Matt. 6:24 (Part 2)

IRENAEUS: For in some cases there follows us a small, and in others a large amount of property, which we have acquired from the mammon of unrighteousness. For from what source do we derive the houses in which we dwell, the garments in which we are clothed, the vessels which we use, and everything else ministering to our every-day life, unless it be from those things which, when we were Gentiles, we acquired by avarice, or received them from our heathen parents, relations, or friends who unrighteously obtained them?— not to mention that even now we acquire such things when we are in the faith. For who is there that sells, and does not wish to make a profit from him who buys? Or who purchases anything, and does not wish to obtain good value from the seller? Or who is there that carries on a trade, and does not do so that he may obtain a livelihood thereby? And as to those believing ones who are in the royal palace, do they not derive the utensils they employ from the property which belongs to Caesar; and to those who do not have, does not each one of these Christians give according to his ability? . . .

God dwells in those who act uprightly, as the Lord says: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that they, when you shall be put to flight, may receive you into eternal tabernacles.”  For whatsoever we acquired from unrighteousness when we were heathen, we are proved righteous, when we have become believers, by applying it to the Lord’s advantage. Against Heresies, 1.502-504.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The bastard, who is a son of perdition, is foredoomed to be the slave of mammon. Exhortation to the Heathen, 2.198.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Wealth, when not properly governed, is a stronghold of evil, about which many casting their eyes, they will never reach the kingdom of heaven,  sick for the things of the world, and living proudly through luxury. But those who are in earnest about salvation must settle this beforehand in their mind, “that all that we possess is given to us for use, and use for sufficiency, which one may attain to by a few things.” For silly are they who, from greed, take delight in what they have hoarded up. “He that gathers wages,” it is said, “gathers into a bag with holes.”  Such is he who gathers corn and shuts it up; and he who gives to no one, becomes poorer.

It is a farce, and a thing to make one laugh outright, for men to bring in silver urinals and crystal chamber pots, as they usher in their counsellors, and for silly rich women to get gold receptacles for excrements made; so that being rich, they cannot even ease themselves except in superb way. I would that in their whole life they deemed gold fit for dung.

But now love of money is found to be the stronghold of evil, which the apostle says “is the root of all evils, which, while some coveted, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 

But the best riches is poverty of desires; and the true generosity is not to be proud of wealth, but to despise it. Boasting about one’s plate is utterly shameful. For it is plainly wrong to care much about what any one who likes may buy from the market. But wisdom is not bought with coin of earth, nor is it sold in the marketplace, but in heaven. And it is sold for true coin, the immortal Word, the regal gold. The Instructor, 2.248.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: What means the parable of Lazarus, by showing the image of the rich and poor?  And what the saying, “No man can serve two masters, God and Mammon?”—the Lord so terming the love of money. For instance, the covetous, who were invited, responded not to the invitation to the supper, not because of their possessing property, but of their inordinate affection to what they possessed.  “The foxes,” then, have holes.  He called those evil and earthly men who are occupied about the wealth which is mined and dug from the ground, foxes. Thus also, in reference to Herod: “Go, tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out devils, and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’”  For He applied the name “birds of the air” to those who were distinct from the other birds—those really pure, those that have the power of flying to the knowledge of the heavenly Word. For not riches only, but also honor, and marriage, and poverty, have ten thousand cares for him who is unfit for them. And those cares He indicated in the parable of the fourfold seed, when He said that “the seed of the word which fell among the thorns”  and hedges was choked by them, and could not bring forth fruit. It is therefore necessary to learn how to make use of every occurrence, so as by a good life, according to knowledge, to be trained for the state of eternal life. The Stromata, 2.414.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “For no one can serve two masters, God and Mammon,” it is said; meaning not simply money, but the resources arising from money bestowed on various pleasures. In reality, it is not possible for him who magnanimously and truly knows God, to serve antagonistic pleasures. The Stromata, 2.543.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: For, as the Lord commanded, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and God. It is said that Matthias [the apostle]  also taught that one should fight the flesh and abuse it,  never allowing it to give way to licentious pleasure, so that the soul might grow by faith and knowledge. On Marriage. 

TERTULLIAN: How many other undoubted proofs we have had in the case of persons who, by keeping company with the devil in the shows, have fallen from the Lord! For no one can serve two masters. What fellowship has light with darkness, life with death?  The Shows, 3.90.

TERTULLIAN: While the bounty of our most excellent emperors was dispensed in the camp, the soldiers, laurel-crowned, were approaching. One of them, more a soldier of God, more stedfast than the rest of his brethren, who had imagined that they could serve two masters, his head alone uncovered, the useless crown in his hand—already even by that peculiarity known to every one as a Christian —was nobly conspicuous. Accordingly, all began to mark him out, jeering him at a distance, gnashing on him near at hand. The murmur is wafted to the tribune, when the person had just left the ranks. The tribune at once puts the question to him, “Why are you so different in your attire?”

He declared that he had no liberty to wear the crown with the rest. Being urgently asked for his reasons, he answered, “I am a Christian.”

“O soldier! boasting yourself in God.” Then the case was considered and voted on; the matter was remitted to a higher tribunal; the offender was conducted to the prefects. At once he put away the heavy cloak, his disburdening commenced; he loosed from his foot the military shoe, beginning to stand upon holy ground; he gave up the sword, which was not necessary either for the protection of our Lord; from his hand likewise dropped the laurel crown; and now, purple-clad with the hope of his own blood, shod with the preparation of the gospel, gird with the sharper word of God, completely equipped in the apostles’ armor, and crowned more worthily with the white crown of martyrdom, he awaits in prison the generosity of Christ. The Chaplet, 3.93.

TERTULLIAN: But I first say a word also about the military crown itself. This laurel one is sacred to Apollo or Bacchus—to the former as the god of archery, to the latter as the god of triumphs. In like manner Claudius teaches, when he tells us that soldiers are accustomed too to be wreathed in myrtle. For the myrtle belongs to Venus, the mother of the Aeneadae, the mistress also of the god of war, who, through Ilia and the Romuli is Roman. But I do not believe that Venus is Roman as well as Mars, because of the vexation the concubine gave her. When military service again is crowned with olive, the idolatry has respect to Minerva, who is equally the goddess of arms—but got a crown of the tree referred to, because of the peace she made with Neptune. In these respects, the superstition of the military garland will be everywhere defiled and all-defiling. And it is further defiled, I should think, also in the grounds of it. Lo the yearly public pronouncing of vows, what does that bear on its face to be? It takes place first in the part of the camp where the general’s tent is, and then in the temples. In addition to the places, observe the words also: “We vow that you, O Jupiter, will then have an ox with gold-decorated horns.” What does the utterance mean? Without a doubt the denial (of Christ). Albeit the Christian says nothing in these places with the mouth, he makes his response by having the crown on his head. The laurel is likewise commanded to be used at the distribution of the gifts. So you see idolatry is not without its gain, selling, as it does, Christ for pieces of gold, as Judas did for pieces of silver. Will it be “You cannot serve God and mammon” to devote your energies to mammon, and to depart from God? Will it be “Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s,”  not only not to render the human being to God, but even to take the denarius from Caesar? Is the laurel of the triumph made of leaves, or of corpses?

Is it adorned with ribbons, or with tombs? Is it bedewed with ointments, or with the tears of wives and mothers? To Scapula, 3.100-101.

TERTULLIAN: The endowing of a man indeed with riches, is not an incongruity to God, for by the help of riches even rich men are comforted and assisted; moreover, by them many a work of justice and charity is carried out. But yet there are serious faults which accompany riches; and it is because of these that woes are denounced on the rich, even in the Gospel. “You have received,” He says, “your consolation;” that is, of course, from their riches, in the pomps and vanities of the world which these purchase for them. Against Marcion, 3.368- 369.

TERTULLIAN: What the two masters are who, He says, cannot be served, on the ground that while one is pleased the other must needs be displeased, He Himself makes clear, when He mentions God and mammon. Then, if you have no interpreter by you, you may learn again from Himself what He would have understood by mammon. For when advising us to provide for ourselves the help of friends in worldly affairs, after the example of that steward who, when removed from his office, relieves his lord’s debtors by lessening their debts with a view to their recompensing him with their help, He said, “And I say to you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,”36 that is to say, of money, even as the steward had done. Now we are all aware that money is the instigator of unrighteousness, and the lord of the whole world. Therefore, when he saw the covetousness of the Pharisees doing servile worship to it, He hurled this sentence against them, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Then the Pharisees, who were covetous of riches, derided Him, when they understood that by mammon He meant money. . . . Learn therefrom that one God was pointed out by Christ. For they were two masters whom He named, God and mammon— the Creator and money. You cannot indeed serve God—Him, of course whom they seemed to serve—and mammon to whom they preferred to devote themselves.
Against Marcion, 3.402-403.

TERTULLIAN: A rich man is a difficult thing to find in the house of God.  On Exhortation to Chastity, 4.48.

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