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Chapter XV.—Fear of Men and of God.

“But as a proof that the fear of God has much efficacy for the repressing of lusts, take the example of human fear.  Who is there among men that does not covet his neighbour’s goods?  And yet they are restrained, and act honestly, through fear of the punishment which is prescribed by the laws.  Through fear, nations are subject to their kings, and armies obey with arms in their hands.  Slaves, although they are stronger than their masters, yet through fear submit to their masters’ rule.  Even wild beasts are tamed by fear; the strongest bulls submit their necks to the yoke, and huge elephants obey their masters, through fear.  But why do we use human examples, when even divine are not wanting?  Does not the earth itself remain under the fear of precept, which it testifies by its motion and quaking?  The sea keeps its prescribed bounds; the angels maintain peace; the stars keep their order, and the rivers their channels:  it is certain also that demons are put to flight by fear.  And not to lengthen the discourse by too many particulars, see how the fear of God, restraining everything, keeps all things in proper harmony, and in their fixed order.  How much more, then, may you be sure that the lusts of demons which arise in your hearts may be extinguished and wholly abolished by the admonition of the fear of God, when even the inciters of lust are themselves put to flight by the influence of fear?  You know that these things are so; but if you have anything to answer, proceed.”

Next: Chapter XVI