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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 27

Early Church Fathers  Index     

27. Indeed in all spiritual delights, which unmarried women enjoy, their holy conversation ought also to be with caution; lest haply, though their life be not evil through haughtiness, their report be evil through negligence. Nor are they to be listened to, whether they be holy men or women, when (upon occasion of their neglect in some matter being blamed, through which it comes to pass that they fall into evil suspicion, from which they know that their life is far removed) they say that it is enough for them their conscience before God, despising what men think of them, not only imprudently 2292 but also cruelly; when they slay the souls of others; whether of such as blaspheme the way of God, who following their suspicion are displeased at what is the chaste life of the Saints, as though it were shameful, or of such also as make excuse, and imitate, not what they see, but what they think. Wherefore whosoever guards his life from charges of shameful and evil deeds, does good to himself; but whosoever guards his character too, is merciful also towards others. For unto ourselves our own life is necessary, unto others our character; and certainly even what we mercifully minister unto others, for their health, abounds also to our own profit. Whence not in vain the Apostle, “We provide good things,” saith he, “not only before God, but also before men;” 2293 also he saith, “Please ye all men through all things; even as I also please all men through all things, not seeking what is of profit unto myself, but what unto many, that they may be saved.” 2294 Also in a certain exhortation he says, “For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are holy, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are most dear, whatsoever things are of good report; if any virtue, if any praise, these things think on, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me.” 2295 You see how among many things, unto which by exhortation he admonished them, he neglected not to set, “whatsoever things are of good report;” and in two words included all things, where he saith, “if any virtue, if any praise.” For unto virtue pertain the good things of which He made mention above; but good report unto praise. I think that the Apostle took not the praise of men for any great thing, saying in another place, “But to me it is the least thing, that I be judged of you, or of day of man;” 2296 and in another place, “If I were pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ;” 2297 and again, “For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience.” 2298 But of these two, that is, of a good life, and a good report, or as is said more shortly, of virtue and praise, the one for his own sake he most wisely kept, the other for the sake of others he most mercifully provided. But, forasmuch as human caution, how great soever, cannot on every side avoid most malevolent suspicions, when for our good report we shall have done whatever we rightly can, if any, either by falsely pretending evil things of us, or from believing evil of us, endeavor to stain our fair fame, let there be present the solace of conscience, and clearly also the joy, in that our reward is great in Heaven, even when men say many evil things of us, 2299 and we yet live godly and righteously. For that reward is as the pay of such as serve as soldiers, through the arms of righteousness, not only on the right hand, but on the left also; that is to say, through glory and mean estate, through ill report and good report. 2300



al. “impudenter,” “with lack of modesty.”


2 Cor. 8.212 Cor. viii. 21. [See R.V.]


1 Cor. 10.331 Cor. x. 33


Phil. 4:8, 9Phil. 4:8, 9


1 Cor. 4.31 Cor. iv. 3


Gal. 1.10Gal. i. 10


2 Cor. 1.122 Cor. i. 12


Matt. 5:11, 12


2 Cor. 6:7, 82 Cor. 6:7, 8

Next: Section 28

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