Of the Deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, and Judas, which they Underwent through the Impulse of Covetousness.
Lastly, the chief of the apostles, taught by these instances, and knowing that one who has any avarice cannot bridle it, and that it cannot be put an end to by a large or small sum of money, but only by the virtue of renunciation of everything, punished with death Ananias and Sapphira, who were mentioned before, because they had kept back something out of their property, that that death which Judas had voluntarily met with for the sin of betraying the Lord, they might also undergo for their lying avarice. [904] How closely do the sin and punishment correspond in each case! In the one case treachery, in the other falsehood, was the result of covetousness. In the one case the truth is betrayed, in the other the sin of lying is committed. For though the issues of their deeds may appear different, yet they coincide in having one and the same aim. For the one, in order to escape poverty, desired to take back what he had forsaken; the others, for fear lest they might become poor, tried to keep back something out of their property, which they should have either offered to the Apostle in good faith, or have given entirely to the brethren. And so in each case there follows the judgment of death; because each sin sprang from the root of covetousness. And so if against those who did not covet other persons' goods, but tried to be sparing of their own, and had no desire to acquire, but only the wish to retain, there went forth so severe a sentence, what should we think of those who desire to amass wealth, without ever having had any of their own, and, making a show of poverty before men, are before God convicted of being rich, through the passion of avarice?


[904] Cf. Acts 5.

chapter xxiv that covetousness cannot
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