General Commandments.
The apostles and elders to all those who from among the Gentiles have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; grace and peace from Almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied unto you in the acknowledgment of Him.

The Catholic Church is the plantation of God and His beloved vineyard; [2538] containing those who have believed in His unerring divine religion; who are the heirs by faith of His everlasting kingdom; who are partakers of His divine influence, and of the communication of the Holy Spirit; who are armed through Jesus, and have received His fear into their hearts; who enjoy the benefit of the sprinkling of the precious and innocent blood of Christ; who have free liberty to call Almighty God, Father; being fellow-heirs and joint-partakers of His beloved Son: hearken to this holy doctrine, you who enjoy His promises, as being delivered by the command of your Saviour, and agreeable to His glorious words. Take care, ye children of God, to do all things in obedience to God; and in all things please Christ our Lord. [2539] For if any man follows unrighteousness, and does those things that are contrary to the will of God, such a one will be esteemed by God as the disobedient heathen.

Concerning Covetousness.

I. Abstain, therefore, from all unlawful desires and injustice. For it is written in the law, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his field, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's;" [2540] for all coveting of these things is from the evil one. For he that covets his neighbour's wife, or his man-servant, or his maid-servant, is already in his mind an adulterer and a thief; and if he does not repent, is condemned by our Lord Jesus Christ: through whom [2541] glory be to God for ever, Amen. For He says in the Gospel, recapitulating, and confirming, and fulfilling the ten commandments of the law: "It is written in the law, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that is, I said in the law, by Moses. But now I say unto you myself, Whosoever shall look on his neighbour's wife to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." [2542] Such a one is condemned of adultery, who covets his neighbour's wife in his mind. But does not he that covets an ox or an ass design to steal them? to apply them to his own use, and to lead them away? Or, again, does not he that covets a field, and continues in such a disposition, wickedly contrive how to remove the landmarks, and to compel the possessor to part with somewhat for nothing? For as the prophet somewhere speaks: "Woe to those who join house to house, and lay field to field, that they may deprive their neighbour of somewhat which was his." [2543] Wherefore he says: "Must you alone inhabit the earth? For these things have been heard in the ears of the Lord of hosts." And elsewhere: "Cursed be he who removeth his neighbour's landmarks: and all the people shall say, Amen." [2544] Wherefore Moses says: "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmarks [2545] which thy fathers have set." [2546] Upon this account, therefore, terrors, death, tribunals, and condemnations follow such as these from God. But as to those who are obedient to God, there is one law of God, simple, [2547] true, living, which is this: "Do not that to another which thou hatest another should do to thee." [2548] Thou wouldst not that any one should look upon thy wife with an evil design to corrupt her; do not thou, therefore, look upon thy neighbour's wife with a wicked intention. Thou wouldst not that thy garment should be taken away; do not thou, therefore, take away another's. Thou wouldst not be beaten, reproached, affronted; do not thou, therefore, serve any other in the like manner.

That We Ought Not to Return Injuries, Nor Revenge Ourselves on Him that Does Us Wrong.

II. But if any one curse thee, do thou bless him. For it is written in the book of Numbers: "He that blesseth thee is blessed, and he that curseth thee is cursed." [2549] In the same manner it is written in the Gospel: "Bless them that curse you." [2550] Being injured, do not avenge yourselves, but bear it with patience; for the Scripture speaks thus: "Say not thou, I will avenge myself on my enemy for what injuries he has offered me; but acquiesce under them, that the Lord may right thee, and bring vengeance upon him who injures thee." [2551] For so says He again in the Gospel: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; and ye shall be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and raineth on the just and unjust." [2552] Let us therefore, beloved, attend to these commandments, that we may be found to be the children of light by doing them. Bear, therefore, with one another, ye servants and sons of God.


[2538] Isaiah 5:7, 2.

[2539] The reading of the V. mss. The others read, "Christ our God."

[2540] Exodus 20:17.

[2541] "To whom" in V. mss., and "to God" is omitted.

[2542] Matthew 5:28

[2543] Isaiah 5:8

[2544] Deuteronomy 27:17.

[2545] Deuteronomy 19:14.

[2546] Omitted in V. mss.

[2547] Omitted in V. mss.

[2548] Tob. iv. 16.

[2549] Numbers 24:9.

[2550] Luke 6:28.

[2551] Proverbs 20:22.

[2552] Matthew 5:44, 45.

introductory notice to constitutions of
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