134: Regarding preachers

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`They that bear good figs are the true teachers who preach good doctrine, but the world, which taketh pleasure in lies, seeketh from the teachers leaves of fine words and flattery. The which seeing, Satan joineth himself with the flesh and the sense, and bringeth a large supply of leaves; that is, a quantity of earthly things, in which he covereth up sin; the which receiving, man becometh sick and ready for eternal death.

`The citizen who hath the water and giveth his water to others to wash off their uncleanness, but suffereth his own garments to become putrefied, is the teacher who to others preacheth penitence and himself abideth still in sin.

`O wretched man, because not the angels but his own tongue writeth upon the air the punishment that is fitting for him!

`If one had the tongue of an elephant, and the rest of his body were as small as an ant, would not this thing be monstrous? Yea, of a surety. Now I say unto you, verily, that he is more monstrous who preacheth penitence to others, but himself repenteth not of his sins.

`Those two men that sell apples are - the one, he who preacheth for love of God, wherefore he flattereth none, but preacheth in truth, seeking only a poor man's livelihood. As God liveth, in whose presence my soul standeth, such a man is not received by the world, but rather despised. But he who selleth the peel for its weight in gold, and giveth the apple away, he it is who preacheth to please men: and, so flattering the world, he ruineth the soul that followeth his flattery. Ah! How many have perished for this cause!'

Then answered he who writeth and said: `How should one listen to the word of God, and how should one know him that preacheth for love of God?'

Jesus answered: `He that preacheth should be listened to as though God were speaking, when he preacheth good doctrine; because God is speaking through his mouth. But he that reproveth not sins, having respect of persons, flattering particular men, should be avoided as an horrible serpent, for in truth he poisoneth the human heart.

`Understand ye! Verily I say unto you, even as a wounded man hath no need of fine bandages to bind up his wounds, but rather of a good ointment, so also hath a sinner no need of fine words, but rather of good reproofs, in order that he may cease to sin.'

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