Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: In his anti-Ciceronian dream he promised never to read or possess heathen books.
6. For I will now return, after a sort of digression, to the point I had proposed, and for the sake of which it was necessary to mention this treatise. I will shew that perjury is looked upon by him as lawful, to such a point that he does not care for its being detected in his writings. In this same treatise he admonishes the reader that it is wrong to study secular literature, and says, 2941 “What has Horace to do with the Psaltery, or Virgil with the Gospels, or Cicero with St. Paul? Will not your brother be offended if he sees you sitting at meat in that idols temple?” And then, after more of the same kind, in which he declares that a Christian must have nothing to do with the study of secular literature, he gives an account of a revelation divinely made to him and filled with fearful threatenings upon the subject. He reports that, after he had renounced the world, and had turned to God, he nevertheless was held in a tight grip by his love of secular books, and found it hard to put away his longing for them. 2942
Suddenly I was caught up in the spirit and dragged before the judgment seat of the Judge; and here the light was so bright, and those who stood around were so radiant, that I cast myself upon the ground and did not dare to look up. Asked who and what I was I replied I am a Christian. But He who presided said: Thou liest; thou art a follower of Cicero and not of Christ. For where thy treasure is there will thy heart be p. 463 also. Instantly I became dumb, and amid the strokes of the lash—for He had ordered me to be scourged—I was tortured more severely still by the fire of conscience, considering with myself that verse In the grave, who shall give thee thanks? Yet for all that I began to cry and to bewail myself saying: Have mercy upon me, O Lord; have mercy upon me. Amid the sound of the scourges this cry still made itself heard. At last the bystanders, falling down before the knees of Him who presided, prayed that He would have pity on my youth, and that He would give me space to repent of my error. He might still, they urged, inflict torture upon me, should I ever again read the works of the Gentiles. Under the stress of that awful moment I should have been ready to make even still larger promises than these. Accordingly I made oath and called upon His name, saying Lord, if ever again I possess worldly books, or if ever again I read such, I have denied thee. On taking this oath, I was dismissed, and returned to the upper world.
Id. 29 (end).462:2942
Next: Yet his works are filled with quotations from them.
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