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Maximus the Confessor: Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice

First Century

1. The Good that is beyond being and beyond the unoriginate is one, the holy unity of three persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is an infinite union of three infinites. Its principle of being, together with the mode, the nature and the quality of its being, is altogether inaccessible to creatures. For it eludes every intellection of intellective beings, in no way issuing from its natural hidden inwardness, and infinitely transcendmg the summit of all spiritual knowledge.

2. The substantive and essential Good is that which has no origin, no consummation, no cause of being and no motion whatsoever, so far as its being is concerned, towards any final cause. The goodness to which such terms apply is not substantive since it has an origin, a consummation, a cause of being, and motion, so far as its being is concerned, towards some final cause. Even if what is not being in the substantive sense is said to be, it exists and is said to be by participation, through the will of substantive being.

3. Not only is the divine Logos prior to the genesis of created beings, but there neither was nor is nor will be a principle superior to the Logos. The Logos is not without intellect or bereft of life; He possesses intellect and life because the Father is the essentially subsistent intellect that begets Him, and the Holy Spirit is His essentially subsistent and coexistent life.

4. There is one God, because the Father is the begetter of the unique Son and the fount of the Holy Spirit: one without confusion and three without division. The Father is unoriginate Intellect, the unique essential Begetter of the unique Logos, also unoriginate, and the .fount of the unique everlasting life, the Holy Spirit.

5. There is one God because there is one Divinity, a Unity un-riginate, simple, beyond being, without parts and undivided. The same Unity is a Trinity, also unoriginate, simple and so on.

6. Everything that derives its existence from participation in some other reality presupposes the ontological priority of that other reality. Thus it is clear that the divine Cause of created beings -which derive their existence from participation in that Cause - is incomparably superior to all such beings in every way, since by nature its existence is prior to theirs and they presuppose its onto-logical priority. It does not exist as a being with accidents, because if that were the case the divine would be composite, its own existence receiving completion from the existence of created beings. On the contrary, it exists as the beyond-beingness of being. For if artists in their art conceive the shapes of those things which they produce, and if universal nature conceives the forms of the things within it, how much more does God Himself bring into existence out of nothing the very being of all created things, since He is beyond being and even infinitely transcends the attribution of beyond-beingness. For it is He who has yoked the sciences to the arts so that shapes might be devised; it is He who has given to nature the energy which produces its forms, and who has established the very is-ness of beings by virtue of which they exist.

7. God, in whose essence created beings do not participate, but who wills that those capable of so doing shall participate in Him according to some other mode, never issues from the hiddenness of His essence; for even that mode according to which He wills to be participated in remains perpetually concealed from all men. Thus, just as God of His own will is participated in - the manner of this being known to Him. alone - in the surpassing power of His good-ness. He freely brings into existence participating beings, according to the principle which He alone understands. Therefore what has come mto being by the will of Him who made it can never be co- etemal with Him who willed it to exist.

8. The divine Logos, who once for all was born in the flesh, always in His compassion desires to be born in spirit in those who desire Him. He becomes an infant and moulds Himself in them through the virtues. He reveals as much of Himself as He knows the recipient can accept; He does not diminish the manifestation of His own greatness out of lack of generosity but estimates the receptive capacity of those who desire to see Him. In this way the divine Logos is eternally made manifest in different modes of participation, and yet remains etemally invisible to all in virtue of the surpassing nature of His hidden activity. That is why the apostle, when wisely considering the power of this hidden activity, says, 'Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and throughout the ages' (Heb. 13:8); for he sees the hidden activity as something which is always new and never becomes outmoded through being embraced by the intellect.

9. Christ our God is born and becomes man by adding to Himself flesh endowed with an intellective soul. He who from non-being brings created things into being is Himself born supranaturally of a Virgin who does not thereby lose her virginity. For just as He Himself became man without changing His nature or altering His power, so He makes her who bore Him a Mother while keeping her a Virgin. In this way He reveals one miracle through another miracle, at the same time concealing the one with the other. This is because in Himself, according to His essence. God always remains a mystery. He expresses His natural hiddenness in such a way that He makes it the more hidden through the revelation. Similarly, in the case of the Virgin who bore Him, He made her a Mother in such a way that by conceiving Him the bonds of her virginity became even more in- dissoluble.

10. Natures are changed into something new and God becomes man. Not only is divine nature, stable and unmoved. moved towards what is unstable and subject to movement, in order to stop it from being swept away; not only does human nature produce without seed, in a way that is supranatural, the flesh which is brought to perfection by the Logos, in order to prevent it too from being swept away; but a star from the east shone in the day and guided the Magi (cf. Matt. 2:2-10) to the place where the Logos became incarnate, in order to show in a mystical way that the inner teaching of the Law and the prophets is superior to the senses and guides the Gentiles towards the supreme light of spiritual knowledge. For clearly the inner teaching of the Law and the prophets, when contemplated devoutly like a star, leads to knowledge of the incarnate Logos those who freely respond to the call of grace.

11. As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (cf Gen. 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death mto existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin (cf. Heb. 4:15); and indeed sin is not part of human nature. In this way, by enticmg the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh. He provoked him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it.

12. The great mystery of the incarnation remains a mystery eternally. Not only is what is not yet seen of it greater than what has been revealed - for it is revealed merely to the extent that those saved by it can grasp it - but also even what is revealed still remains entirely hidden and is by no means known as it really is. What I have said should not appear paradoxical. For God is beyond being and transcends all beyond-beingness; and so, when He wished to come down to the level of being. He became being in a manner which transcends being. Thus, too, although transcending man, yet out of love for man He truly became man by taking on the substance of men; .but the manner in which He became man always remains un-revealed, for He was made man in a way which transcends man.

13. Let us contemplate with faith the mystery of the divine incarnation and in all simplicity let us simply praise Him who in His great generosity became man for us. For who, relying on the power of rational demonstration, can explain how the conception of the divine Logos took place? How was flesh generated without seed? How was there an engendering without loss of maidenhood? How did a mother after giving birth remain a virgin? How did He who was supremely perfect develop as He grew up (cf. Luke 2:52)? How was He who was pure baptized? How did He who was hungry give sustenance (cf Matt. 4: 2; 14:14-21)? How did He who was weary impart strength (cf. John 4:6)? How did He who suffered dispense healing? How did He who was dying bestow life? And, to put the most important last, how did God become man? And - what is even more mysterious - how did the Logos, while subsisting wholly, essentially and hypostatically in the Father, also exist essentially and hypostatically in the flesh? How did He who is wholly God by nature become wholly man by nature, not renouncing either nature in any way at all, neither the divine, through which He is God, nor ours, through which He became man? Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason (cf. Heb. 11:1).

14. Because Adam disobeyed, human nature has come to be generated through sensual pleasure; banishing such pleasure from human nature, the Lord had nothing to do with engendering by means of seed. Because the woman transgressed the commandment, the generation of human nature begins in pain (cf. Gen. 3:16); expelling this from human nature through His birth, the Lord did not allow her who bore Him to lose her virginity. He did this in order to expel from human nature both pleasure deliberately sought and the resulting unsought pain, becoming the destroyer of those things which He did not create. Through this He also mystically taught us to embark of our own accord on another way of life, one perhaps begun in pain and labor but nevertheless ending in divine pleasure and everlasting gladness. That is why He who made man became a man and was born as a man, so that He might save man and, by healing our passions through His passion, might Himself supra-naturally destroy the passions that were destroying us, in His compassion renewing us in the spirit through His privations in the flesh.

15. He who longing for the divine has overcome the soul's predilection for the body is free from physical limitations even though he is in a body. For God, who attracts the desire of the person who longs for Him, is incomparably higher than all things, and does not allow anyone who longs for Him to direct his desire towards anything sequent to Him. Let us therefore long for God with all the strength of our nature and let us keep our resolution unfettered by any bodily needs. Let us rise above all sensible and intelligible realities, and let us not allow any physical limitation to compromise our resolve to be with God, who is by nature beyond all limitation.

16. The suffering of the saints lies in the struggle between malice and virtue, the former fighting to win control, the latter enduring all things to avoid defeat. The first struggles to nurture sin by chastising the righteous; the second to hold good men firm although they experience more than their share of misfortunes.

17. The task of virtue is to contend against hardship and suffering. The prize for victory, given to those who stand their ground, is the soul's dispassion. In this state the soul is united with God through love, and in inward resolution it is separated from the body and the world. Those who stand their ground find that the soul's strength lies in the body's affliction.

18. Beguiled from our original state by the deceitfulness of sensual pleasure, we chose death rather than true life. Let us then gladly endure the bodily hardship which puts such pleasure to death. In this way the death of pleasure will destroy the death which came about through pleasure, and we shall receive back, purchased with but slight bodily hardship, the life which we sold for the sake of sensual pleasure.

19. If when the flesh has an easy life the force of sin tends to grow stronger. It is clear that when the flesh suffers affliction the force of virtue will also increase. So let us bravely endure the affliction of the flesh, which cleanses the soul's stains and brings us future glory. For 'the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Rom. 8: 18).

20. When physicians are treating the body they do not administer the same remedy in all cases. Neither does God, when treating the illnesses of the soul, regard a single kind of therapy as suitable for all conditions but He allots to each soul what is suitable for it and effects its cure. So let us give thanks while we are being created, however great our suffering, for the result is blessed.

21. Nothing disciplines the disposition of the soul so well as the protests of the afflicted flesh. If the soul gives way to them, it will be evident that it loves the flesh more than God. But if it remains unshaken by these disturbances, it will be shown to honor virtue more than the flesh. Through virtue God will come to dwell in it ■ God who for the soul's sake patiently bears our human suffering -

23. When Adam accepted the sensual pleasure offered to him by Eve, who had come from his side, he expelled humanity from paradise (cf Gen. 3:24). But when the Lord in His agony was pierced in his side by the lance. He brought the robber into paradise (cf. Luke 23:43). Let us. then, love the suffering of the flesh and hate its pleasure; for the first brings us in and restores God's blessings to us, while the second drives us out and separates us from those blessings.

24. If God suffers in the flesh when He is made man, should we not rejoice when we suffer, for we have God to share our sufferings? This shared suffering confers the kingdom on us. For he spoke truly who said, 'If we suffer with Him, then we shall also be glorified with Him' (Rom. 8:17).

25. If we have to suffer because our ancestor involved our nature with sensual pleasure, let us endure our temporary sufferings bravely; for they blunt the sharp point of such pleasure for us, and free us from the eternal torment which it brings upon us.

26. Love is the consummation of all blessings, since all who walk in it love leads and guides towards God, the supreme blessing and cause of every blessing, and unites them with Him; for love is faithful and never fails (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8). Faith is the foundation of what comes after it, namely hope and love, since it provides a firm basis for truth. Hope is the strength of the two pre-eminent gifts of love and faith, since hope gives us glimpses both of that in which we believe and of that for which we long, and teaches us to make our way towards our goal. Love is the completion of the other two, embracing entirely the entire desire of all desires, and satisfying the yearning of our faith and hope for it: for that which we beheve to be and which we hope will come to pass, love enables us to enjoy as a present reality.

27. The most perfect work of love, and the fulfillment of its activity, is to effect an exchange between those it joins together, which in some measure unites their distinctive characteristics and adapts their respective conditions to each other. Love makes man god, and reveals and manifests God as man, through the single and identical purpose and activity of the will of both.

28. If we are made, as we are, in the image of God (cf Gen. I :27), let us become the image both of ourselves and of God; or rather let us all become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods. For in this way the divine gifts and the presence of divine peace are honored.

29. Love is a great blessing and of all blessings the first and supreme, since it joins God and men together around him who has love, and it makes the Creator of men manifest Himself as man through the exact likeness of the deified man to God, in so far as this is possible for man. This is what I take to be the actualization of the commandment, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might, and your neighbor as yourself (cf. Lev. 19: 18; Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-39).

30. The devil has deceived us by guile in a malicious and cunning way, provoking us through self-love to sensual pleasure (cf. Gen. 3:1-5). He has separated us in our wills from God and from each other; he has perverted straightforward truth and in this manner has divided humanity, cutting it up into many opinions and fantasies.

31. The greatest authors and instigators of evil are ignorance, self-love and tyranny. Each depends on the other two and is supported by them: from ignorance of God comes self-love, and from self-love comes tyranny over one's own kind. The devil establishes these in us when we misuse our own powers, namely our intelligence, our desire and our incensive power.

32. By intelligence we should be stimulated to overcome our ignorance and to seek the one and only God by means of spiritual knowledge: through desire - through a passion of self-love which has been purified - we should be drawn in longing to the one God: and with an incensive power divorced from all tyrannical propensity we should struggle to attain God alone. From these three powers of the soul we should actualize that divine and blessed love on account of which they exist, that love which joins the devout man to God and reveals him to be a god.

33. Since self-love is, as I have said, the origin and mother of evil, when this is eradicated all the things which derive from it are eradicated as well. For when self-love is absent, not the slightest trace or form of evil can exist in any way at all.

34. We should care for ourselves and each other in the way that Christ Himself, who patiently suffered for us, has already shown us in His own person.

35. For the sake of love all the saints resisted sin, not showing any regard for this present life. And they endured many forms of death, in order to be separated from the world and united with themselves and with God, joining together in themselves the broken fragments of human nature. For this is the true and undefiled theosophy of the faithful. Its consummation is goodness and trath - if indeed goodness as compassion and truth as devotion to God in faith are the marks of love. It unites men to God and to one another, and on this account contains the unchanging permanence of all blessings.

36. The actualization and proof of perfect love for God is a genuine and -willing attitude of goodwill towards one's neighbor. 'For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen', says St John, 'cannot love God whom he has not seen' (1 John 4:20).

37. The way of truth is love. The Logos of God called Himself the way (cf. John 14:6, I John 4:8): and those who travel on this way He presents, purified from every stain, to God the Father.

38. This is the door through which a man enters into the Holy of Holies and is brought to the vision of the unapproachable beauty of the Holy and Royal Trinity.

39. It is a fearful and heinous thing for us, because of our love for things corruptible, deliberately to kill the life that was given to us by God as the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who have trained themselves to prefer truth to self- love will certainly know this fear.

40. Let us use peace in the right way: repudiating our evil alliance with the world and its ruler, let us at last break off the war which we wage against God through the passions. Concluding an unbreakable covenant of peace with Him by destroying the body of sin within us (cf. Rom. 6:6), let us put an end to our hostility towards Him.

41. Rebelling as we do against God through the passions and agreeing to pay tribute in the form of evil to that cunning tyrant and murderer of souls, the devil, we cannot be reconciled with God until we have first begun to fight against the devil with all our strength. For even though we assume the name of faithful Christians, until we have made ourselves the devil's enemies and fight against him, we continue by deliberate choice to serve the shameful passions. And nothing of profit will come to us from our peace in the world, for our soul is in an evil state, rebelling against its own Maker and unwilling to be subject to His kingdom. It is still sold into bondage to hordes of savage masters, who urge it towards evil and treacherously contrive to make it choose the way which leads to destruction instead of that which brings salvation.

42. God made us so that we might become 'partakers of the divine nature' (2 Pet. 1:4) and sharers in His eternity, and so that we might come to be like Him (cf I John 3:2) through deification by grace. It is through deification that all things are reconstituted and achieve their permanence; and it is for its sake that what is not is brought into being and given existence.

43. If we desire to belong to God in both name and reality, let us struggle not to betray the Logos to the passions, as Judas did (cf Matt. 26:14-16), or to deny Him as Peter did (cf Matt. 26:69-75). To deny the Logos is to fail through fear to do what is good: to betray Him is deliberately to choose and commit sin.

44. The outcome of every affliction endured for the sake of virtue is joy, of every labor rest, and of every shameful treatment glory; in short, the outcome of all sufferings for the sake of virtue is to be with God, to remain with Him for ever and to enjoy eternal rest.

45. Because He wishes to unite us in nature and will with one another, and in His goodness urges all humanity towards this goal, God in His love entrusted His saving commandments to us, ordaining simply that we should show mercy and receive mercy (cf. Matt. 5:7).

46. The self-love and cleverness of men, alienating them from each other and perverting the law, have cut our single human nature into many fragments. They have so extended the insensibility which they introduced into our nature and which now dominates it, that our nature, divided in will and purpose, fights against itself. Thus anyone who has succeeded by sound judgment and nobility of intelligence in resolving this anomalous state of our nature has shown mercy to himself prior to showing it to others; for he has molded his will and purpose in conformity to nature, and through them he has advanced towards God by means of nature; he has revealed in himself what it means to be 'in the image' and shown how excellently in the beginning God created our nature in His likeness and as a pure copy of His own goodness, and how He made our nature one with itself in every way - peaceable, free from strife and faction, bound to God and to itself by love, making us cleave to God with desire and to each other with mutual affection.

47. In His love for man God became man so that He might unite human nature to Himself and stop it from acting evilly towards itself, or rather from being at strife and divided against itself, and from having no rest because of the instability of its will and purpose.

48. Nothing sequent to God is more precious for beings endowed with intellect, or rather is more dear to God, than perfect love; for love unites those who have been divided and is able to create a single identity of will and purpose, free from faction, among many or among all; for the property of love is to produce a single will and purpose in those who seek what pertains to it.

49. If by nature the good unifies and holds together what has been separated, evil clearly divides and corrupts what has been unified. For evil is by nature dispersive, unstable, multiform and divisive.

50. The true love of God, grounded in real knowledge, together with the total repudiation of the soul's affection for the body and this world, is the short road to salvation and brings deliverance from all sins. In this way, casting off desire for pleasure and fear of pain, we are freed from evil self-love and are raised to a spiritual knowledge of the Creator. In the place of the evil self-love, we receive an uncorrupt and spiritual self-love, separated from affection for the body: and we do not cease to worship God through this uncorrupt self-love, always seeking from Him sustenance for our souls. For true worship, genuinely pleasing to God, is the strict cultivation of the soul through the virtues.

51. If you do not long for bodily pleasure and have not the slightest fear of pain, you have attained dispassion. For by overcoming such longing and fear, together with the self-love which has engendered them, you have killed at a single blow all the passions which have come into being through them and from them, as well as the principal source of all evil, ignorance. You have become full of that goodness which is stable and permanent and always remains the same by nature; and in that goodness you stand absolutely immovable, 'with unveiled face reflecting the glory of the Lord' (2 Cor. 3:18) and contemplating through the radiant brightness; within you the divine and unapproachable glory.

52. Let us reject the pleasure and pain of this present life with what strength we have, and so free ourselves entirely from all thoughts of the passions and all machinations of the demons. For we love the passions because of pleasure and avoid virtue because of pain.

53. Since it is the nature of every evil to destroy itself along with the habits which brought it into being, man finds by experience that every pleasure is inevitably succeeded by pain, and so directs his whole effort towards pleasure and does all he can to avoid pain. He struggles with all his might to attain pleasure and he fights against pain with immense zeal. By doing this he hopes to keep the two apart from each other - which is impossible - and to indulge his self-love in ways which bring only pleasure and are entirely free from pain. Dominated by the passion of self-love he is, it appears, ignorant that pleasure can never exist without pain. For pain is intertwined with pleasure, even though this seems to escape the notice of those who suffer it. It escapes their notice because desire for pleasure is the dominating force in self-love, and what dominates is naturally always more conspicuous and obscures one's sense of what is present with it. Thus because in our self-love we pursue pleasure, and because - also out of self-love - we try to escape pain, we generate untold corruptmg passions in ourselves.

54. A man no longer experiences pleasure and pain when, freeing his intellect from its relationship with the body, he binds or rather unites it to God, tile real goal of love, longing and desire.

55. Just as one cannot worship God in a pure way without utterly purifying the soul, so one cannot worship creation without pampering the body. By fulfilling, out of concern fop the body, that worship which causes corruption, and by thus acquiring self-love, man became subject to the unceasing action of pleasure and pain; eating always from the tree of disobedience - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - in this way he acquired expenentially through sense-perception a knowledge in which good and evil were intermingled. And it would not be untrue to say that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the visible created world. For this world is by nature subject to that alternation which produces pleasure and pain.

56. Where intelligence does not rule, the senses naturally assume the dominant role. The power of sin is somehow mingled with the senses and induces the soul by means of sensual pleasure to have pity for the flesh, to which it is joined. When the soul pursues the impassioned and pleasurable cultivation of the flesh as its natural task, it is diverted from a life lived in accordance with nature and is impelled to become the author of evil, which has no substantial existence.

57. Evil is the noetic soul's forgetfulness of what is good according to nature; and this forgetfulness results from an impassioned relationship with the flesh and the world. When the intelligence is in control it dispels this forgetfulness through spiritual knowledge, since intelligence, having investigated the nature of the world and the flesh, draws the soul to the realm of spiritual realities which is its true home. Into this realm the law of sin cannot penetrate: for the link between the soul and the senses has now been broken, and the senses, limited to the world of sensible objects, can no longer function as a bridge conveying the law of sin into the intellect. When the intellect transcends its relationship with sensible objects and the world to which they pertain, it becomes utterly free from the sway of the senses.

58. When the intelligence dominates the passions it makes the senses instruments of virtue. Conversely, when the passions dominate the intelligence they conform the senses to sin. One must watchfully study and reflect how the soul can best reverse the situation and use those things through which it had formerly sinned to generate and sustain the virtues.

59. The holy Gospel teaches men to reject life according to the flesh and to embrace life according to the Spirit. I am speaking of those who are always dying to what is human - I mean human life in the flesh according to this present age - and living for God in the Spirit alone, after the example of St Paul and his followers. They do not in any way live then' own life but have Christ living in them in the soul alone (cf Gal. 2:20). Those, then, who in this age are truly dead to the flesh can be distinguished in this way: even though they suffer much affliction, torment, distress and persecution, and experience innumerable forms of trial and temptation, nevertheless they bear everything with joy.

60. Every passion always consists of a combination of some perceived object, a sense faculty and a natural power - the incensive power, desire or the intelligence, as the case may be - whose natural function has been distorted. Thus, if the intellect investigates the final result of these three inter-related factors - the sensible object, the sense faculty and the natural power involved with the sense faculty - it can distinguish each from the other two, and refer each back to its specific natural function. It can, that is to say, view the sensible object in itself, apart from its relationship to the sense faculty, and the sense faculty in itself, apart from its connection with the sensible object, and the natural power - desire, for example -apart from its impassioned alliance with the sense faculty and the sensible object. In this way, the intellect reduces to its constituent parts whatever passion it investigates, in much the same way as the golden calf of Israel in Old Testament days was ground into powder and mixed with water (cf. Exod. 32:20): it dissolves it with the water of spiritual knowledge, utterly destroying even the passion-free image of the passions, by restoring each of its elements to its natural state.

61. A life stained with many faults arising from the passions of the flesh is a soiled garment. For from his mode of life, as if from some garment, each man declares himself to be either righteous or wicked. The righteous man has a holy life as a clean garment; the wicked man has a life soiled with evil actions. Thus a 'garment stained by the flesh' (Jude, verse 23) is the inner state and disposition of the soul when its conscience is deformed by the recollection of evil impulses and actions arising from the flesh. When this state or disposition constantly envelops the soul like a garment, it is filled with the stink of the passions. But when the virtues, through the power of the Spirit, are interwoven in accordance with the intelligence, they form a garment of incorruption for the soul: dressed in this the soul becomes beautiful and resplendent. Conversely, when the passions are interwoven under the influence of the flesh, they form a filthy, soiled garment, which reveals the character of the soul, imposing on it a form and image contrary to the divine.

62. A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to the deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God Himself became man. For it is clear that He who became man without sin (cf. Heb. 4: 15) will divinize human nature without changing it into the divine nature, and will raise it up for His own sake to the same degree as He lowered Himself for man's sake. This is what St Paul teaches mystically when he says, '. . . that in the ages to come He might display the overflowing richness of His grace' (Eph. 2:7).

63. When the intelhgence is in control of the incensive power and desire, it produces the virtues. When the intellect devotes its attention to the inner essences of created things, it reaps genuine spiritual knowledge. Thus the intelligence, after rejecting everything alien, discovers what is desirable according to our true nature: and the intellect, after passing beyond the things that are known, apprehends the Cause of created things that transcends being and knowledge. Then the passion of deification is actualized by grace: the intelligence's power of natural discrimination is suspended, for there is no longer anything to discriminate about: the intellect's natural mtellection is brought to a halt, for there is no longer anything to be known: and the person found worthy to participate in the divine is made god and brought into a state of rest.

64. Suffering cleanses the soul infected with the filth of sensual pleasure and detaches it completely from material things by showing it the penalty incurred as a result of its affection for them. This is why God in His justice allows the devil to afflict men with torments.

65. Pleasure and distress, desire and fear, and what follows from them, were not originally created as elements of human nature, for in that case they would form part of the definition of that nature. I follow in this matter St Gregory of Nyssa, who states that these things were introduced as a result of our fall from perfection, being infiltrated into that part of our nature least endowed with intelligence. Through them the blessed and divine image in man was at the time of our transgression immediately replaced by a clear and obvious likeness to animals. Once the true dignity of the intelligence had been obscured, it was inevitable and just that human nature should be chastised by those witless elements which it had introduced into itself. In this way God in His providence wisely made man conscious of the nobility of his intellect.

66. Even the passions become good if we wisely and diligently detach them from what is bodily and direct them towards the acquisition of what is heavenly. This happens, for example, when we turn desire into a noetic yearning for heavenly blessings: or when we turn pleasure into the gentle delight which the volitive energy of the intellect finds in divine gifts: or when we turn fear into protective concern to escape punishments threatening us because of our sins: or when we turn distress into corrective remorse for present sin. In short, the passions become good if - like wise physicians who use the body of the viper as a remedy against present or expected harm resulting from its bite - we use them to destroy present or expected evil, and in order to acquire and safeguard virtue and spiritual knowledge.

67. The law of the Old Testament through practical philosophy cleanses human nature of all defilement. The law of the New Testament, through initiation into the mysteries of contemplation, raises the intellect by means of spiritual knowledge from the sight of material things to the vision of spiritual realities.

68. Those who are beginners and stand at the gate of the divine court of the virtues (cf. Exod. 27:9) are called 'God- fearing' by Scripture (cf. Acts 10:2; 13:16, 26). Those who with some measure of stability have acquired the principles and qualities of the virtues, it describes as 'advancing'. Those who in their pursuit of holiness have by means of spiritual knowledge already attained the summit of that truth which reveals the virtues, it entitles 'perfect'. Thus he who has abandoned his former passion-dominated way of life, and out of fear has submitted his entire will to the divine commandments, will lack none of the blessings which are appropriate to beginners, even though he has not yet acquired stability in the practice of the virtues or come to share in the wisdom spoken among those who are perfect- (cf. I Cor. 2:6). And he who is advancing will not lack any of the blessings which belong to his degree, even though he has not yet acquired the transcendent knowledge of divine realities possessed by the perfect. For the perfect have already been initiated mystically into contemplative theology: having purified their intellects of every material fantasy and bearing always the stamp of the image of divine beauty in all its fullness, they manifest the divine love present in their hearts.

69. Fear is twofold; one kind is pure, the other impure. That which is pre-eminently fear of punishment on account of offences committed is impure, for it is sin which gives rise to it. It will not last for ever, for when the sin is obliterated through repentance it too will disappear. Pure fear, on the other hand, is always present even apart from remorse for offences committed. Such fear will never cease to exist, because it is somehow rooted essentially by God in creation and makes clear to everyone His awe-inspiring nature, which transcends all kingship and power.

70. He who does not fear God as judge but holds Him in awe because of the surpassing excellence of His infinite power will not justly lack anything: for having reached perfection in love, he loves God with awe and fitting reverence. He has acquired the fear that endures for ever and he will lack for nothing (cf Ps. 19:9; 34:9-10).

71. From created beings we come to know their Cause: from the differences between created beings we learn about the indwelling Wisdom of creation: and from the natural activity of created beings we discern the indwelling Life of creation, the power which gives created beings their life - the Holy Spirit.

72. The Holy Spirit is not absent from any created being, especially not from one which in any way participates in intelligence. For being God and God's Spirit, He embraces in unity the spiritual knowledge of all created things, providentially permeating all things with His power, and vivifying their inner essences in accordance with their nature. In this way He makes men aware of things done sinfully against the law of nature, and renders them capable of choosing principles which are true and in conformity with nature. Thus we find many barbarians and nomadic peoples turning to a civilized way of life and setting aside the savage laws which they had kept among themselves from time immemorial.

73. The Holy Spirit is present unconditionally in all things, in that He embraces all things, provides for all, and vivifies the natural seeds within them. He is present in a specific- way in all who are under the Law, in that He shows them where they have broken the commandments and enlightens them about the promise given con- cerning Christ. In all who are Christians He is present also in yet another way in that He makes them sons of God. But in none is He fully present as the author of wisdom except in those who have understanding, and who by their holy way of life have made themselves fit to receive His indwelling and deifying presence. For everyone who does not carry out the divine will, even though he is a believer, has a heart which, being a workshop of evil thoughts, lacks understanding, and a body which, being always entangled in the defilements of the passions, is mortgaged to sin.

74. God, who yearns for the salvation of all men and hungers after their deification, withers their self-conceit like the unfruitful fig tree (cf Matt. 21:19-21). He does this so that they may prefer to be righteous in reality rather than in appearance, discarding the cloak of hypocritical moral display and genuinely pursuing a virtuous life in the way that the divine Logos wishes them to. They will then live with reverence, revealing the state of their soul to God rather than displaying the external appearance of a moral life to their fellow-men.

75. The principle of active accomplishment is one thing and that of passive suffering is another. The principle of active accomplishment signifies the natural capacity for actualizing the virtues. The principle of passive suffering signifies experiencing either the grace of what is beyond nature or the occurrence of what is contrary to nature. For just as we do not have a natural capacity for what is above being, so we do not by nature have a capacity for what lacks being. Thus we passively experience deification by grace as something which is above nature, but we do not actively accomplish it; for by nature we do not have the capacity to attain deification. Again, we suffer evil as something contrary to nature which occurs in the will; for we do not have a natural capacity for generating evil. Thus while we are in our present state we can actively accomplish the virtues by nature, since we have a natural capacity for accomplishing them. But, when raised to a higher level, we experi- ence deification passively, receiving this experience as a free gift of grace.

76. We accomplish things actively in so far as our intelligence, whose natural task is to accomplish the virtues, is active within us, and in so far as there is also active within us our intellect, which is capable of receiving unconditionally all spiritual knowledge, of transcending the entire nature of created beings and all that is known, and of leaving all ages behind it. We experience things passively when, having completely transcended the inner essences of created beings, we come in a manner which is beyond conception to the Cause itself of created beings, aid there suspend the activity of our powers, together with all that is by nature finite. Then we become something that is in no sense an achievement of our natural capacities, since nature does not possess the power to grasp what transcends nature. For created things are not by nature able to accomplish deification since they cannot grasp God. To bestow a consonant measure of deification on created beings is within the power of divine grace alone. Grace irradiates nature with a supra-natural light and by the transcendence of its glory raises nature above its natural limits.

77. We cease to accomplish the virtues after this present stage of life. But, on a higher level than that of the virtues, we never cease to experience deification by grace. For an experience, or passion, which transcends nature is limitless, and so is always active and effective; while an experience, or passion, which is contrary to nature is without real existence, and so is impotent.

78. The qualities of the virtues and the inner principles of created beings are both images of divine blessings, and in them God continually becomes man. As His body He has the qualities of the virtues, and as His soul the inner principles of spiritual knowledge. In this way He deifies those found worthy, giving them the true stamp of virtue and bestowing on them the essence of infallible knowledge.

79. An intellect faithful in the practice of the virtues is like St Peter when he was taken captive by Herod (cf Acts 12:3-18). The name 'Herod' means 'made of skins or leather', and so Herod signifies the law of leather, that is, the will of the flesh. St Peter is guarded by two squads of soldiers and shut in by an iron gate. The two squads signify the attacks suffered by the intellect from the activity of the passions and from the mind's assent to the passions. When through the teaching of practical philosophy, as though with the help of an angel, the intellect has passed safely through these two squads or prisons, it comes to the iron gate which leads into the city. By this I mean the obdurate and stubborn attachment of the senses to sensible things. None the less, the gate is opened automatically through spiritual contemplation of the inner essences of created beings; and such contemplation then fearlessly impels the intellect, now liberated from Herod's madness, towards the spiritual realities where it truly belongs.

80. The devil is both God's enemy and His avenger (cf. Ps. 8:2). He is God's enemy when he seems in his hatred for God somehow to have acquired a destructive love form men, persuading us by means of sensual pleasure to assent to the passions within our control, and to value what is transitory more than what is eternal. In this way he seduces all our soul's desire, separatmg us utterly from divine love and making us willing enemies of Him who made us. He is God's avenger when - now that we have become subject to him through sin - he lays bare his hatred for us and demands our punishment. For nothing pleases the devil more than punishing us. When he has been given leave to carry this out, he contrives successive attacks of passions inflicted against our will, and like a tempest he pitilessly assails us over whom, by God's permission, he has acquired authority. He does this. not with the intention of fulfilhng God's command, but out of the desire to feed his own passion of hatred towards us, so that the soul, sinking down enervated by the weight of such painful calamities, may cut itself off from the power of divine hope, regarding the onslaught of these calamities not as a divine admonition but as a cause for disbelief in God.

81. When those who have acquired moral stability and contemplative knowledge employ these for the sake of human glory, merely conveying an outward impression of the virtues, and uttering words of wisdom and knowledge without performing the corresponding actions, and when in addition they display to others their vanity because of this supposed virtue and knowledge, then they are rightly handed over to commensurate hardships, in order to learn through suffering that humility which was unknown to them before because of their empty conceit.

82. Each demon promotes the attack of this or that particular temptation according to his innate propensity. For one demon is productive of one kind of evil, while another is clearly more abominable than his fellow and has a greater propensity for some other form of evil.

83. Without divine permission even the demons themselves cannot assist the devil in any way at all. For it is God Himself in His loving providence who allows the devil, in appropriate ways, to inflict various sufferings through his ministers. The book of Job shows this plainly, describing as it does how the devil was utterly unable to approach Job unless God willed it (cf . Job 1:11-12).

84. Real faith is faith which is manifest and active. Accordingly, to those engaged in the practice of the virtues the Logos of God is revealed embodied in the commandments, and as Logos He leads them by means of these commandments up to the Father, in whom He subsists by nature.

85. Reformation of life, angelic worship, the willing separation of the soul from the body, and the beginning of divine renewal in spirit - these are proclaimed in the veiled language of the New Testament. For instance, by the term 'spiritual circumcision' Scripture denotes the excision of the soul's impassioned attachment to the body (cf Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11).

86. Since God is fall of goodness and wishes utterly to eradicate from us the seed of evil - that is to say, the sensual pleasure which draws our intellect away from divine love - He allows the devil to afflict us with suffering and chastisement. In this way He scrapes the poison of past pleasure from our souls: and He seeks to implant in us a hatred and complete revulsion for the things which belong to this world and pander to the senses alone, by making us realize that once we have acquired them we gain nothing from their use save chastisement. For He wishes to make the devil's power of chastisement and hatred of men the contingent cause of the return to virtue of those who have by their own free choice lapsed from it.

87. It is entirely fitting and just that those who gladly accept the devil's cunning suggestions to commit sins through their own volition should also be chastised by him. For through the passions to which we willingly accede the devil is the begetter of pleasure, and through the experiences that we suffer against our will he is the inflictor of pain.

88. The contemplative and gnostic intellect is often committed for punishment to the devil, deservedly suffering hardship and affliction at his hands. This is so that by suffering it may learn patiently to endure affliction rather than to trifle arrogantly to no purpose with things that do not exist.

89. If he who suffers for having transgressed one of God's commandments recognizes the principle of divine providence which is healing him, he accepts the affliction with joy and gratitude, and corrects the fault for which he is being disciplined. But if he is insensitive to this treatment, he is justly deprived of the grace that was once given him and is handed over to the turbulence of the passions; he is abandoned so that he may acquire by ascetic labor those things for which he inwardly longs.

90. A person who, knowing what faults he has committed, wilhngly and with due thankfulness endures the trials painfully inflicted on him as a consequence of these faults, is not exiled from grace or from his state of virtue; for he submits willingly to the yoke of the king of Babylon (cf Jer. 27: 17) and pays off his debt by accepting the trials. In this way, while remainmg in a state of grace and virtue, he pays tribute to the king of Babylon not only with his enforced sufferings, which have arisen out of the impassioned side of his nature, but also with his mental assent to these sufferings, accepting them as his due on account of his former offences. Through true worship, by which I mean a humble disposition, he offers to God the correction of his offences.

91. If you do not accept gratefully the trials which, by God's permission, are inflicted on you for your correction, and do not repent and rid yourself of your conceited opinion that you are righteous, you are given up to captivity, manacles, chains, hunger, death and the sword, and dwell a complete exile from your native land; for you resist the just penalties decreed by God and refuse to submit willingly to the yoke of the king of Babylon, as God has commanded. Banished in this way from your state of virtue and spiritual knowledge as if from your native land, you suffer all these things and more besides, because in your pride and vain conceit you refuse to make full satisfaction for your offences and to 'take delight in afflictions, calamities and hardships' (cf 2 Cor. 12:10), as St Paul did. For he knew that the humility produced by bodily sufferings safeguards the divine treasures of the soul; and for this reason he was content and endured patiently, both for his own sake and for the sake of those to whom he served as an example of virtue and faith, so that if they suffered when guilty, like the Corinthian who was censured (cf. I Cor. 5:1-5), they might have him who suffers innocently as an encouragement and as a model of patience.

92. If, instead of stopping short at the outward appearance which visible things present to the senses, you seek with your intellect to contemplate their inner essences, seeing them as images of spiritual realities or as the inward principles of sensible objects, you will be taught that nothing belonging to the visible world is unclean. For by nature all things were created good (cf. Gen. 1:31; Acts 10:15).

93. He who is not affected by changes in sensible things practices the virtues in a manner that is truly pure. He who does not permit the outward appearances of sensible things to imprint themselves on his intellect has received the true doctrine of created beings. He whose mind has outstripped the very being of created things has come, as a true theologian, close to the One through unknowing.

94. Every contemplative intellect that has 'the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God' (Eph. 6:17), and that has cut off in itself the activity of the visible world, has attained virtue. When it has excised from itself the image of sensible appearances it finds the truth existing in the inner essences of created beings, which is the foundation of natural contemplation. And when it has transcended the being of created things, it will receive the illumination of the divine and unonginate Unity who is the foundation of the mystery of true theology.

95. God reveals Himself to each person according to each person's mode of conceiving Him. To those whose aspiration transcends the complex structure of matter, and whose psychic powers are fully integrated in a single unceasing gyration around God, He reveals Himself as Unity and Trinity. In this way He both shows forth His own existence and mystically makes known the mode in which that existence subsists. To those whose aspiration is limited to the complex structure of matter, and whose psychic powers are not integrated. He reveals Himself not as He is but as they are, showing that they are completely caught in the material dualism whereby the physical world is conceived as composed of matter and form.

96. St Paul refers to the different energies of the Holy Spirit as different gifts of grace, stating that they are all energized by one and the same Holy Spirit (cf I Cor. 12:11). The 'manifestation of the Spirit' (1 Cor. 12:7) is given according to the measure of every man's faith through participation in a particular gift of grace. Thus every believer is receptive to the energy of the Spirit in a way that corresponds to his degree of faith and the state of his souk and this energy grants him the capacity needed to carry out a particular commandment.

97. One person is given the quality of wisdom, another the quality of spiritual knowledge, another the quality of faith, and someone else one of the other gifts of the Spirit enumerated by St. Paul (cf. I Cor. 12:8-11). In the same way, one person receives through the Spirit according to the degree of his faith, the gift of that perfect and direct love for God which is free from all materiality; another through the same Spirit receives the gift of perfect love for his neighbor and another receives something else from the same Spirit. In each, as I have said, the gift that conforms with his state is energized. For every capacity for fulfilhng a commandment is called a gift of the Spirit.

98. The baptism of the Lord (cf. Matt. 20:22) is the utter mortification of our propensity for the sensible world; and the cup is the disavowal of our present mode of life for the sake of truth.

99. The baptism of the Lord typifies the sufferings we willingly embrace for the sake of virtue. Through these Sufferings we wash off the stains in our conscience and readily accept the death of our propensity for visible things. The cup typifies the involuntary trials which attack us in the form of adverse circumstances because of our pursuit of the truth. If throughout these trials we value our desire for God more than nature, we willingly submit to the death of nature forced on us by these circumstances.

100. The baptism and the cup differ in this way: baptism for the sake of virtue mortifies our propensity for the pleasures of this life: the cup makes the devout value truth above even nature itself.

Second Century

1. Christ mentioned the cup before the baptism (cf Matt. 20:22) because virtue exists for the sake of truth but truth does not exist for the sake of virtue. Thus he who practices virtue for the sake of truth is not wounded by the arrows of self-esteem: but he who pursues truth for the sake of virtue does harbor the conceit which self-esteem generates.

2. Truth is divine knowledge, and virtue the struggles for trath on the part of those who desire it. A man who endures the labors of virtue for the sake of such knowledge is not vainglorious, because he knows that truth cannot be grasped naturally through human effort. For it is not in the nature of things for what is primary to be circumscribed by what is secondary. But a man who expects to attain knowledge by means of the struggles he makes for the sake of virtue invariably suffers from self-esteem, because he imagines he has gained the victor's crown before he has sweated for it. He does not know that labors exist for the sake of crowns, but crowns do not exist for the sake of labors. For by nature every spiritual method ceases to be practiced once the purpose for which it was intended-has been achieved or is thought to have been achieved.

3. He who seeks only the outward form of knowledge, that is, knowledge which is merely theoretical, and pursues the semblance of virtue that is, a merely theoretical morality, is puffed up, Judaic-wise, with the images of truth.

4. He who does not view the ritual of the Law with his senses alone, but noetically penetrates every visible symbol and thoroughly assimilates the divine principle which is hidden in each, finds God in the Law. For rightly he uses his intellect to grope among the material forms of the Law, as among litter, in the hope of finding hidden somewhere in its body that pearl or principle which utterly escapes the senses (cf Matt. 13:45-46).

5. Again, he who does not limit his perception of the nature of visible things to what his senses alone can observe, but wisely with his intellect searches after the essence which lies within every creature, also finds: God. for from the manifest magnificence of created beings he learns what is the Cause of their being.

6. Discrimination is the distinctive characteristic of one who probes. He then who examines the symbols of the Law in a spiritual manner, and who contemplates the visible nature of created beings with intelligence, will discriminate in Scripture between letter and spirit, in creation between inner essence and outward appearance, and in himself between intellect and the senses; and in Scripture he will choose the spirit, in creation the inner essence or logos, and in himself the intellect. If he then unites these three mdissolubly to one another, he will have found God: he will have come to recognize, as he should and as is possible, the God who is Intellect, Logos and Spirit. In this way he will be delivered from all the things which deceive man and seduce him into innumerable errors - delivered, that is to say, from the letter, the outward appearance of things, and the senses, all of which possess quantitative distinctions and are the negation of unity. But if a man compounds the letter of the Law, the outward appearance of visible things, and his own senses with each other, he is 'so short-sighted as to be blind' (2 Pet. 1:9), sick through his ignorance of the Cause of created beings.

7. The apostle gives us the following definition of faith: 'Faith makes real for us things hoped for, gives assurance of things not seen' (Heb. 11:1). One may also justly define it as an engrained blessing or as true knowledge disclosing unutterable blessings.

8. Faith is a relational power or a relationship which brings about the immediate perfect and supranatural union of the believer with the God in whom he believes. 9. Since man is composed of body and soul, he is moved by two laws, that of the flesh and that of the spirit (cf. Rom. 7:23). The law of the flesh operates by virtue of the senses; the law of the Spirit operates by virtue of the intellect. The first law, operating by virtue of the senses automatically binds one closely to matter; the second law, operating by virtue of the intellect, brings about direct union with God. Suppose there is someone who does not doubt in his heart (cf. Mark I 1 :23) - that is to say, who does not dispute in his intellect - and through such doubt sever that immediate union with God which has been brought about by faith, but who is dispassionate or, rather, has already become god through union with God by faith: then it is quite natural that if such a person says to a mountain, 'Go to another place', it will go (cf. Matt. 17:20). The mountain here indicates the will and the law of the flesh, which is ponderous and hard to shift, and in fact, so far as our natural powers are concerned; is totally immovable and unshakeable.

10. The capacity for unintelligence is rooted so deeply in human nature through the senses that the majority think that man is nothing more than flesh, which possesses sense faculties so that he can enjoy this present life.

11. 'All things are possible', says Scripture, 'for the person who believes' (Mark 9:23) and does not doubt - that is to say, for the person who is not dominated by his soul's attachment to the body through the senses, and so does not separate himself from the union with God which faith has brought about in him through the intellect. Whatever alienates the intellect from the world and the flesh brings it, perfected by its spiritual achievements, close to God. That is what should be understood as implied in the saying, 'All things are possible for the person who believes. '

12. Faith is knowledge that cannot be rationally demonstrated. If such knowledge cannot be rationally demonstrated, then faith is a supranatural relationship through which, in an unknowable and so undemonstrable manner, we are united with God in a union which is beyond intellection.

13. When the intellect is in direct union with God, that quality in it by virtue of which it apprehends and is apprehended is completely in abeyance. As soon as it activates this quality by apprehending something sequent to God, it experiences doubt and severs the union which is beyond intellection. So long as the intellect is joined to God in this union, and has passed beyond nature and become god by participation, it will have transposed the law of its nature as though shifting an immovable mountain.

14. He who has just begun to follow a holy way of life, and has received instruction about how to act righteously, devotes himself wholly to the practice of the virtues in all obedience and faith, nourishing himself, as if on meat, on their manifest aspects, that is to say, on moral training. The inner principles of the commandments, which constitute the knowledge of the perfect, in his faith he leaves to God, for he cannot as yet embrace the full magnitude of faith.

15. The perfect man, who has passed beyond the category not only of beginners but also of those who are advancing, is not ignorant of the inner principles of the actions he performs in carrying out the commandments. On the contrary, he first spiritually imbibes those principles and then by means of his actions feeds upon the whole body of the virtues. In this way he transposes to the plane of spiritual knowledge actions which take place in the sensible realm.

16. The Lord said, 'First seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness' (Matt. 6:33). That is, seek the knowledge of truth before all things, and therefore seek training in appropriate methods of attaining it. In saying this. He showed clearly that believers must seek only divine knowledge and the virtue which adorns it with corresponding actions.

17. Many are the things of which the believer has need in order to attain knowledge of God and virtue: deliverance from passions, patient acceptance of trials, the inner principles of virtues, the practice of methods of spiritual warfare, the uprooting of the soul's predilection for the flesh, the breaking of the senses' attachment to sensible objects, the utter withdrawal of the intellect from all created things: and, in short, there are countless other things which help us to reject sin and ignorance and to attain knowledge and virtue. It was surely because of this that the Lord said, 'Whatever you ask for in prayer, beheving, you will receive' (Matt. 21:22), stating simply that the devout must seek and ask with understanding and faith for all those things, and for those alone, which lead to virtue and knowledge of God. For all these things are profitable, and unquestionably the Lord gives them to those who ask.

18. Thus he who for the sake of faith alone - that is to say, for the sake of direct union with. God - seeks all the things that contribute towards this union will unquestionably receive them. He who seeks either the things which we have mentioned or other things without this motive will not receive them. For he has no faith, but like an unbeliever uses divine things to boost his own glory.

19. He who purges his will from the corruption of sin destroys the corrupting activity of what causes corruption. For when one's free will is itself free from corruption, it prevents nature from being corrupted by hostile forces and keeps it incorrupt through the providential grace of the Spirit within it.

20. Since the principles of nature and of grace are not one and the same, we should not be surprised if certain of the saints sometimes resisted the passions and sometimes succumbed to them; for we know that the miracle of resistance is due to grace, while the passion belongs to nature.

21. He who keeps in mind the way of the saints by imitating them not only shakes off the deadly paralysis of the passions but also takes up the life of the virtues.

22. God, who before all ages set the bounds of each man's life, in the manner which He wills, leads every man, whether righteous or unrighteous, towards the final end he deserves.

23. As I take it, the dark storm which befell St. Paul (cf. Acts 28:1-4) is the weight of involuntary trials and temptations. The island is the firm unshakeable state of divine hope. The fire is the state of spiritual knowledge. The sticks are the nature of visible things. Paul gathered these with his hand, which I take to mean with the exploratory capacity of the intellect during contemplation. He fed the state of spiritual knowledge with conceptual images derived from the nature of visible things, for the state of spiritual knowledge heals the mental dejection produced by the storm of trials and temptations. The viper is the cunning and destructive power hidden secretly in the nature of sensible thmgs. It bites the hand, that is, the exploratory noetic activity of contemplation, but without harming the visionary intellect; and this, with the light of spiritual knowledge, as if with fire at once destroys the destructive power that arises from the contemplation of sensible things and that attaches itself to the practical activity of the intellect.

24. St Paul was a 'scent of life, leading to life' (2 Cor. 2: 16) because he inspired the faithful by his own example to experience the fragrance of the virtues by putting them into practice, or because like a preacher he led those who had been converted by the word of grace away from life in the senses to life in the spirit. 'The scent of death leading to death' {ibid) gives a taste of their future condemnation to those who go from the death of ignorance to the death of unbelief. Or, alternatively, the 'scent of life, leading to life' refers to those who have advanced from the life of ascetic prac-tice to that of contemplation, and the 'scent of death, leading to death' refers to those who have passed from the mortification of whatever is earthly in their nature (ef Col. 3:5j to the blessed mortification of impassioned conceptual images and fantasies.

25. The soul has three powers: the intelligence, the incensive power and desire. With our intelligence we direct our search; with our desire we long for that supernal goodness which is the object of our search; and with our incensive power we fight to attain our object. With these powers these who love God cleave to the divine principle of virtue and spiritual knowledge. Searching with the first power, desiring with the second, and fighting by means of the third, they receive incorruptible nourishment, enriching the intellect with the spiritual knowledge of created beings.

26. When the Logos of God became man. He filled human nature once more with the spiritual knowledge that it had lost; and steeling it against changefulness. He deified it, not in its essential nature but in its quality. He stamped it completely with His own Spirit, as if adding wine to water so as to give the water the quality of wine. For He becomes truly man so that by grace He may make us gods.

27. When God created human nature, at the same time as He gave it being and free will He joined to it the capacity for carrying out the duties laid upon it. By this capacity I mean the impulse implanted in human nature on the level of both being and free will: on the level of being, so that man has the power to achieve the virtues; on the level of free will, so that he may use this power in the right way.

28. We have as a natural criterion the law of nature. This teaches us that, before we can acquire the wisdom that lies in all things, we must through mystical initiation seek their Maker. ,

29. Jacob's well (cf John 4:5-15) is Scripture. The water is the spiritual knowledge found in Scripture. The depth of the well is the meaning, only to be attamed with great difficulty, of the obscure sayings in Scripture. The bucket is learning gained from the written text of the word of God, which the Lord did not possess because He is the Logos Himself; and so He does not give believers the knowledge that comes from leammg and study, but grants to those found worthy ever-flowing waters of wisdom that spill from the fountain of spiritual grace and never run dry. For the bucket - that is to say, learning - can only grasp a very small amount of knowledge and leaves behind all that it cannot lay hold of, however it tries. But the knowledge which is received through grace, without study, contains all the wisdom that man can attain, springing forth in different ways according to his needs.

30. There is a great and unutterable difference between the tree of life and the one which is not the tree of life. This is clear simply from the fact that the one is called the tree of life while the other is merely called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf Gen. 2:9). Unquestionably, the tree of life is productive of life; the tree that is not called the tree of life, and so is not productive of life, is obviously productive of death. For only death is the opposite of life.

31. The tree of life, when understood as symbolizing wisdom, likewise differs greatly from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in that the latter neither symbolizes wisdom nor is said to do so. Wisdom is characterized by intellect and intelligence, the state which is opposite to wisdom by lack of intelligence and by sensation.

32. Since man came into being composed of noetic soul and sentient body, one interpretation could be that the tree of life is the soul's intellect, which is the seat of wisdom. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would then be the body's power of sensation, which is clearly the seat of mindless impulses. Man received the divine commandment not to involve himself actively and experientially with these impulses: but he did not keep the commandment.

33. Both trees in Scripture symbolize the intellect and the senses. Thus the intellect has the power to discriminate between the spiritual and the sensible, between the eternal and the transitory. Or rather, as the soul's discriminatory power, the intellect persuades the soul to cleave to the first and to transcend the second. The senses have the power to discriminate between pleasure and pain in the body. Or rather, as a power existing in a body endowed with soul and sense-perception, they persuade the body to embrace pleasure and reject pain.

34. If a man exercises only sensory discrimination between pain and pleasure in the body, thus transgressing the divine commandment, he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that is to say, he succumbs; to the mindless impulses that pertain to the senses; for he possesses only the body's power of discrimination, which makes him embrace pleasure as something good and avoid pain as something evil. Bat if he exercises only that noetic discrimination which distinguishes between the eternal and the transitory, and so keeps the divine commandment, he eats from the tree of life, that is to say, from the wisdom that appertains to his intellect; for he exercises only the power of discrimination associated with the soul, which makes him cleave to the glory of what is eternal as something good, and avoid the corruption of what is transitory as something evil.

35. Goodness so far as the intellect is concerned is a dispassionate predilection for the spirit; evil is an impassioned attachment to the senses. Goodness so far as the senses are concerned is tile impassioned activity of the body under the stimulus of pleasure; evil is the state destitute of such activity.

36. He who persuades his conscience to regard the evil he is doing as good by nature reaches out with his moral faculty as with a hand and grasps the tree of life in a reprehensible manner; for he thinks that what is thoroughly evil is by nature immortal. Therefore God, who has implanted in man's conscience a natural hatred of evil, cuts him off from life, for he has now become evil in his will and intention. God acts in this way so that when a man does wrong he cannot persuade his own conscience that what is thoroughly evil is good by nature.

37. The vine produces wine, the wine drunkenness and dnmkenness an evil form of ecstasy. Similarly the intelligence - which is the vine - when well-nurtured and cultivated by the virtues, generates spiritual knowledge: and such knowledge produces a good form of ecstasy which enables the intellect to transcend its attachment to the senses.

38. It is the devil's practice maliciously to confound the forms and shapes of sensible things with our conceptual images of them. Through these forms and shapes are generated passions for the outward aspects of visible things, and our intellectual energy, being halted at the level of what pertains to sense-perception, cannot raise itself to the realm of mtelligible realities. In this way the devil despoils the soul and drags it down into the turmoil of the passions.

39. The Logos of God is at the same time both a lamp and a light (cf Ps. 119: 105: Prov. 6:23). For he humiliates those thoughts of the faithful which are in accordance with nature, but burns those which are contrary to nature; He dispels the darkness of sensory life for those who press forward by means of the commandments towards the life that they hope for, but punishes with the fire of judgment those who willfully cleave to the dark night of this present life because of their love for the flesh.

40. It is said that he who does not first reintegrate himself with his own being by rejecting those passions which are contrary to nature will not be reintegrated with the Cause of his being - that is, with God - by acquiring supranatural blessings through grace. For he who would truly unite himseh' with God must first separate himself mentally from created things.

41. The function of the written Law is to deliver men from passions; that of the natural law is to grant equal rights to all men in accordance with natural justice. The fulfillment of the spiritual law is to attain similitude to God, in so far as this is possible for man.

42. The intellect has by nature the capacity to receive a spiritual knowledge of corporeal and incorporeal things; but by grace alone does it receive revelations of tike Holy Trinity. While believing that the Trinity exists, the human intellect can never presume to grasp what the Trinity is in Its essence, in the way that this is known to the divine Intellect. The person without spiritual knowledge is completely ignorant of the way in which sin is purged by virtue.

43. He who loves falsehood is handed over to be harrowed by it, so that by suffering he may come to know what it is he willingly pursued, and may learn by experience that he mistakenly embraced death instead of life.

44. God has knowledge only of what is good, because He is in essence the nature and the knowledge of what is good. He is ignorant of evil because He has no capacity for evil. Only of those thmgs for which by nature He possesses the capacity does He also possess the essential knowledge.

45. The breast mentioned in Leviticus (cf Lev. 7:30, 34) indicates the higher form of contemplation. The shoulder (cf. Lev. 7:32, 34) stands for the mental state and activity concordant with the life of ascetic practice. Thus the breast and the shoulder denote respectively ritual knowledge and virtue for spiritual knowledge leads the intellect directly to God Himself, while virtue in the life of ascetic practice separates it from all involvement in generation. In the text in question, breast and shoulder were set aside for the priests, who alone possessed the Lord as their inheritance for ever and had no share at all in earthly things.

46. These fully endowed by the Spirit with spiritual knowledge and virtue are able, through preaching and instruction, to make the hearts of others receptive of true devotion and faith, withdrawing their disposition and capacity from its preoccupation with corruptible nature and directing it towards the actuahzation of supra- natural and incorruptible blessings. It is therefore fitting that in this same text the breast of the victims offered in sacrifice to God - that is, the hearts of those who offer themselves to God - and the shoulder - that is, their life of ascetic practice - should be set aside for the priests.

47. Compared with the righteousness of the age to be, all earthly righteousness fulfils the role of a mirror: it contains the image of archetypal realities, not the realities: themselves as they subsist in their true and universal nature. And compared with knowledge there, all spiritual knowledge in this world is an indistinct image - it contains a reflection of the truth but not the truth itself as it is destined to be revealed (cf . I Cor. 13:12).

48. Since what is divine consists in virtue and spiritual knowledge, the mirror displays the archetypes of virtue and the indistinct image reveals the archetypes of spiritual knowledge.

49. He who has conformed his life to God's will through practice of the virtues transposes his intellect to the realm of intelligible realities by means of contemplation. By so doing he places himself utterly beyond the reach of everything that seeks to entrap him, and so is not attracted through some sensory image towards the death that lies in the passions.

50. The person who with the clear eye of faith beholds the beauty of the blessings of the age to be readily obeys the command to leave his country and his kindred and his father's house (cf. Gen. 12:1), and he abandons the flesh, the senses and sensory things, together with passionate attachments and inclinations. In times of temptation and conflict he rises above nature because he has put the Cause of nature first, just as Abraham put God before Isaac (cf Gen. 22:1-14).

51. So long as you do not pursue virtue or study Holy Scripture for the sake of glory, or as a cloak for greed (cf. I Thess. 2:5), or from love of flattery and popularity, or for self-display, but do and say and think all things for the sake of God, then you are walking with spiritual knowledge in the way of truth. If, however, you have in some respects 'prepared the way for the Lord', yet have not 'made His, paths straight'. He will not come to dwell within you (cf. Isa. 40:3. LXX: Mark I :3).

52. If you fast and avoid a mode of life which excites the passions, and in general do whatever contributes to your deliverance from evil, then you have 'prepared the way for the Lord'. But if you do these things out of self- esteem, or greed, or love of flattery, or for some similar motive, and not with a desire to perform God's will, then you have not 'made His paths straight'. You have endured the labor of preparing the way but do not have God walking in your paths.

53. 'Every valley shall be filled' - yet not 'every' without qualification, or 'everyone's valley', for the text does not refer to the valley of those who have not prepared the way of the Lord and made His paths straight. By a valley IS meant the flesh or soul of those who have prepared the way of the Lord and made His paths straight in the manner I have explained. When such a valley has been filled with spiritual knowledge and virtue by the divine Logos who, present in His commandments, walks in its paths, then all the spirits of false knowledge and evil are 'abased': for the Logos treads them down and brings them into subjection. He overthrows that cunning power which has raised itself up against human nature: He levels it as if it were high and massive mountains and hills which He uses to fill in the valleys. For the rejection of passions which are contrary to nature, and the reception of virtues which are in accordance with nature, fills up the valley -like soul and abases the exalted lordship of the evil spirits (Isa. 40:4. LXX).

54. The 'rough places' - that is to say, the attacks of trials and temptations suffered against our will - shall be made 'smooth', above all when the intellect, rejoicing and delighting in weakness, affliction and calamity, through its unsought sufferings deprives of all their lordship the passions in which we deliberately indulge. For by 'rough places' Scripture means those experiences of unsought trials and temptations which change to smooth ways when endured with patience and thankfulness (cf Isa. 40:4. LXX).

55. He who longs for the true life knows that all suffering, whether sought or unsought, brings death to sensual pleasure, the mother of death: and so he gladly accepts the harsh attacks of trials and temptations suffered against his will. By patiently enduring them he turns afflictions into smooth untroubled paths, unerringly leading whoever devoutly runs the divine race along them towards 'the prize of the high calling' (Phil. 3:14). For sensual pleasure is the mother of death and the death of such pleasure is suffering, whether freely chosen or not.

56. Everyone, then, who through self-restraint does away with sensual pleasure, which is intricate, convoluted and intertwined in many ways with every sensible object, makes the crooked straight. And he who with patience withstands and defeats the harsh implacable bouts of suffering turns the rough places into smooth ways. Thus, when a person has well and truly struggled, has defeated sensual pleasure with desire for virtue, has overcome pain with love for spiritual knowledge, and through both virtue and knowledge has bravely persevered to the end of the divine contest, he will see, according to Scripture, 'the salvation of God': and this will be his reward for virtue and for the efforts he has made to attain it (Isa. 40:4-5. LXX).

57. The lover of virtue willingly puts out the fire of sensual pleasure. And if a man has dedicated his intellect to the knowledge of truth, he will not allow unsought sufferings to thwart the ceaseless aspiration that leads him towards God.

58. When through self-control you have straightened the crooked paths of the passions in which you deliberately indulged - that is to say, the impulses of sensual pleasure - and when, by enduring patiently the harsh and painful afflictions produced by trials and temptations suffered against your will, you have made the rough ways smooth and even, then you may expect to see God's salvation, for you will have become pure in heart. In this state of purity, through the virtues and through holy contemplation, you will at the end of your contest behold God, in accordance with Christ's words: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (Matt. 5:8). And because of the sufferings you have endured for the sake of virtue you will receive the gift of dispassion. To those who possess this gift there is nothmg which reveals God more fully.

59. In Scripture hearts capable of receiving the heavenly gifts of holy knowledge are called cisterns (cf. 2 Chr. 26: 10). They have been hewn out by the firm principle of the commandments; they have been cleared, as if of earth, of self-indulgence in the passions and of natural attachment to sensible thmgs: and they have been filled with that spiritual knowledge which purges the passions and gives life and sustenance to the virtues.

60. The Lord hews out cisterns in the desert, that is to say, in the world and in human nature. He excavates the hearts of those who are worthy, clears them of their material sordidness and arrogance, said makes them deep and wide in order to receive-the divine rains of wisdom and knowledge. He does this so that they may water Christ's flocks, those who need moral Instruction because of die immaturity of their souls.

61. Scripture refers to the higher form of the spiritual contemplation of nature as 'hill-country' (Deut. 11:11). Its cultivators are those who have rejected the images derived from sensible objects, and have advanced to a perception of the noetic essences of these objects through the acquisition of the virtues.

62. So long as the intellect continuously remembers God, it seeks the Lord through contemplation, not superficially but in the fear of the Lord, that is, by practicing the commandments. For he who seeks Him through contemplation without practicing the commandments does not find Him: he has not sought Him in the fear of the Lord and so the Lord does not guide him to success. The Lord guides to success all who combine the practice of the virtues with spiritual knowledge: He teaches them the qualities of the commandments and reveals to them the true inner essences of created beings.

63. Sublime knowledge about God stands in the soul like a tower, fortified with the practice of the commandments. That is the meaning of the text, 'Uzriah built towers in Jerusalem' (2 Chr. 26:9). A man builds towers in Jerusalem when he is blessed with success in his search for the Lord through contemplation accompanied by the requisite fear, that is, by observing the commandments; for he then establishes the principles of divine knowledge in the undivided and tranquil state of his soul.

64. When the inner principles of particulars combine with those of universals, they brmg about the union of what is divided. This is because the more universal a principle is, the greater the degree to which it embraces and unifies the more particular principles. Particulars usually have a natural affinity with universals. But there is also a certain spiritual principle which relates the intellect to the senses, heaven to earth, sensibles to intelligibles, and nature to the principle of nature, uniting them one with another.

65. If you have been able to free your senses from the passions and have separated your soul from its attachment to the senses, you will have succeeded in barring the devil from entering the intellect by means of the senses. It is to this end that you should build safe towers in the desert (cf 2 Chr. 26:10). By 'desert' is meant natural contemplation: by 'safe towers' a true understanding of the nature of created beings. If you take refuge in these towers, you will not fear the demons who raid this desert - that is, who insinuate themselves into the nature of visible thmgs, deceiving the intellect through the senses and dragging it off into the darkness of ignorance. If you acquire a true understanding of each thing, you will not be afraid of the demons who deceive men by means of the external appearance of sensible objects.

66. Every intellect that has the power to contemplate is a trae cultivator: so long as it has the remembrance of God to sustain it, it keeps the seeds of divine goodness dear of tales through its own diligence and solicitude. For it is said, 'And with fear of the Lord he sought God in the days of Zechariah' (2 Chr. 26:5. LXX). 'Zechariah' means 'remembrance of God'. So let us always pray to God to keep this saving remembrance alive in us, lest what our intellect has achieved corrupts our soul, filling it with pride and encouraging it to aspire presumptuously, like Uzziah, to what is above nature (cf 2 Chr. 26: 16).

67. Only a soul which has been delivered from the passions can without error contemplate created beings. Because its virtue is perfect, and because its knowledge is spiritual and free from materiality, such a soul is called 'Jerusalem'. This state is attained through exclusion not only of the passions but also of sensible images.

68. Without faith, hope and love (cf. I Cor. 13:13) nothing sinful is totally abolished, nor is anything good fully attained. Faith urges the beleaguered intellect to press on towards God and encourages it by equipping it with a full range of spiritual weapons. Hope is the intellect's surest pledge of divine help and promises the destruction of hostile powers. Love makes it difficult or, rather, makes it utterly impossible for the intellect to estrange itself from the tender care of God; and when the intellect is under attack, love impels it to concentrate its whole natural power into longing for the divine.

69. Faith encourages the beleaguered intellect and strengthens it with the hope of assistance. Hope brings before its eyes this help promised by faith and drives off the enemy's attack. Love kills the enemy's provocations within the devout intellect, utterly obliterating them with deep longing for the divine.

70. The first and unique effect of the divine gift of genuine spiritual knowledge is to produce within us by faith the resurrection of God. Faith needs to be accompanied, by the right ordering of our will and purpose - that is to say, by discrimination - which makes it possible for us bravely to withstand the spate of trials and temptations, sought or unsought. Thus faith, rightfully expressing itself through the fulfillment of the commandments, is the first resurrection withm us of the God whom we have slain through our ignorance.

71. The return to God clearly implies the fullest affirmation of hope in Him, for without this nobody can accept God in any way at all. For it is characteristic of hope that it brings future things before us as if they were present, and so it assures those who are attacked by hostile powers that God, in whose name and for whose sake the saints go into battle, protects them and is in no way absent. For without some expectation, pleasant or unpleasant, no one can ever undertake a return to the divine.

72. Nothing so much as love brings together those who have been sundered and produces in them an effective union of will and purpose. Love is distinguished by the beauty of recognizing the equal value of all men. Love is born in a man when his soul's powers - that is, his intelligence, incensive power and desire - are concentrated and unified around the divine. Those who by grace have come to recognize the equal value of all men in God's sight and who engrave His beauty on their memory, possess an ineradicable longing for divine love, for such love is always imprinting this beauty on their intellect.

73. Every intellect girded with divine authority possesses three powers as its counselors and ministers. First, there is the intelligence. It is intelligence which gives birth to that faith, founded upon spiritual knowledge, whereby the intellect learns that God is always present in an unutterable way, and through which it grasps, with the aid of hope, things of the future as though they were present. Second, there is desire. It is desire which generates that divine love through which the intellect, when of its own free will it aspires to pure divinity, is wedded in an indissoluble manner to this aspiration. Third, there is the incensive power. It is with this power that the intellect cleaves to divine peace and concentrates its desire on divine love. Every intellect possesses these three powers, and they cooperate with it in order to purge evil and to establish and sustain holiness.

74. Without the power of intelligence there is no capacity for spiritual knowledge; and without spiritual knowledge we cannot have the faith from which springs that hope whereby we grasp things of the future as though they were present. Without the power of desire there is no longing, and so no love, which is the issue of longing; for the property of desire is to love something. And without the incensive power, intensifying the desire for union with what is loved, there can be no peace, for peace is truly the complete and undisturbed possession of what is desired.

75. Until you have been completely purified from the passions you should not engage in natural contemplation through the images of sensible things; for until then such images are able to mould your intellect so that it conforms to passion. An intellect which, fed by the senses, dwells in imagination on the visible aspects of sensible things becomes the creator of impure passions, for it is not able to advance through contemplation to those intelligible realities cognate with it.

76. When faced with the eruption of the passions, you should courageously close your senses and totally reject the images and memories of sensible things, and in every way restrict the intellect's natural tendency to investigate things in the external world. Then, with God's help, you will abase and overcome the cunning tyrannical power which rises up against you.

77. When intelligence is stupefied, the incensive power precipitate and desire mindless, and when ignorance, a domineering spirit and licentiousness govern the soul, then sin becomes a habit, actively entangling one in the various pleasures of the senses.

78. The mature intellect must with spiritual knowledge escape from invisible entanglements. While it is being provoked by evil powers it must not engage in natural contemplation or do anything but pray, tame the body with hardship, diligently bring the earthly will into subjection, and guard the walls of the city, that is, the virtues which protect the soul or the qualities which guard the virtues, namely, self-control and patience. Otherwise he who proffers the soul a foul potion may deceive the intellect with what seems to be good and secretly turn its desire away from God, drawing its understanding, which seeks what is good, towards what is bad, because it has mistaken the bad for the good.

79. The person who courageously closes his senses by means of the deliberate and all-embracing practice of self- control and patience, and prevents sensory forms from entering the intellect through the soul's faculties, easily frustrates the wicked schemes of the devil and turns him back, abased, along the way by which he came. The way by which the devil comes consists of material things which seem to be needed for sustaining the body.

80. The intellect reaps true knowledge from natural contemplation when, in a way that conforms to nature, it unites the senses to itself by means of the intelligence.

81. When Scripture speaks of the springs blocked up by Hezekiah outside the city (cf 2 Chr. 32:3-4. LXX), the city signifies the soul and the springs the totality of sensible things. The waters of these springs are conceptual images of sensible things. The river that flows through the middle of the city is knowledge gathered in natural contemplation from these conceptual images of sensible things. This knowledge passes through the middle of the soul because it links the intellect and the senses. For the knowledge of sensible things is not entirely unconnected with the noetic faculty, nor does it depend altogether on the activity of the senses. On the contrary, it is as it were the intermediary between the intellect and the senses and between the senses and the intellect, and itself brings about the union of the two with each other. So far as the senses are concerned, it impresses on them the forms of sensible things, each according to its own kind; so far as the intellect is concerned, it transmutes these impressions into the inner essences of the forms. It is therefore fitting that the knowledge of visible things should be described as a river flowing through the middle of the city, for it occupies the middle ground between the intellect and the senses.

82. If during periods of temptation and trial you refrain from natural contemplation and hold fast to prayer, withdrawing your intellect from all things and focusing it on itself and on God, you will put to death the inward disposition which produces evil and you will send the devil packing with his tail between his legs. For it was the devil who insinuated this habit into you and, relying on it, he boastfully approached your soul, vilifying truth with proud thoughts. David who had vast experience in the front line of every kind of spiritual battle, was most likely not simply familiar with these tactics but actually put them into practice: for he says: 'While the wicked one stood before me I was dumb and humbled myself and refrained from uttering even good words' (Ps. 39: 1-2. LXX). Jeremiah, in the same spirit, warned the people not to go out of the city because the sword of the enemy lay about it (cf. Jer. 6:25).

83. We may apply this also to Cain and Abel (cf Gen. 4:8). Cain is the law of the flesh, and the field into which Cain and Abel went is the realm of natural contemplation. Had Abel kept guard over himself and had he not gone out with Cain into the field before attaining dispassion, then the law of the flesh would not have risen up and killed him, cleverly deceiving him when he was engaged in the contemplation of created beings before being fully prepared.

84. Similarly, if Dinah the child of Jacob had not gone out to the daughters of the land - that is, into the world of sensible images - Shechem the son of Hamor would not have risen up and humiliated her (cf. Gen. 34:1 -2).

85. We should abstain from natural contemplation until we are fully prepared, lest in trying to perceive the spiritual essences of visible creatures we reap passions by mistake. For the outward forms of visible things have greater power over the senses of those who are immature than the essences hidden in the forms of things have over their souls. Of course, those who confine their minds Judaic -wise to the letter alone expect the promises of divine blessings to be fulfilled in this present age, for they are ignorant of the qualities naturally inherent in the soul.

86. He who 'wears the image of Him who is from heaven' (1 Cor. 15:49) tries to follow the spirit of Holy Scripture in all things, for it is the spirit which, by promoting virtue and spiritual knowledge, sustains the soul. He who 'wears the image of him who is from earth' pays heed only to the letter, for the cultivation of the body by means of the senses is promoted by the letter. Such cultivation in its turn generates the passions.

87. By the power of God is meant the virtue that destroys the passions and safeguards holy thoughts. Such virtue is generated by the practice of the commandments: in this way, with God's co-operation or, rather, by His strength alone, we destroy the forces of evil that are opposed to sanctity. By God's sublimity is meant the spiritual knowledge of the truth, realized through our efforts to attain the contemplation of created beings and the practice of the virtues. Through spiritual knowledge we utterly annihilate the truth-opposing power of falsehood, abasing and demolishing the vaunting self-assertion of the evil spirits that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God (cf 2 Cor. 10:5). For just as ascetic practice gives birth to virtue, so contemplation engenders spiritual knowledge.

88. Ineffaceable knowledge, whose spiritual gyration around God's infinitude is unconditioned and beyond intellection, images in its unconditionality the more than infinite glory of the truth. The voluntary imitation of divine wisdom and goodness brings as its reward the intellect's longing for and glorious attainment of likeness to God, in so far as this is possible for man.

89. The tongue is a symbol of the soul's spiritual energy and the larynx a symbol of natural self-love for the body. Thus he who ignobly welds the one to the other cannot give his attention to the tranquil state of virtue and spiritual knowledge, for he sedulously indulges in the confusion of bodily passions.

90. Appetites and pleasures which are in accordance with nature are not reprehensible, since they are a necessary consequence of natural appetency. For our ordinary food, whether we wish it or not, naturally produces pleasure, since it satisfies the hunger which precedes a meal. Drink: also produces pleasure, since it relieves the discomfort of thirst; so does sleep, since it renews the strength expended in our waking hours, and so, too, do all our other natural functions necessary for maintaining life and conducive to the acquisition of virtue. But every intellect that is trying to escape from the confusion of sin transcends such passions, lest through them it remains a slave to passions which are subject to our control, contrary to nature and reprehensible; for these have no ground in us other than the activity of the passions which are in accordance with nature. although not on that account destined to accompany us into immortal and everlasting life.

91. If the words of God are uttered merely as verbal expressions, and their message is not rooted in the virtuous way of life of those who utter them, they will not be heard. But if they are uttered through the practice of the commandments, their sound has such power that they dissolve the demons and dispose men eagerly to build their hearts into temples of God through making progress in works of righteousness.

92. Just as God in His essence cannot be the object of man's spiritual knowledge, so not even His teaching can be fully embraced by our understanding. For though Holy Scripture, being restricted chronologically to the times of the events which it records, is limited where the letter is concerned, yet in spirit it always remains unlimited as regards the contemplation of intelligible realities.

93. If you want to absorb the precise spintual sense of Holy Scripture in a way that accords with Christ's wishes, you must train yourself diligently in the interpretation of names, for in this way you can elucidate the meaning of alt that is written. But you must not Judaic-wise drag the sublimity of the Spirit down to the level of the body and the earth, and limit the divine inviolate promise of spiritual blessings to thmgs corrupt and transitory.

94. Since a vow is a promise of some good thing offered by man to God, it may clearly be inferred that prayer is petition for the blessings bestowed by God on man with a view to his salvation and as a reward for the good inner state of those who make the prayer. Succor is the gift and growth, in the face of demonic attack, of virtuous qualities pursued through the practice of the ascetic life and of spiritual vision pursued through the life of contemplation. In the cry for such succor God naturally pays heed above all not to the loudness with which it is uttered but to the inner state of virtue and spiritual knowledge possessed by those who utter it.

95. The evil and destructive kingdom of the devil - typified by kmgdom of the Assyrians (cf. 2 Kgs. 18:11) - has organized a war against virtue and spiritual knowledge, plotting to pervert the soul through the soul's innate powers. First it stimulates the soul's desire to develop an appetite for what is contrary to nature, and persuades it to prefer sensible to intelligible things. Then it rouses the soul's incensive power to struggle with all its might in order to attain the sensible object which it desires. Finally it teaches the soul's intelligence how to contrive opportunities for sensual pleasure.

96. In His supreme goodness God has not only made the divine and incorporeal essences of noetic realities images of His unutterable glory, each in its own way reflecting, in so far as this is granted, the supra-noetic splendor of His unapproachable beauty; He also permeates with echoes of His majesty things that are sensory and far inferior to noetic essences. These enable the human intellect, mounted upon them and carried above all visible things, to journey towards God and to attain the summit of blessedness.

97. Every intellect crowned with virtue and spiritual knowledge is appointed like the great Hezekiah to rule over Jerusalem (cf. 2 Kgs. 18:1-2) - that is to say, over the state in which one beholds only peace and which is free from all passions. For Jerusalem means 'vision of peace'. Through the forms which fill creation, such an intellect has the whole of creation under its sovereignty. Through the intellect creation offers as gifts to God the spiritual principles of knowledge that lie within it; and as gifts to the intellect it presents the qualities conducive to virtue which exist within it in accordance with the law of nature. Both through the principles of spiritual knowledge and through the qualities of virtue creation honors the intellect so admirably fitted to make right use of both - the philosophic intellect perfected in both intelligence and action through contemplation and the practice of the ascetic life.

98. He who has attained the summit of virtue and spiritual knowledge through the practice of the ascetic life and contemplation naturally transcends, every carnal and reprehensible passion; he also surmounts the condition of so-called natural bodies, that is, of beings subject to generation and corruption. In short, through contemplation he gains spiritual knowledge of the inner essences of all sensible forms and passes beyond them, raising his intellect to the divine realities that are akm to it.

99. When, thanks to the hardships you have undergone in the practice of the virtues, you are appointed to dwell in the state of dispassion as though in Jerusalem and, freed from all the disturbance of sin, you practice, speak, hear and think nothing but peace; and when, after that, you have received through natural contemplation an understanding of the nature of visible things - a nature which offers through you as gifts to the Lord the divine essences dwelhng within it, and presents to you, as if presenting gifts to a king, the laws that he within it - then you are 'magnified in sight of all nations' (2 Chr. 32:23). For you are now above all things: through the practice of the virtues you have risen above natural bodies and the passions of the flesh, and through contemplation you have passed beyond the indwelling spiritual essences and qualities of alt sensible forms.

100. Practical philosophy sets above the passions the man who practices the virtues. Contemplation establishes above visible things the man who attains spiritual knowledge, raising his intellect to the noetic realities akin to it.

Third Century

1. The person who combines spiritual knowledge with the practice of the virtues and practice of the virtues with spiritual knowledge is a throne and a footstool of God (cf Isa. 66:1) - a throne because of his spiritual knowledge and a footstool because of his ascetic practice. And. the human intellect, purified of all material images and occupied or, rather, adorned with the divine principles of the noetic world, is a heaven itself.

2. When any philosopher - any devout philosopher - fortified with virtue and spiritual knowledge, or with ascetic practice and contemplation, sees the power of evil rising up against him through the passions, like the king of the Assyrians rising up against Hezekiah (cf. 2 Kgs. 18:13-16; Isa. 36:1-2), he is aware that Only with God's help can he escape. He invokes God's mercy by crying out silently and by striving to advance still further in virtue and knowledge; and he receives as an ally, or rather as his salvation, an angel, that is, one of the higher principles of wisdom and knowledge, who cuts off 'every mighty man, warrior, leader and commander in the camp' (2 Chr. 32:21).

3. Every passion has its origin in the corresponding sensible object. For without some object to attract the powers of the soul through the medium of the senses, no passion would ever be generated. In other words, without a sensible object a passion does not come into being: without a woman there is no unchastity; without food there is no gluttony: without gold there is no love of money, and so on. Thus at the origin of every impassioned stimulation of our natural powers there is a sensible object or, in other terms, a demon inciting the soul to commit sin by means of the sensible object.

4. Attrition suppresses the actualization of sin; obliteration destroys even the thought of it. For attrition prevents the realization of the impassioned act, while obliteration completely annihilates all demonic motivation in the mind itself.

5. Sensible and noetic realities lie between God and man. When the human intellect moves towards God it transcends them, provided that it is not enslaved to sensible realities through outward activity and is not dominated in any way by the noetic realities it beholds during contemplation.

6. Creation is the accuser of the ungodly. For through its inherent spiritual principles creation proclaims its Maker; and through the natural laws intrinsic to each individual species it instructs us in virtue. The spiritual principles may be recognized in the unremitting continuance of each individual species, the laws in the consistency of its natural activity. If we do not ponder on these things, we remain ignorant of the cause of created being and we cling to all the passions which are contrary to nature.

7. Scripture exhorts us to offer gifts to God so that we may become conscious of His infinite goodness. For God receives our offerings as if they were entirely our own gifts and He had not already given us anything. In this way God's untold goodness towards us is fully evident, for when we offer Him things which in reality are His own He accepts them as if they were ours, and He makes Himself our debtor as though they were not already His.

8. If we perceive the spiritual principles of visible things we learn that the world has a Maker. But we do not ask what is the nature of that Maker, because we recognize that this is beyond our scope. Visible creation clearly enables us to grasp that there is a Maker, but it does not enable us to grasp His nature.

9. The wrath of God is the painful sensation we experience when we are being trained by Him. Through this painful experience of unsought sufferings God often abases and humbles an intellect conceited about its knowledge and virtue; for such sufferings make it conscious of itself and its own weakness. When the intellect perceives its own weakness it rejects the vain pretensions of the heart.

10. The wrath of God is the suspension of gifts of grace - a most salutary experience for every self-inflated intellect that boasts of the blessings bestowed by God as if they were its own achievements.

11. The intellect of every true philosopher and gnostic possesses both Judah and Jerusalem; Judah is practical philosophy and Jerusalem is contemplative intuition. Whenever by the grace of God such an intellect repels the powers of evil with virtue and spiritual knowledge, and wins a complete victory over them, yet does not thank God, the true author of this victory, but boasts that the achievement is its own, it brings down the wrath of God's abandonment not only on itself but also on Judah and Jerusalem (cf. 2 Chr. 32:25), that is, on both its practice of the virtues and its contemplative life; it has failed to 'give thanks to God for the gifts that He has given' (ibid.). God at once permits shameful passions to vitiate its practice of the virtues and to sully its conscience, which until then was pure; He also permits false concepts to insinuate themselves into its contemplation of created beings and to pervert its spiritual knowledge, which until then had been sound. For ignoble passions immediately attack an intellect conceited about its virtue, just as an intellect over-elated because of its spiritual knowledge will be permitted by God's just judgment to lapse from true contemplation.

12. Providence has implanted a divine standard or law in created beings, and in accordance with this law when we are ungrateful for spiritual blessings we are schooled in gratitude by adversity, and brought to recognize through this experience that all such blessings are produced through the workings of divine power. This is to prevent us from becoming irrepressibly conceited, and from thinking in our arrogance that we possess virtue and spiritual knowledge by nature and not by grace. If we did this we would be using what is good to produce what is evil: the very things which should establish knowledge of God unshaken within us will instead be making us ignorant of Him.

13. We know that the providence which sustains created beings exists in them as a divine rule and law. In accordance with God's justice, when those rich in blessings are ungrateful to Him who bestows them, they are schooled in gratitude by this richness being drastically curtailed; and through this adversity they are led to recognize the true source of the blessings they receive. For when conceit about one's virtue is left undisciplined it naturally generates arrogance, and this induces a sense of hostility to God.

14. He who thinks that he has achieved perfection in virtue will never go on to seek the original source of blessing, for he has limited the scope of his aspiration to himself and so of his own accord has deprived himself of the condition of salvation, namely God. The person aware of his natural poverty where goodness is concerned never relaxes his impetus towards Him who can fully supply what he lacks.

15. He who has perceived how limitless virtue is never ceases from pursuing it, so as not to be deprived of the origin and consummation of virtue, namely God, by confining his aspiration to himself. For by wrongly supposing that he had achieved perfection he would forfeit true being, towards which every diligent person strives.

16. The arrogant intellect is justly made the object of wrath, that is to say, it is abandoned by God, as I have already described, and the demons are permitted to plague it during contemplation. This happens so that it may become aware of its own natural weakness and recognize the grace and divine power which shields it and which accomplishes every blessing; and so that it may also learn humility, utterly discarding its alien and unnatural pride. If this indeed happens, then the other form of wrath - the withdrawal of graces previously given - will not visit it, because it has already been humbled and is now conscious of Him who provides all blessings.

17. The person who has not been recalled to humility by the first form of wrath, namely abandonment, and does not through this humility learn true awareness, inevitably brings on himself the other form of wrath, which deprives him of the operation of the graces and leaves him destitute of the power that until then had protected him. For '1 will take away its protection', says God of an ungrateful Israel, 'and it will be plundered; I will break down its wall and it will be trampled under foot; I will destroy My vineyard, it will not be pruned or dug, and: briars will grow in it as in ground that is waste; and I will command the clouds not to rain on it' (Isa. 5:5-6. LXX).

18. Complete unawareness of the loss of the virtues marks the downward path to godlessness. For the person who habitually disobeys God, through indulging in the pleasures of the flesh, will deny God Himself when the occasion arises. In preferring the life of the flesh to God, he places a higher value on sensual pleasures than on the divine will.

19. When we think that our intellect has experienced something we must surely believe that its powers of ascetic practice and of contemplation have also shared in this experience in accordance with their natural principles, or a subject cannot experience something without the things within the subject also sharing in the experience. I call the intellect a subject because it is capable of receiving virtue and spiritual knowledge. By the phrase 'within the subject' I refer to the life of ascetic practice and the contemplative life, which in relation to the intellect are accidents or attributes. Hence they share completely in the experience of the intellect, because it is the intellect's mobility that produces in them any modification which they undergo.

20. Suppose the demons invisibly attack the intellect of a virtuous, God-loving man who, like Hezekiah, has girded himself spiritually with power against them, and who through prayer has received an angel sent to him from God (cf 2 Chr. 32:21), that is to say, has received one of the higher principles of wisdom, and so scatters and destroys the whole army of the devil; and suppose this man ascribes this victory and deliverance not to God but entirely to himself, then he has failed to 'give thanks to God for the gifts He has given' (2 Chr. 32:25). His gratitude does not match the greatness of his deliverance, nor does his inner attitude measure up to the bounty of his deliverer.

21. Let us illumine our intellect with intellections of the divine world and make our body refulgent with the quality of the spiritual principles we have perceived, so that through the rejection of the passions it becomes a workshop of virtue, controlled by the intelligence. If the natural passions of the body are governed by the intelli- gence there is no reason to censure them. But when their activity is not controlled by the intelligence, they do deserve censure. This is why it is said that such passions must be rejected, for ahhough their activity is natural, they may often be used, when not governed by the inteUigence, in a way that is contrary to nature.

22. Anyone whose heart exuhs because of the divine gifts he has received, and who preens himself as though those gifts were his own and had not been received (cf. I Cor. 4:7), justly calls down wrath on himself. God permits the devil to entangle his intellect, to undermine the virtuous quality of his conduct, and to obscure the luminous principles of spiritual knowledge during his contemplation. This is to make him realize his own weakness and recognize the one power capable of defeating the passions in us. If this happens, he may repent and be brought to a state of humility, discarding his load of conceit and being reconciled with God. Then he will avert the wrath that falls on those who do not repent, that takes away the grace which guards their souls, and leaves their ungrateful minds destitute.

23. When wrath takes the form of God allowing the demons to attack an arrogant intellect through the passions, it is a means of deliverance. For through suffering these shameful attacks the person that boasts of his virtues is enabled to learn who is the giver of these virtues. Otherwise he will be stripped of those things that are not in fact his, though he regarded them, as such, forgetting that he had received them as a gift. :

24. Truly blessed is the intellect that dies to all created beings: to sensible beings by quelling the activity of the senses, and to intelligible beings by ceasing from noetic activity. Through such a death of the intellect the will dies to all things. The intellect is then able to receive the life of divine grace and to apprehend, in a manner that transcends its noetic power, not simply created beings, but their Creator. 25. Blessed is he who has united his practice of the virtues to natural goodness and his contemplative life to natural truth. For all practice of the virtues is for the sake of goodness and all contemplation seeks spiritual knowledge solely for the sake of truth. When goodness and truth are attained, nothing can afflict the soul's capacity for practicing the virtues, or disturb its contemplative activity with outlandish speculations; for the soul will now transcend every created and intelligible reality, and will enter into God Himself, who alone is goodness and troth and who is beyond all being and all intellection.

26. Goodness, which is the lull expression of divine activity within us, is said to be the consummation of practical virtue. The soul's intelligent power is drawn towards goodness when it uses its incensive and desiring aspects in accordance with nature. In goodness the beauty that is according to God's likeness is made manifest. The consummation of contemplative philosophy is said to be the truth. Truth is the simple, undivided knowledge of all the qualities that appertain to God. A pure intellect is draws towards this knowledge when it has nullified all judgment based on; the senses. Such knowledge makes manifest the dignity of the divine image in a wholly unsullied state.

27. No one can truly bless God unless he has sanctified his body with the virtues and made his soul luminous with spiritual knowledge. For a virtuous disposition constitutes the face of a contemplative intellect, its gaze turned heavenwards to the height of true knowledge.

28. Blessed is he who knows in truth that we are but tools in God's hands; that it is God who effects within us all ascetic practice and contemplation, virtue and spiritual knowledge, victory and wisdom, goodness and truth; and that to all this we contribute nothing at all except a disposition that desires what is good. Zerubbabel had this disposition when he said to God: 'Blessed art Thou who hast given me, wisdom; I give thanks to Thee, Lord of our fathers; from Thee comes victory and wisdom; and Thine is the glory and I am Thy servant' (1 Esd. 4:59- 60). As a truly grateful servant he ascribed all things to God, who had given him everything. He possessed wisdom as a gift from God and attributed to Him as Lord of his fathers the efficacy of the blessings bestowed on him. These blessings are, as we have said, the union of victory and wisdom, virtue and spiritual knowledge. ascetic practice and contemplation, goodness and truth. For when these are united together they shine with a single divine glory and brightness.

29. All the achievements of the saints were clearly gifts of grace from God. None of the saints had the least thing other than the goodness granted to him by the Lord God according to the measure of his gratitude and love. And what he acquired he acquired only in so far as he surrendered himself to the Lord who bestowed it,

30. When a man's intellect is pre-eminent in virtue and spiritual knowledge, and he is determined to keep his soul free from evil slavery to the passions, he says, 'Women are extremely strong but truth conquers all' (1 Esd. 3:12). By women he means the divinizing virtues which give rise to the love that unites men with God and with one another. This love wrests the soul away from all that is subject to generation and decay and from all intelligible beings that are beyond generation and decay, and - in so far as this can happen to human nature - it intermingles the soul with God Himself in a kind of erotic union, mystically establishing a single shared life, undefiled and divine. By truth he means the sole and unique cause, origin, kingdom, power and glory of created beings, from which and through which all things were made and are being made, by which and through which the being of all things is sustained, and to which the lovers of God dedicate all their diligence and activity.

31. Women signify the supreme realization of the virtues, which is love. Love is the unfailing pleasure and indivisible union of those who participate through their longing in what is good by nature. Truth signifies the fulfillment of all spiritual knowledge and of all the things that can be known. For the natural activities of all created things are drawn by a certain universal intelligence to this truth as their origin and fulfillment. For the Origin and Cause of created beings has as truth conquered all things naturally, and has drawn their activity to Himself

32. Because it transcends all things, truth admits of no plurality, and reveals itself as single and unique. It embraces the spiritual potentialities of all that is intellective and intelligible, since it transcends both intellective and intelligible beings; and by an infinite power it encompasses both the ultimate origin and the ultimate consummation of created beings-and draws the entire activity of each to itself. On some it bestows lucid spiritual knowledge of the grace they have lost, and to others it grants, through an indescribable mode of perception and by means of participation, clear understanding of the goodness for which they long.

33. The intellect is the organ of wisdom, the intelligence that of spiritual knowledge. The natural sense of assurance common to both intellect and intelligence is the organ of the faith established in each of them, while natural compassion is the organ of the gift of healing. For, corresponding to every divine gift, there is in us an appropriate and natural organ capable of receiving it - a kind of capacity, or intrinsic state or disposition. Thus he who purges his intellect of all sensible images receives wisdom. He who makes his intelligence the master of his innate passions - that is to say, of his incensive and desiring powers - receives spiritual knowledge. He whose intellect and intelligence possess an unshakeable assurance concerning divine realities receives that faith with which all things are possible. He who has acquired natural compassion receives, after the utter annihilation of self-love, the gifts of healing.

34. In each of us the energy of the spirit is made manifest according to the measure of his faith (cf. Rom. 12:6). Therefore each of us is the steward of his own grace and, if we think logically, we should never envy another person the enjoyment of his gifts, since the disposition which makes us capable of receiving divine blessings depends on ourselves.

35. In other words, divine blessings are bestowed according to the measure of faith in each man. Similarly, the strength of our faith is revealed by the zeal with which we act. Thus our actions disclose the measure of our faith, and the strength of our faith determines the measure of grace that we receive. Conversely, the extent to which we fail to act reveals the measure of our lack of faith, and our lack of faith in turn determines the degree to which we are deprived of grace. Hence the person who out of jealousy envies those who practice the virtues is more than misguided, for the choice of believing and acting, and of receiving grace according to the measure of his faith, clearly depends on him and not on anybody else.

36. He who aspires to divine realities willingly allows providence to lead him by principles of wisdom towards the grace of deification. He who does not so aspire is drawn, by the just judgment of God and against his will, away from evil by various forms of discipline. The first, as a lover of God, is deified by providence; the second, although a lover of matter, is held back from perdition by God's judgment. For since God is goodness itself. He heals those who desire it through the principles of wisdom, and through various forms of discipline cures those who are sluggish in virtue.

37. Real faith is truth which is all-embracing, all-sustaining and free from all falsehood. A good conscience confers on us the power of love, since it is not guilty of any transgression of the commandments.

38. Scripture says that seven spirits will rest upon the Lord: the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of spiritual knowledge, the spirit of cognitive insight, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of strength, and the spirit of the fear of God (cf Isa. I 1 :2). The effects produced by these spiritual gifts are as follows: by fear, abstention from evil; by strength, the practice of goodness; by counsel, discrimination with respect to the demons; by cognitive insight, a clear perception of what one has to do; by spiritual knowledge, the active grasping of the divine principles inherent in the virtues; by understanding, the soul's total empathy with the things that it has come to know; and by wisdom, an indivisible union with God, whereby the saints attain the actual enjoyment of the things for which they long. He who shares in wisdom becomes god by participation and, immersed in the ever-flowing, secret outpouring of God's mysteries, he imparts to those who long for it a knowledge of divine blessedness.

39. The spirit of the fear of God is abstention from evil deeds. The spirit of strength is an impulse and disposition prompt to fulfill the commandments. The spirit of counsel is the habit of discrimination according to which we fulfill the divine commandments intelligently and distinguish what is good from what is bad. The spirit of cognitive insight is an unerring perception of the ways in which virtue is to be practiced; if we act in accordance with this perception we will not deviate at all from the true judgment of our intelligence. The spirit of spiritual knowledge is a grasping of the commandments and the principles inherent in them, according to which the qualities of the virtues are constituted. The spirit of understanding is acceptance of the qualities and principles of the virtues or, to put it more aptly, it is a transmutation by which one's natural powers commingle with the qualities and principles of the commandments. The spirit of wisdom is ascension towards the Cause of the higher spiritual principles inherent in the commandments, and union with it. Through this ascension and union we are initiated, in so far as this is possible for human beings, simply and through unknowing into those inner divine principles of created beings, and in different ways we present to men, as if from a spring welling up in our heart, the truth which resides in all things.

40. We ascend step by step from what is remotest from God, but near to us, to the primal realities which are furthest from us but near to God. For we begin by abstaining from evil because of fear, and from this we advance to the practice of virtue through strength; from the practice of virtue we advance to the. discrimination conferred by the spirit of counsel; from discrimination to a settled state of virtue, which is cognitive insight; from the settled state of virtue to the spiritual knowledge of the divine principles inherent in the virtues; from this knowledge to a state of understanding, that is, to the transmuted state in which we conform to the divine principles of virtue that we have come to know; and from this we advance to the simple and undistorted contemplation of the truth that is in all; things. From this point of vantage, as a. result of our wise contemplation of sensible and noetic beings, we will be enabled to speak about the trath as we should.

41. The first good which actively affects us, namely fear, is reckoned by Scripture as the most remote from God, for it is called 'the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10; Prov. I :7; 9:10). Setting out from this towards our ultimate goal, wisdom, we come to understanding, and this enables us to draw close to God Himself, for we have only wisdom lying between us and our union with Him. Yet it is impossible for a man to attain wisdom unless first, through fear and through the remaining intermediary gifts, he frees himself completely from the mist of ignorance and the dust of sin. That is why, in the order established by Scripture, wisdom is placed close to God and fear close to us. In this way we can learn the rule and law of good order.

42. Ascending therefore with these eyes of faith, that is to say, with this enlightenment, we are drawn towards the divine unity of wisdom, which is divided into different gifts for our benefit; and by mounting from one virtue to another we unite with the source of those gifts. But with God's help we do not omit any of the stages we have already mentioned, lest by gradually growing neglectful we allow our faith to become blind and sightless because it is deprived of the enlightenment of the Spirit that comes through works. If this happened, we would be punished for endless ages because we have blinded in ourselves the divine eyes which had opened within us according to the measure of our faith.

43. When by neglecting the commandments a person blinds the eyes of faith that are within him, then he is certainly doomed, for he no longer has God watching over him. For if Scripture calls the energies of the Spirit the 'eyes of the Lord' (Deut. 11:12), the person who does not open those eyes by fulfilling the commandments does not have God watching over him. God watches us only when through fulfilling the commandments we are illumined by the energies of the Spirit, for He has no other eyes by which He looks down on those who dwell on earth.

44. Wisdom is a unity contemplated mdivisibly in the various virtues which arise from it; and it is perceived in a single form in the operations of the virtues. Again, it appears as a simple unity when the virtues which issued from it are reintegrated with it. This happens when we, for whose sake wisdom has produced from itself each individual virtue, are drawn upwards towards it by means of each virtue.

45. When you fail to carry out the divine precepts of faith, your faith is blind. For if the precepts of God are light (cf. Isa. 26:9. LXX), it is clear that when you fail to put the divine precepts into practice you are without divine fight. You are God's servant merely in name, not in reality.

46. No one can plead the weakness of the flesh as an excuse when he sins; for the union of our humanity with the divine Logos through the incarnation, has renewed the whole of nature by lifting the curse, and so we have no excuse if our will remains attached to the passions. For the divinity of the Logos, which always dwells by grace in those who believe in Him, withers the rule of sin in the flesh.

47. He who through faith in God and love for Him has conquered the witless desires or impulses of the passions which are contrary to nature, moves out of the sphere of natural law and enters wholly into the noetic realm. And, together with himself, he delivers from alien servitude his fellow-men and their concerns.

48. Unless curbed by the fear of God that accompanies the practice of the virtues, spiritual knowledge leads to vanity; for it encourages the person puffed up by it to regard as his own what has merely been lent to him, and to use his borrowed intelligence to win praise for himself. But when his practice of the virtues increases concomitantly with his longing for God, and he does not arrogate to himself more spiritual knowledge than is needed for the task in hand, then he is made humble, reduced to himself by principles which are beyond his capacity.

49. Man's heavenly abode is a dispassionate state of virtue, combined with a spiritual knowledge that has overcome all delusory notions.

50. Plurality is the consummation of unity manifested, and unity is the origin of non-manifest pluralits'. For the origin of every consummation is clearly its non-manifest state, and the consummation of every origin is the full development of its potentiality for manifestation. Thus, since faith is the natural origin of the virtues, its con- summation is the full development of the goodness realized through the virtues; and since natural goodness is the consummation of the virtues, its origin is faith. In this way there is an intrinsic reciprocity between faith and goodness: faith is implicit goodness and goodness is faith manifested. God is by nature both faithful and good (cf. Matt. 19: 17); He is faithful as the primal good and good as the desire of all desires. These attributes are in every way identical with each other; and, except is our conception of them, they are not divided from each other in any way by any act of manifestation that takes its start from Him and ends in Him. Thus plurality, being the manifestation of God as the desire of all desires, brings to perfect fulfillment the longmg of all that aspires towards Him; while unity, being a symbol of God as the primal good, constitutes the perfect ground of all that is made manifest from Him. 51. The first type of dispassion is complete abstention from the actual committing of sift, and it may be found in those beginning the spiritual way. The second is the complete rejection in the mind of all assent to evil thoughts; this is found in those who have achieved an intelligent participation in virtue. The third is the complete quiescence of passionate desire; this is found in those who contemplate noetically the inner essences of visible things through then outer forms. The fourth type of dispassion is the complete purging even of passion-free images; this is found in those who have made their intellect a pure, transparent mirror of God through spiritual knowledge and contemplation. If, then, you have cleansed yourself from the committing of acts prompted by the passions, have freed yourself from mental assent to them, have put a stop to the stimulation of passionate desire, and have purged your intellect of even the passion-free images of what were once objects of the passions, you have attained the four general types of dispassion. You have emerged from the realm of matter and material things, and have entered the sphere of intelligible realities, noetic, tranquil and divine.

52. The first type of dispassion, in other words, is abstention from the body's impulsion towards the actual committing of sin. The second is the complete rejection of impassioned thoughts in the soul; through this rejection the impulsion of the passions mentioned in the first type of dispassion is quelled, since there are now no impassioned thoughts to incite it to action. The third is the complete quiescence of passionate desire, and through this the second type is generated, since it is brought into being by purity of thought. The fourth type of dispassion is the complete exclusion from the mind of all sensible images. This also produces the third type, since the mind no longer possesses those images of sensible things which produce imaginings of the passions in it.

53. Intelligence and reason are to be treated like the bondservants of Hebrew stock who are set free at the end of six years (cf Deut. 15:12). They labor like a servant and a handmaid for everyone who practices the virtues, since they conceive and realize the qualities of active virtue, and their whole strength is as it were drawn up against the demons that oppose the practice of the virtues. When they have completed the stage of practical philosophy - and this completion is represented by the sixth year, for the number six signifies practical philosophy - intelligence and reason are set free to devote themselves to spiritual contemplation, that is to say, they contemplate the inner essences of created beings.

54. The incensive power and desire, on the other hand, are to be treated like the servant and the handmaid of another tribe (cf. Lev. 25: 41-42). The contemplative; intellect, through fortitude and self-restraint, subjugates them for ever to the lordship of the intelligence, so that they serve the virtues. It does not give them their complete freedom until the law of nature is totally swallowed up by the law of the spirit, in the same way as the death of the unhappy flesh is swallowed up by infinite life (cf. 2 Cor. 5:4), and until the entire image of the unoriginate kingdom is clearly revealed, mnnetically manifesting in itself the entire form of the archetype. When the contemplative intellect enter this state it gives the incensive power and desire their freedom, transmuting desire into the unsullied pleasure and pure enravishment of an intense love for God and the incensive power into spiritual fervor, an ever-active fiery elan, a self-possessed frenzy.

55. The intellect unwavering concentration on spiritual knowT-edge, and the incorruption of the senses when hallowed by virtue, constitute an image of the unoriginate kingdom. This occurs when soul and body, through the spiritual transmutation of the senses into the intellect, are united with each other solely by the divine law of the Spirit. In this state, the ever-active vital energy of the Logos always pervades them, and all unlikeness to the divine utterly vanishes.

56. Pleasure has been defined as desire realized, since pleasure presupposes the actual presence of something regarded as good. Desire, on the other hand, is pleasure that is only potential, since desire seeks tike realization in the future of something regarded as good. Incensiveness is frenzy premeditated, and frenzy is incensiveness brought into action. Thus he who has subjected desire and incensiveness to the intelligence will find that his desire is changed into pleasure through his soul's unsullied union in grace with the divine, and that his incensiveness is changed into a pure fervor shielding his pleasure in the divine, and into a self-possessed frenzy in which the soul, ravished by longing, is totally rapt in ecstasy above the realm of created beings. But-so long as the world and the soul's willing attachment to material things are alive in us, we must not give freedom to desire and incensiveness, lest they commingle with the sensible objects that are cognate to them, and make war against the soul, taking it captive with the passions, as in ancient times the Babylonians took Jerusalem (cf. 2 Kgs. 25:4). For when Scripture, exhibiting the world of mtelligibles through the literal narrative, speaks of an age during which the Law commands servants of another tribe to remain in bondage (cf. Lev. 25:40-41), it means by 'age' the attachment of the soul's will and purpose to this world, that is, to this present life.

57. Evil has a beginning, for it has its origin in activity on our part which is contrary to nature. But goodness does not have a beginning, for it exists by nature before time and before all ages. Goodness is intelligible because it can be grasped by intellection. Evil is not intelligible because it cannot be grasped-by intellection. Goodness can he spoken about - indeed, it is the only thing we should speak about. It also comes into being - it is, in fact, the only thing that should come into being; for although by nature it is uncreated, yet because of God's love for us it allows itself to come into being through us by grace, so that we who create and speak may be deified. Evil - which is the only thing that should not come into being - we cannot create. Evil is corruptible because corruption is the nature of evil, which does not possess any true existence whatsoever. Goodness is incorruptible because it exists eternally and never ceases to be, and watches over everything in which it dwells. Goodness, then, is what we should seek with our intelligence, long for with our desire, and keep inviolate with our incensive power. With our cognitive insight we should prevent it from being adulterated by anything that is contrary to it. With our voice we should make it manifest in speech to those who art ignorant of it. And with our generative power we should make it increase or, to put it more accurately, we should be increased by it.

58. The contemplative intellect, if it is to rule over conceptual images of created things, as well as over its own activities, must be in a state barren of evil, that is, one which neither conceives evil in any way nor gives birth to it. It must be in this state when it embarks on contemplation lest, in scrutinizing created beings spiritually, it inadvertently falls into the power of one of the demons whose nature it is to comipt the heart's pure vision by means of some sensible object.

59. He who on account of his virtue or spiritual knowledge falls victim to self-esteem grows his hair like Absalom, to no good purpose (cf. 2 Sam. 14:26; 18:9). Outwardly he appears to pursue a moral way of life, but it is carefully contrived and mixed (like a mule) with conceit, and designed to deceive onlookers. Puffed up with his vainglory, he tries to supplant the spiritual father who gave him birth through the teaching of the Logos; for in his pride he wants, like a usurper, to arrogate to himself all the splendor of -the virtue and spiritual knowledge which his spiritual father possessed as a gift from God. But when such a man begins to engage in the spiritual contemplation of created beings and to fight with his intelligence for truth, because his sensual nature is still full of life he is caught by his hair in the oak tree of material appearances; and thus his empty conceit, entangled as it is with death, suspends him between heaven and earth (cf. 2 Sam. 18:9). For the victim of self-esteem does not possess spiritual knowledge, which like heaven would draw him up out of his degrading conceit, nor does he possess earth, that basis, rooted in humility, of practical endeavor which would draw him down from the heights to which his arrogance has raised him. The spiritual teacher who gave him birth grieves compassionately on seeing him the (cf 2 Sam. 18:33). In this way his teacher imitates God, who desires not the death of a smner but rather that he should repent and live (cf. Ezek. 33:11).

60. The origin and consummation of every man's salvation is wisdom, which initially produces fear but when perfected gives rise to loving desire. Or, rather, initially and providentially wisdom manifests itself for our sake as fear, so as to make us who aspire to wisdom desist from evil; but ultimately it exists in its natural state for its own sake as loving desire, so as to fill with spiritual mirth those who have abandoned all existmg things In order to dwell with it.

61. To those who do not long for it, wisdom is fear, because of the loss which they suffer through their flight from it; but in those who cleave to it, wisdom is loving desire, promoting an inner state of joyous activity. For wisdom creates fear, delivering a person from the passions by making him apprehensive of punishment; and it also produces loving desire, accustoming the intellect through the acquisition of the virtues to behold the blessings held in store for us.

62. Every genuine confession humbles the souL When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God. When it takes the form of self-accusation, it teaches the soul that it is guilty of crimes through its own deliberate indolence.

63. Confession takes two forms. According to the one, we give thanks for blessings received; according to the other, we bring to light and examine what we have done wrong. We use the term confession both for the grateful appreciation of the blessings we have received through divine favor, and for the admission of the evil actions of which we are guilty. Both forms produce humility. For he who thanks God for blessmgs and he who examines himself for his offences are both humbled. The first judges himself unworthy of what he has been given: the second implores forgiveness for his sins.

64. The passion of pride arises from two kinds of ignorance, and when these two kinds of ignorance unite together they form a single confused state of mind. For a man is proud only if he is ignorant both of divine help and of human weakness. Therefore pride is a lack of knowledge both in the divine and in the human spheres. For the denial of two true premises results in a single false affirmation.

65. Self-esteem is the replacing of a purpose which accords with God by another purpose which is contrary to the divine. For a man full of self-esteem pursues virtue not for God's glory but for his own, and so purchases with his labors the worthless praise of men.

66. The person who likes to be popular attends solely to the outward show of morality and to the wards of the flatterer. With the first he hopes to attract the eyes and with the second the ears of those Who are charmed and impressed only by what is visible and audible, and who judge virtue only with their senses. Hence the desire to be popular may be described as an outward display of moral acts and language, as though for the sake of virtue but really is to impress other people.

67. Hypocrisy is the pretence of friendship, or hatred hidden in the form of friendship, or enmity -operating under the guise, of affection, or envy simulating the. character of love, or a style of life adorned with the fiction but not the reality of virtue, or the pretence of righteousness maintained only in external appearance, or deceit with the outer form of truth. Hypocrisy is the trade of those who emulate the serpent in their twistmgs and tvvmmgs.

68. God is the cause of created beings and of their inherent goodness. Thus he who is puffed up with his virtue and knowledge, and whose grace-given progress in virtue is not matched by a corresponding recognition of his own weakness, falls inevitably into the sin of pride. He who seeks goodness for the sake of his own reputation prefers himself to God, for he has been pierced by the nail of self-esteem. By doing or speaking what is virtuous in order to be seen by men, he sets a much higher value on the approbation of men than on that of God. In short, he is a victim of the desire to be popular. And he who immorally makes use of morality solely to deceive by his solemn display of virtue, and hides the evil disposition of his will under the outward form of piety, barters virtue for the guile of hypocrisy. He aims at something other than die cause of all things.

69. The demons of pride, self-esteem, desire for popularity, and hypocrisy, never act by trying to dampen the ardor of the virtuous man. Instead, they cunningly reproach him for his shortcomings where the virtues are concerned, and suggest that he intensifies his efforts, encouraging him in his struggle; They do this in order to entice him to give his full attention to them: in this way they make him lose a proper balance and moderation, and lead him imperceptibly to a destination other than the one to which he thought he was going.

70. Neither do these demons hate self-restraint, fasting, almsgiving, hospitality, the singing of psalms, spiritual reading, stillness, the most sublime doctrines, sleeping on the ground, vigils, or any of the other things which characterize a life lived according to God, so long as the aim and purpose of a person trying to live such a life are tilted in their direction.

71. A person pursuing the spiritual way is perhaps quicker to recognize the other demons, and so he more easily escapes the harm that they do, but in the case of the demons that appear to cooperate with the progress of virtue and pretend they want to help in building a temple to the Lord, surely no intellect is so sublime as to recognize them without the assistance of the active and living Logos who pervades all thmgs and pierces 'even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit' (Heb. 4:12) - who discerns, in other words, which acts or conceptual images pertain to the soul, that is, are natural forms or expressions of virtue, and which are spiritual, that is, are supranatural and characteristic of God, but bestowed on nature by grace. It is only the Logos who knows whether 'the joints and marrow', that is, the qualities of virtue and spiritual principles, have been united harmoniously or not, and who judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart (ibid.), that is, judges from what is said the invisible underlying disposition and the motives hidden in -the soul. For to Him nothing in us is unseen: however we think we may escape notice, to Him 'all things are naked and open' (Heb. 4:13), not only what we do or think, but even what we will do or will think.

72. By 'dividing asunder of soul and spirit' is meant distinguishing between innate virtues, the principles of which we possess by nature, and virtues which are from the Spirit, the grace of which we receive as a free gift. The Logos discriminates with exactness between the two.

73. The intentions and thoughts which the Logos discerns are the soul's relationships with divine principles and thoughts, and the causes of these relationships. For an intention moves the mind, which has such a relationship; and a thought is directed towards a specific end, which in this way acts as a cause.

74. If God is essential knowledge, then God is subordinate to the intellect, for clearly the intellect is prior to all knowledge that it embraces. Therefore God is beyond knowledge because He is infinitely beyond every intellect, whatever the knowledge it embraces.

75. What man without the divine Logos dwelling in the depths of his heart can overcome the invisible wiles of the dissembling demons? How can he on his own, keeping himself free of all con- course with them, found and build the temple of the Lord, like Zerubbabel and Joshua and the heads of the clans, who expressly announced to the deceitful spirits of pride, self-esteem, desire for popularity and hypocrisy: 'You cannot share with us in the building of the house for the Lord our God; we alone will build for the Lord of Israel' (1 Esd. 5:70-71)? For concourse with the demons brings about the decay and destruction of the whole building, and strips the grace of beauty from divine offerings.

76. Nobody who accepts, as partners in his struggle for virtue, any of the four demons we have mentioned can build for the Lord. If he does accept any of them, as a result of his efforts he will not find God, but will be confirmed in the passion that he consolidates through his virtue.

77. The demons that wage war on us through our shortcomings in virtue are those that teach unchastity, drunkenness, avarice and envy. Those that wage war on us through our excessive zeal for virtue teach conceit, self-esteem and pride; they secretly pervert what is commendable into what is reprehensible.

78. When the demons attack us invisibly in the guise of spiritual friendship, pretending that they want to accomplish the death of sin by means which in themselves are good, and when they say, 'Let us build with you the temple of your Lord', would that we might always reply, 'You cannot share with us in the building of the house for the Lord our God; we alone will build for the Lord of Israel' (1 Esd. 5:70-71). 'We alone' because, having been freed from the spirits that fight against us through our shortcomings in virtue, and having escaped from them, we do not now want to be pierced by those that excite our pride by encouraging us to excessive Zeal; because if that happened our fall would be far worse than if we had fallen on account of our shortcomings. For had we fallen for this latter reason, there would have been a good chance of recovering, since we would be forgiven because of our weakness. But recovery is impossible, or at least difficult, if we fall because we have made ourselves hateful through our pride, and in place of what is right have set up something else which we regard as better. Yet in another sense we are not building the temple alone because we have the holy angels to help us to do what is good; indeed, we even have God Himself, who reveals Himself to us through our works of

79. Virtue may be defined as the conscious union of human weakness with divine strength. Thus the person who makes no effort to transcend the weakness of human nature has not yet attained the state of virtue. And that is why he goes astray, because he has not yet received the power which makes what is weak strong. On the other hand, he who willfully relies on his own weakness instead of on divine power, regarding this weakness as strength, has completely overshot the bounds of virtue. And that is why he goes astray, because he is unaware that he has left goodness behind; indeed, he mistakes his error itself for virtue. Thus the person who makes no effort to transcend the limits of his natural weakness is more easily forgiven, because indolence is the main reason for his lapse. But he who relies on his own weakness instead of on divine strength in-order to do what is right, is likely to have lapsed because of willfulness.

80. When it is said that 'the just man's prayer, made active, has great strength' (Jas. 5:16), I understand such prayer to be made active in two ways. The first is when the person who offers prayer to God supports it with works performed in accordance with the commandments. When he does this his prayer is not merely a matter of words and of the hollow sound of the tongue, and therefore ineffectual and without real substance, but it is effectual and living, animated with the actual fulfilling of the commandments. For prayer and supplication are given real substance when the commandments are fulfilled through the practice of the virtues. That is why the just man's prayer is strong and has the power to do all things, for it has been made active in this manner. The second way in which a Just man's prayer is made active is when another person asks for his prayers and then actually carries out in practice those things for which he requested the just man to pray; for in such a case this other person 'not only corrects his former mode of life but also, through his turn for the better, fills the just man's prayer with dynamic strength.

81. No benefit comes from a just man's prayer if he who asks for it finds more pleasure in sin than in virtue. For Samuel mourned over Saul when he sinned, but he was not able to obtain God's mercy, for his grief was not supported by the necessary change of life on the part of the sinner. Hence God put an end to the pointless grief of His servant, saying to him, 'How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?' (1 Sam. 16:1).

82. Again, when the compassionate Jeremiah appealed to God on behalf of the Jewish people because in their madness they deludedly worshipped the demons, his prayer was not heard; for it was not supported by the actual conversion of the godless Jews from their errors. Hence God also made him desist from his profitless prayer, saying:' Do not pray for this people, do not ask for them to be shown mercy, and do not approach Me with farther intercessions on their account, for I will not hear you' (Jer. 7:16. LXX).

83. It is indeed the height of folly, not to say of madness, for a person who deliberately takes pleasure in destructive sins to seek salvation through the prayers of the just and to ask them to obtain forgiveness for what he actively glories in, denied as he is by his own free choice. If he really hates what is evil, he should not ask for the prayers of a just man and then allow them to become void and ineffectual: but he should make them active and strong, so that winged with his own virtues they may reach Him who has power to grant forgiveness for sins.

84. The prayer of a just man has great strength when it is made active either by the just man who offers it or by the person who asks the just man to offer it for him. When it is made active by the just man, his prayer gives him direct communion with God who has the power, to grant what he asks. When the prayer is made active by the person who has asked the just man to pray for him, it delivers him from his evil ways and disposes him to virtue.

85. St Peter says, 'In which you rejoice, even though for a short while you may have to suffer 'distress from various trials' (1 Pet. I :6). But how can a person in distress because of such trials rejoice in what distresses him?

86. There are two kinds of distress. The first is produced imperceptibly in the soul, the second palpably to-the senses. The first embraces the fall depth of the soul, tormenting it with the lash of conscience; the second pervades all the senses when their natural tendency to turn towards external things is checked by pain. The first kind is the result of sensual pleasure, the second of the soul's felicity. Or rather, the first results from sense experiences that we deliberately embrace, the second from those we suffer against our will.

87. Distress, in my opinion, is a state devoid of pleasure. Absence of pleasure means the presence of pain. Pain is clearly a defect in, or a withdrawal of, some natural condition. A defect in some natural condition is a disorder or passion in the faculty that functions naturally in that condition. Such a disorder involves the misuse of the natural function of that faculty in question. To misuse the natural function is to direct the faculty towards what does not exist by nature and lacks substantial being.

88. The soul's distress is the result of sensual pleasure. For it is sensual pleasure that produces distress of soul. Similarly, distress in the flesh is the result of the soul's pleasure. For the soul's felicity is the flesh's distress.

89. There are two kinds of distress. The first involves the senses and consists in the absence of bodily pleasures: the second involves the intellect and consists in the absence of the soul's blessings. Trials, or temptations, are likewise of two kinds, the first subject to our will and the second not subject to our will. Those subject to our will beget bodily pleasure in the senses but distress in the soul. For sin when committed produces distress of soul. Those that are not subject to our will become apparent in sufferings undergone unwillingly; they beget pleasure in the soul but distress in the senses.

90. Just as there are two kinds of distress, as I have already explained, so also there are two kinds of trial or temptation, the one willingly accepted and the other contrary to our wishes. The first produces intended pleasure; the second inflicts unintended pain. For temptation willingly accepted leads to pleasures clearly intended by deliberate choice. But a trial undergone contrary to our wishes produces sufferings which are obviously not intended by deliberate choice. The first produces distress in the soul, the second in the senses.

91. Temptation willingly accepted creates distress in the soul, but clearly produces pleasure in the senses. A trial undergone contrary to our wishes produces pleasure in the soul but distress in the flesh.

92. I think that when our Lord and God was teaching His disciples how to pray and said, 'Lead us not into temptation' (Matt. 6:13), He was teaching them to pray that they should reject the kind of temptation which we accept willingly, that is, to pray that they should not be abandoned to the experience of temptations which, when wilhngly accepted, lead to intended pleasures. But I think that when St James, called the brother of the Lord, was teaching those struggling for truth not to be afraid, and said, 'My brethren, regard it as a great joy when various trials befall you' (Jas. 1:2), he was speaking with reference to the kind of trial which is not subject to our will, that is, to trials which are contrary to our wishes and produce suffering. That both these interpretations are correct is clear from the fact that the Lord at once adds, 'But deliver us from the evil one', and that James continues: 'Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patient endurance, and let this endurance come to truition, so that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing' (Jas. 1:3-4).

93. The Lord teaches us to pray that we may reject temptations subject to our will because these produce pleasure in the flesh and pain in the soul. St James urges us to rejoice in trials contrary to our wishes because these banish pleasure from the flesh and pain from the soul.

94. A perfect man is one who by means of self-control fights against temptations subject to his will, and who endures with patience trials that are contrary to his wishes. And an entire man is one whose practice of the virtues is completed by spiritual knowledge, and whose contemplation does not remain without practical effect.

95. Since distress and pleasure each affect both the soul and the senses, he who cultivates the soul's pleasure and patiently accepts the distress of the senses becomes tested, perfect and entire. He is tested by experiencing the contrasting effects of pleasure and distress in the senses. He becomes perfect because he fights unremittingly against pleasure and distress in the senses with self-control and patience. He becomes entire because, through constant obedience to the intelligence, he maintains the conditions that combat the mutually conflicting experiences of pleasure and distress in the senses. By these conditions I mean the practice of the virtues and contemplation, which he holds together without allowing the one to be in the least disjoined from the other: his actions manifest his contemplative knowledge and his-contemplation is protected equally by the intelligence and by the practice of the virtues.

96. He who has had experience of the distress and pleasure of the flesh may be described as tested because he has experienced both the pleasant and the unpleasant aspects of the flesh. A perfect man is one who with the power of his intelligence has struggled against the pleasure and pam of the flesh and has overcome them. An entire man is one who keeps both his practice of the virtues and his contemplative life unvarying through the intensity of his longing for God.

97. Distress of soul is of two kinds. The first is distress for one's own sins: the second is distress for the sins of others. The cause of such distress is clearly the sensual pleasure either of the man who feels distress or of those about whom he is distressed. For strictly speaking there is scarcely ever any sin in man that is not first generated by the soul's witless attachment to the senses for the sake of pleasure. And the cause of pleasure in a man's soul is obviously the distress which he feels in his senses when he delights and rejoices in his own virtues or in those of others. For again strictly speaking there is scarcely any virtue in man unless it is first generated by the soul's deliberate detachment from the senses.

98. When the soul is free of all impassioned attachment to the senses, there is no sin whatsoever in man. Moreover, all distress of soul is preceded by pleasure in the flesh.

99. The true origin of virtue lies in the soul's voluntary estrangement from the flesh. And the person who subdues the flesh with voluntary sufferings imbues his soul with spiritual delight.

100. When the soul has achieved detachment from the senses for the sake of virtue, the senses will of necessity suffer, for the soul's capacity for devising pleasure will no longer be conjoined with them in a deliberately chosen relationship. On the contrary, the soul will now bravely repulse the assaults of natural sensual pleasure with self-control; through patient endurance it will implacably resist the attacks of unnatural and involuntary suffering; it will not abandon the godlike dignity and glory of virtue for pleasure which has no real substance; and it will not fall from the heights of virtue in order to spare the flesh by relieving it of the sufferings induced by the pain of the senses. For the cause of distress in the senses is the soul's complete concentration on what accords with nature; and the pleasure of the senses is clearly supported by whatever activity of the soul is contrary to nature, for such pleasure can have no principle of existence other than the soul's rejection of what accords with nature.

Fourth Century

1. The soul has an intellectual capacity that is purposeful and inventive. When this capacity is separated from its attachment to the senses, it no longer seeks to satisfy the longing of the flesh for pleasure, as it did previously by virtue of their deliberately chosen relationship. Since its entire attention and intention are now fixed on divine realities, it refuses to assuage the flesh's suffering.

2. The natural energies of the intellect and those of the senses are opposed to one another because of the extreme dissimilarity between their objects. The intellect has as its object noetic and incorporeal beings, whose essence it is by nature fitted to apprehend: the senses have as object sensible and corporeal entities, which they likewise apprehend by virtue of their natural powers.

3. The origin of sensual pleasure lies in the soul's rejection of what accords with nature. For when the soul devotes its whole strength to the realization of blessings which accord with nature, it has no capacity for seeking out sensual pleasure.

4. When the intelligence takes precedence over the senses in the contemplation of visible things, the flesh is deprived of all natural pleasures, because the senses are then kept under control by the intelligence and so are not free to pursue their own pleasures. Once the intelligence is dominant in us, the flesh necessarily suffers, be- cause the intelligence compels it into the service of virtue.

5. When the intellect regards the senses as its own natural power, it becomes entangled in the superficial aspects of sensible things and devises ways of enjoying the pleasures of the flesh. It is unable to transcend the nature of visible things because it is held back by its impassioned attachment to the senses.

6. It can sometimes happen that the intellect is unable to advance to the apprehension of the noetic realities akin to it except by way of the contemplation of the intervening sensible objects. But such contemplation is impossible without the senses, which are linked to the intellect, yet are naturally akin to sensible objects. As a result the intellect, on encountering the superficial aspects of visible things, may well become entangled with them, thinking that the sense- perception linked with it is its own natural activity. If this occurs, the intellect will fall away from the noetic realities which accord with its nature and will grasp with both hands, so to speak, the corporeal entities which are contrary to its intelligence; and, because of the victory which the senses have gained over it, the intellect will fill the soul with distress. For it will be seared by the whips of conscience because it has become the author of sensual pleasure and coarsened itself with thoughts of how to pamper the flesh. But if on the other hand the intellect cuts through the superficial aspects of visible things as soon as they strike the senses, it will contemplate the spiritual essences of created things stripped of their outer forms. Then it will produce pleasure in the soul, because the soul will not be dominated by any of the sensible objects which are contemplated; but in the senses it will produce distress, because they will be deprived of every natural sensible object.

7. Sense-pleasure produces distress or suffering in the soul - the two terms mean the same. The soul's pleasure, on the other hand, produces distress or suffering in the senses. Thus he who longs in hope for life in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through the resurrection of the dead 'to an inheritance which is incorruptible, pure and unfading, kept in heaven' (1 Pet. I :4), will exult and feel unutterable joy in his soul, for he will be unceasingly full of gladness because of his hope for the blessings held in store; but in his flesh and senses he will experience distress, that is to say, the suffering produced by various trials and temptations, and the pain which goes with them. For pleasure and suffering accompany every virtue - suffering in the flesh when it is deprived of its agreeable lubncious sensuality, and pleasure in the soul, as it delights in spiritual essences stripped of everything sensible.

8. In this present life - for that is what I take 'this present time' to mean - the intellect must feel distress with respect to the flesh, because of the many sufferings resulting from the trials and temptations that beset it in its struggle for virtue; but it must always rejoice with respect to the soul, and delight in the hope of eternal blessings, even though its senses are burdened with suffering. For 'the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Rom. 8:18), says St Paul.

9. The flesh belongs to the soul, but the soul does not belong to the flesh. For the lesser belongs to the greater, not the greater to the lesser. But the law of sin - which is sensual pleasure - has become interlaced with the flesh through the fall. Because of this the flesh has been condemned to suffer death, for the purpose of death is to destroy the law of the flesh. Hence the man who knows that because of sin death was introduced, in order to destroy sin, always rejoices in his soul when he sees that, as a result of his many sufferings, the law of sin is withdrawing from his flesh, thus preparing him to receive in the spirit the blessed life that is held in store. For unless in this present life the law of sin, evidenced in the will's attachment to the flesh, is drained from the flesh as though from some vessel, no one can receive that blessed life.

10. He who is full of distress with respect to his flesh because of the sufferings he endures for the sake of virtue, rejoices in his soul because of that very virtue: for he beholds as a present reality the beauty of the blessings held in store. For the sake of virtue he severs his will from the flesh, and so dies daily, like David (cf Ps. 44:22). At the same time, he is continually renewed through his soul's spiritual regeneration; for he possesses both salutary pleasure and profitable distress. By this distress I do not mean that witless distress felt by most people, which torments their soul because, after developing unnatural impulses towards what it should reject and an aversion for what it should not reject, it then finds itself bereft of passions and material things. On the contrary, I have in mind the distress which is purposive and approved by those endowed with divine wisdom, and which indicates the presence of something evil. For distress is defined as evil present: and it is produced in the soul when sensual pleasure predominates over intelligent discrimination. But it is produced in the senses when the soul pursues the path of virtue unhindered; indeed, it induces as much suffering in the senses as it creates pleasure and joy in the soul that is brought near to God through the illumination conferred upon it by virtue and spiritual knowledge.

11. While profitable distress is the pain the flesh suffers for the sake of virtue. Moreover, he who has given himself up to passions and material things generates impulses towards what he should not desire: while he who does not welcome the calamities that deprive him of passions and material things creates an aversion for what he should desire.

12. Divine grace cannot actualize the illumination of spiritual knowledge unless there is a natural faculty capable of receiving the illumination. But that faculty itself cannot actualize the illumination without the grace which God bestows.

13. Not even the grace of the Holy Spirit can actualize wisdom in the saints unless there is an intellect capable of receiving it: or spiritual knowledge unless there is a faculty of intelligence that can receive it: or faith unless there is in the intellect and the intelligence full assurance about the realities to be disclosed hereafter and until then hidden from everyone: or gifts of healing unless there is natural compassion: or any other gift of grace without the disposition and faculty capable of receiving it. On the other hand, a man cannot acquire a single one of these gifts with his natural faculties unless aided by the divine power that bestows them. All the saints show that God's grace does not suspend man's natural powers: for, after receiving revelations of divine realities, they inquired into the spiritual principles contained in what had been revealed to them.

14. If a person asks without passion, he will receive the grace to enable him to practice the virtues. And if he seeks with dispassion, he will through natural contemplation find the truth inherent in created beings. And if he dispassionately knocks on the door of spiritual knowledge, he will without hindrance attain the hidden grace of mystical theology (cf Matt. 7:7-8).

15. He who dispassionately seeks for what is divine will certainly receive what he seeks. He who seeks with any passion will fail to find what he seeks. For Scripture says, 'You ask, and do not receive, because you ask. wrongly' (Jas. 4:3).

16. The Holy Spirit within us searches out the spiritual knowledge of created beings. But He does not search it out for Himself, because He is God and beyond all knowledge: on the contrary. He searches it out for our sakes, who are in need of such knowledge. Similarly the Logos, when He accomplished His mystery through the flesh, became flesh not for Himself but for us. Yet just as the Logos, as befits God, did not actualize what naturally pertains to the flesh without assuming flesh endowed with soul and intellect, so the Holy Spirit does not actualize in the saints a spiritual knowledge of the mysteries apart from that faculty in them which naturally searches out such knowledge.

17. Just as it is impossible for the eye to perceive sensible objects without the light of the sun, so the human intellect cannot engage in spiritual contemplation without the light of the Spirit. For physical light naturally illuminates the senses so that they may perceive physical bodies; while spiritual light illumines the intellect so that it can engage in contemplation and thus grasp what lies beyond the senses.

18. The faculties which search out divine realities were implanted by the Creator in the essence of human nature at its very entrance into being; but divine realities themselves are revealed to man through grace by the power of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. When, as a result of the fall, the devil had riveted the attention of these faculties to visible things, nobody understood or sought out God, because in all who participated in human nature intellect and intelligence were confined to the superficial aspects of sensible things, and so they acquired no understanding of what lies beyond the senses. But then, in those who had not of their own free will become inwardly subject to deceit, the grace of the Holy Spirit broke the attachment of these faculties to material things and restored them to their original state. On receiving them back thus purified, men again sought out divine realities, and they have continued to search them out through the same grace of the Holy Spirit.

19. The soul's salvation is the consummation of faith (cf I Pet. 1:9). This consummation is the revelation of what has been believed. Revelation is the inexpressible interpenetration of the believer with the object of belief and takes place according to each believer's degree of faith (cf. Rom. 12:6). Through that interpenetration the believer finally returns to his origin. This return is the fulfillment of desire. Fulfillment of desire is ever-active repose in the object of desire. Such repose is eternal uninterrupted enjoyment of this object. Enjoyment of this kind entails participation in supra-natural divine realities. This participation consists in the participant becoming like that in which he participates. Such likeness involves. so far as this is possible, an identity with respect to energy between the participant and that in which he participates by virtue of the hkeness. This identity with respect to energy constitutes the deification of the saints. Deification, briefly, is the encompassing and fulfillment of all times and ages, and of all that exists in either. This encompassing and fulfillment is the union, in the person granted salvation, of his real authentic origin with his real authentic con- summation. This union presupposes a transcending of all that by nature is essentially limited by an origin and a consummation. Such transcendence is effected by the almighty and more than powerful energy of God, acting in a direct and infinite manner in the person found worthy of this transcendence. The action of this divine energy bestows a more than ineffable pleasure and joy on him in whom the unutterable and unfathomable union with the divine is accomplished. This, in the nature of things, cannot be perceived, conceived or expressed.

20. Nature does not contain the inner principles of what is beyond nature any more than it contains the laws of what is contrary to nature. By what is beyond nature I mean the divine and inconceivable pleasure which God naturally produces in those found worthy of being united with Him through grace. By what is contrary to nature I mean the indescribable pain brought about by the privation of such pleasure. This pain God naturally produces in the unworthy when He is united to them in a manner contrary to grace. For God is united with all men according to the underlying quality of their inner state: and, at the creation of each person. He provides each person with the capacity to perceive and sense Him when He is united in one way or another with all men at the end of the ages.

21. The Holy Spirit leads those who seek the spiritual principles and qualities of salvation to an understanding of them: for He does not allow the power with which they naturally seek divine things to remain inactive and unproductive in them.

22. First a man seeks to make his will dead to sin and sin dead to his will, and to this end he investigates how and by what means he should make these two dead to one another. When that has been done, he seeks to make his will alive in virtue and virtue alive in his will: and to this end he investigates how and by what means he should vivify each in the other. To seek is to have an appetite for some object of desire; to investigate is to employ effective means by which the appetite can attain that object.

23. He who is to be saved must make not only sin dead to his will but also his will dead to sin. He must resurrect not only his will by means of virtue but also virtue by means of his will. In this way the will, being put to death and entirely disjoined from the totality of sin, which likewise has been put to death, becomes impervious to sin, while as revivified it becomes wholly conscious, through its unbroken union with it, of the totality of virtue, which itself has been revivified. For he who has made his will dead to sin has been united with the likeness of the death of Christ; and he who has given his will new life through righteousness has also become one with His resurrection (cf Rom. 6:5j.

24. When sin and will become dead to each other they become mutually impervious to each other; and when righteousness and will have life in each other they become mutually conscious of each other.

25. Christ is by nature both God and man. In an ineffable and supernatural manner we participate by grace in Him as God, while He in His incomprehensible love for men shares as man in our lot for our sake by making Himself one with us with a form like ours. The saints foresaw Him mystically in the Spirit and were taught that the glory to be revealed in Christ in the future because of His virtue must be preceded by the sufferings which He would endure for the sake of virtue (cf. I Pet. 1:11).

26. When the intellect in its longing is drawn in a manner beyond its understanding towards the source of created beings, it simply seeks; when the intelligence explores in various ways the true essences in created beings, it investigates.

27. Seeking is the intellect's first, simple, fervent movement towards its own cause. Investigating is the intelligence's first, simple discernment of its own cause with the help of some concept. Again, seeking occurs when the intellect, spurred on by intense longing, moves spiritually, and in cognitive awareness, towards its own cause. Investigating occurs when the intelligence, through the operation of the virtues, discerns its own cause with the help of some wise and profound concept.

28. While the holy and divine prophets were seeking out and investigating all that is connected with the salvation of souls, the movement of their intellects towards God was spurred on by their longing and kept fervent with cognitive insight and spiritual knowledge; and the discriminative power of their intelligence, in its active discernment of divine realities, was full of understanding and wisdom. Those who imitate them will also seek the salvation of souls with cognitive insight and spiritual knowledge: and by investigating with understanding and wisdom they will be able to discern the works of God.

29. The intelligence recognizes two kinds of knowledge of divine realities. The first is relative, because it is confined to the intelligence and its intellections, and does not entail any real perception, through actual experience, of what is known. In our present life we are governed by this kind of knowledge. The second is true and authentic knowledge. Through experience alone and through grace it brings about, by means of participation and without the help of the intelligence and its intellections, a total and active perception of what is known. It is through this second kind of knowledge that, when we come into our inheritance, we receive supernatural and ever-activated deification. The relative knowledge that resides in the intelligence and its intellections is said to stimulate our longing for the real knowledge attained by participation. This real knowledge, which through experience and participation brings about a perception of what is known, supersedes the knowledge that resides in the intelligence and the intellections.

30. Knowledge, that is to say, is of two kinds. The first resides in the intelligence and its divine intellections, and does not include, in terms of actual vision, a perception of what is known. The second consists solely in the actual enjoyment of divine realities through direct vision, without the help of the intelligence and its intellec- tions. But the intelligence is capable of giving us an intimation of what can be known through true knowledge and so of arousing in us a longing for such knowledge.

31. According to the wise, we cannot use our intelligence to think about God at the same time as we experience Him, or have an intellection of Him while we are perceiving Him directly. By 'think about God' I mean speculate about Him on the basis of an analogy between Him and created beings. By 'perceiving Him directly' I mean experiencing divine or supernatural realities through participation. By 'an intellection of Him' I mean the simple and unitary knowledge of God which is derived from created beings. What we have said is confirmed by the fact that, in general, our experience of a thing puts a stop to our thinking about it, and our direct perception of it supersedes our intellection of it. By 'experience' I mean spiritual knowledge actualized on a level that transcends all thought; and by 'direct perception' I mean a supra-intellective participation in what is known. Perhaps this is what St Paul mystically teaches when he says, 'As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for speaking in tongues, this will cease; as for knowledge, it too will vanish' (1 Cor. 13:8); for he is clearly referring here to the knowledge gained by the intelligence through thought and intellection.

32. It was indeed indispensable that He who is by nature the Creator of the being of all things should Himself, through grace, accomplish their deification, and in this way reveal Himself to be not only the author of being but also the giver of eternal well-being. Every creature is totally ignorant both of its own essential being and of that of every other created thing; in consequence no created thing has by nature foreknowledge of anything that will come into existence. Only God has such foreknowledge, and He transcends created things. For He knows what He is in His essence and He knows of the existence of everything made by Him before it comes into being; and it is His purpose to endow created things through grace with a knowledge both of their own essential being and of that of other things; for He will reveal to them the inner principles of their creation, pre-existent in a unified manner within Himself.

33. When God the Logos created human nature He did not make the senses susceptible either to pleasure or to pain; instead. He implanted in it a certain noetic capacity through which men could enjoy Him in an inexpressible way. By this capacity I mean the intellect's natural longing for God. But on his creation the first man, through an initial movement towards sensible objects, transferred this longing to his senses, and through them began to experience pleasure in a way which is contrary to nature. Whereupon God in His providential care for our salvation implanted pain in us as a kind of chastising force; and so through pain the law of death was wisely rooted in the body, thus setting limits to the intellect's manic longing, directed, in a manner contrary to nature, towards sensible objects.

34. Pleasure and pain were not created simultaneously with the flesh. On the contrary, it was the fall that led man to conceive and pursue pleasure in a way that corrupted his power of choice, and that also brought upon him, by way of chastisement, the pain that leads to the dissolution of his nature. Thus because of pleasure sin became the freely chosen death of the soul; and pain, by means of this dissolution, brought about the disintegration of the material form of the flesh. For God has providentially given man pain he has not chosen, together with the death that follows from it, in order to chasten him for the pleasure he has chosen.

35. Because of the meaningless pleasure which invaded human nature, a purposive pain, in the form of multiple sufferings, also gained entrance. It is in and from these sufferings that death takes its origin. Such pain drives out unnatural pleasure, but does not totally destroy it. Its total destruction is effected by the grace of divine pleasure when this is active in the intellect.

36. Sufferings freely embraced and those that come unsought drive out pleasure and allay its impetus. But they do not destroy the capacity for pleasure which resides in human nature like a natural law. For the cultivation of virtue produces dispassion in one's will but not in one's nature. But when dispassion has been attained in one's will the grace of divine pleasure becomes active in the intellect.

37. All suffering has as its cause some pleasure which has preceded it. Hence all suffering is a debt which those who share in human nature pay naturally in return for pleasure. For suffering naturally follows unnatural pleasure in all men whose generation has been preceded by submission to the rule of causeless pleasure. I describe the pleasure that derives from the fall as 'causeless' because clearly it has not come about as the result of any previous suffering.

38. Once human nature had submitted to the syndrome of pleasure freely chosen followed by pain imposed against one's will, it would have been completely impossible for it to be restored to its original life had the Creator not become man and accepted by His own free choice the pain intended as a chastisement for man's freely chosen pleasure. But in His case the pain was not preceded by generation according to the rule of pleasure. In this way, by accepting a birth which did not originate in pleasure, it was possible for Him to liberate birth from the penalty imposed on it.

39. After the fall the generation of every man was by nature impassioned and preceded by pleasure. From this rule no one was exempt. On the contrary, as if discharging a natural debt, all underwent sufferings and the death that comes from them. None could find the way to freedom, for all were under the tyranny of ill-gotten pleasure, and so subject to justly deserved sufferings and the still more justly deserved death which they engender. Because of this, another kind of suffering and death had to be conceived, first to destroy the ill-gotten pleasure and the justly deserved sufferings consequent on it - sufferings which have pitiably brought about man's disintegration, since his life originates in the corruption that comes from his generation through pleasure and ends in the corruption that comes through death: and, second, to restore suffering human nature. This other kind of suffering and death was both unjust and undeserved: undeserved because it was in no way generated by preceding pleasure, and unjust because it was not the consequence of any passion-dominated life. This other kind of suffering and death, however, had to be devised so that, intervening between ill-gotten pleasure and justly deserved suffering and death, it could completely abolish the pleasure -provoked origin of human life and its consequent termination in death, and thus free it from the pleasure-pain syndrome. It would then recover its original blessedness, unpolluted by any of the characteristics inherent in beings subject to generation and decay.

That is why the Logos of God, being by nature fully God, became fully man, with a nature constituted like ours of a soul endowed with intellect and a body capable of suffering: only in His case this nature was without sin, because His birth in time from a woman was not preceded by the slightest trace of that pleasure arising from the primal disobedience. In His love He deliberately accepted the painful death which, because of pleasure, terminates human life, so that by suffering unjustly He might abolish the pleasure -provoked and unjust origin by which this life is dominated. For, unlike that of everyone else, the Lord's death was not the payment of a debt incurred because of pleasure, but was on the contrary a challenge thrown down to pleasure: and so through this death He utterly destroys that justly deserved death which ends human life. For the cause of His being was not the illicit pleasure, justly punished by death, through which death entered into human life.

40. The Lord is wise, just and mighty by nature. Because He is wise. He could not be ignorant of the way in which to heal human nature. Because He is just. He could not save man, whose will was in the grip of sin, in a tyrannical fashion. Because He is almighty. He could not prove unequal to the task of completing His healing

41. The wisdom of God is revealed in His becoming by nature a true man. His justice is shown by His assumption, at His nativity, of a passible nature identical to our own. His might is shown by His creation, through His suffering and death, of a life that is by nature eternal and of a state of dispassion that is immutable.

42. The Lord revealed His wisdom by the way in which He healed man, becoming man without the slightest change or mutation. He demonstrated the equity of justice when in His self-abasement He submitted deliberately to the sentence to which what is passible in human nature is subject, and made that sentence a weapon for the destruction of sin and of the death which comes through sin - that is, for the destruction of pleasure and of the pain which pleasure engenders. It was in this pleasure-pain syndrome that the dominion of sin and death lay: the tyranny of sin committed in pursuit of pleasure, and the lordship of the painful death consequent upon sin. For the dominion of pleasure and pain clearly applies to what is passible in human nature. And we seek how to alleviate through pleasure the penalty of pain, thus in the nature of things increasing the penalty. For in our desire to escape pain we seek refuge in pleasure, and so try to bring relief to our nature, hard pressed as it is by the torment of pain. But through trying in this way to blunt pain with pleasure, we but increase our sum of debts, for we cannot enjoy pleasure that does not lead to pain and suffering.

43. The Lord gave clear evidence of His supreme power in what He endured from hostile forces when He endowed human nature with an incorruptible form of generation. For through His passion He conferred dispassion, through suffering repose, and through death eternal life. By His privations in the flesh He re-established and renewed the human state, and by His own incarnation He bestowed on human nature the supranatural grace of deification.

44. God became true man and bestowed on human nature a new or second form of generation leading us through suffering to the pleasure of the life held in store for us. For when our forefather Adam broke the divine commandment, in the place of the original form of generation he conceived and introduced into human nature, at the prompting of the serpent, another form, originating in pleasure and terminating through suffering in death. This pleasure was not the consequence of antecedent suffering but, rather, resulted in suffering. And because he introduced this ill-gotten pleasure-provoked form of generation, he deservedly brought on himself, and on all men born in the flesh from him, the doom of death through suffering. Thus, when the Lord became man and created in human nature a new form of generation, accomplished by the Holy Spirit, He accepted that death through suffering, justly deserved in the case of Adam, but in His case not deserved at all because His own generation was not provoked by the ill-gotten pleasure introduced by our forefather through his disobedience; and by doing so He destroyed whatever in the origin and doom of human generation according to Adam was not initially from God, and made all those who were reborn spiritually from Him free from its guilt.

45. The Lord removed the pleasure which arises from the law of sin, in order to nullify the effects of generation according to the flesh in those reborn in Him by grace through the Spirit. For when the pleasure of generation inherited from Adam is no longer active within them, but only the pain that arose because of Adam, He allows them to experience death, which was originally a sentence imposed on human nature as a penalty for sin: but in their case it is not a debt payable for sin, but an event that God in His providence permits, because of their natural condition, for the purpose of destroying sin. For when death is not born of that pleasure whose chastisement is its natural function, it begets eternal life. For just as Adam's life of pleasure gave birth to death and corruption, so the Lord's death on account of Adam, being unconditioned by the pleasure that originated in Adam, was the genitor of eternal life.

46. After the fall human life was generated by means of pleasure -provoked conception through sperm and of birth into the world of transience: and it ended in painful death through corruption. But the Lord was not generated in the flesh in the same manner, nor was He conquered by death.

47. Sin first enticed Adam and tricked him into breaking the commandment; and by giving substance to sensual pleasure and by attaching itself through such pleasure to the very root of nature, it brought the sentence of death on all nature, since through man it impels all created things towards death. All this was contrived by the devil, that spawn of sin and father of iniquity who through pride expelled himself from divine glory, and through envy of us and of God expelled Adam from paradise (cf. Wisd. 2:24), in order to destroy the works of God and dissolve what had been brought into existence.

48. Since the devil is jealous both of us and of God, he persuaded man by guile that God was jealous of him (cf. Gen. 3:6), and so made him break the commandment. The devil is jealous of God lest His power should be seen actually divinizing man: and he is jealous of man lest through the attainment of virtue man should become a personal participant in divine gloiy. The foul thing is jealous not only of us, because of the glory which we attain with God through virtue, but also of God, because of that power, worthy of all praise, with which He accomplishes our salvation.

49. In Adam the sentence of death was imposed on nature (cf Gen. 2:17), since sensual pleasure had become the principle of its generation. In Christ it was on sin that the sentence of death was imposed (cf Rom. 8:3), for in Christ nature was given a new form of generation, unconditioned by sensual pleasure.

50. If we who have been given the honor of becoming the house of God (cf Heb. 3:6) by grace through the Spirit must patiently endure suffering for the sake of righteousness (cf. Heb. 10:36) in order to condemn sin, and must readily submit like criminals to insolent death even though we are good, 'what will be the fate of those who refuse to obey the Gospel of God?' (1 Pet. 4:17). That is to say, what will be the fate or sentence of those who not only have diligently kept that pleasure-provoked, nature-dominating Adamic form of generation alive and active in their soul and body, will and nature, right up to the end; but who also accept neither God the Father, who summons them through His incarnate Son, nor the Son and Mediator Himself, the ambassador of the Father (cf. I Tim. 2:5)? To reconcile us with the Father, at His Father's wish the Son deliberately gave Himself to death on our behalf so that, just as He consented to be dishonored for our sake by assuming our passions, to an equal degree He might glorify us with the beauty of His own divinity.

51. God is the limitless, eternal and infinite abode of those who attain salvation. He is all things to all men according to their degree of righteousness; or, rather. He has given Himself to each man according to the measure in which each man, in the light of spiritual knowledge, has endured suffering in this life for the sake of righteousness. Thus He resembles the soul that reveals its activity in the members of the body according to the actual capacity of each member, and that itself keeps the members in being and sustains their life. This being the case, 'where will the ungodly and the sinner appear' (1 Pet. 4:18) if he is deprived of such grace? For if a man cannot receive the active presence of God on which his well-being depends, and so fails to attain the divine life that is beyond age, time and place, where will he be?

52. If a person refuses to allow God, the abode of all who are saved and source of their well-being, to sustain his life and to assure his well-being, what will become of him? And if the righteous man will be saved only with much difficulty (cf. Prov. 11:31. LXX: I Pet. 4:18), what will become of the man who has not attained any principle of devotion and virtue in this present life?

53. By a single infinitely powerful act of will God in His goodness will gather all together, angels and men, the good and the evil. But, although God pervades all things absolutely, not all will participate in Him equally: they will participate in Him according to what they are.

54. All, whether angels or men, who in everything have maintained a natural justice in their disposition, and have made themselves actively receptive to the inner principles of nature in a way that accords with the universal principle of well-being, will participate totally in the divine life that irradiates them; for they have submitted their will to God's will. Those who in all things have failed to maintain a natural justice in their disposition, and have been actively disruptive of the inner principles of nature in a way that conflicts with the universal principle of well-being, will lapse completely from divine life, in accordance with their dedication to what lacks being; for they have opposed their will to God's will. It is this that separates them from God, for the principle of well- being, vivified by good actions and illumined by divine life, is not operative in their will.

55. The scales on which the disposition of each being, whether angel or man, will be weighed at the last judgment is the principle of nature, which shows clearly whether that angel or man inclines towards well-being or its opposite. It is in accordance with this inclination that each being participates or fails to participate in divine life. For God will gather together into His presence all angels and men according to their being and their eternal being. But He will gather together in a special way according to their eternal well-being only those who are holy, leaving to those who are not holy eternal lack of well-being as the mixed fruit of their disposition.

56. In the mystery of the divine incarnation the distinction between the two natures, divine and human, in Christ does not imply that He is divided into two persons. On the one hand, a fourth person is not added to the Trinity, which would be the case if the incarnate Christ was divided into two persons: while on the other hand, since nothing can be coessential or cognate with the Divinity, there must be a distinction between the divine and human natures in Him. In other words, in the incarnation the two natures have united to form a single person, not a single nature. Thus not only does the hypostatic union formed by the coming together of the two natures constitute a perfect unity, but also the different elements which come together in the indivisible union retain their natural character, free from all change and confusion.

57. With regard to Christ, we do not speak of a distinction of persons, because the Trinity remained a Trinity after the incarnation of the Logos. A fourth person was not added to the Holy Trinity as a result of the incarnation. We speak of a distinction of natures to avoid asserting that the flesh is coessential in its nature with the Logos.

58. He who does not distinguish the two natures in Christ has no basis for affirming that the Logos became flesh without change. He does not acknowledge that after the union that which assumed and that which was assumed are preserved according to their nature in the single person of the one Christ, our God and Savior.

59. There is after the union a distinction in Christ between the nature of His flesh and that of His divinity, for divinity and flesh are never identical in their essence. Hence the union of the two elements, divine and human, which have come together has generated not a single nature, but a single person. With regard to this person, there is no distinction in Christ of any kind whatsoever, for as a person the Logos is identical with His own flesh. Had there been such a distinction in Christ, He could not be one person in every way. Where the person of Christ is concerned. His oneness does not admit of any kind of distinction whatsoever, and in every way it is, and is affirmed to be, a unity for all eternity.

60. With the help of hope, faith perfects our love for God. By making us keep the commandments, a clear conscience gives substance to our love for our neighbor. For a clear conscience cannot be charged with the breaking of a commandment. Only those who seek true salvation believe in their hearts in these three things, faith, hope and love.

61. Nothing is swifter than believing, and nothing is easier than to confess orally the grace that comes from what has been believed. It is his belief that reveals the believer's living love for his Creator; it is his confession of the grace received that reveals his godly affection for his neighbor. Love and genuine affection - that is, faith and a clear conscience - are clearly the result of a hidden impulse of the heart; for the heart is fully able to generate without using external matter.

62. If a person's will is not directed towards what is good, it is inevitably directed towards evil; for it cannot be stationary with regard to both. Because it implies obduracy with regard to virtue Scripture describes the soul's sluggishness in pursuing what is good as 'stones'; while it describes as 'timber' the soul's readiness to commit evil (cf. Zech. 5:4). But sense perception allied with the activity of the intellect produces virtue with spiritual knowledge.

63. By 'dividing wall' (Eph. 2:14) Scripture means the natural law of the body, and by 'barrier' (ibid.) that attachment to the passions according to the law of the flesh which constitutes sin. For attachment to shameful passions is a barrier set up by the law of nature - of the passible aspect of nature - walling off soul from body, and preventing a person from practicing the virtues in such a way that by means of the soul their principle passes into the flesh. Once their principle has passed into the flesh and has overthrown the law of nature - of the passible aspect of nature - it destroys the attachment to unnatural passions which that law imposes.

64. When through his guile the devil pillages the knowledge of God inherent in nature and arrogates it to himself, he is a thief, because he is attempting to transfer devotion from God to himself. This he does by diverting the intellect from its contemplation of the spiritual essences of created things and by limiting its scope merely to their superficial visible aspects. Then, after perverting the soul's natural functions, he speciously impels it to practice what is contrary to nature: by means of what appears to be good he persuasively attaches its desire to what is evil, and by swearing falsely on the name of the Lord he leads the soul thus persuaded towards things other than those he has promised. He is a thief because he arrogates the spiritual knowledge of nature to himself; he is a perjurer because he persuades the soul to labor to no purpose for what is contrary to nature.

65. A thief is a man who in order to deceive his hearers pretends to reverence divine principles. Although he has not come to know the true quality of these principles through his actions, he traffics in glory merely by speaking about it, hoping that in this manner he will be thought righteous by his hearers and so capture their admiration. To put it simply, he whose way of life does not match his speech, and whose inner disposition is opposed to spiritual knowledge, is a thief whose appropriation of what is not his proves him to be evil. Scripture fittingly addresses these words to him: 'But to the wicked God says, 'Why do you speak of my statutes and appropriate my covenant with your mouth?' ' (Ps. 50: 16. LXX).

66. A man is also a thief when he conceals his soul's unseen evil behind a seemingly virtuous way of life, and disguises his inner disposition with an affected innocence. Just as one kind of thief filches his audience's mind by uttering words of wisdom, so this kind pilfers the senses of those who see him by his pretence of virtue. To him it will be said: 'Be ashamed of yourselves, all you who are dressed in clothes that do not belong to you' (cf. Zeph. 1:8), and: 'In that day the Lord will reveal their pretence' (Isa. 3:17. LXX). I seem to hear God saying these things to me daily in the hidden workshop of my heart, and feel that I am explicitly condemned on both counts.

67. A man is a perjurer - that is to say, he swears falsely on the name of the Lord - when he promises God that he will lead a life of virtue and instead pursues what is alien to his promise, in this way breaking, through neglect of the commandments, the vows of his profession of the religious life. To put it briefly, he who has freely chosen to live according to God and is not perfectly dead to this present life is a liar and a perjurer, since he has sworn an oath before God - that is, he has promised Him to follow the spiritual path irreproachably - and he has not fulfilled his promise. For this reason he merits no praise at all. For although 'everyone that swears by Him shall be praised' (Ps. 63:11. LXX), this applies only to those who, having dedicated their life to God, fulfill the vows of their promise through truly performing works of righteousness.

68. He who simulates spiritual knowledge merely by the utterance of words filches the mind of those who hear him in order to boost his own reputation. Similarly, he who simulates virtue in his outward behavior pilfers the sight of those who look at him, once more in order to promote his own self-glory. Both steal by means of deceit, the first perverting his audience's mind, the second the bodily sense of those who see him.

69. The person who fulfils the promises he has made merits praise because he has sworn an oath before God and has remained faithful to it; conversely, the person who breaks his promises will be impugned and dishonored because he has sworn an oath before God and has been found false.

70. Not every man who comes into this world is necessarily enlightened by the Logos (cf John 1:9), for many remain unenlightened and have no share in the light of knowledge. But every man who comes into the real world of the virtues by his own free will, and so through a voluntary birth, is unquestionably enlightened by the Logos, receiving an immutable state of virtue and an infallible understanding of true knowledge.

71. Not all persons and things designated in Holy Scripture by the same word are necessarily to be understood in exactly the same way. On the contrary, if we are to infer the meaning of the written text correctly, each thing mentioned must clearly be understood according to the significance that underlies its verbal form.

72. If always understood in the same way, none of the persons, places, times, or any of the other things mentioned in Scripture, whether animate or inanimate, sensible or intelligible, will yield either the literal or spiritual sense intended. Thus he who wishes to study the divine knowledge of Scripture without floundering must respect the differences of the recorded events or sayings, and interpret each in a different way, assigning to it the appropriate spiritual sense according to the context of place and time.

73. Everyone should be taught to live and govern himself according to his intelligence alone, and to have so little concern for his body that he is able to break, through strenuous effort, his soul's attachment to it, and so to free his soul from all images of material things. The senses, which at first rejected the intelligence and accepted the folly of sensual pleasure, like a sinuous snake, must be quelled by the intelligence. It was because man had rejected intelligence that the sentence of death was justly imposed on him in order to put an end to the devil's access to his soul.

74. The senses belong to a single family but are divided into five individual types. Through the apprehensive force particular to each individual type, the deluded soul is persuaded to desire the corresponding sensible objects instead of God. Hence the man of intelligence will choose to die voluntarily according to the flesh before the advent of that death which comes whether he likes it or not. and to this end he will completely sever his inner disposition from the senses.

75. When the senses have the intellect in their clutches, they propagate polytheism through each individual sense organ; because in their slavery to the passions they pay divine honors to the sensible objects corresponding to each organ.

76. When a man sticks to the mere letter of Scripture, his nature is governed by the senses alone, in this way proving his soul's attachment to the flesh. For if the letter is not understood in a spiritual way, its significance is restricted to the level of the senses, which do not allow its full meaning to pass over into the intellect. When the letter is appropriated by his senses alone, he receives it Judaic-wise merely in the literal sense, and so lives according to the flesh, spiritually dying each day the death of sin on account of his forceful senses: for he cannot put his body's pursuits to death by the Spirit in order to live the life of bliss in the Spirit. 'For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,' says St Paul, 'but if through the Spirit you put to death the body's pursuits, you will live' (Rom. 8:13).

77. Let us not light the divine lamp - that is, the illuminating principle of knowledge - through contemplation and the practice of the virtues, and then place it under the grain bin (cf Matt. 5:15): for if we do we shall be condemned for confining the incomprehensible power of wisdom to the letter. On the contrary, let us put it on a lampstand - the Holy Church - beaconing to all men the light of divine truth from the summit of contemplation.

78. He who like Job and the courageous martyrs bears the assaults of unsought-for trials and temptations with an unshakeable will is a powerful lamp: for by his bravery and patience he keeps the light of salvation burning, since he possesses the Lord as his strength and his song (cf Ps. I 18:14). And he who is familiar with the tricks of the devil and experienced in the close combat of the unseen warfare, is likewise illuminated by the light of spiritual knowledge and becomes another lamp, saying with St Paul, 'We are not ignorant of Satan's devices' (2 Cor. 2:11).

79. Through fear, devotion and spiritual knowledge the Holy Spirit purifies those blessed with the purity of the virtues. Through strength, counsel and understanding He illumines those worthy of light with the knowledge of the inner and quickening essences of created beings. Through radiant, simple and complete wisdom He grants perfection to those honored with deification, leading them directly towards the Cause of created beings by every way that men can be so led. The perfect are known only by the divine qualities of goodness with which they recognize themselves in God and God in themselves, since there is no dividing wall between them. For nothing intervenes between wisdom and God. They will attain a state not subject to change or mutation, having entirely transcended all the intermediate states in which there is a danger of going astray with respect to spiritual knowledge. By these intermediate states is meant the being of the intelligible and sensible realities through which the human intellect is led on its journey to God, the Cause of all being.

80. Practical philosophy, or the practice of the virtues, is effectuated by fear, devotion and spiritual knowledge. Natural contemplation in the Spirit is achieved through strength, counsel and understanding. Mystical theology is granted only by divine wisdom.

81. A lamp cannot be kept burning without oil: nor can the light of spiritual gifts continue to shine unless one inwardly sustains it with actions and thoughts consonant with it. For every spiritual gift requires a corresponding inner quality in the recipient to feed it spiritually as though with oil, thus preserving its presence.

82. Without the olive tree there can be no genuine olive oil. Without a jar to keep it in, oil cannot be kept. Unless a lamp is fed with oil, its light will go out. Similarly, without Holy Scripture, no intellection can be truly and divinely effective. Without an inward quality or disposition capable, like ajar, of embracing it, no divine intellection can be retained. Unless the light of spiritual knowledge present in God's gifts is fed with divine intellections, it will go out.

83. I think that the olive tree on the left side of the candlestick (cf. Zech. 4:3) signifies the Old Testament, in which the emphasis is mainly on practical philosophy; while that on the right signifies the New Testament, which teaches a new revelation and brings each believer to a state of contemplation. The first supplies the qualities of virtue, the second the principles of spiritual knowledge to those who meditate on what is divine. The first clears away the mist of visible things and raises the intellect to realities that are akin to it when it is purged of all material fantasies. The second purifies the intellect of its attachment to materiality, with resolute strength knocking out as though with a hammer the nails that rivet will and disposition to the body.

84. The Old Testament makes the body obedient to the intelligence and raises it towards the soul by means of the virtues, preventing the intellect from being dragged down towards the body. The New Testament fires the intellect with love and unites it to God. Thus the Old Testament makes the body one in its activity with the intellect; the New Testament makes the intellect one with God through the state of grace. So close is the likeness to God which the intellect acquires, that God, who is not known as He is by nature in Himself to anyone in any way at all, is known through it just as an archetype is known from an image.

85. Since the Old Testament is a symbol of the practice of the virtues, it brings the body's activity into harmony with that of the intellect. Since the New Testament confers contemplation and spiritual knowledge, it illumines with divine intellections and gifts of grace the intellect that cleaves to it mystically. The Old Testament supplies the man of spiritual knowledge with the qualities of virtue; the New Testament endows the man practicing the virtues with the principles of true knowledge.

86. God may be called and actually is the Father by grace only of those whose will and disposition have been reborn in the Spirit through the practice of the virtues. By means of this birth they bear in their soul and manifest in the virtues the imprint of God their Father. Through their way of life they make those who see them glorify God by reforming themselves, and so they provide an excellent pattern of virtue for others to imitate. For God is glorified not by mere words but by works of righteousness, which proclaim the majesty of God far more effectively than words.

87. Because it is concerned with the senses, the natural law is represented by the olive tree on the left (cf. Zech. 4:3): it supplies the qualities of virtue to the intelligence and makes spiritual knowledge express itself in action. Because it is concerned with the intellect, the spiritual law is represented by the olive tree on the right: it imbues sense -perception with the spiritual principles of created things and makes conduct purposive and intelligent.

88. He who embodies spiritual knowledge in his practice of the virtues and animates this practice with spiritual knowledge has found the perfect method of accomplishing the divine work. He in whom spiritual knowledge and ascetic practice are not united either makes the first an unsubstantial illusion or turns the second into a lifeless idol. For spiritual knowledge not put into practice does not differ in any way from illusion, lacking such practice to give it real substance; and practice uninformed by intelligence is like an idol, since it has no knowledge to animate it.

89. The mystery of our salvation informs our way of life with intelligence and makes intelligence the glory of our way of life. It turns our practice of the virtues into contemplation manifest in terms of action, and our contemplation into divinely initiated practice. To put it briefly, it makes virtue the manifestation of spiritual knowledge and spiritual knowledge the sustaining power of virtue. Through both virtue and spiritual knowledge it displays a single compact wisdom. In this way we may know that by grace both Testaments agree in all things with each other, in their combination consummating a mystery more single and undivided than soul and body in a human being.

90. Just as soul and body combine to produce a human being, so practice of the virtues and contemplation together constitute a unique spiritual wisdom, and the Old and New Testaments together form a single mystery. Goodness by nature belongs to God alone, from whom all things capable by nature of receiving light and good- ness are enlightened and blessed with goodness by participation.

91. He who uses his intellect to apprehend the visible world contemplates the intelligible world. He imbues his sense -perception with the noetic realities that he contemplates, and informs his intellect with the inner essences of what he perceives with the senses. In various ways he transfers the structure of the noetic world to the world of the senses: and conversely he transfers the complex unity of the sensible world to the intellect. He apprehends the sensible world in the noetic world, since he has transferred into the intellect the inner essences of what can be perceived by the senses; and in the sensible world he perceives the noetic world, for he has adeptly harnessed his intellect with its archetypes to his sense -perception.

92. In the text, 'My head went down to the clefts of the mountains' (Jonah 2:6. LXX), the prophet called the first principle of unity the head, since it is the source of all virtue. The 'clefts of the mountains' are the counsels of evil spirits, by which our intellect is engulfed because of the fall. The lowest depths of the earth (cf. Jonah 2:7. LXX) are that inner state which has no perception whatsoever of divine knowledge or any impetus towards the life of virtue. The abyss (cf Jonah 2:6. LXX) is the ignorance that overlays an evil disposition, like the deep waters covering the sea bed. Alternatively the abyss is the sea bed itself, signifying a firmly grounded evil disposition. The eternal bars (cf. Jonah 2:7. LXX) strengthening this abysmal state are impassioned attachments to material things.

93. The patient endurance of the saints exhausts the evil power that attacks them, since it makes them glory in sufferings undergone for the sake of truth. It teaches those too much concerned with a life in the flesh to deepen themselves through such sufferings instead of pursuing ease and comfort: and it makes the flesh's natural weak- ness in the endurance of suffering a foundation for overwhelming spiritual power. For the natural weakness of the saints is precisely such a foundation, since the Lord has made their weakness stronger than the proud devil.

94. The principle of grace has to pass through many trials in order to reach the human race - that is, the Church of the Gentiles - just as Jonah had to pass through many trials before he arrived at the great city of Nineveh. Only then does it persuade the ruling law of nature to rise from its throne - that is, to abandon its former evil disposition due to its involvement with the senses; to remove its robe - that is, to expunge the vanity of worldly glory from its conduct : to cover itself with sackcloth - that is, with mourning, and with the difficult rough training in hardship such as befits a life lived according to God; and to sit in ashes - symbolizing poverty of spirit, in which everyone who is learning to live a devout life sits, lashed by his conscience because of the sins he has committed (cf . Jonah 3:1-9).

95. Observe, with reference to this passage from Jonah, how the king represents the natural law. The throne is an impassioned disposition in alliance with the senses. The robe is the display of self-esteem. Sackcloth is the grief of repentance. Ashes are humility. Men are those who sin in relation to the intelligence; beasts those who sin in relation to desire: cattle those who sin in relation to their incensive power; and sheep those who sin in relation to the contemplation of visible things.

96. The passions of the flesh may be described as belonging to the left hand, self-conceit as belonging to the right hand (cf Jonah 4:11). Thus he who through the correct observance of virtue makes himself oblivious to the passions of the flesh, and who because of his unfaltering spiritual knowledge is not infected by the disease of self-conceit on account of his achievements, has become a man who does not know his left hand or his right hand; for he is not excited by the passions of the flesh, and he does not love transitory glory. Hence it seems likely that by the right hand Scripture means self-esteem on account of supposed achievements, and by the left hand licentiousness in shameful passions. For the principle of virtue does not know the sin of the flesh, which belongs to the left hand; and the principle of knowledge does not know the soul's evil, which belongs to the right hand.

97. Spiritual knowledge of virtue - true and actualized knowledge of the cause of virtue - naturally produces total ignorance of the excess and deficiency which lie to the right and left of the norm of virtue. Nothing in the intelligence can be contrary to the intelligence. Thus he who has come to apprehend the principle of virtue will clearly have no way of knowing the state that is contrary to the intelligence. One cannot examine two opposites simultaneously, and know the one at the same time as the other.

98. There is no principle of unbelief in belief, or natural cause of darkness in light, and the devil and Christ cannot manifest themselves jointly (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-15). In the same way, nothing unintelligent can coexist with what is in accordance with the intelligence. If it is absolutely impossible for what is contrary to the intelligence to coexist with what is in accordance with it, he who has come to apprehend the principle of virtue does not know the state that is contrary to the intelligence in any way at all; for he knows virtue only as it is, not as it is thought to be. That is why he has no knowledge either of his right hand through excess, or of his left hand through deficiency. For in both these what is contrary to the intelhgence is obviously present.

99. Unbelief means rejection of the commandments; belief is acceptance of them. Darkness is ignorance of the good; light is knowledge of it. Christ is the name given to the essence and subsistence of the good; the devil is the depraved state that produces all sins.

100. If the intelligence is a norm and measure of created beings, what falls short of that norm and measure, or alternatively what goes beyond it, is equivalent to unintelligence and so is contrary to the intelligence. Both going beyond the norm and falling short of it induce a lapse from what truly exists. The first, by making the intellect overstep its measure, produces the conviction that life's path is uncertain and ill-defined, that it does not have God as its preconceived goal, and that there is something better than what is best; the second, through slackness of the intellect, produces the conviction that the preconceived goal is confined to the sensory world, and so results in attention being given merely to the senses. Only he who unites himself to the principle of virtue, and has concentrated the whole power of his intellect in this principle, does not know and experience these things; for he cannot be affected by anything that goes beyond the intelligence or is contrary to it.

Fifth Century

1. Through the diligent practice of the virtues the natural intelligence is raised towards the intellect. Through contemplation the intellect leads towards wisdom the man who aspires to spiritual knowledge. Passion, which is contrary to the intelligence, induces the man who neglects the commandments to descend to the realm of the senses, and the result of this is the intellect's attachment to sensual pleasure.

2. Virtue is a stable and utterly dispassionate state of righteousness. Nothing stands opposed to it, for it bears the stamp of God, and there is nothing contrary to that. God is the cause of the virtues; and a living knowledge of God is realized when the person who has truly recognized God changes his inner state so that it conforms more closely to the Spirit.

3. If intelligence has determined the origin of each created being, no such being by nature either goes beyond itself or falls short of itself. Thus the norm for created things is their desire and knowledge of their Cause, and their measure is the active imitation of their Cause in so far as this is within their scope. For if created beings are carried in their desire beyond the proper norm and measure, this makes their life fruitless, since then they do not find their goal in God - and it is in God that the desire of all things finds its repose, receiving the enjoyment of Him as its self-subsistent consummation. When created beings in their desire faU short of the norm and measure, their life is again fruitless, since then they find their goal not in God but in the realm of the senses, in which there is a pleasurable but illusory enjoyment of the passions.

4. An intellect consecrated -unconditionally to the Cause of created beings will be in a state of complete unknowing, since it will not contemplate any creative principle in God who, so far as all causation is concerned. Is in essence beyond such principles. When an intellect is drawn away from all created beings towards God, it does not observe their inner principles, but only contemplates God ineffably, being with Him by grace. For the intellect that reaches up to God in ecstasy relinquishes its knowledge of the inner principles of both corporeal and incorporeal things. For nothing sequent to God can be contemplated simultaneously with God.

5. Conceit is a truly accursed passion. It is a combination of two vices, pride and self-esteem. Pride denies the Cause of virtue and nature, while self-esteem adulterates nature and virtue itself. A proud man does nothing that accords with God's will, and a man full of self-esteem achieves nothing that accords with nature.

6. The mark of pride is to deny that God is the author of virtue and nature: the mark of self-esteem is to make divisions in nature and so to treat some things as worthless. Conceit is their natural offspring, being an evil state composed of a voluntary denial of God and ignorance of the equal dignity that things possess by nature.

7. Conceit is a mixture of pride and self-esteem. In its contempt for God It blasphemously maligns providence; while in its alienation from nature it treats everything belonging to nature in an unnatural way, and thus corrupts its beauty by misuse.

8. The spirit of scorching heat (cf Jonah 4:8) signifies not only trials and temptations but also that abandonment by God which deprived the Jews of the gifts of grace. Affinity with the Spirit dissolves the soul's proclivity for the flesh, concentrates our longing on God and bmds our will to Him.

9. When the intelligence is not dommated by the senses, the natural law persuades all men instinctively to embrace what is akin to them and of the same species, since nature itself teaches men to help those in need. In addition, the natural law persuades every man to wish for everybody else whatever he considers agreeable when done to him by others. This is what the Lord teaches when He says, 'Treat others as you want them to treat you' (Luke 6:31).

10. The work of the natural law is to bring into harmony all men's voluntary relationships with one another. Those whose nature is governed by the intelligence naturally share a single disposition. When men have the same disposition, their morality and living will obviously be of one kind. In such circumstances, the bond linking people together voluntarily will also be one and the same, leading all men through-their own volition towards the single principle of nature. When that principle is realized, the divisions now prevailing in nature because of man's self-love will totally vanish. The written law, which controls the unruly impulses of the foolish by fear of punishment, accustoms them by its teaching to think specifically about giving to each other what is equitable. In this way with the passing of time the rule of justice grows ever more firmly established within them, until it becomes part of their nature. It turns fear into a disposition which is gently and gradually strengthened by a conscious desire for the good, and habit into an inner state purified by a forgetfulness of past sins and giving birth within itself to a love for others.

11. The written law, by preventing wrongdoing through fear, accustoms one to do what is right. In time such custom produces a disposition filled with the love of righteousness, and this in turn produces a settled state of goodness, obliterating the memory of past sins.

12. The law of grace directly teaches those who are led by it to imitate God Himself. For - if it is permitted to speak in this way - despite the fact that because of sin we were His enemies, God loved us so much more than Himself that, although He is beyond every being. He entered without changing into our being, supra-essentially took on human nature, became man and, wishing to reveal Himself as a man among men, did not refuse to make His own the penalty we pay. And as in His providence He became man, so He deified us by grace, in this way teaching us not only to cleave to one another naturally and to love others spiritually as ourselves, but also, like God, to be more concerned for others than for ourselves, and as proof of our love for each other readily to choose, as virtue enjoins, to die for others. For, as Scripture tells us, there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend (cf John 11:13).

13. To recapitulate: the law of nature is a natural principle which takes control of the sense -realm in order to overcome its lack of intelligence; for lack of intelligence sunders what by nature belongs together. The written law is a natural principle which, when the lack of intelligence in the sense-realm has been overcome, acquires in addition the spiritual desire which maintains the reciprocity and interdependence of kindred beings. The law of grace is a principle transcending nature whose purpose is our deification. It transforms nature without altering its fundamental character; and, in a manner which defies comprehension, reveals to human nature, as if in an image, the archetype that lies beyond being and nature and is the ground of eternal well-being.

14. To treat one's neighbor as oneself is to be concerned simply with his existence. This pertains to the natural law. To love one's neighbor as oneself is to care, in a way that accords with virtue, for his well-being. This is prescribed by the written law (cf Lev. 19:18; Mark 12:33). To love one's neighbor more than oneself is a prerogative of the law of grace.

15. He who curbs the impulses towards bodily pleasure learns the laws of providence, which restrain the inflammatory matter of the passions. He who accepts the whips of bodily pain is taught the laws of judgment, which cleanse him from the defilement of his earlier life through unsought sufferings.

16. Scripture represents Jonah as grieving on account of the booth and the gourd - that is to say, on account of the flesh and the pleasure of the flesh - and it represents God as caring for Nineveh (cf. Jonah 4:1-11). From this it is clear that, compared with the things valued and prized by men, what is loved by God is better and more precious by far. For the things that men value lack being; they only seem to exist because of mistaken judgment, but have no principle of existence at all: there is only the fantasy, which cheats the intellect and through passion supplies non-existent things with empty form but no real substance.

17. An accurate knowledge of the utterances of the Spirit is revealed only to those who are worthy of the Spirit. When through diligent cultivation of the virtues they have swept the soot of the passions from their intellect, and have made it like a pure, resplendent mirror, they receive the knowledge of divine things which, as soon as it strikes them, is imprinted upon them and given form in them as a face is reflected in a mirror. Those whose life is smutted by the passions may possibly deduce knowledge of divine things by means of plausible guesswork; but they cannot grasp or express such knowledge with any accuracy.

18. A man whose intellect has been formed by the knowledge that comes by dint of the virtues through the divine Spirit is said to experience divine things; for he has acquired such knowledge not by nature, thanks simply to his existence, but by grace, thanks to his participation in it. When a man has not received knowledge by grace, even though he calls a particular thing spiritual, he does not know its true character from experience, for mere learning does not produce a state of spiritual knowledge.

19. An intellect totally purified by the virtues is automatically initiated into their inner principles, and comes to express in its own character the spiritual knowledge which is divinely stamped with their impress. For in itself every intellect is formless and without any specific quality of expression: its form is acquired, being either that of the knowledge which arises from the virtues through the Spirit, or that of ignorance, which supervenes through the passions.

20. Everyone who has fallen away from divine love is ruled through sensual pleasure by the carnal law. With such a law, he cannot keep a single divine commandment, nor does he wish to: preferring a life of pleasure to a life ruled by virtue and lived in the Spirit of God, he embraces ignorance instead of knowledge.

21. A person who does not penetrate with his intellect towards the divine and spiritual beauty contained within the letter of the Law develops a propensity for pleasure - that is, an attachment to the world and a love of worldly things; for his knowledge derives merely from the literal expression of the Law.

22. The name Mephibosheth, meaning 'ignominy of mouth' (cf 2 Sam. 4:4) signifies the intellect's preoccupation with thoughts devoted to the world and to bodily indulgence. When we do not penetrate with our intellect beyond the material form exhibited in the letter of the Law, such a world-loving disposition and such preoccupation with thoughts of sensual indulgence are bound to develop in accordance with the proclivity of our will. For our intellect will be preoccupied with whatever it is we gravitate towards.

23. Or again, 'ignominy of mouth' signifies that impulsion of the intellect which gives fonn to the passions and moulds beauty in a way that accords with sensual pleasure. For without the intellect's inventive power no passion can assume form. The name of Mephibosheth's brother Armoni, meaning 'anathema' (cf. 2 Sam. 21:8), signifies the gross, ugly and shapeless impulsion of the passions; while 'ignominy of mouth' signifies that impulsion of the intellect which gives form to the passion so that it can be perceived by the senses, and which in the shape of mental images provides the passion with suitable matter to work on.

24. Anyone who believes that the sacrifices, feasts. Sabbaths, and celebrations of the new moon specified in the Law have been instituted by God for the sake of physical license and relaxation will fall completely into the power of the passions, and will be ignominiously polluted by the shameful thoughts they stimulate. He will be in the sway of the corruptible world and preoccupied with thoughts of bodily indulgence. Dominated by the matter and form of passion, he will be unable to value anything except what is subject to decay, senses, and which in the shape of mental images provides the passion with suitable matter to work on.

25. He who persuades himself that physical self-indulgence is commanded by God in the Law gleefully accepts gluttony as a gift from God. In this spirit he develops forms of behavior which pollute the senses through misuse, senses, and which in the shape of mental images provides the passion with suitable matter to work on.

26. When the soul's contemplative faculty embraces self-indulgence as a divine command, it makes an unnatural use of the senses, not allowing them to express themselves at all in accordance with nature. In these circumstances the soul's contemplative faculty begets an implicit or else an active state of passion, and accepts gluttony as a divine prescription, thus developing forms of behavior that defile the senses by misuse and destroy the natural principles and seeds in created beings.

27. Nobody can embrace the least natural principle or thought if he devotes himself merely to a literal observance of the Law, since symbols and nature are not identical. Because of the difference between symbols and Ac nature of created beings, a person who stops short at the symbols of the Law is incapable of a noetic vision of the nature of created beings and cannot encompass the inner essences implanted in them by their Creator.

28. He whose God is his belly and who prides himself on his ignominy as if it were something splendid (cf Phil. 3 : I 9) is merely cleaving to the shameful passions as if they were divine. Because of this he pursues only what is temporal, that is to say, matter and form and the perverted impulses of the five senses. When the senses combine with matter and form they produce passion, killing and effacing natural principles. For, in accordance with the principle of being, passion and nature in no way coexist with each other: the principle of nature is never naturally conjoined with passion, and passion is never co-engendered with nature.

29. He who does not believe that the scriptures are spiritual is unaware of his lack of spiritual knowledge, yet wastes away with hunger. Strictly speaking, however, hunger is a deprivation of blessings that we already know by experience and a total absence and dearth of the spiritual nourishment that sustains the soul. How, then, can one regard as hunger or loss one's complete destitution with regard to what one has never once known in any way at all?

30. The truly hungry are the faithful who have already acquired knowledge of the truth. So, too, is the soul of every man who has abandoned the grace of spiritual contemplation and become a slave to the literal and external forms of religion; for he does not nourish his intellect with the splendor of his intellections, but imbues his perception with impassioned fantasies derived from the material aspects of scriptural symbols.

31. Everyone who does not apply himself to the spiritual con-templation of Holy Scripture has, Judaic-wise, also rejected both the natural and the written law; and he is ignorant of the law of grace which confers deification on those who are obedient to it. He who understands the written law in a literal manner does not nourish his soul with the virtues. He who does not grasp the inner principles of created beings fails to feast his intellect on the manifold wisdom of God. And he who is ignorant of the great mystery of the new grace does not rejoice in the hope of future deification. Thus failure to contemplate the written law spiritually results in a dearth of the divine wisdom to be apprehended in the natural law; and this in its turn is followed by a complete ignorance of the deification given by grace according to the new mystery.

32. Every intellect endowed by the grace of Christ with discriminative and penetrating vision, always desires said seeks the face of the Lord. The face of the Lord is true contemplation and Spiritual knowledge of divine things attained through virtue. When one seeks this contemplation and knowledge one learns the cause of one's destitution and dearth. For just as the face is the distinctive feature of each person, so spiritual knowledge Is th6 special characteristic of what is divine. He who seeks such knowledge is said to seek the face of the Lord. But the person who has become carnal through bloody sacrifices performed in accordance with the letter of the Law possesses the ignorance which he desires: for he accepts commandments only for the pleasure they give to the flesh and he confines his perception literally to the material sense of the written word.

33. In the case of the person who confines himself to a literal observance of the Law, the matter which, he engenders is the act of sin that he commits:, while the form that he devises in a materialistic fashion is the intellect's assent to the sensual pleasures that attract him to the act of sin. He who understands Scripture in a spiritual way puts to death both the act of sin, which corresponds to matter, and the assent to it, which corresponds to form: and he also puts to death the misuse of the senses for the sake of pleasure. He does this by means of thoughts that by nature pertain to higher levels of contemplation.

34. Once the external observance of the letter of the Law has been superseded, together with the ignorance that goes with it, it is then possible to put an end to the matter and form of which we have been speaking, as well as to the five ways of misusing the five senses with regard to matter and form - and by this I mean the impassioned and unnatural association of the senses with sensible things subject to time and change. The spiritual law, or mtellect, destroys this association by means of the higher principles and thoughts which are found in natural contemplation. In this way the intellect, when it has attained the heights of the law of spiritual contemplation, destroys man's all-pervasive subjection, established through the symbols of temporal things, to sense-perception and to the outward form of things.

35. Without natural contemplation no one can appreciate the disparity between the symbols through which the Law is expressed and the divine realities which these symbols represent. Further, if through such contemplation a man has not first discerned this disparity and, denying his sense -perception all access to the hidden realm of divine and intelligible realities, does not long to penetrate with his intellect into its beauty, he cannot be liberated completely from the external diversity to be found in the symbols. So long as he cleaves to the letter, his inner hunger for spiritual knowledge will not be satisfied; for he has condemned himself like the wily serpent to feed on the earth - that is. on the outward or literal form - of Scripture (cf Gen. 3:14), and does not, as a true disciple of Christ, feed on heaven - that is, on the spirit and soul of Scripture, in other words, on celestial and angelic bread. I mean that he does not feed through Christ on the spiritual contemplation and knowledge of the Scriptures, which God gives unstintingly to those who love Him, in accordance with the text: 'He gave them the bread of heaven: man ate the food of angels' (Ps. 78:24-25. LXX).

36. Interpretation of the outward form of Scripture according to the norms of: sense-perception must be superseded, for it clearly promotes the passions as well as proclivity towards what is temporal and transient. That is to say, we must destroy the impassioned activity of the senses with regard to sensible objects, as if destroying the children and grandchildren of Saul (cf 2 Sam. 21:1-9); and we must do this by ascending to the heights of natural contemplation through a mystical interpretation of divine utterances, if in any way we desire to be filled with divine grace.

37. When the Law is understood only according to the letter, it is hostile to the truth, as the Jews were, and as is anyone else who possesses their mentality. For such a person limits the Law's power merely to the letter, and does not advance to natural contemplation, which reveals the spiritual knowledge hidden mystically in the letter; for this contemplation mediates between figurative representations of the truth and the truth itself, and leads its adepts away from the first and towards the second. On the contrary, he rejects natural contemplation altogether and so excludes himself from initiation into divine realities. Those who diligently aspire to a vision of these realities must therefore destroy the outward and, evanescent interpretation of the Law, Subject to time and change; and they must do this by means of natural contemplation, having ascended to the heights of spiritual knowledge.

38. A man totally obliterates the outward or literal sense of Scripture when through the practice of natural contemplation he destroys his soul's pleasure-provoked and body -indulging subjection - promoted by the written Law - to the restless and evanescent world of materiality. In this way he slays, as though it were Saul's children and grandchildren, his earth-bound understanding of the Law. At the same time, through this natural, contemplation on the heights of spiritual knowledge, he openly confesses his error of previously interpreting the Law according to its outward form. For the text, 'to hang them before the Lord' (cf 2 Sam. 21:9), may be understood to mean this: to bring into the light by means of spiritual knowledge his preoccupation with the letter of the Law and the prejudice from which he suffers as a result. This is to show that, thanks to contemplation, the letter of the Law has been killed by spiritual knowledge.

39. 'The letter kills.' says Scripture, 'but the Spirit gives life' (2 Cor. 3:6). Consequently, the letter whose nature it is to kill must be killed by the life-giving Spirit. For what is material in the Law and what is divine - namely, the letter and the Spirit - cannot coexist, nor can what destroys life be reconciled with that which by nature bestows life.

40. The Spirit bestows life, the letter destroys it. Thus the letter cannot function at the same time as the Spirit, just as what gives life cannot coexist with what destroys life and the prejudice from which he suffers as a result. This is to show that, thanks to contemplation, the letter of the Law has been killed by spiritual knowledge.

41. Circumcision, in its mystical sense, is the complete cutting away of the intellect's impassioned attachment to all that comes into being in a contingent manner. Viewing things on the natural level, we recognize that the removal of an attribute naturally bestowed by God does not produce perfection. For nature does not bring about perfection when it is mutilated by human ingenuity, or when through over-subtlety men deprive it of something conferred on it by God at creation. Otherwise we would be attributing to human ingenuity more power to establish a perfect order of things than to God, and to an ingenious mutilation of nature the ability to make good shortcomings in God's creation. But if we understand circumcision figuratively, we learn that we are spiritually to circumcise the impassioned disposition of our soul. In this way our will, having freed the intellect from its impassioned subjection to the law that rules the birth of contingent things, is brought into harmony with nature.

42. Uncircumcision is natural. Everything that is natural is the work of divine creation and is excellent: 'And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good' (Gen. 1:31). But the Law, by demanding on the grounds of uncleanness that the foreskin should be cutaway by circumcision (cf. Gen. 17:10-14), presents God as amending His own work through human skill. This is a most blasphemous way of looking at things. He, then, who interprets the symbols whereby the Law is expressed in the light of knowledge attained through natural contemplation, knows that God does not set nature aright by means of human skill, but bids us cir- cumcise the passible aspect of the soul so as to make it obedient to the intelligence. This is indicated figuratively in terms of the body, and means that we are to excise the flaws from our will by means of spiritual knowledge acquired through the courageous practice of the virtues. The circumcismg priest signifies spiritual knowledge, and the knife he uses is the courageous practice of the virtues, which cuts away the passions. When the. Spirit triumphs over the letter, the tradition of the Law is abolished.

43. The Sabbath (cf. Exod. 16:23; 20:10) signifies rest from the passions, and from the