Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 12
12. “But,” thou wilt say, “we more easily penetrate their concealment if we pretend to be ourselves what they are.” If this were lawful or expedient, Christ might have instructed his sheep that they should come clad in wolves clothing to the wolves, and by the cheat of this artifice discover them: which He hath not said, no, not when He foretold that He would send them forth in the midst of wolves. 2396 But thou wilt say: “They needed not at that time to have inquisition made for them, being most manifest wolves; but their bite and savageness were to be endured.” What, when foretelling later times, He said that ravening wolves would come in sheeps clothing? Was there not room there to give this advice and say, And do ye, that ye may find them out, assume wolves clothing, but within be ye sheep still? Not this saith He: but when he had said, “Many will come to you in sheeps clothing, but within are ravening wolves;” 2397 He went on to say, not, By your lies, but, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” By truth must we beware of, by truth must we take, by truth must we kill, lies. Be it far from us, that the blasphemies of the ignorant we by wittingly blaspheming should overcome: far from us, that the evils of deceitful men we by imitating should guard against. For how shall we guard against them if in order to guard against them we shall have them? For if in order that he may be caught who blasphemes unwittingly, I shall blaspheme wittingly, worse is the thing I do than that which I catch. If in order that he may be found who denies Christ unwittingly, I shall deny Him wittingly, to his undoing will he follow me whom I shall so find, since in order that I may find him out, I first am undone.
Matt. 7:15, 16
Next: Section 13
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