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The Paradise Of The Holy Fathers Volumes 1 and 2 by Saint Athanasius Of Alexandria

LET us begin now, by the help of our Lord, and write first of all the history of the Life and Acts of the Saint and the mighty one of God, the blessed Mar Anthony, which was composed by Saint Athanasius, the Archbishop of Alexandria. May our Lord help and strengthen the writer to write, and [the reader] to read & to perform everything which is commanded [herein]. Amen. O Lord, help me, and bring me to the end [of the work]! Amen.

MARVELLOUS care and the loving urging of your understanding for the monkish brethren who are in Egypt have moved me with solicitude [to hope] that by constant meditation on the following stories your mind may be drawn to perfection, so that you may not be repeating with your mouth[s] only the following triumphs, and others which are like unto them, but that also in your persons you may be preachers of the example of these lives and deeds. Now, your careful solicitude is seemly and is most acceptable, and in this respect you have become ministers of the Sublime Will, for it is right that this appearance should not depart from the mirror of your career, and that ye should know at once the craftiness of the Enemy, that is to say, what form exactly it taketh, and what it actually is, and by what means it bringeth [a monk] to naught. And this thing hath been wrought at this time by God, for behold! monasteries which flourish like the flowers and sweet scents of the springtime have been scattered throughout the whole earth, and the sign of the solitary ascetics ruleth from one end thereof unto the other. It is then a beautiful thing for us to embrace and to lay hold upon this power of discernment which your mind hath conceived, and to be the ministers of the fervour of your love with joy and solicitude. For who could be negligent of this service and be blameless, inasmuch as those who have invited me [to write] the history of the triumphs of a righteous man are themselves righteous? And may the Giver of gifts (blessed be His honour!) Himself open the door of our entreaty, and may we draw into our net each one of the stories which we have been deputed by your love to write down, not for our own sake only, but for the sake of your most excellent entreaty, and for the sake of the courageous [thoughts] which are in you, so that we may fulfil your labour, and for the sake of the work of him who triumphed by these acts and deeds, in order that his triumphs may never die among his sons in our Lord; and finally for his name’s sake, that in this history we may also magnify the glory of God [and show forth] how great is the might which He giveth unto those who fear Him.

Now we have been deputed through your affection to write down the triumphs of the blessed man Anthony, and to send by an envoy a history of them to you in writing [which will shew] how it was that he began his discipleship, and what manner of life he led before this took place, and how he was living when he brought his days to a close, and whether all the words which have been spoken concerning him and have come to our hearing are true; and straightway with joy I have devoted myself to the fulfilment of your command. Now by merely writing a commemorative history of the blessed Anthony I also shall gain great benefit, for I am convinced, O my beloved, that by narrating these histories two things will be effected: we shall increase the renown of the man of God in honour and wonder, and we shall begin to instruct your minds step by step; for the acts of the blessed Anthony form a perfect example for the solitary ascetics. Now, O my beloved, as concerning the things which ye have heard about him aforetime, from those who [lived] with him, or [from those] who heard [them] from those who were with him continually, or from those also unto whom accounts of him were handed down by tradition, ye shall have no doubt whatsoever. Ye have, however, only heard a little out of a great quantity, and only just as much as the mind (or memory) is able to narrate; now, mine own mind convinceth me that such is the case, and in compiling the present history I have learned that indeed this is so. For when I thought that I had collected and enumerated a large number of stories, suddenly a great many others, which were far more numerous than those which had already been collected by me, sprang up, and made my mind to be confused; but as many as I was able to remember and to collect my mind hath, with joy, committed to writing. And as for you, cease ye not to ask questions and to inquire [concerning the blessed Anthony], especially of those who come by river from the Thebaïd, that is to say from Inner Egypt (i.e., Upper Egypt), for it may happen that from those from whom ye expect to hear nothing ye may increase your knowledge greatly. For when a man belongeth unto those who have knowledge, he repeateth the story which he knoweth, and though we may think and be convinced that we have collected too many already, [we find, on examination, that our] narrative is immeasurably short. Now many of those who openly received [the accounts] of the wonderful things which were wrought by his hands have departed from this world; and of those who are still living, how many are there who have not revealed unto us concerning the conversations which they had with him, or the things done in his presence! And what man would wish to narrate unto his companions only a few stories out of many?

And when I had received [your] letter, and had read and seen the force thereof, and what it demanded, I was wishful to send and bring certain solitary ascetics who were always with him, so that, peradventure, between them and me I might be able to fulfil your desire. But because the time in which ships could travel from Egypt to the Thebaïd, and from the Thebaïd hither, was unfavourable, and because the letter-carrier was in haste, and because I knew that I had been with Saint Anthony continually, I made it to be a care unto me to write myself unto your loving persons, and tell you what I was able to learn about him, and all that happened between us for a long time, and [how] I poured water upon his hands; and I have regarded a carefully the word of the truth, lest a man should hear what was superfluous and should be in doubt, or should despise and belittle that which he heard.

Now, by race the blessed Anthony was an Egyptian, and he was descended from a noble family, and was, indeed, an owner of slaves. His forefathers were believers, and from his earliest childhood he was brought up in the fear of our Lord; and when he was a child and was being reared among his own kinsfolk, he knew nothing of his father or of what went on among his own people. He was so silent in disposition, and his mind was so humble, that he did not even trouble his parents by asking them questions. He was exceedingly modest (or shy), and he was honest beyond measure. He was unable to read or to write because he could not bear the rough behaviour of the boys [in the school]; his whole desire was to be even according to what is written about Jacob, “He was a simple man, and a dweller in tents” (Genesis 25:27). He clung closely to his parents, and when they came to church he would [run] before them in the flow of his affection; and he was not like an ordinary child, the course of whose customary attendance is broken by the amusements of childhood. He never neglected [the observance of] any of the seasons of the Church, and he neither neglected them in his childhood, nor held them lightly in his early manhood. And from the time when he was a child and knew how to distinguish between good and evil, his going to church was not a mere matter of custom, but was [the result of] discerning understanding. And, moreover, he did not wait for the members of his family (or parents) to be admonishers unto him, because by his life and acts he became a teacher unto them. For they learned by the experience [of] his childhood that he did not live among them like an ordinary simple child, and they accepted the proof of the rectitude of his early manhood; he paid them honour after the manner of a full-grown man, and they regarded him as the master of the house (i.e., steward).

Now when the time arrived and they brought their days to an end, and they departed from this world when he was about eighteen or twenty years old, he and one little sister were left behind, and it happened from sheer necessity that he had to rule the house and take care of his sister. And when as yet not six months had passed since the death of his parents, and when, according to his wont, he was continually in the church, it came to pass one day, when he was in the church, that a righteous idea entered his mind, and that he began to meditate within himself how the blessed Apostles forsook everything and followed after our Redeemer; and how the others who succeeded them and walked in their footsteps sold everything which they had possessed and laid [the money which they received] at the feet of the Apostles, that it might be spent upon the poor; and how great was the blessing of those who had in this wise obeyed the voice of our Redeemer. Now whilst he was meditating these and such-like things, the Lesson was being read, and when the Scriptures were ended, the Gospel was read, and he heard the words of our Lord, Who said unto the rich man, “If thou wishest to be perfect, go and sell everything which thou hast, and give to the poor, and take thy cross, and come after Me, and there shall be unto thee treasure in heaven” (St. Matthew 19:21). And the blessed Anthony received the word of the Gospel as a sign to himself, and he reflected that this reading had not taken place as a matter of chance, but in order that the righteous idea which had taken up its abode in him might be confirmed. And straight-way he went out from the church, and departed and set in order his house and the possessions which he had inherited from his parents. Now he had three hundred fields, a great estate [which produced] abundant crops, and these he handed over to the people of his village, so that they might trouble neither himself nor his sister; but the remainder of his other possessions which were in the house he sold, and gathered in money not a little, which he distributed among the poor, but he laid by a little which was sufficient for his sister’s wants.

And when, on another First Day of the week, he had again entered the church at the time of [the reading of] the Gospel, he inclined his ear carefully to see what word would come forth for him; and as he was inclining his ear, the a word of our Lord to His disciples was immediately read out, saying, “Take no thought for the morrow” (St. Matthew, 6:25, 31, 34; St. Mark 13:11; St, Luke 12:11, 22). And straight-way he received the commandment readily, and he went out and distributed that which remained to him for his sister’s use among the poor. Now unto his sister he spake words of love, and of truth, and of the fear of God, and he made her mind to be like his own; and he delivered her over to certain chaste nuns who were living there at that time. And when he had made an end of these things, he forthwith became a solitary monk, and he took no care for anything whatsoever except his soul, and he began to train himself in the habits of the strictest abstinence and self-denial. Now he dwelt alone in a house which was by the side of the village, for as yet there were no monasteries for ascetics in Egypt, and among the monks there was no man who had any knowledge of the inner desert; and every one who wished to have a care for his soul used to seek out an habitation of this kind. Saint Anthony did not betake himself to the mountain at a great distance from the village, but only at a sufficient distance therefrom, so that he might be somewhat apart from the habitation of men.

And at that time there was in another village on their borders a certain blessed old man, who from his youth up had lived a life of solitary asceticism, and this man the blessed Anthony saw, and was wishful to emulate his fair deeds. First of all he also began to live by the side of the village, in places which were free from the feet [of men], and whilst living in this abode his mind was rent with doubt about the fair works [of the ascetic life], and he gave his soul no rest, for he was constant in meditation about the truth. And he used to ponder within himself [and say], “How did the righteous men of old live? With what manner of triumphs did they please God? And who can make me worthy of even a sight of these?” And as a result of this meditation which arose from love of the righteous men, he began to ask and inquire, “What was the condition of the righteous men? And who shall inform me concerning them?” And whilst asking questions that he might learn something about any of the righteous men who were in [that] place, in the fervour of his love he used to go forth strenuously to seek him (i.e., the old man); and he did not at first return to his own place, without first of all paying homage to the man of God. And he was like unto the wise bee which hovereth and resteth over plants of every kind which are filled with honey that it may fill its habitation with the goodness of the earth. In this manner he himself also received from the sight of each of the righteous men provision for the marvellous way; and this was his manner at the beginning of his ascetic career. And his thoughts were exceedingly well disciplined by him at the beginning of his [life of] righteousness, so that he might not in any wise be anxious about his family, or be fettered by the love of kinsfolk, or be held fast by the affairs of this temporary life; from all [these] he purged himself that he might be a pure offering unto God. Now he used also to labour with his hands, because he had heard [the words], “If a man doth not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10); with a very little [of the wages] of the work of his hands he used to provide himself with food, and the rest he spent upon the poor. And he prayed continually, for he had heard [the words], “Pray, and let it not be tedious unto you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17); and he was wont to listen to the reading of the Scriptures in such wise that not one word might fall to the ground, and henceforth he kept in his mind the remembrance of the commandments which he heard, and they became unto him even as the Scriptures.

Now by these acts and deeds the blessed Anthony was shewing love to his soul, and, even as it is written, “He found favour with God and with man” (St. Luke 2:52). For when it happened that he went [to visit] the righteous men, he hearkened unto them and was subject unto them wholly and in everything, and the love with which they loved him was such that, if it happened that he tarried in paying his visit to them, they were wont to send after him with anxious care. They observed how greatly he was the object of [God’s] mercy, and how great a measure of the love of the things which were spiritual were found with him, and they saw how easy it was for him to gain a reward by trafficking in the riches of heaven. Therefore each one of them, according to the measure of his power, took him by his hand. And they looked and saw that he was to be perfected as a chosen vessel, and they observed when as yet he himself saw it not that he had adopted for himself a glorious rule of life among the righteous men. For what joy is there unto which graciousness is not found to be yoked? Or what humility is there wherewith those who possess it are adorned in which it doth not dwell? Or what love is there, which is the foundation of all the commandments, which it doth not rule? And what man is there who, when he imagineth himself to be merciful, is not carried away thereby [i.e., by this imagination], and who doth not become a prince of wrath, and jealousy, and calumny?

Now Saint Anthony was the storehouse of fasting, and of prayer, and of ascetic labours, and of patient endurance, and of love, and of righteousness, which is the mother of [them] all, but towards those who were young monks like himself he was not envious, except in one matter only, that is to say, he would not be second to any of them in fair works. And he contrived in every possible manner not to give offence to the wicked man; on the contrary, [he wished] that those who were yoked together with him might be drawn to his opinion (or mind) by his solicitude [for them], and by his graciousness, and that they might make progress in their career. And he toiled in his labours in such a manner that they were not only not envious of him, but they rejoiced in him and gave thanksgiving for him. Now by reason of these triumphs every man used to call him “Theophilus,” which is, being interpreted, “God-loving,” and all the righteous gave him this name; and some of them loved him like a brother, and some of them like a son.

And when the Enemy, the hater of the virtues and the lover of evil things, saw all this great perfection in the young man, he could not endure it, and he surrounded himself with his slaves, even as he is wont to do, and began [to work] on Anthony. At the beginning of his temptings of the saint he approached him with flattery, and cast into him anxiety as to his possessions, and solicitude and love for his sister, and for his family, and for his kinsfolk, and the love of money and lusts of various kinds, and the [thought of the] rest [of the things] of the life of [this] world, and finally of the hard and laborious life which he lived, and of the weakness of body [which would come upon him] with the lapse of time; and, in short, he stirred up in him the power of the thoughts so that by means of one [or other] of them he might be flattered, and might be made to possess shortcomings and be caught in the net through his instigation.

Now when the Enemy saw that his craftiness in this matter was without profit, and that the more he brought temptation unto Saint Anthony, the more strenuous the saint was in protecting himself against him with the armour of righteousness, he attacked him by means of the vigour of early manhood which is bound up in the nature of our humanity. With the goadings of passion he used to trouble him by night, and in the daytime also he would vex him and pain him with the same to such an extent that even those who saw him knew from his appearance that he was waging war against the Adversary. But the more the Evil One brought unto him filthy and maddening thoughts, the more Saint Anthony took refuge in prayer and in abundant supplication, and amid them [all] he remained wholly chaste. And the Evil One was working [upon him] every shameful deed according to his wont, and at length he even appeared unto Saint Anthony in the form of a woman; and other things which resembled this he performed with ease for such things are a subject for boasting to him.

But the blessed Anthony knelt down upon his knees on the ground, and prayed before Him Who said, “Before thou criest unto Me, I will answer thee” (Isaiah 65:24), and said, “O my Lord, this I entreat Thee: let not Thy love be blotted out from my mind, and behold, I am, by Thy grace, innocent before Thee.” And again the Enemy multiplied in him the thoughts of lust, until Saint Anthony became as one who was being burned up, not through the Evil One, but through his own lusts; but he girded himself about with the threat of the thought of the Judgement, and of the torture of Gehenna, and of the worm which dieth not. And whilst meditating on the thoughts which could be directed against the Evil One, he prayed for thoughts which would be hostile to him. Thus, to the reproach and shame of the Enemy, these things could not be performed; for he who imagined that he could be God was made a mock of by a young man, and he who boasted over flesh and blood was vanquished by a man who was clothed with flesh.

Now in all these things our Lord, Who put on a [human] body for our sakes, was his helper, and He strengthened him to become a shield against the Evil One, so that by means of this act of grace which was wrought on our behalf, before any of the blessed men lived, by the merit of His agony He taught us in what it is meet that we should boast. For when one repeated too often those triumphs which were wrought for him, Saint Anthony answered and said, “It was not I who worked, but His grace which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

And when the Enemy saw that he was vanquished in this fight, and that his craftiness was driven away and brought to naught by the thought (or mind) of the righteous man, he gnashed his teeth, and cried out that he would shew the righteous man his [evil] inner nature (or thoughts) in an external [material] form, that, peradventure, by means of fear and terror he might find an opportunity to perform his will. And he appeared unto Saint Anthony in the form of an Indian boy, and he began to say unto him, “Whom seest thou? I have come, and behold I will stand up, and I will overcome thee, and I will bring thee low, even as I do many.” And whilst he was saying these words, the blessed Anthony made over himself the Sign of the Cross, and ceased to tremble, and the Enemy saw the Sign of the Cross, and straightway was terrified. And when the blessed Anthony saw that he was terrified, he began to ask him a question, saying, “Who art thou, by whose voice such words as these are heard by me?” Then the Enemy began [to say] unto him after the manner of a man who blustereth, “I, even I, am the lover of error and of fornication, and it is I who cast the goadings of these [thoughts] and flatteries [into the mind of man]. It is I who have taken upon myself to lead many astray, and I fight against every man, and I am against righteousness, and I am, even as the Prophet called me, the ‘spirit of fornication’ (Hosea 4:12), for through me have gone astray all those who have stumbled. It is I who have injured thee on several occasions, and thou hast been held in contempt by me in everything.”

And the blessed Anthony gave thanks unto the Lord, and gained great encouragement, and said, “What power thinkest thou that thou hast in thee, O Enemy, to resist the might of the Cross? Thou hast done well to appear in the form of an Indian, for thou art black in thy nature, and thou art as pitiably weak as a boy who hath been brought low by punishment. Thou art esteemed as naught by me, and I tremble not at thy wiles; for the Lord helpeth me, and I shall look [in triumph] upon mine enemies.” Now when that black being heard these words, straightway his appearance vanished from Anthony’s sight. This is the first strife which Saint Anthony [waged] against his Enemy, or rather, this is the first act of assistance which came to help Anthony from our Redeemer, Who vanquished sin in His own body, that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, and that we might not walk after the flesh but after the spirit (Romans 8:4).

But although the blessed Anthony saw the Enemy made powerless and brought low, he neither neglected his prayers nor ceased from his [wonted] course [of life], for he knew well that his contest was against a crafty being, who, although he had been vanquished for the time, would not cease [to trouble], and who, whenever he could find an opportunity through some small negligence on his part, would suddenly rise up and vanquish him that had on several occasions gained the victory over him. For Saint Anthony knew that there was no cessation to his wrongdoing, and that he wandered about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might break (1 St. Peter 5:8). And he had learned from the Scriptures that the snares of the Adversary were many, and he was certain from his own knowledge that he strove in this manner; and he therefore contended strenuously in the fear of God, keeping his object before him.

And he pondered in his mind that although the Enemy had not been able to draw him into his net with lusts of divers kinds, he had still other means whereby he was wont to make our humanity to sin; for the nature thereof yearneth to sin always. Now it is especially right for us in the time of our victory, when we have our understanding under our will, to oppress and bring our body into subjection to the will of freedom and of righteousness, lest, while we are imagining that we are victors over one class of sins, we find that we are vanquished by others which are their opposite. And Saint Anthony kept this in mind, and [he was thinking] these thoughts always, and day by day he was adding toil unto his former works of asceticism; and many were wondering at the greatness of the patient endurance which he possessed, and how long-suffering he was in his afflictions. For behold, the freedom of his spirit (or soul), and the thoughts of his mind, by reason of the great length [of time] which they were practised by him, as it were renewed him, and changed him from one kind of being to another; and he used to employ as a foundation some small matter from the example of others, and then he would take it and polish it in his own person, and with him it became so beautiful that the spectators thereof imagined that it was to be found with him alone. For he was a perfect handicraftsman in matters which related to the fear of God, and wheresoever he saw that one of the heavenly works of uprightness was being practised by a man who was not honouring it for its own value, he would take it, and polish it in his own person, and would make manifest how great its beauty was.

And Saint Anthony kept vigil to the utmost, and to such an extent that the greater number of his days dawned on him without his having had any sleep. He was wont to eat at even-tide daily, but on occasions he passed three days, or four days, or even whole weeks at a time [without eating]. His food was bread and salt, and his drink was water, and in the matter of wine, and flesh, and other dainty meats he declared [them] to be so superfluous, that they ought not to be used even by ordinary monks. What he slept upon was a mat made of palm leaves only, but for a very long time he used to make the bare ground his bed. He was, moreover, exceedingly careful not to anoint himself with oil, for he used to say that oil rendered the body soft and made the members thereof effeminate, and for this reason [he] required young men to distil upon themselves from their inward minds the oil of strenuousness. He was also mindful of the word of the Apostle which he spake, saying, “When I am weak (or sick), then am I strong” (1 Corinthians 12:10). And he possessed a wonderful mind, for he never pondered and thought how far he had advanced in discipleship, but each day he kept in mind that he had only just begun at the beginning thereof; for he remembered the word of the Apostle which he spake, “That which is behind me I forget, and I stretch forward unto the things which are before me” (Philippians 3:13), and also the words of the Prophet Elijah which he spake, “As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand this day” (1 Kings 17:1). Thus he prepared himself to be worthy to stand always before the Majesty, even as the man [Elijah] who stood on that day before the Lord; and he used to say to himself, “It is right that a monk should know that in his manner of life (or habitation) and in his acts and deeds he must be an alien unto the world, and an associate (or son of the yoke) of the Angelic Watchers.”

And after these things he passed into another frame of mind, and, having decided within himself that he would go forth from the village, he departed and took up his abode in a tomb in the cemetery, which was situated in a mountain which lay close by the village; and he commanded one of his acquaintances to bring him a morsel of bread from time [to time]. And having done these things and entered into the tomb and shut the door upon himself, straightway the Adversary, together with a multitude of devils who were his associates, burst in upon him there, for he was afraid to let Saint Anthony go from the village altogether, and he began to say unto him, “How great is that which thou endurest! And to what limit wilt thou drive thyself? Thou hast come and hast entered into the place of our abode. What man is there who hath ever done the like? And when was it ever heard that men ought to live among the tombs? We have been driven out of the village, and we shall also be driven out from among the tombs. Now therefore will we take vengeance upon, thee, for it is thou who hast made fools of us.” Then they began to smite him with blows, and they smote him so severely that at length he fell [on the ground], and nothing but his breath was left in him; and Saint Anthony used to relate that the blows with which the devils smote him were more severe than those of the children of men. But God brought help unto him, and would not deliver him over to death, for He put it into the mind of him that used to visit him to come quickly, and to open [the door of] the tomb according to his wont, and he saw the blessed Anthony, who was like unto a dead man by reason of the blows; and straightway he lifted him up and brought him to the church in the village. And there collected about him no small number of people, and they gathered together and sat by his side as if he had been a dead man. Now by the sweet rest of sleep the blessed Anthony was refreshed, [and he was relieved] from his affliction, and he came to himself, and he turned round and saw that all the people were asleep, and that only his friend who was sitting watching by his pillow was awake; and he made a sign to him, and he drew nigh unto him, and Saint Anthony said unto him quietly, “Come, do [an act of] righteousness (or charity), lest the heart of the people should think and mankind should imagine that there is still power left in the Evil One, and should be afraid to lift up the heel against him.”

And the man hearkened unto him, and whilst the people were quiet and asleep, he lifted him up and carried him to the tomb, and shut the door as usual. Then Saint Anthony prayed as he was lying down, for he had no power in him to stand up, and when he had multiplied [his] prayers, he said with a loud voice, “Where are ye, O children of Gehenna? Here am I, even I, Anthony, and I will not depart from this place until ye are destroyed in this place: for although ye multiply tortures, I shall not be remote from the love of Christ.” And next he said with a loud voice, “Though a whole legion [of devils] encamp against me, my heart shall not fear”: such were the words which this man, this athlete, proclaimed in his striving. Then the heart of the Enemy of righteousness melted within him, and he cried unto the dogs his kinsfolk, and spake, emitting smoke from himself as he did so, saying unto them, “Did ye not say unto me, What shall we do unto this man, this insolent fellow, who hath treated us wholly with contempt and disdain? His heart is not afraid of the quaking terror, his hearing is not perturbed by words (or voices), his eye is not terrified by visions, and his body hath no fear of blows. Who among you can give [me] counsel as to what shall be done [with him]?” And thereupon they contrived the following plan.

Now it is very easy for the Enemy to create apparitions and appearances of such a character want they shall be deemed real and actual objects, and [straightway] phantasms of this kind caused a phantom earthquake, and they rent asunder the four corners of the house, and entered therein in a body from all sides. One had the form of a lion, and another had the appearance of a wolf, and another was like unto a panther, and all the others were in the forms and similitudes of serpents, and of vipers, and of scorpions. The lion was roaring as a lion roareth when he is about to slay; the bull was ready to gore [him] with his horns; the panther was prepared to spring [upon him]; and the snakes and the vipers were hissing, and they appeared to be in the act of hurling themselves upon him; and the sounds which they made and the forms in which they showed themselves were terrible. Now the blessed man Anthony was not disturbed (or frightened) by their commotion, and his mind remained wholly undisturbed. And as he was lying down he laughed at these phantoms, and said, “Thus there is no power in you. Ye have taken unto yourselves the forms of wild beasts, and if there had been any power whatsoever to do harm in you, for one of you only to come [against me] would have been sufficient; but because our Lord hath cut off the things which incited you to attack me, and the goad of your wickedness hath no strength therein, ye lay plots and contrive snares, thinking that, peradventure, ye will be able to make men quake by fear only. And, moreover, whosoever hath had experience of your feebleness [knoweth] that ye have obtained as your helpers the mere forms and appearances of wild beasts.”

And Anthony also spake unto them in very great boldness of heart, saying, “If ye have indeed received power over me, or if it be in your power to do me harm, hesitate ye not to do it, only draw nigh speedily and do ye whatsoever ye lust to do; but if ye be unable to do anything, wherefore do ye weary yourselves in vain? For our faith in our Lord is a seal and a wall unto us.” Now our Lord was not unmindful of the athlete Anthony, and He appeared unto him after his victory. And the blessed Anthony lifted up his eyes, and he saw a roof-curtain drawn aside, and a ray of light descended therefrom upon him; and straightway the devils dispersed in terror, and the sufferings of his body were relieved, and the blessed man felt the help of our Lord [nigh unto him], and understood.

Then having waited for a space, and having recovered somewhat from his tribulations, and having enjoyed rest from the graciousness of the revelation of our Lord, he lifted up his voice, and said, “O my Lord, I adore Thine help: where wast Thou before these sufferings and tribulations came upon me?” And straightway a voice came to him, saying, “Here was I by thy side, O Anthony, and I have never left thee, for I remained that I might look upon thy strife; but inasmuch as thou hast triumphed completely, and hast not been broken down with sadness in thy tribulations, I will be unto thee a Guide and a Comforter, and I will make thee to be renowned as a faithful servant throughout all the earth.” And when these words had been heard by him, straightway [peace] came upon his body, and he had rest from his afflictions. Then he rose up and bowed the knee, and prayed, and gave thanks unto God Who had visited him; and from that time onwards he perceived that he had very much greater strength in him than formerly. Now at that time Anthony was about five-and-thirty years of age.

And it came to pass that on the following morning he departed from the tomb and went forth to that solitary old monk who used to dwell by the side of the village, and he tried to persuade him to go with him to the desert, but the old man excused himself from this, for one thing because of his old age, and for another because he had not been in the habit of living in the desert, and indeed at that time none of the monks lived there. And straightway Anthony rose up and prayed with the old man, and he besought him to join his prayers unto his that God might make his way prosperous before him; and [afterwards] he went forth [alone] into the desert.

And once again the Enemy went forth after him, and when Anthony was exhausted by reason of the distance [of the way], he began to contend with him. Now when the blessed man Anthony had journeyed along the road [and had arrived] at the skirt of the desert, he perceived that the Enemy had cast down before him a large silver tablet (or plate); but the blessed man knew that these things were of the wiles of the Evil One, and he made him to know that this example of his handicraft which had been fashioned by him could not cause him to err. And looking at the tablet he answered and said, “Assuredly the Evil One [wisheth to do me evil] by means of this tablet. How can it have come in the desert? This is no frequented road, and there is no inhabited land near, and thieves do not dwell in this country; it is the handiwork of the Evil One. Thou shalt not, O [Enemy], pervert my mind by this thing; may thou and it go to perdition.” And having made an end of his words the silver tablet was consumed and disappeared in the form of smoke before the fire of the words of the blessed man Anthony.

But again the Evil One showed him some gold, and it was real gold, and Anthony fell into anxious thought and pondered [saying], “What is this thing? It is either a piece of the handiwork of the Evil One, or it is a temptation from God, and a trial from Him (may His Honour be blessed!) Who hath restrained me from the blandishments of the Evil One [who saith], Behold, I will show him real gold”; but the blessed man was not overthrown thereby, and he esteemed the gold as filth. [And Anthony said unto the Evil One], “Choose thou some other kind of handiwork and snare, for out of this one have I delivered myself.” Now whence that gold came or how it got there Anthony telleth us not, and we, even after most careful thought, are unable to afford any information on the matter; but [what Anthony saw] was gold, and gold in large quantities, for the blessed man marvelled at the great abundance thereof.

Now when the Evil One saw that he had protected himself by the Sign of the Cross and was praying, and that he did not remove himself from his place, he stepped aside and passed away quickly in the form of a flame of fire, and he neither turned nor looked at him. And Anthony was particularly well armed for this species of warfare and [he fought] valiantly, and he set out again on the road whereon he had been travelling. And having arrived at the desert, he went up into a mountain wherein there were serpents; but inasmuch as the snakes found there were very numerous, he departed from that place and came to the bank of the river, and took up his abode there. And the snakes, which were there when the righteous man set his foot upon that spot, speedily gave place unto him, and each one of them made the greatest possible haste to escape from him; now his smell caused them to flee, and they knew that this man was not [one] of the people of that country.

Now therefore the blessed man Anthony took up his abode there by himself, and he shut himself in; and he laid in a supply of bread once every six months (for the Egyptians were in the habit of making at one time bread sufficient even for a whole year), and as for water he found that there. And he went and dwelt there in a place which was like unto a cleft in the rocks, with the intention of seeing no man and of being seen by none, and he had his abode there for very many years; in the roof of his house there was a small opening, and through this he used to receive [bread] thrice yearly, for the mountain wherein he dwelt was [remote] from inhabited land. Such people as came to him, whom he could not be induced to admit into his presence remained outside, perhaps for one or two days, and when they strained their ears that they might hear something, they would hear a noise like that of a mighty multitude of people, and confused sounds, and some of the sounds were like unto the voices of men shouting loudly, and some were like unto great cries of lamentation, and some were those of men of war and of a mighty tumult. And among all these was a voice which said, “Depart from us! Why hast thou come to our country to [cause] our death? Hast thou never heard that which thy Lord spake concerning us, saying, Evil spirits dwell in the desert, and in desolate places, and in the lands wherein there is no water? Behold, henceforward thou shalt know that this is our habitation; depart thou, and give place unto us once more.”

And when these words were heard, those who were outside [Anthony’s dwelling] thought that men had entered therein through the roof of [his] house and that they were quarrelling with him; but when they had gone round about the house they found a small opening in the wall, and having looked through it they saw the blessed man alone. Then they understood that those voices were those of the devils who used to wage war against him, and mighty dread came upon them, and they began to cry out to the blessed man Anthony. Now the just man was more ready to hearken unto their words than unto the tumult of the devils, and to hold converse with them, and he would draw nigh to the side of the door, and say unto them, “Come ye nigh unto me, and be not afraid”; and having conversed with them graciously, and filled their hearts, he would dismiss them in peace, and admonish them, saying, Be ye afraid neither of sounds (or voices) nor of phantoms of this kind, for in this wise the devils are wont to act towards those who are timid; but seal ye yourselves with the Seal of the Cross, and return ye unto your homes in confidence, and forgive those who would make of you laughing-stocks.” Thus they were dismissed in peace. And as for Anthony himself he had dwelt in strife with the devils for a long time past, and was very courageous, and the strength which was in him was added to in proportion as he saw that his enemies were vanquished.

Now when the report of the kind of strife in which he lived reached his friends and acquaintances, they set out to go to him, for they thought that they would certainly find him dead; and having arrived at the place where they wished to be, they came to the side of his house and inclined their ears at the door that peradventure they might hear any sound or breathing inside. And they heard a sound like the voice of one who played a harp and said, “Let God arise, and let all His enemies be scattered, and let all those who hate Him flee before Him; let them be destroyed, even as smoke is made to disappear, and as wax melteth before the fire, let the wicked perish before God” (Psalm 68:1, 2). And again, “All the nations compassed me round about, and in the Name of the Lord I destroyed them.” (Psam 118:10). And the blessed Anthony lived in this habitation about twenty years.

And it came to pass that in the process of time his fame reached all the monks who were in Egypt, and all the other folk therein who did not lead the life of the ascetic and recluse, and men of distinction, and monks in Egypt began to come unto him in large numbers. The Egyptian monks came that they might copy the manner of his life and deeds, and the laity came that he might pray over them, and might heal certain of them of their sicknesses. One day, when a multitude of people had come there in a body [to see him] and they had besought him repeatedly [to speak to them], and he had answered them never a word, they lifted the door out of its socket, and threw themselves down on their faces before him, and made supplication unto him and pacified him, and then each man among them stood up, and made known his request unto him. And having gone forth [to them] even like a man who goeth forth from the depths of the earth, they saw that his appearance was like unto that of an angel of light, and they marvelled why it was that his body had not been weakened by all his confinement, and why it was that his understanding had not become feeble, and why, on the contrary, his appearance, and his bodily stature, and his countenance were then as they had known them always to have been in the times which were past.

Now when he saw a large concourse of people he was not disturbed, and when they brought their petitions unto him, he was not moved to impatient anger, but he remained in a placid and thoughtful state, for the Living Word was unto him a guide. Among those who came unto him, there were many who were indeed very sorely afflicted, and our Lord healed them by the hand of the blessed man; and, moreover, God gave him such a measure of grace in his speech that every man was wholly gratified thereat, for those who were in affliction and distress were encouraged to endure thereby, those who were occupied with contention were quieted thereby, those who were afflicted sorely became long-suffering, the haughty were made humble thereby, and the arrogant were brought low thereby, in order that every man might learn the doctrine of righteousness. For he used to say, “That we should possess anything besides Christ is unnecessary, and we should not esteem anything of value besides the love of Christ, neither possessions nor kinsfolk, not even our soul itself. For if God did not spare His Son, but delivered Him up on account of our sins, how much the more is it right for us, having tasted and known Divine grace, to give our souls not on His behalf, for such a thing is not required from us, but on behalf of our own lives!” By these words he used to persuade many to withdraw themselves from this world, and from the tribulation thereof, and to take refuge in a habitation of monks.

And he began to increase from that time with Christ in simple-mindedness, and in love towards strangers, and in long-suffering; now these things not only go with us, but they also go before us, and they make ready for us a place in the country of the humble and meek, and no man should lack them, especially when he knoweth the will of his Lord, and that he is bound to prepare himself according to His will. Would any servant dare to stand before his master’s face and say unto him, “Yesterday I toiled, but to-day I have done nothing at all”? Or have we not heard what our Lord said in the Gospel, “When a servant hath toiled nobly and hath laboured in the work which is outside, as soon as he hath gone inside he shall weave a place for his hands and shall minister unto his Lord, and then happiness shall be his”? Now, since we have heard these things from the Divine Books, what reason can we have for being without the fear of God? Was it not for this that Ezekiel the Prophet was made a watchman? (Ezekiel 3:17.) Did not Judas, because of the one night wherein he wrought wickedness, lose the labour of all his days? (St. Matthew 26:47, 49; 27:5.)

Let us continue to be strenuous then, O children of our profession, and let it not become wearisome unto us, for our Lord hath been made a guide unto us and unto every man who hath a desire for the virtues. And that it may not be tedious unto us, the blessed Paul became an example unto us aforetime, and said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). Now, if we were to think each day that we had to die that day, we should never sin at all, and this is the explanation of the word which was spoken. If when it is morning we were to imagine that we should never arrive at the evening, and if also when it is evening we thought that we should never arrive at the morning [we should never sin]; by this thought also the nature of our life would teach us that it is not a matter for confidence. If therefore we were to prepare our mind in this manner, and if we were to live with this thought within us, we should never be overcome by sin, and the lust which is fleeting would not reign over us, and we should not keep anger against a fellow-creature in the flesh, and we should not love the possessions which pass away, and we should forgive every man who offended us. And the lust for women would die in the heart, for how could it be ministered unto? For at all times everything which is greater than its fellow overcometh its fellow, and the fear of God exalteth itself above everything.

Now therefore, O my beloved, let us be zealous in carrying out the work whereunto we have once bound ourselves, and let us travel to the end on the road whereon we have begun to journey, and let no man among us look behind him, lest we be like unto the wife of Lot (Genesis 19:26). It is not easy for him that shall turn behind him, after he hath received the doctrine of righteousness, to enter into the kingdom of heaven; he that turneth back, whatsoever be the way in which he turn, will repent of what he hath done, and he will turn to the elements of this world, even as a dog to his vomit (Proverbs 26:2; 2 St. Peter 2:22). Be ye therefore not afraid as if ye were carrying a heavy burden, for the burden of our Lord is easy and light (St. Matthew 11:30) unto those who desire it; if therefore we have the desire, everything is easy unto us. The children of this world travel over the seas and make journeys across difficult countries in order that they may learn profane wisdom, in the doctrine of which the means of righteousness is not employed, and in the praise of which there is no profit of life; but we are not wanted either to set out on a journey or to travel on the sea for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, for our Lord declared aforetime, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is within you” (St. Luke 17:21). So therefore, O my beloved, life is in our own hands to gain, for it is within us, and it is ministered unto by us. For the soul by its nature possesseth the perception of the understanding, and therefore our soul hath knowledge of what our life is; it is prepared by the nature of its creation, and is ready for everything which it wisheth. Therefore also Joshua, the son of Nun, commanded the people, saying, “Prepare your hearts before the God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23), and John also said, “Prepare your ways” (St. Luke 3:4). Now when the Book decreeth the preparation of the soul, it wisheth that the rectitude of the nature of its first creation shall be in it, but when it goeth forth outside its limit it is condemned by the Book like the Evil One. Therefore, the matter is not a difficult one unto us. For, if we remain in that wherein we were created from the beginning, life is in us and with us; and our mind also condemneth us, when it thinketh evil and hath envy of the thoughts, and bringeth forth a deed of injury in an unseemly manner. Everything, therefore, is given into our own power to do, and there is no master set over us to command us what we shall do; moreover, there is no man who can restrain us either from thinking or doing fair things; whether we live or whether we die belongeth unto ourselves. For if we desire to withdraw ourselves from thoughts of the wicked and from usurers and pledges, let us take heed diligently and guard for our Lord the liberty, which hath been given unto us without blemish, as something which we have received from the beginning, and let us be faithful children unto the Lord. Therefore, take ye heed, O my beloved sons, that ye keep not silence like those who have been brought low through sin, or by wrath or by lust; for it is written that the anger of a man perfecteth not the righteousness of God, and besides, lust conceiveth and bringeth forth sin, and when sin hath been performed completely, it bringeth forth death (St. James 1:15; Psalm 7:14; Isaiah 59:4).

In this wise, O my beloved, let us lead the life of watchfulness and strenuousness, even as it is written, “Keep thine heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23), for we have cunning and crafty enemies, and it is against these that our strife must be, even as the Apostle said, “Our contending is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against those who are masters of the world of darkness, which is beneath the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12). Their contending against us is very frequent, and there is no respite to their attacks upon us. Now, even between the devils there is a distinction, but concerning their nature and concerning [this] difference it would be a labour to narrate; we will, however, here reveal and describe very briefly those things which are necessary to be learnt concerning their contending against us, and their temptings, and their blandishments (or, flatteries), and, in short, the whole system of their cunning.

Before this, however, it is proper for us to learn that the beings which are called devils were not created that they might be devils, for there is nothing evil in the works of God, and even they were created beautiful beings; but when they turned aside from the mind of righteousness, or from the heavenly understanding, they were removed to a distance from the place wherein they lived. And seeing that they were cast away by the exalted Will, they drew nigh and mingled themselves among the created beings of this world, and they made the heathen to go astray wholly according to their desire; and against us, because they have envy of us, they multiply their contendings that, peradventure, they may be able to turn us out of the way of the truth of the kingdom of heaven, and that we may not attain unto the country wherefrom they were swept out and fell. Therefore the labour of prayer and of abundant supplication is necessary for us, that through the Divine Providence, and through the gift which we have received from the Holy Spirit, we may be able to know what distinction existeth between the evil spirits, and what each one of them hath been commanded to [seek] after, and by what manner of means the destruction of every one of them is to be brought about. For their cunning is very great, and they spread abroad the mesh of their net in everything. Therefore the blessed Apostle and the rest of the righteous men, who like him had experience of and had tried the Tempter in everything, and it is for this very reason that they have declared it, said, “The artifices of the Evil One shall not overcome us.” And I will now narrate something of what I have endured from them, and a little of the vast knowledge which I have of them, and, like the beloved Prophets, I will tell what I understand about them.

The whole race of devils is beyond measure an envious one, and it is altogether jealous of all mankind, and particularly of the monks, for they cannot bear to see heavenly deeds wrought and heavenly lives led upon the earth, and they, therefore, make hidden pits and snares for us, as it is written, “They have laid their nets over my paths” (Psalm 57:7): now [the words] “their nets” mean thoughts of iniquity. Let us, however, be not afraid of their stirrings, and let us not be made lax by reason of their blandishments (or flatteries); but let us be constant in fasting and in prayer, and straightway they shall be vanquished and disappear. Now when they depart, let us not be confident and say, “Behold, they are put to shame, and we are freed from them,” for this race of beings can never be put to shame, and they know not how to blush; for even whilst their temptations are being brought to naught on this side, they make an attack upon us on the other; and when they have examined and tried by what means our understanding may be flattered or terrified, they plan numberless schemes [to deceive us]. Now the devils are in the habit of leading men astray by declaring something such as the following: “Behold, we will inform you concerning the things which are about to take place,” and then they show them mighty phantoms which reach up to the ceilings, so that by means of these similitudes they may lead astray those whom they are not able to injure in their minds.

It is quite unnecessary that we who are believers should be terrified either by the motions of the various species of devils, or by the various forms [which they take], and we should not be afraid of their voices, which are angry and threatening at one time, and which are flattering at another. For the Evil One is a liar, and there is no truth either in his words or his deeds. But although mankind once gave him power, and sin lifted up its horn, our Lord hath now broken the goad (or, sting) thereof, and hath humbled it and brought it down beneath our feet; and it hath been made a thing for the Gentiles to trample upon, and a laughing-stock to the nations. And this is the proof that the matter is thus, and righteousness testifieth that it hath been performed in creation, for behold, he who, in his error, hath exalted himself in his heart, and who boasteth that he can dry up the sea, and can parcel out the dry land, hath not the power to destroy the heavenly mind which is in the monks, and he is unable to turn so small and unimportant a creature as myself from speaking about him. Now the devils are cunning, but they can only lead astray those upon whom they find an opportunity for exercising their wiles; they appear in all kinds of forms and similitudes, and it happeneth that the Evil One even demandeth for himself the form of righteousness, as it is written, “Satan even taketh upon himself the form of an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

There is a time when we see no man and yet the sound of the working of the devils is heard by us, and it is like the singing of a song in a loud voice; and there are time[s] when the word[s] of the Scriptures are heard by us, just as if a living man were repeating them, and they are exactly like the words which we should hear if a man were reading the Book. And it also happeneth that they rouse us up to the night prayer, and incite us to stand on our feet; and they make us to see also the similitudes of monks and the forms of those who mourn (i.e., the anchorites); and they draw nigh unto us as if they had come from a long journey, that they may make lax the understanding of those who are feeble of soul, and they begin to utter words like unto these, “Are we condemned throughout all creation to love places of desolation?” Or, “Were we not able, when we came to our houses, to fear God and to do fair deeds?” And when they are unable to work their will by means of a scheme of this kind, they cease from this kind of deceit and turn unto another [and say], “How now is it possible for thee to live? For thou hast sinned and committed iniquity in many things. Thinkest thou that the spirit hath not revealed unto me what hath been done by thee, or that I know not that thou hast done such and such a thing?” If, therefore, a simple brother hear these things, and feel within himself that he hath done evil as the Evil One [hath said], and he be not acquainted with his craftiness, his mind will be troubled straightway, and he shall fall into despair and turn backwards.

It is then, O my beloved, unnecessary for us to be terrified at these things, and we have need to fear only when the devils multiply the speaking of the things which are true, and then we must rebuke them severely. For even in the days of our Redeemer, when they spake [unto Him] the things which were true, He rebuked them and made them to hold their peace and to speak not, lest they should mingle their wickedness with the truth that was in the words which they were speaking. We must then not even appear to incline our hearing to their words, even though they be words of truth which they utter; for it would be a disgrace unto us that those who have rebelled against God should become [our] teachers. And let us, O my brethren, arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness, and let us put on the helmet of redemption, and in the time of contending let us shoot out from a believing mind spiritual arrows as from a bow which is stretched (compare Ephesians 6:10–17). For they are nothing at all, and even if they were, their strength hath in it nothing which would enable it to resist the might of the Cross. Whatsoever they do they do like thieves and robbers, and not after the manner of soldiers (or,trained men of war), for they have not the strength to stand up and to contend for any length of time. They shout, and wrangle, and make tumultuous noises and commotions, that, peradventure, by means of the sheer fright which they themselves inspire, they may be able to lead away captive weak minds and to make them do their will. If they had the power to perform anything, or to do any harm whatsoever, so much tumult and outcry and trouble would be unnecessary, and if one of them only were to come, he could perform [by himself] that which he had been deputed to do. For when the angel of truth was sent by the Lord of creation against the camp of the Assyrians he had no need of many companions, and he came not with tumult and terror, but with quietness and firmness he made use of the power which had been given to him, and destroyed one hundred and fourscore and five thousand of the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:26); but the assembly of the evil ones, because it possesseth not the power of performing its own will, maketh use of means which are full of terror.

Now if any man shall say, “Supposing now the devils to have no power in them, by what agency did they bring upon Job all the calamities which are written in the Book?” let him understand that he must think in this wise, that is to say, he must believe that the Evil One hath no power to do harm, and that God only gave power to tempt him into his hands. For if this were not so, He would not have stripped him of everything, and He would have had compassion upon his soul, but mercy is not found with the Evil One. In this wise must a man think. Moreover, the Evil One appeareth to have been particularly feeble, inasmuch as the just man vanquished him in the contest which he waged with a man; yet this is not a matter for wonder, my beloved, for Job the just was not given over wholly into the hands of the Evil One. And know ye that unless God had so wished, he would neither have had power over Job himself, nor over his herds and his flocks, nor over the miserable wealth of those who were spectators of him—if a man may speak thus. And that the matter is thus be ye persuaded from the blessed Gospel, for when our Lord restrained and pursued the devils in one place, they besought Him to permit them to enter into a herd of swine which was nigh unto them (St. Matthew 8:30; St. Mark 5:2–13; St. Luke 8:32, 33). If now the devils had not power over the swine, how much [less] can they have power over man, who was made in the image of God? So therefore in proportion as it is necessary for us to increase our fear of God, it is meet for us to add to the contempt which we should have for the congregation of the evil ones. Now in what way can we increase our fear of God? Or in what way are we able to add to our contempt for the evil ones? The means by which both these things are to be performed are similar in each case. Whensoever we make our life and deeds better than they were before, we increase the pleasure which we give to God, and we also multiply the contempt which we have for the evil ones. For the devils are far more afraid of the fasting of the monks, and of their prayers, and of their chastity, and of their abstinence, and of their meekness, and of their gentleness, than they are of their triumphs, and they are afraid most of all of their righteousness, which is in Christ. And all these [virtues] pierce them on every side after the manner of arrows, and for this reason they do all they can, and they become mad and foam at the mouth, that, if they can help it, they may not arrive at this condition of disgrace.

Therefore do not ye give unto them an opportunity in any matter whatsoever, neither when they come against us in the guise of enemies in wars, nor when under the form of friends they attempt to flatter us; for they are wont to draw nigh unto us in the guise of friends and to pretend to reveal matters unto us. At one time they will come unto us and inform us beforehand concerning the coming of the brethren, and at another we hear [from them] also rumours and reports [of things which are] remote; when, therefore, it happeneth that they tell us of something which is going to happen, and it cometh to pass, let us not be surprised. For it is not a great thing, seeing that they themselves are spirits in their persons, that they should see and perceive the brethren who are coming to us, and should tell us beforehand of their coming, and should [make known] a matter which hath happened in a certain place, and that they should be as it were those who revealed it unto us. Now these things a runner who is swift in his course could do, and also a horseman who rideth rapidly. Therefore, let us not be led away after their deeds through such things, and let us neither marvel at them nor think that they are matters of importance, for that they are not things which have not been done already hath been made known aforetime; but to reveal secret things and to make known aforetime what is to be performed are matters which are in the hands of God only.

Know ye, however, O my beloved, that they have made known to many who were afar off the fortune of this our present congregation, and all matters which were in dispute; and of what I have said the following [words] hidden and an explanation. It hath happened by chance that a man hath set out from India, or from some remote country, to come unto us, and when as yet we did not see him, or know anything about him, straightway we have had sight of him as have heard where he was prepared to go, for immediately [the devils] seized upon the news quickly and brought it unto us saying, “Behold, such and such a man from such and such a place is coming unto you.” It hath happened, moreover, that the man who was coming was a king, or that some obstacle hath prevented him from coming, whosoever he was, or that having travelled a certain distance, which was not little, he returned to his own country, but nevertheless the shameful and reprehensible craftiness of the devils had found it out.

And thus it is also in the case of the waters of the river Gîhôn (Nile) which is in our country, for they inform us beforehand whensoever they are going to rise. And whensoever they see the clouds and the abundant rain which [falleth] in India (now this river Nile cometh from that country), they know and see that by reason of the storm that hath taken place in India, the river will be full from one bank to the other, and when the final rise of the waters of the Nile will come they declare beforehand, and thus they lead astray the souls of various people who lack understanding. Now the inhabitants of India also if they had the power to travel, as the devils have, would come and announce the rise of the waters of the Nile to the people who are in Egypt.

And the matter is like that of the watchman when he goeth up to some high place in the sight of the whole camp and is able to see him that is coming before he arriveth; but he who cometh is also able to afford exact information concerning what is coming and what are the contents of his dispatch, and what is the condition of the nation from whom he cometh. In like manner do the devils see or hear and give information concerning what they see and hear beforehand. Now if God meditateth anything concerning the waters of the river, for He hath power over it, the cunning of the devils is rebuked in the opinion of the wise, but to those who lack understanding of heart their error is sweet. By such means of error as these hath paganism made its way throughout creation, but the Lord of created things came and rebuked him that did these things, and humbled his spirit; and behold, the earth is tilled by the law of righteousness, and by the sword of the Spirit; and behold, the thorns, and the briars, and all the weeds of the seed of the Evil One have been rooted out therefrom. Such are the means which are made use of by the error of the devils, and with such forms as these do they lead astray creation. And supposing there be among you, O my children, any man who shall say, “Behold, do not the devils declare many things which they have not [before] heard, and do not they describe many things which they have not before seen?” Now, even if this be so, O my beloved, let not your minds be disturbed thereby; but enter ye into the counsel of your mind, and get understanding concerning the things of [this] world, and from these ye will obtain the power of [preserving your minds] free from storm[s].

And before all things know that the physicians, by means of the experience which they have gotten of their handicraft are able to know of a certainty before a man falleth sick where there he will live or die, and how long the sickness will last and when it will be at an end. And it happeneth that when a man himself hath no idea that he is about to pass It under afflictions, the physicians from their constant practice and from the experience which they have acquired, are able to inform [him] concerning the sicknesses which are about to come upon him, even when the first symptoms thereof have not declared themselves. Now the power of foretelling thing even greater with those who steer ships than with the physicians, for they have experience of the heavens (or sky) and of the wind which is therein, and they are able to declare to several days beforehand on what day the heavens (or sky will change, and at what periods the wind will become strong and these things they can do by their knowledge and by their experience. And know ye also that the ability of the devils is not superior to that of helmsmen and physicians, for they also by their experience of matters are able to declare what they have never before heard, and to describe what they have never before seen. Unto you then these devils and the supplication which is made to them are superfluities; let those who are without them seek these things, but seek ye not freedom therefrom, and let it be unto you an object to finish your work.

For who [hath commanded us] that we should be strenuous in this matter, and should know it? Who among the men of olden time received praise because they had knowledge of events before they happened? And who [among them] was ever blamed because he had no knowledge of events which were afar off, or were about to take place [immediately]? Each one of us will, however, be judged if he performeth not the work of righteousness and not because he knoweth or doth not know the things of the future. Therefore let us excuse ourselves from this supplication, and let us pray, not that we may know secret things, but that we may please the Divine Majesty, and that power may be given unto us to stand against the darts of the Evil One. And if we also desire to know hidden things, this too is in our own hands, and we must purify our heart as a habitation for the Holy Spirit, and behold, He will abide and rest in us, and by the rays of light which proceed from Him our eye will be able to see hidden things from remote distances. Did not Elisha, who was a man like unto ourselves, through the purity of his heart see that which his eyes had never seen? (2 Kings 2:9–12.)

Ye must then make a distinction between the things of the Holy Spirit, and the things of the congregation of the Evil One. And perhaps ye will say, “How are we to make the distinction?” First of all, pray and make supplication unto the Revealer of secret things that He will make you to possess [the power] of distinguishing between these matters; and for rest I myself am bound to impart unto you gladly, as my as, whatsoever I have learned from a long experience. The visions and revelations of the Holy Spirit are not of a terrify or tumultuous character, for they take place under conditions of rest and tranquillity, and in like manner also with gentle pleasure and quiet satisfaction doth the soul feel the rise of the Holy Ghost therein, for it is not wont to put terror people or to produce trembling where it maketh itself to seen. Look ye now into the Scriptures and they will inform you in what manner the revelation of the Spirit taketh place, they will shew you that it taketh place in restfulness, and gladness, and peace (Galatians 5:22, 23): these are the similitudes which are in the revelation of the Spirit, and whensoever as brought about, it is done in this manner. And if, after the manner of men, a man may be straightway terrified or greatly through the love of the thing itself, or through the duty of the revelation, and through the quietness and please which are caused thereby, in due season the fear or terror come to an end, and comfort and gladness will come to in its place, even as Gabriel wrought for Zachariah (St. Luke 1:19), and according to what the other angels did for blessed women at the grave of our Lord (St. Matthew, 28:5), and the angel who appeared unto the shepherds and claimed to them the good news of the birth of our Remember (St. Luke 2:10). And ye will find many other instances which are like unto these in the Scriptures if ye seek for them. if the soul be terrified or be afraid by reason of those visions, it doth not follow that such fright is caused by the Evil One, for it may, peradventure, arise in it because the soul Maketh itself unworthy of the heavenly revelation which hath been vouchsafed unto it. This then is the manner of the revelation of the knowledge of the truth.

Now fright of the Evil One cometh about in this wise. First of all the soul is disturbed and terrified, and it heareth the sounds of a great tumult, and of the playing of musical instruments, and of singing, which are like unto those made a feast of drunken men and in the caves of robbers; and, because of these sounds which it heareth, the timid soul is greatly moved; and for this reason it becometh afraid. And other souls, which are brave are terrified because they have heard strange sounds, for all their affairs in every possible way belong to tribulation and misery. And there is a time when they seek after the similitudes of the persons of the children of men in very truth, and although [they do] thus, it is well known that it is merely a phantom and the form of a man only [which they obtain]. For however much an Indian were to rub himself, he could never make himself resemble a Greek, and similarly with Satan, however many forms of the children of men he might steal for himself in order to enable him to declare unto those who beheld him that the truth was with him, and to lead into error the children of the truth, and however much the phantom might resemble the reality, that it could be compared with it is impossible. There is therefore no room for the devils to lead us into error by any one of these things, and whatsoever they do, they do to their own disgrace.

Understand ye also the following matter, and learn briefly concerning it, that is to say, in the revelation of the Spirit, and in the tumult caused by devils [in the soul] fear is vouchsafed. In respect of the devils, however, they can certainly stir up in us a tumult, and put terror therein, but they cannot turn them away and make an end of them. Now whilst the Holy Spirit is revealing itself to a man, the soul is greatly moved by the majesty thereof, but the terror which it hath of Him cometh to an end speedily, and perfect happiness maketh its abode in him. Thus are the wiles and crafts of the Evil One, but, even according to the things which I have already said, let us not be moved by the fear which he causeth, and let us not be terrified at him, visions, and let us not turn unto him and make ourselves subject to him so that he may say unto us, “Fall ye down and “worship me” (compare St. Matthew 4:5). By his wiles and crafts he hath led the heathen into error, and they imagine that he is God, but the fearers of our Lord have prevented us, and they have gathered us into His habitation, and [thus] there is not given unto him an opportunity of leading us into captivity. For the Evil One is exceedingly bold, and he is without shame, and he even dared to approach our Lord in his madness and depravity, that is to say, the body which He had put on; and our Lord looked upon him and scorned him, and rebuked him, and said, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (St. Matthew 4:10; St. Luke 4:8). Through the consolation of these things especially the Evil One should be held in contempt in our sight; for the word which was spoken by our Lord to Satan was spoken on our behalf and on account of that in the same manner we ourselves might also rebuke the devils, and that as the Evil One was destroyed before the word of our Lord, so he might also perish and come to an end fore our words, for in this he cannot multiply boasting.

Now when our word hath power over the devils, and the fiends [run] terrified from before us, let no man marvel when rebuketh the demons and they become subject unto him, and let him not hold in contempt another man by whose hands a similar thing cannot be wrought, but let him examine first of all and understand the lives and works of various men, and from this scrutiny let him know with whom abideth Divine Grace, and where the righteousness of God resteth. For they will be unto us a very much better mirror than those who cast out devils, aud in them the wicked will be able to see their blemishes and [so] become rebuked, and in them good men will be able to look carefully at their career and become strengthened. Whether a man becometh a prosperous toiler or an abject coward belongeth unto himself, but for a man to stretch out his hand against devils and for them to yield place belongeth not unto him unto heavenly Grace. For when the Disciples returned with joy unto their Lord from [preaching the] Gospel which they had in sent out to preach, they rejoiced in that even the devils the obedient unto their words. Now therefore let him that hath discernment look and hearken unto this answer which given unto them: “Rejoice ye not because the devils also have been made subject unto you, but rejoice because your names have been written down in heaven” (St. Luke 10:20). for names to be written down in the Book of Life is a testimony to conduct which is pleasing [to God], and it showeth those who are worthy of this thing have an upright mind; but power over devils is, manifestly, [a mark of] the grace of Redeemer. And that ye may know that this is so, observe what Christ answered those who took refuge in this thing when the spirits were going forth before Him, and they said unto Him, “In Thy Name we have cast out devils, and have performed many signs and wonders.” And He said unto them, “Verily, tidy, I say unto you I know you not” (St. Matthew 7:22, 23). Therefore let us pray, as I have already said, that there may be given unto us the grace to seek after the [power to] distinguish between spirits, according to the word of the Book which saith, “Be not ye led astray by the spirits which err” (compare 1 Timothy 4).








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