Jerome of Stridon: Two Coats

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Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2

“With tears and groans, I conjure you to remember. While we run the way of this world, we must not clothe ourselves with tw\o coats, that is, with a twofold faith, or burden ourselves with leather shoes, that is, with dead works; we must not allow scrips filled with money to weigh us down, or lean upon the staff of worldly power. We must not seek to possess both Christ and the world. No; things eternal must take the place of things transitory; and since, physically speaking, we daily anticipate death, if we wish for immortality we must realize that we are but mortal.”

Jerome of Stridon (c. 342-420) in Letter to Marcella 23.4 (written c. 384; translated by M.A. Freemantle; CCEL: Grand Rapids). Jerome is the fourth of four Doctors of the Western Church. Tomorrow we turn to the four Doctors of the Eastern Church.

We are living in a time when we are sensitive to the fact that many are dying around us. In this case, Marcella was devastated by the loss of a fellow ministry worker. Jerome wrote a letter to encourage her. This excerpt comes from the conclusion to the letter.

He urges her (and us) not to carry two coats through life, avoiding a twofold faith. We must not trust in the things that world does, but only trust in God. We must not lean on power, possessions, or pleasures but on Christ alone. And we must live in anticipation of death.

On this note I want to wish my father, Jack Hoag, a happy birthday. He’s 82 (and counting) but he and mom have simplified and with what strength they have remaining, they are living for eternity in anticipation immortality. Well done, dad. Happy Birthday.