Ambrose selected works 20149

Chapter XLIX.

20149 We must reserve the likeness of the virtues in ourselves. The likenessofthe devil and of vice must be got rid of, and especially that of avarice; for this deprives us of liberty, and despoils those who are in the midst of vanities of the image of God.

249). Whilst, then, we are here let us preserve the likeness, that there we may attain to the truth. Let the likeness of justice exist in us, likewise that of wisdom, for we shall come to that day and shall be rewarded according to our likeness.

250. Let not the adversary find his image in thee, let him not find fury nor rage; for in these exists the likeness of wickedness. “Our adversary the devil as a roaring lion seeketh whom he may kill, whom he may devour.”316 Let him not find desire for gold, nor heaps of money, nor the appearance of vices, lest he take from thee the voice of liberty. For the voice of true liberty is heard, when thou canst say: “The prince of this world shall come, and shall find no part in me.”317 Therefore, if thou art sure that he will find nothing in thee, when he comes to search through thee, thou wilt say, as the patriarch Jacob did to Laban: “Know now if there is aught of thine with me.”318 Rightly do we account Jacob blessed with whom Laban could find naught of his. For Rachel had hidden the gold and silver images of his gods.

251. If, then, wisdom, and faith, and contempt of the world, and spiritual grace, exclude all faithlessness, thou wilt be blessed; for thou regardest not vanity and folly and lying. Is it a light thing to take away from thy adversary the opportunity to speak, so that he can have no ground to make his complaint against thee? Thus he who looks not on vanity is not perturbed; but he who looks upon it is perturbed, and that, too, all to no purpose. Is it not a vain thing to heap up riches? for surely to seek for fleeting things is vain enough. And when thou hast gathered them, how dost thou know that thou shall have them in possession?

252. Is it not vain for a merchant to journey by night and by day, that he may be able to heap up treasures? Is it not vain for him to gather merchandise, and to be much perturbed about its price, for fear he might sell it for less than he gave? that he should strive everywhere for high prices, and thus unexpectedly call up robbers against himself through their envy at his much-vaunted business; or that, without waiting for calmer winds, impatient of delays, he should meet with shipwreck whilst seeking for gain?

253. And is not he, too, perturbed in vain who with great toil amasses wealth, though he knows not what heir to leave it to? Often and often all that an avaricious man has got together with the greatest care, his spendthrift heir scatters abroad with headlong prodigality. The shameless prodigal, blind to the present, heedless of the future, swallows up as in an abyss what took so long to gather. Often, too, the desired successor gains but envy for his share of the inheritance, and by his sudden death hands over the whole amount of the succession, which he has hardly entered upon, to strangers.

254. Why, then, dost thou idly spin a web which is worthless and fruitless? And why dost thou build up useless heaps of treasures like spiders’ webs? For though they overflow, they are no good; nay, they denude thee of the likeness of God, and put on thee the likeness of the earthy. If any one has the likeness of the tyrant, is he not liable to condemnation? Thou layest aside the likeness of the Eternal King, and raisest in thyself the image of death. Rather cast out of the kingdom of thy soul the likeness of the devil, and raise up the likeness of Christ. Let this shine forth in thee; let this glow brightly in thy kingdom, that is, thy soul, for it destroys the likeness of all vices. David says of this: “O Lord, in Thy kingdom thou bringest their images to nothing.”319 For when the Lord has adorned Jerusalem according to His own likeness, then every likeness of the adversary is destroyed.

Chapter L.

20150 The Levites ought to be utterly free from all earthly desires. What their virtues should be on the Apostle’s own showing, and how great their purity must be. Also what their dignity and duty is, for the carrying out of which the chief virtues are necessary. He states that these were not unknown to the philosophers, but that they erred in their order. Some are by their nature in accordance with duty, which yet on account of what accompanies them become contrary to duty. From whence he gathers what gifts the office of the Levites demands. To conclude, he adds an exposition of Moses’ words when blessing the tribe of Levi.

255). If, then, in the Gospel of the Lord the people themselves were taught and led to despise riches,320 how much more ought ye Levites no longer to be bound down by earthly desires. For your portion is God. For when their earthly possessions were portioned out by Moses to the people of our fathers, the Lord suffered not the Levites to have a share in that earthly possession,321 for He Himself would be the strength of their inheritance. Wherefore David says: “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup.”322 Whence we get the name “Levite,” which means: “Himself is mine,” or “Himself for me.” Great, then, is his honour, that God should say of him: Himself is Mine. Or, as was said to Peter about the piece of money found in the fish’s mouth: “Give to them for Me and for thee.”323 Wherefore the Apostle, when he said: “A bishop should be sober, modest, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not covetous, nor a brawler, one that rules well his own house,” also added: “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let them also first be proved, and so let them serve, being found blameless.”324

256. We note how much is required of us. The minister of the Lord should abstain from wine, so that he may be upheld by the good witness not only of the faithful but also by those who are without. For it is right that the witness to our acts and works should be the opinion of the public at large, that the office be not disgraced. Thus he who sees the minister of the altar adorned with suitable virtues may praise their Author, and reverence the Lord Who has such servants. The praise of the Lord sounds forth where there is a pure possession and an innocent rule at home.

257. But what shall I say about chastity, when only one and no second union is allowed? As regards marriage, the law is, not to marry again, nor to seek union with another wife. It seems strange to many why impediment should be caused by a second marriage entered on before baptism, so as to prevent election to the clerical office, and to the reception of the gift of ordination; seeing that even crimes are not wont to stand in the way, if they have been put away in the sacrament of baptism.325 But we must learn, that in baptism sin can be forgiven, but law cannot be abolished. In the case of marriage there is no sin, but there is a law. Whatever sin there is can be put away, whatever law there is cannot be laid aside in marriage. How could he exhort to widowhood who himself had married more than once?

258. But ye know that the ministerial office must be kept pure and unspotted, and must not be defiled by conjugal intercourse; ye know this, I say, who have received the gifts of the sacred ministry, with pure bodies, and unspoilt modesty, and without ever having enjoyed conjugal intercourse. I am mentioning this, because in some out-of-the-way places, when they enter on the ministry, or even when they become priests, they have begotten children. They defend this on the ground of old custom, when, as it happened, the sacrifice was offered up at long intervals. However, even the people had to be purified two or three days beforehand, so as to come clean to the sacrifice, as we read in the Old Testament.326 They even used to wash their clothes. If such regard was paid in what was only the figure, how much ought it to be shown in the reality! Learn then, Priest and Levite, what it means to wash thy clothes. Thou must have a pure body wherewith to offer up the sacraments. If the people were forbidden to approach their victim unless they washed their clothes, dost thou, while foul in heart and body, dare to make supplication for others? Dost thou dare to make an offering for them?

259. The duty of the Levites is no light one, for the Lord says of them: “Behold I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, instead of every first-born that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel. These shall be their redemption, and the Levites shall be Mine. For I hallowed unto Me all the first-born in the land of Egypt.”327 We know that the Levites are not reckoned among the rest, but are preferred before all, for they are chosen out of all, and are sanctified like the firstfruits and the firstlings which belong to the Lord, since the payment of vows and redemption for sin are offered by them. “Thou shalt not receive them,” He says, “among the children of Israel, but thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it. They shall bear the tabernacle and all the vessels thereof, and they shall minister in it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward the Levites shall take it down, and when the camp is pitched they shall set up the tabernacle again. And the stranger that cometh nigh shall surely be put to death.”328

260. Thou, then, art chosen out of the whole number of the children of Israel, regarded as the firstfruits of the sacred offerings, set over the tabernacle so as to keep guard in the camp of holiness and faith, to which if a stranger approach, he shall surely die. Thou art placed there to watch over the ark of the covenant. All do not see the depths of the mysteries, for they are hid from the Levites, lest they should see who ought not to see, and they who cannot serve should take it up. Moses, indeed, saw the circumcision of the Spirit, but veiled it, so as to give circumcision only in an outward sign. He saw the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth; he saw the sufferings of the Lord, but he veiled the unleavened bread of truth in the material unleavened bread, he veiled the sufferings of the Lord in the sacrifice of a lamb or a calf. Good Levites have ever preserved the mystery entrusted to them under the protection of their own faith, and yet dost thou think little of what is entrusted to thee? First, thou shalt see the deep things of God, which needs wisdom. Next, thou must keep watch for the people; this requires justice. Thou must defend the camp and guard the tabernacle, which needs fortitude. Thou must show thyself continent and sober, and this needs temperance.

261. These chief virtues, they who are without have recognized,329 but they considered that the order resting on society was higher than that resting on wisdom; though wisdom is the foundation, and justice the building which cannot stand unless it have a foundation. The foundation is Christ.330

262. First stands faith, which is a sign of wisdom, as Solomon says, in following his father: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”331 And the law says: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, thou shalt love thy neighbour.”332 It is a noble thing to do one’s kindnesses and duties towards the whole of the human race. But it is ever most seemly that thou shouldst give to God the most precious thing thou hast, that is, thy mind,333 for thou hast nothing better than that. When thou hast paid thy debt to thy Creator, then thou mayest labour for men, to show them kindness, and to give help; then thou mayest assist the needy with money, or by some duty, or some service that lies in the way of thy ministry; by money to support him; by paying a debt, so as to free him that is bound; by undertaking a duty, so as to take charge of a trust, which he fears to lose, who has put it by in trust.

263. It is a duty, then, to take care of and to restore what has been entrusted to us. But meanwhile a change comes, either in time or circumstances,334 so that it is no longer a duty to restore what one has received. As, for instance, when a man demands back his money as an open enemy, to use it against his country, and to offer his wealth to barbarians. Or, if thou shouldst have to restore it, whilst another stood by to extort it from him by force. If thou restore money to a raving lunatic when he cannot keep it; if thou give up to a madman a sword once put by with thee, whereby he may kill himself, is it not an act contrary to duty to pay the debt? Is it not contrary to duty to take knowingly what has been got by a thief, so that he who has lost it is cheated out of it?

264. It is also sometimes contrary toduty to fulfil a promise,335 or to keep an oath. As was the case with Herod, who swore that whatever was asked he would give to the daughter of Herodies, and so allowed the death of John, that he might not break his word.336 And what shall I say of Jephthah,337 who offered up his daughter in sacrifice, she having been the first to meet him as he returned home victorious; whereby he fulfilled the vow which he had made that he would offer to God whatever should meet him first. It would have been better to make no promise at all, than to fulfil it in the death of his daughter.

265. Ye are not ignorant how important it is to look to this. And so a Levite is chosen to guard the sanctuary, one who shall never fail in counsel, nor forsake the faith, nor fear death, nor do anything extravagant, so that in his whole appearance he may give proof of his earnestness. For he ought to have not only his soul but even his eyes in restraint, so that no chance mishap may bring a blush to his forehead. For “whosoever looketh on a woman to desire her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.”338 Thus adultery is committed not only by actual committal of the foul deed, but even by the desire of the ardent gaze.

266. This seems high and somewhat severe, but in a high office it is not out of place. For the grace of the Levites is such that Moses spoke of them as follows in his blessing: “Give to Levi his men, give Levi his trusted ones, give Levi the lot of his inheritance, and his truth to the holy men whom they tempted in temptation, and reviled at the waters of contradiction. Who said to his father and mother, I know thee not, and knew not his brethren, and renounced his children. He guarded Thy word and kept Thy testimony.”339

267. They, then, are His men, His trusty ones, who have no deceit in their hearts, hide no treachery within them, but guard His words and ponder them in their heart, as Mary pondered them;340 who know not their parents so as to put them before their duty; who hate the violators of chastity, and avenge the injury done to purity; and know the times for the fulfilling of their duty, as also which duty is the greater, which the lesser, and to what occasion each is suited. In all this they follow that alone which is virtuous. And who, where there are two virtuous duties, think that which is the more virtuous must come first. These are in truth tightly blessed.

268. If any one makes known the just works of the Lord, and offers Him incense, then: “Bless, O Lord, his strength; accept the work of his hands,”341 that he may find the grace of the prophetic blessing with Him Who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.

1 (
Ps 34,11 [xxxiii.] .
2 Ps 112,1 [cxi.] .
3 Paulinus, in his Life of St. Ambrose, relates various, expedients that he tried, to enable him to avoid the office to which he had been called; e.g. how he caused torture to be applied to prisoners, contrary to his usual practice, in the hope that this might lead to his rejection. More than once, also, he endeavoured to escape the honour by flight.
4 (Ep 4,11,
5 (1Co 12,10,
6 St. Ambrose, at the time of his election to the episcopate, was a consular magistrate, and was not even baptized. The infula was a flock of red and white wool formed into a fillet, and worn on the head; from which ribands hung down on either side. It was a mark of religious consecration, and so worn by the priests and vestal virgins. In later times it was adopted also by the emperors and magistrates as a sign of their semi-sacred character.
7 The following is found in many mss., but not, in the Benedictine edition “Et quantumlibet quisque profecerit nemo est qui dacere non egeat dum vivit.
8 S. Mt 12,37.
9 (Is 50,4 [LXX.].
10 (Si 20,7,
11 (Ps 39,1 [xxxviii.] .
12 (Jb 5,21,
13 (Dt 6,4,
14 (Ps 119,9 [cxviii.].
15 S. Mt 12,36.
16 (Qo 3,7,
17 Sus. 5,35.
18 S. Mt 26,63.
19 (Pr 4,23).
20 (Is 6,5,
21 (Si 28,24-25.
22 (Ps 12,6 [xi.] .
23 (Is 1,6 [LXX.].
24 (Ps 4,4,
25 (Ps 90,3 [LXX.].
26 Symmachus, said to have been an Ebionite, lived c. 193–211. He translated the Old Testament into Greek. This was one of the versions Origen made use of in his Hexapla edition of the Bible.
27 (Ps 39,2 [xxxviii.] .
28 (Ps 39,2 [xxxviii.] .
29 (2S 16,6 ff).
30 This psalm in the Hebrew is inscribed to Jeduthun, one of the three leading musicians in the temple services.
31 A Stoic philosopher who lived and taught at Athens, c). b.c. 120. His chief work was a treatise peri tou kaqhkoutoz, which Cicero himself afterward used as the groundwork of his own book de Officiis.
32 Cic). de Off. I. 2.
33 (Lc 1,23, Vulgate has officii; the Greek text reads: th" leitonrgia".
34 In this section it is impossible to give the point in a translation, but the passage does not affect the argument. The text runs as follows: “Nec ratio ipsa abhorret, quandoquidem officium ab efficiendo dictum putamus, quasi efficium: sed propter decorera sermonis una immutata litera, officium. nuncupari, vel certe, ut ea agas quoe nulli officiant, prosin omnibus.
35 Cic). de Off. I. 3, §9).
36 Cic). de Off. I. 3.
37 S. Lc 16,25.
38 Cic). de Off. I. 27.
39 (Ps 65,1 [lxiv.].
40 (Tt 2,12,
41 (He 2,10,
42 (Ps 38,13 [xxxvii.]).
43 (Pr 26,4,
44 Cic). de Off. I. 3, §8.
45 S. Mt 19,17-19.
46 S. Mt 19,20-21.
47 S. Mt 5,44.
48 S. Mt 5,45.
49 (Jb 29,15-16).
50 (.
51 (, differing, however, widely from both the Hebrew and Greek text.
52 (Jb 21,14,
53 Plato, de Repub. II. 2.
54 (Jb 21,17,
55 (Jb 21,24,
56 (Jb 21,Very freely used all through this section.
57 (Jb 21,28).
58 S. Lc 12,15.
59 It is only fair to state that the character of Epicurus is mainly known in modern times from opponents or persons who did not understand him. See the account in Dict. of Gr. and Rm Biography.
60 Arist. Metaph. 1,2. An allusion to Aristotle’s saying that “the poets lie much.”
61 (Ps 94,9 [xciii.]).
62 (Ps 94,3 [xciii].
63 (Ps 94,7 [xciii.].
64 ([xciii.].
65 (Jr 17,10,
66 S. Mt 9,4.
67 S. Lc 6,8.
68 (Jb 24,14-15,
69 (Si 23,18,
70 (Si 23,31,
71 S. Lc 16,19ff).
72 (2Tm 4,7-8,
73 (Ac 14,22,
74 S. Mt 5,3.
75 S. Mt 5,4 ff.
76 (Jb 21,32,
77 (1Co 13,12).
78 (Si 4,9,
79 (Ps 82,4 [lxxxi.] .
80 S. Jn 12,6.
81 Cic). de Off. I. 34.
82 Thus the Benedictine edition reads; most others have: “accressent simul studia bonorum actuum.
83 (Gn 22,9,
84 (Gn 37,9,
85 (Gn 39,12,
86 (Ex 4,10,
87 (Jr 1,6,
88 Cic). de Off. I. 37, §134).
89 Sus. 5,35.
90 S. Lc 1,29ff.
91 S. Lc 18,13-14.
92 (1P 3,4,
93 (1Tm 2,9,
94 Cic). de Off. I. 35.
95 Cic). de Off. I. 36).
96 Cic). de Off. I. 35, §127.
97 (Gn 39,12,
98 Cic). de Off. I. 35.
99 Cic). de Off. I. 40, §142.
100 “modestia. quam a modo scientioe, quid deceret, appellarant arbitror.
101 (Gn 6,16,
102 (1Co 12,22-23,
103 Ambr. de Noe et Arca. cap. viii.
104 (Gn 9,22,
105 Cic). de Off. I. 35, §129).
106 (Ex 28,42, Ex 28,43,
107 Cic). de Off. I. 35, §126).
108 Cic). de Off. I. 25, §89.
109 (Rm 12,19,
110 (Gn 27,42,
111 (Gn 32,3 ff.
112 (Ps 34,13-14[xxxiii.].
113 S. Mt 18,3).
114 (1P 2,23,
115 lived c). b.c. 400. A noted philosopher, and also general.
116 (1S 25.
117 (Ps 55,3 [liv.] .
118 (Ps 55,6 [liv.].
119 (Ps 4,4,
120 Cic). de Off. I. 38, §136.
121 (Pr 16,32,
122 Cic). de Off. I. 36, §132.
123 Cic). de Off. I. 37).
124 Cic). de Off. I. 37, §135.
125 Cic). de Off. I. 37.
126 Cic). de Off. I. 29, §103.
127 S. Lc 6,25.
128 Cic). de Off. I. 37, §133.
129 Cic). de Off. I. 39, §141).
130 (Gn 12,1 ff.
131 (Gn 14,14,
132 (Gn 15,4 Gn 17,15,
133 (Gn 27,42 ff.
134 (Gn 25,34, Ambrose at times gets carried away by his his subject and says more than is warranted by the words of the Bible. Cf. also II. §101; II. §154; III. §64.
135 (Gn 33,4,
136 (Gn 39,
137 Cic). de Off. I. 5.
138 Ib. I. 2, §7.
139 (Gn 15,6,
140 (Ps 14,1 [xiii.] .
141 (Jr 2,27,
142 Manes, the founder of Manicheism, living about a.d. 250. He taught that there were two original principles absolutely opposed one to the other. On the one side God, from Whom nothing but good can go forth; on the other original evil—the author of all matter—which therefore is evil too. Man was formed by this evil spirit. For, whilst man’s soul is an emanation from the good God, man’s body in which the soul is imprisoned was framed of material elements. Hence the Manichaean is here represented addressing the devil as his father, the author of his earthly existence.
143 The father of Arianism, born a.d. 256, was condemned at the Council of Nicaea a.d. 325. He denied that Christ was “of one substance with the Father;” but held Him to be a kind of secondary God, created out of nothing before the world. But he considered Him to be the creator of the world.
144 Marcion flourished between the years a.d. 140–190. He also taught the existence of more than one Principle, and held that man was created by an inferior Being.
145 Eunomius was the leader of the extreme Arian party, flourishing c). a.d. 360. He maintained the absolute unlikeness of the Son to the Father not only in substance but even in will. Hence his party were called Anomoeans (anomoio", unlike). In baptizing they also applied no water to the lower part of the body, asserting that it was created by an evil spirit, thus with Marcion recognizing the dual Principle. Theodoret, who is the authority for this latter and some other charges against the Eunomians, says, however. that he is speaking from hearsay, not of his own knowledge). Hoer. Fab. IV. 3.
146 (Ps 111,10 [cx.] .
147 (Pr 24,7 [LXX.].
148 (Ps 112,9 [cxi.] .
149 (Gn 22,3).
150 (Gn 32,29-30,
151 (Gn 33,8,
152 (Gn 32,24–26.
153 (Gn 34,5,
154 (Gn 6,14,
155 (Ac 7,22,
156 (Ex 3,4).
157 S. Mt 7,21.
158 Cic). de Off. I. 6.
159 Some mss. have “injustitioe,” others “pecunioe,” which seems to be a correction to bring it into harmony with the LXX: “inati uphrxe crhmata afroni.”
160 (Pr 17,15 [LXX.].
161 Cic). de Off. I. 7.
162 Summa Theol. II. 2, q. 101. St. Thomas Aquinas agrees in making piety a part of justice, and a gift of the Holy Spirit, but places parents before instead of after our country.
163 Cic). de Off. I. 4.
164 Cis). de Off. I. I 7).
165 S. Lc 9,56.
166 Cic). de Off. I. 9.
167 (Gn 1,26,
168 (Ps 8,7-8,
169 (Gn 2,18,
170 (Gn 2,20,
171 Cic). de Off. I. 9, §30.
172 Cic). de Off. I. 7, §24.
173 Cic). de Off. I. 8, §26).
174 Cic). de Off. I. 11, §34.
175 (Nb 31.
176 (Jos 9.
177 2R 6,22.
178 2R 6,23.
179 2R 6,16.
180 .
181 Cic). de Off. I. 12.
182 (1S 4,1.
183 Cic). de Off. I. 7, §23.
184 (Is 28,16,
185 (1Co 3,11).
186 (2Co 9,7,
187 (1Co 9,17,
188 Cic). de Off. I, 14, §43.
189 S. Lc 19,8.
190 (Ac 5,11,
191 S. Mt 6,3.
192 (Ga 6,10,
193 (Jb 29,13,
194 S. Lc 21,3-4.
195 1R 19,20.
196 Cic). de Off. I. 17, §58.
197 “Et se juste facere putant.” These words are omitted in many mss.
198 (2Co 8,9,
199 (2Co 8,10,
200 (2Co 8,10,
201 (2Co 8,11–15.
202 (Ex 16,18,
203 St. Ambrose, allowing clergy to retain some of their patrimony so as not to burden the Church, is less strict than St. Augustine, who would have them give up everything and live in common). Serm. 355).
204 S. Mt 11,11.
205 S. Lc 11,8.
206 Cic). de Off. I. 15, §47.
207 Cic). de Off. I. 15, §48.
208 (Pr 24,30 [LXX].
209 Cic). de Off. I. 15, §48.
210 (Pr 23,1 [LXX.]).
211 Allusion is made to Si 3,31.
212 S. Lc 6,37-38.
213 S. Jn 4,34.
214 (Ps 37,4,
215 S. Mt 4,4.
216 (Jb 29,23,
217 (1Co 15,10,
218 Cic). de Off. II. 20, §69.
219 (1S 20,11 ff.
220 Cic). de Amic. 13, §47).
221 (Jb 31,32,
222 Cic). de Off. I. 16.
223 (Jb 31,35 [LXX.].
224 Cic). de Off. I. 16, 17.
225 (Gn 2,24,
226 Cic). de Off. I. 17, §55.
227 Cic de Off. I. 17, §55.
228 (Ps 18,26,
229 Cic). de Off. I. 17, §56.
230 (Si 23,31,
231 (Pr 27,6,
232 Cic). de Off. I. 17, §57).
233 (Pr 27,10,
234 Cic). de Off. I. 18, §61.
235 Cis). de Off. I. 19.
236 (1S 17,39 ff.
237 (2S 5,19.
238 (2S 21,15.
239 (He 11,33-34,
240 Bel and the Dragon 5,39.
241 Cic). de Off. I. 23.
242 (Ex 2,11,
243 (Pr 24,11,
244 (Jb 29,12-13,
245 Cf. Jb 1,12, w. Jb 1,22, and Jb 2,6, w. Jb 2,10.
246 (Jb 40,2 Jb 40,5-6 [LXX.]).
247 (He 6,18,
248 Cic). de Off. I. 20, §68.
249 Cic). de Off. I. 20, §66.
250 (2Tm 2,5,
251 (Rm 5,3-4,
252 (2Co 7,5,
253 (2Co 11,24 ff.
254 (Col 2,20-22.
255 (Col 3,1-2,
256 (Col 3,5,
257 (1Tm 4,8,
258 (1Tm 6,12,
259 (2Tm 2,4
260 (Ps 37,25 [xxxvi.] .
261 Cic). de Off. I. 21, §72).
262 Cic). de Off. I. 21, §73.
263 S. Mt 10,23.
264 S. Mt 5,8.
265 (Jb 1,21,
266 (Jb 1 Jb 21
267 (Jb 2,10).
268 Cic). de Off. I. 20, §68.
269 There is a considerable variation of text here. The original of the translation is: “iracundiam velut quibusdam propulset armis, quoe tollat consilium, et tanquam oegritudinem vitet.” Cod. Dresd. reads: “iracundiam …propulset arietibus armisque tollat et convicia tanquam oegritudinem vitet.”
270 Cic). de Off. I. 22.
271 (Jos 10.
272 (Jos 10,12,
273 (Jg 7,
274 (1S 14,1.
275 (1M 2,35 ff).
276 1M 6,43.
277 The Latin text has: “utraque manu interficiebat, donec pervenit ad bestiam.” Cod. Dresd., ed. Med. have: “utraque manu interficiebat bestiam, atque intravit sab eam.
278 Ed. Bened. here has: “ita ut ab ortu solis per singulas bestias velut montes quidam splendor armorum corusco, tanquam lampadibus ardentibus.” Cod. Dresd. and Goth.: “ita ut …quidam armorum coruscorum …refulgerent.” Other ancient editions: “ita ut …quidam armorum corusco …refulgerent.
279 (1M 9,8,
280 (1M 11,68,
281 (2M 7,1 ff.
282 (2M 7,20).
283 S. Mt 2,16.
284 “Consecrationem.” So all mss. Ed. Rm alone has “dispensationem.
285 Consecration seems a strange expression in the mouth of a deacon, but it may be explained either by the intimate connection between the celebrant and his deacon, as at the present day in the Liturgy of the Eastern Church; or it may refer to the hallowing of the faithful in the partaking of the Sacrament. The word consecratio is not always restrained to the consecration properly so called, as may be seen by the prayer in the Roman missal said by the priest when he drops a consecrated particle into the chalice which has also been already consecrated;—“Hoec commixtio et consecratio Corporis et Sansguinis …fiat nobis in vitam oeternam.
286 Cic). de Off. I. 27).
287 (2S 6,14.
288 1 Sam, 21,13.
289 (1S 19,24,
290 Cic). de Off. I. 31, §114.
291 It has been supposed that St. Ambrose in this passage by “father” means “spiritual father,” in whose hands the teaching and guidance of the young was put. But there is no reason why the word should not be taken in its ordinary sense. If so, however, the father must have been in one of the inferior orders only, or else his children must have been born before he was admitted to the priesthood. For elsewhere (I. 258), as here, St. Ambrose clearly shows that absolute continence is required of priests, after entering on their sacred office).
292 Cic). de Off. I. 27.
293 (Ps 93,1 [xcii.] .
294 (Rm 13,13,
295 The words decorum and honestum being used in different senses, it is not possible to give the points in a translation as in the original.
296 (Ps 93,1 [xcii.] .
297 (Ps 65,1 [lxiv.] .
298 (1Co 14,40,
299 (1Tm 2,9-10,
300 Cic). de Off. I. 27, §96.
301 (1Co 11,13-14).
302 (Pr 8,30-31 [LXX.].
303 Cic). de Off. I. 29, §102.
304 Cic). de Off. I. 38, §137).
305 “inequitat.” Ed. Med. has “inquietat.
306 (1Co 4,12,
307 S. Mt 5,44.
308 (2S 16,12.
309 (2S 16,10.
310 (2S 16,11.
311 (2S 16,11-12 [2 Kings]
312 (Ps 39,4 [xxxviii.] .
313 (1Co 15,23).
314 (He 10,1,
315 Cf. St. Amb). Enarr. in Ps. xxxix). [xxxviii.].
316 (1P 5,8,
317 S. Jn 14,30.
318 (Gn 31,32,
319 (Ps 72,20 [LXX.]).
320 S. Mc 10,23.
321 (Nb 18,23,
322 (Ps 16,5,
323 S. Mt 17,27
324 (1Tm 3,2–10.
325 The question kept coming up from time to time: Did Baptism annul all previous impedimenta ordinationis? Even in the fifth century, as Pope Innocent I. (Ep. XXIX). shows some maintained that as Baptism puts away all sins committed previous to its reception, so also it removes all impediments to ordination. This same idea St. Ambrose combats here.
326 (Ex 19,10).
327 (Nb 3,12-13,
328 (.
329 Cic). de Off. I. 43.
330 (1Co 3,11,
331 (Pr 9,10, and Ps 111,10). [cx.] 10 .
332 (Dt 6,5,
333 Cic). de Off. I. 45.
334 Cic). de Off. I. 10.
335 Cic). de Off. I. 10, §32).
336 S. Mt 14,6 ff.
337 (Jdt 11,30 ff.
338 S. Mt 5,28.
339 (Dt 33,8-9,
340 S. Lc 2,19.
341 (Dt 33,11,

Book II.


Chapter I.

Happiness in life is to be gained by living virtuously, inasmuch as thus a Christian, whilst despising glory and the favour of men, desires to please God alone in what he does.

1). In the first book we spoke of the duties1 which we thought befitted a virtuous life, whereon no one has ever doubted but that a blessed life, which the Scripture calls eternal life, depends. So great is the splendour of a virtuous life that a peaceful conscience and a calm innocence work out a happy life. And as the risen sun hides the globe of the moon and the light of the stars, so the brightness of a virtuous life, where it glitters in true pure glory, casts into the shade all other things, which, according to the desires of the body, are considered to be good, or are reckoned in the eyes of the world to be great and noble.

2. Blessed, plainly, is that life which is not valued at the estimation of outsiders, but is known, as judge of itself, by its own inner feelings. It needs no popular opinion as its reward in any way; nor has it any fear of punishments. Thus the less it strives for glory, the more it rises above it. For to those who seek for glory, that reward in the shape of present things is but a shadow of future ones, and is a hindrance to eternal life, as it is written in the Scriptures: “Verily, I say unto you, they have received their reward.”2 This is said of those who, as it were, with the sound of a trumpet desire to make known to all the world the liberality they exercise towards the poor. It is the same, too, in the case of fasting, which is done but for outward show. “They have,” he says, “their reward.”

3. It therefore belongs to a virtuous life to show mercy and to fast in secret; that thou mayest seem to be seeking a reward from thy God alone, and not from men. For he who seeks it from man has his reward, but he who seeks it from God has eternal life, which none can give but the Lord of Eternity, as it is said: “Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”3 Wherefore the Scripture plainly has called that life which is blessed, eternal life. It has not been left to be appraised according to man’s ideas on the subject, but has been entrusted to the divine judgment.

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