Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Ambrose, aka Saint Ambrose, fully Aurelius Ambrosius NULL

Italian Archbishop of Milan

"Mercy is not ordinarily held to consist in pronouncing judgment on another man’s deserts, but in relieving his necessities; in giving aid to the poor, not in inquiring how good they are."

"How great a judgment, O rich man, do you draw down upon yourself! The people go hungry, and you close your granaries; the people weep, and you turn your finger-ring about. Unhappy man, who has the power but not the will to save so many souls from death."

"As often as you drink, you receive remission of sins and become drunk in the Spirit."

"As soon as the act of conception has occurred and pregnancy has resulted, the disease of lust begins."

"Before we are born we are defiled with contagion, and before the enjoyment of light we receive the injury of [our] very origin. For we are conceived in iniquity... Birth itself has its contagions, and not only one, but nature itself has contagion."

"Feed him who is dying of hunger; if you have not fed him you have killed him."

"Every man is a liar, and no one is without sin except the one God. It has therefore been held that from man and woman, that is, through the mingling of their bodies, no one is thought to be without defect. But he who is without defect is also without this conception."

"For I think that I shall seem arrogant if I conceive a desire to teach among sons. I hope to attain not the grace of the prophets nor the strength of the evangelists nor the foresight of the pastors, but only application to and love for the divine Scriptures."

"God knows the future with as much certainty as He knows the present."

"He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His. He took it not to overturn it but to fill it."

"God by nature is uncompounded, joined to nothing, composed of nothing, to whom nothing happens by accident; but only possessing in His own nature that which is divine, enclosing all things, Himself closed out of nothing, penetrating all things, Himself never penetrable, everywhere complete, everywhere present at the same time, whether in heaven or on earth or in the depths of the sea, incapable of being seen or measured by our senses, to be followed only by faith and venerated in our religion."

"In this matter [of the incarnation] my ignorance far surpasses my knowledge; but this one thing I know well, that I am ignorant of things which I cannot understand."

"If every time the blood is poured out it is poured out for the remission of sins, I ought to receive it always, that my sins may always be forgiven me; because I constantly sin, I constantly need to have the remedy."

"Lord, teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you. For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me. Let me seek you in longing and long for you in seeking. Let me find you in love, and love you in finding."

"It is faith that covers up our sins."

"No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks. Neither angel, nor archangel, not yet even the Lord Himself (who alone can say 'I am with you'), can, when we have sinned, release us, unless we bring repentance with us."

"Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church; let it become a consuming fire, that it may burn the hay and stubble, and consume whatever is worldly; there is heavy lead of iniquity in many; let it be molten by divine fire; let the gold and silver vessels be made better, in order that understanding and speech, refined by the heat of suffering, may begin to be more precious."

"Original concupiscence is that which makes an easy little entrance for lusting, and renders the adult lustful."

"Paul explains himself in most of his epistles in such a way that whoever treats them may find nothing of his own to add, or if he wants to say something, he performs the office of a grammarian rather than that of an expounder."

"Sin is the transgression of the divine law and disobedience of the heavenly precepts."

"That soul is not in the image of God in which God is not always present."

"The conflict between the flesh and the Spirit, because of the sinfulness of man, revolves around his [man’s] nature."

"The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved. The Church's foundation is unshakable and firm against assaults of the raging sea. Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it. Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress. There is a stream which flows down on God's saints like a torrent. There is also a rushing river giving joy to the heart that is at peace and makes for peace."

"Through His deity He is God, through the assumption of the flesh He is man. ...through the nature of man He grows tired. the nature of man He is less than the Father. God He speaks things which are divine, as man He says things which are human."

"To whatever church you come, observe its custom, if you do not want to suffer or give offense."

"We are free to be ignorant [about the day on which angels were created] because we neither must nor can know."

"We are not justified by our works but by faith, since our fleshly weakness is an impediment to our works, but the clarity of faith which merits the forgiveness of sins overcomes the error of our works."

"We are not to be in doubt about the merits of; we should rather believe the testimonies of the angels that, after the fall into sin has been wiped away, he whom his faith has washed ascends cleansed. Let us believe that he has ascended from the desert, that is, from a dry and uncultivated place, to those flowering delights where, joined to his brother, he enjoys the pleasure of eternal life. Both are in bliss, if my prayers avail anything; no prayer of mine shall pass over without honoring you; in all my offerings I shall celebrate you. Who will forbid me to call you innocent?"

"There is no time of life past learning something."

"The world was subjected to him [God] through the law, because by the prescriptions of the law everyone was indicted and by the works of the law no one is justified. In other words, through the law sin is recognized, but its guilt is not relieved."

"The passions of the soul are pride, avarice, ambition, strife, envy; the vices that cling to the body are the desire for eating, prodigality of wantonness and licentiousness. Temperance greatly restrains the ardor of these passions. It first tempers the spirit with sobriety and moderation, and informs the mind; then it also reins in the bodily fierceness through abstinence from pleasures. Temperance is therefore a teacher who shows the way of corrective discipline, reining in desires."

"The pious mind distinguishes between what is written with reference to the deity and with reference to the flesh, and thus avoids sacrilege."

"Therefore it is proper to believe both that we are to repent and that we are to be pardoned, but in such a way as to expect pardon from faith just as faith obtains it from the written agreement."

"What is evil unless it is the absence of good?"