Orthodox River

Various Texts on Theology Fourth Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  11. Salutary pleasure is the soul’s joy on account of virtue, while profitable distress is the pain the flesh suffers for the sake of virtue. Moreover, he who has given himself up to passions and material things generates impulses towards what he should not desire; while he who does not welcome the calamities that deprive him of passions and material things creates an aversion for what he should desire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  39. After the fall the generation of every man was by nature impassioned and preceded by pleasure. From this rule no one was exempt. On the contrary, as if discharging a natural debt, all underwent sufferings and the death that comes from them. None could find the way to freedom, for all were under the tyranny of ill-gotten pleasure, and so subject to justly deserved sufferings and the still more justly deserved death which they engender. Because of this, another kind of suffering and death had to be conceived, first to destroy the ill-gotten pleasure and the justly deserved sufferings consequent on it - sufferings which have pitiably brought about man’s disintegration, since his life originates in the corruption that comes from his generation through pleasure and ends in the corruption that comes through death; and, second, to restore suffering human nature. This other kind of suffering and death was both unjust and undeserved: undeserved because it was in no way generated by preceding pleasure, and unjust because it was not the consequence of any passion-dominated life. This other kind of suffering and death, however, had to be devised so that, intervening between ill-gotten pleasure and justly deserved suffering and death, it could completely abolish the pleasure-provoked origin of human life and its consequent termination in death, and thus free it from the pleasure-pain syndrome. It would then recover its original blessedness, unpolluted by any of the characteristics inherent in beings subject to generation and decay. That is why the Logos of God, being by nature fully God, became fully man, with a nature constituted like ours of a soul endowed with intellect and a body capable of suffering; only in His case this nature was without sin, because His birth in time from a woman was not preceded by the slightest trace of that pleasure arising from the primal disobedience. In His love He deliberately accepted the painful death which, because of pleasure, terminates human life, so that by suffering unjustly He might abolish the pleasure-provoked and unjust origin by which this life is dominated. For, unlike that of everyone else, the Lord’s death was not the payment of a debt incurred because of pleasure, but was on the contrary a challenge thrown down to pleasure; and so through this death He utterly destroys that justly deserved death which ends human life. For the cause of His being was not the illicit pleasure, justly punished by death, through which death entered into human life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  78. He who like Job and the courageous martyrs bears the assaults of unsought-for trials and temptations with an unshakeable will is a powerful lamp; for by his bravery and patience he keeps the light of salvation burning, since he possesses the Lord as his strength and his song (cf. Ps. 118:14). And he who is familiar with the tricks of the devil and experienced in the close combat of the unseen warfare, is likewise illuminated by the light of spiritual knowledge and becomes another lamp, saying with St Paul, “We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices’ (2 Cor. 2:11).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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