Gregory 1330

Chapter XXX. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Abstain Not from the Sins Which They Bewail, and Those Who, Abstaining from Them, Bewail Them Not.

1330 (Admonition 31). Differently to be admonished are those who lament their transgressions, and yet forsake them not, and those who forsake them, and yet lament them not. For those who lament their transgressions and yet forsake them not are to be admonished to learn to consider anxiously that they cleanse themselves in vain by their weeping, if they wickedly defile themselves in their living, seeing that the end for which they wash themselves in tears is that, when clean, they may return to filth. For hence it is written, The dog is returned to his own vomit again, and the saw that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2P 2,22). For the dog, when he vomits, certainly casts forth the food which weighed upon his stomach; but, when he returns to his vomit, he is again loaded with what he had been relieved from. And they who mourn their transgressions certainly cast forth by confession the wickedness with which they have been evilly satiated, and which oppressed the inmost parts of their soul; and yet, in recurring to it after confession, they take it in again. But the sow, by wallowing in the mire when washed, is made more filthy. I And one who mourns past transgressions, yet forsakes them not, subjects himself to the penalty of more grievous sin, since he both despises the very pardon which he might have won by his weeping, and as it were rolls himself in miry water; because in withholding purity of life from his weeping he makes even his very tears filthy before the eyes of God. Hence again it is written, Repeat not a word in thy prayer (Si 7,14). For to repeat a word in prayer is, after bewailing, to commit what again requires bewailing. Hence it is said through Isaiah, Wash you, be ye clean (Is 1,16). For he neglects being clean after washing, whosoever after tears keeps not innocency of life. And they therefore are washed, but are in no wise clean, who cease not to bewail the things they have committed, but commit again things to be bewailed. Hence through a certain wise man it is said, (He that is baptized from the touch of a dead body and toucheth it again, what availeth his washing (Si 34,30 19)? For indeed he is baptized from the touch of a dead body who is cleansed from sin by weeping: but he touches a dead body after his baptism, who after tears repeats his sin.

Those who bewail transgressions, yet forsake them not, are to be admonished to acknowledge themselves to be before the eyes of the strict judge like those who, when they come before the face of certain men, fawn upon them with great submission, but, when they depart, atrociously bring upon them all the enmity and hurt they can. For what is weeping for sin but exhibiting the humility of one’s devotion to God? And what is doing wickedly after weeping but putting in practice arrogant enmity against Him to whom entreaty has been made? This James attests, who says, Whosoever will be a friend of this world becomes the enemy of God (Jc 4,4). Those who lament their transgressions, yet forsake them not, are to be admonished to consider anxiously that, for the most part, bad men are unprofitably drawn by compunction to righteousness, even as, for the most part, good men are without harm tempted to sin. Here indeed is found a wonderful measure of inward disposition in accordance with the requirements of desert, in that the bad, while doing something good, but still without perfecting it, are proudly confident in the midst of the very evil which even to the full they perpetrate; while the good, when tempted of evil to which they in no wise consent, plant the steps of their heart towards righteousness through humility all the more surely from their tottering through infirmity. Thus Balaam, looking on the tents of the righteous, said, May my soul die the death of the righteous, and may my last end be like theirs (Nb 23,10). But, when the time of compunction had passed, he gave counsel against the life of those whom he had requested for himself to be like even in dying: and, when he found an occasion for the gratification of his avarice, he straightway forgot all that he had wished for himself of innocence. Hence it is that Paul, the teacher and preacher of the Gentiles, says, I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members (Rm 7,23). He is of a truth tempted for this very purpose, that he may be the more stedfastly confirmed in good from the knowledge of his own infirmity. Why is it, then, that the one is touched with compunction, and yet draws not near unto righteousness, while the other is tempted, and yet sin defiles him not, but for this evident reason, that neither do good things not perfected help the bad, nor bad things not consummated condemn the good?

But, on the other hand, those who forsake their transgressions, and yet mourn them not, are to be admonished not to suppose the sins to be already remitted which, though they multiply them not by action, they still cleanse away by no bewailings. For neither has a writer, when he has ceased from writing, obliterated what he had written by reason of his having added no more: neither has one who offers insults made satisfaction by merely holding his peace, it being certainly necessary for him to impugn his former words of pride by words of subsequent humility: nor is a debtor absolved by not increasing his debt, unless he also pays what he has incurred. Thus also, when we offend against God, we by no means make satisfaction by ceasing from iniquity, unless we also follow up the pleasures which we have loved by lamentations set against them. For, if no sin of deed had polluted us in this life, our very innocence would by no means suffice for our security as long as we live here, since many unlawful things would still assail our heart. With what conscience, then, can he feel safe, who, having perpetrated iniquities, is himself witness to himself that he is not innocent?

For it is not as if God were fed by our torments: but He heals the diseases of our transgressions by medicines opposed to them that we, who have departed from Him delighted by pleasures, may return to Him embittered by tears; and that, having fallen by running loose in unlawful things, we may rise by restraining ourselves even in lawful ones; and that the heart which mad joy had flooded may be burnt clean by wholesome sadness: and that what the elation of pride had wounded may be cured by the dejection of a humble life). For hence it is written, I said unto the wicked, Deal not wickedly; and to the transgressors, lift not up the horn (Ps 74,5 20). For transgressors lift up the horn, if they in no wise humble themselves to penitence after knowledge of their iniquity. Hence again it is said, A bruised and humbled heart God doth not despise (Ps 50,19 21). For whosoever mourns his sins yet forsakes them not bruises indeed his heart, but scorns to humble it. But he who forsakes his sins yet mourns them not does indeed already humble his heart, but refuses to bruise it. Hence Paul says, And such indeed were ye; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified (1Co 6,11); because, in truth, amended life sanctifies those whom the ablution of the affliction of tears cleanses through penitence. Hence Peter, when he saw some affrighted by consideration of their evil deeds, admonished them, saying, Repent, and be baptized every one of you (Ac 2,38). For, being about to speak of baptism, he spoke first of the lamentations of penitence; that they should first bathe themselves in the water of their own affliction, and afterwards wash themselves in the sacrament of baptism. With what conscience, then, can those who neglect to weep for their past misdeeds live secure of pardon, when the chief pastor of the Church himself believed that penitence must be added even to this Sacrament which chiefly extinguishes sins?

Chapter XXXI. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Praise the Unlawful Things of Which They are Conscious, and Those Who, While Condemning Them, in No Wise Guard Against Them.

1331 (Admonition 32). Differently to be admonished are they who even praise the unlawful things which they do, and those who censure what is wrong, and yet avoid it not. For they who even praise the unlawful things which they do are to be admonished to consider how for the most part they offend more by the mouth than by deeds. For by deeds they perpetrate wrong things in their own persons only; but with the mouth they bring out wickedness in the persons of as many as there are souls of hearers, to whom they teach wicked things by praising them. They are therefore to be admonished that, if they evade the eradication of evil, they at least be afraid to sow it. They are to be admonished to let their own individual perdition suffice them. And again they are to be admonished that, if they fear not to be bad, they at least blush to be seen to be what they are. For usually a sin, when it is concealed, is shunned; because, when a soul blushes to be seen to be what nevertheless it does not fear to be, it comes in time to blush to be what it shuns being seen to be. But, when any bad man shamelessly courts notice, then the more freely he perpetrates every wickedness, the more does he come even to think it lawful; and in what he imagines to be lawful he is without doubt sunk ever more and more. Hence it is written, They have declared their sin as Sodom, neither have they hidden it (Is 3,9). For, had Sodom hidden her sin, she would still have sinned, but, in fear. But she had utterly lost the curb of fear, in that she did not even seek darkness for her sin. Whence also again it is written, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is multiplied (Gn 18,20). For sin with a voice is guilt in act; but sin with even a cry is guilt at liberty.

But, on the other band, those who censure wrong things and yet avoid them not are to be admonished to weigh circumspectly what they can say in their own excuse before the strict judgment of God, seeing they are not excused from the guilt of their crimes, even themselves being judges. What, then, are these men but their own summoners? They give their voices against misdeeds, and deliver themselves up as guilty in their doings. They are to be admonished to perceive how it even now comes of the hidden retribution of judgment that their mind is enlightened to see the evil which it perpetrates, but strives not to overcome it; so that the better it sees the worse it may perish; because it both perceives the light of understanding, and also relinquishes not the darkness of wrong-doing. For, when they neglect the knowledge that has been given to help them, they turn it into a testimony against themselves; and from the light of understanding, which they had in truth received that they might be able to do away their sins, they augment their punishments. And, indeed, this their wickedness, doing the evil which it condemns, has already a taste here of the judgment to come; so that, while kept liable to eternal punishment, it shall not meanwhile be absolved here in its own test of itself; and that it may experience there the more grievous torments, in that here it forsakes not the evil which even itself condenms. For hence the Truth says, That servant which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes (Lc 12,47). Hence the Psalmist says, Let them go down quick into hell (Ps 54,16 22 ). For the quick know and feel what is being done about them; but the dead can feel nothing. For they would go down dead into hell if they committed what is evil without knowledge. But when they know what is evil, and yet do it, they go down quick, miserable, and feeling, into the hell of iniquity.

1 In English Bible, 40,12.
2 In English Bible, 141,3.
3 In English Bible, 141,II.
4 In English Bible, cxxxviii. 6.
5 The designation (Rab-tabbachim) of Nabuzaradan, who acted for Nebuchadnezzar after the capture of Jerusalem, is rendered in the LXX). ajrximavgeiro", i.e. Chief Cook.
6 In English Bible, 49,9.
7 In English Bible, Ps 139.
8 Ibid., Ps 120.
9 (So Vulgate. Gregory always takes Leviathan to signify the devil.
10 (So Vulgate. Gregory always takes Leviathan to signify the devil.
11 In English Bible, 54,3.
12 In English Bible, Ps 40.
13 The word adolescentia, used in the Vulgate, implies properly the age of immaturity, while growth is still going on. "ADOLESCENTIA, prima hominis oetas post pueritiam, et ante juventutem.’ Facciolati. St Gregory’s intention is to preclude the idea of Timothy having been called to “command and teach” at so immature an age as the word might seem to imply.
14 In English Bible, 108,6.
15 Ibid. cv. 44.
16 Ibid. 73,18.
17 In English Bible, 51,3.
18 Ibid. xcv. 2.
19 In Engl. Bib., 34,25.
20 In English Bible, lxxv. 4.
21 Ibid. 51,17.
22 In English Bible, lv. 15.

Chapter XXXII. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Sin from Sudden Impulse and Those Who Sin Deliberately.

1332 (Admonition 33).. Differently to be admonished are those who are overcome by sudden passion and those, who are bound in guilt of set purpose. For those whom sudden passion overcomes are to be admonished to regard themselves as daily set in the warfare of the present life, and to protect the heart, which cannot foresee wounds, with the shield oil anxious fear; to dread the hidden darts of the ambushed foe, and, in so dark a contest, to guard with continual attention the inward camp of the soul. For, if the heart is left destitute of the solicitude of circumspection, it is laid open to wounds; since the crafty enemy strikes the breast the more freely as he catches it bare of the breastplate of forethought. Those who are overcome by sudden passion are to be admonished to cease caring too much for earthly things; since, while they entangle their attention immoderately in transitory things, they are not aware of the darts of sins which pierce them. Whence, also, the utterance of one that is stricken and yet sleeps is expressed by Solomon, who says, They, have beaten the, and I was not pained; they have dragged me, and I felt it not. When shall I awake and again find wine (Pr 23,35)? For the soul that sleeps from the care of its solicitude is beaten and feels not pain, because, as it foresees not impending evils, so neither is it aware of those which it has perpetrated. It is dragged, and in no wise feels it, because it is led by the allurements of vices, and yet is not roused to keep guard over itself. But again it wishes to awake, that it may again find wine, because, although weighed down by the sleep of its torpor from keeping guard over itself, it still strives to be awake to the cares of the world, that it may be ever drunk with pleasures; and, while sleeping to that wherein it ought to have been wisely awake, it desires to be awake to something else, to which it might have laudably slept. Hence it is written previously, And thou shall be as one that sleepeth in the midst of the sea, and as a steersman that is lulled to rest, having let go the rudder (Pr 23,35). For he sleeps in the midst of the sea who, placed among the temptations of this world, neglects to look out for the motions of vices that rush in upon him like impending heaps of waves. And the steersman, as it were, lets go the rudder when the mind loses the earnestness of solicitude for guiding the ship of the body. For, indeed, to let go the rudder in the sea is to leave off intentness of forethought among the storms of this life. For, if the steersman holds fast the rudder with anxious care, he now directs the ship among the billows right against them, now cleaves the assaults of the winds aslant. So, when the mind vigilantly guides the soul, it now surmounts some things and treads them down, now warily turns aside from others, so that it may both by hard exertion overcome present dangers, and by foresight gather strength against future struggle. Hence, again, of the strong warriors of the heavenly country it is said, Every man hath his sword upon his thigh because offears in the night (Ct 3,8). For the swordis put upon the thigh when the evil suggestion of the flesh is subdued by the sharp edge ofholy preaching. But by the night is expressed the blindness of our infirmity; since any opposition that is impending in the night is not seen. Every man’s sword, therefore, is put upon his thigh because of fears in the night; that is, because holy men, while they fear things which they do not see, stand always prepared for the strain of a struggle. Hence, again. it is said to the bride, Thy nose is as the tower that is in Lebanon (Ct 7,4). For the thing which we perceive not with our eyes we usually anticipate by the smell. By the nose, also, we discern between odours and stenches. What, then, is signified by the nose of the Church but the foreseeing discernment of Saints? It is also said to be like to the tower that is in Lebanon, because their discerning foresight is so set on a height as to see the struggles of temptations even before they come, and to stand fortified against them when they do come. For things that are foreseen when future are of less force when they are present; because, when every one has become more prepared against the blow, the enemy, who supposed himself to be unexpected, is weakened by the very fact of having been anticipated.

But, on the other hand, those who of set purpose are bound in guilt, are to be admonished to perpend with wary consideration how that, when they do what is evil of their own judgment, they kindle stricter judgment against themselves; and that by so much the harder sentence will smite them as the chains of deliberation have bound them more tightly in guilt. Perhaps they might sooner wash away their transgressions by penitence, had they fallen into them through precipitancy alone. For the sin is less speedily loosened which of set purpose is firmly bound. For unless the soul altogether despised eternal things, it would not perish in guilt advisedly. In this, then, those who perish of set purpose differ from those who fall through precipitancy; that the former, when they fall by sin from the state of righteousness, for the most part fall also into the snare of desperation. Hence it is that the Lord through the Prophet reproves not so much the wrong doings of precipitance as purposes of sin, saying, Lest perchance my indignation come out as fire, and be inflamed, and there be none to quench it because of the wickedness of your purposes (Jr 4,4). Hence, again, in wrath He says, I will visit upon you according to the fruit of your purposes (Jr 23,2). Since, then, sins which are perpetrated of set purpose differ from other sins, the Lord censures purposes of wickedness rather than wicked deeds. For in deeds the sin is often of infirmity or of negligence, but in purposes it is always of malicious intent. Contrariwise, it is well said through the Prophet in describing a blessed man, And he sitteth not in the chair of pestilence (Ps 1,1). For a chair is wont to be the seat of a judge or a president. And to sit in the chair of pestilence is to commit what is wrong judicially; to sit in the chair of pestilence is to discern with the reason what is evil, and yet deliberately to perpetrate it. He sits, as it were, in the chair of perverse counsel who is lifted up with so great elation of iniquity as to endeavour even by counsel to accomplish evil. And, as those who are supported by the dignity of the chair are set over the crowds that stand by, so sins that are purposely sought out transcend the transgressions of those who fall through precipitancy. Those, then, who even by counsel bind themselves in guilt are to be admonished hence to gather with what vengeance they must at some time be smitten, being now made, not companions, hut princes, of evil-doers.

Chapter XXXIII. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Commit Very Small But Frequent Faults, and Those Who, While Avoiding Such as are Very Small, are Sometimes Plunged in Such as are Grievous.

1333 (Admonition 34). Differently to be admonished are those who, though the unlawful things they do are very small, yet do them frequently, and those who keep themselves from small sins, but are sometimes plunged in such as are grievous. Those who frequently transgress, though in very small things, are to be admonished by no means to consider the quality of the sins they commit, but the quantity. For, if they scorn being afraid when they weigh their deeds, they ought to be alarmed when they number them; seeing that deep gulphs of rivers are filled by small but innumerable drops of rain; and bilge-water, increasing secretly, has the same effect as a storm raging openly; and the sores that break out on the members in scab are minute; but, when a multitude of them gets possession in countless numbers, it destroys the life of the body as much as one grievous wound inflicted on the breast. Hence for certain it is written, (He that contemneth small things falleth by little and little (Si 19,1). For he that neglects to bewail and avoid the smallest sins fails from the state of righteousness, not indeed suddenly, but bit by bit entirely. Those who transgress frequently in very little things are to be admonished to consider anxiously how that sometimes there is worse sin in a small fault than in a greater one. For a greater fault, in that it is the sooner acknowledged to be one, is by so much the more speedily amended; but a smaller one, being reckoned as though it were none at all, is retained in use with worse effect as it is so with less concern. Whence for the most part it comes to pass that the mind, accustomed to light evils, has no horror even of heavy ones, and, being fed up by sins, comes at last to a sort of sanction of iniquity, and by so much the more scorns to be afraid in greater matters as it has learnt to sin in little ones without fear.

But, on the other hand, those who keep themselves from small sins, but are sometimes plunged in grievous ones, are to be admonished anxiously to apprehend the state they are in; how that, while their heart is lifted up for very small things guarded against, they are so swallowed up in the very gulph of their own elation as to perpetrate others that are more grievous, and, while they outwardly master little ills, but are puffed up inwardly with vain glory, they prostrate their soul, overcome within itself by the sickness of pride, amid greater ills even outwardly. Those, then, who keep themselves from little faults, but are sometimes plunged in such as are grievous, are to be admonished to take care lest they fall inwardly where they suppose themselves to be standing outwardly, and lest, according to the retribution of the strict judge, elation on account of lesser righteousness become a way to the pitfall of more grievous sin. For such as, vainly elated, attribute their keeping of the least good to their own strength, being justly left to themselves are overwhelmed in greater sins; and by falling they learn that their standing was not of themselves, so that immeasurable ills may humble the heart that is exalted by the smallest good. They are to be admonished to consider that, while in their more grievous faults they bind themselves in deep guilt, they nevertheless for the most part sin worse in the little faults which they guard against; because, while in the former they do what is wicked, in the latter they hide from men that they are wicked. Whence it comes to pass that, when they perpetrate greater evils before God, it is a case of open iniquity; and when they are careful to observe small good things before men, it is a case of pretended holiness. For hence it is that it is said of the Pharisees, Straining out a gnat, but swallowing a camel (Mt 23,24). As if it were said plainly. The least evils ye discern; the greater ye devour. Hence it is that they are again reproved by the mouth of the Truth, when they are told, Ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and omit the weightier matters of the Law, judgment and mercy and truth (Si 23). For neither is it to be carelessly heard that, when He said that the least things were tithed, He chose indeed to mention the lowest of herbs, but yet such as are sweet-smelling; in order, surely, to shew that, when pretenders observe small things, they seek to extend for themselves the odour of a holy reputation; and, though they omit to fulfil the greatest things, they still observe such of the smallest as smell sweetly far and wide in human judgment.

Chapter XXXIV. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Do Not Even Begin Good Things, and Those Who Do Not Finish Them When Begun.

1334 (Admonition 35). Differently to be admonished are they who do not even begin good things, and those who in no wise complete such as they have begun. For as to those who do not even begin good things, for them the first need is, not to build up what they may wholesomely love, but to demolish that wherein they are wrongly occupied. For they will not follow the untried things they hear of, unless they first come to feel how pernicious are the things that they have tried; since neither does one desire to be lifted up who knows not the very fact that he has fallen; nor does one who feels not the pain of a wound seek any healing remedy. First, then, it is to be shewn to them how vain are the things that they love, and then at length to be carefully made known to them how profitable are the things that they let slip. Let them first see that what they love is to be shunned, and afterwards perceive without difficulty that what they shun is to be loved. For they sooner accept the things which they have not tried, if they recognize as true whatever discourse they may hear concerning the things that they have tried. So then they learn to seek true good with fulness of desire, when they have learnt with certainty of judgment how vainly they have held to what was false. Let them be told, therefore, both that present good things will soon pass away from enjoyment, and also that the account to be given of them will nevertheless endure, without passing away, for vengeance; since both what pleases them is withdrawn from them now against their will, and what pains them is reserved them, also against their will, for punishment. Thus may they be wholesomely filled with alarm by the same things in which they harmfully take delight; so that when the stricken soul, in sight of the deep ruin of its fall, perceives that it has reached a precipice, it may retrace its steps backward, and, fearing what it had loved, may learn to esteem highly what it once despised.

For hence it is that it is said to Jeremiah when sent to preach, See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to scatter, and to build, and to plant (
Jr 1,10). Because, unless he first destroyed wrong things, he could not profitably build right things; unless he plucked out of the hearts of his hearers the thorns of vain love, he would certainly plant to no purpose the words of holy preaching. Hence it is that Peter first overthrows, that he may afterwards build up, when he in no wise admonished the Jews as to what they were now to do, but reproved them for what they had done, saying, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by powers and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know; Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have by the hands of wicked men crucified and slain; whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains hell (); in order, to wit, that having been thrown down by a recognition of their cruelty, they might hear the building up of holy preaching by so much the more profitably as they anxiously sought it. Whence also they forthwith replied, What then shall we do, men and brethren? And it is presently said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you (Ac 37,38). Which words of building up they would surely have despised, had they not first wholesomely become aware of the ruin of their throwing down. Hence it is that Saul, when the light from heaven shone upon him, did not hear immediately what he was to do aright, but what he had done wrong. For, when, fallen to the earth, he enquired. saying, Who art Thou, Lord? it was straightway replied, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And when he forthwith replied, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? it is added at once, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee there what thou must do (Ac 9,4, &c.; Ac 22,8, &c).. Lo, the Lord, speaking from heaven, reproved the deeds of His persecutor, and yet did not at once shew him what he had to do. Lo, the whole fabric of his elation had already been thrown down and then, humble after his downfall, he sought to be built up: and when pride was thrown down, the words of building up were still kept back; to wit, that the cruel persecutor might long lie overthrown, and rise afterwards the more firmly built in good as he had fallen utterly upset from his former error. Those, then, who have not as yet begun to do any good are first to be overthrown by the hand of correction from the stiffness of their iniquity, that they may afterwards be lifted up to the state of well-doing. For this cause also we cut down the lofty timber of the forest, that we may raise it up in the roof of a building: but yet it is not placed in the fabric suddenly; in order, that is, that its vicious greenness may first be dried out: for the more the moisture thereof is exuded in the lowest, by so much the more solidly is it elevated to the topmost places.

But, on the other hand, those who in no wise complete the good things they have begun are to be admonished to consider with cautious circumspection how that, when they accomplish not their purposes, they tear up with them even the things that had been begun. For, if that which is seen to be a thing to be done advances not through assiduous application, even that which had been well done fails back. For the human soul in this world is, as it were, in the condition of a ship ascending against the stream of a river: it is never suffered to stay in one place, since it will float back to the nethermost parts unless it strive for the uppermost. If then the strong hand of the worker carry not on to perfection the good things begun, the very slackness in working fights against what has been wrought. For hence it is that it is said through Solomon, (He that is feeble and slack in work is brother to him that wasteth his works (Pr 18,9). For in truth he who does not strenuously execute the good things he has begun imitates in the slackness of his negligence the hand of the destroyer. Hence it is said by the Angel to the Church of Sardis, Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I find not thy works complete before my God (Ap 3,2). Thus, because the works had not been found complete before his God, he foretold that those which remained, even such as had been done, were about to die. For, if that which is dead in us be not kindled into life, that which is retained as though still alive is extinguished too. They are to be admonished that it might have been more tolerable for them not to have laid hold of the right way than, having laid hold of it, to turn their backs upon it. For unless they looked back, they would not grow weak with any torpor with regard to their undertaken purpose. Let them hear, then, what is written, It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they hare known it, to be turned backward (2P 2,21). Let them hear what is written; I would thou wert cold or hot: but, because than art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to spue thee out of my mouth (Ap 3,15-16). For he is hot who both takes up and completes good purposes; but he is cold who does not even begin any to be completed. And as transition is made through lukewarmness from cold to heat, so through lukewarmness there is a return from heat to cold. Whosoever, then, has lost the cold of unbelief so as to live, but in no wise passes beyond lukewarmness so as to go on to burn, he doubtless, despairing of heat, while he lingers in pernicious lukewarmness, is in the way to become cold. But, as before lukewarmness there is hope in cold, so after cold there is despair in lukewarmness. For he who is yet in his sins loses not his trust in conversion: but he who after conversion has become lukewarm has withdrawn the hope that there might have been of the sinner. It is required, then, that every one be either hot or cold, lest, being lukewarm, he be spued out: that is, that either, being not yet converted, he still afford hope of his conversion, or, being already converted, he be fervent in virtues; lest he be spued out as lukewarm, in that he goes back in torpor from purposed heat to pernicious cold.

Gregory 1330