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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 8

Early Church Fathers  Index     

8. But let us return to the order of our discourse, and the whole of the passage itself of the Epistle let us diligently consider. “Have we not,” saith he, “leave 2495 to eat and to drink? have we not leave to lead about a woman, a sister?” What leave meant he, but what the Lord gave unto them whom He sent to preach the kingdom of heaven, saying, “Those things which are (given) of them, eat ye; 2496 for the workman is worthy of his hire;” and proposing Himself as an example of the same power, to Whom most faithful women did of their means minister such necessaries? But the Apostle Paul hath done more, from his fellow-Apostles alleging a proof of this license permitted of the Lord. For not as finding fault hath he subjoined, “As do also the other Apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas;” but that hence he might show that this which he would not accept was a thing which, that it was lawful for him to accept was proved by the wont of the rest also his fellow-soldiers. “Or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working?” Lo, he hath taken away all doubt even from the slowest hearts, that they may understand of what working he speaks. For to what end saith he, “Or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working?” but for that all evangelists and ministers of God’s word had power received of the Lord, not to work with their hands, but to live by the Gospel, working only spiritual works in preaching of the kingdom of heaven and edifying of the peace of the Church? For no man can say that it is of that very spiritual working that the Apostle said, “Or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working?” For this power to forbear working all those had: let him say then, who essays to deprave and pervert precepts Apostolical; let him say, if he dares that all evangelists received of the Lord power to forbear preaching the Gospel. But if this is most absurd and mad to say, why will they not understand what is plain to all, that they did indeed receive power not to work, but works bodily, whereby to get a living, because “the workman is worthy of his hire,” as the Gospel speaks. It is not therefore that Paul and Barnabas only had not power to forbear working; but that all alike had this power of which these availed not themselves in “laying out more” upon the Church; so as in those places where they preached the Gospel they judged to be meet for the weak. And for this reason, that he might not seem to have found fault with his fellow-Apostles, he goes on to say: “Who goeth a warfare at any time at his own charges? Who feedeth a flock, and of the milk of the flock partaketh not? Speak I these things as a man? Saith not the Law the same? For in the law of Moses it is written, Thou shall not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God care for oxen? Or saith he it for our sake altogether? For our sakes truly is it written, because he that plougheth ought to plough in hope, and he that thresheth in hope of partaking of the fruits.” 2497 By these words the Apostle Paul sufficiently indicates, that it was no usurping unto themselves of aught beyond their due on the part of his fellow-Apostles, that they wrought not bodily, whence they might have the things which to this life are necessary, but as the Lord ordained, should, living by the Gospel, eat bread gratuitously given of them unto whom they were preaching a gratuitous grace. Their charges, namely, they did like soldiers receive, and of the fruit of the vineyard by them planted, they did, as need was, freely gather; and of the milk of the flock which they fed, they drank; and of the threshing-floor on which they threshed, they took their meat.


Footnotes

507:2495

Licentiam

507:2496

Luke 10.7Luke x. 7. “Ea quæ ab ipsis sunt.”

507:2497

1 Cor. 9.7-101 Cor. ix. 7-10. [See R.V.]


Next: Section 9

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