Sermon 345 of Saint Augustine is based on the following Scripture passage:
Command the rich of this world not to be proud in their ideas, nor to have their hopes set on the uncertainty of riches, but on the living God, who bestows all things on us abundantly for our enjoyment. Let them be rich in good works, let them be ready to give things away, and to share; let them store up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may lay hold of true life. (1 Tim 6:17-19)
"Yes, let them be rich; but in what way? In good works; let them be ready to give things away, because they do not lose what they give away; let them share with those who have not got things.
This life is a dream life; these possessions are, as it were, flowing through our sleep. Listen to the psalm, you who are really the poorest of all people, Mr. Man of Riches: They have slept their sleep, and have found nothing in their hands, all the men of riches (Psalm 76:5).
Sometimes, too, a beggar lying on the ground, shivering with cold, but still overcome with sleep, will dream of great wealth, and grow proud in his sleep, and choose not to recognise his old father who is a poor man. Until he wakes up he is a rich person.
So when he goes to sleep, he finds something false and unreal to rejoice in; when he wakes up he finds something only too real and true over which to grieve.
So the rich man when he dies is like the poor man when he wakes up, after seeing wealth in his sleep. I mean, there was that man too, clothed in purple and fine linen (Lk 16:19), a certain rich man who was neither named nor fit to be named, one who ignores the poor man lying at his gate.
He was clothed in purple and fine linen, as the gospel testifies, and he feasted every day. He died, he was buried; he woke up, and found himself in the flames. So he slept his sleep, and found nothing in his hands because he had done nothing good with his hands."
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