The Conference of Abba Paphnutius

COLLATIO TERTIA, Quae est abbatis Paphnutii.


 Benedict as Hermit, 1575

(tr. adapted. by L.Dysinger, O.S.B: based on  E.C.S. Gibson, , NPNF 2nd ser. , vol 11, pp. 295-307)



Of the life and conduct of Abbot Paphnutius.



IN that choir of saints who shine like brilliant stars in the night of this world, we have seen the holy. Paphnutius, like some great luminary, shining with the brightness of knowledge. For he was a presbyter of our company, I mean of those whose abode was in the desert of Scete, where he lived to extreme old age, without ever moving from his cell, of which he had taken possession when still young, and which was five miles from the church, even to nearer districts; nor was he when worn out with years hindered by the distance from going to Church on Saturday or Sunday. But not wanting to return from thence empty handed he would lay on his shoulders a bucket of water to last him all the week, and carry it back to his cell, and even when he was past ninety would not suffer it to be fetched by the labour of younger men.

I. In illo sanctorum choro, qui uelut astra purissima in nocte mundi istius refulgebant, uidimus sanctum Pafnutium uice luminaris magni claritate scientiae coruscantem. Hic namque presbyter congregationis nostrae, id est illius quae in heremo Sciti morabatur fuit, in qua ita ad extremam durauit aetatem, ut numquam e cella quam iunior coeperat habitare quaeque ab ecclesia milibus quinque distabat, saltim ad uiciniora migrauerit, ne fessus annis die sabbati uel dominico uenturus ad ecclesiam tanti itineris spatio uexaretur. Sed ne uacuus quidem reuerti exinde contentus uas aquae, quam per totam erat ebdomadam sumpturus, suis ceruicibus superponens reportabat ad cellam, cumque nonagenariam excessisset aetatem, numquam passus est eam iuniorum sibi labore deferri.

He then from his earliest youth. threw himself into the monastic discipline with such fervour that when he had spent only a short time in it, he was endowed with the virtue of submission, as well as the knowledge of all good qualities. For by the practice of humility and obedience he mortified all his desires, and by this stamped out all his faults and acquired every virtue which the monastic system and the teaching of the ancient fathers produces, and, inflamed with desire for still further advances, he was eager to penetrate into the recesses of the desert, so that, with no human companions to disturb him, he might be more readily united to the Lord, to whom he longed to be inseparably joined, even while he still lived in the society of the brethren.

2.Hic itaque ab adulescentia sua scolis coenobiorum tanto ardore se tradidit, ut in eis paruo tempore conmoratus tam subiectionis bono quam uniuersarum uirtutum scientia pariter ditaretur. Humilitatis namque et oboedientiae disciplina omnes suas mortificans uoluntates et per hanc extinctis uniuersis uitiis cunctisque uirtutibus consummatis, quas monasteriorum instituta uel antiquissimorum patrum doctrina fundauit, sublimioris profectus ardore succensus heremi festinauit penetrare secreta, ut domino, cui inter fratrum turbas positus sitiebat inseparabiliter inhaerere, nullo deinceps humano consortio retrahente facilius uniretur.

And there once more in his excessive fervour he outstripped the virtues of the Anchorites, and in his eager desire for continual divine meditation avoided the sight of them: and he plunged into solitary places yet wilder and more inaccessible, and hid himself for a long while in them, so that, as the Anchorites themselves only with great difficulty caught a glimpse of him every now and then, the belief was that he enjoyed and delighted in the daily society of angels, and because of this remarkable characteristic of his he was surnamed by them the Buffalo.

3. Ubi rursum tanto feruore etiam ipsorum anachoretarum uirtutes superans desiderio et intentione iugis ac diuinae illius theoriae cunctorum deuitabat aspectus, uastiora et inaccessibilia solitudinis penetrans loca multoque in eis tempore delitescens, ut ab ipsis quoque anachoretis difficulter ac rarissime deprehensus angelorum cotidiano consortio delectari ac perfrui crederetur, atque ei merito uirtutis huius ab ipsis inditum fuerit Bubali cognomentum.




Of the discourse of the same old man, and our reply to it.
CAPUT II. De sermone ejusdem senis, et responsione nostra.



As then we were anxious to learn from his teaching, we came in some agitation to his cell towards evening. And after a short silence he began to commend our undertaking, because we had left our homes, and had visited so many countries out of love for the Lord, and were endeavouring with all our might to endure want and the trials of the desert, and to imitate their severe life, which even those who had been born and bred in the same state of want and penury, could scarcely put up with;

II. Huius igitur magisterio institui cupientes, cogitationum etiam stimulis agitati ad cellam eius iam die aduesperante peruenimus. Qui habito aliquantisper silentio cum propositum nostrum praedicare coepisset, quod scilicet patriam relinquentes tot prouinciis pro amore domini perlustratis egestatem ac uastitatem heremi tolerare et imitari rigorem conuersationis illorum tantopere niteremus, quem uix ipsi qui in eadem necessitate atque inopia nati educatique sunt sustinerent,

and we replied that we had come for his teaching and instruction in order that we might be to some extent initiated in the customs of so great a man, and in that perfection which we had known from many evidences to exist in him, not that we might be honoured by any commendations to which we had no right, or be puffed up with any elation of mind, (with which we were sometimes exercised in our own cells at the suggestion of our enemy) in consequence of any words of his. Wherefore we begged him rather to lay before us what would make us humble and contrite, and not what would flatter us and puff us up.

2. respondimus nos ob id ad eius doctrinam ac magisterium tetendisse, ut inbui aliquatenus tanti uiri institutionibus ac perfectione possemus, quam innumeris documentis inesse eidem senseramus, non ut ullis quae tamen in nobis non essent laudibus grauaremur aut elatione animi, qua in nostris quoque cellulis nonnumquam suggestione titillabamur inimici, ipsius quoque sermonibus inflaremur. Quamobrem illa nobis potius precabamur infundi, quibus conpungi uel humiliari, non quibus nobismet ipsis blandiri extollique possemus.




The statement of Abbot Paphnutius on the three kinds of vocations, and the three sorts of renunciations.
CAPUT III. Propositio abbatis Paphnutii de tribus vocationum generibus, et de tribus abrenuntiationibus.



THEN The Blessed Paphnutius: There are, said he, three kinds of vocations. And we know that there are three sorts of renunciations as well, which are necessary to a monk, whatever his vocation may be. And we ought diligently to examine first the reason for which we said that there were three kinds of vocations, that when we are sure that we are summoned to God’s service in the first stage of our vocation, we may take care that our life is in harmony with the exalted height to which we are called, for it will be of no use to have made a good beginning if we do not show forth an end corresponding to it.

III. Tum beatus PAFNVTIVS : Tres, inquit, uocationum sunt ordines, tres quoque renuntiationes monacho in quocumque uocationis ordine constituto necessarias nouerimus, et primam quidam causam qua tres esse uocationum ordines diximus oportet nos diligenter inquirere, ut cum agnouerimus nos ad dei cultum primo gradu uocationis adscitos, secundum eius sublimitatem conuersationis quoque nostrae congruentiam temperemus. Nihil enim proderit sublimiter inchoasse, si similem principiis non exhibuerimus et finem.

But if we feel that only in the last resort have we been dragged away from a worldly life, then, as it appears that we rest on a less satisfactory beginning as regards religion, so must we proportionately make the more earnest endeavours to rouse ourselves with spiritual fervour to make a better end. It is well too on every ground for us to know secondly the manner of the threefold renunciations because we shall never be able to attain perfection, if we are ignorant of it or if we know it, but do not attempt to carry it out in act.

2. Quodsi etiam ultimo ordine nos a conuersatione saeculi extractos fuisse cognoscimus, quanto minus probabili ad religionem principio uidemur inniti, tanto acrius nosmet ipsos ad meliorem finem spiritali feruore incitare curemus. Secundam quoque causam trinae abrenuntiationis omnimodis nosse nos conuenit, quia nullo modo perfectionem poterimus adtingere, si eam uel ignorauerimus uel scientes non contenderimus opere consummare.




An explanation of the three callings.
CAPUT IV. Expositio trium vocationum.



To make clear therefore the main differences between these three kinds of calling, the first is from God, the second comes through man, the third is from compulsion. And a calling is from God whenever some inspiration has taken possession of our heart, and even while we are asleep stirs in us at desire for eternal life and salvation, and bids us follow God and cleave to His commandments with life-giving contrition: as we read in Holy Scripture that Abraham was called by the voice of the Lord from his native country, and all his dear relations, and his father’s house; when the Lord said “Get thee out from thy country and from thy kinsfolk and from thy father’s house.” (Gen.13.1)

IIII. Vt igitur tres hi uocationum modi speciali distinctione pandantur, primus ex deo est, secundus per hominem, tertius ex necessitate. Et ex deo quidem est, quotiens inspiratio quaedam inmissa in cor nostrum nonnumquam etiam dormientes nos ad desiderium aeternae uitae ac salutis exsuscitat deumque sequi et eius inhaerere praeceptis conpunctione saluberrima cohortatur : ut in scripturis sanctis Abraham uoce dominica de genitali solo et totius cognationis affectibus patrisque domo legimus euocatum dicente domino : exi de terra tua, et de cognatione tua, et de domo patris tui .

And in this way we have heard that the blessed Antony also was called, the occasion of whose conversion was received from God alone. For on entering a church he there heard in the Gospel the Lord saying: “Whoever hateth not father and mother and children and wife and lands, yea and his own soul also, cannot be my disciple;” and “if thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me:” (Luke 14.12; Matt.19.21) And with heartfelt contrition he took this charge of the Lord as if specially aimed at him, and at once gave up everything and followed Christ, without any incitement thereto from the advice and teaching of men.

2. Quo etiam modo beatum Antonium accitum esse cognouimus, qui occasionem suae conuersionis a sola diuinitate percepit. Ingressus namque ecclesiam ibique audiens in euangelio dominum praedicantem : qui non odit patrem et matrem et filios et uxorem et agros, insuper et animam suam, non potest meus esse discipulus , et : si uis perfectus esse, uade, uende omnia quae habes et da pauperibus, et habebis thesaurum in caelo, et ueni, sequere me , praeceptum hoc domini uelut specialiter ad se directum cum summa cordis conpunctione suscepit confestimque renuntians cunctis secutus est Christum, nulla exhortatione neque doctrina hominum prouocatus.

The second kind of calling is that which we said took place through man; viz., when we are stirred up by the example of some of the saints, and their advice, and thus inflamed with the desire of salvation: and by this we never forget that by the grace of the Lord we ourselves were summoned, as we were aroused by the advice and good example of the above-mentioned saint, to give ourselves up to this aim and calling; and in this way also we find in Holy Scripture that it was through Moses that the children of Israel were delivered from the Egyptian bondage.

3. Secundus uocationis modus est quem fieri per hominem diximus, cum uel exemplis quorundam sanctorum uel monitis instigati ad desiderium salutis accendimur. Quo nos quoque per gratiam domini retinemus adscitos, qui praedicti uiri monitis ac uirtutibus incitati huic nos studio professionique tradidimus. Quo ordine etiam in scripturis sanctis per Moysen filios Israhel de adflictione Aegypti legimus liberatos .

But the third kind of calling is that which comes from compulsion, when we have been involved in the riches and pleasures of this life, and temptations suddenly come upon us and either threaten us with peril of death, or smite us with the loss and confiscation of our goods, or strike us down with the death of those dear to us, and thus at length even against our will we are driven to turn to God whom we scorned to follow in the days of Our wealth.

4. Tertius uero uocationis modus est qui ex necessitate descendit, cum diuitiis mundi huius uel uoluptatibus obligati ingruentibus repente temptationibus, quae uel mortis pericula conminantur uel amissione bonorum ac proscriptione percutiunt uel carorum morte conpungunt, ad deum, quem sequi in rerum prosperitate contempsimus, saltim inuiti properare conpellimur.

And of this compulsory call we often find instances in Scripture, when we read that on account of their sins the children of Israel were given up by the Lord to their enemies; and that on account of their tyranny and savage cruelty they turned again, and cried to the Lord. And it says: “The Lord sent them a Saviour, called Ehud, the son of Gera, the son of Jemini, who used the left hand as well as the right:” and again we are told, “they cried unto the Lord, who raised them up a Saviour and delivered them, to wit, Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.” (Judg.3.15, 9)

5. Cuius uocationis necessitatem in scripturis quoque saepissime repperimus, cum filios Israhel ob merita peccatorum legimus a domino traditos hostibus suis, ob quorum dominationem crudelitatemque saeuissimam rursum conuersos ad dominum proclamasse. Et misit eis, inquit, dominus saluatorem Aoth, filium Gera, filium Iemini, qui utraque manu utebatur pro dextera . Et rursum clamauerunt, inquit, ad dominum : qui suscitauit eis saluatorem, et liberauit eos, Othonihel filium Cenez, fratrem Caleb iuniorem .

And it is of such that the Psalm speaks: “When He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and came to Him early in the morning: and they remem- bered that God was their helper, and the most High God their redeemer.” And again: “And they cried unto the Lord when they were troubled, and He delivered them out of their distress.” (Ps.78.34, 35; 106.(107.) 19)

6. Et de talibus in psalmo dicitur : cum occideret eos, tunc quaerebant eum : et reuertebantur, et diluculo ueniebant ad deum. Et recordati sunt quia deus adiutor eorum est: et deus excelsus redemptor eorum est . Rursumque : et clamauerunt ad dominum cum tribularentur : et de necessitatibus eorum liberauit eos .




How the first of these calls is of no use to a sluggard, and the last is no hindrance to one who is in earnest.
CAPUT V. Quod et desidioso vocatio prima non prosit, et strenuo postrema non obsit.



OF these three calls then, although the two former may seem to rest on better principles, yet sometimes we find that even by the third grade, which seems the lowest and the coldest, men have been made perfect and most earnest in spirit, and have become like those who made an admirable beginning in approaching the Lord’s service, and passed the rest of their lives also in most laudable fervour of spirit: and again we find that from the higher grade very many have grown cold, and often have come to a miserable end. And just as it was no hindrance to the former class that they seemed to be converted not of their own free will, but by force and compulsion, in as much as the loving kindness of the Lord secured for them the opportunity for repentance, so too to the latter it was of no avail that the early days of their conversion were so bright, because they were not careful to bring the remainder of their life to a suitable end.

V. Ex his itaque tribus modis licet priores duo melioribus inniti principiis uideantur, nonnumquam tamen inuenimus etiam de terio gradu, qui infimus uidetur ac tepidus, perfectos uiros ac spiritu feruentissimos extitisse illisque consimiles, qui optimo principio adgressi domini famulatum reliquam quoque uitam laudabili feruore spiritus exegerunt, et iterum de illo superiore gradu plurimos tepefactos ad uituperabilem finem saepissime recidisse. Ac perinde sicut illis nihil obfuit quod non suo uidentur arbitrio, sed necessitatis conpulsione conuersi, quippe quibus hanc ipsam occasionem qua conpungerentur domini benignitas procurauit, ita etiam istis omnino nil profuit sublimiora conuersionis habuisse principia, quia non studuerunt reliquam uitam fine congruo terminare.

For in the case of Abbot Moses, who lived in a spot in the wilderness called Calamus, nothing was wanting to his merits and perfect bliss, in consequence of the fact that he was driven to flee to the monastery through fear of death, which was hanging over him because of a murder; for he made such use of his compulsory conversion that with ready zeal he turned it into a voluntary one and climbed the topmost heights of perfection. As also on the Other hand; to very many, whose names I ought not to mention, it has been of no avail that they entered on the Lord’s service with better beginning than this, as afterwards sloth and hardness of heart crept over them, and they fell into a dangerous state of torpor, and the bottomless pit of death,

2. Nec enim abbati Moysi, qui habitauit in loco istius heremi qui Calamus nuncupatur, quicquam defuit ad perfectae beatitudinis meritum, quod metu mortis quae ei propter homicidii crimen intentabatur inpulsus ad monasterium decucurrit. Qui ita necessitatem conuersionis adripuit, ut eam in uoluntatem prompta animi uirtute conuertens ad perfectionis fastigia summa peruenerit. Sicut etiam e contrario plurimis, quos nominatim memorare non debeo, nihil profuit domini seruitutem meliore adripuisse principio, qui deinceps cordis ignauia ac duritia subsequente in teporem noxium ac profundum mortis barathrum conciderunt.

an instance of which we see clearly indicated in the call of the Apostles. For of what good was it to Judas that he had of his own free will embraced the highest grade of the Apostolate in the same way in which Peter and the rest of the Apostles had been summoned, as he allowed the splendid beginning of his call to terminate in a ruinous end of cupidity and covetousness, and as a cruel murderer even rushed into the betrayal of the Lord?

3. Quam rem in apostolorum quoque uocatione uidemus euidenter expressam. Quid enim profuit Iudae apostolatus sublimissimum gradum eodem ordine quo Petrus ceterique apostoli adsciti sunt uoluntarie suscepisse, qui uocationis suae praeclara principia cupiditatis ac filargyriae pestifero fine consummans usque ad traditionem domini crudelissimus parricida prorupit?

Or what hindrance was it to Paul that he was suddenly blinded, and seemed to be drawn against his will into the way of salvation, as afterwards he followed the Lord with complete fervour of soul, and having begun by compulsion completed it by a free and voluntary devotion, and terminated with a magnificent end a life that was rendered glorious by such great deeds? Everything therefore depends upon the end; in which one who was consecrated by a noble conversion at the outset may through carelessness turn out a failure, and one who was compelled by necessity to adopt the monastic life may through fear of God and earnestness be made perfect.

4. Aut quid obfuit Paulo quod repente caecatus ad uiam salutis uelut inuitus uidetur adtractus, qui postea dominum toto animi feruore sectatus initium necessitatis uoluntaria deuotione consummans gloriosam tantis uirtutibus uitam inconparabili fine conclusit? Totum ergo in fine consistit, in quo potest quis et optimae conuersionis initiis dedicatus inferior per neglegentiam repperiri et necessitate adtractus ad nomen monachi profitendum effici per timorem dei diligentiamque perfectus.




An account of the three renunciations.
CAPUT VI. Expositio trium abrenuntiationum.



WE must now speak of the renunciations, of which tradition and the authority of Holy Scripture show us three, and which every one of us ought with the utmost zeal to make complete. The first is that by which as far as the body is concerned we make light of all the wealth and goods of this world; the second, that by which we reject the fashions and vices and former affections of soul and flesh; the third, that by which we detach our soul from all present and visible things, and contemplate only things to come, and set our heart on what is invisible.

VI. Nunc de abrenuntiationibus disserendum est, quas tres esse patrum traditio et scripturarum sanctarum demonstrat auctoritas, quasque unumquemque nostrum omni studio oportet inplere. Prima est qua corporaliter uniuersas diuitias mundi facultatesque contemnimus, secunda qua mores ac uitia affectusque pristinos animi carnisque respuimus, tertia qua mentem nostram de praesentibus uniuersis ac uisibilibus euocantes futura tantummodo contemplamur et ea quae sunt inuisibilia concupiscimus.

And we read that the Lord charged Abraham to do all these. three at once, when He said to him “Get thee out from thy country, and thy kinsfolk, and thy father’s house.” (Gen 12.1) First He said “from thy country,” i.e., from the goods of this world, and earthly riches: secondly, “from thy kinsfolk,” i.e., from this former life and habits and sins, which cling to us from our very birth and are joined to us as it were by ties of affinity and kinship: thirdly, “from thy father’s house,” i.e., from all the recollection of this world, which the sight of the eyes can afford.

2. Quae tria ut simul perficiantur etiam Abrahae legimus dominum praecepisse, cum dicit ad eum : exi de terra tua, et de cognatione tua, et de domo patris tui . Primum dixit de terra tua, id est de facultatibus mundi huius opibusque terrenis : secundo de cognatione tua, id est de conuersatione et moribus uitiisque prioribus, quae nobis a nostra natiuitate cohaerentia uelut adfinitate quadam et consanguinitate cognata sunt : terio de domo patris tui, id est omni memoria mundi huius quae oculorum occurrit obtutibus.

For of the two fathers, i.e., of the one who is to be forsaken, and of the one who is to be sought, David thus speaks in the person of God: “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear: forget also thine own people and thy father’s house:” (Ps.44.(45.) 11) for the person who says “Hearken, O daughter,” is certainly a Father; and yet he bears witness that the one, whose house and people he urges should be forgotten, is none the less father of his daughter. And this happens when being dead with Christ to the rudiments of this world, we no longer, as the Apostle says, regard “the things which are seen, but those which are not seen, for the things which are not seen are eternal,” (2 Cor.4.18) and going forth in heart from this temporal and visible home, turn our eyes and heart towards that in which we are to remain for ever.

3. De duobus enim patribus, id est siue de illo qui deserendus siue de eo qui expetendus est, ita per Dauid ex persona dei canitur : audi, filia, et uide, et inclina aurem tuam : et obliuiscere populum tuum, et domum patris tui . Nam qui dicit audi, filia, pater utique est, et illum, cuius domum uel populum obliuioni tradi debere persuadet, patrem nihilominus suae filiae fuisse testatur. Quod ita fit, cum mortificati cum Christo ad elementis huius mundi contemplamur secundum apostolum iam non ea quae uidentur sed quae non uidentur : quae enim uidentur, temporalia sunt, quae autem non uidentur aeterna , et exeuntes corde de hac temporali ac uisibili domo in illam in qua sumus iugiter permansuri nostros oculos mentemque dirigimus.

And this we shall succeed in doing when, while we walk in the flesh, we are no longer at war with the Lord according to the flesh, proclaiming in deed and actions the truth of that saying of the blessed Apostle “Our conversation is in heaven.” (Phil.3.20) To these three sorts of renunciations the three books of Solomon suitably correspond. For Proverbs answers to the first renunciation, as in it the desires for carnal things and earthly sins are repressed; to the second Ecclesiastes corresponds, as there everything which is done under the sun is declared to be vanity; to the third the Song of Songs, in which the soul soaring above all things visible, is actually joined to the word of God by the contemplation of heavenly things.

4. Quod tunc inplebimus, cum in carne ambulantes non secundum carnem militare domino coeperimus illam beati apostoli sententiam opere ac uirtute clamantes : noster autem municipatus in caelis est . His tribus abrenuntiationibus proprie tres libri Salomonis aptantur. Nam Prouerbia primae abrenuntiationi conueniunt, quibus concupiscentia carnalium rerum ac terrena uitia resecantur, secundae abrenuntiationi Ecclesiastes, ubi uniuersa quae aguntur sub sole uanitas pronuntiatur, tertiae Canticum Canticorum, in quo mens uisibilia cuncta transcendens uerbo iam dei caelestium rerum contemplatione coniungitur.




How we can attain perfection in each of these sorts of renunciations.
CAPUT VII. Quemadmodum singularum renuntiationum sit appetenda perfectio.



Wherefore it Will not be of much advantage to us that we have made our first renunciation with the utmost devotion and faith, if we do not complete the second with the same zeal and ardour. And so when we have succeeded in this, we shall be able to arrive at the third as well, in which we go forth from the house of our former parent, (who, as we know well, was our father from our Very birth, after the old man, when we were “by nature children of wrath, as others also,” (Eph.2.3) ) and fix our whole mental gaze on things celestial.

VII. Quapropter non multum proderit primam nos abrenuntiationem cum summa deuotione fidei suscepisse, si secundam non eodem studio atque eodem impleuerimus ardore. Et ita cum etiam hanc fuerimus indepti, ad illam quoque tertiam peruenire poterimus, qua de domo prioris nostri parentis egressi, quem ab exordio natiuitatis nostrae secundum ueterem hominem, quando eramus natura filii irae sicut et ceteri , patrem nobis fuisse meminimus, omnem mentis intuitum ad caelestia deflectemus.

And of this father Scripture says to Jerusalem which had despised God the true Father, “Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite;” (Ezek.16.3) and in the gospel we read “Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye love to do.” (John 8.44) And when we have left him, as we pass from things visible to things unseen we shall be able to say with the Apostle: “But we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved we have a habitation from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” (2 Cor.5.1) and this also, which we quoted a little while ago: “But our conversation is in heaven, whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who will reform the body of our low estate made like to the body of His glory,” (Phil.3.20, 21) and this of the blessed David: “For I am a sojourner upon the earth,” and “a stranger as all my fathers were;” (Ps.118.(119.) 19; Ps.38.(39) 13) so that we may in accordance with the Lord’s word be made like those of whom the Lord speaks to His Father in the gospel as follows: “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world,” (John 18.16) and again to the Apostles themselves: “If ye were of this world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of this world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15.19)

2. De quo etiam patre ad Hierusalem quae uerum patrem deum contempserat dicitur : pater tuus Amorraeus, et mater tua Chettaea , et in euangelio : uos ex patre diabolo estis, et desideria patris uestri uultis facere . Quem cum dimiserimus, de uisibilibus ad inuisibilia transmigrantes cum apostolo dicere poterimus : scimus autem quoniam si terrestris domus nostra huius habitationis dissoluatur, quod habitationem habeamus ex deo, domum non manu factam aeternam in caelo , et illud quod paulo ante commemorauimus : noster autem municipatus in caelis est, unde et saluatorem expectamus dominum Iesum, qui reformabit corpus humilitatis nostrae conforme corpori claritatis suae , et illud beati Dauid : quia incola ego sum in terra, et peregrinus sicut omnes patres mei , ut secundum domini uocem tales efficiamur quales illi de quibus haec dominus ad patrem in euangelio loquebatur : de mundo hoc non sunt, sicut et ego non sum de hoc mundo , et rursum ad ipsos apostolos : si de hoc mundo essetis, mundus quod suum est utique diligeret : sed quia de hoc mundo non estis, sed ego elegi uos de hoc mundo, propterea odit uos mundus.

Of this third renunciation then we shall succeed in reaching the perfection, whenever our soul is sullied by no stain of carnal coarseness, but, all such having been carefully eliminated, it has been freed from every earthly quality and desire, and by constant meditation on things Divine, and spiritual contemplation has so far passed on to things unseen, that in its earnest seeking after things above and things spiritual it no longer feels that it is prisoned in this fragile flesh, and bodily form, but is caught up into such an ecstasy as not only to hear no words with the outward ear, or to busy itself with gazing on the forms of things present, but not even to see things close at hand, or large objects straight before the very eyes.

3. Huius ergo renuntiationis tertiae ueram perfectionem tunc merebimur obtinere, quando mens nostra nullo carneae pinguedinis hebetata contagio, sed peritissimis elimationibus expolita ab omni affectu et qualitate terrena per indesinentem diuinarum rerum meditationem spiritalesque theorias ad illa quae inuisibilia sunt eo usque transierit, ut circumdatam se fragilitate carnis ac situ corporis supernis et incorporeis intenta non sentiat atque in huiusmodi rapiatur excessus, ut non solum nullas uoces auditu recipiat corporali nec in intuendis praetereuntium imaginibus occupetur, sed ne adiacentes quidem moles et ingentes materias obiectas oculis carnis aspiciat.

And of this no one can understand the truth and force, except one who has made trial of what has been said, under the teaching of experience; viz., one, the eyes of whose soul the Lord has turned away from all things present, so that he no longer considers them as things that will soon pass away, but as things that are already done with, and sees them vanish into nothing, like misty smoke; and like Enoch, “walking with God,” and “translated” from human life and fashions, not “be found” amid the vanities of this life: And that this actually happened corporeally in the case of Enoch the book of Genesis thus tells us. “And Enoch walked with God, and was not found, for God translated him.” And the Apostle also says: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death,” the death namely of which the Lord says in the gospel: “He that liveth and believeth in me shall not die eternally.” (Gen.v.24 (LXX.); Heb.11.5; John 11.26)

4. Cuius rei fidem atque uirtutem nemo nisi is capiet, qui haec quae dicuntur experientia magistrante perceperit : cuius uidelicet ita dominus oculos cordis de uniuersis praesentibus auocarit, ut ea non tamquam transitura, sed quasi transacta iam reputet et uelut inanem fumum in nihilum resoluta conspiciat, ambulansque ut Enoch cum deo ac de humana conuersatione moribusque translatus non inueniatur in praesentis saeculi uanitate. Quod in illo etiam corporaliter factum lectio Geneseos ita commemorat : ambulauitque Enoch cum deo, et non inueniebatur : quia transtulit illum deus . Apostolus quoque : fide Enoch translatus est, ut non uideret mortem . De qua morte dominus in euangelio qui uiuit, inquit, et credit in me, non morietur in aeternum .

Wherefore, if we are anxious to attain true perfection, we ought to look to it that as we have outwardly with the body made light of parents, home, the riches and pleasures of the world, we may also inwardly with the heart forsake all these things and never be drawn back by any desires to those things which we have forsaken, as those who were led up by Moses, though they did not literally go back, are yet said to have returned in heart to Egypt; viz., by forsaking God who had led them forth with such mighty signs, and by worshipping the idols of Egypt of which they had thought scorn, as Scripture says: “And in their hearts they turned back into Egypt, saying to Aaron: Make us gods to go before us,” (Acts 7.39, 40) for we should fall into like condemnation with those who, while dwelling in the wilderness, after they had tasted manna from heaven, lusted after the filthy food of sins, and of mean baseness, and should seem together with them to murmur in the same way: “It was well with us in Egypt, when we sat over the flesh pots and ate the onions, and garlic, and cucumbers, and melons:” (Numb.11.18; Exod.16.3; Numb.xi.5)

5. Quapropter festinare debemus, si perfectionem ueram desideramus adtingere, ut quemadmodum corpore parentes, patriam, diuitias mundi uoluptatesque despeximus, ita etiam corde haec omnia relinquentes nulla rursus ad haec quae dimisimus concupiscentia reuertamur, sicut illi qui educti per Moysen, cum utique corpore non redissent, corde tamen reuersi dicuntur in Aegyptum, relicto scilicet deo qui eos eduxerat cum tanta uirtute signorum idola Aegypti quae contempserant uenerantes, sicut scriptura commemorat : et reuersi sunt cordibus suis in Aegyptum, dicentes ad Aaron : fac nobis deos qui praecedant nos : cum illis etiam pariter condemnemur, qui in heremo conmorantes post escam mannae caelestis desiderauerunt uitiorum foetidos ac sordidae uilitatis cibos, nosque cum eis similiter murmurare uideamur : bene nobis erat in Aegypto, ubi sedebamus super ollas carnium, et comedebamus caepas et alia et cucumeres et pepones .

A form of speech, which, although it referred primarily to that people, we yet see fulfilled today in our own case and mode of life: for everyone who after renouncing this world turns back to his old desires, and reverts to his former likings asserts in heart and act the very same thing that they did, and says “It was well with me in Egypt,” and I am afraid that the number of these will be as large as that of the multitudes of backsliders of whom we read under Moses, for though they were reckoned as six hundred and three thousand armed men who came out of Egypt, of this number not more than two entered the land of promise.

6. Quae figura licet in illo praecesserit populo, tamen nunc quoque eam cotidie in nostro ordine ac professione uidemus impleri. Omnis enim quicumque post renuntiationem mundi huius ad antiqua reuertitur studia et ad pristina desideria reuocatur, haec eadem cum illis opere ac mente proclamat dicens : bene mihi erat in Aegypto. Quorum uereor ne tanta inuenienda sit multitudo, quantas tunc sub Moyse praeuaricantium turbas legimus extitisse. Nam cum sexcenta tria milia armatorum de Aegypto dinumerentur egressa , ex his non sunt amplius quam duo tantum terram repromissionis ingressi .

Wherefore we should be careful to take examples of goodness from those who are few and far between, because according to that figure of which we have spoken in the gospel “Many are called but few” are said to be “chosen.” (Matt.22.14) A renunciation then in body alone, and a mere change of place from Egypt will not do us any good, if we do not succeed in achieving that renunciation in heart, which is far higher and more valuable. For of that mere bodily renunciation of which we have spoken the apostle declares as follows: “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor.13.3)

7. Unde festinandum nobis est ut a paucis ac rarissimis sumamus exempla uirtutum, quia secundum illam quam diximus figuram in euangelio quoque multi uocati, pauci autem dicuntur electi . Nihil ergo nobis proderit abrenuntiatio corporalis et localis quodammodo ex Aegypto transmigratio, si renuntiationem cordis quae sublimior et utilior est non ualuerimus similiter obtinere. De illa enim quam diximus abrenuntiatione corporali ita pronuntiauit apostolus : si distribuero omnes facultates meas in cibos pauperum, et tradidero corpus meum ut ardeam, caritatem autem non habuero, nihil mihi prodest .

And the blessed Apostle would never have said this had it not been that he foresaw by the spirit that some who had given all their goods to feed the poor would not be able to attain to evangelical perfection and the lofty heights of charity, because while pride or impatience ruled over their hearts they were not careful to purify themselves from their former sins, and unrestrained habits, and on that account could never attain to that love of God which never faileth,

8. Quod beatus apostolus numquam dixisset, nisi quia futurum spiritu praeuidebat, ut aliqui facultatibus uniuersis in pauperum alimenta dispersis ad perfectionem euangelicam et caritatis arduum culmen peruenire non possent, quia scilicet pristina uitia morumque incontinentiam uel superbia uel inpatientia dominante in suis cordibus retinentes nequaquam se ab illis expurgare curarent et ob id ad caritatem dei quae numquam cadit minime peruenirent.

and these, as they fall short in this second stage of renunciation, can still less reach that third stage which is most certainly far higher. But consider too in your minds with great care the fact that he did not simply say “If I bestow my goods.” For it might perhaps be thought that he spoke of one who had not fulfilled the command of the gospel, but had kept back something for himself, as some half-hearted persons do. But he says “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,” i.e., even if my renunciation of those earthly riches be perfect.

9. Qui utique inferiores effecti hoc secundo renuntiationis gradu multo minus illum tertium qui procul dubio est sublimior adprehendunt. Diligentius tamen etiam hoc mente perpendite, quod non simpliciter dixerit (( si distribuero facultates meas )). Uideretur enim de illo forte dixisse, qui necdum euangelicum implens mandatum adhuc sibi ex eis, sicut nonnulli tepidorum faciunt, aliquid reseruasset. Sed si distribuero, inquit, omnes facultates meas in cibos pauperum, id est etiamsi perfecte abrenuntiauero diuitiis istis terrenis.

And to this renunciation he adds something still greater: “And though I give my body to be burned, but have not charity, I am nothing:” As if he had said in other words, though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor in accordance with that command in the gospel, where we are told “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven,” (Matt.19.21) renouncing them so as to keep back nothing at all for myself, and though to this distribution (of my goods) I should by the burning of my flesh add martyrdom so as to give up my body for Christ, and yet be impatient, or passionate or envious or proud, or excited by wrongs done by others, or seek what is mine, or indulge in evil thoughts, or not be ready and patient in bearing all that can be inflicted on me,

10. Huic quoque renuntiationi aliud maius adiunxit : et tradidero corpus meum ut ardeam, caritatem uero non habuero, nihil sum, ac si aliis uerbis dixisset : si distribuero in cibos pauperum omnes facultates meas secundum euangelicum illud mandatum quo dicitur : si uis perfectus esse, uade, uende omnia quae habes et da pauperibus, et habebis thesaurum in caelo , ita scilicet abrenuntians, ut ex his nihil penitus mihi reseruem, et huic erogationi martyrium exustione meae carnis adiunxero, ita ut corpus meum tradam pro Christo, et tamen uel inpatiens uel iracundus uel inuidus uel superbus sim uel aliorum inflammer iniuriis uel quaeram quae mea sunt uel ea quae mala sunt cogitem uel uniuersa quae mihi possunt inferri non patienter libenterque sustineam,

this renunciation and the burning of the outer man will profit me nothing, while the inner man is still involved in the former sins, because, while in the fervour of the early days of my conversion I made light of the mere worldly substance, which is said to be not good or evil in itself but indifferent, I took no care to cast out in like manner the injurious powers of a bad heart, or to attain to that love of the Lord which is patient, which is “kind, which envieth not, is not puffed up, is not soon angry, dealeth not perversely, seeketh not her own, thinketh no evil,” which “beareth all things, endureth all things,” (1 Cor.13.4–7) and which lastly never suffers him who follows after it to fall by the deceitfulness of sin.

11. nihil mihi proderit exterioris hominis abrenuntiatio atque conbustio interiore adhuc uitiis pristinis inuoluto, eo quod simplicem substantiam mundi huius primae conuersionis feruore contemnens, quae nec bona esse nec mala, sed media definitur, uitiosi cordis noxias facultates similiter abicere non curarim nec adtingere dominicam caritatem, quae patiens, quae benigna est, quae non aemulatur, non inflatur, non inritatur, non agit perpeam, non quaerit quae sua sunt, non cogitat malum, quae omnia suffert, omnia sustinet , postremo quae sectatorem suum numquam cadere sinit subplantatione peccati.




Of our very own possessions in which the beauty of the soulis seen or its foulness.
CAPUT VIII. De propriis divitiis, in quibus constat animae pulchritudo vel foeditas.



WE ought then to take the utmost care that our inner man as well may cast off and make away with all those possessions of its sins, which it acquired in its former life: which as they continually cling to body and soul are our very own, and, unless we reject them and cut them off while we are still in the flesh, will not cease to accompany us after death. For as good qualities, or charity itself which is their source, may be gained in this world, and after the close of this life make the man who loves it lovely and glorious, so our faults transmit to that eternal remembrance a mind darkened and stained with foul colours.

VIII. Festinare igitur omni debemus instantia, ut interior quoque noster homo uitiorum suorum diuitias quas in anteriore conuersatione contraxit uniuersas abiciat atque dispergat. Quae corpori atque animae iugiter cohaerentes propriae nostrae sunt, ac nisi adhuc in hoc corpore constitutis nobis abiectae fuerint et abscisae, post excessum nos non desinent comitari. Ut enim uirtutes uel ipsa caritas, quae earum fons est, in hoc saeculo conquisita post finem quoque huius uitae pulchrum ac splendidum amatorem suum reddit, ita uitia ad illam perennem commorationem obfuscatam mentem quodammodo coloribus tetris infectamque transmittunt.

For the beauty or ugliness of the soul is the product of its virtues or its vices, the colour it takes from which either makes it so glorious, that it may well hear from the prophet “And the king shall have pleasure in thy beauty,” (Ps.44.(45.) 12) or so black, and foul, and ugly, that it must surely acknowledge the stench of its shame, and say “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness,” (Ps.37.(38.) 6) and the Lord Himself says to it “Why is not the wound of the daughter of my people closed?” (Jer.8.22)

2. Pulchritudo enim uel deformitas animae uirtutum seu uitiorum gignitur qualitate, ex quibus quidam adtractus color aut ita eam splendidam reddit, ut a propheta mereatur audire : et concupiscet rex decorem tuum , aut certe atram, foetidam atque deformem, ita ut foetorem propriae turpitudinis ipsa confiteatur et dicat : conputruerunt et corruptae sunt cicatrices meae, a facie insipientiae meae , et ipse dominus ad eam quare, inquit, non est obducta cicatrix filiae populi mei ?

And therefore these are our very own possessions, which continually remain with the soul, which no king and no enemy can either give or take away from us. These are our very own possessions which not even death itself can part from the soul, but by renouncing which we can attain to perfection, and by clinging to which we shall suffer the punishment of eternal death.

3. Et idcirco hae sunt propriae nostrae diuitiae, quae cum anima iugiter conmorantur, quas nobis nullus regum, nullus hostium nec conferre poterit nec auferre. Hae sunt propriae diuitiae nostrae, quas ne ipsa quidem mors ualebit ab anima separare, quibus uel renuntiantes ad perfectionem possumus peruenire uel inligati aeterna morte multari.




Of three sorts of possessions.
CAPUT IX. De tripartito genere divitiarum.



Riches and possessions are taken in Holy Scripture in three different ways, i.e., as good, bad, and indifferent. Those are bad, of which it is said: “The rich have wanted and have · suffered hunger,” (Ps.33.(34.) 11) and “Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation:” (Luke 6.24) and to have cast off these riches is the height of perfection; and a distinction which belongs to those poor who are commended in the gospel by the Lord’s saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” (Matt.5.3) and in the Psalm: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,” (Ps.33.(34.) 7) and again: “The poor and needy shall praise thy name.” (Ps.73.(74.) 21)

VIIII. Tripertito enim modo in scripturis sanctis intelleguntur diuitiae, id est malae, bonae, mediae. Et malae quidem sunt de quibus dicitur : diuites eguerunt et esurierunt , et : uae uobis, diuites, quia recepistis consolationem uestram . Quas etiam diuitias abiecisse summa perfectio est. Ad quarum distinctionem pauperes illi sunt qui in euangelio domini uoce laudantur : beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum , et in psalmo : iste pauper clamauit, et dominus exaudiuit eum , et iterum : pauper et inops laudabunt nomen tuum .

Those riches are good, to acquire which is the work of great virtue and merit, and the righteous possessor of which is praised by David who says “The generation of the righteous shall be blessed: glory and riches are in his house, and his righteousness remaineth for ever:” (Ps.111.(112.) 2, 3) and again “the ransom of a man’s life are his riches.” (Prov.13.8) And of these riches it is Said in the Apocalypse to him who has them not and to his shame is poor and naked: “I will begin,” says he, “to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest I am rich and wealthy and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire-tried, that thou mayest be made rich, and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear.” (Rev.3.16–18)

2. Sunt etiam bonae, quas adquisisse magnae uirtutis ac meriti est, quas uir iustus possidens conlaudatur dicente Dauid : generatio rectorum benedicetur. Gloria et diuitiae in domo eius : et iustitia eius manet in saeculum saeculi , et iterum : redemptio animae uiri propriae diuitiae . De quibus diuitiis in Apocalypsi dicitur ad illum qui eas non habens uituperabiliter pauper et nudus est : incipiam te, inquit, euomere ex ore meo. Quia dicis quod diues sum et locuples et nullius egeo, et nescis quia tu es miser et miserabilis et pauper et caecus et nudus, suadeo tibi emere a me aurum ignitum probatum ut locuples fias, et uestimentis albis induaris et non appareat confusio nuditatis tuae .

There are some also which are indifferent, i.e., which may be made either good or bad: for they are made either one or the other in accordance with the will and character of those who use them: of which the blessed, Apostle says “Charge the rich of this world not to be high-minded nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in God (who giveth us abundantly all things to enjoy), to do good, to give easily, to communicate to Others, to lay up in store for themselves a good foundation that they may lay hold on the true life.” (1 Tim.5.17–19) These are what the rich man in the gospel kept, and never distributed to the poor,—while the beggar Lazarus was lying at his gate and desiring to be fed with his crumbs; and so he was condemned to the unbearable flames and everlasting heat of hell-fire. (Cf.Luke 14.19 sq)  

3. Sunt quoque mediae, id est quae possunt uel bonae esse uel malae. Ad utramque enim partem pro arbitrio uel qualitate utentium transferuntur. De quibus beatus apostolus diuitibus, ait, mundi huius praecipe non sublime sapere, nec sperare in incerto diuitiarum, sed in deo qui praestat nobis abunde omnia ad fruendum, bene facere, facile tribuere, communicare, thesaurizare sibi fundamentum bonum in futurum, ut adprehendant ueram uitam . Quas iterum diues ille in euangelio retinens ac nequaquam indigentibus subministrans, de cuius micis satiari pauper Lazarus ante fores eius expositus cupiebat, intolerandis gehennae ignibus et aeterno deputatur ardori .




That none can become perfect merely through the first grade of renunciation.
CAPUT X. Non posse quemquam primo tantum renuntiationis gradu esse perfectum.



IN leaving then these visible goods of the world we forsake not our own wealth, but that which is not ours, although we boast of it as either gained by our own exertions or inherited by us from our forefathers. For as I said nothing is our own, save this only which we possess with our heart, and which cleaves to our soul, and therefore cannot be taken away from us by any one. But Christ speaks in terms of censure of those visible riches, to those who clutch them as if they were their own, and refuse to share them with those in want. “If ye have not been faithful in what is another’s, who will give to you what is your own?” (Luke 16.12) Plainly then it is not only daily experience which teaches us that these riches are not our own, but this saying of our Lord also, by the very title which it gives them.

X. Has igitur uisibiles mundi diuitias relinquentes non nostras, sed alienas abicimus faciltates, quamuis eas gloriemur uel nostro labore quaesitas uel parentum ad nos hereditate transmissas. Nihil enim ut dixi nostrum est nisi hoc tantum, quod corde possessum atque animae nostrae cohaerens a nemine potest prorsus auferri. De illis autem uisibilibus diuitiis ad eos, qui illas tamquam proprias retentantes communicare indigentibus nolunt, increpans loquitur Christus : si in alienis fideles non fuistis, quod uestrum est quis dabit uobis ? Euidenter igitur has diuitias alienas esse non solum cotidiana experientia docet, uerum etiam sententia domini ipsa appellatione signauit.

But concerning visible and worthless riches Peter says to the Lord: “Lo, we have left all and followed thee. What shall we have therefore?” (Matt.19.27) when it is clear that they had left nothing but their miserable broken nets. And unless this expression “all” is understood to refer to that renunciation of sins which is really great and important, we shall not find that the Apostles had left anything of any value, or that the Lord had any reason for bestowing on them the blessing of so great glory, that they were allowed to hear from Him that “in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt.19.28)

2. De inuisibilibus uero pessimisque diuitiis loquitur Petrus ad dominum : ecce nos reliquimus omnia et secuti sumus te : quid ergo erit nobis ? Quos utique nihil amplius quam uilissima conscissaque retia certum est dimisisse. Quae omnia nisi in hac abrenuntiatione uitiorum quae uere magna et summa est fuerint intellecta, nec pretiosum aliquid inueniemus apostolos reliquisse, nec dominum habuisse propter quod illis tantam beatitudinis gloriam largiretur, ut ab eodem mererentur audire : in regeneratione, cum sederit filius hominis in sede maiestatis suae, sedebitis et uos super sedes duodecim iudicantes duodecim tribus Israhel .

If then those, who have completely renounced their earthly and visible goods, cannot for sufficient reason attain to Apostolic charity, nor climb with readiness and vigour to that third stage of renunciation which is still higher and belongs to but few, what should those think of themselves, who do not even make that first step (which is very easy) a thorough one, but keep together with their old want of faith, their former sordid riches, and fancy that they can boast of the mere name of monks?

3. Si igitur hi, qui perfecte terrenas istas uisibilesque abdicant facultates, certis ex causis ad illam apostolicam caritatem peruenire non possunt nec illum sublimiorem paucorumque admodum renuntiationis tertium gradum expedito queunt uigore conscendere, quid illi de semet ipsis iudicare debebunt, qui nec primam quidem quae perfacilis est perfecte adripientes atque antiquas pecuniarum suarum sordes cum infidelitate pristina retentantes nudo tantum sibimet autumant monachorum uocabulo gloriandum?

The first renunciation then of which we spoke is of what is not our own, and therefore is not enough of itself to confer perfection on the renunciant, unless he advances to the second, which is really and truly a renunciation of what belongs to us. And when we have made sure of this by the expulsion of all our faults, we shall mount to the heights of the third renunciation also, whereby we rise above not merely all those things which are done in this world or specially belong to men, but even that whole universe around us which is esteemed so glorious, and shall with heart and soul look down upon it as subject to vanity and destined soon to pass away; as we look, as the Apostle says, “not on those things which are seen, but on those which are not seen: for the things that are seen, are temporal, and the things which are not seen are eternal;” (2 Cor.4.18) that so we may be found worthy to hear that highest utterance, which was spoken to Abraham: “and come into a land which I will show thee,” (Gen.13.1)

4. Ergo prima quam diximus abrenuntiatio rerum alienarum est ideoque per se solam perfectionem renuntianti conferre non sufficit, nisi peruenerit ad secundam, quae uere abrenuntiatio rerum nostrarum est. Quam adepti expulsione omnium uitiorum tertiae quoque abrenuntiationis fastigia conscendemus, per quam non solum omnia quae in hoc mundo geruntur uel particulatim ab hominibus possidentur, uerum etiam ipsam cunctorum elementorum plenitudinem, quae putatur esse magnifica, tamquam uanitati subiectam et mox transituram transcendentes animo ac mente despicimus, intuentes dumtaxat secundum apostolum non ea quae uidentur sed quae non uidentur : quae enim uidentur, temporalia sunt, quae autem non uidentur, aeterna , ut ita demum illud supremum mereamur audire quod dicitur ad Abraham : et ueni in terram, quam tibi monstrauero .

which clearly shows that unless a man has made those three former renunciations with all earnestness of mind, he cannot attain to this fourth, which is granted as a reward and privilege to one whose renunciation is perfect, that he may be found worthy to enter the land of promise which no longer bears for him the thorns and thistles of sins; which after all the passions have been driven out is acquired by purity of heart even in the body, and which no good deeds or exertions of man’s efforts (can gain), but which the Lord Himself promises to show, saying “And come into the land which I will show to thee:”

5. Per quod euidenter ostenditur, quod nisi quis tres superiores illas abrenuntiationes omni inpleuerit mentis ardore, ad quartum hoc peruenire non possit, quod remunerationis ac praemii uice perfecte renuntianti tribuitur, id est ut terram repromissionis mereatur intrare nequaquam sibi iam uitiorum spinas ac tribulos germinantem: quae post expulsionem passionum cunctarum puritate cordis in hoc corpore possidetur, quam non uirtus uel industria laborantis, sed ipse dominus ostensurum se esse promittit et ueni, inquiens, in terram, quam tibi monstrauero.

which clearly proves that the beginning of our salvation results from the call of the Lord, Who says “Get thee out from thy country,” and that the completion of perfection and purity is His gift in the same way, as He says “And come into the land which I will show thee,” i.e., not one you yourself can know or discover by your own efforts, but one which I will show not only to one who is ignorant of it, but even to one who is not looking for it. And from this we clearly gather that as we hasten to the way of salvation through being stirred up by the inspiration of the Lord, so too it is under the guidance of His direction and illumination that we attain to the perfection of the highest bliss.

6. Per quod manifeste probatur et initium salutis nostrae domini uocatione fieri dicentis : exi de terra tua , et consummationem perfectionis ac puritatis ab eodem similiter tribui, cum dicit : et ueni in terram, quam tibi monstrauero, id est non quam tu ex temet ipso nosse uel industria tua ualeas repperire, sed quam ego tibi non solum ignoranti, sed etiam non inquirenti monstrauero. Ex quo manifeste colligitur quod quemadmodum inspiratione domini prouocati ad uiam salutis adcurrimus, ita etiam magisterio ipsius et inluminatione deducti ad perfectionem summae beatitudinis peruenimus.




A question on the free will of man and the grace of God.
CAPUT XI. Interrogatio de libero arbitrio hominis, et gratia Dei.



Germanus: Where then is there room for free will, and how is it ascribed to our efforts that we are worthy of praise, if God both begins and ends everything in us which concerns our salvation?

XI. GERMANVS : In quo ergo liberum consistit arbitrium nostraeque quod laudabiles sumus reputatur industriae, si deus in nobis omnia quae ad nostram perfectionem pertinent et incipit et consummat?




The answer on the economy of Divine Grace, with free will stillremaining in us.
CAPUT XII. Responsio de dispensatione divinae gratiae, manente arbitrii libertate.



Paphnutius: This would fairly influence us, if in every work and practice, the beginning and the end were everything, and there were no middle in between. And so as we know that God creates opportunities of salvation in various ways, it is in our power to make use of the opportunities granted to us by heaven more or less earnestly. For just as the offer came from God Who called him “get thee out of thy country,” so the obedience was on the part of Abraham who went forth; and as the fact that the saying “Come into the land” was carried into action, was the work of him who obeyed, so the addition of the words “which I will show thee” came from the grace of God Who commanded or promised it.

XII. PAFNVTIVS : Hoc uos recte mouisset, si in omni opere uel disciplina principium tantum esset ac finis et non etiam quaedam medietas interesset. Itaque sicut occasiones salutis diuersis modis deum cognoscimus operari, ita nostrum est occasionibus a diuinitate concessis uel enixius uel remissius famulari. Nam sicut dei fuit uocantis oblatio exi de terra tua, ita Abrahae fuit exeuntis oboedientia, et quemadmodum illud quod dicitur et ueni in terram ut fiat obtemperantis est opus, ita illud quod additur quam tibi monstrauero iubentis dei uel promittentis est gratia.

But it is well for us to be sure that although we practise every virtue with unceasing efforts, yet with all our exertions and zeal we can never arrive at perfection, nor is mere human diligence and toil of itself sufficient to deserve to reach the splendid reward of bliss, unless we have secured it by means of the co-operation of the Lord, and His directing our heart to what is right. And so we ought every moment to pray and say with David “Order my steps in thy paths that my footsteps slip not:” (Ps.16.(17.) 5) and “He hath set my feet upon a rock and ordered my goings:” (Ps.39.(40.) 3) that He Who is the unseen ruler of the human heart may vouchsafe to turn to the desire of virtue that will of ours, which is more readily inclined to vice either through want of knowledge of what is good, or through the delights of passion.

2. Certos tamen esse nos conuenit, quod omnem uirtutem indefessis conatibus exercentes nequaquam diligentia uel studio nostro perfectionem possimus adtingere nec sufficiat humana sedulitas laborum merito ad tam sublimia beatitudinis praemia peruenire, nisi ea domino nobis cooperante et cor nostrum ad id quod expedit dirigente fuerimus indepti. Ideoque debemus cum Dauid orantes momentis singulis dicere : perfice gressus meos in semitis tuis : ut non moueantur uestigia mea , et : statuit super petram pedes meos : et direxit gressus meos , ut nostrum arbitrium, quod procliuius uel ignoratione boni uel oblectatione passionum fertur ad uitia, ille inuisibilis rector mentis humanae ad uirtutum potius studia retorquere dignetur.

And we read this in a verse in which the prophet sings very plainly: “Being pushed I was overturned that I might fall,” where the weakness of our free will is shown. And “the Lord sustained me:” (Ps.117.(118.) 13) again this shows that the Lord’s help is always joined to it, and by this, that we may not be altogether destroyed by our free will, when He sees that we have stumbled, He sustains and supports us, as it were by stretching out His hand. And again: “If I said my foot was moved;” viz., from the slippery character of the will, “Thy mercy, O Lord, helped me.” (Ps.93.(94.) 18) Once more he joins on the help of God to his own weakness, as he confesses that it was not owing to his own efforts but to the mercy of God, that the foot of his faith was not moved.

3. Quod uno uersiculo per prophetam manifestissime legimus decantari : inpulsus uersatus sum ut caderem : in quo liberi arbitrii infirmitas designatur. Et dominus suscepit me : rursum adiutorium domini iunctum eidem semper ostenditur, quo, ne penitus libero conlabamur arbitrio, cum titubasse nos uiderit, porrectione quodammodo manuum suarum sustentat atque confirmat. Et iterum : si dicebam : motus est pes meus , lubrica scilicet arbitrii facultate, misericordia tua domine adiuuabat me. Iterum mobilitati suae dei coniungit auxilium, quia, ne moueretur pes fidei suae, non industriae propriae fuisse, sed misericordiae domini confitetur.

And again: “According to the multitude of the sorrows which I had in my heart,” which sprang most certainly from my free will, “Thy comforts have refreshed my soul,” (Ps.93.(94.) 19) i.e., by coming through Thy inspiration into my heart, and laying open the view of future blessings which Thou hast prepared for them who labour in Thy name, they not only removed all anxiety from my heart, but actually conferred upon it the greatest delight. And again: “Had it not been that the Lord helped me, my soul had almost dwelt in hell.” (Ps.93.(94.) 17) He certainly shows that through the depravity of this free will he would have dwelt in hell, had he not been saved by the assistance and protection of the Lord.

4. Et iterum : secundum multitudinem dolorum meorum in corde meo , qui libero utique mihi nascebantur arbitrio, consolationes tuae laetificauerunt animam meam : per tuam scilicet inspirationem uenientes in cor meum et reserantes contemplationem futurorum bonorum, quae pro tuo nomine laborantibus praeparasti, non solum abstulerunt omnem anxietatem cordis mei, uerum etiam summam laetitiam contulerunt. Et rursum : nisi quia dominus adiuuit me : paulo minus habitauerat in inferno anima mea . Liberi utique arbitrii prauitate in inferno se habitaturum fuisse testatur, nisi domini fuisset adiutorio ac protectione saluatus.

For “By the Lord,” and not by free-will, “are a man’s steps directed,” and “although the righteous fair” at least by free will, “he shall not be east away.” And why? because “the Lord upholdeth him with His hand:” (Ps.36.(37.) 23, 24) and this is to say with the utmost clearness: None of the righteous are sufficient of themselves to acquire righteousness, unless every moment when they stumble and fall the Divine mercy supports them with His hands, that they may not utterly collapse and perish, when they have been cast down through the weakness of free will.

5. A domino enim, non a libero arbitrio gressus hominis diriguntur , et cum ceciderit iustus , libero dumtaxat arbitrio, non conlidetur. Quapropter? quia dominus subponit manum suam . Hoc est apertissime dicere : nullus iustorum sibi sufficit ad obtinendam iustitiam, nisi per momenta singula titubanti ei et conruenti fulmenta manus suae subposuerit diuina clementia, ne prostratus intereat penitus, cum fuerit liberi arbitrii infirmitate conlapsus.




That the ordering of our way comes from God.
CAPUT XIII. Quod directio vitae nostrae ex Deo sit.



And truly the saints have never said that it was by their own efforts that they secured the direction of the way in which they walked in their course towards advance and perfection of virtue, but rather they prayed for it from the Lord, saying “Direct me in Thy truth,” and “direct my way in thy Sight.” (Ps.24.(25.) 5; vi.9) But someone else declares that he discovered this very fact not only by faith, but also by experience, and as it were from the very nature of things: “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not his: neither is it in a man to walk and to direct his steps.” (Jer.10.23) And the Lord Himself says to Israel: “I will direct him like a green fir-tree: from Me is thy fruit found.” (Hos.14.9)

XIII. Nec sane umquam uiri sancti directionem uiae qua gradiebantur ad profectum uirtutum consummationemque tendentes industria se propria obtinuisse testati sunt, sed eam potius a domino precabantur dicentes: dirige me in ueritate tua, et dirige in conspectu tuo uiam meam . Alius autem non solum fide, sed etiam experimento et quodammodo in ipsa rerum natura hoc ipsum se deprehendisse proclamat : cognoui domine quia non est in homine uia eius : nec uiri est ut ambulet, et dirigat gressus suos . Et ipse dominus ad Israhelem et dirigam eum ego, inquit, ut abietem uirentem : ex me tuus fructus inuentus est .




That knowledge of the law is given by the guidance and illumination of the Lord.
CAPUT XIV. Quod scientia legis magisterio et illuminatione Domini conferatur.



The knowledge also of the law itself they daily endeavour to gain not by diligence in reading, but by the guidance and illumination of God as they say to Him: “Show me Thy ways, O Lord, and teach me Thy paths:” and “open Thou mine eyes: and I shall see the wondrous things of Thy law:” and “teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God;” and again: “Who teacheth man knowledge.” (Ps.24.(25.) 4; 118.(119.) 18; 142.(143.) 10; 93.(94.) 10)

XIIII. Legis quoque ipsius scientiam non lectionis industria, sed magisterio et inluminatione dei cotidie desiderant adipisci dicentes ad eum : uias tuas domine demonstra mihi : et semitas tuas edoce me , et : reuela oculos meos : et considerabo mirabilia de lege tua , et : doce me facere uoluntatem tuam, quia tu es deus meus , et iterum : qui doces hominem scientiam .




That the understanding, by means of which we can recognize God’s commands, and the performance of a good will are both gifts from the Lord.
CAPUT XV. Quod intellectus, quo mandata Dei possimus agnoscere, et bonae voluntatis affectus a Domino donetur.



Further the blessed David asks of the Lord that he may gain that very understanding, by which he can recognize God’s commands which, he well knew, were written in the book of the law, and he says “I am Thy servant: O give me understanding that I may learn Thy commandments.” (Ps.118.(119.) 125) Certainly he was in possession of understanding, which had been granted to him by nature, and also had at his fingers’ ends a knowledge of God’s commands which were preserved in writing in the law: and still he prayed the Lord that he might learn this more thoroughly as he knew that what came to him by nature would never be sufficient for him, unless his understanding was enlightened by the Lord by a daily illumination from Him, to understand the law spiritually and to recognize His commands more clearly, as the “chosen vessel” also declares very plainly this which we are insisting on. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do according to good will.” (Phil.2.13)

XV. Ipsum etiam intellectum beatus Dauid, quo mandata dei possit agnoscere, quae utique in libro legis nouerat esse perscripta, a domino postulat promereri dicens : seruus tuus sum ego : da mihi intellectum, ut discam mandata tua . Utique et intellectum semel sibi per naturam praestitum possidebat, notitiam quoque mandatorum dei, quae descripta tenebantur in lege, utique habebat in promptu. Et tamen ut hanc plenius adprehenderet dominum precabatur, sciens nequaquam sibimet sufficere posse id quod per naturam conditionis insertum est, nisi cotidiana domini inluminatione ad intellegendam spiritaliter legem ac mandata eius apertius agnoscenda sensus ipsius ab eodem fuerit inlustratus, ipso etiam uase electionis hoc quod dicimus clarius praedicante : deus est enim qui operatur in uobis et uelle et perficere, pro bona uoluntate .

What could well be clearer than the assertion that both our good will and the completion of our work are fully wrought in us by the Lord? And again “For it is granted to you for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him.” (Phil.1.29) Here also he declares that the beginning of our conversion and faith, and the endurance of suffering is a gift to us from the Lord. And David too, as he knows this, similarly prays that the same thing may be granted to him by God’s mercy. “Strengthen, O God, that which Thou hast wrought in us:” (Ps.67.(68.) 29) showing that it is not enough for the beginning of our salvation to be granted by the gift and grace of God, unless it has been continued and ended by the same pity and continual help from Him.

2. Quid potuit apertius dici quam ut et bonam uoluntatem nostram et operis consummationem a domino in nobis pronuntiaret impleri? Et iterum : quia uobis donatum est pro Christo, non solum ut in eum credatis, sed ut etiam pro illo patiamini . Hic quoque et initium conuersionis ac fidei nostrae et passionum tolerantiam donari nobis a domino declarauit. Quod intellegens Dauid quoque similiter orat sibi hoc ipsum domini miseratione concedi dicens : confirma deus hoc, quod operatus es in nobis , ostendens non sufficere sibi salutis principia dono dei gratiaque conlata, nisi fuerint eadem miseratione ipsius et cotidiana opitulatione perfecta.

For not free will but the Lord “looseth them that are bound.” No strength of ours, but the Lord “raiseth them that are fallen:” no diligence in reading, but “the Lord enlightens the blind:” where the Greeks have κύριος σοφοῖ τυφλούς i.e., “the Lord maketh wise the blind:” no care on our part, but “the Lord careth for the stranger:” no courage of ours, but “the Lord assists (or supports) all those who are down.” (Ps.145.(146.) 7, 8, 9; 144.(145.) 16) But this we say, not to slight our zeal and efforts and diligence, as if they were applied unnecessarily and foolishly, but that we may know that we cannot strive without the help of God, nor can our efforts be of any use in securing the great reward of purity, unless it has been granted to us by the assistance and mercy of the Lord: for “a horse is prepared for the day of battle: but help cometh from the Lord,” (Prov.21.31) “for no man can prevail by strength.” (1 Sam.2.9)

3. Non enim liberum arbitrium, sed dominus soluit conpeditos : non nostra uirtus, sed dominus erigit elisos : non lectionis industria, sed dominus inluminat caecos, quod Graece dicitur, κριος σοφο τυφλος, id est dominus sapientes facit caecos : non nostra cautio, sed dominus cutodit aduenas : non nostra fortitudo, sed dominus adleuat (siue suffulcit) omnes, qui conruunt . Haec autem dicimus, non ut studium nostrum uel laborem atque industriam quasi inaniter et superfluo inpendenda uacuemus, sed ut nouerimus nos sine auxilio dei nec adniti posse nec efficaces nostros esse conatus ad capessendum tam inmane praemium puritatis, nisi nobis adiutorio domini ac misericordia fuerit contributum. Equus enim paratur in diem belli : a domino autem est adiutorium , quia non est in fortitudine potens uir .

We ought then always to sing with the blessed David: “My strength and my praise is” not my free will, but “the Lord, and He is become my salvation.” (Ps.117.(118.) 14) And the teacher of the Gentiles was not ignorant of this when he declared that he was made capable of the ministry of the New Testament not by his own merits or efforts but by the mercy of God. “Not” says he, “that we are capable of thinking anything of ourselves as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, which can be put in less good Latin but more forcibly, “our capability is of God,” and then there follows: “Who also made us capable ministers of the New Testament.” (2 Cor.3.5, 6)

4. Oportet ergo nos semper cum beato Dauid canere : fortitudo mea, et laudatio mea non liberum arbitrium, sed dominus : et factus est mihi in salutem . Quod doctor quoque gentium non ignorans idoneum se factum ministerio noui testamenti non suo merito nec sudore, sed dei miseratione, proclamat : non quod simus, inquit, idonei cogitare aliquid ex nobis quasi a nobis, sed sufficientia nostra ex deo est . Quod minus Latine, sed expressius dici potest : idoneitas nostra ex deo est. Denique sequitur : qui et idoneos nos fecit ministros noui testamenti .




That faith itself must be given us by the Lord.
CAPUT XVI. Quod ipsa fides a Domino concedatur.



But so thoroughly did the Apostles realize that everything which concerns salvation was given them by the Lord, that they even asked that faith itself should be granted from the Lord, saying: “Add to us faith” (Luke 17.5) as they did not imagine that it could be gained by free will, but believed that it would be bestowed by the free gift of God. Lastly the Author of man’s salvation teaches us how feeble and weak and insufficient our faith would be unless it were strengthened by the aid of the Lord, when He says to Peter “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed to my Father that thy faith fail not.” (Luke xxii.31, 32)

XVI. In tantum autem uniuersa quae ad salutem pertinent apostoli sibimet a domino largita senserunt, ut ipsam quoque fidem praestari sibi a domino postularent dicentes : adde nobis fidem , plenitudinem eius non libero arbitrio praesumentes, sed dei sibi credentes munere conferendam. Denique docet nos idem auctor salutis humanae, quam ipsa fides nostra lubrica sit et infirma et nequaquam sibi sufficiens, nisi fuerit auxilio domini roborata, dicens ad Petrum : Simon Simon, ecce Satanas expetiuit uos ut cribraret uos tamquam triticum : sed ego rogaui patrem meum, ne deficeret fides tua .

And another finding that this was happening in his own case, and seeing that his faith was being driven by the waves of unbelief on the rocks which would cause a fearful shipwreck, asks of the same Lord an aid to his faith, saying “Lord, help mine unbelief.” (Mark 9.23) So thoroughly then did those Apostles and men in the gospel realize that everything which is good is brought to perfection by the aid of the Lord, and not imagine that they could preserve their faith unharmed by their own strength or free will that they prayed that it might be helped or granted to them by the Lord.

2. Quod alius in semet ipso sentiens fieri et quodammodo fidem suam infidelitatis fluctibus ad perniciosi naufragii uidens scopulos perurgeri ad eundem dominum auxilium fidei suae postulans dicit : domine, adiuua infidelitatem meam . In tantum itaque senserunt euangelici et apostolici uiri uniuersa quae bona sunt auxilio domini consummari, et ne ipsam quidem fidem suam confisi sunt inlaesam se posse suis uiribus uel arbitrii libertate seruare, ut hanc uel adiuuari in se uel donari sibi a domino postularent.

And if in Peter’s case there was need of the Lord’s help that it might not fail, who will be so presumptuous and blind as to fancy that he has no need of daily assistance from the Lord in order to preserve it? Especially as the Lord Himself has made this clear in the gospel, saying: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” (John 15.4) And again: “for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15.5)

3. Quae si in Petro ne deficeret domini egebat auxilio, quis erit tam praesumptor et caecus, qui se erga huius custodiam cotidiano domini credat adiutorio non egere? Praesertim cum ipse dominus in euangelio hoc ipsum euidenter expresserit dicens : sicut palmes non potest fructum facere a semet ipso nisi in uite manserit, ita et uos nisi in me manseritis , et iterum : quia sine me nihil potestis facere .

How foolish and wicked then it is to attribute any good action to our own diligence and not to God’s grace and assistance, is clearly shown by the Lord’s saying, which lays down that no one can show forth the fruits of the Spirit without His inspiration and co-operation. For “every good gift and every perfect boon is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (James 1.17) And Zechariah too says, “For whatever is good is His, and what is excellent is from Him.” (Zech.9.17 (LXX.)) And so the blessed Apostle consistently says: “What hast thou which thou didst not receive? But if thou didst receive it, why boastest thou as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor.4.7)

4. Quam sit igitur ineptum ac sacrilegum quicquam de bonis actibus nostrae industriae et non dei gratiae uel adiutorio deputare, manifeste probatur dominica protestante sententia sine sua inspiratione uel cooperatione spiritales fructus exhibere neminem posse. Omne enim datum bonum et omne donum perfectum de sursum est descendens a patre luminum . Zacharias quoque : quia si quid bonum, ipsius est, et si quid optimum, ab ipso . Ed ideo constanter beatus apostolus quid, inquit, habes quod non accepisti? Quodsi accepisti, quid gloriaris quasi non acceperis?




That temperateness and the endurance of temptations must be be given to us by the Lord.
CAPUT XVII. Quod moderatio et tolerantia tentationum nobis a Domino tribuatur.



And that all the endurance, with which we can bear the temptations brought upon us, depends not so much on our own strength as on the mercy and guidance of God, the blessed Apostle thus declares: “No temptation hath come upon you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation make also a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor.10.13) And that God fits and strengthens our souls for every good work, and worketh in us all those things which are pleasing to Him, the same Apostle teaches: “May the God of peace who brought out of darkness the great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ, in the blood of the everlasting Testament, fit you in all goodness, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight.” (Heb.13.20, 21) And that the same thing may happen to the Thessalonians he prays as follows, saying: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father who hath loved us and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope in grace, exhort your hearts, and confirm you in every good word and work.” (2 Thess.2.15, 16)

XVII. Summam quoque tolerantiae qua temptationes inlatas sustinere possimus non tam in nostra uirtute quam in dei misericordia et moderatione consistere beatus apostolus ita pronontiat : temptatio uos non adprehendit nisi humana, fidelis autem deus, qui non permittet uos temptari super id quod potestis, sed faciet cum temptatione etiam exitum, ut sustinere possitis . Deum quoque aptare siue confirmare animos nostros ad omne opus bonum et operari in nobis ea quae sibi sunt placita idem apostolus docet : deus autem pacis, qui eduxit de tenebris pastorem magnum ouium in sanguine testamenti aeterni, Iesum Christum, aptet uos in omni bono, faciens in uobis quod placeat coram se . Quod etiam Thessalonicensibus ut eueniat ita precatur dicens : ipse autem dominus Iesus Christus et deus pater noster, qui dilexit nos et dedit consolationem aeternam et spem bonam in gratia, exhortetur corda uestra et confirmet in omni opere et sermone bono .




That the continual fear of God must be bestowed on us by the Lord.
CAPUT XVIII. Quod perpetuitas timoris Domini nobis a Domino conferatur.



And lastly the prophet Jeremiah, speaking in the person of God, clearly testifies that even the fear of God, by which we can hold fast to Him, is shed upon us by the Lord: saying as follows: “And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me all days: and that it may be well with them and with their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them and will not cease to do them good: and I will give My fear in their hearts that they may not revolt from Me.” (Jerem.32.39, 40) Ezekiel also says: “And I will give them one heart, and will put a new spirit in their bowels: and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in My commandments, and keep My judgments and do them: and that they may be My people, and I may be their God.” (Ezek.11.19, 20)

XVIII. Ipsum denique timorem dei, quo firmiter eum tenere possimus, a domino nobis Hieremias propheta ex persona dei manifeste testatur infundi ita dicens : et dabo eis cor unum, et uiam unam, ut timeant me uniuersis diebus : et bene sit eis, et filiis eorum post eos. Et feriam eis pactum sempiternum, et non desinam eis bene facere : et timorem meum dabo in corde eorum ut non recedant a me . Ezechiel quoque : et dabo eis cor unum, et spiritum nouum tribuam in uisceribus eorum : et auferam cor lapideum de carne eorum, et dabo eis cor carneum : ut in praeceptis meis ambulent, et iudicia mea custodiant, faciantque ea : et sint mihi in populum, et ego sim eis in deum .




That the beginning of our good will and its completion comesfrom God.
CAPUT XIX. Quod initium voluntatis bonae et consummatio ejus a Domino sit.



And this plainly teaches us that the beginning of our good will is given to us by the inspiration of the Lord, when He draws us towards the way of salvation either by His own act, or by the exhortations of some man, or by compulsion; and that the consummation of our good deeds is granted by Him in the same way: but that it is in our own power to follow up the encouragement and assistance of God with more or less zeal, and that accordingly we are rightly visited either with reward or with punishment, because we have been either careless or careful to correspond to His design and providential arrangement made for us with such kindly regard.

XVIIII. Quibus manifestissime perdocemur et initium uoluntatis bonae nobis domino inspirante concedi, cum aut per se aut per exhortationem cuiuslibet hominis aut per necessitatem nos ad salutis adtrahit uiam, et perfectionem uirtutum ab eodem similiter condonari, nostrum uero hoc esse, ut adhortationem auxiliumque dei uel remissius uel enixius exsequamur, et pro hoc nos uel remunerationem uel supplicia dignissime promereri, quod eius dispensationi ac prouidentiae erga nos benignissima dignatione conlatae uel negleximus uel studuimus nostrae oboedientiae deuotione congruere.

And this is clearly and plainly described in Deuteronomy. “When,” says he, “the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which thou art going to possess, and shall have destroyed many nations before thee, the Hittite, and the Gergeshite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations much more numerous than thou art and stronger than thou, and the Lord thy God shall have delivered them to thee, thou shalt utterly destroy them. Thou shalt make no league with them. Neither shalt thou make marriage with them.” (Deut.7.1–3) So then Scripture declares that it is the free gift of God that they are brought into the land of promise,

2. Quod euidenter in Deuteronomio aperteque describitur : cum, inquit, introduxerit te dominus deus tuus in terram, quam possessurus ingrederis, et deleuerit gentes multas coram te, Ethaeum et Gergesaeum et Amorraeum, Chananaeum, et Ferezaeum, Euaeum et Iebusaeum,, septem gentes multo maioris numeri et robustiores te : tradideritque eas dominus tibi, percuties eas usque ad internicionem. Non inibis cum eis foedus, neque sociabis cum eis coniugia . Quod igitur introducuntur in terram repromissionis, quod delentur gentes multae coram eis, quod traduntur in manus eorum nationes maioris numeri et robustiores quam populus Israhel, dei esse gratiam scriptura pronuntiat.

that many nations are destroyed before them, that nations more numerous and mightier than the people of Israel are given up into their hands. But whether Israel utterly destroys them, or whether it preserves them alive and spares them, and whether or no it makes a league with them, and makes marriages with them or not, it declares lies in their own power. And by this testimony we can clearly see what we ought to ascribe to free will, and what to the design and daily assistance of the Lord, and that it belongs to divine grace to give us opportunities of salvation and prosperous undertakings and victory: but that it is ours to follow up the blessings which God gives us with earnestness or indifference.

3. Utrum autem percutiat eas Israhel usque ad internicionem, an reseruet eas et parcat, et utrum ineat necne cum eis foedus et utrum societ cum eis coniugia an non societ, ipsorum esse testatur. Quo testimonio manifeste discernitur, quid libero arbitrio quidue dispensationi uel cotidiano adiutorio domini debeamus adscribere, et quod diuinae sit gratiae praestare nobis occasiones salutis et prouentus secundos atque uictoriam, nostrum uero ut concessa dei beneficia uel intentius uel segnius exsequamur. Quam rationem etiam in illorum caecorum curatione satis euidenter uidemus expressam.

And this same fact we see is plainly taught in the healing of the blind men. For the fact that Jesus passed by them, was a free gift of Divine providence and condescension. But the fact that they cried out and said “Have mercy on us, Lord, thou son of David,” (Matt.20.31) was an act of their own faith and belief. That they received the sight of their eyes was a gift of Divine pity. But that after the reception of any blessing, the grace of God, and the use of free will both remain, the case of the ten lepers, who were all healed alike, shows us. For when one of them through goodness of will returned thanks, the Lord looking for the nine, and praising the one, showed that He was ever anxious to help even those who were unmindful of His kindness. For even this is a gift of His visitation; viz., that he receives and commends the grateful one, and looks for and censures those who are thankless.

4. Quod enim transit ante eos Iesus, diuinae prouidentiae et dignationis est gratia : quod uociferantur et dicunt : miserere nostri, domine, fili Dauid , fidei ipsorum et credulitatis est opus. Quod uisum recipiunt oculorum, diuinae miserationis est munus. Quod autem etiam post perceptionem cuiuslibet muneris tam gratia dei quam ratio liberi perseueret arbitrii, leprosorum quoque decem qui pariter curati sunt declarat exemplum . E quibus dum unus per arbitrii sui bonum gratiarum restituit actionem, dominus nouem requirens unumque conlaudans sollicitudinem adiutorii sui etiam circa inmemores beneficiorum suorum iugem se retinere demonstrat. Hoc ipsum enim uisitationis suae donum est, quod uel suscipit et adprobat gratum uel requirit ac reprehendit ingratos.




That nothing can be done in this world without God.
CAPUT XX. Quod nihil in hoc mundo sine Deo geratur.



But it is right for us to hold with unswerving faith that nothing whatever is done in this world without God. For we must acknowledge that everything is done either by His will or by His permission, i.e., we must believe that whatever is good is carried out by the will of God and by His aid, and whatever is the reverse is done by His permission, when the Divine Protection is withdrawn from us for our sins and the hardness of our hearts, and suffers the devil and the shameful passions of the body to lord it over us.

XX. Credere tamen inconcussa fide nos conuenit nihil sine deo prorsus in hoc mundo geri. Aut enim uoluntate eius aut permissu agi uniuersa fatendum est, ut scilicet haec quae bona sunt uoluntate dei perfici auxilioque credantur, quae autem contraria sunt permissu, cum pro nequitiis ac duritia cordis nostri deserens nos diuina protectio diabolum nobis uel ignominiosas corporis passiones patitur dominari.

And the words of the Apostle most assuredly teach us this, when he says: “For this cause God delivered them up to shameful passions:” and again: “Because they did not like to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient.” (Rom.1.26, 28) And the Lord Himself says by the prophet: “But My people did not hear My voice and Israel did not obey me: Wherefore I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts. They shall walk after their own inventions.” (Ps.80.(81.) 12, 13)

2. Quod etiam apostoli uocibus euidentissime perdocemur dicentis propter quod tradidit illos deus in passiones ignominiae , et iterum : quia non crediderunt deum habere in notitia, tradidit illos deus in reprobum sensum, ut faciant ea quae non conuenit , et ipse dominus per prophetam : et non audiuit populus meus uocem meam : et Israhel non intendit mihi. Propter quod dimisi eos, inquit, secundum adinuentiones cordium eorum, ambulabunt in adinuentionibus suis .




An objection on the power of free will.
CAPUT XXI. Objectio super liberi arbitrii potestate.



Germanus: This passage very clearly shows the freedom of the will, where it is said “If My people would have hearkened unto Me,” and elsewhere “But My people would not hear My voice.” (Ps.80.(81.) 12, 13) For when He says “If they would have heard” He shows that the decision to yield or not to yield lay in their own power. How then is it true that our salvation does not depend upon ourselves, if God Himself has given us the power either to hearken or not to hearken?

XXI. GERMANVS : Hoc testimonium apertissime liberum demonstrat arbitrium quo dicitur : si populus meus audisset me , et alibi : et non audiuit populus meus uocem meam . Cum enim dicit si audisset, ostendit in potestate illius fuisse uel adquiescendi uel non adquiescendi iudicium. Quomodo igitur non in nobis nostra salus est conlocanda, cum uel audiendi uel non audiendi ipse nobis concesserit facultatem?




The answer; viz., that our free will always has need of thehelp of the Lord.
CAPUT XXII. Responsio, quod liberum arbitrium nostrum adjutorio Domini semper indigeat.



Paphnutius: You have shrewdly enough noticed how it is said “If they would have hearkened to Me:” but have not sufficiently considered either who it is who speaks to one who does or does not hearken; or what follows: “I should soon have put down their enemies, and laid My hand on those that trouble them.” (Ps.80.(81.).15) Let no one then try by a false interpretation to twist that which we brought forward to prove that nothing can be done without the Lord, nor take it in support of free will, in such a way as to try to take away from man the grace of God and His daily oversight, through this test: “But My people did not hear My voice,” and again: “If My people would have hearkened unto Me, and if Israel would have walked in My ways, etc.:” but let him consider that just as the power of free will is evidenced by the disobedience of the people, so the daily over- sight of God who declares and admonishes him is also shown.

XXII. PAFNVTIVS : Acute quidem considerastis hoc quod dicitur si audisset me, sed nequaquam qui sit qui ad audientem uel non audientem loquatur adtendistis nec illud quod sequitur : pro nihilo utique inimicos eius humiliassem : et super tribulantes eum misissem manum meam . Nemo igitur haec quae protulimus, ut nihil geri sine domino probaremus, praua interpretatione detorquens ad defensionem liberi arbitrii ita conetur adsumere, ut ab homine gratiam dei prouisionemque cotidianam temptet auferre per hoc quod dicitur : et non audiuit populus meus uocem mean, et iterum : si populus meus audisset me, Israhel si in uiis meis ambulasset et cetera, sed respiciat, quod sicut liberi arbitrii facultas populi inoboedientia demonstratur, ita cotidiana circa eum prouisio dei clamantis quodammodo et monentis ostenditur.

For where He says “If My people would have hearkened unto Me” He clearly implies that He had spoken to them before. And this the Lord was wont to do not only by means of the written law, but also by daily exhortations, as this which is given by Isaiah: “All day long have I stretched forth My hands to a disobedient and gain-saying people.” (Is.65.2) Both points then can be supported from this passage, where it says: “If My people would have hearkened, and if Israel had walked in My ways, I should soon have put down their enemies, and laid My hand on those that trouble them.”

2. Cum enim dicit : si populus meus audisset me, priorem utique se locutum eis euidenter ostendit. Quod fieri a domino non solum per legem scriptam litteris, uerum etiam cotidianis monitis solet secundum illud quod per Esaiam dicitur : tota die expandi manus meas ad populum non credentem mihi et contradicentem . Utrumque ergo potest hoc testimonio conprobari quo dicitur : si populus meus audisset me, Israhel si in uiis meis ambulasset, pro nihilo utique inimicos eius humiliassem : et super tribulantes eum misissem manum meam.

For just as free will is shown by the disobedience of the people, so the government of God and His assistance is made clear by the beginning and end of the verse, where He implies that He had spoken to them before, and that afterwards He would put down their enemies, if they would have hearkened unto Him. For we have no wish to do away with man’s free will by what we have said, but only to establish the fact that the assistance and grace of God are necessary to it every day and hour.

3. Nam sicut liberum arbitrium per inoboedientiam populi demonstratur, ita dispensatio dei et auxilium eius uersiculi ipsius initio declaratur ac fine, cum se et priorem locutum fuisse commemorat et postea inimicos eius humiliaturum, si ab eodem fuisset auditus. Nos enim per haec quae protulimus non liberum arbitrium hominis uolumus submouere, sed huic adiutorium et gratiam dei per singulos dies ac momenta necessariam conprobare.

When he had instructed us with this discourse Abbot Paphnutius dismissed us from his cell before midnight in a state of contrition rather than of liveliness; insisting on this as the chief lesson in his discourse; viz., that when we fancied that by making perfect the first renunciation (which we were endeavouring to do with all our powers), we could climb the heights of perfection, we should make the discovery that we had not yet even begun to dream of the heights to which a monk can rise, since after we had learnt some few things about the second renunciation, we should find out that we had not before this even heard a word of the third stage, in which all perfection is comprised, and which in many ways far exceeds these lower ones.

4. His nos sermonibus eruditos abba Pafnutius e sua cella non tam alacres quam conpunctos corde ante medium noctis emisit, hoc nobis praecipuum suae conlationis conferens munere, ut cum per abrenuntiationis primae consummationem, quam tota uirtute studebamus inplere, adtingenda nobis perfectionis culmina crederemus, inciperemus agnoscere necdum nos coepisse monachorum fastigia somniare, quippe qui de secunda abrenuntiatione parum quid in coenobiis eruditi tertiam, in qua omnis perfectio continetur quaeque illas inferiores duas multis praecedit modis, ne auditu quidem nos antea percepisse nossemus.




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