Matt. 6:24 (Part 3)

TERTULLIAN: Blessed therefore are the poor, because, He says, the kingdom of heaven is theirs who have the soul only treasured up.38 If we cannot serve God and mammon, can we be redeemed both by God and by mammon? For who will serve mammon more than the man whom mammon has ransomed? Finally, of what example do you avail yourself to warrant your averting by money the giving of you up? When did the apostles, dealing with the matter, in any time of persecution trouble, extricate themselves by money? De Fuga in Persecutione, 4.123.

COMMODIANUS: Luxury and the short-lived joys of the world are ruining you, from which you will be tormented in hell for all time. The Instructions of Commodianus in favor of Christian Discipline, Against the Gods of the Heathens, 4.207.

MARK MINUCIUS FELIX: That many of us are called poor, this is not our disgrace, but our glory; for as our mind is relaxed by luxury, so it is strengthened by frugality. And yet who can be poor if he does not want, if he does not crave for the possessions of others, if he is rich towards God? He rather is poor, who, although he has much, desires more. Yet I will speak according as I feel. No one can be so poor as he is born. Birds live without any patrimony, and day by day the cattle are fed; and yet these creatures are born for us—all of which things, if we do not lust after, we possess. Therefore, as he who treads a road is the happier the lighter he walks, so happier is he in this journey of life who lifts himself along in poverty, and does not breathe heavily under the burden of riches. And yet even if we thought wealth useful to us, we should ask it of God. Assuredly He might be able to indulge us in some measure, whose is the whole; but we would rather despise riches than possess them.
The Octavius of Minucius Felix, 4.195.

ORIGEN: “No man can serve two masters,” and we “cannot serve God and mammon,” whether this name be applied to one or more. Moreover, if any one “by transgressing the law dishonors the lawgiver,” it seems clear to us that if the two laws, the law of God and the law of mammon, are completely opposed to each other, it is better for us by transgressing the law of mammon to dishonor mammon, that we may honor God by keeping His law, than by transgressing the law of God to dishonor God, that by obeying the law of mammon we may honor mammon.
Against Celsus, 4.661.

ORIGEN: The Spirit descended so manifestly on those who receive baptism, after the water had prepared the way for him in those who properly approached the rite. Simon Magus, astonished at what he saw, desired to receive from Peter this gift, but though it was a good thing he desired, he thought to attain it by the mammon of unrighteousness. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 9.367.

ORIGEN: Whoever truly, and not falsely, confesses with the mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in the heart would equally confess himself to be subjected to the lordship of wisdom, righteousness, truth, and to everything that Christ is.  He confesses mammon not to be his lord any longer, that is to say, he is no longer to be under the lordship of greed, unrighteousness, unchastity, or lying. For, having confessed once and for all that Jesus Christ is Lord, he is declaring publicly that he is not a slave of any of these things. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. 

ORIGEN: For it does not seem possible for someone to serve both Christ and the belly simultaneously, or to be equally a lover of pleasure and of God; just as no one can serve both God and mammon at the same time. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. 

CYPRIAN: Wealth must be avoided as an enemy; must be fled from as a robber; must be dreaded by its possessors as a sword and as poison. To this end only so much as remains should be of service, that by it the crime and the fault may be redeemed. Let good works be done without delay, and largely; let all your estate be laid out for the healing of your wound; let us lend of our wealth and our means to the Lord, who shall judge concerning us. Thus faith flourished in the time of the apostles; thus the first people of believers kept Christ’s commands: they were prompt, they were liberal, they gave their all to be distributed by the apostles.  The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.447.

CYPRIAN: You are afraid lest perchance your estate should fail, if you begin to act liberally from it; and you do not know, miserable man that you are, that while you are fearing lest your family property should fail you, life itself, and salvation, are failing; and while you are anxious lest any of your wealth should be diminished, you do not see that you yourself are being diminished, in that you are a lover of mammon more than of your own soul; and while you fear, lest for the sake of yourself, you should lose your patrimony, you yourself are perishing for the sake of your patrimony. And therefore the apostle well exclaims, and says: “We brought nothing into this world, neither indeed can we carry anything out. Therefore, having food and clothing, let us therewith be content. For they who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many and hurtful desires, which drown a man in perdition and in destruction. For covetousness is a root of all evils, which some desiring, have made shipwreck from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.479.

CYPRIAN: The lust of possessing, and money, are not to be sought for. In Solomon, in Ecclesiasticus: “He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver.” Also in Proverbs: “He who holds back the corn is cursed among the people; but blessing is on the head of him that shares it.” 

Also in Isaiah: “Woe to them who join house to house, and lay field to field, that they may take away something from their neighbor. Will you dwell alone upon the earth?” 

Also in Zephaniah: “They shall build houses, and shall not dwell in them; and they shall appoint vineyards, and shall not drink the wine of them, because the day of the Lord is near.” 

Also in the Gospel according to Luke: “For what does it profit a man to make a gain of the whole world, but that he should lose himself?” And again: “But the Lord said to him, 'You fool, this night your soul is required of you. Whose, then, will those things be which you have provided?’”  And again: “Remember that you have received your good things in this life, and likewise Lazarus evil things. But now he is comforted, and you grieve.” 

And in the Acts of the Apostles: “But Peter said to him, 'Silver and gold indeed I have none; but what I have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' And, taking hold of his right hand, he lifted him up.” 

Also in the first to Timothy: “We brought nothing into this world, but neither can we take anything away. Therefore, having maintenance and clothing, let us with these be content. But they who will become rich fall into temptation and a snare, and many and hurtful lusts, which drown man in perdition and destruction. For the root of all evils is covetousness, which some coveting, have made shipwreck from the faith, and have plunged themselves in many sorrows.”  The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.550.

NOVATIAN: Moderation is always found to be approximate to religion, nay, so to speak, rather related and akin to it; for luxury is hostile to holiness. For how shall religion be spared by it, when modesty is not spared? Luxury does not entertain the fear of God. . . .

But from the fact that liberty of meats is granted to us, it does not of necessity follow that luxury is allowed us; nor because the Gospel has dealt with us very liberally, has it taken away self-restraint. . . . But nothing has so restrained intemperance as the Gospel; nor has any one given such strict laws against gluttony as Christ, who is said to have pronounced even the poor blessed,  and the hungering and thirsting happy,  the rich miserable;  to whom, obeying the government of their belly and their palate,  the material of their lusts could never be lacking, so that their servitude could not cease; who think it an argument of their happiness to desire as much as they can, except that they are thus able to attain less than they desire. For, moreover, preferring Lazarus in his very hunger and in his sores themselves, and with the rich man’s dogs, He restrained the destroyers of salvation, the belly and the palate, by examples. 

The apostle also, when he said, “Having food and raiment, we are to be content,”  laid down the law of frugality and self-restraint; and thinking that it would be of little advantage that he had written, he also gave himself as an example of what he had written, adding not without reason, that “greed for wealth is the root of all evils;”  for it follows in the footsteps of luxury. On the Jewish Meats, 5.648-649

PETER OF ALEXANDRIA: For they have sustained the loss and sacrifice of their goods that they might not hurt or destroy their soul, which others for the sake of filthy money have not done; and yet the Lord says, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  and again, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” In these things, then, they have shown themselves the servants of God, inasmuch as they have hated, trodden under foot, and despised money, and have thus fulfilled what is written: “The ransom of a man’s life are his riches.” 
The Canonical Epistle, 6.276-277.

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