WE OUGHT TO SHUN THAT
WHICH IS EVIL, AND DO THAT WHICH IS GOOD.
"I told you,"
said he, "that the creatures of God are double, for restraint also
is double; for in some cases restraint has to be exercised in others
there is no need of restraint." "Make known to me, sir,"
say I, "in what cases restraint has to be exercised, and in what
cases it has not." "Restrain yourself in regard to evil, and
do it not; but exercise no restraint in regard to good, but do it. For
if you exercise restraint in the doing of good, you will commit a great
sin; but if you exercise restraint, so as not to do that which is evil,
you are practising great righteousness. Restrain yourself, therefore,
from all iniquity, and do that which is good." "What,
sir," say I, "are the evil deeds from which we must restrain
ourselves?" "Hear," says he: "from adultery and
fornication, from unlawful revelling, from wicked luxury, from
indulgence in many kinds of food and the extravagance of riches, and
from boastfulness, and haughtiness, and insolence, and lies, and
backbiting, and hypocrisy, from the remembrance of wrong, and from all
slander. These are the deeds that are most wicked in the life of men.
From all these deeds, therefore, the servant of God must restrain
himself. For he who does not restrain himself from these, cannot live to
God. Listen, then, to the deeds that accompany these." "Are
there, sir," said I, "any other evil deeds?"
says he; "and many of them, too, from which the servant of God must
restrain himself--theft, lying, robbery, false witness, overreaching,
wicked lust, deceit, vainglory, boastfulness, and all other vices like
to these." "Do you not think that these are really
wicked?""Exceedingly wicked in the servants of God. From all
of these the servant of God must restrain himself. Restrain yourself,
then, from all these, that you may live to God, and you will be enrolled
amongst those who restrain themselves in regard to these matters. These,
then, are the things from which you must restrain yourself.
says he, "to the things in regard to which you have not to exercise
self-restraint, but which you ought to do. Restrain not yourself in
regard to that which is good, but do it." "And tell me,
sir," say I, "the nature of the good deeds, that I may walk in
them and wait on them, so that doing them I can be saved."
"Listen," says he, "to the good deeds which you ought to
do, and in regard to which there is no self-restraint requisite.
First of all there is
faith, then fear of the Lord, love, concord, words of righteousness,
truth, patience. Than these, nothing is better in the life of men. If
any one attend to these, and restrain himself not from them, blessed is
he in his life. Then there are the following attendant on these: helping
widows, looking after orphans and the needy, rescuing the servants of
God from necessities, the being hospitable--for in hospitality
good-doing finds a field--never opposing any one, the being quiet,
having fewer needs than all men, reverencing the aged, practising
righteousness, watching the brotherhood, bearing insolence, being
long-suffering, encouraging those who are sick in soul, not casting
those who have fallen into sin from the faith, but turning them back and
restoring them to peace of mind, admonishing sinners, not oppressing
debtors and the needy, and if there are any other actions like these. Do
these seem to you good?" says he. "For what, sir," say I,
"is better than these?" "Walk then in them," says
he, "and restrain not yourself from them, and you will live to God.
Keep, therefore, this commandment. If you do good, and restrain not
yourself from it, you will live to God. All who act thus will live to
God. And, again, if you refuse to do evil, and restrain yourself from
it, you will live to God. And all will live to God who keep these
commandments, and walk in them."
copyright ｩ 1997
by New Advent, Inc.