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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Commandment Twelfth.

On the Twofold Desire. The Commandments of God Can Be Kept, and Believers Ought Not to Fear the Devil.
Chap. I.

He says to me, “Put away from you all wicked desire, and clothe yourself with good and chaste desire; for clothed with this desire you will hate wicked desire,225225    [Concupiscence is here shown to have the nature of sin.] and will rein yourself in even as you wish. For wicked desire is wild, and is with difficulty tamed. For it is terrible, and consumes men exceedingly by its wildness. Especially is the servant of God terribly consumed by it, if he falls into it and is devoid of understanding. Moreover, it consumes all such as have not on them the garment of good desire, but are entangled and mixed up with this world. These it delivers up to death.” “What then, sir,” say I, “are the deeds of wicked desire which deliver men over to death? Make them known to me, and I will refrain from them.” “Listen, then, to the works in which evil desire slays the servants of God.”226226    [See the Greek of Athanasius, and Grabe’s transposition, in Wake’s version of the Eleventh and Twelfth Commandments.]

Chap. II.

“Foremost of all is the desire after another’s wife or husband, and after extravagance, and many useless dainties and drinks, and many other foolish luxuries; for all luxury is foolish and empty in the servants of God. These, then, are the evil desires which slay the servants of God. For this evil desire is the daughter of the devil. You must refrain from evil desires, that by refraining ye may live to God.227227    For … God. This desire, therefore, is wicked and destructive, bringing death on the servants of God. Whoever, therefore, shall abstain from evil desire, shall live to God.—Vat. But as many as are mastered by them, and do not resist them, will perish at last, for these desires are fatal. Put you on, then, the desire of righteousness; and arming yourself with the fear of the Lord, resist them. For the fear of the Lord dwells in good desire. But if evil desire see you armed with the fear of God,228228    God. The Lord.—Vat. and resisting it, it will flee far from you, and it will no longer appear to you, for it fears your armour. Go, then, garlanded with the crown which you have gained for victory over it, to the desire of righteousness, and, delivering up to it the prize which you have received, serve it even as it wishes.229229    Go … wishes. And you will obtain the victory, and will be crowned on account of it, and you will arrive at good desire, and you will deliver up the victory which you have obtained to God, and you will serve Him by acting even as you yourself wish to act.—Vat. If you serve good desire, and be subject to it, you will gain the mastery over evil desire, and make it subject to you even as you wish.”230230    Chapters third, fourth, and a part of fifth, are omitted in the Palatine. [This chapter seems based on Heb. v. 14.]

Chap. III.

“I should like to know,” say I, “in what way I ought to serve good desire.” “Hear,” says he: “You will practice righteousness and virtue, truth and the fear of the Lord, faith and meekness, and whatsoever excellences are like to these. Practising these, you will be a well-pleasing servant of God,231231    God. The Lord.—Vat. and you will live to Him; and every one who shall serve good desire, shall live to God.”

He concluded the twelve commandments, and said to me, “You have now these commandments. Walk in them, and exhort your hearers that their repentance may be pure during the remainder of their life. Fulfil carefully this ministry which I now entrust to you, and you will accomplish much.232232    [Here is the commission to be a prophet, and to speak prophesyings in the congregation. If the Montanists resisted these teachings, they were self-condemned. Such is the idea here conveyed. 1 Cor. xiv. 32, 37.] For you will find favour among those who are to repent, and they will give heed to your words; for I will be with you, and will compel them to obey you.” I say to him, “Sir, these commandments are great, and good, and glorious, and fitted to gladden the heart of the man who can perform them. But I do not know if these commandments can be kept by man, because they are exceeding hard.” He answered and said to me, “If you lay it down as certain that they can be kept,233233    If … kept, omitted in Vat. then you will easily keep them, and they will not be hard. But if you come to imagine that they cannot be kept by man, then you will not keep them. Now I say to you, If you do not keep them, but neglect them, you will not be saved, nor your children, nor your house, since you have already determined for yourself that these commandments cannot be kept by man.”

Chap. IV.

These things he said to me in tones of the deepest anger, so that I was confounded and exceedingly afraid of him, for his figure was altered so that a man could not endure his anger. But seeing me altogether agitated and confused, he began to speak to me in more gentle tones; and he said: “O fool, senseless and doubting, do you not perceive how great is the glory of God, and how strong and marvellous, in that He created the world for the sake of man,234234    [Boyle beautifully reconciles “those two current assertions, that (1) God made all things for His own glory, and that (2) He made all things for man.” See Usefulness of Nat. Philos., part i., essay 3, or Leighton’s Works, vol. iii. p. 235, London, 1870.] and subjected all creation to him, and gave him power to rule over everything under heaven? If, then, man is lord of the creatures of God, and rules over all, is he not able to be lord also of these commandments? For,” says he, “the man who has the Lord in his heart can also be lord of all, and of every one of these commandments. But to those who have the Lord only on their lips,235235    Isa. xxix. 13; Matt. xv. 8. but their hearts hardened,236236    John xii. 40; 2 Cor. iii. 14. and who are far from the Lord, the commandments are hard and difficult. Put, therefore, ye who are empty and fickle in your faith, the Lord in your heart, and ye will know that there is nothing easier or sweeter, or more manageable, than these commandments. Return, ye who walk in the commandments of the devil, in hard, and bitter, and wild licentiousness, and fear not the devil; for there is no power in him against you, for I will be with you, the angel of repentance, who am lord over him. The devil has fear only, but his fear has no strength.237237    [Jas. ii. 19, iv. 6, 7.] Fear him not, then, and he will flee from you.”

Chap. V.

I say to him, “Sir, listen to me for a moment.” “Say what you wish,” says he. “Man, sir,” say I, “is eager to keep the commandments of God, and there is no one who does not ask of the Lord that strength may be given him for these commandments, and that he may be subject to them; but the devil is hard, and holds sway over them.” “He cannot,” says he, “hold sway over the servants of God, who with all their heart place their hopes in Him. The devil can wrestle against these, overthrow them he cannot. If, then, ye resist him, he will be conquered, and flee in disgrace from you. As many, therefore,” says he, “as are empty, fear the devil, as possessing power. When a man has filled very suitable jars with good wine, and a few among those jars are left empty,238238    Empty. Half full.—Vat. then he comes to the jars, and does not look at the full jars, for he knows that they are full; but he looks at the empty, being afraid lest they have become sour. For empty jars quickly become sour, and the goodness of the wine is gone. So also the devil goes to all the servants of God to try them. As many, then, as are full in the faith, resist him strongly, and he withdraws from them, having no way by which he might enter them. He goes, then, to the empty, and finding a way of entrance, into them, he produces in them whatever he wishes, and they become his servants.”239239    [Eph. iv. 27.]

Chap. VI.

“But I, the angel of repentance, say to you, Fear not the devil; for I was sent,” says he, “to be with you who repent with all your heart, and to make you strong in faith. Trust God,240240    Trust God. Believe ye, then, who on account of your sins have forgotten God.—Vat. then, ye who on account of your sins have despaired of life, and who add to your sins and weigh down your life; for if ye return to the Lord with all your heart, and practice righteousness the rest of your days,241241    Practise … days, omitted in Vat. and serve Him according to His will, He will heal your former sins, and you will have power to hold sway over the works of the devil. But as to the threats of the devil, fear them not at all, for he is powerless as the sinews of a dead man. Give ear to me, then, and fear Him who has all power, both to save and destroy,242242    Matt. x. 28; Luke xii. 5. and keep His commandments, and ye will live to God.” I say to him, “Sir, I am now made strong in all the ordinances of the Lord, because you are with me; and I know that you will crush all the power of the devil, and we shall have rule over him, and shall prevail against all his works. And I hope, sir, to be able to keep all these commandments243243    Rule over … commandments. But we shall conquer him completely, if we can keep these commandments.—Vat. which you have enjoined upon me, the Lord strengthening me.” “You will keep them,” says he, “if your heart be pure towards the Lord; and all will keep them who cleanse their hearts from the vain desires of this world, and they will live to God.”


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