It is very good to build churches and to contribute vessels, vestments, and other ornaments for their decoration, but it is much better to expend the same means for the relief of the poor, and to despatch one’s wealth through the hands of the poor for deposit in the heavenly treasury, and there to make ready a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven, where he will live forever with the angels.
Mark you, however, that holy places do not save those whose wicked works cut them off from the Church, while not even the most dreadful places hinder those who live a pious life. For Nadab and Abihu are consumed by fire in God’s tabernacle; while Korah, Dathan, and Abiram are swallowed up by the earth in front of the tabernacle. The priest Eli’s neck is broken in the holy place, and Uzzah is struck down by the ark. Joab is killed next to the altar, and King Uzziah is covered with leprosy in the Temple. Finally, the Temple itself is desecrated and destroyed, and the people are led away into captivity as violators of the Law.
On the other hand, Joseph does not perish in the cistern or in prison. Moses is not drowned in the river. Job does not die on his dung heap nor Jeremiah in his muddy cistern. No harm comes to Daniel in the lions’ den nor to the three young men in the furnace. Peter survives in prison and Paul does not perish on the sea. Indeed, the devil fell even from heaven, and man from paradise. But God visits the just of the earth and, raising them out of hell, places them among heavenly things.