Though I have already spoken for a long time about character and moral training, again, my son that needs instruction, you ask to be taught. You have heard what is written: the man to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more
(cf. Sulp. Sev. Dial. i 18). I wrote to you before on the subject of seriousness and modesty, and indeed, as someone says, I fear the effect on you even of what is safe
(Verg. Aen. iv. 298); but since a warning may turn into guidance for some, comfort for others, and fulfilment for others again, for those, that is, who carry out what they understand, for that reason my dearest sons must be often taught and instructed, so that by some of the delights of literature they may be able to conquer their own griefs arising out of inner conflict.
Then conquer the battle and the brutal, I mean the lusts and the taint of pride. Be helpful in humbleness and most lowly in authority, simple in faith, trained in character, exacting in your own affairs, unconcerned in those of others, pure in friendship, shrewd in cunning, hard in times of ease, easy in times of hardness, versatile in even circumstances, even in versatile ones, joyful in sorrow, sorrowful in joy, a dissenter where necessary, agreeing about truth, serious in pleasures, kindly in griefs, strong in trials, weak in quarrellings; slow to
(sqq. Iacob. 1. 19), swift to learn, slow also to speak
(sqq. Iacob. 1. 19), as St. James says, equally swift to hear
(sqq. Iacob. 1. 19); efficient in your progress, tardy in your revenge, careful in word, ready in work; friendly to the upright, rough to the dishonourable, gentle to the weak, firm to the stubborn, correct to the proud, humble to the low; ever sober, ever chaste, ever modest, patient to the point of enthusiasm, never covetous, ever generous, if not in money, then in spirit; timely in fasting, timely in watching, discreet in duty, purposeful in study, unmoved in turmoil, glad in suffering, valiant in the cause of truth, timorous in time of strife; submissive to the good, unconquerable by evil, agreeable in almsgiving, unwearied in love, just in all things; respectful to the worthy, merciful to the poor; mindful of benefits, unmindful of wrongs; a lover of moderate men, undesirous of riches, a leveller of high spirits, ready to confess your thoughts; obedient to your seniors, setting the pace for your juniors, equalling your equals, striving together with the perfect, not envying your betters, not grieving at those who outstrip you, not censorious of those who linger, ready to agree with those who call you on; though weary, yet unfailing; at once weeping and rejoicing for zeal and hope; ever fearing for the end, though making a sure advance.
Let this be your model, beloved boy and dear secretary; if you be such, you shall be most blessed; for you will be the same through good times and through bad
(cf. Senec. Epist. 66. 6), ready for all things, coping with each, restraining your conduct, nourishing qualities that should grow, destroying those that should wither, smoothing the rough places, rough-hewing the defective ones; ever concerned, ever growing, ever making increase; ever aiming at the lofty, ever running to the mark; ever longing for heavenly things, ever thirsting for the things divine. There is my teaching; do you provide the disposition to follow, if you can, that you may enjoy happiness and strength, when by fleeing youthful lusts you have thus brought the body under the power of the spirit, and have made yourself surety for your sins, serving a brief period for the wages of eternity. Happy, blessed, admirable boy, if you fulfil all this. For if you are busily occupied with mind and hand in all of these things, you will have no leisure for vain, wandering, or wicked thoughts; but, as though ever at a new beginning, you will gather for yourself those fruits which you shall enjoy for ever, and you will deserve the name of a single-minded man, a seeker after the one reward, an outstanding merchant of the eternal kingdom. Then turn yourself entirely to these things, since you have opportunities on which to exercise your youth, virtue, competence and strength, lest these good qualities which seize the Kingdom of Heaven
(cf. Matt. 11. 12)by force should perish, if they are put to the opposite use.