39. For there is less sin, if people do not praise the sinner in the desires of his soul, and speak good of him who practiseth iniquities.129 Ps. x. 3 [ix. 24] Now what is more an iniquity than to wish to be obeyed by inferiors, and to refuse to obey superiors? The Apostle, I mean, not us: insomuch that they even let their hair grow long: a matter, of which he would have no disputing at all, saying, “If any chooseth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Church of God.130 1 Cor. xi. 16, 17 Now this I command;”131 E.V. follows text rec. τοῦτο δὲ παραγγελλων οὐκ ἐπαινῶ, but good mss. and Versions besides the Ital. and Vulg, have τοῦτο δὲ παραγγελλω ουκ ἐπαινῶν, hoc autem prœcipio non laudans. which gives us to understand that it is not cleverness of reasoning that we are to look for, but authority of one giving command to attend unto. For whereunto, I pray thee, pertaineth this also, that people so openly against the Apostle’s precepts wear long hair? Is it that there must be in such sort vacation, that not even the barbers are to work? Or, because they say that they imitate the Gospel birds, do they fear to be, as it were, plucked, lest they be not able to fly? I shrink from saying more against this fault, out of respect for certain long-haired brethren, in whom, except this, we find much, and well-nigh every thing, to venerate. But the more we love them in Christ, the more solicitously do we admonish them. Nor are we afraid indeed, lest their humility reject our admonition; seeing that we also desire to be admonished by such as they, wherever we chance to stumble or to go aside. This then we admonish so holy men, not to be moved by foolish quibblings of vain persons, and imitate in this perversity them whom in all else they are far from resembling. For those persons, hawking about a venal hypocrisy, fear lest shorn sanctity be held cheaper than long-haired; because forsooth he who sees them shall call to mind those ancients whom we read of, Samuel and the rest who did not cut off their hair.132 Numb. vi. 5 And they do not consider what is the difference between that prophetic veil, and this unveiling which is in the Gospel, of which the Apostle saith, “When thou shall go over133 Cum transieris. Gr. ἡνίκα δ᾽ ἄν ἐπιστρέψη, sc. ὁ Ἰσραὴλ Chrys. Theod. or τὶς Origen. unto Christ, the veil shall be taken away.”134 2 Cor. iii. 16 That, namely, which was signified in the veil interposed between the face of Moses and the beholding of the people Israel,135 Exod. xxxiv. 33 that same was also signified in those times by the long hair of the Saints. For the same Apostle saith, that long hair is also instead of a veil: by whose authority these men are hard pressed. Seeing he saith openly, “If a man wear long hair, it is a disgrace to him.” “The very disgrace,” say they, “we take upon us, for desert of our sins:” holding out a screen of simulated humility, to the end that under cover of it they may carry on their trade of self-importance.136 Venalem typhum Just as if the Apostle were teaching pride when he says, “Every man praying or prophesying with veiled head shameth his head;”137 1 Cor. xi. 4 and, “A man ought not to veil his head, forsomuch as he is the image and glory of God.”138 1 Cor. xi. 14 Consequently he who says, “Ought not,” knows not perchance how to teach humility! However, if this same disgrace in time of the Gospel, which was a thing of a holy meaning139 Sacramentum in time of Prophecy, be by these people courted as matter of humility, then let them be shorn, and veil their head with haircloth. Only then there will be none of that attracting of people’s eyes in which they trade,140 Species illa venalis because Samson was veiled not with haircloth, but with his long hair.
39. Minus enim peccatur, si non laudetur peccator in desideriis animae suae, et qui iniqua gerit benedicatur (Psal. IX, 24).
In Monachos crinitos. Quid autem iniquius, quam velle sibi obtemperari a minoribus, et nolle obtemperare majoribus? Apostolo dico, non nobis, in tantum ut etiam comam nutriant: unde ille nec disputari omnino voluit, dicens, Si quis vult contentiosus esse, nos talem consuetudinem non habemus, neque Ecclesia Dei. Hoc autem praecipio: ut scilicet non disserentis solertia requiratur, sed praecipientis auctoritas attendatur. Nam et hoc quo pertinet, quaeso, tam aperte contra Apostoli praecepta comari ? An ita vacandum est, ut nec tonsores operentur? An quia evangelicas volucres imitari se dicunt, quasi depilari timent, ne volare non possint? Vereor in hoc vitium plura dicere, propter quosdam crinitos fratres, quorum praeter hoc multa et pene omnia veneramur. Sed quo magis eos in Christo diligimus, eo sollicitius admonemus. Neque enim metuimus ne humilitas eorum respuat admonitionem nostram; quandoquidem et nos a talibus, ubi forte titubamus aut aberramus, cupimus admoneri. Hoc ergo admonemus tam sanctos viros, ne stultis vanorum argumentationibus moveantur, et eos in hac perversitate imitentur, quibus sunt in caeteris longe dissimiles. Illi enim venalem circumferentes hypocrisim, timent ne vilior habeatur tonsa sanctitas quam comata, ut videlicet qui eos videt, antiquos illos quos legimus cogitet, Samuelem et caeteros qui non tondebantur (Num. VI, 5). Nec cogitant quid intersit inter illud propheticum velamentum, et hanc Evangelii revelationem, de qua dicit Apostolus: Cum transieris ad Christum, auferetur velamen (II Cor. III, 16). Quod enim significabat velamen interpositum inter faciem Moysi et aspectum populi Israel (Exod. XXXIV, 33), hoc significabat illis temporibus etiam coma sanctorum. Nam idem apostolus etiam comam pro velamento esse dicit, cujus auctoritate isti urgentur. Aperte quippe ait: Vir quidem si comatus sit, ignominia est illi. Ipsam ignominiam, inquiunt, suscipimus merito peccatorum nostrorum: ad hoc obtendentes simulatae humilitatis umbraculum, ut sub eo 0579 proponant venalem typhum ; quasi Apostolus superbiam doceat, cum dicit, Omnis vir orans aut prophetans velato capite, confundit caput suum; et, Vir quidem non debet velare caput, cum sit imago et gloria Dei (I Cor. XI, 4-16). Qui ergo dicit, non debet, nescit forte docere humilitatem. Sed si hanc ignominiam tempore Evangelii, quod erat sacramentum tempore prophetiae, pro humilitate isti appetunt; tondeant, et cilicio caput velent. Sed non erit tunc species illa venalis, quia Samson non cilicio, sed coma velabatur (Judic. XVI, 17).