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Chapter II.

Abbot Theodore’s answer to the question proposed to him.

This question often exercises the minds of those who have not much faith or knowledge, and imagine that the prizes and rewards of the saints (which are not given in this world, but laid up for the future) are bestowed in the short space of this mortal life. But we whose hope in Christ is not only in this life, for fear lest, as the Apostle says, we should be “of all men most miserable”13671367    1 Cor. xv. 19. (because as we receive none of the promises in this world we should for our unbelief lose them also in that to come) ought not wrongly to follow their ideas, lest through ignorance of the true real explanation, we should hesitate and tremble and fail in temptation, if we find ourselves given up to such men; and should ascribe to God injustice or carelessness about the affairs of mankind—a thing which it is almost a sin to mention—because He does not protect in their temptations men who are living an upright and holy life, nor requite good men with good things and evil men with evil things in this world; and so we should deserve to fall under the condemnation of those whom the prophet Zephaniah rebukes, saying “who say in their hearts the Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil:”13681368    Zeph. i. 12. or at least be found among those of whom we are told that they blaspheme God with such complaints as this: “Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and such please Him: for surely where is the God of judgment?”13691369    Mal. ii. 17. Adding further that blasphemy which is described in the same way in what follows: “He laboureth in vain that serveth God, and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinances, and walked sorrowful before the Lord? Wherefore now we call the proud happy, for they that work wickedness are enriched, and they have tempted God, and are preserved.”13701370    Mal. iii. 14, 15. Wherefore that we may avoid this ignorance which is the root and cause of this most deadly error, we ought in the first place to know what is really good, and what is bad, and so finally if we grasp the true scriptural meaning of these words, and not the false popular one, we shall escape being deceived by the errors of unbelievers.

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