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Chapter XXIII.

How sowers of strifes and peacemakers are to be admonished.

(Admonition 24.)  Differently to be admonished are sowers of strifes and peacemakers.  For sowers of strifes are to be admonished to perceive whose followers they are.  For of the apostate angel it is written, when tares had been sown among the good crop, An enemy hath done this (Matth. xiii. 28).  Of a member of him also it is said through Solomon, An apostate person, an unprofitable man, walketh with a perverse mouth, he winketh with his eyes, he beateth with his foot, he speaketh with his finger, with froward heart he deviseth mischief continually, he soweth strifes (Prov. vi. 12–14).  Lo, him whom he would speak of as a sower of strifes he first named an apostate; since, unless after the manner of the proud angel he first fell away inwardly by the alienation of his mind from the face of his Maker, he would not afterwards come to sow strifes outwardly.  He is rightly described too as winking with his eyes, speaking with his finger, beating with his foot.  For it is inward watch that keeps the members outwardly in orderly control.  He, then, who has lost stability of mind falls off outwardly into inconstancy of movement, and by his exterior mobility shews that he is stayed on no root within.  Let sowers of strifes hear what is written, Blessed are the peacemakers, far they shall be called the children of God (Matth. v. 9).  And on the other hand let them gather that, if they who make peace are called the children of God, without doubt those who confound it are the children of Satan.  Moreover, all who are separated by discord from the greenness of loving-kindness are dried up:  and, though they bring forth in their actions fruits of well-doing, yet there are in truth no fruits, because they spring not from the unity of charity.  Hence, therefore, let sowers of strifes consider how manifoldly they sin; in that, while they perpetrate one iniquity, they eradicate at the same time all virtues from human hearts.  For in one evil they work innumerable evils, since, in sowing discord, they extinguish charity, which is in truth the mother of all virtues.  But, since nothing is more precious with God than the virtue of loving-kindness, nothing is more acceptable to the devil than the extinction of charity.  Whosoever, then, by sowing of strifes destroy the loving-kindness of neighbours, serve God’s enemy as his familiar friend; because by taking away from them this, by the loss of which he fell, they have cut off from them the road whereby to rise.

But, on the other hand, the peacemakers are to be admonished that they detract not from the efficacy of so great an undertaking through not knowing between whom they ought to establish peace.  For, as there is much harm if unity be wanting to the good, so there is exceeding harm if it be not wanting to the bad.  If, then, the iniquity of the perverse is united in peace, assuredly there is an accession of strength to their evil doings, since the more they agree among themselves in wickedness, by so much the more stoutly do they dash themselves against the good to afflict them.  For hence it is that against the preachers of that vessel of damnation, to wit, Antichrist, is it said by the divine voice to the blessed Job, The members of his flesh stick close to each other (Job xli. 1412801280    So Vulgate.  Gregory always takes Leviathan to signify the devil.).  Hence, under the figure of scales, it is said of his satellites, One is joined to another, and not even a breathing-hole cometh between them (xli. 712811281    So Vulgate.  Gregory always takes Leviathan to signify the devil.).  For, indeed, his followers, from being divided by no opposition of discord among themselves, are by so much the more strongly banded together in the slaughter of the good.  He then who associates the iniquitous together in peace supplies strength to iniquity, since they 51bworse press down the good, whom they persecute unanimously.  Whence the excellent preacher, being overtaken by violent persecution from Pharisees and Sadducees, endeavoured to divide among themselves those whom he saw to be violently united against himself, when he cried out, saying, Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question (Acts xxiii. 6).  And, whereas the Sadducees denied the hope and resurrection of the dead, which the Pharisees in accordance with the precepts of Holy Writ believed, a dissension was caused in the unanimity of the persecutors; and Paul escaped unhurt from the divided crowd, which before, when united, had savagely assailed him.  Those, therefore, who are occupied with the desire of making peace, are to be admonished that they ought first to infuse a love of internal peace into the minds of the froward, to the end that external peace may afterwards avail to do them good; so that, while their heart is hanging on cognition of the former, they be by no means hurried into wickedness from perception of the latter; and, while they see before them that which is supernal, they in no way turn that which is earthly to serve to their own detriment.  But, if any perverse persons are such that they could not harm the good, even though they lusted to do so, between them, indeed, earthly peace ought to be established, even before they have risen to the knowledge of supernal peace; even so that they, whom the wickedness of their impiety exasperates against the loving-kindness of God, may at any rate be softened out of love of their neighbour, and, as it were from a neighbouring position, may pass to a better one, and so rise to what is as yet far from them, the peace of their Maker.

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