In meekness instructing those that oppose them; if God perhaps will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
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Augustine of Hippo
Let Pelagius confess that pardon is granted to the repentant according to the grace and mercy of God, not according to his merits. It is that very repentance which the apostle called the gift of God when he said of certain ones, “Lest God perhaps may grant them repentance.” .
Now, penance itself is often omitted because of weakness, even when in church custom there is an adequate reason why it should be performed. For shame is the fear of displeasing men, when one loves good opinion more than he regards judgment, which would make him humble in penitence. Thus not only for one to repent but also in order that he may be enabled to do so, the mercy of God is prerequisite. Otherwise, the apostle would not say of some, “In case God gives them repentance.”
But then in the correction and repression of other men’s sins, one must take heed that in rebuking another he does not lift up himself. The sentence of the apostle must be remembered: “Let one who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.” Let the voice of chiding sound outwardly in tones of terror, let the spirit of love and gentleness be maintained within…. So then you must neither consent to evil, so as to approve of it, nor be negligent, so as not to reprove it, nor be proud, so as to reprove it in a tone of insult.
The supeio should not administe a ebuke to wongdoes when his own passions ae aoused. By admonishing a bothe with ange and indignation, he does not fee him fom his faults but involves himself in the eo…. No should he become vehemently angy even when he himself is teated with contempt. When he sees such teatment inflicted upon anothe, he should again show himself indulgent towad the sinne; but moe than that, he ought, in the latte case, to manifest displeasue at the wong done. The Long Rules, q...
If at any time God may touch the hearts of those who believe not, or who lead a wicked life. (Witham)
In the Greek it is mepote, lest; that is, correct those who resist the truth, in hopes that God will some time bring them by repentance to the knowledge of the truth. The Greek does not express a fear that they will repent, but a certain doubt, mixed with strong hope and earnest desire of their conversion. Conversion from sin and heresy is the gift of God, yet we see good exhortations and prayers are available thereto; which would not be the case if we had not free-will. But these exhortations, to be profitable, must be made as the apostle says, en praoteti; i.e. with modesty and meekness. Si fortè det Deus illis meliorem mentem; i.e. ut perveniant ad agnitionem ejus veritatis, quam nunc oppugn ant.
The shepherd of sheep has the flock following him wherever he leads; or if some turn aside from the direct path and leave the good pasture to graze in barren and precipitous places, it is enough for him to call more loudly, lead them back again and restore to the flock those that were separated. But if a man wanders away from the right path, the shepherd needs a lot of concentration, perseverance and patience. He cannot drag by force or constrain by fear but must by persuasion lead him back to the true beginning from which he has fallen away. He needs, therefore, a heroic spirit, not to grow despondent or neglect the salvation of wanderers but to keep on thinking and saying, “God perhaps may give them the knowledge of the truth and they may be freed from the snare of the devil.”
Therefore, let us not be provoked with these men, let us not use anger as an excuse, but let us talk with them gently and with kindness. Nothing is more forceful and effective than treatment which is gentle and kind. This is why Paul told us to hold fast to such conduct with all the earnestness of our hearts when he said, “The servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome but must be kindly toward all.” He did not say “only to your brothers” but “toward all.” And again, when he said, “Let your gentleness be known,” he did not say “to your brothers” but “to all men.” What good does it do you, he means, if you love those who love you.
For he that teaches must be especially careful to do it with meekness. For a soul that wishes to learn cannot gain any useful instruction from harshness and contention. For when it would apply, being thus thrown into perplexity, it will learn nothing. He who would gain any useful knowledge ought above all things to be well disposed towards his teacher, and if this be not previously attained, nothing that is requisite or useful can be accomplished. And no one can be well disposed towards him who is violent and overbearing. How is it then that he says, A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject? He speaks there of one incorrigible, of one whom he knows to be diseased beyond the possibility of cure.