Letter LXXVI. To Abigaus.
Abigaus the recipient of this letter was a blind presbyter of Bætica in Spain. He had asked the help of Jeromes prayers in his struggles with evil and Jerome now writes to cheer and to console him. He concludes his remarks by commending to his especial care the widow Theodora. The letter should be compared with that addressed to Castrutius (LXVIII.). It was written at the same time with the preceding.
p. 157 1. Although I am conscious of many sins and every day pray on bended knees, “Remember not the sins of my youth nor my transgressions, 2300 yet because I know that it has been said by the Apostle “let a man not be lifted up with pride lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil,” 2301 and that it is written in another passage, “God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble,” 2302 there is nothing I have striven so much to avoid from my boyhood up as a swelling mind and a stiff neck, 2303 things which always provoke against themselves the wrath of God. For I know that my master and Lord and God has said in the lowliness of His flesh: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,” 2304 and that before this He has sung by the mouth of David: “Lord, remember David and all his gentleness.” 2305 Again we read in another passage, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honour is humility.” 2306 Do not, then, I implore you, suppose that I have received your letter and have passed it over in silence. Do not, I beseech you, lay to my charge the dishonesty and negligence of which others have been guilty. For why should I, when called on to respond to your kind advances, continue dumb and repel by my silence the friendship which you offer? I who am always forward to seek intimate relations with the good and even to thrust myself upon their affection. “Two,” we read, “are better than one.…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.…a three fold cord is not quickly broken, and a brother that helps his brother shall be exalted.” 2307 Write to me, therefore, boldly, and overcome the effect of absence by frequent colloquies.
2. You should not grieve that you are destitute of those bodily eyes which ants, flies, and creeping things have as well as men; rather you should rejoice that you possess that eye of which it is said in the Song of Songs, “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.” 2308 This is the eye with which God is seen and to which Moses refers when he says:—“I will now turn aside and see this great sight.” 2309 We even read of some philosophers of this world 2310 that they have plucked out their eyes in order to turn all their thoughts upon the pure depths of the mind. And a prophet has said “Death has entered through your windows.” 2311 Our Lord too tells the Apostles: “Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” 2312 Consequently they are commanded to lift up their eyes and to look on the fields, for these are white and ready for harvest. 2313
3. You request me by my exhortations to slay in you Nebuchadnezzar and Rabshakeh and Nebuzar-adan and Holofernes. 2314 Were they alive in you, you would never have sought my aid. No, they are dead within you, and you have begun to build up the ruins of Jerusalem with the help of Zerubbabel and of Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest, of Ezra and of Nehemiah. You do not put your wages into a bag with holes, 2315 but you lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, 2316 and if you seek my friendship, it is because you believe me to be a servant of Christ.
I commend to you—although she needs no commendation but her own—my holy daughter Theodora, formerly the wife or rather the sister of Lucinius of blessed memory. Tell her that she must not grow weary of the path upon which she has entered, and that she can only reach the Holy Land by toiling through the wilderness. Warn her against supposing that the work of virtue is perfected when she has made her exodus from Egypt. Remind her that she must pass through snares innumerable to arrive at mount Nebo and the River Jordan, 2317 that she must receive circumcision anew at Gilgal, 2318 that Jericho must fall before her, overthrown by the blasts of priestly trumpets, 2319 that Adoni-zedec must be slain, 2320 that Ai and Hazor, once fairest of cities, must both fall. 2321
The brothers who are with me in the monastery salute you, and I through you earnestly salute those reverend persons who deign to bestow upon me their regard.
Ps. xxv. 7.157:2301
1 Tim. iii. 6. A.V. adapted.157:2302
James iv. 6.157:2303
Cf. Ps. lxxv. 5.157:2304
Matt. xi. 29.157:2305
Ps. cxxxii. 1, Vulg. A.V. has afflictions.157:2306
Prov. xviii. 12.157:2307
Eccl. iv. 9-12. The last clause is Jeromes own.157:2308
Song of Sol. 4.9.157:2309
Ex. iii. 3.157:2310
Cicero ascribes this piece of fanaticism to Democritus and Metrodorus.157:2311
Jer. ix. 21. LXX.157:2312
Matt. v. 28.157:2313
Joh. iv. 35.157:2314
The legendary oppressor of the Jews, whose fate is described in the Book of Judith.157:2315
Hagg. i. 6.157:2316
Matt. vi. 20.157:2317
Num. 33:47, 48.157:2318
Josh. 5:2, 9.157:2319
Josh. vi. 20.157:2320
Josh. 10:1, 26.157:2321
Josh. 8:0, Josh. 11:10.