I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer.
Read Chapter 32
Gregory The Dialogist
He well says, I will take breath, for as it is a distress to the holy to behold wickedness, without amending it; so is it a heavy distress to the boastful, if they do not display the wisdom they possess. For they can scarcely endure the violence which boils within them, if they are rather behindhand in making known every thing which they think. And hence, when any good deed is taken in hand, all pride on account of it must first be overcome in the heart, lest, if it should proceed from the root of a bad motive, it should bring forth the bitter fruits of sin.
21. These then, who are as yet engaged in a contest with their sins, ought never to undertake to rule over others by exercising the office of preaching. And this is the reason, why, according to the command of the Divine dispensation, the Levites serve the tabernacle from their twenty-fifth year, but from their fiftieth become the guardians of the sacred vessels. [Numb. 8, 24] For what is meant by the five and twentieth year, when youth is in its full vigour, but the contests against each separate sin? And what is expressed by the fiftieth, in which is signified also the rest of the Jubilee, but the repose of the mind within, when the contest has come to an end? But what is shadowed forth by the vessels of the tabernacle, except the souls of the faithful? The Levites, therefore, serve the tabernacle from their five and twentieth year, and take charge of the vessels from their fiftieth, to shew that they who endure, through pleasurable consent, the contest with sins which still assault them, should not presume to take the charge of others: but that when they have been successful in their contests with temptations, by which they are assured of inward tranquillity, they may then undertake the care of souls. But who can perfectly subdue these assaults of temptations, when Paul says, I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and leading me captive to the law of sin? [Rom. 7, 23] But it is one thing boldly to endure contests, another to be unnerved by them and overcome. In the first case virtue is kept in exercise, to secure it from being puffed up; in the other, it is quite quenched that it cease to be. He then who knows how to endure with boldness the temptation of the contest, even when he feels its shock, sits on high in the lofty citadel of peace. For he sees that the assaults of sin are, even when within him, subject to his power, since he does not yield his consent to them, from being overcome by any pleasure.