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Fifty Spiritual Homilies Of Saint Macarius The Egyptian

Very deep are the secret chambers of the soul, which grows in part with the growth of grace or of wickednesses.

1. THE precious vessel of the soul is of great depth, as it says in a certain place, He seeketh out the deep, and the heart. When man swerved from the commandment, and came under sentence of wrath, sin took him for her subject; and being herself like a great deep of bitterness in subtilty and depth, she entered within and took possession of the ranges of the soul, even to the deepest inner chambers of it. In such fashion as this let us liken the soul and sin when mixed with it, as if there should be a great big tree with many branches and it has its roots in the deepest parts of the earth. So the sin which had come in, taking possession of the ranges of the deepest chambers of the soul, came to be customary and to have the first say, growing up with each man from infancy, and going up and down with him, and instructing him in evil things.

2. When therefore the influence of divine grace has overshadowed the soul according to the measure of each man’s faith, and he receives help from on high, still grace has overshadowed him only in part. Let not a man imagine that his whole soul has been enlightened. There is still a large range of wickedness within, and the man has need of much labour and pains, corresponding to the grace given him. That is the reason why divine grace began to visit the soul only in part, though it had power to cleanse and perfect the man in the turn of an hour, in order to test the man’s purpose, whether he preserves his love towards God entire, not complying with the evil one in anything, but lending himself wholly to grace. In this way the soul, approving itself time after time, and grieving grace in nothing, nor using it despitefully, is helped by this method of little by little; and grace itself finds range in the soul, and strikes root even to the deepest parts and reasonings of it, when the soul on many occasions approves itself and corresponds with grace, until the whole soul is embraced by the heavenly grace, which thenceforth reigns in the vessel itself.

3. But if any one is not very humble, he is delivered to Satan, and is stripped naked of the divine grace that was given him, and is tempted with many afflictions, and then his self-esteem is shewn in its true colours, because in reality he is naked and wretched. He who is rich in the grace of God ought to be very humble and contrite of heart, and to consider himself as poor and having nothing. None of it is his own. Another gave it him, and takes it away when He pleases. He who humbles himself thus before God and men is able to keep the grace that was given to him, as the Lord says, He that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Elect though he be of God, let him be reprobate to himself; and being really faithful, let him consider himself unworthy. Such souls are well pleasing to God, and are quickened in Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever. Amen.

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