Orthodox River

Two Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God

by St Maximos the Confessor

  1. God is one, unoriginate, incomprehensible, possessing completely the total potentiality of being, altogether excluding notions of when and how, inaccessible to all, and not to be known through natural image by any creature.

  2. So far as we are able to understand, for Himself God does not constitute either an origin, or an intermediary state, or a consummation, or anything else at all which can be seen to qualify naturally things that are sequent to Him. For He is undetermined, unchanging and infinite, since He is infinitely beyond all being, potentiality and actualization.

  3. Every being whose self-limitation is intrinsic to it is by nature the origin of the activity perceived as’ potentially present within it. Every natural activity in the process of actualization - and such activity is, on the conceptual level, sequent to the being itself but prior to its own actualization - is an intermediary state, since by nature it lies between the being in which it is present potentially and its own actualization. Every actualization, limited as it naturally is by its own inner principle, is the consummation of that activity which has its origin in the being and which, conceptually speaking, precedes the actualization.

  4. God is not a being either in the general or in any specific sense of the word, and so He cannot be an “origin. Nor is He a potentiality either in the general or in any specific sense, and so He is not an intermediary state. Nor is He an actualization in the general or in any specific sense, and so He cannot be the consummation of that activity which proceeds from a being in which it is perceived to pre-exist as a potentiality. On the contrary, He is the author of being and simultaneously an entity transcending being; He is the author of potentiality and simultaneously the ground transcending potentiality; and He is the active and inexhaustible state of all actualization. In short, He is the author of all being, potentiality and actualization, and of every origin, intermediary state and consummation.

  5. Origin, the intermediary state and consummation characterize things divided by time, as indeed they characterize things existing in the eon. For time, by which change is measured, is defined numerically; while the eon, whose existence presupposes a ‘when’, possesses dimensionality, since its existence has an origin. And if time and the eon have an origin, how much more so will those things that exist within them.

  6. God by nature is always one and alone, substantively and absolutely, containing in Himself all-inclusively the totality of substantive being, since He transcends even substantiveness itself. If this is so, there is nothing whatsoever among all the things to which we ascribe being that possess substantive being. Thus nothing what- soever different in essence from God can be envisaged as coexisting with Him from eternity - neither the eon, nor time, nor anything which exists within them. For substantive being and being which is not substantive never coincide.

  7. No origin, intermediary state or consummation can ever be altogether free from the category of relationship. God, being infinitely beyond every kind of relationship, is by nature neither an origin, nor an intermediary state, nor a consummation, nor any of those things to which it is possible to apply the category of relationship.

  8. Created beings are termed intelligible because each of them has an origin that can be known rationally. But God cannot be termed intelligible, while from our apprehension of intelligible beings we can do no more than believe that He exists. On this account no intelligible being is in any way to be compared with Him.

  9. Created beings can be known rationally by means of the inner principles which are by nature intrinsic to such beings and by which they are naturally defined. But from our apprehension of these principles inherent in created beings we can do no more than believe that God exists. To the devout believer God gives something more sure than any proof: the recognition and the faith that He substantively is. Faith is true knowledge, the principles of which are beyond rational demonstration; for faith makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason (cf. Heb. 11:1 ).

  10. God is the origin, intermediary state and consummation of all created things, but as acting upon things not as acted upon, which is also the case where everything else we call Him is concerned. He is origin as Creator, intermediary state as provident ruler, and consummation as final end. For, as Scripture says, “All things are from Him and through Him, and have Him as their goal’ (Rom. 11:36).

  11. No deiform soul is in its essence of greater value than any other deiform soul. For when God in His supernal goodness creates each soul in His own image, He brings it into being endowed with self-determination. By exercising this freedom of choice each soul either reaffirms its true nobility or through its actions deliberately embraces what is ignoble.

  12. God, it is said, is the Sun of righteousness (cf. Mal. 4:2), and the rays of His supernal goodness shine down on all men alike. The soul is wax if it cleaves to God, but clay if it cleaves to matter. Which it does depends upon its own will and purpose. Clay hardens in the sun, while wax grows soft. Similarly, every soul that, despite God’s admonitions, deliberately cleaves to the material world, hardens like clay and drives itself to destruction, Just as Pharaoh did (cf. Exod. 7:13). But every soul that cleaves to God is softened like wax and, receiving the impress and stamp of divine realities, it becomes ‘in spirit the dwelling-place of God’ (Eph. 2:22).

  13. If a person’s intellect is illumined with intellections of the divine, if his speech is unceasingly devoted to singing the praises of the Creator, and if his senses are hallowed by unsullied images - he has enhanced that sanctity which is his by nature, as created in the image of God, by adding to it the sanctity of the divine likeness that is attained through the exercise of his own free will.

  14. A man keeps his soul undefiled before God if he compels his mind to meditate only on God and His supreme goodness, makes his thought a true interpreter and exponent of this goodness, and teaches his senses to form holy images of the visible world and all the things in it, and to convey to the soul the magnificence of the inner principles lying within all things.

  15. God has freed us from bitter slavery to tyrannical demons and has given us humility as a compassionate yoke of devoutness. It is humility which tames every demonic power, produces in those who accept it every kind of sanctity, and keeps that sanctity inviolate.

  16. He who believes fears; he who fears is humble; he who is humble becomes gentle and renders inactive those impulses of in-censiveness and desire which are contrary to nature. A person who is gentle keeps the commandments, he who keeps the commandments is purified; he who is purified is illumined; he who is illumined is made a consort of the divine Bridegroom and Logos in the shrine of the mysteries.

  17. Sometimes when a farmer is looking for a suitable spot to which to transplant a tree, he unexpectedly comes across a treasure. Something similar may happen to the seeker after God. If he is humble and unaffected, and if his soul, after the example of the blessed Jacob (cf. Gen. 27:11), is sleek, and not hirsute with materiality, then God may grant him the contemplation of divine wisdom even though he has not labored for it. But if the Father then asks him how he came by this knowledge, saying to him ‘What is this you have found so quickly, My son?’ he should reply, as Jacob did, “It is what the Lord God has granted to me’ (Gen. 27:20. LXX). We should realize in such a case that what he has found is a spiritual treasure; for the devoted seeker after God is a spiritual farmer who transplants, as if it were a tree, his contemplation of visible and sensory things to the field of noetic realities; and in so doing he find a treasure - the revelation by grace of the wisdom in created things.

  18. Although in his humility he has not expected it, the seeker after God may suddenly receive spiritual knowledge of divine contemplation. But this may so devastate the mind of someone else who is unsuccessfully toiling to acquire such knowledge for the sake of self-display that, mad with jealousy, he plots to murder his brother and grows sick with resentment because he does not experience the elation that comes from being praised.

  19. Those who seek spiritual knowledge with much labor, but do not succeed in finding it, fail either through lack of faith or perhaps because in their stupidity and jealousy they have it in mind to attack those who possess knowledge, just as the people of old once attacked Moses. We can rightly apply to them the passage in Scripture which says that when some men tried to force their way up the mountain, the Amorites dwelling in that mountain came out and wounded them (cf. Deut. 1:43-44). For inevitably those who put on a show of holiness for the sake of self-display not only fail to achieve anything through their false piety, but also are wounded by their conscience.

  20. He who pursues spiritual knowledge for the sake of display and fails to attain it should not envy his neighbor or be cast down. On the Contrary, as commanded, let him observe the preparation for the Sabbath in some nearby place: through the practice of the virtues, by working hard with his body, he will prepare his soul for that knowledge.

  21. Those who truly and devoutly aspire to an understanding of created beings, and have no thoughts of self- display, will find that they are granted lucid insight into such beings and that through this insight they attain the knowledge they seek in a most precise fashion. To such people the Law says, “You will come and inherit fine large cities, and houses which you did not build, full of good things, and deep wells which you did not dig, and vines and olive trees which you did not plant’ (cf. Deut. 6:10-11). For he who lives not for himself but for God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15) is filled with all the gifts of grace, which were not previously apparent in him because of the disturbance produced by the passions.

  22. There are said to be two forms of sense-perception. The first is a habitual state and persists even when we are asleep. It does not grasp any particular object and it serves no purpose because it is not directed towards an action. The second is the active sense-perception through which we apprehend sensible objects. Similarly, there are two forms of knowledge. First, there is academic knowledge, which is theoretical information, gathered merely from habit, about the inner principles of created beings, and which serves no purpose because it is not directed towards the practical execution of the commandments. Secondly, there is actively effective knowledge, which confers a true experiential apprehension of created beings.

  23. A hypocrite, hunting after the glory that comes from an apparent righteousness, is untroubled so long as he thinks that he escapes notice. But when he is detected, he utters streams of imprecation, imagining that by abusing others he can hide his own deformity. Because of his craftiness Scripture has compared him to the offspring of vipers and has commanded him to bring forth appropriate fruits of repentance (cf. Matt. 3:7-8), that is, to refashion the hidden state of his heart so that it conforms to his outward behavior.

  24. Some say that every living creature inhabiting air, earth or sea which the Law does not judge to be clean (cf. Lev. 11:1-43) is wild, even if it seems from its behavior to be tame. By the same principle, every man subject to some passion is also wild, whatever his outward behavior.

  25. He who puts on a show of friendship in order to do his neighbor some injury is a wolf hiding his wickedness under sheep’s clothing. Whenever he finds a custom or saying which is genuinely Christian, although somewhat naive, he seizes on it and attacks it; in numberless ways he finds fault with these sayings or customs, prying into the liberty which the brethren have in Christ (cf. Gal.2:4).

  26. He who hypocritically keeps silent for some evil purpose prepares a trap for his neighbor; and if his plan fails, he slinks off, having brought distress on himself because of his own passion. But he who is silent for a good end nourishes friendship and goes on his way rejoicing, for he has received the enlightenment which dispels darkness.

  27. If a man impetuously interrupts a speech at a public meeting, he clearly reveals his lust for self-glory. Overpowered by this passion, he tries to obstruct the course of the discussion with endless complicated proposals.

  28. A wise man, whether teaching or learning, only wishes to learn or teach those things which are useful. He who merely has the appearance of wisdom, whether asking or answering questions, only deals with relatively trivial things.

  29. A person who through the grace of God partakes of divine blessings is under an obligation to share them ungrudgingly with others. For Scripture says, ‘Freely you have received, freely give’ (Matt. 10:8). He who hides the gift in the earth accuses the Lord of being hard-hearted and mean (cf. Matt. 25:24), and in order to spare the flesh he pretends to know nothing about holiness; while he who sells the truth to enemies, and is then revealed as avid for self-glory, hangs himself, unable to bear the disgrace (cf. Matt. 26:15; 27:5).

  30. Those who still fear the war against the passions and dread the assaults of invisible enemies must keep silent in their struggle for virtue they must not enter into disputes with their enemies but through prayer must entrust all anxiety about themselves to God. To them apply the words of Exodus: ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent’ (Exod. 14:14). Those, secondly, who have been released from the enemy’s attacks and who genuinely seek instruction in the ways of acquiring the virtues, need only to keep the ear of their mind open. To them Scripture says, “Hear 0 Israel’ (Deut. 6:4). Thirdly, those who as a result of their purification ardently long for divine knowledge may commune with God freely. To them it will be said, “What is it that you are calling to Me?’ (Exod. 14:15. LXX). Thus, he who is commanded to keep silent because of his fear should seek refuge in God; he who is commanded to listen should be ready to obey the commandments; and he who pursues spiritual knowledge should call ceaselessly to God, beseeching Him for deliverance from evil and thanking Him for communion in His blessings.

  31. A soul can never attain the knowledge of God unless God Himself in His condescension takes hold of it and raises it up to Himself. For the human intellect lacks the power to ascend and to participate in divine illumination, unless God Himself draws it up - in so far as this is possible for the human intellect - and illumines it with rays of divine light.

  32. He who imitates the disciples of the Lord does not refuse, out of fear for the Pharisees, to walk through the cornfields on the Sabbath and pluck ears of corn (cf. Matt. 12:1-2). On the contrary, when after practicing the virtues he attains the state of dispassion, he culls the inner principles of created beings and devoutly nourishes himself with the divine knowledge they contain.

  33. According to the Gospel, the person who is simply a man of faith can remove the mountain of his sin through the practice of the virtues (cf. Matt. 17:20), thus freeing himself from his former attachment to the restless gyration of sensible things. If he has the capacity to be a disciple he receives fragments of the loaves of spiritual knowledge from the hands of the Logos and feeds thousands and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God Written for of people (cf. Matt. 14:19-20), demonstrating by his action how the power of the Logos is increased and multiplied by the practice of the virtues. If he also has the strength to be an apostle he cures every disease and infirmity: he casts out demons (cf. Matt. 10:8; Luke 10:17), that is, he banishes the activity of the passions; he heals the sick, through hope restoring a state of devotion to those who have lost it, and through his teaching about judgment stiffening the resolve of those who have been softened by sloth. For, since he has been commanded ‘to tread on serpents and scorpions’ (Luke 10:19), he destroys the beginning and end of sin.

  34. An apostle is necessarily also a disciple and a man of faith. A disciple is not necessarily also an apostle but he is certainly a man of faith. A person who is simply a man of faith is neither a disciple nor an apostle. However, through his manner of life and through contemplation he can be raised to the rank and dignity of a disciple, and a disciple can be raised to the rank and dignity of an apostle.

  35. When what has been created in time according to the temporal order has reached maturity, it ceases from natural growth. But when what has been brought about by the knowledge of God through the practice of the virtues has reached maturity, it starts to grow anew. For the end of one stage constitutes the starting-point of the next. He who has put an end to the root of corruption in himself by practicing the virtues is initiated into other more divine experiences. There is never an end, as there is never a beginning, to the good which God does: just as the property of light is to illuminate, so the property of God is to do good. Thus in the Law, which is concemed with the structure of temporal things subject to generation and decay, the Sabbath is honored by rest from work (cf. Exod. 31:14), whereas in the Gospel, which initiates us into the realm of spiritual realities, luster is shed on the Sabbath by good actions (cf. Luke 6:9; John 5:16-17). This is so in spite of the indignation of those who do not yet understand that ‘the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath’, and that ‘the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:27-28).

  36. In the Law and the prophets reference is made to the Sabbath (cf. Isa.66:23), Sabbaths (cf. Exod. 31:13) and Sabbaths of Sabbaths (cf. Lev. 16:31. L XX); and to circumcision and circumcision of circumcision (cf. Gen. 17:10-13); and to harvest (cf. Gen. 8:22) and harvest of harvest, as in the text, “when you harvest your harvest’ (cf. Lev. 23:10). The texts about the Sabbath surely refer to the full attainment of practical, natural and theological philosophy; the texts about circumcision, to separation from things that are subject to generation and from the inner principles of these things; the texts about harvest, to the ingathering and enjoyment of more exalted spiritual principles on the part of the senses and the intellect. Through studying these three sets of texts the person of spiritual knowledge may discover the reasons why Moses, when he dies, takes his Sabbath rest outside the holy land (cf. Deut. 34:5), why Joshua carried out the circumcisions after crossing the Jordan (cf. Josh. 5:3), and why those who inherited the promised land brought to God the superabundant fruits of the double harvest (cf. Lev. 23:11).

  37. The Sabbath signifies the dispassion of the deiform soul that through practice of the virtues has utterly cast off the marks of sin.

  38. Sabbaths signify the freedom of the deiform soul that through the spiritual contemplation of created nature has quelled even the natural activity of sense-perception.

  39. Sabbaths of Sabbaths signify the spiritual calm of the deiform soul that has withdrawn the intellect even from contemplation of all the divine principles in created beings, that through an ecstasy of love has clothed it entirely in God alone, and that through mystical theology has brought it altogether to rest in God.

  40. Circumcision signifies the quelling of the soul’s impassioned predilection for things subject to generation.

  41. Circumcision of circumcision signifies the complete discarding and stripping away also of even the soul’s natural feelings for things subject to generation.

  42. Harvest signifies the deiform soul’s ingathering and knowledge of the more spiritual principles of created beings in a manner conforming to both virtue and nature.

  43. Harvest of harvest signifies the apprehension of God which follows the mystical contemplation of noetic realities and which, inaccessible to all, is consummated in the intellect in a manner beyond understanding. Such apprehension is fittingly reaped by the person who in a worthy manner honors the Creator because of what He has created, whether visible or invisible.

  44. There is another more spiritual harvest, which is said to belong to God Himself; there is another more mystical circumcision; and there is another more hidden Sabbath, which God celebrates when he rests from his own labors. This is shown in the following texts: ‘The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few’ (Matt. 9:37). ‘Circumcision of the heart in the spirit’ (Rom. 2:29); and ‘ God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it God rested from all the works He had begun to do’ (Gen. 2:3. LXX).

  45. The harvest of God signifies the total dwelling and stability of the saints in God at the consummation of the ages.

  46. Circumcision of the heart in the spirit signifies the utter stripping away from the senses and the intellect of their natural activities connected with sensible and intelligible things. This stripping away is accomplished by the Spirit’s immediate presence, which completely transfigures body and soul and makes them more divine.

  47. The Sabbath rest of God signifies the complete reversion of created beings to God. It is then that God suspends in created beings the operation of their natural energy by inexpressibly activating in them His divine energy. It is by virtue of this natural energy that each created being naturally acts, and God suspends its operation in each created being to the degree to which that being participates in His divine energy and so establishes its own natural energy within God Himself.

  48. One should learn from those imbued with spiritual knowledge what is to be understood by the works which God began to do and what by those which He did not begin to do. For if He rested from all the works which He began to do, clearly He did not rest from those works which He did not begin to do. Perhaps, then, all that participates in being, such as the various essences of creatures, are works of God which began to be in time. For they have non-being as prior to their own being, since participant beings have not always existed. Participable beings in which participant beings participate by grace, such as goodness and all that is included in the principle of goodness, are perhaps works of God which did not begin to be in time. Briefly, these include all life, immortality, simplicity, immutability and infinity, and all the other qualities that contemplative vision perceives as substantively appertaining to God. These are works of God, yet not begun in time. For non-being is never prior to goodness, nor to any of the other things we have listed, even if those things which participate in them do in themselves have a beginning in time. All goodness is without beginning because there is no time prior to it: God is eternally the unique author of its being.

  49. God is infinitely above all beings, whether participant or participable. For whatever belongs to the category of being is a work of God, even though participant beings had a temporal origin, whereas participable beings were implanted by grace among things that come into existence in time. In this way participable beings are a kind of innate power clearly proclaiming God’s presence in all things.

  50. All immortal things and immortality itself, all living things and life itself, all holy things and holiness itself, all good things and goodness itself, all blessings and blessedness itself, all beings and being itself are manifestly works of God. Some things began to be in time, for they have not always existed. Others did not begin to be in time, for goodness, blessedness, holiness and immortality have always existed. Those things which began in time exist and are said to exist by participation in the things which did not begin in time. For God is the creator of all life, immortality, holiness and goodness; and He transcends the being of all intelligible and describable beings.

  51. The sixth day of creation, according to Scripture, represents the completion of the beings that are subject to nature. The seventh day marks the limit of the flow of temporal existence. The eighth day betokens the quality of that state which is beyond nature and time.

  52. He who observes the sixth day only according to the Law, fleeing the active, soul-afflicting domination of the passions, passes fearlessly through the sea to the desert (cf. Exod. 16:1): his Sabbath consists simply of rest from the passions. But when he has crossed the Jordan (cf. Josh. 3:17) and has left behind this state of simply resting from the passions, he enters into possession of the virtues.

  53. He who observes the sixth day according to the Gospel, having already put to death the first impulses of sin, through cultivating the virtues attains a state of dispassion which, like a desert, is bare of all evil: his Sabbath is a rest of his intellect even from the merest images suggested by the passions. But when he has crossed the Jordan he passes over into the land of spiritual knowledge, where the intellect, the temple mystically built by peace, becomes in spirit the dwelling place of God.

  54. He who after the example of God has completed the sixth day with fitting actions and thoughts, and has himself with God’s help brought his own actions to a successful conclusion, has in his understanding traversed the condition of all things subject to nature and time and has entered into the mystical contemplation of the eons and the things inherent in them; his Sabbath is his intellect’s utter and incomprehensible abandonment and transcendence of created beings. But if he is also found worthy of the eighth day he has risen from the dead - that is, from all that is sequent to God, whether sensible or intelligible, expressible or conceivable. He ex- periences the blessed life of God, who is the only true life, and himself becomes god by deification.

  55. The sixth day is the complete fulfillment, on the part of those practicing the ascetic life, of the natural activities which lead to virtue. The seventh day is the conclusion and cessation, in those leading the contemplative life, of all natural thoughts about inexpressible spiritual knowledge. The eighth day is the transposition and transmutation of those found worthy into a state of deification. The Lord, giving perhaps a mysterious hint of the seventh and the eighth days, spoke of a day and an hour of consummation which encompasses the mysteries and the inner essences of all things. Apart from their Creator, the blessed Divinity Himself, there is no power whatsoever in heaven or on earth that can know that day and hour before the actual experience of them (cf. Matt. 24:36).

  56. The sixth day betokens the inner, essence of the being of created things. The seventh signifies the quality of the well-being of created things. The eighth denotes the inexpressible mystery of the eternal well-being of created things.

  57. Since we know that the sixth day is a symbol of practical activity, let us during this day fully discharge our debt of virtuous works, so that it may also be said of us, “And God saw everything He had made, and behold, it was very good’ (Gen. 1:31).

  58. He who exerts himself bodily in order to adorn the soul with the manifold virtues pays to God the debt of good work that is required of him.

  59. He who has completed the sixth day, the day of preparation, in works of righteousness has crossed over to the repose of spiritual contemplation. During such contemplation his intellect, grasping in a divine manner the inner essences of created beings, ceases from all movement.

  60. He who for our sake shared in God’s rest of the seventh day also for our sake participates in God’s deifying energy on the eighth day, that is, in the mystical resurrection, and leaves lying in the sepulcher His linen clothes and the napkin that was about his head (cf. John 20:6-7). Those who perceive this, like Peter and John, are convinced that the Lord has risen.

  61. The Lord’s tomb stands equally either for this world or for the heart of each faithful Christian. The linen clothes are the inner essences of sensible things together with their qualities of goodness. The napkin is the simple and homogeneous knowledge of intelligible realities, together with the vision of God, in so far as it is granted. Through these things the Logos is initially recognized, for without them any higher apprehension of what He is would be altogether beyond our capacity.

  62. Those who bury the Lord with honor will also see Him risen with glory, but He is not seen by anyone else. For He can no longer be apprehended by His enemies as He does not wear those outer coverings through which He seemed to let Himself be captured by those who sought Him, and in which He endured suffering for the salvation of all.

  63. He who buries the Lord with honor is revered by all who love God. For he has not allowed the Lord’s body, nailed to the cross, to be left exposed to the blasphemy of unbelievers, but has befittingly delivered Him from derision and insult. Those who sealed the tomb and set soldiers to watch (cf. Matt. 27:66) are hateful because of their scheming. When the Logos had risen, they slandered Him, saying that His body had been stolen away. In the same way, as they bribed the false disciple with silver to betray the Lord - by false disciple I mean a pretence of holiness for the sake of display - so they bribed the soldiers to make a false accusation against the risen Savior. Whoever possesses spiritual knowledge knows the significance of what has been said, for he is not ignorant of how and in how many ways the Lord is crucified, buried and rises again. Such a person makes corpses, as it were, of the impassioned thoughts which have been insinuated by the demons into his heart, and which through the temptations they suggest cut in pieces the qualities of moral beauty as if they were garments (cf. Matt. 27:35), and he breaks like seals the impressions stamped deeply into his soul by the sins of prepossession.

  64. Whenever a lover of riches who feigns virtue by an outward show of devotion finds he has procured the material possessions he desires, he repudiates the way of Me that made people think he was a disciple of the Logos.

  65. When you see arrogant men not able to endure praise being given to others better than themselves, and contriving to suppress the truth by denying it with countless insinuations and baseless slanders, you must understand that the Lord is -again crucified by these men and buried and guarded with soldiers and seals. But the Logos rises afresh and puts them to confusion. The more the Logos is attacked, the more clearly He reveals Himself, as steeled in dis-passion through His sufferings. The Logos is stronger than all else: not only is He called truth but He is truth.

  66. The mystery of the incarnation of the Logos is the key to all the arcane symbolism and typology in the Scriptures, and in addition gives us knowledge of created things, both visible and intelligible. He who apprehends the mystery of the cross and the burial apprehends the inward essences of created things; while he who is initiated into the inexpressible power of the resurrection apprehends the purpose for which God first established everything.

  67. All visible realities need the cross, that is, the state in which they are cut off from things acting upon them through the senses. All intelligible realities need burial, that is, the total quiescence of the things which act upon them through the intellect. When all relationship with such things is severed, and their natural activity and stimulus is cut off, then the Logos, who exists alone in Himself, appears as if risen from the dead. He encompasses all that comes from Him, but nothing enjoys kinship with Him by virtue of natural relationship. For the salvation of the saved is by grace and not by nature (cf. Eph. 2:5).

  68. Ages, times and places belong to the category of relationship, and consequently no object necessarily associated with these things can be other than relative. But God transcends the category of relationship; for nothing else whatsoever is necessarily associated with Him. Therefore if the inheritance of the saints is God Himself, he who is found worthy of this grace will he beyond all ages, times and places: he will have God Himself as his place, in accordance with the text, ‘Be to me a God who is a defender and a fortified place of my salvation’ (Ps. 71:3. LXX).

  69. The consummation bears no resemblance whatsoever to the intermediary state, for otherwise it would not be a consummation. The intermediary state consists of everything that is sequent to the origin but falls short of the consummation. But if all ages, times and places, together with all that is necessarily associated with them, are sequent to God - since He is an unoriginate origin - and also fall far short of God - since He is an infinite consummation - then clearly they belong to the intermediary state. The consummation of those who are saved is God; in this supreme consummation no trace of the intermediary state will be observed in those who have been saved.

  70. The whole world, limited as it is by its own mner principles, is called both the place and age of those dwelling in it. There are modes of contemplation natural to it which are able to engender in created beings a partial understanding of the wisdom of God that governs all things. So long as they make use of these modes to gain understanding, they cannot have more than a mediate and partial apprehension. But when what is perfect appears, what is partial is superseded: all mirrors and indistinct images pass away when truth is encountered face to face (cf. 1 Cor. 13:10-12). When he who is saved is perfected in God, he will transcend all worlds, ages and places in which hitherto he has been trained as a child.

  71. Pilate is a type of the natural law; the Jewish crowd is a type of the written law. He who has not risen through faith above the two laws cannot therefore receive the truth which is beyond nature and expression. On the contrary, he invariably crucifies the Logos, for he sees the Gospel either, like a Jew, as a stumbling-block or, like a Greek, as foolishness (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23).

  72. When you see Herod and Pilate making friends with each other in order to destroy Jesus (cf. Luke 23:12), you may discern in this the concurrence of the demons of unchastity and self-esteem, who combine together to put to death the Logos of virtue and spiritual knowledge. For the demon of self-esteem, making a pretence of spiritual knowledge, refers to the demon of unchastity, and the demon of unchastity, putting on a hypocritical show of purity, refers back to the demon of self-esteem. Thus if is said, ‘When Herod had arrayed Jesus in a gorgeous robe, he seat Him again to Pilate’(Luke 23:11).

  73. The intellect should not yield to the flesh or cling to the passions. For, it is said, ‘men do not gather figs from looms’, that is, they do not gather virtue from the passions, ‘nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush’ (cf. Matt. 7:16), that is, they do not gather from the flesh that spiritual knowledge which gladdens the heart.

  74. An ascetic tested by the patient acceptance of trials and temptations, purified by bodily training, and perfected by attention to the higher forms of contemplation, receives the blessings of divine grace. ‘For the Lord’, says Moses, ‘came from Sinai,’ that is, from trials and temptations, ‘and appeared to us from Seir,’ that is, from bodily hardships, ‘and hastened down from mount Paran with ten thousands of Kadesh’ (Deut. 33:2. LXX), that is, from the mountain of faith with untold sacred knowledge.

  75. Herod exemplifies the will of the flesh; Pilate, the senses, Caesar, sensible things; and the Jews, the soul’s thoughts. When the soul through ignorance associates with sensible things, it betrays the Logos into the hands of the senses to be put to death and proclaims within itself the kingship of perishable things. For the Jews say, “We have no king but Caesar’ (John 19:15).

  76. Again, Herod exemplifies the activity of the passions; Pilate, a disposition that is deluded by them; Caesar, the ruler of the world of darkness; and the Jews, the soul. When the soul submits to the passions and betrays virtue into the power of an evil disposition, it manifestly denies the kingdom of God and transfers itself to the destructive tyranny of the devil.

  77. The subjugation of the passions is not sufficient to ensure spiritual happiness for the soul unless the soul also acquires the virtues by keeping the commandments. Scripture says, ‘Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,’ that is, the operations of the passions, but “because your names are written in heaven’ (Luke 10:20), having been transferred to the place of dispassion by the grace of sonship gained through the virtues.

  78. Whoever possesses spiritual knowledge must always possess as well a rich store of virtue gained through his conduct. Scripture says, ‘He who has a purse,’ that is, spiritual knowledge, ‘let him take it, and his knapsack as well’ (Luke 22:36), that is, the stoic from which he liberally nourishes his soul with virtue. He who does not have a purse and a knapsack, that is, knowledge and virtue, ‘let him sell his garment and buy a sword’ (ibid.). By this Scripture means: let him give his own flesh willingly to labors in pursuit of virtue, and for the sake of the peace of God let him wisely wage war against passions and demons, that is, let him acquire the skill of discriminating in the word of God between the lower and the higher.

  79. The Lord appeared when He was thirty years old, and with this number secretly teaches those with discernment the mysteries relating to Himself. For, mystically understood, the number thirty presents the Lord as the Creator and provident ruler of time, nature, and the intelligible realities that lie beyond visible nature. The number seven signifies that He is the Creator of time, for time has a sevenfold character. The number five signifies that He is the Creator of nature, for nature has a fivefold character because of the fivefold division of the senses. The number eight signifies that He is the Creator of intelligible realities, for intelligible realities come into being outside the cycle that is’ measured by time. And the number ten signifies that He is the provident ruler, because it is the ten holy commandments that lead men towards perfection, and also because the symbol for ten! is the first letter of the name taken by the Lord when He became man. By adding up five, seven, eight and ten you obtain the number thirty. Thus he who truly knows how to follow the Lord as his master will understand why, should he attain the age of thirty, he will also be empowered to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. For when through his ascetic practice he has irreproachably created the world of the virtues as if it were a world of visible nature, not allowing his soul to be diverted from its course by the hostile powers as he passes through time; and when he unerringly gathers spiritual knowledge through contemplation, and is providentially able to engender the same state in others, then he himself, whatever his physical age, is thirty years old in spirit and makes manifest in others the power of the blessings which he himself possesses.

  80. He who yields to the pleasures of the body is neither diligent in virtue nor readily receptive of spiritual knowledge. For this reason he has no one - that is, no intelligent thought - to put him into the pool when the water is disturbed (cf. John 5:7), that is, into a state of virtue capable of receiving spiritual knowledge and of healing every sickness. On the contrary, although sick, he procrastinates because of laziness and is forestalled by someone else, who prevents him from being cured. And so he lies there with his illness for thirty-eight years. He who does not contemplate the visible creation so as to discern God’s glory in it, and does not reverently raise his inner vision to the noetic world, quite fittingly remains ill for the number of years specified. For the number thirty, understood with reference to nature, signifies the sensible world, while with reference to the ascetic life it signifies the practice of the virtues. The number eight, understood mystically, denotes the intelligible nature of incorporeal beings, while understood in terms of spiritual knowledge it denotes the supreme wisdom of theology. Whoever does not advance towards God by these means remains paralyzed until the Logos comes to teach him how he can obtain prompt healing, saying to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’ (John 5:8); that is to say, the Logos commands him to upraise his intellect from the love of pleasure which dominates him, to shoulder the body of the virtues and to go home, that is, to heaven. Better that the higher should raise the lower up to virtue on the shoulders of ascetic practice than that, through soft living, the lower should drag the higher down into self-indulgence.

  81. Until our minds in purity have transcended our own being and that of all things sequent to God, we have not yet acquired a permanent state of holiness. When this noble state has, by means of love, been established in us, we shall know the power of the divine promise. For we must believe that where the intellect, taking the lead, has by means of love rooted its power, there the saints will find a changeless abode. He who has not transcended himself and all that is in any way subject to intellection, and has not come to abide in the silence beyond intellection, cannot be entirely free from change.

  82. Every intellection has either a multiple or at least a dual aspect. For it is an intermediate relationship between two extremes - an intellective being and an intelligible being - and links the one to the other. Hence neither extreme can possess an absolute simplicity. An intellective being is a subject/and so the capacity of apprehending some intelligible object is necessarily associated with it. And an intelligible being necessarily either is a subject or exists in a subject: as a subject it possesses the intrinsic capacity of being apprehended by an intellective being; as existing in a subject it presupposes a being in which it exists potentially. For no creature is in itself a simple being or intellection, in such a way as to constitute an indivisible unity. Thus, if we call God a being, then the capacity to be apprehended by a process of intellection is not inherent in His nature, for if it were He would be composite. Or if we call Him an intellection, then He does not possess an essence with a natural capacity for being an intellective subject, but He Himself is intellection in His very essence; the whole of God is intellection and intellection alone. But in terms of intellection He is also being: the whole of God is being and being alone. And yet the whole of God is beyond being and beyond intellection, because He is an indivisible unity, simple and without parts. Thus whoever, to whatever degree, still apprehends by means of intellection has not yet transcended duality. But he who has advanced altogether beyond intellection, and has renounced it because he has transcended it, has come to dwell to some extent in unity.

  83. In the multiplicity of beings there is diversity, dissimilarity and difference. But in God, who is in an absolute sense one and alone, there is only identity, simplicity and similarity. It is therefore not safe to devote oneself to the contemplation of God before one has advanced beyond the multiplicity of beings. Moses showed this when he pitched the tent of his mind outside the camp (cf. Exod. 33:7) and then conversed with God. For it is dangerous to attempt to utter the inexpressible by means of the spoken word, for the spoken word involves duality or more than duality. The surest way is to contemplate pure being silently in the soul alone, because pure being is established in undivided unity and not among the multiplicity of things. The high priest, who was commanded to go into the holy of holies within the veil only once every year (cf. Lev. 16; Heb. 9:7), shows us that only he who has passed through what is immaterial and holy and has entered the holy of holies - that is, who has transcended the whole natural world of sensible and intelligible realities, is free from all that is specific to creatures and whose mind is unclad and naked - is able to attain the vision of God.

  84. When Moses pitches his tent outside the camp (cf. Exod. 33:7) - that is, when he establishes his will and mind outside the world of visible things - he begins to worship God. Then, entering into the darkness (cf. Exod. 20:21) - that is, into the formless and immaterial realm of spiritual knowledge - he there celebrates the most sacred rites.

  85. The darkness is that formless, immaterial and bodiless state which embraces the knowledge of the prototypes of all created things. He who like another Moses enters into it, although mortal by nature, understands things that are immortal. Through this knowledge he depicts in himself the beauty of divine excellence, as if painting a picture which is a faithful copy of archetypal beauty. Then he comes down from the mountain and offers himself as an example to those who wish to imitate that excellence. In this way he manifests the love and generosity of the grace he has received.

  86. Those who apply themselves with a pure heart to divine philosophy derive the greatest gain from the knowledge it contains. For their will and purpose no longer change with circumstances, but readily and with firm assurance they undertake all that conforms to the standard of holiness.

  87. Baptized in Christ through the Spirit, we receive the first in-corruption according to the flesh. Keeping this original incorruption spotless by giving ourselves to good works and by dying to our own will, we await the final incorruption bestowed by Christ in the Spirit. No one who possesses this final incorruption fears the loss of the blessings he has obtained.

  88. When God in His mercy resolved to send down from heaven the grace of His divine power to us on earth. He established the sacred tabernacle with all its contents as a symbolical image, type and imitation of wisdom.

  89. The grace of the New Testament is mystically hidden in the letter of the Old. That is why St Paul says that ‘the Law is spiritual’ (Rom. 7:14). Thus the letter of the Law, superseded, grows old and decays (cf. Heb. 8:13), while its spirit, perpetually renewed, stays young. For grace is altogether immune from decay.

  90. The Law is the shadow of the Gospel. The Gospel is the image of the blessings held in store. The Law checks the actualization of evil. The Gospel brings about the realization of divine blessings.

  91. All sacred Scripture can be divided into flesh and spirit as if it were a spiritual man. For the literal sense of Scripture is flesh and its inner meaning is soul or spirit. Clearly someone wise abandons what is corruptible and unites his whole being to what is incorruptible.

  92. The Law is the flesh of the spiritual man who here corresponds to sacred Scripture; the prophets are the senses; the Gospel is the noetic soul that functions through the flesh of the Law and the senses of the prophets, revealing its power in its actions.

  93. The Law is a shadow and the prophets are an image of the divine and spiritual blessings contained in the Gospel. The truth itself, foreshadowed in the Law and prefigured in the prophets, is revealed in the Gospel as now present to us through actual events.

  94. He who fulfils the Law in his private and public life only abstains from the actual commission of sin, sacrificing to God the outward fulfillment of his mindless passions. He is satisfied with this manner of seeking salvation because of his spiritual immaturity.

  95. He ‘who has been trained by the prophets’ words not only refrains from the outward fulfillment of the passions but also renounces all assent to them in his soul. He is not content simply to appear to abstain from sin in the inferior part of himself, the flesh, while secretly allowing its free rein in his superior part, the soul.

  96. He who has truly embraced the life of the Gospel has made himself immune to both the promptings and performance of evil, and pursues every virtue in action and thought. He offers a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (cf. Ps. 116:17), for he has been set free from all disturbance produced by the passions and liberated from mental warfare against them; and he feeds his soul with the hope of the blessings held in store, his one unquenchable delight.

  97. To the more diligent students of Holy Scripture the Lord is clearly shown as having two forms. The first is common and more popular, and it can be perceived by many. The text ‘We saw Him and He had no comeliness or beauty’ (Isa. 53:2. LXX) refers to this form. The second is more hidden, and it can be perceived only by a few, that is, by those who have already become like the holy apostles Peter and John, before whom the Lord was transfigured with a glory that overwhelmed the senses (cf. Matt. 17:2). The text ‘Thou art fairer than the children of men’ (Ps. 45:2) refers to this form. The first of these two forms is consonant to beginners; the second to those perfected in spiritual knowledge, in so far as such perfection is possible. The first is an image of the Lord’s initial advent, to which the literal meaning of the Gospel refers, and which by means of suffering purifies those practicing the virtues. The second prefigures the second and glorious advent, in which the spirit of the Gospel is apprehended, and which by means of wisdom transfigures and deifies those imbued with spiritual knowledge: because of the transfiguration of the Logos within them ‘they reflect with unveiled face the glory of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 3:18).

  98. He who endures suffering for the sake of virtue, without being shaken in his resolve, is inspired by the first advent of the Logos, which cleanses him from all defilement. He who through contemplation has raised his intellect to the angelic state possesses the power of the second advent, which produces in him dispassion and incorruptibility.

  99. Sense-perception pertains to the ascetic who is struggling to attain the virtues through enduring hardships. Freedom from sense-perception pertains to the contemplative who draws his intellect away from the flesh and the world and concentrates it on God. The first, in his ascetic struggle to loosen the natural bond linking the soul to the flesh, constantly submits his will to the hardships he undergoes. The second, who has broken that bond through contemplation, is not held back by anything at all: he has already freed himself from the domination of those who try to overpower him. 100.The manna which was given to Israel in the desert (cf. Exod. 16:14-35) is the Logos of God. Those who eat it find that it supplies every spiritual delight. It is blended to suit every taste in accordance with the different desires of those who eat it, for it has the quality of every kind of spiritual food. Thus, to those who through the Spirit have been born from above by means of incorruptible seed (cf. John 3:3-5), it comes as pure spiritual milk (cf. 1 Pet. 2:2); to the weak it comes as vegetables (cf. Rom. 14:2) sustaining the soul’s passible aspect; to those in whom the soul’s organs of perception have been trained by long practice to distinguish between good and evil it serves as solid food (cf. Heb. 5:14). The Logos of God also has other infinite powers which cannot be encompassed in this world. If at death a man is worthy to be put in [V2] 136 charge of many things or all things because in this world he has been faithful in small things (cf. Matt. 25:21), he will also receive all or some of these other powers of the Logos. For the most exalted of the divine gifts of grace bestowed in this world is scant and minimal compared with those that are held in store for us.

Second Century

  1. God is one because there is one Divinity: unoriginate, simple, beyond being, without parts, indivisible. The Divinity is both unity and trinity - wholly one and wholly three. It is wholly one in respect of the essence, wholly three in respect of the hypostases or persons. For the Divinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and is in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The whole Divinity is in the whole Father and the whole Father is in the whole Divinity. The whole Divinity is in the whole Son and the whole Son is in the whole Divinity. The whole Divinity is in the whole Holy Spirit and the whole Holy Spirit is in the whole Divinity. The whole Divinity is both Father and in the whole Father, the whole Father is in the whole Divinity and the whole Divinity is the whole Father. The whole Son is in the whole Divinity and the whole Divinity is in the whole Son; the whole Son is both the whole Divinity and in the whole Divinity. The whole Divinity is both the Holy Spirit and in the whole Holy Spirit; and the whole Holy Spirit is both the whole Divinity and in the whole Divinity. For the Divinity is not partially in the Father, nor is the Father part of God. The Divinity is not partially in the Son, nor is the Son part of God. The Divinity is not partially in the Holy Spirit, nor is the Holy Spirit part of God. For the Divinity is not divisible; nor is the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit incomplete God. On the contrary, the whole and complete Divinity is completely in the complete Father; the whole and complete Divinity is completely in the complete Son; and the whole and complete Divinity is completely in the complete Holy Spirit. For the whole Father is completely in the whole Son and Spirit; and the whole Son is completely in the whole Father and Spirit; and the whole Holy Spirit is completely in the whole Father and Son. Therefore the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God. The essence, power and energy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, for none of the hypostases or persons either exists or is intelligible without the others.

  2. Every intellection involves both an intellect that apprehends and an intelligible being that is apprehended. But God is neither an apprehending intellect nor an intelligible being: He transcends both. For if He were an apprehending intellect He would be limited by His need for a relationship with an intelligible being; and if He were an intelligible being He would be limited because naturally subject to an apprehending intellect capable of grasping Him. It follows therefore that God is not to be conceived as either an intellect or an intelligible being, and that He is beyond both intellection and intelligibility. Intellection and intelligibility appertain by nature to what is sequent to God.

  3. Every intellection inheres as a quality in an apprehending being; and its activity is directed towards a being endowed with qualities. For no intellection can be directed towards a being that is absolutely independent, simple and self-subsistent, since the intellection itself is not independent and simple. But God is in both respects absolutely simple: in so far as He is being. He is independent of any apprehending subject; in so far as He is intellection. He is independent of any apprehensible object. Thus God is neither an intelligible object nor an intellective subject, for He clearly transcends both being and intellection.

  4. The centre of a circle is regarded as the indivisible source of all the radii extending from it; similarly, by means of a certain simple and indivisible act of spiritual knowledge, the person found worthy to dwell in God will perceive pre-existing in God all the inner essences of created things.

  5. When intellection is given form through its apprehension of intelligible objects, it ceases to be single and becomes many intellections; for it is marked by the form of each intelligible object that it apprehends. But as it passes beyond the multiplicity of the sensible and intelligible things that in this way confer their manifold forms upon it, it becomes altogether free from form. It is now that the Logos, who is beyond intellection, unites Himself to it and makes it His own, giving it rest from those things which by nature change and diversify it with the many conceptual forms that they impose upon it. He who experiences this has rested from his works, just as God did from His (cf. Gen. 2:2; Heb. 4:10).

  6. He who reaches such perfection as is attainable by men in this world offers to God the fruits of love, joy, peace and long-suffering (cf. Gal. 5:22), and will in the age to be offer those of incorruptibility, eternity and similar gifts. The first qualities may be found in the man perfect in the practice of virtues; the second in the man who through true spiritual knowledge has passed beyond the world of created things.

  7. Just as the result of disobedience is sin, so the result of obedience is virtue. And just as disobedience leads to breaking the commandments and to separation from Him who gave them, so obedience leads to keeping the commandments and to union with Him who gave them. Thus he who through obedience has kept the commandments has achieved righteousness and, moreover, he has not cut himself off from union in love with Him who gave them; and the opposite is equally true.

  8. If you are healed of the breach caused by the fall, you are severed first from the passions and then from impassioned thoughts. Next you are severed from nature and the inner principles of nature, then from conceptual images and the knowledge relating to them. Lastly, when you have passed through the manifold principles relating to divine providence, you attain through unknowing the very principle of divine unity. Then the intellect contemplates only its own immutability, and rejoices with an unspeakable joy because it has received the peace of God which transcends all intellect and which ceaselessly keeps him who has been granted it from falling (cf. Phil. 4:7).

  9. Fear of hell causes beginners to shun evil. Desire to be rewarded with divine blessings confers on those who are advancing a readiness to practice the virtues. But the mystery of love transcends all created beings and makes the intellect blind to all that is sequent to God. Only upon those who have become blind to all that is sequent to Him does the Lord bestow wisdom, showing them what is more divine.

  10. The Logos of God is like a grain of mustard seed (cf. Matt. 13:31): before cultivation it looks extremely small, but when; cultivated in the nght way it grows so large that the highest principles of both sensible and intelligible creation come like birds to revive themselves in it. For the principles or inner essences of all things are embraced by the Logos, but the Logos is not embraced by any thing. Hence the Lord has said that he who has faith as a grain of mustard seed can move a mountain by a word of command (cf. Matt. 17:20), that is, he can destroy the devil’s dominion over us and remove it from its foundation.

  11. The grain of mustard seed is the Lord, who by faith is sown spiritually in the hearts of those who accept Him. He who diligently cultivates the seed by practicing the virtues moves the mountain of earth-bound pride and, through the power he has gained, he expels from himself the obdurate habit of sin. In this way he revives in himself the activity of the principles and qualities or divine powers present in the commandments, as though they were birds.

  12. Let us build on the Lord, as though on a foundation of faith, with gold, silver and precious stones, raising a temple of holiness (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12). Let us build, that is to say, with pure undebased theology, with a way of life that is lucid and radiant, with divine thoughts and conceptual images more precious than jewels. Let us not use wood, hay or stubble, that is, idolatry - which is a passionate desire for sensible things - or a meaningless way of life, or thoughts which are impassioned and as empty of wise understanding as straw.

  13. If a man seeks spiritual knowledge, let him plant the foundations of his soul immovably before the Lord, in accordance with God’s words to Moses: “Stand here by Me’ (Deut. 5:31). But it should be realized that there are differences among those who stand before the Lord, as is clear from the text, “There are some standing here who will not taste death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power’ (Mark 9:1). For the Lord does not always appear in glory to all who stand before Him. To beginners He appears in the form of a servant (cf. Phil. 2:7); to those able to follow Him as He climbs the high mountain of His transfiguration He appears in the form of God (cf. Matt. 17: 1-9), the form in which He existed before the world came to be (cf. John 17:5). It is therefore possible for the same Lord not to appear in the same way to all who stand before Him, but to appear to some in one way and to others in another way, according to the measure of each person’s faith.

  14. When the Logos of God becomes manifest and radiant in us, and His face shines like the sun, then His clothes will also look white (cf. Matt. 17:2). That is to say, the words of the Gospels will then be clear and distinct with nothing concealed. And Moses said Elijah - the more-spiritual principles of the Law and the prophets - will also be present with Him.

  15. It is written that the Son of Man is coming “with His angels in the glory of the Father’ (Matt. 16:17). Similarly, in those found worthy, the Logos of God is transfigured to the degree to which each has advanced in holiness, and He comes to them with His angels in the glory of the Father. For the more spiritual principles in the Law and the prophets - symbolized by Moses and Elijah when they appeared with the Lord at His transfiguration - manifest their glory according to the actual receptive capacity of those to whom it is revealed.

  16. He who to some degree has been initiated into the inner principle of the divine unity invariably discovers the inner principles of divine providence and judgment conjoined with it. That is why, like St Peter, he thinks it good that three tabernacles should be made within himself for those who have appeared to him (cf. Matt. 17:4). These tabernacles represent three stages of salvation, namely that of virtue, that of spiritual knowledge and that of theology. The first requires fortitude and self-restraint in the practice of the virtues: of this the type was Elijah. The second requires right discernment in natural contemplation: Moses disclosed this in his own person. The third requires the consummate perfection of wisdom: this was revealed by the Lord. They were called tabernacles, or temporary dwellings, because beyond them there are other still more excellent and splendid stages, through which those found worthy will pass in the age to be.

  17. A man engaged in the practice of the virtues is said to be ‘sojourning’ in the flesh (cf. Gen. 12:10), for by practicing the virtues he is severing the soul’s relationship with the flesh and stripping from himself the deceit of material things. A man of spiritual knowledge is said to be sojourning in virtue itself, for he still contemplates the truth indistinctly, as though in a mirror (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12): he has not yet enjoyed a face-to-face vision of the self-subsistent forms of goodness, seeing them as they are in them-selves. For as regards the blessings of the age to be, every saint does no more than walk in the image of them, crying, ‘I am a stranger and a sojourner as all my fathers were’ (Ps. 39:12).

  18. He who prays must never stand still on the steep ascent that leads to God. just as he has to progress upwards from strength to strength in the practice of the virtues (cf. Ps. 84:5- 7) and to rise in his contemplation of spiritual truths from glory to glory (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18), and to pass from the letter to the spirit of Holy Scripture, so he must advance in a similar manner within the realm of prayer. He must raise his intellect and the resolve of his soul from what is human to what is divine, so that his intellect can follow Jesus the Son of God, who has passed through the heavens (cf. Heb. 4:14) and who is everywhere. For He has passed through all things for us by the dispensation of His incarnation, so that we, by following Him, may pass through all that is sequent to Him and so come to be with Him, provided we apprehend Him not according to the limitations to which He accommodated Himself in His incarnation but according to the majesty of His natural infinitude.

  19. We should always devote ourselves to God and seek Him out as we have been commanded (cf. Matt. 6:33). Although when we seek Him in this present stage of life we cannot come to the limit of His depth, yet perhaps if we penetrate His depth even slightly we shall contemplate what is more holy than the holy and more spiritual than the spiritual. The high priest shows this to us typologically when he goes from the holy place, which is holier than the court, into the holy of holies, which is holier than the holy place (cf. Lev. 16).

  20. The whole Logos of God is neither diffuse nor prolix but is a unity embracing a diversity of principles, each of which is an aspect of the Logos. Thus he who speaks about the truth, however fully he deals with his subject, speaks always about the one Logos of God.

  21. Since Christ is God and the Logos of the Father, ‘the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him’ in a manner that is according to essence (Col. 2:9). The fullness of the Godhead dwells in us by grace when we gather into ourselves all virtue and wisdom, a wisdom which, so far as this is possible in man, does not in any way fall short of a faithful imitation of the divine archetype. For it is not incongruous that, by virtue of our relationship with the Logos, the fullness of the Godhead, embracing a diversity of spiritual principles, should come to dwell also in us.

  22. The thought which springs naturally from our intellect is a messenger of the intellect’s hidden activity. Similarly He who is in essence the Logos of God and knows the Father as a thought knows the intellect which conceives it, reveals the Father whom He knows, no creature being able to approach the Father without Him. That is why he is called ‘Messenger of great counsel’ (Isa. 9:6 LXX).

  23. The great counsel of God the Father is the unspoken and unknown mystery of the divine dispensation. This the only-begotten Son revealed through His incarnation, when He became the Messenger of the great pre-eternal counsel of God the Father. He who knows the inner principle of the mystery becomes a messenger of the great counsel of God, and he is exalted unceasingly by action and thought through all things until he encounters Him who has to a corresponding degree descended towards him.

  24. The Logos of God providentially descended for our sakes into the lower parts of the earth, and also ascended far above all the heavens (cf. Eph. 4:9-10), even though by nature He is entirely unmoving. Since through the incarnation the Logos has already accomplished in Himself as man all that is to be, let him who delights in spiritual knowledge rejoice inwardly as he considers the consummation promised to those who love the Lord.

  25. If the divine Logos of God the Father became son of man and man so that He might make men gods and the sons of God, let us believe that we shall reach the realm where Christ Himself now is; for He is the head of the whole body (cf. Col. 1:18), and endued with our humanity has gone to the Father as forerunner on our behalf. God will stand ‘in the midst of the congregation of gods’ (Ps. 82:1. LXX) - that is, of those who are saved - distributing the rewards of that realm’s blessedness to those found worthy to receive them, not separated from them by any space.

  26. He who still satisfies the impassioned appetites of the flesh dwells in the land of the Chaldeans as a maker and worshipper of idols. But when he has begun to discern what the situation is and has gained some insight into the mode of life which nature demands, he leaves the land of the Chaldeans and comes to Haran in Mesopotamia (cf. Gen. 11:31). By Haran I mean that intermediate state between virtue and vice - a state not yet purified from the delusion of the senses. But if he goes beyond that moderate understanding of goodness which he has attained through the senses, he will hasten towards the blessed land, that is, to the state free from all sin and ignorance which God, who does not lie, manifests to those who love Him, promising to give it to them as a reward for their virtue.

  27. If for our sakes the Logos of God ‘died on the Cross in weakness’ and was raised “by the power of God’ (2 Cor. 13:4), then in a spiritual sense He is always doing and suffering this on our account, becoming all things to all men so that He might save all men (cf. 1 Cor. 9:22). Thus, since the Corinthians were weak, while with them St Paul rightly ‘decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2). But since the Ephesians were perfect, he wrote to them that God ‘has raised us up in union with Christ Jesus and enthroned us with Him in the heavenly realm’ (Eph. 2:6), thus affirming that the Logos of God adapts Himself according to each person’s strength. In this way, He is crucified for those taking their first steps in the ascetic life, and He nails their impassioned energies to the cross with divine fear. He rises again and ascends into heaven for those who have put off the whole of their fallen selfhood, corrupted by the desires of deceitfulness (cf. Eph. 4:22); who have been entirely renewed through the Holy Spirit as man created in the image of God (cf. Eph. 4:24); and who draw near to the Father through His grace which is in them, and so are raised “far above every principality, power, might and dominion, and above every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come’ (Eph. 1:21). For all things, all names and dignities sequent to God, are likewise inferior to him who through grace dwells in God.

  28. Before His visible advent in the flesh the Logos of God dwelt among the patriarchs and prophets in a spiritual manner, prefiguring the mysteries of His advent. After His incarnation He is present in a similar way not only to those who are still beginners, nourishing them spiritually and leading them towards the maturity of divine perfection, but also to the perfect, secretly pre-delineating in them the features of His future advent as if in an icon.

  29. Just as the teachings of the Law and the prophets, being harbingers of the coming advent of the Logos in the flesh, guide our souls to Christ (cf. Gal. 3:24), so the glorified incarnate Logos of God is Himself a harbinger of His spiritual advent, leading our souls forward by His own teachings to receive His divine and manifest advent. He does this ceaselessly, by means of the virtues converting those found worthy from the flesh to the spirit. And He will do it at the end of the age, making manifest what has hitherto been hidden from all men.

  30. As long as I remain imperfect and refractory, neither obeying God by practicing the commandments nor becoming perfect in spiritual knowledge, Christ from my point of view also appears imperfect and refractory because of me.: For I diminish and cripple Him by not growing in spirit with Him, since I am ‘the body of Christ and one of its members’ (1 Cor. 12:27).

  31. ‘The sun rises and the sun sets’, says Scripture (Eccles. 1:5). Likewise the Logos appears sometimes as risen and sometimes as set, depending on the manner of life and the spiritual status and essence or quality of those pursuing virtue and searching for divine knowledge. Blessed is he who like Joshua (cf. Josh. 10:12-13) keeps the Sun of righteousness from setting in himself throughout the whole day of this present life, not allowing it to be blotted out by the dusk of sin and ignorance. In this way he will truly be able to put to flight the cunning demons that rise up against him.

  32. When the Logos of God is raised up in us by our practice of the virtues and by contemplation, He draws all things to Himself (cf. John 12:32); He sanctifies in virtue and spiritual knowledge our thoughts and words about the flesh, the soul and the nature of beings: He sanctifies also the very members of our bodies and our senses, and He places them all under His yoke. So let the visionary of divine things eagerly ascend in pursuit of the Logos until he reaches the place where He is. For, as Ecclesiastes puts it, He ‘draws to His place’ (Eccles. 1:5) all those who follow Him, and as the great High Priest He brings them into the Holy of Holies, where He Himself, who became as we are, has entered as a forerunner on our behalf (cf. Heb. 6:20).

  33. He who devoutly strives to attain wisdom and is on his guard against the invisible powers, should pray that both natural discrimination - whose light is but limited - and the illuminating grace of the Spirit abide with him. The first by means of practice trains the flesh in virtue, the second illuminates the intellect so that it chooses above all else companionship with wisdom; and through wisdom it destroys the strongholds of evil and pulls down “all the self-esteem that exalts itself against the knowledge of God’ (2 Cor. 10:5). Joshua exemplifies this both when he prays for the sun to stand still upon Gibeon, that is, for the light of the knowledge of God to remain unsetting as it shines for him over the mountain of spiritual contemplation; and when he asks for the moon to stand still in the valley, that is, for the natural discrimination which watches over the weak flesh to remain changelessly wedded to virtue (cf. Josh. 10:12-13).

  34. Gideon is the spiritual intellect. The valley is the flesh humbled by death. The sun is the Logos, who illumines the intellect, supplying it with the power of contemplation and delivering it from all ignorance. The moon is the natural law, which persuades the flesh duly to submit to the spirit and accept the yoke of the commandments. The moon is the symbol of nature because of its mutability, but among the saints it remains immutable, for in them the state of virtue is unchanging.

  35. Those who seek the Lord should not look for Him outside themselves; on the contrary, they must seek Him within themselves through faith made manifest in action. For He is near you: “The word is … in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith’ (Rom. 10:8) - Christ being Himself the word that is sought.

  36. When we think of the height of God’s infinity we should not despair of His compassion reaching us from such a height; and when we recall the infinite depth of our fall through sin we should not refuse to believe that the virtue which has been killed in us will rise again. For God can accomplish both these things: He can come down and illumine our intellect with spiritual knowledge, and He can raise up the virtue within us and exalt it with Himself through works of righteousness. For it is written: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who shall ascend into heaven?’ - that is, to bring Christ down - or, ‘Who shall descend into the depths?’ - that is, to bring Christ up again from the dead’ (Rom. 10:6-7). Interpreted in another way, the depths stand for all that is sequent to God, in the whole of which the whole divine Logos providentially comes to dwell, as life returning to what is dead. For all things whose life depends upon their participation in life are in themselves dead. And heaven stands for God’s natural hiddenness, whereby He is incomprehensible to all things. Alternatively, if anyone explains heaven as the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the depths as the mystery of the incarnation, he will not, I think, be far from the mark. For it is hard to grasp the meaning of either doctrine through rational demonstration; or rather, their meaning is altogether inaccessible unless explored with faith.

  37. In the life of ascetic practice the Logos, adapted to the cor- poreal action of the virtues, becomes flesh (cf. John 1:14). In the contemplative life the Logos, refined by conceptual images that are spiritual, becomes what He was in His principial state, the Logos that was God and was with God (cf. John 1:1-2).

  38. If you expound the teaching of the Logos from the standpoint of the moral life, using relatively materialistic words and examples which correspond to the capacity of your hearers, you make the Logos flesh. Conversely, if you elucidate mystical theology by means of the higher forms of contemplation you make the Logos spirit.

  39. If you theologize in an affirmative or cataphatic manner, starting from positive statements about God, you make the Logos flesh, for you have no other means of knowing God as cause except from what is visible and tangible. If you theologize in a negative or apophatic manner, through the stripping away of positive attributes, you make the Logos spirit or God as He was in His principial state with God: starting from absolutely none of the things that can be known, you come in an admirable way to know Him who transcends unknowing.

  40. When like the patriarchs we learn to dig wells of virtue and spiritual knowledge within ourselves by means of ascetic practice and contemplation, we will find within us Christ the spring of life (cf. Gen. 26:15-18). Wisdom commands us to drink from this spring, saying, “Drink water from your own pitchers and from the spring of your own wells’ (Prov. 5:15). If we do this we shall find that the treasures of wisdom truly are within us.

  41. Those who animal-like live solely according to the senses make the Logos flesh for themselves in a dangerous way: they misuse God’s creation in order to indulge the passions. They do not understand the principle of that wisdom which is revealed to all; that we should know and praise God through His creation and that by means of the visible world we should understand whence we came, what we are, for what purpose we were made and where we are going. On the contrary, they travel through this present age in darkness, fumbling with both hands merely their ignorance of God.

  42. Those who abide solely by the letter of Holy Scripture and tie down the dignity of the soul to the external worship of the Law make the Logos flesh for themselves in a reprehensible manner. They think that God will be pleased with sacrifices of dumb animals. They pay much attention to the body with outward purifications but neglect the soul’s beauty, stained as it is by the passions. But it was for the soul that every power of the visible world was brought forth and that every divine teaching and law was proclaimed.

  43. ‘For the fall and resurrection of many in Israel is the Lord appointed’, says the Holy Gospel (Luke 2:34). We should ask consequently whether He may not be appointed for the fall of those who contemplate the visible creation solely according to the senses and of those who stick to the mere letter of Holy Scripture, not being able in their folly to go further and grasp the new spirit of grace. And we should ask whether He may not be appointed for the resurrection of those who contemplate God’s creatures and listen to His words in a spiritual manner, cultivating in appropriate ways only the divine image that is within the soul.

  44. If the Lord’s being appointed for the fall and resurrection of many is understood in the right way, then the fall will refer to that of the passions and of evil thoughts in each of the faithful, and the resurrection to that of the virtues and of every thought that enjoys God’s blessing.

  45. Those who think of the Lord only as the creator of things which are generated and which decay mistake Him, as Mary Magdalene did, for the gardener. It is therefore for their own good that the Master avoids contact with such persons, saying, “Do not touch Me’ (John 20:17); for they are not yet capable of ascending with Him to the Father. He knows that those who are predisposed to think of Him in such mean terms will suffer harm if they draw near to Him.

  46. The people assembled in Galilee in the upper room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews are those who, having safely reached the height of divine contemplation in the land of revelations and having shut their senses like doors for fear of the spirits of evil, receive the presence of the divine Logos of God in a way that cannot be conceived. He is revealed to them without the activity of their senses; through His words ‘Peace be with you’ He bestows dispassion on them, and breathing on them He grants them participation in the Holy Spirit, giving them power to combat evil spirits and showing them the signs of His mysteries (cf. John 20:19-22; Mark 16:17- 18).

  47. The Lord does not ascend to the Father for those who explore divine truth with their faculties as they are in their fallen state, but He does ascend to the Father for those who seek out the truth in the Spirit by means of the higher forms of contemplation. The Logos came down out of love for us. Let us not keep Him down permanently, but let us go up with Him to the Father, leaving the earth and earthly things behind, lest He say to us what He said to the Jews because of their stubbornness: “I go where you cannot come’ (John 8:21). For without the Logos it is impossible to approach the Father of the Logos.

  48. The land of the Chaldeans is a way of life dominated by the passions, in which the idols of sins are fashioned and worshipped. Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers, is a way of life that vacillates between opposites. The promised land is a state filled with every blessing. Everyone, then, who like ancient Israel neglects this state, loses the freedom which he has been granted, and allows himself once more to be dragged off into slavery to the passions.

  49. It should be noted that none of the saints went down to Babylon of his own accord. For it would be inept and inane for those who love God to choose what is bad rather than what is good. If some of them were taken there by force along with the people (cf. 2 Kings 25, 2 Chron. 36), they are to be understood as those who, not premeditatedly but at a time of crisis, and for the sake of saving those who needed their help, abandoned their absorption in the higher principle of spiritual knowledge in order to give instruction concerning the passions. For this reason St Paul felt that he would be more useful if he was in the flesh - that is, engaged in giving moral instruction to the disciples - although his whole desire was to be set free from moral teaching and to be with God (cf. Phil. 1:23) through pure intellectual contemplation which transcends the world.

  50. When Saul was being choked by an evil spirit, David sang to the accompaniment of the harp and gave him relief (cf. 1 Sam. 16:14-23). In a similar manner every spiritual discourse, sweetened with mystical contemplation, brings relief to the intellect possessed by evil spirits and frees it from the bad conscience which chokes it.

  51. David’s glowing complexion and beautiful eyes (cf. 1 Sam. 16:12. LXX) signify a man in whom the splendor of a holy way of life is enriched by the presence of the principle of spiritual knowledge. In this state ascetic practice and contemplation go together. Ascetic practice is given luster by the qualities of the virtues; contemplation is illumined by divine conceptual images.

  52. The reign of Saul is an image of the external worship of the Law, which the Lord abolished because it perfected nothing. “For the Law’, says Scripture, ‘made nothing perfect’ (Heb. 7:19). But the reign of the great David prefigures the worship set forth in the Gospel, for it enshrines to perfection God’s most intimate purposes.

  53. Saul is the natural law originally established by the Lord to rule over nature. But Saul was disobedient: he spared Agag, king of Amaiek (cf. 1 Sam. 15:8 - 16:13), that is, the body, and slipped downward into the sphere of the passions. He was therefore deposed so that David might take over Israel. David is the law of the Spirit - the law engendering that peace which so excellently builds for God the temple of contemplation.

  54. Samuel signifies obedience to God. So long as the principle of obedience exercises its priest-like office within us, even though Saul spares Agag - that is, the earthly will - yet that principle in its zeal will put him to death (cf. 1 Sam. 15:33): it strikes the sin-incited intellect and puts it to shame for having transgressed the divine ordinances.

  55. When the intellect scorns the teaching which purifies it from the passions, and ceases to examine what should be done and what should not be done, it will through ignorance inevitably be overcome by the passions. As the intellect gradually comes to be separated from God, it is more and more involved in difficulties not of its own choosing. Obeying the demons, it makes a god of the belly and tries to find relief there from what oppresses it. Let Saul convince you of the truth of this: because he did not take Samuel for an adviser in all things he inevitably turned to idolatry, putting his trust in a ventriloquist and consulting her as if she were a god (cf. 1 Sam. 28 : 7-20).

  56. He who asks to receive his daily bread (cf. Matt. 6:11) does not automatically receive it in its fullness as it is in itself: he receives it according to his own capacity as recipient. The Bread of Life (cf. John 6:35) gives Himself in His love to all who ask, but not in the same way to all; for He gives Himself more fully to those who have performed great acts of righteousness, and in smaller measure to those who have not achieved so much. He gives Himself to each person according to that person’s spiritual ability to receive Him.

  57. Sometimes the Lord is absent from us; at other times He is present within us. He is absent when we contemplate Him indistinctly, as though in a mirror. He is present within us when we contemplate Him face to face (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12).

  58. For the man living the life of ascetic practice the Lord is present through the virtues; but He is absent from the man who does not bother about virtue. Similarly, for a man engaged in the contemplative life, He is present in genuine knowledge of created beings, but absent when there is some lapse from this.

  59. When a man passes from the life of ascetic practice to the stage of spiritual knowledge, he is absent from the flesh (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8). Caught up as on clouds by the more lofty conceptual images into the translucent air of mystical contemplation, he is able to “be with the Lord for ever’ (1 Thess. 4:17). A man ‘is absent from the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5:6) if he is not yet able to contemplate his conceptual images of things with a pure intellect free from the operations of the senses (so far as this is possible), and if he cannot yet embrace the knowledge of the Lord in its true simplicity, without the help of symbols.

  60. The Logos of God is called flesh not only inasmuch as He became incarnate, but in another sense as well. When He is contemplated in His true simplicity, in His principial state with God the Father (cf. John 1:1-2), although He embraces the models of the truth of all things in a distinct and naked manner, He does not contain within Himself parables, symbols and stories needing allegorical interpretation. But when He draws near to men who cannot with the naked intellect come into contact with noetic realities in their naked state, He selects things which are familiar to them, combining together various stories, symbols, parables and dark sayings; and in this way He becomes flesh. Thus at the first encounter our intellect comes into contact not with the naked Logos but with the incarnate Logos, that is, with various sayings and stories. The incarnate Logos, though Logos by nature, is flesh in appearance. Hence most people think they see flesh and not the Logos, although in fact He is the Logos. The intellect-that is, the inner meaning-of Scripture is other than what it seems to most people. For the Logos becomes flesh in each of the recorded sayings.

  61. The initial stages of learning about religious devotion are naturally related to the flesh. For in our first encounter with religion we come into contact with the letter and not the spirit. But as we get nearer to the spirit and refine the materiality of words with the more subtle forms of contemplation, we come to dwell - so far as this is possible for man — purely in the pure Christ, so that we can say with St Paul, “Though we have known Christ according to the flesh, now we no longer know Him in this manner’ (2 Cor. 5:16). That is to say, we no longer know Him according to the flesh because, through the intellect’s naked encounter with the Logos stripped of the veils covering Him, we have advanced from knowing Him according to the flesh to knowing His ‘glory as of the only-begotten Son of the Father’ (John 1:14).

  62. He who is living the life in Christ has gone beyond the righteousness of both the Law and nature. This St Paul indicated when he said, ‘For in Christ Jesus there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision’ (cf. Gal. 5:6). By circumcision he meant righteousness according to the Law; by uncircumcision he hinted at natural justice, or equity.

  63. Some are reborn through water and the spirit (cf. John 3:5); others receive baptism in the Holy Spirit and in fire (cf. Matt. 3:11). I take these four things - water, spirit, fire and Holy Spirit - to mean one and the same Spirit of God. To some the Holy Spirit is water because He cleanses the external stains of their bodies. To others He is simply spirit because He makes them active in the practice of virtue. To others He is fire because He cleanses the interior defilement which lies deep within their souls. To others, according to Daniel, He is Holy Spirit because He bestows on them wisdom and spiritual knowledge (cf. Dan. 1:17; 5:11-12). For the single identical Spirit takes His different names from the different ways in which He acts on each person.

  64. The Law instituted the Sabbath, says Scripture, so that your ox and your servant might rest (cf. Exod. 20:10). Both of these are symbols for the body. For the person engaged in the practice of the virtues, the body is an ox under the yoke of his intellect: it is forced to bear the burdens imposed in the ascetic life through the exercising of the virtues. For the contemplative the body is the servant of his intellect, because through contemplation it is now endowed with intelligence and so serves the intellect’s spiritual commands intelligently. For both the ox and the servant the Sabbath signifies the final goal pursued by them throughout the ascetic and the contemplative life, and so it provides for both of them a fitting rest.

  65. The man who attains virtue together with a consonant spiritual knowledge treats his body as an ox: with his intelligence he steers it to do what has to be done. The life of active virtue is his servant - the life which naturally gives rise to virtue and which is acquired through the exercise of discrimination as if bought with money. The Sabbath is a virtuous, dispassionate and peaceful condition of both body and soul. It is an unchanging state.

  66. For those still mainly concerned with the bodily forms of virtue, the Logos of God becomes hay and straw, sustaining the passible aspect of their souls and guiding it to the service of the virtues. For those who have advanced to the true contemplation of divine things, the Logos is bread, sustaining the intellective aspect of their souls and guiding it to a godlike perfection. That is why we find the patriarchs on their journeys providing themselves with bread and their asses with fodder (cf. Gen. 24:25; 42:25, 27). For the same reason the Levite in the Book of Judges said to the old man who questioned him in the street of Gibeah: ‘There is bread for us and fodder for our asses, and for your servants there is no lack of anything’ (cf. Judges 19:19).

  67. In Scripture the Logos of God is called and actually is dew (cf. Deut. 32:2), water, spring (cf. John 4:14) and river (cf. John 7:38), according to the subjective capacity of the recipient. To some He is dew because He quenches the burning energy of the passions which assails the body from without. To those seared in the depths of their being by the poison of evil He is water, not only because water through antipathy destroys its opposite but also because it bestows a vivifying power conducive to well-being. To those in whom the fountain of contemplative experience is continually active He is a spring bestowing wisdom. To those from whom flows the true teaching about salvation, He is a river copiously watering men, domestic animals, wild beasts and plants. That is to say, those who have remained human are uplifted by the conceptual images they have been given and are so deified; those made like domestic animals by the passions are restored to the human state by being shown the exact character of the virtuous way of life and so they recover their natural intelligence; those made like wild beasts by evil habits and actions are tamed by kind and tender counsel and return to their natural gentleness; those hardened like plants against divine blessings are made pliable by the Logos passing deeply through them, and they regain the sensitivity that enables them to bear fruit and to sustain the Logos within them.

  68. The Logos of God is the way (cf. John 14:6) for those who run the course of virtue in their ascetic life nobly and vigorously, swerving neither to the right through self-esteem, nor to the left through proclivity to the passions, but directing their steps in accordance with God’s will. Asa, king of Judah, did not persevere in this to the end and so it is said that in his old age he suffered from his feet (cf. | Kings 15:23), because he faltered in running the race of his life according to God’s will.

  69. The Logos of God is called the door (cf. John 10:9) because He leads to spiritual knowledge those who, in their unsullied pursuit of the ascetic life, have nobly traversed the whole way of the virtues, and because He reveals, as does light, the lustrous treasures of wisdom. For He Himself is the way, the door, the key and the kingdom. He is the way because He guides; He is the key because He both opens and is opened to those found worthy to receive divine blessings; He is the door because He gives admittance; He is the kingdom because He is inherited and because He enters by participation into all things.

  70. The Lord is called light, life, resurrection and truth (cf. John 8:12; 11:25, 14:6). He is light because He gives lucidity to the soul, dispels the darkness of ignorance, illumines the intellect so that it can grasp what is unutterable, and reveals mysteries perceptible only to the pure. He is life because He gives souls who love Him the activity proper to the divine realm. He is resurrection because He raises the intellect from its lethal attachment to material things and purifies it from all decay and mortality. He is truth because He gives to those found worthy an unchanging state of sanctity.

  71. The divine Logos of God the Father is mystically present in each of His commandments. God the Father is by nature present entirely and without division in His entire divine Logos. Thus, he who receives a divine commandment and carries it out receives the Logos of God who is in it; and he who receives the Logos through the commandments also receives through Him the Father who is by nature present in Him, and the Spirit who likewise is by nature in Him. ‘I tell you truly, he that receives whomever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me’ (John 13:20). In this way, he who receives a commandment and carries it out receives mystically the Holy Trinity.

  72. It is not the man who worships God with words alone who glorifies God in himself but he who for God’s sake bears hardship and suffering in the quest for virtue. Such a man is glorified in return by God with the glory that is in God, receiving through participation the grace of dispassion as a reward for virtue. For everyone living the life of ascetic practice who glorifies God in himself by suffering for the sake of virtue is himself glorified in God through the dispassionate illumination of divine realities perceived during contemplation. For the Lord said as He drew near to His passion, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself; and He will glorify Him at once’ (John 13:31-32). From this it is clear that divine gifts follow sufferings endured for the sake of virtue.

  73. So long as we only see the Logos of God as embodied multifariously in symbols in the letter of Holy Scripture, we have not yet achieved spiritual insight into the incorporeal, simple, single and unique Father as He exists in the incorporeal, simple, single and unique Son, according to the saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . and I am in the Father and the Father in Me’ (John 14:9-10). We need much knowledge so that, having first penetrated the veils of the sayings which cover the Logos, we may with a naked intellect see - in so far as men can - the pure Logos, as He exists in Himself, clearly showing us the Father in Himself. Hence a person who seeks God with true devotion should not be dominated by the literal text, lest he unwittingly receives not God but things appertaining to God; that is, lest he feel a dangerous affection for the words of Scripture instead of for the Logos. For the Logos eludes the intellect which supposes that it has grasped the incorporeal Logos by means of His outer garments, like the Egyptian woman who seized hold of Joseph’s garments instead of Joseph himself (cf. Gen. 39:7-13), or like the ancients who were content merely with the beauty of visible things and mistakenly worshipped the creation instead of the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:25).

  74. It is by means of the more lofty conceptual images that the inner principle of Holy Scripture can be stripped gradually of the complex garment of words with which it is physically draped. Then to the visionary intellect - the intellect which through the total abandonment of its natural activities is able to attain a glimpse of the simplicity that in some measure discloses this principle - it reveals itself as though in the sound of a delicate breeze. This was the case with Elijah, who was granted such a vision in the cave of Horeb (cf. 1 Kgs. 19:12). Horeb signifies fallow land just broken up, which is the firm possession of the virtues established through the new spirit of grace. The cave is the hidden sanctuary of wisdom within the intellect; he who enters it will mystically perceive the spiritual knowledge that is beyond perception, in which God is said to dwell. Therefore everyone who like Elyah truly seeks God will not only arrive at Horeb - that is, not only will he through ascetic practice attain the state of virtue - but will also enter the cave at Horeb - that is, as a contemplative he will enter into that hidden sanctuary of wisdom found only by those who have attained the state of virtue.

  75. When our intellect has shaken off its many opinions about created things, then the inner principle of truth appears clearly to it, providing it with a foundation of real knowledge and removing its former preconceptions as though removing scales from the eyes, as happened in the case of St Paul (cf. Acts 9:18). For an under- standing of Scripture that does not go beyond the literal meaning, and a view of the sensible world that relies exclusively on sense-perception, are indeed scales, blinding the soul’s visionary faculty and preventing access to the pure Logos of truth.

  76. The Apostle Paul says that he had a partial knowledge of the Logos (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9). The Evangelist John states that he has seen His glory: ‘For we beheld His glory,’ he says, ‘the glory as of the only-begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). Perhaps St Paul says that he has but a partial knowledge of the divine Logos because the Logos is known from His energies only to a limited degree, while knowledge of Him as He is in essence and person is altogether inaccessible to all angels and men alike. St John, who was initiated as perfectly as a man can be into the mystery of the incarnation of the Logos, said that he saw .the glory of the Logos as flesh, that is, he saw the purpose for which God, full of grace and truth, became man. For not as God in His essence and as coessential with God the Father was the only-begotten Son given to us; only inasmuch as by virtue of God’s providential dispensation He became man by nature and, for our sakes made coessential with us, He was given to us who have need of such grace. And from His fullness we always receive the grace which corresponds to each step we take along the spiritual path. Thus he who has kept the inner principle of things perfectly pure within himself will acquire the glory, full of grace and truth, of the Logos of God made flesh for us, who through His coming glorified and sanctified Himself in His human nature for our sake. For ‘when He appears,’ says Scripture, “we shall be like Him’ (1 John 3:2).

  77. So long as the soul advances ‘from strength to strength’ (Ps. 84:7) and ‘from glory to glory’ (2 Cor. 3:18), that is, so long as it advances from one degree of virtue to a greater degree and from one level of spiritual knowledge to a higher level, it remains a ‘sojourner’, one who has no permanent home, as in the saying, ‘My soul has long been a sojourner’ (Ps. 120:6. LXX). For great is the distance and many are the levels of knowledge through which the soul must pass before it reaches ‘the place of the miraculous tabernacle, the house of God itself, with the voice of exultation and thanksgiving, and the sound of feasting’ (Ps. 42:4. LXX). It advances continually from one hymn of praise to another, from one level of divine contemplation to another, full of joy and thankfulness for what it has already seen. For all those who have received the Spirit of grace into their hearts celebrate in this festive manner, crying ‘Abba, Father’ (Gal. 4:6).

  78. ‘The place of the miraculous tabernacle’ is a dispassionate and untroubled state of virtue in which the Logos of God adorns the soul like a tabernacle with the varied beauties of the virtues. ‘The house of God’ is spiritual knowledge compounded of many different forms of contemplation when God dwells in a soul, filling it from the bowl of wisdom. *Exultation’ is the soul’s leap of joy at the riches of the virtues. ‘Thanksgiving’ is gratitude for the bountiful outpouring of wisdom. ‘The sound of feasting’ is the unceasing mystical hymn of glory, which exultation and thanksgiving combine to form.

  79. The man who has struggled bravely with the passions of the body, has fought ably against unclean spirits, and has expelled from his soul the conceptual images they provoke, should pray for a pure heart to be given him and for a spirit of integrity to be renewed within him (cf. Ps. 51:10). In other words, he should pray that by grace he may be completely emptied of evil thoughts and filled with divine thoughts, so that he may become a spiritual world of God. splendid and vast, wrought from moral, natural and theological forms of contemplation.

  80. He who has made his heart pure will not only know the inner essences of what is sequent to God and dependent on Him but, after passing through all of them, he will in some measure see God Himself, which is the supreme consummation of all blessings. When God comes to dwell in such a heart, He honors it by engraving His own letters on it through the Holy Spirit, just as He did on the Mosaic tablets (cf. Exod. 31:18). This He does according to the degree to which the heart, through practice of the virtues and contemplation, has devoted itself to the admonition which bids us, in a mystical sense, “Be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 35:11).

  81. A pure heart is perhaps one which has no natural propulsion towards anything in any manner whatsoever. When in its extreme simplicity such a heart has become like a writing-tablet beautifully smoothed and polished. God comes to dwell in it and writes there His own laws.

  82. A pure heart is one which offers the mind to God free of all image and form, and ready to be imprinted only with His own archetypes, by which God Himself is made manifest.

  83. According to the text, “But we have the intellect of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2:16), the saints are said to receive Christ’s intellect. But this does not come to us through the loss of our own intellectual power; nor does it come to us as a supplementary part added to our intellect; nor does it pass essentially and hypostatically into our intellect. Rather, it illumines the power of our intellect with its own quality and conforms the activity of our intellect to its own. In my opinion the person who has Christ’s intellect is he whose intellection accords with that of Christ and who apprehends Christ through all things.

  84. According to the text, “We are the body of Christ and each of us is one of its members’ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27), we are said to be the body of Christ. We do not become this body through the loss of our own bodies; nor again because Christ’s body passes into us hypostatically or is divided into members; but rather because we conform to the likeness of the Lord’s flesh by shaking off the corruption of sin. For just as Christ in His manhood was sinless by nature both in flesh and in soul, so we too who believe in Him, and have clothed ourselves in Him through the Spirit, can be without sin in Him if we so choose.

  85. According to Scripture there are temporal ages in themselves, and temporal ages which encompass the consummation of other ages. This is clear from the text: ‘But now once at the consummation of the ages…” (Heb. 9:26). Again there are other ages or eons, free of a temporal nature, after this temporal age established at the consummation of the ages. This is shown by the text:’. . . so that in the ages to come He might display the overflowing richness . . .” (Eph. 2:7). But we also find in Scripture a large number of past, present and future ages: there are references to ‘ages of ages’ (Ps. 84:4. LXX), ‘age of age’ (Ps. 9:12. LXX), ‘agelong times’ (2 Tim. 1:9) and “generations joined together by the ages’ (Gen. 9:12). But now lest we digress too far from our subject by expounding what Scripture means by temporal ages or agelong times or generations, and by explaining what are merely ages, what are ages of ages, and what is simply age, and age of age, let us leave these matters to the researches of scholars and return to the theme of our chapters.

  86. We know that according to Scripture there is something which transcends the age. Scripture has indicated that this thing exists but it has not specified what it is, as the following text shows: “The Lord rules the age, and above the age, and for ever’ (Exod. 15:18. LXX). There is therefore something above the age, namely the inviolate kingdom of God. For it is not right to say that the kingdom of God had a beginning or that it was preceded by ages or by time. We believe the kingdom to be the inheritance of those who are saved, their abode and their place, as the true Logos has taught us. For it is the final goal of those who long for that which is the desire of all desires. Once they have reached it they are granted rest from all movement whatsoever, as there is no longer any time or age through which they need to pass. For after passing through all things they will come to rest in God, who exists before all ages and whom the nature of ages cannot attain.

  87. Even though a man attains the highest degree of ascetic practice and contemplation possible in this earthly life, yet so long as he is still in this life he will possess spiritual knowledge, the power to prophesy and the pledge of the Holy Spirit only in part, not in their fullness. But when he comes, beyond the limit of the ages, to that perfect inheritance in which those found worthy behold the truth face to face and as it really is (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12), he will no longer have only a part of the fullness but will acquire by participation the whole fullness of grace. For, as St Paul says, all who are saved will attain perfect manhood, according to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13), in whom all the treasures of wisdom and spiritual knowledge are hidden (cf. Col. 2:3). When these things are revealed, what is partial will cease to exist.

  88. Some seek to discover what the state of perfection of the saints in the kingdom of God is like. Does it involve progress and change or is it a fixed condition? In what way must bodies and souls be thought to exist? Speaking conjecturally, one may suggest a parallel between the life of the body and that of the soul. In the case of physical life the reason for taking food is twofold: first for growth and second for sustenance when we have already grown up. Until we reach physical maturity we feed ourselves in order to grow; but when the body reaches its full stature it is fed no longer for growth but for sustenance. In the same way the reason for nourishing the soul is also twofold. While it is advancing along the spiritual path it is nourished by virtue and contemplation, until it transcends all created things and attains ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13). Once it has entered this state it ceases from all increase and growth nourished by indirect means and is nourished directly, in a manner which passes understanding. Having now completed the stage of growth, the soul receives the kind of incorruptible nourishment which sustains the godlike perfection granted to it, and receives a state of eternal well-being. Then the infinite splendors inherent in this nourishment are revealed to the soul, and it becomes god by participation in divine grace, ceasing from all activity of intellect and sense, and at the same time suspending all the natural operations of the body. For the body is deified along with the soul through its own corresponding participation in the process of deification. Thus God alone is made manifest through the soul and the body, since their natural properties have been overcome by the superabundance of His glory.

  89. Some scholars try to discover how the eternal dwelling-places and things promised differ from each other. Is there a difference in their actual locality? Or does the difference arise from our conception of the spiritual quality and quantity peculiar to each dwelling-place? Some think the first and some the second. He who knows the meaning of “The kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21), and ‘In my Father’s house are many dwelling-places’ (John 14:2), will prefer the second explanation.

  90. Some try to discover how the kingdom of heaven differs from the kingdom of God. Is there a difference in their actual nature, or is the difference a conceptual one? The answer is that they do not differ in their actual natures, but merely in our conception of them. The kingdom of heaven consists in possessing an inviolate and pre-eternal knowledge of created things through perceiving their inner essences as they exist in God. The kingdom of God is the imparting through grace of those blessings which pertain naturally to God. The first concerns the consummation of created things, the second our conception of their state after they reach their consummation.

  91. The text, “The kingdom of heaven has drawn near’ (Matt. 3:2; 4:17), does not in my judgment imply any temporal limitation. For the kingdom “does not come in a way that can be observed: one cannot say, “Look, it is here” or “Look, it is there” * (Luke 17:20-21). The phrase has reference to the relationship which the saints have with the kingdom, each according to his or her inner state. For ‘the kingdom of God’, says Scripture, “is within you’ (Luke 17:21).

  92. The kingdom of God the Father is present in all believers in potentiality; it is present in actuality in those who, after totally expelling all natural life of soul and body from their inner state, have attained the life of the Spirit alone and are able to say, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal. 2:20).

  93. Some say that the kingdom of heaven is the way of life which the saints lead in heaven; others that it is a state similar to that of the angels, attained by those who are saved; others that it is the very form of the divine beauty of those who ‘wear the image of Him who is from heaven’ (1 Cor. 15:49). In my judgment each of these three views is correct. For the grace of the kingdom is given to all according to the quality and quantity of the righteousness that is in. them.

  94. So long as we are manfully engaged in the holy warfare of ascetic or practical philosophy we retain with us the Logos, who in the form of the commandments came from the Father into this world. But when we are released from our ascetic struggle with the passions and are declared victor over both them and the demons, we pass, by means of contemplation, to gnostic philosophy; and in this way we allow the Logos mystically to leave the world again and make His way to the Father. Hence it is that the Lord says to His disciples: ‘You have loved Me and have believed that I come from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again I leave the world and make My way to the Father’ (John 16:27-28). By the world He meant perhaps the hard task of practicing the virtues, by the Father, that intellectual state which transcends the world and is free from all material propensity. When we are in this state the Logos of God enters into us, putting an end to our battle with the passions and the demons.

  95. He who through practice of the virtues has succeeded in mortifying whatever is earthly in him (cf. Col. 3:5), and who by fulfilling the commandments has triumphed over the world of the passions within him, will experience no more affliction; for he will have already left the world and come to be in Christ, the conqueror of the world of the passions and the source of all peace. He who has not severed his attachment to material things will always experience affliction, since his state of mind depends on things that are naturally changeable, and so it alters when they do. But he who has come to be in Christ will be totally impervious to such material change. That is why the Lord says, ‘I have said these things to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will experience affliction; but have courage, for I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). In other words, “In Me, the Logos of virtue, you have peace, for you have been released from the swirl and turmoil of material passions and objects; in the world - that is, in a state of attachment to material things - you are afflicted because of the successive changes of these things.’ For both he who practices the virtues and he who loves the world experience affliction, the first because of the toil which such practice entails and the second because of the futility of material things. But the affliction of the first is salutary, that of the second corrupting and destructive. The Lord gives release to both: in the case of the first He allays the toil of ascetic practice with the contemplation attained through dispassion, and in the case of the second He rescinds attachment to corrupted things by means of repentance.

  96. The charge made against the Savior in the inscription on the Cross clearly showed that He who was crucified was Lord and king of practical, natural and theological philosophy. For Scripture says that the inscription was written in Latin, Greek and Hebrew (cf. John 19:20). I take Latin to signify the practical branch of philosophy, since according to Daniel (cf. Dan. 2:40) the Roman empire was appointed to be the most resolute and manful of all the kingdoms on earth; for the distinguishing feature of the practice of the virtues, or practical philosophy, is resolution and manfulness, I take Greek to signify natural contemplation, since the Greek nation more than any other people has pursued natural philosophy. I take Hebrew to signify initiation into the mysteries of theology, since this nation was from the beginning clearly consecrated to God through the patriarchs.

  97. We must not only put bodily passions to death but also destroy the soul’s impassioned thoughts. Hence the psalmist says, “Early in the morning I destroyed all the wicked of the earth, that I might cut off all evil-doers from the city of the Lord’ (Ps. 101:8) -that is, the passions of the body and the soul’s godless thoughts.

  98. If we keep the path of virtue undefiled through devout and true knowledge, and do not deviate to either side, we will experience the advent of God revealed to us because of our dispassion. For ‘I will sing a psalm and in a pure path I will understand when Thou wilt come to me’ (cf. Ps. 101:1-2). The psalm stands for virtuous conduct; understanding indicates the spiritual knowledge, gained through virtue, by means of which we perceive God’s advent, when we wait for the Lord vigilant in the virtues.

  99. He who is a beginner on the spiritual way must not be brought to practice the commandments by kindness alone, but must more often be induced to continue the struggle by being rigorously reminded of God’s Judgment, in this way he will not only be moved by love to desire what is divine, but will be moved by fear to avoid what is evil. For “I will sing to Thee, 0 Lord, of mercy and judgment’ (Ps. 101:1. LXX). He will sing to God charmed by love, and steeled by fear he will have strength for the song.

100.He who through virtue and spiritual knowledge has brought his body into harmony with his soul has become a harp, a flute and a temple of God. He has become a harp by preserving the harmony of the virtues; a flute by receiving the inspiration of the Spirit through divine contemplation; and a temple by becoming a dwelling place of the Logos through the purity of his intellect.