31. I might well reply as I have done even if it were a question of a promise made with full consciousness. But this is a new and shameless thing; he throws in my teeth a mere dream. How am I to answer? I have no time for thinking of anything outside my own sphere. I wish that I were not prevented from reading even the Holy Scriptures by the throngs that beset this place, and the gathering of Christians from all parts of the world. Still, when a man makes a dream into a crime, I can quote to him the words of the Prophets, who say that we are not to believe dreams; for even to dream of adultery does not condemn us to hell, and to dream of the crown of martyrdom does not raise us to heaven. Often I have seen myself in dreams dead and placed in the grave: often I have flown over the earth and been carried as if swimming through the air, over mountains and seas. My accuser might, therefore, demand that I should cease to live, or that I should have wings on my shoulders, because my mind has often been mocked in sleep by vague fancies of this kind. How many people are rich while asleep and wake to find themselves beggars! or are drinking water to cool their thirst, and wake up with their throats parched and burning! You exact from me the fulfilment of a promise given in a dream. I will meet you with a truer and closer question: Have you done all that you promised in your baptism? Have you or I fulfilled all that the profession of a monk demands? I beg you, think whether you are not looking at the mote in my eye through the beam in your own. I say this against my will; it is by sorrow that my reluctant tongue is forced into words. As to you, it is not enough for you to make up charges about my waking deeds, but you must accuse me for my dreams. You have such an interest in my actions that you must discuss what I have said or done in my sleep. I will not dwell on the way in which, in your zeal to speak against me, you have besmirched your own profession, and have done all you can by word and deed for the dishonouring of the whole body of Christians. But I give you fair warning, and will repeat it again and again. You are attacking a creature who has horns: and, if it were not that I lay to heart the words of the Apostle 3069 “The evil speakers 3070 shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” and 3071 “By hating one another you have been consumed one of another,” I would make you feel what a vast discord you have stirred up after a slight and pretended reconciliation. What advantage is it to you to heap up slanders against me both among friends and strangers? Is it because I am not an Origenist, and do not believe that I sinned in heaven, that I am accused as a sinner upon earth? And was the result of our renewal of friendship to be, that I was not to speak against heretics for fear that my notice of them should be taken for an assault upon you? So long as I did not refuse to be belauded by you, you followed me as a master, you called me friend and brother, and acknowledged me as a catholic in every respect. But when I asked to be spared your praises, and judged myself unworthy to have such a great man for my trumpeter, you immediately ran your pen through what you had written, and began to abuse all that you had praised p. 500 before, and to pour forth from the same mouth both sweet and bitter words. I wish you could understand what self-repression I am exerting in not suiting my words to the boiling heat of my breast; and how I pray, like the Psalmist: 3072 “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to the words of malice;” and, as he says elsewhere: 3073 “While the wicked stood before me I was dumb and was humbled and kept silence even from good words;” and again: 3074 “I became as a man that heareth not and in whose mouth are no reproofs.” But for me the Lord the Avenger will reply, as he says through the Prophet: 3075 “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord”: and in another place: 3076 “Thou satest and spakest against thy brother, and hast slandered thy mothers son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest indeed by that I should be such an one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them before thine eyes;” so that you may see yourself brought in guilty of those things which you falsely lay to anothers charge.
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