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  • Without address.  On the Perfection of the Life of Solitaries.

    Letter XXII.1917

    1917 Placed in 364.

     Without address.  On the Perfection of the Life of Solitaries.

    1.  Many things are set forth by inspired Scripture as binding upon all who are anxious to please God.  But, for the present, I have only deemed it necessary to speak by way of brief reminder concerning the questions which have recently been stirred among you, so far as I have learnt from the study of inspired Scripture itself.  I shall thus leave behind me detailed evidence, easy of apprehension, for the information of industrious students, who in their turn will be able to inform others.  The Christian ought to be so minded as becomes his heavenly calling,1918

    1918 cf. Heb. iii.

    and his life and conversation ought to be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.1919

    1919 cf. Phil. i. 27.

      The Christian ought not to be of doubtful mind,1920

    1920 cf. Luke xii. 29.

    nor by anything drawn away from the recollection of God and of His purposes and judgments.  The Christian ought in all things to become superior to the righteousness existing under the law, and neither swear nor lie.1921

    1921 cf. Matt. v. 20.

      He ought not to speak evil;1922

    1922 Tit. iii. 2.

    to do violence;1923

    1923 1 Tim. ii. 13.

    to fight;1924

    1924 2 Tim. ii. 24.

    to avenge himself;1925

    1925 Rom. xii. 19.

    to return evil for evil;1926

    1926 Rom. xii. 17.

    to be angry.1927

    1927 Matt. v. 22.

      The Christian ought to be patient,1928

    1928 James v. 8.

    whatever he have to suffer, and to convict the wrong-doer in season,1929

    1929 Tit. ii. 15.

    not with the desire of his own vindication, but of his brother’s reformation,1930

    1930 Matt. xv. 18.

    according to the commandment of the Lord.  The Christian ought not to say anything behind his brother’s back with the object of calumniating him, for this is slander, even if what is said is true.1931

    1931 cf. 2 Cor. xii. 20 and 1 Peter ii. 1.

      He ought to turn away from the brother who speaks evil against him;1932

    1932 cf. 1 Peter iii. 16, 17; and James iv. 11.

    he ought not to indulge in jesting;1933

    1933 Eph. v. 4.

    he ought not to laugh nor even to suffer laugh makers.1934

    1934 This charge is probably founded on Luke vi. 21 and 25, and James iv. 9.  Yet our Lord’s promise that they who hunger and weep “shall laugh,” admits of fulfilment in the kingdom of God on earth.  Cheerfulness is a note of the Church, whose members, “if sorrowful,” are yet “alway rejoicing.” (2 Cor. vi. 10.)

      He must not talk idly, saying things which are of no service to the hearers nor to such usage as is necessary and permitted us by God;1935

    1935 Eph. v. 4.

    so that workers may do their best as far as possible to work in silence; and that good words be suggested to them by those who are entrusted with the duty of carefully dispensing the word to the building up of the faith, lest God’s Holy Spirit be grieved.  Any one who comes in ought not to be able, of his own free will, to accost or speak to any of the brothers, before those to whom the responsibility of general discipline is committed have approved of it as pleasing to God, with a view to the common good.1936

    1936 It is less easy to find explicit Scriptural sanction even for such a modified rule of silence as is here given by St. Basil.  St. Paul can only be quoted for the “silence” of the woman.  But even St. Basil’s “silence” with a view to preserving his cœnobium from vain conversation, is a long way off the “silence” of St. Bruno’s Carthusians.

      The Christian ought not to be enslaved by wine;1937

    1937 1 Pet. iv. 3.

    nor to be eager for flesh meat,1938

    1938 Rom. xiv. 21.

    and as a general rule ought not to be a lover of pleasure in eating or drinking,1939

    1939 2 Tim. iii. 4.

    “for every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”1940

    1940 1 Cor. ix. 25.

      The Christian ought to regard all the things that are given him for his use, not as his to hold as his own or to lay up;1941

    1941 cf. Acts iv. 32.

    and, giving careful heed to all things as the Lord’s, not to overlook any of the things that are being thrown aside and disregarded, should this be the case.  No Christian ought to think of himself as his own master, but each should rather so think and act as though given by God to be slave to his like minded brethren;1942

    1942 cf. 1 Cor. ix. 19.

    but “every man in his own order.”1943

    1943 cf. 1 Cor. xv. 23.

    2.  The Christian ought never to murmur1944

    1944 cf. 1 Cor. x. 10.

    either in scarcity of necessities, or in toil or labour, for the responsibility in these matters lies with such as have authority in them.  There never ought to be any clamour, or any behaviour or agitation by which anger is expressed,1945

    1945 cf. Eph. iv. 31.

    or diversion of mind from the full assurance of the presence of God.1946

    1946 cf. Heb. iv. 13.

    The voice should be modulated; no one ought to answer another, or do anything, roughly or contemptuously,1947

    1947 cf. Tit. iii. 2.

    but in all things moderation1948

    1948 Phil. iv. 5, τὸ ἐπιεικές.  In 1 Tim. iii. 3, “patient” is ἐπιεικής.

    and respect should be shewn to every one.1949

    1949 Rom. xii. 10 and 1 Pet. ii. 17.

      No wily glances of the eye are to be allowed, nor any behaviour or gestures which grieve a brother and shew contempt.1950

    1950 Rom. xiv. 10.

      Any display in cloak or shoes is to be avoided; it is idle ostentation.1951

    1951 Matt. vi. 29; Luke xii. 27.

      Cheap things ought to be used for bodily necessity; and nothing ought to be spent beyond what is necessary, or for mere extravagance; this is a misuse of our property.  The Christian ought not to seek for honour, or claim precedence.1952

    1952 Mark ix. 37.

      Every one ought to put all others before himself.1953

    1953 Phil. ii. 3.

      The Christian ought not to be unruly.1954

    1954 Tit. i. 10.

      He who is able to work ought not to eat the bread of idleness,1955

    1955 2 Thess. iii. 10.

    but even he who is busied in deeds well done for the glory of Christ ought to force himself to the active discharge of such work as he can do.1956

    1956 1 Thess. iv. 11.

      Every Christian, with the approval of his superiors, ought so to do everything with reason and assurance, even down to actual eating and drinking, as done to the glory of God.1957

    1957 1 Cor. x. 31.

      The Christian ought not to change over from one work to another without the approval of those who are appointed for the arrangement of such matters; unless some unavoidable necessity suddenly summon any one to the relief of the helpless.  Every one ought to remain in his appointed post, not to go beyond his own bounds and intrude into what is not commanded him, unless the responsible authorities judge any one to be in need of aid.  No one ought to be found going from one workshop to another.  Nothing ought to be done in rivalry or strife with any one.

    3.  The Christian ought not to grudge another’s reputation, nor rejoice over any man’s faults;1958

    1958 1 Cor. xiii. 6.

    he ought in Christ’s love to grieve and be afflicted at his brother’s faults, and rejoice over his brother’s good deeds.1959

    1959 1 Cor. xii. 26.

      He ought not to be indifferent or silent before sinners.1960

    1960 1 Tim. v. 20.

      He who shows another to be wrong ought to do so with all tenderness,1961

    1961 2 Tim. iv. 2.

    in the fear of God, and with the object of converting the sinner.1962

    1962 2 Tim. iv. 2.

      He who is proved wrong or rebuked ought to take it willingly, recognizing his own gain in being set right.  When any one is being accused, it is not right for another, before him or any one else, to contradict the accuser; but if at any time the charge seems groundless to any one, he ought privately to enter into discussion with the accuser, and either produce, or acquire, conviction.  Every one ought, as far as he is able, to conciliate one who has ground of complaint against him.  No one ought to cherish a grudge against the sinner who repents, but heartily to forgive him.1963

    1963 2 Cor. ii. 7.

      He who says that he has repented of a sin ought not only to be pricked with compunction for his sin, but also to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.1964

    1964 Luke iii. 8.

      He who has been corrected in first faults, and received pardon, if he sins again prepares for himself a judgment of wrath worse than the former.1965

    1965 Heb. x. 26, 27.

      He, who after the first and second admonition1966

    1966 Tit. iii. 10.

    abides in his fault, ought to be brought before the person in authority,1967

    1967 τῷ προεστῶτι.  & 233· προεστὼς is the “president” in Justin Martyr’s description of the Christian service in Apol. Maj. i.

    if haply after being rebuked by more he may be ashamed.1968

    1968 cf. Tit. ii. 8.

      If even thus he fail to be set right he is to be cut off from the rest as one that maketh to offend, and regarded as a heathen and a publican,1969

    1969 Matt. xviii. 17.

    for the security of them that are obedient, according to the saying, When the impious fall the righteous tremble.1970

    1970 Prov. xxix. 16, LXX.

      He should be grieved over as a limb cut from the body.  The sun ought not to go down upon a brother’s wrath,1971

    1971 Eph. iv. 26.

    lest haply night come between brother and brother, and make the charge stand in the day of judgment.  A Christian ought not to wait for an opportunity for his own amendment,1972

    1972 cf. Matt. xxiv. 14; Luke xii. 40.

    because there is no certainty about the morrow; for many after many devices have not reached the morrow.  He ought not to be beguiled by over eating, whence come dreams in the night.  He ought not to be distracted by immoderate toil, nor overstep the bounds of sufficiency, as the apostle says, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content;”1973

    1973 1 Tim. vi. 8.

    unnecessary abundance gives appearance of covetousness, and covetousness is condemned as idolatry.1974

    1974 Col. iii. 5.

      A Christian ought not to be a lover of money,1975

    1975 cf. Mark x. 23, 24; Luke xviii. 24.

    nor lay up treasure for unprofitable ends.  He who comes to God ought to embrace poverty in all things, and to be riveted in the fear of God, according to the words, “Rivet my flesh in thy fear, for I am afraid of thy judgments.”1976

    1976 Ps. cxix. 120, LXX.

      The Lord grant that you may receive what I have said with full conviction and shew forth fruits worthy of the Spirit to the glory of God, by God’s good pleasure, and the cooperation of our Lord Jesus Christ.


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