|Other Ancient Sources|
Didache (c.50-120 AD):--My child, be not a murmurer, since it leadeth to blasphemy, neither self-willed neither a thinker of evil thoughts; for from all these things blasphemies are engendered.
Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians (c. 80-140):--For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the laws of God, submitting yourselves to them that have the rule over you, and giving the due honour to the presbyters that are among you. Young men ye enjoined to think such things as be sober and grave. Women ye exhorted to perform all things in a blameless and honourable and pure conscience, loving dutifully their own husbands; and ye taught them to manage the affairs of their houses with gravity, keeping in the rule of obedience, being temperate in all things.
Shepherd of Hermas, "Visions" (c. 100-160)--He who had brought me up, sold me to one Rhode in Rome. Many years after this I recognised her, and I began to love her as a sister. Some time after, I saw her bathe in the river Tiber; and I gave her my hand, and drew her out of the river. The sight of her beauty made me think with myself, "I should be a happy man if I could but get a wife as handsome and good as she is." This was the only thought that passed through me: this and nothing more. A short time after this, as I was walking on my road to the villages, and magnifying the creatures of God, and thinking how magnificent, and beautiful, and powerful they are, I fell asleep. And the Spirit carried me away, and took me through a pathless place, through which a man could not travel, for it was situated in the midst of rocks; it was rugged and impassible on account of water. Having passed over this river, I came to a plain. I then bent down on my knees, and began to pray to the Lord and to confess my sins. And as I prayed, the heavens were opened, and I see the woman whom I had desired saluting me from the sky, and saying, "Hail, Hermas!" And looking up to her, I said, "Lady, what doest thou here?" And she answered me, "I have been taken up here to accuse you of your sins before the Lord." "Lady," said I, "are you to be the subject of my accusation?" "No," said she; "but hear the words which I am going to speak to you. God, who dwells in the heavens, and made out of nothing the things that exist, and multiplied and increased them on account of His holy Church, is angry with you for having sinned against me." I answered her, "Lady, have I sinned against you? How? or when spoke I an unseemly (aisCHRON) word to you? Did I not always think of you as a lady? Did I not always respect you as a sister? Why do you falsely accuse me of this wickedness and impurity?" With a smile she replied to me, "The desire of wickedness (he- epithymIa te-s pone-rIas) arose within your heart. Is it not your opinion that a righteous man commits sin when an evil desire (he- ponerA epithymIa) arises in his heart? There is sin in such a case, and the sin is great," said she; "for the thoughts of a righteous man should be righteous (ho gar DIKaios anE-R DIKaia bouLEUetai). For by thinking righteously (DIKaia bouLEUesthai) his character is established in the heavens, and he has the Lord merciful to him in every business. But those who entertain wicked thoughts (pone-rA bouleuOmenoi) in their minds are bringing upon themselves death and captivity; and especially is this the case with those who set their affections on this world, and glory in their riches, and look not forward to the blessings of the life to come. For many will their regrets be; for they have no hope (elPIda), but have despaired of themselves and their life. But do thou pray to God, and He will heal thy sins, and the sins of thy whole house, and of all the saints." (Roberts-Donaldson)
Shepherd of Hermas, "Visions":--"As to those who were cut down and thrown far away from the tower, do you wish to know who they are? They are the sons of iniquity, and they believed in hypocrisy, and wickedness did not depart from them. For this reason they are not saved, since they cannot be used in the building on account of their iniquities. Wherefore they have been cut off and cast far away on account of the anger of the Lord, for they have roused Him to anger. But I shall explain to you the other stones which you saw lying in great numbers, and not going into the building. Those which are rough are those who have known the truth and not remained in it, nor have they been joined to the saints. On this account are they unfit for use."
"Who are those that have rents?"
"These are they who are at discord in their hearts one with another, and are not at peace amongst themselves: they indeed keep peace before each other, but when they separate one from the other, their wicked thoughts remain in their hearts. These, then, are the rents which are in the stones. But those which are shortened are those who have indeed believed, and have the larger share of righteousness; yet they have also a considerable share of iniquity, and therefore they are shortened and not whole."
"But who are these, Lady, that are white and round, and yet do not fit into the building of the tower?"
She answered and said, "How long will you be foolish and stupid, and continue to put every kind of question and understand nothing? These are those who have faith indeed, but they have also the riches of this world. When, therefore, tribulation comes, on account of their riches and business they deny the Lord."
I answered and said to her, "When, then, will they be useful for the building, Lady?"
"When the riches that now seduce them have been circumscribed, then will they be of use to God. For as a round stone cannot become square unless portions be cut off and cast away, so also those who are rich in this world cannot be useful to the Lord unless their riches be cut down. Learn this first from your own case. When you were rich, you were useless; but now you are useful and fit for life. Be ye useful to God; for you also will be used as one of these stones."
Shepherd of Hermas, "Commandments":--"I charge you," said he, "to guard your chastity, and let no thought enter your heart of another man’s wife, or of fornication, or of similar iniquities; for by doing this you commit a great sin. But if you always remember your own wife, you will never sin. For if this thought enter your heart, then you will sin; and if, in like manner, you think other wicked thoughts, you commit sin. For this thought is great sin in a servant of God. But if any one commit this wicked deed, he works death for himself. Attend, therefore, and refrain from this thought; for where purity dwells, there iniquity ought not to enter the heart of a righteous man."
Theophilus to Autolycus (c. 180-185):--And concerning chastity, the holy word teaches us not only not to sin in act, but not even in thought, not even in the heart to think of any evil, nor look on another man’s wife with our eyes to lust after her. Solomon, accordingly, who was a king and a prophet, said: "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee: make straight paths for your feet." And the voice of the Gospel teaches still more urgently concerning chastity, saying: "Whosoever looketh on a woman who is not his own wife, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." "And he that marrieth," says [the Gospel], "her that is divorced from her husband, committeth adultery; and whosoever putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery." Because Solomon says: "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to a married woman shall not be innocent."
Testament of Reuben (c. 70-200):--And now, my children, in what things so ever I command you hearken to your father, and keep all my sayings to perform the ordinances of the Lord, and to obey the command of the Lord God. And walk not after your lusts, nor in the thoughts of your imaginations in the haughtiness of your heart; and glory not in the works of the strength of youth, for this also is evil in the eyes of the Lord. For since I also gloried that in wars the face of no woman of goodly form ever deceived me, and upbraided Reuben my brother concerning Bilhah, the wife of my father, the spirits of jealousy and of fornication arrayed themselves within me, until I fell before Bathshua the Canaanite, and Tamar who was espoused to my sons, And I said to my father-in-law, I will counsel with my father, and so will I take thy daughter. And he showed me a boundless store of gold in his daughter's behalf, for he was a king. And he decked her with gold and pearls, and caused her to pour out wine for us at the feast in womanly beauty. And the wine led my eyes astray, and pleasure blinded my heart; and I loved her, and I fell, and transgressed the commandment of the Lord and the commandment of my fathers, and I took her to wife. And the Lord rewarded me according to the thought of my heart, insomuch that I had no joy in her children.
And now, my children, be not drunk with wine; for wine turneth the mind away from the truth, and kindleth in it the passion of lust, and leadeth the eyes into error. For the spirit of fornication hath wine as a minister to give pleasures to the mind; for these two take away the power from a man. For if a man drink wine to drunkenness, he disturbeth his mind with filthy thoughts to fornication, and exciteth his body to carnal union; and if the cause of the desire be present, he worketh the sin, and is not ashamed. Such is wine, my children; for he who is drunken reverenceth no man. For, lo, it made me also to err, so that I was not ashamed of the multitude in the city, because before the eyes of all I turned aside unto Tamar, and I worked a great sin, and I uncovered the covering of the shame of my sons. After that I drank wine I reverenced not the commandment of God, and I took a woman of Canaan to wife. Wherefore, my children, he who drinketh wine needeth discretion; and herein is discretion in drinking wine, that a man should drink as long as he keepeth decency; but if he go beyond this bound, the spirit of deceit attacketh his mind and worketh his will; and it maketh the drunkard to talk filthily, and to transgress and not to be ashamed, but even to exult in his dishonour, accounting himself to do well.
Testament of Issachar (c. 70-200):--And now hearken to me, my children, and walk in simplicity of heart, for I have seen in it all that is well-pleasing to the Lord. The simple coveteth not gold, defraudeth not his neighbour, longeth not after manifold dainties, delighteth not in varied apparel, doth not picture to himself to live a long life, but only waiteth for the will of God, and the spirits of error have no power against him. For he cannot allow within his mind a thought of female beauty, that he should not pollute his mind in corruption. No envy can enter into his thoughts, no jealousy melteth away his soul, nor doth he brood over gain with insatiate desire; for he walketh in uprightness of life, and beholdeth all things in simplicity, not admitting in his eyes malice from the error of the world, lest he should see the perversion of any of the commandments of the Lord.
Testament of Gad (c. 70-200):--Hatred is evil, because it continually abideth with lying, speaking against the truth; and it maketh small things to be great, and giveth heed to darkness as to light, and calleth the sweet bitter, and teacheth slander, and war, and violence, and every excess of evil; and it filleth the heart with devilish poison. And these things I say to you from experience, my children, that ye may flee hatred, and cleave to the love of the Lord. Righteousness casteth out hatred, humility destroyeth hatred. For he that is just and humble is ashamed to do wrong, being reproved not of another, but of his own heart, because the Lord vieweth his intent: he speaketh not against any man, because the fear of the Most High overcometh hatred. For, fearing lest he should offend the Lord, he will not do any wrong to any man, no, not even in thought. These things I learnt at last, after that I had repented concerning Joseph. For true repentance after a godly sort destroyeth unbelief, and driveth away the darkness, and enlighteneth the eyes, and giveth knowledge to the soul, and guideth the mind to salvation; and those things which it hath not learnt from man, it knoweth through repentance. For God brought upon me a disease of the heart; and had not the prayers of Jacob my father intervened, it had hardly failed that my spirit had departed. For by what things a man transgresseth, by the same also is he punished. For in that my heart was set mercilessly against Joseph, in my heart too I suffered mercilessly, and was judged for eleven months, for so long a thee as I had been envious against Joseph until he was sold.
And now, my children, love ye each one his brother, and put away hatred from your hearts, loving one another in deed, and in word, and in thought of the soul. For in the presence of our father I spake peaceably with Joseph; and when I had gone out, the spirit of hatred darkened my mind, and moved my soul to slay him. Love ye therefore one another from your hearts; and if a man sin against thee, tell him of it gently, and drive out the poison of hatred, and foster not guile in thy soul. And if he confess and repent, forgive him; and if he deny it, strive not with him, lest he swear, and thou sin doubly. Let not a stranger hear your secrets amid your striving, lest he hate and become thy enemy, and work great sin against thee; for ofttimes he will talk guilefully with thee, or evilly overreach thee, taking his poison from himself. Therefore, if he deny it, and is convicted and put to shame, and is silenced, do not tempt him on. For he who denieth repenteth, so that he no more doeth wrong against thee; yea also, he will honour thee, and fear thee, and be at peace with thee. But if he be shameless, and abideth in his wrongdoing, even then forgive him from the heart, and give the vengeance to God.
Testament of Joseph (c. 70-200):-- Ye see therefore, my children, how great things patience worketh, and prayer with fasting. And if ye therefore follow after sobriety and purity in patience and humility of heart, the Lord will dwell among you, because He loveth sobriety. And wheresoever the Most High dwelleth, even though a man fall into envy, or slavery, or slander, the Lord who dwelleth in him, for his sobriety's sake not only delivereth him from evil, but also exalteth and glorifieth him, even as me. For in every way the man is guarded, whether in deed, or in word, or in thought. My brethren know how my father loved me, and I was not exalted in my heart; although I was a child, I had the fear of God in my thoughts. For I knew that all things should pass away, and I kept myself within bounds, and I honoured my brethren; and through fear of them I held my peace when I was sold, and revealed not my family to the Ishmaelites, that I was the son of Jacob, a great man and a mighty.
Odes of Solomon (c. 100-200), Ode 28:--As the wings of doves over their nestlings, and the mouths of their nestlings towards their mouths, so also are the wings of the Spirit over my heart.
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Stromata--So it is said that we ought to go washed to sacrifices and prayers, clean and bright; and that this external adornment and purification are practiced for a sign. Now purity is to think holy thoughts. Further, there is the image of baptism, which also was handed down to the poets from Moses as follows:
And she having drawn water, and wearing on her body clean clothes.It is Penelope that is going to prayer:
And Telemachus,It was a custom of the Jews to wash frequently after being in bed. It was then well said,
Be pure, not by washing of water, but in the mind.For sanctity, as I conceive it, is perfect pureness of mind, and deeds, and thoughts, and words too, and in its last degree sinlessness in dreams.
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Stromata--Paul does not merely describe the spiritual man as being characterized by suffering wrong, rather than doing wrong. Rather, Paul teaches that a Christian does not keep count of injuries.
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Stromata--We ought not to surrender our ears to all who speak and write rashly. For cups also, which are taken hold of by many by the ears, are dirtied, and lose the ears; and besides, when they fall they are broken. In the same way also, those, who have polluted the pure hearing of faith by many trifles, at last becoming deaf to the truth, become useless and fall to the earth. It is not, then, without reason that we commanded boys to kiss their relations, holding them by the ears; indicating this, that the feeling of love is engendered by hearing. And "God," who is known to those who love, "is love," as "God," who by instruction is communicated to the faithful, "is faithful;" and we must be allied to Him by divine love: so that by like we may see like, hearing the word of truth guilelessly and purely, as children who obey us. And this was what he, whoever he was, indicated who wrote on the entrance to the temple at Epidaurus the inscription:
Pure he must be who goes withinAnd purity is "to think holy thoughts." "Except ye become as these little children, ye shall not enter," it is said, "into the kingdom of heaven." For there the temple of God is seen established on three foundations--faith, hope, and love.
Cyprian (c. 200-258), "On the Lord's Prayer":--But let our speech and petition when we pray be under discipline, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God's sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. For as it is characteristic of a shameless man to be noisy with his cries, so, on the other hand, it is fitting to the modest man to pray with moderated petitions. Moreover, in His teaching the Lord has bidden us to pray in secret—in hidden and remote places, in our very bed-chambers—which is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places, as it is written, "I am a God at hand, and not a God afar off. If a man shall hide himself in secret places, shall I not then see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth?" And again: "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God's priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline--not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty; for God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart. Nor need He be clamorously reminded, since He sees men's thoughts, as the Lord proves to us when He says, "Why think ye evil in your hearts?" And in another place: "And all the churches shall know that I am He that searcheth the hearts and reins."
Lactantius, The Divine Institutes (c. 303-316):--By these steps justice advances to the greatest height. The first step of virtue is to abstain from evil works; the second, to abstain also from evil words; the third, to abstain even from the thoughts of evil things. He who ascends the first step is sufficiently just; he who ascends the second is now of perfect virtue, since he offends neither in deeds nor in conversation; he who ascends the third appears truly to have attained the likeness of God. For it is almost beyond the measure of man not even to admit to the thought that which is either bad in action or improper in speech. Therefore even just men, who can refrain from every unjust work, are sometimes, however, overcome by frailty itself, so that they either speak evil in anger, or, at the sight of delightful things, they desire them with silent thought. But if the condition of mortality does not suffer a man to be pure from every stain, the faults of the flesh ought therefore to be done away with by continual bounty. For it is the single work of a man who is wise, and just, and worthy of life, to lay out his riches on justice alone; for assuredly he who is without this, although he should surpass Crœsus or Crassus in riches, is to be esteemed as poor, as naked, as a beggar. Therefore we must use our efforts that we may be clothed with the garment of justice and piety, of which no one may deprive us, which may furnish us with an everlasting ornament. For if the worshippers of gods adore senseless images, and bestow upon them whatever they have which is precious, though they can neither make use of them nor give thanks because they have received them, how much more just and true is it to reverence the living images of God, that you may gain the favour of the living God! For as these make use of what they have received, and give thanks, so God, in whose sight you shall have done that which is good, will both approve of it and reward your piety.
Lactantius, The Divine Institutes:--They, therefore, who think that no one is just, have justice before their eyes, but are unwilling to discern it. For what reason is there why they should describe it either in poems or in all their discourse, complaining of its absence, when it is very easy for them to be good if they wish? Why do you depict to yourselves justice as worthless, and wish that she may fall from heaven, as it were, represented in some image? Behold, she is in your sight; receive her, if you are able, and place her in the abode of your breast; and do not imagine that this is difficult, or unsuited to the times. Be just and good, and the justice which you seek will follow you of her own accord. Lay aside every evil thought from your hearts, and that golden age will at once return to you, which you cannot attain to by any other means than by beginning to worship the true God. But you long for justice on the earth, while the worship of false gods continues, which cannot possibly come to pass. ...
But if God only were worshipped, there would not be dissensions and wars, since men would know that they are the sons of one God; and, therefore, among those who were connected by the sacred and inviolable bond of divine relationship, there would be no plottings, inasmuch as they would know what kind of punishments God prepared for the destroyers of souls, who sees through secret crimes, and even the very thoughts themselves. There would be no frauds or plunderings if they had learned, through the instruction of God, to be content with that which was their own, though little, so that they might prefer solid and eternal things to those which are frail and perishable. There would be no adulteries, and debaucheries, and prostitution of women, if it were known to all, that whatever is sought beyond the desire of procreation is condemned by God. Nor would necessity compel a woman to dishonour her modesty, to seek for herself a most disgraceful mode of sustenance; since the males also would restrain their lust, and the pious and religious contributions of the rich would succour the destitute. There would not, therefore, as I have said, be these evils on the earth, if there were by common consent a general observance of the law of God, if those things were done by all which our people alone perform. How happy and how golden would be the condition of human affairs, if throughout the world gentleness, and piety, and peace, and innocence, and equity, and temperance, and faith, took up their abode! In short, there would be no need of so many and varying laws to rule men, since the law of God alone would be sufficient for perfect innocence; nor would there be any need of prisons, or the swords of rulers, or the terror of punishments, since the wholesomeness of the divine precepts infused into the breasts of men would of itself instruct them to works of justice.
Chrysostom (c.344/354-407)--And he said not, "worketh no evil," but, "not even thinketh;" i.e., so far from contriving any evil, she doth not even suspect it of the beloved. How then could she work any, ... who doth not even endure to admit an evil surmise[?]
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