De Perfectione, Chapter 13
The error of those who take it upon themselves to lessen the merit of obedience and the vows.
The devil resents human perfection. He has therefore raised up various pretentious and rebellious teachers to attack the ways of perfection. The first way of perfection (poverty) was attacked by Vigilantius, and Jerome replied to him in these words: "He claims that it is better to make use of one's possessions and distribute the income from one's property little by little. There is no need for me to answer such a claim, the answer is given by the Lord himself: 'If you want to be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor and come, follow me.' He is addressing someone who wants to be perfect, who is ready, with the apostles, to abandon father, ship and nets. The way of life you recommend ranks second or third. We accept it too, provided it is recognized.that the best comes before the second best, and the second best before the third." 1.
It is to preclude this error that is says in the Ecclesiastical Dogmas, "It is a good thing to provide resources for the poor on a regular basis, but it is better to give away everything at once with the intention of following Christ and, free from worldly cares, to be poor with Christ." 2.
The second way of perfection (chastity) was attacked by Jovinian, who made marriage equal to virginity. His error is manifestly refuted by Jerome in the book which he wrote against him. Augustine also refers to his error in his Retractationes: "Jovinian's heresy tried to make the merit of holy virgins the same as that of married chastity, and it was so influential in Rome that even some nuns, who____________________