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TRANSLATIONS OF CHRISTIAN LITERATURE FIFTY SPIRITUAL HOMILIES OF ST. MACARIUS THE EGYPTIAN A, J. MASON, D.D. The Book GENERAL EDITORS: W. J. SPARROW-SIMPSON, D.D., W. K. LOWTHER CLARKE, B.D. SERIES I GREEK TEXTS
FIFTY SPIRITUAL HOMILIES OF ST. MACARIUS THE EGYPTIAN
An allegorical interpretation of the vision described in the prophet Ezekiel
1-- THE blessed prophet Ezekiel relates a glorious and inspired vision or apparition which he saw, and his descrip- tion is that of a vision full of mysteries unspeakable. He saw in the plain a chariot of Cherubim, four spiritual living creatures. Each living creature had four faces, one the face of a lion, another the face of an eagle, another the face of a calf, and the fourth the face of a human being. To every face there were wings, so that there were no hinder parts to any of them. Their backs were full of eyes ; their bellies likewise were thick set with eyes ; there was no part about them that was not full of eyes. There were also wheels to every face, wheel within wheel. In the wheels there was a Spirit. And Ezekiel saw as it were the likeness of a man, and under his feet as it were a work of sapphire. The Cherubim-chariot J and the living creatures bore the Master who rode upon them. Wheresoever He chose to go, it was with face forward. Beneath the Cherubim he saw as it were a man's hand supporting and carrying.
2-- And this that the prophet saw was in substance true and certain, but it signified and foreshadowed something else, mysterious and divine a mystery hidden verily from ages and from generations* but in the last times made mani- fest 2 Sit the appearing of Christ. The mystery which he beheld was that of the soul, that was to receive her Lord, and to become a throne of glory 3 for Him. For the soul that is privileged to be in communion with the Spirit of His light, and is irradiated by the beauty of the unspeak- able glory of Him who has prepared her to be a seat and a dwelling for Himself, becomes all light, all face, all eye ; and there is no part of her that is not full of the spiritual eyes of light. That is to say, there is no part of her darkened, but she is all throughout wrought into light and spirit, and is full of eyes all over, and has no such thing as a back part, but in every direction is face forward, with the unspeakable beauty of the glory of the light of Christ mounted and riding upon her. As the sun is of one like- ness all over, without any part behind or inferior, but is all glorified with light throughout, and is, indeed, all light, with no difference between the parts, or as fire, the very light of the fire, is alike all over, having in it no first or last, or greater or less, so also the soul that is perfectly irra- diated by the unspeakable beauty of the glory of the light of the face of Christ, and is perfectly in communion with the Holy Ghost, and is privileged to be the dwelling-place and throne of God, becomes all eye, all light, all face, all glory, all spirit, being made so by Christ, who drives, and guides, and carries, and bears her about, and graces and adorns her thus with spiritual beauty ; for it says, the hand of a man was under the Cherubim, 4 because He it is that is carried upon her and directs her. , 3-- The four living creatures which bore the chariot were a symbol of the ruling factors x of the soul. As the eagle is the king of birds, and the lion of wild beasts, and the bull of tame ones, and man of creatures in general, so the soul also has its ruling factors. They are the will, the conscience, the intelligence, and the faculty of love. By these the chariot of the soul is controlled, and upon these God rests. According to another interpretation the symbol- ism is applied to the church of the saints in heaven. As it is here said that the living creatures were exceeding high, and full of eyes, and it was not possible for any one to apprehend the number of the eyes, or the height, because the knowledge of these was not given ; and as it is with the stars in the sky, to see and wonder at them was given to all men, but to know and apprehend the number was not given ; and with the plants of the earth, to enjoy them was given to all, but it is impossible for any one to know the number of them ; so with regard to the church of the saints in heaven, to enter into it and enjoy it was given to all who will but strive, but how to see and apprehend the number is reserved for God alone to know. The Rider, then, is conveyed and carried by the chariot or throne of the living creatures which are all eye, or, in other words, by every soul that has become His throne and seat, and is now eye and light. He is mounted thereon, and governs her with the reins of the Spirit, and guides her according to His understanding. For as the spiritual living creatures went not whither they were minded to go, but whither He that sat upon them and directed them knew and willed, so here it is He that holds the reins and drives by His Spirit, and they go accordingly, not by their own will when they are minded to go through heaven. Some- times, discarding the body, He drives and takes the soul in thought through heaven ; sometimes, when so it pleases Him, He comes into the body and its affairs ; sometimes, when so minded, to the ends of the earth, and discovers to the soul mysteries revealed. Oh, the noble and good and only true Charioteer ! In like manner shall our bodies also be privileged at the resurrection, the soul being thus pre-glorified even now, and mingled with the Spirit.
4-- That the souls of the righteous become heavenly light, the Lord Himself told the apostles, when He said, Ye are the light of the world 1 He first wrought them into light, and ordained that through them the world should be enlightened. Neither do men light a lamp, He says, and put it under the bushel, but on the lampstand, and it giveth light to all that are in the hotise. 2 Let your light so shine before men. In other words, Hide not the gift which ye have received from Me, but give to all that are minded to receive it. Again, The light of the body is the eye ; if thine eye be full of light, thy whole body is enlightened, but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body is dark. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness? As the eyes are the light of the body, and, so long as the eyes are well, the whole body is enlightened, but, if any accident befalls them and they are darkened, the whole body is in darkness, so the apostles were set to be the eyes and light of the whole world. The Lord therefore charged them by this saying, If ye who are the light 'of the body, stand fast and turn not aside, behold, the whole body of the world is enlightened ; but if ye who are the light are darkened, how great is that darkness, which is nothing less than the world. So the apostles, being themselves light, administered light to those, who believed, enlightening their hearts with that heavenly light of the Spirit by which they were themselves enlightened.
5-- And being themselves salt they seasoned and salted every believing soul with the salt of the Holy Ghost ; for the Lord said to them, Ye are the salt of the earth, 1 mean- ing by earth the hearts of men. They administered in the souls of men the heavenly salt of the Spirit, seasoning them and rendering them free from corruption and from going bad, instead of that unsavoury condition they were in. Flesh, if it be not salted, corrupts and is filled with ill savour, so that every one turns from the evil odour, and worms creep into the corrupted flesh, and there dwell, and feed, and burrow; but when the salt comes, the worms that dwell there are destroyed, and the offensive smell is at an end ; for it is the property of salt to kill worms and to banish an ill smell. In the same manner, every soul that is not salted with the Holy Ghost, and does not partake of the heavenly salt, which is the power of God, corrupts, and is filled with the ill odour of bad thoughts, so that the countenance of God turns from the dreadful odour of the vain thoughts of darkness, and from the passions that dwell in such a soul. The evil and dreadful worms, which are the spirits of wickedness, and the powers of darkness, walk up and down in it, and dwell there, and burrow, and creep, and devour it, and bring it to decay. My wounds stink and are corrupt, says the Psalm. 2 But when the soul flies to God for succour, and believes, and asks for the salt of life, which is the good Spirit that loves mankind, then the heavenly salt comes, and kills those dreadful worms, and banishes the ill savour, and cleanses the soul by the effectual working of its power, and thus the soul is made sound and free from deterioration by that true salt, and is restored to being useful and serviceable to the heavenly Lord. That is why in the Law God, using a figure, commanded that every sacrifice should be salted with salt. 3
6-- First the sacrifice must be slain by the priest, and die,
then cut in pieces and salted, and then laid upon the fire. Unless the priest first slays the lamb, so that it dies, it is neither salted nor brought to the Lord for a burnt offering. Thus our soul also must come to Christ, the true High- priest, and be slain by Him, and die to its own mode of thought, and to the evil life of sin which it lived before. The life must go out of it that life of bad passions. . As the body, when the soul goes out of it, is dead, and lives no longer with the life which it lived before, and neither hears nor walks, so when Christ, our heavenly Highpriest, by the grace of His power, slays our life to the world and puts it to death, it dies to the life of evil which it lived, and no longer hears, nor speaks, nor maintains any citizenship in the darkness of sin, because the evil passions which were its soul have by grace gone out of it. The apostle cries, The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world* The soul which yet lives in the world, and in the darkness of sin, and has not been done to death by Him, but still has the soul of wickedness in it, that is, the activity of the darkness of the passions of evil, and is governed by it, does not belong to the body of Christ, does not belong to the body of light, but is indeed the body of darkness, and is still part and parcel of the darkness ; while they who have the soul of light, that is, the power of the Holy Ghost, form part and parcel of the light.
7-- But some one may say, How is it that" you call the soul the body of darkness, when it is no creation of the darkness? Attend, and understand me aright. As the coat or garment that you have on was made by another, and you wear it, and your house was created or built by another, and you live in it, so when Adam transgressed the commandment of God, and hearkened to the wicked serpent, he was sold, or sold himself, to the devil, and the evil one put on his soul like a garment his soul, that fair
creation, which God had fashioned after His own image. Thus the apostle says, Having stripped the principalities and powers, He triumphed over them in the cross. 1 This was the purpose of the Lord's coming, that He might cast them out, and recover His own house and temple, man. For this reason, the soul is called the body of the darkness of wickedness, as long as the darkness of sin is in it, because there it lives to the evil world of darkness, and is there held fast. So Paul calls it the body of sin, the body of death, saying, that the body of sin might be destroyed* and, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? 3 On the other hand, the soul which has believed God, and has been rescued from sin, and done to death out of the life of darkness, and has received the light of the Holy Ghost as its life, and by that means has come to life indeed, spends its existence in the same for ever after, because it is there held fast by the light of the Godhead. For the soul in itself is neither of the nature of the Godhead, nor of the nature of the darkness of wickedness, but is a creature intellectual, beauteous, great, and wonderful, a fair likeness and image of God. It was through the transgression that the wickedness of the passions of darkness entered into it.
8-- Whichever the soul, then, is mixed with, it is thence- forward united with the same in the motions of the will. Either it has the light of God within it, and lives in the same, in all virtues, and belongs to the light of rest, or it has the darkness of sin, and meets with condemnation. The soul that desires to live with God in rest and eternal light must come, as was said before, to Christ the true High- priest, and be slain, and die to the world, and to the former life of the darkness of wickedness, and be translated into another life and to a conversation that is divine. As when a man dies in some city, he neither hears the voice of the people there, nor their talking, nor the noise that they
make, but is once for all dead, and is translated to another region, where there are no voices and none of the cries of that city, even so the soul, when it is once slain and dead to that city of the evil passions in which it dwells and lives, hears no longer within itself the voice of the communings of darkness; no longer is heard the talking and crying of vain disputation, or of the hubbub of the spirits of darkness ; but it is translated into a city all full of goodness and peace, into the city of the light of the Godhead, and there it lives, and hears, and there it has its citizenship, and talks, and communes, and there it works spiritual works, that are worthy of God.
9-- Let us therefore pray that we ourselves may be slain through His power, and die to the world of the wickedness of darkness, and that the spirit of sin may be destroyed in us, and that we may put on and receive the soul of the heavenly Spirit, and be translated from the wickedness of darkness into the light of Christ, and may rest in life through world after world. For as on the race-course the chariots run, and the one that gets the start of the other is a clog, and check, and hindrance to the other, so that it cannot make progress and get to victory first, so do the thoughts of the soul and of sin run in man. If the thought of sin happens to get the start, it clogs and checks and hampers and hinders the soul, so that it cannot get near to God and carry off the victory from it. But where the Lord mounts and takes the reins of the soul into His own hands, He always wins, skilfully managing and guiding the chariot of the soul into a heavenly and inspired mind for ever. He does not war against wickedness ; having always supreme power and authority in Himself, He works Himself the victory. So the Cherubim are driven, not where they are inclined of themselves to go, but where the Rider or Charioteer directs. Where He wills, they go; and He supports them. The hand of a man, it says, was under them. These holy souls are driven and guided by the Spirit of Christ, who holds the reins, whithersoever He pleases when He pleases, in heavenly communings ; when He pleases, that it should be in the body ; where He pleases, there they minister. As the wings are the feet of the bird, so the heavenly light of the Spirit takes up the wings of the thoughts of worthy souls, guiding and managing as He knows best.
10-- When thou hearest these things, therefore, look to thyself, whether thou art in deed and in truth possessed of them in thine own soul. They are not mere words spoken ; it is a work of truth going on in thy soul. If thou hast it not, but art destitute of such spiritual good things, thou oughtest to have continual grief and sorrow and trouble, as one still dead to the kingdom. Like one that is wounded, be always crying to the Lord, and ask in faith, that this true life may be vouchsafed even to thee. When God made this body of ours, He did not grant to it that it should have life either from His own nature or from the body itself, nor meat and drink, raiment and shoes; He appointed that it should have all the supplies of life from without, making the body in itself quite naked, and it is impossible for the body to live at all apart from things outside itself, without food and drink and clothing. If it attempts to subsist upon its own nature alone, taking nothing from without, it wastes and perishes. In the same manner is it with the soul also. It has not the divine light, though it is created after the image of God. So has He ordered its conditions, and has been pleased that it should not have eternal life of its own nature ; but of His Godhead, of His Spirit, of His light, it has spiritual meat and drink, and heavenly clothing, which are the soul's life, the life indeed.
11-- As, then, we have seen that the body's life is not from itself, but from without, from the earth, and apart from the things without it is impossible for it to live, so also, unless the soul be born now into that land of the living l and spiritually draw nourishment from it and make increase, growing up unto the Lord, and be arrayed from the Godhead with the ineffable raiment of heavenly beauty, without that sustenance it is impossible for it to live, of itself, in enjoyment and rest. The divine nature contains the bread of life, which said, / am the bread of life 2 and living water? and wine that maketh glad the heart of man* and the oil of gladness , 5 and the whole variety of the food of the heavenly Spirit, and the heavenly raiment of light which comes from God. In these things the eternal life of the soul consists. Woe to the body when it stands upon its own nature, because then it wastes and dies ; and woe to the soul if it takes its stand upon nothing but its own nature, and puts its trust in nothing but its own works, not having the fellowship of the Spirit of God, because it dies, not having the eternal life of the Godhead vouchsafed to it. When men are sick, as soon as the body is no longer able to receive nourishment, all hopes of them are given over, and all true friends and kinsfolk and lovers are in tears. In the same way, God and the holy angels are in tears over souls that are not nourished with the heavenly nourishment of the Spirit, and have not come to life in incorruption. These things, I say again, are not merely words that are spoken, but the work of spiritual life, the work of truth accomplished upon the soul that is worthy and faithful.
12-- If then thou art become a throne of God, and the heavenly Charioteer has mounted thee, and thy whole soul has become a spiritual eye, and thy whole soul light \ and if thou hast been nourished with that nourishment of the Spirit, and if thou hast been made to drink of the Living Water, and if thou hast put on the garments of the ineffable light ; if thine inward man is established in the experience
and full assurance of all these things, behold, thou livest, thou livest the eternal life indeed, and thy soul from hence- forth is at rest with the Lord. Behold, thou hast received these things from the Lord and possesses! them in truth, that thou mayest live the true life. But if thou art con- scious that thou hast none of these things, then weep, and mourn, and lament, because even yet thou hast not found the eternal heavenly riches. Be in trouble therefore for thy penury, beseeching the Lord night and day, because thou hast stopped short in the dreadful poverty of sin. Would to God that a man had even gained as much as this trouble because of his poverty that we did not go on without a care, as though we were full ! because one that is seriously troubled, and seeks and asks of the Lord continually, will soon find redemption and the heavenly riches, as the Lord said at the conclusion of His discourse of the Unjust Judge and the Widow, How much more shall God avenge them that cry to Him night and day ? Yea, I say imto you, He shall avenge them speedily * To whom be glory and power for ever. Amen.
Concerning the kingdom of darkness, that is, of sin, and that God alone is able to take away sin from us, and to deliver us out of the bondage of the evil prince . . . . 12
1-- THE kingdom of darkness, the evil prince, having taken man captive at the beginning, enveloped and clothed the soul in the power of darkness, as a man might clothe another. "And that they may make him king, and clothe him with royal garments, so that from head to foot he may wear royal apparel." 1 In this manner the evil prince clothed the soul and all its substance with sin. He defiled it all, and brought it all into captivity to his kingdom, leaving not one member of it free from him not the thoughts, not the understanding, not the body; he clothed it all with the purple of darkness. For as it is the body that suffers, not one part or member of it, but the whole is liable to suffer together, so the whole soul suffered the passions of un- happiness and sin. The evil one clothed the whole soul, which is the indispensable part or member -of man, with his own unhappiness, which is sin, and thus the body became liable to suffering and decay.
2-- For when the apostle says, Put off the old man? he means a complete man, with eyes for eyes, ears for ears, hands for hands, and feet for feet. For the evil one has defiled the entire man, soul and body, and dragged him 1 The source of the quotation, if it is one, seems not to be known. It is intended, apparently, to give the idea of a complete envelopment. down, and has clothed the man with an "old man," polluted man, unclean, at enmity with God, not subject to the law of God, 1 and all identified with sin, that he may no longer see as the man himself wishes, but may see wrongly, and hear wrongly, and have feet that are swift to do evil, and hands that work iniquity, and a heart that devises evil things. Let us therefore beseech God that He would put off the old man from us ; because He alone is able to take away sin from us, for those that have taken us captive, and that detain us in their kingdom, are too mighty for us. But He has promised to deliver us from this sore bondage. When there is a hot sun and a wind blowing, the sun and the wind each have a body and nature of their own, but no one can separate between sun and wind, unless God, who alone can, should make the wind to cease from blowing. In like manner sin is mingled with the soul, though each has its own nature. 3-- It is impossible to separate between the soul and sin, unless God should stop and repress this evil wind, which dwells in the soul and in the body. A man watches a bird flying, and wishes to fly himself, but he cannot, because he has no wings. Even so the will is present 2 with a man to be pure, and blameless, and with- out spot, and to have no wickedness in him, but to be always with God ; but he has not the power. To fly into the air of God and the liberty of the Holy Ghost may be his wish, but unless wings are given him, he cannot. Let us then beseech God to bestow upon us the wings of a dove, even of the Holy Ghost, that we may fly to Him and be at rest, 3 and that He would separate and make to cease from our souls and bodies, that evil wind, which is the sin that dwelleth in the members of our souls and bodies. None but He can do it. Behold, it says, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world* He alone has shewn
this mercy to those men who believe Him, redeeming them from sin ; and for those who are always waiting for Him, and hope, and seek without ceasing, He achieves this unutterable salvation.
4-- As in a gloomy black night a fierce wind blows, and stirs and searches and shakes all the plants and seeds, so when man falls under the power of the darkness of the devil's night, and is in night and darkness, he is agitated by that dreadful wind of sin that blows, and is shaken and stirred, and searched through all his nature, his soul, his thoughts, his understanding ; and all the limbs of his body are shaken, and no member of either soul or body escapes free and immune from the sin that dwelleth in us. In like manner there is a day of light and a divine wind of the Holy Ghost, which blows and refreshes the souls that are in the day of the light of God. It penetrates all the sub- stance of the soul and its thoughts, and all the being and all the members of the body, refreshing and resting them with a divine, unspeakable rest. This is what the apostle de- clared when he said, We are not children of the night or of darkness, for ye are all the sons of light and the sons of day. 1 And as yonder, in the state of error, the old man put on man as a complete whole, and wears the garment of the kingdom of darkness, the garment of blasphemy, unbelief, unconcern, vainglory, pride, avarice, lust, and all the other trappings of the kingdom of darkness, ragged, unclean, and abominable ; so here, all who have put off the old man, which is from beneath the earth all whom Jesus has stripped of the clothing of the kingdom of darkness have put on the new and heavenly man, Jesus Christ, once more corresponding, eyes to eyes, ears to ears, head to head, to be all pure, and wearing the heavenly image.
5-- The Lord has clothed them with the clothing of the kingdom of ineffable light, the clothing of faith, hope, charity, of joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and all the other divine and living clothing of the light of life, of inexpressible rest, that, as God Himself is love, and joy, and peace, and kindness, and goodness, so the new man may be through grace. And as the kingdom of darkness, and sin, are hidden in the soul until the day of resurrection, when the bodies also of sinners shall be covered with the darkness that is now hidden in the soul, so the kingdom of light, and the heavenly Image, Jesus Christ, now mystically enlightens the soul, and reigns in the soul of the saints, but is hidden from the eyes of men, and only with the eyes of the soul is Christ truly seen, until the day of resurrection ; but then the body also shall be covered and glorified with the light of the Lord, which is now in the man's soul, that the body also may reign with the soul which now receives the kingdom of Christ and rests and is enlightened with eternal light. Glory to His mercies and His tender compassion, for that He has such pity on His servants, and enlightens them, and delivers them from the kingdom of darkness, and bestows upon them His own light and His own kingdom. To Him be glory and might for ever. Amen.
That the brethren ought to live in sincerity, simplicity, love, and peace with each other, and to carry on contest and war in their inward thoughts . ..... 16 =
1-- THE brethren ought to dwell together in much charity, whether they are praying, or reading the scriptures, or doing some kind of work, that they may have the foundation of mutual charity. In this way, those various inclinations may find favour, and those who pray, and those who read, and those who work, can all live in sincerity and simplicity with each other to their profit. What is written ? Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth, 1 in order that as the angels in heaven dwell together in great concord, peace, and charity, and there is no such thing there as pride, or as envy, but they live together in charity and sincerity, so should the brethren dwell together. Some thirty, perhaps, are under one government ; they cannot continue all day and night at one thing. Some give themselves up to prayer for six hours, and then would like to read ; others are very ready to serve, while others work at some form of labour.
2-- Whatsoever they are about, the brethren ought to be in charity and cheerfulness with each other. Let him who is at work say of him who is at prayer, " The treasure that my brother gets is common, and therefore mine." Let him who prays say of the reader, " The profit which he gets by reading is to my advantage." Let him who is at work say,
"The service which I am doing is for the benefit of all." As the members of the body, being many, are one body,' 1 and help each other, and each performs its own function, but the eye sees on behalf of the whole body, and the hand labours for all the members, and the foot, as it walks, carries them all, and another member suffers with all alike, so let the brethren be with one another. Let not him who prays judge the labouring brother because he is not at prayer. Let not him that is at work judge the one who is praying, or say, " He lies by, while I am working." Let not him who serves judge some one else, but let each one do whatever he is doing to the glory of God. Let him who reads hold him who prays in chanty and cheerfulness, with the thought, " It is for me that he prays " ; and let him who prays think of him who is at work, " What he is doing is done for the benefit of us all."
3-- Thus much concord and peace and unity in the bond of peace 2 holds them all fast, and they are enabled to live together in sincerity and simplicity and the favour of God. No doubt the principal thing among these is continuance in prayer; but one thing is required, that a man should have treasure in his soul, and the life which is the Lord in his mind that whether he is working, or praying, or read- ing, he should have that possession which passes not away, which is the Holy Ghost. There are some who say thus that the Lord requires of men only the fruits that are visible, and that it is for God to rectify the things that are hidden. That is not the case. As a man secures himself with regard to the outer man, so ought he to carry on strife and war in his thoughts. The Lord requires of thee to be angry with thyself, and to do battle with thy mind, and neither to consent nor to take pleasure in the thoughts of wickedness.
4-- Nevertheless, to root out sin and the evil that is ever
i with us, this can only be accomplished by the divine power. It is not possible or within a man's competence to root out sin by his own power. To wrestle against it, to fight against it, to give and receive blows, is thine ; to uproot is God's. If thou hadst been able to do it, what need was there of the coming of the Lord ? As the eye cannot see without light, as a man cannot speak without a tongue, or hear without ears, or walk without feet, or work without hands, so he cannot be saved without Jesus, nor enter into the kingdom of heaven. If thou sayest, " In outward con- duct, I do not commit fornication or adultery, I am not covetous ; therefore I am righteous," thou art wrong in this, thinking that thou hast fulfilled all. Sin has not only three departments against which a man ought to ensure himself, but ten thousand. Arrogance, presumption, unbelief, hatred, envy, deceit, hypocrisy, whence are they ? Oughtest thou not to wrestle and strive against these in the hidden places in thy thoughts ? If there is a robber in the house, at once thou art distressed ; he does not allow thee to be at ease ; thou beginnest to strike back ; blows are exchanged. So ought the soul to strike back, to resist, to repel force by force.
5-- What follows ? By resisting and taking trouble and pains, the will begins to get the upper hand. It falls ; it recovers itself. Sin throws it again in ten, in twenty conflicts. It conquers the soul and throws it ; then the soul after a time in one engagement conquers the sin. If the soul perseveres and in no direction flags, it begins to have the best of it, to see through the enemy, and to carry off the trophies of victory from sin. But if the man is strictly examined even at this point, sin still is too hard for him, until he comes to a perfect man, to the measure of his stature,* and perfectly conquers death; for it is written The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 2 Thus
will they get the upper hand, and be the conquerors of the devil. But if, as we observed before, a man should say, " I do not commit fornication or adultery ; I am no money-lover ; and that is enough," in this reckoning he has contended against three forces, but against twenty others that sin can employ upon the soul he has not contended, and is there- fore beaten. He ought to contend against them all, and to strive ; for the mind, as I have said many times, is an even match for it, and possesses a power that is well balanced against sin, to withstand and repel its suggestions. 6-- If you say that the opposing power is too strong, and that evil has complete sovereignty over man, you make God unrighteous when He condemns mankind for submit- ting to Satan, because Satan is so strong, and wields a power which compels submission. "Thou makest Satan greater and stronger than the soul, and then commandest me, ' Do not submit.' It is as though a young man should wrestle with a little child, and the child, when he is worsted, is condemned for getting worsted. This is a great in- justice." I tell you then that the human mind is a good match for the enemy and evenly balanced against him ; and a soul of that kind, when it seeks, finds help and succour, and redemption is vouchsafed to it. The contest and struggle is not an unequal one. Let us glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen.
Christians ought to accomplish their race in this world with heed and care, that they may gain heavenly praises from God and angels.
i. WE who wish to achieve the life of Christianity with any great thoroughness must before anything else cultivate with all our might that faculty of the soul which discerns and discriminates, in order that, having acquired a delicate sense of the difference between good and evil, and always dis- tinguishing the things with which pure nature has been unnaturally adulterated, we may behave ourselves in a straightforward manner, without offence. By using this power of discernment as a kind of eye, we may keep free from any union or connexion with the suggestions of sin, and thus the heavenly gift may be vouchsafed to us by which we become worthy of the Lord. Let us take an illustration from the visible world ; for there is a likeness between the body and the soul, between the things of the body and the things of the soul, and between the objects of sense and those which are hidden.
2-- The body has the eye for its guide. The eye, by seeing, guides the whole body straight. Imagine a man going through woody regions, full of thorns and miry places, where fire also breaks out, and there are swords stuck in the ground, and precipices and frequent waters are found there. The active, heedful, nimble traveller, using the guidance of his eye, passes those difficult places with great attention, gathering up his garment on every side with 20
hands and feet, for fear it should be torn off him in the thickets and thorns, or spoiled by the mire, or cut by a sword. His eye guides the whole body. It is his light, to save him from tumbling down the precipices, or getting drowned in the waters, or injured by some other danger. The man who is thus active and wary, and goes along with all vigilance, wrapping his gown close, under the guidance of his eye, keeps himself from injury, and preserves the gown that clothes him from burning and tearing. But if a man is idle, and slothful, and careless, and clumsy, and slack, as he passes through places like those, his garment floating about him this way and that is torn off upon the thickets and thorns, or burnt by the fire, because he does not resolutely keep it tight round him or else it is reduced to tatters by the swords that are stuck by the wayside, or smirched by the mire in one way or another he quickly ruins his fine new garment, by his heedlessness, and slackness, and sloth ; and if he does not attend properly and well to what his eye tells him, he will himself fall into some ravine, or be drowned in the waters.
3-- In the same way the soul, which is clothed with the fair garment of the body for its vesture, possesses the faculty of discernment to direct the whole soul, together with the body, as it passes amidst the thickets and thorns of life, and the mud, and the fire, and the precipices, which are the lusts and pleasures and other wrong things of this world ; and it ought to wrap itself, and the body its garment, closely in on every side with vigilance, and resolution, and earnest- ness, and heed, and keep itself from getting at all rent in the thickets and thorns of the world cares, and businesses, and earthly distractions ; and from being burned by the fire of lust. Thus clothed, it turns away the eye from seeing evil sights, turns away the ear from listening to slander, the tongue from speaking vanities, the hands and feet from bad pursuits. The soul has a will, by which to turn away and hinder the members of the body from base spectacles, and evil and shameful sounds, and indecent words, and worldly and evil pursuits. 4-- It turns itself also from evil rovings, keeping the heart from letting the members of its thought rove in the world. Thus striving, and earnestly endeavour- ing, and with great heed restraining the members of the body on every side from what is bad, it preserves that fair garment of the body unrent, unburned, and unstained, and it will itself be preserved by means of a knowing, discern- ing, discriminating will, and all by the power of the Lord, while with all its might it gathers itself in and turns away from all worldly lusts, and thus is helped by the Lord to be truly preserved from the disasters that have been spoken of. For when the Lord sees any one bravely turning his back on the pleasures and distractions of life, and material cares, and earthly ties, and the rovings of vain thoughts, He gives the help of His own grace, and maintains that soul unfallen, as it passes nobly through the present evil world ; 1 and so the soul wins heavenly praises from God and angels because it has preserved well the garment of its body and itself also, turning away, as far as lay in its power, from all the lusts of the world, and with His help has run nobly the race of this world's course.
5-- But if a man goes his way in this life with slackness and carelessness, taking no heed, and, to please himself, will not turn away from all the lust of the world, and will not seek the Lord, and Him only, with all desire, he is pierced on the thorns and thickets of this world, and the garment of the body is burned here and there by the fire of lust, and soiled by the mire of pleasures ; and thus the soul is found without boldness in the day of judgment, 2 not having succeeded in keeping its raiment unspotted, but having corrupted it with the deceits of this world ; and for this reason it is rejected from the kingdom. What can God
do with one who wilfully gives himself over to the world, and is deceived by its pleasures, or led astray by material wanderings ? The man to whom He gives help is the one who turns away from material pleasures and from his former habits, who drags his mind at all times to the Lord, whether it will or no, who denies himself and seeks the Lord only. This is the man whom He keeps under His care, who guards himself on every side from the snares and entangle- ments of the material world, who works out his own salvation with fear and trembling* who passes with all heed amidst the snares and entanglements and lusts of this world, and seeks the help of the Lord, and hopes by His mercy to be saved through grace.
6-- Think ; the five wise virgins, who had been watchful and alert, and had taken in the vessels of their heart that which was no part of their own nature the oil, which means the grace of the Spirit from above, were enabled to enter with the Bridegroom into the heavenly bride- chamber ; but the other, foolish five, who were content with their own nature, would not watch nor busy themselves to receive the oil of gladness 2 in their vessels while they were still in the flesh, but sank as it were to sleep through carelessness, and slackness, and idleness, and ignorance, or fancied righteousness ; so they were shut out of the bride- chamber of the kingdom, being unable to give satisfaction to the heavenly Bridegroom. Held fast by the tie of the world, and by some earthly affection, they did not give their whole love or passionate devotion to the heavenly Bride- groom, and were not provided with the oil. Souls who seek the sanctification of the Spirit, which is outside of nature, fasten all their affection upon the Lord, and there they walk, and there they pray, and there they employ their thoughts, turning away from all else; for which cause they are privileged to receive the oil of heavenly grace, and succeed in coming
through unfallen, giving perfect satisfaction to the spiritual Bridegroom ; while souls that are content with what belongs tQ their own nature creep in thought upon earth; they employ their thoughts upon earth ; their mind has its whole existence upon earth. In their own estimation they appear to belong to the Bridegroom, and to be adorned with the ordinances of the flesh ; but they have not been born of the Spirit from above, and have not received the oil of gladness.
7-- The five rational 1 senses of the soul, if they receive grace from above and the sanctification of the Spirit, are really wise virgins, receiving the wisdom of the grace from above. But if they rest content with what is natural to them, they are found foolish, and shown to be children of the world. They have not put off the spirit of the world, although in their own estimation, because of some specious appearances and outward form, they take themselves for brides of the Bridegroom. As the souls which wholly and entirely cleave to the Lord are there in thought, and there pray, and there walk, and there long after the love of the Lord, so, on the other hand, those souls which are tied and bound in the love of the world, and are willing to spend their existence on the earth, walk there, think there, their mind passes its existence there. For this reason they are incapable of being converted to the good wisdom of the Spirit, being a thing foreign to our own nature the heavenly grace which requires to be combined and com- pounded with our nature, if we are to enter with the Lord into the heavenly bridechamber of the kingdom, and to find eternal salvation.
8-- One thing foreign to our nature, the disaster of the passions, we have received into ourselves through the first man's disobedience, and it has taken its place as almost a part of our nature by long custom and propensity ; and this must be expelled again by that other thing foreign to our nature, the heavenly gift of the Spirit, that the original purity may be restored ; and unless we receive now that love of the Spirit from heaven by much entreaty, and sup- plication, and faith, and prayer, and turning from the world, and unless our nature, which has been polluted by wicked- ness, cleaves to the love which is the Lord, and is sanctified by that love of the Spirit, and unless we persevere to the end unfallen, walking strictly in all His commandments, we cannot attain the heavenly kingdom.
9-- I desire to say a word that is deep and subtile, to the best of my ability ; listen to me, therefore, with intelligence. The infinite, inaccessible, uncreated God, through His in- finite and inconceivable kindness, embodied Himself, and, if I may say so, diminished Himself from His inaccessible glory, to make it possible for Him to be united with His visible creatures, such as the souls of saints and angels, that they might be enabled to partake of the life of God- head. For each of these, after its kind, is a body, be it angel, or soul, or devil. Subtile though they are, still in substance, character, and image according to the subtilty of their respective natures they are subtile bodies, even as this body of ours is in substance a gross body. The soul, more- over, which is so subtile, has gathered to itself the eye to see with, the ear to hear with ; likewise the tongue to speak with, the hand, in fact the whole body and its members the soul has gathered to it and is blended with the same, and accomplishes by means of it all the offices of life.
10-- In the same way, the infinite and inconceivable God in His kindness diminished Himself, and put on the mem- bers of this body, and gathered Himself in from the inaccessible glory ; and through His clemency and love of man transforms and embodies Himself, and mixes with and assumes holy, well-pleasing, faithful souls, and becomes one Spirit with them, according to the saying of Paul, 1 soul in soul, if I may put it so, substance in substance, that the soul may be enabled to live in newness, 2 and to feel immortal life, and may become partaker of glory incor- ruptible that is, if it be worthy and well-pleasing. If out of things that were not He hath made the visible creature to be, with such abundant diversity and variety, and before it came into existence it was not if He willed, and easily made, of things that were not, substances solid and hard, like earth, mountains, trees you see what hardness of nature is and again waters intermediate, and commanded that birds should be produced from them and again more subtle objects, fire, and winds, and things too subtle to be seen by the bodily eye; n. how could the infinite and inexpressible skill of the manifold wisdom of God 3 create, out of things that were not, grosser, subtler, and still finer bodies, each in its own substance, by His will; and how much more cannot He, who is as He will and what He will, through His unspeakable kindness and inconceivable goodness change and diminish and assimilate Himself, embodying Himself according to their capacity in holy and worthy faithful souls, that He, the invisible, might be seen by them, He, the impalpable, be felt, after the subtilty of the soul's nature and that they might feel His sweetness, and enjoy in real experience the goodness of the light of that ineffable enjoyment ? When He pleases, he becomes fire, which burns up every base passion that has been in- troduced into the soul ; for our God is a consuming fire* When He pleases, He is rest unspeakable, unutterable, that the soul may rest in the Godhead's own rest; when He pleases, He is joy and peace, cherishing it and making much of it.
Indeed, if He should please to make Himself like to
one of the creatures for the delectation and rejoicing of the intelligences among them, as for instance Jerusalem the city of light, or the heavenly mountain of Sion, 1 He can do all at will, according as it is written, Ye are come to the Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. 2 ' All things are facile and easy to Him, and He transforms Himself into any shape He chooses for the benefit of faithful souls that are worthy of Him. Only let a man strive to be a friend of His and well pleasing to Him, and in real experience and feeling he shall truly see the good things of heaven, and the inexpressible delights and infinite riches of Godhead, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, 3 even the Spirit of the Lord, making Himself for worthy souls their rest, their rejoicing, their delight, and their eternal life. For the Lord embodies Himself even in meat and drink, as it is written in the gospel, Pie that eateth this bread shall live for ever* to give the soul rest unutterable, and fill it with spiritual cheer ; for He says, / am the bread of life. 5 He embodies Himself in the drink of a spring of heaven, as He says, Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, it shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life, 6 and We have all, it says, been made to drink the same drink. 1
13-- To each of the holy fathers He appeared in the manner that pleased Him and was best for them in one way to Abraham, in another to Isaac, another to Jacob, another to Noe, to Daniel, to David, to Solomon, to
Esaias, and each of the holy prophets in one way to Elias, in another to Moses. My belief is that Moses, every hour in the mountain, during the fast of forty days, was admitted to that spiritual table, and feasted at it and received enjoyment. To each of the saints He appeared as He pleased, to give them rest and salvation and lead them to the knowledge of God. Everything is easy to Him that He chooses. As He pleases, He diminishes Himself by some embodiment, and transforms Himself to come under the eyes of those who love Him, manifesting Himself to those who are worthy in an inaccessible glory of light, according to His great and unspeakable love, and by His own power. The soul that has been privileged to receive with great desire, and waiting upon God, and faith, and love, that power from on high, the heavenly love of the Spirit, and has gained the heavenly fire of the life immortal, is verily disengaged from every worldly affection, and set at liberty from every bond of wickedness.
14-- As iron, lead, gold, or silver, when cast into the fire, melts, and changes from its natural hardness to a soft con- sistency, and so long as it is in the fire continues to be molten and altered from that hard nature by the hot force of the fire, so the soul which has denied the world, and fixed its longing upon the Lord alone, in much searching, and pains, and conflict of soul, and maintains an uninter- rupted waiting upon Him in hope and faith, "and which has received that heavenly fire of the Godhead and of the love of the Spirit, this soul is then verily disengaged from all affection of the world, and set at liberty from all mischief of the passions, and casts everything out of itself, and is changed from the natural habit and hardness of sin, and considers all things indifferent in comparison with the heavenly Bridegroom whom it has received, 1 at rest in His fervent and ineffable love.
15-- I tell you, indeed, that even the much-loved brethren, whom such a soul has under its eye, if they hinder it from that love, it turns from them, in a sense. For that is its life and rest, the mystical, ineffable fellowship of the heavenly King. If the fellowship of an earthly affection severs from father, mother, brethren, and all things come to be outside in the estimation of such a pair, and though they still love them, they love them with a more outside love, while the man's whole attitude is determined by the relation to his spouse For this cause, it says, shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh 1 if, I say, the fleshly love thus disengages from all other love, how much more shall those who have been allowed to enter in truth into the fellowship of that Holy Spirit, that heavenly and beloved Spirit, be disengaged from all worldly love, and everything else appear a matter of indifference, because they have been overcome by a heavenly longing, and are altogether in unison with the mood of it.
Well, my beloved brethren, when such good things
are set before us, and such great promises have been made to us by the Lord, let us cast away from us all hindrances, renounce all love of the world, and give ourselves over to that one good thing with seeking and longing, that we may attain that unspeakable love of the Spirit concerning which St. Paul urged us to endeavour after it, saying, Follow after charity? that we may be changed from our hardness by the right hand of the Most High, and may come to spiritual tenderness and rest, wounded with the passionate affection of the Divine Spirit. The Lord is very kind to man, waiting in pity for our complete conversion to Himself and emancipation from all things contrary. Although we in our great ignorance and childishness and propensity to evil turn away from life, and set many a hindrance in our own way, not liking really to repent, yet He is full of pity for us, and suffers long till we shall repent and come to Him, and be enlightened in our inward man, that our faces may not be ashamed in the day of judgment.
17-- If it seems to us difficult, because the practice of virtue is hard, and still more because of the insidious counsel of the adversary, behold, He is pitiful and long- suffering, waiting for our conversion ; and when we sin, He holds His hand, in expectation of our repentance; and when we fall, He is not ashamed to take us back, as the prophet says, Shall they fall, and not arise P shall he turn away, and not return P * Only let us be on the watch, making sure of a good intention, and let us be converted straight and fair, seeking help from Him, and He is ready to save us. He is looking for our will to turn to Him with a fervent impulse, to the best of our power, and for faith and zeal that springs from a good purpose ; the whole success of the endeavour is His own work in us. Let us then endeavour, beloved, like children of God, putting away all preoccupation, and carelessness, and sloth, to be courageous and ready to follow after Him. Let us not put off from day to day, without observing how sin is injuring us. We do not know when we are to depart out of the flesh. The promises made to Christians are great and unspeakable, so great, that all the glory and beauty of sky and earth, and all the other adornment and variety, the wealth and comeli- ness and delight, of things visible, bear no" proportion to the faith and wealth of a single soul.
How can we then refuse to accept heartily such
persuasions and promises of the Lord, and to yield our- selves over to Him, denying, as the Gospel says, all other things and our own souls also, 2 and to love Him only and nothing else besides Him ? But behold, in spite of all these things, and of the great glory that has been given, and of all the dispensations of the Lord from the times of patriarchs
and prophets what great promises have been made, what persuasions offered, what compassion of the Master shown to us from the beginning ! and lastly, in His own sojourn here He displayed His inexpressible kindness towards us by His crucifixion, to convert us and bring us round to life and we, we will not part with our own wills, and with the love of the world, and with our bad inclinations and customs. Thus we prove ourselves men of little faith, or of none ; and yet for all this, He continues to be kind, invisibly protecting and cherishing, not giving us over, according to our iniquities, to the power of sin for ever, nor letting us perish by the deceitfulness of the world, but in His great kindness and longsuffering watching fixedly for the moment when we shall be converted to Him.
19-- I dread lest some day the words of the apostle should be fulfilled in us, while we cling to our contemptuous ideas and follow out our inclinations, Or despisest thou the riches of His kindness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 1 But if to this longsuffering and kindness and forbearance we make no return but to add further sins, and through our carelessness and contempt purchase to ourselves yet greater judgments, the saying will be fulfilled, But after thy hard- ness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. 2 God has used great and indescribable goodness in relation to mankind, and longsuffering beyond expression, if only we are willing to recover ourselves, and endeavour to be wholly converted to Him, that we may find salvation.
20-- If you wish to know the longsuffering of God and His great kindness, let us learn it from the inspired scriptures. Look at Israel, of whom are the fathers, to whom the promises were directed, of whom is Christ
according to the flesh, to whom pertained the services and the covenant ; 1 how greatly they sinned, how often they turned out of the way, yet He did not altogether let them go, but from time to time He gave them over to chastise- ments for a season for their profit, desiring to soften the hardness of their heart through affliction; He converted them, encouraged them, sent prophets to them. How often they sinned and offended Him, and He was longsuffering with them, and when they converted, He received them back with joy, and when again they turned out of the way, He did not abandon them, but through the prophets recalled them to conversion ; and when many times over they turned away and came back, He bore with them gently, and received them kindly back, until at last they were found in the great transgression of all, when they laid hands upon their own Master, whom the traditions of the holy fathers and prophets taught them to expect as their deliverer and saviour, king and prophet. When He came, they did not welcome Him, but on the contrary, after offering Him indignity after indignity, they at last punished Him with the cross of death ; and in this great offence, this surpassing transgression, their sins abounded beyond measure and were filled up ; and so they were left for good and all, the Holy Spirit departing from thence when the veil of the temple was rent. And so their temple was given over to the heathen and destroyed and made desolate, according to that denuntiation of the Lord, There shall not be left one stone upon another here, that shall not be thrown down. 2 Thus were they finally given over to the heathen, and were scattered over all the earth by the kings who then took them captive, and were forbidden ever to return to their own places.
21-- In this manner, even now, with each one of us, like a kind, good God, He is longsuffering, seeing how often
each one offends, and holds His peace, waiting till the man shall recover himself and turn from offending further, and welcoming the converted sinner with much love and joy. That is what He says, There is joy over one sinner that repenteth ; 1 and again, It is not the will of My Father that one of the least of these little ones should perish? But if a man, under this great kindness and longsuffering of God, who will not proceed to requital for every offence, secret or open, as it is committed, but sees and holds His peace, as waiting for the sinner's repentance if, I say, the man so far despises that he adds sin to sin, and joins sloth to sloth, and piles offence upon offence, he fills the limits of his sins, and comes in the end to an offence of such a character that he can never get up from it again, but is crushed to pieces, and delivered over to the evil one to perish utterly.
22-- Thus it was with Sodom. Many times sinning, without conversion, at length they offended by their wicked design upon the angels, desiring to commit a criminal outrage upon them, so that they could no longer repent, but were finally rejected. They filled up the limit of their sins, and exceeded it ; and therefore they were consumed with fire by the divine vengeance. So it was in the days of Noah. Offending often without repenting, they reached sins of such enormity, that the whole earth was utterly cor- rupted. So with the Egyptians ; they offended often, and sinned against God's people, and God was kind and would not inflict upon them such plagues as to destroy them utterly; but for their chastisement and conversion and repentance He brought upon them the stripes of those smaller plagues, bearing long with them, and waiting for them to repent. But they, sinning against God's people, and thinking better of it, and then changing their minds again and fixing themselves in the original unbelief of their evi
purpose, and oppressing the people of God, at last, when God with many wonders brought the people out of Egypt by Moses, they committed the great offence of pursuing after God's people ; for which the divine vengeance utterly destroyed and consumed them ; and overwhelmed them in the waters, judging them unworthy even of this visible existence.
23-- In like manner, as was said before, Israel, often sin- ning and offending, killing God's prophets and doing many other wicked things, while God held His peace and was patiently waiting for them to repent, ended by committing an offence for which they were crushed so that they could never rise again. They laid their own hands on the dignity of the Lord Himself. For this they were utterly abandoned and rejected. Prophecy, priesthood, the service, were taken from them and given to the believing Gentiles, as the Lord says, The kingdom shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 1 Till then, God forbore and was patient with them, and forsook them not, in compassion for them ; but when they filled up the limit of their sins, and overflowed it, laying hands upon the dignity of their Lord, they were entirely deserted by God.
24-- We have treated of these things at some length, be- loved, proving from the ideas of scripture that we ought to make a quick conversion, and hasten to the Lord, who in His kindness waits for us to break off entirely from all wickedness and evil propensity, and who welcomes us on our conversion with much joy, and not to let our contempt increase from day to day, and our offences be added and multiplied upon us, and thus we bring the wrath of God upon ourselves. Let us earnestly endeavour to come to Him with a truly converted heart, not despairing of salva- tion; for that of itself is a wrong thing and an iniquity, when the remembrance of sins takes such possession that
it leads a man to despair, and to slackness and recklessness and sloth, that he may not be converted and come to the Lord and find salvation, when the great kindness of the Lord is over all the race of men.
25-- If it seems to us hard and impossible to be converted from such a multitude of sins, because we are in their possession a thought which, as I said, is a device of wickedness and a hindrance to our salvation let us remember and consider how our Lord, when in His good- ness He sojourned here, made the blind to recover their sight, healed the palsied, cured all manner of disease, raised the dead when they were already in decay and disintegra- tion, gave back hearing to the deaf, cast out a legion of devils from a single man, and restored him to his senses, though he was so far gone in madness. How much rather will He not convert a soul which returns to Him, seeking mercy from Him, and in need of His succour, and bring it into a happy release from passions, and the settled state of all virtue, and renewal of the mind, and change it to health and mental sight and thoughts of peace from the blindness and deafness and deadness of unbelief and ignorance and unconcern, bringing it to the sobriety of virtue and to purity of heart ? He who created the body, made the soul also ; and as in His sojourn on earth, when men came to Him seeking help and healing from Him, He granted un- grudgingly in His kindness according as their needs were, like a good physician, the only true physician, so is it with spiritual things.
26-- If He was moved to such compassion over bodies that were to be dissolved and die again, and did with eager kindness for each applicant the thing that he sought, how much more when an immortal, imperishable, incorruptible soul, labouring under the disease of ignorance, wickedness, unbelief, unconcern, and all the other maladies of sin, comes nevertheless to the Lord, and seeks His help, and fixes its eyes upon His mercy, and desires to receive of Him the grace of the Spirit for its deliverance and salvation and riddance of all wickedness, and all passion, will He not grant more speedily and more readily His healing deliverance, according to His own word, How much more shall your heavenly Father avenge those that cry unto Him day and night ? l And He adds, Yea, I say unto you, He will avenge them speedily ; and in another place He exhorts, Ask, and it shall be given unto you, for every one that asketh, receiveth, and he that seeketh, findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened ; 2 and at the close He adds, How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Verily I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as much as he needeth. 3
27-- With importunity then, without ceasing, without faint- ing, He has admonished us in all these passages to ask for the succour of His grace. It was for the sake of sinners that He came, that He might convert them to Himself, and heal those that believe Him. Only let us to the best of our power withdraw ourselves from evil preoccupations, and hate bad pursuits and the deceits of the world, and turn our backs upon wicked and vain thoughts, and ever cleave to Him with all our might, and He readily gives us His help. To this purpose He is merciful, and quickening, curing the maladies that were incurable, working deliverance for those who call upon Him and turn to Him, departing to the best of their ability in will and intention from all worldly affection, and forcing their mind away from the earth, and fastening it upon Him with seeking and longing. To such a soul His help is vouchsafed, the soul that counts all things else unnecessary, and rests upon nothing in the world, but looks to find rest and rejoicing in the repose of His loving kindness, and thus through such a faith attaining the heavenly gift, gaining satisfaction for its desire in full assurance through grace, thenceforward serving the Holy Ghost agreeably and con- sistently, and daily advancing in that which is good, and abiding in the way of righteousness ; and having persevered to the end inflexible and uncomplying towards the side of evil, without grieving grace in anything, it is granted eternal salvation with all the saints, as having lived in the world like a partner and a comrade of theirs, in imitation of them. Amen.
A great difference between Christians and the men of this world. Those who have the spirit of the world are in heart and mind bound in earthly bonds, but the others long after the love of the heavenly Father, having Him only before their eyes with much desire.
1-- THE world of Christians is one thing their way of living, their mind, and speech, and action, is one and the way of living, and mind and speech and action of the men of this world is another. Those are one thing, and these another, and the difference between them is great. The inhabitants of the earth, the children of this age, are like corn put in the sieve of this earth, sifted by restless thoughts of this world, and by the ceaseless tossing of earthly busi- nesses and desires and of tangled material notions, while Satan waves their souls about, as he sifts in this sieve of earthly businesses the whole sinful race of man, ever since Adam fell by transgressing the commandment and came under the power of the prince of wickedness. From the time when he gained this power, he does nothing but sift with thoughts of deceit and agitation all the sons of this age, and dash them on the sieve of the earth.
2-- As the corn in the sieve is knocked by the man who sifts, and constantly shaken and turned in it, so the prince of wickedness holds all men by means of earthly affairs, and through these he shakes them, and agitates them, and tosses them, and knocks them on vain lines of thought, and base desires, and earthly ties of the world, constantly taking captive and agitating and alluring all the sinful race of Adam ; as the Lord forewarned the apostles how the wicked one would rise up against them : Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat ; but I have prayed My Father that your faith fail not. 1 The word spoken to Cain by the Creator, that sentence pronounced upon him with an outward meaning, Groaning and trembling and tossed shall thou be upon the earth, 2 is a type and likeness of what all sinners undergo in secret. After falling from the commandment and entering the sinful state, the race of Adam has acquired that likeness in secret ; it is tossed about with shifting thoughts of fear and terror and every kind of commotion; the prince of this world keeps each soul on the waves of all sorts and varieties of pleasure and lust, unless it be begotten of God ; as corn is turned inces- santly in the sieve, he keeps men's thoughts rocking about in various directions, and shakes and entices them all by worldly lusts, and pleasures of the flesh, and fears, and commotions.
3-- The Lord showed that those who follow the deceits and desires of the wicked one bear the likeness of Cain's wickedness, when He reproved them and said, The lusts of your father ye will do : he was a murderer from the begin- ning and abode not in the truth? So that the whole sinful race of Adam has acquired that condemnation in secret, Groaning and trembling shall ye be, and shaken in the sieve of the earth, by Satan sifting you. For as from one Adam all the race of men was spread over the earth, so one form of evil passion sank into the sinful race of men, and the prince of evil suffices to sift them all with shifting, material, vain, troublesome thoughts. As one wind is
enough to shake and agitate all the plants and seeds, or as one darkness of the night is spread over all the inhabited earth, so the prince of wickedness, who is himself the spiritual darkness of sin and death, and a wild though hidden wind, rocks the whole race of men upon earth, and carries them about with restless thoughts, and entices the hearts of men with the lusts of the world, and fills every soul with the darkness of ignorance, blindness and forgetfulness, save those which have been begotten from above, and have been translated in disposition and mind to another world, accord- ing as it is said, But our citizenship, is in heaven. 1
4-- This constitutes the difference between true Christians and the rest of mankind, and the distance between the two is great, as we said before. The Christian mind and way of thinking is always in the heavenly frame ; they behold as in a mirror the good things of eternity, by reason of their par- taking and having the Holy Ghost, by being born of God from above, and being privileged to be children of God in truth and efficacy, and by having arrived, through many conflicts and labours spread over a long time, at a fixed and settled condition of freedom from disturbance and of rest, no longer sifted and wave-tossed by unquiet and vain thoughts. By this they are greater and better than the world, because their mind and the frame of their soul is in the peace of Christ and the love of the Spirit. It was of such that the Lord spoke when He said that they had passed from death unto life. 2 Not in a form or in outward figures lies the distinguishing mark of Christians. Most men think that the difference which distinguishes themselves from the world consists in a form and in figures ; and lo ! in mind and frame they are like the world, undergoing the same shaking, and inconstancy of thoughts, and unbelief, and confusion, and helter-skelter as all other men. In out- ward form and appearance they differ from the world, and
in a few points of religious ordinance; but in heart and mind they are bound with earthly bonds, never having acquired rest from God and the peace of the heavenly Spirit in their heart, because they never sought it from God, nor believed that He would vouchsafe these things to them.
5-- For it is in the renewing of the mind, and the peace of the thoughts, and the love and heavenly passion for the Lord, that the new creation of Christians distinguishes them from all the men of the world. This was the purpose of the Lord's coming, to vouchsafe these spiritual blessings to those who truly believe in Him. Christians have a glory and a beauty and a heavenly wealth which is beyond words, and it is won with pains, and sweat, and trials, and many conflicts, and all by the grace of God. If the sight of an earthly king is an object of desire to all men, so that every one who sojourns in the capital desires to catch even a glimpse of his beauty, the magnificence of his apparel, the glory of his purple, the beauty of his various pearls, the comeliness of his diadem, the impressive retinue of dignities attending him except that spiritual men think nothing of all this, because they have had experience of another glory, which is heavenly and out of the body, and have been smitten with another beauty unspeakable, and have an interest in another wealth, and have felt in the inward man and are partakers of another Spirit when the men of this world, who have the spirit of the world, are so keenly desirous to set eyes, if no more, on the earthly king with all his comeliness and glory because in proportion as his share of visible advantages excels that of other men, so even to have set eyes on him is a dis- tinction and an object of desire to them all, and each man inwardly says, " I wish that some one would give me that glory, and comeliness, and magnificence," ascribing happiness to that man, like himself, earthly, of like passions, and subject to death, though an object of desire for his temporal comeliness and glory 6-- if, I say, carnal men thus desire the glory of the earthly king, how much more are those upon whom has dropped that dewdrop of the Spirit of the life of the Godhead, and has smitten their heart with a divine passion for Christ the heavenly King, bound fast to that beauty, to the unspeakable glory, the immortal comeliness, the unimaginable wealth of Christ, the true eternal King, with desire and longing after whom they are carried away captive, and have their whole being directed towards Him, and desire to obtain those unspeak- able blessings, which by the Spirit they see in a mirror ; for whose sake they think nothing of all the beauties and comelinesses and glories and honours and wealth of kings and princes upon earth, because they are smitten with a divine beauty, and the life of immortality in heaven has dropped upon their souls? Therefore their longing is towards that love of the heavenly King, and having Him only before their eyes with great desire, they detach them- selves for His sake from all worldly affection, and withdraw from every earthly tie, that they may be free always to cherish in their hearts that one longing, and to mix nothing else with it. Very few, however, are they who supply a good beginning with a good end, and come through to the end without falling, with no love but one, for God only, and detached from all else. 1 Many are pricked at heart, and many become partakers of heavenly grace, and are smitten with divine passion ; but because of the conflicts and struggles and labours and divers temptations of the devil to be borne 1 The long passage which follows, down to the end of 6, is printed by Floss from a Berlin MS. The Bodleian and the Holkham MSS. go straight on, without a sign of omission, to the words of 7-- Plainly, however, those words are concerned with a different topic. Something has, no doubt, fallen out. The passage supplied by the Berlin MS. is quite in Macarius's manner. on the way, they do not hold out, but are occupied with divers and sundry worldly desires, because every one has some worldly thing that he chooses to love, and has not detached his affections all round, and so they have stopped short, and have been plunged in the deeps of the world, through the feebleness and slackness and cowardice of their own wills, or through some worldly affection. For those who wish really to come through to the end in good living must not willingly admit and combine any other love or affection with that heavenly one, for fear of being hindered from spiritual things, and turning backward, and at last being exiled from life. Great and unspeakable and inesti- mable are the promises made by God; and in proportion to them great faith and hope and labours and conflicts are required, and much trial. The blessings for which a seeker of the kingdom of heaven hopes are no trifle. Thou desirest to reign with Christ through ages without end; wilt thou not readily welcome the conflicts and labours and temptations of this short span of life, even unto death? The Lord cries, // any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily rejoicing and follow Me; l and again, // any man hate not father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple? But most men wish to attain the kingdom, and would like to inherit eternal life, but do not refuse to live to their own wills and to follow them out. Not denying themselves, they wish to inherit eternal life ; and this is impossible. 3 The Lord's saying* is true. The men who come through without falling are those who according to the Lord's com- mandment have wholly denied themselves, and have abhorred . all the desires, and entanglements, and excitements, and pleasures, and businesses of the world, and who keep Him only before their eyes, and desire to do His command- ments, so that each man by his own will turns away, even from a kingdom, and positively would not wish to have it, 1 or to love anything along with that love, by being pleased with any pleasures or desires of this world, instead of keeping his whole love, to the utmost of his will and choice, fixed upon the Lord. A single example will shew you all that I mean. Some- times a man passes judgment on another. He knows that what he is inclined to do is wrong, but because he loves the thing, and will not deny it, he is overcome. To begin with, inwardly, in his heart, there is war, and conflict, weighing and balancing ; the love of God and the love of the world are in the scales ; and then the man comes forth, and passes judgment upon his brother, perhaps even to fighting and blows, saying within himself, " Let me speak ; let me say it; nay, let me not say it," because, while remembering God, he yet seeks to obtain his own glory, and will not deny himself, but if the love of the world for a moment outweighs the other and dips the scale in his heart, at once the bad word springs to his lips. Then the mind from within, like one who aims a missile, uses the tongue to shoot his neighbour, discharging the volley of unseemly words at his discretion, ' in the desire to gain his own glory. Then this shooting with unseemly words goes on and on, until the sin is diffused through other members, and sometimes it comes to blows and wounds, body and members against body and members, and sometimes the bad desire issues even in death and murder. See the origin and the outcome of the love of worldly glory, when it has once turned the scale in the balance of the heart in the way of self-will. The man would not deny himself, and fixed his affection on a worldly thing, and all those wrong deeds were a result. Think in this way, I pray you, of every form of sin and of every immoral practice, which spring from the intrigues of evil, gaining over the will of the mind to worldly desires and to the deceit and pleasure of the flesh. In this way every bad deed comes about, adultery and theft, covetous- ness and drunkenness, love of money and vain glory, envy and self-assertion, and every other bad practice that you can name. Sometimes actions that appear good are per- formed for the sake of the glory and praise of men ; and with God these are on the same footing as injustice and theft or any other sin. God says, He hath scattered the bones of men-pleasers. 1 So the evil one likes to be served by things that appear good. He is versatile and cunning in the lusts of the world. By means of some earthly and carnal affection, by which a man in his natural will is bound, sin entices him, until it becomes to him a fetter and a chain and a heavy weight, sinking and stifling him in the world of wickedness, and not allowing him to come to the surface and get to God. Whatever a man has loved in the world, weighs down his mind, and holds it down, and will not let him come up. In this balance, with its bias to the scale of evil, all mankind hangs and is tested, Christians and all, whether dwelling in cities, or in mountains, or in monasteries, or in fields, or in deserts ; because the natural will of man entices him to set his affection on something, and that affection is somewhere or other tied, and is not wholly towards God. A man has set his affection, say, on property, another on gold and silver, another on the wisdom of the eloquence of the world for the sake of glory from men ; another has loved power, another glory and honours among men, another wrath and anger for yielding quickly to it is loving it another unseasonable conversations, another jealousy; another amuses himself and seeks pleasure all day long ; another deceives himself with idle thoughts ; another loves to be a teacher of the law for the glory of men ; another finds pleasure in sloth and heedlessness ; another is absorbed in dress and clothes; another gives himself to earthly cares ; another loves sleep and jesting and low talk. Whether it be a little thing of the world or a great that ties him, the man is kept down by it, and not allowed to rise. Whatever passion a man does not bravely war against, is an object of his affection ; and it holds him fast, and weighs him down, and becomes to him a hindrance and a fetter, preventing his mind from going up to God and pleasing Him, and from serving Him only and thereby proving fit for the kingdom and obtaining eternal life. The soul whose movement is truly towards the Lord, compels its affection wholly to Him, and in will and inten- tion binds itself with all its power to Him only, and from that quarter gains the help of grace, and denies itself, and refuses to follow the desires of its own mind, because the mind deals, deceitfully with us through the evil that is present with us and entices us; but surrenders itself entirely to the word of the Lord, and detaches itself from every ex- ternal bond, as far as lies in the power of the will, and gives itself altogether to the Lord, and in this way will be en- abled to pass without difficulty through conflicts and troubles and afflictions. Where the affection is engaged, from that quarter comes help or hindrance. If a man loves some- thing of the world, that thing becomes to him a burden and bonds to drag him downward, not suffering him to go up- wards and Godwards. If he loves the Lord and His com- mandments, from thence comes his help, and from thence he is buoyed up, and all the precepts of the Lord become easy to him, because his love for Him completely saves him ; and it weights his scale towards the good, or rather buoys him up and makes every battle and every affliction light, and through the power of God it cuts through the world and through the powers of evil which in the world lay traps for the soul, and which use all kinds of desires to bind the soul in the depths of the world. In this way the man is disentangled from them through his personal faith and much earnestness and through the help that comes from above, and is accounted worthy of the eternal kingdom where his affection was set, and having truly loved that kingdom with his personal will, and having received help of the Lord, he does not fail of eternal life. In order to see by plain illustrations how many men are ruined by their own wills, and are drowned in the sea, and are carried off into captivity, imagine a house on fire, and one man, wishing to save himself, as soon as he is aware of the fire, flees out of it .naked, leaving everything to its fate, and only caring to make sure of his own life is saved. Another, wishing to take some of the furniture out of the house, or other articles, goes inside to get them, and just as he takes them, the fire masters the house, and the man is caught within and burned. You see that attaching himself by his personal will to some temporal object he perishes in the fire. Or at sea, people are caught in a storm of waves and shipwrecked. One strips himself naked, and plunges into the depth of the waters, caring only to save himself; and so, though buffeted by the billows, he emerges to the top of them, because there is nothing about him to break up, and thus manages to get through the bitter sea, and purchases his own life. Another, desirous of saving some of his clothes, fancies that he can dive and get through with what he has taken and all, and the very things that he got hold of weigh him down, and sink him in the depth of the sea, and for a trifling gain he loses himself, unable to secure his own life. You see how his personal will causes his death, Or suppose a rumour comes of the irruption of savage tribes. One man, the moment he hears of it, makes off, without wasting time, and gets away with nothing but his bare self. Another, disbelieving that the enemy are coming, or setting his heart on some of his possessions and anxious to take them with him, is slow to flee, and the foes come and catch him, and carry him captive into the enemy country, and there make a slave of him. You see how his personal will is the cause of slackness, and want of energy, and attachment to some object or another, by which he is taken away into captivity. In like manner, those who do not follow the commandments of the Lord, and will not deny themselves and set their affection on the Lord alone, but choose to be bound with earthly bonds, these, when the eternal fire comes, being tied and bound with the love of the world, 1 will find themselves burned, and sunk under the bitter sea of wickedness, and carried captive by the savage captors who are the spirits of wickedness, and are lost. If you please to learn from the holy inspired scripture how straight a perfected love to the Lord can go, look at Job, how he divested himself, so to speak, of all that he possessed children, property, cattle, servants, and all that he had how he stripped them all off and escaped, and saved himself, even letting go his bodily clothing and abandoning it to Satan, never blaspheming either in word or in his heart, nor uttering anything with his lips before the Lord, but on the contrary blessed the Lord and said, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; as it seemed good to the Lord, so hath He done ; blessed be the name of the Lord. 2 Although he was reputed to have great possessions, the testing which he received from the Lord showed plainly that he had none but God. In like manner Abraham, being bidden by the Lord to leave his country and his kindred and his father's house, immediately stripped himself, so to speak, of all fatherland, kinsfolk, parents and followed the word of the Lord ; then, many trials and temptations befalling him in the meanwhile, his wife taken from him, living in a strange land, subjected to unjust treatment, he was proved by all these things to love God only above everything. At last, when by promise, after an interval of many years, he had gotten an only much-desired son, he was asked to offer this* son in sacrifice with his own hands, and readily stripped himself of himself and denied himself, proving by the sacrifice of his only begotten that there was nothing that he loved besides God : for if he readily parted with his son, how much more, if he had been bidden to relinquish all his other possessions, or to distribute them at one stroke to the poor, would he not readily and promptly have done it ! You see the straight character of a whole-hearted and perfected love to the Lord ; and those who wish to be fellow-heirs of these men must love nothing besides God, in order that, when trial comes, they may be found serviceable and true, keeping their love to the Lord unimpaired. Such can go through their conflict to the end who have always heartily loved God and God only, and have loosed them- selves from all love of the world. But few, and very few, are found who have taken up a love like this, renouncing all the pleasures and desires of the world, and enduring patiently the assaults and temptations of the evil one. If many in crossing the rivers are sucked under by the waters, are there not some who pass over the turbulent streams of the world with its manifold desires, and of the various temptations of the spirits of wickedness ? Many ships on the sea are covered by the waves and founder ; but are there not some that get across, and travel over the waves, and reach the haven of peace ? There is need therefore of much faith, and patience, and conflict, and endurance, and labour, and hunger and thirst for what is good, and keenness, and importunity, and discretion, and understanding at all times ; for most men wish to obtain the kingdom without trouble, or pains, or sweat, and that is a thing impossible. As in the world men go to some rich person, to work at harvest or something else, in order to gain what they need for their sustenance, and some of them are sluggish and idle, not working hard or labouring as they ought, and these, who have not toiled at all nor exerted themselves for the rich man's house, wish to receive equal pay with those who have manfully and vigorously exerted themselves with all their might, as if they too had done their work; so when we read in scripture how some righteous man pleased God, how he became a friend and companion of God, and how all the fathers became friends and heirs of God, what afflictions they endured, how much they suffered for God's sake, how they played the man and contended, we call them blessed, and wish to obtain equal gifts and dignities with them, and covet earnestly those splendid endowments, without observing their pains and struggles and afflictions and sufferings, and earnestly wish to receive honours and dignities like those which they have from God, but their labours and pains and struggles we will not accept. But I tell you, that everyone covets and desires this harlots and publicans and unrighteous men and all easily and without labours or struggles to gain a kingdom. But this is the reason why temptations lie along the road, and many trials and afflictions, and struggles, and exhausting labours, to prove, who have really loved the Lord and Him only, with all their will and all their might, even to death, and have held nothing else desirable along with love to Him. Justly therefore they enter into the kingdom of heaven, having denied themselves according to the Lord's word, and having loved the Lord, and Him alone, more than their own breath ; and their surpassing love shall be requited with surpassing gifts of heaven. In those afflictions and sufferings, in that patience and faith, are hidden the promises, and the glory, and the restitution of the good things of heaven, as the fruit is in the seed when it is sown in the earth, or in the tree when a graft is inserted into it and plastered with some degrading rotten stuff. Then they were proved to have in them the comeliness and the glory and the abounding fruit which clothes them ; as the apostle says, Through much tribulation we may enter into the kingdom of heaven, 1 and the Lord, In your patience possess ye your souls, 2 and again, In the world ye shall have tribulation. 3 There is need of pains, and diligence, and watchfulness, and great heed, and of vigour and importunity in prayer to the Lord, in order to pass through the traps of earthly desire, and the snares of pleasure, and the pitfalls of the world, and to escape the assaults of evil spirits, and to know well by what watchfulness and alert- ness of faith and love the saints came to possess within their souls, even here, the heavenly treasure, that is, the power of the Spirit, which is the earnest of the kingdom. The blessed apostle Paul, discoursing of this heavenly treasure of the grace of the Spirit, and declaring the ex- ceeding greatness of that tribulation, and at the same indicating what each of us ought to strive to attain in this life, says, We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens/' We ought all, therefore, to strive and endeavour by every kind of virtue, and to believe that we shall gain possession of that house, even here. For if the house of our body is dissolved, we have no other house for the soul to turn into. //, it says, being clothed, we shall not be found naked 5 naked, that is, of the communion and inblending of the Holy Ghost, in which alone the faithful soul can find rest. For this reason, Christians who are Christians in truth and efficacy are confident and glad at departure from the flesh, because they have that house made without hands, which house is the power of the Spirit dwelling in them. There- fore, even if the house of the body is dissolved, they are in no fear, because they have the heavenly house of the Spirit and that incorruptible glory, which glory in the resurrection day shall build up and glorify the house of the body as well, as the apostle tells us ; He that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in yow, 1 and again, That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh, 2 and That mortality, it says, may be swallowed up of life. 3
8-- Let us then strive by faith and virtuous living to gain here that clothing, that when we put off the body we may not be found naked, and there be nothing in that day to glorify our flesh. For in proportion as any one has been permitted to become through faith and diligence a partaker of the Holy Ghost, his body also shall be glorified in that day. What the soul has now stored up within, shall then be revealed and displayed outwardly in the body. As trees that have got over the winter, when warmed by the unseen influence of sun and winds, put forth from within and shoot out their clothing of leaves, and as at that season flowers of the grass come forth from within the bosom of the earth, and the earth is covered and dressed, and the grass is like those lilies of which the Lord said that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of them* for these are all parables and types and figures of Christians at the resur- rection. 9-- so to all God-loving souls, to true Christians, there comes a first month, a Xanthicus, which is called April. It is the day of resurrection ; and by the power of the Sun of Righteousness the glory of the Holy Ghost comes out from within, decking and covering the bodies of the saints the glory which they had before, but hidden within in their souls. What a man has now, the same then comes forth externally in the body. This month, it says, shall be the first month of the year l ; this brings forth joy for all the creation ; this dresses the naked trees, opening the earth ; this brings forth joy for all living things ; this displays mirth for all ; this for Christians is Xanthicus, the first month, which is the season of resurrection, in which their bodies shall be glorified through the unspeakable light which even now is in them that is the power of the Holy Ghost and which shall then be to them raiment, meat, drink, gladness, joy, peace, robe, eternal life ; for all beauty of brightness and of heavenly splendour will then come to them from that Spirit of the Godhead which they were privileged even now to receive.
10-- How then ought every one of us to believe, and to strive, and to be diligent in all virtuous living, and with much hope and patience to look for the privilege of receiv- ing now that power from heaven, and the glory of the Holy Ghost inwardly in the soul, in order that then, when our bodies are dissolved, we may have what shall clothe and quicken us ! // so be, it says, that being clothed we shall not be found naked, 2 and He shall quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in us. 3 The blessed Moses showed in a type, through the glory of the Spirit which was set upon his countenance, upon which no man was able to look steadfastly, how at the resurrection of the just the bodies of those that are worthy shall be glorified, with a glory which even now the souls of holy and faithful people are privileged to have within, upon the inner man. For we all, it says, with open face, that is to say, in the
inward man, reflecting as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory. , l In like manner, for forty days and forty nights, as it is written, he did neither eat bread nor drink water. 2 It was not possible for the nature of the body to live so long without bread, unless he partook of some other spiritual food ; of which food the souls of the saints even now . invisibly partake by gift of the Spirit.
11-- In two ways, therefore, the blessed Moses showed what glory of light and what immaterial dainties of the Spirit true Christians shall have at the resurrection, which even now are vouchsafed to them in a hidden manner, and therefore shall then be manifested also upon their bodies. The glory which the saints now have in their souls, the same, as we said before, shall cover and clothe their naked bodies, and catch them into heaven ; and thenceforward we shall rest, in body and soul, in the kingdom with the Lord for ever. When God created Adam, He did not provide him with bodily wings, like the birds, but He had designed for him the wings of the Holy Ghost, those wings which He purposes to give him at the resurrection, to lift him up and catch him away whithersoever the Spirit pleases which holy souls even now are privileged to have, and fly up in mind to the heavenly frame of thought. For Christians have a different world of their own, another table, other raiment, another sort of enjoyment, other fellowship, another frame of mind ; for which reason they are superior to other men. The power of these things it is their privilege to have now within them in their souls, through the Holy Ghost; therefore at the resurrection their bodies also will be permitted to share those eternal blessings of the Spirit, and will be mixed with that glory, which their souls in this life had known by experience.
12-- Every one of us therefore ought to strive, and take pains, and be diligent in all virtues, and to believe, and to seek from the Lord that the inward man may be made partaker of that glory here and now, and that the soul may have fellowship in that sanctity of the Spirit, in order that we may be cleansed from the defilements of wickedness and may have at the resurrection wherewithal to clothe our bodies as they rise naked, and to robe their uncome- liness, and quicken them, and refresh them for ever in the kingdom of heaven. For Christ will come down from heaven, and raise up all the tribes of Adam, those who from the beginning have fallen asleep, according to the holy scriptures, and will set them all in two divisions, and those who bear His own sign, that is the seal of the Spirit, He will call to Him as His very own and set them on His right hand ; for My sheep, He says, hear My voice, and I know Mine own and am known of Mine. 1 Then shall the bodies of these be arrayed with divine glory from their good works, and shall be full of the glory of the Spirit, which they had in their souls even here ; and thus being glorified in the divine light, and caught up into heaven to meet the Lord in the air, 2 as it is written, we shall ever be with the Lord, rejoicing with Him to ages without end. Amen,
Those who desire to please God, ought to offer their prayers in peace and quietness, in gentleness and wisdom, and not to give scandal to others by the use of loud outcries. The Homily also contains two questions, whether the thrones and crowns are actual created things, and concerning the twelve thrones of Israel.
i. THOSE who draw near to the Lord ought to make their prayers in quietness and peace and great composure, and to fix their minds upon the Lord not with unseemly and confused outcries, but with effort of the heart and vigilant thoughts. If some one suffering from a malady needs to be cauterized or to undergo a surgical operation, one man will bear the pain of it with courage and patience, self-possessed, and making no noise or disturbance, while others undergoing the same infliction give way under the fire or the knife to unseemly outcries, and yet the pain of the man who calls out is exactly the same as that of the man who does not of him who makes a disturbance as of him who makes none. So are there some who under affliction and travail of the soul submit to it with dignity and make no disturbance, controlling themselves by mental reflexion, while others under the same affliction lose their power of endurance, and make their prayers with disorderly noise, so as to give offence to those who hear them. There are others again who are under no real concern, but for ostentation or singularity make use of undisciplined outcries, as if by these they could please God.
2-- A servant of God ought not thus to lose self-control, but to continue in all meekness and wisdom, as the prophet said, Unto whom shall I look but unto him that is meek and quiet, and that trembleth at My words?' 1 And in the cases of Moses and Elias we find that in the appear- ances vouchsafed to them, although there was a great ministry of trumpets and powers before the majesty of the Lord, yet the presence of the Lord was distinguished amongst and from them all, and was manifested in peace and quietness and repose. Lo, it says, a humble still small voice, and the Lord was in it. 2 This shows that the Lord's rest is in peace and composure. Whatever founda- tion a man lays, however he starts, he will continue in the same line to the last. If he begins praying with a loud voice and noisy behaviour, he maintains to the last the same usage. Since the Lord is a lover of men, it happens that He gives succour even to such an one; so they, through the encouragement of grace, use the same ways to the last. Nevertheless we see that this is the part of the uninstructed, because they give offence to others, and at the same time are themselves in disorder at their prayers.
3-- The true foundation of prayer is this, to concentrate attention, and to pray in great quietness and peace, so as to give no offence to those outside. Such a man, if he receives the grace of God upon his prayer, and continues to the last in his quietness, will edify other people more. For God is not the God of confusion, but of peace. 5 Those who pray noisily are like the man who shouts to keep the rowers in time; they cannot pray everywhere, either in churches, or in villages ; perhaps only in the
Macarius substitutes meek for the humble of the
deserts can they do it- as they like. But those who pray quietly edify everybody everywhere. A man's whole labour should be employed upon his thoughts ; he must cut away the bush of evil thoughts which besets him, and urge him- self to God, and not let his thoughts carry him where they like, but collect them when they wander in any direction, distinguishing natural thoughts from bad ones. Being under sin, the soul comes near to being like a great wood upon a hill, or the reeds in the river, or thickets of thorns and bushes. Those who wish to pass through the place, have to stretch out their hands, and with force and laborious effort to shove aside the bushes that beset them. So do the thoughts that come from the adverse power beset the soul like bushes. Much diligence and application of mind, therefore, is required, in order to distinguish the thoughts which are not our own, but suggested by the adverse power.
4-- One man, trusting to his own abilities, thinks to fell the hills round him by himself; another, governing his mind with composure and discernment, without great trouble makes more of his work than the other. Thus there are some who at prayer make use of unseemly out- cries, as if they relied upon their muscular strength, not knowing how their thoughts deceive them, and fancying that they can achieve a perfect success by their own power. Others there are who pay attention to their thoughts, and exercise all their labour within. These by their under- standing and discernment are enabled to reach success, and to shake off the insurrection of the thoughts and to walk after the will of the Lord. And we find in the apostle that he calls the person who edifies others greater than he who does not. He says, He that speaketh with tongues edifieth himself, but he that prophcsieth edifieth the church. Greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues. 1 Every one, therefore, will choose
to edify others, and thus will have the kingdom of heaven vouchsafed to him.
5-- Question. Some people tell us that the thrones and crowns are actual creatures, not spiritual things. How ought we to understand them? Answer. The throne of the Godhead is our mind, and again, the throne of our mind is the Godhead and the Spirit. In like manner Satan also and the powers and rulers of darkness have, ever since the transgression of the commandment, seated themselves in the heart and mind and body of Adam, as their own throne. That was why the Lord came, and took His body of the Virgin. For if He had willed to come down in His uncovered Godhead, who would have been able to bear it ? So He spoke to men through the instrument of the body. By this means he put down the spirits of wickedness, which had their seat in the body, from these thrones of mind and thought, wherein they dwelt, and the Lord cleansed the conscience, and made Himself a throne of the mind, the thoughts, and the body.
6-- Question. What then is the meaning- of the text, Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel? 1 Answer. We find that this came to pass upon earth, when the Lord had been taken up into heaven. For He sent the Comforter Spirit upon the twelve apostles, and that holy power which came and tabernacled and seated itself in the throne of their minds. When the bystanders said, These men are full of new wine, 2 Peter began at once to judge them, saying concerning Jesus, " A ~ Man mighty in words and signs ye crucified, hanging Him on a tree; 3 and behold, He there did wondrous things, rending the graves of stone, and raising the dead.
For it is written, In the last days I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" l Many, therefore, came to repentance under Peter's instruction, so that a new world, elect of God, came into being.
7-- Do you see how the beginning of judgment appeared ? A new world appeared there. Authority was given them here to sit and judge even in this world. Not but that they are to sit and give judgment hereafter, at the advent of the Lord, at the resurrection of the dead. But it came to pass here also, when the Holy Ghost seated Himself on the thrones of their minds. The diadems which Christians receive in that age are not creatures. Those who say so, say amiss. The Spirit uses them as a suggestive figure. What does the apostle Paul say concerning the heavenly Jerusalem ? This is the mother of us all, 2 in whose confession we agree. As for the garment which Christians wear, it is evidently the Spirit Himself that clothes them, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen.
Concerning the loving kindness of Christ towards men. The Homily also contains certain questions and answers.
i. IMAGINE a man to go into a royal palace, and to see the portraits and works of art there, treasures kept in one place, other things in another. Imagine him to sit down to table with the king, and to have delicious meats and drinks set before him, and to be in every way refreshed with the contemplation of such beautiful things ; and after that, to be hurried off, and found carried away to noisome places. Or imagine a maiden fairer, wiser, and wealthier than all others, to take for her husband a poor, lowly, ugly man, clothed in tatters; to take the filthy garments from him, and clothe him with the robes of a king, and set a diadem on his head, and enter into union with him. There comes a moment when that poor man begins to be frightened, and to say, "Am I, who am wretched and poor and mean and lowly, to have such a wife given to me?" This is what God has done to poor wretched man. He has given him to taste of another world, of other delicious food ; He has shown him glories and royal beauties unspeakable and heavenly ; and so the man, comparing those spiritual things with the things of this world, casts all away, and whether king, or princes, or wise men meet his eye, he turns his gaze to the heavenly treasure. For since God is love, man has received the heavenly and divine fire of Christ, and is at rest, and rejoices, and is there fast bound.
2-- Question. Is Satan in the same place as God, either in the air, or in men ? Answer. The sun yonder is but a creature. When it shines upon miry places, what harm does it take? How much more can the Divine Being be in the same place as Satan without being sullied or polluted? Evil, however, is darkened and blinded, and cannot see the purity and fineness of God. If any one says that Satan has his own proper place, and God His, he makes God to be circum- scribed with reference to the place where the wicked one dwells. How then can we say that the good is not circum- scribed or comprehended, and that all things are contained within it, and yet that the good is not polluted by the evil ? What then ? Because sky, and sun, and mountains are in God, and have their consistency through Him, are they then God? Created things are established in their own order, and the Creator, who is present with them all, is God.
3-- Question. When sin is transformed into an angel of light, and comes to look like grace, how is a man to detect the wiles of the devil, and how shall he welcome and discern the things of grace? Answer. The things of grace are attended by joy, peace, love, and truth. Truth itself compels man to seek truth. But the forms of sin are disordered, and have nothing of love or joy towards God. Endive looks like lettuce ; but one is sweet, and the other, for all its likeness, is bitter. Even in the realm of grace itself, there is what looks like truth, and there is the substance of truth itself. The ray of the sun is one thing, and the orb itself is another, and the ray does not give shine in the same sense in which the light stored up in the orb does. A lamp is lighted in the house : the ray of it which beams all round is one thing and the light in the lamp itself is another, brighter and clearer. In like manner there are things of grace, which when a man sees them at a distance, as spectacles to be looked at, give him joy even as spectacles ; but he becomes another man when the power of God enters into him, and occupies his heart and his members, and makes his mind captive to the love of God. When they seized Peter and cast him into prison, an angel of the Lord came, when he was shut in, and broke his chains, and brought him out ; and he, like one in a trance, thought he saw a vision.
4-- Question. And how comes it that people who are under the influence of grace ever fall ? Answer. Even pure intelligences in their own nature are liable to slip and fall. A man begins to be lifted up, to censure, to say, "Thou art a sinner," while he considers himself righteous. Do you not know what St. Paul says, There was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above mea- sure? 1 Even a pure nature is liable to be exalted above measure.
5-- Question. Can a man, by means of light, see his own soul ? There are some people who do away with revelation, and affirm that it is knowledge and sense which give vision. Answer. Sense differs from vision,, and vision from en- lightenment ; and the man who has enlightenment is greater than the man who has only sense. His mind is enlightened, inasmuch as he has received a greater portion than the man who has but sense, as is shown by his seeing within himself visions which he cannot doubt. But revelation is a further thing. Great things, and mysteries of God, are the subjects of revelation to the soul.
6-- Question. Does one by revelation and the divine light see the soul ? Answer. As these eyes of ours see the sun, so those who are enlightened see the image of the soul ; but not many Christians have this sight.
7-- Question. Has the soul any form ? Answer. It has an image or form in the same way as an angel has. As the angels have an image or form, and as the outward man has his image, so the inner man has an image like an angel's, and a form like that of the outward man.
8-- Question. Is the mind one thing and the soul another? Answer. As the members of the body, being many, are called one man, so the soul has many members, mind, con- science, will, thoughts accusing and excusing,*- but all these are dependent upon one factor. They are members of the soul, and the soul is one, the inward man. But as the out- ward eyes discover at a distance the thorns, precipices, and pitfalls, and give warning beforehand, so the mind, when it is at all alert, discovers beforehand the crafts and devices of the adverse power, and secures the soul in advance. It is in fact the eye of the soul. Let us ascribe glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen.
Concerning things which befall Christians at prayer, and concerning the measures of perfection whether it is possible for Christians to reach the perfect measure.
1-- A MAN goes in to bend the knee, and his heart is filled with the divine influence, and his soul rejoices with the Lord, like bride with bridegroom, according to that word of the prophet Esaias which says, As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall the Lord rejoice over thee ; * and it comes to pass that being all day engaged he gives himself to prayer for an hour, and the inward man is rapt in prayer into the unfathomable deep of that other world in great sweetness, so that his whole mind is up aloft, rapt away thither, and estranged from things below. For the time being forgetfulness comes into him with regard to the in- terests of the earthly mind, because his thoughts are filled and taken captive to divine and heavenly things, to things infinite and past comprehension, to wonderful things which no human lips can express, so that for that hour he prays and says, " Would God that my soul might pass along with my prayer ! "
2-- Question. Can any one enter into these things at all times ? Answer. Grace is constantly present, and is rooted in us, and worked into us like leaven, from our earliest years, until the thing thus present becomes fixed in a man like a natural endowment, as if it were one substance with him. But, for the man's own good, it manages him in many different ways, after its own pleasure. Sometimes the fire flames out and kindles more vehemently; at other times more gently and mildly. The light that it gives kindles up at times and shines with unusual brightness; at others it abates and burns low. The lamp is always burning and shining, but when it is specially trimmed, it kindles up with intoxication of the love of God ; and then again by God's dispensation it gives in, and though the light is .always there, it is comparatively dull.
3-- To some, however, the sign of the cross has appeared in light and fastened itself upon the inward man. At another time a man at his prayers has fallen into a kind of trance, and found himself standing in the altar-space in church, and three loaves were offered to such an one, leavened with oil, and the more he ate of them, the more they increased and grew. At another time there was brought as it were a shining garment, such as there is none on earth in the course of this world, nor is it possible for human hands to make the like; for as when the Lord went up into the mountain with Peter and John, He changed the fashion of His raiment and made it to flash with light, so was it with this garment, and the man who was clothed with it wondered and was amazed. Another while, the light shining in the heart disclosed the inner, deeper, hidden light, so that the man, swallowed up in the sweetness of the contemplation, was no longer master of himself, but was like a fool or a barbarian to this world by reason of the surpassing love and sweetness, by reason of the hidden mysteries ; so that the man for that season was set at liberty, and came to perfect measures, and was pure and free from sin ; yet after- wards grace retreated, and the veil of the adverse power came ; notwithstanding, grace still shews itself in part, and he stands on the first and lowest step of perfection.
4-- There are twelve steps, we might say, which a man has to pass before he reaches perfection. For a season that measure has been attained, and perfection entered upon ; and then grace gives in, and he comes down by one step, and stands on the eleventh. Here and there one man rich in grace has stood always, night and day, in perfect measures, at liberty and in purity, always captive and aloft. Well now, if the man to whom those marvellous things were shewn, of which he has had actual experience, were to have them always present with him, he would be unable to undertake the dispensation of the word and the burden of it, nor could he endure to listen to, or take any interest in, any ordinary thing, concerning himself, or concerning the morrow, but only to sit in a corner, aloft and intoxi- cated. So the perfect measure has not been given, in order that he may be free to take an interest in his brethren, and in the ministry of the word. Nevertheless the middle wall of partition has been broken through 1 and death is overcome.
5-- The case stands thus, as if some foggy power hangs over and forms a light screen, like a dense air, though the lamp is burning and shining all the while, even as a veil hangs over yonder light. So this man confesses that he is not perfect or altogether free from sin. He says that the middle wall of partition has been broken through and shattered, and yet, at some point not wholly broken, nor at all times. There are moments when grace kindles up and comforts and refreshes more fully ; there are moments when it retreats and clouds over, according as grace itself manages for the man's advantage. But who is there that has come to the perfect measure at particular seasons, and has tasted and had direct experience of that world ? A perfect Christian man, one completely free, I have not yet seen. Although one and another is at rest in grace, and enters into mysteries and revelations and into much sweet- ness of grace, still sin is yet present within. By reason of
the exceeding grace and of the light that is in them, men consider themselves free and perfect ; but inexperience de- ceives them. They are under the influence of grace, but I have never yet seen a man that is free. I myself at times have in part come to that measure, and I have learned to know that it does not constitute a perfect man.
6-- Question. Tell us, if thou wilt, what measures thou art in ? Answer. After the sign of the cross, 1 grace now acts thus. It calms all the members and the heart, so that the soul, for much joy, appears like an innocent child, and the man no longer condemns Greek or Jew, sinner or worldling. The inner man regards all men with a pure eye, and the man rejoices over all the world, and desires that all should worship and love, Greeks and Jews. At another moment, like the king's son, he is as bold in the Son of God as in a father, and doors are opened to him, and he enters within to many mansions? and the further he goes in, doors are again opened in progression, a hundred mansions leading to a hundred beyond, and he is rich, and the richer he is, other new wonders are again disclosed to him, and he is entrusted, as a son and an heir, with things that cannot be told by mankind or put into syllables by mouth and tongue. Glory to God. Amen.
That the promises and prophecies of God are accomplished through manifold trial and temptation, and that those who cleave to God alone are delivered from the temptation of the evil one.
1-- THE spiritual influence of God's grace within the soul works with great patience, wisdom, and mysterious manage- ment of the mind, while the man for long times and seasons contends in much endurance ; and then the work of grace is proved to be perfect in him, his free will and choice being proved by much trial to be well-pleasing to the Spirit, and the man having displayed thoroughness and perseverance for a good length of time. We will illustrate this law of action from plain examples in the inspired scriptures.
2-- What I mean is well exhibited in Joseph. What times and seasons it took to accomplish the predestined will of God concerning him, and to fulfil his visions. By what pains and afflictions and distresses he was first proved, and endured them all nobly, and was found in them all a thorough and faithful servant of God, and then became a king of Egypt, and nurtured his family, and the prophecy of things unseen was accomplished, and the will of God received its predicted end after long time and much management.
3-- So with David. God anointed him king by the pro- phet Samuel, and when he was anointed, h? fled from Saul, who pursued him to destroy him. Where then was God's anointing? Where was the promise, so far as the imme- diate future was concerned? After his anointing, he was grievously afflicted, wandering in desert places, and destitute even of bread, and taking refuge among the heathen because of Saul's designs against him. Such afflictions encompassed the man whom God had anointed to be king. Then after long trial, and affliction, and temptation, and patience, having once for all believed God, and assuring himself, " What God did for me by the prophet's anointing, and what God said should come to pass concerning me, must without doubt come to pass, even though long patience be required," at length the will of God was done, and David reigned after all his trials. Then the word of God was manifested, and the anointing at the hands of the prophet was shewn to be sure and true.
4-- So with Moses. God having foreknown and pre- destined him to be the ruler and deliverer of the people, made him to become the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and he grew up to kingly fortune and splendour and luxury, being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians x ; and when he reached man's estate, and was become great, he refused all those things, choosing rather the suffering afflic- tion and the reproaches of the Christ, as the apostle says, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. 2 He became a fugitive from Egypt ; and how long did that son of a king, who was bred up to such enjoyment and royal luxury, spend in the labours of a shepherd! Then at length, being approved to God and found faithful through much patience, because he had endured many temptations, he became the deliverer, the ruler, the king of Israel, and was addressed by God as a God to Pharaoh? Through him God smote Egypt with plagues, and displayed through him great wonders upon Pharaoh, and finally drowned the Egyptians in the sea. See, after what length of time the will and purpose of God was declared, and after how many trials and afflictions it was fulfilled.
5-- So again with Abraham. How long beforehand God promised to bestow on him a son, and yet gave him none there and then, but for how many intervening years trials and temptations befell him ! But Abraham patiently endured all that came upon him, and was fully persuaded by faith that He who had promised, and could not lie, would fulfil His own word, and so being found faithful he obtained his promise.
6-- In like manner Noah, being commanded in his five- hundredth year by God to prepare the ark, and warned that He would bring a flood upon the world, which was not brought until his six-hundredth year, waited patiently for a hundred years, nothing doubting whether God would do what He said or not, but being once for all fully persuaded by faith that what God had spoken must assuredly come to pass. So, being found approved by resolution and faith and endurance and much patience, he alone with his house was saved, having kept the commandment in purity.
7-- We have alleged these scriptural grounds to show that God's grace in man, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is vouchsafed to a faithful soul, proceeds with much contention, with much endurance and longsuffering, and temptations and trials, the man's free will being tried by all manner of afflictions. And when it does not grieve the Spirit in anything, but is agreeable to grace through all commandments, then it is permitted to obtain freedom from passions, and receives the fulfilment of the Spirit's adoption, spoken of in a mystery, and of the spiritual riches, and of the intelligence which is not of this world, whereof true Christians are made partakers. For this reason they are for all purposes superior to all the men of prudence, intelligence, and wisdom, who have the spirit of the world.
8-- For such an one judgeth all men* as it is written. He knows each man, from whence he speaks, and where he stands, and what measures he is in ; but not a man of those that have the spirit of the world is able to know and judge him, but only he that has the like heavenly Spirit of the Godhead knows his like, as the apostle says : Comparing spiritual things with spiritual; but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolish- ness unto him : but he that is spiritual judgeth all men, yet he himself is judged by none. 2 Such an one looks upon all things that the world holds glorious, its riches, its luxury, and all its enjoyments yea, and even its knowledge and all things belonging to this age, as loathsome and hateful.
9-- As one that is possessed and burning with a fever loathes and rejects the sweetest food or drink that you offer him, because he burns with the fever and is vehemently exercised by it, so those who burn with the heavenly, sacred, solemn longing of the Spirit, and are smitten in soul with love of the love of God, and are vehemently exercised by the divine and heavenly fire which the Lord came to send upon the earth, and desire that it should speedily be kindled, 3 and are aflame with the heavenly longing for Christ, these, as we said before, consider all the glorious and precious things of this age contemptible and hateful by reason of the fire of the love of Christ, which holds them fast and inflames them and burns them with a God ward disposition and with the heavenly good things of love ; from which love nothing of all that are in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be able to separate them, as the apostle Paul testified, saying, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? and what follows. 4
10-- But it is not possible that any one should obtain the possession of his own soul, and of the heavenly love of the Spirit, unless he makes himself a stranger to all the things of this age, and gives himself up to seeking the love of Christ, and his mind stands clear of all material cares and earthly distractions, in order that he may be wholly occu- pied with the one aim, directing these things by all the com- mandments, in order that his whole care and seeking, and the engrossment and business of his soul, may be about the search for the immaterial substance, how the soul should be adorned with the commandments of the virtues, and with the heavenly adornment of the Spirit, and with the fellowship of the purity and sanctification of Christ so that having renounced all, and having cut himself free all round from the hindrances of earth and of material things, and set himself clear of fleshly love, whether it be the affection of parents or of kindred, the man may not permit his mind to be busied or distracted with any other thing, such as power, glory, honours, or fleshly friend- ships of the world, or any other earthly thoughts, but his mind may wholly and entirely take upon itself care and pains for the seeking of the immaterial substance of the soul, and may wholly and entirely endure in expectancy and waiting for the coming of the Spirit ; as the Lord says, In your patience possess ye your souls, 1 and again, Seek the kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you. 2 ii. So may it be, that one who thus strives, and at all times takes heed to himself, whether in prayer, or in obedience, or in any kind of work done according to God, should be able to escape the darkness of wicked devils. The mind that is never off the search of itself and the quest of the Lord avails to gain possession of its own soul the soul that was in the perdition of the passions by always bringing itself into captivity to the Lord with main force and earnestness, and by cleaving to Him only, as it is said, Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of
Christ 1 ; that by means of such striving and longing and seeking the mind may attain to become with the Lord one Spirit 2 of the gift and grace of Christ, resting in the vessel of the soul, which has prepared herself for every good work, and which does no despite unto the Spirit of the Lord 3 by its own selfwill, and by the wanderings of this world, its glories, powers, self-determinations, or fleshly indulgences, and the companionships and society of evil men.
12-- Lovely it is, when the soul, devoting herself wholly to the Lord, and cleaving to Him only, and dwelling mind- fully in His commandments, and worthily honouring the Spirit of Christ which has come upon her and overshadowed her, is permitted to be one Spirit and one composition with Him, as the apostle says, He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit* But if a man gives himself away to cares, or glory, or power, or human honours, and seeks after these things, and his soul is mixed up and enters into composition with earthly considerations, or is bound and held by anything belonging to this age, and if such a soul longs to transfer itself and escape and get away from the darkness of passions, in which it is held by the evil powers, it cannot do so, because it loves and does the will of darkness, and does not perfectly hate the practices of wickedness.
13-- Let us therefore prepare ourselves to travel to the Lord with an undivided will and purpose, and to become followers of Christ, to accomplish whatever He wills, and to think upon His commandments to do them. 5 Let us sever ourselves altogether from the love of the world, and attach our souls to Him only, and keep in mind Him only as our business and care and quest. If we have to be some- what busied also in body, with the business laid upon us, and with obedience for God's sake, let not the mind be parted from its love and quest and longing after the Lord ; so that striving in such a mind, and journeying along the way of righteousness with an upright intention, and always taking heed to ourselves, we may obtain the promise of His Spirit, and may through grace be delivered from the perdition of the darkness of the passions, by which the soul is exercised, that we may be made meet for the eternal kingdom, and permitted to enjoy all eternity with Christ, glorifying the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.
By lowliness of mind and earnestness the gifts of the Divine grace are preserved, but by pride and sloth they are destroyed.
i. SOULS that love truth and God, that long with much hope and faith to put on Christ completely, do not need so much to be put in remembrance by others, nor do they endure, even for a while, to be deprived of the heavenly desire and of passionate affection to the Lord ; but being wholly and entirely nailed to the cross of Christ, they perceive in themselves day by day a sense of spiritual advance towards the spiritual Bridegroom. Being smitten with the heavenly longing, and hungering for the righteous- ness of the virtues, they have a great and insatiable desire for the shining forth of the Spirit. Even if they are privi- leged through their faith to receive the knowledge of Divine mysteries, or are made partakers of the gladness of heavenly grace, they put no trust in themselves, thinking themselves to be somewhat, but the more they are permitted to receive spiritual gifts, the more insatiable they are of the heavenly longing, and the more they seek on with diligence. The more they perceive in themselves a spiritual advance, the more hungry and thirsty they are for the participation and increase of grace ; and the richer they spiritually are, the more do they esteem themselves to be poor, being insatiable in the spiritual longing for the heavenly Bridegroom, as the scripture says, They that eat Me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink Me shall yet be thirsty.
2-- Such souls, which have the love of the Lord ardently and insatiably, are meet for eternal life ; for which reason deliverance from the passions is vouchsafed to them, and they obtain perfectly the shining forth and participation of the unspeakable and mystic fellowship of the Holy Ghost, in the fulness of grace. But as many souls as are feeble and slack, not seeking to receive here on earth, while they are still in the flesh, through patience and longsuffering, sanctification of heart, not in part, but perfectly, and have never hoped to partake in the Paraclete Spirit in perfection with all conscious satisfaction and assurance, and have never expected to be delivered through the Spirit from the passions of evil ; or having at one time received the grace of God, have been deceived by sin and have given them- selves over to some form of carelessness and remissness;
3-- these, as having received the grace of the Spirit, and possessing some comfort of grace in rest and aspiration and spiritual sweetness, presume upon this, and are lifted up, and grow careless, without contrition of heart, and without humility of mind, neither reaching the perfect measure of freedom from passion, nor waiting to be perfectly filled with grace in all diligence and faith, but they felt assured, and took their repose, and remained satisfied with their scanty comfort of grace, the result of which advance to such souls was pride rather than humility, and they are at length stripped of whatever grace was vouchsafed to them, because of their careless contempt, and because of the vain arrogance of their self-conceit.
4-- The soul that really loves God and Christ, though it may do ten thousand righteousnesses, esteems itself as having wrought nothing, by reason of its insatiable aspira- tion after God. Though it .should exhaust the body with fastings, with watchings, its attitude towards the virtues is as if it had not yet even begun to labour for them. Though divers gifts of the Spirit, or revelations and heavenly i mysteries, should be vouchsafed to it, it feels in itself to have acquired nothing at all, by reason of its unlimited and insatiable love to the Lord. All day long, hungering and thirsting through faith and love, in persevering prayer, it continues to be insatiable for the mysteries of grace, and for the accomplishment of every virtue. It is smitten with passionate love of the heavenly Spirit, continually stirring up within itself through grace an ardent aspiration for the heavenly Bridegroom, desiring to be perfectly admitted to the mystical, ineffable fellowship with Him in sanctification of the Spirit. The face of the soul is unveiled, and it gazes upon the heavenly Bridegroom face to face in a spiritual light that cannot be described, mingling with Him in all fulness of assurance, being conformed to His death, ever looking with great desire to die for Christ, and trusting with assurance to receive by the Spirit a perfect deliverance from sin and from the darkness of the passions ; in order that having been cleansed by the Spirit, sanctified in soul and body, it may be permitted to become a clean vessel to receive the heavenly unction and to entertain the true King, even Christ; and then it is made meet for eternal life, being henceforward a clean dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost.
5-- For a soul to reach these measures, however, does not come all at once, or without trial. Through. many labours and struggles, and long time, and earnestness, with trial and manifold temptations, it gains the spiritual increase and advance, even to the perfect measure of freedom from passion, in order that willingly and bravely enduring every temptation with which it is plied by evil, it may then be privileged to obtain the great honours, and spiritual gifts, and heavenly riches, and thus become an inheritor of the heavenly kingdom in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and might for ever. Amen.