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Chapter XI.—Fear.

“But some one will say, And what shall we do now, whom it has already happened to us to be smeared with sins as with pitch?  I answer:  Nothing; but hasten to be washed, that the fuel of the fire may be cleansed out of you by the invocation of the holy name, and that for the future you may bridle your lusts by fear of the judgment to come, and with all constancy beat back the hostile powers whenever they approach your senses.  But you say, If any one fall into love, how shall he be able to contain himself, though he see before his eyes even that river of fire which they call Pyriphlegethon?  This is the excuse of those who will not be converted to repentance.  But now I would not have you talk of Pyriphlegethon.  Place before you human punishments, and see what influence fear has.  When any one is brought to punishment for the crime of love, and is bound to the stake to be burned, can he at that time conceive any desire of her whom he loved, or place her image before his eyes?  By no means, you will say.  You see, then, that present fear cuts off unrighteous desires.  But if those who believe in God, and who confess the judgment to come, and the penalty of eternal fire,—if they do not refrain from sin, it is certain that they do not believe with full faith:  for if faith is certain, fear also becomes certain; but if there be any detect in faith, fear also is weakened, and then the contrary powers find opportunity of entering.  And when they have consented to their persuasions, they necessarily become subject also to their power, and by their instigation are driven to the precipices of sin.

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