Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/224

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
they are themselves involved in those crimes against which I warn you: but you must remember the apostolic answer, "We must obey God rather than man." For it is a command of God, "Sell what ye have and give to the poor; and, unless a man shall renounce all things which he possesses, he cannot be my disciple." But there is in these days a tradition among some men, who profess themselves to be servants of God, not only not to sell what they possess, but also to procure what they have not. In a religious community all things should belong to the community. How, then, can a man dare, if he would enter Gods service, either to retain those things, which he possessed whilst he was in the secular life, or under the cloak of a more holy life, heap together riches which before he had not? Since, also, the rebuke of the Apostle is well known, whereby Ananias and Sapphira, attempting so to act, were not corrected by any measure of penance or retribution, but were punished by sentence of death? and yet they sought not to gain what belonged to others, but unmeetly to retain their own. Wherefore it is manifest, how far the thoughts of the Apostles were from making acquisition of money, whose rule in God's service was this, " Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." And, on the other hand, they were alike instructed by a warning of the opposite tendency; "Woe to you rich, for you have your consolation." Or, must we suppose that the Apostle erred, and wrote a falsehood, when he admonished us, saying, "Brethren, be not deceived," and immediately after added, " Neither the covetous, drunkards, nor the rapacious shall possess the kingdom of God." And, again, "But know ye this, that every one who is a fornicator, or unclean, or covetous, or rapacious, which is the service of idols, has no inheritance in the kingdom of God or Christ." Since, therefore, the Apostle expressly names covetousness and rapacity to be idolatry, how can those be wrong, who either have kept back their hands from signing a deed