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Chapter XXI.

Different passages from the writings of Solomon against accidie.

And Solomon, the wisest of men, clearly points to this fault of idleness in many passages, as he says: “He that followeth idleness shall be filled with poverty,”985985    Prov. xxviii. 19. either visible or invisible, in which an idle person and one entangled with different faults is sure to be involved, and he will always be a stranger to the contemplation of God, and to spiritual riches, of which the blessed Apostle says: “For in all things ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge.”986986    1 Cor. i. 5. But concerning this poverty of the idler elsewhere he also writes thus: “Every sluggard shall be clothed in torn garments and rags.”987987    Prov. xxiii. 21. (LXX.). For certainly he will not merit to be adorned with that garment of incorruption (of which the Apostle says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,”988988    Rom. xiii. 14. and again: “Being clothed in the breastplate of righteousness and charity,”989989    1 Thess. v. 8. concerning which the Lord Himself also speaks to Jerusalem by the prophet: “Arise, arise, O Jerusalem, put on the garments of thy glory),”990990    Is. lii. 1. whoever, overpowered by lazy slumber or by accidie, prefers to be clothed, not by his labour and industry, but in the rags of idleness, which he tears off from the solid piece and body of the Scriptures, and fits on to his sloth no garment of glory and honour, but an ignominious cloak and excuse. For those, who are affected by this laziness, and do not like to support themselves by the labour of their own hands, as the Apostle continually did and charged us to do, are wont to make use of certain Scripture proofs by which they try to cloak their idleness, saying that it is written, “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which remains to life eternal;”991991    S. John vi. 27. and “My meat is to do the will of my Father.”992992    S. John iv. 34. But these proofs are (as it were) rags, from the 274solid piece of the gospel, which are adopted for this purpose, viz., to cover the disgrace of our idleness and shame rather than to keep us warm, and adorn us with that costly and splendid garment of virtue which that wise woman in the Proverbs, who was clothed with strength and beauty, is said to have made either for herself or for her husband; of which presently it is said: “Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she rejoices in the latter days.”993993    Prov. xxxi. 25. (LXX.). Of this evil of idleness Solomon thus makes mention again: “The ways of the idlers are strewn with thorns;”994994    Prov. xv. 19 (LXX.). i.e., with these and similar faults, which the Apostle above declared to spring from idleness. And again: “Every sluggard is always in want.”995995    Prov. xiii. 4 (LXX.). And of these the Apostle makes mention when he says, “And that you want nothing of any man’s.”996996    1 Thess. iv. 11. And finally: “For idleness has been the teacher of many evils:”997997    Ecclus. xxxiii. 29. which the Apostle has clearly enumerated in the passage which he expounded above: “Working not at all, but curiously meddling.” To this fault also he joins another: “And that ye study to be quiet;” and then, “that ye should do your own business and walk honestly towards them that are without, and that you want nothing of any man’s.” Those also whom he notes as disorderly and rebellious, from these he charges those who are earnest to separate themselves: “That ye withdraw yourselves,” says he, “from every brother that walketh disorderly and not according to the tradition which they received from us.”998998    2 Thess. iii. 11, 6; 1 Thess. iv. 11.


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