Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/Of the Work of Monks/Section 3

3. Nor do they attend to this, that if another should say, that the Lord indeed, speaking in parables and in similitudes concerning spiritual food and clothing, did warn that not on these accounts should His servants be solicitous; (as He saith, “When they shall drag you to judgment-seats, take no thought what ye shall speak. For it will be given you in that hour what ye shall speak: but it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.”[1] For the discourse of spiritual wisdom is that for which He would not that they should take thought, promising that it should be given unto them, nothing solicitous thereof;) but the Apostle now, in manner Apostolical, more openly discoursing and more properly, than figuratively speaking, as is the case with much, indeed well-nigh all, in his Apostolic Epistles, said it properly of corporal work and food, “If any will not work, neither let him eat:” by those would their sentence be rendered doubtful, unless, considering the other words of the Lord, they should find somewhat whereby they might prove it to have been of not caring for corporal food and raiment that He spoke when He said, “Be not solicitous what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” As, if they should observe what He saith, “For all these things do the Gentiles seek;” for there He shows that it was of very corporal and temporal things that He spake. So then, were this the only thing that the Apostle has said on this subject, “If any will not work, neither let him eat;” these words might be drawn over to another meaning: but since in many other places of his Epistles, what is his mind on this point, he most openly teaches, they superfluously essay to raise a mist before themselves and others, that what that charity adviseth they may not only refuse to do, but even to understand it themselves, or let it be understood by others; not fearing that which is written, “He would not understand that he might do good.”[2]


  1. Matt. x. 19, 20
  2. Ps. xxxvi. 3, (35, 4.) “noluit intelligere ut bene ageret.”