St. Augustine on 2 Peter 2: 19

In hac ergo terra regnum bonorum non tam illis praestatur quam rebus humanis; malorum uero regnum magis regnantibus nocet, qui suos animos uastant scelerum maiore licentia; his autem, qui eis seruiendo subduntur, non nocet nisi propria iniquitas. Nam iustis quidquid malorum ab iniquis dominis inrogatur, non est poena criminis, sed uirtutis examen. Proinde bonus etiamsi seruiat, liber est; malus autem etiamsi regnet, seruus est, nec unius hominis, sed, quod est grauius, tot dominorum, quot uitiorum. De quibus uitiis cum ageret scriptura diuina: A quo enim quis, inquit, deuictus est, huic et seruus addictus est.

The dominion of bad men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their own souls by greater license in wickedness; while those who are oppressed by them are not hurt except by their own iniquity. For to the just all the evils imposed on them by tyrants are not the punishment of crime, but the test of virtue. Therefore the good man, although he is a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices; of which vices when the divine Scripture treats, it says, “For you are a slave to whatever controls you.”

City of God, IV: 3


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