Of the Work of Monks.

 1. Thy bidding, holy brother Aurelius, it was meet that I should comply withal, with so much the more devotion, by how much the more it became clear u

 2. First then, it is to be seen, what is said by persons of that profession, who will not work: then, if we shall find that they think not aright, wha

 3. Nor do they attend to this, that if another should say, that the Lord indeed, speaking in parables and in similitudes concerning spiritual food and

 4. First then we ought to demonstrate that the blessed Apostle Paul willed the servants of God to work corporal works which should have as their end a

 5. I would, however, proceed to a more searching and diligent consideration and handling of these words, had I not other places of his Epistles much m

 6. Which thing whoso thinks cannot have been done by the Apostles, that with them women of holy conversation should go about wheresoever they preached

 7. But lest any should fancy that this was granted only to the twelve, see also what Luke relateth: “After these things,” saith he, “the Lord chose al

 8. But let us return to the order of our discourse, and the whole of the passage itself of the Epistle let us diligently consider. “Have we not,” sait

 9. But he speaks more openly in the rest which he subjoins, and altogether removes all causes of doubting. “If we unto you,” saith he, “have sown spir

 10. And he comes back again, and in all ways, over and over again, enforceth what he hath the right to do, yet doeth not. “Do ye not know,” saith he,

 11. And he goes on, and adjoins, lest perchance any should imagine that he only therefore received not, because they had not given: “But I have not wr

 12. But now, that as bearing with the infirmity of men he did this, let us hear what follows: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myse

 13. Of this weakness of his, he saith in another place, “We made ourselves small among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” For in that pass

 14. Here peradventure some man may say, “If it was bodily work that the Apostle wrought, whereby to sustain this life, what was that same work, and wh

 15. But when he might use to work, that is, in what spaces of time, that he might not be hindered from preaching the Gospel, who can make out? Though,

 16. For he himself also, with an eye to the like necessities of saints, who, although they obey his precepts, “that with silence they work and eat the

 17. On account then of these either occupations of the servants of God, or bodily infirmities, which cannot be altogether wanting, not only doth the A

 18. And a little after he saith, “For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you. For I know the forwardness

 19. As therefore the Apostle, nay rather the Spirit of God possessing and filling and actuating his heart, ceased not to exhort the faithful who had s

 20. For what these men are about, who will not do bodily work, to what thing they give up their time, I should like to know. “To prayers,” say they, “

 21. Moreover, if discourse must be bestowed upon any, and this so take up the speaker that he have not time to work with his hands, are all in the mon

 22. There also is said at what work the Apostle wrought. “After these things,” it says, “he departed from Athens and came to Corinth and having found

 23. Hence arises another question for peradventure one may say, “What then? did the other Apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas, sin, in

 24. This question I should briefly solve, if I should say, because I should also justly say, that we must believe the Apostle. For he himself knew why

 25. If at the least they once had in this world wherewithal they might easily without handiwork sustain this life, which property, when they were conv

 26. That, namely, befalleth them which in undisciplined younger widows, the same Apostle saith must be avoided: “And withal they learn to be idle and

 27. As it is, however, they, against the Apostle of Christ, recite a Gospel of Christ. For so marvellous are the works of the sluggards, hindered that

 28. Here then shall these persons in their turn be in another more sublime degree of righteousness outdone, by them who shall so order themselves, tha

 29. But let us grant this also, that the whole year round there may in the fields be found either of tree or of herbs or of any manner of roots, that

 30. Wherefore, that I may briefly embrace the whole matter, let these persons, who from perverse understanding of the Gospel labor to pervert apostoli

 31. For if they be urged from the Gospel that they should put nothing by for the morrow, they most rightly answer, “Why then had the Lord Himself a ba

 32. Some man will say: “What then does it profit a servant of God, that, having left the former doings which he had in the world he is converted unto

 33. Wherefore even they which having relinquished or distributed their former, whether ample or in any sort opulent, means, have chosen with pious and

 34. But then the Lord saith, “Be not solicitous for your life what ye shall eat, nor for the body, what ye shall put on.” Rightly: because He had said

 35. And that which follows concerning birds of the air and lilies of the field, He saith to this end, that no man may think that God careth not for th

 36. Since these things are so, suffer me awhile, holy brother, (for the Lord giveth me through thee great boldness,) to address these same our sons an

 37. We are not binding heavy burdens and laying them upon your shoulders, while we with a finger will not touch them. Seek out, and acknowledge the la

 38. These things, my brother Aurelius, most dear unto me, and in the bowels of Christ to be venerated, so far as He hath bestowed on me the ability Wh

 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. Now what is

 40. And then that further device of theirs, (if words can express it), how painfully ridiculous is it, which they have invented for defense of their l

 41. Wherefore, they which will not do right things, let them give over at least to teach wrong things. Howbeit they be others whom in this speech we r

21. Moreover, if discourse must be bestowed upon any, and this so take up the speaker that he have not time to work with his hands, are all in the monastery able to hold discourse unto brethren which come unto them from another kind of life, whether it be to expound the divine lessons, or concerning any questions which may be put, to reason in an wholesome manner? Then since not all have the ability, why upon this pretext do all want to have nothing else to do? Although even if all were able, they ought to do it by turns; not only that the rest might not be taken up from necessary works, but also because it sufficeth that to many hearers there be one speaker. To come now to the Apostle; how could he find time to work with his hands, unless for the bestowing of the word of God he had certain set times? And indeed God hath not willed this either to be hidden from us. For both of what craft he was a workman, and at what times he was taken up with dispensing the Gospel, holy Scripture has not left untold. Namely, when the day of his departure caused him to be in haste, being at Troas, even on the first day of the week when the brethren were assembled to break bread, such was his earnestness, and so necessary the disputation, that his discourse was prolonged even until midnight,68    Acts xx. 7 as though it had slipped from their minds that on that day it was not a fast:69    S. Augustin therefore assumes that the Christians of the Apostolic age did not break their fast before receiving the Eucharist. See St. Chrys. on Stat. Hom. ix. § 2. Tr. p. 159, and note g. but when he was making longer stay in any place and disputing daily, who can doubt that he had certain hours set apart for this office? For at Athens, because he had there found most studious inquirers of things, it is thus written of him: “He disputed therefore with the Jews in the synagogue, and with the Gentile inhabitants70    Τοῖς ᾽Ιουδαίοις καὶ τοῖς σεβομένοις καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ κατὰ πᾶσαν ἡμέραν πρὸς τοὺς παρατυγχάνοντας. For καὶ τοῖς σεβομένοις Aug. has et Gentibus incolis: for which some mss. have Gentibus in viculis. in the market every day to those who were there.”71    Acts xvii. 17, 18, 21 Not, namely, in the synagogue every day, for there it was his custom to discourse on the sabbath; but “in the market,” saith he, “every day;” by reason, doubtless, of the studiousness of the Athenians. For so it follows: “Certain however of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers conferred with him.” And a little after, it says: “Now the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” Let us suppose him all those days that he was at Athens not to have worked: on this account, indeed, was his need supplied from Macedonia, as he says in the second to the Corinthians:72    2 Cor. xi. 9 though in fact he could work both at other hours and of nights, because he was so strong in both mind and body. But when he had gone from Athens, let us see what says the Scripture: “He disputed,” saith it, “in the synagogue every sabbath;”73    Acts xviii. 4 this at Corinth. In Troas, however, where through necessity of his departure being close at hand, his discourse was protracted until midnight, it was the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s Day: whence we understand that he was not with Jews but with Christians; when also the narrator himself saith they were gathered together to break bread. And indeed this same is the best management, that all things be distributed to their times and be done in order, lest becoming ravelled in perplexing entanglements, they throw our human mind into confusion.


21. Erogandi verbi Dei obtentu nolentes laborare castigantur. Paulus ad erogandum verbum certa tempora constituit, et alia ad laborandum. Optima gubernatio, ut omnia ex ordine gerantur. Si autem alicui sermo erogandus est, et ita occupat ut manibus operari non vacet; numquid hoc omnes in monasterio possunt, venientibus ad se ex alio genere vitae fratribus, vel divinas lectiones exponere, vel de aliquibus quaestionibus salubriter disputare? Quando ergo non omnes possunt, cur sub hoc obtentu omnes vacare volunt? Quanquam etsi omnes possent, vicissitudine facere deberent ; non solum ne caeteri a necessariis operibus occuparentur, sed etiam quia sufficit ut audientibus pluribus unus loquatur? Deinde ipsi Apostolo quomodo vacaret operari manibus suis, nisi ad erogandum verbum Dei certa tempora constitueret? Neque enim et hoc Deus latere nos voluit. Nam et cujus artis opifex fuerit, et quibus temporibus vacaret dispensando Evangelio, sancta Scriptura non tacuit. Nam cum eum dies profectionis urgeret in Troade constitutum, etiam in una sabbati congregatis fratribus ad frangendum panem, tanta fuit intentio et tam necessaria disputatio, ut sermo produceretur usque ad medium noctis (Act. XX, 7), tanquam excidisset eis quod eo die non esset jejunium: quando autem in aliquo loco immoratus quotidie disputabat, quis dubitaverit horas eum habuisse ad hoc officium 0566 deputatas? Namque apud Athenas cum esset, quia studiosissimos rerum inquisitores invenerat, ita de illo scriptum est: Disputabat igitur cum Judaeis in synagoga, et Gentibus incolis in foroper omnem diem ad eosqui aderant. Non enim in synagoga per omnem diem, ubi mos erat sabbato sermocinari: sed in foro, inquit, per omnem diem; propter studia utique Atheniensium. Sic enim sequitur: Quidam vero Epicureorum et Stoicorum philosophorum conferebant cum illo. Et paulo post dicit: Athenienses autem et advenae hospites ad nihil aliud vacabant, quam dicere aliquid novi, aut audire (Act. XVII, 17, 18, 21). Putemus Apostolum illis omnibus diebus quibus fuit Athenis, non fuisse operatum; propter hoc enim et ex Macedonia supplebatur ejus indigentia, sicut dicit in secunda ad Corinthios (II Cor. XI, 9): quanquam et aliis horis et noctibus poterat, quia ita valebat et animo et corpore. Sed cum Athenis exisset, videamus quid dicit Scriptura: Disputabat, inquit, in synagoga per omne sabbatum: hoc apud Corinthum. In Troade vero, ubi necessitate imminentis profectionis usque ad medium noctis sermo protractus est, una sabbati erat, qui dies dominicus dicitur: unde intelligimus eum non fuisse cum Judaeis, sed cum Christianis; quando etiam dicit ipse narrator ad frangendum panem fuisse collectos. Et ipsa est optima gubernatio, ut omnia suis temporibus distributa ex ordine gerantur, ne animum humanum turbulentis implicationibus involuta perturbent.