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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace.: Chapter 49

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 49.—Conclusion.

Hence, as far as concerns us, who are not able to distinguish those who are predestinated from those who are not, we ought on this very account to will all men to be saved. Severe rebuke should be medicinally applied to all by us that they perish not themselves, or that they may not be the means of destroying others. It belongs to God, however, to make that rebuke useful to them whom He Himself has foreknown and predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. For, if at any time we abstain from rebuking, for fear lest by rebuke a man should perish, why do we not also rebuke, for fear lest a man should rather perish by our withholding it? For we have no greater bowels of love than the blessed apostle who says, “Rebuke those that are unruly; comfort the feeble-minded; support the weak; be patient towards all men. See that none render to any man evil for evil.” 3409 Where it is to be understood that evil is then rather rendered for evil when one who ought to be rebuked is not rebuked, but by a wicked dissimulation is neglected. He says, moreover, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear;” 3410 which must be received concerning those sins which are not concealed, lest he be thought to have spoken in opposition to the word of the Lord. For He says, “If thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between thee and him.” 3411 Notwithstanding, He Himself carries out the severity of rebuke to the extent of saying, “If he will not hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” 3412 And who has more loved the weak than He who became weak for us all, and of that very weakness was crucified for us all? And since these things are so, grace neither restrains rebuke, nor does rebuke restrain grace; and on this account righteousness is so to be prescribed that we may ask in faithful prayer, that, by God’s grace, what is prescribed may be done; and both of these things are in such wise to be done that righteous rebuke may not be neglected. But let all these things be done with love, since love both does not sin, and does cover the multitude of sins.


Footnotes

491:3409

1 Thess. v. 14.

491:3410

1 Tim. v. 20.

491:3411

Matt. xviii. 15.

491:3412

Matt. xviii. 17.


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