Cassian, CONFERENCE 14:
The First Conference of Abba Nesteros

ON S
PIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE
  COLLATIO DECIMA QUARTA, Quae est prima abbatis Nesterotis.  DE SPIRITALI SCIENTIA
 

 St. John the Theologian in Silence


(tr. adapted. by L.Dysinger, O.S.B: based on  E.C.S. Gibson, , NPNF 2nd ser. , vol 11, pp. 435-445)


 

 

CHAPTER 1: Abba Nesteros discussion of religious knowledge

CAPUT I. Verba Abbatis Nesterotis de religiosorum scientia

 

 

1.1. The order of our promise and course demands that there should follow the instruction of Abbot Nesteros, a man of excellence in all points and of the greatest knowledge: who when he had seen that we had committed some parts of Holy Scripture to memory and desired to understand them, addressed us in these words.

 I.  Sponsionis nostrae et itineris ordo conpellit, ut abbatis Nesterotis praeclari in omnibus summaeque scientiae uiri institutio subsequatur.  qui cum sacrarum scripturarum nos aliqua memoriae conmendasse et eorum intellegentiam desiderare sensisset, talibus nos adorsus est uerbis.

1.2. There are indeed many different kinds of knowledge in this world, since there is as art great a variety of them as there is of the arts and sciences. But, while all are either utterly useless or only useful for the good of this present life, there is yet none which has not its own system and method for learning it, by which it can be grasped by those who seek it.

2. Multa quidem scientiarum in hoc mundo sunt genera, tanta siquidem earum quanta et artium disciplinarumque uarietas est.  Sed cum omnes aut omnino inutiles sint aut praesentis tantum uitae conmodis prosint, nulla est tamen quae non habeat proprium doctrinae suae ordinem atque rationem, per quam ab expetentibus possit adtingi.

1.3. If then those arts are guided by certain special rules for their publication, how much more does the system (disciplina) and expression (professio) of our religion, 3. Si ergo illae artes ad insinuationem sui certis ac propriis lineis diriguntur, quanto magis religionis nostrae disciplina atque professio,

[1] which tends to the contemplation of the secrets of invisible mysteries,

[2] and seeks no present gain but the reward of an eternal recompense,

quae ad contemplanda inuisibilium sacramentorum tendit arcana nec praesentes quaestus, sed aeternorum retributionem expetit praemiorum,
depend on a fixed order (ordo) and scheme (ratio). certo ordine ac ratione subsistit.

And the knowledge of this is twofold[:]

 Cuius quidem duplex scientia est:

[1] first, πρακτική (praktiké), that is, practical (actuale), which is brought about by[:]

prima πρακτική, id est actualis, quae

[a] an improvement of morals and

emendatione morum

[b] purification from faults:

et uitiorum purgatione perficitur :

[2] secondly, θεωρητική (theoretiké), which consists in  and the knowledge of most sacred thoughts

altera θεωρητική, quae in contemplatione diuinarum rerum

[a] the contemplation of things Divine

contemplatione diuinarum rerum

[b] and the understanding of most sacred thoughts

et sacratissimorum sensuum cognitione consistit.

   

 

 

CHAPTER 2: The Pathway to theoretiké [on attaining the understanding of spiritual matters]

CAPUT II. Quae via sit ad theoreticen.  [De adprehendenda spiritalium rerum cognitione]

 

 

2.WHOEVER then would arrive at this theoretical knowledge must first pursue practical knowledge with all his might and main. For this practical knowledge can be acquired without theoretical, but theoretical cannot possibly be gained without practical.

II.  Quisquis igitur ad θεωρητική uoluerit peruenire, necesse est ut omni studio atque uirtute actualem primum scientiam consequatur.  Nam haec θεωρητική absque theoretica possideri potest, theoretica uero sine actuali omnimodis non potest adprehendi. 

For there are certain stages, so distinct, and arranged in such a way that man’s humility may be able to mount on high; and if these follow each other in turn in the order of which we have spoken, man can attain to a height to which he could not fly, if the first step were wanting. In vain then does one strive for the vision of God, who does not shun the stains of sins: “For the spirit of God hates deception, and dwells not in a body subject to sins.” (Wisdom 1:4, 5)

Gradus enim quidam ita ordinati atque distincti sunt, ut humana humilitas possit ad sublime conscendere : qui si inuicem sibi ea qua diximus ratione succedant, potest ad altitudinem perueniri, ad quam sublata primo gradu non potest transuolari.  Frustra igitur ad conspectum dei tendit qui uitiorum contagia non declinat : spiritus namque dei odit fictum, nec habitat in corpore subdito peccatis .

 

 

CHAPTER 3: How practical perfection depends on a double system.


CAPUT III. Quod actualis perfectio duplici ratione subsistat.

 

 

3.1. But this practical perfection depends on a double system;

 III.  Haec autem actualis perfectio duplici ratione subsistit. 

[1] for its first method is to know the nature of all faults and the manner of their cure.

Nam primus eius est modus, ut omnium natura uitiorum et curationis ratio cognoscatur. 

[2] Its second, to discover the order of the virtues, and form our mind by their perfection so that it may be obedient to them, not as if it were forced and subject to some fierce sway, but as if it delighted in its natural good, and throve upon it, and mounted by that steep and narrow way with real pleasure.

Secundus, ut ita discernatur ordo uirtutum earumque perfectione mens nostra formetur, ut illis iam non uelut coacta et quasi uiolento imperio subiecta famuletur, sed tamquam naturali bono delectetur atque pascatur et arduam illam atque angustam uiam cum oblectatione conscendat. 

For in what way will one, who has neither succeeded in understanding the nature of his own faults, nor tried to eradicate them, be able to gain an understanding of virtues, which is the second stage of practical training, or the mysteries of spiritual and heavenly things, which exist in the higher stage of theoretical knowledge?

Quo enim modo uel uirtutum rationem, qui secundus in actuali disciplina gradus est, uel rerum spiritalium et caelestium sacramenta, quae in theoriae gradu sublimiore consistunt, ualebit adtingere, qui naturam uitiorum suorum nec potuit intellegere nec enisus est exstirpare?

3.2. For it will necessarily be maintained that he cannot advance to more lofty heights who has not surmounted the lower ones, and much less will he be able to grasp those things that are without, who has not succeeded in understanding what is within his comprehension.

2. Consequenter enim pronuntiabitur progredi ad excelsiora non posse qui non euicerit planiora, multoque minus ea quae sunt extrinsecus adprehendet, quisque intellegere ea quae sibi sunt inserta non quiuerit. 

But you should know that we must make an effort with a twofold purpose in our exertion;

Sciendum tamen duplici nobis laboris intentione sudandum

[1] both for the expulsion of vice,

in expellendis uitiis

[2] and for the attainment of virtue.

quam in uirtutibus adquirendis. 

And this we do not gather from our own conjecture, but are taught by the words of Him who alone knows the strength and method of His work:

Et hoc non nostra capimus coniectura, sed illius sententia perdocemur qui solus opificii sui uires rationemque congoscit

“Behold,” He says: “I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms,

.  Ecce, inquit, constitui te hodie super gentes et super regna,

[1] to root up, and to pull down, and to waste, and to destroy,

ut euellas, et destruas, et disperdas, et dissipes,

[2] and to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:10)

et aedifices, et plantes .

3.3. He points out that for getting rid of noxious things four things are requisite; viz., to root up, to pull down, to waste, and to destroy: but for the performance of what is good, and the acquisition of what pertains to righteousness only to build and to plant. Whence it is perfectly evident that it is a harder thing to tear up and eradicate the inveterate passions of body and soul than to introduce and plant spiritual virtues.

3. In expulsione enim noxiarum rerum quattuor esse necessaria designauit, id est euellere, destruere, disperdere, dissipare, in perficiendis uero uirtutibus et his quae ad iustitiam pertinent adquirendis aedificare tantummodo atque plantare.  Vnde liquido patet difficilius conuelli atque eradicari inolitas corporis atque animae passiones quam spiritales extrui plantarique uirtutes.

 

 

CHAPTER 4: How practical life is distributed among many different professions and interests.


CAPUT IV. Quod actualis vita erga multas professiones ac studia derivetur.

 

 

4. This practical life then, which as has been said rests on a double system, is distributed among many different professions and interests.

 IIII.  Haec igitur πρακτική, quae duobus ut dictum est subsistit modis, erga multas professiones studiaque diuiditur. 

[1] For some make it their whole purpose to aim at the secrecy of an anchorite and purity of heart, as we know that in the past Elijah and Elisha, and in our own day the blessed Antony and others who followed with the same object, were joined most closely to God by the silence of solitude.

Quidam enim summam intentionis suae erga heremi secreta et cordis constituunt puritatem, ut in praeteritis Heliam et Helisaeum nostrisque temporibus beatum Antonium aliosque eiusdem propositi sectatores familiarissime deo per silentium solitudinis cohaesisse cognoscimus.

4.2 [2] Some have given all their efforts and interests towards the system of the brethren and the watchful care of the coenobium; as we remember that recently Abbot John, who presided over a big monastery in the neighbourhood of the city Thmuis, and some other men of like merits were eminent with the signs of Apostles.

2. Quidam erga institutionem fratrum et peruigilem coenobiorum curam omnem studii sui sollicitudinem dediderunt, ut nuper abbatem Iohannem, qui in uicinia ciuitatis cui nomen est Thmuis grandi coenobio praefuit, ac nonnullos eiusdem meriti uiros apostolicis etiam signis meminimus claruisse.

[3] Some are pleased with the kindly service of the guest house and reception, by which in the past the patriarch Abraham and Lot pleased the Lord, and recently the blessed Macarius, a man of singular courtesy and patience who presided over the guest house at Alexandria in such a way as to be considered inferior to none of those who aimed at the retirement of the desert.

Quosdam xenodochii et susceptionis pium delectat obsequium, per quod etiam in praeteritis Abraham patriarcham et Loth domino placuisse et nuper beatum Macarium singularis mansuetudinis ac patientiae uirum, qui xenodochio ita apud Alexandriam praefuit, ut nulli eorum qui solitudinis secreta sectati sunt inferior sit credendus.

4.3 [4] Some choose the care of the sick,

3. Quidam eligentes aegrotantium curam,

[5] others devote themselves to intercession, which is offered up for the oppressed and afflicted,

alii intercessionem quae pro miseris atque obpressis inpenditur

[6] or give themselves up to teaching,

exsequentes aut doctrinae instantes

[7] or give alms to the poor, and flourish among men of excellence and renown, by reason of their love and goodness.

aut elemosynam pauperibus largientes inter magnos ac summos uiros pro affectu suo ac pietate uiguerunt.

 

 

CHAPTER 5: On perseverance in a chosen profession.


CAPUT V. De professionis adreptae perseverantia.

 

 

5. Wherefore it is good and profitable for each one to endeavor with all his might and main to attain perfection in the work that has been begun, according to the line which he has chosen as the grace which he has received; and while he praises and admires the virtues of others, not to swerve from his own line which he has once for all chosen, as he knows that, as the Apostle says, the body of the Church indeed is one, but the members many, and that it has “gifts differing according to the grace which is given us,

V.  Quapropter hoc unicuique utile atque conueniens est, ut secundum propositum quod elegit siue gratiam quam accepit summo studio ac diligentia ad operis arrepti perfectionem peruenire festinet et aliorum quidem laudans admiransque uirtutes nequaquam a sua quam semel elegit professione discedat, sciens secundum apostolum unum quidem esse corpus ecclesiae, multa autem membra , et habere eam donationes secundum gratiam quae nobis data est differentes,

[1] whether prophecy, according to the proportion of the faith,

[2] whether ministry, in ministering,

[3] or he that teaches, in doctrine,

[4] or he that exhorts in exhortation,

[5] he that gives in simplicity,

[6] he that rules, with carefulness,

[7] he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Rom. 12:4-8)  

siue prophetiam secundum rationem fidei,

siue ministerium in ministerio,

siue qui docet in doctrina,

siue qui exhortatur in exhortatione,

qui tribuit in simplicitate,

qui praeest in sollicitudine,

qui miseretur in hilaritate .

For no members can claim the offices of other members, because the eyes cannot perform the duties of the hands, nor the nostrils of the ears. And so not all are Apostles, not all prophets, not all doctors, not all have the gifts of healing, not all speak with tongues, not all interpret. (Cf. 1 Cor. 12:28)

Nec enim ulla membra aliorum sibi membrorum possunt ministeria uindicare, quia nec oculi manuum nec nares aurium utuntur officio.  Et idcirco non omnes apostoli, non omnes prophetae, non omnes doctores, non omnes gratiam habent curationum, non omnes linguis loquuntur, non omnes interpretantur .

 

 

CHAPTER 6: How the weak are easily moved.


CAPUT VI. De infirmorum mobilitate.

 

 

6. For those who are not yet settled in the line which they have taken up are often, when they hear some praised for different interests and virtues, so excited by the praise of them that they try forthwith to imitate their method: and in this human weakness is sure to expend its efforts to no purpose. For it is an impossibility for one and the same man to excel at once in all those good deeds which I enumerated above. And if anyone is anxious equally to affect them all, he is quite sure to come to this; viz., that while he pursues them all, he will not thoroughly succeed in any one, and will lose more than he will gain from this changing and shifting about. For in many ways men advance towards God, and so each man should complete that one which he has once fixed upon, never changing the course of his purpose, so that he may be perfect in whatever line of life his may be.

 VI.  Solent enim hi qui necdum sunt in illa quam arripuerunt professione fundati, cum audierint quosdam in diuersis studiis ac uirtutibus praedicari, ita eorum laude succendi, ut imitari eorum protinus gestiant disciplinam : in quo inritos necessario inpendit conatus humana fragilitas.  Inpossibile namque est unum eundemque hominem simul uniuersis quas superius conprehendi fulgere uirtutibus.  Quas si quis uoluerit pariter affectare, in id incidere eum necesse est, ut dum omnes sequitur nullam integre consequatur magisque ex hac inmutatione ac uarietate dispendium capiat quam profectum.  Multis enim uiis ad deum tenditur, et ideo unusquisque illam quam semel arripuit inreuocabili cursus sui intentione conficiat, ut sit in qualibet professione perfectus.

 

 

CHAPTER 7: An example of chastity which teaches that not everyone should be imitated by everyone.


CAPUT VII. Exemplum castitatis quo docetur non omnia ab omnibus aemulanda.

 

 

7.1. For apart from that loss, which we have said that a monk incurs who wants in light-mindedness to pass from one pursuit to another, there is a risk of death that is hence incurred, because at times things which are rightly done by some are wrongly taken by others as an example, and things which turned out well for some, are found to be injurious to others. For, to give an instance, it is as if one wished to imitate the good deed of that man, which Abbot John is wont to bring forward, not for the sake of imitating him but simply out of admiration for him; for one came to the aforesaid old man in a secular dress and when he had brought him some of the first fruits of his crops, he found some one there possessed by a most fierce devil.

 VII.  Absque illo namque dispendio, quo feriri monachum diximus qui mobilitate mentis ad studia cupit transire diuersa, etiam hinc periculum mortis incurritur, quod nonnumquam recte quaedam ab aliis gesta malo ab aliis praesumuntur exemplo et quae nonnullis bene cesserant perniciosa ab aliis sentiuntur.  Nam ut quiddam exempli gratia proferamus, uelut si quis illam uiri illius imitari uirtutem uelit, quam solet abba Iohannes non ad imitationis formulam, sed tantummodo pro admiratione proferre : nam quidam ueniens ad praedictum senem habitu saeculari, cum ei quasdam frugum suarum primitias detulisset, ferocissimo quendam daemonio arreptum ibidem repperit.

7.2. And this one though he scorned the adjurations and commands of Abbot John, and vowed that he would never at his bidding leave the body which he had occupied, yet was terrified at the coming of this other, and departed with a most humble utterance of his name. And the old man marvelled not a little at his so evident grace and was the more astonished at him because he saw that he had on a secular dress; and so began carefully to ask of him the manner of his life and pursuit.

2. Qui cum abbatis Iohannis obtestationes ac praecepta despiciens testaretur numquam se ad illius imperium de corpore quod obsederat migraturum, huius aduentu perterritus cum reuerentissima nominis illius inclamatione discessit.  Cuius tam euidentem gratiam senex non mediocriter admiratus eoque amplius obstupescens, quod eum habitu cerneret saeculari, coepit ab eo uitae ac professionis eius ordinem diligenter inquirere. 

7.3. And when he said that he was living in the world and bound by the ties of marriage, the blessed John, considering in his mind the greatness of his virtue and grace, searched out still more carefully what his manner of life might be. He declared that he was a countryman, and that he sought his food by the daily toil of his hands, and was not conscious of anything good about him except that he never went forth to his work in the fields in the morning nor came home in the evening without having returned thanks in Church for the food of his daily life, to God Who gave it; and that he had never used any of his crops without having first offered to God their first fruits and tithes; and that he had never driven his oxen over the bounds of another’s harvest without having first muzzled them that his neighbour might not sustain the slightest loss through his carelessness.

3. Cumque ille saecularem se atque uxorio uinculo conligatum esse dixisset, beatus Iohannes excellentiam uirtutis eius et gratiae mente pertractans quaenam illi esset conuersatio adtentius explorabat.  Ille se rusticum et cotidiano manuum opere uictum quaerere nec ullius boni esse se conscium testabatur, nisi quod numquam ante ad ruris opera mane exercenda procederet neque uespere domum reuerteretur, nisi in ecclesia pro cotidianae uitae commeatu largitori eius deo gratias rettulisset, neque se umquam de fructibus suis aliquid usurpasse, nisi prius deo primitias eorum ac decimas obtulisset, et numquam se boues suos per alienae messis transduxisse confinium, nisi eorum prius ora clausisset, ne uel parum damni per incuriam eius proximus sustineret.

7.4. And when these things did not seem to Abbot John sufficient to procure such grace as that with which he saw that he was endowed, and he inquired of him and investigated what it was which could be connected with the merits of such grace, he was induced by respect for such anxious inquiries to confess that, when he wanted to be professed as a monk, he had been compelled by force and his parents’ command, twelve years before to take a wife, who, without any body to that day being aware of it, was kept by him as a virgin in the place of a sister.

4. Et cum haec quoque abbati Iohanni necdum ad conparationem tantae gratiae, qua eum sibi praelatum esse cernebat, idonea uiderentur atque ab eo, quidnam esset illud quod tantae gratiae meritis conferri posset, sciscitans scrutaretur, ille reuerentia tam sollicitae inquisitionis adstrictus uxorem se parentum ui imperioque conpulsum, cum profiteri monachum uellet, ante duodecim annos accepisse confessus est, quam nemine etiam nunc conscio sororis loco a se uirginem custodiri.

7.5. And when the old man heard this, he was so overcome with admiration that he announced publicly in his presence that it was not without good reason that the devil who had scorned him himself, could not endure the presence of this man, whose virtue he himself, not only in the ardour of youth, but even now, would not dare to aim at without risk of his chastity. And though Abbot John would tell this story with the utmost admiration, yet he never advised any monk to try this plan as he knew that many things which are rightly done by some involved others who imitate them in great danger, and that that cannot be tried by all, which the Lord bestowed upon a few by a special gift.

5. Quod factum cum audisset senex, tanta est admiratione permotus, ut coram ipso publice proclamaret non inmerito daemonem qui se despexerat illius non tolerasse praesentiam, cuius ipse uirtutem non solum in iuuentatis ardore, sed ne nunc quidem sine discrimine castitatis auderet adpetere.  Quod factum abbas Iohannes licet summa admiratione praetulerit, tamen neminem monachorum ut experiretur hortatus est, sciens multa recte ab aliis gesta magnam aliis imitantibus intulisse perniciem nec usurpari ab omnibus posse quod paucis dominus speciali munere contulisset.

 

 

CHAPTER 8: Of spiritual knowledge.


CAPUT VIII. De spiritali scientia.

 

 

8.1. But to return to the explanation of the knowledge from which our discourse took its rise. Thus, as we said above, practical (πρακτική) , knowledge is distributed among many subjects and interests, but theoretical (θεωρητική) is divided into two parts, i.e., the historical interpretation and the spiritual sense. Whence also Solomon when he had summed up the manifold grace of the Church, added: “for all who are with her are clothed with double garments.” (Prov. 31:21 (LXX)) But of spiritual knowledge there are three kinds,  VIII.  Sed ad expositionem scientiae de qua sumptum est sermonis exordium reuertamur.  Itaque sicut superius diximus πρακτική  erga multas professiones ac studia deriuatur, θεωρητική  uero in duas diuiditur partes, id est in historicam interpretationem et intellegentiam spiritalem.  Vnde etiam Salomon cum ecclesiae multiformem gratiam enumerasset, adiecit : omnes enim qui apud eam sunt uestiti sunt dupliciter .Spiritalis autem scientiae genera sunt tria,

tropological,

allegorical,

anagogical,

 

tropologia,

allegoria,

anagoge,

of which we read as follows in Proverbs: “But do you describe these things to yourself in three ways according to the largeness of your heart. (Prov. 22:20 (LXX)) de quibus in Prouerbiis ita dicitur : tu autem describe tibi ea tripliciter super latitudinem cordis tui . 

8.2. And so the history embraces the knowledge of things past and visible, as it is repeated in this way by the Apostle: “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondwoman, the other by a free: but he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh, but he who was of the free was by promise.” But to the allegory belongs what follows, for what actually happened is said to have prefigured the form of some mystery “For these,” says he, “are the two covenants the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth into bondage, which is Agar. For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, which is compared to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”

2. Itaque historia praeteritarum ac uisibilium agnitionem conplectitur rerum, quae ita ab apostolo replicatur : scriptum est enim quia Abraham duos filios habuit, unum de ancilla et alterum de libera. Sed qui de ancilla, secundum carnem natus est : qui autem de libera, per repromissionem . Ad allegoriam autem pertinent quae sequuntur, quia ea quae in ueritate gesta sunt alterius sacramenti formam praefigurasse dicuntur.  Haec enim, inquit, sunt duo testamenta, unum quidem de monte Sina, in seruitutem generans, quod est Agar. Sina enim mons est in Arabia, qui conparatur huic quae nunc est Hierusalem et seruit cum filiis suis . 

8.3. But the anagogical sense rises from spiritual mysteries even to still more sublime and sacred secrets of heaven, and is subjoined by the Apostle in these words: “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not, break forth and cry, thou that travailest not, for many are the children of the desolate more than of her that hath an husband.” (Gal. 4:22-27) 3. Anagoge uero de spiritalibus mysteriis ad sublimiora quaedam et sacratiora caelorum secreta conscendens ab apostolo ita subicitur : quae autem sursum est Hierusalem libera est, quae est mater nostra. Scriptum est enim : laetare sterilis quae non paris, erumpe et clama quae non parturis, quoniam multi filii desertae magis quam eius quae habet uirum .

The tropological sense is the moral explanation which has to do with improvement of life and practical teaching, as if we were to understand by these two covenants practical and theoretical instruction, or at any rate as if we were to want to take Jerusalem or Sion as the soul of man, according to this: “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion.” (Ps. 147:12)

Tropologia est moralis explanatio ad emundationem uitae et instructionem pertinens actualem, uelut si haec eadem duo testamenta intellegamus πρακτική et theoreticam disciplinam, uel certe si Hierusalem aut Sion animam hominis uelimus accipere secundum illud : lauda Hierusalem dominum : lauda deum tuum Sion

8.4. And so these four previously mentioned figures coalesce, if we desire, in one subject, so that one and the same Jerusalem can be taken in four senses: historically as the city of the Jews; allegorically as Church of Christ, anagogically as the heavenly city of God “which is the mother of us all,” tropologically, as the soul of man, which is frequently subject to praise or blame from the Lord under this title. Of these four kinds of interpretation the blessed Apostle speaks as follows: “But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation or by knowledge or by prophecy or by doctrine?” (1 Cor. 14:6)

4. Igitur praedictae quattuor figurae in unum ita, si uolumus, confluunt, ut una atque eadem Hierusalem quadrifarie possit intellegi : secundum historiam ciuitas Iudaeorum, secundum allegoriam ecclesia Christi, secundum anagogen ciuitas dei illa caelestis, quae est mater omnium nostrum , secundum tropologiam anima hominis, quae frequenter hoc nomine aut increpatur aut laudatur a domino.  De his quattuor interpretationum generibus beatus apostolus ita dicit : nunc autem fratres, si uenero ad uos linguis loquens, quid uobis prodero, nisi uobis loquar aut in reuelatione aut in scientia aut in prophetia aut in doctrina ? 

8.5. For “revelation” belongs to allegory whereby what is concealed under the historical narrative is revealed in its spiritual sense and interpretation, as for instance if we tried to expound how “all our fathers were under the cloud and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” and how they “all ate the same spiritual meat and drank the same spiritual drink from the rock that followed them. But the rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:1-4) And this explanation where there is a comparison of the figure of the body and blood of Christ which we receive daily, contains the allegorical sense.

5. Reuelatio namque ad allegoriam pertinet, per quam ea quae tegit historica narratio spiritali sensu et expositione reserantur : ut uerbi gratia si illud aperire temptemus, quemadmodum patres nostri omnes sub nube fuerint, et omnes in Moysi baptizati sint in nube et in mari, et quemadmodum omnes eandem spiritalem escam manducauerint et eundem spiritalem de consequenti petra biberint potum, petra autem erat Christus . Quae expositio praefigurationi corporis et sanguinis Christi quem cotidie sumimus conparata allegoriae continet rationem. 

8.6. But the knowledge, which is in the same way mentioned by the Apostle, is tropological, as by it we can by a careful study see of all things that have to do with practical discernment whether they are useful and good, as in this case, when we are told to judge of our own selves “whether it is fitting for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered.” (1 Cor. 11:13) And this system, as has been said, contains the moral meaning. So “prophecy” which the Apostle puts in the third place, alludes to the anagogical sense by which the words are applied to things future and invisible, as here: “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those that sleep: that ye be not sorry as others also who have no hope. For if we believe that Christ died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the word of God, that we which are alive at the coming of the Lord shall not prevent those that sleep in Christ, for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thess. 4:12-15)

6. Scientia uero, quae similiter ab apostolo memoratur, tropologia est, qua uniuersa quae ad discretionem pertinent actualem utrum utilia uel honesta sint prudenti examinatione discernimus : ut est illud, cum apud nosmet ipsos iudicare praecipimur utrum deceat mulierem non uelato capite orare deum . Quae ratio ut dictum est moralem continet intellectum. Item prophetia, quam tertio apostolus intulit loco, anagogen sonat, per quam ad inuisibilia ac futura sermo transfertur, ut est illud : nolumus autem ignorare uos, fratres, de dormientibus, ut non contristemini sicut et ceteri qui spem non habent. Si enim credimus quoniam Christus mortuus est et resurrexit, ita et deus eos qui dormierunt per Iesum adducet cum eo. Hoc enim uobis dicimus in uerbo domini, quoniam nos qui uiuimus in aduentu domini non praeueniemus eos qui dormierunt in Christo, quoniam ipse dominus in iussu, in uoce archangeli et in tuba dei descendet de caelo, et mortui qui in Christo sunt resurgent primo . 

8.7. In which kind of exhortation the figure of anagogy is brought forward. But “doctrine” unfolds the simple course of historical exposition, under which is contained no more secret sense, but what is declared by the very words: as in this passage: “For I delivered unto you first of all what I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day, and that he was seen of Cephas;” (1 Cor. 15:3-5) and: “God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law;” (Gal. 4:4, 5) or this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord the God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6:4)

7. Qua exhortationis specie anagoges figura praefertur. Doctrina uero simplicem historicae expositionis ordinem pandit, in qua nullus occultior intellectus nisi qui uerbis resonat continetur, sicut est illud : tradidi enim uobis in primis, quod et accepi, quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris secundum scripturas, et quia sepultus est, et quia surrexit tertia die, et quia uisus est Cephae , et : misit deus filium suum, factum ex muliere, factum sub lege, ut eos qui sub lege erant redimeret , siue illud : audi Israhel, dominus deus tuus dominus unus est .

 

 

CHAPTER 9: How from practical knowledge we must proceed to spiritual.


CAPUT IX. Quod de actuali scientia proficiatur ad spiritalem.

 

 

9.1. Wherefore if you are anxious to attain to the light of spiritual knowledge, not wrongly for an idle boast but for the sake of being made better men, you are first inflamed with the longing for that blessedness, of which we read: “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God,” (Matt. 5:8) that you may also attain to that of which the angel said to Daniel: “But they that are learned shall shine as the splendor of the firmament: and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever;” and in another prophet: “Enlighten yourselves with the light of knowledge while there is time.” (Dan. 12:3; Hos. 10:12)

 VIIII.  Quapropter si uobis curae est ad spiritalis scientiae lumen non inanis iactantiae uitio, sed emundationis gratia peruenire, illius primum beatitudinis cupiditate flammamini de qua dictum est : beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi deum uidebunt , ut etiam ad illam de qua angelus ad Danihelem ait peruenire possitis : qui autem docti fuerint, fulgebunt sicut splendor firmamenti : et qui ad iustitiam crudiunt multos, quasi stellae in perpetuas aeternitates , et in alio propheta : inluminate uobis lumen scientiae dum tempus est . 

9.2. And so keeping up that diligence in reading, which I see that you have, endeavour with all eagerness to gain in the first place a thorough grasp of practical, i.e., ethical knowledge. For without this that theoretical purity of which we have spoken cannot be obtained, which those only,-who are perfected not by the words of others who teach them, but by the excellence of their own actions, can after much expenditure of effort and toil attain as a reward for it. For as they gain their knowledge not from meditation on the law but from the fruit of their labour, they sing with the Psalmist: “From Thy commandments I have understanding;” and having overcome all their passions, they say with confidence: “I will sing, and I will understand in the undefiled way.” (Ps. 118 (119):104; 100 (101):1, 2)

2. Tenentes itaque illam quam habere uos sentio diligentiam lectionis omni studio festinate actualem, id est ethicam quam primum ad integrum conprehendere disciplinam.  Absque hac namque illa quam diximus theoretica puritas non potest adprehendi, quam hi tantum qui non aliorum docentum uerbis, sed propriorum actuum uirtute perfecti sunt post multa operum ac laborum stipendia iam quasi in praemio consequuntur.  Non enim a meditatione legis intellegentiam, sed de fructu operis adquirentes cum psalmographo canunt : a mandatis tuis intellexi , et excoctis passionibus uniueris fiducialiter dicunt : psallam, et intellegam in uia inmaculata . 

9.3. For he who is striving in an undefiled way in the course of a pure heart, as he sings the Psalm, understands the words which are chanted. And therefore if you would prepare in your heart a holy tabernacle of spiritual knowledge, purge yourselves from the stain of all sins, and rid yourselves of the cares of this world. For it is an impossibility for the soul which is taken up even to a small extent with worldly troubles, to gain the gift of knowledge or to become an author of spiritual interpretation, and diligent in reading holy things.

3. Ille enim psallens intelleget quae canuntur, qui in uia inmaculata gressus puri cordis innititur. Et idcirco si scientiae spiritalis sacrum in corde uestro uultis tabernaculum praeparare, ab omnium uos uitiorum contagione purgate et curis saeculi praesentis exuite. Inpossibile namque est animam, quae mundanis uel tenuiter distentionibus occupatur, donum scientiae promereri uel generatricem spiritalium sensuum aut tenacem sacrarum fieri lectionum. 

9.4. Be careful therefore in the first place, and especially you, John, as your more youthful age requires you the rather to be careful about what I am going to say—that you may enjoin absolute silence on your lips, in order that your zeal for reading and the efforts of your purpose may not be destroyed by vain pride. For this is the first practical step towards learning, to receive the regulations and opinions of all the Elders with an earnest heart, and with lips that are dumb; and diligently to lay them up in your heart, and endeavour rather to perform than to teach them. For from teaching, the dangerous arrogance of vainglory, but from performing, the fruit of spiritual knowledge will flourish.

4. Obseruate igitur in primis, et maxime tu, Iohannes, cui magis ad custodienda haec quae dicturus sum aetas adhuc adulescentior suffragatur, ne studium lectionis ac desiderii tui labor uana elatione cassetur, ut indicas summum ori tuo silentium.  Hic est enim primus disciplinae actualis ingressus, ut omnium seniorum instituta atque sententias intento corde et quasi muto ore suscipias ac diligenter in pectore tuo condens ad perficienda ea potius quam ad docenda festines. Ex hoc enim cenodoxiae perniciosa praesumptio, ex illo autem fructus spiritalis scientiae pullulabunt.

9.5. And so you should never venture to say anything in the conference of the Elders unless some ignorance that might be injurious, or a matter which it is important to know leads you to ask a question; as some who are puffed up with vainglory, pretend that they ask, in order really to show off the knowledge which they perfectly possess. For it is an impossibility for one, who takes to the pursuit of reading with the purpose of gaining the praise of men, to be rewarded with the gift of true knowledge. For one who is bound by the chain of this passion, is sure to be also in bondage to other faults, and especially to that of pride: and so if he is baffled by his encounter with practical and ethical knowledge, he will certainly not attain that spiritual knowledge which springs from it. Be then in all things “swift to hear, but slow to speak,” (James 1:19) lest there come upon you that which is noted by Solomon: “If thou seest a man who is quick to speak, know that there is more hope of a fool than of him; (Prov. 29:20 (LXX)) and do not presume to teach any one in words what you have not already performed in deed.

5. Nihil itaque in conlatione seniorum proferre audeas, nisi quod interrogare te aut ignoratio nocitura aut ratio necessariae cognitionis inpulerit, ut quidam uanae gloriae amore distenti pro ostentatione doctrinae ea quae optime norunt interrogare se simulant. Inpossibile enim est eum, qui proposito adquirendae laudis humanae studio lectionis insistit, donum uerae scientiae promereri.  Nam qui hac passione deuinctus est, necesse est ut aliis quoque et maxime superbiae uitiis obligetur : et ita in actuali atque ethica congressione prostratus scientiam spiritalem quae ex ea nascitur minime consequetur. Esto ergo per omnia citus ad audiendum, tardus autem ad loquendum , ne cadat in te illud quod notatur a Salomone : si uideris uirum uelocem in uerbis, scito quia spem habuit insipiens magis quam ille , nec quemquam uerbis docere praesumas quod opere ante non feceris. 

9.6. For our Lord taught us by His own example that we ought to keep to this order, as of Him it is said: “what Jesus began to do and to teach.” (Acts 1:1) Take care then that you do not rush into teaching before doing, and so be reckoned among the number of those of whom the Lord speaks in the gospel to the disciples: “What they say unto you, that observe and do, but not after their words: for they say and do not. But they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matt. 23:3, 4) For if he who shall “breakone of these commands, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” (Matt. 5:19) it follows that one who has dared to despise many and greater commands and to teach men so, shall certainly be considered not least in the kingdom of heaven, but greatest in the punishment of hell.

6. Hunc enim nos ordinem tenere debere etiam exemplis suis dominus noster instituit, de quo ita dicitur : quae coepit Iesus facere et docere . Caue igitur ne ante actum prosiliens ad docendum in illorum numero deputeris, de quibus in euangelio dominus ad discipulos loquitur : quae dicunt uobis seruate et facite, secundum opera uero eorum nolite facere : dicunt enim et non faciunt.  Alligant autem onera grauia et inportabilia et inponunt ea super umeros hominum, ipsi autem digito suo nolunt ea mouere . Si enim ille qui unum mandatum minimum soluens docuerit sic homines, minimus uocabitur in regno coelorum , qui multa et maiora neglegens docere praesumpserit consequens profecto est ut non iam minimus in regno caelorum, sed in gehennae supplicio maximus habeatur. 

9.7. And therefore you must be careful not to be led on to teach by the example of those who have attained some skill in discussion and readiness in speech and because they can discourse on what they please elegantly and fully, are imagined to possess spiritual knowledge, by those who do not know how to distinguish its real force and character. For it is one thing to have a ready tongue and elegant language, and quite another to penetrate into the very heart and marrow of heavenly utterances and to gaze with pure eye of the soul on profound and hidden mysteries; for this can be gained by no learning of man’s, nor condition of this world, only by purity of soul, by means of the illumination of the Holy Ghost.

7. Et ideo cauendum tibi est ne illorum ad docendum inciteris exemplis, qui peritiam disputandi ac sermonis afluentiam consecuti, quia possunt ea quae uoluerint ornate copioseque disserere, scientiam spiritalem possidere creduntur ab his qui uim eius et qualitatem discernere non nouerunt. Aliud namque est facilitatem oris et nitorem habere sermonis et aliud uenas ac medullas caelestium intrare dictorum ac profunda et abscondita sacramenta purissimo cordis oculo contemplari, quod nullatenus humana doctrina nec eruditio saecularis, sed sola puritas mentis per inluminationem sancti spiritus possidebit.

 

 

CHAPTER 10: How to embrace the system of true knowledge.


CAPUT X. De apprehendenda verae scientiae disciplina.

 

 

10.1. You must then, if you want to get at the true knowledge of the Scriptures, endeavor first to secure steadfast humility of heart, to carry you on by the perfection of love not to the knowledge which puffs  up, but to that which enlightens. For it is an impossibility for an impure mind to gain the gift of spiritual knowledge. And therefore with every possible care avoid this, lest through your zeal for reading there arise in you not the light of knowledge nor the lasting glory which is promised through the light that comes from learning but only the instruments of your destruction from vain arrogance.

 Festinandum igitur tibi est, si ad ueram scripturarum uis scientiam peruenire, ut humilitatem cordis inmobilem primitus consequaris, quae te non ad illam quae inflat , sed ad eam quae inluminat scientiam caritatis consummatione perducat. Inpossibile namque est inmundam mentem donum scientiae spiritalis adipisci. Et idcirco omni cautione deuita, ne tibi per studium lectionis non scientiae lumen nec illa perpetua quae per inluminationem doctrinae promittitur gloria, sed instrumenta perditionis de adrogantiae uanitate nascantur. 

10.2. Next you must by all means strive to get rid of all anxiety and worldly thoughts, and give yourself over assiduously or rather continuously, to sacred reading, until continual meditation fills your heart, and fashions you so to speak after its own likeness, making of it, in a way, an ark of the testimony, (Cf. Heb. 9:4, 5) which has within it two tables of stone, i.e., the constant assurance of the two testaments; and a golden pot, i.e., a pure and undefiled memory which preserves by a constant tenacity the manna stored up in it, i.e., the enduring and heavenly sweetness of the spiritual sense and the bread of angels; moreover also the rod of Aaron, i.e., the saving standard of Jesus Christ our true High Priest, that ever buds with the freshness of immortal memory. For this is the rod which after it had been cut from the root of Jesse, died and flourished again with a more vigorous life.

2. Deinde hoc tibi est omnimodis enitendum, ut expulsa omni sollicitudine et cogitatione terrena adsiduum te ac potius iugem sacrae praebeas lectioni, donec continua meditatio inbuat mentem tuam et quasi in similitudinem sui formet, arcam , quodammodo ex ea faciens testamenti, habentem scilicet in se duas tabulas lapideas, id est duplicis instrumenti perpetuam firmitatem : urnam quoque auream, hoc est memoriam puram atque sinceram, quae reconditum in se manna perpetua tenacitate conseruet, spiritalium scilicet sensuum et angelici illius panis perennem caelestemque dulcedinem : nec non etiam uirgam Aaron, id est summi uerique pontificis nostri Iesu Christi salutare uexillum, inmortalis memoriae semper uiriditate frondescens. 

10.3. But all these are guarded by two Cherubim, i.e., the fulness of historical and spiritual knowledge. For the Cherubim mean a multitude of knowledge: and these continually protect the mercy seat of God, i.e., the peace of your heart, and overshadow it from all the assaults of spiritual wickedness. And so your soul will be carried forward not only to the ark of the Divine Covenant, but also to the priestly kingdom, and owing to its unbroken love of purity being as it were engrossed in spiritual studies, will fulfil the command given to the priests, enjoined as follows by the giver of the Law: “And he shall not go forth from the sanctuary, lest he pollute the Sanctuary of God,” (Lev. 21:12) i.e., his heart, in which the Lord promised that he would ever dwell, saying: “I will dwell in them and will walk among them.” (2 Cor. 5:16)

3. Haec namque est uirga quae posteaquam de Iesse radice  succisa est uiuacius mortificata reuirescit. Haec autem omnia duobus Cherubin, id est historicae et spiritalis scientiae plenitudine protegentur. Cherubin enim interpretatur scientiae multitudo : quae propitiatorium dei, id est placiditatem pectoris tui iugiter protegent et a cunctis spiritalium nequitiarum incursibus obumbrabunt. Et ita mens tua non solum in arcam diuini testamenti, uerum etiam in regnum sacerdotale prouecta per indissolubilem puritatis affectum quodammodo absorta spiritalibus disciplinis illud inplebit pontificale mandatum, quod a legislatore ita praecipitur : et de sanctis non egredietur, ne polluat sanctuarium dei , id est cor suum, in quo iugiter habitaturum se dominus repromittit dicens : inhabitabo in eis et inter illos ambulabo . 

10.4. Wherefore the whole series of the Holy Scriptures should be diligently committed to memory and ceaselessly repeated. For this continual meditation will bring us a twofold fruit: first, that while the attention of the mind is taken up in reading and preparing the lessons it cannot possibly be taken captive in any snares of bad thoughts: next that those things which were conned over and frequently repeated and which while we were trying to commit them to memory we could not understand as the mind was at that time taken up, we can afterward see more clearly, when we are free from the distraction of all acts and visions, and especially when we reflect on them in silence in our meditation by night. So that when we are at rest, and as it were plunged in the stupor of sleep, there is revealed to us the understanding of the most secret meanings, of which in our waking hours we had not the remotest conception.

4. Quamobrem diligenter memoriae conmendanda est et incessabiliter recensenda sacrarum series scripturarum. Haec etenim meditationis iugitas duplicem nobis conferet fructum : primum quod, dum in legendis ac parandis lectionibus occupatur mentis intentio, necesse est ut nullis noxiarum cogitationum laqueis captiuetur : deinde quod ea, quae creberrima repetitione percursa, dum memoriae tradere laboramus, intellegere id temporis obligata mente non quiuimus, postea ab omnium actuum ac uisionum inlecebris absoluti praecipueque nocturna meditatione taciti reuoluentes clarius intuemur, ita ut occultissimorum sensuum, quos ne tenui quidem uigilantes opinatione percepimus, quiescentibus nobis et uelut soporis stupore demersis intellegentia reueletur.

 

 

CHAPTER 11: Of the manifold meanings of Sacred Scripture.


CAPUT XI. De multiplici intellectu divinarum Scripturarum.

 

 

But as the renewal of our soul grows by means of this study, Scripture also will begin to put on a new face, and the beauty of the holier meanings will somehow grow with our growth. For their form is adapted to the capacity of man’s understanding, and will appear earthly to carnal people, and divine to spiritual ones, so that those to whom it formerly appeared to be involved in thick clouds, cannot apprehend its subtleties nor endure its light. But to make this which we are aiming at somewhat clearer by an instance, it will be enough to produce a single passage of the law, by which we can prove that all the heavenly commands as well are applied to men in accordance with the measure of our state.

 XI. Crescente autem per hoc studium innouatione mentis nostrae etiam scripturarum facies incipiet innouari, et sacratioris intellegentiae pulchritudo quodammodo cum proficiente proficiet. Pro capacitate enim humanorum sensuum earum quoque species coaptatur et uel terrena carnalibus uel diuina spiritalibus adparebit, ita ut hi, quibus antea uidebatur crassis quibusdam nebulis inuoluta, nec subtilitatem eius deprehendere nec fulgorem ualeant sustinere. Sed ut hoc ipsum quod adstruere nitimur aliquo clarius pandatur exemplo, unum legis testimonium protulisse sufficiat, per quod etiam omnia praecepta caelestia secundum mensuram status nostri ad omne hominum genus probemus extendi. 

For it is written in the law: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Exod. 20:14) This is rightly observed according to the simple meaning of the letter, by a man who is still in bondage to foul passions. But by one who has already forsaken these dirty acts and impure affections, it must be observed in the spirit, so that he may forsake not only the worship of idols but also all heathen superstitions and the observance of auguries and omens and all signs and days and times, or at any rate that he be not entangled in the conjectures of words and names which destroy the simplicity of our faith.

2. Scriptum est in lege : non fornicaberis . Hoc ab homine carnalium adhuc obscenitatum passionibus obligato secundum simplicem litterae sonum salubriter custoditur. Ab eo autem qui iam ab hac actione lutulenta et inpuro discessit affectu necesse est id ipsum spiritaliter obseruari, ut scilicet non solum a caerimoniis idolorum, sed etiam ab omni superstitione gentilium et auguriorum atque ominum omniumque signorum et dierum ac temporum obseruatione discedat, uel certe ne quorundam uerborum aut nominum coniecturis, quae sinceritatem fidei nostrae polluunt, inplicetur. 

For by fornication of this kind we read that Jerusalem was defiled, as she committed adultery “on every high hill and under every green tree,” (Jer. 3:6) whom also the Lord rebuked by the prophet, saying: “Let now the astrologers stand and save thee, they that gazed at the stars and counted the months, that from them they might tell the things that shall come to thee,” (Is. 47:13) of which fornication elsewhere also the Lord says in rebuking them: “The spirit of fornication deceived them, and they went a whoring from their God.” (Hos. 4:12) But one who has forsaken both these kinds of fornication, will have a third kind to avoid, which is contained in the superstitions of the law and of Judaism;

3. Hac enim fornicatione etiam Hierusalem dicitur constuprata, quae fornicata est in omni colle sublimi, et sub omni ligno frondoso , et quam iterum dominus increpans per prophetam stent, inquit, et saluent te augures caeli, qui contemplabantur sidera, et subputabant menses, ut ex eis adnuntiarent uentura tibi . De qua fornicatione et alibi arguens eos dominus ait : spiritus fornicationis decepit eos, et fornicati sunt a deo suo . Quisque uero a gemina hac fornicatione discesserit, habebit tertiam quam deuitet, quae in legis et Iudaismi superstitionibus continetur. 

of which the Apostle says: “Ye observe days and months and times and years;” and again: Touch not, taste not, handle not.” (Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:21) And there is no doubt that this is said of the superstitions of the law, into which one who has fallen has certainly gone a whoring from Christ, and is not worthy to hear this from the Apostle: “For I have espoused you to one husband, to exhibit you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2) But this that follows will be directed to him by the words of the same Apostle: “But I am afraid lest as the serpent by his cunning deceived Eve, so your minds should be corrupted and fall from the simplicity which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Cor. 11:3)

4. De quibus apostolus dies, inquit, obseruatis et menses et tempora et annos , et iterum : ne tetigeris neque gustaueris neque contrectaueris . Quae de superstitionibus legis dicta esse non dubium est, in quas si quis inciderit procul dubio moechatus a Christo ab apostolo non meretur audire : despondi enim uos uni uiro uirginem castam exhibere Christo , sed illud ad eum quod sequitur uoce eiusdem apostoli dirigetur : timeo autem ne sicut serpens seduxit Euam astutia sua, ita corrumpantur sensus uestri a simplicitate, quae est in Christo Iesu . 

But if one has escaped the uncleanness even of this fornication there will still be a fourth, which is committed by adulterous intercourse with heretical teaching. Of which too the blessed Apostle speaks: “I know that after my departure grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock, and of yourselves also shall arise men speaking perverse things so as to lead astray the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29, 30) But if a man has succeeded in avoiding even this, let him beware lest he fall by a more subtle sin into the guilt of fornication. I mean that which consists in wandering thoughts, because every thought which is not only shameful but even idle, and departing in however small a degree from God is regarded by the perfect man as the foulest fornication.

5. Quodsi inmunditiam huius quoque fornicationis effugerit, habebit quartam, quae haeretici dogmatis adulterio perpetratur. De qua idem beatus apostolus : ego scio quia post discessionem meam intrabunt lupi graues in uos, non parcentes gregi, et ex uobis ipsis exsurgent uiri loquentes peruersa, ut abducant discipulos post se . Hanc etiam qui potuerit declinare, caueat ne subtiliore peccato in fornicationis uitium conlabatur, quae scilicet in cogitationum peruagatione consistit, quia omnis cogitatio non solum turpis, sed etiam otiosa et a deo quantulumcumque discedens a perfecto uiro inmundissima fornicatio deputatur.

 

 

CHAPTER 12: A question how we can attain to forgetfulness of the cares of this world.

CAPUT XII. Interrogatio, quomodo possit ad oblivionem saecularium carminum perveniri.

 

 

Upon this I was at first moved by a secret emotion, and then groaned deeply and said, All these things which you have set forth so fully have affected me with still greater despair than that which I had previously endured: as besides those general captivities of the soul whereby I doubt not that weak people are smitten from without, a special hindrance to salvation is added by that knowledge of literature which I seem already to have in some slight measure attained, in which the efforts of my tutor, or my attention to continual reading have so weakened me that now my mind is filled with those songs of the poets so that even at the hour of prayer it is thinking about those trifling fables, and the stories of battles with which from its earliest infancy it was stored by its childish lessons: and when singing Psalms or asking forgiveness of sins either some wanton recollection of the poems intrudes itself or the images of heroes fighting presents itself before the eyes, and an imagination of such phantoms is always tricking me and does not suffer my soul to aspire to an insight into things above, so that this cannot be got rid of by my daily lamentations.

 XII.  Ad haec ego occulta primum conpunctione permotus ac deinde grauiter ingemescens : haec, inquam, omnia quae copiosissime digessisti maiora mihi intulerunt desperationis augmenta quam hactenus sustinebam : quippe cui praeter illas generales animae captiuitates, quibus non dubito infirmos quosque pulsari extrinsecus, speciale inpedimentum salutis accedit per illam quam tenuiter uideor adtigisse notitiam litterarum, in qua me ita uel instantia paedagogi uel continuae lectionis macerauit intentio, ut nunc mens mea poeticis illis uelut infecta carminibus illas fabularum nugas historiasque bellorum, quibus a paruulo primis studiorum inbuta est rudimentis, orationis etiam tempore meditetur, psallentique uel pro peccatorum indulgentia supplicanti aut inpudens poematum memoria suggeratur aut quasi bellantium heroum ante oculos imago uersetur, taliumque me phantasmatum imaginatio semper inludens ita mentem meam ad supernos intuitus adspirare non patitur, ut cotidianis fletibus non possit expelli.

 

 

CHAPTER 13: Of a means by which we can remove the dross from our memory.


CAPUT XIII. Responsio, quo pacto memoriam eorum possimus abolere.

 

 

Nesteros: From this very fact, from which there springs up for you the utmost despair of your purification, a speedy and effectual remedy may arise if only you will transfer to the reading of and meditation upon the writings of the Spirit, the same diligence and earnestness which you say that you showed in those secular studies of yours. For your mind is sure to be taken up with those poems until it is gaining with the same zeal and assiduity other matters for it to reflect upon, and is in labour with spiritual and divine things instead of unprofitable earthly ones.

 XIII. NESTEROS : De hac ipsa re, unde tibi purgationis maxima nascitur desperatio, citum satis atque efficax remedium poterit oboriri, si eandem diligentiam atque instantiam, quam te in illis saecularibus studiis habuisse dixisti, ad spiritalium scripturarum uolueris lectionem meditationemque transferre. Necesse est enim mentem tuam tamdiu illis carminibus occupari, quamdiu sibi alia quae intra semet ipsam recolat simili studio et adsiduitate conquirat ac pro illis infructuosis atque terrenis spiritalia ac diuina parturiat.

But when these are thoroughly and entirely conceived and it has been nourished upon them, then by degrees the former thoughts can be expelled and utterly got rid of. For the mind of man cannot be emptied of all thoughts, and so as long as it is not taken up with spiritual interests, is sure to be occupied with what it learnt long since. For as long as it has nothing to recur to and exercise itself upon unweariedly, it is sure to fall back upon what it learnt in childhood, and ever to think about what it took in by long use and meditation.

2. Quae cum profunde alteque conceperit atque in illis fuerit enutrita, uel expelli priores sensim poterunt uel penitus aloleri. Vacare enim cunctis cogitationibus humana mens non potest, et ideo quamdiu spiritalibus studiis non fuerit occupata, necesse est eam illis quae pridem didicit inplicari. Quamdiu enim non habuerit quo recurrat et indefessos exerceat motus, necesse est ut ad illa quibus ab infantia inbuta est conlabatur eaque semper reuoluat quae longo usu ac meditatione concepit. 

In order then that this spiritual knowledge may be strengthened in you with a lasting steadfastness, and that you may not enjoy it only for a time like those who just touch it not by their own exertions but at the recital of another, and if I may use the expression, perceive its scent in the air; but that it may be laid up in your heart, and deeply noted in it, and thoroughly seen and handled, it is well for you to use the utmost care in securing that, even if perhaps you hear things that you know very well produced in the Conference, you do not regard them in a scornful and disdainful way because you already know them, but that you lay them to your heart with the same eagerness, with which the words of salvation which we are longing for ought to be constantly poured into our ears or should ever proceed from our lips.

3. Vt ergo haec in te scientia spiritalis perpetua soliditate roboretur nec ea iam temporarie perfruaris sicut illi qui eam non suo studio, sed aliena relatione contingunt et uelut aerio ut ita dixerim odore percipiunt, sed ut sensibus tuis inuiscerata quodammodo et perspecta atque palpata condatur, illud omni obseruantia custodire te conuenit, ut etiamsi ea quae optime nosti forte audieris in conlatione proferri, non ex hoc quod tibi iam nota sint aspernanter fastidioseque suscipias, sed ea cordi tuo illa auiditate conmendes, qua debent desiderabilia salutis uerba uel auribus nostris indesinenter infundi uel de nostro iugiter ore proferri.

For although the narration of holy things be often repeated, yet in a mind that feels a thirst for true knowledge the satiety will never create disgust, but as it receives it every day as if it were something new and what it wanted however often it may have taken it in, it will so much the more eagerly either hear or speak, and from the repetition of these things will gain confirmation of the knowledge it already possesses, rather than weariness of any sort from the frequent Conference. For it is a sure sign of a mind that is cold and proud, if it receives with disdain and carelessness the medicine of the words of salvation, although it be offered with the zeal of excessive persistence. For “a soul that is full jeers at honeycomb: but to a soul that is in want even little things appear sweet.” (Prov. 27:7)

4. Quamuis enim adhibeatur sanctarum rerum crebra narratio, numquam tamen animae sitim uerae scientiae sustinenti satietas generabit horrorem, sed ea cotidie uelut noua ac desiderata suscipiens quanto frequentius hauserit, tanto auidius uel audiet uel loquetur et confirmationem potius perceptae scientiae ex eorum repetitione quam ullum ex frequenti capiet conlatione fastidium. Euidens namque est tepidae ac superbae mentis indicium, si uerborum salutarium medicinam quamuis studio nimiae adsiduitatis ingestam fastidiose neglegenterque suscipiat : anima enim quae in satietate est fauis inludit, animae autem egenti etiam amara dulcia uidentur . 

And so if these things have been carefully taken in and stored up in the recesses of the soul and stamped with the seal of silence, afterwards like some sweet scented wine that makes glad the heart of man, they will, when mellowed by the antiquity of the thoughts and by long-standing patience, be brought forth from the jar of your heart with great fragrance, and like some perennial fountain will flow abundantly from the veins of experience and irrigating channels of virtue and will pour forth copious streams as if from some deep well in your heart.

5. Si itaque haec diligenter excepta et in recessu mentis condita atque indicta fuerint taciturnitate signata, postea ut uina quaedam suaue olentia et laetificantia cor hominis, cum sensuum canitie et patientiae fuerint uetustate decocta, cum magna sui fragrantia de uase tui pectoris proferentur et tamquam perennis fons de experientiae uenis et inriguis uirtutum meatibus redundabunt fluentaque continua uelut de quadam abysso tui cordis effundent. 

For that will happen in your case, which is spoken in Proverbs to one who has achieved this in his work: “Drink waters from your own cisterns and from the fount of your own wells. Let waters from your own fountain flow in abundance for you, but let your waters pass through into your streets.” (Prov. 5:15, 16) And according to the prophet Isaiah: “Thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail. And the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee; thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation; and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest.” (Is. 58:11, 12)

6. Eueniet namque in te illud, quod in Prouerbiis ad illum dicitur qui haec opere consummauit : bibe aquas de tuis uasis et de puteorum tuorum fonte. Supereffluant tibi aquae de tuo fonte, in tuas autem plateas pertranseant aquae tuae , ac secundum Esaiam prophetam eris quasi hortus inriguus, et sicut fons aquarum, cuius non deficient aquae. Et aedificabuntur in te deserta a saeculis : fundamenta generationis et generationis suscitabis : et uocaberis aedificator saepium, auertens semitas in quietem . 

And that blessedness shall come upon thee which the same prophet promises: “And the Lord will not cause thy teacher to flee away from thee any more, and thine eyes shall see thy teacher. And thine ears shall hear the word of one admonishing thee behind thy back: This is the way, walk ye in it, and go not aside either to the right hand or to the left.’ (Is. 30:20, 21) And so it will come to pass that not only every purpose and thought of your heart, but also all the wanderings and rovings of your imagination will become to you a holy and unceasing pondering of the Divine law.

7. Illa enim tibi beatitudo proueniet quam idem propheta promittit : et non faciet dominus auolare a te ultra doctorem tuum : et erunt oculi tui uidentes praeceptorem tuum. Et aures tuae audient uerbum post tergum monentis : haec uia, ambulate in ea neque ad dexteram neque ad sinistram . Atque ita fiet ut non solum omnis directio ac meditatio cordis tui, uerum etiam cunctae euagationes atque discursus cogitationum tuarum sint tibi diuinae legis sancta et incessabilis ruminatio.

 

 

CHAPTER 14: That an unclean soul can neither give nor receive spiritual knowledge

CAPUT XIV. Quod immunda anima neque tradere neque percipere possit scientiam spiritalem.

 

 

But it is, as we have already said, impossible for a novice either to understand or to teach this. For if one is incapable of receiving it how can he be fit to pass it on to another? But if he has had the audacity to teach anything on these matters, most certainly his words will be idle and useless and only reach the ears of his hearers, without being able to touch their hearts, uttered as they were in sheer idleness and unfruitful vanity, for they do not proceed from the treasure of a good conscience, but from the empty impertinence of boastfulness.

 XIIII.  Inpossibile est autem haec sicut praefati sumus inexpertum quemquam uel agnoscere uel docere. Nam qui ne ad percipiendum quidem capax est, quomodo erit idoneus ad tradendum? De quibus tamen etiamsi aliquid docere praesumpserit, inefficax procul dubio et inutilis usque ad aures tantummodo audientium eius sermo perueniet, cor autem eorum penetrare non poterit inertia operum et infructuositate suae proditus uanitatis, quia non de thesauro bonae promitur conscientiae, sed de inani praesumptione iactantiae. 

For it is impossible for an impure soul (however earnestly it may devote itself to reading) to obtain spiritual knowledge. For no one pours any rich ointment or fine honey or any precious liquid into a dirty and stinking vessel. For a jar that has once been filled with foul odours spoils the sweetest myrrh more readily than it receives any sweetness or grace from it, for what is pure is corrupted much more quickly than what is corrupt is purified.

2. Inpossibile namque est inmundam animam, quantalibet desudauerit lectionis instantia, adipisci scientiam spiritalem. Nemo enim in uas faetidum atque corruptum unguentum aliquod nobile aut mel optimum aut pretiosi quicquam liquoris infundit. Facilius enim quamuis odoratissimum myrum semel horrendis inbuta faetoribus testa contaminat quam ut aliquid ex eo suauitatis aut gratiae ipsa concipiat, quia multo citius munda corrumpuntur quam corrupta mundantur. 

And so the vessel of our bosom unless it has first been purified from all the foul stains of sin will not be worthy to receive that blessed ointment of which it is said by the prophet: “Like the ointment upon the head, which ran down upon the beard of Aaron, which ran down upon the edge of his garment,” (Ps. 132 (133):2) nor will it keep undefiled that spiritual knowledge and the words of Scripture which are “sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.” (Ps. 18 (19):11) “For what share hath righteousness with iniquity? or what agreement hath light with darkness? or what concord has Christ with Belial?” (2 Cor. 6:14, 15)

3. Ita igitur et uas pectoris nostri, nisi prius fuerit ab omni faetidissima uitiorum contagione purgatum, non merebitur suscipere illud benedictionis unguentum de quo dicitur per prophetam : sicut unguentum in capite, quod descendit in barbam Aaron, quod descendit in oram uestimenti eius , nec illam scientiam spiritalem et eloquia scripturarum quae dulciora sunt super mel et fauum  inpolluta seruabit. Quae enim participatio iustitiae cum iniquitate? aut quae societas luci cum tenebris? quae autem conuentio Christi ad Beliar ?

 

 

CHAPTER 15: An objection arising from the fact that many impure persons have knowledge while [some] saints have not.

CAPUT XV. Objectio de eo quod multi immundi scientiam habeant, et sancti non habeant.

 

 

Germanus: This assertion does not seem to us rounded on truth, or based on solid reasoning. For if it is clear that all who either never receive the faith of Christ at all or who corrupt it by the wicked sin of heresy, are of unclean hearts, how is it that many Jews and heretics, and Catholics also who are entangled in various sins, have acquired perfect knowledge of the Scriptures and boast of the greatness of their spiritual learning, and on the other hand countless swarms of saintly men, whose heart has been purified from all stain of sin, are content with the piety of simple faith and know nothing of the mysteries of a deeper knowledge? How then will that opinion stand, which attributes spiritual knowledge solely to purity of heart?

 XV.  GERMANVS : Definitio ista nequaquam uidetur nobis ueritate fulciri aut probabili ratione subnixa. Cum enim omnes qui fidem Christi aut nequaquam suscipiunt aut inpia dogmatum prauitate corrumpunt inmundi cordis esse manifestum sit, quomodo multi Iudaeorum atque haereticorum uel etiam catholicorum, qui diuersis uitiis inuoluuntur, perfectam scripturarum scientiam consecuti de spiritalis doctrinae magnitudine gloriantur, et e contra sanctorum uirorum innumera multitudo, quorum cor ab omni peccatorum contagione purgatum est, simplicis fidei pietate contenta profundioris scientiae ignorat arcana? Quemadmodum ergo stabit ista sententia, quae scientiam spiritalem soli cordis tribuit puritati?

 

 

CHAPTER 16: The response that bad [persons] cannot possess true knowledge

CAPUT XVI. Responsio quod mali scientiam veram habere non possunt.

 

 

16.1. Nesteros: One who does not carefully weigh every word of the opinions uttered cannot rightly discover the value of the assertion. For we said to begin with that men of this sort only possess skill in disputation and ornaments of speech; but cannot penetrate to the very heart of Scripture and the mysteries of its spiritual meanings. For true knowledge is only acquired by true worshippers of God; and certainly this people does not possess it to whom it is said: “Hear, O, foolish people, you who have no heart: ye who having eyes see not, and having ears, hear not.” And again: “Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I also will reject thee from acting as My priest.” (Jer. 5:21; Hos. 4:6)

 XVI.  NESTEROS :  Haud recte uirtutem definitionis explorat qui non omnia diligenter prolatae sententiae uerba perpendit. Praediximus namque huiusmodi homines disputandi tantum habere peritiam et elocutionis ornatum, ceterum scripturarum uenas et arcana spiritalium sensuum intrare non posse. Etenim uera scientia non nisi a ueris dei cultoribus possidetur, quam is utique non habet populus cui dicitur : audi popule stulte, qui non habes cor : qui habentes oculos non uidetis : et aures, et non auditis , et iterum : quia tu scientiam reppulisti, et ego repellam te ne mihi sacerdotio fungaris . 

16.2. For as it is said that in Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid,” (Col. 2:3) how can we hold that he who has scorned to find Christ, or, when He is found blasphemes Him with impious lips, or at least defiles the Catholic faith by his impure deeds, has acquired spiritual knowledge? “For the Spirit of God will avoid deception, and dwelleth not in a body that is subject to sin.” (Wisd. 1:4, 5) There is then no way of arriving at spiritual knowledge but this which one of the prophets has finely described: “Sow to yourselves for righteousness: reap the hope of life. Enlighten yourselves with the light of knowledge.” (Hos. 10:12)

2. Cum enim in Christo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae absconditi  esse dicantur, quomodo is, qui Christum inuenire contempsit aut inuentum sacrilego ore blasphemat aut certe catholicam fidem inmundis operibus polluit, ueram scientiam adsecutus esse credendus est? Spiritus enim dei effugiet fictum, nec habitat in corpore subdito peccatis . Non ergo alias ad scientiam spiritalem nisi hoc ordine peruenitur, quem unus prophetarum eleganter expressit : seminate uobis ad iustitiam, metite spem uitae, inluminate uobis lumen scientiae . 

16.3. First then we must sow for righteousness, i.e., by works of righteousness we must extend practical perfection; next we must reap the hope of life, i.e., by the expulsion of carnal sins must gather the fruits of spiritual virtues: and so we shall succeed in enlightening ourselves with the light of knowledge. And the Psalmist also sees that this system ought to be followed, when he says: “Blessed are they that are undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that seek His testimonies.” (Ps. 118 (119):1, 2) For he does not say in the first place: “Blessed are they that seek His testimonies, and afterwards add: Blessed are they that are undefiled in the way;” but he begins by saying: “Blessed are they that are undefiled in the way;” and by this clearly shows that no one can properly come to seek God’s testimonies unless he first walks undefiled in the way of Christ by his practical life.

3. Primum ergo seminandum nobis est ad iustitiam, hoc est ut actualem perfectionem operibus iustitiae propagemus, deinde metenda nobis est spes uitae, id est uirtutum spiritalium fructus expulsione uitiorum carnalium congregandi : et ita inluminare nobis lumen scientiae poterimus. Quem ordinem etiam psalmographus teneri debere decernit dicens : beati inmaculati in uia : qui ambulant in lege domini. Beati, qui scrutantur testimonia eius . Non enim prius dixit : beati, qui scrutantur testimonia eius et postea intulit : beati inmaculati in uia, sed prius inquit : beati inmaculati in uia, per hoc euidenter ostendens neminem recte posse ad perscrutanda dei testimonia peruenire, nisi prius per actualem conuersationem in uia Christi inmaculatus incedat. 

16.4. Those therefore whom you mentioned do not possess that knowledge which the impure cannot attain, but ψευδώπνευμον, i.e., what is falsely so called, of which the blessed Apostle speaks: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thee, avoiding profane novelties of words, and oppositions of the knowledge that is falsely so called;” (1 Tim. 6:20) which is in the Greek τάς  ἀντιθέσις ψευδώπνευμού γνώσεως. Of those then who seem to acquire some show of knowledge or of those who while they devote themselves diligently to reading the sacred volume and to committing the Scriptures to memory, yet forsake not carnal sins, it is well said in Proverbs: “Like as a golden ring in a swine’s snout so is the beauty of an evil-disposed woman.” (Prov. 11:22)

4. Hi ergo quos dixistis non istam quam inmundi habere non possunt, sed  yeudwvnumon , hoc est falsi nominis scientiam possident, de qua beatus apostolus, o, inquit, Timothee, depositum custodi, deuitans profanas uocum nouitates et obpositiones falsi nominis scientiae , quod in Graeco dicitur τάς  ἀντιθέσις ψευδώπνευμού γνώσεως De istis ergo qui imaginem quandam scientiae uidentur adquirere, uel de his qui cum sacrorum uoluminum lectioni ac memoriae scripturarum diligenter insistant, carnalia tamen uitia non relinquunt, in Prouerbis eleganter exprimitur : sicut inauris aurea in naribus suis, ita mulieri male moratae species . 

16.5. For what does it profit a man to gain the ornaments of heavenly eloquence and the most precious beauty of the Scriptures if by clinging to filthy deeds and thoughts he destroys it by burying it in the foulest ground, or defiles it by the dirty wallowing of his own lusts? For the result will be that which is an ornament to those who rightly use it, is not only unable to adorn them, but actually becomes dirty by the increased filth and mud. For “from the mouth of a sinner praise is not comely;” (Ecclus. 15:9) as to him it is said by the prophet: “Wherefore dost thou declare My righteous acts, and takest My covenant in thy lips?” (Ps. 49 (50):16)

5. Quid enim prodest quempiam ornamentum eloquiorum caelestium et illam pretiosissimam scripturarum speciem consequi, si eam lutulentis operibus uel sensibus inhaerendo quasi inmundissimam terram subigendo confringat aut caenosis libidinum suarum polluat uolutabris? Fiet enim, ut id quod recte utentibus decori esse consueuit non solum istos ornare non possit, uerum etiam maioris caeni conluuione sordescat. Ex ore enim peccatoris non est pulchra laudatio , cui dicitur per prophetam : quare tu enarras iustificationes meas, et adsumis testamentum meum per os tuum ? 

16.6. of souls like this, who never possess in any lasting fashion the fear of the Lord of which it is said: “the fear of the Lord is instruction and wisdom,” (Prov. 15:33) and yet try to get at the meaning of Scripture by continual meditation on them, it is appropriately asked in Proverbs: “What use are riches to a fool? For a senseless man cannot possess wisdom.” (Prov. 17:16) But so far is this true and spiritual knowledge removed from that worldly erudition, which is defiled by the stains of carnal sins, that we know that it has sometimes flourished most grandly in some who were without eloquence and almost illiterate.

6. De huiusmodi animabus, quae nequaquam stabiliter timorem domini possidentes (de quo dicitur timor domini disciplina et sapientia est ) scripturarum adquirere sensum de iugi earum meditatione conantur, satis proprie in Prouerbiis memoratur : ut quid fuerunt diuitiae insipienti? Possidere enim sapientiam excors non poterit . In tantum uero ad illa eruditione saeculari, quae carnalium uitiorum sorde polluitur, uera haec et spiritalis scientia submouetur, ut eam in nonnullis elinguibus ac paene inlitteratis sciamus nonnumquam admirabiliter uiguisse. 

16.7. And this is very clearly shown by the case of the Apostles and many holy men, who did not spread themselves out with an empty show of leaves, but were bowed down by the weight of the true fruits of spiritual knowledge: of whom it is written in the Acts of the Apostles: “But when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceivedthat they were ignorant and unlearned men, they were astonished.” (Acts 4:13) And therefore if you are anxious to attain to that never-failing fragrance, you must first strive with all your might to obtain from the Lord the purity of chastity.

7. Quod in apostolis multisque etiam sanctis uiris euidentissime conprobatur, qui non inani foliorum dilatabantur luxuria, sed ueris spiritalis scientiae fructibus curuabantur : de quibus in Actibus apostolorum scriptum est : uidentes autem Petri constantiam et Iohannis, et conperto quod homines essent sine litteris et idiotae, admirabantur . Et idcirco si tibi curae est ad eius inmarcescibilem fragrantiam peruenire, cunctis primum conatibus elabora, ut a domino puritatem castitatis obtineas. 

16.8. For no one, in whom the love of carnal passions and especially of fornication still holds sway, can acquire spiritual knowledge. For “in a good heart wisdom will rest;” and: “He that feareth the Lord shall find knowledge with righteousness.” (Prov. 14:33; Ecclus. 32:20) But that we must attain to spiritual knowledge in the order of which we have already spoken, we are taught also by the blessed Apostle. For when he wanted not merely to draw up a list of all his own virtues, but rather to describe their order, that he might explain which follows what, and which gives birth to what, after some others he proceeds as follows: “In watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long suffering, in gentleness, in the Holy Ghost, in love unfeigned.” (2 Cor. 6:5, 6)

8. Nullus enim in quo adhuc carnalium passionum et maxime fornicationis dominatur affectus spiritalem poterit scientiam possidere. In corde enim bono requiescet sapientia , et : qui timet dominum, inueniet scientiam cum iustitia. Hoc autem quo praediximus ordine ad spiritalem scientiam perueniri etiam beatus apostolus docet. Nam cum uniuersarum uirtutum suarum non solum catalogum texere, uerum etiam ordinem earum uellet exponere, ut quae quam sequeretur uel quae quam parturiret exprimeret, post aliquanta intulit dicens : in uigiliis, in ieiuniis, in castitate, in scientia, in longanimitate, in suauitate, in spiritu sancto, in caritate non ficta . 

16.9. And by this enumeration of virtues he evidently meant to teach us that we must come from watchings and fastings to chastity, from chastity to knowledge, from knowledge to long sufering, from long suffering to gentleness, from gentleness to the Holy Ghost, from the Holy Ghost to the rewards of love unfeigned. When then by this system and in this order you too have come to spiritual knowledge, you will certainly have, as we said, not barren or idle learning but what is vigorous and fruitful; and the seed of the word of salvation which has been committed by you to the hearts of your hearers, will be watered by the plentiful showers of the Holy Ghost that will follow; and, according to this that the prophet promised, “the rain will be given to your seed, wherever you shall sow in the land, and the bread of the corn of the land shall be most plentiful and fat.” (Is. 30:23)

9. Qua coniugatione uirtutum euidentissime nos uoluit erudire de uigiliis atque ieiuniis ad castitatem, de castitate ad scientiam, de scientia ad longanimitatem, de longanimitate ad suauitatem, de suauitate ad spiritum sanctum, de spiritu sancto ad caritatis non fictae praemia perueniri. Cum igitur hac disciplina atque hoc ordine tu quoque perueneris ad scientiam spiritalem, habebis procul dubio sicut diximus non sterilem nec inertem, sed uiuidam fructuosamque doctrinam, semenque salutaris uerbi, quod a te fuerit audientium cordibus conmendatum, subsequens spiritus sancti imber largissimus fecundabit ac secundum id quod propheta pollicitus est dabitur pluuia semini tuo, ubicumque seminaueris in terra : et panis frugum terrae tuae erit tibi uberrimus, et pinguis .

 

 

CHAPTER 17: To whom the method of perfection should be laid open.


CAPUT XVII. Quibus ratio perfectionis debeat aperiri.

 

 

17.1 Take care too, when your riper age leads you to teach, lest you be led astray by the love of vainglory, and teach at random to the most impure persons these things which you have learnt not so much by reading as by the effects of experience, and so incur what Solomon, that wisest of men, denounced: “Attach not a wicked man to the pastures of the just, and be not led astray by the fulness of the belly,” for “delicacies are not good for a fool, nor is there room for wisdom where sense is wanting:

 XVII.  Caue etiam ne haec quae non tam lectione quam experientiae sudore didiceris, cum te aetas maturior prouexerit ad docendum, uanae gloriae amore seductus inmundis hominibus passim ingeras illudque quod sapientissimus Salomon interdixit incurras : noli adplicare inpium ad pascua iusti, neque seducaris saturitate uentris . Non enim expediunt stulto deliciae , nec opus est sapientia ubi deest sensus. 

17.2 for folly is the more led on, because a stubborn servant is not improved by words, for even though he understands, he will not obey.” And “Do not say anything in the ears of an imprudent man, lest haply he mock at thy wise speeches.” (Prov. 24:15; 19:10; 18:2; 29:19; 23:9 (LXX)) And “give not that which is holy to dogs, neither east ye your pearls before swine, lest haply they trample them under foot and turn again and rend you.” (Matt. 7:6) It is right then to hide the mysteries of spiritual meanings from men of this sort, that you may effectually sing: “Thy words have I hid within my heart: that I should not sin against Thee.” (Ps. 118 (119):11)

2. Magis enim ducitur insipientia , quia seruus durus non emendabitur uerbis : si enim et intellexerit, non oboediet . Et : in aures inprudentis noli quicquam dicere, ne forte inrideat sapientes sermones tuos . Et : ne dederitis sanctum canibus, neque miseritis margaritas uestras ante porcos, ne forte conculcent eas pedibus suis et conuersi disrumpant uos . Oportet itaque ut huiusmodi hominibus spiritalium sensuum contegens sacramenta efficaciter canas : in corde meo abscondi eloquia tua : ut non peccem tibi .

17.3 But you will perhaps say: And to whom are the mysteries of Holy Scripture to be dispensed? Solomon, the wisest of men, shall teach you: “Give, says he, strong drink to those who are in sorrow, and give wine to drink, to those who are in pain, that they may forget their poverty, and remember their pain no more,” (Prov. 31:6, 7) i.e., to those who in consequence of the punishment of their past actions are oppressed with grief and sorrow, supply richly the joys of spiritual knowledge like “wine that maketh glad the heart of man,” (Ps. 103 (104):15) and restore them with the strong drink of the word of salvation, lest haply they be plunged in continual sorrow and a despair that brings death, and so those who are of this sort be “swallowed up in overmuch sorrow.” (2 Cor. 2:7)

3. Sed dices forsitan : et quibus diuinarum scripturarum dispensanda sunt sacramenta?  Docet te sapientissimus Salomon : date, inquit, ebrietatem his qui in tristitia sunt, et uinum bibere his qui in doloribus sunt, ut obliuiscantur paupertatis, et dolorum suorum non meminerint amplius , id est his qui pro paenitudine actuum pristinorum maerore atque tristitia deprimuntur, spiritalis scientiae iucunditatem uelut uinum, quod laetificat cor hominis , afluenter infundite eosque salutaris uerbi crapula refouete, ne forte iugitate maeroris ac letali desperatione demersi abundantiore tristitia absorbeantur qui eiusmodi sunt . 

17.4 But of those who remain in coldness and carelessness, and are smitten by no sorrow of heart we read as follows: “For one who is kindly and without sorrow, shall be in want.” (Prov. 19:23) With all possible care therefore avoid being puffed up with the love of vainglory, and so failing to become a partaker with him whom the prophet praises, “who hath not given his money upon usury.” (Ps. 14 (15):5)

4. De illis uero qui in tepore ac neglegentia constituti nullo cordis sui dolore mordentur ita dicitur : nam qui suauis et sine dolore est, in egestate erit . Quanta potes igitur cautione deuita, ne uanae gloriae amore distentus illius quem propheta conlaudat particeps esse non possis, qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram . 

17.5 For every one who, from love of the praise of men dispenses the words of God, of which it is said “the words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth, refined seven times,” (Ps. 11 (12):7) puts out his money upon usury, and will deserve for this not merely no reward, but rather punishment. For this reason he chose to use up his Lord’s money that he might be the garner from a temporal profit, and not that the Lord, as it is written, might “when He comes, receive His own with usury.” (Matt. 25:27)

5. Omnis enim qui eloquia dei (de quibus dicitur : eloquia domini, eloquia casta : argentum igne examinatum, probatum terrae purgatum septuplum ) humanae laudis  amore dispensat, pecuniam suam erogat ad usuram, non solum nullam pro hoc laudem, sed etiam supplicia meriturus. Ob hoc enim pecuniam domini maluit profligare, ut ex ea temporalem consequeretur ipse mercedem, non ut dominus, sicut scriptum est, ueniens reciperet quod suum est cum usura .

 

 

CHAPTER 18: The reasons why spiritual teaching may be unfruitful.


CAPUT XVIII. Quibus de causis spiritualis doctrina infructuosa sit.

 

 

18. But it is certain that for two reasons the teaching of spiritual things is ineffectual. For either the teacher is commending what he has no experience of, and is trying with empty-sounding words to instruct his hearer, or else the hearer is a bad man and full of faults and cannot receive in his hard heart the holy and saving doctrine of the spiritual man; and of these it is said by the prophet: “For the cart of this people is blinded, and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes have they closed: lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and be converted and I should heal them.” (Is. 6:10)

 XVIII. Duabus autem ex causis inefficacem spiritalium rerum constat esse doctrinam. Nam aut ille qui docet inexperta conmendans uano uerborum sono instruere nititur auditorem, aut certe nequam ac uitiis refertus auditor salutarem spiritalis uiri sanctamque doctrinam obdurato corde non recipit : de quibus dicitur per prophetam : excaecatum est enim cor populi huius, et auribus grauiter audierunt : et oculos suos concluserunt : ne quando uideant oculis suis, et auribus suis audiant, et corde intellegant, et conuertantur, et sanem illos .

 

 

CHAPTER 19: How even the unworthy can often receive the grace of saving words.


CAPUT XIX. Quod plerumque etiam indigni gratiam salutiferi sermonis accipiunt.

 

 

19. But sometimes in the lavish generosity of God in His Providence, “Who wills that all be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (1 Tim. 2:4) it is granted that one who has not shown himself by an irreproachable life to be worthy of the preaching of the gospel attains the grace of spiritual teaching for the good of many. But by what means the gifts of healing are granted by the Lord for the expulsion of devils it follows that we must in a similar discussion explain, which as we are going to rise for supper we will keep for the evening, because that is always more effectually grasped by the heart which is taken in by degrees and without excessive bodily efforts.

 XVIIII.  Nonnumquam tamen dispensatoris nostri dei, qui omnes homines uult saluos fieri et ad agnitionem ueritatis uenire , munifica liberalitate conceditur, ut is qui dignum se euangelicae praedicationi inreprehensibili conuersatione non praebuit pro salute multorum spiritalis doctrinae gratiam consequatur. Quibus autem modis etiam charismata curationum ad expellendos daemonas a domino concedantur, consequens est ut simili disputatione pandamus, quam consurgentes ad refectionem in uesperam reseruemus, quia efficacius semper corde concipitur, quidquid sensim et absque nimio labore corporis intimatur. 

 


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