Writings of Jerome - Letters e

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The Principal Works of St. Jerome

Translated by the Hon. W. H. Fremantle, M.A.,
Canon of Canterbury Cathedral and Fellow and Tutor of Balliol College, Oxford,

with the assistance of The Rev. G. Lewis, M.A.,
Of Balliol College, Oxford, Vicar of Dodderhill near Droitwick,

and The Rev. W. G. Martley, M.A.,
Of Balliol College, Oxford.

Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London

Published in 1892 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

Letters

Letter C. From Theophilus.

A translation by Jerome of Theophilus's paschal letter for 404 a.d. In it Theophilus inculcates penitence for sinners, recommends the practice of fasting and condemns the errors of Origen.


Letter CI. From Augustine.

A letter from Augustine in which he denies that he has written a book against Jerome and sent it to Rome but confesses that he has criticized him although without giving details. Written in 402 a.d. This and the following letters are to be found in the First Volume of the First Series of this Library. Letter LXVII.


Letter CII. To Augustine.

Jerome's reply to the foregoing in which, it has been said, friendship struggles with suspicion and resentment. He warns Augustine not to provoke him, lest old as he is he may prove a dangerous opponent; and encloses part of his reply to the apology of Rufinus. Written in 402 a.d. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter XXXIX.


Letter CIII. To Augustine.

A letter of introduction in which Jerome commends the deacon Præsidius to the kind offices of Augustine. Written in 403 a.d. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter XXXIX.

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Letter CIV. From Augustine.

In this letter Augustine (1) commends to Jerome the deacon Cyprian, (2) explains how it is that his first letter (Letter LVI.) has miscarried, and (3) urges Jerome to base his scriptural labours not on the Hebrew text but on the version of the LXX. The date of the letter is 403 a.d. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter LXXI.


Letter CV. To Augustine.

Jerome's answer to the foregoing. He complains that even now he has not received Augustine's letter and asks him to send him a copy of it. Popular rumour, he declares, credits Augustine with a deliberate suppression of the letter in order that he may seem to win an easy victory over his opponent. Jerome next deals with Augustine's denial of having made a written attack upon him and concludes by refusing for the present all discussion of points of criticism. The date of the letter is 403 a.d. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter LXXII.


Letter CVI. To Sunnias and Fretela.

A long letter in which Jerome answers a number of questions put to him by two sojourners in Getica, Sunnias and Fretela. Diligent students of scripture, these men were at a loss to understand the frequent differences between Jerome's Latin psalter of 383 a.d. (the so-called Roman psalter) and the LXX, and accordingly sent him a long list of passages with a request for explanation. Jerome in his reply deals fully with all these and points out to his correspondents that they have been misled by their edition of the LXX. (the "common" edition) which differs widely from the critical text of Origen as given in the Hexapla and used by himself. He also expresses his joy to find that even among the Getæ the scriptures are now diligently studied. The date of the letter is about 403 a.d.


Letter CVII. To Laeta.

Laeta, the daughter-in-law of Paula, having written from Rome to ask Jerome how she ought to bring up her infant daughter (also called Paula) as a virgin consecrated to Christ, Jerome now instructs her in detail as to the child's training and education. Feeling some doubt, however, as to whether the scheme proposed by him will be practicable at Rome, he advises Laeta in case of difficulty to send Paula to Bethlehem where she will be under the care of her grandmother and aunt, the elder Paula and Eustochium. Laeta subsequently accepted Jerome's advice and sent the child to Bethlehem where she eventually succeeded Eustochium as head of the nunnery founded by her grandmother. The date of the letter is 403 a.d.

1. The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians and instructing in sacred discipline a church still untaught in Christ has among other commandments laid down also this: "The woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband; else were your children unclean but now are they holy." [2663] Should any person have supposed hitherto that the bonds of discipline are too far relaxed and that too great indulgence is conceded by the teacher, let him look at the house of your father, a man of the highest distinction and learning, but one still walking in darkness; and he will perceive as the result of the apostle's counsel sweet fruit growing from a bitter stock and precious balsams exhaled from common canes. You yourself are the offspring of a mixed marriage; but the parents of Paula--you and my friend Toxotius--are both Christians. Who could have believed that to the heathen pontiff Albinus should be born--in answer to a mother's vows--a Christian granddaughter; that a delighted grandfather should hear from the little one's faltering lips Christ's Alleluia, and that in his old age he should nurse in his bosom one of God's own virgins? Our expectations have been fully gratified. The one unbeliever is sanctified by his holy and believing family. For, when a man is surrounded by a believing crowd of children and grandchildren, he is as good as a candidate for the faith. I for my part think that, had he possessed so many Christian kinsfolk when he was a young man, he might then have been brought to believe in Christ. For though he may spit upon my letter and laugh at it, and though he may call me a fool or a madman, his son-in-law did the same before he came to believe. Christians are not born but made. For all its gilding the Capitol is beginning to look dingy. Every temple in Rome is covered with soot and cobwebs. The city is stirred to its depths and the people pour past their half-ruined shrines to visit the tombs of the martyrs. The belief which has not been accorded to conviction may come to be extorted by very shame.

2. I speak thus to you, Laeta my most devout daughter in Christ, to teach you not to despair of your father's salvation. My hope is that the same faith which has gained you your daughter may win your father too, and that so you may be able to rejoice over blessings bestowed upon your entire family. You know the Lord's promise: "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." [2664] It is never too late to mend. The robber passed even from the cross to paradise. [2665] Nebuchadnezzar also, the king of Babylon, recovered his reason, even after he had been made like the beasts in body and in heart and had been compelled to live with the brutes in the wilderness. [2666] And to pass over such old stories which to unbelievers may well seem incredible, did not your own kinsman Gracchus whose name betokens his patrician origin, when a few years back he held the prefecture of the City, overthrow, break in pieces, and shake to pieces the grotto of Mithras [2667] and all the dreadful images therein? Those I mean by which the worshippers were initiated as Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun, Crab, and Father? Did he not, I repeat, destroy these and then, sending them before him as hostages, obtain for himself Christian baptism?

Even in Rome itself paganism is left in solitude. They who once were the gods of the nations remain under their lonely roofs with horned-owls and birds of night. The standards of the military are emblazoned with the sign of the Cross. The emperor's robes of purple and his diadem sparkling with jewels are ornamented with representations of the shameful yet saving gibbet. Already the Egyptian Serapis has been made a Christian; [2668] while at Gaza Marnas [2669] mourns in confinement and every moment expects to see his temple overturned. From India, from Persia, from Ethiopia we daily welcome monks in crowds. The Armenian bowman has laid aside his quiver, the Huns learn the psalter, the chilly Scythians are warmed with the glow of the faith. The Getæ, [2670] ruddy and yellow-haired, carry tent-churches about with their armies: and perhaps their success in fighting against us may be due to the fact that they believe in the same religion.

3. I have nearly wandered into a new subject, and while I have kept my wheel going, my hands have been moulding a flagon when it has been my object to frame an ewer. [2671] For, in answer to your prayers and those of the saintly Marcella, I wish to address you as a mother and to instruct you how to bring up our dear Paula, who has been consecrated to Christ before her birth and vowed to His service before her conception. Thus in our own day we have seen repeated the story told us in the Prophets, [2672] of Hannah, who though at first barren afterwards became fruitful. You have exchanged a fertility bound up with sorrow for offspring which shall never die. For I am confident that having given to the Lord your first-born you will be the mother of sons. It is the first-born that is offered under the Law. [2673] Samuel and Samson are both instances of this, as is also John the Baptist who when Mary came in leaped for joy. [2674] For he heard the Lord speaking by the mouth of the Virgin and desired to break from his mother's womb to meet Him. As then Paula has been born in answer to a promise, her parents should give her a training suitable to her birth. Samuel, as you know, was nurtured in the Temple, and John was trained in the wilderness. The first as a Nazarite wore his hair long, drank neither wine nor strong drink, and even in his childhood talked with God. The second shunned cities, wore a leathern girdle, and had for his meat locusts and wild honey. [2675] Moreover, to typify that penitence which he was to preach, he was clothed in the spoils of the hump-backed camel. [2676]

4. Thus must a soul be educated which is to be a temple of God. It must learn to hear nothing and to say nothing but what belongs to the fear of God. It must have no understanding of unclean words, and no knowledge of the world's songs. Its tongue must be steeped while still tender in the sweetness of the psalms. Boys with their wanton thoughts must be kept from Paula: even her maids and female attendants must be separated from worldly associates. For if they have learned some mischief they may teach more. Get for her a set of letters made of boxwood or of ivory and called each by its proper name. Let her play with these, so that even her play may teach her something. And not only make her grasp the right order of the letters and see that she forms their names into a rhyme, but constantly disarrange their order and put the last letters in the middle and the middle ones at the beginning that she may know them all by sight as well as by sound. Moreover, so soon as she begins to use the style upon the wax, and her hand is still faltering, either guide her soft fingers by laying your hand upon hers, or else have simple copies cut upon a tablet; so that her efforts confined within these limits may keep to the lines traced out for her and not stray outside of these. Offer prizes for good spelling and draw her onwards with little gifts such as children of her age delight in. And let her have companions in her lessons to excite emulation in her, that she may be stimulated when she sees them praised. You must not scold her if she is slow to learn but must employ praise to excite her mind, so that she may be glad when she excels others and sorry when she is excelled by them. Above all you must take care not to make her lessons distasteful to her lest a dislike for them conceived in childhood may continue into her maturer years. The very words which she tries bit by bit to put together and to pronounce ought not to be chance ones, but names specially fixed upon and heaped together for the purpose, those for example of the prophets or the apostles or the list of patriarchs from Adam downwards as it is given by Matthew and Luke. In this way while her tongue will be well-trained, her memory will be likewise developed. Again, you must choose for her a master of approved years, life, and learning. A man of culture will not, I think, blush to do for a kinswoman or a highborn virgin what Aristotle did for Philip's son when, descending to the level of an usher, he consented to teach him his letters. [2677] Things must not be despised as of small account in the absence of which great results cannot be achieved. The very rudiments and first beginnings of knowledge sound differently in the mouth of an educated man and of an uneducated. Accordingly you must see that the child is not led away by the silly coaxing of women to form a habit of shortening long words or of decking herself with gold and purple. Of these habits one will spoil her conversation and the other her character. She must not therefore learn as a child what afterwards she will have to unlearn. The eloquence of the Gracchi is said to have been largely due to the way in which from their earliest years their mother spoke to them. [2678] Hortensius [2679] became an orator while still on his father's lap. Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple who can restore it to its previous whiteness? An unused jar long retains the taste and smell of that with which it is first filled. [2680] Grecian history tells us that the imperious Alexander who was lord of the whole world could not rid himself of the tricks of manner and gait which in his childhood he had caught from his governor Leonides. [2681] We are always ready to imitate what is evil; and faults are quickly copied where virtues appear inattainable. Paula's nurse must not be intemperate, or loose, or given to gossip. Her bearer must be respectable, and her foster-father of grave demeanour. When she sees her grandfather, she must leap upon his breast, put her arms round his neck, and, whether he likes it or not, sing Alleluia in his ears. She may be fondled by her grandmother, may smile at her father to shew that she recognizes him, and may so endear herself to everyone, as to make the whole family rejoice in the possession of such a rosebud. She should be told at once whom she has for her other grandmother and whom for her aunt; and she ought also to learn in what army it is that she is enrolled as a recruit, and what Captain it is under whose banner she is called to serve. Let her long to be with the absent ones and encourage her to make playful threats of leaving you for them.

5. Let her very dress and garb remind her to Whom she is promised. Do not pierce her ears or paint her face consecrated to Christ with white lead or rouge. Do not hang gold or pearls about her neck or load her head with jewels, or by reddening her hair make it suggest the fires of gehenna. Let her pearls be of another kind and such that she may sell them hereafter and buy in their place the pearl that is "of great price." [2682] In days gone by a lady of rank, Prætextata by name, at the bidding of her husband Hymettius, the uncle of Eustochium, altered that virgin's dress and appearance and arranged her neglected hair after the manner of the world, desiring to overcome the resolution of the virgin herself and the expressed wishes of her mother. But lo in the same night it befell her that an angel came to her in her dreams. With terrible looks he menaced punishment and broke silence with these words, `Have you presumed to put your husband's commands before those of Christ? Have you presumed to lay sacrilegious hands upon the head of one who is God's virgin? Those hands shall forthwith wither that you may know by torment what you have done, and at the end of five months you shall be carried off to hell. [2683] And farther, if you persist still in your wickedness, you shall be bereaved both of your husband and of your children.' All of which came to pass in due time, a speedy death marking the penitence too long delayed of the unhappy woman. So terribly does Christ punish those who violate His temple, [2684] and so jealously does He defend His precious jewels. I have related this story here not from any desire to exult over the misfortunes of the unhappy, but to warn you that you must with much fear and carefulness keep the vow which you have made to God.

6. We read of Eli the priest that he became displeasing to God on account of the sins of his children; [2685] and we are told that a man may not be made a bishop if his sons are loose and disorderly. [2686] On the other hand it is written of the woman that "she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with chastity." [2687] If then parents are responsible for their children when these are of ripe age and independent; how much more must they be responsible for them when, still unweaned and weak, they cannot, in the Lord's words, "discern between their right hand and their left:" [2688] --when, that is to say, they cannot yet distinguish good from evil? If you take precautions to save your daughter from the bite of a viper, why are you not equally careful to shield her from "the hammer of the whole earth"? [2689] to prevent her from drinking of the golden cup of Babylon? to keep her from going out with Dinah to see the daughters of a strange land? [2690] to save her from the tripping dance and from the trailing robe? No one administers drugs till he has rubbed the rim of the cup with honey; [2691] so, the better to deceive us, vice puts on the mien and the semblance of virtue. Why then, you will say, do we read:--"the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son," but "the soul that sinneth it shall die"? [2692] The passage, I answer, refers to those who have discretion, such as he of whom his parents said in the gospel:--"he is of age...he shall speak for himself." [2693] While the son is a child and thinks as a child and until he comes to years of discretion to choose between the two roads to which the letter of Pythagoras points, [2694] his parents are responsible for his actions whether these be good or bad. But perhaps you imagine that, if they are not baptized, the children of Christians are liable for their own sins; and that no guilt attaches to parents who withhold from baptism those who by reason of their tender age can offer no objection to it. The truth is that, as baptism ensures the salvation of the child, this in turn brings advantage to the parents. Whether you would offer your child or not lay within your choice, but now that you have offered her, you neglect her at your peril. I speak generally for in your case you have no discretion, having offered your child even before her conception. He who offers a victim that is lame or maimed or marked with any blemish is held guilty of sacrilege. [2695] How much more then shall she be punished who makes ready for the embraces of the king a portion of her own body and the purity of a stainless soul, and then proves negligent of this her offering?

7. When Paula comes to be a little older and to increase like her Spouse in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man, [2696] let her go with her parents to the temple of her true Father but let her not come out of the temple with them. Let them seek her upon the world's highway amid the crowds and the throng of their kinsfolk, and let them find her nowhere but in the shrine of the scriptures, [2697] questioning the prophets and the apostles on the meaning of that spiritual marriage to which she is vowed. Let her imitate the retirement of Mary whom Gabriel found alone in her chamber and who was frightened, [2698] it would appear, by seeing a man there. Let the child emulate her of whom it is written that "the king's daughter is all glorious within." [2699] Wounded with love's arrow let her say to her beloved, "the king hath brought me into his chambers." [2700] At no time let her go abroad, lest the watchmen find her that go about the city, and lest they smite and wound her and take away from her the veil of her chastity, [2701] and leave her naked in her blood. [2702] Nay rather when one knocketh at her door [2703] let her say: "I am a wall and my breasts like towers. [2704] I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" [2705]

8. Let her not take her food with others, that is, at her parents' table; lest she see dishes she may long for. Some, I know, hold it a greater virtue to disdain a pleasure which is actually before them, but I think it a safer self-restraint to shun what must needs attract you. Once as a boy at school I met the words: `It is ill blaming what you allow to become a habit.' [2706] Let her learn even now not to drink wine "wherein is excess." [2707] But as, before children come to a robust age, abstinence is dangerous and trying to their tender frames, let her have baths if she require them, and let her take a little wine for her stomach's sake. [2708] Let her also be supported on a flesh diet, lest her feet fail her before they commence to run their course. But I say this by way of concession not by way of command; because I fear to weaken her, not because I wish to teach her self-indulgence. Besides why should not a Christian virgin do wholly what others do in part? The superstitious Jews reject certain animals and products as articles of food, while among the Indians the Brahmans and among the Egyptians the Gymnosophists subsist altogether on porridge, rice, and apples. If mere glass repays so much labour, must not a pearl be worth more labour still? [2709] Paula has been born in response to a vow. Let her life be as the lives of those who were born under the same conditions. If the grace accorded is in both cases the same, the pains bestowed ought to be so too. Let her be deaf to the sound of the organ, and not know even the uses of the pipe, the lyre, and the cithern.

9. And let it be her task daily to bring to you the flowers which she has culled from scripture. Let her learn by heart so many verses in the Greek, but let her be instructed in the Latin also. For, if the tender lips are not from the first shaped to this, the tongue is spoiled by a foreign accent and its native speech debased by alien elements. You must yourself be her mistress, a model on which she may form her childish conduct. Never either in you nor in her father let her see what she cannot imitate without sin. Remember both of you that you are the parents of a consecrated virgin, and that your example will teach her more than your precepts. Flowers are quick to fade and a baleful wind soon withers the violet, the lily, and the crocus. Let her never appear in public unless accompanied by you. Let her never visit a church or a martyr's shrine unless with her mother. Let no young man greet her with smiles; no dandy with curled hair pay compliments to her. If our little virgin goes to keep solemn eves and all-night vigils, let her not stir a hair's breadth from her mother's side. She must not single out one of her maids to make her a special favourite or a confidante. What she says to one all ought to know. Let her choose for a companion not a handsome well-dressed girl, able to warble a song with liquid notes but one pale and serious, sombrely attired and with the hue of melancholy. Let her take as her model some aged virgin of approved faith, character, and chastity, apt to instruct her by word and by example. She ought to rise at night to recite prayers and psalms; to sing hymns in the morning; at the third, sixth, and ninth hours to take her place in the line to do battle for Christ; and, lastly, to kindle her lamp and to offer her evening sacrifice. [2710] In these occupations let her pass the day, and when night comes let it find her still engaged in them. Let reading follow prayer with her, and prayer again succeed to reading. Time will seem short when employed on tasks so many and so varied.

10. Let her learn too how to spin wool, to hold the distaff, to put the basket in her lap, to turn the spinning wheel and to shape the yarn with her thumb. Let her put away with disdain silken fabrics, Chinese fleeces, [2711] and gold brocades: the clothing which she makes for herself should keep out the cold and not expose the body which it professes to cover. Let her food be herbs and wheaten bread [2712] with now and then one or two small fishes. And that I may not waste more time in giving precepts for the regulation of appetite (a subject I have treated more at length elsewhere) [2713] let her meals always leave her hungry and able on the moment to begin reading or chanting. I strongly disapprove--especially for those of tender years--of long and immoderate fasts in which week is added to week and even oil and apples are forbidden as food. I have learned by experience that the ass toiling along the high way makes for an inn when it is weary. [2714] Our abstinence may turn to glutting, like that of the worshippers of Isis and of Cybele who gobble up pheasants and turtle-doves piping hot that their teeth may not violate the gifts of Ceres. [2715] If perpetual fasting is allowed, it must be so regulated that those who have a long journey before them may hold out all through; and we must take care that we do not, after starting well, fall halfway. However in Lent, as I have written before now, those who practise self-denial should spread every stitch of canvas, and the charioteer should for once slacken the reins and increase the speed of his horses. Yet there will be one rule for those who live in the world and another for virgins and monks. The layman in Lent consumes the coats of his stomach, and living like a snail on his own juices makes ready a paunch for rich foods and feasting to come. But with the virgin and the monk the case is different; for, when these give the rein to their steeds, they have to remember that for them the race knows of no intermission. An effort made only for a limited time may well be severe, but one that has no such limit must be more moderate. For whereas in the first case we can recover our breath when the race is over, in the last we have to go on continually and without stopping.

11. When you go a short way into the country, do not leave your daughter behind you. Leave her no power or capacity of living without you, and let her feel frightened when she is left to herself. Let her not converse with people of the world or associate with virgins indifferent to their vows. Let her not be present at the weddings of your slaves and let her take no part in the noisy games of the household. As regards the use of the bath, I know that some are content with saying that a Christian virgin should not bathe along with eunuchs or with married women, with the former because they are still men, at all events in mind, and with the latter because women with child offer a revolting spectacle. For myself, however, I wholly disapprove of baths for a virgin of full age. Such an one should blush and feel overcome at the idea of seeing herself undressed. By vigils and fasts she mortifies her body and brings it into subjection. By a cold chastity she seeks to put out the flame of lust and to quench the hot desires of youth. And by a deliberate squalor she makes haste to spoil her natural good looks. Why, then, should she add fuel to a sleeping fire by taking baths?

12. Let her treasures be not silks or gems but manuscripts of the holy scriptures; and in these let her think less of gilding, and Babylonian parchment, and arabesque patterns, [2716] than of correctness and accurate punctuation. Let her begin by learning the psalter, and then let her gather rules of life out of the proverbs of Solomon. From the Preacher let her gain the habit of despising the world and its vanities. [2717] Let her follow the example set in Job of virtue and of patience. Then let her pass on to the gospels never to be laid aside when once they have been taken in hand. Let her also drink in with a willing heart the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. As soon as she has enriched the storehouse of her mind with these treasures, let her commit to memory the prophets, the heptateuch, [2718] the books of Kings and of Chronicles, the rolls also of Ezra and Esther. When she has done all these she may safely read the Song of Songs but not before: for, were she to read it at the beginning, she would fail to perceive that, though it is written in fleshly words, it is a marriage song of a spiritual bridal. And not understanding this she would suffer hurt from it. Let her avoid all apocryphal writings, and if she is led to read such not by the truth of the doctrines which they contain but out of respect for the miracles contained in them; let her understand that they are not really written by those to whom they are ascribed, that many faulty elements have been introduced into them, and that it requires infinite discretion to look for gold in the midst of dirt. Cyprian's writings let her have always in her hands. The letters of Athanasius [2719] and the treatises of Hilary [2720] she may go through without fear of stumbling. Let her take pleasure in the works and wits of all in whose books a due regard for the faith is not neglected. But if she reads the works of others let it be rather to judge them than to follow them.

13. You will answer, `How shall I, a woman of the world, living at Rome, surrounded by a crowd, be able to observe all these injunctions?' In that case do not undertake a burthen to which you are not equal. When you have weaned Paula as Isaac was weaned and when you have clothed her as Samuel was clothed, send her to her grandmother and aunt; give up this most precious of gems, to be placed in Mary's chamber and to rest in the cradle where the infant Jesus cried. Let her be brought up in a monastery, let her be one amid companies of virgins, let her learn to avoid swearing, let her regard lying as sacrilege, let her be ignorant of the world, let her live the angelic life, while in the flesh let her be without the flesh, and let her suppose that all human beings are like herself. To say nothing of its other advantages this course will free you from the difficult task of minding her, and from the responsibility of guardianship. It is better to regret her absence than to be for ever trembling for her. For you cannot but tremble as you watch what she says and to whom she says it, to whom she bows and whom she likes best to see. Hand her over to Eustochium while she is still but an infant and her every cry is a prayer for you. She will thus become her companion in holiness now as well as her successor hereafter. Let her gaze upon and love, let her "from her earliest years admire" [2721] one whose language and gait and dress are an education in virtue. [2722] Let her sit in the lap of her grandmother, and let this latter repeat to her granddaughter the lessons that she once bestowed upon her own child. Long experience has shewn Paula how to rear, to preserve, and to instruct virgins; and daily inwoven in her crown is the mystic century which betokens the highest chastity. [2723] O happy virgin! happy Paula, daughter of Toxotius, who through the virtues of her grandmother and aunt is nobler in holiness than she is in lineage! Yes, Laeta: were it possible for you with your own eyes to see your mother-in-law and your sister, and to realize the mighty souls which animate their small bodies; such is your innate thirst for chastity that I cannot doubt but that you would go to them even before your daughter, and would emancipate yourself from God's first decree of the Law [2724] to put yourself under His second dispensation of the Gospel. [2725] You would count as nothing your desire for other offspring and would offer up yourself to the service of God. But because "there is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing," [2726] and because "the wife hath not power of her own body," [2727] and because the apostle says "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" [2728] in the Lord, and because he that is under the yoke ought so to run as not to leave his companion in the mire, I counsel you to pay back to the full in your offspring what meantime you defer paying in your own person. When Hannah had once offered in the tabernacle the son whom she had vowed to God she never took him back; for she thought it unbecoming that one who was to be a prophet should grow up in the same house with her who still desired to have other children. Accordingly after she had conceived him and given him birth, she did not venture to come to the temple alone or to appear before the Lord empty, but first paid to Him what she owed; and then, when she had offered up that great sacrifice, she returned home and because she had borne her firstborn for God, she was given five children for herself. [2729] Do you marvel at the happiness of that holy woman? Imitate her faith. Moreover, if you will only send Paula, I promise to be myself both a tutor and a foster father to her. Old as I am I will carry her on my shoulders and train her stammering lips; and my charge will be a far grander one than that of the worldly philosopher; [2730] for while he only taught a King of Macedon who was one day to die of Babylonian poison, I shall instruct the handmaid and spouse of Christ who must one day be offered to her Lord in heaven.


Footnotes

[2663] 1 Cor. vii. 13, 14, the word `believing' is twice inserted by Jerome. [2664] Luke xviii. 27. [2665] Cf. Luke xxiii. 42, 43. [2666] Dan. iv. 33-37. [2667] The Persian sun-god, at this time one of the most popular deities of the Roman pantheon. Gracchus appears to have done this as Urban Prætor, A. C. 378. [2668] In the year 389 a.d. the temple of Serapis at Alexandria had been pulled down and a Christian church built upon its site. [2669] Elsewhere (Life of Hilarion § 20) Jerome relates an extraordinary story about the discomfiture of this `demon.' [2670] A well-known Thracian tribe not to be confounded with the Goths. [2671] Cf. Hor. A.P., 21, 22. Amphora caepit Institui: currente rota cur urceus exit? [2672] The books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings are called in the Hebrew Bible the Former Prophets. [2673] Ex. xiii. 2. [2674] Luke i. 41. [2675] Matt. iii. 4. [2676] Cf. Letter LXXIX. § 3. Apparently Jerome means that the difficulty of penitence is as great as that of the camel passing through the eye of a needle. John, he implies, by wearing the camel's hair shows that he has surmounted this. [2677] Quintilian, Inst. I. 1. [2678] Quint. Inst. I. 1. [2679] The contemporary and rival of Cicero. [2680] Horace, Epist. I. ii. 69. [2681] Quint. Inst. I. 1. [2682] Matt. xiii. 46. [2683] Inferna. [2684] Cf. 1 Cor. iii. 17. [2685] 1 Sam. ii. 27-36. [2686] 1 Tim. iii. 4. [2687] 1 Tim. ii. 15 A.V. has `sobriety' for `chastity' but Jerome deliberately prefers the latter word. [2688] Jon. iv. 11. [2689] Babylon, the world-power. Jer. l. 23. [2690] Gen. xxxiv. [2691] Lucretius, I. 936, sqq. [2692] Ezek. xviii. 20. [2693] John ix. 21. [2694] The letter Y used by Pythagoras to symbolize the diverging paths of good and evil. Cf. Persius. iii. 56. [2695] Deut. xv. 21. [2696] Luke ii. 52. [2697] Cf. Luke ii. 43-46. [2698] Luke i. 29. [2699] Ps. xlv. 13. [2700] Cant. i. 4. [2701] Cant. v. 7. [2702] Cf. Ezek. xvi. 1-10. [2703] Cant. v. 2. [2704] Cant. viii. 10. [2705] Cant. v. 3. [2706] Again quoted in Letter CXXVIII. § 4. [2707] Eph. v. 18. [2708] 1 Tim. v. 23. [2709] Cp. Letter LXXIX, § 7. The heathen sage is glass, the Christian virgin the pearl. [2710] See note on Letter XXII. § 37. [2711] A Virgilian expression, 9, II., 121. [2712] Simila, but as elsewhere (L. 52, 6) this is spoken of as a luxury, perhaps we should read similia = `and such like.' [2713] Jerome refers to his second book against Jovinian. [2714] Cf. the dying words of S. Francis (which have a similar reference) `I have sinned against my brother the ass.' [2715] i.e. having vowed to abstain from bread, they indemnify themselves with flesh. [2716] Vermiculata pictura. [2717] Jerome tells us that he read the book with Blaesilla for this purpose. [2718] i.e. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges. [2719] Of these a large number are still extant. Over twenty of them are "festal epistles" announcing to the churches the correct day on which to celebrate Easter. [2720] These include commentaries on many parts of Scripture and a work on the Trinity. [2721] Virgil, A. viii. 507. [2722] Comp. Ecclus. xix. 30. [2723] The number 100 denotes virginity to which in her own person Paula could have no claim. See note on Letter XLVIII. § 2. [2724] Gen. i. 28. [2725] 1 Cor. vii. 1. [2726] Eccl. iii. 5. [2727] 1 Cor. vii. 4. [2728] 1 Cor. vii. 20. [2729] 1 Sam. ii. 21. [2730] The allusion is to Aristotle who was tutor to Alexander, King of Macedon.


Letter CVIII. To Eustochium.

This, one of the longest of Jerome's letters, was written to console Eustochium for the loss of her mother who had recently died. Jerome relates the story of Paula in detail; speaking first of her high birth, marriage, and social success at Rome, and then narrating her conversion and subsequent life as a Christian ascetic. Much space is devoted to an account of her journey to the East which included a visit to Egypt and to the monasteries of Nitria as well as a tour of the most sacred spots in the Holy Land. The remainder of the letter describes her daily routine and studies at Bethlehem, and recounts the many virtues for which she was distinguished. It then concludes with a touching description of her death and burial and gives the epitaph placed upon her grave. The date of the letter is 404 a.d.

1. If all the members of my body were to be converted into tongues, and if each of my limbs were to be gifted with a human voice, I could still do no justice to the virtues of the holy and venerable Paula. Noble in family, she was nobler still in holiness; rich formerly in this world's goods, she is now more distinguished by the poverty that she has embraced for Christ. Of the stock of the Gracchi and descended from the Scipios, the heir and representative of that Paulus whose name she bore, the true and legitimate daughter of that Martia Papyria who was mother to Africanus, she yet preferred Bethlehem to Rome, and left her palace glittering with gold to dwell in a mud cabin. We do not grieve that we have lost this perfect woman; rather we thank God that we have had her, nay that we have her still. For "all live unto" God, [2731] and they who return unto the Lord are still to be reckoned members of his family. We have lost her, it is true, but the heavenly mansions have gained her; for as long as she was in the body she was absent from the Lord [2732] and would constantly complain with tears:--"Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar; my soul hath been this long time a pilgrim." [2733] It was no wonder that she sobbed out that even she was in darkness (for this is the meaning of the word Kedar) seeing that, according to the apostle, "the world lieth in the evil one;" [2734] and that, "as its darkness is, so is its light;" [2735] and that "the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not." [2736] She would frequently exclaim: "I am a stranger with thee and a sojourner as all my fathers were," [2737] and again, I desire "to depart and to be with Christ." [2738] As often too as she was troubled with bodily weakness (brought on by incredible abstinence and by redoubled fastings), she would be heard to say: "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway;" [2739] and "It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine;" [2740] and "I humbled my soul with fasting;" [2741] and "thou wilt make all" my "bed in" my "sickness;" [2742] and "Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer." [2743] And when the pain which she bore with such wonderful patience darted through her, as if she saw the heavens opened [2744] she would say "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest." [2745]

2. I call Jesus and his saints, yes and the particular angel who was the guardian and the companion of this admirable woman to bear witness that these are no words of adulation and flattery but sworn testimony every one of them borne to her character. They are, indeed, inadequate to the virtues of one whose praises are sung by the whole world, who is admired by bishops, [2746] regretted by bands of virgins, and wept for by crowds of monks and poor. Would you know all her virtues, reader, in short? She has left those dependent on her poor, but not so poor as she was herself. In dealing thus with her relatives and the men and women of her small household--her brothers and sisters rather than her servants--she has done nothing strange; for she has left her daughter Eustochium--a virgin consecrated to Christ for whose comfort this sketch is made--far from her noble family and rich only in faith and grace.

3. Let me then begin my narrative. Others may go back a long way even to Paula's cradle and, if I may say so, to her swaddling-clothes, and may speak of her mother Blæsilla and her father Rogatus. Of these the former was a descendant of the Scipios and the Gracchi; whilst the latter came of a line distinguished in Greece down to the present day. He was said, indeed, to have in his veins the blood of Agamemnon who destroyed Troy after a ten years siege. But I shall praise only what belongs to herself, what wells forth from the pure spring of her holy mind. When in the gospel the apostles ask their Lord and Saviour what He will give to those who have left all for His sake, He tells them that they shall receive an hundredfold now in this time and in the world to come eternal life. [2747] From which we see that it is not the possession of riches that is praiseworthy but the rejection of them for Christ's sake; that, instead of glorying in our privileges, we should make them of small account as compared with God's faith. Truly the Saviour has now in this present time made good His promise to His servants and handmaidens. For one who despised the glory of a single city is to-day famous throughout the world; and one who while she lived at Rome was known by no one outside it has by hiding herself at Bethlehem become the admiration of all lands Roman and barbarian. For what race of men is there which does not send pilgrims to the holy places? And who could there find a greater marvel than Paula? As among many jewels the most precious shines most brightly, and as the sun with its beams obscures and puts out the paler fires of the stars; so by her lowliness she surpassed all others in virtue and influence and, while she was least among all, was greater than all. The more she cast herself down, the more she was lifted up by Christ. She was hidden and yet she was not hidden. By shunning glory she earned glory; for glory follows virtue as its shadow; and deserting those who seek it, it seeks those who despise it. But I must not neglect to proceed with my narrative or dwell too long on a single point forgetful of the rules of writing.

4. Being then of such parentage, Paula married Toxotius in whose veins ran the noble blood of Æneas and the Julii. Accordingly his daughter, Christ's virgin Eustochium, is called Julia, as he Julius.

A name from great Iulus handed down. [2748]

I speak of these things not as of importance to those who have them, but as worthy of remark in those who despise them. Men of the world look up to persons who are rich in such privileges. We on the other hand praise those who for the Saviour's sake despise them; and strangely depreciating all who keep them, we eulogize those who are unwilling to do so. Thus nobly born, Paula through her fruitfulness and her chastity won approval from all, from her husband first, then from her relatives, and lastly from the whole city. She bore five children; Blæsilla, for whose death I consoled her while at Rome; [2749] Paulina, who has left the reverend and admirable Pammachius to inherit both her vows [2750] and property, to whom also I addressed a little book on her death; Eustochium, who is now in the holy places, a precious necklace of virginity and of the church; Rufina, whose untimely end overcame the affectionate heart of her mother; and Toxotius, after whom she had no more children. You can thus see that it was not her wish to fulfil a wife's duty, but that she only complied with her husband's longing to have male offspring.

5. When he died, her grief was so great that she nearly died herself: yet so completely did she then give herself to the service of the Lord, that it might have seemed that she had desired his death.

In what terms shall I speak of her distinguished, and noble, and formerly wealthy house; all the riches of which she spent upon the poor? How can I describe the great consideration she shewed to all and her far reaching kindness even to those whom she had never seen? What poor man, as he lay dying, was not wrapped in blankets given by her? What bedridden person was not supported with money from her purse? She would seek out such with the greatest diligence throughout the city, and would think it a misfortune were any hungry or sick person to be supported by another's food. So lavish was her charity that she robbed her children; and, when her relatives remonstrated with her for doing so, she declared that she was leaving to them a better inheritance in the mercy of Christ.

6. Nor was she long able to endure the visits and crowded receptions, which her high position in the world and her exalted family entailed upon her. She received the homage paid to her sadly, and made all the speed she could to shun and to escape those who wished to pay her compliments. It so happened that at that time [2751] the bishops of the East and West had been summoned to Rome by letter from the emperors [2752] to deal with certain dissensions between the churches, and in this way she saw two most admirable men and Christian prelates, Paulinus bishop of Antioch and Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis or, as it is now called, Constantia, in Cyprus. Epiphanius, indeed, she received as her guest; and, although Paulinus was staying in another person's house, in the warmth of her heart she treated him as if he too were lodged with her. Inflamed by their virtues she thought more and more each moment of forsaking her home. Disregarding her house, her children, her servants, her property, and in a word everything connected with the world, she was eager--alone and unaccompanied (if ever it could be said that she was so)--to go to the desert made famous by its Pauls and by its Antonies. And at last when the winter was over and the sea was open, and when the bishops were returning to their churches, she also sailed with them in her prayers and desires. Not to prolong the story, she went down to Portus accompanied by her brother, her kinsfolk and above all her own children eager by their demonstrations of affection to overcome their loving mother. At last the sails were set and the strokes of the rowers carried the vessel into the deep. On the shore the little Toxotius stretched forth his hands in entreaty, while Rufina, now grown up, with silent sobs besought her mother to wait till she should be married. But still Paula's eyes were dry as she turned them heavenwards; and she overcame her love for her children by her love for God. She knew herself no more as a mother, that she might approve herself a handmaid of Christ. Yet her heart was rent within her, and she wrestled with her grief, as though she were being forcibly separated from parts of herself. The greatness of the affection she had to overcome made all admire her victory the more. Among the cruel hardships which attend prisoners of war in the hands of their enemies, there is none severer than the separation of parents from their children. Though it is against the laws of nature, she endured this trial with unabated faith; nay more she sought it with a joyful heart: and overcoming her love for her children by her greater love for God, she concentrated herself quietly upon Eustochium alone, the partner alike of her vows and of her voyage. Meantime the vessel ploughed onwards and all her fellow-passengers looked back to the shore. But she turned away her eyes that she might not see what she could not behold without agony. No mother, it must be confessed, ever loved her children so dearly. Before setting out she gave them all that she had, disinheriting herself upon earth that she might find an inheritance in heaven.

7. The vessel touched at the island of Pontia ennobled long since as the place of exile of the illustrious lady Flavia Domitilla who under the Emperor Domitian was banished because she confessed herself a Christian; [2753] and Paula, when she saw the cells in which this lady passed the period of her long martyrdom, taking to herself the wings of faith, more than ever desired to see Jerusalem and the holy places. The strongest winds seemed weak and the greatest speed slow. After passing between Scylla and Charybdis [2754] she committed herself to the Adriatic sea and had a calm passage to Methone. [2755] Stopping here for a short time to recruit her wearied frame

She stretched her dripping limbs upon the shore:

Then sailed past Malea and Cythera's isle,

The scattered Cyclades, and all the lands

That narrow in the seas on every side. [2756]

Then leaving Rhodes and Lycia behind her, she at last came in sight of Cyprus, where falling at the feet of the holy and venerable Epiphanius, she was by him detained ten days; though this was not, as he supposed, to restore her strength but, as the facts prove, that she might do God's work. For she visited all the monasteries in the island, and left, so far as her means allowed, substantial relief for the brothers in them whom love of the holy man had brought thither from all parts of the world. Then crossing the narrow sea she landed at Seleucia, and going up thence to Antioch allowed herself to be detained for a little time by the affection of the reverend confessor Paulinus. [2757] Then, such was the ardour of her faith that she, a noble lady who had always previously been carried by eunuchs, went her way--and that in midwinter--riding upon an ass.

8. I say nothing of her journey through Coele-Syria and Phoenicia (for it is not my purpose to give you a complete itinerary of her wanderings); I shall only name such places as are mentioned in the sacred books. After leaving the Roman colony of Berytus and the ancient city of Zidon she entered Elijah's town on the shore at Zarephath and therein adored her Lord and Saviour. Next passing over the sands of Tyre on which Paul had once knelt [2758] she came to Acco or, as it is now called, Ptolemais, rode over the plains of Megiddo which had once witnessed the slaying of Josiah, [2759] and entered the land of the Philistines. Here she could not fail to admire the ruins of Dor, once a most powerful city; and Strato's Tower, which though at one time insignificant was rebuilt by Herod king of Judæa and named Cæsarea in honour of Cæsar Augustus. [2760] Here she saw the house of Cornelius now turned into a Christian church; and the humble abode of Philip; and the chambers of his daughters the four virgins "which did prophesy." [2761] She arrived next at Antipatris, a small town half in ruins, named by Herod after his father Antipater, and at Lydda, now become Diospolis, a place made famous by the raising again of Dorcas [2762] and the restoration to health of Æneas. [2763] Not far from this are Arimathæa, the village of Joseph who buried the Lord, [2764] and Nob, once a city of priests but now the tomb in which their slain bodies rest. [2765] Joppa too is hard by, the port of Jonah's flight; [2766] which also--if I may introduce a poetic fable--saw Andromeda bound to the rock. [2767] Again resuming her journey, she came to Nicopolis, once called Emmaus, where the Lord became known in the breaking of bread; [2768] an action by which He dedicated the house of Cleopas as a church. Starting thence she made her way up lower and higher Beth-horon, cities founded by Solomon [2769] but subsequently destroyed by several devastating wars; seeing on her right Ajalon and Gibeon where Joshua the son of Nun when fighting against the five kings gave commandments to the sun and moon, [2770] where also he condemned the Gibeonites (who by a crafty stratagem had obtained a treaty) to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. [2771] At Gibeah also, now a complete ruin, she stopped for a little while remembering its sin, and the cutting of the concubine into pieces, and how in spite of all this three hundred men of the tribe of Benjamin were saved [2772] that in after days Paul might be called a Benjamite.

9. To make a long story short, leaving on her left the mausoleum of Helena queen of Adiabene [2773] who in time of famine had sent corn to the Jewish people, Paula entered Jerusalem, Jebus, or Salem, that city of three names which after it had sunk to ashes and decay was by Ælius Hadrianus restored once more as Ælia. [2774] And although the proconsul of Palestine, who was an intimate friend of her house, sent forward his apparitors and gave orders to have his official residence [2775] placed at her disposal, she chose a humble cell in preference to it. Moreover, in visiting the holy places so great was the passion and the enthusiasm she exhibited for each, that she could never have torn herself away from one had she not been eager to visit the rest. Before the Cross she threw herself down in adoration as though she beheld the Lord hanging upon it: and when she entered the tomb which was the scene of the Resurrection she kissed the stone which the angel had rolled away from the door of the sepulchre. [2776] Indeed so ardent was her faith that she even licked with her mouth the very spot on which the Lord's body had lain, like one athirst for the river which he has longed for. What tears she shed there, what groans she uttered, and what grief she poured forth, all Jerusalem knows; the Lord also to whom she prayed knows. Going out thence she made the ascent of Zion; a name which signifies either "citadel" or "watch-tower." This formed the city which David formerly stormed and afterwards rebuilt. [2777] Of its storming it is written, "Woe to Ariel, to Ariel"--that is, God's lion, (and indeed in those days it was extremely strong)--"the city which David stormed:" [2778] and of its rebuilding it is said, "His foundation is in the holy mountains: the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." [2779] He does not mean the gates which we see to-day in dust and ashes; the gates he means are those against which hell prevails not [2780] and through which the multitude of those who believe in Christ enter in. [2781] There was shewn to her upholding the portico of a church the bloodstained column to which our Lord is said to have been bound when He suffered His scourging. There was shewn to her also the spot where the Holy Spirit came down upon the souls of the one hundred and twenty believers, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Joel. [2782]

10. Then, after distributing money to the poor and her fellow-servants so far as her means allowed, she proceeded to Bethlehem stopping only on the right side of the road to visit Rachel's tomb. (Here it was that she gave birth to her son destined to be not what his dying mother called him, Benoni, that is the "Son of my pangs" but as his father in the spirit prophetically named him Benjamin, that is "the Son of the right hand)." [2783] After this she came to Bethlehem and entered into the cave where the Saviour was born. [2784] Here, when she looked upon the inn made sacred by the virgin and the stall where the ox knew his owner and the ass his master's crib, [2785] and where the words of the same prophet had been fulfilled "Blessed is he that soweth beside the waters where the ox and the ass trample the seed under their feet:" [2786] when she looked upon these things I say, she protested in my hearing that she could behold with the eyes of faith the infant Lord wrapped in swaddling clothes and crying in the manger, the wise men worshipping Him, the star shining overhead, the virgin mother, the attentive foster-father, the shepherds coming by night to see "the word that was come to pass" [2787] and thus even then to consecrate those opening phrases of the evangelist John "In the beginning was the word" and "the word was made flesh." [2788] She declared that she could see the slaughtered innocents, the raging Herod, Joseph and Mary fleeing into Egypt; and with a mixture of tears and joy she cried: `Hail Bethlehem, house of bread, [2789] wherein was born that Bread that came down from heaven. [2790] Hail Ephratah, land of fruitfulness [2791] and of fertility, whose fruit is the Lord Himself. Concerning thee has Micah prophesied of old, "Thou Bethlehem Ephratah art not [2792] the least among the thousands of Judah, for out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore wilt thou [2793] give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel." [2794] For in thee was born the prince begotten before Lucifer. [2795] Whose birth from the Father is before all time: and the cradle of David's race continued in thee, until the virgin brought forth her son and the remnant of the people that believed in Christ returned unto the children of Israel and preached freely to them in words like these: "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." [2796] For the Lord hath said: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [2797] At that time also the words of Jacob were fulfilled concerning Him, "A prince shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until He come for whom it is laid up, [2798] and He shall be for the expectation of the nations." [2799] Well did David swear, well did he make a vow saying: "Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house nor go up into my bed: I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, or rest to the temples of my head, [2800] until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the...God of Jacob." [2801] And immediately he explained the object of his desire, seeing with prophetic eyes that He would come whom we now believe to have come. "Lo we heard of Him at Ephratah: we found Him in the fields of the wood." [2802] The Hebrew word Zo as have learned from your lessons [2803] means not her, that is Mary the Lord's mother, but him that is the Lord Himself. Therefore he says boldly: "We will go into His tabernacle: we will worship at His footstool." [2804] I too, miserable sinner though I am, have been accounted worthy to kiss the manger in which the Lord cried as a babe, and to pray in the cave in which the travailing virgin gave birth to the infant Lord. "This is my rest" for it is my Lord's native place; "here will I dwell" [2805] for this spot has my Saviour chosen. "I have prepared a lamp for my Christ." [2806] "My soul shall live unto Him and my seed shall serve Him." [2807]

After this Paula went a short distance down the hill to the tower of Edar, [2808] that is `of the flock,' near which Jacob fed his flocks, and where the shepherds keeping watch by night were privileged to hear the words: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." [2809] While they were keeping their sheep they found the Lamb of God; whose fleece bright and clean was made wet with the dew of heaven when it was dry upon all the earth beside, [2810] and whose blood when sprinkled on the doorposts drove off the destroyer of Egypt [2811] and took away the sins of the world. [2812]

11. Then immediately quickening her pace she began to move along the old road which leads to Gaza, that is to the `power' or `wealth' of God, silently meditating on that type of the Gentiles, the Ethiopian eunuch, who in spite of the prophet changed his skin [2813] and whilst he read the old testament found the fountain of the gospel. [2814] Next turning to the right she passed from Bethzur [2815] to Eshcol which means "a cluster of grapes." It was hence that the spies brought back that marvellous cluster which was the proof of the fertility of the land [2816] and a type of Him who says of Himself: "I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me." [2817] Shortly afterwards she entered the home [2818] of Sarah and beheld the birthplace of Isaac and the traces of Abraham's oak under which he saw Christ's day and was glad. [2819] And rising up from thence she went up to Hebron, that is Kirjath-Arba, or the City of the Four Men. These are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the great Adam whom the Hebrews suppose (from the book of Joshua the son of Nun) to be buried there. [2820] But many are of opinion that Caleb is the fourth and a monument at one side is pointed out as his. After seeing these places she did not care to go on to Kirjath-sepher, that is "the village of letters;" because despising the letter that killeth she had found the spirit that giveth life. [2821] She admired more the upper springs and the nether springs which Othniel the son of Kenaz the son of Jephunneh received in place of a south land and a waterless possession, [2822] and by the conducting of which he watered the dry fields of the old covenant. For thus did he typify the redemption which the sinner finds for his old sins in the waters of baptism. On the next day soon after sunrise she stood upon the brow of Capharbarucha, [2823] that is, "the house of blessing," the point to which Abraham pursued the Lord when he made intercession with Him. [2824] And here, as she looked down upon the wide solitude and upon the country once belonging to Sodom and Gomorrah, to Admah and Zeboim, she beheld the balsam vines of Engedi and Zoar. By Zoar I mean that "heifer of three years old" [2825] which was formerly called Bela [2826] and in Syriac is rendered Zoar that is `little.' She called to mind the cave in which Lot found refuge, and with tears in her eyes warned the virgins her companions to beware of "wine wherein is excess;" [2827] for it was to this that the Moabites and Ammonites owe their origin. [2828]

12. I linger long in the land of the midday sun for it was there and then that the spouse found her bridegroom at rest [2829] and Joseph drank wine with his brothers once more. [2830] I will return to Jerusalem and, passing through Tekoa the home of Amos, [2831] I will look upon the glistening cross of Mount Olivet from which the Saviour made His ascension to the Father. [2832] Here year by year a red heifer was burned as a holocaust to the Lord and its ashes were used to purify the children of Israel. [2833] Here also according to Ezekiel the Cherubim after leaving the temple founded the church of the Lord. [2834]

After this Paula visited the tomb of Lazarus and beheld the hospitable roof of Mary and Martha, as well as Bethphage, `the town of the priestly jaws.' [2835] Here it was that a restive foal typical of the Gentiles received the bridle of God, and covered with the garments of the apostles [2836] offered its lowly back [2837] for Him to sit on. From this she went straight on down the hill to Jericho thinking of the wounded man in the gospel, of the savagery of the priests and Levites who passed him by, and of the kindness of the Samaritan, that is, the guardian, who placed the half-dead man upon his own beast and brought him down to the inn of the church. [2838] She noticed the place called Adomim [2839] or the Place of Blood, so-called because much blood was shed there in the frequent incursions of marauders. She beheld also the sycamore tree [2840] of Zacchæus, by which is signified the good works of repentance whereby he trod under foot his former sins of bloodshed and rapine, and from which he saw the Most High as from a pinnacle of virtue. She was shewn too the spot by the wayside where the blind men sat who, receiving their sight from the Lord, [2841] became types of the two peoples [2842] who should believe upon Him. Then entering Jericho she saw the city which Hiel founded in Abiram his firstborn and of which he set up the gates in his youngest son Segub. [2843] She looked upon the camp of Gilgal and the hill of the foreskins [2844] suggestive of the mystery of the second circumcision: [2845] and she gazed at the twelve stones brought thither out of the bed of Jordan [2846] to be symbols of those twelve foundations on which are written the names of the twelve apostles. [2847] She saw also that fountain of the Law most bitter and barren which the true Elisha healed by his wisdom changing it into a well sweet and fertilising. [2848] Scarcely had the night passed away when burning with eagerness she hastened to the Jordan, stood by the brink of the river, and as the sun rose recalled to mind the rising of the sun of righteousness; [2849] how the priest's feet stood firm in the middle of the river-bed; [2850] how afterwards at the command of Elijah and Elisha the waters were divided hither and thither and made way for them to pass; and again how the Lord had cleansed by His baptism waters which the deluge had polluted and the destruction of mankind had defiled.

13. It would be tedious were I tell of the valley of Achor, that is, of `trouble and crowds,' where theft and covetousness were condemned; [2851] and of Bethel, `the house of God,' where Jacob poor and destitute slept upon the bare ground. Here it was that, having set beneath his head a stone which in Zechariah is described as having seven eyes [2852] and in Isaiah is spoken of as a corner-stone, [2853] he beheld a ladder reaching up to heaven; yes, and the Lord standing high above it [2854] holding out His hand to such as were ascending and hurling from on high such as were careless. Also when she was in Mount Ephraim she made pilgrimages to the tombs of Joshua the son of Nun and of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, exactly opposite the one to the other; that of Joshua being built at Timnath-serah "on the north side of the hill of Gaash," [2855] and that of Eleazar "in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son." [2856] She was somewhat surprised to find that he who had had the distribution of the land in his own hands had selected for himself portions uneven and rocky. What shall I say about Shiloh where a ruined altar [2857] is still shewn to-day, and where the tribe of Benjamin anticipated Romulus in the rape of the Sabine women? [2858] Passing by Shechem (not Sychar as many wrongly read [2859] ) or as it is now called Neapolis, she entered the church built upon the side of Mount Gerizim around Jacob's well; that well where the Lord was sitting when hungry and thirsty He was refreshed by the faith of the woman of Samaria. Forsaking her five husbands by whom are intended the five books of Moses, and that sixth not a husband of whom she boasted, to wit the false teacher Dositheus, [2860] she found the true Messiah and the true Saviour. Turning away thence Paula saw the tombs of the twelve patriarchs, and Samaria which in honour of Augustus Herod renamed Augusta or in Greek Sebaste. There lie the prophets Elisha and Obadiah and John the Baptist than whom there is not a greater among those that are born of women. [2861] And here she was filled with terror by the marvels she beheld; for she saw demons screaming under different tortures before the tombs of the saints, and men howling like wolves, baying like dogs, roaring like lions, hissing like serpents and bellowing like bulls. They twisted their heads and bent them backwards until they touched the ground; women too were suspended head downward and their clothes did not fall off. [2862] Paula pitied them all, and shedding tears over them prayed Christ to have mercy on them. And weak as she was she climbed the mountain on foot; for in two of its caves Obadiah in a time of persecution and famine had fed a hundred prophets with bread and water. [2863] Then she passed quickly through Nazareth the nursery of the Lord; Cana and Capernaum familiar with the signs wrought by Him; the lake of Tiberias sanctified by His voyages upon it; the wilderness where countless Gentiles were satisfied with a few loaves while the twelve baskets of the tribes of Israel were filled with the fragments left by them that had eaten. [2864] She made the ascent of mount Tabor whereon the Lord was transfigured. [2865] In the distance she beheld the range of Hermon; [2866] and the wide stretching plains of Galilee where Sisera and all his host had once been overcome by Barak; and the torrent [2867] Kishon separating the level ground into two parts. Hard by also the town of Nain was pointed out to her, where the widow's son was raised. [2868] Time would fail me sooner than speech were I to recount all the places to which the revered Paula was carried by her incredible faith.

14. I will now pass on to Egypt, pausing for a while on the way at Socoh, and at Samson's well which he clave in the hollow place that was in the jaw. [2869] Here I will lave my parched lips and refresh myself before visiting Moresheth; in old days famed for the tomb of the prophet Micah, [2870] and now for its church. Then skirting the country of the Horites and Gittites, Mareshah, Edom, and Lachish, and traversing the lonely wastes of the desert where the tracks of the traveller are lost in the yielding sand, I will come to the river of Egypt called Sihor, [2871] that is "the muddy river," and go through the five cities of Egypt which speak the language of Canaan, [2872] and through the land of Goshen and the plains of Zoan [2873] on which God wrought his marvellous works. And I will visit the city of No, which has since become Alexandria; [2874] and Nitria, the town of the Lord, where day by day the filth of multitudes is washed away with the pure nitre of virtue. No sooner did Paula come in sight of it than there came to meet her the reverend and estimable bishop, the confessor Isidore, accompanied by countless multitudes of monks many of whom were of priestly or of Levitical rank. [2875] On seeing these Paula rejoiced to behold the Lord's glory manifested in them; but protested that she had no claim to be received with such honour. Need I speak of the Macarii, Arsenius, Serapion, [2876] or other pillars of Christ! Was there any cell that she did not enter? Or any man at whose feet she did not throw herself? In each of His saints she believed that she saw Christ Himself; and whatever she bestowed upon them she rejoiced to feel that she had bestowed it upon the Lord. Her enthusiasm was wonderful and her endurance scarcely credible in a woman. Forgetful of her sex and of her weakness she even desired to make her abode, together with the girls who accompanied her, among these thousands of monks. And, as they were all willing to welcome her, she might perhaps have sought and obtained permission to do so; had she not been drawn away by a still greater passion for the holy places. Coming by sea from Pelusium to Maioma on account of the great heat, she returned so rapidly that you would have thought her a bird. Not long afterwards, making up her mind to dwell permanently in holy Bethlehem, she took up her abode for three years in a miserable hostelry; till she could build the requisite cells and monastic buildings, to say nothing of a guest house for passing travellers where they might find the welcome which Mary and Joseph had missed. At this point I conclude my narrative of the journeys that she made accompanied by Eustochium and many other virgins.

15. I am now free to describe at greater length the virtue which was her peculiar charm; and in setting forth this I call God to witness that I am no flatterer. I add nothing. I exaggerate nothing. On the contrary I tone down much that I may not appear to relate incredibilities. My carping critics must not insinuate that I am drawing on my imagination or decking Paula, like Æsop's crow, with the fine feathers of other birds. Humility is the first of Christian graces, and hers was so pronounced that one who had never seen her, and who on account of her celebrity had desired to see her, would have believed that he saw not her but the lowest of her maids. When she was surrounded by companies of virgins she was always the least remarkable in dress, in speech, in gesture, and in gait. From the time that her husband died until she fell asleep herself she never sat at meat with a man, even though she might know him to stand upon the pinnacle of the episcopate. She never entered a bath except when dangerously ill. Even in the severest fever she rested not on an ordinary bed but on the hard ground covered only with a mat of goat's hair; if that can be called rest which made day and night alike a time of almost unbroken prayer. Well did she fulfil the words of the psalter: "All the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears"! [2877] Her tears welled forth as it were from fountains, and she lamented her slightest faults as if they were sins of the deepest dye. Constantly did I warn her to spare her eyes and to keep them for the reading of the gospel; but she only said: `I must disfigure that face which contrary to God's commandment I have painted with rouge, white lead, and antimony. I must mortify that body which has been given up to many pleasures. I must make up for my long laughter by constant weeping. I must exchange my soft linen and costly silks for rough goat's hair. I who have pleased my husband and the world in the past, desire now to please Christ.' Were I among her great and signal virtues to select her chastity as a subject of praise, my words would seem superfluous; for, even when she was still in the world, she set an example to all the matrons of Rome, and bore herself so admirably that the most slanderous never ventured to couple scandal with her name. [2878] No mind could be more considerate than hers, or none kinder towards the lowly. She did not court the powerful; at the same time, if the proud and the vainglorious sought her, she did not turn from them with disdain. If she saw a poor man, she supported him: and if she saw a rich one, she urged him to do good. Her liberality alone knew no bounds. Indeed, so anxious was she to turn no needy person away that she borrowed money at interest and often contracted new loans to pay off old ones. I was wrong, I admit; but when I saw her so profuse in giving, I reproved her alleging the apostle's words: "I mean not that other men be eased and ye burthened; but by an equality that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want." [2879] I quoted from the gospel the Saviour's words: "he that hath two coats, let him impart one of them to him that hath none"; [2880] and I warned her that she might not always have means to do as she would wish. Other arguments I adduced to the same purpose; but with admirable modesty and brevity she overruled them all. "God is my witness," she said, "that what I do I do for His sake. My prayer is that I may die a beggar not leaving a penny to my daughter and indebted to strangers for my winding sheet." She then concluded with these words: "I, if I beg, shall find many to give to me; but if this beggar does not obtain help from me who by borrowing can give it to him, he will die; and if he dies, of whom will his soul be required?" I wished her to be more careful in managing her concerns, but she with a faith more glowing than mine clave to the Saviour with her whole heart and poor in spirit followed the Lord in His poverty, giving back to Him what she had received and becoming poor for His sake. She obtained her wish at last and died leaving her daughter overwhelmed with a mass of debt. This Eustochium still owes and indeed cannot hope to pay off by her own exertions; only the mercy of Christ can free her from it.

16. Many married ladies make it a habit to confer gifts upon their own trumpeters, and while they are extremely profuse to a few, withhold all help from the many. From this fault Paula was altogether free. She gave her money to each according as each had need, not ministering to self-indulgence but relieving want. No poor person went away from her empty handed. And all this she was enabled to do not by the greatness of her wealth but by her careful management of it. She constantly had on her lips such phrases as these: "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy:" [2881] and "water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sins;" [2882] and "make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that...they may receive you into everlasting habitations;" [2883] and "give alms...and behold all things are clean unto you;" [2884] and Daniel's words to King Nebuchadnezzar in which he admonished him to redeem his sins by almsgiving. [2885] She wished to spend her money not upon these stones, that shall pass away with the earth and the world, but upon those living stones, which roll over the earth; [2886] of which in the apocalypse of John the city of the great king is built; [2887] of which also the scripture tells us that they shall be changed into sapphire and emerald and jasper and other gems. [2888]

17. But these qualities she may well share with a few others and the devil knows that it is not in these that the highest virtue consists. For, when Job has lost his substance and when his house and children have been destroyed, Satan says to the Lord: "Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath, will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face." [2889] We know that many persons while they have given alms have yet given nothing which touches their bodily comfort; and while they have held out a helping hand to those in need are themselves overcome with sensual indulgences; they whitewash the outside but within they are "full of dead men's bones." [2890] Paula was not one of these. Her self-restraint was so great as to be almost immoderate; and her fasts and labours were so severe as almost to weaken her constitution. Except on feast days she would scarcely ever take oil with her food; a fact from which may be judged what she thought of wine, sauce, fish, honey, milk, eggs, and other things agreeable to the palate. Some persons believe that in taking these they are extremely frugal; and, even if they surfeit themselves with them, they still fancy their chastity safe.

18. Envy always follows in the track of virtue: as Horace says, it is ever the mountain top that is smitten by the lightning. [2891] It is not surprising that I declare this of men and women, when the jealousy of the Pharisees succeeded in crucifying our Lord Himself. All the saints have had illwishers, and even Paradise was not free from the serpent through whose malice death came into the world. [2892] So the Lord stirred up against Paula Hadad the Edomite [2893] to buffet her that she might not be exalted, and warned her frequently by the thorn in her flesh [2894] not to be elated by the greatness of her own virtues or to fancy that, compared with other women, she had attained the summit of perfection. For my part I used to say that it was best to give in to rancour and to retire before passion. So Jacob dealt with his brother Esau; so David met the unrelenting persecution of Saul. I reminded her how the first of these fled into Mesopotamia; [2895] and how the second surrendered himself to the Philistines, [2896] and chose to submit to foreign foes rather than to enemies at home. She however replied as follows:--`Your suggestion would be a wise one if the devil did not everywhere fight against God's servants and handmaidens, and did he not always precede the fugitives to their chosen refuges. Moreover, I am deterred from accepting it by my love for the holy places; and I cannot find another Bethlehem elsewhere. Why may I not by my patience conquer this ill will? Why may I not by my humility break down this pride, and when I am smitten on the one cheek offer to the smiter the other? [2897] Surely the apostle Paul says "Overcome evil with good." [2898] Did not the apostles glory when they suffered reproach for the Lord's sake? Did not even the Saviour humble Himself, taking the form of a servant and being made obedient to the Father unto death, even the death of the cross, [2899] that He might save us by His passion? If Job had not fought the battle and won the victory, he would never have received the crown of righteousness, or have heard the Lord say: "Thinkest thou that I have spoken unto thee for aught else than this, that thou mightest appear righteous." [2900] In the gospel those only are said to be blessed who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake. [2901] My conscience is at rest, and I know that it is not from any fault of mine that I am suffering; moreover affliction in this world is a ground for expecting a reward hereafter.' When the enemy was more than usually forward and ventured to reproach her to her face, she used to chant the words of the psalter: "While the wicked was before me, I was dumb with silence; I held my peace even from good:" [2902] and again, "I as a deaf man heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth:" [2903] and "I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs." [2904] When she felt herself tempted, she dwelt upon the words in Deuteronomy: "The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." [2905] In tribulations and afflictions she turned to the splendid language of Isaiah: "Ye that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts, look for tribulation upon tribulation, for hope also upon hope: yet a little while must these things be by reason of the malice of the lips and by reason of a spiteful tongue." [2906] This passage of scripture she explained for her own consolation as meaning that the weaned, that is, those who have come to full age, must endure tribulation upon tribulation that they may be accounted worthy to receive hope upon hope. She recalled to mind also the words of the apostle, "we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope: and hope maketh not ashamed" [2907] and "though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day": [2908] and "our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh in us [2909] an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal." [2910] She used to say that, although to human impatience the time might seem slow in coming, yet that it would not be long but that presently help would come from God who says: "In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee." [2911] We ought not, she declared, to dread the deceitful lips and tongues of the wicked, for we rejoice in the aid of the Lord who warns us by His prophet: "fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings; for the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool": [2912] and she quoted His own words, "In your patience ye shall win your souls": [2913] as well as those of the apostle, "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us": [2914] and in another place, "we are to suffer affliction" [2915] that we may be patient in all things that befall us, for "he that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly." [2916]

19. In her frequent sicknesses and infirmities she used to say, "when I am weak, then am I strong:" [2917] "we have our treasure in earthen vessels" [2918] until "this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality" [2919] and again "as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ:" [2920] and then as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. [2921] In sorrow she used to sing: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God." [2922] In the hour of danger she used to say: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me:" [2923] and again "whosoever will save his life shall lose it," and "whosoever will lose his life for my sake the same shall save it." [2924] When the exhaustion of her substance and the ruin of her property were announced to her she only said: "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul:" [2925] and "naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord:" [2926] and Saint John's words, "Love not the world neither the things that are in the world. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof." [2927] I know that when word was sent to her of the serious illnesses of her children and particularly of Toxotius whom she dearly loved, she first by her self-control fulfilled the saying: "I was troubled and I did not speak," [2928] and then cried out in the words of scripture, "He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." [2929] And she prayed to the Lord and said: Lord "preserve thou the children of those that are appointed to die," [2930] that is, of those who for thy sake every day die bodily. I am aware that a talebearer--a class of persons who do a great deal of harm--once told her as a kindness that owing to her great fervour in virtue some people thought her mad and declared that something should be done for her head. She replied in the words of the apostle, "we are made a spectacle unto the world and to angels and to men," [2931] and "we are fools for Christ's sake" [2932] but "the foolishness of God is wiser than men." [2933] It is for this reason she said that even the Saviour says to the Father, "Thou knowest my foolishness," [2934] and again "I am as a wonder unto many, but thou art my strong refuge." [2935] "I was as a beast before thee; nevertheless I am continually with thee." [2936] In the gospel we read that even His kinsfolk desired to bind Him as one of weak mind. [2937] His opponents also reviled him saying "thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil," [2938] and another time "he casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils." [2939] But let us, she continued, listen to the exhortation of the apostle, "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and sincerity...by the grace of God we have had our conversation in the world." [2940] And let us hear the Lord when He says to His apostles, "If ye were of the world the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world...therefore the world hateth you." [2941] And then she turned to the Lord Himself, saying, "Thou knowest the secrets of the heart," [2942] and "all this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant; our heart is not turned back." [2943] "Yea for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter." [2944] But "the Lord is on my side: I will not fear what man doeth unto me." [2945] She had read the words of Solomon, "My son, honour the Lord and thou shalt be made strong; and beside the Lord fear thou no man." [2946] These passages and others like them she used as God's armour against the assaults of wickedness, and particularly to defend herself against the furious onslaughts of envy; and thus by patiently enduring wrongs she soothed the violence of the most savage breasts. Down to the very day of her death two things were conspicuous in her life, one her great patience and the other the jealousy which was manifested towards her. Now jealousy gnaws the heart of him who harbours it: and while it strives to injure its rival raves with all the force of its fury against itself.

20. I shall now describe the order of her monastery and the method by which she turned the continence of saintly souls to her own profit. She sowed carnal things that she might reap spiritual things; [2947] she gave earthly things that she might receive heavenly things; she forewent things temporal that she might in their stead obtain things eternal. Besides establishing a monastery for men, the charge of which she left to men, she divided into three companies and monasteries the numerous virgins whom she had gathered out of different provinces, some of whom are of noble birth while others belonged to the middle or lower classes. But, although they worked and had their meals separately from each other, these three companies met together for psalm-singing and prayer. After the chanting of the Alleluia--the signal by which they were summoned to the Collect [2948] --no one was permitted to remain behind. But either first or among the first Paula used to await the arrival of the rest, urging them to diligence rather by her own modest example than by motives of fear. At dawn, at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, at evening, and at midnight they recited the psalter each in turn. [2949] No sister was allowed to be ignorant of the psalms, and all had every day to learn a certain portion of the holy scriptures. On the Lord's day only they proceeded to the church beside which they lived, each company following its own mother-superior. Returning home in the same order, they then devoted themselves to their allotted tasks, and made garments either for themselves or else for others. If a virgin was of noble birth, she was not allowed to have an attendant belonging to her own household lest her maid having her mind full of the doings of old days and of the license of childhood might by constant converse open old wounds and renew former errors. All the sisters were clothed alike. Linen was not used except for drying the hands. So strictly did Paula separate them from men that she would not allow even eunuchs to approach them; lest she should give occasion to slanderous tongues (always ready to cavil at the religious) to console themselves for their own misdoing. When a sister was backward in coming to the recitation of the psalms or shewed herself remiss in her work, Paula used to approach her in different ways. Was she quick-tempered? Paula coaxed her. Was she phlegmatic? Paula chid her, copying the example of the apostle who said: "What will ye? Shall I come to you with a rod or in love and in the spirit of meekness?" [2950] Apart from food and raiment she allowed no one to have anything she could call her own, for Paul had said, "Having food and raiment let us be therewith content." [2951] She was afraid lest the custom of having more should breed covetousness in them; an appetite which no wealth can satisfy, for the more it has the more it requires, and neither opulence nor indigence is able to diminish it. [2952] When the sisters quarrelled one with another she reconciled them with soothing words. If the younger ones were troubled with fleshly desires, she broke their force by imposing redoubled fasts; for she wished her virgins to be ill in body rather than to suffer in soul. If she chanced to notice any sister too attentive to her dress, she reproved her for her error with knitted brows and severe looks, saying; "a clean body and a clean dress mean an unclean soul. A virgin's lips should never utter an improper or an impure word, for such indicate a lascivious mind and by the outward man the faults of the inward are made manifest." When she saw a sister verbose and talkative or forward and taking pleasure in quarrels, and when she found after frequent admonitions that the offender shewed no signs of improvement; she placed her among the lowest of the sisters and outside their society, ordering her to pray at the door of the refectory instead of with the rest, and commanding her to take her food by herself, in the hope that where rebuke had failed shame might bring about a reformation. The sin of theft she loathed as if it were sacrilege; and that which among men of the world is counted little or nothing she declared to be in a monastery a crime of the deepest dye. How shall I describe her kindness and attention towards the sick or the wonderful care and devotion with which she nursed them? Yet, although when others were sick she freely gave them every indulgence, and even allowed them to eat meat; when she fell ill herself, she made no concessions to her own weakness, and seemed unfairly to change in her own case to harshness the kindness which she was always ready to shew to others.

21. No young girl of sound and vigorous constitution could have delivered herself up to a regimen so rigid as that imposed upon herself by Paula whose physical powers age had impaired and enfeebled. I admit that in this she was too determined, refusing to spare herself or to listen to advice. I will relate what I know to be a fact. In the extreme heat of the month of July she was once attacked by a violent fever and we despaired of her life. However by God's mercy she rallied, and the doctors urged upon her the necessity of taking a little light wine to accelerate her recovery; saying that if she continued to drink water they feared that she might become dropsical. I on my side secretly appealed to the blessed pope Epiphanius to admonish, nay even to compel her, to take the wine. But she with her usual sagacity and quickness at once perceived the stratagem, and with a smile let him see that the advice he was giving her was after all not his but mine. Not to waste more words, the blessed prelate after many exhortations left her chamber; and, when I asked him what he had accomplished, replied, "Only this that old as I am I have been almost persuaded to drink no more wine." I relate this story not because I approve of persons rashly taking upon themselves burthens beyond their strength (for does not the scripture say: "Burden not thyself above thy power"? [2953] ) but because I wish from this quality of perseverance in her to shew the passion of her mind and the yearning of her believing soul; both of which made her sing in David's words, "My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth after thee." [2954] Difficult as it is always to avoid extremes, the philosophers [2955] are quite right in their opinion that virtue is a mean and vice an excess, or as we may express it in one short sentence "In nothing too much." [2956] While thus unyielding in her contempt for food Paula was easily moved to sorrow and felt crushed by the deaths of her kinsfolk, especially those of her children. When one after another her husband and her daughters fell asleep, on each occasion the shock of their loss endangered her life. And although she signed her mouth and her breast with the sign of the cross, and endeavoured thus to alleviate a mother's grief; her feelings overpowered her and her maternal instincts were too much for her confiding mind. Thus while her intellect retained its mastery she was overcome by sheer physical weakness. On one occasion a sickness seized her and clung to her so long that it brought anxiety to us and danger to herself. Yet even then she was full of joy and repeated every moment the apostle's words: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" [2957]

The careful reader may say that my words are an invective rather than an eulogy. I call that Jesus whom she served and whom I desire to serve to be my witness that so far from unduly eulogizing her or depreciating her I tell the truth about her as one Christian writing of another; that I am writing a memoir and not a panegyric, and that what were faults in her might well be virtues in others less saintly. I speak thus of her faults to satisfy my own feelings and the passionate regret of us her brothers and sisters, who all of us love her still and all of us deplore her loss.

22. However, she has finished her course, she has kept the faith, and now she enjoys the crown of righteousness. [2958] She follows the Lamb whithersoever he goes. [2959] She is filled now because once she was hungry. [2960] With joy does she sing: "as we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God." [2961] O blessed change! Once she wept but now laughs for evermore. Once she despised the broken cisterns of which the prophet speaks; [2962] but now she has found in the Lord a fountain of life. [2963] Once she wore haircloth but now she is clothed in white raiment, and can say: "thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." [2964] Once she ate ashes like bread and mingled her drink with weeping; [2965] saying "my tears have been my meat day and night;" [2966] but now for all time she eats the bread of angels [2967] and sings: "O taste and see that the Lord is good;" [2968] and "my heart is overflowing with a goodly matter; I speak the things which I have made touching the king." [2969] She now sees fulfilled Isaiah's words, or rather those of the Lord speaking through Isaiah: "Behold, my servants shall eat but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit." [2970] I have said that she always shunned the broken cisterns: she did so that she might find in the Lord a fountain of life, and that she might rejoice and sing: "as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. When shall I come and appear before God?" [2971]

23. I must briefly mention the manner in which she avoided the foul cisterns of the heretics whom she regarded as no better than heathen. A certain cunning knave, in his own estimation both learned and clever, began without my knowledge to put to her such questions as these: What sin has an infant committed that it should be seized by the devil? Shall we be young or old when we rise again? If we die young and rise young, we shall after the resurrection require to have nurses. If however we die young and rise old, the dead will not rise again at all: they will be transformed into new beings. Will there be a distinction of sexes in the next world? Or will there be no such distinction? If the distinction continues, there will be wedlock and sexual intercourse and procreation of children. If however it does not continue, the bodies that rise again will not be the same. For, he argued, "the earthy tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things," [2972] but the bodies that we shall have in heaven will be subtle and spiritual according to the words of the apostle: "it is sown a natural body: it is raised a spiritual body." [2973] From all of which considerations he sought to prove that rational creatures have been for their faults and previous sins subjected to bodily conditions; and that according to the nature and guilt of their transgression they are born in this or that state of life. Some, he said, rejoice in sound bodies and wealthy and noble parents; others have for their portion diseased frames and poverty stricken homes; and by imprisonment in the present world and in bodies pay the penalty of their former sins. Paula listened and reported what she heard to me, at the same time pointing out the man. Thus upon me was laid the task of opposing this most noxious viper and deadly pest. It is of such that the Psalmist speaks when he writes: "deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove unto the wild beast," [2974] and "Rebuke the wild beast of the reeds;" [2975] creatures who write iniquity and speak lies against the Lord and lift up their mouths against the Most High. As the fellow had tried to deceive Paula, I at her request went to him, and by asking him a few questions involved him in a dilemma. Do you believe, said I, that there will be a resurrection of the dead or do you disbelieve? He replied, I believe. I went on: Will the bodies that rise again be the same or different? He said, The same. Then I asked: What of their sex? Will that remain unaltered or will it be changed? At this question he became silent and swayed his head this way and that as a serpent does to avoid being struck. Accordingly I continued, As you have nothing to say I will answer for you and will draw the conclusion from your premises. If the woman shall not rise again as a woman nor the man as a man, there will be no resurrection of the dead. For the body is made up of sex and members. But if there shall be no sex and no members what will become of the resurrection of the body, which cannot exist without sex and members? And if there shall be no resurrection of the body, there can be no resurrection of the dead. But as to your objection taken from marriage, that, if the members shall remain the same, marriage must inevitably be allowed; it is disposed of by the Saviour's words: "ye do err not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels." [2976] When it is said that they neither marry nor are given in marriage, the distinction of sex is shewn to persist. For no one says of things which have no capacity for marriage such as a stick or a stone that they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but this may well be said of those who while they can marry yet abstain from doing so by their own virtue and by the grace of Christ. But if you cavil at this and say, how shall we in that case be like the angels with whom there is neither male nor female, hear my answer in brief as follows. What the Lord promises to us is not the nature of angels but their mode of life and their bliss. And therefore John the Baptist is called an angel [2977] even before he is beheaded, and all God's holy men and virgins manifest in themselves even in this world the life of angels. When it is said "ye shall be like the angels," likeness only is promised and not a change of nature.

24. And now do you in your turn answer me these questions. How do you explain the fact that Thomas felt the hands of the risen Lord and beheld His side pierced by the spear? [2978] And the fact that Peter saw the Lord standing on the shore [2979] and eating a piece of a roasted fish and a honeycomb. [2980] If He stood, He must certainly have had feet. If He pointed to His wounded side He must have also had chest and belly for to these the sides are attached and without them they cannot be. If He spoke, He must have used a tongue and palate and teeth. For as the bow strikes the strings, so to produce vocal sound does the tongue come in contact with the teeth. If His hands were felt, it follows that He must have had arms as well. Since therefore it is admitted that He had all the members which go to make up the body, He must have also had the whole body formed of them, and that not a woman's but a man's; that is to say, He rose again in the sex in which He died. And if you cavil farther and say: We shall eat then, I suppose, after the resurrection; or How can a solid and material body enter in contrary to its nature through closed doors? you shall receive from me this reply. Do not for this matter of food find fault with belief in the resurrection: for our Lord after raising the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue commanded food to be given her. [2981] And Lazarus who had been dead four days is described as sitting at meat with Him, [2982] the object in both cases being to shew that the resurrection was real and not merely apparent. And if from our Lord's entering in through closed doors [2983] you strive to prove that His body was spiritual and aerial, He must have had this spiritual body even before He suffered; since--contrary to the nature of heavy bodies--He was able to walk upon the sea. [2984] The apostle Peter also must be believed to have had a spiritual body for he also walked upon the waters with buoyant step. [2985] The true explanation is that when anything is done against nature, it is a manifestation of God's might and power. And to shew plainly that in these great signs our attention is asked not to a change in nature but to the almighty power of God, he who by faith had walked on water began to sink for the want of it and would have done so had not the Lord lifted him up with the reproving words, "O thou of little faith wherefore didst thou doubt?" [2986] I wonder that you can display such effrontery when the Lord Himself said, "reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless but believing," [2987] and in another place, "behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken he shewed them his hands and his feet." [2988] You hear Him speak of bones and flesh, of feet and hands; and yet you want to palm off on me the bubbles and airy nothings of which the stoics rave! [2989]

25. Moreover, if you ask how it is that a mere infant which has never sinned is seized by the devil, or at what age we shall rise again seeing that we die at different ages; my only answer--an unwelcome one, I fancy--will be in the words of scripture: "The judgments of God are a great deep," [2990] and "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?" [2991] No difference of age can affect the reality of the body. Although our frames are in a perpetual flux and lose or gain daily, these changes do not make us different individuals. I was not one person at ten years old, another at thirty and another at fifty; nor am I another now when all my head is gray. [2992] According to the traditions of the church and the teaching of the apostle Paul, the answer must be this; that we shall rise as perfect men in the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. [2993] At this age the Jews suppose Adam to have been created and at this age we read that the Lord and Saviour rose again. Many other arguments did I adduce from both testaments to stifle the outcry of this heretic.

26. From that day forward so profoundly did Paula commence to loathe the man--and all who agreed with him in his doctrines--that she publicly proclaimed them as enemies of the Lord. I have related this incident less with the design of confuting in a few words a heresy which would require volumes to confute it, than with the object of shewing the great faith of this saintly woman who preferred to subject herself to perpetual hostility from men rather than by friendships hurtful to herself to provoke or to offend God.

27. To revert then to that description of her character which I began a little time ago; no mind was ever more docile than was hers. She was slow to speak and swift to hear, [2994] remembering the precept, "Keep silence and hearken, O Israel." [2995] The holy scriptures she knew by heart, and said of the history contained in them that it was the foundation of the truth; but, though she loved even this, she still preferred to seek for the underlying spiritual meaning and made this the keystone of the spiritual building raised within her soul. She asked leave that she and her daughter might read over the old and new testaments [2996] under my guidance. Out of modesty I at first refused compliance, but as she persisted in her demand and frequently urged me to consent to it, I at last did so and taught her what I had learned not from myself--for self-confidence is the worst of teachers--but from the church's most famous writers. Wherever I stuck fast and honestly confessed myself at fault she would by no means rest content but would force me by fresh questions to point out to her which of many different solutions seemed to me the most probable. I will mention here another fact which to those who are envious may well seem incredible. While I myself beginning as a young man have with much toil and effort partially acquired the Hebrew tongue and study it now unceasingly lest if I leave it, it also may leave me; Paula, on making up her mind that she too would learn it, succeeded so well that she could chant the psalms in Hebrew and could speak the language without a trace of the pronunciation peculiar to Latin. The same accomplishment can be seen to this day in her daughter Eustochium, who always kept close to her mother's side, obeyed all her commands, never slept apart from her, never walked abroad or took a meal without her, never had a penny that she could call her own, rejoiced when her mother gave to the poor her little patrimony, and fully believed that in filial affection she had the best heritage and the truest riches. I must not pass over in silence the joy which Paula felt when she heard her little granddaughter and namesake, the child of Laeta and Toxotius--who was born and I may even say conceived in answer to a vow of her parents dedicating her to virginity--when, I say, she heard the little one in her cradle sing "alleluia" and falter out the words "grandmother" and "aunt." One wish alone made her long to see her native land again; that she might know her son and his wife and child [2997] to have renounced the world and to be serving Christ. And it has been granted to her in part. For while her granddaughter is destined to take the veil, her daughter-in-law has vowed herself to perpetual chastity, and by faith and alms emulates the example that her mother has set her. She strives to exhibit at Rome the virtues which Paula set forth in all their fulness at Jerusalem.

28. What ails thee, my soul? Why dost thou shudder to approach her death? I have made my letter longer than it should be already; dreading to come to the end and vainly supposing that by saying nothing of it and by occupying myself with her praises I could postpone the evil day. Hitherto the wind has been all in my favour and my keel has smoothly ploughed through the heaving waves. But now my speech is running upon the rocks, the billows are mountains high, and imminent shipwreck awaits both you and me. We must needs cry out: "Master; save us we perish:" [2998] and "awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord?" [2999] For who could tell the tale of Paula's dying with dry eyes? She fell into a most serious illness and thus gained what she most desired, power to leave us and to be joined more fully to the Lord. Eustochium's affection for her mother, always true and tried, in this time of sickness approved itself still more to all. She sat by Paula's bedside, she fanned her, she supported her head, she arranged her pillows, she chafed her feet, she rubbed her stomach, she smoothed down the bedclothes, she heated hot water, she brought towels. In fact she anticipated the servants in all their duties, and when one of them did anything she regarded it as so much taken away from her own gain. How unceasingly she prayed, how copiously she wept, how constantly she ran to and fro between her prostrate mother and the cave of the Lord! imploring God that she might not be deprived of a companion so dear, that if Paula was to die she might herself no longer live, and that one bier might carry to burial her and her mother. Alas for the frailty and perishableness of human nature! Except that our belief in Christ raises us up to heaven and promises eternity to our souls, the physical conditions of life are the same for us as for the brutes. "There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the evil; to the clean and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good so is the sinner; and he that sweareth as he that feareth an oath." [3000] Man and beast alike are dissolved into dust and ashes.

29. Why do I still linger, and prolong my suffering by postponing it? Paula's intelligence shewed her that her death was near. Her body and limbs grew cold and only in her holy breast did the warm beat of the living soul continue. Yet, as though she were leaving strangers to go home to her own people, she whispered the verses of the psalmist: "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house and the place where thine honour dwelleth," [3001] and "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord," [3002] and "I had rather be an outcast in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." [3003] When I asked her why she remained silent refusing to answer my call, [3004] and whether she was in pain, she replied in Greek that she had no suffering and that all things were to her eyes calm and tranquil. After this she said no more but closed her eyes as though she already despised all mortal things, and kept repeating the verses just quoted down to the moment in which she breathed out her soul, but in a tone so low that we could scarcely hear what she said. Raising her finger also to her mouth she made the sign of the cross upon her lips. Then her breath failed her and she gasped for death; yet even when her soul was eager to break free, she turned the death-rattle (which comes at last to all) into the praise of the Lord. The bishop of Jerusalem and some from other cities were present, also a great number of the inferior clergy, both priests and levites. [3005] The entire monastery was filled with bodies of virgins and monks. As soon as Paula heard the bridegroom saying: "Rise up my love my fair one, my dove, and come away: for, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone," she answered joyfully "the flowers appear on the earth; the time to cut them has come" [3006] and "I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living." [3007]

30. No weeping or lamentation followed her death, such as are the custom of the world; but all present united in chanting the psalms in their several tongues. The bishops lifted up the dead woman with their own hands, placed her upon a bier, and carrying her on their shoulders to the church in the cave of the Saviour, laid her down in the centre of it. Other bishops meantime carried torches and tapers in the procession, and yet others led the singing of the choirs. The whole population of the cities of Palestine came to her funeral. Not a single monk lurked in the desert or lingered in his cell. Not a single virgin remained shut up in the seclusion of her chamber. To each and all it would have seemed sacrilege to have withheld the last tokens of respect from a woman so saintly. As in the case of Dorcas, [3008] the widows and the poor shewed the garments Paula had given them; while the destitute cried aloud that they had lost in her a mother and a nurse. Strange to say, the paleness of death had not altered her expression; only a certain solemnity and seriousness had overspread her features. You would have thought her not dead but asleep.

One after another they chanted the psalms, now in Greek, now in Latin, now in Syriac; and this not merely for the three days which elapsed before she was buried beneath the church and close to the cave of the Lord, but throughout the remainder of the week. All who were assembled felt that it was their own funeral at which they were assisting, and shed tears as if they themselves had died. Paula's daughter, the revered virgin Eustochium, "as a child that is weaned of his mother," [3009] could not be torn away from her parent. She kissed her eyes, pressed her lips upon her brow, embraced her frame, and wished for nothing better than to be buried with her.

31. Jesus is witness that Paula has left not a single penny to her daughter but, as I said before, on the contrary a large mass of debt; and, worse even than this, a crowd of brothers and sisters whom it is hard for her to support but whom it would be undutiful to cast off. Could there be a more splendid instance of self-renunciation than that of this noble lady who in the fervour of her faith gave away so much of her wealth that she reduced herself to the last degree of poverty? Others may boast, if they will, of money spent in charity, of large sums heaped up in God's treasury, [3010] of votive offerings hung up with cords of gold. None of them has given more to the poor than Paula, for Paula has kept nothing for herself. But now she enjoys the true riches and those good things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man. [3011] If we mourn, it is for ourselves and not for her; yet even so, if we persist in weeping for one who reigns with Christ, we shall seem to envy her her glory.

32. Be not fearful, Eustochium: you are endowed with a splendid heritage. The Lord is your portion; and, to increase your joy, your mother has now after a long martyrdom won her crown. It is not only the shedding of blood that is accounted a confession: the spotless service of a devout mind is itself a daily martyrdom. Both alike are crowned; with roses and violets in the one case, with lilies in the other. Thus in the Song of Songs it is written: "my beloved is white and ruddy;" [3012] for, whether the victory be won in peace or in war, God gives the same guerdon to those who win it. Like Abraham your mother heard the words: "get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, unto a land that I will shew thee;" [3013] and not only that but the Lord's command given through Jeremiah: "flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul." [3014] To the day of her death she never returned to Chaldæa, or regretted the fleshpots of Egypt or its strong-smelling meats. Accompanied by her virgin bands she became a fellow-citizen of the Saviour; and now that she has ascended from her little Bethlehem to the heavenly realms she can say to the true Naomi: "thy people shall be my people and thy God my God." [3015]

33. I have spent the labour of two nights in dictating for you this treatise; and in doing so I have felt a grief as deep as your own. I say in `dictating' for I have not been able to write it myself. As often as I have taken up my pen [3016] and have tried to fulfil my promise; my fingers have stiffened, my hand has fallen, and my power over it has vanished. The rudeness of the diction, devoid as it is of all elegance or charm, bears witness to the feeling of the writer.

34. And now, Paula, farewell, and aid with your prayers the old age of your votary. Your faith and your works unite you to Christ; thus standing in His presence you will the more readily gain what you ask. In this letter "I have built" to your memory "a monument more lasting than bronze," [3017] which no lapse of time will be able to destroy. And I have cut an inscription on your tomb, which I here subjoin; that, wherever my narrative may go, the reader may learn that you are buried at Bethlehem and not uncommemorated there.

The Inscription on Paula's Tomb.

Within this tomb a child of Scipio lies,

A daughter of the farfamed Pauline house,

A scion of the Gracchi, of the stock

Of Agamemnon's self, illustrious:

Here rests the lady Paula, well-beloved

Of both her parents, with Eustochium

For daughter; she the first of Roman dames

Who hardship chose and Bethlehem for Christ.

In front of the cavern there is another inscription as follows:--

Seest thou here hollowed in the rock a grave,

'Tis Paula's tomb; high heaven has her soul.

Who Rome and friends, riches and home forsook

Here in this lonely spot to find her rest.

For here Christ's manger was, and here the kings

To Him, both God and man, their offerings made.

35. The holy and blessed Paula fell asleep on the seventh day before the Kalends of February, on the third day of the week, after the sun had set. She was buried on the fifth day before the same Kalends, in the sixth consulship of the Emperor Honorius and the first of Aristænetus. She lived in the vows of religion five years at Rome and twenty years at Bethlehem. The whole duration of her life was fifty-six years eight months and twenty-one days.


Footnotes

[2731] Luke xx. 38. [2732] 2 Cor. v. 6. [2733] Ps. cxx. 5, 6 acc. to Jerome's latest version. [2734] 1 Joh. v. 19. [2735] Ps. cxxxix. 12, A.V. marg. [2736] Joh. i. 5. [2737] Ps. xxxix. 12. [2738] Phil. i. 23. [2739] 1 Cor. ix. 27. [2740] Rom. xiv. 21. [2741] Ps. xxxv. 13. [2742] Ps. xli. 3. [2743] Ps. xxxii. 4. [2744] Cf. Acts vii. 56. [2745] Ps. lv. 6. [2746] Sacerdotes. [2747] Mark x. 28-30. [2748] Virg. A. i. 292. [2749] See Letter XXXIX. [2750] Of continence. See Letter LXVI. 3. [2751] a.d. 382. [2752] Theodosius and Valentinian. [2753] Wife of Flavius Clemens, believed to have been a Christian martyr. [2754] i.e. the straits of Messina. [2755] A port on the S.W. coast of the Peloponnese. [2756] Virg. A. iii. 126-8. [2757] At this time one of the three bishops who claimed the see of Antioch. See Ep. xv. 2. [2758] Acts xxi. 5. [2759] 2 Kings xxiii. 29. [2760] A maritime city of Palestine which subsequently to its restoration by Herod became first the civil, and then the ecclesiastical, capital of Palestine. [2761] Acts xxi. 8, 9. [2762] Acts ix. 36-41. [2763] Acts ix. 32-34. [2764] John xix. 38. [2765] 1 Sam. xxii. 17-19. [2766] Jon. i. 3. [2767] Andromeda had been chained to a rock by her father to assuage the wrath of Poseidon who had sent a sea monster to ravage the country. Here she was found by Perseus who slew the monster and effected her rescue. See Josephus B. J. iii. ix. 3. [2768] Luke xxiv. 13, 28-31. [2769] 2 Chr. viii. 5. [2770] Josh. x. 12-14. [2771] Josh. ix. [2772] Judges xix. xx. According to Judges xx. 47 the number of Benjamites who escaped was six hundred. [2773] Josephus, A.J. xx. ii. 6. [2774] Or more fully Ælia Capitolina, a Roman colony from which all Jews were expelled. [2775] Prætorium. The word occurs in John xviii. 28. [2776] Matt. xxviii. 2. [2777] 2 Sam. v. 7, 9. [2778] Isa. xxix. 1. Vulg. [2779] Ps. lxxxvii. 1, 2. [2780] Matt. xvi. 18. [2781] Rev. xxii. 14. [2782] Acts ii. 16-21. [2783] Gen. xxxv. 18, 19. [2784] This legend of the cave dates back to Justin Martyr. [2785] Isa. i. 3. [2786] Isa. xxxii. 20, LXX. [2787] Luke ii. 15, rema. [2788] Joh. i. 1, 14 logos the Vulg. has `verbum' both here and in Luke. [2789] The name means this in Hebrew. [2790] Joh. vi. 51. [2791] The name means this in Hebrew. [2792] The word `not' is inserted by Paula from Matt. ii. 6. [2793] `Will he' A.V. following the Hebrew. [2794] Mic. v. 2, 3: Cf. Matt. ii. 6. [2795] Ps. cx. 3, Vulg. [2796] Acts xiii. 46. [2797] Matt. xv. 24. [2798] LXX. acc. to one reading. [2799] Gen. xlix. 10, LXX. [2800] This clause comes from the LXX. [2801] Ps. cxxxii. 2-5. [2802] Ps. cxxxii. 6, Vulg. [2803] Jerome taught Paula Hebrew. [2804] Ps. cxxxii. 7. [2805] Ps. cxxxii. 14. [2806] Ps. cxxxii. 17, Vulg. [2807] Ps. xxii. 29, 30, LXX. [2808] Gen. xxxv. 21; Mic. iv. 8. [2809] Luke ii. 14. [2810] Jud. vi. 37. [2811] Ex. xii. 21-23. [2812] Joh. i. 29. [2813] Jer. xiii. 23. [2814] Acts viii. 27-39. [2815] This town played an important part in the wars of the Maccabees. [2816] Nu. xiii. 23, 24. [2817] Isa. lxiii. 3. [2818] Cellulæ, lit. `little cells.' [2819] Joh. viii. 56: cf. Gen. xviii. 1, R.V.--q.v. [2820] Josh. xiv. 15. In Hebrew `Adam' and `man' are the same word. Hence the mistake. [2821] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [2822] Jud. i. 13-15. [2823] Perhaps identical with "the valley of Berachah" mentioned in 2 Chr. xx. 26. [2824] Gen. xviii. 23-33. [2825] Isa. xv. 5. [2826] Gen. xiv. 2. [2827] Eph. v. 18. [2828] Gen. xix. 30-38. [2829] Cant. i. 7. [2830] Gen. xliii. 16. [2831] Amos i. 1. [2832] Luke xxiv. 50, 51; Acts i. 9-12. [2833] Nu. xix. 1-10. [2834] Ezek. x. 18, 19. [2835] The jaw was the priest's portion and hence the epithet `priestly': or else Bethphage belonged to the priests. [2836] Matt. xxi. 1-7. [2837] Humilia. [2838] Luke x. 30-35. [2839] Strictly Dâmim. [2840] Luke xix. 4. [2841] Matt. xx. 30-34. [2842] i.e. the Jews and the Gentiles. [2843] 1 Kings xvi. 34. [2844] Josh. v. 3. [2845] Rom. ii. 28, 29. [2846] Josh. iv. 3, 20. [2847] Rev. xxi. 14. [2848] 2 Kings ii. 19-22, type and antitype are, as often, here confounded. [2849] Mal. iv. 2. [2850] Josh. iii. 17. [2851] Josh. vii. 24-26. [2852] Zech. iii. 9. [2853] Isa. xxviii. 16. [2854] Gen. xxviii. 12, 13. [2855] Josh. xxiv. 30. [2856] Josh. xxiv. 33. [2857] Cf. 1 Sam. i. 3. [2858] Judg. xxi. 19-23: cf. Liv. i. 9. [2859] From Joh. iv. 5. [2860] The founder of a Samaritan sect akin to the Essenes. [2861] Luke vii. 28. [2862] Other authorities for these strange phenomena are Hilary, Sulpicius, and Paulinus. [2863] 1 Kings xviii. 4. [2864] Matt. xiv. 13-21. [2865] According to the common tradition, but Hermon is more likely to have been the place. [2866] In the original `Hermon and the Hermons'; an allusion to the Hebrew text of Ps. xlii. 6. [2867] Jud. v. 21, Vulg. [2868] Luke vii. 11-15. [2869] Jud. xv. 17-19, R.V. [2870] Micah i. 1, 14. [2871] Jer. ii. 18. [2872] Isa. xix. 18. [2873] Ps. lxxviii. 12. [2874] A mistake: No is Thebes. [2875] i.e. presbyters and deacons. Cf. § 29, infra. [2876] At that time the most famous of the Egyptian hermits. [2877] Ps. vi. 6. [2878] Jerome's own name had been coupled with Paula's when they both lived at Rome, but he was able to shew that his relations with her were wholly innocent. [2879] 2 Cor. viii. 13, 14. [2880] Luke iii. 11. The word alteram, one of two (therefore, Jerome means, retaining the second) is found in the Syriac Version of Cureton. It is not found in the Vulgate. [2881] Matt. v. 7. [2882] Ecclus. iii. 30. [2883] Luke xvi. 9. [2884] Luke xi. 41. [2885] Dan. iv. 27, LXX. [2886] Zech. ix. 16, LXX. [2887] Rev. xxi. 14. [2888] Rev. xxi. 19-21. [2889] Job ii. 4, 5. [2890] Matt. xxiii. 27. [2891] Hor. C. ii. x. ii. [2892] Wisd. ii. 24. [2893] The enemy of Solomon--1 Kings xi. 14. Who Paula's enemy may have been we do not know. [2894] 2 Cor. xii. 7. [2895] Gen. xxvii. 41-46; xxviii. 1-5. [2896] 1 Sam. xxi. 10. [2897] Matt. v. 39. [2898] Rom. xii. 21. [2899] Phil. ii. 7, 8. [2900] Job xl. 8, LXX. [2901] Matt. v. 10. [2902] Ps. xxxix. 1, 2, acc. to the Gallican psalter. [2903] Ps. xxxviii. 13. [2904] Ps. xxxviii. 14. [2905] Deut. xiii. 3. [2906] Isa. xxviii. 9-11, LXX. [2907] Rom. v. 3-5. [2908] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [2909] Vulg. [2910] 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. [2911] Isa. xlix. 8. [2912] Isa. li. 7, 8. [2913] Luke xxi. 19, R.V. [2914] Rom. viii. 18. [2915] 1 Th. iii. 4, R.V. [2916] Prov. xiv. 29. [2917] 2 Cor. xii. 10. [2918] 2 Cor. iv. 7. [2919] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [2920] 2 Cor. i. 5. [2921] 2 Cor. i. 7. [2922] Ps. xlii. 11. [2923] Luke ix. 23. [2924] Luke ix. 24. [2925] Matt. xvi. 26. [2926] Job i. 21. [2927] 1 Joh. ii. 15-17. [2928] Ps. lxxvii. 4, Vulg. [2929] Matt. x. 37. [2930] Ps. lxxix. 11, LXX. [2931] 1 Cor. iv. 9. [2932] 1 Cor. iv. 10. [2933] 1 Cor. i. 25. [2934] Ps. lxix. 5. [2935] Ps. lxxi. 7. [2936] Ps. lxxiii. 22, 23. [2937] Mark iii. 21. [2938] Joh. viii. 48. [2939] Luke xi. 15. [2940] 2 Cor. i. 12. [2941] Joh. xv. 19. [2942] Cf. Ps. xliv. 21. [2943] Ps. xliv. 17, 18. [2944] Ps. xliv. 22. [2945] Ps. cxviii. 6, P.B.V. [2946] Prov. vii. 2, LXX. [2947] Cf. 1 Cor. ix. 11. [2948] The Gathering; perhaps used, like the Greek sunodos, for the Communion. The opening prayer came thus to be called The Collect. See note on Letter LI. § 1. [2949] For the canonical hours see note on Letter XXII. § 37. [2950] 1 Cor. iv. 21. [2951] 1 Tim. vi. 8. [2952] Cf. Sall. Cat. xi. [2953] Ecclus. xiii. 2. [2954] Ps. lxiii. 1. [2955] e.g. Aristotle, E.N. ii. 6. [2956] Ne quid nimis, in Greek Meden agan. [2957] Rom. vii. 24. [2958] 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. [2959] Rev. xiv. 4. [2960] Cf. Luke vi. 21. [2961] Ps. xlviii. 8. [2962] Jer. ii. 13. [2963] Joh. iv. 14. [2964] Ps. xxx. 11. [2965] Ps. cii. 9. [2966] Ps. xlii. 3. [2967] Cf. Ps. lxxviii. 25. [2968] Ps. xxxiv. 8. [2969] Ps. xlv. 1, R.V. [2970] Isa. lxv. 13, 14. [2971] Ps. xlii. 1, 2. [2972] Wisd. ix. 15. [2973] 1 Cor. xv. 44. [2974] Ps. lxxiv. 19, R.V. [2975] Ps. lxviii. 30, R.V. [2976] Matt. xxii. 29, 30. [2977] Luke vii. 27. `Angel' is a Greek word and means `messenger.' [2978] Joh. xx. 26-28. [2979] Joh. xxi. 4. [2980] Luke xxiv. 42, 43. [2981] Mark v. 43. [2982] Joh. xii. 2. [2983] Joh. xx. 19. [2984] Matt. xiv. 25. [2985] Matt. xiv. 29. [2986] Matt. xiv. 31. [2987] Joh. xx. 27. [2988] Luke xxiv. 39, 40. [2989] Globos stoicorum atque aëria quædam deliramenta. [2990] Ps. xxxvi. 6. [2991] Rom. xi. 33, 34. [2992] Jerome was at this time about 60 years old. [2993] Eph. iv. 13. [2994] Jas. i. 19. [2995] Deut. xxvii. 9, R.V. [2996] Vetus et novum instrumentum. [2997] Toxotius, Laeta, the younger Paula. Comp. Letter CVII. [2998] Matt. viii. 25; Luke viii. 24. [2999] Ps. xliv. 23. [3000] Eccles. ix. 2. [3001] Ps. xxvi. 8. [3002] Ps. lxxxiv. 1, 2. [3003] Ps. lxxxiv. 10, Vulg. [3004] For the technical meaning of inclamatio vide Virg. A. 1. 219, with Conington's note. [3005] i.e. presbyters and deacons--see § 14 above. [3006] Cant. ii. 10-12, Vulg. [3007] Ps. xxvii. 13. [3008] Acts ix. 39. [3009] Ps. cxxxi. 2. [3010] Corbona. See Matt. xxvii. 6, Vulg. [3011] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [3012] Cant. v. 10. [3013] Gen. xii. 1. [3014] Jer. li. 6. [3015] Ruth i. 16. [3016] Stilus. [3017] Horace, C. III. xxx. 1.


Letter CIX. To Riparius.

Riparius, a presbyter of Aquitaine had written to inform Jerome that Vigilantius (for whom see Letter LXI.) was preaching in southern Gaul against the worship of relics and the keeping of night vigils; and this apparently with the consent of his bishop. Jerome now replies in a letter more noteworthy for its bitterness than for its logic. Nevertheless he offers to write a full confutation of Vigilantius if Riparius will send him the book containing his heresies. This Riparius subsequently did and then Jerome wrote his treatise Against Vigilantius, the most extreme and least convincing of all his works.

The date of the letter is 404 a.d.

1. Now that I have received a letter from you, if I do not answer it I shall be guilty of pride, and if I do I shall be guilty of rashness. For the matters concerning which you ask my opinion are such that they cannot either be spoken of or listened to without profanity. You tell me that Vigilantius (whose very name Wakeful is a contradiction: he ought rather to be described as Sleepy) has again opened his fetid lips and is pouring forth a torrent of filthy venom upon the relics of the holy martyrs; and that he calls us who cherish them ashmongers and idolaters who pay homage to dead men's bones. Unhappy wretch! to be wept over by all Christian men, who sees not that in speaking thus he makes himself one with the Samaritans and the Jews who hold dead bodies unclean and regard as defiled even vessels which have been in the same house with them, following the letter that killeth and not the spirit that giveth life. [3018] We, it is true, refuse to worship or adore, I say not the relics of the martyrs, but even the sun and moon, the angels and archangels, the Cherubim and Seraphim and "every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come." [3019] For we may not serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. [3020] Still we honour the relics of the martyrs, that we may adore Him whose martyrs they are. We honour the servants that their honour may be reflected upon their Lord who Himself says:--"he that receiveth you receiveth me." [3021] I ask Vigilantius, Are the relics of Peter and of Paul unclean? Was the body of Moses unclean, of which we are told (according to the correct Hebrew text) that it was buried by the Lord Himself? [3022] And do we, every time that we enter the basilicas of apostles and prophets and martyrs, pay homage to the shrines of idols? Are the tapers which burn before their tombs only the tokens of idolatry? I will go farther still and ask a question which will make this theory recoil upon the head of its inventor and which will either kill or cure that frenzied brain of his, so that simple souls shall be no more subverted by his sacrilegious reasonings. Let him answer me this, Was the Lord's body unclean when it was placed in the sepulchre? And did the angels clothed in white raiment merely watch over a corpse dead and defiled, that ages afterwards this sleepy fellow might indulge in dreams and vomit forth his filthy surfeit, so as, like the persecutor Julian, either to destroy the basilicas of the saints or to convert them into heathen temples?

2. I am surprised that the reverend bishop [3023] in whose diocese he is said to be a presbyter acquiesces in this his mad preaching, and that he does not rather with apostolic rod, nay with a rod of iron, shatter this useless vessel [3024] and deliver him for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved. [3025] He should remember the words that are said: "When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst unto him; and hast been partaker with adulterers;" [3026] and in another place, "I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord;" [3027] and again "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred." [3028] If the relics of the martyrs are not worthy of honour, how comes it that we read "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints?" [3029] If dead men's bones defile those that touch them, how came it that the dead Elisha raised another man also dead, and that life came to this latter from the body of the prophet which according to Vigilantius must have been unclean? In that case every encampment of the host of Israel and the people of God was unclean; for they carried the bodies of Joseph and of the patriarchs with them in the wilderness, and carried their unclean ashes even into the holy land. In that case Joseph, who was a type of our Lord and Saviour, was a wicked man; for he carried up Jacob's bones with great pomp to Hebron merely to put his unclean father beside his unclean grandfather and great grandfather, that is, one dead body along with others. The wretch's tongue should be cut out, or he should be put under treatment for insanity. As he does not know how to speak, he should learn to be silent. I have myself before now seen the monster, and have done my best to bind the maniac with texts of scripture, as Hippocrates binds his patients with chains; but "he went away, he departed, he escaped, he broke out," [3030] and taking refuge between the Adriatic and the Alps of King Cotius [3031] declaimed in his turn against me. For all that a fool says must be regarded as mere noise and mouthing.

3. You may perhaps in your secret thoughts find fault with me for thus assailing a man behind his back. I will frankly admit that my indignation overpowers me; I cannot listen with patience to such sacrilegious opinions. I have read of the javelin of Phinehas, [3032] of the harshness of Elijah, [3033] of the jealous anger of Simon the zealot, [3034] of the severity of Peter in putting to death Ananias and Sapphira, [3035] and of the firmness of Paul who, when Elymas the sorcerer withstood the ways of the Lord, doomed him to lifelong blindness. [3036] There is no cruelty in regard for God's honour. Wherefore also in the Law it is said: "If thy brother or thy friend or the wife of thy bosom entice thee from the truth, thine hand shall be upon them and thou shalt shed their blood, [3037] and so shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of Israel." [3038] Once more I ask, Are the relics of the martyrs unclean? If so, why did the apostles allow themselves to walk in that funeral procession before the body--the unclean body--of Stephen? Why did they make great lamentation over him, [3039] that their grief might be turned into our joy?

You tell me farther that Vigilantius execrates vigils. In this surely he goes contrary to his name. The Wakeful one wishes to sleep and will not hearken to the Saviour's words, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak." [3040] And in another place a prophet sings: "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments." [3041] We read also in the gospel how the Lord spent whole nights in prayer [3042] and how the apostles when they were shut up in prison kept vigil all night long, singing their psalms until the earth quaked, and the keeper of the prison believed, and the magistrates and citizens were filled with terror. [3043] Paul says: "continue in prayer and watch in the same," [3044] and in another place he speaks of himself as "in watchings often." [3045] Vigilantius may sleep if he pleases and may choke in his sleep, destroyed by the destroyer of Egypt and of the Egyptians. But let us say with David: "Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." [3046] So will the Holy One and the Watcher come to us. [3047] And if ever by reason of our sins He fall asleep, let us say to Him: "Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord;" [3048] and when our ship is tossed by the waves let us rouse Him and say, "Master, save us: we perish." [3049]

4. I would dictate more were it not that the limits of a letter impose upon me a modest silence. I might have gone on, had you sent me the books which contain this man's rhapsodies, for in that case I should have known what points I had to refute. As it is I am only beating the air [3050] and revealing not so much his infidelity--for this is patent to all--as my own faith. But if you wish me to write against him at greater length, send me those wretched dronings of his and in my answer he shall hear an echo of John the Baptist's words "Now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." [3051]


Footnotes

[3018] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [3019] Eph. i. 21. [3020] Rom. i. 25. [3021] Matt. x. 40. [3022] Deut. xxxiv. 6. [3023] Probably Exuperius of Toulouse. [3024] Ps. ii. 9. [3025] 1 Cor. v. 5. [3026] Ps. l. 18. [3027] Ps. ci. 8. [3028] Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22. [3029] Ps. cxvi. 15. [3030] Cic. Cat. ii. 1, of Catiline. [3031] A contemporary and ally of Augustus. [3032] Nu. xxv. 7, 8. [3033] 1 Kings xviii. 40. [3034] Luke vi. 15: so called probably because he came from the most fanatical party among the Pharisees. [3035] Acts v. 1-10. [3036] Acts xiii. 8-11. [3037] Deut. xiii. 6-9. [3038] Deut. xiii. 5. [3039] Acts viii. 2. [3040] Matt. xxvi. 40, 41. [3041] Ps. cxix. 62. [3042] Luke vi. 12. [3043] Acts xvi. 25-38. [3044] Col. iv. 2. [3045] 2 Cor. xi. 27. [3046] Ps. cxxi. 4. [3047] Dan. iv. 13. Jerome gives the Hebrew word for watcher, viz. R+J+E+ [3048] Ps. xliv. 23. [3049] Matt. viii. 25; Luke viii. 24. [3050] Cf. 1 Cor. ix. 26. [3051] Matt. iii. 10.


Letter CX. From Augustine.

Augustine's answer to Letter CII. He now tries to soothe Jerome's wounded feelings, begs him to overlook the offence that he has committed, and implores him not to break off the friendly relations hitherto maintained between them. He touches on the quarrel between Jerome and Rufinus and sincerely hopes that no such breach may ever separate Jerome from himself. The tone of the letter is throughout conciliatory and is marked in places with deep feeling. More than once Augustine dwells on Jerome's words ("would that I could embrace you and that by mutual converse we might learn one from the other," Letter CII. §2) and speaks of the comfort which they have brought to him. The date of the letter is 404 a.d.


Letter CXI. From Augustine to Præsidius.

Augustine asks Præsidius to forward the preceding letter to Jerome and also to write himself to urge him to forgive Augustine.


Letter CXII. To Augustine.

On receiving Letter CIV. together with duly authenticated copies of Letters LVI. and LXVII. Jerome in three days completes an exhaustive reply to all the questions which Augustine had raised. He explains what is the true title of his book On Illustrious Men, deals at great length with the dispute between Paul and Peter, expounds his views with regard to the Septuagint, and shews by the story of "the gourd" how close and accurate his translations are. His language throughout is kind but rather patronising: indeed in this whole correspondence Jerome seldom sufficiently recognizes the greatness of Augustine. The date of the letter is 404 a.d.


Letter CXIII. From Theophilus to Jerome.

Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, had compiled an invective against John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople who was nosy (largely through his efforts) an exile from his see. This he now sends to Jerome with a request that the latter will render it into Latin for dissemination in the West. The invective (of which only a few fragments remain) is of the most violent kind. Nevertheless Jerome translated it along with this letter, the date of which is 405 a.d. The latter part of the letter has perished.

To the well-beloved and most loving brother Jerome, Theophilus sends greeting in the Lord.

1. At the outset the verdict which is in accordance with the truth satisfies but few. But the Lord speaking by the prophet says: "my judgment goeth forth as the light:" [3052] and they who are surrounded with a horror of darkness and do not with clear comprehension perceive the nature of things, are covered with eternal shame and know by the issues of their acts that their efforts have been in vain. Wherefore we also have always desired for John who has for a time ruled the church of Constantinople grace that he might please God, and we have been slow to attribute to him the rash acts which have caused his downfall. But, not to speak of his other misdeeds, he has taken the Origenists into his confidence, has advanced many of them to the priesthood, and by committing this crime has saddened with no slight grief that man of God, Epiphanius of blessed memory, who has shone throughout all the world a bright star among bishops. And therefore he has rightly come to hear the words of doom: "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." [3053]

2. Knowing then that the Saviour has said: "judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgment." [3054] ...


Footnotes

[3052] Hos. vi. 5, LXX. [3053] Isa. xxi. 9. [3054] Joh. vii. 24.


Letter CXIV. To Theophilus.

Jerome writes to Theophilus to apologize for his delay in sending Latin versions of the latter's letter (CXIII.) and invective against John Chrysostom. Possibly, however, the allusion may be not to these but to some other work of Theophilus (e.g. a paschal letter.) This delay he attributes to the disturbed state of Palestine, the severity of the winter, the prevalent famine, and his own ill-health. He now sends the translations that he has made and, while he deprecates criticism on his own work, praises that of Theophilus, quoting with particular approval the directions given by this latter for the reverent care of the vessels used in celebrating the holy communion. The date of the letter is 405 a.d.

To the most blessed pope Theophilus, Jerome.

1. My delay in sending back to your holiness your treatise translated into Latin is accounted for by the many interruptions and obstacles that I have met with. There has been a sudden raid of the Isaurians; Phoenicia and Galilee have been laid waste; Palestine has been panic-stricken, and particularly Jerusalem; we have all been engaged in making not books but walls. There has also been a severe winter and an almost unbearable famine; and these have told heavily upon me who have the charge of many brothers. Amid these difficulties the work of translation went on by night, as I could save or snatch time to give to it. At last I got it done and by Lent nothing remained but to collate the fair copy with the original. However, just then a severe illness seized me and I was brought to the threshold of death, from which I have only been saved by God's mercy and your prayers; perhaps for this very purpose that I might fulfil your behest and render with its writer's elegance the charming volume which you have adorned with the scripture's fairest flowers. But bodily weakness and sorrow of heart have, I need hardly say, dulled the edge of my intellect and obstructed the free flow of my language.

2. I admire in your work its practical aim, designed as it is to instruct by the authority of scripture ignorant persons in all the churches concerning the reverence with which they must handle holy things and minister at Christ's altar; and to impress upon them that the sacred chalices, veils, [3055] and other accessories used in the celebration of the Lord's passion are not mere lifeless and senseless objects devoid of holiness, but that rather, from their association with the body and blood of the Lord, they are to be venerated with the same awe as the body and the blood themselves.

3. Take back then your book, nay mine or better still ours; for when you flatter me you will but flatter yourself. It is for you that my brain has toiled; it is for you that I have striven with the poor resources of the Latin tongue to find an equivalent for the eloquence of the Greek. I have not indeed given a word-for-word rendering, as skilled translators do, nor have I counted out the money you have given to me coin by coin; but I have given you full weight. Some words may be missing but none of the sense is lost. Moreover I have translated into Latin and prefixed to this volume the letter that you sent to me, so that all who read it may know that I have acted under the commands of your holiness, and have not rashly and over-confidently undertaken a task that is beyond my powers. Whether I have succeeded in it I must leave to your judgment. Even though you may blame my weakness, you will at least give me credit for my good intention.


Footnotes

[3055] So the embroidered cloths used in Catholic Churches to cover the sacramental elements are still called.


Letter CXV. To Augustine.

A short but most friendly letter in which Jerome excuses himself for the freedom with which he has dealt with Augustine's questions (the allusion is to Letter CXII.) and hopes that henceforth they may be able to avoid controversy and to labour like brothers in the field of scripture.

Written probably in 405 a.d.


Letter CXVI. From Augustine.

A long letter in which Augustine for the third time (see Letters LVI., LXVII.) restates his opinion about Jerome's theory of the dispute between Peter and Paul at Antioch. In doing so, however, he disclaims all desire to hurt Jerome's feelings, apologizes for the tone of his previous letters, and again explains that it is not his fault that they have failed so long to reach Jerome.

Written shortly after the preceding.


Letter CXVII. To a Mother and Daughter Living in Gaul.

A monk of Gaul had during a visit to Bethlehem asked Jerome for advice under the following circumstances. His mother was a church-widow and his sister a religious virgin but the two could not agree. They were accordingly living apart but neither by herself. For each had taken into her house a monk ostensibly to act as steward but really to be a paramour. At the request of his visitor Jerome now writes to both mother and daughter urging them to dismiss their companions; or at any rate to live together: and pointing out the grave scandal that must otherwise be caused.

From the treatise against Vigilantius (§3) we learn that ill-natured critics maintained that the persons and circumstances described in the letter were alike fictitious and that Jerome in writing it was but exercising his ingenuity on a congenial theme.

The date is a.d. 405.

Introduction.

1. A certain brother from Gaul has told me that his virgin-sister and widowed mother, though living in the same city, have separate abodes and have taken to themselves clerical protectors either as guests or stewards; and that by thus associating with strangers they have caused more scandal than by living apart. When I groaned and expressed what I felt more by silence than words; "I beseech you," said he, "rebuke them in a letter and recall them to mutual harmony; make them once more mother and daughter." To whom I replied, "a nice task this that you lay upon me, for me a stranger to reconcile two women whom you, a son and brother, have failed to influence. You speak as though I occupied the chair of a bishop instead of being shut up in a monastic cell where, far removed from the world's turmoil, I lament the sins of the past and try to avoid the temptations of the present. Moreover, it is surely inconsistent, while one buries oneself out of sight, to allow one's tongue free course through the world." "You are too fearful," he replied; "where is that old hardihood of yours which made you `scour the world with copious salt,' as Horace says of Lucilius?" [3056] "It is this," I rejoined, "that makes me shy and forbids me to open my lips. For through accusing crime I have been myself made out a criminal. Men have disputed and denied my assertions until, as the proverb goes, I hardly know whether I have ears or feeling left. The very walls have resounded with curses levelled at me, and `I was the song of drunkards.' [3057] Under the compulsion of an unhappy experience I have learned to be silent, thinking it better to set a watch before my mouth and to keep the door of my lips than to incline my heart to any evil thing, [3058] or, while censuring the faults of others, myself to fall into that of detraction." In answer to this he said: "Speaking the truth is not detraction. Nor will you lecture the world by administering a particular rebuke; for there are few persons, if any, open to this special charge. I beg of you, therefore, as I have put myself to the trouble of this long journey, that you will not suffer me to have come for nothing. The Lord knows that, after the sight of the holy places, my principal object in coming has been to heal by a letter from you the division between my sister and my mother." "Well," I replied, "I will do as you wish, for after all the letters will be to persons beyond the sea and words written with reference to definite persons can seldom offend other people. But I must ask you to keep what I say secret. You will take my advice with you to encourage you by the way; if it is listened to, I will rejoice as much as you; while if, as I rather think, it is rejected, I shall have wasted my words and you will have made a long journey for nothing."

The Letter.

2. In the first place my sister and my daughter, I wish you to know that I am not writing to you because I suspect anything evil of you. On the contrary I implore you to live in harmony, so as to give no ground for any such suspicions. Moreover had I supposed you fast bound in sin--far be this from you--I should never have written, for I should have known that my words would be addressed to deaf ears. Again, if I write to you somewhat sharply, I beg of you to ascribe this not to any harshness on my part but to the nature of the ailment which I attempt to treat. Cautery and the knife are the only remedies when mortification has once set in; poison is the only antidote known for poison; great pain can only be relieved by inflicting greater pain. Lastly I must say this that even if your own consciences acquit you of misdoing, yet the very rumour of such brings disgrace upon you. Mother and daughter are names of affection; they imply natural ties and reciprocal duties; they form the closest of human relations after that which binds the soul to God. If you love each other, your conduct calls for no praise: but if you hate each other, you have committed a crime. The Lord Jesus was subject to His parents. [3059] He reverenced that mother of whom He was Himself the parent; He respected the foster-father whom He had Himself fostered; for He remembered that He had been carried in the womb of the one and in the arms of the other. Wherefore also when He hung upon the cross He commended to His disciple [3060] the mother whom He had never before His passion parted from Himself.

3. Well, I shall say no more to the mother, for perhaps age, weakness, and loneliness make sufficient excuses for her; but to you the daughter I say: "Is a mother's house too small for you whose womb was not too small? When you have lived with her for ten months in the one, can you not bear to live with her for one day in the other? or are you unable to meet her gaze? Can it be that one who has borne you and reared you, who has brought you up and knows you, is dreaded by you as a witness of your home-life? If you are a true virgin, why do you fear her careful guardianship; and, if you have fallen, why do you not openly marry? Wedlock is like a plank offered to a shipwrecked man and by its means you may remedy what previously you have done amiss. I do not mean that you are not to repent of your sin or that you are to continue in evil courses; but, when a tie of the kind has been formed, I despair of breaking it altogether. However, a return to your mother will make it easier for you to bewail the virginity which you have lost through leaving her. Or if you are still unspotted and have not lost your chastity, be careful of it for you may lose it. Why must you live in a house where you must daily struggle for life and death? Can any one sleep soundly with a viper near him? No; for, though it may not attack him it is sure to frighten him. It is better to be where there is no danger, than to be in danger and to escape. In the one case we have a calm; in the other careful steering is necessary. In the one case we are filled with joy; in the other we do but avoid sorrow.

4. But you will perhaps reply: "my mother is not well-behaved, she desires the things of the world, she loves riches, she disregards fasting, she stains her eyes with antimony, she likes to walk abroad in gay attire, she hinders me from the monastic vow, and so I cannot live with her." But first of all, even though she is as you say, you will have the greater reward for refusing to forsake her with all her faults. She has carried you in her womb, she has reared you; with gentle affection she has borne with the troublesome ways of your childhood. She has washed your linen, she has tended you when sick, and the sickness of maternity was not only borne for you but caused by you. She has brought you up to womanhood, she has taught you to love Christ. You ought not to be displeased with the behaviour of a mother who has consecrated you as a virgin to the service of your spouse. Still if you cannot put up with her dainty ways and feel obliged to shun them, and if your mother really is, as people so often say, a woman of the world, you have others, virgins like yourself, the holy company of chastity. Why, when you forsake your mother, do you choose for companion a man who perhaps has left behind him a sister and mother of his own? You tell me that she is hard to get on with and that he is easy; that she is quarrelsome and that he is amiable. I will ask you one question: Did you go straight from your home to the man, or did you fall in with him afterwards? If you went straight to him, the reason why you left your mother is plain. If you fell in with him afterwards, you shew by your choice what you missed under your mother's roof. [3061] The pain that I inflict is severe and I feel the knife as much as you. "He that walketh uprightly walketh surely." [3062] Only that my conscience would smite me, I should keep silence and be slow to blame others where I am not guiltless myself. Having a beam in my own eye I should be reluctant to see the mote in my neighbour's. But as it is I live far away among Christian brothers; my life with them is honourable as eyewitnesses of it can testify; I rarely see, or am seen by, others. It is most shameless, therefore, in you to refuse to copy me in respect of self-restraint, when you profess to take me as your model. If you say: "my conscience is enough for me too. God is my judge who is witness of my life. I care not what men may say;" let me urge upon you the apostle's words: "provide things honest" not only in the sight of God but also "in the sight of all men." [3063] If any one carps at you for being a Christian and a virgin, mind it not; you have left your mother it may be said to live in a monastery among virgins, but censure on this score is your glory. When men blame a maid of God not for self-indulgence but only for insensibility to affection, what they condemn as callous disregard of a parent is really a lively devotion towards God. For you prefer to your mother Him whom you are bidden to prefer to your own soul. [3064] And if the day ever comes that she also shall so prefer Him, she will find in you not a daughter only but a sister as well.

5. "What then?" you will say, "is it a crime to have a man of religion in the house with me?" You seize me by the collar and drag me into court either to sanction what I disapprove or else to incur the dislike of many. A man of religion never separates a daughter from her mother. He welcomes both and respects both. A daughter may be as religious as she pleases; still a mother who is a widow is a guaranty for her chastity. If this person whoever he is is of the same age with yourself, he should honour your mother as though she were his own; and, if he is older, he should love you as a daughter and subject you to a mother's discipline. It is not good either for your reputation or for his that he should like you more than your mother; for his affection might appear to be less for you than for your youth. This is what I should say if a monk were not your brother and if you had no relatives able to protect you. But what excuse has a stranger for thrusting himself in where there are both a mother and a brother, the one a widow and the other a monk? It is good for you to feel that you are a daughter and a sister. However, if you cannot manage both, and if your mother is too hard a morsel to swallow, your brother at any rate should satisfy you. Or, if he is too harsh, she that bore you may prove more gentle. Why do you turn pale? Why do you get excited? Why do you blush, and with trembling lips betray the restlessness of your mind? One thing only can surpass a woman's love for her mother and brother; and that is her passion for her husband.

6. I am told, moreover, that you frequent suburban villas and their pleasant gardens in the company of relatives and intimate friends. I have no doubt that it is some female cousin or connexion who for her own satisfaction carries you about with her as a novel kind of attendant. Far be it from me to suspect that you would desire men's society; even though they should be those of your own family. But pray, maiden, answer me this; do you appear alone in your kinsfolk's society? or do you bring your favourite with you? Shameless as you may be, you will hardly venture to flaunt him in the eyes of the world. If you ever do so, your whole circle will cry out about both you and him; every one's finger will be pointed at you; and your cousins who in your presence to please you call him a monk and a man of religion, will laugh at you behind your back for having such an unnatural husband. If on the other hand you go out alone--which I rather suppose to be the case--you will find yourself clothed in sober garb among slave youths, women married or soon to be so, wanton girls, and dandies with long hair and tight-fitting vests. [3065] Some bearded fop will offer you his hand, he will hold you up if you feel tired, and the pressure of his fingers will either be a temptation to you, or will shew that you are a temptation to him. Again when you sit down to table with married men and women, you will have to see kisses in which you have no part, and dishes partaken of which are not for you. Moreover it cannot but do you harm to see other women attired in silk dresses and gold brocades. At table also whether you like it or not, you will be forced to eat flesh and that of different kinds. To make you drink wine they will praise it as a creature of God. To induce you to take baths they will speak of dirt with disgust; and, when on second thoughts you do as you are bid, they will with one voice salute you as spotless and open, a thorough lady. Meantime some singer will give to the company a selection of softly flowing airs; and as he will not venture to look at other men's wives, he will constantly fix his eyes on you who have no protector. He will speak by nods and convey by his tone what he is afraid to put into words. Amid inducements to sensuality so marked as these, even iron wills are apt to be overcome with desire; an appetite which is the more imperious in virgins because they suppose that sweetest of which they have no experience. Heathen legends tell us that sailors actually ran their ships on the rocks that they might listen to the songs of the Sirens; and that the lyre of Orpheus had power to draw to itself trees and animals and to soften flints. In the banquet-hall chastity is hard to keep. A shining skin shews a sin-stained soul.

7. As a schoolboy I have read of one--and have seen his effigy true to the life in the streets--who continued to cherish an unlawful passion even when his flesh scarcely clung to his bones, and whose malady remained uncured until death cured it. What then will become of you a young girl physically sound, dainty, stout, and ruddy, if you allow yourself free range among flesh-dishes, wines, and baths, not to mention married men and bachelors? Even if when solicited you refuse to consent, you will take the fact of your being asked as evidence that you are considered handsome. A sensual mind pursues dishonourable objects with greater zest than honourable ones; and when a thing is forbidden hankers after it with greater pleasure. Your very dress, cheap and sombre as it is, is an index of your secret feelings. For it has no creases and trails along the ground to make you appear taller than you are. Your vest is purposely ripped asunder to shew what is beneath and while hiding what is repulsive, to reveal what is fair. As you walk, the very creaking of your black and shiny shoes attracts the notice of the young men. You wear stays to keep your breasts in place, and a heaving girdle closely confines your chest. Your hair covers either your forehead or your ears. Sometimes too you let your shawl drop so as to lay bare your white shoulders; and, as if unwilling that they should be seen, you quickly conceal what you have purposely disclosed. And when in public you for modesty's sake cover your face, like a practised harlot you only shew what is likely to please.

8. You will exclaim "How do you know what I am like, or how, when you are so far away, can you see what I am doing?" Your own brother's tears and sobs have told me, his frequent and scarcely endurable bursts of grief. Would that he had lied or that his words had been words of apprehension only and not of accusation. But, believe me, liars do not shed tears. He is indignant that you prefer to himself a young man, not it is true clothed in silk or wearing his hair long but muscular and dainty in the midst of his squalor; and that this fellow holds the purse-strings, looks after the weaving, allots the servants their tasks, rules the household, and buys from the market all that is needed. He is at once steward and master, and, as he anticipates the slaves in their duties, [3066] he is carped at by all the domestics. Everything that their mistress has not given them they declare that he has stolen from them. Servants as a class are full of complaints; and no matter what you give them, it is always too little. For they do not consider how much you have but only how much you give; and they make up for their chagrin in the only way they can, that is, by grumbling. One calls him a parasite, another an impostor, another a money-seeker, another by some novel appellation that hits his fancy. They noise it abroad that he is constantly at your bed-side, that when you are sick he runs to fetch nurses, that he holds basins, airs sheets, and folds bandages for you. The world is only too ready to believe scandal, and stories invented at home soon get afloat abroad. Nor need you be surprised if your servantmen and servantmaids get up such tales about you, when even your mother and your brother complain of your conduct.

9. Do, therefore, what I advise you and entreat you to do: if possible, be reconciled with your mother; or, if this may not be, at least come to terms with your brother. Or if you are filled with an implacable hatred of relationships usually so dear, separate at all events from the man, whom you are said to prefer to your own flesh and blood, and, if even this is impossible for you, (for, if you could leave him, you would certainly return to your own) pay more regard to appearances in harbouring him as your companion. Live in a separate building and take your meals apart; for if you remain under one roof with him slanderers will say that you share with him your bed. You may thus easily get help from him when you feel you need it, and yet to a considerable degree escape public discredit. Yet you must take care not to contract the stain of which Jeremiah tells us that no nitre or fuller's soap can wash it out. [3067] When you wish him to come to see you, always have witnesses present; either friends, or freedmen, or slaves. A good conscience is afraid of no man's eyes. Let him come in unembarrassed and go out at his ease. Let his silent looks, his unspoken words and his whole carriage, though at times they may imply embarrassment, yet indicate peace of mind. Pray, open your ears and listen to the outcry of the whole city. You have already both of you lost your own names and are known each by that of the other. You are spoken of as his, and he is said to be yours. Your mother and your brother have heard this and are ready to take you in between them. They implore you to consent to this arrangement, so that the scandal of your intimacy with this man which is confined to yourself may give place to a glory common to all. You can live with your mother and he with your brother. You can more boldly shew your regard for one who is your brother's comrade; and your mother will more properly esteem one who is the friend of her son and not of her daughter. But if you frown and refuse to accept my advice, this letter will openly expostulate with you. `Why,' it will say, `do you beset another man's servant? Why do you make Christ's minister your slave? Look at the people and scan each face as it comes under your view. When he reads in the church all eyes are fixed upon you; and you, using the licence of a wife, glory in your shame. Secret infamy no longer contents you; you call boldness freedom; "you have a whore's forehead and refuse to be ashamed." [3068]

10. Once more you exclaim that I am over-suspicious, a thinker of evil, too ready to follow rumours. What? I suspicious? I ill-natured? I, who as I said in the beginning have taken up my pen because I have no suspicions? Or is it you that are careless, loose, disdainful? You who at the age of twenty-five have netted in your embrace a youth whose beard has scarcely grown? An excellent instructor he must be, able no doubt by his severe looks both to warn and frighten you! No age is safe from lust, yet gray hairs are some security for decent conduct. A day will surely come (for time glides by imperceptibly) when your handsome young favourite will find a wealthier or more youthful mistress. For women soon age and particularly if they live with men. You will be sorry for your decision and regret your obstinacy in a day when your means and reputation shall be alike gone, and when this unhappy intimacy shall be happily broken off. But perhaps you feel sure of your ground and see no reason to fear a breach where affection has had so long a time to develop and grow.

11. To you also, her mother, I must say a word. Your years put you beyond the reach of scandal; do not take advantage of this to indulge in sin. It is more fitting that your daughter should learn from you how to part from a companion than that you should learn from her how to give up a paramour. You have a son, a daughter, and a son-in-law, or at least one who is your daughter's partner. [3069] Why then should you seek other society than theirs, or wish to kindle anew expiring flames? It would be more becoming in you to screen your daughter's fault than to make it an excuse for your own misdoing. Your son is a monk, and, if he were to live with you, he would strengthen you in your religious profession and in your vow of widowhood. Why should you take in a complete stranger, especially in a house not large enough to hold a son and a daughter? You are old enough to have grand-children. Invite the pair home then. Your daughter went away by herself; let her return with this man. I say `man' and not `husband' that none may cavil. The word describes his sex and not his relation to her. Or if she blushes to accept your offer or finds the house in which she was born too narrow for her, then move both of you to her abode. However limited may be its accommodation, it can take in a mother and a brother better than a stranger. In fact, if she lives in the same house and occupies the same room with a man, she cannot long preserve her chastity. It is different when two women and two men live together. If the third person concerned--he, I mean, who fosters your old age--will not make one of the party and causes only dissension and confusion, the pair of you [3070] can do without him. But if the three of you remain together, then your brother and son [3071] will offer him a sister and a mother. Others may speak of the two strangers as step-father and son-in-law; but your son must speak of them as his foster-father and his brother.

Note.

12. Working quickly I have completed this letter in a single night anxious alike to gratify a friend and to try my hand on a rhetorical theme. Then early in the morning he has knocked at my door on the point of starting. I wish also to shew my detractors that like them I too can say the first thing that comes into my head. I have, therefore, introduced few quotations from the scriptures and have not, as in most of my books, interwoven its flowers in my discourse. The letter has been, in fact, dictated off-hand and poured forth by lamp-light so fast that my tongue has outstripped my secretaries' pens and that my volubility has baffled the expedients of shorthand. I have said this much that those who make no allowances for want of ability may make some for want of time.


Footnotes

[3056] Hor. Sat. I. x. 3, 4. [3057] Ps. lxix. 12. [3058] Ps. cxli. 3, 4. [3059] Luke ii. 51. [3060] Joh. xix. 26, 27. [3061] Viz. men's society. [3062] Prov. x. 9. [3063] Rom. xii. 17. [3064] Luke xiv. 26. [3065] Lineatos juvenes. The linea appears to have been a close-fitting jerkin. [3066] To ingratiate himself with their mistress. Cf. 108. [3067] Jer. ii. 22. [3068] From Jer. iii. 3. [3069] Contubernalis. [3070] Viz. the mother and daughter. [3071] Viz. the monk who was son of the widow and brother of the virgin.


Letter CXVIII. To Julian.

Jerome writes to Julian, a wealthy nobleman apparently of Dalmatia (§5), to console him for the loss of his wife and two daughters all of whom had recently died. He reminds Julian of the trials of Job and recommends him to imitate the patience of the patriarch. He also urges him to follow the example set by Pammachius and Paulinus, that is, to give up his riches and to become a monk for the sake of Christ. The date of the letter is 406 a.d.

1. At the very instant of his departure Ausonius, a son to me as he is a brother to you, gave me a late glimpse of himself but quickly hurried away again, saying good-morning and good-bye together. Yet he thought that he would return empty-handed unless he could bring you some trifle from me however hastily written. Clothed in scarlet as befitted his rank, he had already strapped on his sword-belt [3072] and sent down a requisition to have a stage-horse saddled. Still he made me send for my secretary and dictate a letter to him. This I did with such rapidity that his nimble hand could hardly keep pace with my words or manage to put down my hurried sentences. Thus hasty dictation has taken the place of careful writing; and, if I break my long silence, it is but to offer you an expression of good will. This is an impromptu letter without logical order or charm of style. You must look on me for once as a friend only; you will find, I assure you, nothing of the orator here. Bear in mind that it has been dashed off on the spur of the moment and given as a provision for the way to one in a hurry to depart.

Holy scripture says: "a tale out of season is as musick in mourning." [3073] Accordingly I have disdained the graces of rhetoric and those charms of eloquence which boys find so captivating, and have fallen back on the serious tone of the sacred writings. For in these are to be found true medicines for wounds and sure remedies for sorrow. In these a mother receives back her only son even on the bier. [3074] In these a crowd of mourners hears the words: "the maid is not dead but sleepeth." [3075] In these one that is four days dead comes forth bound at the call of the Lord. [3076]

2. I hear that in a short space of time you have suffered several bereavements, that you have buried in quick succession two young unmarried daughters, and that Faustina, most chaste and loyal of wives, your sister in the fervour of her faith and your one comfort in the loss of your children, has suddenly fallen asleep and been taken from you. You have been like a shipwrecked man, who has no sooner reached the shore than he falls into the hands of brigands, or in the eloquent language of the prophet like one "who did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him." [3077] Pecuniary losses have followed your bereavements; the entire province has been overrun by a barbarian enemy, and in the general devastation your private property has been destroyed, your flocks and herds have been driven off, and your poor slaves either made prisoners or else slain. To crown all, your only daughter, made all the more dear to you by the loss of the others, has for her husband a young nobleman who, to say nothing worse of him, has given you more occasion for sorrow than for rejoicing. Such is the list of the trials that have been laid upon you; such is the conflict waged by the old enemy against Julian a raw recruit to Christ's standard. If you look only to yourself your troubles are indeed great but if you look to the strong Warrior, [3078] they are but child's play and the conflict is only the semblance of one. After untold trials a wicked wife was still left to the blessed Job, the devil hoping that he might learn from her to blaspheme God. You on the other hand have been deprived of an excellent one that you might learn to go without consolation in the hour of misfortune. Yet it is far harder to put up with a wife whom you dislike than it is to mourn for one whom you dearly love. Moreover when Job's children died they found a common tomb beneath the ruins of his house, and all he could do to shew his parental affection was to rend his garments, to fall upon the ground and to worship, saying: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: it has been as the Lord pleased: blessed be the name of the Lord." [3079] But you, to put the matter briefly, have been allowed to perform the obsequies of your dear ones; and those obsequies have been attended by many respectful kinsmen and comforting friends. Again Job lost all his wealth at once; and, as, one after another, the messengers of woe unfolded new calamities, he flinched as little as the sage of whom Horace writes: [3080] --

Shatter the world to atoms if you will.

Fearless will be the man on whom it falls.

But with you the case is different. The greater part of your substance has been left to you, and your trials have not been greater than you can bear. For you have not yet attained to such perfection that the devil has to marshal all his forces against you.

3. Long ago this wealthy proprietor and still wealthier father was made by a sudden stroke destitute and bereaved. But as, in spite of all that befel him, he had not sinned before God or spoken foolishly, the Lord--exulting in the victory of his servant and regarding Job's patience as His own triumph--said to the devil: "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity?" [3081] He finely adds the last clause because it is difficult for innocence to refrain from murmuring when it is overborne by misfortune; and to avoid making a shipwreck of faith when it sees that its sufferings are unjustly inflicted. The devil answered the Lord and said: "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face." [3082] See how crafty the adversary is, and how hardened in sin his evil days have made him! He knows the difference between things external and internal. He knows that even the philosophers of the world call the former adiaphora, that is indifferent, and that the perfection of virtue does not consist in losing or disdaining them. It is the latter, those that are internal and objects of preference, [3083] the loss of which inevitably causes chagrin. Wherefore he boldly contradicts what God has said and declares that Job deserves no praise at all; since he has yielded up no part of himself but only what is outside himself, since he has given for his own skin the skins of his children, and since he has but laid down his purse to secure the health of his body. From this your sagacity may perceive that your trials have so far only reached the point at which you give hide for hide, skin for skin, and are ready to give all that you have for your life. The Lord has not yet stretched forth His hand upon you, or touched your flesh, or broken your bones. Yet it is when such afflictions as these are laid upon you that it is hard not to groan and not to `bless' God to His face, that is to curse Him. The word `bless' is used in the same way in the books of Kings where it is said of Naboth that he `blessed' God and the king and was therefore stoned by the people. [3084] But the Lord knew His champion and felt sure that this great hero would even in this last and severest conflict prove unconquerable. Therefore He said: "Behold he is in thine hand; but save his life." [3085] The holy man's flesh is placed at the devil's disposal, but his vital powers are withheld. For if the devil had smitten that on which sensation and mental judgment depend, the guilt arising from a misuse of these faculties I would have lain at the door not of him who committed the sin but of him who had overthrown the balance of his mind.

4. Others may praise you if they will, and celebrate your victories over the devil. They may eulogize you for the smiling face with which you bore the loss of your daughters, or for the resolution with which, forty days after they fell asleep, you exchanged your mourning for a white robe to attend the dedication of a martyr's bones; unconcerned for a bereavement which was the concern of the whole city, and anxious only to share in a martyr's triumph. Nay, say they, when you bore your wife to burial, it was not as one dead but as one setting forth on a journey. But I shall not deceive you with flattering words or take the ground from under your feet with slippery praises. Rather will I say what it is good for you to hear: "My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation," [3086] and "when thou shalt have done all those things which are commanded thee, say, I am an unprofitable servant; I have done that which was my duty to do." [3087] Say to God: "the children that thou hast taken from me were Thine own gift. The hand-maiden that Thou hast taken to Thyself Thou also didst lend to me for a season to be my solace. I am not aggrieved that Thou hast taken her back, but thankful rather that Thou hast previously given her to me."

Once upon a time a rich young man boasted that he had fulfilled all the requirements of the law, but the Lord said to him (as we read in the gospel): "One thing thou lackest: if thou wilt be perfect, go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor; and come and follow me." [3088] He who declared that he had done all things gave way at the first onset to the power of riches. Wherefore they who are rich find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom which desires for its citizens souls that soar aloft free from all ties and hindrances. "Go thy way," the Lord says, "and sell" not a part of thy substance but "all that thou hast, and give to the poor;" not to thy friends or kinsfolk or relatives, not to thy wife or to thy children. I will even go farther and say: keep back nothing for yourself because you fear to be some day poor, lest by so doing you share the condemnation of Ananias and Sapphira; [3089] but give everything to the poor and make to yourself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that they may receive you into everlasting habitations. [3090] Obey the Master's injunction "follow me," [3091] and take the Lord of the world for your possession; that you may be able to sing with the prophet, "The Lord is my portion," [3092] and like a true Levite [3093] may possess no earthly inheritance. I cannot but advise you thus if you wish to be perfect, if you desire to attain the pinnacle of the apostles' glory, if you wish to take up your cross and to follow Christ. When once you have put your hand to the plough you must not look back; [3094] when once you stand on the housetop you must think no more of your clothes within; to escape your Egyptian mistress [3095] you must abandon the cloak that belongs to this world. Even Elijah, in his quick translation to heaven could not take his mantle with him, but left in the world the garments of the world. [3096] Such conduct, you will object, is for him who would emulate the apostles, for the man who aspires to be perfect. But why should not you aspire to be perfect? Why should not you who hold a foremost place in the world hold a foremost place also in Christ's household? Is it because you have been married? Peter was married too, but when he forsook his ship and his nets he forsook his wife also. [3097] The Lord who wills that all men shall be saved and prefers the repentance of a sinner to his death [3098] has, in His almighty providence, removed from you this excuse. Your wife can no longer draw you earthwards, but you can follow her as she draws you heavenwards. Provide good things for your children who have gone home before you to the Lord. Do not let their portions go to swell their sister's fortune, but use them to ransom your own soul and to give sustenance to the needy. These are the necklaces your daughters expect from you; these are the jewels they wish to see sparkle on their foreheads. The money which they would have wasted in buying silks may well be considered saved when it provides cheap clothing for the poor. They ask you for their portions. Now that they are united to their spouse they are loth to appear poor and undistinguished: they desire to have the ornaments that befit their rank.

5. Nor may you excuse yourself on the score of your noble station and the responsibilities of wealth. Look at Pammachius and at Paulinus that presbyter of glowing faith both of whom have offered to the Lord not only their riches but themselves. In spite of the devil and his shuffling they have by no means given skin for skin, but have consecrated their own flesh and bones, yea and their very souls unto the Lord. Surely these may lead you to higher things both by their example and by their preaching, that is, by their deeds and words. You are of noble birth, so are they: but in Christ they are made nobler still. You are rich and held in repute, so once were they: but now instead of being rich and held in repute they are poor and obscure, yet, because it is for Christ's sake, they are really richer and more famous than ever. You too, it is true, shew yourself beneficent, you are said to minister to the wants of the saints, to entertain monks, and to present large sums of money to churches. This however is only the a b c of your soldiership. You despise money; the world's philosophers have done the same. One of these [3099] --to say nothing of the rest--cast the price of many possessions into the sea, saying as he did so "To the bottom with you, ye provokers of evil lusts. I shall drown you in the sea that you may never drown me in sin." If then a philosopher--a creature of vanity whom popular applause can buy and sell--laid down all his burthen at once, how can you think that you have reached virtue's crowning height when you have yielded up but a portion of yours? It is you yourself that the Lord wishes for, "a living sacrifice...acceptable unto God." [3100] Yourself, I say, and not what you have. And therefore, as he trained Israel by subjecting it to many plagues and afflictions, so does He now admonish you by sending you trials of different kinds. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." [3101] The poor widow did but cast two mites into the treasury; yet because she cast in all that she had it is said of her that she surpassed all the rich in offering gifts to God. [3102] Such gifts are valued not by their weight but by the good-will with which they are made. You may have spent your substance upon numbers of people, and a portion of your fellows may have reason to rejoice in your bounty; yet those who have received nothing at your hands are still more numerous. Neither the wealth of Darius nor the riches of Croesus would suffice to satisfy the wants of the world's poor. But if you once give yourself to the Lord and resolve to follow the Saviour in the perfection of apostolic virtue, then you will come to see what your place has hitherto been, and how you have lagged in the rear of Christ's army. Hardly had you begun to mourn for your dead daughters when the fear of Christ dried the tears of paternal affection upon your cheeks. It was a great triumph of faith, true. But how much greater was that won by Abraham who was content to slay his only son, of whom he had been told that he was to inherit the world, yet did not cease to hope that after death Isaac would live again. [3103] Jephthah too offered up his virgin daughter, and for this is placed by the apostle in the roll of the saints. [3104] I would not therefore have you offer to the Lord only what a thief may steal from you or an enemy fall upon, or a proscription confiscate, what is liable to fluctuations in value now going up and now down, what belongs to a succession of masters who follow each other as fast as in the sea wave follows wave, and--to say everything in a word--what, whether you like it or not, you must leave behind you when you die. Rather offer to God that which no enemy can carry off and no tyrant take from you, which will go down with you into the grave, nay on to the kingdom of heaven and the enchantments of paradise. You already build monasteries and support in the various islands of Dalmatia a large number of holy men. But you would do better still if you were to live among these holy men as a holy man yourself. "Be ye holy, saith the Lord, for I am holy." [3105] The apostles boasted that they had left all things and had followed the Saviour. [3106] We do not read that they left anything except their ship and their nets; yet they were crowned with the approval of Him who was to be their judge. Why? Because in offering up themselves they had indeed left all that they had.

6. I say all this not in disparagement of your good works or because I wish to under-rate your generosity in almsgiving, but because I do not wish you to be a monk among men of the world and a man of the world among monks. I shall require every sacrifice of you for I hear that your mind is devoted to the service of God. If some friend, or follower, or kinsman tries to combat this counsel of mine and to recall you to the pleasures of a handsome table, be sure that he is thinking less of your soul than of his own belly, and remember that death in a moment terminates both elegant entertainments and all other pleasures provided by wealth. Within the short space of twenty days you have lost two daughters, the one eight years old and the other six; and do you suppose that one so old as you are yourself can live much longer? David tells you how long a time you can look for: "the days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow." [3107] Happy is he and to be held worthy of the highest bliss whom old age shall find a servant of Christ and whom the last day shall discover fighting for the Saviour's cause. "He shall not be ashamed when he speaketh with his enemies in the gate." [3108] On his entrance into paradise it shall be said to him: "thou in thy lifetime receivedst evil things but nowhere thou art comforted." [3109] The Lord will not avenge the same sin twice. Lazarus, formerly poor and full of ulcers, whose sores the dogs licked and who barely managed to live, poor wretch, on the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, is now welcomed into Abraham's bosom and has the joy of finding a father in the great patriarch. It is difficult nay impossible for a man to enjoy both the good things of the present and those of the future, to satisfy his belly here and his mind yonder, to pass from the pleasures of this life to the pleasures of that, to be first in both worlds, and to be held in honour both on earth and in heaven.

7. And if in your secret thoughts you are troubled because I who give you this advice am not myself what I desire you to be, and because you have seen some after beginning well fall midway on their journey; I shall briefly plead in reply that the words which I speak are not mine but those of the Lord and Saviour, and that I urge upon you not the standard which is possible to myself but the ideal which every true servant of Christ must wish for and realize. Athletes as a rule are stronger than their backers; yet the weaker presses the stronger to put forth all his efforts. Look not upon Judas denying his Lord but upon Paul confessing Him. Jacob's father was a man of great wealth; yet, when Jacob went to Mesopotamia, he went alone and destitute leaning upon his staff. When he felt weary he had to lie down by the wayside and, delicately nurtured as he had been by his mother Rebekah, was forced to content himself with a stone for a pillow. Yet it was then [3110] that he saw the ladder set up from earth to heaven, and the angels ascending and descending on it, and the Lord above it holding out a helping hand to such as fall and encouraging the climbers to fresh efforts by the vision of Himself. Therefore is the spot called Bethel or the house of God; for there day by day there is ascending and descending. When they are careless, even holy men lose their footing; and sinners, if they wash away their stains with tears regain their place. I say this not that those coming down may frighten you but that those going up may stimulate you. For evil can never supply a model and even in worldly affairs incentives to virtue come always from the brighter side.

But I have forgotten my purpose and the limits set to my letter. I should have liked to say a great deal more. Indeed all that I can say is inadequate alike to satisfy the seriousness of the subject and the claims of your rank. But here is our Ausonius beginning to be impatient for the sheets, hurrying the secretaries, and in his impatience at the neighing of his horse, accusing my poor wits of slowness. Remember me, then, and prosper in Christ. And one thing more; follow the example set you at home by the holy Vera, [3111] who like a true follower of Christ does not fear to endure the hardships of pilgrimage. Find in a woman your `leader in this high emprise.' [3112]


Footnotes

[3072] Cf. Letter LX. § 9. [3073] Ecclus. xxii. 6. [3074] Luke vii. 11-15. [3075] Matt. ix. 24. [3076] Joh. xi. 39, 43, 44. [3077] Amos v. 19. [3078] Cf. Rev. xix. 11-16. [3079] Job i. 20, 21, LXX. [3080] Horace, C. III. iii. 7, 8. [3081] Job ii. 3. [3082] Job ii. 4, 5. [3083] He alludes to the proegmena of the Stoics. [3084] 1 Kings xxi. 10, Vulg. (which mistranslates the neutral verb of the Hebrew). [3085] Job ii. 6. [3086] Ecclus. ii. 1. [3087] Luke xvii. 10 (adapted). [3088] Mark x. 21. [3089] Acts v. 1-10. [3090] Luke xvi. 9. [3091] Matt. ix. 9. [3092] Ps. xvi. 5. [3093] Nu. xviii. 20-24. [3094] Luke ix. 62. [3095] Gen. xxxix. 12. [3096] 2 Kings ii. 11, 13. [3097] But see 1 Cor. ix. 5. [3098] 1 Tim. ii. 4; 2 Pet. iii. 9. [3099] Crates the Theban. [3100] Rom. xii. 1. [3101] Heb. xii. 6. [3102] Mark xii. 43, 44. [3103] Cf. Heb. xi. 17-19. [3104] Judg. xi. 34-40; Heb. xi. 32. [3105] Lev. xix. 2; 1 Pet. i. 16. [3106] Luke xviii. 28. [3107] Ps. xc. 10. [3108] Ps. cxxvii. 5 (adapted from R.V.S.) [3109] Luke xvi. 25 (adapted). [3110] Gen. xxviii. 12, 13. Cp. Letters CVIII. § 13, and CXXIII. § 15. [3111] Of this lady nothing is known. [3112] Words of Virg. A. i. 364, relating to Dido.


Letter CXIX. To Minervius and Alexander.

Minervius and Alexander two monks of Toulouse had written to Jerome asking him to explain for them a large number of passages in scripture. Jerome in his reply postpones most of these to a future time but deals with two in detail viz. (1) "we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed," 1 Cor. xv. 51; and (2) "we shall be caught up in the clouds," 1 Thes. iv. 17. With regard to (1) Jerome prefers the reading "we shall all sleep but we shall not all be changed," and with regard to (2) he looks upon the language as metaphorical and interprets it to mean that believers will be `assumed' into the company of the apostles and prophets. The date of the letter is 406 a.d.


Letter CXX. To Hedibia. [3113]

At the request of Hedibia, a lady of Gaul much interested in the study of scripture, Jerome deals with the following twelve questions. It will be noticed that several of them belong to the historical criticism of our own day.

(1) How can anyone be perfect? and How ought a widow without children to live to God?

(2) What is the meaning of Matt. xxvi. 29?

(3) How are the discrepancies in the evangelical narratives to be accounted for? How can Matt. xxviii. 1 be reconciled with Mark xvi. 1, 2.

(4) How can Matt. xxviii. 9 (Saturday evening) be reconciled with John xx. 1-18 (Sunday morning)?

(5) How can Matt. xxviii. 9 be reconciled with John xx. 17?

(6) How was it that, if there was a guard of soldiers at the sepulchre, Peter and John were allowed to go in freely? (Matt. xxvii. 66; John xx. 1-8.)

(7) How is the statement of Matthew and Mark that the apostles were ordered to go into Galilee to see Jesus there to be reconciled with that of Luke and John who make Him appear to them in Jerusalem?

(8) What is the meaning of Matt. xxvii. 50, 51?

(9) How is the statement of John xx. 22 that Jesus breathed on his apostles the Holy Ghost to be reconciled with that of Luke (Luke xxiv. 49: Acts i. 4) that He would send it to them after His ascension?

(10) What is the meaning of the passage, Rom. ix. 14-29?

(11) What is the meaning of 2 Cor. ii. 16?

(12) What is the meaning of 1 Thes. v. 23?

The date of the letter is 406 or 407 a.d.


Footnotes

[3113] For Hedibia and her family, see an article in Dict. of Christ. Biog.


Letter CXXI. To Algasia.

Jerome writes to a lady of Gaul named Algasia to answer eleven questions which she had submitted to him. They were as follows:--

(1) How is Luke vii. 18, 19, to be reconciled with John i. 36?

(2) What is the meaning of Matt. xii. 20?

(3) And of Matt. xvi. 24?

(4) And of Matt. xxiv. 19, 20?

(5) And of Luke ix. 53?

(6) What is the meaning of the parable of the unjust steward?

(7) What is the meaning of Rom. v. 7?

(8) And of Rom. vii. 8?

(9) And of Rom. ix. 3?

(10) And of Col. ii. 18?

(11) And of 2 Thes. ii. 3?

The date of the letter is 406 a.d.


Letter CXXII. To Rusticus.

Rusticus and Artemia his wife having made a vow of continence broke it. Artemia proceeded to Palestine to do penance for her sin and Rusticus promised to follow her. However he failed to do so, and Jerome was asked to write this letter in the hope that it might induce him to fulfil his promise. The date is about 408 a.d.

1. I am induced to write to you, a stranger to a stranger, by the entreaties of that holy servant of Christ Hedibia [3114] and of my daughter in the faith Artemia, once your wife but now no longer your wife but your sister and fellow-servant. Not content with assuring her own salvation she has sought yours also, in former days at home and now in the holy places. She is anxious to emulate the thoughtfulness of the apostles Andrew and Philip; who after Christ had found them, desired in their turn to find, the one his brother Simon and the other his friend Nathanael. [3115] To the former of these it was said "Thou art Simon, the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas which is by interpretation a stone;" [3116] while the latter, whose name Nathanael means the gift of God, was comforted by Christ's witness to him: "behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile." [3117] So of old Lot [3118] desired to rescue his wife as well as his two daughters, and refusing to leave blazing Sodom and Gomorrah until he was himself half-on-fire, tried to lead forth one who was tied and bound by her past sins. But in her despair she lost her composure, and looking back became a monument of an unbelieving soul. [3119] Yet, as if to make up for the loss of a single woman, Lot's glowing faith set free the whole city of Zoar. In fact when he left the dark valleys in which Sodom lay and came to the mountains, the sun rose upon him as he entered Zoar or the little City; so-called because the little faith that Lot possessed, though unable to save greater places, was at least able to preserve smaller ones. For one who had gone so far astray as to live in Gomorrah could not all at once reach the noonland where Abraham, the friend of God, [3120] entertained God and His angels. [3121] (For it was in Egypt that Joseph fed his brothers, and when the bride speaks to the Bridegroom her cry is: "tell me where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon." [3122] ) Good men have always sorrowed for the sins of others. Samuel of old lamented for Saul [3123] because he neglected to treat the ulcers of pride with the balm of penitence. And Paul wept for the Corinthians [3124] who refused to wash out with their tears the stains of fornication. For the same reason Ezekiel swallowed the book where were written within and without song, and lamentation and woe; [3125] the song in praise of the righteous, the lamentation over the penitent, and the woe for those of whom it is written, "When the wicked man falleth into the depths of evil, then is he filled with scorn." [3126] It is to these that Isaiah alludes when he says: "in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping and to mourning and to baldness and to girding with sackcloth: and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen; and killing sheep, eating flesh" and saying, "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." [3127] Yet of such persons Ezekiel is bidden to speak thus: "O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live," and again, "turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" [3128] Nothing makes God so angry as when men from despair of better things cleave to those which are worse; and indeed this despair in itself is a sign of unbelief. One who despairs of salvation can have no expectation of a judgment to come. For if he dreaded such, he would by doing good works prepare to meet his Judge. Let us hear what God says through Jeremiah, "withhold thy foot from a rough way and thy throat from thirst" [3129] and again "shall they fall, and not arise? Shall he turn away, and not return?" [3130] Let us hear also what God says by Isaiah: "When thou shalt turn and bewail thyself, then shalt thou be saved, and then shalt thou know where thou hast hitherto been." [3131] We do not realize the miseries of sickness till returning health reveals them to us. So sins serve as a foil to the blessedness of virtue; and light shines more brightly when it is relieved against darkness. Ezekiel uses language like that of the other prophets because he is animated by a similar spirit. "Repent," he cries, "and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord." [3132] Wherefore in a subsequent passage he says: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: but that the wicked turn from his way and live." [3133] These words shew us that the mind must not through disbelief in the promised blessings give way to despair; and that the soul once marked out for perdition must not refuse to apply remedies on the ground that its wounds are past curing. Ezekiel describes God as swearing, that if we refuse to believe His promise in regard to our salvation we may at least believe His oath. It is with full confidence that the righteous man prays and says, "Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease," [3134] and again, "Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled." [3135] He means to say, "when I forsook the foulness of my faults for the beauty of virtue, God strengthened my weakness with His grace." Lo, I hear His promise: "I will pursue mine enemies and overtake them: neither will I turn again till they are consumed," [3136] so that I who was once thine enemy and a fugitive from thee, shall be laid hold of by thine hand. Cease not from pursuing me till my wickedness is consumed, and I return to my old husband who will give me my wool and my flax, my oil and my fine flour and will feed me with the richest foods. [3137] He it was who hedged up and enclosed my evil ways [3138] that I might find Him the true way who says in the gospel, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." [3139] Hear the words of the prophet: "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." [3140] Say also with him: "All the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears" [3141] : and again, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night," [3142] and in another place, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and weary land where no water is. So have I looked upon thee in the sanctuary." [3143] For although my soul has thirsted after thee, yet much more have I sought thee by the labour of my flesh and have not been able to look upon thee in thy sanctuary; not at any rate till I have first dwelt in a land barren of sin, where the weary wayfarer is no more assailed by the adversary, and where there are no pools or rivers of lust.

The Saviour also wept over the city of Jerusalem because its inhabitants had not repented; [3144] and Peter washed out his triple denial with bitter tears, [3145] thus fulfilling the words of the prophet: "rivers of waters run down mine eyes." [3146] Jeremiah too laments over his impenitent people, saying: "Oh that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for...my people!" [3147] And farther on he gives a reason for his lamentation: "weep ye not for the dead," he writes, "neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more." [3148] The Jew and the Gentile therefore are not to be bemoaned, for they have never been in the Church and have died once for all (it is of these that the Saviour says: "let the dead bury their dead" [3149] ); weep rather for those who by reason of their crimes and sins go away from the Church, and who suffering condemnation for their faults shall no more return to it. It is in this sense that the prophet speaks to ministers of the Church, calling them its walls and towers, and saying to each in turn, "O wall, let tears run down." [3150] In this way, it is prophetically implied, you will fulfil the apostolic precept: "rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep," [3151] and by your tears you will melt the hard hearts of sinners till they too weep; whereas, if they persist in evil doing they will find these words applied to them, "I...planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?" [3152] and again "saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face." [3153] He means, they would not turn towards God in penitence; but in the hardness of their hearts turned their backs upon Him to insult Him. Wherefore also the Lord says to Jeremiah: "hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she" had played the harlot and "had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not." [3154]

2. How hard hearted we are and how merciful God is! who even after our many sins urges us to seek salvation. Yet not even so are we willing to turn to better things. Hear the words of the Lord: "If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's and shall afterwards desire to return to him, will he at all receive her? Will he not loathe her rather? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers: yet return again to me, saith the Lord." In place of the last clause the true Hebrew text (which is not preserved in the Greek and Latin versions) gives the following: "thou hast forsaken me, yet return, and I will receive thee, saith the Lord." [3155] Isaiah also speaking in the same sense uses almost the same words: "Return," he cries, "O children of Israel, ye who think deep counsel and wicked. [3156] Return thou unto me and I will redeem thee. I am God, and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. [3157] Remember this and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Return in heart and remember the former things of old: for I am God and there is none else." [3158] Joel also writes: "turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning: and rend your heart and not your garments and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful...and repenteth him of the evil." [3159] How great His mercy is and how excessive--if I may so say--and unspeakable is His pitifulness, the prophet Hosea tells us when he speaks in the Lord's name: "how shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger." [3160] David also says in a psalm: "in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" [3161] and in another place: "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him." [3162]

3. Think how great that weeping must be which deserves to be compared to a flood of waters. Whosoever so weeps and says with the prophet Jeremiah "let not the apple of mine eye cease" [3163] shall straightway find the words fulfilled of him: "mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other;" [3164] so that, if righteousness and truth terrify him, mercy and peace may encourage him to seek salvation.

The whole repentance of a sinner is exhibited to us in the fifty-first [3165] psalm written by David after he had gone in unto Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite, [3166] and when, to the rebuke of the prophet Nathan he had replied, "I have sinned." Immediately that he confessed his fault he was comforted by the words: "the Lord also hath put away thy sin." [3167] He had added murder to adultery; yet bursting into tears he says: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions." [3168] A sin so great needed to find great mercy. Accordingly he goes on to say: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only have I sinned"--as a king he had no one to fear but God--"and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest and be clear when thou judgest." [3169] For "God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." [3170] And such was the progress that David made that he who had once been a sinner and a penitent afterwards became a master able to say: "I will teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." [3171] For as "confession and beauty are before God," [3172] so a sinner who confesses his sins and says: "my wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness" [3173] loses his foul wounds and is made whole and clean. But "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper." [3174]

The ungodly king Ahab, who shed the blood of Naboth to gain his vineyard, was with Jezebel, the partner less of his bed than of his cruelty, severely rebuked by Elijah. "Thus saith the Lord, hast thou killed and also taken possession?" and again, "in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine;" and "the dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." [3175] "And it came to pass"--the passage goes on--"when Ahab heard those words that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth...and the word of the Lord came to Elijah saying, Because Ahab humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days." [3176] Ahab's sin and Jezebel's were the same; yet because Ahab repented, his punishment was postponed so as to fall upon his sons, while Jezebel persisting in her wickedness met her doom then and there.

Moreover the Lord tells us in the gospel, "the men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas;" [3177] and again He says "I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." [3178] The lost piece of silver is sought for until it is found in the mire. [3179] So also the ninety and nine sheep are left in the wilderness, while the shepherd carries home on his shoulders the one sheep which has gone astray. [3180] Wherefore also "there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repenteth." [3181] What a blessed thought it is that heavenly beings rejoice in our salvation! For it is of us that the words are said: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [3182] Death and life are contrary the one to the other; there is no middle term. Yet penitence can knit death to life. The prodigal son, we are told, wasted all his substance, and in the far country away from his father "would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat." Yet, when he comes back to his father, the fatted calf is killed, a robe and a ring are given to him. [3183] That is to say, he receives again Christ's robe which he had before defiled, and hears to his comfort the injunction: "let thy garments be always white." [3184] He receives the signet of God and cries to the Lord: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee;" and receiving the kiss of reconciliation, he says to Him: "Now is the light of thy countenance sealed upon us, O Lord." [3185]

Hear the words of Ezekiel: "as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth." [3186] The Lord judges every man according as he finds him. It is not the past that He looks upon but the present. Bygone sins there may be, but renewal and conversion remove them. "A just man," we read "falleth seven times and riseth up again." [3187] If he falls, how is he just? and if he is just, how does he fall? The answer is that a sinner does not lose the name of just if he always repents of his sins and rises again. If a sinner repents, his sins are forgiven him not only till seven times but till seventy times seven. [3188] To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much. [3189] The harlot washed with her tears the Saviour's feet and wiped them with her hair; and to her, as a type of the Church gathered from the nations, was the declaration made: "Thy sins are forgiven." [3190] The self-righteous Pharisee perished in his pride, while the humble publican was saved by his confession. [3191]

God makes asseveration by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah: "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down and to destroy it: if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them." And immediately he adds: "Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, there is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart." [3192] The righteous Simeon says in the gospel: "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many," [3193] for the fall, that is, of sinners and for the rising again of the penitent. So the apostle writes to the Corinthians: "it is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up and have not rather mourned that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you." [3194] And in his second epistle to the same, "lest such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow," [3195] he calls him back, and begs them to confirm their love towards him, so that he who had been destroyed by incest might be saved by penitence.

"There is no man clean from sin; even though he has lived but for one day." [3196] And the years of man's life are many in number. "The stars are not pure in his sight, [3197] and his angels he charged with folly." [3198] If there is sin in heaven, how much more must there be sin on earth? If they are stained with guilt who have no bodily temptations, how much more must we be, enveloped as we are in frail flesh and forced to cry each one of us with the apostle: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [3199] For in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing." [3200] For we do not what we would but what we would not; the soul desires to do one thing, the flesh is compelled to do another. If any persons are called righteous in scripture, and not only righteous but righteous in the sight of God, they are called righteous according to that righteousness mentioned in the passage I have quoted: "A just man falleth seven times and riseth up again," [3201] and on the principle laid down that the wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him in the day that he turns to repentance. [3202] In fact Zachariah the father of John who is described as a righteous man sinned in disbelieving the message sent to him and was at once punished with dumbness. [3203] Even Job, who at the outset of his history is spoken of as perfect and upright and uncomplaining, is afterwards proved to be a sinner both by God's words and by his own confession. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the prophets also and the apostles were by no means free from sin and if the finest wheat had chaff mixed with it, what can be said of us of whom it is written: "What is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord?" [3204] Yet the chaff is reserved for future burning; as also are the tares which at present are mingled with the growing corn. For one shall come whose fan is in His hand, and shall purge His floor, and shall gather His wheat into the garner, and shall burn the chaff in the fire of hell. [3205]

4. Roaming thus through the fairest fields of scripture I have culled its loveliest flowers to weave for your brows a garland of penitence; for my aim is that, flying on the wings of a dove, you may find rest [3206] and make your peace with the Father of mercy. Your former wife, who is now your sister and fellow-servant, has told me that, acting on the apostolic precept, [3207] you and she lived apart by consent that you might give yourselves to prayer; but that after a time your feet sank beneath you as if resting on water and indeed--to speak plainly--gave way altogether. For her part she heard the Lord saying to her as to Moses: "as for thee stand thou here by me;" [3208] and with the psalmist she said of Him: "He hath set my feet upon a rock." [3209] But your house--she went on--having no sure foundation of faith fell before a whirlwind of the devil. [3210] Hers however still stands in the Lord, and does not refuse its shelter to you; you can still be joined in spirit to her to whom you were once joined in body. For, as the apostle says, "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" with him. [3211] Moreover, when the fury of the barbarians and the risk of captivity separated you again, you promised with a solemn oath that, if she made her way to the holy places, you would follow her either immediately or later, and that you would try to save your soul now that by your carelessness you had seemed to lose it. Perform, now, the vow which you then made in the presence of God. Human life is uncertain. Therefore, lest you may be snatched away before you have fulfilled your promise, imitate her whose teacher you ought to have been. For shame! the weaker vessel overcomes the world, and yet the stronger is overcome by it!

A woman leadeth in the high emprise; [3212]

and yet you will not follow her when her salvation leads you to the threshold of the faith! Perhaps, however, you desire to save the remnants of your property and to see the last of your friends and fellow-citizens and of their cities and villas. If so, amid the horrors of captivity, in the presence of exulting foes, and in the shipwreck of the province, at least hold fast to the plank of penitence; [3213] and remember your fellow-servant [3214] who daily sighs for your salvation and never despairs of it. While you are wandering about your own country (though, indeed, you no longer have a country; that which you once had, you have lost) she is interceding for you in the venerable spots which witnessed the nativity, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, and in the first of which He uttered His infant-cry. She draws you to her by her prayers that you may be saved, if not by your own exertions, at any rate by her faith. Of old one lay upon his bed sick of the palsy, so powerless in all his joints that he could neither move his feet to walk nor his hands to pray; yet when he was carried to our Lord by others, he was by Him so completely restored to health as to carry the bed which a little before had carried him. [3215] You too--absent in the body but present to her faith--your fellow-servant offers to her Lord and Saviour; and with the Canaanite woman she says of you: "my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." [3216] Souls are of no sex; therefore I may fairly call your soul the daughter of hers. For as a mother coaxes her unweaned child which is as yet unable to take solid food; so does she call you to the milk suitable for babes and offer to you the sustenance that a nursing mother gives. Thus shall you be able to say with the prophet: "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments." [3217]


Footnotes

[3114] This lady lived in Gaul and was a diligent student of scripture. Letter CXX. is address to her. [3115] Joh. i. 41, 45. [3116] Joh. i. 42. [3117] Joh. i. 47. [3118] Gen. xix. 15-26. [3119] Cf. Wisdom x. 7. [3120] Jas. ii. 23. [3121] Gen. xviii. 1. [3122] Cant. i. 7. [3123] 1 Sam. xv. 35. [3124] 2 Cor. ii. 4. [3125] Ezek. ii. 10, LXX. [3126] Prov. xviii. 3, LXX. [3127] Isa. xxii. 12, 13. [3128] Ezek. xxxiii. 10, 11. [3129] Jer. ii. 25, LXX. [3130] Jer. viii. 4. [3131] Isa. xxx. 15, LXX. [3132] Ezek. xviii. 30-32. [3133] Ezek. xxxiii. 11. [3134] Ps. lxxxv. 4. [3135] Ps. xxx. 7. [3136] Ps. xviii. 37, R.V. [3137] Hos. ii. 7-9. [3138] Hos. ii. 6. [3139] Joh. xiv. 6. [3140] Ps. cxxvi. 5, 6. [3141] Ps. vi. 6. [3142] Ps. xlii. 1-3. [3143] Ps. lxiii. 1-3 R.V. [3144] Luke xix. 41. [3145] Luke xxii. 62. [3146] Ps. cxix. 136. [3147] Jer. ix. 1. [3148] Jer. xxii. 10. [3149] Matt. viii. 22. [3150] Lam. ii. 18. [3151] Rom. xii. 15. [3152] Jer. ii. 21. [3153] Jer. ii. 27. [3154] Jer. iii. 6, 7. [3155] Jer. iii. 1, Vulg. The Hebrew contains nothing corresponding to the words "and I will receive thee." The Latin Version mentioned in the text is of course the old Latin. [3156] Isa. xxxi. 6, LXX. [3157] Isa. xlv. 21, 22. [3158] Isa. xlvi. 8, 9, LXX. [3159] Joel ii. 12, 13. [3160] Hos. xi. 8, 9. [3161] Ps. vi. 5. [3162] Ps. xxxii. 5, 6. [3163] Lam. ii. 18. [3164] Ps. lxxxv. 10. [3165] In the Vulg. the fiftieth. [3166] Cf. the heading of the psalm in A.V. [3167] 2 Sam. xii. 13. [3168] Ps. li. 1. [3169] Ps. li. 2-4. [3170] Rom. xi. 32. [3171] Ps. li. 13. [3172] Ps. xcvi. 6, Vulg. [3173] Ps. xxxviii. 5. [3174] Prov. xxviii. 13. [3175] 1 Kings xxi. 19, 23. [3176] 1 Kings xxi. 27-29. [3177] Matt. xii. 41. [3178] Matt. ix. 13. [3179] Luke xv. 8-10. [3180] Luke xv. 4, 5. [3181] Luke xv. 10. [3182] Matt. iii. 2. [3183] Luke xv. 11-24. [3184] Eccles. ix. 8. [3185] Ps. iv. 6, acc. to the Gallican and Roman psalters. The allusions throughout are to the ritual practised in Jerome's day in connection with the reception of penitents. [3186] Ezek. xxxiii. 12. [3187] Prov. xxiv. 16. [3188] Cf. Matt. xviii. 21, 22. [3189] Cf. Luke vii. 47. [3190] Luke vii. 48. [3191] Cf. Luke xviii. 14. [3192] Jer. xviii. 7-12. [3193] Luke ii. 34. [3194] 1 Cor. v. 1, 2. [3195] 2 Cor. ii. 7. [3196] Job xiv. 4, 5, LXX. [3197] Job xxv. 5. [3198] Job iv. 18. [3199] Rom. vii. 24. [3200] Rom. vii. 18. [3201] Prov. xxiv. 16. [3202] Cf. Ezek. xxxiii. 12. [3203] Luke i. 20-22. [3204] Jer. xxiii. 28. [3205] Matt. iii. 12. [3206] Ps. lv. 6. [3207] 1 Cor. vii. 5. [3208] Deut. v. 31. [3209] Ps. xl. 2. [3210] Cf. Matt. vii. 24-27. [3211] 1 Cor. vi. 17. [3212] Virgil, Æneid, i. 364. [3213] A favourite phrase with Jerome. See Letter CXVII. § 3. [3214] Viz. Artemia. [3215] Matt. ix. 1-7. [3216] Matt. xv. 22. [3217] Ps. cxix. 176.


Letter CXXIII. To Ageruchia.

An appeal to the widow Ageruchia, highborn lady of Gaul, not to marry again. It should be compared with the letters to Furia (LIV.) and to Salvina (LXXIX.) The allusion to Stilicho's treaty with Alaric fixes the date to 409 a.d.

1. I must look for a new track on the old road and devise a natural treatment, the same yet not the same, for a hackneyed and well-worn theme. [3218] It is true that there is but one road; yet one can often reach one's goal by striking across country. I have several times written letters to widows [3219] in which for their instruction I have sought out examples from scripture, weaving its varied flowers into a single garland of chastity. On the present occasion I address myself to Ageruchia; whose very name [3220] (allotted to her by the divine guidance) has proved a prophecy of her after-life. Around her stand her grandmother, her mother, and her aunt; a noble band of tried Christian women. Her grandmother, Metronia, now a widow for forty years, reminds us of Anna the daughter of Phanuel in the gospel. [3221] Her mother, Benigna, now in the fourteenth year of her widowhood, is surrounded by virgins whose chastity bears fruit a hundredfold. [3222] The sister of Celerinus, Ageruchia's father, has nursed her niece from infancy and indeed took her into her lap the moment that she was born. Deprived of the solace of her husband she has for twenty years trained her brother's child, teaching her the lessons which she has learned from her own mother.

2. I make these brief remarks to shew my young friend that in resolving not to marry again she does but perform a duty to her family; and that, while she will deserve no praise for fulfilling it, she will be justly blamed if she fails to do so. The more so that she has a posthumous son named after his father Simplicius and thus cannot plead loneliness or the want of an heir. For the lust of many shelters itself under such excuses as though the promptings of incontinence were only a desire for offspring. But why do I speak as to one who wavers when I hear that Ageruchia seeks the church's protection against the many suitors whom she meets in the palace? For the devil inflames men to vie with one another in proving the chastity of our beloved widow; and rank and beauty, youth and riches cause her to be sought after by all. But the greater the assaults that are made upon her continence, the greater will be the rewards that will follow her victory.

3. But no sooner do I clear the harbour than I find my way to the sea barred by a rock. [3223] I am confronted with the authority of the apostle Paul who in writing to Timothy thus speaks concerning widows: "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan." [3224] I must accordingly begin by considering the meaning of this pronouncement and examining the context of the whole passage. I must then plant my feet in the steps of the apostle and, as the saying goes, not deviate a hair's breadth from them either to this side or to that. He had previously described his ideal widow as one who had been the wife of one man, who had brought up children, who was well reported of for good works, who had relieved the afflicted with her substance, [3225] whose trust had been in God, and who had continued in prayer day and night. [3226] With her he contrasted her opposite, saying: "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." And that he might warn his disciple Timothy with all needful admonition, he immediately added these words: "the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ they will marry; having damnation because they have cast off their first faith." [3227] It is then for these who have outraged Christ their Spouse by committing fornication against Him (for this is the sense of the Greek word katastreniasosi )--it is for these that the apostle wishes a second marriage, thinking digamy preferable to fornication; but this second marriage is a concession and not a command.

4. We must also take the passage clause by clause. "I will," he says, "that the younger women marry." Why, pray? because I would not have young women commit fornication. "That they bear children;" [3228] for what reason? That they may not be induced by fear of the consequences to kill children whom they have conceived in adultery. "That they be the heads of households." [3229] Wherefore, pray? Because it is much more tolerable that a woman should marry again than that she should be a prostitute, and better that she should have a second husband than several paramours. The first alternative brings relief in a miserable plight, but the second involves a sin and its punishment. He continues: "that they give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully," a brief and comprehensive precept in which many admonitions are summed up. As for instance these: that a woman must not bring discredit upon her profession of widowhood by too great attention to her dress, that she must not draw troops of young men after her by gay smiles or expressive glances, that she must not profess one thing by her words and another by her behaviour, that she must give no ground for the application to herself of the well known line:

She gave a meaning look and slyly smiled. [3230]

Lastly, that Paul may compress into a few words all the reasons for such marriages, he shews the motive of his command by saying: "for some are already turned aside after Satan." Thus he allows to the incontinent a second marriage, or in case of need a third, simply that he may rescue them from Satan, preferring that a woman should be joined to the worst of husbands rather than to the devil. To the Corinthians he uses somewhat similar language: "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." [3231] Why, O apostle, is it better to marry? He answers immediately: because it is worse to burn. [3232]

5. Apart from these considerations, that which is absolutely good and not merely relatively so is to be as the apostle, that is loose, not bound; free, not enslaved; caring for the things of God, not for the things of a wife. Immediately afterwards he adds: "The wife is bound by the law to her husband as long as her husband liveth, but if her husband be fallen asleep, [3233] she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the spirit of God." [3234] This passage corresponds with the former in meaning, because the spirit of the two is the same. For though the epistles are different, they are the work of one author. While her husband lives the woman is bound, and when he is dead, she is loosed. Marriage then is a bond, and widowhood is the loosing of it. The wife is bound to the husband and the husband to the wife; and so close is the tie that they have no power over their own bodies, but each stands indebted to the other. They who are under the yoke of wedlock have not the option of choosing continence. When the apostle adds the words "only in the Lord," he excludes heathen marriages of which he had spoken in another place thus: "be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" [3235] We must not plough with an ox and an ass together; [3236] nor weave our wedding garment of different colours. He at once takes back the concession he made, and, as if repenting of his opinion, withdraws it by saying: "She is happier if she so abide," that is, unmarried; and declares that in his judgment this course is preferable. And that this may not be made light of as a merely human utterance, he claims for it the authority of the Holy Spirit, so that we are listening not to a fellowman making concessions to the weakness of the flesh but to the Holy Spirit using the apostle for his mouthpiece.

6. Again, no widow of youthful age must quiet her qualms of conscience by the plea that he gives commandment that no widow is to be taken into the number under three-score years old. [3237] He does not by this arrangement urge unmarried girls or youthful widows to marry, seeing that even of the married he says: "the time is short: it remaineth that they that have wives be as though they had none." [3238] No, he is speaking of widows who have relations able to support them, who have sons and grandsons to be responsible for their maintenance. The apostle commands these latter to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents and to relieve them adequately; that the church may not be charged, but may be free to relieve those that are widows indeed. "Honour widows," he writes, "that are widows indeed," that is, such as are desolate and have no relations to help them, who cannot labour with their hands, who are weakened by poverty and overcome by years, whose trust is in God and their only work prayer. [3239] From which it is easy to infer that the younger widows, unless they are excused by ill health, are either left to their own exertions or else are consigned to the care of their children or relations. The word `honour' in this passage implies either alms or a gift, as also in the verse immediately following: "Let the elders...be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." [3240] So also in the gospel when the Lord discusses that commandment of the Law which says: "Honour thy father and thy mother," [3241] He declares that it is to be interpreted not of mere words which while offering an empty shew of regard may still leave a parent's wants unrelieved, but of the actual provision of the necessaries of life. The Lord commanded that poor parents should be supported by their children and that these should pay them back when old those benefits which they had themselves received in their childhood. The scribes and pharisees on the other hand taught the children to answer their parents by saying: "It is Corban, that is to say, a gift [3242] which I have promised to the altar and engaged to present to the temple: it will relieve you as much there, as if I were to give it you directly to buy food." [3243] So it frequently happened that while father and mother were destitute their children were offering sacrifices for the priests and scribes to consume. If then the apostle compels poor widows--yet only those who are young and not broken down by sickness--to labour with their hands that the church, not charged with their maintenance, may be able to support such widows as are old, what plea can be urged by one who has abundance of this world's goods, both for her own wants and those of others, and who can make to herself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness able to receive her into everlasting habitations? [3244]

Consider too that no one is to be elected a widow, except she has been the wife of one husband. We sometimes fancy it to be the distinctive mark of the priesthood that none but monogamists shall be admitted to the altar. But not only are the twice-married excluded from the priestly office, they are debarred from receiving the alms of the church. A woman who has resorted to a second marriage is held unworthy to be supported by the faithful. And even the layman is bound by the law of the priest, for his conduct must be such as to admit of his election to the priesthood. If he has been twice married, he cannot be so elected. Therefore, as priests are chosen from the ranks of laymen, the layman also is bound by the commandment, fulfilment of which is indispensable for the attainment of the priesthood. [3245]

7. We must distinguish between what the apostle himself desires and what he is compelled to acquiesce in. If he allows me to marry again, this is due to my own incontinence and not to his wish. For he wishes all men to be as he is, and to think the things of God, and when once they are loosed no more to seek to be bound. But when he sees unstable men in danger through their incontinence of falling into the abyss of lust, he extends to them the offer of a second marriage; that, if they must wallow in the mire, it may be with one and not with many. The husband of a second wife must not consider this a harsh saying or one that conflicts with the rule laid down by the apostle. The apostle is of two minds: first, he proclaims a command, "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I." Next. he makes a concession, "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." [3246] He first shews what he himself desires, then that in which he is forced to acquiesce. He wishes us--after one marriage--to abide even as he, that is, unmarried, and sets before us in his own apostolic example an instance of the blessedness of which he speaks. If however he finds that we are unwilling to do as he wishes, he makes a concession to our incontinence. Which then of the two alternatives do we choose for ourselves? The one which he prefers and which is in itself good? Or the one which in comparison with evil is tolerable, yet as it is only a substitute for evil is not altogether good? Suppose that we choose that course which the apostle does not wish but to which he only consents against his will, allowing those who seek lower ends to have their own way; in this case we carry out not the apostle's wish but our own. We read in the old testament that the daughters of the priests who have been married once and have become widows are to eat of the priests' food and that when they die they are to be buried with the same ceremonies as their father and mother. [3247] If on the other hand they take other husbands they are to be kept apart both from their father and from the sacrifices and are to be counted as strangers. [3248]

8. These restraints on marriage are observed even among the heathen; and it is our condemnation if the true faith cannot do for Christ what false ones do for the devil, who has substituted for the saving chastity of the gospel a damning chastity of his own. [3249] The Athenian hierophant disowns his manhood and weakens his passions by a perpetual restraint. [3250] The holy office of the flamen is limited to those who have been once married, and the attendants of the flamens' wives must also have had but one husband. [3251] Only monogamists are allowed to share in the sacred rites connected with the Egyptian bull. [3252] I need say nothing of the vestal virgins and those of Apollo, the Achivan Juno, Diana, and Minerva, all of whom waste away in the perpetual virginity required by their vocation. I will just glance at the queen of Carthage [3253] who was willing to burn herself rather than marry king Iarbas; at the wife of Hasdrubal [3254] who taking her two children one in each hand cast, herself into the flames beneath her rather than surrender her honour; and at Lucretia [3255] who having lost the prize of her chastity refused to survive the defilement of her soul. I will not lengthen my letter by quoting the many instances of the like virtue which you can read to your profit in my first book against Jovinian. [3256] I will merely relate one which took place in your own country and which will shew you that chastity is held in high honour even among wild and barbarous and cruel peoples. Once the Teutons who came from the remote shores of the German Ocean overran all parts of Gaul, and it was only when they had cut to pieces several Roman armies that Marius at last defeated them in an encounter at Aquæ Sextiæ. [3257] By the conditions of the surrender three hundred of their married women were to be handed over to the Romans. When the Teuton matrons heard of this stipulation they first begged the consul that they might be set apart to minister in the temples of Ceres and Venus; [3258] and then when they failed to obtain their request and were removed by the lictors, they slew their little children and next morning were all found dead in each other's arms having strangled themselves in the night. [3259]

9. Shall then a highborn lady do what these barbarian women refused to do even as prisoners of war? After losing a first husband, good or bad as the case may be, shall she make trial of a second, and thus run counter to the judgment of God? And in case that she immediately loses this second, shall she take a third? And if he too is called to his rest, shall she go on to a fourth and a fifth, and by so doing identify herself with the harlots? No, a widow must take every precaution not to overstep by an inch the bounds of chastity. For if she once oversteps them and breaks through the modesty which becomes a matron, she will soon riot in every kind of excess; so much so that the prophet's words shall be true of her "Thou hast a whore's forehead, thou refusest to be ashamed." [3260]

What then? do I condemn second marriages? not at all; but I commend first ones. Do I expel twice-married persons from the church? Far from it; but I urge those who have been once married to lives of continence. The Ark of Noah contained unclean animals as well as clean. It contained both creeping things and human beings. In a great house there are vessels of different kinds, some to honour and some to dishonour. [3261] In the gospel parable the seed sown in the good ground brings forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. [3262] The hundredfold which comes first betokens the crown of virginity; the sixtyfold which comes next refers to the work of widows; while the thirtyfold--indicated by joining together the points of the thumb and forefinger [3263] --denotes the marriage-tie. What room is left for double marriages? None. They are not counted. Such weeds do not grow in good ground but among briers and thorns, the favourite haunts of those foxes to whom the Lord compares the impious Herod. [3264] A woman who marries more than once fancies herself worthy of praise because she is not so bad as the prostitutes, because she compares favourably with these victims of indiscriminate lust by surrendering herself to one alone and not to a number.

10. The story which I am about to relate is an incredible one; yet it is vouched for by many witnesses. A great many years ago when I was helping Damasus bishop of Rome with his ecclesiastical correspondence, and writing his answers to the questions referred to him by the councils of the east and west, I saw a married couple, both of whom were sprung from the very dregs of the people. The man had already buried twenty wives, and the woman had had twenty-two husbands. Now they were united to each other as each believed for the last time. The greatest curiosity prevailed both among men and women to see which of these two veterans would live to bury the other. The husband triumphed and walked before the bier of his often-married wife, amid a great concourse of people from all quarters, with garland and palm-branch, scattering spelt as he went along among an approving crowd. What shall we say to such a woman as that? Surely just what the Lord said to the woman of Samaria: "Thou hast had twenty-two husbands, and he by whom you are now buried is not your husband." [3265]

11. I beseech you therefore, my devout daughter in Christ, not to dwell on those passages which offer succour to the incontinent and the unhappy but rather to read those in which chastity is crowned. It is enough for you that you have lost the first and highest kind, that of virginity, and that you have passed through the third to the second; that is to say, having formerly fulfilled the obligations of a wife, that you now live in continence as a widow. Think not of the lowest grade, nay of that which does not count at all, I mean, second marriage; and do not seek for far fetched precedents to justify you in marrying again. You cannot too closely imitate your grandmother, your mother, and your aunt; whose teaching and advice as to life will form for you a rule of virtue. For if many wives in the lifetime of their husbands come to realize the truth of the apostle's words: "all things are lawful unto me but all things are not expedient," [3266] and make eunuchs of themselves for the kingdom of heaven's sake [3267] either by consent after their regeneration through the baptismal laver, or else in the ardour of their faith immediately after their marriage; why should not a widow, who by God's decree has ceased to have a husband, joyfully cry again and again with Job: "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away," [3268] and seize the opportunity offered to her of having power over her own body instead of again becoming the servant of a man. Assuredly it is much harder to abstain from enjoying what you have than it is to regret what you have lost. Virginity is the easier because virgins know nothing of the promptings of the flesh, and widowhood is the harder because widows cannot help thinking of the license they have enjoyed in the past. And it is harder still if they suppose their husbands to be lost and not gone before; for while the former alternative brings pain, the latter causes joy.

12. The creation of the first man should teach us to reject more marriages than one. There was but one Adam and but one Eve; in fact the woman was fashioned from a rib of Adam. [3269] Thus divided they were subsequently joined together in marriage; in the words of scripture "the twain shall be one flesh," not two or three. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." [3270] Certainly it is not said "to his wives." Paul in explaining the passage refers it to Christ and the church; [3271] making the first Adam a monogamist in the flesh and the second a monogamist in the spirit. As there is one Eve who is "the mother of all living," [3272] so is there one church which is the parent of all Christians. And as the accursed Lamech made of the first Eve two separate wives, [3273] so also the heretics sever the second into several churches which, according to the apocalypse of John, ought rather to be called synagogues of the devil than congregations of Christ. [3274] In the Book of Songs we read as follows:--"there are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her." [3275] It is to this choice one that the same John addresses an epistle in these words, "the elder unto the elect lady and her children." [3276] So too in the case of the ark which the apostle Peter interprets as a type of the church, [3277] Noah brings in for his three sons one wife apiece and not two. [3278] Likewise of the unclean animals pairs only are taken, male and female, to shew that digamy has no place even among brutes, creeping things, crocodiles and lizards. And if of the clean animals there are seven taken of each kind, [3279] that is, an uneven number; this points to the palm which awaits virginal chastity. For on leaving the ark Noah sacrificed victims to God [3280] not of course of the animals taken by twos for these were kept to multiply their species, but of those taken by sevens some of which had been set apart for sacrifice.

13. It is true that the patriarchs had each of them more wives than one and that they had numerous concubines besides. And as if their example was not enough, David had many wives and Solomon a countless number. Judah went in to Tamar thinking her to be a harlot; [3281] and according to the letter that killeth the prophet Hosea married not only a whore but an adulteress. [3282] If these instances are to justify us let us neigh after every woman that we meet; [3283] like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah let us be found by the last day buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage; [3284] and let us only end our marrying with the close of our lives. And if both before and after the deluge the maxim held good: "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth:" [3285] what has that to do with us upon whom the ends of the ages are come, [3286] unto whom it is said, "the time is short," [3287] and "now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees;" [3288] that is to say, the forests of marriage and of the law must be cut down by the chastity of the gospel. There is "a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing." [3289] Owing to the near approach of the captivity Jeremiah is forbidden to take a wife. [3290] In Babylon Ezekiel says: "my wife is dead and my mouth is opened." [3291] Neither he who wished to marry nor he who had married could in wedlock prophesy freely. In days gone by men rejoiced to hear it said of them: "thy children shall be like olive plants round about thy table," and "thou shalt see thy children's children." [3292] But now it is said of those who live in continence: "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit;" [3293] and "my soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me." [3294] Then it was said "an eye for an eye;" now the commandment is "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." [3295] In those days men said to the warrior: "gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty;" [3296] now it is said to Peter: "put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." [3297]

In speaking thus I do not mean to sever the law from the gospel, as Marcion [3298] falsely does. No, I receive one and the same God in both who, as the time and the object vary, is both the Beginning and the End, who sows that He may reap, who plants that He may have somewhat to cut down, and who lays the foundation that in the fulness of time He may crown the edifice. Besides, if we are to deal with symbols and types of things to come, we must judge of them not by our own opinions but in the light of the apostle's explanations. Hagar and Sarah, or Sinai and Zion, are typical of the two testaments. [3299] Leah who was tender-eyed and Rachel whom Jacob loved [3300] signify the synagogue and the church. So likewise do Hannah and Peninnah of whom the former, at first barren, afterwards exceeded the latter in fruitfulness. In Isaac and Rebekah we see an early example of monogamy: it was only to Rebekah that the Lord revealed Himself in the hour of childbirth and she alone went of herself to enquire of the Lord. [3301] What shall I say of Tamar who bore twin sons, Pharez and Zarah? [3302] At their birth was broken down that middle wall of partition which typified the division existing between the two peoples; [3303] while the binding of Zarah's hand with the scarlet thread even then marked the conscience of the Jews with the stain of Christ's blood. And how shall I speak of the whore married by the prophet [3304] who is a figure either of the church as gathered in from the Gentiles or--an interpretation which better suits the passage--of the synagogue? First adopted from among the idolaters by Abraham and Moses, this has now denied the Saviour and proved unfaithful to Him. Therefore it has long been deprived of its altar, priests, and prophets and has to abide many days for its first husband. [3305] For when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come in, all Israel shall be saved. [3306]

14. I have tried to compress a great deal into a limited space as a draughtsman does when he delineates a large country in a small map. For I wish to deal with other questions, the first of which I shall give in Anna's words to her sister Dido:

Why waste your youth alone in ceaseless grief

Unblest with offspring, sweetest gift of love?

Think you the buried dead require this?

To whom the sufferer thus briefly replies:

'Twas you, my sister, you, who were the first

To plunge my frenzied soul into this woe.

Why could I not have lived a virgin life

Like some wild creature innocent of care?

Alas! I pledged my soul unto the dead:

I vowed a vow and I have broken it. [3307]

You set before me the joys of wedlock. I for my part will remind you of Dido's sword and pyre and funeral flames. In marriage there is not so much good to be hoped for as there is evil which may happen and must be feared. Passion when indulged always brings repentance with it; it is never satisfied, and once quenched it is soon kindled anew. Its growth or decay is a matter of habit; led like a captive by impulse it refuses to obey reason. But you will argue, `the management of wealth and property requires the superintendence of a husband.' Do you mean to say that the affairs of those who live single are ruined; and that, unless you make yourself as much a slave as your own servants, you will not be able to govern your household? Do not your grandmother, your mother and your aunt enjoy even more than their old influence and respect, looked up to as they are by the whole province and by the leaders of the churches? Do not soldiers and travellers manage their domestic affairs and give entertainments to one another with no wives to help them? [3308] Why can you not have grave and elderly servants or freed-men, such as those who have nursed you in your childhood, to preside over your house, to answer public calls, to pay taxes; men who will look up to you as a patroness, who will love you as a nursling, who will revere you as a saint? "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." [3309] If you are careful for raiment the gospel bids you "consider the lilies;" and, if for food, to go back to the fowls which "sow not neither do they reap; yet your heavenly father feedeth them." [3310] How many virgins and widows there are who have looked after their property for themselves without thereby incurring any stain of scandal!

15. Do not associate with young women or cleave to them, for it is on account of such that the apostle makes his concession of second marriage, and so you may be shipwrecked in what appears to be calm water. If Paul can say to Timothy, "the younger widows refuse," [3311] and again "love the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity," [3312] what plea can you urge for refusing to hear my admonitions? Avoid all persons to whom a suspicion of evil living may attach itself, and do not content yourself with the trite answer, `my own conscience is enough for me; I do not care what people say of me.' That was not the principle on which the apostle acted. He provided things honest not only in the sight of God but in the sight of all men; [3313] that the name of God might not be blasphemed among the Gentiles. [3314] Though he had power to lead about a sister, a wife, [3315] he would not do so, for he did not wish to be judged by an unbeliever's conscience. [3316] And, though he might have lived by the gospel, [3317] he laboured day and night with his own hands, that he might not be burdensome to the believers. [3318] "If meat," he says, "make my brother to offend. I will eat no flesh while the world standeth." [3319] Let us then say, if a sister or a brother causes not one or two but the whole church to offend, `I will not see that sister or that brother.' It is better to lose a portion of one's substance than to imperil the salvation of one's soul. It is better to lose that which some day, whether we like it or not, must be lost to us and to give it up freely, than to lose that for which we should sacrifice all that we have. Which of us can add--I will not say a cubit for that would be an immense addition--but the tenth part of a single inch to his stature? Why are we careful what we shall eat or what we shall drink? Let us "take no thought for the morrow: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." [3320]

Jacob in his flight from his brother left behind in his father's house great riches and made his way with nothing into Mesopotamia. Moreover, to prove to us his powers of endurance, he took a stone for his pillow. Yet as he lay there he beheld a ladder set up on the earth reaching to heaven and behold the Lord stood above it, and the angels ascended and descended on it; [3321] the lesson being thus taught that the sinner must not despair of salvation nor the righteous man rest secure in his virtue. [3322] To pass over much of the story (for there is no time to explain all the points in the narrative) after twenty years he who before had passed over Jordan with his staff returned into his native land with three droves of cattle, rich in flocks and herds and richer still in children. [3323] The apostles likewise travelled throughout the world without either money in their purses, or staves in their hands, or shoes on their feet; [3324] and yet they could speak of themselves as "having nothing and yet possessing all things." [3325] "Silver and gold," say they, "have we none, but such as we have give we thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." [3326] For they were not weighed down with the burthen of riches. Therefore they could stand, as Elijah, in the crevice of the rock, they could pass through the needle's eye, and behold the back parts of the Lord. [3327]

But as for us we burn with covetousness and, even while we declaim against the love of money, we hold out our skirts to catch gold and never have enough. [3328] There is a common saying about the Megarians which may rightly be applied to all who suffer from this passion: "They build as if they are to live forever; they live as if they are to die to-morrow." We do the same, for we do not believe the Lord's words. When we attain the age which all desire we forget the nearness of that death which as human beings we owe to nature and with futile hope promise to ourselves a long length of years. No old man is so weak and decrepit as to suppose that he will not live for one year more. A forgetfulness of his true condition gradually creeps upon him; so that--earthly creature that he is and close to dissolution as he stands--he is lifted up into pride, and in imagination seats himself in heaven.

16. But what am I doing? Whilst I talk about the cargo, the vessel itself founders. He that letteth [3329] is taken out of the way, and yet we do not realize that Antichrist is near. Yes, Antichrist is near whom the Lord Jesus Christ "shall consume with the spirit of his mouth." [3330] "Woe unto them," he cries, "that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days." [3331] Now these things are both the fruits of marriage.

I shall now say a few words of our present miseries. A few of us have hitherto survived them, but this is due not to anything we have done ourselves but to the mercy of the Lord. Savage tribes in countless numbers have overrun all parts of Gaul. The whole country between the Alps and the Pyrenees, between the Rhine and the Ocean, has been laid waste by hordes of Quadi, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alans, Gepids, Herules, Saxons, Burgundians, Allemanni and--alas! for the commonweal!--even Pannonians. For "Assur also is joined with them." [3332] The once noble city of Moguntiacum [3333] has been captured and destroyed. In its church many thousands have been massacred. The people of Vangium [3334] after standing a long siege have been extirpated. The powerful city of Rheims, the Ambiani, the Altrebatæ, [3335] the Belgians on the skirts of the world, Tournay, Spires, and Strasburg have fallen to Germany: while the provinces of Aquitaine and of the Nine Nations, of Lyons and of Narbonne are with the exception of a few cities one universal scene of desolation. And those which the sword spares without, famine ravages within. I cannot speak without tears of Toulouse which has been kept from falling hitherto by the merits of its reverend bishop Exuperius. [3336] Even the Spains are on the brink of ruin and tremble daily as they recall the invasion of the Cymry; and, while others suffer misfortunes once in actual fact, they suffer them continually in anticipation.

17. I say nothing of other places that I may not seem to despair of God's mercy. All that is ours now from the Pontic Sea to the Julian Alps in days gone by once ceased to be ours. For thirty years the barbarians burst the barrier of the Danube and fought in the heart of the Roman Empire. Long use dried our tears. For all but a few old people had been born either in captivity or during a blockade, and consequently they did not miss a liberty which they had never known. Yet who will hereafter credit the fact or what histories will seriously discuss it, that Rome has to fight within her own borders not for glory but for bare life; and that she does not even fight but buys the right to exist by giving gold and sacrificing all her substance? This humiliation has been brought upon her not by the fault of her Emperors [3337] who are both most religious men, but by the crime of a half-barbarian traitor [3338] who with our money has armed our foes against us. [3339] Of old the Roman Empire was branded with eternal shame because after ravaging the country and routing the Romans at the Allia, Brennus with his Gauls entered Rome itself. [3340] Nor could this ancient stain be wiped out until Gaul, the birth-place of the Gauls, and Gaulish Greece, [3341] wherein they had settled after triumphing over East and West, were subjugated to her sway. Even Hannibal [3342] who swept like a devastating storm from Spain into Italy, although he came within sight of the city, did not dare to lay siege to it. Even Pyrrhus [3343] was so completely bound by the spell of the Roman name that destroying everything that came in his way, he yet withdrew from its vicinity and, victor though he was, did not presume to gaze upon what he had learned to be a city of kings. Yet in return for such insults--not to say such haughty pride--as theirs which ended thus happily for Rome, one [3344] banished from all the world found death at last by poison in Bithynia; while the other [3345] returning to his native land was slain in his own dominions. The countries of both became tributary to the Roman people. But now, even if complete success attends our arms, we can wrest nothing from our vanquished foes but what we have already lost to them. The poet Lucan describing the power of the city in a glowing passage says: [3346]

If Rome be weak, where shall we look for strength?

we may vary his words and say:

If Rome be lost, where shall we look for help?

or quote the language of Virgil:

Had I a hundred tongues and throat of bronze

The woes of captives I could not relate

Or ev'n recount the names of all the slain. [3347]

Even what I have said is fraught with danger both to me who say it and to all who hear it; for we are no longer free even to lament our fate, and are unwilling, nay, I may even say, afraid to weep for our sufferings.

Dearest daughter in Christ, answer me this question: will you marry amid such scenes as these? Tell me, what kind of husband will you take? One that will run or one that will fight? In either case you know what the result will be. Instead of the Fescennine song, [3348] the hoarse blare of the terrible trumpet will deafen your ears and your very brideswomen may be turned into mourners. In what pleasures can you hope to revel now that you have lost the proceeds of all your possessions, now that you see your small retinue under close blockade and a prey to the inroads of pestilence and famine? But far be it from me to think so meanly of you or to harbour any suspicions of one who has dedicated her soul to the Lord. Though nominally addressed to you my words are really meant for others such as are idle, inquisitive and given to gossip. These wander from house to house and from one married lady to another, [3349] their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame, [3350] of the scriptures they know nothing except the texts which favour second marriages, but they love to quote the example of others to justify their own self-indulgence, and flatter themselves that they are no worse than their fellow-sinners. When you have confounded the shameless proposals of such women by explaining the true drift of the apostle's meaning; then to show you by what mode of life you can best preserve your widowhood, you may read with advantage what I have written. I mean my treatise on the preservation of virginity addressed to Eustochium [3351] and my two letters to Furia [3352] and Salvina. [3353] Of these two latter you may like to know that the first is daughter-in-law to Probus some time consul, and the second daughter to Gildo formerly governour of Africa. This tract on monogamy I shall call by your name.


Footnotes

[3218] Cf. Letter LX. § 6. [3219] Letters LIV., LXXV., LXXIX., and others. [3220] Ageruchia = Greatheart. [3221] Luke ii. 36, 37. [3222] See Letter XLVIII., § 2; also § 9 infra. [3223] Cf. Letter LXXVII. § 3. [3224] 1 Tim. v. 14, 15. [3225] 1 Tim. v. 9, 10. [3226] 1 Tim. v. 5. [3227] 1 Tim. v. 11, 12. [3228] 1 Tim. v. 14, 15. [3229] So Vulg. [3230] Ovid, Am. iii. 2, 83. [3231] 1 Cor. vii. 8, 9. [3232] Cf. Letters XLVIII. § 19, and LXXIX. § 10. [3233] So R.V. marg. [3234] 1 Cor. vii. 39, 40, cf. Rom. vii. 2. [3235] 2 Cor. vi. 14-16. [3236] Deut. xxii. 10. [3237] 1 Tim. v. 9. [3238] 1 Cor. vii. 29. [3239] 1 Tim. v. 3-5, 16. [3240] 1 Tim. v. 17. [3241] Ex. xx. 12. [3242] Mark vii. 11. [3243] Text corrupt: probably `quasi' should be substituted for `si.' [3244] Cf. Luke xvi. 9. [3245] A reminiscence of Tert. de Exh. Cast. vii. [3246] 1 Cor. vii. 8, 9. [3247] Jerome seems to be here relying on tradition. [3248] Lev. xxii. 12, 13. [3249] From Tert. de Exh. Cast. xiii. [3250] Julian, Orat. v. [3251] See Dict. Antiq. s.v. flamen. [3252] The sacred bull of Memphis, generally called Apis. [3253] Dido. [3254] Who refused to survive the fall of Carthage. The story is told by Polybius. [3255] See Livy, I. cc. 57, 58. [3256] Against Jov. i. 20. [3257] The battle of Aix was fought in 102 b.c. [3258] The priestesses in these temples seem to have been vowed to chastity. [3259] Val. Max. vi. 1. [3260] Jer. iii. 3. [3261] 2 Tim. ii. 20. [3262] Matt. xiii. 8: for this explanation of the parable see Letter XLVIII. § 2. [3263] See Letter XLVIII. § 2 and note there. [3264] Luke xiii. 32. [3265] Cf. Joh. iv. 18. [3266] 1 Cor. vi. 12. [3267] Matt. xix. 12. [3268] Job i. 21. [3269] Gen. ii. 21, 22. [3270] Gen. ii. 24, LXX. [3271] Eph. v. 31, 32. [3272] Gen. iii. 20. [3273] Gen. iv. 19. [3274] Rev. ii. 9. [3275] Cant. vi. 8, 9. [3276] 2 Joh. i. In Latin `choice' and `elect' are one word. [3277] 1 Pet. iii. 20, 21. [3278] Gen. vii. 13. [3279] Gen. vii. 2. [3280] Gen. viii. 20. [3281] Gen. xxxviii. 12-18. [3282] Hos. i. 2, 3. [3283] Cf. Jer. v. 8. [3284] Luke xvii. 27-29. [3285] Gen. i. 28; ix. 7. [3286] 1 Cor. x. 11, R.V. [3287] 1 Cor. vii. 29. [3288] Matt. iii. 10. [3289] Eccles. iii. 5. [3290] Jer. xvi. 2. [3291] Cf. Ezek. xxiv. 16-18, 27. [3292] Ps. cxxviii. 3, 6. [3293] 1 Cor. vi. 17. [3294] Ps. lxiii. 8. [3295] Matt. v. 38, 39. [3296] Ps. xlv. 3. [3297] Matt. xxvi. 52. [3298] A gnostic of the second century who rejected the whole of the old testament as incompatible with the new. [3299] Gal. iv. 22-26. [3300] Gen. xxix. 17, 18. [3301] Gen. xxv. 22, 23. [3302] Gen. xxxviii. 27-30. [3303] Eph. ii. 14. [3304] Gomer the wife of Hosea. [3305] Hos. ii. 7; iii. 3. [3306] Rom. xi. 25, 26. [3307] Virg. A. iv. 32-34: 548, 552. [3308] From Tert. de Exh. Cast. xii. [3309] Matt. vi. 33. [3310] Matt. vi. 26, 28. [3311] 1 Tim. v. 11. [3312] 1 Tim. v. 2. Jerome substitutes `love' for `rebuke.' [3313] Rom. xii. 17, cf. Letter cxvii. § 4. [3314] Rom. ii. 24. [3315] 1 Cor. ix. 5. [3316] 1 Cor. x. 29. [3317] 1 Cor. ix. 14. [3318] 1 Cor. iv. 12; 1 Thess. ii. 9; 2 Cor. xii. 14. [3319] 1 Cor. viii. 13. [3320] Matt. vi. 25, 27, 34. [3321] Gen. xxviii. 11-13. [3322] Cf. Letters cviii. § 13 and cxviii. § 7. [3323] Gen. xxxii. 7, 10. [3324] Matt. x. 9, 10. [3325] 2 Cor. vi. 10. [3326] Acts iii. 6. [3327] 1 Kings xix. 11-13, cf. Exod. xxxiii. 21-23. [3328] Cf. Juv. i. 88. [3329] Jerome follows Tertullian, Irenæus, and the majority of the fathers in supposing the apostle to allude to the Roman Empire. See Letter CXXI. § 11, Comm. in Hierem. xxv. 26, Comm. in Dan. vii. 7, 8. [3330] 2 Thess. ii. 7, 8. [3331] Matt. xxiv. 19. [3332] Ps. lxxxiii. 8. [3333] Now Maintz. [3334] Now Worms. [3335] Tribes whose memories linger in the names Amiens and Arras. [3336] See note on Letter LIV. § 11. [3337] Arcadius and Honorius. [3338] Stilicho who induced the senate to grant a subsidy to the Gothic King Alaric. See Gibbon, C. xxx. [3339] This, one of Jerome's few criticisms on the public policy of his day, shows him to have taken a narrow and inadequate view of the issues involved. [3340] In the year 390 b.c. [3341] i.e. Galatia. [3342] The great Carthaginian general in the second Punic war. [3343] King of Epirus who invaded Italy in the years 280, 279, 276, 275 b.c. [3344] Hannibal. [3345] Pyrrhus. [3346] Lucan, Phars. v. 274. [3347] Virg. A. vi. 625-627. [3348] See note on Letter CXXX. § 5. [3349] 1 Tim. v. 13. [3350] Phil. iii. 19. [3351] Letter XXII. [3352] Letter LIV. [3353] Letter LXXIX.


Letter CXXIV. To Avitus.

Avitus to whom this letter is addressed is probably the same person who induced Jerome to write to Salvina (see Letter LXXIX., §I, ante). The occasion of writing is as follows. Ten years previously (that is to say in a.d. 399 or 400) Pammachius had asked Jerome to supply him with a correct version of Origen's First Principles to enable him to detect the variations introduced by Rufinus into his rendering. This Jerome willingly did (see Letters LXXXIII. and LXXXIV.) but when the work in its integrity was perused by Pammachius he thought it so erroneous in doctrine that he determined not to circulate it. However, "a certain brother" induced him to lend the ms. to him for a short time; and then, when he had got it into his hands, had a hasty and incorrect transcript made, which he forthwith published much to the chagrin of Pammachius. Falling into the hands of Avitus a copy of this much perplexed him and he seems to have appealed to Jerome for an explanation. This the latter now gives forwarding at the same time an authentic edition of his version of the First Principles. The date of the letter is a.d. 409 or 410.

1. About ten years ago that saintly man Pammachius sent me a copy of a certain person's rendering, [3354] or rather misrendering, of Origen's First Principles; with a request that in a Latin version I should give the true sense of the Greek and should set down the writer's words for good or for evil without bias in either direction. [3355] When I did as he wished and sent him the book, [3356] he was shocked to read it and locked it up in his desk lest being circulated it might wound the souls of many. However, a certain brother, who had "a zeal for God but not according to knowledge," [3357] asked for a loan of the manuscript that he might read it; and, as he promised to return it without delay, Pammachius, thinking no harm could happen in so short a time, unsuspectingly consented. Hereupon he who had borrowed the book to read, with the aid of scribes copied the whole of it and gave it back much sooner than he had promised. Then with the same rashness or--to use a less severe term--thoughtlessness he made bad worse by confiding to others what he had thus stolen. Moreover, since a bulky treatise on an abstruse subject is difficult to reproduce with accuracy, especially if it has to be taken down surreptitiously and in a hurry, order and sense were sacrificed in several passages. Whence it comes, my dear Avitus, that you ask me to send you a copy of my version as made for Pammachius and not for the public, a garbled edition of which has been published by the aforesaid brother.

2. Take then what you have asked for; but know that there are countless things in the book to be abhorred, and that, as the Lord says, you will have to walk among scorpions and serpents. [3358] It begins by saying that Christ was made God's son not born; [3359] that God the Father, as He is by nature invisible, is invisible even to the Son; [3360] that the Son, who is the likeness of the invisible Father, compared with the Father is not the truth but compared with us who cannot receive the truth of the almighty Father seems a figure of the truth so that we perceive the majesty and magnitude of the greater in the less, the Father's glory limited in the Son; [3361] that God the Father is a light incomprehensible and that Christ compared with him is but a minute brightness, although by reason of our incapacity to us he appears a great one. [3362] The Father and the Son are compared to two statues, a larger one and a small; the first filling the world and being somehow invisible through its size, the second cognisable by the eyes of men. [3363] God the Father omnipotent the writer terms good and of perfect goodness; but of the Son he says: "He is not good but an emanation and likeness of goodness; not good absolutely but only with a qualification, as `the good shepherd' and the like." [3364] The Holy Spirit he places after the Father and the Son as third in dignity and honour. And while he declares that he does not know whether the Holy Spirit is created or uncreated, [3365] he has later on given his own opinion that except God the Father alone there is nothing uncreated. "The Son," he states, "is inferior to the Father, inasmuch as He is second and the Father first; and the Holy Spirit which dwells in all the saints is inferior to the Son. In the same way the power of the Father is greater than that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Likewise the power of the Son is greater than that of the Holy Spirit, and as a consequence the Holy Spirit in its turn has greater virtue than other things called holy." [3366]

3. Then, when he comes to deal with rational creatures and to describe their lapse into earthly bodies as due to their own negligence, he goes on to say: "Surely it argues great negligence and sloth for a soul so far to empty itself as to fall into sin and allow itself to be tied to the material body of an unreasoning brute;" and in a subsequent passage: "These reasonings induce me to suppose that it is by their own free act that some are numbered with God's saints and servants, and that it was through their own fault that others fell from holiness into such negligence that they were changed into forces of an opposite kind." [3367] He maintains that after every end a fresh beginning springs forth and an end from each beginning, and that wholesale variation is possible; so that one who is now a human being may in another world become a demon, while one who by reason of his negligence is now a demon may hereafter be placed in a more material body and thus become a human being. [3368] So far does he carry this transforming process that on his theory an archangel may become the devil and the devil in turn be changed back into an archangel. "Such as have wavered or faltered but have not altogether fallen shall be made subject, for rule and government and guidance, to better things--to principalities and powers, to thrones and dominations"; and of these perhaps another human race will be formed, when in the words of Isaiah there shall be "new heavens and a new earth.' [3369] But such as have not deserved to return through humanity to their former estate shall become the devil and his angels, demons of the worst sort; and according to what they have done shall have special duties assigned to them in particular worlds." Moreover, the very demons and rulers of darkness in any world or worlds, if they are willing to turn to better things, may become human beings and so come back to their first beginning. That is to say, after they have borne the discipline of punishment and torture for a longer or a shorter time in human bodies, they may again reach the angelic pinnacles from which they have fallen. Hence it may be shewn that we men may change into any other reasonable beings, and that not once only or on emergency but time after time; we and angels shall become demons if we neglect our duty; and demons, if they will take to themselves virtues, may attain to the rank of angels.

4. Bodily substances too are to pass away utterly or else at the end of all things will become highly rarified like the sky and æther and other subtle bodies. It is clear that these principles must affect the writer's view of the resurrection. The sun also and the moon and the rest of the constellations are alive. Nay more; as we men by reason of our sins are enveloped in bodies material and sluggish; so the lights of heaven have for like reasons received bodies more or less luminous, and demons have been for more serious faults clothed with starry frames. This, he argues, is the view of the apostle who writes:--"the creation has been subjected to vanity and shall be delivered for the revealing of the sons of God." [3370] That it may not be supposed that I am imputing to him ideas of my own I shall give his actual words. "At the end and consummation of the world," he writes, "when souls and beings endowed with reason shall be released from prison by the Lord, they will move slowly or fly quickly according as they have previously been slothful or energetic. And as all of them have free will and are free to choose virtue or vice, those who choose the latter will be much worse off than they now are. But those who choose the former will improve their condition. Their movements and decisions in this direction or in that will determine their various futures; whether, that is, angels are to become men or demons, and whether demons are to become men or angels." Then after adducing various arguments in support of his thesis and maintaining that while not incapable of virtue the devil has yet not chosen to be virtuous, he has finally reasoned with much diffuseness that an angel, a human soul, and a demon--all according to him of one nature but of different wills--may in punishment for great negligence or folly be transformed into brutes. Moreover, to avoid the agony of punishment and the burning flame the more sensitive may choose to become low organisms, to dwell in water, to assume the shape of this or that animal; so that we have reason to fear a metamorphosis not only into four-footed things but even into fishes. Then, lest he should be held guilty of maintaining with Pythagoras the transmigration of souls, he winds up the wicked reasoning with which he has wounded his reader by saying: "I must not be taken to make dogmas of these things; they are only thrown out as conjectures to shew that they are not altogether overlooked."

5. In his second book he maintains a plurality of worlds; not, however, as Epicurus taught, many like ones existing at once, but a new one beginning each time that the old comes to an end. There was a world before this world of ours, and after it there will be first one and then another and so on in regular succession. He is in doubt whether one world shall be so completely similar to another as to leave no room for any difference between them, or whether one world shall never wholly be indistinguishable from another. And again a little farther on he writes: "if, as the course of the discussion makes necessary, all things can live without body, all bodily existence shall be swallowed up and that which once has been made out of nothing shall again be reduced to nothing. And yet a time will come when its use will be once more necessary." And in the same context: "but if, as reason and the authority of scripture shew, this corruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality, death shall be swallowed up in victory and corruption in incorruption. [3371] And it may be that all bodily existence shall be removed, for it is only in this that death can operate." And a little farther on: "if these things are not contrary to the faith, it may be that we shall some day live in a disembodied state. Moreover, if only he is fully subject to Christ who is disembodied, and if all must be made subject to Him, we too shall lose our bodies when we become fully subject to Him." And in the same passage: "if all are to be made subject to God, all shall lay aside their bodies; and then all bodily existence shall be brought to nought. But if through the fall of reasonable beings it is a second time required it will reappear. For God has left souls to strive and struggle, to teach them that full and complete victory is to be attained not by their own efforts but by His grace. And so to my mind worlds vary with the sins which cause them, and those are exploded theories which maintain that all worlds are alike." And again: "three conjectures occur to me with regard to the end; it is for the reader to determine which is nearest to the truth. For either we shall be bodiless when being made subject to Christ we shall be made subject to God and He shall be all in all; or as things made subject to Christ shall be with Christ Himself made subject to God and brought under one law, so all substance shall be refined into its most perfect form and rarified into æther which is a pure and uncompounded essence; or else the sphere which I have called motionless and all that it contains will be dissolved into nothing, and the sphere in which the antizone [3372] itself is contained shall be called `good ground,' [3373] and that other sphere which in its revolution surrounds the earth and goes by the name of heaven shall be reserved for the abode of the saints."

6. In speaking thus does he not most clearly follow the error of the heathen and foist upon the simple faith of Christians the ravings of philosophy? In the same book he writes: "it remains that God is invisible. But if He is by nature invisible, He must be so even to the Saviour." And lower down: "no soul which has descended into a human body has borne upon it so true an impress of its previous character as Christ's soul of which He says: `no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.'" [3374] And in another place: "we must carefully consider whether souls, when they have won salvation and have attained to the blessed life, may not cease to be souls. For as the Lord and Saviour came to seek and to save that which was lost [3375] that it might cease to be lost; so the lost soul which the Lord came to save, when saved, will cease to be a soul. We must ask ourselves whether, as the lost was not lost once and again will not be, the soul likewise may have been and again may be not a soul." [3376] And after a good many remarks upon the soul he brings in the following, "nous or" intelligence by falling becomes a soul; and by acquiring virtue this will become intelligence again. This at least is a fair inference from the case of Esau who for his old sins is condemned to lead a lower life. And concerning the heavenly bodies we must make a similar acknowledgment. The soul of the sun--or whatever else you like to call it--does not date its existence from the creation of the world; it already existed before it entered its shining and glowing body. So also with the moon and stars. From antecedent causes they have been made subject to vanity not willingly but for future reward, [3377] and are forced to do not their own will but the creator's who has assigned to them their several spheres."

7. Hellfire, moreover, and the torments with which holy scripture threatens sinners he explains not as external punishments but as the pangs of guilty consciences when by God's power the memory of our transgressions is set before our eyes. "The whole crop of our sins grows up afresh from seeds which remain in the soul, and all our dishonourable and undutiful acts are again pictured before our gaze. Thus it is the fire of conscience and the stings of remorse which torture the mind as it looks back on former self-indulgence." And again: "but perhaps this coarse and earthly body ought to be described as mist and darkness; for at the end of this world and when it becomes necessary to pass into another, the like darkness will lead to the like physical birth." In speaking thus he clearly pleads for the transmigration of souls as taught by Pythagoras and Plato. [3378] And at the end of the second book in dealing with our perfection he has said: "when we shall have made such progress as not only to cease to be flesh or body but perhaps also to cease to be souls our perfect intelligence and perception, undimmed with any mist of passion, will discern reasonable and intelligible substances face to face.

8. In the third book the following faulty statements are contained. "If we once admit that, when one vessel is made to honour and another to dishonour, [3379] this is due to antecedent causes; why may we not revert to the mystery of the soul and allow that it is loved in one and hated in another because of its past actions, before in Jacob it becomes a supplanter and before in Esau it is supplanted?" [3380] And again: "the fact that souls are made some to honour and some to dishonour is to be explained by their previous history." And in the same place: "on this hypothesis of mine a vessel made to honour which fails to fulfil its object will in another world become a vessel made to dishonour; and contrariwise a vessel which has from a previous fault been condemned to dishonour will, if it accepts correction in this present life, become in the new creation a vessel `sanctified and meet for the Master's use and prepared unto every good work.'" [3381] And he immediately goes on to say: "I believe that men who begin with small faults may become so hardened in wickedness that, if they do not repent and turn to better things, they must become inhuman energies; [3382] and contrariwise that hostile and demonic beings may in course of time so far heal their wounds and check the current of their former sins that they may attain to the abode of the perfect. As I have often said, in those countless and unceasing worlds in which the soul lives and has its being some grow worse and worse until they reach the lowest depths of degradation; while others in those lowest depths grow better and better until they reach the perfection of virtue." Thus he tries to shew that men, or rather their souls, may become demons; and that demons in turn may be restored to the rank of angels. In the same book he writes: "this too must be considered; why the human soul is diversely acted upon now by influences of one kind and now by influences of another." And he surmises that this is due to conduct which has preceded birth. It is for this, he argues, that John leaps in his mother's womb when at Mary's salutation Elizabeth declares herself unworthy of her notice. [3383] And he immediately subjoins: "on the other hand infants that are hardly weaned are possessed with evil spirits and become diviners and soothsayers; [3384] indeed, some are indwelt from their earliest years with the spirit of a python. Now as they have done nothing to bring upon themselves these visitations, one who holds that nothing happens without God's permission, and that all things are governed by His justice, cannot suppose that God's providence has abandoned them without good reason."

9. Again, of the world he writes thus: "The belief commends itself to me that there was a world before this world and that after it there will be another. Do you wish to know that after the decay of this world there will be a new one? Hear the words of Isaiah: `the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me.' [3385] Do you wish to know that before the making of this world there have previously been others? Listen to the Preacher who says: `the thing which hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.' [3386] A passage which proves not only that other worlds have been but that other worlds shall be; not, however, simultaneously and side by side but one after another." And he immediately adds: "I hold that heaven is the abode of the deity, the true place of rest; and that it was there that reasonable creatures enjoyed their ancient bliss, before coming down to a lower plane and exchanging the invisible for the visible, they fell to the earth and came to need material bodies. Now that they have fallen, God the creator has made for them bodies suitable to their surroundings; and has fashioned this visible world, and has sent into it ministers to ensure the salvation and correction of the fallen. Of these ministers some have held assigned positions and have been subject to the world's necessary laws; while others have intelligently performed duties laid upon them in times and seasons determined by God's plan. To the former class belong the sun, moon, and stars called by the apostle `the creation;' and these have had allotted to them the heights of heaven. Now the creation is subjected to vanity [3387] because it is encased in material bodies and visible to the eye. And yet it is `made subject to vanity not willingly but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.' Others again of the second class, at particular places and times known to their Maker only, we believe to be His angels sent to steer the world." A little farther on he says: "the affairs of the world are so ordered by Providence that while some angels fall from heaven others freely glide down to earth. The former are hurled down against their will; the latter descend from choice alone. The former are forced to continue in a distasteful service for a fixed period; the latter spontaneously embrace the task of lending a hand to those who fall." Again he writes: "whence it follows that these different movements result in the creation of different worlds; and that this world of ours will be succeeded by one quite unlike it. Now, as regards this falling and rising, this rewarding of virtue and punishment of vice, whether they take place in the past, present, or future, God, the creator, can alone apportion desert and make all things converge to one end. For He only knows why He allows some to follow their own inclination and to descend from the higher planes to the lowest; and why He visits others and giving them His hand draws them back to their former state and places them once more in heaven."

10. In discussing the end of the world he has made use of the following language. "Since, as I have often said, a new beginning springs from the end, it may be asked whether bodies will then continue to exist, or whether, when they have been annihilated, we shall live without bodies and be incorporeal as we know God to be. Now there can be no doubt but that, if bodies or, as the apostle calls them, visible things, belong only to our sensible world, the life of the disembodied will be incorporeal." And a little farther on: "when the apostle writes, `the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God,' [3388] I explain his words thus. Reasonable and incorporeal beings are the highest of God's creatures, for not being clothed with bodies they are not the slaves of corruption. Since where there are bodies, there corruption is sure to be found. But hereafter `the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption,' and then men shall receive the glory of the children of God and God shall be all in all." And in the same passage he writes: "that the final state will be an incorporeal one is rendered credible by the words of our Saviour's prayer: `as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.' [3389] For we ought to realize what God is and what the Saviour will finally be, and how the likeness to the Father and the Son here promised to the Saints consists in this that as They are one in Themselves so we shall be one in Them. For if in the end the life of the Saints is to be assimilated to the life of God, we must either admit that the Lord of the universe is clothed with a body and that he is enveloped in matter as we are in flesh; or, if it is unbecoming to suppose this, especially in persons who have but small clues from which to infer God's majesty and to guess at the glory of His innate and transcendent nature, we are reduced to the following dilemma. Either we shall always have bodies and in that case must despair of ever being like God; or, if the blessedness of the life of God is really promised to us, the conditions of His life must be the conditions of ours."

11. These passages prove what his view is regarding the resurrection. For he evidently maintains that all bodies will perish and that we shall be incorporeal as according to him we were before we received our present bodies. Again when he comes to argue for a variety of worlds and to maintain that angels will become demons, demons either angels or men, and men in their turn demons; in a word that everything will be turned into something else, he thus sums up his own opinion: "no doubt, after an interval matter will exist afresh and bodies will be formed and a different world will be created to meet the varying wills of reasonable beings who, having forfeited the perfect bliss which continues to the end, have gradually fallen into so great wickedness as to change their nature and refuse to keep their first estate of unalloyed blessedness. Many reasonable beings, it is right to say, keep it until a second, a third, and a fourth world, and give God no ground for changing their condition. Others deteriorate so little that they seem to have lost hardly anything, and others again have to be hurled headlong into the abyss. God who orders all things alone knows how to use each class according to its deserts in a suitable sphere; for He only understands opportunities and motives and the course in which the world must be steered. Thus one who has borne away the palm for wickedness and has sunk into the lowest degradation will in the world which is hereafter to be fashioned be made a devil, a kind of first fruits of the Lord's handiwork, to be a laughing stock to the angels who have lost their first virtue." What is this but to argue that the sinful men of this world may become a devil and demons in another; and contrariwise that those who are now demons may hereafter become either men or angels? And after a lengthy discussion in which he maintains that all corporeal creatures must exchange their material for subtle and spiritual bodies and that all substance must become one pure and inconceivably bright body, of which the human mind can at present form no conception, he winds up thus:--"`God shall be all in all;' that is to say, all bodily existence shall be made as perfect as possible; it shall be brought into the divine essence, than which there is none better."

12. In the fourth and last book of his work the following passages deserve the church's condemnation. "It may be that as, when men die in this world by the separation of soul and body, they are allotted different positions in hell according to the difference in their works; so when angels die, out of the system of the heavenly Jerusalem, they come down to this world as a hell and are placed on earth according to their deserts." And again: "as we have compared the souls which pass from this world to hell with those which as they come from heaven to us are in a manner dead; so we must carefully inquire whether this is true of all souls without exception. For in that case souls born on earth when they desire better things rise out of hell and assume human bodies or when they desire worse things come down to us from better worlds; and in the firmament above us likewise there are souls on their way from our world to higher ones, and others who, while they have fallen from heaven, have not sinned so grievously as to be thrust down to earth." He thus tries to prove that the firmament, that is the sky, is hell compared with heaven; and that this earth is hell compared with the firmament; and again that our world is heaven to hell. Or in other words what is hell to some is heaven to others. And not content with saying this he goes on: "at the end of all things when we shall return to the heavenly Jerusalem the hostile powers shall declare war [3390] against the people of God to breathe and exercise their valour and strengthen their resolve. For this they cannot have until they have faced and foiled their foes; of whom we read in the book of Numbers [3391] that they are overcome by reason, discipline, and tactical skill."

13. After saying that according to the apocalypse of John "the everlasting gospel" which shall be revealed in heaven [3392] as much surpasses our gospel as Christ's preaching does the sacraments [3393] of the ancient law, he has asserted what it is sacrilegious even to think; that Christ will once more suffer in the sky for the salvation of demons. And although he has not expressly said it, it is yet implied in his words that as for men God became man to set men free, so for the salvation of demons when He comes to deliver them He will become a demon. To shew that this is no gloss of mine, I must give his own words: "As Christ," he writes, "has fulfilled the shadow of the law by the shadow of the gospel, and as all law is a pattern and shadow of things done in heaven, we must inquire whether we are justified in supposing that even the heavenly law and the rites of the celestial worship are still incomplete and need the true gospel which in the apocalypse of John is called everlasting to distinguish it from ours which is only temporal, set forth in a world that shall pass away. Now if we extend our inquiry to the passion of our Lord and Saviour, it may indeed be overbold to suppose that He will suffer in heaven; yet if there is spiritual wickedness in heavenly places [3394] and if we confess without a blush that the Lord has once been crucified to destroy those things which He has destroyed by His passion; why need we fear to imagine a like occurrence in the upper world in the fulness of time, so that the nations of all realms shall be saved by a passion of Christ?"

14. Here is another blasphemy which he has spoken of the Son. "Assuming that the Son knows the Father, it would seem that by this knowledge He can comprehend Him as much as a craftsman can comprehend the rules of his art. And, doubtless, if the Father is in the Son, He is also comprehended by Him in whom He is. But if we mean by comprehension not merely that the knower takes a thing in by perception and insight but that he contains it within himself by virtue of a special faculty; in this sense we cannot say that the Son comprehends the Father. For the Father comprehends all things, and of these the Son is one; therefore, He comprehends the Son." And to shew us reasons why, while the Father comprehends the Son, the Son cannot comprehend the Father, he adds: "the curious reader may inquire whether the Father knows Himself in the same way that the Son knows Him. But if he recalls the words: `the Father who sent me is greater than I,' [3395] he will allow that they must be universally true and will admit that, in knowledge as in everything else, the Father is greater than the Son, and knows Himself more perfectly and immediately than the Son can do."

15. The following passage is a convincing proof that he holds the transmigration of souls and annihilation of bodies. "If it can be shewn that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body and that it is worse off in the body than out of it; then beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things, their bodies are once more annihilated. They are thus ever vanishing and ever reappearing." And to prevent us from minimizing the impiety of his previous utterances he ends his work by maintaining that all reasonable beings, that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, angels, powers, dominations, and virtues, and even man by right of his soul's dignity, are of one and the same essence. "God," he writes, "and His only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit are conscious of an intellectual and reasonable nature. But so also are the angels, the powers, and the virtues, as well as the inward man who is created in the image and after the likeness of God. [3396] From which I conclude that God and they are in some sort of one essence." He adds "in some sort" to escape the charge of blasphemy; and while in another place he will not allow the Son and the Holy Spirit to be of one substance with the Father lest by so doing he should appear to make the divine essence divisible, he here bestows the nature of God almighty upon angels and men.

16. This being the nature of Origen's book, is it anything short of madness to change a few blasphemous passages regarding the Son and the Holy Spirit and then to publish the rest unchanged with an unprincipled eulogy when the parts unaltered as well as the parts altered flow from the same fountain head of gross impiety? This is not the time to confute all the statements made in detail; and indeed those who have written against Arius, Eunomius, Manichæus, and various other heretics must be supposed to have answered these blasphemies as well. If anyone, therefore, wishes to read the work let him walk with his feet shod towards the land of promise; let him guard against the jaws of the serpent and the crooked jaws of the scorpion; let him read this treatise first and before he enters upon the path let him know the dangers which he will have to avoid.


Footnotes

[3354] The `certain person' is of course Rufinus. [3355] See Letter LXXXIII. [3356] See Letter LXXXIV. [3357] Rom. x. 2, R.V. [3358] Cf. Luke x. 19; Ezek. ii. 6. [3359] This statement is not borne out by the existing fragments of the treatise. In fact Origen declares Christ's divinity in unambiguous language. "Being God he was made man" First Principles, I. Preface. [3360] F. P., I. 1, 8. [3361] F. P., I. 2, 6. [3362] F. P., I. 2, 7. [3363] F. P., I. 2, 8. [3364] F. P., I. 2, 9, 13. The last words are omitted by Rufinus. [3365] F. P., I. Preface, 4. [3366] F. P., I. 3, 5. The words are omitted by Rufinus. [3367] F. P., I. 5, 5. [3368] F. P., I. 6, 2. [3369] Isa. lxv. 17. [3370] Rom. viii. 19-21, R.V. [3371] 1 Cor. xv. 53, 54. [3372] This word is doubtful. [3373] Matt. xiii. 8. [3374] Joh. x. 18. [3375] Luke xix. 10. [3376] The paralogism in this reasoning--so obvious to modern minds--is due to the confusion of the copula with the verb substantive. [3377] Rom. viii. 20. [3378] Phædo, 70-77. [3379] 2 Tim. ii. 20. [3380] Mal. i. 2, 3. [3381] 2 Tim. ii. 21. [3382] i.e. demons. [3383] Luke i. 41. [3384] Cf. Acts xvi. 16, A.V. margin. [3385] Isa. lxvi. 22. [3386] Eccles. i. 9, 10. [3387] Rom. viii. 20, R.V. [3388] Rom. viii. 21, R.V. [3389] Joh. xvii. 21. [3390] Reading adversariorum fortitudinum...bella consurgere. [3391] Passim. [3392] Rev. xiv. 6. [3393] This term had not in Jerome's time become restricted to its later sense. Anything mysterious or sacred was called a sacrament. Here it refers to the mystic teaching of the O.T. [3394] Eph. vi. 12. [3395] Joh. xiv. 28. [3396] 2 Cor. iv. 16; Gen. i. 27.


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