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

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 the needs of His servants; when His most wise Providence reacheth unto these in creating and governing those. For it must not be deemed that it is not He that feeds and clothes them also which work with their hands. But lest they turn aside the Christian service of warfare unto their purpose of getting these things, the Lord in this premonisheth His servants that in this ministry which is due to His Sacrament, we should take thought, not for these, but for His kingdom and righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto us, whether working by our hands, or whether by infirmity of body hindered from working, or whether bound by such occupation of our very warfare that we are able to do nothing else. For neither does it follow that because the Lord hath said, “Call upon Me in the day of tribulation and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me,”112    Ps. l. 15 therefore the Apostle ought not to have fled, and to be let down by the wall in a basket that he might escape the hands of a pursuer,113    Acts ix. 25; 2 Cor. xi. 33 but should rather have waited to be taken, that, like the three children from the midst of the fires, the Lord might deliver him. Or for this reason ought not the Lord either to have said this, “If they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another,”114    Matt. x. 23 namely, because He hath said, “If ye shall ask of the Father any thing in My name, He will give it you.”115    John xvi. 23 As then whoever to Christ’s disciples when fleeing from persecution should cast up this sort of question, why they did not rather stand, and by calling upon God obtain through His marvellous works in such wise deliverance, as Daniel from the lions, as Peter from his chains, they would answer that they ought not to tempt God, but He would then and then only do the like for them, if it should please Him, when they had nothing that they could do; but when He put flight in their power, although they were thereby delivered, yet were they not delivered but by Him: so likewise to servants of God having time and strength after the example and precept of the Apostle to get their living by their own hands, if any from the Gospel shall raise a question concerning the birds of the air, which sow not nor reap nor gather into stores, and concerning lilies of the field that they toil not neither do they spin; they will easily answer, “If we also, by reason of any either infirmity or occupation cannot work, He will so feed and clothe us, as He doth the birds and the lilies, which do no work of this kind: but when we are able, we ought not to tempt our God; because this very ability of ours, we have it by His gift, and in living by it, we live by His bounty Who hath bounteously bestowed upon us that we should have this ability. And therefore concerning these necessary things we are not solicitous; because when we are able to do these things, He by Whom mankind are fed and clothed doth feed and clothe us: but when we are not able to do these things, He feeds and clothes us by Whom the birds are fed and the lilies clothed, because we are more worth than they. Wherefore in this our warfare, neither for the morrow take we thought: because not for the sake of these temporal things, whereunto pertaineth To-morrow, but for the sake of those eternal things, where it is evermore To-day, have we proved ourselves unto Him, that, entangled in no secular business, we may please Him.116    2 Tim. ii. 4

35. Et quod sequitur de volatilibus coeli et de liliis agri, ad hoc dicit, ne quisquam Deum putet servorum suorum necessaria non curare; cum ejus sapientissima providentia usque ad ista creanda et gubernanda perveniat. Neque enim non ipse pascit et vestit etiam eos qui manibus operantur. Sed ne christianam militiam ad hoc detorqueant ut ista conquirant, hoc servos suos Dominus praemonet, ut in eo ministerio quod Sacramento ejus debetur, non ista, sed regnum ejus et justitiam cogitemus: et haec omnia apponentur nobis sive per manus operantibus, sive infirmitate corporis impeditis, sive ipsius militiae tali occupatione districtis ut nihil aliud agere valeamus.


Utendum industria nostra, ne Deum tentare videamur. Neque enim quia dixit Deus, Invoca me in die tribulationis, et eximam te, et glorificabis me (Psal. XLIX, 15), propterea non debuit fugere Apostolus, et per murum in sporta submitti, ut manus persequentis evaderet (Act. IX, 25), sed exspectare potius ut comprehenderetur, et eum sicut 0575 tres pueros de mediis ignibus liberaret (Dan. III, 50). Aut propter hoc nec Dominus dicere debuit, Si vos persecuti fuerint in una civitate, fugite in aliam (Matth. X, 23); quia ipse dixit, Si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis (Joan. XVI, 23). Sicut ergo quisquis persecutionem fugientibus discipulis Christi objiceret hujusmodi quaestionem, cur non stetisset potius, et invocato Deo per ejus mirabilia sic eruerentur, ut Daniel a leonibus (Dan. VI, 23, et XIV, 40), ut Petrus ex vinculis (Act. XII, 7); responderent non se oportuisse tentare Deum, sed tunc eum talia si vellet esse facturum, cum ipsi quid facerent non haberent; cum vero eis fugam in potestatem dedisset, etiamsi per illam liberarentur, non nisi ab ipso liberari: sic etiam Dei servis vacantibus et valentibus exemplo et praecepto apostolico manibus suis victum transigere, si quis ex Evangelio moverit quaestionem de volatilibus coeli, quae non seminant, neque metunt, neque congregant in apothecas, et de liliis agri, quia non laborant, neque nent; facile respondebunt, Si et nos per aliquam vel infirmitatem vel occupationem non possimus operari, sic ille nos pascet et vestiet, quemadmodum aves et lilia, quae nihil operantur hujuscemodi: cum autem possumus, non debemus tentare Deum nostrum; quia et hoc quod possumus, ejus munere possumus, et cum hinc vivimus, illo largiente vivimus, qui largitus est ut possimus. Et ideo de istis necessariis solliciti non sumus; quia cum haec possumus agere, ille nos pascit et vestit, a quo pascuntur homines et vestiuntur: cum vero haec non possumus agere, idem ipse nos pascit et vestit, a quo aves pascuntur et lilia vestiuntur; quoniam nos pluris sumus illis. Quapropter in ista militia nostra, nec in crastinum cogitamus; quia non propter ista temporalia, quo pertinet crastinus, sed propter illa sempiterna, ubi semper hodiernus est, nos illi probavimus, ut ei nullis negotiis saecularibus implicati placeamus (II Tim. II, 4).