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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter XXIX. How those who are perfect go beyond the fixed rule of Lent.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXIX.

How those who are perfect go beyond the fixed rule of Lent.

By this law of Lent then the man who is upright and perfect is not restrained nor is he content with merely submitting to that paltry rule which the heads of the church have established for those who all the year round are involved in pleasure or business, that they may be bound by this legal requirement and forced at any rate during these days to find time for the Lord, and dedicate to Him the tithe of the days of their life, all of which they would have consumed as their profits. But the righteous, for whom the law is not appointed, and who devote to spiritual duties not a small part; viz., the tenth, but the whole time of their life, because they are free from the burden of tithes according to law, for this reason, if any worthy and pious occasion happening to them constrains them, are ready to relax their station fast 2212 without any hesitation. For in their case it is no paltry tithe that is diminished, as they offer all that they have to the Lord equally with themselves. And this certainly a man could not do without being guilty of a grievous wrong, who, offering nothing of his own free will to God, is forced to pay his tithes by the stern compulsion of the law which takes no excuse. Wherefore it is clearly established that the servant of the law cannot be perfect, who only shuns those things which are forbidden and does those things which are commanded, but that those are really perfect who do not take advantage even of those things which the law allows. And in this way, though it is said of the Mosaic law that “the law brought nothing to perfection,” 2213 we read that some of the saints in the Old Testament were perfect because they went beyond the commands of the law and lived under the perfection of the Gospel: “Knowing that the law is not appointed for the righteous but for the unrighteous and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the wicked and defiled, etc.” 2214



Statio. Cf. note on the Institutes V. xxiv.


Heb. vii. 19.


1 Tim. 1:9, 10.

Next: Chapter XXX. Of the origin and beginning of Lent.

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