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Chapter VII.—The Old and the New Birth.

“There is therefore, as we have said, a certain necessary inequality in the dispensation of the world.  Since indeed all men cannot know all things, and accomplish all works, yet all need the use and service of almost all.  And on this account it is necessary that one work, and another pay him for his work; that one be servant, and another be master; that one be subject, another be king.  But this inequality, which is a necessary provision for the life of men, divine providence has turned into an occasion of justice, mercy, and humanity:  that while these things are transacted between man and man, every one may have an opportunity of acting justly with him to whom he has to pay wages for his work; and of acting mercifully to him who, perhaps through sickness or poverty, cannot pay his debt; and of acting humanely towards those who by their creation seem to be subject to him; also of maintaining gentleness towards subjects, and of doing all things according to the law of God.  For He has given a law, thereby aiding the minds of men, that they may the more easily perceive how they ought to act with respect to everything, in what way they may escape evil, and in what way tend to future blessings; and how, being regenerate in water, they may by good works extinguish the fire of their old birth.  For our first birth descends through the fire of lust, and therefore, by the divine appointment, this second birth is introduced by water, which may extinguish the nature of fire; 838 and that the soul, enlightened by the heavenly Spirit, may cast away the fear of the first birth:  provided, however, it so live for the time to come, that it do not at all seek after any of the pleasures of this world, but be, as it were, a pilgrim and a stranger, 839 and a citizen of another city.



[Compare Homily XI. 26 on this view of baptism.—R.]


Ps. xxxix. 12.

Next: Chapter VIII