Sayings of the Saints
destroy, but to fulfill."  MATTHEW 5:17
THE DIFFERENCE between the two Testaments may be explained in two words -- love
and fear. The one appertains to the old man, the other to the new.
This is the principal difference. For the new law is that which God promises to impress
upon the mind, to engrave on the heart, and that which is written on in giving us the
Holy Ghost, which diffuses the requisite charity to make us love truth and justice.
So that this new law induces us to love all that it commands, while the laws engraver
on a stone only show the obligations of creatures, and threats in default of
obedience. It is this difference which the apostle wished to point out in his Epistle to
the Romans, where he says, " We have not received the spirit of bondage again in
fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption of sons of God." The spirit of
bondage is that which creates fear, the spirit of adoption is that of love; fear makes
us slaves, love makes us as children. The Jews, who acted only through fear of
punishment, were slaves; the Christians, who love, are the true children.
The new law, imprinted on the heart by the Holy Spirit, regulates the interior feeling;
whilst the laws engraver on stone can only regulate exterior actions. Fear is not
capable of changing the interior feeling; it can on: act outwardly, and thus forces the
will to do what it would not do, or even what ; it might do. So that exteriorly it
submits to force, interiorly, it resists. If deeds and words conform to the law, the
heart is opposed to it. If the mouth and hands obey, the will is disobedient.
This is the reproach that God makes to the Jews when He says through His prophet,"
This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
The two usual methods adopted to govern mankind are fear and hope. This is why the
old law does not solely make use of threats to ensure obedience, but it adds to them
promises; but these promises were for temporal welfare, for sensual and gross men
who sought for fleeting prosperity.
Thus we read in the 23rd chapter of Exodus that Moses, in order to induce them to
observe the law he was about to promulgate, promises them every kind of prosperity
-- health, long life, a numerous progeny, abundance of everything necessary, and
protection from enemies, so that they may enjoy in peace and quiet all these
blessings.
Now, on the contrary, the Son of God begins by preaching penance, and speaks only
of the kingdom of heaven; and to make us understand that His wish was that
Christians should despise earthly prosperity, not expecting a reward in this life, He
begins His beautiful Sermon on the Mount by saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit,"
"Blessed are the meek," "Blessed are they that mourn"; and in St. Luke He says,
"Woe to you that are rich! woe to you that now laugh ! and to all who seek the
esteem and approbation of men! "
In this life, He leads us to expect sufferings, crosses, and persecution, and He wills
that we should love what is. unseen and supernatural.
ST. AUGUSTINE
Extracts from his Book against Adimante
THE APOSTLES announced to mankind a doctrine raised above human intellect; they
spoke not of earthly things, but of heaven; they preached -- a kingdom and state
which had never before been understood; they discovered other riches, another
poverty, another liberty, another bondage another life and death -- in fact, a change
and renewal of everything.
Their teachings are far beyond that of a Plato who had traced out an idea of an
absurd republic, or that of a Zenon, or those of other philosophers who had formed
projects of governments and republics, and those who wished to be lawgivers.
One need but read their books to see that the devil urged them on and diffused a
profound darkness in their mind, upsetting by that means the order of things, and
destroying the most inviolate laws of nature. And notwithstanding that these
philosophers were at perfect liberty to publish their strange maxims, fearless of
danger or persecution, they deemed it necessary to call to their aid the most elegant
of phrases, the most pleasing eloquence, in order to impress their own ideas firmly in
their minds.
The Gospel which, on the contrary, preached only for the poor and for all those
persecuted sinners throughout the world who had been treated as slaves, and who
were exposed to all kinds of danger -- this Gospel, I say, has all at once been
received with every mark of respect by the learned as well as by the ignorant, by
warriors and princes, -- in a word, by Greeks and Romans, and by every savage nation.
ST. CHRYSOSTOM
Sermon on St. Matthew
ST. JEROME, in writing to the mother of Paula, says: Begin with the Psalter, and teach
your daughter how to chant the Psalms. You can read with her the Proverbs, by which
she will know the moral precepts.
This can be followed by Sirach a book so capable of inspiring her with a contempt of
this world.
You can then proceed to the Gospel -- these, your daughter ought ever to have in
hand.
She can then read the Acts and Epistles of the apostles. These finished, she will
gladly learn by heart the Prophets and historical books.
Lastly, she can read the Canticle of Canticles, for she will have been prepared to
understand this in a spiritual sense.
ST. JEROME.
THE EVANGELICAL precepts are no other than divine lessons; they are the foundation
of hope, the strengthening of faith, the food of charity; the Gospel is a rudder to
steer our way through life, and helps us to reach the harbor of salvation.
The law commands but few things, but those few should be willingly and lovingly
performed.
ST. CYPRIAN
On the Lord's Prayer
On the Law of God