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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 2

Early Church Fathers  Index     

2. First then, it is to be seen, what is said by persons of that profession, who will not work: then, if we shall find that they think not aright, what is meet to be said for their correction? “It is not,” say they, “of this corporal work in which either husbandmen or handicraftsmen labor, that the Apostle gave precept, when he said, ‘If any will not work, neither let him eat.’” For he could not be contrary to the Gospel, where the Lord Himp. 504 self saith, “Therefore I say unto you, be not solicitous for your life, what ye shall eat, neither for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Consider the fowls of heaven, that they sow not, nor reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye rather of more worth than they? But who of you by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? And concerning raiment, why are ye solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labor not, neither spin; but I say unto you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. But if the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God so clotheth; how much more you, (O ye) of little faith! Be not therefore solicitous, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clad? for all these things do the Gentiles seek. And your heavenly Father knoweth that ye need all these. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these shall be added unto you. Be not therefore solicitous for the morrow: for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” 2477 Lo, say they, where the Lord biddeth us be without care concerning our food and clothing: how then could the Apostle think contrary to the Lord, that he should instruct us that we ought to be in such sort solicitous, what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or wherewithal we shall be clothed, that he should even burden us with the arts, cares, labors of handicraftsmen? Wherefore in that he saith, “If any will not work, neither let him eat;” works spiritual, say they, are what we must understand: of which he saith in another place, “To each one according as the Lord hath given: I have planted, Apollos hath watered; but God gave the increase.” 2478 And a little after, “Each one shall receive his reward according to his own labor. We are God’s fellow-workers; God’s husbandry, God’s building are ye: according to the grace which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I have laid the foundation.” As therefore the Apostle worketh in planting, watering, building, and foundation-laying, in that way whoso will not work, let him not eat. For what profiteth in eating spiritually to be fed with the word of God, if he do not thence work others’ edification? As that slothful servant, what did it profit to receive a talent and to hide it, and not work for the Lord’s gain? Was it that it should be taken from him at last, and himself cast into outer darkness? So, say they, do we also. We read with the brethren, who come to us fatigued from the turmoil of the world, that with us, in the word of God, and in prayers, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, they may find rest. We speak to them, console, exhort, building up in them whatever unto their life, according to their degree, we perceive to be lacking. Such works if we wrought not, with peril should we receive of the Lord our spiritual sustenance itself. For this is it the Apostle said, “If any one will not work, neither let him eat.” Thus do these men deem themselves to comply with the apostolic and evangelic sentence, when both the Gospel they believe to have given precept concerning the not caring for the corporal and temporal indigence of this life, and the Apostle concerning spiritual work and food to have said, “If any will not work, neither let him eat.”


Footnotes

504:2477

Matt. 6.25-34

504:2478

1 Cor. 3.5-101 Cor. iii. 5-10


Next: Section 3

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