15.For you compass sea and land. The scribes had also acquired celebrity by their zeal in laboring to bring over to the Jewish religion the strangers and uncircumcised. And so, if they had gained any one by their false appearances, or by any other stratagem, they gloried wonderfully over it as an increase of the Church. On this account also they received great applause from the common people, that by their diligence and ability they brought strangers into the Church of God. Christ declares, on the contrary, that so far is this zeal from deserving applause, that they more and more provoke the vengeance of God, because they bring under heavier condemnation those who devote themselves to their sect. We ought to observe how corrupt their condition at that time was, and what confusion existed in religion; for as it was a holy and excellent work to gain disciples to God, so to allure the Gentiles to the Jewish worship—which was at that time degenerate, and was even full of wicked profanation — was nothing else than to hurry them from Scylla to Charybdis. (98) Besides, by a sacrilegious abuse of the name of God, they drew down upon themselves a heavier condemnation, because their religion allowed them grosser licentiousness of crime. An instance of the same kind may be seen at the present day among the monks; for they are diligent in culling proselytes from every quarter, but those proselytes, from being lascivious and debauched persons, they render altogether devils: for such is the filthiness of those puddles, within which they carry on their reveling, that it would corrupt even the heavenly angels. (99) Yet the monk’s habit is a very suitable mantle for concealing enormities of every description.