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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: Chapter 1

Early Church Fathers  Index     

I have read the letter 3146 which you in your wisdom have written me. You inveigh against me, and, though you once praised me and called me true partner and brother, you now write books to summon me to reply to the charges with which you terrify me. I see that in you are fulfilled the words of Solomon: 3147 “In the mouth of the foolish is the rod of 3148 contumely,” and 3149 “A fool receives not the words of prudence, unless you say what is passing in his heart;” and the words of Isaiah: 3150 “The fool will speak folly, and his heart will understand vain things, to practise iniquity and speak falsehood against the Lord.” For what need was there for you to send me whole volumes full of accusation and malediction, and to bring them before the public, when in the end of your letter you threaten me with death if I dare to reply to your slanders—I beg pardon—to your praises? For your praises and your accusations amount to the same thing; from the same fountain proceed both sweet and bitter. I beg you to set me the example of the modesty and shamefacedness which you recommend to me; you accuse another of lying: cease to be a liar yourself. I wish to give no one an occasion of stumbling, and I will not become your accuser; for I have not to consider merely what you deserve but what is becoming in me. I tremble at our Savior’s words. 3151 “Whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe in me to stumble, it were better for him that a great mill stone were hanged about his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea;” and 3152 “Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling: for it must needs be that occasions arise; but woe to the man through whom the occasion cometh.” It would have been possible for me too to pile up falsehoods against you and to say that I had heard or seen what no one had observed, so that among the ignorant my effrontery might be taken for veracity, and my violence for resolution. But far be it from me to be an imitator of you, and to do myself what I denounce in you. He who is capable of doing filthy things may use filthy words. 3153 “The evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” You may count it as good fortune that one whom you once called friend but now accuse has no mind to make vile imputations against you. I say this not from any dread of the sword of your accusation, but because I prefer to be accused than to be the accuser, to suffer an injury than to do one. I know the precept of the Apostle: 3154 “Dearly beloved avenge not yourselves but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger feed him, if he thirst give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.” For he that avenges himself cannot claim the vindication of the Lord.


Footnotes

519:3146

That is, private letter, now lost, which was two books of Rufinus’ Apology.

519:3147

Prov. xiv. 3

519:3148

Pride A.V. and Vulgate.

519:3149

Prov. xviii. 2, as in Vulgate version.

519:3150

Is. xxxii. 5. The words are not those of the Vulgate, nor of the A.V.

519:3151

Mark ix. 42

519:3152

Matt. xviii. 7

519:3153

Luke vi. 45

519:3154

Rom. 12:19, 20


Next: Why cannot we differ as friends? Why do you, by threats of death, compel me to answer?

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