Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Golden Rule in the Early Church, Part 5

WE SHALL FOCUS ON ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO'S references to the Golden Rule in his Enarrationes in Psalmos or Expositions on the Psalms. These are a series of homilies on the Psalms. St. Augustine discusses the Golden Rule and proposes it in both negative and positive formulations, clearly indicating that both formulations are complementary and part of the Christian understanding of this fundamental moral principle. We shall look at St. Augustine's homilies and on Psalm 51 and 57.

In his discussion of Psalm 51:4--"You have loved malice above benignity"--St. Augustine reflects on the fact that all men have before them the choice of good and evil. "Benignity is before you, iniquity is before you: compare and choose." Benignitas ante te, iniquitas ante te: compara, et elige. It may be that some have blinded themselves to good. Worse than the evil itself is the damage one inflicts on self, a self-blindness, as it were, as the eye of the heart "does turn away itself, that it may not see what it is able to see," avertit se ne videat quod videre potest. To love malice above goodness is contrary to nature, it is a self-willed blindness that is not blind. It is pretending to be blind, while the inner heart sees. One who chooses iniquity does so perversely, as if he "would raise water above oil" or "under darkness place a light," or put earth above heaven. But "the water will be sunk, the oil will remain above," the light will penetrate all darkness, and the earth shall fall back into place, willy nilly. So ultimately this blindness is one of will, and not of intellectual sight or reality, for just like oil floats above water, light is not squelched by dark, and earth is heavier than air, so is the iniquitous man the first to complain if another does him wrong. This proves he really knows the wrong, else "[w]herefore does he cry out when he suffers anything unjustly?" Though he may wrong his brother, he is the first to cry when his brother injures him, proof that the fundamental law remains in heart, squelched perhaps, but nevertheless there. And that squelched law, though he may not follow it with respect to others and demands it be followed as to him, is there to judge him. "Be he then a rule to himself for seeing: out of himself he shall be judged." Sit ergo regula sibi ad vivendum: de seipso iudicabitur. The rule is always there both to guide and to judge:
Be he then a rule to himself for seeing: out of himself he shall be judged. Moreover, if he do what is written, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself;" [Matthew 22:39] and, "Whatsoever good things you will that men should do unto you, these also do ye do unto them:" [Matthew 7:12] at home he has means of knowing, because what on himself he will not have to be done, he ought not to do to another.

Sit ergo regula sibi ad vivendum: de seipso iudicabitur. Porro si faciat quod scriptum est: Diliges proximum tuum tamquam teipsum; et: Quae vultis ut faciant vobis homines bona, haec et vos facite illis 32; apud se habet unde noverit, quia quod in se non vult fieri, non debet facere alteri.
Enarr. in Ps. 51.10.

Stained Glass Window Showing St. Augustine of Hippo
From the former Dominican Priory Church of Hawkesyard

St. Augustine has cause to address the same theme in his exposition of Psalm 57, specifically the verse: "If truly indeed justice you speak, judge right things, you sons of men." Ps. 57:1. Even an unjust man can be spoken to about justice, because he maintains the standard within himself when it comes time to judge injustice upon himself. An unjust man may ignore the right when it comes to how he should treat others. But the heart, the conscience, of that unjust man is not so fooled, as to hear only partly. Here, St. Augustine invokes the negative formulation of the rule.
For to what unjust man is it not an easy thing to speak justice? Or what man if questioned about justice, when he has not a cause, would not easily answer what is just? Inasmuch as the hand of our Maker in our very hearts has written this truth, "That which to yourself you would not have done, do not do to another." [Tobit 4:15.] Of this truth, even before that the Law was given, no one was suffered to be ignorant, in order that there might be some rule whereby might be judged even those to whom Law had not been given.

Cui enim iniquo non facile est loqui iustitiam? aut quis de iustitia interrogatus, quando non habet causam, non facile respondeat quid sit iustum? Quandoquidem manu formatoris nostri in ipsis cordibus nostris veritas scripsit: Quod tibi non vis fieri, ne facias alteri. Hoc et antequam Lex daretur nemo ignorare permissus est, ut esset unde iudicarentur et quibus Lex non esset data.
Enarr. in Ps., 57.1. So the Golden Rule is emblazoned in man's heart, and cannot be eradicated from the heart of the unjust man, for even he cries against any injustice against him based upon the law he ignores when it comes to treating others. This is proof of the unerasable nature of that law.

Man cannot justly complain of ignorance; even in the unjust law "there will be questioning," the fluttering of conscience, and proof of a law from which he has departed and to which he ought to return. "Where questioning is, there is law." But to prevent man from excuse, God wrote down that law in the Decalogue, a law which is not imposed from the outside in, but a law that attempts to call us back to the internal law that man has abandoned:
But lest men should complain that something had been wanting for them, there has been written also in tables that which in their hearts they read not. For it was not that they had it not written, but read it they would not. There has been set before their eyes that which in their conscience to see they would be compelled; and as if from without the voice of God were brought to them, to his own inward parts has man been thus driven, the Scripture saying, "For in the thoughts of the ungodly man there will be questioning." [Wisdom 1:9] Where questioning is, there is law. [Ubi interrogatio, ibi lex.] But because men, desiring those things which are without, even from themselves have become exiles, there has been given also a written law: not because in hearts it had not been written, but because you were a deserter from your heart, you are seized by Him that is everywhere, and to yourself within art called back. Therefore the written law, what cries it, to those that have deserted the law written in their hearts? [Romans 2:15] "Return ye transgressors to the heart." [Isaiah 46:8]

Sed ne sibi homines aliquid defuisse quaererentur, scriptum est et in tabulis quod in cordibus non legebant. Non enim scriptum non habebant, sed legere nolebant. Oppositum est oculis eorum quod in conscientia videre cogerentur; et quasi forinsecus admota voce Dei, ad interiora sua homo compulsus est, dicente Scriptura: In cogitationibus enim impii interrogatio erit. Ubi interrogatio, ibi lex. Sed quia homines appetentes ea quae foris sunt, etiam a seipsis exsules facti sunt, data est etiam conscripta lex: non quia in cordibus scripta non erat; sed quia tu fugitivus eras cordis tui, ab illo qui ubique est comprehenderis, et ad teipsum intro revocaris. Propterea scripta lex quid clamat eis qui deseruerunt legem scriptam in cordibus suis? Redite praevaricatores ad cor.
Enarr. in Ps., 57.1. St. Augustine goes from the general concept to the concrete. What man would not complain if someone were to commit adultery with his wife, or take his property, or commit some other wrong against him? The principle works affirmatively also. What man, if hungry, would not want his neighbor to extend him charity? This ineradicable tendency in us is evidence of a natural law, and is evidence that we never completely lose that standard of right and wrong; rather, we irrationally suppose that we are the only one entitled to that law, and not our neighbor. That view is irrational because there is nothing upon which we can support the proposition that we are a man entitled to justice, but that our fellow man is not.
For who has taught you, that you would have no other man draw near your wife? Who has taught you, that you would not have a theft committed upon you? Who has taught you, that you would not suffer wrong, and whatever other thing either universally or particularly might be spoken of? For many things there are, of which severally if questioned men with loud voice would answer, that they would not suffer. Come, if you are not willing to suffer these things, are you by any means the only man? Do you not live in the fellowship of mankind? He that together with you has been made, is your fellow; and all men have been made after the image of God [Genesis 1:26], unless with earthly coverings they efface that which He has formed. That which therefore to yourself you will not have to be done, do not do to another. For you judge that there is evil in that, which to suffer you are not willing: and this thing you are constrained to know by an inward law; that in your very heart is written. You were doing somewhat, and there was a cry raised in your hands: how are you constrained to return to your heart when this thing you suffer in the hands of others? Is theft a good thing? No! I ask, is adultery a good thing? All cry, No! Is man-slaying a good thing? All cry, that they abhor it. Is coveting the property of a neighbor a good thing? No! Is the voice of all men. Or if yet you confess not, there draws near one that covets your property: be pleased to answer what you will have. All men therefore, when of these things questioned, cry that these things are not good. Again, of doing kindnesses, not only of not hurting, but also of conferring and distributing, any hungry soul is questioned thus: "you suffer hunger, another man has bread, and there is abundance with him beyond sufficiency, he knows you to want, he gives not: it displeases you when hungering, let it displease you when full also, when of another's hungering you shall have known. A stranger wanting shelter comes into your country, he is not taken in: he then cries that inhuman is that city, at once among barbarians he might have found a home. He feels the injustice because he suffers; thou perchance feel not, but it is meet that thou imagine yourself also a stranger; and that thou see in what manner he will have displeased you, who shall not have given that, which thou in your country will not give to a stranger." I ask all men. True are these things? True. Just are these things? Just. But hear ye the Psalm. "If truly therefore justice ye speak, judge right things, you sons of men." Be it not a justice of lips, but also of deeds. For if you act otherwise than you speak, good things you speak, and ill you judge.

Quis enim te docuit, nolle accedi ab altero ad uxorem tuam? quis te docuit, nolle tibi furtum fieri? quis te docuit, nolle iniuriam pati, et quidquid aliud vel universaliter vel particulariter dici potest? Multa enim sunt, de quibus singulis interrogati homines, clara voce respondeant, nolle se pati. Age, si non vis pati ista, numquid solus es homo? nonne in societate vivis generis humani? Qui tecum factus est, socius tuus est; et omnes facti ad imaginem Dei, nisi terrenis cupiditatibus conterant quod ille formavit. Quod ergo tibi non vis fieri, noli alteri facere. Iudicas enim malum esse in eo quod pati non vis: et hoc te cogit nosse lex intima, in ipso tuo corde conscripta. Faciebas, et clamabatur inter manus tuas: quomodo cogeris redire ad cor tuum, cum hoc pateris inter manus alienas? Furtum bonum est? Non. Interrogo: Adulterium bonum est? Omnes clamant: Non. Homicidium bonum est? Omnes clamant detestari se. Concupiscere rem proximi bonum est? Non, vox omnium est. Aut si adhuc non confiteris, accedit qui concupiscat rem tuam: placeat tibi, et responde quod vis. Omnes ergo de his rebus interrogati, clamant haec bona non esse. Rursus de beneficiis, non solum de non nocendo, verum etiam de praestando atque tribuendo. Interrogatur omnis anima esuriens: Famem pateris; alius habet panem, et redundat ei ultra sufficientiam, novit te egere, non dat: displicet tibi esurienti; displiceat et satiato, cum alterum esurire cognoveris. Peregrinus tecto indigens venit in patriam tuam, non suscipitur: ille tunc clamat inhumanam esse illam civitatem, facile apud barbaros sibi esse potuisse refugium. Sentit iniquitatem, quia patitur: tu forte non sentis; sed oportet ut et te cogites peregrinum, et videas quomodo tibi possit displicere qui tibi non praestiterit quod tu in patria tua non vis peregrino praestare. Interrogo omnes: Vera sunt haec? Vera. Iusta sunt haec? Iusta.
Enarr. in Ps., 57.1.

The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

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