Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.
Read Chapter 6
You see how again he commands Timothy not even to meet them. Avoiding opposition. There are therefore oppositions to which we ought not to vouchsafe an answer, because they turn men from faith, and do not suffer one to be firmly established or fixed in it. Let us not then pursue this science, but adhere to faith, that unshaken rock. For neither floods nor winds assailing will be able to harm us, since we stand on the rock immovable. Thus even in this life, if we choose Him, Who is truly the foundation, we stand, and no harm assails us. For what can hurt him who has chosen the riches, the honor, the glory, the pleasure of the life to come? They are all firm, in them there is no variableness; all things here subject to reverse, and are for ever changing. For what would you have? glory? The Psalmist says, His glory shall not descend after him. Psalm 49:17 And often it abides not with him while he lives. But it is not so with virtue, all things which pertain to her are permanent. Here, he who obtains glory from his office, upon another succeeding to his office, becomes a private man and inglorious. The rich man is reduced to poverty by the attack of robbers, or the snares of sycophants and knaves. It is not so with Christians. The temperate man, if he take heed to himself, will not be robbed of his virtue. He who rules himself, cannot become a common man and a subject.
And that this rule is superior to any other, will appear upon examination. For of what advantage, tell me, is it to reign over nations of our fellow-men, and to be the slaves of our own passions? Or what are we the worse for having no one under our rule, if we are superior to the tyranny of the passions? That indeed is Freedom, that is Rule, that is Royalty and Sovereignty. The contrary is slavery, though a man be invested with countless diadems. For when a multitude of masters sway him from within, the love of money, the love of pleasure, and anger, and other passions, what avails his diadem? The tyranny of those passions is more severe, when not even his crown has power to deliver him from their subjection. As if one who had been a king should be reduced to slavery by barbarians, and they wishing to show their power the more absolutely, should not strip him of his purple robe and his diadem, but oblige him to work in them, and to perform all menial offices, to draw water, and to cook their food, that his disgrace and their honor might be the more apparent: so do our passions domineer over us more barbarously than any barbarians. For he that despises them can despise the barbarians too; but he that submits to them, will suffer more severely than from barbarians. The barbarian, when his power prevails, may afflict the body, but these passions torture the soul, and lacerate it all over. When the barbarian has prevailed, he delivers one to temporal death, but these to that which is to come. So that he alone is the free man, who has his freedom in himself; and he who submits to these unreasonable passions, is the slave.
No master, however inhuman, imposes such severe and inhuman commands. They say to him, in effect, Disgrace your soul without end or object—offend your God—be deaf to the claims of nature; though it be your father or your mother, be not ashamed to set yourself against them. Such are the commands of avarice. Sacrifice to me, she says, not calves, but men. The prophet indeed says, Sacrifice men, for the calves have failed. Hosea 13:2, Septuagint But avarice says, Sacrifice men, though there are yet calves. Sacrifice those who have never injured you, yea slay them, though they have been your benefactors. Or again, Be at war, and go about as the common enemy of all, of nature herself, and of God. Heap up gold, not that you may enjoy it, but that you may keep it, and work greater torture to yourself. For it is not possible that the lover of money should be able to enjoy it, since he fears lest his gold should be diminished, lest his hoards should fail. Be watchful, it says, be suspicious of every one, even domestics and friends. Have an eye to the goods of other men. Though you see the poor man perishing with hunger, give him nothing; but strip him, if it be possible, even of his skin. Break your oaths, lie, swear. Be an accuser, a false informer. Refuse not, if it be necessary, to rush into fire, to submit to a thousand deaths, to perish with hunger, to struggle with disease. Does not avarice impose these laws? Be offensive and impudent, shameless and bold, villainous and wicked, ungrateful, unfeeling, unfriendly, faithless, devoid of affection, a parricide, a beast rather than a man. Surpass the serpent in bitterness, the wolf in rapacity. Exceed in brutality even the beast, nay should it be necessary to proceed even to the malignity of the devil, refuse not. Be a stranger to your benefactor.
Does not avarice say all this, and is it not listened to? God on the contrary says, Be a friend to all, be gentle, beloved by all, give offense causelessly to no one. Honor your father and your mother. Win an honorable reputation. Be not a man, but an angel. Utter nothing immodest, nothing false, nor even think of it. Relieve the poor. Bring not trouble on yourself, by ravaging others. Be not bold nor insolent. God says this, but no one hearkens. Is not hell then justly threatened, and the fire, and the worm that dies not? How long are we thus to thrust ourselves down the precipice? How long are we to walk upon thorns, and pierce ourselves with nails, and be grateful for it? We subject ourselves to cruel tyrants, and refuse the gentle Master, who imposes nothing grievous, nor barbarous, nor burdensome, nor unprofitable, but all things such as are useful, and valuable, and beneficial. Let us then arouse ourselves, and be self-collected, and gather our forces. Let us love God as we ought, that we may obtain the blessings promised to those that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, etc.