But Sometimes a Peril to Eternal Salvation Itself is Put Forth against Us...
40. But sometimes a peril to eternal salvation itself is put forth against us; [2466] which peril, they cry out, we by telling a lie, if otherwise it cannot be, must ward off. As, for instance, if a person who is to be baptized be in the power of impious and infidel men, and cannot be got at that he may be washed with the laver of regeneration, but by deceiving his keepers with a lie. From this most invidious cry, by which we are compelled, not for a man's wealth or honors in this world which are fleeting by, not for the life itself of this present time, but for the eternal salvation of a human being, to tell a lie, whither shall I betake me for refuge but unto thee, O truth? And by thee is put forth before me, [2467] Chastity. For why, if those keepers may be enticed to admit us to baptize the man, by our committing lewdness, do we refuse to do things contrary to chastity, and yet, if by a lie they may be deceived, consent to do things contrary to truth? when without doubt no man would faithfully think chastity amiable, but because it is enjoined of truth? So then, to get at a man to baptize him, let the keepers be deceived by lying, if truth bid it. But how can truth bid in order that a man may be baptized, that we should tell a lie, if chastity biddeth not, in order that a man be baptized, that we should commit whoredom? Now why doth chastity not bid this, but because this truth teacheth not? If then, save what truth teacheth, we ought not to do, when truth teacheth not even for the sake of baptizing a man to do what is contrary to chastity, how shall she teach us to do for the sake of baptizing a man what is contrary to herself, the truth? But like as eyes not strong enough to look upon the sun yet do gladly look upon the objects which are by the sun enlightened, so, souls which have already strength to delight in the beauty of chastity are yet not straightway able to consider in her very self that truth whence charity hath her light, insomuch that when it cometh to the doing of somewhat that is adverse to truth, they should so start back in horror as they do start back in horror if aught be proposed to be done that is adverse to chastity. But that son, who, receiving the word shall be far from perdition, and nothing false cometh forth of his mouth, [2468] accounts it as much debarred from him if, to the succoring of his fellow man he be urged to pass through a lie, as if it were through the deed of lewdness. And the Father heareth and granteth his prayer that he may avail without a lie to succor whom the Father Himself, Whose judgments are unsearchable, willeth to be succored. Such a son therefore so keeps watch against a lie, as he doth against sin. For indeed sometimes the name of lie is put for the name of sin: whence is that saying, "All men are liars." [2469] For it is so said, as if it were said, "All men are sinners." And that: "But if the truth of God hath abounded through my lie." [2470] And therefore, when he lies as a man he sins as a man, and will be held by that sentence in which it is said, "All men are liars;" and, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [2471] But when nothing false cometh forth of his mouth, according to that grace will it so be, of which is said: "He that is born of God, sinneth not." [2472] For were this nativity by itself alone in us, no man would sin: and when it shall be alone, no man will sin. But now, we as yet drag on that which we were born corruptible: although, according to that which we are new-born, if we walk aright, from day to day we are renewed inwardly. [2473] But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, life will swallow it up wholly, and not a sting of death will remain. [2474] Now this sting of death is sin.


[2466] Opponitur. [2467] Proponitur.

[2468] Prov. xxix.27. Lat.

[2469] Ps. cxvi.11. [See R.V.]

[2470] Rom. iii.7

[2471] 1 John i.8

[2472] 1 John iii.9

[2473] 2 Cor. iv.16

[2474] 1 Cor. xv.53-56. [See R.V.]

section 38 but infirmity pleadeth
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