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Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:
The Confessions: Chapter IV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.—He Shows by the Example of Victorinus that There is More Joy in the Conversion of Nobles.

9. Haste, Lord, and act; stir us up, and call us back; inflame us, and draw us to Thee; stir p. 120 us up, and grow sweet unto us; let us now love Thee, let us “run after Thee.” 630 Do not many men, out of a deeper hell of blindness than that of Victorinus, return unto Thee, and approach, and are enlightened, receiving that light, which they that receive, receive power from Thee to become Thy sons? 631 But if they be less known among the people, even they that know them joy less for them. For when many rejoice together, the joy of each one is the fuller in that they are incited and inflamed by one another. Again, because those that are known to many influence many towards salvation, and take the lead with many to follow them. And, therefore, do they also who preceded them much rejoice in regard to them, because they rejoice not in them alone. May it be averted that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the rich should be accepted before the poor, or the noble before the ignoble; since rather “Thou hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hast Thou chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are.” 632 And yet, even that “least of the apostles,” 633 by whose tongue Thou soundest out these words, when Paulus the proconsul 634 —his pride overcome by the apostle’s warfare—was made to pass under the easy yoke 635 of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the great King,—he also, instead of Saul, his former name, desired to be called Paul, 636 in testimony of so great a victory. For the enemy is more overcome in one of whom he hath more hold, and by whom he hath hold of more. But the proud hath he more hold of by reason of their nobility; and by them of more, by reason of their authority. 637 By how much the more welcome, then, was the heart of Victorinus esteemed, which the devil had held as an unassailable retreat, and the tongue of Victorinus, with which mighty and cutting weapon he had slain many; so much the more abundantly should Thy sons rejoice, seeing that our King hath bound the strong man, 638 and they saw his vessels taken from him and cleansed, 639 and made meet for Thy honour, and become serviceable for the Lord unto every good work. 640



Song. 1.4.


John 1.12.


1 Cor. 1:27, 28.


1 Cor. 15.9.


Acts 13.12.


Matt. 11.30.


“‘As Scipio, after the conquest of Africa, took the name of Africanus, so Saul also, being sent to preach to the Gentiles, brought back his trophy out of the first spoils won by the Church, the proconsul Sergius Paulus, and set up his banner, in that for Saul he was called Paul’ (Jerome, Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. init). Origen mentions the same opinion (which is indeed suggested by the relation in the Acts), but thinks that the apostle had originally two names (Præf. in Comm. in Ep. ad Rom.), which, as a Roman, may very well have been, and yet that he made use of his Roman name Paul first in connection with the conversion of the proconsul; Chrysostom says that it was doubtless changed at the command of God, which is to be supposed, but still may have been at this time.”—E. B. P.


“Satan makes choice of persons of place and power. These are either in the Commonwealth or church. If he can, he will secure the throne and the pulpit, as the two forts that command the whole line.…A prince or a ruler may stand for a thousand; therefore saith Paul to Elymas when he would have turned the deputy from the faith, ‘O full of all subtilty, thou child of the devil!’ (Acts 13.10). As if he had said, ‘You have learned this of your father the devil,—to haunt the courts of princes, wind into the favour of great ones. There is a double policy Satan hath in gaining such to his side.—(a) None have such advantage to draw others to their way. Corrupt the captain, and it is hard if he bring not off his troop with him. When the princes—men of renown in their tribes—stood up with Korah, presently a multitude are drawn into the conspiracy (Num. 16:2, 19). Let Jeroboam set up idolatry, and Israel is soon in a snare. It is said [that] the people willingly walked after his commandment (Hos. 5.11). (b) Should the sin stay at court, and the infection go no further, yet the sin of such a one, though a good man, may cost a whole kingdom dear. Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (1 Chron. 21.1). He owed Israel a spite, and he pays them home in their king’s sin, which dropped in a fearful plague upon their heads,”—Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, vol. i. part 2.


Matt. 12.29.


Luke 11:22, 25.


2 Tim. 2.21.

Next: Chapter V

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