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Chapter XLIX.

We must reserve the likeness of the virtues in ourselves. The likeness of the devil and of vice must be got rid of, and especially that of avarice; for this deprives us of liberty, and despoils those who are in the midst of vanities of the image of God.

249. Whilst, then, we are here let us preserve the likeness, that there we may attain to the truth. Let the likeness of justice exist in us, likewise that of wisdom, for we shall come to that day and shall be rewarded according to our likeness.

250. Let not the adversary find his image in thee, let him not find fury nor rage; for in these exists the likeness of wickedness. “Our adversary the devil as a roaring lion seeketh whom he may kill, whom he may devour.”343343    1 Pet. v. 8. Let him not find desire for gold, nor heaps of money, nor the appearance of vices, lest he take from thee the voice of liberty. For the voice of true liberty is heard, when thou canst say: “The prince of this world shall come, and shall find no part in me.”344344    S. John xiv. 30. Therefore, if thou art sure that he will find nothing in thee, when he comes to search through thee, thou wilt say, as the patriarch Jacob did to Laban: “Know now if there is aught of thine with me.”345345    Gen. xxxi. 32. Rightly do we account Jacob blessed with whom Laban could find naught of his. For Rachel had hidden the gold and silver images of his gods.

251. If, then, wisdom, and faith, and contempt of the world, and spiritual grace, exclude all faithlessness, thou wilt be blessed; for thou regardest not vanity and folly and lying. Is it a light thing to take away from thy adversary the opportunity to speak, so that he can have no ground to make his complaint against thee? Thus he who looks not on vanity is not perturbed; but he who looks upon it is perturbed, and that, too, all to no purpose. Is it not a vain thing to heap up riches? for surely to seek for fleeting things is vain enough. And when thou hast gathered them, how dost thou know that thou shalt have them in possession?

252. Is it not vain for a merchant to journey by night and by day, that he may be able to heap up treasures? Is it not vain for him to gather merchandise, and to be much perturbed about its price, for fear he might sell it for less than he gave? that he should strive everywhere for high prices, and thus unexpectedly call up robbers against himself through their envy at his much-vaunted business; or that, without waiting for calmer winds, impatient of delays, he should meet with shipwreck whilst seeking for gain?

253. And is not he, too, perturbed in vain who with great toil amasses wealth, though he knows not what heir to leave it to? Often and often all that an avaricious man has got together with the greatest care, his spendthrift heir scatters abroad with headlong prodigality. The shameless prodigal, blind to the present, heedless of the future, swallows up as in an abyss what took so long to gather. Often, too, the desired successor gains but envy for his share of the inheritance, and by his sudden death hands over the whole amount of the succession, which he has hardly entered upon, to strangers.

254. Why, then, dost thou idly spin a web which is worthless and fruitless? And why dost thou build up useless heaps of treasures like spiders’ webs? For though they overflow, they are no good; nay, they denude thee of the likeness of God, and put on thee the likeness of the earthy. If any one has the likeness of the tyrant, is he not liable to condemnation? Thou layest aside the likeness of the Eternal King, and raisest in thyself the image of death. Rather cast out of the kingdom of thy soul the likeness of the devil, and raise up the likeness of Christ. Let this shine forth in thee; let this glow brightly in thy kingdom, that is, thy soul, for it destroys the likeness of all vices. David says of this: “O Lord, in Thy kingdom thou bringest their images to nothing.”346346    Ps. lxxii. 20 [LXX.]. 41For when the Lord has adorned Jerusalem according to His own likeness, then every likeness of the adversary is destroyed.


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