Writings of Cassian. The Institutes of the Coenobia

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Translated, with prolegomena, prefaces, and notes,

by Rev. Edgar C. S. Gibson, M.A.,
Principal of the Theological College, Wells, Somerset.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

The Twelve Books of John Cassian on the Institutes of the Coenobia,

and the Remedies for the Eight Principal Faults.

Book VI.

On the Spirit of Fornication.

We have thought best to omit altogether the translation of this book.

.

Book VII.

Of the Spirit of Covetousness.


Chapter I.

How our warfare with covetousness is a foreign one, and how this fault is not a natural one in man, as the other faults are.

Our third conflict is against covetousness which we can describe as the love of money; a foreign warfare, and one outside of our nature, and in the case of a monk originating only from the state of a corrupt and sluggish mind, and often from the beginning of his renunciation being unsatisfactory, and his love towards God being lukewarm at its foundation. For the rest of the incitements to sin planted in human nature seem to have their commencement as it were congenital with us, and somehow being deeply rooted in our flesh, and almost coeval with our birth, anticipate our powers of discerning good and evil, and although in very early days they attack a man, yet they are overcome with a long struggle.

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Chapter II.

How dangerous is the disease of covetousness.

But this disease coming upon us at a later period, and approaching the soul from without, as it can be the more easily guarded against and resisted, so, if it is disregarded and once allowed to gain an entrance into the heart, is the more dangerous to every one, and with the greater difficulty expelled. For it becomes "a root of all evils," [877] and gives rise to a multiplicity of incitements to sin.

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Footnotes

[877] 1 Tim. vi. 10.


Chapter III.

What is the usefulness of those vices which are natural to us.

For example, do not we see those natural impulses of the flesh not only in boys in whom innocence still anticipates the discernment of good and evil, but even in little children and infants, who although they have not even the slightest approach to lust within them, yet show that the impulses of the flesh exist in them and are naturally excited? Do not we also see that the deadly pricks of anger already exist in full vigour likewise in little children? and before they have learnt the virtue of patience, we see that they are disturbed by wrongs, and feel affronts offered to them even by way of a joke; and sometimes, although strength is lacking to them, the desire to avenge themselves is not wanting, when anger excites them. Nor do I say this to lay the blame on their natural state, but to point out that of these impulses which proceed from us, some are implanted in us for a useful purpose, while some are introduced from without, through the fault of carelessness and the desire of an evil will. For these carnal impulses, of which we spoke above, were with a useful purpose implanted in our bodies by the providence of the Creator, viz.: for perpetuating the race, and raising up children for posterity: and not for committing adulteries and debaucheries, which the authority of the law also condemns. The pricks of anger too, do we not see that they have been most wisely given to us, that being enraged at our sins and mistakes, we may apply ourselves the rather to virtues and spiritual exercises, showing forth all love towards God, and patience towards our brethren? We know too how great is the use of sorrow, which is reckoned among the other vices, when it is turned to an opposite use. For on the one hand, when it is in accordance with the fear of God it is most needful, and on the other, when it is in accordance with the world, most pernicious; as the Apostle teaches us when he says that "the sorrow which is according to God worketh repentance that is steadfast unto salvation, but the sorrow of the world worketh death." [878]


Footnotes

[878] 2 Cor. vii. 10.


Chapter IV.

That we can say that there exist in us some natural faults, without wronging the Creator.

If then we say that these impulses were implanted in us by the Creator, He will not on that account seem blameworthy, if we choose wrongly to abuse them, and to pervert them to harmful purposes, and are ready to be made sorry by means of the useless Cains of this world, and not by means of showing penitence and the correction of our faults: or at least if we are angry not with ourselves (which would be profitable) but with our brethren in defiance of God's command. For in the case of iron, which is given us for good and useful purposes, if any one should pervert it for murdering the innocent, one would not therefore blame the maker of the metal because man had used to injure others that which he had provided for good and useful purposes of living happily.


Chapter V.

Of the faults which are contracted through our own fault, without natural impulses.

But we affirm that some faults grow up without any natural occasion giving birth to them, but simply from the free choice of a corrupt and evil will, as envy and this very sin of covetousness; which are caught (so to speak) from without, having no origination in us from natural instincts. But these, in proportion as they are easily guarded against and readily avoided, just so do they make wretched the mind that they have got hold of and seized, and hardly do they suffer it to get at the remedies which would cure it: either because these who are wounded by persons whom they might either have ignored, or avoided, or easily overcome, do not deserve to be healed by a speedy cure, or else because, having laid the foundations badly, they are unworthy to raise an edifice of virtue and reach the summit of perfection.


Chapter VI.

How difficult the evil of covetousness is to drive away when once it has been admitted.

Wherefore let not this evil seem of no account or unimportant to anybody: for as it can easily be avoided, so if it has once got hold of any one, it scarcely suffers him to get at the remedies for curing it. For it is a regular nest of sins, and a "root of all kinds of evil," and becomes a hopeless incitement to wickedness, as the Apostle says, "Covetousness," i.e. the love of money, "is a root of all kinds of evil." [879]


Footnotes

[879] 1 Tim. vi. 10.


Chapter VII.

Of the source from which covetousness springs, and of the evils of which it is itself the mother.

When then this vice has got hold of the slack and lukewarm soul of some monk, it begins by tempting him in regard of a small sum of money, giving him excellent and almost reasonable excuses why he ought to retain some money for himself. For he complains that what is provided in the monastery is not sufficient, and can scarcely be endured by a sound and sturdy body. What is he to do if ill health comes on, and he has no special store of his own to support him in his weakness? He says that the allowance of the monastery is but meagre, and that there is the greatest carelessness about the sick: and if he has not something of his own so that he can look after the wants of his body, he will perish miserably. The dress which is allowed him is insufficient, unless he has provided something with which to procure another. Lastly, he says that he cannot possibly remain for long in the same place and monastery, and that unless he has secured the money for his journey, and the cost of his removal over the sea, he cannot move when he wants to, and, detained by the compulsion of want, will henceforth drag out a wretched and wearisome existence without making the slightest advance: that he cannot without indignity be supported by another's substance, as a pauper and one in want. And so when he has bamboozled himself with such thoughts as these, he racks his brains to think how he can acquire at least one penny. Then he anxiously searches for some special work which he can do without the Abbot knowing anything about it. And selling it secretly, and so securing the coveted coin, he torments himself worse and worse in thinking how he can double it: puzzled as to where to deposit it, or to whom to intrust it. Then he is oppressed with a still weightier care as to what to buy with it, or by what transaction he can double it. And when this has turned out as he wished, a still more greedy craving for gold springs up, and is more and more keenly excited, as his store of money grows larger and larger. For with the increase of wealth the mania of covetousness increases. Then next he has forebodings of a long life, and an enfeebled old age, and infirmities of all sorts, and long drawn out, which will be insupportable in old age, unless a large store of money has been laid by in youth. And so the wretched soul is agitated, and held fast, as it were, in a serpent's toils, while it endeavours to add to that heap which it has unlawfully secured, by still more unlawful care, and itself gives birth to plagues which inflame it more sorely, and being entirely absorbed in the quest of gain, pays attention to nothing but how to get money with which to fly [880] as quickly as possible from the discipline of the monastery, never keeping faith where there is a gleam of hope of money to be got. For this it shrinks not from the crime of lying, perjury, and theft, of breaking a promise, of giving way to injurious bursts of passion. If the man has dropped away at all from the hope of gain, he has no scruples about transgressing the bounds of humility, and through it all gold and the love of gain become to him his god, as the belly does to others. Wherefore the blessed Apostle, looking out on the deadly poison of this pest, not only says that it is a root of all kinds of evil, but also calls it the worship of idols, saying "And covetousness (which in Greek is called philarguria ) which is the worship of idols." [881] You see then to what a downfall this madness step by step leads, so that by the voice of the Apostle it is actually declared to be the worship of idols and false gods, because passing over the image and likeness of God (which one who serves God with devotion ought to preserve undefiled in himself), it chooses to love and care for images stamped on gold instead of God.


Footnotes

[880] The same danger is strongly spoken of by S. Basil in the "Monastic Constitutions" c. xxxiv., a passage which should be compared with the one above. [881] Col. iii. 5.


Chapter VIII.

How covetousness is a hindrance to all virtues.

With such strides then in a downward direction he goes from bad to worse, and at last cares not to retain I will not say the virtue but even the shadow of humility, charity, and obedience; and is displeased with everything, and murmurs and groans over every work; and now having cast off all reverence, like a bad-tempered horse, dashes off headlong and unbridled: and discontented with his daily food and usual clothing, announces that he will not put up with it any longer. He declares that God is not only there, and that his salvation is not confined to that place, where, if he does not take himself off pretty quickly from it, he deeply laments that he will soon die.


Chapter IX.

How a monk who has money cannot stay in the monastery.

And so having money to provide for his wanderings, with the assistance of which he has fitted himself as it were with wings, and now being quite ready for his move, he answers impertinently to all commands, and behaves himself like a stranger and a visitor, and whatever he sees needing improvement, he despises and treats with contempt. And though he has a supply of money secretly hidden, yet he complains that he has neither shoes nor clothes, and is indignant that they are given out to him so slowly. And if it happens that through the management of the superior some of these are given first to one who is known to have nothing whatever, he is still more inflamed with burning rage, and thinks that he is despised as a stranger; nor is he contented to turn his hand to any work, but finds fault with everything which the needs of the monastery require to be done. Then of set purpose he looks out for opportunities of being offended and angry, lest he might seem to have gone forth from the discipline of the monastery for a trivial reason. And not content to take his departure by himself alone, lest it should be thought that he has left as it were from his own fault, he never stops corrupting as many as he can by clandestine conferences. But if the severity of the weather interferes with his journey and travels, he remains all the time in suspense and anxiety of heart, and never stops sowing and exciting discontent; as he thinks that he will only find consolation for his departure and an excuse for his fickleness in the bad character and defects of the monastery.


Chapter X.

Of the toils which a deserter from a monastery must undergo through covetousness, though he used formerly to murmur at the very slightest tasks.

And so he is driven about, and more and more inflamed with the love of his money, which when it is acquired, never allows a monk either to remain in a monastery or to live under the discipline of a rule. And when separating him like some wild beast from the rest of the herd, it has made him through want of companions an animal fit for prey, and caused him to be easily eaten up, as he is deprived of fellow lodgers, it forces him, who once thought it beneath him to perform the slight duties of the monastery, to labour without stopping night and day, through hope of gain; it suffers him to keep no services of prayer, no system of fasting, no rule of vigils; it does not allow him to fulfil the duties of seemly intercession, if only he can satisfy the madness of avarice, and supply his daily wants; inflaming the more the fire of covetousness, while believing that it will be extinguished by getting.


Chapter XI.

That under pretence of keeping the purse women have to besought to dwell with them.

Hence many are led on over an abrupt precipice, and by an irrevocable fall, to death, and not content to possess by themselves that money which they either never had before, or which by a bad beginning they kept back, they seek for women to dwell with them, to preserve what they have unjustifiably amassed or retained. And they implicate themselves in so many harmful and dangerous occupations, that they are cast down even to the depths of hell, while they refuse to acquiesce in that saying of the Apostle, that "having food and clothing they should be content" with that which the thrift of the monastery supplied, but "wishing to become rich they fall into temptation and the snare of the devil, and many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money," i.e. covetousness, "is a root of all kinds of evil, which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows." [882]


Footnotes

[882] 1 Tim. vi. 8-10.


Chapter XII.

An instance of a lukewarm monk caught in the snares of covetousness.

I know of one, who thinks himself a monk, and what is worse flatters himself on his perfection, who had been received into a monastery, and when charged by his Abbot not to turn his thoughts back to those things which he had given up and renounced, but to free himself from covetousness, the root of all kinds of evil, and from earthly snares; and when told that if he wished to be cleansed from his former passions, by which he saw that he was from time to time grievously oppressed, he should cease from caring about those things which even formerly were not his own, entangled in the chains of which he certainly could not make progress towards purifying himself of his faults: with an angry expression he did not hesitate to answer, "If you have that with which you can support others, why do you forbid me to have it as well?" [883]


Footnotes

[883] Cur prohibes (Petschenig). Gazæus omits Cur.


Chapter XIII.

What the elders relate to the juniors in the matter of stripping off sins.

But let not this seem superfluous or objectionable to any one. For unless the different kinds of sins are first explained, and the origin and causes of diseases traced out, the proper healing remedies cannot be applied to the sick, nor can the preservation of perfect health be secured by the strong. For both these matters and many others besides these are generally put forward for the instruction of the younger brethren by the elders in their conferences, as they have had experience of numberless falls and the ruin of all sorts of people. And often recognizing in ourselves many of these things, when the elders explained and showed them, as men who were themselves disquieted [884] by the same passions, we were cured without any shame or confusion on our part, since without saying anything we learnt both the remedies and the causes of the sins which beset us, which we have passed over and said nothing about, not from fear of the brethren, but lest our book should chance to fall into the hands of some who have had no instruction in this way of life, and might disclose to inexperienced persons what ought to be known only to those who are toiling and striving to reach the heights of perfection.


Footnotes

[884] Pulsarentur (Petschenig). The text of Gazæus has pulsaremur.


Chapter XIV.

Instances to show that the disease of covetousness is threefold.

And so this disease and unhealthy state is threefold, and is condemned with equal abhorrence by all the fathers. One feature is this, of which we described the taint above, which by deceiving wretched folk persuades them to hoard though they never had anything of their own when they lived in the world. Another, which forces men afterwards to resume and once more desire those things which in the early days of their renunciation of the world they gave up. A third, which springing from a faulty and hurtful beginning and making a bad start, does not suffer those whom it has once infected with this lukewarmness of mind to strip themselves of all their worldly goods, through fear of poverty and want of faith; and those who keep back money and property which they certainly ought to have renounced and forsaken, it never allows to arrive at the perfection of the gospel. And we find in Holy Scripture instances of these three catastrophes which were visited with no light punishment. For when Gehazi wished to acquire what he had never had before, not only did he fail to obtain the gift of prophecy which it would have been his to receive from his master by hereditary succession, but on the contrary he was covered by the curse of the holy Elisha with a perpetual leprosy: while Judas, wanting to resume the possession of the wealth which he had formerly cast away when he followed Christ, not only fell into betraying the Lord, and lost his apostolic rank, but also was not allowed to close his life with the common lot of all but ended it by a violent death. But Ananias and Sapphira, keeping back a part of that which was formerly their own, were at the Apostle's word punished with death.


Chapter XV.

Of the difference between one who renounces the world badly and one who does not renounce it at all.

Of those then who say that they have renounced this world, and afterwards being overcome by want of faith are afraid of losing their worldly goods, a charge is given mystically in Deuteronomy. "If any man is afraid and of a fearful heart let him not go forth to war: let him go back and return home, lest he make the hearts of his brethren to fear as he himself is timid and frightened." [885] What can one want plainer than this testimony? Does not Scripture clearly prefer that they should not take on them even the earliest stages of this profession and its name, rather than by their persuasion and bad example turn others back from the perfection of the gospel, and weaken them by their faithless terror. And so they are bidden to withdraw from the battle and return to their homes, because a man cannot fight the Lord's battle with a double heart. For "a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." [886] And thinking, according to that Parable in the Gospel, [887] that he who goes forth with ten thousand men against a king who comes with twenty thousand, cannot possibly fight, they should, while he is yet a great way off, ask for peace; that is, it is better for them not even to take the first step towards renunciation, rather than afterwards following it up coldly, to involve themselves in still greater dangers. For "it is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay." [888] But finely is the one described as coming with ten thousand and the other with twenty. For the number of sins which attack us is far larger than that of the virtues which fight for us. But "no man can serve God and Mammon." [889] And "no man putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God." [890]


Footnotes

[885] Deut. xx. 8. [886] S. James i. 8. [887] S. Luke xiv. 31, 32. [888] Eccl. v. 4 (LXX.). [889] S. Matt. vi. 24. [890] S. Luke ix. 62.


Chapter XVI.

Of the authority under which those shelter themselves who object to stripping themselves of their goods.

These then try to make out a case for their original avarice, by some authority from Holy Scripture, which they interpret with base ingenuity, in their desire to wrest and pervert to their own purposes a saying of the Apostle or rather of the Lord Himself: and, not adapting their own life or understanding to the meaning of the Scripture, but making the meaning of Scripture bend to the desires of their own lust, they try to make it to correspond to their own views, and say that it is written, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." [891] And by an entirely wrong interpretation of this they think that they can weaken the force of that saying of the Lord in which he says: "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." [892] And they think that under colour of this they need not deprive themselves of their riches: declaring indeed that they are more blessed if, supported by that which originally belonged to them, they give to others also out of their superabundance. And while they are shy of embracing with the Apostle that glorious state of abnegation for Christ's sake, they will not be content either with manual labour or the sparing diet of the monastery. And the only thing is that these must either know that they are deceiving themselves, and have not really renounced the world while they are clinging to their former riches; or, if they really and truly want to make trial of the monastic life, they must give up and forsake all these things and keep back nothing of that which they have renounced, and, with the Apostle, glory "in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness." [893]


Footnotes

[891] Acts xx. 35. [892] S. Matt. xix. 21. [893] 2 Cor. ii. 27.


Chapter XVII.

Of the renunciation of the apostles and the primitive church.

As if he (who, by his assertion that he was endowed with the privileges of a Roman citizen from his birth, testifies that he was no mean person according to this world's rank) might not likewise have been supported by the property which formerly belonged to him! And as if those men who were possessors of lands and houses in Jerusalem and sold everything and kept back nothing whatever for themselves, and brought the price of them and laid it at the feet of the apostles, might not have supplied their bodily necessities from their own property, had this been considered the best plan by the apostles, or had they themselves deemed it preferable! But they gave up all their property at once, and preferred to be supported by their own labour, and by the contributions of the Gentiles, of whose collection the holy Apostle speaks in writing to the Romans, and declaring his own office in this matter to them, and urging them on likewise to make this collection: "But now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it has pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints who are at Jerusalem: it has pleased them indeed, and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles are made partakers of their spiritual things, they ought also to minister to them in carnal things." [894] To the Corinthians also he shows the same anxiety about this, and urges them the more diligently to prepare before his arrival a collection, which he was intending to send for their needs. "But concerning the collection for the saints, as I appointed to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Let each one of you on the first day of the week put apart with himself, laying up what it shall well please him, that when I come the collections be not then to be made. But when I come whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them I will send to carry your grace to Jerusalem." And that he may stimulate them to make a larger collection, he adds, "But if it be meet that I also go, they shall go with me:" [895] meaning if your offering is of such a character as to deserve to be taken there by my ministration. To the Galatians too, he testifies that when he was settling the division of the ministry of preaching with the apostles, he had arranged this with James, Peter, and John: that he should undertake the preaching to the Gentiles, but should never repudiate care and anxious thought for the poor who were at Jerusalem, who for Christ's sake gave up all their goods, and submitted to voluntary poverty. "And when they saw," said he, "the grace of God which was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and to Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should preach to the Gentiles, but they to those of the circumcision: only they would that we should be mindful of the poor." A matter which he testifies that he attended to most carefully, saying, "which also I was anxious of myself to do." [896] Who then are the more blessed, those who but lately were gathered out of the number of the heathen, and being unable to climb to the heights of the perfection of the gospel, clung to their own property, in whose case it was considered a great thing by the Apostle if at least they were restrained from the worship of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood, [897] and had embraced the faith of Christ, with their goods and all: or those who live up to the demands of the gospel, and carry the Lord's cross daily, and want nothing out of their property to remain for their own use? And if the blessed Apostle himself, bound with chains and fetters, or hampered by the difficulties of travelling, and for these reasons not being able to provide with his hands, as he generally did, for the supply of his food, declares that he received that which supplied his wants from the brethren who came from Macedonia; "For that which was lacking to me," he says, "the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied:" [898] and to the Philippians he says: "For ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I came from Macedonia, no church communicated with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; because even in Thessalonica once and again you sent to supply my needs:" [899] (if this was so) then, according to the notion of these men, which they have formed in the coldness of their heart, will those men really be more blessed than the Apostle, because it is found that they have ministered to him of their substance? But this no one will venture to assert, however big a fool he may be.


Footnotes

[894] Rom. xv. 25-27. [895] 1 Cor. xvi. 1-4. [896] Gal. ii. 9, 10. [897] Acts xv. 20. [898] 2 Cor. xi. 9. [899] Phil. iv. 15, 16.


Chapter XVIII.

That if we want to imitate the apostles we ought not to live according to our own prescriptions, but to follow their example.

Wherefore if we want to obey the gospel precept, and to show ourselves the followers of the Apostle and the whole primitive church, or of the fathers who in our own days succeeded to their virtues and perfection, we should not acquiesce in our own prescriptions, promising ourselves perfection from this wretched and lukewarm condition of ours: but following their footsteps, we should by no means aim at looking after our own interests, but should seek out the discipline and system of a monastery, that we may in very truth renounce this world; preserving nothing of those things which we have despised through the temptation of want of faith; and should look for our daily food, not from any store of money of our own, but from our own labours.


Chapter XIX.

A saying of S. Basil, the Bishop, directed against Syncletius. [900]

There is current a saying of S. Basil, Bishop of Cæsarea, directed against a certain Syncletius, who was growing indifferent with the sort of lukewarmness of which we have spoken; who, though he professed to have renounced this world, had yet kept back for himself some of his property, not liking to be supported by the labour of his own hands, and to acquire true humility by stripping himself and by grinding toil, and the subjection of the monastery: "You have," said he, "spoilt Syncletius, and not made a monk."


Footnotes

[900] Petschenig's text has Syncletium as a proper name. Gazæus, however, thinks that it should be Syncleticum; i.e. Sunkletikos or Senator: and in the saying of S. Basil at the close of the chapter actually reads (apparently without any ms. authority), Et Senatorem, inquit, perdidisti.


Chapter XX.

How contemptible it is to be overcome by covetousness.

And so if we want to strive lawfully in our spiritual combat, let us expel this dangerous enemy also from our hearts. For to overcome him does not so much show great virtue, as to be beaten by him is shameful and disgraceful. For when you are overpowered by a strong man, though there is grief in being overthrown, and distress at the loss of victory, yet some consolation may be derived by the vanquished from the strength of their opponent. But if the enemy is a poor creature, and the struggle a feeble one, besides the grief for defeat there is confusion of a more disgraceful character, and a shame which is worse than loss.


Chapter XXI.

How covetousness can be conquered.

And in this case it will be the greatest victory and a lasting triumph, if, as is said, the conscience of the monk is not defiled by the possession of the smallest coin. For it is an impossibility for him who, overcome in the matter of a small possession, has once admitted into his heart a root of evil desire, not to be inflamed presently with the heat of a still greater desire. For the soldier of Christ will be victorious and in safety, and free from all the attacks of desire, so long as this most evil spirit does not implant in his heart a seed of this desire. Wherefore, though in the matter of all kinds of sins we ought ordinarily to watch the serpent's head, [901] yet in this above all we should be more keenly on our guard. For if it has been admitted it will grow by feeding on itself, and will kindle for itself a worse fire. And so we must not only guard against the possession of money, but also must expel from our souls the desire for it. For we should not so much avoid the results of covetousness, as cut off by the roots all disposition towards it. For it will do no good not to possess money, if there exists in us the desire for getting it.


Footnotes

[901] Gen. iii. 15.


Chapter XXII.

That one who actually has no money may still be deemed covetous.

For it is possible even for one who has no money to be by no means free from the malady of covetousness, and for the blessing of penury to do him no good, because he has not been able to root out the sin of cupidity: delighting in the advantages of poverty, not in the merit of the virtue, and satisfied with the burden of necessity, not without coldness of heart. For just as the word of the gospel declares of those who are not defiled in body, that they are adulterers in heart; [902] so it is possible that those who are in no way pressed down with the weight of money may be condemned with the covetous in disposition and intent. For it was the opportunity of possessing which was wanting in their case, and not the will for it: which latter is always crowned by God, rather than compulsion. And so we must use all diligence lest the fruits of our labours should be destroyed to no purpose. For it is a wretched thing to have endured the effects of poverty and want, but to have lost their fruits, through the fault of a shattered will.


Footnotes

[902] S. Matt. v. 28.


Chapter XXIII.

An example drawn from the case of Judas.

Would you like to know how dangerously and harmfully that incitement, unless it has been carefully eradicated, will shoot up for the destruction of its owner, and put forth all sorts of branches of different sins? Look at Judas, reckoned among the number of the apostles, and see how because he would not bruise the deadly head of this serpent it destroyed him with its poison, and how when he was caught in the snares of concupiscence, it drove him into sin and a headlong downfall, so that he was persuaded to sell the Redeemer of the world and the author of man's salvation for thirty pieces of silver. And he could never have been impelled to this heinous sin of the betrayal if he had not been contaminated by the sin of covetousness: nor would he have made himself wickedly guilty of betraying [903] the Lord, unless he had first accustomed himself to rob the bag intrusted to him.


Footnotes

[903] Negationis (Petschenig). Another reading is necationis.


Chapter XXIV.

That covetousness cannot be overcome except by stripping one's self of everything.

This is a sufficiently dreadful and clear instance of this tyranny, which, when once the mind is taken prisoner by it, allows it to keep to no rules of honesty, nor to be satisfied with any additions to its gains. For we must seek to put an end to this madness, not by riches, but by stripping ourselves of them. Lastly, when he (viz. Judas) had received the bag set apart for the distribution to the poor, and intrusted to his care for this purpose, that he might at least satisfy himself with plenty of money, and set a limit to his avarice, yet his plentiful supply only broke out into a still greedier incitement of desire, so that he was ready no longer secretly to rob the bag, but actually to sell the Lord Himself. For the madness of this avarice is not satisfied with any amount of riches.


Chapter XXV.

Of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, and Judas, which they underwent through the impulse of covetousness.

Lastly, the chief of the apostles, taught by these instances, and knowing that one who has any avarice cannot bridle it, and that it cannot be put an end to by a large or small sum of money, but only by the virtue of renunciation of everything, punished with death Ananias and Sapphira, who were mentioned before, because they had kept back something out of their property, that that death which Judas had voluntarily met with for the sin of betraying the Lord, they might also undergo for their lying avarice. [904] How closely do the sin and punishment correspond in each case! In the one case treachery, in the other falsehood, was the result of covetousness. In the one case the truth is betrayed, in the other the sin of lying is committed. For though the issues of their deeds may appear different, yet they coincide in having one and the same aim. For the one, in order to escape poverty, desired to take back what he had forsaken; the others, for fear lest they might become poor, tried to keep back something out of their property, which they should have either offered to the Apostle in good faith, or have given entirely to the brethren. And so in each case there follows the judgment of death; because each sin sprang from the root of covetousness. And so if against those who did not covet other persons' goods, but tried to be sparing of their own, and had no desire to acquire, but only the wish to retain, there went forth so severe a sentence, what should we think of those who desire to amass wealth, without ever having had any of their own, and, making a show of poverty before men, are before God convicted of being rich, through the passion of avarice?


Footnotes

[904] Cf. Acts v.


Chapter XXVI.

That covetousness brings upon the soul a spiritual leprosy.

And such are seen to be lepers in spirit and heart, after the likeness of Gehazi, who, desiring the uncertain riches of this world, was covered with the taint of foul leprosy, through which he left us a clear example that every soul which is defiled with the stain of cupidity is covered with the spiritual leprosy of sin, and is counted as unclean before God with a perpetual curse.


Chapter XXVII.

Scripture proofs by which one who is aiming at perfection is taught not to take back again what he has given up and renounced.

If then through the desire of perfection you have forsaken all things and followed Christ who says to thee, "Go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me," [905] why, having put your hand to the plough, do you look back, so that you will be declared by the voice of the same Lord not to be fit for the kingdom of heaven? [906] When secure on the top of the gospel roof, why do you descend to carry away something from the house, from those things, namely, which beforetime you despised? When you are out in the field and working at the virtues, why do you run back and try to clothe yourself again with what belongs to this world, which you stripped off when you renounced it? [907] But if you were hindered by poverty from having anything to give up, still less ought you to amass what you never had before. For by the grace of the Lord you were for this purpose made ready that you might hasten to him the more readily, being hampered by no snares of wealth. But let no one who is wanting in this be disappointed; for there is no one who has not something to give up. He has renounced all the possessions of this world, whoever has thoroughly eradicated the desire to possess them.


Footnotes

[905] Matt. xix. 21. [906] Cf. S. Luke ix. 62. [907] Cf. S. Luke xvii. 31.


Chapter XXVIII.

That the victory over covetousness can only be gained by stripping one's self bare of everything.

This then is the perfect victory over covetousness: not to allow a gleam from the very smallest scrap of it to remain in our heart, as we know that we shall have no further power of quenching it, if we cherish even the tiniest bit of a spark of it in us.


Chapter XXIX.

How a monk can retain his poverty.

And we can only preserve this virtue unimpaired if we remain in a monastery, and as the Apostle says, having food and clothing, are therewith content. [908]


Footnotes

[908] 1 Tim. vi. 8.


Chapter XXX.

The remedies against the disease of covetousness.

Keeping then in mind the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira let us dread keeping back any of those things which we gave up and vowed utterly to forsake. Let us also fear the example of Gehazi, who for the sin of covetousness was chastised with the punishment of perpetual leprosy. From this let us beware of acquiring that wealth which we never formerly possessed. Moreover also dreading both the fault and the death of Judas, let us with all the power that we have avoid taking back any of that wealth which once we cast away from us. Above all, considering the state of our weak and shifty nature, let us beware lest the day of the Lord come upon us as a thief in the night, [909] and find our conscience defiled even by a single penny; for this would make void all the fruits of our renunciation of the world, and cause that which was said to the rich man in the gospel to be directed towards us also by the voice of the Lord: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast prepared?" [910] And taking no thought for the morrow, let us never allow ourselves to be enticed away from the rule of the Coenobium.


Footnotes

[909] 1 Thess. v. 4. [910] S. Luke xii. 20.


Chapter XXXI.

That no one can get the better of covetousness unless he stays in the Coenobium: and how one can remain there.

But we shall certainly not be suffered to do this, nor even to remain under the rule of a system, unless the virtue of patience, which can only spring from humility as its source, is first securely fixed and established in us. For the one teaches us not to trouble any one else; the other, to endure with magnanimity wrongs offered to us. .

Book VIII.

Of the Spirit of Anger.


Chapter I.

How our fourth conflict is against the sin of anger, and how many evils this passion produces.

In our fourth combat the deadly poison of anger has to be utterly rooted out from the inmost comers of our soul. For as long as this remains in our hearts, and blinds with its hurtful darkness the eye of the soul, we can neither acquire right judgment and discretion, nor gain the insight which springs from an honest gaze, or ripeness of counsel, nor can we be partakers of life, or retentive of righteousness, or even have the capacity for spiritual and true light: "for," says one, "mine eye is disturbed by reason of anger." [911] Nor can we become partakers of wisdom, even though we are considered wise by universal consent, for "anger rests in the bosom of fools." [912] Nor can we even attain immortal life, although we are accounted prudent in the opinion of everybody, for "anger destroys even the prudent." [913] Nor shall we be able with clear judgment of heart to secure the controlling power of righteousness, even though we are reckoned perfect and holy in the estimation of all men, for "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." [914] Nor can we by any possibility acquire that esteem and honour which is so frequently seen even in worldlings, even though we are thought noble and honourable through the privileges of birth, because "an angry man is dishonoured." [915] Nor again can we secure any ripeness of counsel, even though we appear to be weighty, and endowed with the utmost knowledge; because "an angry man acts without counsel." [916] Nor can we be free from dangerous disturbances, nor be without sin, even though no sort of disturbances be brought upon us by others; because "a passionate man engenders quarrels, but an angry man digs up sins." [917]


Footnotes

[911] Ps. xxx. (xxxi.) 10. [912] Eccl. vii. 10 (LXX.). [913] Prov. xv. 1 (LXX.). [914] S. James i. 20. [915] Prov. xi. 25 (LXX.). [916] Prov. xiv. 17 (LXX.). [917] Prov. xxix. 22 (LXX.). 'Aner thumodes egeirei neikos, aner de orgilos exoruxen hamartian. The old Latin as given by Sabatier has "Vir animosus parit zixas: vir autem iracundus effodit peccata." The verse is quoted by Gregory the Great in a passage which seems a reminiscence of Cassian's words with the reading effundit for effodit (Moral V. xxxi.). Jerome's rendering in the Vulgate is quite different: "Vir iracundus provocat zixas: et qui ad indignandum facilis est erit ad peccandum proclivior."


Chapter II.

Of those who say that anger is not injurious, if we are angry with those who do wrong, since God Himself is said to be angry.

We have heard some people trying to excuse this most pernicious disease of the soul, in such a way as to endeavour to extenuate it by a rather shocking way of interpreting Scripture: as they say that it is not injurious if we are angry with the brethren who do wrong, since, say they, God Himself is said to rage and to be angry with those who either will not know Him, or, knowing Him, spurn Him, as here: "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people;" [918] or where the prophet prays and says, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy displeasure;" [919] not understanding that, while they want to open to men an excuse for a most pestilent sin, they are ascribing to the Divine Infinity and Fountain of all purity a taint of human passion.


Footnotes

[918] Ps. cv. (cvi.) 40. [919] Ps. vi. 2.


Chapter III.

Of those things which are spoken of God anthropomorphically.

For if when these things are said of God they are to be understood literally in a material gross signification, then also He sleeps, as it is said, "Arise, wherefore sleepest thou, O Lord?" [920] though it is elsewhere said of Him: "Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." [921] And He stands and sits, since He says, "Heaven is my seat, and earth the footstool for my feet:" [922] though He "measure out the heaven with his hand, and holdeth the earth in his fist." [923] And He is "drunken with wine" as it is said, "The Lord awoke like a sleeper, a mighty man, drunken with wine;" [924] He "who only hath immortality and dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto:" [925] not to say anything of the "ignorance" and "forgetfulness," of which we often find mention in Holy Scripture: nor lastly of the outline of His limbs, which are spoken of as arranged and ordered like a man's; e.g., the hair, head, nostrils, eyes, face, hands, arms, fingers, belly, and feet: if we are willing to take all of which according to the bare literal sense, we must think of God as in fashion with the outline of limbs, and a bodily form; which indeed is shocking even to speak of, and must be far from our thoughts.


Footnotes

[920] Ps. xliii. (xliv.) 23. [921] Ps. cxx. (cxxi.) 4. [922] Isa. lxvi. 1. [923] Isa. xl. 12. [924] Ps. lxxvii. (lxxviii.) 65. [925] 1 Tim. vi. 16.


Chapter IV.

In what sense we should understand the passions and human arts which are ascribed to the unchanging and incorporeal God.

And so as without horrible profanity these things cannot be understood literally of Him who is declared by the authority of Holy Scripture to be invisible, ineffable, incomprehensible, inestimable, simple, and uncompounded, so neither can the passion of anger and wrath be attributed to that unchangeable nature without fearful blasphemy. For we ought to see that the limbs signify the divine powers and boundless operations of God, which can only be represented to us by the familiar expression of limbs: by the mouth we should understand that His utterances are meant, which are of His mercy continually poured into the secret senses of the soul, or which He spoke among our fathers and the prophets: by the eyes we can understand the boundless character of His sight with which He sees and looks through all things, and so nothing is hidden from Him of what is done or can be done by us, or even thought. By the expression "hands," we understand His providence and work, by which He is the creator and author of all things; the arms are the emblems of His might and government, with which He upholds, rules and controls all things. And not to speak of other things, what else does the hoary hair of His head signify but the eternity and perpetuity of Deity, through which He is without any beginning, and before all times, and excels all creatures? So then also when we read of the anger or fury of the Lord, we should take it not anthropopathos ; i.e., according to an unworthy meaning of human passion, [926] but in a sense worthy of God, who is free from all passion; so that by this we should understand that He is the judge and avenger of all the unjust things which are done in this world; and by reason of these terms and their meaning we should dread Him as the terrible rewarder of our deeds, and fear to do anything against His will. For human nature is wont to fear those whom it knows to be indignant, and is afraid of offending: as in the case of some most just judges, avenging wrath is usually feared by those who are tormented by some accusation of their conscience; not indeed that this passion exists in the minds of those who are going to judge with perfect equity, but that, while they so fear, the disposition of the judge towards them is that which is the precursor of a just and impartial execution of the law. And this, with whatever kindness and gentleness it may be conducted, is deemed by those who are justly to be punished to be the most savage wrath and vehement anger. It would be tedious and outside the scope of the present work were we to explain all the things which are spoken metaphorically of God in Holy Scripture, with human figures. Let it be enough for our present purpose, which is aimed against the sin of wrath, to have said this that no one may through ignorance draw down upon himself a cause of this evil and of eternal death, out of those Scriptures in which he should seek for saintliness and immortality as the remedies to bring life and salvation.


Footnotes

[926] On the heresy of the Anthropomorphites see the notes on Conference X. c. ii.


Chapter V.

How calm a monk ought to be.

And so a monk aiming at perfection, and desiring to strive lawfully in his spiritual combat, should be free from all sin of anger and wrath, and should listen to the charge which the "chosen vessel" gives him. "Let all anger," says he, "and wrath, and clamour, and evil speaking, be taken away from among you, with all malice." [927] When he says, "Let all anger be taken away from you," he excepts none whatever as necessary or useful for us. And if need be, he should at once treat an erring brother in such a way that, while he manages to apply a remedy to one afflicted with perhaps a slight fever, he may not by his wrath involve himself in a more dangerous malady of blindness. For he who wants to heal another's wound ought to be in good health and free from every affection of weakness himself, lest that saying of the gospel should be used to him, "Physician, first heal thyself;" [928] and lest, seeing a mote in his brother's eye, he see not the beam in his own eye, for how will he see to cast out the mote from his brother's eye, who has the beam of anger in his own eye? [929]


Footnotes

[927] Eph. iv. 31. [928] S. Luke iv. 23. [929] Cf. S. Matt. vii. 3-5.


Chapter VI.

Of the righteous and unrighteous passion of wrath.

From almost every cause the emotion of wrath boils over, and blinds the eyes of the soul, and, bringing the deadly beam of a worse disease over the keenness of our sight, prevents us from seeing the sun of righteousness. It makes no difference whether gold plates, or lead, or what metal you please, are placed over our eyelids, the value of the metal makes no difference in our blindness.


Chapter VII.

Of the only case in which anger is useful to us.

We have, it must be admitted, a use for anger excellently implanted in us for which alone it is useful and profitable for us to admit it, viz., when we are indignant and rage against the lustful emotions of our heart, and are vexed that the things which we are ashamed to do or say before men have risen up in the lurking places of our heart, as we tremble at the presence of the angels, and of God Himself, who pervades all things everywhere, and fear with the utmost dread the eye of Him from whom the secrets of our hearts cannot possibly be hid.


Chapter VIII.

Instances from the life of the blessed David in which anger was rightly felt.

And at any rate (this is the case), when we are agitated against this very anger, because it has stolen on us against our brother, and when in wrath we expel its deadly incitements, nor suffer it to have a dangerous lurking place in the recesses of our heart. To be angry in this fashion even that prophet teaches us who had so completely expelled it from his own feelings that he would not retaliate even on his enemies and those delivered by God into his hands: when he says "Be ye angry and sin not." [930] For he, when he had longed for water from the well of Bethlehem, and had been given it by his mighty men, who had brought it through the midst of the hosts of the enemy, at once poured it out on the ground: and thus in his anger extinguished the delicious feeling of his desire, and poured it out to the Lord, without satisfying the longing that he had expressed, saying: "That be far from me that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of those men who went forth on the danger of their souls?" [931] And when Shimei threw stones at King David and cursed him, in his hearing, before everybody, and Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, the captain of the host, wished to cut off his head and avenge the insult to the king, the blessed David moved with pious wrath against this dreadful suggestion of his, and keeping the due measure of humility and a strict patience, said with imperturbable gentleness, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? Let him alone that he may curse. For the Lord hath commanded him to curse David. And who is he who shall dare to say, Why hast thou done this? Behold my son, who came forth from my loins, seeks my life, and how much more this son of Benjamin? Let him alone, that he may curse, according to the command of the Lord. It may be the Lord will look upon my affliction, and return to me good for this cursing to-day." [932]


Footnotes

[930] Ps. iv. 5. [931] 2 Sam. xxiii. 17. [932] 2 Sam. xvi. 10-12.


Chapter IX.

Of the anger which should be directed against ourselves.

And some are commanded to "be angry" after a wholesome fashion, but with our own selves, and with evil thoughts that arise, and "not to sin," viz., by bringing them to a bad issue. Finally, the next verse explains this to be the meaning more clearly: "The things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them on your beds:" [933] i.e., whatever you think of in your hearts when sudden and nervous excitements rush in on you, correct and amend with wholesome sorrow, lying as it were on a bed of rest, and removing by the moderating influence of counsel all noise and disturbance of wrath. Lastly, the blessed Apostle, when he made use of the testimony of this verse, and said, "Be ye angry and sin not," added, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil." [934] If it is dangerous for the sun of righteousness to go down upon our wrath, and if when we are angry we straightway give place to the devil in our hearts, how is it that above he charges us to be angry, saying, "Be ye angry, and sin not"? Does he not evidently mean this: be ye angry with your faults and your tempers, lest, if you acquiesce in them, Christ, the sun of righteousness, may on account of your anger begin to go down on your darkened minds, and when He departs you may furnish a place for the devil in your hearts?


Footnotes

[933] Ps. iv. 5. [934] Eph. iv. 26.


Chapter X.

Of the sun, of which it is said that it should not go down upon your wrath.

And of this sun God clearly makes mention by the prophet, when He says, "But to those that fear my name the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings." [935] And this again is said to "go down" at midday on sinners and false prophets, and those who are angry, when the prophet says, "Their sun is gone down at noon." [936] And at any rate "tropically" [937] the mind, that is the nous or reason, which is fairly called the sun because it looks over all the thoughts and discernings of the heart, should not be put out by the sin of anger: lest when it "goes down" the shadows of disturbance, together with the devil their author, fill all the feelings of our hearts, and, overwhelmed by the shadows of wrath, as in a murky night, we know not what we ought to do. In this sense it is that we have brought forward this passage of the Apostle, handed down to us by the teaching of the elders, because it was needful, even at the risk of a somewhat lengthy discourse, to show how they felt with regard to anger, for they do not permit it even for a moment to effect an entrance into our heart: observing with the utmost care that saying of the gospel: "Whosoever is angry with his brother is in danger of the judgment." [938] But if it be lawful to be angry up till sunset, the surfeit of our wrath and the vengeance of our anger will be able to give full play to passion and dangerous excitement before that sun inclines towards its setting. [939]


Footnotes

[935] Mal. iv. 2. [936] Amos viii. 9. [937] On the different senses of Scripture see the note on Conference XIV. viii. [938] S. Matt. v. 22. [939] Petschenig's text is as follows: Ceterum si usque ad occasum solis licitur sit irasci, ante furoris satietas et ultrices iræ--commotionem poterunt noxiæ perturbationis explere, quam sol iste ad locum sui vergat occasus. That of Gazæus has "ante perturbationes noxiæ poterunt furoris satietatem et ultricis iræ commotionem explere, etc."


Chapter XI.

Of those to whose wrath even the going down of the sun sets no limit.

But what am I to say of those (and I cannot say it without shame on my own part) to whose implacability even the going down of the sun sets no bound: but prolonging it for several days, and nourishing rancorous feelings against those against whom they have been excited, they say in words that they are not angry, but in fact and deed they show that they are extremely disturbed? For they do not speak to them pleasantly, nor address them with ordinary civility, and they think that they are not doing wrong in this, because they do not seek to avenge themselves for their upset. But since they either do not dare, or at any rate are not able to show their anger openly, and give place to it, they drive in, to their own detriment, the poison of anger, and secretly cherish it in their hearts, and silently feed on it in themselves; without shaking off by an effort of mind their sulky disposition, but digesting it as the days go by, and somewhat mitigating it after a while.


Chapter XII.

How this is the end of temper and anger when a man carries it into act as far as he can.

But it looks as if even this was not the end of vengeance to every one, but some can only completely satisfy their wrath or sulkiness if they carry out the impulse of anger as far as they are able; and this we know to be the case with those who restrain their feelings, not from desire of calming them, but simply from want of opportunity of revenge. For they can do nothing more to those with whom they are angry, except speak to them without ordinary civility: or it looks as if anger was to be moderated only in action, and not to be altogether rooted out from its hiding place in our bosom: so that, overwhelmed by its shadows, we are unable not only to admit the light of wholesome counsel and of knowledge, but also to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, so long as the spirit of anger dwells in us. For wrath that is nursed in the heart, although it may not injure men who stand by, yet excludes the splendour of the radiance of the Holy Ghost, equally with wrath that is openly manifested.


Chapter XIII.

That we should not retain our anger even for an instant.

Or how can we think that the Lord would have it retained even for an instant, since He does not permit us to offer the spiritual sacrifices of our prayers, if we are aware that another has any bitterness against us: saying, "If then thou bringest thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift at the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." [940] How then may we retain displeasure against our brother, I will not say for several days, but even till the going down of the sun, if we are not allowed to offer our prayers to God while he has anything against us? And yet we are commanded by the Apostle: "Pray without ceasing;" [941] and "in every place lifting up holy hands without wrath and disputing." [942] It remains then either that we never pray at all, retaining this poison in our hearts, and become guilty in regard of this apostolic or evangelic charge, in which we are bidden to pray everywhere and without ceasing; or else if, deceiving ourselves, we venture to pour forth our prayers, contrary to His command, we must know that we are offering to God no prayer, but an obstinate temper with a rebellious spirit.


Footnotes

[940] S. Matt. v. 23, 24. [941] 1 Thess. v. 17. [942] 1 Tim. ii. 8.


Chapter XIV.

Of reconciliation with our brother.

And because we often spurn the brethren who are injured and saddened, and despise them, and say that they were not hurt by any fault of ours, the Healer of souls, who knows all secrets, wishing utterly to eradicate all opportunities of anger from our hearts, not only commands us to forgive if we have been wronged, and to be reconciled with our brothers, and keep no recollection of wrong or injuries against them, but He also gives a similar charge, that in case we are aware that they have anything against us, whether justly or unjustly, we should leave our gift, that is, postpone our prayers, and hasten first to offer satisfaction to them; and so when our brother's cure is first effected, we may bring the offering of our prayers without blemish. For the common Lord of all does not care so much for our homage as to lose in one what He gains in another, through displeasure being allowed to reign in us. For in any one's loss He suffers some loss, who desires and looks for the salvation of all His servants in one and the same way. And therefore our prayer will lose its effect, if our brother has anything against us, just as much as if we were cherishing feelings of bitterness against him in a swelling and wrathful spirit.


Chapter XV.

How the Old Law would root out anger not only from the actions but from the thoughts.

But why should we spend any more time over evangelic and apostolic precepts, when even the old law, which is thought to be somewhat slack, guards against the same thing, when it says, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart;" and again, "Be not mindful of the injury of thy citizens;" [943] and again, "The ways of those who preserve the recollection of wrongs are towards death"? [944] You see there too that wickedness is restrained not only in action, but also in the secret thoughts, since it is commanded that hatred be utterly rooted out from the heart, and not merely retaliation for, but the very recollection of, a wrong done.


Footnotes

[943] Lev. xix. 17, 18. [944] Prov. xii. 28 (LXX.).


Chapter XVI.

How useless is the retirement of those who do not give up their bad manners.

Sometimes when we have been overcome by pride or impatience, and we want to improve our rough and bearish manners, we complain that we require solitude, as if we should find the virtue of patience there where nobody provokes us: and we apologize for our carelessness, and say that the reason of our disturbance does not spring from our own impatience, but from the fault of our brethren. And while we lay the blame of our fault on others, we shall never be able to reach the goal of patience and perfection.


Chapter XVII.

That the peace of our heart does not depend on another's will, but lies in our own control.

The chief part then of our improvement and peace of mind must not be made to depend on another's will, which cannot possibly be subject to our authority, but it lies rather in our own control. And so the fact that we are not angry ought not to result from another's perfection, but from our own virtue, which is acquired, not by somebody else's patience, but by our own long-suffering.


Chapter XVIII.

Of the zeal with which we should seek the desert, and of the things in which we make progress there.

Further, it is those who are perfect and purified from all faults who ought to seek the desert, and when they have thoroughly exterminated all their faults amid the assembly of the brethren, they should enter it not by way of cowardly flight, but for the purpose of divine contemplation, and with the desire of deeper insight into heavenly things, which can only be gained in solitude by those who are perfect. For whatever faults we bring with us uncured into the desert, we shall find to remain concealed in us and not to be got rid of. For just as when the character has been improved, solitude can lay open to it the purest contemplation, and reveal the knowledge of spiritual mysteries to its clear gaze, so it generally not only preserves but intensifies the faults of those who have undergone no correction. For a man appears to himself to be patient and humble, just as long as he comes across nobody in intercourse; but he will presently revert to his former nature, whenever the chance of any sort of passion occurs: I mean that those faults will at once appear on the surface which were lying hid, and, like unbridled horses diligently fed up during too long a time of idleness, dash forth from the barriers the more eagerly and fiercely, to the destruction of their charioteer. For when the opportunity for practising them among men is removed, our faults will more and more increase in us, unless we have first been purified from them. And the mere shadow of patience, which, when we mixed with our brethren, we seemed fancifully to possess, at least out of respect for them and publicity, we lose altogether through sloth and carelessness.


Chapter XIX.

An illustration to help in forming an opinion on those who are only patient when they are not tried by any one.

But it is like all poisonous kinds of serpents or of wild beasts, which, while they remain in solitude and their own lairs, are still not harmless; [945] for they cannot really be said to be harmless, because they are not actually hurting anybody. For this results in their case, not from any feeling of goodness, but from the exigencies of solitude, and when they have secured an opportunity of hurting some one, at once they produce the poison stored up in them, and show the ferocity of their nature. And so in the case of men who are aiming at perfection, it is not enough not to be angry with men. For we recollect that when we were living in solitude a feeling of irritation would creep over us against our pen because it was too large or too small; against our penknife when it cut badly and with a blunt edge what we wanted cut; and against a flint if by chance when we were rather late and hurrying to the reading, a spark of fire flashed out, so that we could not remove and get rid of our perturbation of mind except by cursing the senseless matter, or at least the devil. Wherefore for a method of perfection it will not be of any use for there to be a dearth of men against whom our anger might be roused: since, if patience has not already been acquired, the feelings of passion which still dwell in our hearts can equally well spend themselves on dumb things and paltry objects, and not allow us to gain a continuous state of peacefulness, or to be free from our remaining faults: unless perhaps we think that some advantage and a sort of cure may be gained for our passion from the fact that inanimate and speechless things cannot possibly reply to our curses and rage, nor provoke our ungovernable temper to break out into a worse madness of passion.


Footnotes

[945] Reading non innoxia (Petschenig).


Chapter XX.

Of the way in which auger should be banished according to the gospel.

Wherefore if we wish to gain the substance of that divine reward of which it is said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," [946] we ought not only to banish it from our actions, but entirely to root it out from our inmost soul. For it will not be of any good to have checked anger in words, and not to have shown it in deeds, if God, from whom the secrets of the heart are not hid, sees that it remains in the secret recesses of our bosom. For the word of the gospel bids us destroy the roots of our faults rather than the fruits; for these, when the incitements are all removed, will certainly not put forth shoots any more; and so the mind will be able to continue in all patience and holiness, when this anger has been removed, not from the surface of acts and deeds, but from the very innermost thoughts. And, therefore to avoid the commission of murder, anger and hatred are cut off, without which the crime of murder cannot possibly be committed. For "whosoever is angry with his brother, is in danger of the judgment;" [947] and "whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer;" [948] viz., because in his heart he desires to kill him, whose blood we know that he has certainly not shed among men with his own hand or with a weapon; yet, owing to his burst of anger, he is declared to be a murderer by God, who renders to each man, not merely for the result of his actions, but for his purpose and desires and wishes, either a reward or a punishment; according to that which He Himself says through the prophet: "But I come that I may gather them together with all nations and tongues;" [949] and again: [950] "Their thoughts between themselves accusing or also defending one another, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men." [951]


Footnotes

[946] S. Matt. v. 8. [947] Ib. ver. 22. [948] 1 John iii. 15. [949] Isaiah lxvi. 18. [950] Et rursum (Petschenig): et Apostolus (Gazæus). [951] Rom. ii. 15, 16.


Chapter XXI.

Whether we ought to admit the addition of "without a cause," in that which is written in the Gospel, "whosoever is angry with his brother," etc.

But you should know that in this, which is found in many copies, "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, is in danger of the judgment," [952] the words "without a cause" are superfluous, and were added by those who did not think that anger for just causes was to be banished: since certainly nobody, however unreasonably he is disturbed, would say that he was angry without a cause. Wherefore it appears to have been added by those who did not understand the drift of Scripture, which intended altogether to banish the incentive to anger, and to reserve no occasion whatever for indignation; lest while we were commanded to be angry with a cause, an opportunity for being angry without a cause might occur to us. For the end and aim of patience consists, not in being angry with a good reason, but in not being angry at all. Although I know that by some this very expression, "without a cause," is taken to mean that he is angry without a cause who when he is angered is not allowed to seek for vengeance. But it is better so to take it as we find it written in many modern copies and all the ancient ones.


Footnotes

[952] S. Matt. v. 22. The word eike is said by Westcott and Host to be "Western and Syrian." It is wanting in #u, B, Origen, and was not admitted by Jerome in the Vulgate.


Chapter XXII.

The remedies by which we can root out anger from our hearts.

Wherefore the athlete of Christ who strives lawfully ought thoroughly to root out the feeling of wrath. And it will be a sure remedy for this disease, if in the first place we make up our mind that we ought never to be angry at all, whether for good or bad reasons: as we know that we shall at once lose the light of discernment, and the security of good counsel, and our very uprightness, and the temperate character of righteousness, if the main light of our heart has been darkened by its shadows: next, that the purity of our soul will presently be clouded, and that it cannot possibly be made a temple for the Holy Ghost while the spirit of anger resides in us; lastly, that we should consider that we ought never to pray, nor pour out our prayer to God, while we are angry. And above all, having before our eyes the uncertain condition of mankind, we should realize daily that we are soon to depart from the body, and that our continence and chastity, our renunciation of all our possessions, our contempt of wealth, our efforts in fastings and vigils will not help us at all, if solely on account of anger and hatred eternal punishments are awarded to us by the judge of the world. .

Book IX.

Of the Spirit of Dejection.


Chapter I.

How our fifth combat is against the spirit of dejection, and of the harm which it inflicts upon the soul.

In our fifth combat we have to resist the pangs of gnawing dejection: for if this, through separate attacks made at random, and by haphazard and casual changes, has secured an opportunity of gaining possession of our mind it keeps us back at all times from all insight in divine contemplation, and utterly ruins and depresses the mind that has fallen away from its complete state of purity. It does not allow it to say its prayers with its usual gladness of heart, nor permit it to rely on the comfort of reading the sacred writings, nor suffer it to be quiet and gentle with the brethren; it makes it impatient and rough in all the duties of work and devotion: and, as all wholesome counsel is lost, and steadfastness of heart destroyed, it makes the feelings almost mad and drunk, and crushes and overwhelms them with penal despair.


Chapter II.

Of the care with which the malady of dejection must be healed.

Wherefore if we are anxious to exert ourselves lawfully in the struggle of our spiritual combat we ought with no less care to set about healing this malady also. For "as the moth injures the garment, and the worm the wood, so dejection the heart of man." [953] With sufficient clearness and appropriateness has the Divine Spirit expressed the force of this dangerous and most injurious fault.


Footnotes

[953] Prov. xxv. 20 (LXX.).


Chapter III.

To what the soul may be compared which is a prey to the attacks of dejection.

For the garment that is moth-eaten has no longer any commercial value or good use to which it can be put; and in the same way [954] the wood that is worm-eaten is no longer worth anything for ornamenting even an ordinary building, but is destined to be burnt in the fire. So therefore the soul also which is a prey to the attacks of gnawing dejection will be useless for that priestly garment which, according to the prophecy of the holy David, the ointment of the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven, first on Aaron's beard, then on his skirts, is wont to assume: as it is said, "It is like the ointment upon the head which ran down upon Aaron's beard, which ran down to the skirts of his clothing." [955] Nor can it have anything to do with the building or ornamentation of that spiritual temple of which Paul as a wise master builder laid the foundations, saying, "Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you:" [956] and what the beams of this are like the bride tells us in the Song of Songs: "Our rafters are of cypress: the beams of our houses are of cedar." [957] And therefore those sorts of wood are chosen for the temple of God which are fragrant and not liable to rot, and which are not subject to decay from age nor to be worm-eaten.


Footnotes

[954] Totidem is used here by Cassian for itidem, as in III. ix. [955] Ps. cxxxii. (cxxxiii.) 2. [956] 1 Cor. iii. 16; vi. 16. [957] Cant. i. 16 (LXX.).


Chapter IV.

Whence and in what way dejection arises.

But sometimes it is found to result from the fault of previous anger, or to spring from the desire of some gain which has not been realized, when a man has found that he has failed in his hope of securing those things which he had planned. But sometimes without any apparent reason for our being driven to fall into this misfortune, we are by the instigation of our crafty enemy suddenly depressed with so great a gloom that we cannot receive with ordinary civility the visits of those who are near and dear to us; and whatever subject of conversation is started by them, we regard it as ill-timed and out of place; and we can give them no civil answer, as the gall of bitterness is in possession of every corner of our heart.


Chapter V.

That disturbances are caused in us not by the faults of other people, but by our own.

Whence it is clearly proved that the pains of disturbances are not always caused in us by other people's faults, but rather by our own, as we have stored up in ourselves the causes of offence, and the seeds of faults, which, as soon as a shower of temptation waters our soul, at once burst forth into shoots and fruits.


Chapter VI.

That no one comes to grief by a sudden fall, but is destroyed by falling through a long course of carelessness. [958]

For no one is ever driven to sin by being provoked through another's fault, unless he has the fuel of evil stored up in his own heart. Nor should we imagine that a man has been deceived suddenly when he has looked on a woman and fallen into the abyss of shameful lust: but rather that, owing to the opportunity of looking on her, the symptoms of disease which were hidden and concealed in his inmost soul have been brought to the surface.


Footnotes

[958] Incuriam (Petschenig): Injuriam (Gazæus).


Chapter VII.

That we ought not to give up intercourse with our brethren in order to seek after perfection, but should rather constantly cultivate the virtue of patience.

And so God, the creator of all things, having regard above everything to the amendment of His own work, and because the roots and causes of our falls are found not in others, but in ourselves, commands that we should not give up intercourse with our brethren, nor avoid those who we think have been hurt by us, or by whom we have been offended, but bids us pacify them, knowing that perfection of heart is not secured by separating from men so much as by the virtue of patience. Which when it is securely held, as it can keep us at peace even with those who hate peace, so, if it has not been acquired, it makes us perpetually differ from those who are perfect and better than we are: for opportunities for disturbance, on account of which we are eager to get away from those with whom we are connected, will not be wanting so long as we are living among men; and therefore we shall not escape altogether, but only change the causes of dejection on account of which we separated from our former friends.


Chapter VIII.

That if we have improved our character it is possible for us to get on with everybody.

We must then do our best to endeavour to amend our faults and correct our manners. And if we succeed in correcting them we shall certainly be at peace, I will not say with men, but even with beasts and the brute creation, according to what is said in the book of the blessed Job: "For the beasts of the field will be at peace with thee;" [959] for we shall not fear offences coming from without, nor will any occasion of falling trouble us from outside, if the roots of such are not admitted and implanted within in our own selves: for "they have great peace who love thy law, O God; and they have no occasion of falling." [960]


Footnotes

[959] Job v. 23. [960] Ps. cxviii. (cxix.) 165.


Chapter IX.

Of another sort of dejection which produces despair of salvation.

There is, too, another still more objectionable sort of dejection, which produces in the guilty soul no amendment of life or correction of faults, but the most destructive despair: which did not make Cain repent after the murder of his brother, or Judas, after the betrayal, hasten to relieve himself by making amends, but drove him to hang himself in despair.


Chapter X.

Of the only thing in which dejection is useful to us.

And so we must see that dejection is only useful to us in one case, when we yield to it either in penitence for sin, or through being inflamed with the desire of perfection, or the contemplation of future blessedness. And of this the blessed Apostle says: "The sorrow which is according to God worketh repentance steadfast unto salvation: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." [961]


Footnotes

[961] 2 Cor. vii. 10.


Chapter XI.

How we can decide what is useful and the sorrow according to God, and what is devilish and deadly.

But that dejection and sorrow which "worketh repentance steadfast unto salvation" is obedient, civil, humble, kindly, gentle, and patient, as it springs from the love of God, and unweariedly extends itself from desire of perfection to every bodily grief and sorrow of spirit; and somehow or other rejoicing and feeding on hope of its own profit preserves all the gentleness of courtesy and forbearance, as it has in itself all the fruits of the Holy Spirit of which the same Apostle gives the list: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, goodness, benignity, faith, mildness, modesty." [962] But the other kind is rough, impatient, hard, full of rancour and useless grief and penal despair, and breaks down the man on whom it has fastened, and hinders him from energy and wholesome sorrow, as it is unreasonable, and not only hampers the efficacy of his prayers, but actually destroys all those fruits of the Spirit of which we spoke, which that other sorrow knows how to produce.


Footnotes

[962] Gal. v. 22, 23.


Chapter XII.

That except that wholesome sorrow, which springs up in three ways, all sorrow and dejection should be resisted as hurtful.

Wherefore except that sorrow which is endured either for the sake of saving penitence, or for the sake of aiming at perfection, or for the desire of the future, all sorrow and dejection must equally be resisted, as belonging to this world, and being that which "worketh death," and must be entirely expelled from our hearts like the spirit of fornication and covetousness and anger.


Chapter XIII.

The means by which we can root out dejection from our hearts.

We should then be able to expel this most injurious passion from our hearts, so that by spiritual meditation we may keep our mind constantly occupied with hope of the future and contemplation of the promised blessedness. For in this way we shall be able to get the better of all those sorts of dejection, whether those which flow from previous anger or those which come to us from disappointment of gain, or from some loss, or those which spring from a wrong done to us, or those which arise from an unreasonable disturbance of mind, or those which bring on us a deadly despair, if, ever joyful with an insight into things eternal and future, and continuing immovable, we are not depressed by present accidents, or over-elated by prosperity, but look on each condition as uncertain and likely soon to pass away. .

Book X.

Of the Spirit of Accidie. [963]


Chapter I.

How our sixth combat is against the spirit of accidie, and what its character is.

Our sixth combat is with what the Greeks call akedia, which we may term weariness or distress of heart. This is akin to dejection, and is especially trying to solitaries, and a dangerous and frequent foe to dwellers in the desert; and especially disturbing to a monk about the sixth hour, like some fever which seizes him at stated times, bringing the burning heat of its attacks on the sick man at usual and regular hours. Lastly, there are some of the elders who declare that this is the "midday demon" spoken of in the ninetieth Psalm. [964]


Footnotes

[964] Ps. xc. (xci.) 6, where the Latin "et dæmonio meridiano" follows the LXX. kai daimoniou mesembrinou, instead of "the destruction that wasteth at noonday."


Chapter II.

A description of accidie, and the way in which it creeps over the heart of a monk, and the injury it inflicts on the soul.

And when this has taken possession of some unhappy soul, it produces dislike of the place, disgust with the cell, and disdain and contempt of the brethren who dwell with him or at a little distance, as if they were careless or unspiritual. It also makes the man lazy and sluggish about all manner of work which has to be done within the enclosure of his dormitory. It does not suffer him to stay in his cell, or to take any pains about reading, and he often groans because he can do no good while he stays there, and complains and sighs because he can bear no spiritual fruit so long as he is joined to that society; and he complains that he is cut off from spiritual gain, and is of no use in the place, as if he were one who, though he could govern others and be useful to a great number of people, yet was edifying none, nor profiting any one by his teaching and doctrine. He cries up distant monasteries and those which are a long way off, and describes such places as more profitable and better suited for salvation; and besides this he paints the intercourse with the brethren there as sweet and full of spiritual life. On the other hand, he says that everything about him is rough, and not only that there is nothing edifying among the brethren who are stopping there, but also that even food for the body cannot be procured without great difficulty. Lastly he fancies that he will never be well while he stays in that place, unless he leaves his cell (in which he is sure to die if he stops in it any longer) and takes himself off from thence as quickly as possible. Then the fifth or sixth hour brings him such bodily weariness and longing for food that he seems to himself worn out and wearied as if with a long journey, or some very heavy work, or as if he had put off taking food during a fast of two or three days. Then besides this he looks about anxiously this way and that, and sighs that none of the brethren come to see him, and often goes in and out of his cell, and frequently gazes up at the sun, as if it was too slow in setting, and so a kind of unreasonable confusion of mind takes possession of him like some foul darkness, [965] and makes him idle and useless for every spiritual work, so that he imagines that no cure for so terrible an attack can be found in anything except visiting some one of the brethren, or in the solace of sleep alone. Then the disease suggests that he ought to show courteous and friendly hospitalities to the brethren, and pay visits to the sick, whether near at hand or far off. He talks too about some dutiful and religious offices; that those kinsfolk ought to be inquired after, and that he ought to go and see them oftener; that it would be a real work of piety to go more frequently to visit that religious woman, devoted to the service of God, who is deprived of all support of kindred; and that it would be a most excellent thing to get what is needful for her who is neglected and despised by her own kinsfolk; and that he ought piously to devote his time to these things instead of staying uselessly and with no profit in his cell.


Footnotes

[965] Velut tætra suppletur caligine (Petschenig); the text of Gazæus reads terra for tætra.


Chapter III.

Of the different ways in which accidie overcomes a monk.

And so the wretched soul, embarrassed by such contrivances of the enemy, is disturbed, until, worn out by the spirit of accidie, as by some strong battering ram, it either learns to sink into slumber, or, driven out from the confinement of its cell, accustoms itself to seek for consolation under these attacks in visiting some brother, only to be afterwards weakened the more by this remedy which it seeks for the present. For more frequently and more severely will the enemy attack one who, when the battle is joined, will as he well knows immediately turn his back, and whom he sees to look for safety neither in victory nor in fighting but in flight: until little by little he is drawn away from his cell, and begins to forget the object of his profession, which is nothing but meditation and contemplation of that divine purity which excels all things, and which can only be gained by silence and continually remaining in the cell, and by meditation, and so the soldier of Christ becomes a runaway from His service, and a deserter, and "entangles himself in secular business," without at all pleasing Him to whom he engaged himself. [966]


Footnotes

[966] 2 Tim. ii. 4.


Chapter IV.

How accidie hinders the mind from all contemplation of the virtues.

All the inconveniences of this disease are admirably expressed by David in a single verse, where he says, "My soul slept from weariness," [967] that is, from accidie. Quite rightly does he say, not that his body, but that his soul slept. For in truth the soul which is wounded by the shaft of this passion does sleep, as regards all contemplation of the virtues and insight of the spiritual senses.


Footnotes

[967] Ps. cxviii. (cxix.) 28, where the LXX. has enustaxen he psuche mou apo akedias.


Chapter V.

How the attack of accidie is twofold.

And so the true Christian athlete who desires to strive lawfully in the lists of perfection, should hasten to expel this disease also from the recesses of his soul; and should strive against this most evil spirit of accidie in both directions, so that he may neither fall stricken through by the shaft of slumber, nor be driven out from the monastic cloister, even though under some pious excuse or pretext, and depart as a runaway.


Chapter VI.

How injurious are the effects of accidie.

And whenever it begins in any degree to overcome any one, it either makes him stay in his cell idle and lazy, without making any spiritual progress, or it drives him out from thence and makes him restless and a wanderer, and indolent in the matter of all kinds of work, and it makes him continually go round, the cells of the brethren and the monasteries, with an eye to nothing but this; viz., where or with what excuse he can presently procure some refreshment. For the mind of an idler cannot think of anything but food and the belly, until the society of some man or woman, equally cold and indifferent, is secured, and it loses itself in their affairs and business, and is thus little by little ensnared by dangerous occupations, so that, just as if it were bound up in the coils of a serpent, it can never disentangle itself again and return to the perfection of its former profession.


Chapter VII.

Testimonies from the Apostle concerning the spirit of accidie.

The blessed Apostle, like a true and spiritual physician, either seeing this disease, which springs from the spirit of accidie, already creeping in, or foreseeing, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that it would arise among monks, is quick to anticipate it by the healing medicines of his directions. For in writing to the Thessalonians, and at first, like a skilful and excellent physician, applying to the infirmity of his patients the soothing and gentle remedy of his words, and beginning with charity, and praising them in that point, that [968] this deadly wound, having been treated with a milder remedy, might lose its angry festering and more easily bear severer treatment, he says: "But concerning brotherly charity ye have no need that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another. For this ye do toward all the brethren in the whole of Macedonia." [969] He first began with the soothing application of praise, and made their ears submissive and ready for the remedy of the healing words. Then he proceeds: "But we ask you, brethren, to abound more." Thus far he soothes them with kind and gentle words; for fear lest he should find them not yet prepared to receive their perfect cure. Why is it that you ask, O Apostle, that they may abound more in charity, of which you had said above, "But concerning brotherly charity we have no need to write to you"? And why is it necessary that you should say to them: "But we ask you to abound more," when they did not need to be written to at all on this matter? especially as you add the reason why they do not need it, saying, "For you yourselves have been taught of God to love one another." And you add a third thing still more important: that not only have they been taught of God, but also that they fulfil in deed that which they are taught. "For ye do this," he says, not to one or two, but "to all the brethren;" and not to your own citizens and friends only, but "in the whole of Macedonia." Tell us then, I pray, why it is that you so particularly begin with this. Again he proceeds, "But we ask you, brethren, to abound the more." And with difficulty at last he breaks out into that at which he was driving before: "and that ye take pains to be quiet." He gave the first aim. Then he adds a second, "and to do your own business;" and a third as well: "and work with your own hands, as we commanded you;" a fourth: "and to walk honestly towards those that are without;" a fifth: "and to covet no man's goods." Lo, we can see through that hesitation, which made him with these preludes put off uttering what his mind was full of: "And that ye take pains to be quiet;" i.e., that you stop in your cells, and be not disturbed by rumours, which generally spring from the wishes and gossip of idle persons, and so yourselves disturb others. And, "to do your own business," you should not want to require curiously of the world's actions, or, examining the lives of others, want to spend your strength, not on bettering yourselves and aiming at virtue, but on depreciating your brethren. "And work with your own hands, as we charged you;" to secure that which he had warned them above not to do; i.e., that they should not be restless and anxious about other people's affairs, nor walk dishonestly towards those without, nor covet another man's goods, he now adds and says, "and work with your own hands, as we charged you." For he has clearly shown that leisure the reason why those things were done which he blamed above. For no one can be restless or anxious about other people's affairs, but one who is not satisfied to apply himself to the work of his own hands. He adds also a fourth evil, which springs also from this leisure, i.e., that they should not walk dishonestly: when he says: "And that ye walk honestly towards those without." He cannot possibly walk honestly, even among those who are men of this world, who is not content to cling to the seclusion of his cell and the work of his own hands; but he is sure to be dishonest, while he seeks his needful food; and to take pains to flatter, to follow up news and gossip, to seek for opportunities for chattering and stories by means of which he may gain a footing and obtain an entrance into the houses of others. "And that you should not covet another man's goods." He is sure to look with envious eyes on another's gifts and boons, who does not care to secure sufficient for his daily food by the dutiful and peaceful labour of his hands. You see what conditions, and how serious and shameful ones, spring solely from the malady of leisure. Lastly, those very people, whom in his first Epistle he had treated with the gentle application of his words, in his second Epistle he endeavours to heal with severer and sterner remedies, as those who had not profited by more gentle treatment; and he no longer applies the treatment of gentle words, no mild and kindly expressions, as these, "But we ask you, brethren," but "We adjure you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly." [970] There he asks; here he adjures. There is the kindness of one who is persuading; here the sternness of one protesting and threatening. "We adjure you, brethren:" because, when we first asked you, you scorned to listen; now at least obey our threats. And this adjuration he renders terrible, not by his bare word, but by the imprecation of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: for fear lest they might again scorn it, as merely man's word, and think that it was not of much importance. And forthwith, like a well-skilled physician with festering limbs, to which he could not apply the remedy of a mild treatment, he tries to cure by an incision with a spiritual knife, saying, "that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not according to the tradition which ye received of us." And so he bids them withdraw from those who will not make time for work, and to cut them off like limbs tainted with the festering sores of leisure: lest the malady of idleness, like some deadly contagion, might infect even the healthy portion of their limbs, by the gradual advance of infection. And when he is going to speak of those who will not work with their own hands and eat their bread in quietness, from whom he urges them to withdraw, hear with what reproaches he brands them at starting. First he calls them "disorderly," and "not walking according to the tradition." In other words, he stigmatizes them as obstinate, since they will not walk according to his appointment; and "dishonest," i.e., not keeping to the right and proper times for going out, and visiting, and talking. For a disorderly person is sure to be subject to all those faults. "And not according to the tradition which they received from us." And in this he stamps them as in some sort rebellious, and despisers, who scorned to keep the tradition which they had received from him, and would not follow that which they not only remembered that the master had taught in word, but which they knew that he had performed in deed. "For you yourselves know how ye ought to be followers of us." He heaps up an immense pile of censure when he asserts that they did not observe that which was still in their memory, and which not only had they learned by verbal instruction, but also had received by the incitement of his example in working.


Footnotes

[968] Quousque is used as equivalent to donec, again in Conf. XXIII. xii. [969] 1 Thess. iv. 9, 10. [970] 2 Thess. iii. 6.


Chapter VIII.

That he is sure to be restless who will not be content with the work of his own hands.

"Because we were not restless among you." When he wants to prove by the practice of work that he was not restless among them, he fully shows that those who will not work are always restless, owing to the fault of idleness. "Nor did we eat any man's bread for nought." By each expression the teacher of the Gentiles advances a step in the rebuke. [971] The preacher of the gospel says that he has not eaten any man's bread for nought, as he knows that the Lord commanded that "they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel:" [972] again, "The labourer is worthy of his meat." [973] And so if he who preached the gospel, performing a work so lofty and spiritual, did not venture in reliance on the Lord's command to eat his bread for nought, what shall we do to whom not merely is there no preaching of the word intrusted, but no cure of souls except our own committed? with what confidence shall we dare with idle hands to eat our bread for nought, when the "chosen vessel," constrained by his anxiety for the gospel and his work of preaching, did not venture to eat without labouring with his own hands? "But in labour," he says "and weariness, working night and day lest we should be burdensome to any of you." [974] Up to this point he amplifies and adds to his rebuke. For he did not simply say, "We did not eat bread for nought from any of you," and then stop short. For it might have been thought that he was supported by his own private means, and by money which he had saved, or by other people's, though not by their collections and gifts. "But in labour," he says, "and weariness, working night and day;" that is, being specially supported by our own labour. And this, he says, we did not of our own wish, and for our own pleasure, as rest and bodily exercise suggested, but as our necessities and the want of food compelled us to do, and that not without great bodily weariness. For not only throughout the whole day, but also by night, which seems to be granted for bodily rest, I was continually plying the work of my hands, through anxiety for food.


Footnotes

[971] Increpationis (Petschenig). Interpretationis (Gazæus). [972] 1 Cor. ix. 14. [973] S. Matt. x. 10. [974] 2 Thess. iii. 8.


Chapter IX.

That not the Apostle only, but those two who were with him laboured with their own hands.

And he testifies that it was not he alone who so lived among them, lest haply this method might not seem important or general if he depended only on his example. But he declares that all those who were appointed with him for the ministry of the gospel, i.e., Silvanus and Timothy, who wrote this with him, worked in the same fashion. For by saying, "lest we should be burdensome to any of you, he covers them with great shame. For if he who preached the gospel and commended it by signs and mighty works, did not dare to eat bread for nought, lest he should be burdensome to any, how can those men help thinking that they are burdensome who take it every day in idleness and at their leisure?


Chapter X.

That for this reason the Apostle laboured with his own hands, that he might set us an example of work.

"Not as if we had not power; but that we might give ourselves a pattern to you to imitate us." He lays bare the reason why he imposed such labour on himself: "that we might," says he, "give a pattern to you to imitate us, that if by chance you become forgetful of the teaching of our words which so often passes through your ears, you may at least keep in your recollection the example of my manner of life given to you by ocular demonstration. There is here too no slight reproof of them, where he says that he has gone through this labour and weariness by night and day, for no other reason but to set an example, and that nevertheless they would not be instructed, for whose sakes he, although not obliged to do it, yet imposed on himself such toil. "And indeed," he says, "though we had the power, and opportunities were open to us of using all your goods and substance, and I knew that I had the permission [975] of our Lord to use them: yet I did not use this power, lest what was rightly and lawfully done on my part might set an example of dangerous idleness to others. And therefore when preaching the gospel, I preferred to be supported by my own hands and work, that I might open up the way of perfection to you who wish to walk in the path of virtue, and might set an example of good life by my work."


Footnotes

[975] Permissum (Petschenig). Promissum (Gazæus).


Chapter XI.

That he preached and taught men to work not only by his example, but also by his words.

But lest haply it might be thought that, while he worked in silence and tried to teach them by example, he had not instructed them by precepts and warnings, he proceeds to say: "For when we were with you, this we declared to you, that if a man will not work neither should he eat." Still greater does he make their idleness appear, for, though they knew that he, like a good master, worked with his hands for the sake of his teaching and in order to instruct them, yet they were ashamed to imitate him; and he emphasizes our diligence and care by saying that he did not only give them this for an example when present, but that he also proclaimed it continually in words; saying that if any one would not work, neither should he eat.


Chapter XII.

Of his saying: "If any will not work, neither shall he eat."

And now he no longer addresses to them the advice of a teacher or physician, but proceeds with the severity of a judicial sentence, and, resuming his apostolic authority, pronounces sentence on his despisers as if from the judgment seat: with that power, I mean, which, when writing with threats to the Corinthians, he declared was given him of the Lord, when he charged those taken in sin, that they should make haste and amend their lives before his coming: thus charging them, "I beseech you that I may not be bold when I am present, against some, with that power which is given to me over you." And again: "For if I also should boast somewhat of the power which the Lord has given me unto edification, and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed." [976] With that power, I say, he declares, "If a man will not work, neither let him eat." Not punishing them with a carnal sword, but with the power of the Holy Ghost forbidding them the goods of this life, that if by chance, thinking but little of the punishment of future death, they still should remain obstinate through love of ease, they may at last, forced by the requirements of nature and the fear of immediate death, be compelled to obey his salutary charge.


Footnotes

[976] 2 Cor. x. 2, 8.


Chapter XIII.

Of his saying: "We have heard that some among you walk disorderly."

Then after all this rigour of gospel severity, he now lays bare the reason why he put forward all these matters. "For we have heard that some among you walk disorderly, working not at all, but curiously meddling." He is nowhere satisfied to speak of those who will not give themselves up to work, as if they were victims of but a single malady. For in his first Epistle [977] he speaks of them as "disorderly," and not walking according to the traditions which they had received from him: and he also asserts that they were restless, and ate their bread for nought. Again he says here, "We have heard that there are some among you who walk disorderly." And at once he subjoins a second weakness, which is the root of this restlessness, and says, "working not at all;" a third malady as well he adds, which springs from this last like some shoot: "but curiously meddling."


Footnotes

[977] A mistake on Cassian's part: the reference being to 2 Thess. iii. 6.


Chapter XIV.

How manual labour [978] prevents many faults.

And so he loses no time in at once applying a suitable remedy to the incentive to so many faults, and laying aside that apostolic power of his which he had made use of a little before, he adopts once more the tender character of a good father, or of a kind physician, and, as if they were his children or his patients, applies by his healing counsel remedies to cure them, saying: "Now we charge them that are such, and beseech them by the Lord Jesus, that working with silence they would eat their own bread." The cause of all these ulcers, which spring from the root of idleness, he heals like some well-skilled physician by a single salutary charge to work; as he knows that all the other bad symptoms, which spring as it were from the same clump, will at once disappear when the cause of the chief malady has been removed.


Footnotes

[978] The text of Gazæus has oratio, but the reading which Petschenig gives, operatio manuum, is clearly so.


Chapter XV.

How kindness should be shown even to the idle and careless.

Nevertheless, like a far-sighted and careful physician, he is not only anxious to heal the wounds of the sick, but gives suitable directions as well to the whole, that their health may be preserved continually, and says: "But be not ye weary in well doing:" ye who following us, i.e., our ways, copy the example given to you by imitating us in work, and do not follow their sloth and laziness: "Do not be weary in well doing;" i.e., do you likewise show kindness towards them if by chance they have failed to observe what we said. As then he was severe with those who were weak, for fear lest being enervated by laziness they might yield to restlessness and inquisitiveness, so he admonishes those who are in good health neither to restrain that kindness which the Lord's command bids us show to the good and evil, [979] even if some bad men will not turn to sound doctrine; nor to desist from doing good and encouraging them both by words of consolation and by rebuke as well as by ordinary kindness and civility.


Footnotes

[979] S. Matt. v. 43-45.


Chapter XVI.

How we ought to admonish those who go wrong, not out of hatred, but out of love.

But again in case some might be encouraged by this gentleness, and scorn to obey his commands, he proceeds with the severity of an apostle: "But if any man obey not our word by this Epistle, note that man and do not keep company with him that he may be ashamed." And in warning them of what they ought to observe out of regard for him and for the good of all, and of the care with which they should keep the apostolic commands, at once he joins to the warning the kindness of a most indulgent father; and teaches them as well, as if they were his children, what a brotherly disposition they should cultivate towards those mentioned above, out of love. "Yet do not esteem him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." With the severity of a judge he combines the affection of a father, and tempers with kindness and gentleness the sentence delivered with apostolic sternness. For he commands them to note that man who scorns to obey his commands, and not to keep company with him; and yet he does not bid them do this from a wrong feeling of dislike, but from brotherly affection and out of consideration for their amendment. "Do not keep company," he says, "with him that he may be ashamed;" so that, even if he is not made better by my mild charges, he may at last be brought to shame by being publicly separated from all of you, and so may some day begin to be restored to the way of salvation.


Chapter XVII.

Different passages in which the Apostle declares that we ought to work, or in which it is shown that he himself worked.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians also he thus gives a charge on this subject of work, saying: "He that stole, let him now steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need." [980] And in the Acts of the Apostles too we find that he not only taught this, but actually practised it himself. For when he had come to Corinth, he did not permit himself to lodge anywhere except with Aquila and Priscilla, because they were of the same trade which he himself was accustomed to practise. For we thus read: "After this, Paul departing from Athens came to Corinth; and finding a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, and Priscilla his wife, he came to them because they were of the same trade; and abode with them, and worked: for they were tent-makers by trade." [981]


Footnotes

[980] Eph. iv. 28. [981] Acts xviii. 1-3.


Chapter XVIII.

That the Apostle wrought what he thought would be sufficient for him and for others who were with him.

Then going to Miletus, and from thence sending to Ephesus, and summoning to him the elders of the church of Ephesus, he charged them how they ought to rule the church of God in his absence, and said: "I have not coveted any man's silver and gold; you yourselves know how for such things as were needful for me and them that are with me these hands have ministered. I have showed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is more blessed to give than to receive." [982] He left us a weighty example in his manner of life, as he testifies that he not only wrought what would supply his own bodily wants alone, but also what would be sufficient for the needs of those who were with him: those, I mean, who, being taken up with necessary duties, had no chance of procuring food for themselves with their own hands. And as he tells the Thessalonians that he had worked to give them an example that they might imitate him, so here too he implies something of the same sort when he says: "I have showed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak," viz., whether in mind or body; i.e., that we should be diligent in supplying their needs, not from the store of our abundance, or money laid by, or from another's generosity and substance, but rather by securing the necessary sum by our own labour and toil.


Footnotes

[982] Acts xx. 33-35.


Chapter XIX.

How we should understand these words: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

And he says that this is a command of the Lord: "For He Himself," namely the Lord Jesus, said he, "said it is more blessed to give than to receive." That is, the bounty of the giver is more blessed than the need of the receiver, where the gift is not supplied from money that has been kept back through unbelief or faithlessness, nor from the stored-up treasures of avarice, but is produced from the fruits of our own labour and honest toil. And so "it is more blessed to give than to receive," because while the giver shares the poverty of the receiver, yet still he is diligent in providing with pious care by his own toil, not merely enough for his own needs, but also what he can give to one in want; and so he is adorned with a double grace, since by giving away all his goods he secures the perfect abnegation of Christ, and yet by his labour and thought displays the generosity of the rich; thus honouring God by his honest labours, and plucking for him the fruits of his righteousness, while another, enervated by sloth and indolent laziness, proves himself by the saying of the Apostle unworthy of food, as in defiance of his command he takes it in idleness, not without the guilt of sin and of obstinacy.


Chapter XX.

Of a lazy brother who tried to persuade others to leave the monastery.

We know a brother, whose name we would give if it would do any good, who, although he was remaining in the monastery and compelled to deliver to the steward his fixed task daily, yet for fear lest he might be led on to some larger portion of work, or put to shame by the example of one labouring more zealously, when he had seen some brother admitted into the monastery, who in the ardour of his faith wanted to make up the sale of a larger piece of work, if he found that he could not by secret persuasion check him from carrying out his purpose, he would by bad advice and whisperings persuade him to depart thence. And in order to get rid of him more easily he would pretend that he also had already been for many reasons offended, and wanted to leave, if only he could find a companion and support for the journey. And when by secretly running down the monastery he had wheedled him into consenting, and arranged with him the time at which to leave the monastery, and the place to which he should go before, and where he should wait for him, he himself, pretending that he would follow, stopped where he was. And when the other out of shame for his flight did not dare to return again to the monastery from which he had run away, the miserable author of his flight stopped behind in the monastery. It will be enough to have given this single instance of this sort of men in order to put beginners on their guard, and to show clearly what evils idleness, as Scripture says, [983] can produce in the mind of a monk, and how "evil communications corrupt good manners." [984]


Footnotes

[983] The reference is probably to Ecclus xxiii. 29, "Idleness hath taught much evil." [984] 1 Cor. xv. 33.


Chapter XXI.

Different passages from the writings of Solomon against accidie.

And Solomon, the wisest of men, clearly points to this fault of idleness in many passages, as he says: "He that followeth idleness shall be filled with poverty," [985] either visible or invisible, in which an idle person and one entangled with different faults is sure to be involved, and he will always be a stranger to the contemplation of God, and to spiritual riches, of which the blessed Apostle says: "For in all things ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge." [986] But concerning this poverty of the idler elsewhere he also writes thus: "Every sluggard shall be clothed in torn garments and rags." [987] For certainly he will not merit to be adorned with that garment of incorruption (of which the Apostle says, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," [988] and again: "Being clothed in the breastplate of righteousness and charity," [989] concerning which the Lord Himself also speaks to Jerusalem by the prophet: "Arise, arise, O Jerusalem, put on the garments of thy glory)," [990] whoever, overpowered by lazy slumber or by accidie, prefers to be clothed, not by his labour and industry, but in the rags of idleness, which he tears off from the solid piece and body of the Scriptures, and fits on to his sloth no garment of glory and honour, but an ignominious cloak and excuse. For those, who are affected by this laziness, and do not like to support themselves by the labour of their own hands, as the Apostle continually did and charged us to do, are wont to make use of certain Scripture proofs by which they try to cloak their idleness, saying that it is written, "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which remains to life eternal;" [991] and "My meat is to do the will of my Father." [992] But these proofs are (as it were) rags, from the solid piece of the gospel, which are adopted for this purpose, viz., to cover the disgrace of our idleness and shame rather than to keep us warm, and adorn us with that costly and splendid garment of virtue which that wise woman in the Proverbs, who was clothed with strength and beauty, is said to have made either for herself or for her husband; of which presently it is said: "Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she rejoices in the latter days." [993] Of this evil of idleness Solomon thus makes mention again: "The ways of the idlers are strewn with thorns;" [994] i.e., with these and similar faults, which the Apostle above declared to spring from idleness. And again: "Every sluggard is always in want." [995] And of these the Apostle makes mention when he says, "And that you want nothing of any man's." [996] And finally: "For idleness has been the teacher of many evils:" [997] which the Apostle has clearly enumerated in the passage which he expounded above: "Working not at all, but curiously meddling." To this fault also he joins another: "And that ye study to be quiet;" and then, "that ye should do your own business and walk honestly towards them that are without, and that you want nothing of any man's." Those also whom he notes as disorderly and rebellious, from these he charges those who are earnest to separate themselves: "That ye withdraw yourselves," says he, "from every brother that walketh disorderly and not according to the tradition which they received from us." [998]


Footnotes

[985] Prov. xxviii. 19. [986] 1 Cor. i. 5. [987] Prov. xxiii. 21. (LXX.). [988] Rom. xiii. 14. [989] 1 Thess. v. 8. [990] Is. lii. 1. [991] S. John vi. 27. [992] S. John iv. 34. [993] Prov. xxxi. 25. (LXX.). [994] Prov. xv. 19 (LXX.). [995] Prov. xiii. 4 (LXX.). [996] 1 Thess. iv. 11. [997] Ecclus. xxxiii. 29. [998] 2 Thess. iii. 11, 6; 1 Thess. iv. 11.


Chapter XXII.

How the brethren in Egypt work with their hands, not only to supply their own needs, but also to minister to those who are in prison.

And so taught by these examples the Fathers in Egypt never allow monks, and especially the younger ones, to be idle, [999] estimating the purpose of their hearts and their growth in patience and humility by their diligence in work; and they not only do not allow them to receive anything from another to supply their own wants, but further, they not merely refresh pilgrims and brethren who come to visit them by means of their labours, but actually collect an enormous store of provisions and food, and distribute it in the parts of Libya which suffer from famine and barrenness, and also in the cities, to those who are pining away in the squalor of prison; as they believe that by such an offering of the fruit of their hands they offer a reasonable and true sacrifice to the Lord.


Footnotes

[999] The monks of Egypt were famous for their labours, and Cassian's language might be illustrated from many passages in the Fathers; e.g., Epiphanius, in his third book against heresies, compares the monks, and especially those in Egypt, to bees, because of their diligence. So S. Jerome, writing to Rusticus (Ep. cxxv.), says that no one is received in a monastery in Egypt unless he will work, and that this rule is made for the good of the soul rather than for the sake of providing food. Compare also Sozomen H. E. VI. xxviii., where it is said of Serapion and his followers in the neighbourhood of Arsinöe that "they lived on the produce of their labour and provided for the poor. During harvest-time they busied themselves in reaping: they set aside sufficient corn for their own use, and furnished grain gratuitously for the other monks." S. Basil also, in his Monastic Constitutions cc. iv. and v., speaks strongly of the value of labour and the Rule of S. Benedict (c. xlviii.) enjoins that "as idleness is the enemy of the soul, the brethren are to be employed alternately in manual labour and pious reading."


Chapter XXIII.

That idleness is the reason why there are not monasteries for monks in the West.

Hence it is that in these countries we see no monasteries found with such numbers of brethren: for they are not supported by the resources of their own labour in such a way that they can remain in them continually; and if in some way or other, through the liberality of another, there should be a sufficient provision to supply them, yet love of ease and restlessness of heart does not suffer them to continue long in the place. Whence this saying has been handed down from the old fathers in Egypt: that a monk who works is attacked by but one devil; but an idler is tormented by countless spirits.


Chapter XXIV.

Abbot Paul [1000] who every year burnt with fire all the works of his hands.

Lastly, Abbot Paul, one of the greatest of the Fathers, while he was living in a vast desert which is called the Porphyrian desert, [1001] and being relieved from anxiety by the date palms and a small garden, had plenty to support himself, and an ample supply of food, and could not find any other work to do, which would support him, because his dwelling was separated from towns and inhabited districts by seven days' journey, [1002] or even more, through the desert, and more would be asked for the carriage of the goods than the price of the work would be worth; he collected the leaves of the palms, and regularly exacted of himself his daily task, as if he was to be supported by it. And when his cave had been filled with a whole year's work, each year he would burn with fire that at which he had so diligently laboured: thus proving that without manual labour a monk cannot stop in a place nor rise to the heights of perfection: so that, though the need for food did not require this to be done, yet he performed it simply for the sake of purifying his heart, and strengthening his thoughts, and persisting in his cell, and gaining a victory over accidie and driving it away.


Footnotes

[1000] This Paul is perhaps the same as the one mentioned in connection with Abbot Moses in Conference VII. xxvi. As he was a contemporary of Cassian he must be carefully distinguished from his more illustrious namesakes, the first hermit and the disciple of S. Antony. [1001] Also called the desert of Calamus, Conference XXIV. iv., but its position has not been ascertained. [1002] Mansio used here and again in Conference XXIV. iv. for the stage of a day's journey.


Chapter XXV.

The words of Abbot Moses which he said to me about the cure of accidie.

When I was beginning my stay in the desert, and had said to Abbot Moses, the chief of all the saints, that I had been terribly troubled yesterday by an attack of accidie, and that I could only be freed from it by running at once to Abbot Paul, he said, "You have not freed yourself from it, but rather have given yourself up to it as its slave and subject. For the enemy will henceforth attack you more strongly as a deserter and runaway, since it has seen that you fled at once when overcome in the conflict: unless on a second occasion when you join battle with it you make up your mind not to dispel its attacks and heats for the moment by deserting your cell, or by the inactivity of sleep, but rather learn to triumph over it by endurance and conflict." Whence it is proved by experience that a fit of accidie should not be evaded by running away from it, but overcome by resisting it. [1003]


Footnotes

[1003] This Abbot Moses is probably the one to whom the first two Conferences are attributed (cf. also Conference VII. xxvi.); and possibly the second of this name (Moses the Libyan) mentioned by Sozomen, H. E. VI. xxix. Cf. also Palladius, the Lausiac History. c. xxii.


Footnotes

[963] See the note on Bk. V. c. i. .

Book XI.

Of the Spirit of Vainglory.


Chapter I.

How our seventh combat is against the spirit of vainglory, and what its nature.

Our seventh combat is against the spirit of kenodoxia, which we may term vain or idle glory: a spirit that takes many shapes, and is changeable and subtle, so that it can with difficulty, I will not say be guarded against, but be seen through and discovered even by the keenest eyes.


Chapter II.

How vainglory attacks a monk not only on his carnal, but also on his spiritual side.

For not only does this, like the rest of his faults, attack a monk on his carnal side, but on his spiritual side as well, insinuating itself by craft and guile into his mind: so that those who cannot be deceived by carnal vices are more grievously wounded through their spiritual proficiency; and it is so much the worse to fight against, as it is harder to guard against. For the attack of all other vices is more open and straightforward, and in the case of each of them, when he who stirs them up is met by a determined refusal, he will go away the weaker for it, and the adversary who has been beaten will on the next occasion attack his victim with less vigour. But this malady when it has attacked the mind by means of carnal pride, and has been repulsed by the shield of reply, again, like some wickedness that takes many shapes, changes its former guise and character, and under the appearance of the virtues tries to strike down and destroy its conqueror.


Chapter III.

How many forms and shapes vainglory takes.

For our other faults and passions may be said to be simpler and of but one form: but this takes many forms and shapes, and changes about and assails the man who stands up against it from every quarter, and assaults its conqueror on all sides. For it tries to injure the soldier of Christ in his dress, in his manner, his walk, his voice, his work, his vigils, his fasts, his prayers, when he withdraws, when he reads, in his knowledge, his silence, his obedience, his humility, his patience; and like some most dangerous rock hidden by surging waves, it causes an unforeseen and miserable shipwreck to those who are sailing with a fair breeze, while they are not on the lookout for it or guarding against it.


Chapter IV.

How vainglory attacks a monk on the right had and on the left.

And so one who wishes to go along the King's highway by means of the "arms of righteousness which are on the right hand and on the left," ought by the teaching of the Apostle to pass through "honour and dishonour, evil report and good report," [1004] and with such care to direct his virtuous course amid the swelling waves of temptation, with discretion at the helm, and the Spirit of the Lord breathing on us, since we know that if we deviate ever so little to the right hand or to the left, we shall presently be dashed against most dangerous crags. And so we are warned by Solomon, the wisest of men: "Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left;" [1005] i.e., do not flatter yourself on your virtues and be puffed up by your spiritual achievements on the right hand; nor, swerving to the path of vices on the left hand, seek from them for yourself (to use the words of the Apostle) "glory in your shame." [1006] For where the devil cannot create vainglory in a man by means of his well-fitting and neat dress, he tries to introduce it by means of a dirty, cheap, and uncared-for style. If he cannot drag a man down by honour, he overthrows him by humility. If he cannot make him puffed up by the grace of knowledge and eloquence, he pulls him down by the weight of silence. If a man fasts openly, he is attacked by the pride of vanity. If he conceals it for the sake of despising the glory of it, he is assailed by the same sin of pride. In order that he may not be defiled by the stains of vainglory he avoids making long prayers in the sight of the brethren; and yet because he offers them secretly and has no one who is conscious of it, he does not escape the pride of vanity.


Footnotes

[1004] 2 Cor. vi. 7, 8. [1005] Prov. iv. 27 (LXX.). [1006] Phil. iii. 19.


Chapter V.

A comparison which shows the nature of vainglory.

Our elders admirably describe the nature of this malady as like that of an onion, and of those bulbs which when stripped of one covering you find to be sheathed in another; and as often as you strip them, you find them still protected.


Chapter VI.

That vainglory is not altogether got rid of by the advantages of solitude.

In solitude also it does not cease from pursuing him who has for the sake of glory fled from intercourse with all men. And the more thoroughly a man has shunned the whole world, so much the more keenly does it pursue him. It tries to lift up with pride one man because of his great endurance of work and labour, another because of his extreme readiness to obey, another because he outstrips other men in humility. One man is tempted through the extent of his knowledge, another through the extent of his reading, another through the length of his vigils. Nor does this malady endeavour to wound a man except through his virtues; introducing hindrances which lead to death by means of those very things through which the supplies of life are sought. For when men are anxious to walk in the path of holiness and perfection, the enemies do not lay their snares to deceive them anywhere except in the way along which they walk, in accordance with that saying of the blessed David: "In the way wherein I walked have they laid a snare for me;" [1007] that in this very way of virtue along which we are walking, when pressing on to "the prize of our high calling," [1008] we may be elated by our successes, and so sink down, and fall with the feet of our soul entangled and caught in the snares of vainglory. And so it results that those of us who could not be vanquished in the conflict with the foe are overcome by the very greatness of our triumph, or else (which is another kind of deception) that, overstraining the limits of that self-restraint which is possible to us, we fail of perseverance in our course on account of bodily weakness.


Footnotes

[1007] Ps. cxli. (cxlii.) 4. [1008] Phil. iii. 14.


Chapter VII.

How vainglory, when it has been overcome, rises again keener than ever for the fight.

All vices when overcome grow feeble, and when beaten are day by day rendered weaker, and both in regard to place and time grow less and subside, or at any rate, as they are unlike the opposite virtues, are more easily shunned and avoided: but this one when it is beaten rises again keener than ever for the struggle; and when we think that it is destroyed, it revives again, the stronger for its death. The other kinds of vices usually only attack those whom they have overcome in the conflict; but this one pursues its victors only the more keenly; and the more thoroughly it has been resisted, so much the more vigorously does it attack the man who is elated by his victory over it. And herein lies the crafty cunning of our adversary, namely, in the fact that, where he cannot overcome the soldier of Christ by the weapons of the foe, he lays him low by his own spear.


Chapter VIII.

How vainglory is not allayed either in the desert or through advancing years.

Other vices, as we said, are sometimes allayed by the advantages of position, and when the matter of the sin and the occasion and opportunity for it are removed, grow slack, and are diminished: but this one penetrates the deserts with the man who is flying from it, nor can it be shut out from any place, nor when outward material for it is removed does it fail. For it is simply encouraged by the achievements of the virtues of the man whom it attacks. For all other vices, as we said above, are sometimes diminished by the lapse of time, and disappear: to this one length of life, unless it is supported by skilful diligence and prudent discretion, is no hindrance, but actually supplies it with new fuel for vanity.


Chapter IX.

That vainglory is the more dangerous through being mixed up with virtues.

Lastly, other passions which are entirely different from the virtues which are their opposites, and which attack us openly and as it were in broad daylight, are more easily overcome and guarded against: but this being interwoven with our virtues and entangled in the battle, fighting as it were under cover of the darkness of night, deceives the more dangerously those who are off their guard and not on the lookout.


Chapter X.

An instance showing how King Hezekiah was overthrown by the dart of vainglory.

For so we read that Hezekiah, King of Judah, a man of most perfect righteousness in all things, and one approved by the witness of Holy Scripture, after unnumbered commendations for his virtues, was overthrown by a single dart of vainglory. And he who by a single prayer of his was able to procure the death of a hundred and eighty-five thousand of the army of the Assyrians, whom the angel destroyed in one night, is overcome by boasting and vanity. Of whom--to pass over the long list of his virtues, which it would take a long time to unfold--I will say but this one thing. He was a man who, after the close of his life had been decreed and the day of his death determined by the Lord's sentence, prevailed by a single prayer to extend the limits set to his life by fifteen years, the sun returning by ten steps, on which it had already shone in its course towards its setting, and by its return dispersing those lines which the shadow that followed its course had already marked, and by this giving two days in one to the whole world, by a stupendous miracle contrary to the fixed laws of nature. [1009] Yet after signs so great and so incredible, after such immense proofs of his goodness, hear the Scripture tell how he was destroyed by his very successes. "In those days," we are told, "Hezekiah was sick unto death: and he prayed to the Lord, and He heard him and gave him a sign," that, namely of which we read in the fourth book of the kingdoms, which was given by Isaiah the prophet through the going back of the sun. "But," it says, "he did not render again according to the benefits which he had received, for his heart was lifted up; and wrath was kindled against him and against Judah and Jerusalem: and he humbled himself afterwards because his heart had been lifted up, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and therefore the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." [1010] How dangerous, how terrible is the malady of vanity! So much goodness, so many virtues, faith and devotion, great enough to prevail to change nature itself and the laws of the whole world, perish by a single act of pride! So that all his good deeds would have been forgotten as if they had never been, and he would at once have been subject to the wrath of the Lord unless he had appeased Him by recovering his humility: so that he who, at the suggestion of pride, had fallen from so great a height of excellence, could only mount again to the height he had lost by the same steps of humility. Do you want to see another instance of a similar downfall?


Footnotes

[1009] Cf. 2 Kings xx. [1010] 2 Chron. xxxii. 24-26.


Chapter XI.

The instance of King Uzziah who was overcome by the taint of the same malady.

Of Uzziah, the ancestor of this king of whom we have been speaking, himself also praised in all things by the witness of the Scripture, after great commendation for his virtue, after countless triumphs which he achieved by the merit of his devotion and faith, learn how he was cast down by the pride of vainglory. "And," we are told, "the name of Uzziah went forth, for the Lord helped him and had strengthened him. But when he was made strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction, and he neglected the Lord his God." [1011] You behold another instance of a most terrible downfall, and see how two men so upright and excellent were undone by their very triumphs and victories. Whence you see how dangerous the successes of prosperity generally are, so that those who could not be injured by adversity are ruined, unless they are careful, by prosperity; and those who in the conflict of battle have escaped the danger of death fall before their own trophies and triumphs.


Footnotes

[1011] 2 Chron. xxvi. 15, 16.


Chapter XII.

Several testimonies against vainglory.

And so the Apostle warns us: "Be not desirous of vainglory." [1012] And the Lord, rebuking the Pharisees, says, "How can ye believe, who receive glory from one another, and seek not the glory which comes from God alone?" [1013] Of these too the blessed David speaks with a threat: "For God hath scattered the bones of them that please men." [1014]


Footnotes

[1012] Gal. v. 26. [1013] S. John v. 44. [1014] Ps. lii. (liii.) 6.


Chapter XIII.

Of the ways in which vainglory attacks a monk.

In the case also of beginners and of those who have as yet made but little progress either in powers of mind or in knowledge it usually puffs up their minds, either because of the quality of their voice because they can sing well, or because their bodies are emaciated, [1015] or because they are of a good figure, or because they have rich and noble kinsfolk, or because they have despised a military life and honours. Sometimes too it persuades a man that if he had remained in the world he would easily have obtained honours and riches, which perhaps could not possibly have been secured, and inflates him with a vain hope of uncertain things; and in the case of those things which he never possessed, puffs him up with pride and vanity, as if he were one who had despised them.


Footnotes

[1015] viz., by fasting.


Chapter XIV.

How it suggests that a man may seek to take holy orders.

But sometimes it creates a wish to take holy orders, and a desire for the priesthood or diaconate. And it represents that if a man has even against his will received this office, he will fulfil it with such sanctity and strictness that he will be able to set an example of saintliness even to other priests; and that he will win over many people, not only by his manner of life, but also by his teaching and preaching. It makes a man, even when alone and sitting in his cell, to go round in mind and imagination to the dwellings and monasteries of others, and to make many conversions under the inducements of imaginary exultation.


Chapter XV.

How vainglory intoxicates the mind.

And so the miserable soul is affected by such vanity--as if it were deluded by a profound slumber--that it is often led away by the pleasure of such thoughts, and filled with such imaginations, so that it cannot even look at things present, or the brethren, while it enjoys dwelling upon these things, of which with its wandering thoughts it has waking dreams, as if they were true.


Chapter XVI.

Of him whom the superior came upon and found in his cell, deluded by idle vainglory.

I remember an elder, when I was staying in the desert of Scete, who went to the cell of a certain brother to pay him a visit, and when he had reached the door heard him muttering inside, and stood still for a little while, wanting to know what it was that he was reading from the Bible or repeating by heart (as is customary) while he was at work. And when this most excellent eavesdropper diligently applied his ear and listened with some curiosity, he found that the man was induced by an attack of this spirit to fancy that he was delivering a stirring sermon to the people. And when the elder, as he stood still, heard him finish his discourse and return again to his office, and give out the dismissal of the catechumens, as the deacon does, [1016] then at last he knocked at the door, and the man came out, and met the elder with the customary reverence, and brought him in and (for his knowledge of what had been his thoughts made him uneasy) asked him when he had arrived, for fear lest he might have taken some harm from standing too long at the door: and the old man joking pleasantly replied, "I only got here while you were giving out the dismissal of the catechumens."


Footnotes

[1016] Celebrare velut diaconum catechumenis missam. Missa is here used for the dismissal of the catechumens, which it was the deacon's office to proclaim. The whole service was divided into two parts, (1) the mass of the catechumens, containing the Scripture lessons, sermon, and prayers for the catechumens; and (2) the mass of the faithful, or the Eucharist proper. At the end of the first part the deacon warned the catechumens to depart, in words varying slightly in different churches, but substantially the same in all, both east and west: e.g. in the Liturgy of S. Chrysostom the form is "Let all the catechumens depart: let not any of the catechumens--Let all the faithful--"; in that of S. Mark it is still briefer: "Look lest any of the catechumens." The Roman missal does not now contain this feature, but it was certainly originally found in it for it is alluded to by Gregory the Great (Dial. Book II. c. xxiii.), who gives the form as follows: "Si quis non communicat det locum." It was also customary in Spain and Gaul, as well as in Africa, being alluded to by Augustine in Sermon xlix.: "Ecce post sermonen fit missa catechumenis: manebunt fideles, venietur ad locum orationis."


Chapter XVII.

How faults cannot be cured unless their roots and causes have been discovered.

I thought it well to insert these things in this little work of mine, that we might learn, not only by reason, but also by examples, about the force of temptations and the order of the sins which hurt an unfortunate soul, and so might be more careful in avoiding the snares and manifold deceits of the enemy. For these things are indiscriminately brought forward by the Egyptian fathers, that by telling them, as those who are still enduring them, they may disclose and lay bare the combats with all the vices, which they actually do suffer, and those which the younger ones are sure to suffer; so that, when they explain the illusions arising from all the passions, those who are but beginners and fervent in spirit may know the secret of their struggles, and seeing them as in a glass, may learn both the causes of the sins by which they are troubled, and the remedies for them, and instructed beforehand concerning the approach of future struggles, may be taught how they ought to guard against them, or to meet them and to fight with them. As clever physicians are accustomed not only to heal already existing diseases, but also by a wise skill to seek to obviate future ones, and to prevent them by their prescriptions and healing draughts, so these true physicians of the soul, by means of spiritual conferences, like some celestial antidote, destroy beforehand those maladies of the soul which would arise, and do not allow them to gain a footing in the minds of the juniors, as they unfold to them the causes of the passions which threaten them, and the remedies which will heal them.


Chapter XVIII.

How a monk ought to avoid women and bishops.

Wherefore this is an old maxim of the Fathers that is still current,--though I cannot produce it without shame on my own part, since I could not avoid my own sister, nor escape the hands of the bishop,--viz., that a monk ought by all means to fly from women and bishops. For neither of them will allow him who has once been joined in close intercourse any longer to care for the quiet of his cell, or to continue with pure eyes in divine contemplation through his insight into holy things.


Chapter XIX.

Remedies by which we can overcome vainglory.

And so the athlete of Christ who desires to strive lawfully in this true and spiritual combat, should strive by all means to overcome this changeable monster of many shapes, which, as it attacks us on every side like some manifold wickedness, we can escape by such a remedy as this; viz., thinking on that saying of David: "The Lord hath scattered the bones of those who please men." [1017] To begin with we should not allow ourselves to do anything at the suggestion of vanity, and for the sake of obtaining vainglory. Next, when we have begun a thing well, we should endeavour to maintain it with just the same care, for fear lest afterwards the malady of vainglory should creep in and make void all the fruits of our labours. And anything which is of very little use or value in the common life of the brethren, we should avoid as leading to boasting; and whatever would render us remarkable amongst the others, and for which credit would be gained among men, as if we were the only people who could do it, this should be shunned by us. For by these signs the deadly taint of vainglory will be shown to cling to us: which we shall most easily escape if we consider that we shall not merely lose the fruits of those labours of ours which we have performed at the suggestion of vainglory, but that we shall also be guilty of a great sin, and as impious persons undergo eternal punishments, inasmuch as we have wronged God by doing for the favour of men what we ought to have done for His sake, and are convicted by Him who knows all secrets of having preferred men to God, and the praise of the world to the praise of the Lord.


Footnotes

[1017] Ps. lii. (liii.) 6. .

Book XII.

Of the Spirit of Pride.


Chapter I.

How our eighth combat is against the spirit of pride, and of its character.

Our eighth and last combat is against the spirit of pride, which evil, although it is the latest in our conflict with our faults and stands last on the list, yet in beginning and in the order of time is the first: an evil beast that is most savage and more dreadful than all the former ones, chiefly trying those who are perfect, and devouring with its dreadful bite those who have almost attained the consummation of virtue.


Chapter II.

How there are two kinds of pride.

And of this pride there are two kinds: the one, that by which we said that the best of men and spiritually minded ones were troubled; the other, that which assaults even beginners and carnal persons. And though each kind of pride is excited with regard to both God and man by a dangerous elation, yet that first kind more particularly has to do with God; the second refers especially to men. Of the origin of this last and the remedies for it we will by God's help treat as far as possible in the latter part of this book. We now propose to say a few things about that former kind, by which, as I mentioned before, those who are perfect are especially tried.


Chapter III.

How pride is equally destructive of all virtues.

There is then no other fault which is so destructive of all virtues, and robs and despoils a man of all righteousness and holiness, as this evil of pride, which like some pestilential disease attacks the whole man, and, not content to damage one part or one limb only, injures the entire body by its deadly influence, and endeavours to cast down by a most fatal fall, and destroy those who were already at the top of the tree of the virtues. For every other fault is satisfied within its own bounds and limits, and though it clouds other virtues as well, yet it is in the main directed against one only, and specially attacks and assaults that. And so (to make my meaning clearer) gluttony, i.e., the appetites of the belly and the pleasures of the palate, is destructive of strict temperance: lust stains purity, anger destroys patience: so that sometimes a man who is in bondage to some one sin is not altogether wanting in other virtues: but being simply deprived of that one virtue which in the struggle yields to the vice which is its rival and opposed to it, can to some extent preserve his other virtues: but this one when once it has taken possession of some unfortunate soul, like some most brutal tyrant, when the lofty citadel of the virtues has been taken, utterly destroys and lays waste the whole city; and levelling with the ground of vices the once high walls of saintliness, and confusing them together, it allows no shadow of freedom henceforth to survive in the soul subject to it. And in proportion as it was originally the richer, so now will the yoke of servitude be the severer, through which by its cruel ravages it will strip the soul it has subdued of all its powers of virtue.


Chapter IV.

How by reason of pride Lucifer was turned from an archangel into a devil.

And that we may understand the power of its awful tyranny we see that that angel who, for the greatness of his splendour and beauty was termed Lucifer, was cast out of heaven for no other sin but this, and, pierced with the dart of pride, was hurled down from his grand and exalted position as an angel into hell. If then pride of heart alone was enough to cast down from heaven to earth a power that was so great and adorned with the attributes of such might, the very greatness of his fall shows us with what care we who are surrounded by the weakness of the flesh ought to be on our guard. But we can learn how to avoid the most deadly poison of this evil if we trace out the origin and causes of his fall. For weakness can never be cured, nor the remedies for bad states of health be disclosed unless first their origin and causes are investigated by a wise scrutiny. For as he (viz., Lucifer) was endowed with divine splendour, and shone forth among the other higher powers by the bounty of his Maker, he believed that he had acquired the splendour of that wisdom and the beauty of those powers, with which he was graced by the gift of the Creator, by the might of his own nature, and not by the beneficence of His generosity. And on this account he was puffed up as if he stood in no need of divine assistance in order to continue in this state of purity, and esteemed himself to be like God, as if, like God, he had no need of any one, and trusting in the power of his own will, fancied that through it he could richly supply himself with everything which was necessary for the consummation of virtue or for the perpetuation of perfect bliss. This thought alone was the cause of his first fall. On account of which being forsaken by God, whom he fancied he no longer needed, he suddenly became unstable and tottering, and discovered the weakness of his own nature, and lost the blessedness which he had enjoyed by God's gift. And because he "loved the words of ruin," with which he had said, "I will ascend into heaven," and the "deceitful tongue," with which he had said of himself, "I will be like the Most High," [1018] and of Adam and Eve, "Ye shall be as gods," therefore "shall God destroy him forever and pluck him out and remove him from his dwelling place and his root out of the land of the living." Then "the just," when they see his ruin, "shall fear, and shall laugh at him and say" (what may also be most justly aimed at those who trust that they can obtain the highest good without the protection and assistance of God): "Behold the man that made not God his helper, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and prevailed in his vanity." [1019]


Footnotes

[1018] Is. xiv. 13, 14. [1019] Ps. li. (lii.) 6-9.


Chapter V.

That incentives to all sins spring from pride.

This is the reason of the first fall, and the starting point of the original malady, which again insinuating itself into the first man, [1020] through him who had already been destroyed by it, produced the weaknesses and materials of all faults. For while he believed that by the freedom of his will and by his own efforts he could obtain the glory of Deity, he actually lost that glory which he already possessed through the free gift of the Creator.


Footnotes

[1020] Protoplastum cf. Wisdom vii. 1; x. 1 where Adam is called protoplastos. From these passages the term came to be commonly used as the designation of our first parents. So Clem. Alex. Strom. iii. 17: and in its Latin form it is found in the early translation of Irenæus. Hær. III. xxi. 20.


Chapter VI.

That the sin of pride is last in the actual order of the combat, but first in time and origin.

And so it is most clearly established by instances and testimonies from Scripture that the mischief of pride, although it comes later in the order of the combat, is yet earlier in origin, and is the beginning of all sins and faults: nor is it (like the other vices) simply fatal to the virtue opposite to it (in this case, humility), but it is also at the same time destructive of all virtues: nor does it only tempt ordinary folk and small people, but chiefly those who already stand on the heights of valour. [1021] For thus the prophet speaks of this spirit, "His meat is choice." [1022] And so the blessed David, although he guarded the recesses of his heart with the utmost care, so that he dared to say to Him from whom the secrets of his conscience were not hid, "Lord, my heart is not exalted, nor are my eyes lofty: neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonderful things above me. If I was not humbly minded;" [1023] and again, "He that worketh pride shall not dwell in the midst of my house;" [1024] yet, as he knew how hard is that watchfulness even for those that are perfect, he did not so presume on his own efforts, but prayed to God and implored His help, that he might escape unwounded by the darts of this foe, saying, "Let not the foot of pride come to me," [1025] for he feared and dreaded falling into that which is said of the proud, viz., "God resisteth the proud;" [1026] and again: "Every one that exalteth his heart is unclean before the Lord." [1027]


Footnotes

[1021] Cf. Milton's "last infirmity of noble minds." (Lycidas.) [1022] Hab. i. 16 (LXX.). [1023] Ps. cxxx. (cxxxi.) 1, 2. [1024] Ps. c. (ci.) 1, 2. [1025] Ps. xxxv. (xxxvi.) 1, 2. [1026] S. James iv. 6. [1027] Prov. xvi. 5 (LXX.).


Chapter VII.

That the evil of pride is so great that it rightly has even God Himself as its adversary.

How great is the evil of pride, that it rightly has no angel, nor other virtues opposed to it, but God Himself as its adversary! Since it should be noted that it is never said of those who are entangled in other sins that they have God resisting them; I mean it is not said that God is opposed "to the gluttonous, fornicators, passionate, or covetous," but only "to the proud." For those sins react only on those who commit them, or seem to be committed against those who share in them, i.e., against other men; but this one has more properly to do with God, and therefore it is especially right that it should have Him opposed to it.


Chapter VIII.

How God has destroyed the pride of the devil by the virtue of humility, and various passages in proof of this.

And so God, the Creator and Healer of all, knowing that pride is the cause and fountain head of evils, has been careful to heal opposites with opposites, that those things which were ruined by pride might be restored by humility. For the one says, "I will ascend into heaven;" [1028] the other, "My soul was brought low even to the ground." [1029] The one says, "And I will be like the most High;" the other, "Though He was in the form of God, yet He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, and humbled Himself and became obedient unto death." [1030] The one says, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;" the other, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart." [1031] The one says, "I know not the Lord and will not let Israel go;" [1032] the other, "If I say that I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know Him, and keep His commandments." [1033] The one says, "My rivers are mine and I made them:" [1034] the other: "I can do nothing of myself, but my Father who abideth in me, He doeth the works." [1035] The one says, "All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them are mine, and to whomsoever I will, I give them;" [1036] the other, "Though He were rich yet He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich." [1037] The one says, "As eggs are gathered together which are left, so have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing or opened the mouth, or made the least noise;" [1038] the other, "I am become like a solitary pelican; I watched and became as a sparrow alone upon the roof." [1039] The one says, "I have dried up with the sole of my foot all the rivers shut up in banks;" [1040] the other, "Cannot I ask my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" [1041] If we look at the reason of our original fall, and the foundations of our salvation, and consider by whom and in what way the latter were laid and the former originated, we may learn, either through the fall of the devil, or through the example of Christ, how to avoid so terrible a death from pride.


Footnotes

[1028] Is. xiv. 13. [1029] Ps. xliii. (xliv.) 25. [1030] Phil. ii. 6-8. [1031] S. Matt. xi. 29. [1032] Exod. v. 2. [1033] S. John viii. 55. [1034] Ezek. xxix. 3. (LXX.) [1035] S. John v. 30; xiv. 10. [1036] S. Luke iv. 6. [1037] 2 Cor. viii. 9. [1038] Is. x. 14. [1039] Ps. ci. (cii.) 7, 8. [1040] Is. xxxvii. 25. [1041] S. Matt. xxvi. 53.


Chapter IX.

How we too may overcome pride.

And so we can escape the snare of this most evil spirit, if in the case of every virtue in which we feel that we make progress, we say these words of the Apostle: "Not I, but the grace of God with me," and "by the grace of God I am what I am;" [1042] and "it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." [1043] As the author of our salvation Himself also says: "If a man abide in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." [1044] And "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." And "Vain is it for you to rise up before light." [1045] For "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy." [1046]


Footnotes

[1042] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [1043] Phil. ii. 13. [1044] S. John xv. 5. [1045] Ps. cxxvi. (cxxvii.) 1, 2. [1046] Rom. ix. 16.


Chapter X.

How no one can obtain perfect virtue and the promised bliss by his own strength alone.

For the will and course of no one, however eager and anxious, [1047] is sufficiently ready for him, while still enclosed in the flesh which warreth against the spirit, to reach so great a prize of perfection, and the palm of uprightness and purity, unless he is protected by the divine compassion, so that he is privileged to attain to that which he greatly desires and to which he runs. For "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." [1048] "For what hast thou which thou didst not receive? But if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" [1049]


Footnotes

[1047] Quamvis ferventis et cupientis (Petschenig): Quamvis volentis et currentis (Gazæus). [1048] S. James i. 17. [1049] 1 Cor. iv. 7.


Chapter XI.

The case of the thief and of David, and of our call in order to illustrate the grace of God.

For if we recall that thief who was by reason of a single confession admitted into paradise, [1050] we shall feel that he did not acquire such bliss by the merits of his life, but obtained it by the gift of a merciful God. Or if we bear in mind those two grievous and heinous sins of King David, blotted out by one word of penitence, [1051] we shall see that neither here were the merits of his works sufficient to obtain pardon for so great a sin, but that the grace of God superabounded, as, when the opportunity for true penitence was taken, He removed the whole weight of sins through the full confession of but one word. If we consider also the beginning of the call and salvation of mankind, in which, as the Apostle says, we are saved not of ourselves, nor of our works, but by the gift and grace of God, we can clearly see how the whole of perfection is "not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy," who makes us victorious over our faults, without any merits of works and life on our part to outweigh them, or any effort of our will availing to scale the difficult heights of perfection, or to subdue the flesh which we have to use: since no tortures of this body, and no contrition of heart, can be sufficient for the acquisition of that true chastity of the inner man so as to be able to gain that great virtue of purity (which is innate in the angels alone and indigenous as it were to heaven) merely by human efforts, i.e., without the aid of God: for the performance of everything good flows from His grace, who by multiplying His bounty has granted such lasting bliss, and vast glory to our feeble will and short and petty course of life.


Footnotes

[1050] Cf. S. Luke xxiii. 40. [1051] Cf. 2 Sam. xii. 13.


Chapter XII.

That no toil is worthy to be compared with the promised bliss.

For all the long years of this present life disappear when you have regard to the eternity of the future glory: and all our sorrows vanish away in the contemplation of that vast bliss, and like smoke melt away, and come to nothing, and like ashes are no more seen.


Chapter XIII.

The teaching of the elders on the method of acquiring purity.

Wherefore it is now time to produce, in the very words in which they hand it down, the opinion of the Fathers; viz., of those who have not painted the way of perfection and its character in high-sounding words, but rather, possessing it in deed and truth, and in the virtue of their spirit, have passed it on by their own experience and sure example. And so they say that no one can be altogether cleansed from carnal sins, unless he has realized that all his labours and efforts are insufficient for so great and perfect an end; and unless, taught, not by the system handed down to him, but by his feelings and virtues and his own experience, he recognizes that it can only be gained by the mercy and assistance of God. For in order to acquire such splendid and lofty prizes of purity and perfection, however great may be the efforts of fastings and vigils and readings and solitude and retirement applied to it, they will not be sufficient to secure it by the merits of the actual efforts and toil. For a man's own efforts and human exertions will never make up for the lack of the divine gift, unless it is granted by divine compassion in answer to his prayer.


Chapter XIV.

That the help of God is given to those who labour. [1052]

Nor do I say this to cast a slight on human efforts, or in the endeavour to discourage any one from his purpose of working and doing his best. But clearly and most earnestly do I lay down, not giving my own opinion, but that of the elders, that perfection cannot possibly be gained without these, but that by these only without the grace of God nobody can ever attain it. For when we say that human efforts cannot of themselves secure it without the aid of God, we thus insist that God's mercy and grace are bestowed only upon those who labour and exert themselves, and are granted (to use the Apostle's expression) to them that "will" and "run," according to that which is sung in the person of God in the eighty-eighth Psalm: "I have laid help upon one that is mighty, and have exalted one chosen out of my people." [1053] For we say, in accordance with our Saviour's words, that it is given to them that ask, and opened to them that knock and found by them that seek; [1054] but that the asking, the seeking, and the knocking on our part are insufficient unless the mercy of God gives what we ask, and opens that at which we knock, and enables us to find that which we seek. For He is at hand to bestow all these things, if only the opportunity is given to Him by our good will. For He desires and looks for our perfection and salvation far more than we do ourselves. And the blessed David knew so well that by his own efforts he could not secure the increase of his work and labour, that he entreated with renewed prayers that he might obtain the "direction" of his work from the Lord, saying, "Direct thou the work of our hands over us; yea, the work of our hands do thou direct;" [1055] and again: "Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us." [1056]


Footnotes

[1052] The language in this chapter is perilously near semi-Pelagianism, on which compare the Introduction p. 190, sq. [1053] Ps. lxxxviii. (lxxxix.) 20. [1054] S. Matt. vii. 7. [1055] Ps. lxxxix. (xc.) 17. [1056] Ps. lxvii. (lxiii.) 29.


Chapter XV.

From whom we can learn the way of perfection.

And so, if we wish in very deed and truth to attain to the crown of virtues, we ought to listen to those teachers and guides who, not dreaming with pompous declamations, but learning by act and experience, are able to teach us as well, and direct us likewise, and show us the road by which we may arrive at it by a most sure pathway; and who also testify that they have themselves reached it by faith rather than by any merits of their efforts. And further, the purity of heart that they have acquired has taught them this above all; viz., to recognize more and more that they are burdened with sin (for their compunction for their faults increases day by day in proportion as their purity of soul advances), and to sigh continually from the bottom of their heart because they see that they cannot possibly avoid the spots and blemishes of those faults which are ingrained in them through the countless triflings of the thoughts. And therefore they declared that they looked for the reward of the future life, not from the merits of their works, but from the mercy of the Lord, taking no credit to themselves for their great circumspection of heart in comparison with others, since they ascribed this not to their own exertions, but to divine grace; and without flattering themselves on account of the carelessness of those who are cold, and worse than they themselves are, they rather aimed at a lasting humility by fixing their gaze on those whom they knew to be really free from sin and already in the enjoyment of eternal bliss in the kingdom of heaven, and so by this consideration they avoided the downfall of pride, and at the same time always saw both what they were aiming at and what they had to grieve over: as they knew that they could not attain that purity of heart for which they yearned while weighed down by the burden of the flesh.


Chapter XVI.

That we cannot even make the effort to obtain perfection without the mercy and inspiration of God.

We ought therefore, in accordance with their teaching and instruction, so to press towards it, and to be diligent in fastings, vigils, prayers, and contrition of heart and body, for fear lest all these things should be rendered useless by an attack of this malady. For we ought to believe not merely that we cannot secure this actual perfection by our own efforts and exertions, but also that we cannot perform those things which we practise for its sake, viz., our efforts and exertions and desires, without the assistance of the divine protection, and the grace of His inspiration, chastisement, and exhortation, which He ordinarily sheds abroad in our hearts either through the instrumentality of another, or in His own person coming to visit us.


Chapter XVII.

Various passages which clearly show that we cannot do anything which belongs to our salvation without the aid of God.

Lastly, the Author of our salvation teaches us what we ought not merely to think, but also to acknowledge in everything that we do. "I can," He says, "of mine own self do nothing, but the Father which abideth in me, He doeth the works." [1057] He says, speaking in the human nature which He had taken, [1058] that He could do nothing of Himself; and shall we, who are dust and ashes, think that we have no need of God's help in what pertains to our salvation? And so let us learn in everything, as we feel our own weakness, and at the same time His help, to declare with the saints, "I was overturned that I might fall, but the Lord supported me. The Lord is my strength and my praise: and He is become my salvation." [1059] And "Unless the Lord had helped me, my soul had almost dwelt in hell. If I said, My foot is moved: Thy mercy, O Lord, assisted me. According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul." [1060] Seeing also that our heart is strengthened in the fear of the Lord, and in patience, let us say: "And the Lord became my protector; and He brought me forth into a large place." [1061] And knowing that knowledge is increased by progress in work, let us say: "For thou lightest my lamp, O Lord: O my God, enlighten my darkness, for by Thee I shall be delivered from temptation, and through my God I shall go over a wall." Then, feeling that we have ourselves sought for courage and endurance, and are being directed with greater ease and without labour in the path of the virtues, let us say, "It is God who girded me with strength, and made my way perfect; who made my feet like hart's feet, and setteth me up on high: who teacheth my hands to war." And having also secured discretion, strengthened with which we can dash down our enemies, let us cry aloud to God: "Thy discipline hath set me up [1062] unto the end, and Thy discipline the same shall teach me. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, and my feet are not weakened." And because I am thus strengthened with Thy knowledge and power, I will boldly take up the words which follow, and will say, "I will pursue after my enemies and overtake them: and I will not turn again till they are consumed. I will break them, and they shall not be able to stand: they shall fall under my feet." [1063] Again, mindful of our own infirmity, and of the fact that while still burdened with the weak flesh we cannot without His assistance overcome such bitter foes as our sins are, let us say, "Through Thee we will scatter our enemies: [1064] and through Thy name we will despise them that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow: neither shall my sword save me. For Thou hast saved us from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us." [1065] But further: "Thou hast guided me with strength unto the battle, and hast subdued under me them that rose up against me. And Thou hast made mine enemies turn their backs upon me, and hast destroyed them that hated me." [1066] And reflecting that with our own arms alone we cannot conquer, let us say, "Take hold of arms and shield: and rise up to help me. Bring out the sword and stop the way against them that persecute me: say to my soul, I am thy salvation." [1067] And Thou hast made my arms like a brazen bow. And Thou hast given me the protection of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath held me up." [1068] "For our fathers got not the possession of the land through their own sword; neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand and Thine arm and the light of Thy countenance because Thou wast pleased with them." [1069] Lastly, as with anxious mind we regard all His benefits with thankfulness, let us cry to Him with the inmost feelings of our heart, for all these things, because we have fought, and have obtained from Him the light of knowledge, and self-control and discretion, and because He has furnished us with His own arms, and strengthened us with a girdle of virtue, and because He has made our enemies turn their backs upon us, and has given us the power of scattering them like the dust before the wind: "I will love Thee, O Lord my Strength; the Lord is my stronghold, my refuge and my deliverer. My God is my helper, and in Him will I put my trust. My protector and the horn of my salvation, and my support. Praising I will call upon the name of the Lord; and I shall be saved from mine enemies." [1070]


Footnotes

[1057] S. John xiv. 10; v. 30. [1058] Ex persona hominis assumpti. See the note on Against Nestorius, I. v. [1059] Ps. cxvii. (cxviii.) 13, 14. [1060] Ps. xciii. (xciv.) 17-19. [1061] Ps. xvii. (xviii.) 20 sq. [1062] Erexit (Petschenig). Gazæus reads correxit, with the Vulgate. [1063] Ps. xvii. (xviii.) 33 sq. [1064] Gazæus adds cornu after the Vulgate. [1065] Ps. xliii. (xliv.) 6-8. [1066] Ps. xvii. (xviii.) 40, 41. [1067] Ps. xxxiv. (xxxv.) 2-4. [1068] Ps. xvii. (xviii.) 35. [1069] Ps. xliii. (xliv.) 4, 5. [1070] Ps. xvii. (xviii.) 2-4.


Chapter XVIII.

How we are protected by the grace of God not only in our natural condition, but also by His daily Providence.

Not alone giving thanks to Him for that He has created us as reasonable beings, and endowed us with the power of free will, and blessed us with the grace of baptism, and granted to us the knowledge and aid of the law, but for these things as well, which are bestowed upon us by His daily providence; viz., that He delivers us from the craft of our enemies; that He works with us so that we can overcome the sins of the flesh, that, even without our knowing it, He shields us from dangers; that He protects us from falling into sin; that He helps us and enlightens us, so that we can understand and recognize the actual help which He gives us, (which some will have it is what is meant by the law); [1071] that, when we are through His influence secretly struck with compunction for our sins and negligences, He visits us with His regard and chastens us to our soul's health; that even against our will we are sometimes drawn by Him to salvation; lastly that this very free will of ours, which is more readily inclined to sin, is turned by Him to a better purpose, and by His prompting and suggestion, bent towards the way of virtue.


Footnotes

[1071] The allusion is to the Pelagians. Cf. S. Jerome Contra Pelag. I. c. ix.; and in Jerem. c. xxv.; and S. Augustine De Gratia Christi contra Pelag.


Chapter XIX.

How this faith concerning the grace of God was delivered to us by the ancient Fathers.

This then is that humility towards God, this is that genuine faith of the ancient fathers which still remains intact among their successors. And to this faith, the apostolic virtues, which they so often showed, bear an undoubted witness, not only among us but also among infidels and unbelievers: for keeping in simplicity of heart the simple faith of the fishermen they did not receive it in a worldly spirit through dialectical syllogisms or the eloquence of a Cicero, but learnt by the experience of a pure life, and stainless actions, and by correcting their faults, and (to speak more truly) by visible proofs, that the character of perfection is to be found in that faith without which neither piety towards God, nor purification from sin, nor amendment of life, nor perfection of virtue can be secured.


Chapter XX.

Of one who for his blasphemy was given over to a most unclean spirit.

I knew one of the number of the brethren, whom I heartily wish I had never known; since afterwards he allowed himself to be saddled with the responsibilities of my order: [1072] who confessed to a most admirable elder that he was attacked by a terrible sin of the flesh: for he was inflamed with an intolerable lust, with the unnatural desire of suffering rather than of committing a shameful act: then the other like a true spiritual physician, at once saw through the inward cause and origin of this evil. And, sighing deeply, said: "Never would the Lord have suffered you to be given over to so foul a spirit unless you had blasphemed against Him." And he, when this was discovered, at once fell at his feet on the ground, and, struck with the utmost astonishment, as if he saw the secrets of his heart laid bare by God, confessed that he had blasphemed with evil thoughts against the Son of God. Whence it is clear that one who is possessed by the spirit of pride, or who has been guilty of blasphemy against God,--as one who offers a wrong to Him from whom the gift of purity must be looked for--is deprived of his uprightness and perfection, and does not deserve the sanctifying grace of chastity.


Footnotes

[1072] Viz., that of the priesthood.


Chapter XXI.

The instance of Joash, King of Judah, showing what was the consequence of his pride.

Some such thing we read of in the book of Chronicles. For Joash the king of Judah at the age of seven was summoned by Jehoiada the priest to the kingdom and by the witness of Scripture is commended for all his actions as long as the aforesaid priest lived. But hear what Scripture relates of him after Jehoiada's death, and how he was puffed up with pride and given over to a most disgraceful state. "But after the death of Jehoiada the princes went in and worshipped the king: and he was soothed by their services and hearkened unto them. And they forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served groves and idols, and great wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of this sin." And after a little: "When a year was come about, the army of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and killed all the princes of the people, and they sent all the spoils to the king to Damascus. And whereas there came a very small number of the Syrians, the Lord delivered into their hands an infinite multitude, because they had forsaken the Lord the God of their fathers: and on Joash they executed shameful judgments. And departing they left him in great diseases." [1073] You see how the consequence of pride was that he was given over to shocking and filthy passions. For he who is puffed up with pride and has permitted himself to be worshipped as God, is (as the Apostle says) "given over to shameful passions and a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient." [1074] And because, as Scripture says, "every one who exalts his heart is unclean before God," [1075] he who is puffed up with swelling pride of heart is given over to most shameful confusion to be deluded by it, that when thus humbled he may know that he is unclean through impurity of the flesh and knowledge of impure desires,--a thing which he had refused to recognize in the pride of his heart; and also that the shameful infection of the flesh may disclose the hidden impurity of the heart, which he contracted through the sin of pride, and that through the patent pollution of his body he may be proved to be impure, who did not formerly see that he had become unclean through the pride of his spirit.


Footnotes

[1073] 2 Chr. xxiv. 17, 18, 23-25. [1074] Rom. i. 26, 28. [1075] Prov. xvi. 5 (LXX).


Chapter XXII.

That every proud soul is subject to spiritual wickedness to be deceived by it.

And this clearly shows that every soul of which the swellings of pride have taken possession, is given over to the Syrians of the soul, [1076] i.e., to spiritual wickedness, and that it is entangled in the lusts of the flesh, that the soul being at last humbled by earthly faults, and carnally polluted, may recognize its uncleanness, though while it stood erect in the coldness of its heart, it could not understand that through pride of heart it was rendered unclean in the sight of God; and by this means being humbled, a man may get rid of his former coldness, and being cast down and confused with the shame of his fleshly lusts, may thenceforward hasten to betake himself the more eagerly towards fervour and warmth of spirit.


Footnotes

[1076] Intellectuales.


Chapter XXIII.

How perfection can only be attained through the virtue of humility.

And so it is clearly shown that none can attain the end of perfection and purity, except through true humility, which he displays in the first instance to the brethren, and shows also to God in his inmost heart, believing that without His protection and aid extended to him at every instant, he cannot possibly obtain the perfection which he desires and to which he hastens so eagerly.


Chapter XXIV.

Who are attacked by spiritual and who by carnal pride.

Thus much let it suffice to have spoken, as far as, by God's help, our slender ability was able, concerning spiritual pride of which we have said that it attacks advanced Christians. And this kind of pride is not familiar to or experienced by most men, because the majority do not aim at attaining perfect purity of heart, so as to arrive at the stage of these conflicts; nor have they secured any purification from the preceding faults of which we have here explained both the character and the remedies in separate books. But it generally attacks those only who have conquered the former faults and have already almost arrived at the top of the tree in respect of the virtues. And because our most crafty enemy has not been able to destroy them through a carnal fall, he endeavours to cast them down and overthrow them by a spiritual catastrophe, trying by this to rob them of the prizes of their ancient rewards secured as they were with great labour. But as for us, who are still entangled in earthly passions, he never deigns to tempt us in this fashion, but overthrows us by a coarser and what I called a carnal pride. And therefore I think it well, as I promised, to say a few things about this kind of pride by which we and men of our stamp are usually affected, and the minds especially of younger men and beginners are endangered.


Chapter XXV.

A description of carnal pride, and of the evils which it produces in the soul of a monk.

This carnal pride therefore, of which we spoke, when it has gained an entrance into the heart of a monk, which is but lukewarm, and has made a bad start in renouncing the world, does not suffer him to stoop from his former state of worldly haughtiness to the true humility of Christ, but first of all makes him disobedient and rough; then it does not let him be gentle and kindly; nor allows him to be on a level with and like his brethren: nor does it permit him to be stripped and deprived of his worldly goods, as God and our Saviour commands: and, though renunciation of the world is nothing but the mark of mortification and the cross, and cannot begin or rise from any other foundations, but these; viz., that a man should recognize that he is not merely spiritually dead to the deeds of this world, but also should realize daily that he must die in the body--it makes him on the contrary hope for a long life, and sets before him many lengthy infirmities, and covers him with shame and confusion. If when stripped of everything he has begun to be supported by the property of others and not his own, it persuades him that it is much better for food and clothing to be provided for him by his own rather than by another's means according to that text (which, as was before said, [1077] those who are rendered dense through such dulness and coldness of heart, cannot possibly understand), "It is more blessed to give than to receive." [1078]


Footnotes

[1077] See Book X. c. xviii. [1078] Acts xx. 35.


Chapter XXVI.

That a man whose foundation is bad, sinks daily from bad to worse.

Those then who are possessed by such distrust of mind, and who through the devil's own want of faith fall away from that spark of faith, by which they seemed in the early days of their conversion to be enkindled, begin more anxiously to watch over the money which before they had begun to give away, and treasure it up with greater avarice, as men who cannot recover again what they have once wasted: or--what is still worse--take back what they had formerly cast away: or else (which is a third and most disgusting kind of sin), collect what they never before possessed, and thus are convicted of having gone no further in forsaking the world than merely to take the name and style of monk. With this beginning therefore, and on this bad and rotten foundation, it is a matter of course that the whole superstructure of faults must rise, nor can anything be built on such villainous foundations, except what will bring the wretched soul to the ground with a hopeless collapse.


Chapter XXVII.

A description of the faults which spring from the evil of pride.

The mind then that is hardened by such feelings, and which begins with this miserable coldness is sure to go daily from bad to worse and to conclude its life with a more hideous end: and while it takes delight in its former desires, and is overcome, as the apostle says, by impious avarice (as he says of it "and covetousness, which is idolatry, or the worship of idols," and again "the love of money," says he, "is the root of all evils" [1079] ) can never admit into the heart the true and unfeigned humility of Christ, while the man boasts himself of his high birth, or is puffed up by his position in the world (which he has forsaken in body but not in mind) or is proud of his wealth which he retains to his own destruction; and because of this he is no longer content to endure the yoke of the monastery, or to be instructed by the teaching of any of the elders, and not only objects to observe any rule of subjection or obedience, but will not even listen to teaching about perfection; and such dislike of spiritual talk grows up in his heart that if such a conversation should happen to arise, he cannot keep his eyes fixed on one spot, but his gaze wanders blankly about here and there, and his eyes shift hither and thither, as the custom is. Instead of wholesome coughs, he spits from a dry throat: he coughs on purpose without any need, he drums with his fingers, and twiddles them and scribbles like a man writing: and all his limbs fidget so that while the spiritual conversation is proceeding, you would think that he was sitting on thorns, and those very sharp ones, or in the midst of a mass of worms: and if the conversation turns in all simplicity on something which is for the good of the hearers, he thinks that it is brought forward for his especial benefit. And all the time that the examination of the spiritual life is proceeding, he is taken up with his own suspicious thoughts, and is not on the watch for something to take home for his good, but is anxiously seeking the reason why anything is said, or is quietly turning over in his mind, how he can raise objections to it, so that he cannot at all take in any of those things which are so admirably brought forward, or be done any good to by them. And so the result is that the spiritual conference is not merely of no use to him, but is positively injurious, and becomes to him an occasion of greater sin. For while he is conscience stricken and fancies that everything is being aimed at him he hardens himself more stubbornly in the obstinacy of his heart, and is more keenly affected by the stings of his wrath: then afterwards his voice is loud, his talk harsh, his answers bitter and noisy, his gait lordly and capricious; his tongue too ready, he is forward in conversation and no friend to silence except when he is nursing in his heart some bitterness against a brother, and his silence denotes not compunction or humility, but pride and wrath: so that one can hardly say which is the more objectionable in him, that unrestrained and boisterous merriment, or this dreadful and deadly solemnity. [1080] For in the former we see inopportune chattering, light and frivolous laughter, unrestrained and undisciplined mirth. In the latter a silence that is full of wrath and deadly; and which simply arises from the desire to prolong as long as possible the rancorous feelings which are nourished in silence against some brother, and not from the wish to obtain from it the virtues of humility and patience. And as the man who is a victim to passion readily makes everybody else miserable and is ashamed to apologize to the brother whom he has wronged, so when the brother offers to do so to him, he rejects it with scorn. And not only is he not touched or softened by the advances of his brother; but is the rather made more angry because his brother anticipates him in humility. And that wholesome humiliation and apology, which generally puts an end to the devil's temptation, becomes to him an occasion of a worse outbreak.


Footnotes

[1079] Col. iii. 5; 1 Tim. vi. 10. [1080] Serietas (Petschenig): Taciturnitas (Gazæus).


Chapter XXVIII.

On the pride of a certain brother.

I have heard while I have been in this district a thing which I shudder and am ashamed to recall; viz., that one of the juniors--when he was reproved by his Abbot because he had shown signs of throwing off the humility, of which he had made trial for a short time at his renunciation of the world, and of being puffed up with diabolical pride--most impertinently answered, "Did I humiliate myself for a time on purpose to be always in subjection?" And at this wanton and wicked reply of his the elder was utterly aghast, and could say nothing, as if he had received this answer from old Lucifer himself and not from a man; so that he could not possibly utter a word against such impudence, but only let fall sighs and groans from his heart; turning over in silence in his mind that which is said of our Saviour: "Who being in the form of God humbled Himself and became obedient"--not, as the man said who was seized with a diabolical spirit of pride, "for a time," but "even to death." [1081]


Footnotes

[1081] Phil. ii. 6, 8.


Chapter XXIX.

The signs by which you can recognize the presence of carnal pride in a soul.

And to draw together briefly what has been said of this kind of pride, by collecting, as well as we can, some of its signs that we may somehow convey to those who are thirsting for instruction in perfection, an idea of its characteristics from the movements of the outward man: I think it well to unfold them in a few words that we may conveniently recognize the signs by which we can discern and detect it, that when the roots of this passion are laid bare and brought to the surface, and seen and traced out with ocular demonstration, they may be the more easily plucked up and avoided. For only then will this most pestilent evil be altogether escaped, and if we do not begin too late in the day, when it has already got the mastery over us, to be on our guard against its dangerous heat and noxious influence, but if, recognizing its symptoms (so to speak) beforehand, we take precautions against it with wise and careful forethought. For, as we said before, you can tell a man's inward condition from his outward gait. By these signs, then, that carnal pride, of which we spoke earlier, is shown. To begin with, in conversation the man's voice is loud: in his silence there is bitterness: in his mirth his laughter is noisy and excessive: when he is serious he is unreasonably gloomy: in his answers there is rancour: he is too free with his tongue, his words tumbling out at random without being weighed. He is utterly lacking in patience, and without charity: impudent in offering insults to others, faint-hearted in bearing them himself: troublesome in the matter of obedience except where his own wishes and likings correspond with his duty: unforgiving in receiving admonition: weak in giving up his own wishes: very stubborn about yielding to those of others: always trying to compass his own ends, and never ready to give them up for others: and thus the result is that though he is incapable of giving sound advice, yet in everything he prefers his own opinion to that of the elders.


Chapter XXX.

How when a man has grown cold through pride he wants to be put to rule other people.

And when a man whom pride has mastered has fallen through these stages of descent, he shudders at the discipline of the coenobium, and--as if the companionship of the brethren hindered his perfection, and the sins of others impeded and interfered with his advance in patience and humility--he longs to take up is abode in a solitary cell; else is eager to build a monastery and gather together some others to teach and instruct, as if he would do good to many more people, and make himself from being a bad disciple a still worse master. For when through this pride of heart a man has fallen into this most dangerous and injurious coldness, he can neither be a real monk nor a man of the world, and what is worse, promises to himself to gain perfection by means of this wretched state and manner of life of his.


Chapter XXXI.

How we can overcome pride and attain perfection.

Wherefore if we wish the summit of our building to be perfect and to rise well-pleasing to God, we should endeavour to lay its foundations not in accordance with the desires of our own lust, but according to the rules of evangelical strictness: which can only be the fear of God and humility, proceeding from kindness and simplicity of heart. But humility cannot possibly be acquired without giving up everything: and as long as a man is a stranger to this, he cannot possibly attain the virtue of obedience, or the strength of patience, or the serenity of kindness, or the perfection of love; without which things our hearts cannot possibly be a habitation for the Holy Spirit: as the Lord says through the prophet: "Upon whom shall My spirit rest, but on him that is humble and quiet and hears My words," or according to those copies which express the Hebrew accurately: "To whom shall I have respect, but to him that is poor and little and of a contrite spirit and that trembleth at My words?" [1082]


Footnotes

[1082] Is. lxvi. 2. It is noteworthy that Cassian after giving a rendering which differs but slightly from that of the old Latin, as given in Sabbatier's great work, adds the version of "those copies which express the Hebrew accurately," and thus shows his acquaintance with Jerome's new translation which he quotes. He does the same thing again in the Conferences, XXIII. viii.; and On the Incarnation Against Nestorius IV. iii.; V. ii., xv. Compare also Institutes VIII. xxi., and Conf. VIII. x.; where he also betrays a knowledge of the Vulgate. As a general rule, however, his translations are taken from the old Latin, or possibly in some cases are made by him from the LXX.


Chapter XXXII.

How pride which is so destructive of all virtues can itself be destroyed by true humility.

Wherefore the Christian athlete who strives lawfully in the spiritual combat and desires to be crowned by the Lord, should endeavour by every means to destroy this most fierce beast, which is destructive of all virtues, knowing that as long as this remains in his breast he not only will never be free from all kinds of evils, but even if he seems to have any good qualities, will lose them by its malign influence. For no structure (so to speak) of virtue can possibly be raised in our soul unless first the foundations of true humility are laid in our heart, which being securely laid may be able to bear the weight of perfection and love upon them in such a way that, as we have said, we may first show to our brethren true humility from the very bottom of our heart, in nothing acquiescing in making them sad or in injuring them: and this we cannot possibly manage unless true self-denial, which consists in stripping and depriving ourselves of all our possessions, is implanted in us by the love of Christ. Next the yoke of obedience and subjection must be taken up in simplicity of heart without any pretence, so that, except for the commands of the Abbot, no will of our own is alive in us. But this can only be ensured in the case of one who considers himself not only dead to this world, but also unwise and a fool; and performs without any discussion whatever is enjoined him by his seniors, believing it to be divine and enjoined from heaven.


Chapter XXXIII.

Remedies against the evil of pride.

And when men remain in this condition, there is no doubt that this quiet and secure state of humility will follow, so that considering ourselves inferior to every one else we shall bear everything offered to us, even if it is hurtful, and saddening, and damaging--with the utmost patience, as if it came from those who are our superiors. And these things we shall not only bear with the greatest ease, but we shall consider them trifling and mere nothings, if we constantly bear in mind the passion of our Lord and of all His Saints: considering that the injuries by which we are tried are so much less than theirs, as we are so far behind their merits and their lives: remembering also that we shall shortly depart out of this world, and soon by a speedy end to our life here become sharers of their lot. For considerations such as these are a sure end not only to pride but to all kinds of sins. Then, next after this we must keep a firm grasp of this same humility towards God: which we must so secure as not only to acknowledge that we cannot possibly perform anything connected with the attainment of perfect virtue without His assistance and grace, but also truly to believe that this very fact that we can understand this, is His own gift.


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