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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter IX. Of three sorts of possessions.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IX.

Of three sorts of possessions.

Riches and possessions are taken in Holy Scripture in three different ways, i.e., as good, bad, and indifferent. Those are bad, of which it is said: “The rich have wanted and have suffered hunger,” 1230 and “Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation:” 1231 and to have cast off these riches is the height of perfection; and a distinction which belongs to those poor who are commended in the gospel by the Lord’s saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” 1232 and in the Psalm: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,” 1233 and again: “The poor and needy shall praise thy name.” 1234 Those riches are good, to acquire which is the work of great virtue and merit, and the righteous possessor of which is praised by David who says “The generation of the righteous shall be blessed: glory and riches are in his house, and his righteousness remaineth for ever:” 1235 and again “the ransom of a man’s life are his riches.” 1236 And of these riches it is said in the Apocalypse to him who has them not and to his shame is poor and naked: “I will begin,” says he, “to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest I am rich and wealthy and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire-tried, that thou mayest be made rich, and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear.” 1237 There are some also which are indifferent, i.e., which may be made either good or bad: for they are made either one or the other in accordance with the will and character of those who use them: of which the blessed, Apostle says “Charge the rich of this world not to be high-minded nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in God (who giveth us abundantly all things to enjoy), to do good, to give easily, to communicate to others, to lay up in store for themselves a good foundation that they may lay hold on the true life.” 1238 These are what the rich man in the gospel kept, and never distributed to the poor,—while the beggar Lazarus was lying at his gate and desiring to be fed with his crumbs; and so he was condemned to the unbearable flames and everlasting heat of hell-fire. 1239



Psa. 34.11.


S. Luke vi. 24.


S. Matt. v. 3.


Psa. 34.7.


Psa. 74.21.


Ps. 112:2, 3.


Prov. xiii. 8.


Rev. iii. 16-18.


1 Tim. vi. 17-19.


Cf. S. Luke xiv. 19 sq.

Next: Chapter X. That none can become perfect merely through the first grade of renunciation.

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