« Prev To Abigaus. Next »

Letter LXXVI. To Abigaus.

Abigaus the recipient of this letter was a blind presbyter of Bætica in Spain. He had asked the help of Jerome’s prayers in his struggles with evil and Jerome now writes to cheer and to console him. He concludes his remarks by commending to his especial care the widow Theodora. The letter should be compared with that addressed to Castrutius (LXVIII.). It was written at the same time with the preceding.

1571. Although I am conscious of many sins and every day pray on bended knees, “Remember not the sins of my youth nor my transgressions,23002300    Ps. xxv. 7. yet because I know that it has been said by the Apostle “let a man not be lifted up with pride lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil,”23012301    1 Tim. iii. 6. A.V. adapted. and that it is written in another passage, “God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble,”23022302    James iv. 6. there is nothing I have striven so much to avoid from my boyhood up as a swelling mind and a stiff neck,23032303    Cf. Ps. lxxv. 5. things which always provoke against themselves the wrath of God. For I know that my master and Lord and God has said in the lowliness of His flesh: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,”23042304    Matt. xi. 29. and that before this He has sung by the mouth of David: “Lord, remember David and all his gentleness.”23052305    Ps. cxxxii. 1, Vulg. A.V. has ‘afflictions.’ Again we read in another passage, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honour is humility.”23062306    Prov. xviii. 12. Do not, then, I implore you, suppose that I have received your letter and have passed it over in silence. Do not, I beseech you, lay to my charge the dishonesty and negligence of which others have been guilty. For why should I, when called on to respond to your kind advances, continue dumb and repel by my silence the friendship which you offer? I who am always forward to seek intimate relations with the good and even to thrust myself upon their affection. “Two,” we read, “are better than one.…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.…a three fold cord is not quickly broken, and a brother that helps his brother shall be exalted.”23072307    Eccl. iv. 9–12. The last clause is Jerome’s own. Write to me, therefore, boldly, and overcome the effect of absence by frequent colloquies.

2. You should not grieve that you are destitute of those bodily eyes which ants, flies, and creeping things have as well as men; rather you should rejoice that you possess that eye of which it is said in the Song of Songs, “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.”23082308    Cant. iv. 9. This is the eye with which God is seen and to which Moses refers when he says:—“I will now turn aside and see this great sight.”23092309    Ex. iii. 3. We even read of some philosophers of this world23102310    Cicero ascribes this piece of fanaticism to Democritus and Metrodorus. that they have plucked out their eyes in order to turn all their thoughts upon the pure depths of the mind. And a prophet has said “Death has entered through your windows.”23112311    Jer. ix. 21. LXX. Our Lord too tells the Apostles: “Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”23122312    Matt. v. 28. Consequently they are commanded to lift up their eyes and to look on the fields, for these are white and ready for harvest.23132313    Joh. iv. 35.

3. You request me by my exhortations to slay in you Nebuchadnezzar and Rabshakeh and Nebuzar-adan and Holofernes.23142314    The legendary oppressor of the Jews, whose fate is described in the Book of Judith. Were they alive in you, you would never have sought my aid. No, they are dead within you, and you have begun to build up the ruins of Jerusalem with the help of Zerubbabel and of Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest, of Ezra and of Nehemiah. You do not put your wages into a bag with holes,23152315    Hagg. i. 6. but you lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,23162316    Matt. vi. 20. and if you seek my friendship, it is because you believe me to be a servant of Christ.

I commend to you—although she needs no commendation but her own—my holy daughter Theodora, formerly the wife or rather the sister of Lucinius of blessed memory. Tell her that she must not grow weary of the path upon which she has entered, and that she can only reach the Holy Land by toiling through the wilderness. Warn her against supposing that the work of virtue is perfected when she has made her exodus from Egypt. Remind her that she must pass through snares innumerable to arrive at mount Nebo and the River Jordan,23172317    Nu. xxxiii. 47, 48. that she must receive circumcision anew at Gilgal,23182318    Josh. v. 2, 9. that Jericho must fall before her, overthrown by the blasts of priestly trumpets,23192319    Josh. vi. 20. that Adoni-zedec must be slain,23202320    Josh. x. 1, 26. that Ai and Hazor, once fairest of cities, must both fall.23212321    Josh. viii; xi. 10.

The brothers who are with me in the monastery salute you, and I through you earnestly salute those reverend persons who deign to bestow upon me their regard.

« Prev To Abigaus. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection