The Same, When Bishop
He exhorts him to adorn the dignity which he had obtained without preceding merits, by a holy life.
1. Charity gives me boldness, my very dear friend, to speak to you with great confidence. The episcopal seat which you have lately obtained requires a man of many merits; and I see with grief none of these in you, or at least not sufficient, to have preceded your elevation. For your mode of life and your past occupations seem in nowise to have been befitting the episcopal office. What then? Would you say, Is not God able of this stone to raise up a son of Abraham? Is not God able to bring about that the good works which ought to have gone before my episcopate may follow it? Certainly He is, and I desire nothing better than this, if it should be so. I know not why, but that sudden change wrought by the right hand of the Highest will please me more than if the merits of your former life pleaded for you. Then I could say, This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes (Ps. cxviii.23). So Paul, from a persecutor, became the Doctor of the Gentiles; so Matthew was called from the toll-booth, so Ambrose was taken from the palace, the one to the Episcopate, the other to the Apostolate. So I have known many others who have been usefully raised to the Episcopate, from the habits and pursuits of secular life. How many times it has been the case that where sin abounded, grace also did much more abound?
2. So then, my dear friend, encouraged by these examples and others like them, gird up your loins, and make your actions and pursuits henceforth good; let your latest actions make the old forgotten, and the correction of your mature life blot out the demerits of your youth. Take care to imitate Paul in honouring your ministry. You will render it honourable by gravity of manners, by wise plans, by honourable actions. It is these which most ennoble and adorn the Episcopal office. Do nothing without taking counsel, yet not of all, nor of the first comer, but of good men. Have good men in your confidence, in your service, dwelling in your house, who may be at once the guardians and the witnesses of your honourable life. For in this you will approve yourself a good man if you have the testimony of the good. I commend to your piety my poor brethren who are in your diocese, especially those of Bonnemont, in the Alps, and of Hautecombe. By your bounty towards these I shall see what degree of affection you have for me.