|Other Ancient Sources|
Ben Sira (2nd cent BC):--HOso- MEgas ei, toSOUto- taPEInou seauTON, kai ENanti kyRIou heuRE-Seis CHArin. (LXX)
Alt:--The greater thou art, the more humble thyself, and thou shalt find favour before the Lord. (Sirach 3:18, KJV, BLXX)
Alt:--However great you become, humble yourself more (CEB)
Alt:--The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord. (RSV)
Alt:--In as much as thou art great, make thee meek in all things, and thou shalt find grace before God; (Wyc)
Wisdom of Solomon (1st cent BC):--What hath pride profited us? or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us?
All those things are passed away like a shadow, and as a post that hasted by;
And as a ship that passeth over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, neither the pathway of the keel in the waves;
Or as when a bird hath flown through the air, there is no token of her way to be found, but the light air being beaten with the stroke of her wings and parted with the violent noise and motion of them, is passed through, and therein afterwards no sign where she went is to be found;
Or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark, it parteth the air, which immediately cometh together again, so that a man cannot know where it went through:
Even so we in like manner, as soon as we were born, began to draw to our end, and had no sign of virtue to shew; but were consumed in our own wickedness. (Wisdom 5:8-13, KJV)
As for the illusions of art magick, they were put down, and their vaunting in wisdom was reproved with disgrace.
For they, that promised to drive away terrors and troubles from a sick soul, were sick themselves of fear, worthy to be laughed at. (Wisdom 17:7-8, KJV)
Tatian (c.120-c.180 AD), Address to the Greeks:--I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea; I do not contend for chaplets; I am free from a mad thirst for fame; I despise death; I am superior to every kind of disease; grief does not consume my soul. Am I a slave, I endure servitude. Am I free, I do not make a vaunt of my good birth. I see that the same sun is for all, and one death for all, whether they live in pleasure or destitution.
Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215), The Instructor:--There is, too, another beauty of men--love. "And love," according to the apostle, "suffers long, and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." For the decking of one’s self out--carrying, as it does, the look of superfluity and uselessness--is vaunting one’s self.
Tertullian (c.155-c.240), Against All Heresies:--They who assert this likewise defend the traitor Judas, telling us that he is admirable and great, because of the advantages he is vaunted to have conferred on mankind; for some of them think that thanksgiving is to be rendered to Judas on this account: viz., Judas, they say, observing that Christ wished to subvert the truth, betrayed Him, in order that there might be no possibility of truth’s being subverted.
Tertullian, On Fasting:--“Old” you are, if we will say the truth, you who are so indulgent to appetite, and justly do you vaunt your “priority:” always do I recognise the savour of Esau, the hunter of wild beasts: so unlimitedly studious are you of catching fieldfares, so do you come from “the field” of your most lax discipline, so faint are you in spirit. (Cf. Gen. 23:2, 3, 4, 31; 25:27–34.) If I offer you a paltry lentile dyed red with must well boiled down, forthwith you will sell all your “primacies:” with you “love” shows its fervour in sauce-pans, “faith” its warmth in kitchens, “hope” its anchorage in waiters; but of greater account is “love,” because that is the means whereby your young men sleep with their sisters!
Unknown (c.230), Teaching of the Apostles:--The apostles further ordained: Let not those that are high-minded and lifted up with the arrogance of boasting be admitted to the ministry: because of this text: “That which is exalted among men is abominable before God;” and because concerning them it is said: “I will return a recompense upon those that vaunt themselves.”
Origen (184/185-253/254), De Principiis:--For it is most distinctly evident from the history itself, from what is clearly seen at the present day, that from the times of Christ onwards there were no kings amongst the Jews. Nay, even all those objects of Jewish pride (Hosea 3:4), of which they vaunted so much, and in which they exulted, whether regarding the beauty of the temple or the ornaments of the altar, and all those sacerdotal fillets and robes of the high priests, were all destroyed together.
Cyprian (c.200-258), On the Lord's Prayer:--But when we ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness in that we thus ask, lest any should insolently vaunt himself, lest any should proudly and arrogantly assume anything to himself, lest any should take to himself the glory either of confession or of suffering as his own, when the Lord Himself, teaching humility, said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;” (Mark 14:38) so that while a humble and submissive confession comes first, and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly with fear and honour of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness.
Cyprian, On the Dress of Virgins:-- You say that you are wealthy and rich; but it becomes not a virgin to boast of her riches, since Holy Scripture says, “What hath pride profited us? or what benefit hath the vaunting of riches conferred upon us? And all these things have passed away like a shadow.” (Wisdom 5:8) And the apostle again warns us, and says, “And they that buy, as though they bought not; and they that possess, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as though they used it not. For the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1 Cor. 7:30, 31) Peter also, to whom the Lord commends His sheep to be fed and guarded, on whom He placed and founded the Church, says indeed that he has no silver and gold, but says that he is rich in the grace of Christ--that he is wealthy in his faith and virtue--wherewith he performed many great works with miracle, wherewith he abounded in spiritual blessings to the grace of glory. These riches, this wealth, she cannot possess, who had rather be rich to this world than to Christ.
Peter of Alexandria (?-311), The Canonical Epistle:--But since they have fallen, inasmuch as they have acted ostentatiously, they are not to be permitted any longer to discharge their sacred functions. If, says he, that they had not fallen they would have obtained pardon for their action which was devoid of reason; calling that action devoid of reason, not only because they gave themselves up to the enemy, but rather because they deserted the Lord’s flock, and did not remain to guard it, and to confirm the brethren who were harassed in this time of persecution. But if they have fallen, from the fact that they have carried themselves vauntingly, and he here calls pride and arrogance perperEIa, because it is from arrogance that they have put confidence in themselves, and have put an end to the contest, and have brought reproach upon themselves; that is, by reason of their fall, they have contracted a blemish and stain, it is not lawful for them any longer to be occupied in the sacred ministry. Wherefore let them study, says he, to perfect their confession by humility, ceasing forsooth from all vainglory.
Aphrahat (c.280-c.345), Of Death and the Latter Times:--Again, Death leads away to himself kings, the founders of cities, who strengthen themselves in splendour. And he does not leave aside the Lords of the countries. Death leads away and takes captive to himself the avaricious who are not satisfied nor say “Enough”; and he is greedy for them with a greater greed than theirs. Death leads away to himself the despoilers who were not by their grace restrained from despoiling their fellows. Death leads away to himself the oppressors, and through death are they restrained from iniquity. Death leads away to himself the persecutors, and the persecuted have rest till they go to him. Death leads away to himself them that swallow up their fellows, and the down-trodden and oppressed have rest for a little until they themselves also are led away and go thither. Death leads away them that abound in meditations, and all they have thought upon is dissolved and brought to nought. Men meditate upon many matters, and death comes upon them suddenly, and they are led away; and thereafter they remember nothing that they have thought upon. There is one that makes plans for many years, and (the knowledge) is withheld from him that he shall not survive to-morrow. Some son of Adam is uplifted and vaunts himself over his fellow; and death comes upon him and brings to nought his vaunting. The rich man plans to add to his possessions, and he knows not that he shall not continue to possess even that which he has acquired. Death leads away to himself all the children of men, and binds them fast in his abode until the judgment. Also over those that have not sinned is he king, because of the sentence of judgment that Adam received for his sins.
Aphrahat, Of Wars:--Be quiet, O thou that dost exalt thyself; vaunt not thyself! For if thy wealth has lifted up thy heart, it is not more abundant than that of Hezekiah, who went in and boasted of it before the Babylonians, (yet) it was all of it carried away and went to Babylon. And if thou gloriest in thy children, they shall be led away from thee to the Beast, as the children of King Hezekiah were led away, and became eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon. (2 Kings 20:18; Is. 39:7) And if thou dost glory in thy wisdom, thou dost not in it excel the Prince of Tyre, whom Ezekiel reproached, saying unto him: Art thou wiser than Daniel, or hast thou seen by thy wisdom the things that are hid? (Ezek. 18:3) And if thy mind is puffed up by thy years, that they are many; they are not more in number than those of the Prince of Tyre who ruled the Kingdom during the days of twenty-two Kings of the house of Judah, that is, for four hundred and forty years. And since the years of that King of Tyre were many, all the time he thus said in his heart, I am God and sit in the seat of God in the heart of the seas. (Ezek. 28:2) But Ezekiel said to him: Thou art a man and thou art not God. For while the Prince of Tyre was walking without fault in the midst of the stones of fire, there was mercy upon him. But when his heart was lifted up, the cherub who overshadoweth, destroyed him. (Ezek. 28:14, 15)
Pseudo-Clementine Writers (ca. 350), Recognitions of Clement:--The vaunt of Simon Magus: "I am the first power, who am always, and without beginning. But having entered the womb of Rachel, I was born of her as a man, that I might be visible to men. I have flown through the air; I have been mixed with fire, and been made one body with it; I have made statues to move; I have animated lifeless things; I have made stones bread; I have flown from mountain to mountain; I have moved from place to place, upheld by angels’ hands, and have lighted on the earth. Not only have I done these things; but even now I am able to do them, that by facts I may prove to all, that I am the Son of God, enduring to eternity, and that I can make those who believe on me endure in like manner for ever. But your words are all vain; nor can you perform any real works such as I have now mentioned, as he also who sent you is a magician, who yet could not deliver himself from the suffering of the cross."
Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-c.395), Against Eunomius:--Let our sophist then use his art to display his insolence, and vaunt his strength in reproaches against us, showing off his strokes in the intervals of the contest; let him call us foolish, call us of all men most reckless, of all men most miserable, full of confusion and absurdity, and make light of us at his good pleasure in any way he likes, and we will bear it; for to a reasonable man disgrace lies, not in hearing one who abuses him, but in making retort to what he says. There may even be some good in his expenditure of breath against us; for it may be that while he occupies his railing tongue in denouncing us he will at all events make some truce in his conflict against God. So let him take his fill of insolence as he likes: none will reply to him.
John Chrysostom (c.349-407), Homily 33:--"Vaunteth not itself;" i.e., is not rash. For it renders him who loves both considerate, and grave, and steadfast. In truth, one mark of those who love unlawfully is a defect in this point. Whereas he to whom this love is known, is of all men the most entirely freed from these evils. For when there is no anger within, both rashness and insolence are clean taken away. Love, like some excellent husbandman, taking her seat inwardly in the soul and not suffering any of these thorns to spring up.
John Chrysostom, Homily 10:--On account of this He cometh to the baptism. Since in fact both the credit of him that was baptizing, and the purport of the thing itself, was attracting the whole city, and calling it unto Jordan; and it became a great spectacle.
Therefore he humbles them also when they are come, and persuades them to have no high fancies about themselves; showing them liable to the utmost evils, unless they would repent, and leaving their forefathers, and all vaunting in them, would receive Him that was coming.
John Chrysostom, Homily 14:--But what willest thou? To look upon covetousness? It too treats us like an enemy. And how? It makes us hated by all. It prepareth all men to vaunt themselves against us; both those who have been treated unjustly by us, and those who have not, who share the grief of the former, and are in fear for themselves. All men look upon us as their common foes, as wild beasts, as demons. Everywhere are there innumerable accusations, plots against us, envyings, all which are the acts of enemies.
John Chrysostom, Commentary on Galatians:--“For I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus.” (Gal. 6:17)
He says not, “I have,” but, “I bear,” like a man priding himself on trophies and royal ensigns. Although on a second thought it seems a disgrace, yet does this man vaunt of his wounds, and like military standard-bearers, so does he exult in bearing about these wounds. And why does he say this? “More clearly by those wounds than by any argument, than by any language, do I vindicate myself,” says he. For these wounds utter a voice louder than a trumpet against my opponents, and against those who say that I play the hypocrite in my teaching, and speak what may please men. For no one who saw a soldier retiring from the battle bathed in blood and with a thousand wounds, would dare to accuse him of cowardice and treachery.
Jerome (c.347-420), The Life of Paulus the First Hermit:--What did this old man in his nakedness ever lack? Your drinking vessels are of precious stones; he satisfied his thirst with the hollow of his hand. Your tunics are of wrought gold; he had not the raiment of the meanest of your slaves. But on the other hand, poor though he was, Paradise is open to him; you with all your gold will be received into Gehenna. He though naked yet kept the robe of Christ; you, clad in your silks, have lost the vesture of Christ. Paul lies covered with worthless dust, but will rise again to glory; over you are raised costly tombs, but both you and your wealth are doomed to the burning. Have a care, I pray you, at least have a care for the riches you love. Why are even the grave-clothes of your dead made of gold? Why does not your vaunting cease even amid mourning and tears? Cannot the carcases of rich men decay except in silk?
Augustine (354-430), A Treatise on the Gift of Perseverance:--“Lead us not into temptation.” We live, therefore, more securely if we give up the whole to God, and do not entrust ourselves partly to Him and partly to ourselves, as that venerable martyr saw. For when he would expound the same clause of the prayer, he says among other things, “But when we ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness while we thus ask, lest any should insolently vaunt himself,--lest any should proudly and arrogantly assume anything to himself,--lest any should take to himself the glory either of confession or suffering as his own; since the Lord Himself, teaching humility, said, ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ So that when a humble and submissive confession comes first and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly, with the fear of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness.
Augustine, Homily 8:--And see what great works pride does. Lay it up in your hearts, how much alike, how much as it were upon a par, are the works it doeth, and the works of charity. Charity feeds the hungry, and so does pride: charity, that God may be praised; pride, that itself may be praised. Charity clothes the naked, so does pride: charity fasts, so does pride: charity buries the dead, so does pride. All good works which charity wishes to do, and does; pride, on the other hand, drives at the same, and, so to say, keeps her horses up to the mark. But charity is between her and it, and leaves not place for ill-driven pride; not ill-driving, but ill-driven. Woe to the man whose charioteer is pride, for he must needs go headlong! But that, in the good that is done, it may not be pride that sets us on, who knows? who sees it? where is it? the works we see: mercy feeds, pride also feeds; mercy takes in the stranger, pride also takes in the stranger; mercy intercedes for the poor, pride also intercedes. How is this? In the works we see no difference. I dare to say somewhat, but not I; Paul hath said it: charity dies, that is, a man having charity confesses the name of Christ, suffers martyrdom: pride also confesses, suffers also martyrdom. The one hath charity, the other hath not charity. But let him that hath not charity hear from the apostle: “If I distribute all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:3) So then the divine Scripture calls us off from the display of the face outwardly to that which is within; from this surface which is vaunted before men, it calls us off to that which is within. Return to thy own conscience, question it. Do not consider what blossoms outwardly, but what root there is in the ground. Is lust rooted there? A show there may be of good deeds, truly good works there cannot be. Is charity rooted there? Have no fear: nothing evil can come of that. The proud caresses, love is severe. The one clothes, the other smites. For the one clothes in order to please men, the other smites in order to correct by discipline. More accepted is the blow of charity than the alms of pride. Come then within, brethren; and in all things, whatsoever ye do, look unto God your witness. See, if He seeth, with what mind ye do it.
Augustine, Sermon 88:--For even among the heretics, they who for their iniquities and errors have suffered any trouble, vaunt themselves in the name of martyrdom, that with this fair covering disguised they may plunder the more easily, for wolves they are. Now if ye would know in what rank they are to be held, hear that good shepherd, the Apostle Paul, that not all who even give up their bodies in suffering to the flames, are to be accounted to have shed their blood for the sheep, but rather against the sheep. “If,” saith he, “I speak with the tongues of men, and angels, but have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. If I should know all mysteries, and have all prophecy, and all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1ff) Now a great thing truly is this faith that removes mountains. They are indeed all great things; but if I have them without charity, saith he, not they, but I am nothing. But up to this point he hath not touched them, who glory in sufferings under the false name of martyrdom. Hear how he toucheth, yea rather pierceth them through and through. “If I should distribute,” saith he, “all my goods to the poor, and deliver my body to be burned.” Now here they are. But mark what follows; “but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” Lo, they have come to suffering, come even to the shedding of blood, yea come to the burning of the body; and yet it profiteth them nothing, because charity is lacking. Add charity, they all profit; take charity away, all the rest profit nothing.
Augustine, On Christian Doctrine:--And when he reads of the sins of great men, although he may be able to see and to trace out in them a figure of things to come, let him yet put the literal fact to this use also, to teach him not to dare to vaunt himself in his own good deeds, and in comparison with his own righteousness, to despise others as sinners, when he sees in the case of men so eminent both the storms that are to be avoided and the shipwrecks that are to be wept over. For the sins of these men were recorded to this end, that men might everywhere and always tremble at that saying of the apostle: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:12) For there is hardly a page of Scripture on which it is not clearly written that God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble. (cf. James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:6)
Augustine, A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin:--To him, therefore, who is reluctant to endure the troublesome process, whereby this vaunting disposition is restrained, before he attains to the ultimate and highest perfection of charity, it is most properly said, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness," (2 Cor. 12:9)--in weakness, that is, not of the flesh only, as this man supposes, but both of the flesh and of the mind; because the mind, too, was, in comparison of that last stage of complete perfection, weak, and to it also was assigned, in order to check its elation, that messenger of Satan, the thorn in the flesh; although it was very strong, in contrast with the carnal or animal faculties, which as yet understand not the things of the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:4) Inasmuch, then, as strength is made perfect in weakness, whoever does not own himself to be weak, is not in the way to be perfected.
Augustine, Expositions on the Book of Psalms:--"Why, O Lord," saith he, "hast Thou withdrawn afar off?" (Ps. 10:1). Then he who thus inquired, as if all on a sudden he understood, or as if he asked, though he knew, that he might teach, adds, "Thou despisest in due seasons, in tribulations:" that is, Thou despisest seasonably, and causest tribulations to inflame men’s minds with longing for Thy coming. For that fountain of life is sweeter to them that have much thirst. Therefore he hints the reason of the delay, saying, "Whilst the ungodly vaunteth himself, the poor man is inflamed" (Ps. 10:2). Wondrous it is and true with what earnestness of good hope the little ones are inflamed unto an upright living by comparison with sinners.
Augustine, Expositions on the Book of Psalms:--For he that saith to God, "Our Father;" saith to Christ, "Brother." Therefore let him that hath God for his Father and Christ for his Brother, not fear in the evil day. "For the iniquity of his heel shall not compass him;" for he relieth not on his virtue, nor glorieth in the abundance of his riches, nor vaunteth himself of his powerful friends. Let him rely on Him who died for him, that he might not die eternally: who for his sake was humbled, in order that he might be exalted; who sought him ungodly, in order that He might be sought by him faithful.
Augustine, City of God:--Moses, indeed, appointed some among the people of God to teach letters, before they could know any letters of the divine law. The Scripture calls these men grammateisago-geis, who may be called in Latin inductores or introductores of letters, because they, as it were, introduce them into the hearts of the learners, or rather lead those whom they teach into them. Therefore no nation could vaunt itself over our patriarchs and prophets by any wicked vanity for the antiquity of its wisdom; since not even Egypt, which is wont falsely and vainly to glory in the antiquity of her doctrines, is found to have preceded in time the wisdom of our patriarchs in her own wisdom, such as it is.
Augustine, City of God:--And how shall a Christian dare vaunt himself of his voluntary poverty, which he has chosen in order that during the pilgrimage of this life he may walk the more disencumbered on the way which leads to the country where the true riches are, even God Himself;--how, I say, shall he vaunt himself for this, when he hears or reads that Lucius Valerius, who died when he was holding the office of consul, was so poor that his funeral expenses were paid with money collected by the people?--or when he hears that Quintius Cincinnatus, who, possessing only four acres of land, and cultivating them with his own hands, was taken from the plough to be made dictator,--an office more honorable even than that of consul,--and that, after having won great glory by conquering the enemy, he preferred notwithstanding to continue in his poverty? ... [O]ught not all Christians, who make common property of their riches with a far nobler purpose, even that (according to what is written in the Acts of the Apostles) they may distribute to each one according to his need, and that no one may say that anything is his own, but that all things may be their common possession, (Acts 2:45)--ought they not to understand that they should not vaunt themselves, because they do that to obtain the society of angels, when those men did well-nigh the same thing to preserve the glory of the Romans?
Augustine, Confessions:--Whom could I find to reconcile me to Thee? was I to have recourse to Angels? by what prayers? by what sacraments? Many endeavouring to return unto Thee, and of themselves unable, have, as I hear, tried this, and fallen into the desire of curious visions, and been accounted worthy to be deluded. For they, being high minded, sought Thee by the pride of learning, swelling out rather than smiting upon their breasts, and so by the agreement of their heart, drew unto themselves the princes of the air, the fellow-conspirators of their pride, by whom, through magical influences, they were deceived, seeking a mediator, by whom they might be purged, and there was none. For the devil it was, transforming himself into an Angel of light. And it much enticed proud flesh, that he had no body of flesh. For they were mortal, and sinners; but thou, Lord, to whom they proudly sought to be reconciled, art immortal, and without sin. But a mediator between God and man must have something like to God, something like to men; lest being in both like to man, he should he far from God: or if in both like God, too unlike man: and so not be a mediator. That deceitful mediator then, by whom in Thy secret judgments pride deserved to be deluded, hath one thing in common with man, that is sin; another he would seem to have in common with God; and not being clothed with the mortality of flesh, would vaunt himself to be immortal. But since the wages of sin is death, this hath he in common with men, that with them he should be condemned to death.
Augustine, Of Holy Virginity:--Next let not man, now that he knoweth that by the grace of God he is what he is, fall into another snare of pride, so as by lifting up himself for the very grace of God to despise the rest. By which fault that other Pharisee both gave thanks unto God for the goods which he had, and yet vaunted himself above the Publican confessing his sins. What therefore should a virgin do, what should she think, that she vaunt not herself above those, men or women, who have not this so great gift? For she ought not to feign humility, but to set it forth: for the feigning of humility is greater pride.
Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists:-- Nor indeed were the prayers of the Gentile Cornelius unheard, nor did his alms lack acceptance; nay, he was found worthy that an angel should be sent to him, and that he should behold the messenger, through whom he might assuredly have learned everything that was necessary, without requiring that any man should come to him. But since all the good that he had in his prayers and alms could not benefit him unless he were incorporated in the Church by the bond of Christian brotherhood and peace, he was ordered to send to Peter, and through him learned Christ; and, being also baptized by his orders, he was joined by the tie of communion to the fellowship of Christians, to which before he was bound only by the likeness of good works. (Acts 10) And indeed it would have been most fatal to despise what he did not yet possess, vaunting himself in what he had.
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