Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter VII. What is useful is the same as what is virtuous; nothing is more useful than love, which is gained by gentleness, courtesy, kindness, justice, and the other virtues, as we are given to understand from the histories of Moses and David. Lastly, confidence springs from love, and again love from confidence.
What is useful is the same as what is virtuous; nothing is more useful than love, which is gained by gentleness, courtesy, kindness, justice, and the other virtues, as we are given to understand from the histories of Moses and David. Lastly, confidence springs from love, and again love from confidence.
28. There is therefore not only a close intercourse between what is virtuous and what is useful, but the same thing is both useful and virtuous. Therefore He Who willed to open the kingdom of heaven to all sought not what was useful to Himself, but what was useful for all. Thus we must have a certain order and proceed step by step from habitual or common acts to those which are more excellent, so as to show by many examples the advancement of what is useful.
29. And first we may know there is nothing so useful as to be loved, 424 nothing so useless as not to be loved; for to be hated in my opinion is simply fatal and altogether deadly. We speak of this, then, in order that we may take care to give cause for a good estimate and opinion to be formed of us, and may try to get a place in others affections through our calmness of mind and kindness of soul. For goodness is agreeable and pleasing to all, and there is nothing that so easily reaches human feelings. And if that is assisted by gentleness of character and willingness, as well as by moderation in giving orders and courtesy of speech, by honour in word, by a ready interchange of conversation and by the grace of modesty, it is incredible how much all this tends to an increase of love. 425
30. We read, not only in the case of private individuals but even of kings, what is the effect of ready and willing courtesy, and what harm pride and great swelling words have done, so far as to make even kingdoms to totter and powers to be destroyed. If any one gains the peoples favour by advice or service, by fulfilling the duties of his ministry or office, or if he encounters danger for the sake of the whole nation, there is no doubt but that such love will be shown him by the people that they all will put his safety and welfare before their own.
31. What reproaches Moses had to bear from his people! But when the Lord would have avenged him on those who reviled him, he often used to offer himself for the people that he might save them from the divine anger. 426 With what gentle words used he to address the people, even after he was wronged! He comforted them in their labours, consoled them by his prophetic declarations of the future, and encouraged them by his works. And though he often spoke with God, yet he was wont to address men gently and pleasantly. Worthily was he considered to stand above all men. For they could not even look on his face, 427 and refused to believe that his sepulchre was found. 428 He had captivated the minds of all the people to such an extent; that they loved him even more for his gentleness than they admired him for his deeds.
32. There is David too who followed his steps, who was chosen from among all to rule the people. How gentle and kindly he was, humble in spirit too, how diligent and ready to show affection. Before he came to the throne he offered himself in the stead of p. 49 all. 429 As king he showed himself an equal to all in warfare, and shared in their labours. He was brave in battle, gentle in ruling, patient under abuse, and more ready to bear than to return wrongs. So dear was he to all, that though a youth, he was chosen even against his will to rule over them, and was made to undertake the duty though he withstood it. When old he was asked by his people not to engage in battle, because they all preferred to incur danger for his sake rather than that he should undergo it for theirs.
33. He had bound the people to himself freely in doing his duty; first, when he during the division among the people preferred to live like an exile at Hebron 430 rather than to reign at Jerusalem; next, when he showed that he loved valour even in an enemy. He had also thought that justice should be shown to those who had borne arms against himself the same as to his own men. Again, he admired Abner, the bravest champion of the opposing side, whilst he was their leader and was yet waging war. Nor did he despise him when suing for peace, but honoured him by a banquet. 431 When killed by treachery, he mourned and wept for him. He followed him and honoured his obsequies, and evinced his good faith in desiring vengeance for the murder; for he handed on that duty to his son in the charge that he gave him, 432 being anxious rather that the death of an innocent man should not be left unavenged, than that any one should mourn for his own.
34. It is no small thing, especially in the case of a king, so to perform humble duties as to make oneself like the very lowest. It is noble not to seek for food at anothers risk and to refuse a drink of water, to confess a sin, and to offer oneself to death for ones people. This latter David did, so that the divine anger might be turned against himself, when he offered himself to the destroying angel and said: “Lo I have sinned: I the shepherd have done wickedly, but this flock, what hath it done? Let Thy hand be against me.” 433
35. What further should I say? He opened not his mouth to those planning deceit, and, as though hearing not, he thought no word should be returned, nor did be answer their reproaches. When he was evil spoken of, he prayed, when he was cursed, he blessed. He walked in simplicity of heart, and fled from the proud. He was a follower of those unspotted from the world, one who mixed ashes with his food when bewailing his sins, and mingled his drink with weeping. 434 Worthily, then, was he called for by all the people. All the tribes of Israel came to him saying: “Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. Also yesterday and the day before when Saul lived, and reigned, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel. And the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed My people!” 435 And why should I say more about him of whom the word of the Lord has gone forth to say: “I have found David according to My heart”? 436 Who ever walked in holiness of heart and in justice as he did, so as to fulfil the will of God; for whose sake pardon was granted to his children when they sinned, and their rights were preserved to his heirs? 437
36. Who would not have loved him, when they saw how dear he was to his friends? For as he truly loved his friends, so he thought that he was loved as much in return by his own friends. Nay, parents put him even before their own children, and children loved him more than their parents. Wherefore Saul was very angry and strove to strike Jonathan his son with a spear because he thought that Davids friendship held a higher place in his esteem than either filial piety or a fathers authority. 438
37. It gives a very great impetus to mutual love if one shows love in return to those who love us and proves that one does not love them less than oneself is loved, especially if one shows it by the proofs that a faithful friendship gives. What is so likely to win favour as gratitude? What more natural than to love one who loves us? What so implanted and so impressed on mens feelings as the wish to let another, by whom we want to be loved, know that we love him? Well does the wise man say: “Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend.” 439 And again: “I will not be ashamed to defend a friend, neither will I hide myself from him.” 440 If, indeed, the words in Ecclesiasticus testify that the medicine of life and immortality is in a friend; 441 yet none has ever doubted that it is in love that our best defence lies. As the Apostle says: “It beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; love never faileth.” 442
38. Thus David failed not, for he was p. 50 dear to all, and wished to be loved rather than feared by his subjects. Fear keeps the watch of temporal protection, but knows not how to keep guard permanently. 443 And so where fear has departed, boldness often creeps in; for fear does not force confidence but affection calls it forth.
39. Love, then, is the first thing to give us a recommendation. It is a good thing therefore to have our witness in the love of many. 444 Then arises confidence, so that even strangers are not afraid to trust themselves to thy kindness, when they see thee so dear to many. So likewise one goes through confidence to love, so that he who has shown good faith to one or two has an influence as it were on the minds of all, and wins the good-will of all.
Cic. de Off. II. 7.48:425
Cic. de Off. II. 14.48:426
Ex. xxxii. 32.48:427
Ex. xxxiv. 30.48:428
Deut. xxxiv. 6.49:429
1 Sam. 17.32.49:430
2 Sam. 2.3.49:431
2 Sam. 3.20.49:432
1 Kings 2.5.49:433
2 Sam. 24.17.49:434
2 Sam. 5:1, 2.49:436
1 Kings 11.34.49:438
1 Sam. 20.34.49:439
1 Cor. 13:7, 8.50:443
Cic. de Off. II. 7, § 23.50:444
Cic. de Off. II. 8, § 30.
Next: Chapter VIII. Nothing has greater effect in gaining good-will than giving advice; but none can trust it unless it rests on justice and prudence. How conspicuous these two virtues were in Solomon is shown by his well-known judgment.
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