Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Book of Pastoral Rule, and Selected Epistles, of Gregory the Great.: How those are to be admonished who praise the unlawful things of which they are conscious, and those who while condemning them, in no wise guard against them.
How those are to be admonished who praise the unlawful things of which they are conscious, and those who while condemning them, in no wise guard against them.
(Admonition 32.) Differently to be admonished are they who even praise the unlawful things which they do, and those who censure what is wrong, and yet avoid it not. For they who even praise the unlawful things which they do are to be admonished to consider how for the most part they offend more by the mouth than by deeds. For by deeds they perpetrate wrong things in their own persons only; but with the mouth they bring out wickedness in the persons of as many as there are souls of hearers, to whom they teach wicked things by praising them. They are therefore to be admonished that, if they evade the eradication of evil, they at least be afraid to sow it. They are to be admonished to let their own individual perdition suffice them. And again they are to be admonished that, if they fear not to be bad, they at least blush to be seen to be what they are. For usually a sin, when it is concealed, is shunned; because, when a soul blushes to be seen to be what nevertheless it does not fear to be, it comes in time to blush to be what it shuns being seen to be. But, when any bad man shamelessly courts notice, then the more freely he perpetrates every wickedness, the more does he come even to think it lawful; and in what he imagines to be lawful he is without doubt sunk ever more and more. Hence it is written, They have declared their sin as Sodom, neither have they hidden it (Isa. 1:0, Isa. 3:9). For, had Sodom hidden her sin, she would still have sinned, but, in fear. But she had utterly lost the curb of fear, in that she did not even seek darkness for her sin. Whence also again it is written, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is multiplied (Gen. xviii. 20). For sin with a voice is guilt in act; but sin with even a cry is guilt at liberty.
But, on the other hand, those who censure wrong things and yet avoid them not are to be admonished to weigh circumspectly what they can say in their own excuse before the strict judgment of God, seeing they are not excused from the guilt of their crimes, even themselves being judges. What, then, are these men but their own summoners? They give their voices against misdeeds, and deliver themselves up as guilty in their doings. They are to be admonished to perceive how it even now comes of the hidden retribution of judgment that their mind is enlightened to see the evil which it perpetrates, but strives not to p. 64b overcome it; so that the better it sees the worse it may perish; because it both perceives the light of understanding, and also relinquishes not the darkness of wrong-doing. For, when they neglect the knowledge that has been given to help them, they turn it into a testimony against themselves; and from the light of understanding, which they had in truth received that they might be able to do away their sins, they augment their punishments. And, indeed, this their wickedness, doing the evil which it condemns, has already a taste here of the judgment to come; so that, while kept liable to eternal punishment, it shall not meanwhile be absolved here in its own test of itself; and that it may experience there the more grievous torments, in that here it forsakes not the evil which even itself condemns. For hence the Truth says, That servant which knew his Lords will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes (Luke xii. 47). Hence the Psalmist says, Let them go down quick into hell (Psa. 55.15 1293 ). For the quick know and feel what is being done about them; but the dead can feel nothing. For they would go down dead into hell if they committed what is evil without knowledge. But when they know what is evil, and yet do it, they go down quick, miserable, and feeling, into the hell of iniquity.
In English Bible, lv. 15.
Next: How those are to be admonished who sin from sudden impulse and those who sin deliberately.
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