Theodore: Sometimes holy Scripture is wont by an improper use of terms to use “evils” for “affliction;” not that these are properly and in their nature evils, but because they are imagined to be evils by those on whom they are brought for their good. For when divine judgment is reasoning with men it must speak with the language and feelings of men. For when a doctor for the sake of health with good reason either cuts or cauterizes those who are suffering from the inflammation of ulcers, it is considered an evil by those who have to bear it. Nor are the spur and the whip pleasant to a restive horse. Moreover all chastisement seems at the moment to be a bitter thing to those who are chastised, as the Apostle says: “Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy but sorrow; but afterwards it will yield to them that are exercised by it most peaceable fruits of righteousness,” and “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth: for what son is there whom the father doth not correct?” 1381 And so evils are sometimes wont to stand for afflictions, as where we read: “And God repented of the evil which He had said that He would do to them and He did it not.” 1382 And again: “For Thou, Lord, are gracious and merciful, patient and very merciful and ready to repent of the evil,” 1383 i.e., of the sufferings and losses which Thou art forced to bring upon us as the reward of our sins. And another prophet, knowing that these are profitable to some men, and certainly not through any jealousy of their safety, but with an eye to their good, prays thus: “Add evils to them, O Lord, add evils to the haughty ones of the earth;” 1384 and the Lord Himself says “Lo, I will bring evils upon them,” 1385 i.e., sorrows, and losses, with which they shall for the present be chastened for their souls health, and so shall be at length driven to return and hasten back to Me whom in their prosperity they scorned. And so that these are originally evil we cannot possibly assert: for to many they conduce to their good and offer the occasions of eternal bliss, and therefore (to return to the question raised) all those things, which are thought to be brought upon us as evils by our enemies or by any other people, should not be counted as evils, but as things indifferent. For in the end they will not be what he thinks, who brought them upon us in his rage and fury, but what he makes them who endures them. And so when death has been brought upon a saint, we ought not to think that an evil has happened to him but a thing indifferent; which is an evil to a wicked man, while to the good it is rest and freedom from evils. “For death is rest to a man whose way is hidden.” 1386 And so a good man does not suffer any loss from it, because he suffers nothing strange, but by the crime of an enemy he only receives (and not without the reward of eternal life) that which would have happened to him in the course of nature, and pays the debt of mans death, which must be paid by an inevitable law, with the interest of a most fruitful passion, and the recompense of a great reward.
Jonah iii. 10 (LXX.).354:1383
Joel ii. 13 (LXX.).354:1384
Is. xxvi. 15 (LXX.).354:1385 354:1386
Job iii. 23 (LXX.).
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