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

ABBÂ Macarius used to dwell by himself in the desert, and there was below him another desert wherein many dwelt; and the old man was himself watching the road one day, and saw Satan travelling on it in the form of a man, and he came along with the intention of passing him; and he was arrayed in a garment, which was full of holes, and various fruits were hanging about him. And the old man Macarius said unto him, “Whither goest thou?” And he said, “I am going to visit the brethren, and to make them mindful [of their work].” And the old man said to him, “For what purpose are the various fruits which are on thee required?” And Satan answered and said, “I am carrying them to the brethren for food.” And the old man said, “All these?” And Satan said, “Yea. For it one pleaseth not a brother, I hand him over another; and if that pleaseth him not, I give him another, and one or other of these must certainly please him.” And having said these things Satan went on his way.

Then the old man continued to watch the road until Satan came along to return, and when he saw him, he said unto him, “Hast thou been successful?” And Satan said, “Whence am I to obtain help?” And the old man said, “For what purpose?” Then Satan said, “They have all forsaken me, and have rebelled against me, and not one of them will allow himself to be overpersuaded by me.” And the old man said, “Hast thou not then one friend left there?” And Satan said to him, “Yea, I have one brother, but one only who will be persuaded by me, although whensoever he seeth me he turneth away his face as from that of an adversary.” The old man saith to him, “What is the name of this brother?” And Satan saith, “Theopemptus”; and having said these things he departed and went on his way.

Then Abbâ Macarius rose up and went down to the lower desert, and the brethren heard [of his coming], and they brought palm leaves, and went out to meet him, and every monk prepared and made ready his abode, thinking that he would come and dwell there; but the old man [only] asked for the brother whose name was Theopemptus, and he received him joyfully. Now when the brethren began to speak among themselves, the old man said unto him, “What hast thou to say, O my brother, and how are thine own affairs?” And Theopemptus said to him, “At the present moment matters are well with me,” for he was ashamed to speak. The old man said unto him, “Behold, I have now lived a life of stern asceticism for many years, and I am held in honour by every man, nevertheless, even though I am an old man, the spirit of fornication disturbeth me.” And Theopemptus answered and said, “Believe me, father, [it disturbeth] me also”; and the old man, like one who was vexed by many thoughts, made a reason for talking, and at length he led the brother to confess the matter. And afterwards he said unto him, “How long dost thou fast?” And the brother said unto Macarius, “Until the ninth hour.” And the old man saith, “Fast until the evening, and continue to do so, and thou shalt repeat passages from the Book of the Gospels, and from the other Scriptures. If a thought riseth in thy mind let not thy mind look downwards, but always upwards, and the Lord shall help thee.” Thus having made the brother reveal his thoughts, and having given him encouragement, he departed to go to his own desert, and he travelled along the road and watched according to his custom.

And he saw the devil again, and said unto him, “Whither goest thou?” And he answered and said unto him, “I go to remind the brethren [of their work].” And having departed and come back again, the holy man said unto him, “How are the brethren?” and the devil said, “They are in evil case.” And the old man said, “Why?” and the devil said, “Because they are all [like] savage animals, and they are rebellious. But the worst thing of all is that even the one brother who used to be obedient to me hath turned, through what cause I know not, and he will not be in any way persuaded by me, and he is the most savage of them all against me; I have on this account taken an oath that I will never again go to that place, at least, only after a very long time.”

Now this Abbâ Macarius was marvellous in his life and deeds. Once as he was travelling along in the inner desert, he looked, and, behold, there was an old man coming towards him, and he was arrayed in apparel which was very old, and over his whole body there were hung very many things which were like unto pots, each one being provided with rings, and he was covering them over as it were with a covering. And he drove his staff into the ground, and though he was as timid and as terrified as a fugitive slave, he pretended to be bold, and stood up like a brave man, and spake to the blessed Macarius, face to face, saying, “What dost thou in this wilderness, and why art thou wandering hither and thither herein?” And the blessed Macarius answered and said unto him, “I wish to find God, for I am fleeing from error. But who art thou, O old man? Tell me, for I observe that thy raiment is very different from that of the children of men. Tell me, now, what are these things which thou hast upon thee?” Then the old man, though unwilling, confessed and said, “I am he whom thou callest by the name of ‘Calumniator,’ and these things which thou seest upon me are those wherewith I draw towards myself the children of men, and with each one of these, according as it befitteth and is suitable for a man, I take care to fulfil the work of error; and by means of their lusts, as with wings, I make to turn backwards those who are obedient unto me, and I have great happiness in those who, through my crafts and wiles, stumble and fall.”

And when the blessed Macarius had heard these things, he plucked up courage, and said unto Satan, “By Christ, Who caused thee to make a mockery of the holy angels, explain to me, one by one, each and all of the things which thou carriest, for by this thou shalt be revealed, so that a man may see the insidiousness of thy arts and wiles, and may learn thy hidden snares, and may recognize the multitude of the burning arrows of thine error, and may flee from the performance of thy will.” Then the Calumniator answered and said, “I must reveal unto thee my craftiness, even though I be unwilling so to do, for it is impossible for me to hide from thee any of the things which thou seest; learn thou the use (or reason) of each pot. If I find a man who meditateth continually on the Law of God, I pour out upon him from the pot which is on my head dizziness and headache, and I restrain him [from this work] thereby. On the man who hath chosen to watch by means of [the recital of] prayers and psalms I pour out from the pot which is on my eyelids a disposition to sleep, and I lead and drive him along by main force into slumber. These which thou seest that I have on my ears are prepared for disobedience and the transgression of the Commandments, and by their means I trap those who wish to lead a good life to disobey the word of truth. From those which hang from my nose I sprinkle on the young the sweet smell of happiness, and lead them into fornication. From those which are on my mouth I throw out flowers (?), and I incite the ascetic by means of blandishments, and I make to sin those who live a life of abstinence and self-denial by means of such dainty meats and foods according to my desire; and by means of those which are on my mouth I also draw many into the utterance of calumnies, and into filthy talk, and to speak briefly, in each one of these pots is the seed which is most useful for increasing the fruits which are worthy of me, and which may be gathered from the labours of the husbandmen who labour in my vineyard. And from the pots which are hung about my neck I pour out pride, and I enclose with my nets those who are haughty in their minds; and so by means of all these I possess in the world multitudes of subjects who love the things which are mine, that is to say, worldly praise and wealth, which are the things that, by those who are remote from God, are believed to be good things in the world.

“And the pots which thou seest hanging from my breasts are full of my imaginings, and with some of these I water the hearts of the children of men, and by means of the drunkenness of the passions I dissipate and destroy the mind which feareth God; and through my error I confound the memory of those men who wish to meditate upon and to think about the things which concern the world to come. And those which hang upon my body are full of want of feeling and perception, and by their means I prepare those who are without understanding to live in a savage and animal manner a life which is characterized by various kinds of brutish habits. And in the pots which I carry below my body will be found all things which are useful and suitable for union with women in fornication, and for filthy wantonness. Those which are on my hands are useful in the committal of murders, and by their means, as by hands, is carried out and performed the work of those who are subject unto me voluntarily. And the pots which thou seest hanging from my neck and back have in them the thick darkness of my temptations, wherewith I am able to vanquish those who are so bold as to contend against me; and I lay ambushes behind me, and I rush out to overthrow those who depend upon and who boast in their own strength. And the pots which thou seest hanging on my loins and thighs, and which are arranged downwards to my feet, are full of the snares and nets which I pour out, and with which I make crooked and confound the ways of those who wish to journey in the narrow path of the fear of God; and I impede thereby the goings of those who cultivate ascetic excellence, and I make them to journey on my way which is easy to travel. For I take my seat between the two ways of life and death, and whilst I confound and lead astray those who wish to journey in the way of life, I lead and help on their way those who are travelling on the road of death, and I strengthen them also, and I make them valiant so that they may go forward easily in my paths. And when they are bowed down and labour under my yoke I sow evil and abominable vices among them like thorns and brambles, and having gathered in from seed of this kind the fruit of such crops which they believe to be pleasant, they deny the way of truth, because evil men are taken in the snares of the filthiness of abominable things. But thou, O Macarius, hast never once inclined thyself to obey me, so that by thine obedience I might be able to find even a little consolation; but thou burnest me up wholly by means of the mighty armour of the humility which thou bearest, and for this reason I haste to depart to mine own subjects. For thou possessest a good Lord, and thou hast mighty companions, who tranquilly and happily serve God, and who protect thee as a beloved son.”

And when the chosen athlete had heard these things, he made the sign of the Cross over himself, and said, “Blessed be God, Who hath made those who have put their hopes in Him to make thee a mockery and a laughing-stock, and Who hath preserved me wholly and completely from thy error, so that whilst turning aside from the same I was able to advance in the good fight; and having fought and conquered I shall receive a crown from the good Lord Whom I possess. Flee then, and get thee afar off, O thou who art envious of the things which are good, for Christ will make an end of thee, so that thou mayest not dare to attack any of those who worship Him. For sufficient for thee are those whom thou hast drawn unto thyself by flattery, through thy evil wiles and their own sluggish will, and made to travel on the flat, wide road of destruction. Thou shalt not then dare to draw nigh unto those who of their own will have elected to travel in the narrow, and straight, and troubled, and vexatious way of life, but have fear, and depart from those who dwell in waste places and in deserts.” Now when the blessed man had said these things, straightway the Calumniator disappeared, and the holy man Macarius bowed the knee, and prayed, saying, “Glory be unto Thee, O Christ, Thou Who art the Refuge of those who are overtaken by storms, Thou Who art the straight way of those who err, Thou who art the Redeemer of those who flee unto Thee for refuge, now, always, and for ever and ever! Amen.”

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