ON MODESTY (CHAP. I to CHAP. XIII)

VII. ON MODESTY.[1]

[TRANSLATED BY THE REV. S. THELWALL.]

MODESTY, the flower of manners, the honour of our bodies, the grace of the sexes, the integrity of the blood, the guarantee of our race, the basis of sanctity, the pre-indication of every. good disposition; rare though it is, and not easily perfected, and scarce ever retained in perpetuity, will yet up to a certain point linger in the world, if nature shall have laid the preliminary groundwork of it, discipline persuaded to it, censorial rigour curbed its excesses--on the hypothesis, that is, that every mental good quality is the result either of birth, or else of training, or else of external compulsion.

But as the conquering power of things evil is on the increase--which is the characteristic of the last times[2]--things good are now not allowed either to be born, so corrupted are the seminal principles; or to be trained, so deserted are studies; nor to be enforced, so dined are the laws. In fact, (the modesty) of which we are now beginning (to treat) is by this time grown so obsolete, that it is not the abjuration but the moderation of the 'appetites which modesty is believed to be; and he is held to be chaste enough who has not been too chaste. But let the world's[3] modesty see to itself, together with the world[4] itself: together with its inherent nature, if it was wont to originate in birth; its study, if in training; its servitude, if in compulsion: except that it had been even more unhappy if it had remained only to prove fruitless, in that it had not been in God's household that its activities had been exercised. I should prefer no good to a vain good: what profits it that that should exist whose existence profits not? It is our own good things whose position is now sinking; it is the system of Christian modesty which is being shaken to its foundation--(Christian modesty), which derives its all from heaven; its nature, "through the layer of regeneration;"[5] its discipline, through the instrumentality of preaching; its censorial rigour, through the judgments which each Testament exhibits; and is subject to a more constant external compulsion, arising from the apprehension or the desire of the eternal fire or kingdom.[6]

In opposition to this (modesty), could I not have acted the dissembler? I hear that there has even been an edict set forth, and a peremptory one too. The Pontifex Maximus[7]--that is, the bishop of bishops[8]--issues an edict: "I remit, to such as have discharged (the requirements of) repentance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication." O edict, on which cannot be inscribed, "Good deed!" And where shall this liberality be posted up? On the very spot, I suppose, on the very gates of the sensual appetites, beneath the very titles of the sensual appetites. There is the place for promulgating such repentance, where the delinquency itself shall haunt. There is the place to read the pardon, where entrance shall be made under the hope thereof. But it is in the church that this (edict) is read, and in the church that it is pronounced; and (the church) is a virgin! Far, far from Christ's betrothed be such a proclamation! She, the true, the modest, the saintly, shall be free from stain even of her ears. She has none to whom to make such a promise; and if she have had, she does not make it; since even the earthly temple of God can sooner have been called by the Lord a "den of robbers,"[1] than of adulterers and fornicators.

This too, therefore, shall be a count in my indictment against the Psychics; against the fellowship of sentiment also which I myself formerly maintained with them; in order that they may the more cast this in my teeth for a mark of fickleness. Repudiation of fellowship is never a pre-indication of sin. As if it were not easier to err with the majority, when it is in the company of the few that truth is loved But, however, a profitable fickleness shall no more be a disgrace to me, than I should wish a hurtful one to be an ornament. I blush not at an error which I have ceased to hold, because I am delighted at having ceased to hold it, because I recognise myself to be better and more modest. No one blushes at his own improvement. Even in Christ, knowledge had its stages of growth;[2] through which stages the apostle, too, passed. "When I was a child," he says, "as a child I spake, as a child I understood; but when I became a man, those (things) which had been the child's I abandoned:"[3] so truly did he turn away from his early opinions: nor did he sin by becoming an emulator not of ancestral but of Christian traditions,[4] wishing even the prae-cision of them who advised the retention of circumcision.[5] And would that the same fate might befall those, too, who obtruncate the pure and true integrity of the flesh; amputating not the extremest superficies, but the inmost image of modesty itself, while they promise pardon to adulterers and fornicators, in the teeth of the primary discipline of the Christian Name; a discipline to which heathendom itself bears such emphatic witness, that it strives to punish that discipline in the persons of Our females rather by defilements of the flesh than tortures; wishing to wrest from them that which they hold dearer than life! But now this glory is being extinguished, and that by means of those who ought with all the more constancy to refuse concession of any pardon to defilements of this kind, that they make the fear of succumbing to adultery and fornication their reason for marrying as often as they please--since "better it is to marry than to burn."[6] No doubt it is for continence sake that incontinence is necessary--the "burning" will be extinguished by "fires!" Why, then, do they withal grant indulgence, under the name of repentance, to crimes for which they furnish remedies by their law of multinuptialism? For remedies will be idle while crimes are indulged, and crimes will remain if remedies are idle. And so, either way, they trifle with solicitude and negligence; by taking emptiest precaution against (crimes) to which they grant quarter, and granting absurdest quarter to (crimes) against which they take precaution: whereas either precaution is not to be taken where quarter is given, or quarter not given where precaution is taken; for they take precaution, as if they were unwilling that something should be committed; but grant indulgence, as if they were willing it should be committed: whereas, if they be unwilling it should be committed, they ought not to grant indulgence; if they be willing to grant indulgence, they ought not to take precaution. For, again, adultery and fornication will not be ranked at the same time among the moderate and among the greatest sins, so that each course may be equally open with regard to them--the solicitude which takes precaution, and the security which grants indulgence. But since they are such as to hold the culminating place among crimes, there is no room at once for their indulgence as if they were moderate, and for their precaution as if they were greatest But by us precaution is thus also taken against the greatest, or, (if you will), highest (crimes, viz.,) in that it is not permitted, after believing, to know even a second marriage, differentiated though it be, to be sure, from the work of adultery and fornication by the nuptial and dotal tablets: and accordingly, with the utmost strictness, we excommunicate digamists, as bringing infamy upon the Paraclete by the irregularity of their discipline. The self-same liminal limit we fix for adulterers also and fornicators; dooming them to pour forth tears barren of peace, and to regain from the Church no ampler return than the publication of their disgrace.

CHAP. II.--GOD JUST AS WELL AS MERCIFUL; ACCORDINGLY, MERCY MUST NOT BE INDISCRIMINATE.

"But," say they, "God is 'good,' and 'most good,'[7] and 'pitiful-hearted,' and 'a pitier,' and 'abundant in pitiful-heartedness,'[8] which He holds 'dearer than all sacrifice,'[9] 'not thinking the sinner's death of so much worth as his repentance,[10] 'a Saviour of all men, most of all of believers.'[11] And so it will be becoming for 'the sons of God'[12] too to be 'pitiful-hearted'[13] and 'peacemakers;'[14] 'giving in their turn just as Christ withal hath given to us;'[1] 'not judging, that we be not judged.'[2] For 'to his own lord a man standeth or falleth; who art thou, to judge another's servant?'[3] 'Remit, and remission shall be made to thee.'"[4] Such and so great futilities of theirs wherewith they flatter God and pander to themselves, effeminating rather than invigorating discipline, with how cogent and contrary (arguments) are we for our part able to rebut,--(arguments) which set before us warningly the "severity"[5] of God, and provoke our own constancy? Because, albeit God is by nature good, still He is "just"[6] too. For, from the nature of the case, just as He knows how to "heal," so does He withal know how to "smite;"[7] "making peace," but withal "creating evils;"[8] preferring repentance, but withal commanding Jeremiah not to pray for the aversion of ills on behalf of the sinful People,--"since, if they shall have fasted," saith He, "I will not listen to their entreaty."[9] And again: "And pray not thou unto (me) on behalf of the People, and request not on their behalf in prayer and supplication, since I will not listen to (them) in the time wherein they shall have invoked me, in the time of their affliction."[10] And further, above, the same preferrer of mercy above sacrifice (says): "And pray not thou unto (me) on behalf of this People, and request not that they may obtain mercy, and approach not on their behalf unto me, since I will not listen to (them)"[11] of course when they sue for mercy, when out of repentance they weep and fast, and when they offer their self-affliction to God. For God is "jealous,"[12] and is One who is not contemptuously derided[13]--derided, namely, by such as flatter His goodness--and who, albeit "patient,"[14] yet threatens, through Isaiah, an end of (His) patience. "I have held my peace; shall I withal always hold my peace and endure? I have been quiet as (a woman) in birth-throes; I will arise, and will make (them) to grow arid."[15] For "a fire shall proceed before His face, and shall utterly burn His enemies;"[16] striking down not the body only, but the souls too, into hell.[17] Besides, the Lord Himself demonstrates the manner in which He threatens such as judge: "For with what judgment ye judge, judgment shall be given on you."[18] Thus He has not prohibited judging, but taught (how to do it). Whence the apostle withal judges, and that in a case of fornication,[19] that "such a man must be surrendered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh;"[20] chiding them likewise because "brethren" were not "judged at the bar of the saints:"[21] for he goes on and says, "To what (purpose is it) for me to judge those who are without?" "But you remit, in order that remission may be granted you by God." The sins which are (thus) cleansed are such as a man may have committed against his brother, not against God. We profess, in short, in our prayer, that we will grant remission to our debtors;[22] but it is not becoming to distend further, on the ground of the authority of such Scriptures, the cable of contention with alternate pull into diverse directions; so that one (Scripture) may seem to draw tight, another to relax, the reins of discipline--in uncertainty, as it were,--and the latter to debase the remedial aid of repentance through lenity, the former to refuse it through austerity. Further: the authority of Scripture will stand within its own limits, without reciprocal opposition. The remedial aid of repentance is determined by its own conditions, without unlimited concession; and the causes of it themselves are anteriorly distinguished without confusion in the proposition. We agree that the causes of repentance are sins. These we divide into two issues: some will be remissible, some irremissible: in accordance wherewith it will be doubtful to no one that some deserve chastisement, some condemnation. Every sin is dischargeable either by pardon or else by penalty: by pardon as the result of chastisement, by penalty as the result of condemnation. Touching this difference, we have not only already premised certain antithetical passages of the Scriptures, on one hand retaining, on the other remitting, sins;[23] but John, too, will teach us: "If any knoweth his brother to be sinning a sin not unto death, he shall request, and life shall be given to him ;" because he is not "sinning unto death," this will be remissible. "(There) is a sin unto death; not for this do I say that any is to request"[24]--this will be irremissible. So, where there is the efficacious power of "making request," there likewise is that of remission: where there is no (efficacious power) of "making request," there equally is none of remission either. According to this difference of sins, the condition of repentance also is discriminated. There will be a condition which may possibly obtain pardon,--in the case, namely, of a remissible sin: there will be a condition which can by no means obtain it,--in the case, namely, of an irremissible sin. And it remains to examine specially, with regard to the position of adultery and fornication, to which class of sins they ought to be assigned.

CHAP. III.--AN OBJECTION ANTICIPATED BEFORE THE DISCUSSION ABOVE PROMISED IS COMMENCED.

But before doing this, I will make short work with an answer which meets us from the opposite side, in reference to that species of repentance which we are just defining as being without pardon. "Why, if," say they, "there is a repentance which lacks pardon, it immediately follows that such repentance must withal be wholly unpractised by you. For nothing is to be done in vain. Now repentance will be practised in vain, if it is without pardon. But all repentance is to be practised. Therefore let (us allow that) all obtains pardon, that it may not be practised in vain; because it will not be to be practised, if it be practised in vain. Now, in vain it is practised, if it shall lack pardon." Justly, then, do they allege (this argument) against us; since they have usurpingly kept in their own power the fruit of this as of other repentance--that is, pardon; for, so far as they are concerned, at whose hands (repentance) obtains man's peace, (it is in vain). As regards us, however, who remember that the Lord alone concedes (the pardon of) sins, (and of course of mortal ones,) it will not be practised in vain. For (the repentance) being referred back to the Lord, and thenceforward lying prostrate before Him, will by this very fact the rather avail to win pardon, that it gains it by entreaty from God alone, that it believes not that man's peace is adequate to its guilt, that as far as regards the Church it prefers the blush of shame to the privilege of communion. For before her doors it stands, and by the example of its own stigma admonishes all others, and calls at the same time to its own aid the brethren's tears, and returns with an even richer merchandise--their compassion, namely--than their communion. And if it reaps not the harvest of peace here, yet it sows the seed of it with the Lord; nor does it lose, but prepares, its fruit. It will not fail of emolument if it do not fail in duty. Thus, neither is such repentance vain, nor such discipline harsh. Both honour God. The former, by laying no flattering unction to itself, will more readily win success; the latter, by assuming nothing to itself, will more fully aid.

CHAP. IV.--ADULTERY AND FORNICATION SYNONYMOUS.

Having defined the distinction (between the kinds) of repentance, we are by this time, then, able to return to the assessment of the sins--whether they be such as can obtain pardon at the hand of men. In the first place, (as for the fact) that we call adultery likewise fornication, usage requires (us so to do). "Faith," withal, has a familiar acquaintance with sundry appellations. So, in every one of our little works, we carefully guard usage. Besides, if I shall say "adulterium," and if "stuprum," the indictment of contamination of the flesh will be one and the same. For it makes no difference whether a man assault another's bride or widow, provided it be not his own "female;" just as there is no difference made by places--whether it be in chambers or in towers that modesty is massacred. Every homicide, even outside a wood, is banditry. So, too, whoever enjoys any other than nuptial intercourse, in whatever place, and in the person of whatever woman, makes himself guilty of adultery and fornication. Accordingly, among us, secret connections as well--connections, that is, not first professed in presence of the Church--run risk of being judged akin to adultery and fornication; nor must we let them, if thereafter woven together by the covering of marriage, elude the charge. But all the other frenzies of passions--impious both toward the bodies and toward the sexes--beyond the laws of nature, we banish not only from the threshold, but from all shelter of the Church, because they are not sins, but monstrosities.

CHAP. V.--OF THE PROHIBITION OF ADULTERY IN THE DECALOGUE.

Of how deep guilt, then, adultery--which is likewise a matter of fornication, in accordance with its criminal function--is to be accounted, the Law of God first comes to hand to show us; if it is true, (as it is), that after interdicting the superstitious service of alien gods, and the making of idols themselves, after commending (to religious observance) the veneration of the Sabbath, after commanding a religious regard toward parents second (only to that) toward God, (that Law) laid, as the next substratum in strengthening and fortifying such counts, no other precept than "Thou shall not commit adultery." For after spiritual chastity and sanctity followed corporeal integrity. And this (the Law) accordingly fortified, by immediately prohibiting its foe, adultery. Understand, consequently, what kind of sin (that must be), the repression of which (the Law) ordained next to (that of) idolatry. Nothing that is a second is remote from the first; nothing is so dose to the first as the second. That which results from the first is (in a sense) another first. And so adultery is bordering on idolatry. For idolatry withal, often cast as a reproach upon the People under the name of adultery and fornication, will be alike conjoined therewith in fate as in following--will be alike co-heir therewith in condemnation as in co-ordination. Yet further: premising "Thou shalt not commit adultery," (the Law) adjoins, "Thou shalt not kill." It honoured adultery, of course, to which it gives the precedence over murder, in the very fore-front of the most holy law, among the primary counts of the celestial edict, marking it with the inscription of the very principal sins. From its place you may discern the measure, from its rank the station, from its neighbourhood the merit, of each thing. Even evil has a dignity, consisting in being stationed at the summit, or else in the centre, of the superlatively bad. I behold a certain pomp and circumstance of adultery: on the one side, Idolatry goes before and leads the way; on the other, Murder follows in company. Worthily, without doubt, has she taken her seat between the two most conspicuous eminences of misdeeds, and has completely filled the vacant space, as it were, in their midst, with an equal majesty of crime. Enclosed by such flanks, encircled and supported by such ribs, who shall dislocate her from the corporate mass of coherencies, from the bond of neighbour crimes, from the embrace of kindred wickednesses, so as to set apart her alone for the enjoyment of repentance? Will not on one side Idolatry, on the other Murder, detain her, and (if they have any voice) reclaim: "This is our wedge, this our compacting power? By (the standard of) Idolatry we are measured; by her disjunctive intervention we are conjoined; to her, outjutting from our midst, we are united; the Divine Scripture has made us concorporate; the very letters are our glue; herself can no longer exist without us. 'Many and many a time do I, Idolatry, subminister occasion to Adultery; witness my groves and my mounts, and the living waters, and the very temples in cities, what mighty agents we are for overthrowing modesty.' 'I also, Murder, sometimes exert myself on behalf of Adultery. To omit tragedies, witness nowadays the poisoners, witness the magicians, how many seductions I avenge, how many rivalries I revenge; how many guards, how many informers, how many accomplices, I make away with. Witness the midwives likewise, how many adulterous conceptions are slaughtered.' Even among Christians there is no adultery without us. Wherever the business of the unclean spirit is, there are idolatries; wherever a man, by being polluted, is slain, there too is murder. Therefore the remedial aids of repentance will not be suitable to them, or else they will likewise be to us. We either detain Adultery, or else follow her." These words the sins themselves do speak. If the sins are deficient in speech, hard by (the door of the church) stands an idolater, hard by stands a murderer; in their midst stands, too, an adulterer. Alike, as the duty of repentance bids, they sit in sackcloth and bristle in ashes; with the self-same weeping they groan; with the selfsame prayers they make their circuits; with the self-same knees they supplicate; the self-same mother they invoke. What doest thou, gentlest and humanest Discipline? Either to all these will it be thy duty so to be, for "blessed are the peacemakers;"[1] or else, if not to all, it will be thy duty to range thyself on our side. Dost thou once for all condemn the idolater and the murderer, but take the adulterer out from their midst?--(the adulterer), the successor of the idolater, the predecessor of the murderer, the colleague of each? It is "an accepting of person:"[2] the more pitiable repentances thou hast left (unpitied) behind!

CHAP. VI.--EXAMPLES OF SUCH OFFENCES UNDER THE OLD DISPENSATION NO PATTERN FOR THE DISCIPLES OF THE NEW. BUT EVEN THE OLD HAS EXAMPLES OF VENGEANCE UPON SUCH OFFENCES.

Plainly, if you show by what patronages of heavenly precedents and precepts it is that you open to adultery alone--and therein to fornication also--the gate of repentance, at this very line our hostile encounter will forthwith cross swords. Yet I must necessarily prescribe you a law, not to stretch out your hand after the old things,[3] not to look backwards:[4] for "the old things are passed away,"[5] according to Isaiah; and "a renewing hath been renewed,"[6] according to Jeremiah; and "forgetful of former things, we are reaching forward,"[7] according to the apostle; and "the law and the prophets (were) until John,"[8] according to the Lord. For even if we are just now beginning with the Law in demonstrating (the nature of) adultery, it is justly with that phase of the law which Christ has "not dissolved, but fulfilled."[9] For it is the "burdens" of the law which were "until John," not the remedial virtues. It is the "yokes" of "works" that have been rejected, not those of disciplines.[1] "Liberty in Christ"[2] has done no injury to innocence. The law of piety, sanctity, humanity, truth, chastity, justice, mercy, benevolence, modesty, remains in its entirety; in which law "blessed (is) the man who shall meditate by day and by night."[3] About that (law) the same David (says) again: "The law of the Lord (is) unblameable[4] converting souls; the statutes of the Lord (are) direct, delighting hearts; the precept of the Lord far-shining, enlightening eyes." Thus, too, the apostle: "And so the law indeed is holy, and the precept holy and most good"[5]--"Thou shalt not commit adultery," of course. But he had withal said above: "Are we, then, making void the law through faith? Far be it; but we are establishing the law "[6]--forsooth in those (points) which, being even now interdicted by the New Testament, are prohibited by an even more emphatic precept: instead of, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," "Whoever shall have seen with a view to concupiscence, hath already committed adultery in his own heart; "[7] and instead of, "Thou shalt not kill," "Whoever shall have said to his brother, Racha, shall be in danger of hell."[8] Ask (yourself) whether the law of not committing adultery be still in force, to which has been added that of not indulging concupiscence. Besides, if any precedents (taken from the Old Dispensation) shall favour you in (the secrecy of) your bosom, they shall not be set in opposition to this discipline which we are maintaining. For it is in vain that an additional law has been reared, condemning the origin even of sins--that is, concupiscences and wills--no less than the actual deeds; if the fact that pardon was of old in some cases conceded to adultery is to be a reason why it shall be conceded at the present day. "What will be the reward attaching to the restrictions imposed upon the more fully developed discipline of the present day, except that the eider (discipline) may be made the agent for granting indulgence to your prostitution?" In that case, you will grant pardon to the idolater too, and to every apostate, because we find the People itself, so often guilty of these crimes, as often reinstated in their former privileges. You will maintain communion, too, with the murderer: because Ahab, by deprecation, washed away (the guilt of) Naboth's blood;[9] and David, by confession, purged Uriah's slaughter, together with its cause--adultery.[10] That done, you will condone incests, too, for Lot's sake;[11] and fornications combined with incest, for Judah's sake;[12] and base marriages with prostitutes, for Hosea's sake;[13] and not only the frequent repetition of marriage, but its simultaneous plurality, for our fathers' sakes: for, of come, it is meet that there should also be a perfect equality of grace in regard of all deeds to which indulgence was in days bygone granted, if on the ground of some pristine precedent pardon is claimed for adultery. We, too, indeed have precedents in the self-same antiquity on the side of our opinion,--(precedents) of judgment not merely not waived, but even summarily executed upon fornication. And of course it is a sufficient one, that so vast a number--(the number) of 24,000--of the People, when they committed fornication with the daughters of Madian, fell in one plague.[14] But, with an eye to the glory of Christ, I prefer to derive (my) discipline from Christ. Grant that the pristine days may have had--if the Psychics please--even a right of (indulging) every immodesty; grant that, before Christ, the flesh may have disported itself, nay, may have perished before its Lord went to seek and bring it back: not yet was it worthy of the gift of salvation; not yet apt for the office of sanctity. It was still, up to that time, accounted as being in Adam, with its own vicious nature, easily indulging concupiscence after whatever it had seen to be "attractive to the sight,"[15] and looking back at the lower things, and checking its itching with fig-leaves.[16] Universally inherent was the virus of lust--the dregs which are formed out of milk contain it--(dregs) fitted (for so doing), in that even the waters themselves had not yet been bathed. But when the Word of God descended into flesh,--(flesh) not unsealed even by marriage,--and "the Word was made flesh,"[17]--(flesh) never to be unsealed by marriage,--which was to find its way to the tree not of incontinence, but of endurance; which was to taste from that tree not anything sweet, but something bitter; which was to pertain not to the infernal regions, but to heaven; which was to be precinct not with the leaves of lasciviousness, but the flowers of holiness;[18] which was to impart to the waters its own purities--thenceforth, whatever flesh (is) "in Christ"[19] has lost its pristine soils, is now a thing different, emerges in a new state, no longer (generated) of the slime of natural seed, nor of the grime of concupiscence, but of "pure water" and a "clean Spirit." And, accordingly, why excuse it on the ground of pristine precedent? It did not bear the names of "body of Christ,"[1] of "members of Christ,"[2] of "temple of God,"[3] at the time When it used to obtain pardon for adultery. And thus if, from the moment when it changed its condition, and "having been baptized into Christ put on Christ,"[4] and was "redeemed with a great price"--"the blood," to wit, "of the Lord and Lamb"[5]--you take hold of any one precedent (be it precept, or law, or sentence,) of indulgence granted, or to be granted, to adultery and fornication,--you have likewise at our hands a definition of the time from which the age of the question dates.

CHAP. VII.--OF THE PARABLES OF THE LOST EWE AND THE LOST DRACHMA.

You shall have leave to begin with the parables, where you have the lost ewe re-sought by the Lord, and carried back on His shoulders.[6] Let the very paintings upon your cups come forward to show whether even in them the figurative meaning of that sheep will shine through (the outward semblance, to teach) whether a Christian or heathen sinner be the object it aims at in the matter of restoration. For we put in a demurrer arising out of the teaching of nature, out of the law of ear and tongue, out of the soundness of the mental faculty, to the effect that such answers are always given as are called forth (by the question,--answers), that is, to the (questions) which call them forth. That which was calling forth (an answer in the present case) was, I take it, the fact that the Pharisees were muttering in indignation at the Lord's admitting to His society heathen publicans and sinners, and communicating with them in food. When, in reply to this, the Lord had figured the restoration of the lost ewe, to whom else is it credible that he configured it but to the lost heathen, about whom the question was then in hand,--not about a Christian, who up to that time had no existence? Else, what kind of (hypothesis) is it that the Lord, like a quibbler in answering, omitting the present subject-matter which it was His duty to refute, should spend His labour about one yet future? "But a 'sheep' properly means a Christian,[7] and the Lord's 'flock' is the people of the Church,[8] and the 'good shepherd' is Christ;[9] and hence in the 'sheep' we must understand a Christian who has erred from the Church's 'flock.'" In that case, you make the Lord to have given no answer to the Pharisees' muttering, but to your presumption. And yet you will be bound so to defend that presumption, as to deny that the (points) which you think applicable to Christians are referable to a heathen. Tell me, is not all mankind one flock of God? Is not the same GOD both Lord and Shepherd of the universal nations?[10] Who more "perishes" from God than the heathen, so long as he "errs?" Who is more "re-sought" by God than the heathen, when he is recalled by Christ? In fact, it is among heathens that this order finds antecedent place; if, that is, Christians are not otherwise made out of heathens than by being first "lost," and "re-sought" by God, and "carried back" by Christ. So likewise ought this order to be kept, that we may interpret any such (figure) with reference to those in whom it finds prior place. But you, I take it, would wish this: that He should represent the ewe as lost not from a flock, but from an ark or a chest! In like manner, albeit He calls the remaining number of the heathens "righteous," it does not follow that He shows them to be Christians; dealing as He is with Jews, and at that very moment refuting them, because they were indignant at the hope of the heathens. But in order to express, in opposition to the Pharisees' envy, His own grace and goodwill even in regard of one heathen, He preferred the salvation of one sinner by repentance to theirs by righteousness; or else, pray, were the Jews not "righteous," and such as "had no need of repentance," having, as they had, as pilotages of discipline and instruments of fear, "the Law and the Prophets?" He set them therefore in the parable--and if not such as they were, yet such as they ought to have been--that they migh blush the more when they heard that repentance was necessary to others, and not to themselves.

Similarly, the parable of the drachma,[11] as being called forth out of the same subject-matter, we equally interpret with reference to a heathen; albeit it had been "lost" in a house, as it were in the church; albeit "found" by aid of a "lamp," as it were by aid of God's word.[12] Nay, but this whole world is the one house of all; in which world it is more the heathen, who is found in darkness, whom the grace of God enlightens, than the Christian, who is already in God's light.[13] Finally, it is one "straying" which is ascribed to the ewe and the drachma: (and this is an evidence in my favour); for if the parables had been composed with a view to a Christian sinner, after the loss of his faith, a second loss and restoration of them would have been noted.

I will now withdraw for a short time from this position; in order that I may, even by withdrawing, the more recommend it, when I shall have succeeded even thus also in confuting the presumption of the opposite side. I admit that the sinner portrayed in each parable is one who is already a Christian; yet not that on this account must he be affirmed to be such an one as can be restored, through repentance, from the crime of adultery and fornication. For although he be said to "have perished," there will be the kind of perdition to treat of; inasmuch as the "ewe" "perished" not by dying, but by straying; and the "drachma" not by being destroyed, but by being hidden. In this sense, a thing which is safe may be said to "have perished." Therefore the believer, too, "perishes," by lapsing out of (the right path) into a public exhibition of charioteering frenzy, or gladiatorial gore, or scenic foulness, or athletic vanity; or else if he has lent the aid of any special "arts of curiosity" to sports, to the convivialities of heathen solemnity, to official exigence, to the ministry of another's idolatry; if he has impaled himself upon some word of ambiguous denial, or else of blasphemy. For some such cause he has been driven outside the flock; or even himself, perhaps, by anger, by pride, by jealousy, (or)--as, in fact, often happens--by disdaining to submit to chastisement, has broken away (from it). He ought to be re-sought and recalled. That which can be recovered does not "perish," unless it persist in remaining outside. You will well interpret the parable by recalling the sinner while he is still living. But, for the adulterer and fornicator, I who is there who has not pronounced him to be dead immediately upon commission of the crime? With what face will you restore to the flock one who is dead, on the authority of that parable which recalls a sheep not dead?

Finally, if you are mindful of the prophets, when they are chiding the shepherds, there is a word--I think it is Ezekiel's: "Shepherds, hold, ye devour the milk, and clothe you with the fleeces: what is strong ye have slain; what is weak ye have not tended; what is shattered ye have not bound; what has been driven out ye have not brought back; what has perished ye have not re-sought."[1] Pray, does he withal upbraid them at all concerning that which is dead, that they have taken no care to restore that too to the flock? Plainly, he makes it an additional reproach that they have caused the sheep to perish, and to be eaten up by the beasts of the field; nor can they either "perish mortally," or be "eaten up," if they are left remaining. "Is it not possible--(granting) that ewes which have been mortally lost, and eaten up, are recovered--that (in accordance also with the example of the drachma (lost and found again) even within the house of God, the Church) there may be some sins of a moderate character, proportionable to the small size and the weight of a drachma, which, lurking in the same Church, and by and by in the same discovered, forthwith are brought to an end in the same with the joy of amendment?" But of adultery and fornication it is not a drachma, but a talent, (which is the measure); and for searching them out there is need not of the javelin-light of a lamp, but of the spear-like ray of the entire sun. No sooner has (such a) man made his appearance than he is expelled from the Church; nor does he remain there; nor does he cause joy to the Church which discovers him, but grief; nor does he invite the congratulation of her neighbours, but the fellowship in sadness of the surrounding fraternities.

By comparison, even in this way, of this our interpretation with theirs, the arguments of both the ewe and the drachma will all the more refer to the heathen, that they cannot possibly apply to the Christian guilty of the sin for the sake of which they are wrested into a forced application to the Christian on the opposite side.

CHAP. VIII.--OF THE PRODIGAL SON.

But, however, the majority of interpreters of the parables are deceived by the self-same result as is of very frequent occurrence in the case of embroidering garments with purple. When you think that you have judiciously harmonized the proportions of the hues, and believe yourself to have succeeded in skilfully giving vividness to their mutual combination; presently, when each body (of colour) and (the various) lights are fully developed, the convicted diversity will expose all the error. In the self-same darkness, accordingly, with regard to the parable of the two, sons also, they are led by some figures (occurring in it), which harmonize in hue with the present (state of things), to wander out of the path of the true light of that comparison which the subject-matter of the parable presents. For they set down, as represented in the two sons, two peoples--the eider the Jewish, the younger the Christian: for they cannot in the sequel arrange for the Christian sinner, in the person of the younger son, to obtain pardon, unless in the person of the eider they first portray the Jewish. Now, if I shall succeed in showing that the Jewish fails to suit the comparison of the elder son, the consequence of course will be, that the Christian will not be admissible (as represented) by the joint figure of the younger son. For although the Jew withal be called "a son," and an "elder one," inasmuch as he had priority in adoption;[2] although, too, he envy the Christian the reconciliation of God the Father,--a point which the opposite side most eagerly catches at,--still it will be no speech of a Jew to the Father: "Behold, in how many years do I serve Thee, and Thy precept have I never transgressed." For when has the Jew not been a transgressor of the law; hearing with the ear, and not hearing;[1] holding in hatred him who reproveth in the gates,[2] and in scorn holy speech?[3] So, too, it will be no speech of the Father to the Jew: "Thou art always with Me, and all Mine are thine." For the Jews are pronounced "apostate sons, begotten indeed and raised on high, but who have not understood the Lord, and who have quite forsaken the LORD, and have provoked unto anger the Holy One of Israel."[4] That all things, plainly, were conceded to the Jew, we shall admit; but he has likewise had every more savoury morsel torn from his throat,[5] not to say the very land of paternal promise. And accordingly the Jew at the present day, no less than the younger son, having squandered God's substance, is a beggar in alien territory, serving even until now its princes, that is, the princes of this world.[6] Seek, therefore, the Christians some other as their brother; for the Jew the parable does not admit. Much more aptly would they have matched the Christian with the elder, and the Jew with the younger son, "according to the analogy of faith,"[7] if the order of each people as intimated from Rebecca's womb[8] permitted the inversion: only that (in that case) the concluding paragraph would oppose them; for it will he fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it he true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel.[9] Thus, even if some (features in the parable) are favourable, yet by others of a contrary significance the thorough carrying out of this comparison is destroyed; although (albeit all points be capable of corresponding with mirror-like accuracy) there he one cardinal danger in interpretations--the danger lest the felicity of our comparisons be tempered with a different aim from that which the subject-matter of each particular parable has bidden us (temper it). For we remember (to have seen) actors withal, white accommodating allegorical gestures to their ditties, giving expression to such as are far different from the immediate plot, and scene, and character, and yet with the utmost congruity. But away with extraordinary ingenuity, for it has nothing to do with our subject. Thus heretics, too, apply the self-same parables where they list, and exclude them (in other cases)--not where they ought--with the utmost aptitude. Why the utmost aptitude? Because from the very beginning they have moulded together the very subject-matters of their doctrines in accordance with the opportune incidences of the parables. Loosed as they are from the constraints of the rule of truth, they have had leisure, of course, to search into and put together those things of which the parables seem (to be symbolical).

CHAP. IX.--CERTAIN GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF PARABOLIC INTERPRETATION. THESE APPLIED TO THE PARABLES NOW UNDER CONSIDERATION, ESPECIALLY TO THAT OF THE PRODIGAL SON.

We, however, who do not make the parables the sources whence we devise our subject-matters, but the subject-matters the sources whence we interpret the parables, do not labour hard, either, to twist all things (into shape) in the exposition, while we take care to avoid all contradictions. Why "an hundred sheep?" and why, to be sure, "ten drachmas?" And what is that "besom?" Necessary it was that He who was desiring to express the extreme pleasure which the salvation of one sinner gives to God, should name some special quantity of a numerical whole from which to describe that "one" had perished. Necessary it was that the style of one engaged in searching for a "drachma" in a "house," should be aptly fitted with the helpful accompaniment of a "besom" as well as of a "lamp." For curious niceties of this kind not only render some things suspected, but, by the subtlety of forced explanations, generally lead away from the truth. There are, moreover, some points which are just simply introduced with a view to the structure and disposition and texture of the parable, in order that they may be worked up throughout to the end for which the typical example is being provided. Now, of course the (parable of) the two sons will point to the same end as (those of) the drachma and the ewe: for it has the self-same cause (to call it forth) as those to which it coheres, and the selfsame "muttering," of course, of the Pharisees at the intercourse between the Lord and heathens. Or else, if any doubts that in the land of Judea, subjugated as it had been long since by the hand of Pompey and of Lucullus, the publicans were heathens, let him read Deuteronomy: "There shall be no tribute-weigher of the sons of Israel."[10] Nor would the name of publicans have been so execrable in the eyes of the Lord, unless as being a "strange", name,--a (name) of such as put up the pathways of the very sky, and earth, and sea, for sale. Moreover, when (the writer) adjoins "sinners" to "publicans,"(2) it does not follow that he shows them to have been Jews, albeit some may possibly have been so; but by placing on a par the one genus of heathens--some sinners by office, that is, publicans; some by nature, that is, not publicans--he has drawn a distinction between them. Besides, the Lord would not have been censured for partaking of food with Jews, but with heathens, from whose board the Jewish discipline excludes (its disciples).(3)

Now we must proceed, in the case of the prodigal son, to consider first that which is more useful; for no adjustment of examples, albeit in the most nicely-poised balance, shall be admitted if it shall prove to be most hurtful to salvation. But the whole system of salvation, as it is comprised in the maintenance of discipline, we see is being subverted by that interpretation which is affected by the opposite side. For if it is a Christian who, after wandering far from his Father, squanders, by living heathenishly, the "substance" received from God his Father,--(the substance), of course, of baptism--(the substance), of course, of the Holy Spirit, and (in consequence) of eternal hope; if, stripped of his mental "goods," he has even handed his service over to the prince of the world (4)--who else but the devil?--and by him being appointed over the business of "feeding swine"--of tending unclean spirits, to wit--has recovered his senses so as to return to his Father,--the result will be, that, not adulterers and fornicators, but idolaters, and blasphemers, and renegades, and every class of apostates, will by this parable make satisfaction to the Father; and in this way (it may) rather (be said that) the whole "substance" of the sacrament is most truly wasted away. For who will fear to squander what he has the power of afterwards recovering? Who will be careful to preserve to perpetuity what he will be able to lose not to perpetuity? Security in sin is likewise an appetite for it. Therefore the apostate withal will recover his former "garment," the robe of the Holy Spirit; and a renewal of the "ring," the sign and seal of baptism; and Christ will again be "slaughtered;"(5) and he will recline on that couch from which such as are unworthily clad are wont to be lifted by the torturers, and cast away into darkness,(6)--much more such as have been stripped. It is therefore a further step if it is not expedient, (any more than reasonable), that the story of the prodigal son should apply to a Christian. Wherefore, if the image of a "son" is not entirely suitable to a Jew either, our interpretation shall be simply governed with an eye to the object the Lord had in view. The Lord had come, of course, to save that which "had perished;"(7) "a Physician." necessary to "the sick" "more than to the whole."(8) This fact He was in the habit both of typifying in parables and preaching in direct statements. Who among men "perishes," who falls from health, but he who knows not the Lord? Who is "safe and sound," but he who knows the Lord? These two classes--"brothers" by birth--this parable also will signify. See whether the heathen have in God the Father the "substance" of origin, and wisdom, and natural power of Godward recognition; by means of which power the apostle withal notes that "in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom knew not God,"(9)--(wisdom) which, of course, it had received originally from God. This ("substance"), accordingly, he "squandered;" having been cast by his moral habits far from the Lord, amid the errors and allurements and appetites of the world, (10) where, compelled by hunger after truth," he handed himself over to the prince of this age. He set him over "swine," to feed that flock familiar to demons,(12) where he would not be master of a supply of vital food, and at the same time would see others (engaged) in a divine work, having abundance of heavenly bread. He remembers his Father, God; he returns to Him when he has been satisfied; he receives again the pristine "garment,"--the condition, to wit, which Adam by transgression had lost. The "ring" also he is then Wont to receive for the first time, wherewith, after being interrogated,(13) he publicly seals the agreement of faith, and thus thenceforward feeds upon the "fatness" of the Lord's body,--the Eucharist, to wit. This will be the prodigal son, who never in days bygone was thrifty; who was from the first prodigal, because not from the first a Christian. Him withal, returning from the world to the Father's embraces, the Pharisees mourned over, in the persons of the "publicans and sinners." And accordingly to this point alone the elder brother's envy is adapted: not because the Jews were innocent, and obedient to God, but because they envied the nation salvation; being plainly they who ought to have been "ever with" the Father. And of course it is immediately over the first calling of the Christian that the Jew groans, not over his second restoration: for the former reflects its rap even upon the heathen; but the latter, which takes place in the churches, is not known even to the Jews. I think that I have advanced interpretations more consonant with the subject-matter of the parables, and the congruity of things, and the preservation of disciplines. But if the view with which the opposite party is eager to mould the ewe, and the dracnma, and the voluptuousness of the son to the shape of the Christian sinner, is that they may endow adultery and fornication with (the gift of) repentance; it will be fitting either that all other crimes equally capital should be conceded remissible, or else that their peers, adultery and fornication, should be retained inconcessible.

But it is more (to the point) that it is not lawful to draw conclusions about anything else than the subject which was immediately in hand. In short, if it were lawful to transfer the parables to other ends (than they were originally intended for), it would be rather to martyrdom that we would direct the hope drawn from those now in question; for that is the only thing which, after all his substance has been squandered, will be able to restore the son; and will joyfully proclaim that the drachma has been found, albeit among all (rubbish) on a dungheap; and will carry back into the flock on the shoulders of the Lord Himself the ewe, fugitive though she have been over all that is rough and rugged. But we prefer, if it must be so, to be less wise in the Scriptures, than to be wise against them. We are as much bound to keep the sense of the Lord as His precept. Transgression in interpretation is not lighter than in conversation.

CHAP. X.--REPENTANCE MORE COMPETENT TO HEATHENS THAN TO CHRISTIANS.

When, therefore, the yoke which forbade the discussion of these parables with a view to the heathens has been shaken off, and the necessity Once for all discerned or admitted of not interpreting otherwise than is (suitable to) the subject-matter of the proposition; they contend in the next place, that the official proclamation of repentance is not even applicable to heathens, since their sins are not amenable to it, imputable as they are to ignorance, which nature alone renders culpable before God. Hence the remedies are unintelligible to such to whom the perils themselves are unintelligible: whereas the principle of repentance finds there its corresponding place where sin is committed with conscience and will, where both the fault and the favour are intelligible; that he who mourns, he who prostrates himself, is he who knows both what he has lost and what he will recover if he makes to God the offering of his repentance--to God who, of course, offers that repentance rather to sons than to strangers.

Was that, then, the reason why Jonah thought not repentance necessary to the heathen Ninevites, when he tergiversated in the duty of preaching? or did he rather, foreseeing the mercy of God poured forth even upon strangers, fear that that mercy would, as it were, destroy (the credit of) his proclamation? and accordingly, for the sake of a profane city, not yet possessed of a knowledge of God, still sinning in ignorance, did the prophet well-nigh perish?(1) except that he suffered a typical example of the Lord's passion, which was to redeem heathens as well (as others) on their repentance. It is enough for me that even John, when "strewing the Lord's ways,"(2) was the herald of repentance no less to such as were on military service and to publicans, than to the sons of Abraham.(3) The Lord Himself presumed repentance on the part of the Sidonians and Tyrians if they had seen the evidences of His "miracles."(4)

Nay, but I will even contend that repentance is more competent to natural sinners than to voluntary. For he will merit its fruit who has not yet used more than he who has already withal abused it; and remedies will be more effective on their first application than when outworn. No doubt the Lord is "kind" to "the unthankful,"(5) rather than to the ignorant! and "merciful" to the "reprobates" sooner than to such as have yet had no probation! so that in-suits offered to His clemency do not rather incur His anger than His caresses! and He does not more willingly impart to strangers that (clemency) which, in the case of His own sons, He has lost, seeing that He has thus adopted the Gentiles while the Jews make sport of His patience! But what the Psychics mean is this--that God, the Judge of righteousness, prefers the repentance to the death of that sinner who has preferred death to repentance! If this is so, it is by sinning that we merit favour.

Come, you rope-walker upon modesty, and chastity, and every kind of sexual sanctity, who, by the instrumentality of a discipline of this nature remote from the path of truth, mount with uncertain footstep upon a most slender thread, balancing flesh with spirit, moderating your animal principle by faith, tempering your eye by fear; why are you thus wholly engaged in a single step? Go on, if you succeed in finding power and will, while you are so secure, and as it were upon solid ground. For if any wavering of the flesh, any distraction of the mind, any wandering of the eye, shall chance to shake you down from your equipoise, "God is good." To His own (children), not to heathens, He opens His bosom: a second repentance will await you; you will again, from being an adulterer, be a Christian! These (pleas) you (will urge) to me, most benignant interpreter of God. But I would yield my ground to you, if the scripture of" the Shepherd,"(1) which is the only one which favours adulterers, had deserved to find a place in the Divine canon; if it had not been habitually judged by every council of Churches (even of your own) among apocryphal and false (writings); itself adulterous, and hence a patroness of its comrades; from which in other respects, too, you derive initiation; to which, perchance, that" Shepherd (1) will play the patron whom you depict upon your (sacramental) chalice, (depict, I say, as) himself withal a prostitutor of the Christian sacrament, (and hence) worthily both the idol of drunkenness, and the brize of adultery by which the chalice will quickly be followed, (a chalice) from which you sip nothing more readily than (the flavour of) the "ewe" of (your) second repentance! I, however, imbibe the Scriptures of that Shepherd who cannot be broken. Him John forthwith offers me, together with the layer and duty of repentance; (and offers Him as) saying, "Bear worthy fruits of repentance: and say not, We have Abraham (as our) father"--for fear, to wit, lest they should again take flattering unctions for delinquency from the grace shown to the fathers--"for God is able from these stones to raise sons to Abraham." Thus it follows that we too (must judge) such as "sin no more" (as) "bearing worthy fruits of repentance." For what more ripens as the fruit of repentance than the achievement of emendation? But even if pardon is rather the" fruit of repentance," even pardon cannot co-exist without the cessation from sin. So is the cessation from sin the root of pardon, that pardon may be the fruit of repentance.

CHAP. XI.--FROM PARABLES TERTULLIAN COMES TO CONSIDER DEFINITE ACTS OF THE LORD.

From the side of its pertinence to the Gospel, the question of the parables indeed has by this time been disposed of. If, however, the Lord, by His deeds withal, issued any such proclamation in favour of sinners; as when He permitted contact even with his own body to the "woman, a sinner,"--washing, as she did, His feet with tears, and wiping them with her hair, and inaugurating His sepulture with ointment; as when to the Samaritaness--not an adulteress by her now sixth marriage, but a prostitute--He showed (what He did show readily to any one) who He was; (2)--no benefit is hence conferred upon our adversaries, even if it had been to such as were already Christians that He (in these several cases) granted pardon. For we now affirm: This is lawful to the Lord alone: may the power of His indulgence be operative at the present day!(3) At those times, however, in which He lived on earth we lay this down definitively, that it is no prejudgment against us if pardon used to be conferred on sinners--even Jewish ones. For Christian discipline dates from the renewing of the Testament,(4) and (as we have premised) from the redemption of flesh--that is, the Lord's passion. None was perfect before the discovery of the order of faith; none a Christian before the resumption of Christ to heaven; none holy before the manifestation of the Holy Spirit from heaven, the Determiner of discipline itself.

CHAP. XII.--OF THE VERDICT OF THE APOSTLES, ASSEMBLED IN COUNCIL, UPON THE SUBJECT OF ADULTERY.

Accordingly, these who have received "another Paraclete" in and through the apostles,--(a Paraclete) whom, not recognising Him even in His special prophets, they no longer possess in the apostles either;--come, now, let them, even from the apostolic instrument, teach us the possibility that the stains of a flesh which after baptism has been repolluted, can by repentance be washed away. Do we not, in the apostles also, recognise the form of the Old Law with regard to the demonstration of adultery, how great (a crime) it is; lest perchance it be esteemed more trivial in the new stage of disciplines than in the old? When first the Gospel thundered and shook the old system to its base, when dispute was being held on the question of retaining or not the Law; this is the first rule which the apostles, on the authority of the Holy Spirit, send out to those who were already beginning to be gathered to their side out of the nations: "It has seemed (good)," say they, "to the Holy Spirit and to us to cast upon you no ampler weight than (that) of those (things) from which it is necessary that abstinence be observed; from sacrifices, and from fornications, and from blood:(5) by abstaining from which ye act rightly, the Holy Spirit carrying you." Sufficient it is, that in this place withal there has been preserved to adultery and fornication the post of their own honour between idolatry and murder: for the interdict upon "blood" we shall understand to be (an interdict) much more upon human blood. Well, then, in what light do the apostles will those crimes to appear which alone they select, in the way of careful guarding against, from the pristine Law? which alone they prescribe as necessarily to be abstained from? Not that they permit others; but that these alone they put in the foremost rank, of course as not remissible; (they,) who, for the heathens' sake, made the other burdens of the law remissible. Why, then, do they release our neck from so heavy a yoke, except to place forever upon those (necks) these compendia of discipline? Why do they indulgently relax so many bonds, except that they may wholly bind us in perpetuity to such as are more necessary? They loosed us from the more numerous, that we might be bound up to abstinence from the more noxious. The matter has been settled by compensation: we have gained much, in order that we may render somewhat. But the compensation is not revocable; if, that is, it will be revoked by iteration--(iteration) of adultery, of course, and blood and idolatry: for it will follow that the (burden of) the whole law will be incurred, if the condition of pardon shall be violated. But it is not lightly that the Holy Spirit has come to an agreement with us--coming to this agreement even without our asking; whence He is the more to be honoured. His engagement none but an ungrateful man will dissolve. In that event, He will neither accept back what He has discarded, nor discard what He has retained. Of the latest Testament the condition is ever immutable; and, of course the public recitation of that decree,(1) and the counsel embodied therein, will cease (only) with the word.(2) He has definitely enough refused pardon to those crimes the careful avoidance whereof He selectively enjoined; He has claimed whatever He has not inferentially conceded. Hence it is that there is no restoration of peace granted by the Churches to "idolatry" or to "blood." From which final decision of theirs that the apostles should have departed, is (I think) not lawful to believe; or else, if some find it possible to believe so, they will be bound to prove it.

CHAP. XIII.--OF ST. PAUL, AND THE PERSON WHOM HE URGES THE CORINTHIANS TO FORGIVE.

We know plainly at this point, too, the suspicions which they raise. For, in fact, they suspect the Apostle Paul of having, in the second (Epistle) to the Corinthians, granted pardon to the self-same fornicator whom in the first he has publicly sentenced to be "surrendered to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh,"(3)--impious heir as he was to his father's wedlock; as if he subsequently erased his own words, writing: "But if any hath wholly saddened, he hath not wholly saddened me, but in part, lest I burden you all. Sufficient is such a chiding which is given by many; so that, on the contrary, ye should prefer to forgive and console, lest, perhaps, by more abundant sadness, such an one be devoured. For which reason, I pray you, confirm toward him affection. For to this end withal have I written, that I may learn a proof of you, that in all (things) ye are obedient to me. But if ye shall have forgiven any, so (do) I; for I, too, if I have forgiven ought, have forgiven in the person of Christ, lest we be overreached by Satan, since we are not ignorant of his injections."(4) What (reference) is understood here to the fornicator? what to the contaminator of his father's bed?(5) what to the Christian who had overstepped the shamelessness of heathens?--since, of course, he would have absolved by a special pardon one whom he had condemned by a special anger. He is more obscure in his pity than in his indignation. He is more open m his austerity than in his lenity. And yet, (generally), anger is more readily indirect than indulgence. Things of a sadder are more wont to hesitate than things of a more joyous cast. Of course the question in hand concerned some moderate indulgence; which (moderation in the indulgence) was now, if ever, to be divined, when it is usual for all the greatest indulgences not to be granted without public proclamation, so far (are they from being granted) without particularization. Why, do you yourself, when introducing into the church, for the purpose of melting the brotherhood by his prayers, the repentant adulterer, lead into the midst and prostrate him, all in haircloth and ashes, a compound of disgrace and horror, before the widows, before the elders, suing for the tears of all, licking the footprints of all, clasping the knees of all? And do you, good shepherd and blessed father that you are, to bring about the (desired) end of the man, grace your harangue with all the allurements of mercy in your power, and under the parable of the "ewe" go in quest of your goats?(6) do you, for fear lest your "ewe" again take a leap out from the flock--as if that were no more lawful for the future which was not even once lawful--fill all the rest likewise full of apprehension at the very moment of granting indulgence? And would the apostle so carelessly have granted indulgence to the atrocious licentiousness of fornication burdened with incest, as not at least to have exacted from the criminal even this legally established garb of repentance which you ought to have learned from him? as to have uttered no commination on the past? no allocution touching the future? Nay, more; he goes further, and beseeches that they "would confirm toward him affection," as if he were making satisfaction to him, not as if he were granting an indulgence! And yet I hear (him speak of) "affection," not "communion;" as (he writes) withal to the Thessalonians "But if any obey not our word through the epistle, him mark; and associate not with him, that he may feel awed; not regarding (him) as an enemy, but rebuking as a brother."(1) Accordingly, he could have said that to a fornicator, too, "affection" only was conceded, not "communion "as well; to an incestuous man, however, not even "affection;" whom he would, to be sure, have bidden to be banished from their midst(2)--much more, of course, from their mind. "But he was apprehensive lest they should be 'overreached by Satan' with regard to the loss of that person whom himself had cast forth to Satan; or else lest, 'by abundance of mourning, he should be devoured 'whom he had sentenced to 'destruction of the flesh.'" Here they go so far as to interpret "destruction of the flesh" the office of repentance; in that by fasts, and squalor, and every species of neglect and studious ill-treatment devoted to the extermination of the flesh, it seems to make satisfaction to God; so that they argue that that fornicator--that incestuous person rather--having been delivered by the apostle to Satan, not with a view to "perdition," but with a view to "emendation," on the hypothesis that subsequently he would, on account of the "destruction" (that is, the general affliction) "of the flesh," attain pardon, therefore did actually attain it. Plainly, the selfsame apostle delivered to Satan Hymenaeus and Alexander, "that they might be emended into not blaspheming,"(3) as he writes to his Timotheus. "But withal himself says that a stake was given him, an angel of Satan," by which he was to be buffeted, lest he should exalt himself" If they touch upon this (instance) withal, in order to lead us to understand that such as were "delivered to Sam" by him (were so delivered) with a view to emendation, not to perdition; what similarity is there between blasphemy and incest, and a soul entirely free from these,--nay, rather elated from no other source than the highest sanctity and all innocence; which (elation of soul) was being restrained in the apostle by "buffets," if you will, by means (as they say) of pain in the ear or head? Incest, however, and blasphemy, deserved to have delivered the entire persons of men to Satan himself for a possession, not to "an angel" of his. And (there is yet another point): for about this it makes a difference, nay, rather withal in regard to this it is of the utmost consequence, that we find those men delivered by the apostle to Satan, but to the apostle himself an angel of Satan given. Lastly, when Paul is praying the Lord for its removal, what does he hear? "Hold my grace sufficient; for virtue is perfected in infirmity."(5) This they who are surrendered to Satan cannot hear. Moreover, if the crime of Hymenaeus and Alexander--blasphemy, to wit--is irremissible in this and in the future. age,(6) of course the apostle would not, in opposition to the determinate decision of the Lord, have given to Satan, under a hope of pardon, men already sunken from the faith into blasphemy; whence, too, he pronounced them "shipwrecked with regard to faith,"(7) having no longer the solace of the ship, the Church. For to those who, after believing, have struck upon (the rock of) blasphemy, pardon is denied; on the other hand, heathens and heretics are daily emerging out of blasphemy. But even if he did say, "I delivered them to Satan, that they might receive the discipline of not blaspheming," he said it of the rest, who, by their deliverance to Satan--that is, their projection outside the Church--had to be trained in the knowledge that there must be no blaspheming. So, therefore, the incestuous fornicator, too, he delivered, not with a view to emendation, but with a view to perdition, to Satan, to whom he had already, by sinning above an heathen, gone over; that they might learn there must be no fornicating. Finally, he says, "for the destruction of the flesh," not its "torture"--condemning the actual substance through which he had fallen out (of the faith), which substance had already perished immediately on the loss of baptism--" in order that the spirit," he says, "may be saved in the day of the Lord." And (here, again, is a difficulty): for let this point be inquired into, whether the man's own spirit will be saved. In that case, a spirit polluted with so great a wickedness will be saved; the object of the perdition of the flesh being, that the spirit may be saved in penalty. In that case, the interpretation which is contrary to ours will recognise a penalty without the flesh, if we lose the resurrection of the flesh. It remains, therefore, that his meaning was, that that spirit which is accounted to exist in the Church must be presented "saved," that is, untainted by the contagion of impurities in the day of the Lord, by the ejection of the incestuous fornicator; if, that is, he subjoins: "Know ye not, that a little leaven spoileth the savour of the whole lump?"(1) And yet incestuous fornication was not a little, but a large, leaven.

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