclaimed, according to His knowledge of the times and places in which men would believe on Him?r For He foreknew, regarding those ages and places in which His gospel has not been preached, that in them the gospel, if preached, would meet with such treatment from all, without exception, as it met with, not indeed from all, but from many, at the time of His personal presence on earth, who would not believe in Him, even though men were raised from the dead by Him; and such as we see it meet with in our day from many who, although the predictions of the prophets concerning Him are so manifestly fulfilled, still refuse to believe, and, misguided by the perverse subtlety of the human heart, rather resist than yield to divine authority, even when this is so clear and manifest, so glorious and so gloriously published abroad. So long as the mind of man is limited in capacity and in strength, it is his duty to yield to divine truth. Why, then, should we wonder if Christ knew that the world was so full of unbelievers in the former ages, that He righteously refused to manifest Himself or to be preached to those of whom He foreknew that they would not believe either His words or His miracles? For it is not incredible that all may have been then such as, to our amazement, so many have been from the time of His advent to the present time, and even now are.

15. And yet, from the beginning of the human race, He never ceased to speak by His prophets, at one time more obscurely, at another time more plainly, as seemed to divine wisdom best adapted to the time i nor were there ever wanting men who believed in Him, from Adam to Moses, and among the people of Israel itself, which was by a special mysterious appointment a prophetic nation, and among other nations before He came in the flesh. For seeing that in the sacred Hebrew books some are mentioned, even from Abraham's time, not belonging to his natural posterity nor to the people of Israel, and not proselytes added to that people, who were nevertheless partakers of this holy mystery? why may we not believe that in other nations also, here and there, some more were found, although we do not read their names in these authoritative records? Thus the salvation provided by this religion, by which alone, as alone true, true salvation is truly promised, was never wanting to any one who was worthy of it, and he to whom it was wanting was not worthy of it.3 And from the beginning of the human family, even to the end of time, it is preached, to some for their advantage, to some for their condemnation. Accordingly, those to whom it has not been preached at all are those who were foreknown as persons who would not believe; those to whom, notwithstanding the certainty that they would not believe, the salvation has been proclaimed are set forth as an example of the class of unbelievers; and those to whom, as persons who would believe, the truth is proclaimed are being prepared for the kingdom of heaven and for the society of the holy angels.

16. QUESTION III. Let us now look to the question which comes next in order. "They find fault," he says, "with the sacred ceremonies, the sacrificial victims, the burning of incense, and all the other parts of worship in our temples; and yet the same kind of worship had its origin in antiquity with themselves, or from the God whom they worship, for He is represented by them as having been in need of the first-fruits."

17. This question is obviously founded upon the passage in our Scriptures in which it is written that Cain brought to God a gift from the fruits of the earth, but Abel brought a gift from the firstlings of the flock.4 Our reply, therefore, is, that from this passage the more suitable inference to be drawn is, how ancient is the ordinance of sacrifice which the infallible and sacred writings declare to be due to no other than to the one true God; not because God needs our offerings, seeing that, in the same Scriptures, it is most clearly written, "I said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord, for Thou hast no need of my good,"' but because, even in the acceptance or rejection or appropriation of these offerings, He considers the advantage of men, and of them alone. For in worshipping God we do good to ourselves, not to Him. When, therefore, He gives an inspired revelation, and teaches how He is to be worshipped, He does this not only from no sense of need on His part, but from a regard to our highest advantage. For all such sacrifices are significant, being symbols of certain things by which we ought to be roused to search or know or recollect the things which they symbolize. To discuss this subject satisfactorily would demand of us something more than the short discourse in which we have resolved to give our reply at this time, more particularly because in other treatises we have spoken of it fully.' Those also who have before us expounded the divine oracles, have spoken largely of the symbols of the sacrifices of the Old Testament as shadows and figures of things then future.

18. With all our desire, however, to be brief, this one thing we must by no means omit to remark, that the false gods, that is to say, the demons, which are lying angels, would never have required a temple, priesthood, sacrifice, and the other things connected with these from their worship-pets, whom they deceive, had they not known that these things were due to the one true God. When, therefore, these things are presented to God according to His inspiration and teaching, it is true religion; but when they are given to demons in compliance with their impious pride, it is baneful superstition. Accordingly, those who know the Christian Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments do not blame the profane rites of Pagans on the mere ground of their building temples, appointing priests, and offering sacrifices, but on the ground of their doing all this for idols and demons. As to idols, indeed, who entertains a doubt as to their being wholly devoid of perception? And yet, when they are placed in these temples and set on high upon thrones of honour, that they may be waited upon by suppliants and worshippers praying and offering sacrifices, even these idols, though devoid both of feeling and of life, do, by the mere image of the members and senses of beings endowed with life, so affect weak minds, that they appear to live and breathe, especially under the added influence of the profound veneration with which the multitude freely renders such costly service.

19. To these morbid and pernicious affections of the mind divine Scripture applies a remedy, by repeating, with the impressiveness of wholesome admonition, a familiar fact, in the words, "Eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not,"3 etc. For these words, by reason of their being so plain, and commending themselves to all people as true, are the more effective in striking salutary shame into those who, when they present divine worship before such images with religious fear, and look upon their likeness to living beings while they are venerating and worshipping them, and utter petitions, offer sacrifices, and perform vows before them as if present, are so completely overcome, that they do not presume to think of them as devoid of perception. Lest, moreover, these worshippers should think that our Scriptures intend only to declare that such affections of the human heart spring naturally from the worship of idols, it is written in the plainest terms, "All the gods of the nations are devils." 4 And therefore, also, the teaching of the apostles not only declares, as we read in John, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols," s but also, in the words of Paul, "What say I then ? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils." 6 From which it may be clearly understood, that what is condemned in heathen superstitions by the true religion is not the mere offering of sacrifices (for the ancient saints offered these to the true God), but the offering of sacrifices to false gods and to impious demons. For as the truth counsels men to seek the fellowship of the holy angels, in like manner impiety turns men aside to the fellowship of the wicked angels, for whose associates everlasting fire is prepared, as the eternal kingdom is prepared for the associates of the holy angels.

20. The heathen find a plea for their profane rites and their idols in the fact that they interpret with ingenuity what is signified by each of them, but the plea is of no avail. For all this interpretation relates to the creature, not to the Creator, to whom alone is due that religious service which is in the Greek language distinguished by the word <greek>latreia</greek>. Neither do we say that the earth, the seas, the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars, and any other celestial influences which may be beyond our ken are demons; but since all created things are divided into material and immaterial, the latter of which we also call spiritual, it is manifest that what is done by us under the power of piety and religion proceeds from the faculty of our souls known as the will, which belongs to the spiritual creation, and is therefore to be preferred to all that is material. Whence it is inferred that sacrifice must not be offered to anything material. There remains, therefore, the spiritual part of creation, which is either pious or impious,- the pious consisting of men and angels who are righteous, and who duly serve God; the impious consisting of wicked men and angels, whom we also call devils. Now, that sacrifice must not be offered to a spiritual creature, though righteous, is obvious from this consideration, that the more pious and submissive to God any creature is, the less does he presume to aspire to that honour which he knows to be due to God alone. How much worse, therefore, is it to sacrifice to devils, that is, to a wicked spiritual creature, which, dwelling in this comparatively dark heaven nearest to earth, as in the prison assigned to him in the air, is doomed to eternal punishment. Wherefore, even when men say that they are offering sacrifices to the higher celestial powers, which are not devils, and imagine that the only difference between us and them is in a name, because they call them gods and we call them angels, the only beings which really present themselves to these men, who are given over to be the sport of manifold deceptions, are the devils who find de-I light and, in a sense, nourishment in the errors' of mankind. For the holy angels do not approve of any sacrifice except what is offered, agreeably to the teaching of true wisdom and' true religion, unto the one true God, whom in! holy fellowship they serve. Therefore, as impious presumption, whether in men or in angels, ! commands or covets the rendering to itself of those honours which belong to God, so, on the other hand, pious humility, whether in men or in holy angels, declines these honours when offered, and declares to whom alone they are due, ! of which most notable examples are conspicuously set forth in our sacred books.

21. In the sacrifices appointed by the divine oracles there has been a diversity of institution l corresponding to the age in which they were observed. Some sacrifices were offered before the actual manifestation of that new covenant, the benefits of which are provided by the one true offering of the one Priest, namely, by the shed blood of Christ; and another sacrifice, adapted to this manifestation, and offered in the: present age by us who are called Christians after! the name of Him who has been revealed, is set= before us not only in the gospels, but also in the prophetic books. For a change, not of the God, who is worshipped, nor of the religion itself, but of sacrifices and of sacraments, would seem to be proclaimed without warrant now, if it had not been foretold in the earlier dispensation. For just as when the same man brings to God in the morning one kind of offering, and in the evening another, according to the time of day, he does not thereby change either his God or his religion, any more than he changes the nature of a salutation who uses one form of salutation in the morning and another in the evening: so, in the complete cycle of the ages, when one kind of offering is known to have been made by the ancient saints, and another is presented by the saints in our time, this only shows that these sacred mysteries are celebrated not according to human presumption, but by divine authority, in the manner best adapted to the times. There is here no change either in the Deity or in the religion.

22. QUESTION IV. Let us, in the next place, consider what he has laid down concerning the proportion between sin and punishment when, misrepresenting the gospel, he says: "Christ threatens eternal punishment to those who do not believe in Him;"' and yet He says in another place, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."2 "Here," he remarks, "is something sufficiently absurd and contradictory; for if He is to award punishment according to measure, and all measure is limited by the end of time, what mean these threats of eternal punishment ?"

23. It is difficult to believe that this question has been put in the form of objection by one claiming to be in any sense a philosopher; for he says, "All measure is limited by time," as if men were accustomed to no other measures than measures of time, such as hours and days and years, or such as are referred to when we say that the time of a short syllable is one-half of that of a long syllable.3 For I suppose that bushels and firkins, urns and amphorae, are not measures of time. How, then, is all measure limited by time? Do not the heathen themselves affirm that the sun is eternal ? And yet they presume to calculate and pronounce on the basis of geometrical measurements what is the proportion between it and the earth. Whether this calculation be within or beyond their power, it is certain, notwithstanding, that it has a disc of definite dimensions. For if they do ascertain how large it is, they know its dimensions, and if they do not succeed in their investigation, they do not know these; but the fact that men cannot discover them is no proof that they do not exist. It is possible, therefore, for something to be eternal, and nevertheless to have a definite measure of its proportions. In this I have been speaking upon the assumption of their own view as to the eternal duration of the sun, in order that they may be convinced by one of their own tenets, and obliged to admit that something may be eternal and at the same time measurable. And therefore let them not think that the threatening of Christ concerning eternal punishment is not to be believed because of His also saying, "In what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you."

24. For if He had said, "That which you have measured shall be measured unto you," even in that case it would not have been necessary to take the clauses as referring to something which was in all respects the same. For we may correctly say, That which you have planted you shall reap, although men plant not fruit but trees, and reap not trees but fruit. We say it, however, with reference to the kind of tree; for a man does not plant a fig:tree, and expect to gather nuts from it. In like manner it might be said, What you have done you shall suffer; not meaning that if one has committed adultery, for example, he shall suffer the same, but that what he has in that crime done to the law, the law shall do unto him, i.e. forasmuch as he has removed from his life the law which prohibits such things, the law shall requite him by removing him from that human life over which it presides. Again, if He had said, "As much as ye shall have measured, so much shall be measured unto you," even from this statement it would not necessarily follow that we must understand punishments to be in every particular equal to the sins punished. Barley and wheat, for example, are not equal in quality, and yet it might be said, "As much as ye shall have measured, so much shall be measured unto you," meaning for so much wheat so much barley. Or if the matter in question were pain, it might be said, "As great pain shall be inflicted on you as you have inflicted on others;" this might mean that the pain should be in severity equal, but in time more protracted, and therefore by its continuance greater. For suppose I were to say of two lamps, "The flame of this one was as hot as the flame of the other," this would not be false, although, perchance, one of them was earlier extinguished than the other. Wherefore, if things be equally great in one respect, but not in another, the fact that they are not alike in all respects does not invalidate the statement that in one respect, as admitted, they are equally great.

25. Seeing, however, that the words of Christ were these, "In what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you," and that beyond all question the measure in which anything is measured is one thing, and that which is measured in it is another, it is obviously possible that with the same measure with which men have measured, say, a bushel of wheat, there may be measured to them thousands of bushels, so that with no difference in the measure there may be all that difference in the quantity, not to speak of the difference of quality which might be in the things measured; for it is not only possible that with the same measure with which one has measured barley to others, wheat may be measured to him, but, moreover, with the same measure with which he has measured grain, gold may be 'measured to him, and of the grain there may have been one bushel, while there may be very many of the gold. Thus, although there is a difference both in kind and quantity, it may be nevertheless truly said in reference to things which are thus unlike: "In the measure in which he measured to others it is measured unto him."

The reason, moreover, why Christ uttered this saying is sufficiently plain from the immediately preceding context. "Judge not," He said, "that ye be not judged; for in the judgment in which ye judge ye shall be judged." Does this mean that if they have judged any one with injustice the)' shall themselves be unjustly judged? Of course not; for there is no unrighteousness with God. But it is thus expressed, "In the judgment in which ye judge ye shall be judged," as if it were said, In the will in which ye have dealt kindly with others ye shall be set at liberty, or in the will in which ye have done evil to others ye shall be punished. As if any one, for example, using his eyes for the gratification of base desires, were ordered to be made blind, this would be a just sentence for him to hear, "In those eyes by which thou hast sinned, in them hast thou deserved to be punished." For every one uses the judgment of his own mind, according as it is good or evil, for doing good or for doing evil. Wherefore it is not unjust that he be judged in that in which he judges, that is to say, that he suffer the penalty in the mind's faculty of judgment when he is made to endure those evils which are the consequences of the sinful judgment of his mind.

26. For while other torments which are prepared to be hereafter inflicted are visible,torments occasioned by the same central cause, namely, a depraved will,- it is also the fact that within the mind itself, in which the appetite of the will is the measure of all human actions, sin is followed immediately by punishment, which is for the most part increased in proportion to the greater blindness of one by whom it is not felt. Therefore when He had said, "With [or rather, as Augustin renders it, In] what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged," He went on to add, "And in what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you." A good man, that is to say, will measure out good actions in his own will, and in the same shall blessedness be measured unto him; and in like manner, a bad man will measure out bad actions in his own will, and in the same shall misery be meted out to him; for in whatsoever any one is good when his will aims at what is good, in the same he is evil when his will aims at what is evil. And therefore it is also in this that he is made to experience bliss or misery, viz. in the feeling experienced by his own will, which is the measure both of all actions and of the recompenses of actions. For we measure actions, whether good or bad, by the quality of the volitions which produce them, not by the length of time which they occupy. Were it otherwise, it would be regarded a greater crime to fell a tree than to kill a man. For the former takes a long time and many strokes, the latter may be done with one blow in a moment of time; and yet, if a man were punished with no more than transportation for life for this great crime committed in a moment, it would be said that he had been treated with more clemency than he deserved, although, in regard to the duration of time, the protracted punishment is not in any way to be compared with the sudden act of murder. Where, then, is anything contradictory in the sentence objected to, if the punishments shall be equally protracted or even alike eternal, but differing in comparative gentleness and severity? The duration is the same; the pain inflicted is different in degree, because that which constitutes the measure of the sins l themselves is found not in the length of time] which they occupy, but in the will of those who! commit them.

27. Certainly the will itself endures the punishment, whether pain be inflicted on the mind or on the body; so that the same thing which is ] gratified by the sin is smitten by the penalty, and so that he who judgeth without mercy is! judged without mercy; for in this sentence also the standard of measure is the same only in this point, that what he did not give to others is denied to him, and therefore the judgment passed on him shall be eternal, although the judgment pronounced by him cannot be eternal. It is therefore in the sinner's own measure that punishments which are eternal are measured out to him, though the sins thus punished were not eternal; for as his wish was to have an eternal enjoyment of sin, so the award which he finds is an eternal endurance of suffering.

The brevity which I study in this reply precludes me from collecting all, or at least as many as I could of the statements contained in our sacred books as to sin and the punishment of sin, and deducing from these one indisputable proposition on the subject; and perhaps, even if I obtained the necessary leisure, I might not possess abilities competent to the task. Nevertheless, I think that in the meantime I have proved that there is no contradiction between the eternity of punishment and the principle that sins shall be recompensed in the same measure in which men have committed them.

28. QUESTION V. The objector who has brought forward these questions from Porphyry has added this one in the next place: Will you have the goodness to instruct me as to whether Solomon said truly or not that God has no Son?

29. The answer is brief: Solomon not only did not say this, but, on the contrary, expressly said that God hath a Son. For in one of his writings Wisdom saith: "Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was ! brought forth." And what is Christ but the Wisdom of God ? Again, in another place in the book of Proverbs, he says: "God hath taught me wisdom, and I have learned the knowledge of the holy? Who hath ascended up into heaven and descended ? who hath gathered the winds in His fists ? who hath bound the waters in a garment ? who hath established all the ends of the earth ? What is His name, and what is His Son's name ? "3 Of the two questions concluding this quotation, the one referred to the Father, namely, "What is His name ?" -- with allusion to the foregoing words, "God hath taught me wisdom," --the other evidently to the Son, since he says, "or what is His Son's name ?" -- with allusion to the other statements, which are more properly understood as pertaining to the Son, viz. "Who hath ascended up into heaven and descended ?" --a question brought to remembrance by the words of Paul: "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens; "4 i--" Who hath gathered the winds in His fists ?" [i.e. the souls of believers in a hidden and secret ]place, to whom, accordingly, it is said, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God; "s --" Who hath bound the waters in a garment ? "6 whence it could be said, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ; "7 --" Who hath established all the ends of the earth?" the same who said to His disciples, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." s

30. QUESTION VI. The last question proposed is concerning Jonah, and it is put as if it were not from. Porphyry, but as being a standing subject of ridicule among the Pagans; for his words are: "In the next place, what are we to believe concerning Jonah, who is said to have been three days in a whale's belly ? The thing is utterly improbable and incredible, that a man swallowed with his clothes on should have existed in the inside of a fish. If, however, the story is figurative, be pleased to explain it. Again, what is meant by the story that a gourd sprang up above the head of Jonah after he was vomited by the fish? What was the cause of this gourd's growth ?" Questions such as these I have seen discussed by Pagans amidst loud: laughter, and with great scorn.

31. To this I reply, that either all the miracles wrought by divine power may be treated as incredible, or there is no reason why the story of this miracle should not be believed. The resurrection of Christ Himself upon the third day would not be believed by us, if the Christian faith was afraid to encounter Pagan ridicule. Since, however, our friend did not on this ground ask whether it is to be believed that Lazarus was raised on the fourth day, or that Christ rose on the third day, I am much surprised that he reckoned what was done with Jonah to be incredible; unless, perchance, he thinks it easier for a dead man to be raised in life from his sepulchre, than for a living man to be kept in life in the spacious belly of a sea monster. For without mentioning the great size of sea monsters which is reported to us by those who have knowledge of them, let me ask how many men could be contained in the belly which was fenced round with those huge ribs which are fixed in a public place in Carthage, and are well known to all men there ? Who can be at a loss to conjecture how wide an entrance must have been given by the opening of the mouth which was the gateway of that vast cavern ? unless, perchance, as our friend stated it, the clothing of Jonah stood in the way of his being swallowed without injury, as if he had required to squeeze himself through a narrow passage, instead of being, as: was the case, thrown headlong through the air, and so caught by the sea monster as to be received into its belly before he was wounded by its teeth. At the same time, the Scripture does not say whether he had his clothes on or not when he was cast down into that cavern, so that it may without contradiction be understood that he made that swift descent unclothed, if perchance it was necessary that his garment should be taken from him, as the shell is taken from an egg, to make him more easily swallowed. For men are as much concerned about the raiment of this prophet as would be reasonable if it were stated that he had crept through a very small window, or had been going into a bath; and yet, even though it were necessary in such circumstances to enter without parting with one's clothes, this would be only inconvenient, not miraculous.

32. But perhaps our objectors find it impossible to believe in regard to this divine miracle that the heated moist air of the belly, whereby food is dissolved, could be so moderated in temperature as to preserve the life of a man. If so, with how much greater force might they pronounce it incredible that the three young men cast into the furnace by the impious king walked unharmed in the midst of the flames ! If, there:' fore, these objectors refuse to believe any narrative of a divine miracle, they must be refuted by another line of argument. For it is incumbent on them in that case not to single out some one to be objected to, and called in question as incredible, but to denounce as incredible all narratives in which miracles of the same kind or more remarkable are recorded. And yet, if this which is written concerning Jonah were said to have been done by Apuleius of Madaura or Apollonius of Tyana, by whom they boast, though unsupported by reliable testimony, that many wonders were performed (albeit even the devils do some works like those done by the holy angels, not in truth, but in appearance, not by wisdom, but manifestly by subtlety), --if, I say, any such event were narrated in connection with these men to whom they give the flattering name of magicians or philosophers, we should hear from their mouths sounds not of derision, but of triumph. Be it so, then; let them laugh at our Scriptures; let them laugh as much as they can, when they see themselves daily becoming fewer in number, while some are removed by death, and others by their embracing the Christian faith, and when all those things are being fulfilled which were predicted by the prophets who long ago laughed at them, and said that they would fight and bark against the truth in vain, and would gradually come over to our side; and who not only transmitted these statements to us, their descendants, for our learning, but promised that they should be fulfilled in our experience.

33. It is neither unreasonable nor unprofitable to inquire what these miracles signify, so that, !after their significance has been explained, men ]may believe not only that they really occurred, n but also that they have been recorded, because I of their possessing symbolical meaning. Let him, therefore, who proposes to inquire why the i prophet Jonah was three days in the capacious belly of a sea monster, begin by dismissing doubts as to the fact itself; for this did actually occur, and did not occur in vain. For if figures which are expressed in words only, and not in 'actions, aid our faith, how much more should our faith be helped by figures expressed not only in words, but also in actions ! Now men are wont to speak by words; but divine power speaks by actions as well as by words. And as words which are new or somewhat unfamiliar lend brilliancy to a human discourse when they are scattered through it in a moderate and judicious manner, so the eloquence of divine revelation receives, so to speak, additional lustre from actions which are at once marvellous in themselves and skilfully designed to impart spiritual instruction.

34. As to the question, What was prefigured by the sea monster restoring alive on the third day the prophet whom it swallowed ? why is this asked of us, when Christ Himself has given the answer, saying, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so must the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth "' ? In regard to the three days in which the Lord Christ was under the power of death, it would take long to explain how they are reckoned to be three whole days, that is, days along with their nights, because of the whole of the first day and of the third day being understood as represented on the part of each; moreover, this has been already stated very often in other discourses. As, therefore, Jonah passed from the ship to the belly of the whale, so Christ passed from the cross to the sepulchre, or into' the abyss of death. And as Jonah suffered this for the sake of those who were endangered by the storm, so Christ suffered for the sake of those who are tossed on the waves of this world. And as the command was given at first that the word of God should be preached to the Nine-rites by Jonah, but the preaching of Jonah did not come to them until after the whale had vomited him forth, so prophetic teaching was Addressed early to the Gentiles, but did not actually come to the Gentiles until after the resurrection of Christ from the grave.

35. In the next place, as to Jonah's building for himself a booth, and sitting down over against Nineveh, waiting to see what would befall the city, the prophet was here in his own person the symbol of another fact. He prefigured the carnal people of Israel. For he also was grieved at the salvation of the Ninevites, that is, at the redemption and deliverance of the Gentiles, from among whom Christ came to call, not righteous men, but sinners to repentance.' Wherefore the shadow of that gourd over his head prefigured the promises of the Old Testament, or rather the privileges already enjoyed in it, in which there was, as the apostle says, "a shadow of things to come," s furnishing, as it were, a refuge from the heat of temporal calamities in the land of promise. Moreover, in that morning-worm? which by its gnawing tooth made the gourd wither away, Christ Himself is again prefigured, forasmuch as, by the publication of the gospel from His mouth, all those things which flourished among the Israelites for a time, or with a shadowy. symbolical meaning in that earlier dispensation, are now deprived of their significance, and have withered away. And now that nation, having lost the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacrifices formerly established in Jerusalem, all which privileges were a shadow of things to come, is burned with grievous heat of tribulation in its condition of dispersion and captivity, as Jonah was, according to the history, scorched with the heat of the sun, and is overwhelmed with sorrow; and notwithstanding, the salvation of the Gentiles and of the penitent is of more importance in the sight of God than this sorrow of Israel and the "shadow" of which the Jewish nation was so glad.

36. Again, let the Pagans laugh, and let them treat with proud and senseless ridicule Christ the Worm and this interpretation of the prophetic symbol, provided that He gradually and surely, nevertheless, consume them. For concerning all such Isaiah prophesies, when by him God says to us, "Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings: for the moth shall eat them up as a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be for ever." s Let us therefore acknowledge Christ to be the morning-worm, because, moreover, in that psalm which bears the title, "Upon the hind of the morning," 6 He has been pleased to call Himself by this very name: "I am," He says, "a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people." This reproach is one of those reproaches which we are commanded not to fear in the words of Isaiah, "Fear ye not the reproach of men." By that Worm, as by a moth, they are being consumed who under the tooth of His gospel are made to wonder daily at the diminution of their numbers, which is caused by desertion from their party. Let us therefore acknowledge this symbol of Christ; and because of the salvation of God, let us bear patiently the reproaches of men. He is a Worm because of the lowliness of the flesh which He assumed--perhaps, also, because of His being born of a virgin; for the worm is generally not begotten, but spontaneously originated in flesh or any vegetable product [sine concubitu nascitur]. He is the morning-worm, because He rose from the grave before the dawn of day. That gourd might, of course, have withered without any worm at its root; and finally, if God regarded the worm as necessary for this work, what need was there to add the epithet morning-worm, if not to secure that He should be recognised as the Worm who in the psalm, "pro susceptione matutina," sings, "I am a worm, and no man"?

37. What, then, could be more palpable than the fulfilment of this prophecy in the accomplishment of the things foretold? That Worm was indeed despised when He hung upon the cross, as is written in the same psalm: "They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him; ", and again, when this was fulfilled which the psalm foretold, "They pierced my hands and my feet. They have told all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture circumstances which are in that ancient book described when future by the prophet with as great plainness as they are now recorded in the gospel history after their occurrence. But if in His humiliation that Worm was despised, is He to be still despised when we behold the accomplishment of those things which are predicted in the latter part of the same psalm: "All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His presence. For the kingdom is the Lord's; and He shall govern among the nations"?s Thus the Ninevites "remembered, and turned unto the Lord." The salvation granted to the Gentiles on their repentance, which was thus so long before prefigured, Israel then, as represented by Jonah, regarded with grief, as now their nation grieves, bereft of their shadow, and vexed with the heat of their tribulations. Any one is at liberty to open up with a different interpretation, if only it be in harmony with the rule of faith, all the other particulars which are hidden in the symbolical history of the prophet Jonah; but it is obvious that it is not lawful to interpret the three days which he passed in the belly of the whale otherwise than as it has been revealed by the heavenly Master Himself in the gospel, as quoted above.

38. I have answered to the best of my power the questions proposed; but let him who proposed them become now a Christian at once, lest, if he delay until he has finished the discussion of all difficulties connected with the sacred books, he come to the end of this life before he pass from death to life. For it is reasonable that he inquire as to the resurrection of the dead before he is admitted to the Christian sacraments. Perhaps he ought also to be allowed to insist on preliminary discussion of the question proposed concerning Christ--why He came so late in the world's history, and of a few great questions besides, to which all others are subordinate. But to think of finishing all such questions as those concerning the words, "In what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you," and concerning Jonah, before he becomes a Christian, is to betray great unmindfulness of man's limited capacities, and of the shortness of the life which remains to him. For there are innumerable questions the solution of which is not to be demanded before we believe, lest life be finished by us in unbelief. When, however, the Christian faith has been thoroughly received, these questions behove to be studied with the utmost diligence for the pious satisfaction of the minds of believers. Whatever is discovered by such study ought to be imparted to others without vain self-complacency; if anything still remain hidden, we must bear with patience an . imperfection of knowledge which is not prejudicial to salvation.

LETTER CIII. (A.D. 409.)

TO MY LORD AND BROTHER, AUGUSTIN, RIGHTLY AND JUSTLY WORTHY OF ESTEEM AND OF ALL POSSIBLE HONOUR, NECTARIUS SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

1. In reading the letter of your Excellency, in which you have overthrown the worship of idols and the ritual of their temples? I seemed to myself to hear the voice of a philosopher,not of such a philosopher as the academician of whom they say, that having neither new doctrine to propound nor earlier statements of his own to defend, he was wont to sit in gloomy corners on the ground absorbed in some deep reverie, with his knees drawn back to his forehead, and his head buried between them, contriving how he might as a detractor assail the discoveries or cavil at the statements by which others had earned renown; nay, the form which rose under the spell of your eloquence and stood before my eyes was rather that of the great statesman Cicero, who, having been crowned with laurels for saving the lives of many of his countrymen, carried the trophies won in his forensic victories into the wondering schools of Greek philosophy, when, as one pausing for breath, he laid down the trumpet of sonorous voice and language which he had blown with blast of just indignation against those who had broken the laws and conspired against the life of the republic, and, adopting the fashion of the Grecian mantle, unfastened and threw back over his shoulders the toga's ample folds.

2. I therefore listened with pleasure when you urged us to the worship and religion of the only supreme God; and when you counselled us to look to our heavenly fatherland, I received the exhortation with joy. For you were obviously speaking to me not of any city confined by encircling ramparts, nor of that commonwealth on] this earth which the writings of philosophers have mentioned and declared to have all mankind as its citizens, but of that City which is inhabited and possessed by the great God, and by the spirits which have earned this recompense from Him, to which, by diverse roads and! pathways, all religions aspire,- the City which we are not able in language to describe, bull which perhaps we might by thinking apprehend. But while this City ought therefore to be, above all others, desired and loved, I am nevertheless of opinion that we are bound not to prove un-. faithful to our own native land, -- the land which first imparted to us the enjoyment of the light'. of day, in which we were nursed and educated, and (to pass to what is specially relevant in this case) the land by rendering services to which men obtain a home prepared for them in heaven after the death of the body; for, in the opinion of the most learned, promotion to that celestial City is granted to those men who have deserved well of the cities which gave them birth, and a higher experience of fellowship with God is the portion of those who are proved to have contributed by their counsels or by their labours to the welfare of their native land.

As to the remark which you were pleased wittily to make regarding our town, that it has been made conspicuous not so much by the achievements of warriors as by the conflagrations of incendiaries, and that it has produced thorns rather than flowers, this is not the severest reproof that might have been given, for we know that flowers are for the most part borne on thorny bushes. For who does not know that even roses grow on briars, and that in the bearded heads of grain the ears are guarded by spikes, and that, in general, pleasant and painful things are found blended together?

3. The last statement in your Excellency's letter was, that neither capital punishment nor bloodshed is demanded in order to compensate for the wrong done to the Church, but that the offenders must be deprived of the possessions which they most fear to lose. But in my deliberate judgment, though, of course, I may be mistaken, it is a more grievous thing to be deprived of one's property than to be deprived of life. For, as you know, it is an observation frequently recurring in the whole range of literature, that death terminates the experience of all evils, but that a life of indigence only confers upon us an eternity of wretchedness; for it is worse to live miserably than to put an end to our miseries by death. This fact, also, is declared by the whole nature and method of your work, in which you support the poor, minister healing to the diseased, and apply remedies to the bodies of those who are in pain, and, in short, make it your business to prevent the afflicted from feeling the protracted continuance of their sufferings.

Again, as to the degree of demerit in the faults of some as compared with others, it is of no importance what the quality of the fault may seem to be in a case in which forgiveness is craved. For, in the first place, if penitence procures forgiveness and expiates the crime-and surely he is penitent who begs pardon and humbly embraces the feet of the party whom he has offended -- and if, moreover, as is the opinion of some philosophers, all faults are alike, pardon ought to be bestowed upon all without distinction. One of our citizens may have spoken somewhat rudely: this was a fault; another may have perpetrated an insult or an injury: this was equally a fault; another may have violently taken what was not his own: this is reckoned a crime; another may have attacked buildings devoted to secular or to sacred purposes: he ought not to be for this crime placed beyond the reach of pardon. Finally, there would be no occasion for pardon if there were no foregoing faults.

4. Having now replied to your letter, not as the letter deserved, but to the best of my ability, such as it is, I beg and implore you (oh that I were in your presence, that you might also see my tears !) to consider again .and again who you are, what is your professed character, and what is the business to which your life is devoted. Reflect upon the appearance presented by a town from which men doomed to torture are dragged forth; think of the lamentations of mothers and wives, of sons and of fathers; think of the shame felt by those who may return, set at liberty indeed, but having undergone the torture; think what sorrow and groaning the sight of their wounds and scars must renew. And when you have pondered all these things, first think of God, and think of your good name among men; or rather think of what friendly charity and the bonds of common humanity require at your hands, and seek to be praised not by punishing but by pardoning the offenders. And such things may indeed be said regarding ),our treatment of those whom actual guilt condemns on their own confession: to these persons you have, out of regard to your religion, granted pardon; and for this I shall always praise you.. But now it is scarcely possible to express the greatness of that cruelty which pursues the innocent, and summons those to stand trial on a capital charge of whom it is certain that they had no share in the crimes alleged. If it so happen that they are acquitted, consider, I beseech you, with what ill-will their acquittal must be regarded by their accusers who of their own accord dismissed the guilty from the bar, but let the innocent go only when they were defeated in their attempts against them.

May the supreme God be your keeper, and preserve you as a bulwark of His religion and an ornament to our country.

LETTER CIV. (A.D. 409.)

TO NECTARIUS, MY NOBLE LORD AND BROTHER, JUSTLY WORTHY OF ALL HONOUR AND ESTEEM AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

CHAP. 1.--1. I have read the letter which you kindly sent in answer to mine. Your reply comes at a very long interval after the time when I despatched my letter to you. For I had written an answer to you' when my holy brother and colleague Possidius was still with us, before he had entered on his voyage; but the letter which you have been pleased to entrust to him for me I received on March 27th, about eight months after I had written to you. The reason why my communication was so late in reaching you, or yours so late in being sent to me, I do not know. Perhaps your prudence has only now dictated the reply which your pride formerly disdained. ' If this be the explanation, I wonder what has occasioned the change. Have you perchance heard some report, which is as yet unknown to us, that my brother Possidius had obtained authority for proceedings of greater severity against your citizens, whom --you must excuse me for saying this--he loves in a way more likely to promote their welfare than you do yourself ? For your letter shows that you apprehended something of this' kind when you charge me to set before my eyes "the appearance presented by a town from which men doomed to torture are dragged forth," and to "think of the lamentations of mothers and wives, of sons and of fathers; of the shame felt by those who may return, set at liberty indeed, but having undergone the torture; and of the sorrow and groaning which the sight of their wounds and scars must renew."2 Far be it from us to demand the infliction, either by ourselves or by any one, of such hardships upon any of our enemies! But, as I have said, ff report has brought any such measures of severity to your ears, give us a more clear and particular account of the things reported, that we may know either what to do in order to prevent these things from being done, or what 'answer we must make in order to disabuse the minds of those who believe the rumour.

2. Examine more carefully my letter, to which you have so reluctantly sent a reply, for I have in it made my views sufficiently plain; but through not remembering, as I suppose, what I had written, you have in your reply made reference to sentiments widely differing from mine, and wholly unlike them. For, as if quoting from memory what I had written, you have inserted in your letter what I never said at all in mine. You say that the concluding sentence of my letter was, "that neither capital punishment nor bloodshed is demanded in order to compensate for the wrong done to the Church, but that the offenders must be deprived of that which they most fear to lose;" and then, in showing how great a calamity this imports, you add and connect with my words that you "deliberately judge--though you may perhaps be mistaken --that it is a more grievous thing to be deprived of one's possessions than to be deprived of life." And in order to expound more clearly the kind of possessions to which you refer, you go on to say that. it must be known to me, "as an observation frequently recurring in the whole range of literature, that death terminates the experience of all evils, but that a life of indigence only confers upon us an eternity of wretchedness." From which you have drawn the conclusion that it is "worse to live miserably than to put an end to our miseries by death."

3. Now I for my part do not recollect reading anywhere- either in our [Christian] literature, to which I confess that I was later of applying my mind than I could now wish that I had been, or in your [Pagan] literature, which I studied from my childhood--that "a life of indigence only confers upon us an eternity o( wretchedness." For the poverty of the industrious is never in itself a crime; nay, it is to some extent a means of withdrawing and restraining men from sin. And therefore the circumstance that a man has lived in poverty here is no ground for apprehending that this shall procure for him after this brief life "an eternity of wretchedness ;" and in this life which we spend on earth it is utterly impossible for any misery to be eternal, seeing that this life cannot be eternal, nay, is not of long duration even in those who attain to the most advanced old age. In the writings referred to, I for my part have read, not that in this life -- as you think, and as you allege that these writings frequently affirm -- there can be an eternity of wretchedness, but rather that this life itself which we here enjoy is short. Some, indeed but not all, of your authors have said that death is the end of all evils: that is indeed the opinion of the Epicureans, and of such others as believe the soul to be mortal. But those philosophers whom Cicero designates "consulates" in a certain sense, because he attaches great weight to their authority, are of opinion that when our last hour on earth comes the soul is not annihilated, but removes from its tenement, and continues in existence for a state of blessedness or of misery, according to that which a man's actions, whether good or bad, claim as their due recompense. This agrees with the teaching of our sacred writings, with which I wish that I were more fully conversant. Death is therefore the end of all evils- but only in the case of those whose life is, pure, religious, upright, and blameless; not in the case of those who, inflamed with passionate desire for the trifles and vanities of time, are proved to be miserable by the utter perversion of their desires, though meanwhile they esteem themselves happy, and are after death compelled not only to accept as their lot, but to realize in their experience far greater miseries.

4. These sentiments, therefore, being frequently expressed both in some of your own authors, whom you deem worthy of greater esteem, and in all our Scriptures, be it yours, 0 worthy lover of the country which is on earth your fatherland, to dread on behalf of your countrymen a life of luxurious indulgence rather than a life of indigence; or if you fear a life of indigence, warn them that the poverty which is to be more studiously shunned is that of the man who, though surrounded with abundance of worldly possessions, is, through the insatiable eagerness wherewith he covets these, kept always in a state of want, which, to use the words of your own authors, neither plenty nor scarcity can relieve. In the letter, however, to which you reply, I did not say that those of your citizens who are enemies to the Church were to be corrected by being reduced to that extremity of indigence in which the necessaries of life are wanting, and to which succour is brought by that compassion of which you have thought it incumbent on you to point out to me that it is professed by us in the whole plan of those labours wherein we "support the poor, minister healing to the diseased, and apply remedies to the bodies of those who are in pain;" albeit, even such extremity of want as this would be more profitable than abundance of all things, if abused to the gratification of evil passions. But far be it from me to think that those about whom we are treating should be reduced to such destitution by the measures of coercion proposed.

CHAP. II.--5. Though you did not consider it worth while to read my letter over when it was to be answered, perhaps you have at least so far esteemed it as to preserve it, in order to its being brought to you when you at any time might desire it and call for it; if this be the case, look over it again, and mark carefully my words: you will assuredly find in it one thing to which, in my opinion, you must admit that you have made no reply. For in that letter occur the words which I now quote: "We do not desire to gratify our anger by vindictive retribution for the past, but we are concerned to make provision in a truly merciful spirit for the future. Now wicked men have something in respect to which they may be punished, and that by Christians, in a merciful way, and so as to promote their own profit and well-being. For they have these three things -- life and health of the body, the means of supporting that life, and the means and opportunities of living a wicked life. Let the two former remain untouched in the possession of those who repent of their crime; this we desire, and this we spare no pains to secure. But as to the third, if it please God to deal with it as a decaying or diseased part, which must be removed with the pruning-knife, He will in such punishment prove the greatness of his compassion." If you had read over these words of mine again, when you were pleased to write your reply, you would have looked upon it rather as an unkind insinuation than as a necessary duty to address to me a petition not only for deliverance from death, but also for exemption from torture, on behalf of those regarding whom I said that we wished to leave unimpaired their possession of bodily life and health. Neither was there any ground for your apprehending our inflicting a life of indigence and of dependence upon others for daily bread on those regarding whom I had said that we desired to secure to them the second of the possessions named above, viz. the means of supporting life. But as to their third possession, viz. the means and opportunities of living wickedly, that is to say- passing over other things -- their silver with which they constructed those images of their false gods, in whose protection or adoration or unhallowed worship an attempt was made even to destroy the church of God by fire, and the provision made for relieving the poverty of very pious persons was given up to become the spoil of a wretched mob, and blood was freely shed -- why, I ask, does your patriotic heart dread the stroke which shall cut this away, in order to prevent a fatal boldness from being in everything fostered and confirmed by impunity? This I beg you to discuss fully, and to show me in well-considered arguments what wrong there is in this; mark carefully what I say, lest under the form of a petition in regard to what I am saying you appear to bring against us an indirect accusation.

6. Let your countrymen be well reported of for their virtuous manners, not for their superfluous wealth; we do not wish them to be reduced through coercive measures on our account to the plough of Quintius [Cincinnatus], or to the hearth of Fabricius. Yet by such extreme poverty these statesmen of the Roman republic not only did not incur the contempt of their fellow-citizens, but were on that very account peculiarly dear to them, and esteemed the more qualified to administer the resources of their country. We neither desire nor endeavour to reduce the estates of your rich men, so that in their possession should remain no more than ten pounds of silver, as was the case with Ruffinus, who twice held the consulship, which amount the stern censorship of that time laudably required to be still further reduced as culpably large. So much are we influenced by the prevailing sentiments of a degenerate age in dealing more tenderly with minds that are very feeble, that to Christian clemency the measure which seemed just to the censors of that time appears unduly Severe; yet you see how great is the. difference between the two cases, the question being in the one, whether the mere fact of possessing ten pounds of silver should be dealt with as a punishable crime, and in the other, whether any one, after committing other very great crimes, should be permitted to retain the sum aforesaid in his possession; we only ask that what in those days was itself a crime be in our' days made the punishment of crime. There is, however, one thing which can be done, and ought to be done, in order that, on the one hand, severity may not be pushed even so far as I have mentioned, and that, on the other, men may not, presuming on impunity, run into excess of exultation and rioting, and thus furnish to other unhappy men an example by following which they would become liable to the severest and most unheard of punishments. Let this at least be granted by you, that those who attempt with fire and sword to destroy what are necessaries t_o us be made afraid of losing those luxuries of which they have a pernicious abundance. Permit us also to confer upon our enemies this benefit, that we prevent them, by their fears about that which it would do them no harm to forfeit, from attempting to that which would bring harm to themselves. For this is to be termed prudent prevention, not punishment of crime; this is not to impose penalties, but to protect men from becoming liable to penalties.

7. When any one uses measures involving the infliction of some pain, in order to prevent an inconsiderate person from incurring the most dreadful punishments by becoming accustomed to crimes which yield him no advantage, he is like one who pulls a boy's hair in order to prevent him from provoking serpents by clapping his hands at them; in both cases, while the acting of love is vexatious to its object, no member of the body is injured, whereas safety and life are endangered by that from which the person is deterred. We confer a benefit upon others, not in every case in which we do what is requested, but when we do that which is not hurtful to our petitioners For in most cases we J serve others best by not giving, and would injure them by giving, what they desire. Hence the proverb, "Do not put a sword in a child's hand." "Nay," says Cicero, "refuse it even to your only son. For the more we love any one, !the more are we bound to avoid entrusting to him things which are the occasion of very dangerous faults." He was referring to riches, if I am not mistaken, when he made these observations. Wherefore it is for the most part an advantage !to themselves when certain things are removed I from persons in whose keeping it is hazardous i to leave them, lest they abuse them. When surgeons see that a gangrene must be cut away or cauterized, they often, out of compassion, turn a deaf ear to many cries. If we had been indulgently forgiven by our parents and teachers in our tender years on every occasion on which, being found in a fault, we begged to be let off, which of us would not have grown up intolerable ? which of us would have learned any useful thing? Such punishments are administered by wise care, not by wanton cruelty. Do not, I beseech you, in this matter think only how to accomplish that which you are requested by your countrymen to do, but carefully consider the matter in all its bearings. If you overlook the ]past, which cannot now be undone, consider the future; wisely give heed, not to the desire, I but to the real interests of the petitioners who have applied to you. We are convicted of unfaithfulness towards those whom we profess to love, if our only care is lest, by refusing to do what they ask of us, their love towards us be diminished. And what becomes of that virtue r which even your .own literature commends, in the ruler of his country who studies not so much the wishes as the welfare of his people?

CHAP. 3. -- 8. You say "it is of no importance what the quality of the fault may be in any case in which forgiveness is craved." In this you would state the truth if the matter in question were the punishment and not the correction of men. Far be it from a Christian heart to be carried away by the lust of revenge to inflict punishment on any one. Far be it , from a Christian, when forgiving any one his fault, to do otherwise than either anticipate or at least promptly answer the petition of him who asks forgiveness; but let his purpose in doing this be, that he may overcome the temptation to hate the man who has offended him, and to render evil for evil, and to be inflamed with rage prompting him, if not to do an injury, at least to desire to see the infliction of the penalties appointed by law; let it not be that he may relieve himself from considering the offender's interest, exercising foresight on his behalf, and restraining him from evil actions. For it is possible, on the one hand, that, moved by more vehement hostility, one may neglect the correction of a man whom he hates bitterly, and, on the other hand, that by correction involving the infliction of some pain one may secure the improvement of another whom he dearly loves.

9. I grant that, as you write, "penitence procures forgiveness, and blots out the offence," but it is that penitence which is practised under the influence of the true religion, and which has regard to the future judgment of God; not that penitence which is for the time professed or pretended before men, not to secure the cleansing of the soul for ever from the fault, but only to deliver from present apprehension of pain the life which is so soon to perish. This is the reason why in the case of some Christians who confessed their fault, and asked forgiveness for having been involved in the guilt of that crime, -- either by their not protecting the church when in danger of being burned, or by their appropriating a portion of the property which the miscreants carried off,--we believed that the pain of repentance had borne fruit, and considered it sufficient for their correction, because in their hearts is found that faith by which they could realize what they ought to fear from the judgment of God for their sin. But how can there be any healing virtue in the repentance of those who not only fail to acknowledge, but even persist in mocking and blaspheming Him who is the fountain of forgiveness ? At the same time, towards these men we do not cherish any feeling of enmity in our hearts, which are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him whose judgment both in this life and in the life to come we dread, and in whose help we place our hope. But we think that we are even taking measures for the benefit of these men, if, seeing that they do not fear God, we inspire fear in them by doing something whereby their folly is chastened, while their real interests suffer no wrong. We thus prevent that God whom they despise from being more grievously provoked by their greater crimes, to which they would be emboldened by a disastrous assurance of impunity, and we prevent their assurance of impunity from being set' forth with even more mischievous effect as an encouragement to others to imitate their example. In fine, on behalf of those for whom you make intercession to us, we intercede before God, beseeching Him to turn them to Himself, and to teach them the exercise of genuine and salutary repentance, purifying their hearts by faith.

10. Behold, then, how we love those men against whom you suppose us to be full of anger, -- loving them, you must permit me to say, with a love more prudent and profitable than you yourself cherish towards them; for we plead on their behalf that they may escape much greater afflictions, and obtain much greater blessings. If you also loved these men, not in the mere earthly affections of men, but with that love which is the heavenly gift of God, and if you were sincere in writing to me that you gave ear with pleasure to me when I was recommending :to you the worship and religion of the Supreme God, you would not only wish for your countrymen the blessings which we seek on their behalf, but you would yourself by your example lead them to their possession. Thus would the whole business of your interceding with us be concluded with abundant and most reasonable joy. Thus would your title to that heavenly fatherland, in regard to which you say that you welcomed my counsel that you should fix your eye upon it, be earned by a true and pious exercise of your love for the country which gave you birth, when seeking to make sure to your fellow-citizens, not the vain dream of temporal happiness, nor a most perilous exemption from the due punishment of their faults, but the gracious gift of eternal blessedness.

11. You have here a frank avowal of the thoughts and desires of my heart in this matter. As to what lies concealed in the counsels of God, I confess it is unknown to me; I am but a man; but whatever it be, His counsel stands most sure, and incomparably excels in equity and in wisdom all that can be conceived by the minds of men. With truth is it said in our books, "There are many devices in a man's heart; but the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand."' Wherefore, as to what time may bring forth, as to what may arise to simplify or complicate our procedure, in short, as to what desire may suddenly be awakened by the fear of losing or the hope of retaining present possessions; whether God shall show Himself so displeased by what they have done that they shall be punished with the more weighty and severe sentence of a disastrous impunity, or shall appoint that they shall be compassionately corrected in the manner which we propose, or shall avert whatever terrible doom was being prepared for them, and convert it into joy by some more stern but more salutary correction, leading to their turning unfeignedly to seek mercy not from men but from Himself, m all this He knoweth; we know not. Why, then, should your Excellency and I be spending toil in vain over this matter before the time? Let us for a little while lay aside a care the hour of which has not yet come, and, if you please, let us occupy ourselves with that which is always pressing. For there is no time at which it is not both suitable and necessary for us to consider in what way we can please God; because! for a man to attain completely in this life to such perfection that no sin whatever shall remain in him is either impossible or (if perchance I any attain to it) extremely difficult: wherefore without delay we ought to flee at once to the] grace of Him to whom we may address with perfect truth the words which were addressed to some illustrious man by a poet, who declared that he had borrowed the lines from a Cumaean oracle, or ode of prophetic inspiration: "With thee as our leader, the obliteration of all remaining traces of our sin shall deliver the earth from perpetual alarm."1 For with Him as our leader, all sins are blotted out and forgiven; and by His way we are brought to that heavenly fatherland, the thought of which as a dwelling-place pleased you greatly when I was to the utmost of my power commending it to your affection and desire.

CHAP. IV. -- 12. But since you said that all religions by diverse roads and pathways aspire to that one dwelling-place, I fear lest, perchance, while supposing that the way in which you are now found tends thither, you should be somewhat reluctant to embrace the way which alone leads men to heaven. Observing, however, more carefully the word which you used, I think that it is not presumptuous for me to expound its meaning somewhat differently; for you did not! say that all religions by diverse roads and pathways reach heaven, or reveal, or find, or enter,' or secure that blessed land, but by saying in a, phrase deliberately weighed and chosen that all: religions aspire to it, you have indicated, not the: fruition, but the desire of heaven as common to all religions. You have in these words neither shut out the one religion which is true, nor admitted other religions which are false; for certainly the way which brings us to the goal aspires thitherward, but not every way which aspires thitherward brings us to the place .wherein all who are brought thither are unquestionably blest. Now we all wish, that is, we aspire, to be blest; but we cannot all achieve what we wish, that is, we do not all obtain what we aspire to. That man, therefore, obtains heaven who walks in the way which not only aspires thitherward, but actually brings him thither, separating himself from others who keep to the ways which aspire heavenward without finally reaching heaven. For there would be no wandering if men were content to aspire to nothing, or if the truth which men aspire to were obtained. If, however, in using the expression "diverse ways," you meant me not to understand contrary ways, but different ways, in the sense in which we speak of diverse precepts, which all tend to build up a holy life, -- one enjoining chastity, another patience or faith or mercy, and the like, -- in roads and pathways which are only in this sense diverse, that country is not only aspired unto but actually found. For in Holy Scripture we read both of ways and of a way, --of ways, e.g. in the words, "I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee ;-2 of a way, e.g. in the prayer, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth."3 Those ways and this way are not different; but in one way are comprehended all those of which in another place the Holy Scripture saith, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth."4 The careful study of these ways furnishes theme for a long discourse, and for most delightful meditation; but this I shall defer to another time if it be required.

13. In the meantime, however, -- and this, I think, may suffice in the present reply to your Excellency, -- seeing that Christ has said, "I am the way," s it is in Him that mercy and truth are to be sought: if we seek these in any other way, we must go astray, following a path which aspires to the true goal, but does not lead men thither. For example, if we resolved to follow the way indicated in the maxim which you mentioned, "All sins are alike," 6 would it not lead us into hopeless exile from that fatherland of truth and blessedness ? For could anything more absurd and senseless be said, than that the man who has laughed too rudely, and the man who has furiously set his city on fire, should be judged as having committed equal crimes ? This opinion, which is not one of many diverse ways leading to the heavenly dwelling-place, but a perverse way leading inevitably to most fatal error, you have judged it necessary to quote from certain philosophers, not because you concurred in the sentiment, but because it might help your plea for your fellow-citizens--that we might forgive those whose rage set our church in flames on the same terms as we would forgive those who may have assailed us with some insolent reproach.

14. But reconsider with me the reasoning by which you supported your position. You say, "If, as is the opinion of some philosophers, all faults are alike, pardon ought to be bestowed upon all without distinction." Thereafter, labouring apparently to prove that all faults are alike, you go on to say, "One of our citizens may have spoken somewhat rudely: this was a fault; another may have perpetrated an insult or an injury: this was equally a fault." This is not teaching truth, but advancing, without any evidence in its support, a perversion of truth. For to your statement, "this was equally a fault," we at once give direct contradiction. You demand, perhaps, proof; but I reply, What proof have you given of your statement? Are we to hear as evidence your next sentence, "Another may have violently taken away what was not his own: this is reckoned a misdemeanour "? Here you own yourself to be ashamed of the maxim which you quoted; you had not the assurance to say that this was equally a fault, but you say "it is reckoned a misdemeanour." But the question here is not whether this also is reckoned a misdemeanour, but whether this offence and the others which you mentioned are faults equal in demerit, unless, of course, they are to be pronounced equal because they are both offences; in which case the mouse and the elephant must be pronounced equal because they are both animals, and the fly and the eagle because they both have wings.

15. You go still further, and make this proposition: "Another may have attacked buildings devoted to secular or to sacred purposes: he ought not for this crime to be placed beyond the reach of pardon." In this sentence you have indeed come to the most flagrant crime of your fellow-citizens, in speaking of injury done to sacred buildings; but even you have not affirmed that this is a crime equal only to the utterance of an insolent word. You have contented yourself with asking, on behalf of those who were guilty of this, that forgiveness which is rightly asked from Christians on the ground of their overflowing compassion, not on the ground of an alleged equality of all offences. I have already quoted a sentence of Scripture, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth." They shall therefore find mercy if they do not hate truth. This mercy is granted, not as if it were due on the ground of the faults of all being only equal to the fault of those who have uttered rude words, but because the law of Christ claims pardon for those who are penitent, however inhuman and impious their crime may have been. I beg you, esteemed sir, not to propound these paradoxes of the Stoics as rules of conduct for your son Paradoxus, whom we wish to see grow up in piety and in prosperity, to your satisfaction. For what could be worse for himself, yea, what more dangerous for yourself, than that your ingenuous boy should imbibe an error which would make the guilt, I shall not say of parricide, but of insolence to his father, equal only to that of some rude word inconsiderately spoken to a stranger?

16. You are wise, therefore, to insist, when pleading with us for your countrymen on the compassion of Christians, not on the stern doctrines of the Stoical philosophy, which in no wise help, but much rather hinder, the cause which you have undertaken to support. For a merciful disposition, which we must have if it be possible for us to be moved either by your intercession or by their entreaties, is pronounced by the Stoics to be an unworthy weakness, and they expel it utterly from the mind of the wise man, whose perfection, in their opinion, is to be as impassive and inflexible as iron. With more reason, therefore, might it have occurred to you to quote from your own Cicero that sentence in which, praising Caesar, he says, "Of all your virtues, none is more worthy of admiration, none more graceful, than your clemency." ' How much more ought this merciful disposition to prevail in the churches which follow Him who said, "I am the way," and which learn from His word, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth" ! Fear not, then, that we will try to bring innocent persons to death, when in truth we do not even wish the guilty to experience the punishment which they deserve, being moved by that mercy which, joined with truth, we love in Christ. But the man who, from fear of painfully crossing the will of the guilty, spares and indulges vices which must thereby gather more strength, is less merciful than the man who, lest he should hear his little boy crying, will not take from him a dangerous knife, and is unmoved by fear of the wounds or death which he may have to bewail as the consequence of his weakness. Reserve, therefore, until the proper time the work of interceding with us for those men, in loving whom (excuse my saying so) you not only do not go beyond us, but are even hitherto refusing to follow our steps; and write rather in your reply what influences you to shun the way which we follow, and in which we beseech you to go along with us towards that fatherland above, in which we rejoice to know that you take great delight.

17. As to those who are by birth your fellow-citizens, you have said indeed that some of them, though not all, were innocent; but, as you must see if you read over again my other letter, you have not made out a defence for them. When, in answer to your remark that you wished to leave your country flourishing, I said that we had felt thorns rather than found flowers in your countrymen, you thought that I wrote in jest. As if, forsooth, in the midst of evils of such magnitude we were in a mood for mirth. Certainly not. While the smoke was ascending from the ruins of our church consumed by fire, were we likely to joke on the subject ? Although, indeed, none in your city appeared in my opinion innocent, but those who were absent, or were sufferers, or were destitute both of strength and of authority to prevent the tumult, I nevertheless distinguished in my reply those whose guilt was greater from those who were less to blame, and stated that there was a difference between the cases of those who were moved by fear of offending powerful enemies of the Church. and of those who desired these outrages to be committed; also between those who committed them and those who instigated others to their commission; resolving, however, not to institute inquiry in regard to the instigators, because these, perhaps, could not be ascertained without recourse to the use of tortures, from which we shrink with abhorrence, as utterly inconsistent with our aims. Your friends the Stoics, who hold that all faults are alike, must, however, if they were the judges, pronounce them all equally guilty; and if to this opinion they join that inflexible sternness wherewith they disparage clemency as a vice, their sentence would necessarily be, not that all should be pardoned alike, but that all should be punished alike. Dismiss, therefore, these philosophers altogether from the position of advocates in this case, and rather desire that we may act as Christians, so that, as we desire, we may gain in Christ those whom we forgive, and may not spare them by such indulgence as would be ruinous to themselves. May God, whose ways are mercy and truth, be pleased to enrich you with true felicity!

LETTER CXI (NOVEMBER, A.D. 409.)

TO VICTORIANUS, HIS BELOVED LORD AND MOST LONGED-FOR BROTHER AND FELLOW-PRESBYTER, AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.

1. My heart has been filled with great sorrow by your letter. You asked me to discuss certain things at great length in my reply; but such calamities as you narrate claim rather many groans and tears than prolix treatises. The whole world, indeed, is afflicted with such portentous misfortunes, that there is scarcely any place where such things as you describe are not being committed and complained of. A short time ago some brethren were massacred by the barbarians even in those deserts of Egypt in which, in order to perfect security, they had chosen places remote from all disturbance as the sites of their monasteries. I suppose, moreover, that the outrages which they have perpetrated in the regions of Italy and Gaul are known to you also; and now similar events begin to be announced to us from many provinces of Spain, which for long seemed exempt from these evils. But why go to a distance for examples ? Behold! in our own county of Hippo, which the barbarians have not yet touched, the ravages of the Donatist clergy and Circumcelliones make such havoc in our churches, that perhaps the cruelties of barbarians would be light in comparison. For what barbarian could ever have devised what these have done, viz. casting lime and vinegar into the eyes of our clergymen, besides atrociously beating and wounding every part of their bodies ? They also sometimes plunder and burn houses, rob granaries, and pour out oil and wine; and by threatening to do this to all others in the district, they compel many even to be re-baptized. Only yesterday, tidings came to me of forty-eight souls in one place having i submitted, under fear of such things, to be re!baptized.

2. These things should make us weep, but not wonder; and we ought to cry unto God that not for our merit, but according to His mercy, He i may deliver us from so great evils. For what else was to be expected by the human race, seeing that these things were so long ago foretold both by the prophets and in the Gospels? We ought not, therefore, to be so inconsistent as to believe these Scriptures when they are read by us, and to complain when they are fulfilled; rather, surely, ought even those who had refused to believe when they read or heard these things in Scripture to become believers now when they behold the word fulfilled; so that under this; great pressure, as it were, in the olive-press of the Lord our God, although there be the dregs: of unbelieving murmurs and blasphemies, there is also a steady out flowing of pure oil in the confessions and prayers of believers. For unto those men who incessantly reproach the Christian faith, impiously saying that the human race did not suffer such grievous calamities before the Christian doctrine was promulgated throughout the world, it is easy to find a reply in the Lord's own words in the gospel, "That servant which knew not his lord's will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; but the servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes."' What is there to excite surprise, if, in the Christian dispensation, the world, like that servant, knowing the will of the Lord, and refusing to do it, is beaten with many stripes? These men remark the rapidity with which the gospel is proclaimed: they do not remark the perversity with which by many it is despised. But the meek and pious servants of God, who l have to bear a double portion of temporal calamities, since they suffer both at the hands of wicked men and along with them, have also consolations peculiarly their own, and the hope of the world to come; for which reason the apostle says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in us."'

3. Wherefore, my beloved, even when you meet those whose words you say you cannot bear, because they say, "If we have deserved these things for our sins, how comes it that the servants of God are cut off not less than ourselves by the sword of the barbarians, and the handmaids of God are led away into captivity ?" -- answer them humbly, truly, and piously in such words as these: However carefully we keep the way of righteousness, and yield obedience to our Lord, can we be better than those three men who were cast into the fiery furnace for keeping the law of God ? And yet, read what Azarias, one of those three, said, opening his lips in the midst of the fire: "Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord God of our fathers: Thy name is worthy to be praised and glorified .for evermore; for Thou art righteous in all the things that Thou hast done to us; yea, true are all Thy works: Thy ways are right, and all Thy judgments truth. In all the things which Thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, even Jerusalem, Thou hast executed true judgment; for according to truth and judgment didst Thou bring all these things upon us because of our sins. For we have sinned and committed iniquity, departing from Thee. In all things have we trespassed, and not obeyed Thy commandments, nor kept them, neither done as Thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us. Wherefore all that Thou hast brought upon us, and everything that Thou hast done to us, Thou hast done in true judgment. And Thou didst deliver us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful forsakers of God, and to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world. And now we cannot open our mouths: we are become a shame and reproach to Thy servants, and to them that worship Thee. Yet deliver us not up wholly, for Thy name's sake, neither disannul Thou Thy covenant; and cause not Thy mercy to depart from us, for Thy beloved Abraham's sake, for Thy servant Isaac's sake, and for Thy holy Israel's sake, to whom Thou hast spoken, and promised that Thou wouldst multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that lieth upon the sea-shore. For we, O Lord, are become less than any nation, and be kept under this day in all the world because of our sins."2 Here, my brother, thou mayest surely see how men such as they, men of holiness, men of courage in the midst of tribulation, -- from which, however, they were delivered, the flame itself fearing to consume them,were not silent about their sins, but confessed them, knowing that because of these sins they were deservedly and justly brought low.

4. Nay, can we be better men than Daniel himself, concerning whom God, speaking to the prince of Tyre, says by the prophet Ezekiel, "Art thou wiser than Daniel?"3 who also is placed among the three righteous men to whom alone God saith that He would grant deliverance, -- pointing, doubtless, in them to three representative righteous men, -- declaring that he would deliver only Noah, Daniel, and Job, and that they should save along with themselves neither son nor daughter, but only their own souls ? 4 Nevertheless, read also the prayer of Daniel, and see how, when in captivity, he confesses not only the sins of his people, but his own also, and acknowledges that because of these the justice of God has visited them with the punishment of captivity and with reproach. For it is thus written: "And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said: O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord, to walk in His laws which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against them. And He hath confirmed His words which He spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil; for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God,' that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Thy truth. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth; for we obeyed not His voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought Thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten Thee renown as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain, because, for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now, therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and His supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary which is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name; for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do: defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God; for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name. And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people . . ."1 Observe how he spoke first of his own sins, and then of the sins of his people. And he extols the righteousness of God, and gives praise to God for this, that He visits even His saints with the rod, not unjustly, but because of their sins. If, therefore, this be the language of men who by reason of their eminent sanctity found even encompassing flames and lions harmless, what language would befit men standing on a level so low as we occupy, seeing that, whatever righteousness we may seem to practise, we are very far from being worthy of comparison with them?

5. Lest, however, any one should think that those servants of God, whose death at the hand of barbarians you relate, ought to have been delivered from them in the same manner as the three young men were delivered from the fire, and Daniel from the lions, let such an one know that these miracles were performed in order that the kings by whom they were delivered to these punishments might believe that they worshipped the true God. For in His hidden counsel and mercy God was in this manner making provision for the salvation of these kings. It pleased Him, however, to make no such provision in the case of Antiochus the king, who cruelly put the Maccabees to death; but He punished the heart of the obdurate king with sharper severity through their most glorious sufferings. Yet read what was said by even one of them -- the sixth who suffered: "After him they brought also the sixth, who, being ready to die, said, ' Be not deceived without cause; for we suffer these things for ourselves, having sinned against God: therefore marvellous things are done unto us; but think not thou that takest in hand to strive against God and His law that thou shalt escape unpunished.'"2 You see how these also are wise in the exercise of humility and sincerity, confessing that they are chastened because of their sins by the Lord, of whom it is written: "Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth," 3 and "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth;"4 wherefore the Apostle says also, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."5

6. These things read faithfully, and proclaim faithfully; and to the utmost of your power beware, and teach others that they must beware, of murmuring against God in these trials and tribulations. You tell me that good, faithful, and holy servants of God have been cut off by the sword of the barbarians. But what matters it whether it is by sickness or by sword that they have been set free from the body ? The Lord is careful as to the character with which His servants go from this world -- not as to the mere circumstances of their departure, excepting this, that lingering weakness involves more suffering than a sudden death; and yet we read of this same protracted and dreadful weakness as the lot of that Job to whose righteousness God Himself, who cannot be deceived, bears such testimony.

7. Most calamitous, and much to be bewailed, is the captivity of chaste and holy women; but their God is not in the power of their captors, nor does He forsake those captives whom He knows indeed to be His own. For those holy men, the record of whose sufferings and confessions I have quoted from the Holy Scriptures, being held in captivity by enemies who had carried them away, uttered those words, which, preserved in writing, we can read for ourselves, in order to make us understand that servants of God, even when they are in captivity, are not forsaken by their Lord. Nay, more, do we know what wonders of power and grace the almighty and merciful God may please to accomplish by means of these captive women even in the land of the barbarians? Be that as it may, cease not to intercede with groanings on their behalf before God, and to seek, so far as your power and His providence permits you, to do for them whetever can be done, and to give them whatever consolation can be given, as time and opportunity may be granted. A few years ago, a nun, a grand-daughter of Bishop Severus, was carried off by barbarians from the neighbourhood of Sitifa, and was by the marvellous mercy of God restored with great honour to her parents. For at the very time when the maiden entered the house of her barbarian captors, it became the scene of much distress through the sudden illness of its owners, all the barbarians -three brothers, if I mistake not, or more -- being attacked with most dangerous disease. Their mother observed that the maiden was dedicated to God, and believed that by her prayers her sons might be delivered from the danger of death, which was imminent. She begged her to intercede for them, promising that if they were healed she should be restored to her parents. She fasted and prayed, and straightway was heard; for, as the result showed, the event had been appointed that this might take place. They therefore, having recovered health by this unexpected favour from God, regarded her with admiration and respect, and fulfilled the promise which their mother had made.

8. Pray, therefore, to God for them, and beseech Him to enable them to say such things as the holy Azariah, whom we have mentioned, poured forth along with other expressions in his prayer and confession before God. For in the land of their captivity these women are in circumstances similar to those of the three Hebrew youths in that land in which they could not sacrifice to the Lord their God in the manner prescribed: they cannot either bring an oblation to the altar of God, or find a priest by whom their oblation may be presented to God. May God therefore grant them grace to say to Him what Azariah said in the following sentences of his prayer: "Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt-offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before Thee, and to find mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted. Like as in the burnt-offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be in Thy sight this day. And grant that we may wholly go after Thee; for they shall not be confounded that put their trust in Thee. And now we follow Thee with all our heart: we fear Thee and seek Thy face. Put us not to shame, but deal with us after Thy loving-kindness, and according to the multitude of Thy mercies. Deliver us also according to Thy marvellous works, and give glory to Thy name, O Lord; and let all them that do Thy servants hurt be ashamed: and let them be confounded in all their power and might, and let their strength be broken: and let them know that Thou art Lord, the only God, and glorious over the whole world."1

9. When His servants use these words, and pray fervently to God, He will stand by them, as He has been wont ever to stand by His own, and will either not permit their chaste bodies to suffer any wrong from the lust of their enemies, or if He permit this, He will not lay sin to their charge in the matter. For when the soul is not defiled by any impurity of consent to such wrong, the body also is thereby protected from all participation in the guilt; and in so far as nothing was committed or permitted by lust on the part of her who suffers, the whole blame lies with him who did the wrong, and all the violence done to the sufferer will be regarded not as implying the baseness of wanton compliance, but as a wound blamelessly endured. For such is the worth of unblemished purity in the soul, that while it remains intact, the body also retains its purity unsullied, even although by violence its members may be overpowered.

I beg your Charity to be satisfied with this letter, which is very long considering my other work (although too short to meet your wishes), and is somewhat hurriedly written, because the bearer is in haste to be gone. The Lord will furnish you with much more abundant consolation if you read attentively His holy word.

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