Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/226

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passions, whether of the mind or body, for the sake of a heavenly reward? Love of the world incompatible with the love of God.Unless, perhaps, their alms, which amid their daily covetousness and enjoyments they give to the poor, are to be considered as able to exempt them from blame; whereas the hand itself, as well as the conscience which offers a gift to God, ought to be pure and free from offence. Or unless, also, they may be thought to be redeemed, now they are dead, by others, through the mystery of the holy oblation, of which, whilst they were alive, they appeared unworthy? Does the fault of covetousness appear to be trifling in them? I will speak a little more fully on this point. This it was, which rendered Balaam, a man full of the spirit of prophecy, an outcast from the lot of the saints. It was this which polluted Achan with sharing in the cursed thing, and thereby destroyed him. It stripped Saul of the diadem of the kingdom; it deprived Gehazi of the merits of prophecy, and defiled him and his seed with a perpetual leprosy. It cast down Judas Iscariot from the glory of his apostleship: Ananias and Sapphira, of whom we have before made mention, thereby became unworthy of the society of the monks, and were punished by the death of the body: and, to turn to heavenly examples, the angels were thereby cast down from heaven, the first created beings expelled from a paradise of endless enjoyment. And if you must know, this is that three-headed dog of Hell, called Cerberus in the fables, from whose ravening teeth the Apostle John would save us, when he says, "Beloved, love not the world nor those things that be therein: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For every thing which is in the world, is the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world." Thus much briefly have I said against the poison of covetousness. But if I were to treat in like manner of drunkenness, feasting, luxury,