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Fifty Spiritual Homilies Of Saint Macarius The Egyptian

Concerning the difference between God’s word and the worlds, and between God’s children and the children of this world.

1. THE Word of God is God, and the word of the world is world; and there is a great difference and distance between the Word of God and the word of the world, and between the children of God and the children of the world. Everything that is begotten resembles its parents. If then the offspring of the Spirit shall choose to give itself up to the word of the world and the things of the earth and the glory of the present order, it is mortified and perishes, being unable to find the true satisfaction of life. Its satisfaction is only there, whence it was begotten. As the Lord says, he who is encompassed by cares of this life and bound by earthly bonds is choked, and becometh unfruitful from the Word of God. In like manner also he who is possessed by a fleshly intention, who is a man of the world, if he should wish to listen to the Word of God, is choked, and becomes like one devoid of reason; for, being accustomed to the deceits of evil, when such men hear about God, they are as it were oppressed by tiresome discourse, and their minds are sick of it.

2. Paul says, The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit; for they are foolishness unto him. And the prophet says, The word of God was to them as vomit. You see that it is not possible to live except according to the word that each was born to. You must listen to another way of putting it. If the carnal man gives himself up to be changed, he begins by dying in that quarter, and becoming unfruitful as regards that former life in wickedness. But as if a man is subject to a disease or a fever, although his body is prostrate upon the bed, unable to accomplish any of the activities of the earth, his mind is not quiet, but plucked this way and that, in concern about his business, and seeks the physician, sending his friends to him; so the soul, weak with passion from the transgression of the commandment, and in a state of impotence, comes to the Lord and believes and finds His help; and when it has denied its former evil life, although it still lies in its old weakness, unable to accomplish in truth the works of life, yet to be zealously concerned about the life, to ask of the Lord, to seek the true Physician—this it has and can.

3. It is not as some say, who are led astray by wrong teachings, that man is dead once for all, and cannot accomplish anything good whatsoever. A babe has no force to accomplish anything, and is unable to go on its own feet to its mother; but yet it rolls itself, and makes a noise, and cries, seeking after its mother. The mother meanwhile pities it, and rejoices that the little one seeks after her with pains and crying; and though the babe cannot come to her, yet because of the child’s much seeking the mother comes to it herself, all over-mastered by love for her babe, and takes it up, and cherishes it, and nurses it with great affection. This is what God does, in His kindness towards man, with the soul that comes to Him and longs for Him. Nay, much more, impelled by charity, He of His own accord, in the goodness which is inherent in Him and is all His own, cleaves to the intention of that soul, and becomes one spirit with it, according to the apostolic saying. When the soul cleaves to the Lord, and the Lord pities and loves, coming to it and cleaving to it, and the intention from that time remains continually faithful to the grace of the Lord, they become one spirit, one composite thing, one intention, the soul and the Lord; and while the body belonging to it is prostrate upon earth, the intention of the soul has its conversation wholly in the heavenly Jerusalem, mounting even to the third heaven, and cleaving to the Lord, and ministering to Him there.

4. And He, while sitting in the throne of majesty on high, in the heavenly city, is wholly in company with the soul, in the body that belongs to it. He has set her image above in Jerusalem, the heavenly city of the saints, and has set His own image, the image of the unspeakable light of His Godhead, in her body. He ministers to her in the city of the body, while she ministers to Him in the heavenly city. She has inherited Him in heaven, and He has inherited her upon earth. The Lord becomes the soul’s inheritance, and the soul becomes the inheritance of the Lord. If the intention and mind of sinners in darkness can be so far from the body, and is able to sojourn at a distance, and to travel in a moment to distant countries, and oftentimes, while the body is prostrate on the earth, the mind is in another country, in company with him or her whom it loves, and sees itself living there;—if, I say, the soul of the sinner is so light and volatile that his mind is not debarred from places far away, much more does the soul from whom the veil of darkness has been taken away by the power of the Holy Ghost, and her mental eyes have been enlightened through the heavenly light, and she has been perfectly delivered from the passions of shame, and has been made pure through grace, serve the Lord wholly in heaven in the spirit, and serve Him wholly in the body, and find herself so expanded in thought as to be everywhere and where she wills, and, where He wills, to serve the Lord.

5. This is what the apostle says, That ye may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. Consider the unspeakable mysteries of the soul from which the Lord takes away the darkness that lies over her, and reveals her, and is revealed to her; how He expands and extends the thoughts of her mind to the breadths and lengths and depths and heights of all creation, visible and invisible. A great and divine work and wonderful indeed is the soul. In fashioning her, God made her such as to put no evil in her nature, but made her after the image of the virtues of the Spirit. He put in her the laws of virtues, discernment, knowledge, prudence, faith, charity, and the other virtues, according to the image of the Spirit.

6. Even now in knowledge and prudence and charity and faith the Lord is still found and manifested to her. He has put in her intelligence, divers faculties, will, the ruling mind. He has seated in her much other subtlety besides. He made her mobile, volatile, unwearying. He bestowed on her to come and go in a moment, and in her thoughts to serve Him where the Spirit wills. Altogether He created her such as to be His bride, and capable of fellowship with Him, that He might be mingled with her, and be one spirit with her, as the apostle says, He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. To whom be glory for ever. Amen.

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