12 I have done what my lord commanded me, I will now dig this vineyard, and when it is digged, it will be more beautiful; and the weeds being pulled up, it will bring forth more fruit and not be choked by the weeds.
13 So setting about this work he digged it, and plucked up all the weeds that were in it; and so the vineyard became very beautiful and prosperous, not being choked with weeds.
14 After some time the lord of the vineyard comes and goes into the vineyard, and when he saw that it was handsomely staked and digged, and the weeds plucked up that were in it, and the vines flourishing, he rejoiced greatly at the care of his servant.
15 And calling his son whom he loved, and who was to be his heir, and his friends with whom he was wont to consult; he tells them what he had commanded his servant to do, and what his servant had done more; and they immediately congratulated that servant, that he had received so [*1] full a testimony from his lord.
16 Then he said to them, I indeed promised this servant his liberty, if he observed the command which I gave him; and he observed it, and besides has done a good work to my vineyard, which has exceedingly pleased me.
17 Wherefore, for this work which he hath done, I will make him my heir together with my son, because that when he saw what was good, he neglected it not, but did it.
18 This design of the lord both his son and his friends approved, namely, that his servant should be heir together with his son.
19 Not long after this, the master of the family calling together his friends, sent from his supper several kinds of food to that servant.
20 Which when he had received, he took so much of them as was sufficient for himself, and divided the rest among his fellow servants.
21 Which when they had received, they rejoiced; and wished that he might find yet greater favour with his lord, for what he had done to them.[p. 233]
Click to enlarge
CHRIST AS A GARDENER APPEARING TO MARY MAGDALENE. FROM A PAINTING IN DISTEMPER ON WOOD: TWELFTH CENTURY. The letters underneath are from the back of the Picture: ''Donatus Bizamanus, pixit in Hotranto.''
22 When his lord heard all these things, he was again filled with great joy; and calling again his friends and his son together, he related to them what his servant had done with the meats which he had sent unto them.
23 They therefore so much the more assented to the master of the household; and he ought to make that servant his heir together with his son.
24 I said unto him, Sir, I know not these similitudes, neither can I understand them, unless you expound them unto me. I will, says he, expound all things unto thee whatsoever I have talked with thee, or shewn unto thee.
25 Keep the commandments of the Lord and thou shalt be approved, and shalt be written in the number of those that keep his commandments. But if besides those things which the Lord hath commanded, thou shalt add some good thing; thou shalt purchase to thyself a greater dignity, and be in more favour with the Lord than thou shouldst otherwise have been.
26 If therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord, and shalt add to them these stations, thou shalt rejoice; but especially if thou shalt keep them according to my commands.
27 I said unto him, Sir, whatsoever thou shalt command me, I will observe; for I know that thou wilt be with me. I will, said he, be with thee who hast taken up such a resolution; and I will be with all those who purpose in like manner.
28 This fast, saith he, whilst thou dost also observe the commandments of the Lord, is exceeding good. Thus shalt there. fore thou keep it.
29 First of all, take heed to thyself, and keep thyself from every [*1] wicked act, and from every filthy word, and from every hurtful desire; and purify thy mind from all the vanity of this present world. If thou shalt observe these things, this fast shall be right.
30 Thus therefore do. Having performed what is before written, that day on which thou fastest thou shalt taste nothing at all but [*2] bread and water; [*2] and computing the quantity of food which thou art wont to eat upon other days, thou shalt [*2] lay aside the expense which thou shouldest have made that day, and give it unto the widow, the fatherless, and the poor.
31 [*3] And thus thou shalt perfect the humiliation of thy soul; that he who receives of it may satisfy his soul, and his prayer come up to the Lord God for thee.
32 If therefore thou shalt thus accomplish thy fast, as I command thee, thy sacrifice shall be acceptable unto the Lord, and thy fast shall be written in his book.
33 This station, thus performed, is good and pleasing, and acceptable unto the Lord. These things if thou shalt observe with thy children and with all thy house, thou shalt be happy.
34 And whosoever when they hear these things, shall do them, they also shall be happy; and whatsoever they shall ask of the Lord they shall receive it.
35 And I prayed him that he would expound unto me the similitude of the farm, and the Lord, and of the vineyard, and of the servant that had staked the vineyard;[p. 234]
and of the weeds that were plucked out of the vineyard; and of his son and his friends which he took into council with him. For I understand that that was a similitude.
36 He said unto me, Thou art very bold in asking: for thou oughtest not to ask any thing; because if it be fitting to shew it unto thee, it shall be shewed unto thee.
37 I answered him; Sir, whatsoever thou shalt shew me, without explaining it unto me, I shall in vain see it, if I do not understand what it is. And if thou shalt propose any similitudes, and not expound them, I shall in vain hear them.
38. He answered me again, saying: Whosoever is the servant of God, and has the Lord in his heart, he desires understanding of him, and receives it; and he explains every similitude, and understands the words of the Lord which need an inquiry.
39 But they that are lazy and slow to pray, doubt to seek from the Lord; although the Lord be of such an extraordinary goodness, that without ceasing he giveth all things to them that ask of him.
40 Thou therefore who art strengthened by that venerable messenger, and hast received such a powerful gift of prayer; seeing thou art not slothful, why dost thou not now ask understanding of the Lord, and receive it?
41 I said unto him; seeing I have thee present, it is necessary that I should seek it of thee, and ask thee; for thou showest all things unto me, and speakest to me when thou art present.
42 But if I should see or hear these things when thou wert not present, I would then ask the Lord that he would shew them unto me.
43 And he replied, I said a little before that thou wert subtle and bold, in that thou asketh the meaning of these similitudes.
44 But because thou still persistest, I will unfold to thee this parable which thou desirest, that thou mayest make it known unto all men.
45 Hear therefore, said he, and understand. The farm before mentioned denotes the whole earth. The Lord of the farm is he who created and finished all things, and gave virtue unto them.
46 His son is the Holy Spirit: the servant is the Son of God: the vineyard is the people whom he saves. The stakes are the [*1] messengers which are set over them by the Lord, to support his people. The weeds that are plucked up out of the vineyard, are the sins which the servants of God had committed.
47 The food which he sent him from his supper, are the commands which he gave to his people by his Son. The friends whom he called to counsel with him, are the holy angels whom he first created. The absence of the master of the household, is the time that remains unto his coming.
48 I said unto him, Sir, all these things are very excellent, and wonderful, and good. But, continued I, could I or any other man besides though never so wise, have understood these things?
49 Wherefore now, sir, tell me, what I ask. He replied, ask me what thou wilt. Why, said I, is the Son of God in this parable, put in the place of a servant?[p. 235]
50 Hearken, he said; the Son of God is not put in the condition of a servant, but in great power and authority. I said unto him 'how, sir? I understand it not.'
51 Because, said he, the Son set his [*1] over those whom the Father delivered unto him, to keep every one of them; but he himself labored very much, and suffered much, that he might blot out their offences.
52 For no vineyard can be digged without much labour and pains. Wherefore having blotted out the sins of his people, he shewed to them the paths of life, giving them the law which he had received of the Father.
53 You see, said he, that he is the Lord of his people, having received all power from his Father. [*2] But why the Lord did take his Son into counsel, about dividing the inheritance, and the good angels, hear now.
54 That [*3] Holy Spirit, which was created first of all, he placed in the body in which God should dwell; namely, in a chosen body, as it seemed good to him. This body therefore into which the [*3] Holy Spirit was brought, served that Spirit, walked rightly and purely in modesty; nor ever defiled that Spirit.
55 Seeing therefore the body at all times obeyed the Holy Spirit, and laboured rightly and chastely with him, nor faltered at any time; that body being wearied conversed indeed servilely, but being mightily approved to God with the Holy Spirit, was accepted by him.
56 For such a stout course pleased God, because he was not defiled in the earth, keeping the Holy Spirit. He called therefore to counsel his Son, and the good angels, that there might be some place of standing given to this body which had served the Holy Spirit without blame; lest it should seem to have lost the reward of its service.
57 For every pure body shall receive its reward; that is found without spot, in which the Holy Spirit has been appointed to dwell. And thus you have now the exposition of this parable also.
58 Sir, said I, I now understand your meaning, since I have heard this exposition. Hearken further, said he: keep this thy body clean and pure, that the Spirit which shall dwell in it may bear witness unto it, and be judged to have been with thee.
59 Also take heed that it be not instilled into thy mind that this body perishes, and thou abuse it to any lust. For if thou shalt defile thy body, thou shalt also at the same time defile the Holy Spirit; and if thou shalt defile [*4] the Holy Spirit, thou shalt not live.
60 And I said, What if through ignorance this should have been already committed, before a man heard these words; How can he attain unto salvation, who has thus defiled his body?
61 He replied, As for men's[p. 236]
former actions which through ignorance they have committed, God only can afford a remedy unto them; for all the power belongeth unto him.
62 But now guard thyself; and seeing God is almighty and merciful, he will grant a remedy to what thou hast formerly done amiss, if for the time to come thou shalt not defile thy body and spirit;
63 For they are companions together, and the one cannot be defiled but the other will be so too. Keep therefore both of them pure, and thou shalt live unto God.
Of two sorts of voluptuous men, and of their death, defection, and of the continuance of their pains.
AS I was sitting at home, and praising God for all the things which I had seen; and was thinking concerning the commands, that they were exceeding good, and great, and honest, and pleasant; and such as were able to bring a man to salvation; I said thus within myself; I shall be happy if I shall walk according to these commands, and whosoever shall walk in them shall live unto God.
2 Whilst I was speaking on this wise within myself, I saw him whom I had before been wont to see, sitting by me; and he spake thus unto me:
3 What doubtest thou concerning my commands which I have delivered unto thee? They are good, doubt not, but trust in the Lord, and thou shalt walk in them. For I will give thee strength [*1] to fulfil them.
4 These commands are profitable to those who shall repent of those sins which they have formerly committed; if for the time to come they shall not continue in them.
5 Whosoever therefore ye be that repent, cast away from you the naughtiness of the present world; and put on all virtue, and righteousness, and so shall ye be able to keep these commands; and not sin from henceforth any more.
6 For if ye shall keep yourselves from sin from the time to come, ye shall cut off a great deal of your former sins. Walk in my commands, and ye shall live unto God: These things have I spoken unto you.
7 And when he had said this, he added; let us go into the field, and I will show thee shepherds of sheep. I replied, sir, let us go.
8 And we came into a certain field, and there he showed me a young shepherd, [*2] finely arrayed, with his garments of a purple colour. And he fed large flocks; and his sheep were full of pleasure, and in much delight and cheerfulness; and they skipping, ran here and there.
9 And the shepherd took very great satisfaction in his flock; and the countenance of that shepherd was cheerful, running up and down among his flock.
10 Then the angel said unto me, Seest thou this shepherd? I answered, sir, I see him. He said unto me, this is the [*3] messenger of delight and pleasure. He therefore corrupts the minds of the servants of God, and turns them from the truth, delighting them with many pleasures, and they perish.
11 For they forget the commands of the living God, and live[p. 237]
in luxury and in vain pleasures, and are corrupted by the evil angel, some of them even unto death; and others to [*1] a falling away.
12 I replied; I understand not what you mean, by saying unto death, and to a falling away. Hear, says he; all these sheep which thou sawest exceeding [*2] joyful, are such as have for ever departed from God, and given themselves up to the [*3] lusts of this present time.
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