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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
The Decretals.: Part VI

Early Church Fathers  Index     


Of the engagement made in baptism, and of those who have given themselves to the life in common.

And in exhorting you, we also admonish all who have embraced the faith of Christ, and who have taken from Christ the name of Christian, that ye make your Christianity vain in no respect, but keep stedfastly the engagement which ye took upon yourselves in baptism, so that ye may be found not reprobate, but worthy in His presence.  And if any one of you has entered the life which has all things common, and has taken the vow to hold no private property, let him see to it that he make not his promise vain, but let him keep with all faithfulness this engagement which he has made to the Lord, so that he may acquire for himself not damnation, but a reward; for it is better for a man not to take a vow at all than not to discharge to the best of his ability the vow that he has made.  For they who have made a vow, or taken on them the faith, and have not kept their vow, or have carried out their life in things evil, are punished more severely than those who have carried out their life without a vow, or have died without faith, but not without doing good works.  For to this end have we received a reasonable mind by the gift of nature, and the renewal also of the second birth, that, according to the apostle, we may discern (sapiamus) rather things above, and not things on the earth; 2772 for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 2773   For to what, most dearly beloved, does the wisdom of this world urge us, but to seek things that are hurtful, and to love things that are to perish, and to neglect things that are healthful, and to esteem as of no value things that are lasting?  It commends the love of money, of which it is said, The love of money is the root of all evil; 2774 and which has this evil in especial, that while it obtrudes the transitory, it hides from view the eternal; and while it looks on things that are outside, it does not look in upon things that lurk within; and while it seeks after strange things, it is an evil that makes itself strange to him who does it. 2775   Behold, to what does the wisdom of this world urge a man?  To live in pleasures.  Whence it is said:  A widow that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth. 2776   It urges a man to feed the flesh with the softest delights, with sins, and vices, and flames, to press the soul with intemperance in food and wine, and to check the life of the spirit, and to put into his enemy’s hand the sword to be used against himself.  Behold, what is the counsel which the wisdom of this world gives?  That those who are good should choose rather to be evil, and that in error of mind they should be zealous to be sinners, and should not bethink themselves of that terrible voice of God, when the wicked shall be burned up like grass. 2777



Col. iii. 2.


1 Cor. iii. 19.


1 Tim. vi. 10.


“Sectatori,” for which read “factori.”


1 Tim. v. 6.


Ps. xcii. 7.

Next: Part VII

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