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Chapter XVI.

Of the authority under which those shelter themselves who object to stripping themselves of their goods.

These then try to make out a case for their original avarice, by some authority from Holy Scripture, which they interpret with base ingenuity, in their desire to wrest and pervert to their own purposes a saying of the Apostle or rather of the Lord Himself: and, not adapting their own life or understanding to the meaning of the Scripture, but making the meaning of Scripture bend to the desires of their own lust, they try to make it to correspond to their own views, and say that it is written, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 891 And by an entirely wrong interpretation of this they think that they can weaken the force of that saying of the Lord in which he says: “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 892 And they think that under colour of this they need not deprive themselves of their riches: declaring indeed that they are more blessed if, supported by that which originally belonged to them, they give to others also out of their superabundance. And while they are shy of embracing with the Apostle that glorious state of abnegation for Christ’s sake, they will not be content either with manual labour or the sparing diet of the monastery. And the only thing is that these must either know that they are deceiving themselves, and have not really renounced the world while they are clinging to their former riches; or, if they really and truly want to make trial of the monastic life, they must give up and forsake all these things and keep back nothing of that which they have renounced, and, with the Apostle, glory “in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness.” 893



Acts xx. 35.


S. Matt. xix. 21.


2 Cor. ii. 27.

Next: Chapter XVII. Of the renunciation of the apostles and the primitive church.