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

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 above, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” For he who preaches the Gospel with an eye to this, that he may have whereof he may eat and whereof be clothed, accounts that he at the same time both serves God, because he preaches the Gospel; and mammon, because he preaches with an eye to these necessaries: which thing the Lord saith to be impossible. And hereby he who doth for the sake of these things preach the Gospel is convicted that he serves not God but mammon; however God may use him, he knows not how, to other men’s advancement. For to this sentence doth He subjoin, saying “Therefore I say unto you, Be not solicitous for your life what ye shall eat, nor for your body what ye shall put on:” not that they should not procure these things, as much as is enough for necessity, by what means they honestly may; but that they should not look to these things, and for the sake of these do whatever in preaching of the Gospel they are bidden to do. The intention, namely, for which a thing is done, He calls the eye: of which a little above He was speaking with purpose to come down to this, and saying, “The light of thy body is thine eye: if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness;” that is, such will be thy deeds as shall be thine intention for which thou doest them. For indeed that He might come to this, He had before given precept concerning alms, saying, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where rust and moth doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where thy treasure shall be, there will thy heart be also.”107    Matt. vi. 19–22 Thereupon He subjoined, “The light of thy body is thine eye:” that they, to wit, which do alms, do them not with that intention that they should either wish to please men, or seek to have repayment on earth of the alms they do. Whence the Apostle, giving charge to Timothy for warning of rich men, “Let them,” says he “readily give, communicate, treasure up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on the true life.”108    1 Tim. vi. 18, 19 Since then the Lord hath to the future life directed the eye of them which do alms, and to an heavenly reward, in order that the deeds themselves may be full of light when the eye shall be simple, (for of that last retribution is meant that which He says in another place, “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, his reward shall not be lost,”109    Matt. x. 40–42) lest haply after he had reproved the eye110    Correpto oculo of them which bestow things needful upon the indigent both prophets and just men and disciples of the Lord, the eye of the persons to whom these things were done should become depraved, so that for the sake of receiving these things they should wish to serve Christ as His soldiers: “No man,” saith He, “can serve two masters.” And a little after: “Ye cannot,” saith He, “serve God and mammon.”111    Matt. vi. 24, 25, 34 And straightway He hath added, “Therefore I say unto you, be not solicitous for your life what ye shall eat, nor for the body what ye shall put on.”


34. Quomodo intelligendum praeceptum illud, ut ne solliciti simus de cibo et vestitu. Quomodo accipiendum illud, de volatilibus coeli et liliis agri. At enim Dominus ait: Nolite solliciti esse animae quid manducetis, neque corpori quid vestiamini. Recte, quoniam supra dixerat: Non potestis Deo servire et mammonae. Qui enim propter hoc Evangelium praedicat, ut habeat unde manducet, et unde vestiatur, simul se putat et Deo servire, quia Evangelium praedicat; et mammonae, quia propter ista necessaria praedicat: quod Dominus dicit fieri non posse. Ac per hoc ille qui propter ista Evangelium praedicat, non Deo, sed mammonae servire convincitur; etsi Deus illo ad aliorum provectum, quomodo ipse nescit, utatur. Nam huic sententiae subjungit, dicens, Ideo dico vobis, nolite solliciti esse animae quid manducetis, neque corpori quid vestiamini: non ut ista non procurent, quantum necessitati satis est , unde honeste potuerint; sed ut non ista intueantur, et propter ista faciant quidquid in Evangelii praedicatione facere jubentur. Eam quippe intentionem quare quid fiat, oculum vocat: unde paulo superius loquebatur, ut ad hoc descenderet, et dicebat, Lucerna corporis tui est oculus tuus: si oculus tuus simplex fuerit, totum corpus tuum lucidum erit; si vero 0574oculus tuus nequam fuerit, totum corpus tuum tenebrosum erit; id est, talia erunt facta tua, qualis fuerit intentio tua cur ea facias. Et ad hoc enim ut veniret, supra de eleemosynis praeceperat, dicens, Nolite condere vobis thesauros in terris, ubi aerugo et tinea exterminat, et ubi fures effodiunt et furantur. Recondite vero vobis thesauros in coelo, ubi neque tinea neque rubigo exterminat, et ubi fures non perfodiunt et furantur. Ubi enim erit thesaurus tuus, ibi erit et cor tuum. Deinde subjunxit, Lucerna corporis tui est oculus tuus (Matth. VI): ut illi scilicet qui eleemosynas faciunt, non ea faciant intentione, ut vel hominibus velint placere, vel in terra sibi quaerant rependi quod faciunt. Unde et Apostolus cum Timotheo divites monendos praeciperet, Facile, inquit, tribuant, communicent, thesaurizent sibi fundamentum bonum in futurum, ut apprehendant veram vitam (I Tim. VI, 18 et 19). Cum ergo in futuram vitam direxerit oculum Dominus eleemosynas facientium, et in coelestem mercedem, ut possint et ipsa facta esse lucida, cum simplex oculus fuerit (in illam quippe novissimam retributionem valet quod alibi ait, Qui vos excipit, me excipit; et qui me excipit, excipit eum qui me misit. Qui excipit prophetam in nomine prophetae, mercedem prophetae accipiet; et qui excipit justum in nomine justi, mercedem justi accipiet: et qui potum dederit uni ex istis minimis calicem aquae frigidae tantum in nomine discipuli; amen dico vobis, non peribit merces ejus [Matth. X, 40-42]); ne forte correpto oculo eorum qui necessaria impendunt indigentibus et prophetis et justis et discipulis Domini, ipsorum oculus depravaretur in quos ista fierent ut propter ista accipienda vellent Christo militare: Nemo, inquit, potest duobus dominis servire. Et paulo post: Non potestis, inquit, Deo servire et mammonae. Statimque contexuit: Ideo dico vobis, nolite solliciti esse animae quid manducetis, neque corpori quid vestiamini.