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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XXVI.--In the Confessing of Benefits, Computation is Made Not as to The |Gift,| But as to the |Fruit,|--That Is, the Good and Right Will of the Giver.

The Confessions And Letters Of St by St. Augustine

Chapter XXVI.--In the Confessing of Benefits, Computation is Made Not as to The |Gift,| But as to the |Fruit,|--That Is, the Good and Right Will of the Giver.

39. But they who are delighted with them are fed by those fruits; nor are they delighted with them |whose god is their belly.| For neither in those that yield them are the things given the fruit, but in what spirit they give them. Therefore he who serves God and not his own belly, I plainly see why he may rejoice; I see it, and I rejoice with him exceedingly. For he hath received from the Philippians those things which they had sent from Epaphroditus; but yet I see why he rejoiced. For whereat he rejoices, upon that he feeds; for speaking in truth, |I rejoiced,| saith he, |in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, wherein ye were also careful,| but it had become wearisome unto you. These Philippians, then, by protracted wearisomeness, had become enfeebled, and as it were dried up, as to bringing forth this fruit of a good work; and he rejoiceth for them, because they flourished again, not for himself, because they ministered to his wants. Therefore, adds he, |not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.|

40. Whereat, then, dost thou rejoice in all things, O great Paul? Whereat dost thou rejoice? Whereon dost thou feed, O man, renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created thee, thou living soul of so great continency, and thou tongue like flying fowls, speaking mysteries, -- for to such creatures is this food due, -- what is that which feeds thee? Joy. Let us hear what follows. |Notwithstanding,| saith he, |ye have well done that ye did communicate with My affliction.| Hereat doth he rejoice, hereon doth he feed; because they have well done, not because his strait was relieved, who saith unto thee, |Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;| because he knew both |to abound and to suffer need,| in Thee Who strengthenest him. For, saith he, |ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.| Unto these good works he now rejoiceth that they have returned; and is made glad that they flourished again, as when a fruitful field recovers its greenness.

41. Was it on account of his own necessities that he said, |Ye have sent unto my necessity? Rejoiceth he for that? Verily not for that. But whence know we this? Because he himself continues, |Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit.| From Thee, O my God, have I learned to distinguish between a |gift| and |fruit.| A gift is the thing itself which he gives who bestows these necessaries, as money, food, drink, clothing, shelter, aid; but the fruit is the good and right will of the giver. For the good Master saith not only, |He that receiveth a prophet,| but addeth, |in the name of a prophet.| Nor saith He only, |He that receiveth a righteous man,| but addeth, |in the name of a righteous man.| So, verily, the former shall receive the reward of a prophet, the latter that of a righteous man. Nor saith He only, |Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water,| but addeth, |in the name of a disciple| and so concludeth, |Verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.| The gift is to receive a prophet, to receive a righteous man, to hand a cup of cold water to a disciple; but the fruit is to do this in the name of a prophet, in the name of a righteous man, in the name of a disciple. With fruit was Elijah fed by the widow, who knew that she fed a man of God, and on this account fed him; but by the raven was he fed with a gift. Nor was the inner man of Elijah fed, but the outer only, which might also from want of such food have perished.

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