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Augustine of Hippo
Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament

SERMON XLIV.

ON THE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL, MATT. XXV. 24, ETC., WHERE THE SLOTHFUL SERVANT WHO WOULD NOT PUT OUT THE TALENT HE HAD RECEIVED, IS CONDEMNED.

1. My lords, my brethren, and fellowbishops have deigned to visit us and gladden us by their presence; but I know not why they are unwilling to assist me, when wearied. I have said this to you, Beloved, in their hearing, that your hearing may in a manner intercede for me with them, that when I ask them they also may discourse unto you in their turn. Let them dispense what they have received, let them vouchsafe to work rather than excuse themselves. Be pleased, however, to hear from me, fatigued though I be and have difficulty in speaking, a few words only. For we have besides a record of God's mercies vouchsafed through a holy Martyr, which we must give willing audience to altogether. What is it then? what shall I say unto you? Ye have heard in the Gospel both the due recompense of the good servants, and the punishment of the bad. And the whole wickedness of that servant who was reprobate and severely condemned, was that he would not put out his money to use. He kept the entire sum he had received; but the Lord looked for profit from it. God is coveteous with regard to our salvation. If he who did not put out to use is so condemned, what must they look for who lose what they have received? We then are the dispensers, we put out, ye receive. We look for profit; do ye live well. For this is the profit in our dealings with you. But do not think that this office of putting out to use does not belong to you also. Ye cannot execute it indeed from this elevated seat, but ye can wherever ye chance to be. Wherever Christ is attacked, defend Him; answer murmurers, rebuke blasphemers, from their fellowship keep yourselves apart. So do ye put out to use, if ye make gain of any. Discharge our office in your own houses. A bishop is called from hence, because he super-intends, because he takes care and attends to others. To every man then, if he is the head of his own house, ought the office of the Episcopate to belong, to take care how his household believe, that none of them fall into heresy, neither wife, nor son, nor daughter, nor even his slave, because he has been bought at so great a price. The Apostolic teaching has set the master over the slave, and put the slave under the master; nevertheless Christ gave the same price for both. Do not neglect then the least of those belonging to you, look after the salvation of all your household with all vigilance. This if ye do, ye put out to use; ye will not be slothful servants, ye will not have to fear so horrible a condemnation.