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On Christian Doctrine In Four Books by St. Augustine

Chapter 59. But whatever may be the majesty of the styleà

59. But whatever may be the majesty of the style, the life of the speaker will count for more in securing the hearer's compliance. The man who speaks wisely and eloquently, but lives wickedly, may, it is true, instruct many who are anxious to learn; though, as it is written, he |is unprofitable to himself.| Wherefore, also, the apostle says: |Whether in pretence or in truth Christ is preached.| Now Christ is the truth; yet we see that the truth can be preached, though not in truth, that is, what is right and true in itself may be preached by a man of perverse and deceitful mind. And thus it is that Jesus Christ is preached by those that seek their own, and not the things that are Jesus Christ's. But since true believers obey the voice, not of any man, but of the Lord Himself, who says, |All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do: but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not;| and therefore it is that men who themselves lead unprofitable lives are heard with profit by others. For though they seek their own objects, they do not dare to teach their own doctrines, sitting as they do in the high places of ecclesiastical authority, which is established on sound doctrine. Wherefore our Lord Himself, before saying what I have just quoted about men of this stamp, made this observation: |The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses's seat.| The seat they occupied then, which was not theirs but Moses', compelled them to say what was good, though they did what was evil. And so they followed their own course in their lives, but were prevented by the seat they occupied, which belonged to another, from preaching their own doctrines.

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