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

TWO of the fathers entreated God to inform them as to the measure [of spiritual excellence] to which they had arrived, and a voice came to them which said, “In such and such a village of Egypt there is a certain man in the world who is called Eucharistos, and his wife Mary, and ye have not as yet arrived at the same measure as they.” Now when the fathers heard [this] they marvelled, and they rose up and came to that village, and they enquired for and found the house and the wife of Eucharistos, and they asked her, saying, “Where is thy husband?” And she answered and said unto them, “He is a shepherd, and he is in the field pasturing sheep”; and she brought them into her house. And when the evening had come her husband came from the sheep, and seeing the fathers he rejoiced with great joy, and he prepared a table [for them], and brought water that he might wash their feet. Then the fathers answered and said unto him, “We will eat nothing, but tell us what is thy work”; and Eucharistos said unto them with great humility, “I am a shepherd, and this is my wife.” Now the fathers entreated him to inform them concerning his life and works, but he concealed the matter, and refused to speak. Finally they said unto him, “God told us to come to thee,” and when Eucharistos heard this he was afraid, and he told them, saying, “Behold, we inherited these sheep from our parents, and whatsoever God provideth as [our] income from them we divide into three portions; one portion [we devote] to charity, one portion to the love of strangers, and the remaining part serveth for our own use. Since the time when I took this woman to wife we have not defiled ourselves, and she is a virgin, and each of us sleepeth alone; at night time we wear sackcloth, and in the daytime we put it off and array ourselves in our [ordinary] attire, and no man hath known this thing until the present moment.” And when the fathers heard [this] they glorified God.

2. They say concerning Abbâ Anthony that on one occasion, when he was praying in his cell he heard a voice which said unto him, “Anthony, thou hast not yet arrived [at the state of excellence] of a certain man who is a tailor and who dwelleth in Alexandria.” Then Anthony rose up in the morning, and took a palm stick and departed to him, and when the man saw him, he was disturbed; and the old man said unto him, “Tell me what thou doest, and how thou livest,” and the tailor said unto him, “I do not myself know that I do any good, and I know only that when I rise up in the morning, before I sit down to the labour of my hands, I give thanks unto God, and praise Him, and that I set my evil deeds before mine eyes, saying, ‘All the men who are in this city will go into the kingdom of God, because of their alms and good deeds, except myself, and I shall inherit punishment for my sins’; and again in the evening, before I sleep, I do the same things.” Now when Abbâ Anthony heard these things, he said, “Verily, as the man who worketh in gold, and who doeth beautiful work, cleanly, and in peace, even so art thou; through thy beautiful thoughts thou wilt inherit the kingdom of God, whilst I, who have passed the whole of my life in the desert, separated [from men], have never overtaken thee.”

3. Abbâ Anthony received a revelation in the desert, saying, “In such and such a city there is a man who resembleth thee; he is a physician, and he worketh and giveth whatsoever he earneth to the poor and needy, and each day he, with the angels, ascribeth holiness to God three times a day.”

4. When Abbâ Macarius was praying in his cell on one occasion he heard a voice which said, “Macarius, thou hast not yet arrived [at the state of excellence] of two women who are in such and such a city”; and the old man rose up in the morning, and took in his hand a palm stick, and he began to set out on the road to that city. Now therefore, when he had arrived at the city, and learned the place [of the abode of the women], he knocked at the door, and there went forth one of the women and brought him into the house. And when he had been sitting down for a little, the other woman came in, and he called them to him, and they came nigh and sat down before him. Then the old man said unto them, “On your account I have made this long journey, and have performed all this labour, and with great difficulty have come from the desert; tell me, then, what works do ye do.” And they said unto him, “Believe us, O father; neither of us hath ever been absent from, or kept herself back from, her husband’s couch up to this day; what work, then, wouldst thou see in us?” Then the old man made apologies to them, and entreated them to reveal to him and to show him their labour, and thereupon they said unto him, “According to worldly considerations we are strangers one to the other, for we are not kinsfolk, but it fell out that the two of us married two men who were brethren in the flesh. And behold, up to this present we have lived in this house for twelve years, and we have never wanted to quarrel with each other, and neither of us hath spoken one abominable word of abuse to her companion. Now we made up our minds together to leave our husbands and to join the army of virgins, but, although we entreated our husbands earnestly to allow us to do so, they would not undertake to send us away. And as we were unable to do that which we wished, we made a promise between ourselves and God that, until death, no worldly word should go forth from our mouths.” Now when Macarius heard [this] he said, “Verily, virginity by itself is nothing, nor marriage, nor life as a monk, nor life in the world; for God seeketh the desire [of a man], and giveth the Spirit unto every man.”

5. They used to tell a story about certain brethren who were members of the household of Abbâ Poemen. Now whilst these men were dwelling in Egypt their mother wished to see them, but was unable to do so, and she watched for them as they were going to the church, and went out to meet them, but as soon as they saw her they went back to their cell and shut the door on themselves, and then their mother took up her stand by the door, and spake [unto them], and wept and sighed heavily. And when Abbâ Job heard her, he went in to Abbâ Poemen and said unto him, “What shall we do in respect of this old woman who is weeping by the door?” Then Abbâ Poemen rose up and drew nigh to the door and pressed himself against it and, hearing her speaking in the deepest sorrow, he said unto her, “Wilt thou, who art an old woman, cry in this fashion?” Now as soon as she heard his voice she wept the more, and she cried out, saying, “I want to see my sons. For what is this that I see in you? Peradventure I did not rear you? Peradventure I am not your mother? Peradventure ye did not suck at my breasts? Peradventure ye did not go forth from my womb? I am prevented by mine old age, but now that I have heard thy voice my bowels have been moved.” The old man said unto her, “Dost thou wish to see us here, or wouldst thou see us in that country [beyond the grave]?” She said unto him, “My sons, if I do not see you here I shall see you there.” And the old man said unto her, “If thou wilt compel thyself not to see us here, thou shalt, in very truth, see us there.” Then the old woman departed, saying, “Yea, my son, if I shall see you there I shall not seek to see you here.”

6. There was a certain old man who lived a life of such strict self-denial that he never drank wine. And when I arrived at his cell we sat down to eat, and one brought dates and he ate, and he took water and drank; and I said unto him laughingly, “So thou art angry with absinthe, O father? Since thou hast eaten dates and hast drunk water, why dost thou not drink wine?” And he answered and said unto me, “If thou takest a handful of dust and throwest it on a man will it hurt him?” and I said unto him, “No.” And he said unto me, “If thou takest a handful of water and throwest it over a man, peradventure he will feel pain?” and I said unto him, “No.” And he said unto me, And again, if thou takest a handful of chopped straw and throwest it over a man, peradventure it will cause him pain? and I said unto him, “No.” Then he said unto me, “But if thou bringest [them all] and dost mix them together, and dost knead them well, and dost dry them, thou mayest throw and hurl the mass on the skull of a man and thou wilt not break it”; and I said unto him, “Yea, father, [that is true].” And he said unto me, “The monks do not abstain from certain things without good reason, and thou must not listen to the men who are in the world who say, ‘Why do they not eat this, and why do they not drink that?’ Is there not sin in them? Such people know not. Now we abstain from certain things not because the things themselves are bad, but because the passions are mighty, and when they have waxed strong they kill us.”

7. On one occasion the priest of Scete went to the Archbishop of Alexandria, and when he had returned to Scete he wanted to send the brethren [to Alexandria], and he said unto them, “I have heard you say that there is a large assembly of people in Alexandria. Verily, I say unto you that I who went there did not see the face of any man except the Archbishop.” Now when they heard [this] they were disturbed, and said, “Have they sunk into the ground, then?” And he said, “Nay, not so, but my thoughts did not compel me to look at a man”; and when they heard [this] they marvelled, and they were greatly confirmed by these words [in their desire] to keep themselves from looking upon the vain things of the world.

8. One of the old men used to say: On one occasion the fathers were sitting and conversing together on the subject of ascetic excellence, and there was in their midst one of the old men who was a seer of visions, and he saw angels flying about over [the fathers]; but when they came to another subject of discourse, the angels departed, and he saw pigs rolling about among them and wallowing in the mire. And afterwards when the fathers renewed their conversation on spiritual excellence the angels came back and glorified God.

9. One of the fathers used to say that there were two brethren who were neighbours of his in the desert, and that one was a stranger and the other a native of the country; now the stranger was a man of little faith, but the native performed many works in the service of God. And it happened that the stranger died, and the old man, who saw divine visions, saw multitudes of angels bearing away in triumph his soul until it arrived in heaven. And an inquiry arose concerning this, and the old man heard a voice from heaven which said, “He was certainly a negligent man, but because of his being a stranger they opened unto him.” And afterwards the man who was a native of the country died, and his kinsfolk came to him and buried him, and the old man saw that there were no angels with him, and he marvelled, and he fell on his face and entreated God to inform him how it was that the stranger who was a negligent man was worthy of glory, whilst the man who had all those labours [to his credit] was not granted the same thing. And he heard a voice which said, “When the native with all his works came to die, he opened his eyes and saw his kinsfolk weeping, and his soul was refreshed; but the stranger, although he was negligent, saw none of his kinsfolk, and he sighed and wept.”

10. One of the fathers told a story, saying: There was a certain monk in the desert of Linopolis, and a man who was in the world ministered unto him; and there was in the city a certain rich and wicked man who died, and he was accompanied to his burial by the whole city, and by the Bishop, with lights and great honour. Now the man who ministered to the monk went forth to give him some bread, but he found him dead and eaten by the panthers; and he fell upon his face before the Lord and said, “My Lord, I will not rise up from this place until Thou makest me to know why this wicked man is buried with such great honour, and why this monk who served Thee by night and by day hath come to such an end.” And an angel came and said unto him, “That wicked man did one good work, and he was rewarded here so that he might not find even one pleasure in the world to come; but this holy man, because he was a man who was adorned with divine virtues, although inasmuch as he was a man he possessed certain shortcomings, will receive these things in the world to come, so that there he may be found perfect therein.” And having heard [this] he returned, and glorified God for His judgements because they are good.

11. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Is it the name or the work which maketh to live?” The old man said unto him, “I knew a certain brother who was praying on one occasion, and who thought within himself, saying, ‘I wish to see the soul of a righteous man, and the soul of a sinner when they are leaving the body’; and because God wished neither to make him grieve, nor to deprive him of his desire, whilst he was sitting in his cell a wolf went in to him, and laid hold of him by his clothes and dragged him outside, and then having pulled him along he carried him to the outside of a certain city, and then he left him there and departed.”

“Now whilst he was sitting outside the city there was a man who lived in a monastery, and who had gained renown, and and concerning whom a report had gone forth that he was a monk of spiritual excellence; and this man was grievously sick, and was waiting for the hour of his departure [from this world]. And that brother looked on and saw the preparations which they were making, and the things which they were putting ready for the event, namely, the wax candles, and the lamps which they were trimming and preparing, and he saw that all the city was weeping for him, and that his people were in grief, and saying, ‘By his hand God hath given us meat and drink, and by his hands He hath delivered us, and hath kept us and the whole city alive; if anything happeneth to him we shall die.’ And when the time for this man to end his life had come that brother looked, and saw, and behold, the keeper of Sheol went in having in his hand a fork of fire with three prongs, and he heard a voice which spake [to the keeper], saying, ‘Thou shalt not give his soul any rest, even for a moment, and thou shalt not shew any compassion unto him when thou takest away his soul.’ Then he who had appeared to that brother went in, and he drove that fiery, three-pronged fork which he had in his hand into the heart of the dying man, and he tortured him for a long time, and then he carried away his soul. And after these things, when that brother was going into the city, he saw a certain brother who was a stranger, and who was lying sick in the market-place, and there was none to care for him; and he remained with him for one day, and at the time when his soul was departing the brother saw Gabriel and Michael come for his soul, and they sat down, one on his right hand, and the other on his left, and they stayed there entreating his soul and wishing to carry it away. And since his soul refused to leave its body, Gabriel said to Michael, ‘Lift up his soul and take it, so that we may depart’; and Michael said unto him, ‘We were commanded by our Lord to bring it out without pain and without suffering, and therefore we cannot constrain it and do it violence.’ Then Michael cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Whatdost Thou command concerning this soul which will not be entreated to come forth, O Lord?’ And there came unto him a voice which said, ‘Behold, I will send David and his harp, and all those who sing with him, so that when the soul heareth the sweetness of their voices it shall come forth’; and they came down and surrounded the soul, and as they were singing psalms and hymns the soul leaped forth, and it was rejoicing in the hands of Michael, and was taken up on high with gladness.”

12. They used to say that a certain old man went on one occasion to a city to sell his handiwork, and it chanced that he sat down by the door of a house of a rich man who was dying, and whose death was very near at hand; and as he was sitting [there] he looked and saw black horses, with their black riders, who were exceedingly terrible, and they held in their hands staves of fire. And when they had come to the door of the house, they set their horses outside, and they went in together, and as soon as the sick man saw them, he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “O Lord, help me.” Then those who had been sent unto him said, “Now that the sun hath set upon thee thou hast come to call God to remembrance; why didst thou not seek Him while it was yet day? Now thou hast neither a portion of hope nor consolation left.” Then they took away his soul and departed.

13. There were two brethren who lived in cells, and one of them was an old man who had persuaded the younger man, saying, “My brother, let us dwell together,” but he said unto him, “I am a sinner, and I cannot let thee be with me, O father.” Then the old man entreated him, saying, “Yes, we can [live together]”; now that old man was pure in his thoughts, and he was not content to hear that there was in the young man the thought of fornication. And the brother said unto him, “Father, leave me for one week, and we will speak [on the subject] again”; and when the week was ended the old man came and, wishing to try him, the brother said unto him, “During the past week, O father, I fell into great temptation, for I went to a certain village on business, and I met a woman.” The old man said unto him, “There is repentance”; and the brother said unto him, “Yea, there is.” And the old man said unto him, “I will bear the half of this sin with thee”; then the brother said unto him, “We shall now be able to dwell together.” So they dwelt together until the end of their lives.

14. Certain brethren from the great monastery went forth and departed to the desert, and they came to one of the monks who received them with gladness; and when he saw that, as was usual with monks, they had come from labour, he prepared for them a table before the appointed season, and whatsoever he had in his cell he set before them, and refreshed them. Now when the evening was come they sang twelve Psalms, and they did the same thing during the night, but the old man left them to rest, and he departed that he might sing and pray by himself. And whilst he was keeping vigil, he heard the brethren conversing together and saying, “The monks who live in the desert live more comfortably than do we who are in the monasteries.” And when they were making ready in the morning to go to an old man who was his neighbour, he said unto them, “Salute him for me”; and they said unto him, “Thou shalt not water the green herb,” and when he heard [this], he understood the matter. And he kept them until the evening working and fasting, and when the evening had come they sang the great service through, and the brother said unto them, “To-day, because ye have come from toil, we have shortened the service somewhat,” and he also said unto them, “We are not in the habit of eating every day, but because of you we will eat a little.” And he prepared for them dry bread and salt, and he said unto them, “It is fitting that on your account we should this day make a feast,” and he sprinkled a little vinegar in the salt, and they rose up to sing and pray until the morning, and he said unto them, “We are, on account of you, unable to perform the whole of the service as we are wont to do, for ye must rest a little, and ye are strangers.” Now when the morning had come they wished to escape, but he entreated them, saying, “Spend a few days with us, especially that ye may live according to the custom of the desert, for we cannot let you go”; and when they saw that he did not want to send them away, they rose up and fled secretly.

15. On one occasion a certain brother came to Mount Sinai to visit Abbâ Sylvanus, and he saw the brethren working with their hands to supply their wants, and he said unto Abbâ Sylvanus, with boasting, “Ye toil for the food which perisheth; Mary chose a good portion for herself.” Then Abbâ Sylvanus said unto Zechariah, his disciple, “Give him a book and take him to a cell wherein there is nothing.” And when the time of the ninth hour had come, the brother looked this way and that way to see if they were going to send for him to come and eat, but no man came to seek him. Then he rose up and came to the old man and said unto him, “Father, have not the brethren eaten to-day?” and he said unto him, “Yea.” And the brother said unto him, “Why have ye not called me?” The old man said unto him, “Thou art a spiritual man and hast no need of the meat which is for the body, but we are corporeal beings, and we require to eat, and it is for this reason that we work. Thou hast chosen the [good] part; read all day, and do not seek after the food of the body.” Now when that brother heard [this] he expressed his contrition, and said, “Father, forgive me”; and the old man said, “Even Mary had need of Martha, for through the labour of Martha Mary triumphed.”

16. It happened on one occasion that a certain heathen priest came to Scete, and he visited the cell of one of the brethren, and passed the night there, and he saw the labours of his rule, and marvelled; and he said unto him, “Do ye labour so greatly and yet do not see visions from your God?” and the brother said unto him, “We do not see [visions].” The priest of idols said unto him, “When we perform the part of priests to our god he hideth nothing from us, and he revealeth unto us his mysteries, whilst ye who perform the labours of vigil, and abstinence, and silent contemplation, as thou sayest, see nothing. There must be in your hearts evil thoughts which separate you from your God, and it is for this reason that He doth not reveal unto you His mysteries.” Then the brother went and informed the old men of the word[s] of that priest of idols, and they marvelled and said, “It is thus, for the thoughts which are not clean alienate a man from God.”

17. One of the brethren said unto one of the great old men, “If I could find one of the fathers according to my desire, I would choose to die with him,” and the old man said unto him with a laugh, “Good, my lord,” and the brother said, “Such is my desire.” Now he did not understand the mind (or thought) of the old man. And when the old man saw that the brother was in truth speaking concerning himself that which he thoroughly believed, he said unto him, “If thou didst find an old man according to thy desire, wouldst thou be able to dwell with him?” And he said unto him, “Yea.” The old man said unto him, “Well hast thou said, ‘If I could find [an old man] according to my desire’ ”; and afterwards he said unto him, “Thou dost not wish to be subject to the will of the old man, but the old man must be subject unto thee!” Then the brother rose up, and made apologies to him, saying, ‘Forgive me, father; I have boasted greatly.’ I thought that I was saying that which was good, but I find that I possess that which is of no value.

18. Abbâ Daniel used to say about Abbâ Arsenius that immediately he heard that the fruits were [ripe] on the trees, he would tell them in his desire to bring him some, and that he used to eat once a year of every kind of fruit, so that he might give thanks to God.

19. Abbâ Abraham asked Abbâ Theodore, saying, “Father, which is the better thing for me to do, [to give] praise or to blame?” The old man said unto him, “I myself prefer to perform the works of praise, and not of blame”; and Abbâ Abraham said unto him, “How is this?” And the old man said unto him, “If I perform good works, and I be praised there for, I find that I can bring an accusation against my mind whilst I flee from the love of approbation, and I can say that I do not deserve this praise, but blame belongeth to evil works, and how shall I be able to comfort my heart, because men are offended at me? It is necessary for us to do good works, and to be praised, without receiving upon ourselves the love of approbation, and not evil deeds, lest we be blamed.” And Abbâ Abraham said, “Thou hast said well, O father; even so is it.”

20. They used to say about one of the fathers who had lived in the world, that when he was in the desert he was occupied in fighting [his desire] to return to his wife whom he had married before [he became a monk], and when he related the matter to the fathers, they appointed him certain works, so that he might be kept back from the fight [within him]. Now because he was an obedient man and one who laboured, he performed these works in excess, and at length his body became so emaciated that he was unable to rise up from his place. And, by the operation of God, a certain father who was a stranger came to the place of Scete, and he passed by the cell of that monk and found it to be empty; and as he passed by he said in his mind, “How is it that no man hath come out to meet me from this cell?” And he went back there, and knocked, saying, “Perhaps he is sick”; and when he knocked the brother who was grievously sick went forth, and the father said unto him, “What is thy sickness, O father?” And the brother told him of all his suffering, saying, “I belonged to the world, and the Enemy made war upon me through my wife, and I told the fathers the story, and they imposed upon me severe labours; and having performed these my body hath become ill, and the war hath waxed stronger against me.” Now when the old man heard these things, he was grieved, and he said unto him, “The fathers have imposed upon thee great labours as if [thou hadst been] a mighty man, but if thou wilt hearken to my feeble [voice] thou wilt relinquish those labours, and partake of a little food, at the appointed time, and wilt sing and pray a little, and wilt cast thy business upon God. For by thy pains and sickness thou wilt not be able to conquer this matter, because our body is like unto a garment; if thou take care of it, it will last, but if thou neglect it, it will come to an end.” Now the brother having heard these things acted thus, and in a few days the war passed away from him.

21. One of the fathers asked Abbâ. Nastir, the friend of the blessed Anthony, saying, “What is the best work for me to do?” And he said unto him, “Not all kinds of labour are the same. For the book saith that Abraham was a lover of strangers, and that God was with him; and Elijah was a lover of a life of silent contemplation, and God was with him; and David was a humble man, and God was with him; therefore whatsoever work thy soul wisheth to do, provided that it be of God, that do, and keep thy heart from evil things.”

And the brother asked him again, saying, “Father, tell me other things”; and the old man said, “Abbâ Anbastîôn asked Abbâ Athrî, saying, ‘What shall I do?’ And he said unto him, ‘Go, make thy belly little, and the work of thy hands great, and be not troubled in thy cell.’ ”

And again the brother asked him, saying, “If there be a persecution, is it better to flee to the desert or to the habitation of men?” And the old man said unto him, “Go wheresoever thou hearest that true believers are, and have no friendship with a youth, and do not dwell with one; and if thou art able so to do, dwell in thy cell, for this is good, and cleanse thy garden herbs. This is far better than going to a man and asking him questions.”

And again the brother asked him, “I wish to dwell in close friendship with a brother, and I want to live a life of silent contemplation by myself in my cell, and he must give me what I want, and I will give him the work of my hands.” The old man said unto him, “The fathers have never sought after a thing of this kind; and if thou dost not give bread to the poor Satan will not permit thee [so to live].”

22. Abbâ Daniel Parnâyâ, the disciple of Abbâ Arsenius, used to tell about a man of Scete, and say that he was a man of great labours but simple in the faith, and in his ignorance he considered and declared that the bread which we receive is not in very truth the Body of Christ, but a similitude of His Body. And two of the fathers heard this word which he spake, but because they knew of his sublime works and labours, they imagined that he had spoken it in his innocence and simple-mindedness; and they came to him and said unto him, “Father, we have heard a thing from a man which we do not believe, for he saith that this bread which we receive is not in very truth the Body of Christ, but a mere similitude.” And he said unto them, “It is I who have said this thing,” and they entreated him, saying, “Thou must not say thus, father, but according to what the Holy Catholic Church hath handed down to us, even so do we believe, that is to say, this bread is the Body of Christ in very truth, and is not a mere similitude. As, in truth, God straightway took dust from the earth, and fashioned man in His image, [and no man is able to say that he is not the image of God], so also was it the case of the bread of which He said, ‘This is My Body,’ for it is not to be regarded as a merely commemorative thing, and we believe that it is indeed the Body of Christ.” And the old man said, Unless I be convinced by the thing itself I will not hearken [to this]”; then the fathers said unto him, “Let us pray to God for the whole week on this mystery, and we believe that He will reveal [it] unto us,” and the old man agreed to this with great joy, and each man went to his cell. Then the old man prayed unto God, saying, “O Lord, Thou knowest that it is not from wickedness that I do not believe, but in order that I may not go astray through ignorance, reveal Thou therefore unto me, O Lord Jesus Christ, this mystery”; and the two other old men prayed unto God and said thus, “O Lord Jesus Christ, make Thou this old man to have knowledge concerning this mystery, and we believe that he will not destroy his labours.”

And God heard the entreaty of the two fathers, and when the week was ended they came to the church, and the three of them sat down by themselves on one seat, and the old man was between the other two; and the eyes of their understandings were opened, and when the time of the Mysteries had arrived, and the bread was laid upon the holy table, there appeared to the three of them as it were a child on the table. And when the priest stretched out his hand to break the bread, behold the angel of the Lord came down from heaven with a knife in his hand, and he slew the child and pressed out his blood into the cup; and when the priest broke off from the bread small members, the old man drew nigh that he might partake of the Holy Offering, and a piece of living flesh smeared and dripping with blood was given to him. Now when he saw [this] he was afraid, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “I believe, O Lord, that the bread is Thy Body, and that the cup is Thy Blood”; and straightway the flesh which was in his hand became bread like unto that of the Mystery, and he took it and gave thanks unto God. And the old men said unto him, “God knoweth the nature of men, and that it is unable to eat living flesh, and for this reason He turneth His Body into bread, and His Blood into wine, for those who receive Him in faith.” Then they gave thanks unto God for that old man, and because he had not permitted Satan to destroy him from his labours, and the three of them went to their cells in gladness.

23. Abbâ Daniel used to say that Abbâ Arsenius told him a story, as if he were speaking of some other man, saying:—Whilst a certain old man was sitting in his cell, there came unto him a voice which said, “Come hither, and I will shew thee the works of the children of men”; and he rose up and went out. And the voice led him out and shewed him an Ethiopian cutting wood, and he made up a large bundle and wished to carry it away, but he was unable to do so. Then instead of making the bundle smaller, he went and cut down some more wood, and added thereto, and this he did many times. And when he had gone on a little further, the voice shewed him a man who was standing by a pit drawing up water, which he cast in a certain hollowed out place, and when he had thrown the water therein it ran down again into the pit.

And again the voice said unto him, “Come, and I will shew thee other things.” Then he looked, and, behold, there was a temple, and two men, who were riding horses, were carrying a piece of wood as wide as the temple was, and they wanted to go in through the door, but the width of the wood did not permit them to do so, for they would not humble themselves to go in, one after his companion, and to bring it in end-wise, and therefore they remained outside the door. Now these are the men who bear the yoke of righteousness with boasting, and they will not humble themselves to make themselves straight and go in the humble way of Christ, and therefore they remain outside the kingdom of God. And the man who was cutting wood is the man who laboureth in many sins, and who, instead of repenting and diminishing from his sins, addeth other wickednesses thereunto. Now he who was drawing water is the man who doeth good works, and who, because other things are mingled in his good works, destroyeth his works thereby. Now it is meet that a man should be watchful in his labour, lest he toil in vain.

24. On one occasion Abbâ Macarius was going from the wood to his cell, and was carrying [with him] some palm leaves, and Satan met him on the road holding a scythe [in his hand]; and when Macarius sought to wound him, Satan was afraid, and he fell down and did homage to the blessed man. Then the old man fled from that place, and he related to the brethren everything which had happened, and when they heard [it] they glorified God.

25. An old man used to say, “Be like a camel when thou bearest thy sins, and be thou tied closely to him that knoweth the way.”

26. An old man used to say, “Become not a lawgiver unto thyself, and judge no man, for thou art not under the Law, but under grace; but give thou everything to Him that is able to do everything, for thou art unable to do anything. Judge then [in] this [way], and do not sin at any time.”

27. He also said, “He who wisheth to dwell in the desert should become a learner, and he should not practise doctrine lest he suffer loss; and his occupation should be with a man who loveth God.”

28. Unto one of the old men Satan appeared in the form of an angel of light, and said, “I, even I, am Gabriel who have been sent unto thee”; and he said unto him, “Hast thou not been sent unto another? for I am a sinner”; and when Satan heard this he did not again appear. And the old man said, “If in very truth an angel appeareth unto thee, say, ‘As unto whom [hast thou come in coming] to me? I am not worthy.’ ”

29. When Abbâ Gregory was dying he said these [words]:—“God demandeth three things from the man who hath been baptized, true faith from the soul, and truth from the tongue, and chastity from the body.”

30. The old man said, “God seeketh nothing from Christians except true faith, and [belief] that the things which are spoken shall come to pass in deed, and that we should be persuaded by the orthodox fathers.”

31. An old man was asked, “How can a man find God? By fasting? By works? By watching? By mercy?” And he said, “By means of these certainly when they are mingled with discretion, but I say that there are many who have afflicted their bodies without discretion, and they have departed vainly, having gained nothing. Our mouth becometh foul through thirst, and we repeat the Scriptures with our mouth, and we go through all the Psalms of David in our service, but that which God requireth, and which is necessary we have not, that is to say, a good word for each other. For as a man cannot see his face in troubled waters, so the soul, unless it be cleansed from alien thoughts, is not able to appear before God in prayer.”

32. A certain monk was going along the road and he met some nuns, and he turned aside out of the path, and she who was leading them said unto him, “Hadst thou been a perfect monk thou wouldst never have regarded us as women.”

33. Abbâ Anthony used to say, “A man’s life or death cometh from his neighbour; if we benefit our brother we benefit ourselves, and if we offend him we sin against God.”

34. A certain brother came to Abbâ Theodore, and he began to talk and to speak about the things which he had not done; and the old man said unto him, “So far thou hast not found a ship, and thou hast not let down in it thy possessions, and before thou hast embarked thou hast gone to the city whereto thou wishest to go. First of all do the work, and then thou shalt arrive at that concerning which thou art now talking.”

35. A brother asked Abbâ Anthony, saying, “What [commandment] shall I keep so that I may please God?” And he answered and said unto him, “That which I command thee observe. Set thou God before thine eyes continually, wheresoever thou goest; whatsoever thou doest make to it a witness (or testimony) from the Scriptures; and in whatsoever place thou dwellest be not easily moved therefrom, but abide therein persistently. Observe these three things, and thou shalt be saved.”

36. They used to say about a certain old man that whensoever he sat in his cell toiling in the contest, he saw the devils face to face, and that he treated them with contempt and despised them through his contest. Now when Satan saw that he was being overcome by the old man, he appeared unto him in human form, and said unto him, “I am Christ.” And when the old man saw him, he winked his eyes and made a mock of him. Then Satan said unto him, “Why dost thou wink thine eyes? I, even I, am Christ.” And the old man answered and said unto him, “I do not desire to see Christ here”; and when Satan heard these things he departed from him and was no more seen.

37. Abbâ John used to say, that he saw in a vision one ot the old men in a state of stupefaction, and behold, three monks were standing on the shore of a lake, and a voice came to them from heaven (or from the other shore of the lake), which said, “Take ye wings of fire and come to me”; and two of them took wings of fire and flew over to the other side, even as it was told them. Now the third remained behind, and he wept abundantly, and cried out, and at length wings were given to him also, but they were not of fire like those of his companions, for they were weak and feeble wings, and it was only with the greatest difficulty, and after dropping down into the water, and with most painful exertions that he reached the [opposite] shore. And even so is it with this generation, for although it taketh to itself wings, they are not the powerful wings of fire, but it forceth itself to take weak and feeble wings.

38. An old man used to say, “Every wickedness which is not perfect is not wickedness, and every righteousness which is not perfect is not righteousness; for the man who hath not good and evil thoughts is like unto the land of Sodom, which is salted, and which bringeth forth neither green herb nor fruit. Now good ground produceth wheat and expelleth tares from itself.”

39. Certain brethren came and asked Abbâ Anthony a question about the Book of the Levites, and the old man went forth to the desert, and Abbâ Ammon, who knew his habit, followed him secretly. And when the old man had gone some distance, he cried out with a loud voice, and said, “O God, send Moses unto me, and let him teach me [the meaning of] this verse”; and straightway a voice was heard holding converse with him. Now Abbâ Ammon heard this voice, and said, “I heard the voice which spake with him, but the force of the verse I never learned.”

40. On one occasion when Abbâ Poemen was a youth, he went to an old man to ask him [concerning] three matters, and having gone into his presence he forgot one of them, and he turned to go to his cell; and as he put the key [in the door] to open [it], he remembered the matter which he had forgotten, and straightway he left the key in the door and returned to the old man, and the old man said unto him, “Thou hast returned quickly, brother.” And Abbâ Poemen told him the story thus:—“When I put the key [in the door] to open [it], I remembered the matter which I wanted to know, and I did not open the door because I came back hither speedily.” Now the rocky ground which [he had traversed] in the interval was of no inconsiderable length. And the old man said unto him, “Thy name shall be spoken about throughout all Egypt.”

41. A brother said unto an old Abbâ, “Behold, I have entreated the old men, and they talk to me about the redemption of my soul, but I can lay hold upon nothing in their words; what is the use, then, of making them toil when I can do nothing [with what they say], for I am wholly in a state of uncleanness?” Now there were there two basins, and the old man said unto him, “Go, bring me one of these basins, and pour some oil into it, and rinse the basin round with it, and then empty it out”; and he did so twice. Then the old man said unto him, “Bring now the two [basins] together”; and the brother did as he told him. [And the old man said, “Look and see which basin is the cleaner,” and the brother said unto him], “That into which the oil hath been poured is the cleaner.” The old man said unto him, “And thus also is it with the soul, for even if it layeth hold of nothing through that which it asketh, it is cleaner than if it had never asked a question at all.”

42. A brother asked Abbâ John, and said unto him, “How is it that the soul which hath blemishes in itself is not ashamed to speak about its neighbour, and to calumniate it?” And the old man spake unto him a word concerning calumny, saying, “There was a certain man who was poor, and he had a wife, and he saw another woman who hearkened unto him, and he took her to wife also; now the two women were naked. And when there was a fair in a certain place the two women persuaded him to take them to it, and he took his two wives, and put them in a boat, and when he had gone up out of the boat he arrived at a certain place. Now when the day had waxed hot, and every man was resting, one of the women looked out and saw that there was no man outside, and she leaped up and went forth to a heap of waste rubbish, and chose therefrom some old rags and made a girdle for herself, and then walked about boldly. Meanwhile her companion was sitting down naked, and she said unto her husband, ‘Look at that harlot going about naked and without shame’; then her husband, with sadness, said unto her, ‘The thing to be wondered at is that, whilst she hath, at least, covered her shame, thou art entirely naked, and dost speak these words without being ashamed.’ Now a calumny [uttered] against a neighbour is like unto this.”

43. They used to say that one of the old men asked God that he might see the fathers, and he saw them [all], with the exception of Abbâ Anthony; and he said unto him that shewed [them] to him, “Where is Abbâ Anthony?” And he said unto him, “Wheresoever God is there is Anthony.”

44. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “This is what is written, As the hart crieth out for the water-brooks, even so crieth out my soul unto Thee, O Lord’ (Psalm 42:1). For the harts in the desert swallow many serpents, and when the poison of these maketh them hot within, they cry out to come to the water-brooks, but as soon as they have drunk the burning which cometh from the serpents inside them is cooled. And thus is it with the monks who are in the desert, for they are burnt up by the envy of evil devils, and they wait for the Saturday and Sunday that they may come to the fountain of water, that is to say to the body of Christ, and they sweeten and purify themselves from the gall of the Evil One.”

45. On one occasion when the brethren were sitting with Abbâ Moses, he said unto them, “Behold, this day have the barbarians come to Scete; rise up and flee.” And they said unto him, “Wilt thou not flee, father?” He said unto them, “I have been expecting this day to come for many years past, so that might be fulfilled the command of our Redeemer, Who said, ‘Those who take the sword shall perish by the sword’ ” (St. Matthew 26:52). And they said unto him, “We then will not flee, but will die with thee.” He said unto them, “This is not my affair, but your own desire; let every man look after himself in the place where he dwelleth.” Now the brethren were seven in number. And after a little he said unto them, “Behold, the barbarians have drawn near the door”; and the barbarians entered and slew them. Now one of them had been afraid, and he fled behind the palm leaves, and he saw seven crowns come down and place themselves on the heads of those who had been slain.

46. The brethren asked an old man, saying, “How is it that God promiseth in the Scriptures good things to the soul, and that the soul desireth them not, but turneth aside to impurity?” And he answered and said unto them, “It is my opinion that it is because it hath not yet tasted the good things which are above, and therefore the good things which are here are dear unto it.”

47. Abbâ Arsenius used to say, “The monk is a stranger in a foreign land; let him not occupy himself with anything [therein], and he will find rest.”

48. They used to say that on one occasion when Abbâ Macarius the Great went up from Scete, and was carrying palm leaves, he became weary and sat down; and he prayed to God, and said, “God, thou knowest that I have no strength,” and straightway he found that he was by the side of the sea (or river).

49. There was a certain old man in the mountain of Athlîbâ (Athribis), and thieves came to attack him, and he cried out; and when his neighbours heard [his cry] they hunted down the thieves, and they sent them to the governor, who shut them up in prison. And the brethren were sorry, and said, “They were delivered into our hands”; and they rose up and went to Abbâ Poemen, and informed him about the matter. Then he wrote to that old man, and said unto him, “Thou must understand whence hath come the first betrayal, and then thou wilt perceive how the second betrayal arose; for if thou hadst not been betrayed first of all by those that were within thou wouldst never have effected the second betrayal.” Now when the old man heard the letter of Abbâ Poemen, who was famous throughout all that country, and who kept himself strictly secluded in his cell, and never went out, straightway he rose up and went into the city, and took the thieves out of prison, and thus the assembly set them free.

50. On one occasion Abbâ Macarius, wishing to rebuke the brethren, said unto them, “There came here a young man with his mother, and he was under the power of a devil, and he said unto his mother, ‘Rise up, let us depart from here’; and she said unto him, ‘I cannot walk.’ Then the young man said unto him, ‘I will carry thee myself.’ ” And Abbâ Macarius marvelled at the wickedness of that devil, and sought to drive them away.

51. On one occasion five brethren came to visit a great old man, and he asked the first one, saying, “What kind of work doest thou?” And he said unto him, “I twist palm leaves into ropes, father”; and the old man said unto him, “God shall plait a crown for thee, O my son.” Then he said to the second brother, “And what dost thou do?” And he said unto him, “I make mats, father”; and the old man said unto him, “God shall give thee strength, O my son.” And he said unto the third brother, “And what dost thou do?” And he said unto him, “[I make] sieves, father”; and the old man said unto him, “God shall preserve thee, O my son.” Then he asked the fourth brother, saying, “What dost thou do?” And he said unto him, “I can write well.” And the old man said unto him, “Thou knowest.” Then he said unto the fifth brother, “And what dost thou do?” And he said unto him, “I weave linen.” Then the old man said, “I am not near,” and he said also, “If the twister of palm-leaf ropes be watchful with God He will plait him a crown for him; mat[-making] requireth strength because there is labour therein; and God must protect him of the sieves because he hath to sell them in the villages; as to the scribe, he must be humble in heart, for there is in his business exaltation of spirit, as regardeth the linen weaver, I am not near (i.e., concerned) to speak, for he is a merchant and he tradeth. But if a man seeth a brother afar off carrying palm branches, or palm-leaf mats, or sieves, he saith, ‘This man is a monk, for grass is the work of our hands, and he is avoiding the burning of the fire’; and if he seeth a man selling linen, he saith straightway, ‘Behold, the merchants have come, for the [selling of] linen is the work of this world, and it doth not benefit many.’ ”

52. Abbâ Jacob used to say, “It is not only words which are required, for in this [life of] time many have abundance of words, but it is work which is required, and it is necessary to have it, and not words wherein there is no work.”

53. One of the old men used to say, “That which is hated by thee do not unto thy companion; if it be hateful to thee for him to calumniate thee, do not thou calumniate any man; if it be hateful to thee to be accused, accuse thou no man; if it be hateful to thee for a man to revile thee, or to treat thee with contempt, or to pluck thee away, or to do any such thing unto thee, do not thou do unto any man anything of the kind. He who is able to perform this commandment is able to redeem his own soul.”

54. “On one occasion I went to Abbâ Muthues, and when I was about to return, I said unto him, ‘I wish to go to the Cells’; and he said unto me, ‘Salute Abbâ John for me.’ Now when I came to Abbâ John, I said unto him, ‘Abbâ Muthues saluteth thee’; and the old man said unto me, Behold, Abbâ Muthues is indeed a man of Israel in whom there is no guile.’ And after one year I went to Abbâ Muthues, and I told him the greeting of Abbâ John; and the old man said unto me, ‘I am unworthy of the old man’s words, but know, if ever thou hearest an old man praising his companion more than himself, that he hath attained unto a great measure of perfection, for it is indeed obedience for a man to praise his companion more than himself.’ ”

55. A brother asked an old man, and said unto him, “My brother abuseth me, and I cannot bear him any longer; what shall I do? Shall I rebuke him, or shall I speak evil words to him?” The old man said unto him, “Both things are bad, whether a man rebuke him, or whether a man speak unto him evil words”; and the brother said unto him, “And what shall I do? For I cannot endure either.” The old man said unto him, “If thou canst not bear both things, speak to him, but do not rebuke him; but if thou speakest unto him with words of evil, and he listeneth, thou wilt be able to quiet him, saying, ‘I did not say such and such a thing, and it will be possible for the matter which is between you to be healed; but if thou rebuke him to his face, thou wilt make a sore which will be incurable.’ ”

56. Certain brethren came to Abbâ Anthony that he might tell them about the visions which they used to see, whether they indeed came from devils [or not]; now they had with them an ass, and he died on the road as they were coming, and when they had gone into the presence of the old man, he said unto them straightway, “How was it that your ass died on the road?” And they said unto him, “Whence doth the Abbâ know that our ass is dead?” And Abbâ Anthony said unto them, “The devils shewed me [the matter].” Then they said unto him, “We have come to ask thee questions because we have seen phantoms, and also because on several occasions they have actually become real things, and we want to learn whether we have erred or not”; and the old man shewed them that such phantoms which arise through certain devils cannot be inquired into.

57. They were saying that Abbâ Sylvanus used to sit in secret in a cell with a few chick peas, and he made of them one hundred bundles; and behold, a man came from Egypt leading an ass loaded with bread, and having knocked at the door of his cell, he went in, and set down [the bread], and the old man took these bundles, and loaded them upon the ass, and sent him away.

58. They used to say that when Abbâ Zeno dwelt in a cell in Scete he went forth one night from his cell as if for a purpose, and wandered about; and when he had passed three days and three nights in travelling, being exhausted by toil and hunger, and ready to die, he fell upon the ground. And behold, a youth stood before him carrying some bread and a pitcher of water, and he said unto Abbâ Zeno, “Arise, and eat bread”; and the old man rose up and prayed, thinking that the youth was a phantom. Then the youth answered and said unto him, “Thou hast done well”; and again Abbâ Zeno prayed twice, and three times, and the youth said unto him, “Thou hast done well”; and the old man took the bread and ate. Then afterwards the youth said unto him, “How is it that thou hast gone so far from thy cell? But arise and follow me”; and immediately he found himself in his cell. The old man said unto him, “Come, enter into the cell with me, and make thy prayer,” and as he was going on in front he was swallowed up from his sight.

59. They used to say that a certain brother had such an attack of blasphemy that he was ashamed to speak, and wherever he heard that there were great old men he used to go to them wishing to tell them [about it]; but whenever he had come to one of them he was ashamed to speak to him. Now having gone to the fathers several times, on one occasion Abbâ Poemen saw him, and he perceived that he was full of thoughts, and he was sorry for him; but when the brother would not reveal the matter to him, and he made as if he would pass him by, as soon as the brother had gone a little way from him, the old man said unto him, “How often hast thou come hither to tell me the thoughts which thou hast in thy mind! Yet, when thou comest here, thou findest it hard to tell me. How long wilt thou go on in this manner and be vexed by such thoughts in thy mind? Tell me, my son, what is it that aileth thee?” Then that brother answered, and said unto him, “I am fighting against the devil of blasphemy of God, and though I have often sought [to tell thee] I have been ashamed to do so.” And when he had told him the matter, the face of Abbâ Poemen broke into a smile, and he said unto him, “Be not vexed, O my son, for when this thought cometh to thee, speak thou to it, saying, ‘I have nothing to do with this thought, and my soul desireth it not; let this blasphemy be upon thee, Satan, for nothing in [my] soul desireth it, for the time is short.’ ” And when that brother heard these things he departed rejoicing.

60. A brother asked an old man, saying, “How is that the soul is obstinate, and that it wisheth not to fear God?” The old man said unto him, “The soul wisheth, O my son, to fear God, but there is no time, for the fear of God belongeth to perfection.”

61. One of the old men used to say, “Be not thou asking for one thing after another, but ask concerning the matter of the war wherein thou art at the time engaged, and when thou hast eradicated that then ask concerning something else; but if when there is in thee one passion, thou settest it aside and askest about another, the former passion will never be eradicated from thee.”

62. A brother asked one of the old men, saying, “What shall I do? for my thoughts wish to wander and go round about by reason of the sight of the fathers.” And the old man answered and said unto him, “If thou seest that thy thoughts wish to go forth by reason of the strictness of the restraint, or through need, make unto thyself a division in thy cell, and thou wilt henceforward seek not to go out; but if thou seest that they wish to go out for the benefit of the soul, go out.”

63. There was a certain brother in the Cells, who, when the service in the church was ended, used to remain until the last and to wait for some one to lead him home; one day, however, when the church was being dismissed, he went out before any one else and ran to his cell, and the priest saw him and marvelled. And when the brother came on the following day, the priest said unto him, “Tell me truly why thou, who hadst been in the habit of going out last, dost now go forth first of all?” and he said, “Up to the present I made a distinction by not boiling any food [on the First Day of the week], and I waited that, peradventure, some one might take me to his cell; on that day, however, before I came [to the church] I boiled a few lentiles, and therefore I departed quickly.” And when the priest heard this he gave a commandment to the brethren in the church that before each man came to the service in the church, he should on the First Day of the week boil some food, by way of making a distinction.

64. The brethren used to tell about a certain old man who had a disciple who, when he sat down to eat, used to put his feet on the table, and although the old man had suffered this war for many years he did not rebuke him. At length, however, he went to another old man, and told him about the brother, and the old man said unto him, “Complete thy love, and send him to me.” Now when the brother came to that old man, at the appointed time for the meal the old man rose up and made ready the table, and as soon as they had seated themselves the brother straightway put his two feet on the table; and the old man said unto him, “Father, it is not good for thee to set thy feet on the table”; and he said unto him, “Forgive me, O my son. Thou hast well said, for it is a sin.” And the brother returned to his master, and told him about [it], and when the old man had learned this he perceived that this matter had been corrected in his disciple. And from that time the brother did not put his feet on the table.

65. A brother asked Abbâ Muthues, saying, “Speak unto me a word whereby I may live.” He said unto him, “Go, entreat God to give thee mourning and meekness of heart, and consider at all times thy sins, and do not judge other people, and make thyself lower than every other man, and have no love for a boy, and no acquaintance with a woman, and no friendship with heretics, and put aside from thee all freedom of speech (or boldness), and restrain both thy tongue and thy belly, and guard thyself somewhat against wine, and if a man speak with thee concerning any matter whatsoever, do not quarrel with him, but if he saith that a thing is good, say ‘Yes,’ and if he say that it is bad, say, ‘Thou knowest.’ This is a meek spirit.”

66. A brother came unto Abbâ Poemen and said unto him, “I have very many thoughts, O father, whereby I am vexed”; and the old man took him out into the air, and said unto him, “Spread out thy skirt, and catch the winds,” and the brother said unto him, “I cannot do this.” The old man said unto him, “Thou canst not do this, neither canst thou prevent thy thoughts from coming, but it belongeth to thee to stand up against them.”

67. The brethren were on one occasion gathered together to Abbâ Joseph, and as they were sitting and asking him questions about their thoughts he said unto them, by way of [affording] them consolation, “This day am I a king, for I have controlled my passions.”

68. A brother asked Abbâ Ammon, saying, “Why is it that a man laboureth in prayer and maketh petitions, and that for which he asketh is not given to him?” The old man said unto him, “Hast thou never heard how Jacob wearied himself for her whom he took to wife, and that he did not obtain her whom he sought, but her whom he did not seek, and how afterwards he worked and toiled more, and finally received her whom he loved? Thus is it with the monk also, for he shall fast and keep vigil, and yet shall not receive that which he asketh; and again, he shall labour with fasting and vigil, and shall receive the gift of grace which he asketh.”

69. One of the old men asked Abbâ Sisoes, saying, “Did Satan persecute the men of olden time as he doth those of to-day?” Sisoes said unto them, “He persecuteth the men of this age especially, because his time hath come.”

70. Abbâ John the Less, who was a young man, and had an elder brother, used to say, “I wanted to be without any care whatsoever, and to be like the angels of God, who do nothing except sing and pray to Him.” And straightway he cast from him the garments which he had on, and went forth to the wilderness, and when he had passed one week there, he returned to his brother; now when he knocked at the door his brother did not answer it, but asked him, “Who art thou?” And John said unto him, “I am John,” and his brother answered and said unto him, “John hath become an angel and is no longer among men”; and John entreated him, saying, “I indeed am John,” but his brother left him outside in affliction, and did not open the door until the morning. And when he came to open the door he said unto John, “If thou art indeed a man, it is necessary for thee to work so that thou mayest live.”

71. Abbâ Pûrtê said, “If God wisheth me to live, He knoweth how to lead me, and to strengthen me, and to provide for me; but if He desireth it not unto whom shall I go to live?” And he would accept nothing from any man, not even when he was lying upon his bed, “For,” he used to say, “if a man maketh an offering of any kind to me, and not for the sake of God, I myself have nothing whatsoever to give him, and he will receive nothing from God, for I am not in the place of God, so therefore he who offereth will suffer loss.”

72. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Everything which ariseth through passion is sin”; and he used to say also, “Every [exercise of] power which is for God’s sake, is thanksgiving (or confession).”

73. An old man used to say, “Acquire silence, and take no care for any earthly thing, and examine closely thy meditations, and when thou sleepest and when thou risest up, be with God, and fear not the attack of the wicked.”

74. On one occasion a brother came to a father, and said unto him, “Abbâ, I sow a field, and I reap the harvest therefrom, and I give alms also thereof”; and the old man said unto him, “Be strong, my son, for thou doest well.” So the brother went away rejoicing in this desire. And Abbâ Job said unto Abbâ Poemen, “Since thou hast spoken unto that brother in this fashion, [I know that] thou dost not fear God.” Then, after two days, Abbâ Poemen sent and called that brother, and said unto him whilst Abbâ Joseph was listening, “What didst thou say to me when thou camest to me, for my mind was occupied in another place?” The brother said unto him, “I sow a field, and I reap the harvest therefrom, and I give alms also thereof”; and Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “I thought in my mind that it was thy brother, who is in the world, of whom thou wast speaking when thou didst tell me that he did these things; but if it be thou thyself who doest them [I must say] that it is not the work for monks.” And when the brother heard these [words] he was grieved, and he said, “I cannot do without sowing, for I know not how to do any other work but this.” Now when that brother had departed, Abbâ Job expressed his contrition to Abbâ Poemen, and said unto him, “Forgive me.” Then Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “I also knew that this work was not the works of monks, but, according to the measure of his desire, I gave him that wherewith I knew he would be edified, and I knew that he would thus abound in love; but now he hath departed in sorrow.”

75. Mother Sarah said, “If I were to pray to God that all men might be built up through me I should be found expressing contrition at the door of each one of them; but I pray to God especially that my heart may be pure with Him and with every man.”

76. Certain brethren, whilst talking to an old man about the thoughts, said unto him, “Our hearts are hard, and we are not afraid of God; what shall we do that we may fear God?” The old man said unto them, “I think that if a man have knowledge in his heart about Him that will rebuke him, it will bring him to the fear of God.” Then the brethren said unto him, “What is the rebuke?” The old man said, “In every matter a man should rebuke himself, saying, ‘Remember that thou art about to go forth to meet God.’ And he should also say, ‘What do I require from man?’ And I think that if a man remain in these things the fear which is in God will come to him.”

77. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “An evil will is a wall of brass between a man and God; but if a man would set it aside he must also say, ‘By [the help of] my God I will leap over a wall’ (Psalm 18:29)—God Whose way is without blemish—but if that which is seemly lendeth help to the thought, a man is not easily turned aside.”

78. They used to say that on one occasion, when Abbâ Alônîs was singing the service, and the old men were sitting [close by], these old men watched him [performing the] service, and that they praised him; but when he heard them he answered them never a word. Then a certain man spake unto him aside and privately, saying, “Why dost thou not make answer to the old men who have praised thee?” Abbâ Alônîs said unto them, “Because if I made answer to them I should be as one who had accepted the praise.”

79. An old man used to say, “If a word of the Book goeth up in the heart of a brother when he is sitting in his cell, and if he pursue that word before it hath arrived at its maturity, not being driven by God, the devils will demonstrate the word before it [become complete] according to their desire.”

80. Abbâ Sarânîs used to say, “I have worked during the whole period of my life in reaping, and in twisting ropes, and in sewing mats, and notwithstanding these things, if the hand of the Lord had not fed me I should not have had enough to eat.”

81. An old man used to say, “Spread abroad the Name of Jesus in humility, and with a meek heart; shew thy feebleness before Him, and He will become strength unto thee.”

82. Abbâ Macarius said unto Abbâ Zechariah, “Tell me, what is the work of monks?” He said unto him, “Dost thou ask me, father?” The old man said unto him, “I beseech thee, my son, Zechariah, for there is something which is right I should ask thee.” And Abbâ Zechariah said unto him, “Father, I give it as my opinion that the work of monks consisteth in a man restraining himself in everything.”

83. An old man also said, “He who constraineth himself in everything, for God’s sake, is a confessor.” And again he said, “He who constraineth himself for the sake of the Son of God will not be forgotten by the Son of God.” And he also said, “Him who hath made himself a fool for the sake of God, God will make him to be wise.”

84. An old man used to say, “If when thou art sitting down, or standing up, or when thou art doing anything else, God be set before thine eyes continually, no [act] of the Enemy can terrify thee; if this thought abide with a man, the power of God will abide with him also.”

85. An old man also said, “The man who hath his death before his eyes continually will overcome littleness of soul.”

86. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Hunger and slumber have not allowed me to notice these small matters.”

87. Abbâ Theodore said, “Many men in this age are desirous of life before God giveth [it] to them.”

88. He used to say also, “Be a free man, so that thou mayest not be crafty in thy words.”

89. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Keep thyself aloof from every man who is contentious in speech.”

90. An old man said, “In all [thy] trials blame no man except thyself, and say, These have happened me for my sins.”

91. An old man said, “In the sluggard and the useless man God hath no pleasure.”

92. A brother asked Abbâ Timothy, saying, “I wish to guard my soul from things that will hurt it”; and the old man said unto him, “How can we guard our soul when the door[s] of our tongue and belly are open?”

93. They used to say that a certain man asked Abbâ Sisoes about Abbâ Pambô, saying, “Tell us about his life and conduct”; the old man made answer to him, saying, “Abbâ Pambô is great in his works.”

94. Abbâ Joseph related that Abbâ Poemen said, “The meaning of the words which are written in the Gospel, ‘Whosoever hath a garment, let him sell it, and buy a sword’ (St. Luke 22:36), is, ‘Let him that hath a life of ease relinquish it, and lay hold upon [a life of] toil.’ ”

95. They used to say that [on one occasion] when certain of the old men were sitting with Abbâ Poemen and were discussing some of the fathers, and were [asking each other] if they remembered Abbâ Sisoes, Abbâ Poemen said, “Quit talking about Abbâ Sisoes, for he hath surpassed the measure (or limit) of all histories.”

96. On one occasion a father came to Abbâ Theodore of Perâmê, and said unto him, “Behold, O father, such and such a brother hath gone back to the world”; and the old man said, “Dost thou wonder thereat? Marvel not at this, but thou mayest marvel when thou hearest that a man hath been able to flee completely from the world.”

97. An old man related of Moses that when he slew the Egyptian he looked on this side and on that, and saw no man, and explained the meaning of the passage as being that Moses did not see his thoughts. And when he saw himself, and that he was doing no evil thing, and that that which he was about to do was for God’s sake, he then slew the Egyptian.

98. An old man also said concerning the verse of the Psalms wherein it is written, “I will place his hand in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers” (Psalm 89:25), that it was spoken concerning our Redeemer, Whose left hand is on the sea, that is to say the world, and Whose right hand is in the rivers, that is to say, the Apostles, who water the whole world with faith.

99. A brother asked one of the old men, saying, “What shall I do? For I am troubled about the works of my hands: I love making mats, but I am unable to make [them] here.” The old man said unto him, “Abbâ Sisoes used to say, ‘It is not the work which is easy for us that we ought to do, but that which befitteth the place, and a brother should labour according to what it will cost to keep him.’ ”

100. Abbâ Joseph used to say, “When we were sitting with Abbâ Poemen he made mention of Abbâ Agathon, and we said to him, ‘He was a young man, why dost thou call him Abbâ?’ Abbâ Poemen said unto him, ‘His mouth made him to be called Abbâ.’ ”

101. One of the old men used to say, “Wheresoever the bee goeth it maketh honey; and thus also it is with the monk, for wheresoever he goeth he doeth the work of God.”

102. An old man used to say, “Satan is a twister of cords, and as long as thou givest him threads he will plait them”; now he spake this concerning the thoughts.

103. Abbâ Sisoes shewed us the cave of Abbâ Anthony, and said, “Thus in the cave of a lion a fox dwelleth.”

104. They used to say of those who were in Scete that no pride was found among them, because they surpassed each other in spiritual excellences. They fasted so much that one would only eat [once] every two days, and another [once] every four days, and another [once] every seven days; another would eat no bread, and another would drink no water, and to speak briefly, they were adorned with every spiritual excellence.

105. They used to relate that a certain old man entreated God and made supplication unto Him that the devils might appear to him, and it was revealed to him that “It is not necessary for thee to see them”; but the old man made entreaty, saying, “Lord, Thou art able to hide me in Thy grace.” Then God opened his eyes, and he saw them like bees surrounding a man, and they were gnashing their teeth upon him, and the angels of God were rebuking them and driving them away from men.

106. A man asked a certain old man from Thebes, and said unto him, “Tell me how I may be redeemed”; and the old man said unto him, “Three things [thou must do]. Sit in thy cell and keep silence, and consider attentively thy sins, and keep thyself wholly from judging any man, and accept no gift from any man, and let thine hands be sufficient to find thee thy food. And if thou art unable to give alms of thy work at least supply all thy needs by thine own hands.”

107. They used to say that one day when Abbâ Sisoes was sitting down he cried out with a loud voice, and said, “O my feebleness”; his disciple said unto him, “What aileth thee, O father?” And the old man said unto him, “I wish to speak to a certain man, and I am unable [to do so].”

108. They used to say that when the barbarians came the brethren took to flight, and that Abbâ Daniel, who was in Scete, said, “Unless God taketh care for me, why should I live?” And he passed through all the barbarians, and they saw him not. Then afterwards he said in himself, “Behold God hath cared for me, and I am not dead, I also will do as a man doeth, and I will flee as the [other] fathers have fled.”

109. When Abbâ Sisoes was about to die, and the fathers were sitting about him, they saw that his face was shining like the sun; and he said unto them straightway, “Behold, Abbâ Anthony hath come”; and after a little while he said also, “Behold, the company of the prophets hath come”; his face shone again, and he said, “Behold the company of apostles hath come”; and again his face shone with twofold brightness, and he became suddenly like unto one who was speaking with some one. Then the old men who was sitting [there] entreated him, and said, “Show us with whom thou art talking, father”; and straightway he said unto them, “Behold, the angels came to take me away, and I besought them to leave me so that I might tarry here a little longer, and repent.” And the old men said unto him, “Thou hast no need to repent, father”; the old man said unto them, “I do not know in my soul if I have rightly begun to repent”; and they all learned that the old man was perfect. Then again suddenly his face beamed like the sun, and all who sat there were afraid, and he said unto them straightway, “Look ye, look ye. Behold our Lord hath come, and He saith, ‘Bring ye unto Me the chosen vessel which is in the desert’ ”; and straightway he delivered up his spirit, and he became [like] lightning, and the whole place was filled with a sweet odour.

110. Abbâ Paphnutius, the disciple of Abbâ Macarius, used to say, “I entreated him, saying, ‘Father, tell me a word’ ”; and he said unto me, “Do no harm to any man, and condemn no man; observe these [words], and thou shalt be redeemed.”

111. A brother asked a certain old man, saying, “In what form doth the fear of God dwell in the soul?” The old man said unto him, “If a man possess humility, and practise abstinence, and judge no man, in this manner doth the fear of God dwell in the soul.”

112. Abbâ Hilarion of Syria came to the mountain to Abbâ Anthony, and Abbâ Anthony said unto him, “Hast thou come, O star of light, who shinest with the morning?” And Abbâ Hilarion said unto him, “Peace be to thee, O pillar of light, who sustainest creation!”

113. Certain of the fathers used to say, “God bringeth not young men to monasteries, but Satan, so that he may turn back the mighty men.”

114. A brother said unto Abbâ Anthony, “Pray for me, father”; the old man said unto him, “I cannot help thee, and God will not, if thou wilt not abolish thyself and ask Him thyself [to do so].”

115. They used to tell of a certain old man who had passed fifty years [of his life] without eating bread or drinking water; and he used to say, “I have slain fornication, and the love of gold, and the love of glory.” Now Abbâ Abraham heard [of him], and came to him, and said, “Didst thou say these things?” and he said, “Yea.” Abbâ Abraham said unto him, “If thou wert to go into thy cell, and find a woman on thy mat, wouldst thou be able to keep from thinking that she was a woman?” And the old man said unto him, “No, but I should struggle against my thoughts so as not to touch her.” Abbâ Abraham said unto him, “Behold, then, thou hast not slain it (i.e., the lust for fornication), but the passion is still alive, though fettered. Behold, also, if thou wert travelling along a road and thou didst see lying thereon some potsherds and among them a talent of gold, would thy mind be able to look upon the money in the same way as the potsherds?” The old man said unto him, “Nay, but I should contend against my thoughts in such wise as not to take it.” Then Abbâ Abraham said unto him, “Behold, the passion [of love of money] is still alive, though fettered. Behold now, if thou didst hear of two brethren, one of whom was esteeming thee highly and praising thee, and the other was hating thee and reviling thee, if these men came to thee wouldst thou be able to regard each of them with equal friendliness?” And the old man said unto them, “No, but I would strive against my thoughts in such a way that I would treat him that cursed me as well as I did him that loved me.” Then Abbâ Abraham said unto him, “Behold, then, the passions are still alive, but they are fettered in the saints.”

116. There was a certain old man who was a monk, and who dwelt in the desert far away, and he had a kinswoman who with difficulty discovered after very many years where he was living, and then, by the operation of Satan, she rose up and came to the road to the desert, and she found camels which were going to travel on that road, and she entered [the desert] with them. Now she was [driven to do this] by the devil. And as soon as she had come to the cell of the old man, she began to give him proofs about herself, saying, “I am indeed thy kinswoman,” and she remained with him. Now there was another monk who lived in the neighbourhood of men, and he filled a vessel full of water, and set [it] down, and at the season when he ate, being urged by the operation of God, he meditated within himself, and said, “I will arise and will go into the desert, and will learn from that old man what this is.” Now as he was travelling along the way, the night overtook him, and he went into a house of idols which was on the road, and passed the night there, and he heard the devils saying to each other, “This night we have cast down such a monk by fornication.” Now when he heard this he marvelled, and he came to the old man, and found him sad, and he said unto him, “Father, what shall I do? For I filled a vessel with water, but when I came to eat my meal I found that it had been spilled.” And the old man said unto him, “Hast thou come to ask me about a vessel of water which hath been spilled? What am I myself to do? For this night I have fallen into fornication.” The monk said unto him, “I know it also; hold thy peace.” The old man said unto him, “How knowest thou?” And the monk said unto him, “Last night when I was sleeping in a house of idols which is on the road, I heard the devils say [so] to each other, and I was distressed [thereat].” And the old man said unto him, “Henceforth I will go to the world,” but the monk persuaded him, saying, “Nay, father, but stay in thy place, and send the woman away, for this is a temptation of the Enemy”; and the old man hearkened unto him, and sent her away, and he himself continued in his ascetic works, and he mourned, and made supplication unto God with abundant tears, until at length he arrived at his former state of ascetic excellence.

117. A brother asked one of the fathers, saying, “What shall I do, for I am disturbed in mind when I go up to perform the office of the deacon?” And the old man said unto him, “It is not good for thee to be disturbed when thou goest up to minister, but if thou art, and thou art disturbed in thy cell, thou must labour, and give thanks, and receive the hire of which thou art worthy.” Then that brother said unto him, “If I can find a man who will minister for me for a gift, and I cheat him not, may I [let him] do so?” The old man said unto him, “If thou canst find a man who is in the world who can perform thy ministration, and will take his hire, yes, but if he be a monk, no.”

118. A brother said unto Abbâ Poemen, “Can a man rely upon any one work of spiritual excellence [for salvation]?” The old man said unto him, “John the Less said, ‘I should wish that a man should take to himself a little of each kind of spiritual excellence.’ ”

119. These are the words which Abbâ Moses said to Abbâ Poemen, and the first word which was spoken by the old man was:

120. “It is better for a man to put himself to death rather than his neighbour, and he should not condemn him in anything.”

121. “It is good for a man to die unto every work which is evil, and he should not vex a man before his departure from the body.”

122. “If a man doth not put himself in the attitude of a sinner, his prayer will not be heard before God.” A brother said unto him, “What is a sinful soul?” And the old man said, “Every one who beareth his own sins, and considereth not [those] of his companion.”

123. The old man also said unto him, “If works do not correspond to prayer he who prayeth laboureth in vain.” And a brother asked him: “What is the equality of works with prayer?” The old man said unto him, “He who prayeth that he may receive the remission of sins must not henceforth be negligent, for if a man relinquisheth his own will, he will be accepted by God rightly.”

124. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Fasting and praying which spring from men, what do they effect?” The old man said unto him, “They make the soul to be humble before God, for it is written, ‘Look upon my subjugation, and my labour, and forgive me all my sin’ (Psalm 25:18). For if the soul be afflicted it will receive mercy from God.”

125. A brother said unto an old man, “What shall a man do in every temptation which cometh upon him, and during every thought of the Enemy?” The old man said unto him, “It is right for a man to weep before the grace of God so that He may help him, and he shall speedily find relief if he make his supplication with knowledge, for it is written, ‘The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid what man shall do unto me’ ” (Psalm 118:6; Hebrews 13:6).

126. The perfection of all spiritual excellences is for a man not to judge his neighbour. For when the hand of the Lord slew the first-born of Egypt, there was no house wherein there was not one dead person. Then a brother said unto the old man, “What is the meaning of these words?” The old man said unto him, “If we allow ourselves to view closely our own sins we shall not see those of our neighbour. It is folly for a man to forsake his own dead and to lament over that of his neighbour.”

127. And in respect of the words “A man should put his own soul to death rather than [that] of his neighbour,” they mean that a man should bear his own sins, and should be remote from the anxiety of all men. And he should not say, “This is good, and this is bad”; and he should not do harm to any man; and the wickedness of thy neighbour should not be remembered in thy heart; and thou must not hold in contempt the man who hath done wickedness to thy friend; and thou must not deliver thy will over to him that doeth evil to thy neighbour; and thou must not rejoice in that which causeth evil to thy neighbour. This is the meaning of the words that a man “should die rather than [his] neighbour.” And thou shalt not speak evilly of a man, but say, “God knoweth every man”; and thou shalt not take pleasure in evil converse, and thou shalt not deliver thy will over to him that revileth thy neighbour. This is the meaning of the words, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” And thou shalt not make enmity against any man, and thou shalt not make any enmity in thy heart, and thou shalt not hate him that worketh enmity against his neighbour, and thou shalt not judge his enmity, and thou shalt not keep wrath against a brother who keepeth wrath against his neighbour. For this is peace.

128. Now the conclusion of all these things is that whatsoever thou hearest thou must speak, but this is not the opinion to which I incline, and I am a sinner; for because of these things God will give thee rest. When thou risest up in the morning each day, lay hold upon a governor who will suit every kind of spiritual excellence, and every command of God with abundant long-suffering, and in humility of soul and of body, and with patience and tribulations, and with thoughts and prayers, and supplications, and with groanings, and with the cleansing of the tongue, and with watching of the eyes, in suffering abuse without being angry and maintaining peace, in not rewarding evil for evil without discretion. And thou must not regard the lapses [of others], and thou must not measure thine own [excellence], but thou must be the lowest thing in creation through alienation from the things of the body and multitudinous affairs, through the agony of the cross, and poverty of spirit, and good desire, and spiritual self-abnegation, and fasting, and repentance, and tears, through the strife of war, and discretion, and purity of soul, through noble patience, and vigil by nights, and hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and cold, and labours. And thou must keep hold upon thy grave as if thou wert already dead, and as if death were thy neighbour every day, in the mountains, and in the caves, and in the holes of the earth; and take heed that thou dost not become merely a hearer of the Word and not a doer of it. For those who do these things are indeed they who are clothed in the wedding garments, and they it is who have worked with the talents.

129. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Father, what answer shall I return unto those who abuse us and say that we do not return to the world because of our laziness, and that by the work of our hands and the labour of our souls we do not relieve strangers?” The old man said unto him, “Although we have from the Law and from the commandments of our Lord many things wherewith we could make answer concerning the crown of perfection, yet we must make answer, with humility, in this wise: Beloved, when the Ninevites were in need of repentance, which of them did these things for the necessity of the world and the rights thereof? Did not even the king himself refrain from this thing and take the same course as the men of olden time, and those of the later time, and those who were before them? And he kept silence and was quiet, even according to all the characteristics of the world, and up to the present no [men] have described the punishment which befitted them. Thus also it is with us, and because we have sinned against and transgressed the natural and written law we bring to naught all [the characteristics] of the world until we shall perceive that reconciliation hath come, and the penalty of the rights of olden time and of the commandments hath been dissolved. And did not Paul also teach us this, [when he said], ‘He who wageth a strife keepeth his mind [free] from everything else?’ (Compare 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25.) And a man must not rest until the Lord blot out seed from Babel.”

130. A brother asked an old man, saying, “What shall I do with my mind which fighteth [against me]? For it is better and also a greater thing for me to go into the world and to teach and convert many, and to become like unto the Apostles.” The old man said unto him, “If there be in thy mind no fear that thou hast fallen short in the matter of any of the commandments, and if thou hast also felt that thou hast arrived at the haven of rest, and if thou hast no feeling about anything in thy mind, then go; but if thou hast not all these things together in thee, [the desire] is due to the operation of wickedness which urgeth thee on, so that it may cast thee down from thine integrity.”

131. On one occasion the brethren were eating together in Scete, and John Kolob was with them, and a great priest rose up to give them a pitcher of water, but no man would accept it from him except John Kolob; and they all marvelled and said unto him, “How is it that thou who art the least among all of us hast been so bold as to take the pitcher from him, and drink, whilst none of us dared to do so?” Then Abbâ John said unto them, “When I stand up I rejoice that every man should take [the pitcher] from me and drink, so that I may have a reward, and I considered on this occasion also, and I took [the pitcher] and drank so that there might be a reward to him, and that he might not be grieved because no man accepted [water] from him, and that his [good] will might not be wronged.” And when he had said this the fathers marvelled at his intelligence, and they all obtained benefit by his word[s].

132. A brother asked Poemen, saying, “I observe my soul, so that wheresoever I go I may find help”; the old man said unto him, “Even those who bear swords have a God, Who hath mercy upon them in this life. If then we were to find ourselves in islands of terror God would deal with us according to His mercy.”

134. Abbâ Poemen used to say that Abbâ Ammon said, “One man spendeth the whole period of his life holding an axe in his hand [ready] to cut down a tree, and never findeth the opportunity of wielding it; and another man, who knoweth well how to fell trees, heweth with three axes, and wieldeth them [against trees]. Now,” he said, “the axe [in this case] is discretion [or discernment].”

135. Abbâ Poemen also said that Abbâ Anthony said concerning Abbâ Pambô, “This man feared God so greatly that he made the Spirit of God to dwell in him.”

136. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “The fear of God teacheth a man all spiritual excellences.”

137. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “Why do my thoughts persuade me to esteem myself and compare myself with one whose rule of conduct is more excellent [than mine], and to despise that man as much as if he had been my inferior?” The old man answered and said, “The blessed Apostle spake concerning this, saying, ‘In a large house there are not only vessels of gold and vessels of silver, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware. If now a man will cleanse his soul from all these things, he shall become a vessel which is suitable and convenient for the honour of his Lord, and he will be ready for every good work’ ” (2 Timothy 2:20, 21). That brother said unto him, “How are these matters to be explained?” And the old man said unto him, “They are to be explained thus. The house is the world and the vessels are the children of men. The vessels of gold must be taken as representing the perfect, and those of silver are the men who are inferior to them in the measure of ascetic deeds, and the other vessels of wood and earthenware are those who possess a little ascetic excellence. If now a man will cleanse his soul from all the things which are outside what is right, he will become a pure vessel of honour suitable for the use of his Lord, and be ready for every good work.”

138. A brother also asked Abbâ Poemen, “Why is it that I am not allowed to be free in my thoughts like the other old men?” The old man said unto him, “John Kolob used to say, ‘The Enemy doth not rejoice in anything so much as in those who do not reveal and lay bare their thoughts to their fathers.’ ”

139. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Men are wont to speak great and perfect things, but in their deeds they draw nigh unto the things which are little and inferior.”

140. An old man used to say, “Neither shame nor fear confirms sin.”

141. An old man used to say, “As the company of the monks is more excellent than and superior to the children of the world, so it is meet that the monk who is a stranger should be a mirror to those who are found in a monastery which is devoted to the ascetic life.”

142. A brother asked an old man, saying, “What shall I do?” The old man said unto him, “Go, and love the constraint of thyself in everything.”

143. The same old man said unto him, “Reveal and shew forth thy gift”; and the brother said unto him, “My thoughts will not permit me [to do so].” The old man said, “It is written, ‘Call upon Me in the day of affliction, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt praise Me’ (Psalm 50:15); call then upon Him, and He shall deliver thee.”

144. An old man used to say, “Teach thy heart to keep and to take heed unto the things which thy tongue speaketh.”

145. An old man used to say, “If a man teacheth and performeth not he is like unto the large basin which receiveth the water for the assembly, which watereth and cleanseth many, but cannot itself be cleaned, and is full of dirt and impurity.”

146. Abbâ Jacob used to say, “As a lamp illumineth a dark chamber, so doth the fear of God, if it abide in the heart of a man, illumine him, and teach him all the excellences of the commandments of God.”

147. Abbâ Muthues used to say, “I would rather have the man with a little work, which abideth and is constant, than him who at the beginning laboureth severely, and soon ceaseth altogether.”

148. On one occasion Abbâ Theodore went to Abbâ John, who was an eunuch from his mother’s womb, and as they were talking together about spiritual excellences, he said, “When we were in Scete the cultivation of the soul was our labour, and we worked with our hands only in the ordinary way, and we only did work of this kind when it came [in the way]; to-day, however, the cultivation of the soul is made our ordinary work, which is performed whensoever it happeneth to come [in the way], and the work of our hands, which was always regarded as a common matter, hath become unto us a serious matter and an object of earnest solicitude.”

149. A brother asked an old man, saying, “What is the cultivation of the soul like? And what is the labour of the hands like?” The old man said unto him, “Whatsoever happeneth for God’s sake is the cultivation (or labour) of the soul; but whatsoever a man doeth for himself, or whatsoever he gathereth together for himself, is the labour of the hands.” That brother said unto him, “Father, teach me a proof of this matter which I do not understand.” The old man said unto him, “It is as if a man were to say, Behold, thou hearest that I am sick, and thou sayest in thyself, Now I have a piece of work to do, shall I leave [it], and go and visit him, or shall I finish it first and then go? And however many times thou art prevented [from going] for some reason or cause, and however many times the brother saith unto thee, Come, take me, and help me, thou sayest within thy-self, Shall I leave my work and go and help him? But if thou goest not, behold, thou hast abrogated the commandments of God, which are for the cultivation of the soul, because of the work of the hands. If then a man ask thee, go with him, since this is a work of God, for He said, ‘If a man compel thee to go a mile with him, go two’ ” (St. Matthew 5:41).

150. A brother asked Abbâ Marcianus, saying, “What shall I do so that I may live?” And the old man answered and said unto him, “He who looketh above seeth not what is below; he who is occupied closely with the things which are below hath no knowledge of what is above. And he who understandeth the things which are above is not concerned with what is below, for it is written, ‘Turn ye, and know that I am God’ ” (Psalm 46:10).

151. Abbâ Poemen said that Abbâ John cultivated all spiritual excellences.

152. A brother asked one of the old men, saying, “If I am being tempted, and a temptation come upon me, and I have no one in whom I have confidence to tell about it, what shall I do?” The old man said unto him, “I believe in God, and that He will send His Grace, and will comfort thee, and give thee strength if thou will ask Him in truth and wilt make supplication unto Him. For I have heard that a matter like unto this took place in Scete, where there was a man whose rule and conduct were excellent, and he fell into temptation, and he became oppressed in his mind, and because he had no man in whom he had confidence to reveal the matter to, and none to bid him be of good courage, he made himself ready to depart. And behold, the grace of God appeared unto him by night in the form of a virgin, and she comforted him, saying, ‘Depart not, but dwell here with me, for not one of the things of which I have heard shall be performed’; and straightway his mind was healed, and he was consoled and strengthened.”

153. A certain brother used to say, “I knew an old man who dwelt in the mountain who would never agree to accept anything from any man; now he possessed a little water, and with it he used to care for and water a few garden herbs which he had. And he lived this life for fifty years, and he never went outside the fence of his cell. He was exceedingly famous because of the numerous cures which he wrought daily upon those who came to him. He died in peace, leaving in his place five brethren.”

154. There was a certain old man in Scete who toiled in the works of the body, that is to say, in fasting and in standing up; and in his thoughts he was a simple man, and he was neither keen in intellect nor learned. And he went to Abbâ John Kolob to ask him about his thoughts, and when the old man had spoken to him he returned and went to his cell, and forgot what the old man had said to him. And he came a second time to the old man, who told him what he had already said unto him, and when he had departed he forgot it again; and though he did this several times he always forgot what had been said to him. Then, after these things, he went unto the blessed man once more, and said unto him, “Thou knowest, O father, that I forgot [thy words] again; but I did not come to thee because I did not wish to weary thee.” Abbâ John said unto him, “Go, and light a lamp”; and he went and did as he commanded him. And Abbâ John said unto him, “Bring several lamps, and light [them all] from it”; and he lit [them] as he had told him. And Abbâ John said to the old man, “Is the lamp wherefrom thou hast kindled the many lamps in any way the worse?” and he said unto him, “No.” And the old man John said unto him, “If all Scete were to come unto him John would not be the worse for it, neither would the gift of the grace of Christ be impeded thereby. Whensoever then thou wishest, and art in doubt, come [to me].” Thus by the patient endurance of both of them he removed and did away error from that brother. For this was the work of those who were dwelling in Scete, and they devoted themselves, and delivered over their wills to compel those who were engaged in [spiritual] war to inherit the good things (or virtues) each from each.

155. There was a certain old man who was sick, and as he possessed nothing which he required for his wants, the Abbâ of the coenobium received him [there], and said to the brethren, “Exert yourselves a little to relieve this sick man.” Now the man who was sick had a pot full of gold, and he dug a hole below where he was [lying] and buried it; and it happened that he died without confessing and revealing the matter. And after he was buried, the Abbâ who had taken him in said unto the brethren, “Remove this bench from here,” and whilst they were rooting it out they found the gold. Then the Abbâ said, “Since he confessed not about this when he was alive, he cannot reveal the matter when he is dead”—now he knew that the sick man’s hope had been in it—“but go ye and bury it with him.” And fire came down from heaven, and it continued above his grave for many days in the sight of every man, and all those who saw it marvelled.

156. A certain brother came on one occasion to the cell of Abbâ John at the time of evening, and he was in a great hurry to depart; and they talked about spiritual excellences [for a long time] without knowing [it], and when he went forth to set him on his way, they tarried talking together until it was the sixth hour of the night. Then Abbâ John made him go back to his cell, and they ate together, and then he sent him away, and he departed.

157. Abbâ Ammon said:—On one occasion I and Abbâ Betimius went to visit Abbâ Akhîlâ, for we had heard that he was meditating upon the passage, “Fear thou not, O Jacob, to go down to Egypt” (Genesis 46:3), and that he was repeating these words several times; and when we knocked he opened unto us, and he asked us, saying, “Whence are ye?” And being afraid to say, “[We come] from the cells,” we made answer that we were from the Mountain of Nitria, and he brought us in, and we found that he was working by night at plaiting palm leaves, and we asked him, saying, “Speak a word unto us.” Then he answered and said, “Between the evening and the morning I have twisted twenty branches, but in very truth I have no need for all this, only [I am afraid] lest God be angry with me, and He chide me, saying, ‘Though thou wast able to work thou hast not done so’; therefore I toil and I work with all my might.”

158. Certain of the fathers used to tell a story about a holy man who was indeed a great man, and if people came to ask him a question he would say unto them with wisdom, “Behold, I take upon myself the face (or Person) of God, and I sit upon the throne of judgement; what now dost thou wish me to do for thee? If thou sayest, ‘Have mercy upon me,’ God saith unto thee, ‘If thou wishest Me to have mercy upon thee, thou also must have mercy upon thy brother, and then I will have mercy upon thee; and if thou wishest Me to forgive thee, thou also must forgive thy brother, and then I will forgive thee.’ Can any blame rest upon God? God forbid! But the cause resteth with us, and if we wish we are able to live.”

159. On one occasion a certain brother departed into exile from the countries and places wherein dwelt Abbâ Poemen, and he went to a monk who used to live in that country whereto he was going; now this man was one who possessed love, and many folk thronged to him—and the brother related unto that monk stories concerning Abbâ Poemen, and when he heard about his spiritual excellences he longed to see him. And the brother came back again to Egypt, and after some time the monk [unto whom he had gone], who lived in that country, came to Egypt to him, for the brother had already told him where he lived, and when the monk saw the brother he rejoiced greatly. Then the monk said unto the brother, “Do [me an act of] love, and take me so that I may go to Abbâ Poemen,” and he took him to Abbâ Poemen, and the brother told him the story of the monk who was with him, saying, “He is a great man, and is much beloved, and he hath no small honour in his own country. I related unto him stories concerning thy holiness, and he greatly desired to come and see thee”; and Abbâ Poemen received him with gladness, and having saluted each other they sat down. Then the stranger began to converse with Abbâ Poemen from the Scriptures concerning spiritual and heavenly things, but Abbâ Poemen turned away his face and returned him no answer whatsoever. And when he saw that Abbâ Poemen would not speak unto him, he was grieved, and went outside, and said unto the brother who had brought him, In my opinion I have toiled in vain in coming all this long journey to see the old man, for behold, he refuseth to speak to me.” Now when the brother went in to the old man Poemen, he said unto him, “Father, this great man, who is so greatly praised in his own country, came on thy account; why didst thou not speak with him?” Poemen said, “He spake about the things which are above and concerning heavenly matters, but I can only talk about thing’s which are below and about the things of earth; had he spoken to me about the passions of the soul I would have given him an answer; but since he talked about spiritual things, I know nothing about them.” Then that brother went forth to the monk and said unto him, The old man is not one of those who wish a man to talk to them from the Scriptures, but if thou wilt converse with him about the passions of the soul he will return thee answer.” And straightway the monk repented, and he came to the old man, and said unto him, “Father, what shall I do so that I may bring into subjection the passions of the body?” Then the old man looked upon him gladly, and said unto him, “Now thou art welcome! Open now thy mouth on such matters as these, and I will fill it with good things.” And the monk, having been greatly helped, and having gained benefit, said, “In very truth this is the way of truth”; and he went back to his country, giving thanks to God that he had been held worthy of such converse with the holy man.

160. Abbâ Poemen said concerning Abbâ John that he cultivated spiritual excellences of every kind.

161. Abbâ Muthues used to say that there were three brethren who were in the habit of coming to Abbâ Anthony, and that two of them used to ask him questions about the thoughts, and about life, and redemption, and the discretion (or intelligence) of the soul, whilst the third one held his peace continually. And after a long time Abbâ Anthony said unto him, “Brother, thou comest here each year, and askest nothing!” And he answered and said unto the old man, “It is sufficient for me to see thee.”

162. Abbâ Sisoes asked Abbâ Poemen about filthy thoughts, and the old man said unto him, “The matter is like unto a box of clothes: if a man leaveth the clothes inside it for a long time without being turned, they will become eaten up in process of time and destroyed. And thus also is it with the thoughts, and if a man doth not drive them out from his body they will be destroyed and perish.”

163. Abbâ Joseph asked Abbâ Poemen about the wicked and vain thoughts which a man produceth, and the old man said unto him, “It is as if a man were to take a snake and a scorpion, and throw them in a vessel (or cloth), and close (or wrap) them up tightly for a long time, when they would die owing to the period [which they have been shut up]; even so do the evil thoughts, which spring up in the mind through the workings of devils, decay and become destroyed through patient endurance.”

164. Abbâ Elijah used to say, “What is sin able to do where repentance is found? And what will love profit where there is pride?”

165. One of the fathers said, “The early [fathers] did not depart from their places except for the three following reasons:—First: If one of them was vexed with his neighbour, and it was impossible for him to make clean his heart in respect of him. Secondly: If the abundant approval of the children of men was gathered together to him. Thirdly: If the temptation of fornication clung to him. Whensoever they saw these three reasons they departed.”

166. On one occasion when he saw him pouring some water over his feet, Abbâ Isaac said unto Abbâ Poemen, as one who possessed freedom of speech before him, “How is it that, whilst the fathers exercised themselves in such stern labours and mighty deeds of asceticism that they oppressed their bodies, behold, thou art washing [thy feet]?” Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “We have not learned to be slayers of the body, but slayers of the passions.”

167. This same Abbâ Isaac heard the voice of a cock, and he said to Abbâ Poemen, “Are there such things as fowls here, father?” And he answered and said unto him, “Isaac, why dost thou force me to speak to thee? It is only people who are like thyself that hear such sounds as these; he who is strenuous concerneth not himself with matters of this kind.”

168. An old man used to say, “Wisdom and simplicity form the perfect order of the Apostles and of those who examine closely their rules of life and their conduct, and to this Christ urged them, saying, ‘Be ye harmless as doves and subtle like serpents’ (St. Matthew 10:16). And the Apostle [Paul] also admonished the Corinthians to the same effect, saying, My brethren, be not childish in your minds, but be ye as babes in respect of things which are evil, and be ye perfect in your minds’ (1 Corinthians 14:20). Now wisdom without simplicity is wicked cunning, and it is the subtlety of the philosophers among the pagans of which it is said, ‘He catcheth the wise men in their own cunning’ (Job 5:13; 1 Corinthians 3:19), and again, ‘The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain’ (Psalm 94:11; 1 Corinthians 3:20). And simplicity without wisdom is the foolishness which is prone to error, and concerning this also the Apostle spake, and he wrote unto those who possessed it, saying, ‘I fear lest, even as the serpent led Eve into error by his craftiness, so your minds also may be destroyed in respect of your simplicity which is towards Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:3). For they accepted every word without testing it, even as it is said in the [Book of] Proverbs, ‘The simple man believeth every word’ ” (Proverbs 14:15).

169. They used to say that one of the old men in Scete had been a slave, and that he came each year to Alexandria, and brought with him a gift for his owners from [the results of] labour, and they received him, and paid him homage. And the old man [formerly] poured water into a basin, and brought it so that he might wash the feet of his owners, but they said unto him, “Nay, father, thou shalt not honour us [thus].” Then he said unto them, “My lords, I acknowledge that I am your slave, and that I have received from you an act of grace in that ye have let me become a free man to serve our Lord, and if I may not wash your feet accept at least my gift”; but they objected to this, and would not accept [it]. And he said unto them, “Since ye refuse to accept it I shall dwell here, and be subject unto you”; then they allowed him to do what he wished, and they sent him away with great gifts of various kinds, so that he might do acts of kindness on their behalf to the brethren who were in need, and because of this he became famous in Scete. Now he conducted himself with great humility towards every man.

170. There was a certain man who was a slave and he became a monk, and he persisted in a life of self-abnegation for five and forty years, and bread, and water, and salt, were sufficient for his food; now after some time the man who had been his master repented, and he also made himself to be remote from the world. And when the time came for him to depart from this world, he said unto his slave, who was now his Rabbâ, “I see the hosts of wickedness surrounding me, but through thy prayer they are going back from me.” And when the call came for that slave one stood on his right hand, and the other on his left, and he heard them saying unto him, “Dost thou wish to come, O father, or shall we go and leave thee?” And he said, “I desire not to remain, take my soul”; and thus he ended [his life].

171. A certain man made himself remote from the world, and he had a wife and also a daughter, and the latter died before she had been baptized by the disciples; and her father distributed among the poor the portion which came to her, and also that of his wife; but he never ceased to make entreaty to God on behalf of his daughter who had departed from the world without being baptized. And a voice was heard by him as he was praying, which said, “I have baptized thy daughter, have no sorrow”; but he did not believe. And that voice, which was hidden, spake again unto him, saying, “Uncover her grave, and look [in], and thou wilt not find her”; then he went to her grave, and dug it up, and he found her not, for she had departed, and had been laid with the believers.

172. The old man Macarius used to say, “These are the three principal things, and it is right that a man should set them before him at every season. The remembrance of his death should be before him at every hour, and he should die to every man, and he should be constant always in his mind towards our Lord. For, if a man have not the remembrance of his death before him at all seasons, he will not be able to die to every man, and if he die not to every man he will be unable to be constantly before God.”

173. The old man Macarius used to say, “Strive for every kind of death, for the death of the body, that is to say, if thou hast not the death which is in the spirit; strive for the death of the body, and then shall be added unto thee the death which is in the spirit. And death of this kind will make thee to die to every man, and henceforward thou wilt acquire the faculty of being constantly with God in silence.”

174. The same old man also said, “If thou hast not the prayer of the spirit, strive for the prayer of the body, and then shall be added unto thee the prayer in the spirit. If thou hast not humility in the spirit, strive for the humility which is in the body, and then shall be added unto thee the humility which is in the spirit. For it is written, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’ ” (St. Matthew 7:7; 21:22).

175. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Why do I keep my sins in remembrance without being pained about them?” The old man said unto him, “This happeneth unto us through contempt and negligence. When a man wisheth to boil some food for his need, and he findeth some small sparks of fire in his fireplace, he desireth to take care of them, and preserve them, and to kindle therefrom a large flame; but if he neglecteth them they become black and die out. And thus also is it with ourselves, for if, according as God hath bestowed upon us, we remember our sins, and we desire and come to the life of silence, and we possess persistence in remembering our sins, we shall acquire great grief in our hearts; but, if we hold them in contempt and do not even remember them, we shall be rejected.”

176. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “Who is a hypocrite?” The old man said unto him, “The hypocrite is he who teacheth his neighbour to do a certain thing which he himself hath not performed, and to the doing of which he hath not attained; for it is written, ‘Hypocrite! why dost thou look at the mote which is in the eye of thy brother, and behold there is a beam in thine own eye? And how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me take out the mote from thine eye, seeing that thou hast not first taken the beam out of thine own eye?’ ” (St. Matthew 7:5.)

177. A brother asked Abbâ Chronius, saying, “What shall I do in respect of the error which leadeth captive my mind? For I do not perceive it until it bringeth me to the committal of sin.” And the old man said unto him, “When the Philistines took captive the Ark of the Lord because of the evil deeds of the children of Israel, they dragged it along and carried it until they had brought it into the house of Dagon their God, and then Dagon fell down on his face in that place” (1 Samuel 5:3). The brother said unto him, “What [meaneth] this word?” The old man said unto him, “If the unclean devils take captive the mind of a man by their own means, they lead it on until they bring it to invisible and unknown passion; but if, on the spot, the mind turneth and seeketh God, and remembereth fervently the judgement of the world which is to come, straightway the passion departeth, and is destroyed. For it is written, ‘When ye repent and groan, ye shall be redeemed, and ye shall know in what condition ye are.’

178. Again a brother asked Abbâ Chronius, saying, “In what manner doth a man come to humility?” The old man said unto him, “In my opinion a man doeth this by restraining and withdrawing himself from everything, and by devoting himself to the labour of the body, and as far as he hath the power so to do he should remember his departure from the body, and the awful judgement of God.”

179. Abbâ Anthony used to say, “Behold a time shall come to the children of men when they shall become silly, and they shall turn aside and depart from the fear of God, and if they see a man who is neither as mad nor as silly as they are, they shall rise up against him, saying, ‘Thou art both mad and silly,’ because he is not like unto them.”

180. Abbâ Ammon of Nitria went to Abbâ Anthony, and said unto him, “I see that the labours which I perform are greater than thine, how then is it that thy name is more renowned among men than mine?” Abbâ Anthony said unto him, “Because I also love the Lord more than thou.”

181. When Abbâ Poemen heard that Abbâ Nastîr was dwelling in the coenobium he desired greatly to see him, and he told his Abbâ that he ought to send him to go and visit him, but he refused to send him by himself, and he would not let him go. Now a few days afterwards the steward of the coenobium, who had certain thoughts, persuaded Abbâ to send him to Abbâ Nastîr, and he dismissed him, saying, “Take this brother with thee, and send me an old man because of him; and because I could not trust myself to send him alone I did not send him at all.” Now when the steward had come to the old man Nastîr, he told him his thoughts, and Abbâ Nastîr healed him. And afterwards the old man asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “Whence hast thou gotten such humility that whensoever it happeneth that there be trouble in the coenobium thou dost not speak, and dost not interfere to put an end to contention?” And the old man having pressed the brother, Abbâ Poemen answered and said unto him, “Forgive me, father! When I first entered the coenobium I said unto my mind, I and the ass are one. As the ass is beaten and speaketh not, and is cursed and maketh no answer, so also act thou, according to what the blessed David said, ‘I was a beast with Thee’ ” (Psalm 73:22).

182. On one occasion Saint Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria, came to Scete, and when the brethren were gathered together they said unto Abbâ Pambô, “Speak a word to the Bishop, so that we may be built in this place”; the old man said unto them, “If by my silence [we] are not helped, [we] shall not be builded by my word.”

183. One of the brethren entreated Abbâ Sisoes, saying, “Do an act of love, father, and do thou thyself speak to me a word”; and he answered and said, “He who holdeth with knowledge [the belief] that a man should not esteem himself fulfilleth the whole Book.”

184. An old man used to say, “This is what is written: Because of two, and because of three transactions of Tyre, yea, because of four, I will not turn back from them” (Amos 1:9); [that is to say,] to be content with wickedness, to fulfil a thought, and to utter it; and the fourth is to carry a thought into effect. For at such a thing as this [last] the wrath of the Lord turneth not back.”

185. They used to say concerning a great old man who dwelt in Scete that, whenever the brethren were building cells in Scete, he would go out and lay the foundation, and would not depart until [the building] was completed. Once, however, when he went forth to build, he was exceedingly sad, and very sorry, and the brethren said to him, “Why is it that thou art thus grieved and sorry?” And he said unto them, “My sons, this place shall be laid waste. For I have seen a fire kindled in Scete, and have seen that the brethren took palm leaves and beat upon it until they extinguished it; and it broke out again, and the brethren took palm leaves and extinguished it; but it broke out a third time, and it filled all Scete, and the brethren were never again able to extinguish it. It is for this reason that I am grieved, and sad, and sorry.”

186. An old man used to say, “It is written, ‘The righteous man shall blossom like the palm tree’ (Psalm 92:12). Now these words make known that the soul acquireth height, and straightness of stature, and sweetness from beautiful deeds. But there is another quality which is found in the palm, that is, a single, white heart, which is wholly suitable for work (or useful for being worked). And this must be found in the righteous man, for his heart must be single and simple, and it must be accustomed to look towards God only. Now the heart of the palm tree is also white by reason of that fire which it possesseth naturally, and all the service of the righteous man is in his heart; and the hollowness and the evenness of the tops of the leaves [typify] the setting up of sharpness of the soul of the righteous man against the Calumniator.”

187. Another of the fathers used to say, “The eyes of the pig are so arranged by nature that they look always on the ground, and the animal can never look upwards to heaven. And thus is it with the soul which hath once been swallowed up in the gratification of the lusts, for it is caught hence forward in the filthy mire of the gratification of the passions, and it is only with difficulty that it is able to look towards God, or to meditate upon any of the things which are worthy of praise.”

188. The fathers prophesied concerning the later generation, saying, “What manner of work will they do?” And one of them, whose conduct was exalted, and whose name was Isôkhôrôn, said, “We perform the commandments of God”; and the others answered and said unto him, “And those who will come after us, what manner of work will they do?” And he said, “They will attain to the half of our service.” And again they answered and said, “What manner of work will those who come after these do?” And he said, “Those who are in that generation will possess no work of any kind, for many trials are about to come upon them, and those among them who are found to be chosen men will be found to be greater than ourselves and our fathers.”

189. An old man was [once] asked, “How is it that thou art never dejected?” And he said, “Because each day I hope to die.”

190. A brother asked an old man, “Why is it that, when I happen to go out by myself at night, fear attacketh me?” The old man said, “Because the life of this world is still dear to thee.”

191. An old man was asked, “What is the work of monks?” And he said, “To cultivate [all] the virtues, to make themselves strangers to all wickedness, and to be watchful against judging and condemning others; prayer, and obedience, and the cultivation of the virtues are the mirror of the monk. For his soul is a fountain, and if it cast forth from it the things which are abominable it shall be made pure; but if he dig a pit, God is not wicked that He should lead us out from one house of bondage and carry us into another.”

192. An old man used to say, “Do nothing without prayer, and afterwards thou wilt never be sorry.”

193. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “The work of the monastic life is poverty, and trouble, and separation; for it is written, If there be there these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, as I live, saith the Lord (Ezekiel 14:14). Noah must be taken [as representing] the personification of self-abnegation, and Job as representing labours, and Daniel as representing separation; if then a man possess these three rules of conduct the Lord dwelleth in him.”

194. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, “Which is the better, to speak or to keep silence?” The old man said unto him, “He who speaketh for God’s sake is a good man, and he doeth well, and he who holdeth his peace for God’s sake doeth well.”

195. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen about pollutions and impurities of all sorts and kinds, and he said unto him, “If we stablish in ourselves a portion [only] of the work of our soul[s], a man may seek for impurity or uncleanness and it shall not be found.”

196. An old man used to say, “We saw in Abbâ Pambô three virtues which appertained to the body, namely, fasting from one evening to the other, and silence, and abundant work of the hands.”

197. Abbâ Pambô asked Abbâ Anthony, saying, “What shall I do?” The old man said unto him, “Put no confidence in thine own righteousness, and regret not nor cogitate upon a matter which is past, and be persistent in restraining thy tongue and thy belly.”

198. An old man was asked, “What is it right for a man to do that he may live?” Now the [old man himself] used to plait palm leaves into mats, and he never lifted up his head from the work of his hands, but he occupied himself at all times therewith. And the old man answered and said unto him that asked him, “Behold, what thou seest.”

199. The old men used to say, “There is nothing worse than a man passing judgement upon his neighbour.”

200. And the old men used to say, “From those who are beginners in the monastic life God demandeth nothing except work, and the vexing of the body, and that a man should be obedient.”

201. An old man used to say that separation was the most excellent of all spiritual virtues.

202. Abbâ Arsenius used to say, “Thou shalt not depart from a place without great labour, and thou shalt do none of the things which, evilly, thou desirest, and thou shalt do nothing without the testimony of the Scriptures.”

203. Abbâ Arsenius used to say, “If we seek God He will be revealed unto us, and if we lay hold upon Him, He will remain with us.”

An old man used to say, “If we seek God He will be revealed unto us, and if we lay hold upon Him, He will remain with us.”

204. Abbâ Poemen used to say to Abbâ Job, “Turn away thine eyes from beholding what is vain, the lust for which destroyeth souls.”

205. The old man used to say also, “It is impossible for him who believeth rightly, and who worketh in the fear of God, to fall into the impurity of the passions, and into the error of devils.”

206. Abbâ Macarius used to say, “If we remember the wickedness of men we destroy the power of the memory, but if we remember how the devils act wickedly we shall remain uninjured.”

207. On one occasion Abbâ Macarius went up from Scete to Therenuthum, and at eventide he came upon a certain place wherein he went that he might refresh himself and rest; and there were there some old bones, and bodies of the dead, and he took some of them and placed them under his head that he might lie down and rest a little from the labour of the road. Now when the devils which dwelt there saw his confidence and courage, they were smitten with envy, and wishing to disturb him they cried out and shouted from one to another the name of a woman, saying, “O So-and-so, O So-and-so, come with us, and let us go to the bath.” And another answered from out of the bones which were under the head of the blessed man, and said unto him that called him, “There is a stranger who is lying upon me, and I am unable to come”; but the blessed man was not moved, neither was he astonished, but with confidence and great courage he knocked upon the bones, saying, “Rise up, and get thee into darkness backwards.” Now when the devils heard this, they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Thou hast conquered us”; and they fled away ashamed.

208. Abbâ Anthony used to say, “Let us put God before our eyes continually; remember death and Christ our Redeemer; hate the world and everything which is therein; hate the world and all bodily pleasure; die unto this life, so that thou mayest live unto God, for God will require it of thee in the day of judgement. Be hungry, and thirsty, and naked; weep and mourn; watch and groan in thy heart; examine thyself [and see] if thou art worthy of God. Love labour and tribulation, so that thou mayest find God, and treat with contempt and despise the body, so that thy soul may live.”

209. An old man was asked, “What is the straight and narrow way?” And he answered and said, “The straight and narrow way is for a man to constrain his thoughts, and to restrain his desires for God’s sake, and this [is intended to be understood when] it is said, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed Thee.’ ”

210. Abbâ Poemen asked Abbâ Joseph, saying, “What am I to do when passions rise up against me, wishing to make me quake? Shall I stand up against them, and drive them away, or shall I allow them to enter?” The old man said unto him, “Let them shake thee, and do thou strive with them.” But to another brother who had come from Thebes, and gone down to Scete, and asked the same old man the same question, he spake differently; and when he returned from Scete to Thebes, he said before all the brethren, “I went to Abbâ Joseph, and I asked him, saying, ‘If passions draw nigh unto me, shall I drive them away so that they may not make me shake, or shall I permit them to enter into me?’ And he said unto me, ‘Thou shalt not let them draw nigh to thee in any way, but cut them off quickly.’ ” Now when Abbâ Poemen, who happened to be there, heard that Abbâ Joseph had spoken differently to that Theban, he rose up and went again to Abbâ Joseph, and said unto him, “Abbâ, I have believed in thee as in God, and I have revealed unto thee my thoughts, and behold, thou hast spoken unto that Theban in one way, and to me thou hast declared the opposite.” The old man said unto him, “Dost thou not know that I love thee?” And he answered and said unto him, “Yea, I do.” The old man said unto him, “Didst thou not say unto me, Tell me as if thou wast telling thyself? If, then, thoughts enter into thee, and thou art mingled with them, and thou givest and takest, and art not injured, they prove thee to be one who is tried and chosen especially. Now I spake unto thee as I would unto myself. But there are others whom the passions cannot even approach or touch, nevertheless it helpeth them to cut them off quickly.”

211. Abbâ John Kolob used to say, “I am like unto a man who is sitting under a great tree, and who seeth multitudes of wild beasts and creeping things coming towards him, and because he is unable to stand up against them, he runneth and goeth up the tree, and is delivered. In like manner I sit in my cell, and I see evil thoughts coming against me, and because I cannot stand against them I flee and take refuge in God by prayer, and I am delivered from the enemies, and I live for ever.”

212. Abbâ Hilarion was asked, “How can it be right for a strenuous brother not to be offended when he seeth other monks returning to the world?” The old man said, “It is meet that he should consider the hunting dogs which follow after hares, for as one of these dogs giveth chase to the hare so soon as he seeth it (now the other dogs which are his companions look at that dog as he runneth, and although they run with him for a certain time, they at length become exhausted and turn back, whilst he continueth his running by himself, and is not impeded in his headlong course, and he striveth to advance, and neither resteth nor ceaseth from running because of those who have remained behind, but he runneth until he hath overtaken that which he seeth, even as I have already said, and he feareth neither the stones which come in his way, nor the thorny brambles and briars, and passeth on among the thorns, and though often torn and lacerated thereby he neither resteth nor ceaseth from his course), so also for the brother, who wisheth to follow after the love of Christ, is it right to fasten his gaze upon the Cross until he overtaketh Him that was crucified, even though he see others who have begun to turn back.”

213. A brother asked an old man, saying, “What work ought the soul to do in order to produce fruits of excellence?” The old man said unto him, “In my opinion the work of the soul is as follows: To live in silence, persistent endurance, self-denial, labour, humility of body, and constant prayer. And a man should not consider the shortcomings of men, but his own lapses; if now a man will persist in these things the soul will after no great time make manifest the fruits of spiritual excellence.”

214. An old man used to say, “Strife delivereth a man over to anger, and anger delivereth him over to blindness of the mind, and the blindness of the mind maketh him to do everything which is bad.”

215. Abbâ Elijah used to say, “I am afraid of three things: When my soul shall be about to go forth from the body; and when I am about to go forth to meet Christ; and when the sentence of doom shall be about to be sent forth upon me.”

216. Abbâ John used to say, concerning the soul which wisheth to repent, thus: There was a certain harlot in the city who had many lovers, and a certain judge came and said unto her, “Consent to lead a good life, and I will marry thee”; and she agreed, and he took her and brought her up to his house. Now when her lovers wanted her, they said, “A judge hath taken her up to his house, and if we go to his door, and he learn about it he will punish us. But let us come behind the door and whistle to her, and she will recognize the whistle and will come down to us, and we shall be blameless.” And when the harlot heard the sound of the whistling, she sealed up the hearing of her ears, and she jumped up and went into the inner bed-chamber, and shut herself in. Now the harlot is the sinful soul, and the lovers are the passions, and the judge is Christ, and the house is the wakeful mind, and those who whistle to the soul are the wicked devils; but the soul always fleeth to God.

217. They used to tell a story of a certain great old man, and say that when he was travelling along a road two angels cleaved to him and journeyed with him, one on his right hand and the other on his left. And as they were going along they found lying on the road a dead body which stank, and the old man closed his nostrils because of the evil smell, and the angels did the same. Now after they had gone on a little farther, the old man said unto them, “Do ye also smell as we do?” And they said unto him, “No, but because of thee we closed our nostrils. For it is not for us to smell the rottenness of this world, but we do smell the souls which stink of sin, because the breath of such is nigh unto us.”

218. Abbâ Anthony besought God to inform him why young children died whilst so many old men lived, and why upright men were poor whilst the wicked were rich, and why some were blind and others had their sight, and why the righteous suffered from illness whilst the wicked were healthy, and a voice came, which said, “Anthony, take care of thine own self, for these matters are the judgements of God.”

219. Whilst Abbâ Sylvanus was sitting down and the brethren with him, he dropped into a stupor which was of God, and he fell upon his face; and after a long time, when he was standing up, he wept, and the brethren entreated him, saying, “What aileth thee, O father?” But he held his peace, and they continued to press him to tell them what [ailed him]. Then he answered and said unto them, “I have just been snatched away to the place of the judgement of God, and I have seen many who belonged to our order, that is to say, Christians, going to punishment, and many men who have lived in the world going into the kingdom”; and the old man mourned and refused to come out of his cell. And he covered his face with his cloak, saying, “Why should I seek to see the light of time wherein there is no profit?”

220. On another occasion his disciple Zechariah came to him, and found him in the stupor of prayer, and his hands were raised upto heaven, and he went out and closed the door; and he came [again] at the ninth hour, and found him in the same attitude, and when he came again about the tenth hour, and found him still in the same attitude, he knocked at the door, and then went in and found him in a state of silence. And he said unto him, “What hath happened unto thee to-day, O father?” And the old man said unto him, “My son, I felt weak and ill”; but the disciple laid hold upon his feet, saying, “I will not leave thee until thou tellest me what thou hast seen.” The old man said unto him, “Swear to me that thou wilt not reveal the matter unto any man until I go forth from the body, and then I will tell thee”; and the disciple entreated him, and the old man said, “I was snatched up into the heavens, and I saw the glory of God, and I remained there until now, when I was dismissed.”

221. On one occasion Abbâ Macarius went to Abbâ Anthony in the mountain, and he knocked at his door, and he went out unto him, and said unto him, “Who art thou?” And Macarius said unto him, “I am Macarius,” whereupon Abbâ Anthony closed the door and went inside, and left him outside, but when he saw the patient endurance of Macarius he opened the door to him, and said unto him with a smile, “O Macarius, I have been wishing to see thee for a long time past, for I have heard about thee”; and having welcomed him he made him rest and refresh himself, through his love for strangers, for Abbâ Macarius had [come] from great toil. Now when the evening had come, Abbâ Anthony soaked a few palm leaves in water for himself, and Abbâ Macarius said unto him, “Give the command, and I will soak some for myself,” and Abbâ Anthony said, “Soak [some]”; and he made up a large bundle for himself, and soaked it in water, and they sat down from the evening [until the morning], and they talked together about the redemption of souls as they plaited the palm leaves, and they threw their work into the cave through the window. And when the blessed Anthony went into the cave in the morning, and saw the heap of palm-leaf work of Abbâ Macarius, he marvelled, and he seized his hands and kissed them, saying, “Great strength hath gone forth from these hands.”

222. Abbâ Poemen said, “If a man will throw himself before God, and will not esteem himself, and will cast his pleasures behind his back, [he will find that] such things are the instruments of the work of the soul.”

223. The same old man also said, “If a man observeth his grade he will not be troubled.”

224. The same old man also said, “Make thou the desire of thy lust of no effect through the remembrance of God, and thou shalt find rest.”

225. He also said, “A certain brother went to Abbâ Sîmôn to ask him for a word, and although he remained with him for seven days the old man returned him no answer; but as he was making himself ready to go away he said unto him, ‘Go, and take good heed unto thyself, for at present my sins have become a dense wall between myself and God.’ ”

226. Abbâ Alônîs said, “If I had not hidden (or suppressed) myself wholly I should not have been able to build myself.”

227. The same old man said, “A man is not able to know outside himself the thoughts which are in him, but when they resist him from within, if he be a warrior, he will cast them out from him.”

228. The same old man also said, “A man, wheresoever he cleaveth, is built up; look not upon thy mind.”

229. The old man often said, “Esteem not thyself, but cleave thou to him that leadeth a good life.”

230. He also said, “[In] this [life] we do not discern matters, and it doth not permit us to profit by the things which are good.”

231. The old man said, “If a thought about some bodily need come to thee and thou cast it forth once, and it come to thee a second time, and thou drivest it away, if it come to thee a third time, look not upon it, because it is war.”

232. A father who was about to die said to his sons, “Dwell ye not with heretics, and have no converse with a brother who hath a sister, and have no business with the Government, and let not thy hands be spread out to gather in, but to give to the poor who are in need.”

233. On one occasion Abbâ Evagrius said unto Abbâ Arsenius, “Since we are without learning according to the world, and we have no wisdom whatsoever, [how is it that] these Egyptian villagers possess such spiritual excellences?” Abbâ Arsenius (or Abbâ Macarius) said unto him, “We possess nothing whatsoever of the learning of the world, but these Egyptian villagers have acquired spiritual excellences through their labours.”

234. On one occasion Abbâ Arsenius asked an Egyptian old man about the thoughts, and afterwards another brother said unto Abbâ Arsenius, “How is it that whilst thou hast so much learning, both Greek and Latin, thou askest questions about the thoughts of this villager?” Then Abbâ Arsenius said unto him, “With Greek and Latin learning I am well acquainted, but I have not yet learned the alphabet of this villager.”

235. Now on one occasion when the Archbishop wished to go to visit him, he sent a message to this effect to him, and the old man sent him [back] word, saying, “If thou comest I will open unto thee, and if I open unto thee I must open unto every man, and if I open unto every man I cannot remain here.” And when the Archbishop heard these things, he said, “If I would drive him away I must go to the old man, therefore I will not go.”

236. On one occasion a brother entreated him to let him hear a word from him; and the old man said, “As far as it lieth in thy power, lead an ascetic life; and work thou that secret work which is within, if it be for God’s sake, [for] it shall vanquish [thy] passions which are external.”

237. Abbâ Poemen said, “If there be three [brethren] together, and one leadeth a fair life of silent contemplation, and the other being a weak man giveth thanks, and the other singeth and prayeth with a lowly mind, all three are performing work [of equal merit].”

238. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, and said unto him, “Tell me: what meaneth it that thou dost not reward evil for evil?” Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “In this perception there are four divisions; the first is of the heart, the second is of the sight, the third is of the tongue, and the fourth is that in actions a man returneth evil for evil. If now thou art able to overcome the heart, thou wilt not come to the sight, but if thou comest to the sight, take heed that thou dost not speak with the tongue; but if thou speakest cut it off immediately, so that thou mayest not actually reward evil for evil; and this is the first of the four which a man may cut off, and the tongue is the second, and the third is the sight, and the fourth is the heart.”

239. The old man Anthony used to say also, “If the baker did not put a covering over the eyes of [his] animal, it would turn round and eat up its hire, and in like manner we also have received a covering by the operation of God, so that we may first of all be working good deeds without seeing them, so that we may not ascribe happiness to ourselves and so destroy the hire of our labour. Therefore are we left from time to time in unclean thoughts, and we see these only so that we may condemn ourselves, and those filthy thoughts may become a covering of the few good things which we perform. For when a man blameth himself he will not destroy his hire.”

240. Abbâ Moses asked Abbâ Sylvanus, saying, “Is it possible for a man to make a beginning each day?” And he said unto him, “If he be a man who is a worker it is possible for him to make a beginning every day.”

241. A brother asked Abbâ Sisoes, “Why do my thoughts not depart from me?” He said unto him, “Because thy things are within thee; give them their pledge and they will depart.”

242. A brother asked Abbâ Theodore, and said unto him, “If an earthquake were to take place suddenly wouldst thou not be afraid, O father?” The old man said unto him, “Even if the heavens were to cleave to the earth Theodore would not be afraid”; now he besought God formerly that trembling might be removed from him, and it was because of this fact that he who put the question to him asked him.

243. They used to say that when Abbâ Theodore was a deacon in Scete he refused to perform the ministrations of deacon, and that he fled to several places [to avoid doing so], but the old men would bring him back again, saying, “Thou shalt not forsake thy place.” Abbâ Theodore said unto them, “Permit me to make a request unto God, and if He permit me I will stand up in my place”; and when he made his petition to God, he said, “If it be Thy will, O my Lord, for me to remain, permit me [so to do].” Then there appeared unto him a pillar of fire [which reached] from earth to heaven, and a voice said unto him, “If thou art able to be like unto this pillar, go and perform thy ministrations”; but although he heard these things he would not consent to minister. And when he came to the church the brethren fell down before him and entreated him, saying, “If thou refusest to minister, at least hold the cup,” but he refused and said, “If ye will not allow me [to be] here [as I am], I will depart from these places”; and so they left him [there].

244. They used to tell a story about Abbâ Macarius the Great, who became, as it is written, an earthly God, for as God overshadoweth the world so also did Abbâ Macarius cover over the shortcomings which he saw as if he did not see them, and the things which he heard as if he heard them not.

245. On one occasion a maiden came to Abbâ Macarius to be healed of a devil, and a certain brother arrived from a monastery which is in Egypt, also, and the old man went out by night and saw that the brother was committing sin with that woman, but he did not rebuke him. And he said, “If God Who fashioned him seeth [him], and is long-suffering, for it He so desired He could consume him, who am I that I should rebuke him?”

246. I heard that the blessed man Anthony used to say, “God doth not permit wars to wax as fierce in this generation as as He did in the generations of old, for He knoweth that men are [more] feeble [now], and that they could not bear [them].”

247. Abbâ Macarius used to say to the brethren concerning the desert of Scete, “Whensoever ye see cells which are turned towards the wood, know that the fall thereof is near; and whensoever ye see trees planted near the doors, [know] that it is near the door; and whensoever ye see young men dwelling therein, then take up your possessions and depart.”

248. Abbâ Muthues used to say, “Satan knoweth not by means of what passion the soul may be conquered, but he soweth, not knowing whether he will reap; but with the thoughts of fornication, and of calumny, and of all the passions towards which he seeth the soul incline doth he fight against it, and fetter it.”

249. When, on one occasion, I was sitting with a certain old man at Oxyrhyncus, now this old man used to make great alms and oblations, a widow came to him and demanded a little wheat, and he said unto her, “Go and bring a measure, and I will measure out [some] for thee.” And when she had brought it, and he took the measure in his hand he said unto her, “This is too large”; and he put the widow to the blush. And when she had gone, I said unto the Abbâ and priest, “Wast thou selling the wheat to the widow?” and he said, “No; I gave it to her in charity.” Then I said unto him, “If thou didst give all this wheat to her in charity, why didst thou act harshly with her, and measure it, and [so] put her to shame?”

250. Three of the fathers came on one occasion to an old man at Scete, and one of them spoke to him, saying, “I repeat the Old and the New Testaments by heart”; and the old man answered and said unto him, “Thou hast filled the air with words”; and the other father spoke to him, saying, “I have copied the Old and New Testaments”; and the old man said unto him, “Thou hast filled the cupboards with quires of paper”; and the third father answered and said unto him, “In my fire-place the grass groweth”; and the old man answered and said unto him, “Thou hast also driven away the love of strangers from thee.”

251. Abbâ Poemen used to say that Abbâ Isidore used to twist into ropes a great bundle of palm leaves each night, and [on one occasion] the brethren entreated him, saying, “Rest thyself a little, for thou hast worked too much.” And he said unto them, “If we were to burn Isidore and to scatter his ashes to the winds, he would win happiness, for the Son of God came to the Passion because of us.”

252. A brother said to Abbâ Poemen, “If I stumble and commit a few minor sins my mind afflicteth me, and blameth me, and maketh accusations against me, saying, ‘Why didst thou fall?’ ” The old man said unto him, “Every time a man falleth into any shortcoming or folly, if he saith, ‘I have sinned,’ immediately God will receive him.”

253. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “It is not right for a man to be persuaded to the thought of fornication, or to utter calumny against his neighbour; and he should not in any way whatsoever incline towards these two thoughts, and he should not utter them, and he should not meditate upon such things in his heart. And if he desireth to think about them and to turn them over in his heart, he will not benefit thereby, but will rather suffer damage; but if he will act against such with ferocity, he will subsequently find rest.”

254. One of the brethren asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “Father, what shall I do when the thoughts of fornication bestir themselves in me, or any other of the evil passions which are injurious to the soul?” Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “The first time they come upon thee, flee; and the second time they come upon thee, flee also; and the third time they come, set thyself against them like a sharp sword.”

255. The same old man used to say, “Unless Moses had been gathering together sheep into the fold he would never have seen Him that was in the bush.”

256. On one occasion the brethren saw that Abbâ Joseph was sad, and that he was greatly distressed, and they asked him to tell them about his sorrow, and what was the cause thereof, but he was unable to speak to them; and they began to say each man among them to his companion, “What are the suffering and grief which possess the old man, for behold, we have dwelt with him for many years, and we never before saw him in such grief and suffering as this? Perhaps we have in some way offended him.” Then they threw themselves on their faces before the feet of the old man, saying, “Peradventure we have offended thee in some matter, O father, [and if we have] forgive us for Jesus’ sake.” And the old man made answer to them in a state of grief, saying, “Forgive ye me, O my brethren, for I am not offended by you, but I am grieved by myself, because I see that I am going backwards rather than forwards, and that I am the cause of offence and loss, not only to myself but also unto all the others. For I see that at this present we are trafficking, and are losing in respect of our souls very much more than we ever gained at any time of the profit of the fear of our Lord, because shamelessness and fearlessness have gained dominion over us. For in times past when the fathers were gathered together to each other they were wont to form bands and ascend into the heavens, but we are lax folk, and are dead in our sins. Whensoever we draw nigh to each other we come to speak that which is hateful about one another, and one by one we are raised up that we may descend to the bottom of the deepest abyss. And we do not make to sink ourselves and each other only, but also the fathers who come to us, and the strangers who gather together to us, and also the people who are in the world who visit us as if we were solitary monks, and as if we were holy men, and to these last we become a cause of stumbling and loss.”

“For thus also did Abbâ Sylvanus and Abbâ Lôt say unto me: ‘Let us not abide here any longer.’ And when I asked them, ‘Why do ye depart from us?’ they spake to me as follows: ‘Up to this day we have benefited by our abiding with the fathers, but from the time of Abbâ Pambô, and Abbâ Agathon, and Abbâ. Petra, and Abbâ John, the commandments of the fathers have been held lightly, and we do not observe the ordinances and the laws which our fathers laid down for us. And by assemblies together we suffer loss over and over again through the useless things which are spoken among us. And when we sit down at table, instead of doing so in the fear of God, and with gratitude, and eating that which God hath prepared for us with praise and thanksgiving, we occupy ourselves by conversing together and telling insipid stories; and as we sit at table in this fashion we become so much changed that we do not even hear what is being read to us on account of the noise of the profitless talk which we hold with each other. And besides this, after we have risen up from eating, we converse together with empty talk. What benefit is it to us to live in the desert, seeing that we profit nothing thereby?’ And Abbâ Lôt said, ‘Many times have I heard from brethren who are strangers, and from the people who live in the world, and who come to visit us, that we hold the commandments of the fathers lightly, and they have said of us, “We should never have thought that they were monks!” ’ And one of the brethren who were strangers said, ‘I have come to the fathers on several occasions, and [I see that] year by year they certainly observe less and less the early rules and conduct of the fathers.’ What now do ye wish? Will ye correct your lax behaviour, and observe carefully the commandments of our fathers, or must I also depart from you?”

And it came to pass that when the brethren heard these things, they beat the board for assembling the monks, and the whole brotherhood gathered itself together, and Abbâ Joseph spake unto them all the words which are [written] above. And when all the brethren heard the words of Abbâ Joseph, and learned the reason of his pain and grief, and that he wished to depart from them, they cast themselves down upon their faces weeping, and they expressed their contrition to him, saying, “Forgive us, O father, for the sake of Jesus. We have made God angry by our deeds, and we have caused thy holiness grief.” Then each of the fathers said, “Would that thou hadst rebuked us on the very first day wherein thou didst hear [about us] from the fathers, and that they had not departed from us! And would, too, that we had roused ourselves up from our slumber and sluggishness! But what are we to do? For the old men and the holy men do not teach us, and they do not even take their proper places in our congregations, or when we sit at meat. Very many of us wish to hear the histories and commandments of the fathers read, either whilst we are sitting at table or between one sitting and the next, but we are never able to hear a word of their talk.” And Abbâ Elijah said, “Abbâ Abraham and Abbâ John spake much at table, and at the time of reading, and at the time of the service; and they began to become excited against each other, and the one said, ‘Father, such and such a man is excited,’ and the other said, ‘Such and such a man maketh us excited.’ Now when Abbâ Joseph saw that the whole brotherhood was stirred up, he made supplication unto them, and besought them, saying, ‘I beseech you, O my brethren, to cease from your commotion, for God hath called us to peace, and I therefore beg you to come and pray, and to make supplication unto God that He may make to pass by us the legions and the host of the enemy. For, behold, I see them standing up in wrath and anger, with their swords drawn, and they wish to destroy us all if God doth not stand up to help our wretchedness.’ ”

And when he had said these things he was able, with some difficulty, to quiet them, and Abbâ Joseph himself began to sing the words of the harpist David, saying, “Their swords shall enter their own hearts, and their bows shall be broken, and God shall make them like a wheel and as dust before the wind. And God shall arise and all His enemies shall be scattered. O God, deliver me, O Lord, remain to help [me]” (Psalm 37:15; 83:13; 68:1; 7:1). And when they had recited the Psalms of the spirit altogether, and had made an end of the service, they said, “O holy God, O holy mighty One, O immortal holy One, have mercy upon us”; and they all knelt down in prayer. And as they were praying they heard the voices of the devils in the air, and the sounds of armour and of horses, and of many horsemen, and they also heard the voices of the devils who were saying to one another, “Ye shall not have mercy upon them.” And again they said, “O luckless monks, why do ye stand up against us?” If we were to do [what we could do] to you not one of you would be found on the face of the earth! We will never be absent from you, and we will never cease from you.

And after the filthy legion had been driven away by the secret power, and the wicked devils rested from their wickednesses, all the fathers rose up from the earth whereon they had been poured out in prayer, the earth having been adorned by their tears, and they all offered repentance unto Abbâ Joseph, saying, “Forgive thou us, and pray for us that the Lord may forgive us, for we have sinned and have provoked Him to wrath.” Then Abbâ Joseph said unto them: “Rouse ye yourselves, O my brethren, and take good heed unto your souls, for, behold, ye have heard with your ears the sound of the chariots of the Adversary, who threateneth us and seeketh to destroy us. Let every man be reconciled to his neighbour, and forgive ye every man from his heart the offence [which he hath committed]. And bind ye yourselves with the love of our Lord, with an urgent mind, and a pure heart, to the Lord and to each other. And draw nigh unto God that He may draw nigh unto you, and stand up against the Adversary, who is Satan. If ye wilt observe the commandments of the fathers, I will become a surety (or pledge) for you that Satan shall not be able to injure you, and that the Barbarians shall not come hither; but if ye will not observe them, believe me, O my beloved, this place shall be laid waste.”

And they offered repentance each to the other, and they became reconciled to each other, and lived in love and in great peace; and they laid down ordinances among themselves on that day to the effect that no man should henceforth conduct himself with negligence and without absence of fear; and that they should neither do nor say anything at the table which was alien [to their mode of life]; and that if any man be found hereafter despising and holding lightly the commandments of the fathers in such a way that he become an occasion of offence and a cause of loss, first to himself, and next to those who dwell with him, and then also to the strangers who come to us, he shall know that he is bringing a punishment upon him self, and that he shall become an alien to all the brotherhood. And Abbâ Joseph sent a brother to bring back Abbâ Sylvanus and Abbâ Lôt, and when these fathers knew what had taken place among the brethren, and that they had laid down ordinances to keep the commandments of the fathers, they praised God, and they rose up, and came, and [when] they saw Abbâ Joseph they saluted him and wept; and Abbâ Joseph told them everything which had taken place, and they glorified God Who had not rejected those who feared Him. And as regardeth the canons and the ordinances which they had laid down among themselves, the brethren observed and performed them all the days of their life; and they died at a good old age, [after] living lives which were well-pleasing unto God.

257. Abbâ Ammon used to say, “I have spent fourteen years in Scete in making supplication unto God by day and by night that He would grant me to overcome anger.”

258. An old man used to say, “Be like unto a camel when thou art loaded with thy sins, and be tied unto and cleave unto him that knoweth the way.”

259. One of the old men used to say, “Formerly, whensoever we met each other we used to speak words of profit about each other, and we formed companies, and were lifted up into the heavens; but now when we are gathered together, we come to hateful converse concerning each other, and we drag each the other down to the bottom of the deepest abyss.”

260. Abbâ Achilles came on one occasion to the cell of Abbâ Isaiah, and found him eating; now there were in the basin [from which he ate] water and salt, and the old man saw him hide the basin behind a mat. Then Abbâ Achilles said unto him, “Tell me, what wast thou eating?” And Abbâ Isaiah said unto him, “Forgive me, I was cutting some palm leaves, and I went up in the heat, and placed in my mouth a morsel of bread and salt; and my throat was dry by reason of the heat, and the food did not go down, and I was pained thereby, and I threw a little salt and water into my mouth, so that I might be able to eat. But forgive me.” The old man said unto him, “Come ye and see Abbâ Isaiah who eateth food which stinketh in Scete; if thou seekest to eat stinking food, get thee to Egypt.”

261. There was a certain monk who had a brother that lived in the world, and this brother was poor, and whatsoever the monk earned by the labour of his hands he used to give to his brother, but in spite of this the brother became poorer still. Then the monk went to one of the old men and told him the matter, and the old man said unto him, “If thou wilt hearken unto me thou wilt not give him any more, but wilt say unto him, ‘My brother, whilst I have anything to give I give it unto thee, but now thou must bring me some of what thou earnest by thy labour’; and whatsoever he bringeth unto thee, that take from him, and where thou knowest there is a stranger, or a poor old man, give it unto him”; and he entreated them to offer up prayer on his behalf. Then the monk went and did thus, and when his brother who lived in the world came to him, he spake unto him even as the old man had told him to do; and the brother went to his house with a sad mind. And on the first day he brought [to the monk] as the result of his labour a few garden herbs, and the monk took them and gave them to the old men, and entreated them to pray for him; and he was blessed and departed. And the old man who was in the world returned on another occasion and brought the monk bread and garden herbs, and his brother took them, and did [with them] as he did at first. Then he came a third time, and brought many costly gifts, and wine, and fish, and his brother saw [this] and wondered, and he called the poor and relieved them therewith. And the monk said unto his brother who was in the world, “Peradventure thou art in need of a little bread, O my brother?” And he said unto him, “Nay, my lord, whilst I took from thee that which used to enter into my house, I spent everything I had; but since I ceased to take anything from thee, God hath blessed me and hath had mercy upon me.” Then the monk went and informed the old man everything which had taken place, and the old man said unto him, “Knowest thou not that the labour of a monk is fire, and that wheresoever it entereth it consumeth? But it is beneficial for him to shew mercy from his own toil, and prayer from the holy men shall be upon him, and thus he shall be blessed.”

262. On one occasion whilst Abbâ Macarius was passing through Egypt with certain other brethren, he heard a child saying to his mother, “My mother, a rich man loveth me, but I hate him; and a poor man hateth me, and I love him”; and when Abbâ Macarius heard [this] he marvelled. And the brethren said unto him, “What is the [meaning of] these words, father?” The old man said unto him, “Verily our Lord is rich, and He loveth us, and we do not desire to hear Him; our Enemy, Satan, is poor, and he hateth us, and we love his hateful things.”

263. On one occasion, whilst Abbâ Zechariah was dwelling in Scete, there appeared unto him a vision from God, and he rose up and came to his father, Abbâ Kîrîôn, and the old man was perfect, and did not take pains to boast of these things. And he rose up [and smote him, and said unto him, “They are of devils”; and when he had thought about the matter a long time, he rose up] and went by night to Abbâ Poemen, and informed him about the matter, and how his thoughts were burning in his heart. Then the old man knew that the matter was of God, and he said unto him, “Get thee to such and such an old man, and whatsoever he saith unto thee that do.” And having departed to that old man, before he could tell him anything, the old man said unto him, “The vision is of God; but do thou go and be subject unto thy father.”

264. A certain old man from Scete was dwelling in the mountain of Pîlîsîôn, and there came unto him a man from the palace who had a devil, and he healed him, and the man who had had the devil offered him a bag which was full of gold, but the old man refused to accept it. Now when he saw that he was offended, the old man took the bag itself, which was empty, and he said unto him, “Go [and] distribute the gold among the poor and the wretched,” and he made the bag into a colubium, and wore it; now it was made of hair, and was very stiff, and he wore it for a long time so that he might vex his body.

265. Abbâ Longinus asked Abbâ Lucius three things, saying, “I wish to become a stranger”; the old man said unto him, “If thou dost not hold thy tongue, where wilt thou go? Wilt thou not become a stranger? Hold thy tongue here, and behold thou art a stranger.” And Abbâ Longinus said unto him also, “I wish to lead a twofold life”; and the old man said unto him, “If thou dost not bend thy neck like a hook thou art nothing; purify thy wicked thoughts.” Abbâ Longinus said unto him, “But I wish to flee from men”; and the old man said unto him, “If thou canst not set thyself straight first of all with men, thou wilt never be able [to live] by thyself.”

266. A brother asked Abbâ Joseph, saying, “I want to go out from the monastery, and live a solitary life”; the old man said unto him, “Where thou seest that thou wilt find rest for thy soul, there dwell.” And the brother said unto him, “I am content to live in the monastery, and I am content to live alone; what shall I do then?” The old man said unto him, “If thou art content to live in the monastery, and art [equally] content to lead a solitary life, do this: Weigh thy thoughts as it were in a balance, and the thought which outbalances the other, that fulfil.”

267. An old man used to say, “What beast is as mighty as the lion and yet for the sake of his belly he falleth into the snare, and all his strength is made weakness? in this wise also shall we fall if we be overcome by our bellies.”

268. An old man also said, “When the fathers of Scete were eating bread and salt they said, ‘We must not afflict ourselves overmuch with bread and salt’; and living in this wise they became valiant in the works of God.”

269. Whilst Abbâ Sylvanus was living on Mount Sinai brother Zechariah went to the work of the service [i.e., singing and prayer]; and when he had gone the old man said unto him, “Open out the water [courses] and water the garden.” Then he went forth straightway, and covered his face with his cloak, and he could see only his feet; and during the time when he was watering [the garden], a brother came to him, and he perceived what he was doing, and he went in to him, and made an apology, and entreated him, saying, “Tell me, O father, why thou didst cover thy face with thy cloak and didst in this manner water the garden?” The old man said unto him, “My son, [I did so] that mine eyes might not look upon the trees, and that my mind might not be distracted in its work, and become buried in the trees.”

270. They used to say that, [on one occasion], when a certain old man was sitting in his cell, a brother happened to come by night to go in to him; and when he arrived at the door, he heard his voice raised in a dispute, saying, “It is sufficient; how long? Get ye gone forthwith.” And again he said, “Come, come to me, my friends.” And when the brother had gone in to him, he said unto him, “With whom wast thou speaking, O father?” He said unto him, “I was driving away my evil thoughts, and calling my good thoughts to me.”

271. There was a certain old man who had a disciple who dwelt in the desert, and the old man took a piece of dry wood, and planted it, and he said to his disciple, “Pour a basin of water over it every day until this piece of wood beareth fruit.” Now the fountain of water was so far away from them that a man would set out for it in the evening and return the next morning. And the disciple did as he had been told, and after two or three years that wood became alive, and bore fruit, and the old man took the fruit thereof, and brought it to the church, and said unto the brethren, “Take ye, and eat the fruit of obedience.”

272. A certain brother on one occasion found on the road a piece of wood which had dropped from camels, and he came to the cell of his Rabbâ bringing it with him; and his Rabbâ said, “Whence hast thou this piece of wood?” And the brother said unto him, “From the road.” The old man said unto him, “If it be of the things which are taken from the road bring it inside; but if not, go and put it in the place wherefrom thou didst take it.”

273. They used to say that Zechariah, the disciple of Abbâ Sylvanus, took certain brethren, and without [the knowledge of] Abbâ Sylvanus, they broke through the fence of the garden, and enlarged the garden, and then built up the fence again. And when the old man learned this, he took [his cloak], and wrapped himself up therein, and went forth, and he said to the brethren, “Pray ye for me.” Now when they saw him, they fell down at his feet, saying, “Tell us, father, what hath happened to thee”; and he said unto them, “I will neither go inside [my cell], nor unwrap myself from my cloak until ye bring the fence back to its former position”; and [when they had done so] straightway the old man went into his cell.

274. They used to say that when the old man Rabbâ Magatîs went forth from his cell, and the thought rose up in his mind that he would depart from the place, he returned not to his cell; now he possessed nothing whatsoever of the things which are required in this world. But he took pleasure in the work of splitting up the palm leaves which he twisted into ropes, for he performed sufficient labour each day to provide him with the very small amount of food which he needed.

275. A brother asked an old man, saying, “If a certain brother cometh to me, and saith, ‘Perform an act of love, and come with me here, or go [with me] to a certain place,’ and I am inconvenienced by the command, what am I to do?” The old man said unto him, “If thou knowest that without offence thou canst fulfil the commandment, go, and it shall be accounted unto thee as an acceptable sacrifice; but if thou knowest that there will be some offence, thou shalt not go. And if thou dost go, take good heed to thy soul.”

276. A brother asked an old man, saying, “How is it that there are at this present men who labour, but who do not receive grace as the early fathers did?” The old man said unto him, “Formerly love existed, and one brother was raised up by the other; but now love hath grown cold, and we each drag the other down, and in consequence we do not receive grace.”

277. They used to say that when Abbâ Theodore dwelt in Scete, a devil came and wanted to go into him, and the old man perceived that he wanted to go into [his cell], but he kept him fettered outside. Then another devil came to go in, and the old man fettered him also, and a third devil also came, and finding the other two fettered by the door, he said unto them, “Why do ye stand outside here?” They said unto him, “He who dwelleth within will not permit us to go in”; and the third devil stirred up strife, and, holding Abbâ Theodore in contempt, made so bold as to go in. Now when the old man saw him he fettered him also, and being afraid of the prayers of the old man, they entreated him, saying, “Set us free.” And the old man accepted their petition, and released them, saying, “Get ye gone”; and then they departed being ashamed.

278. They used to say that a certain old man had a young man living with him, and that he one day saw him doing something which was not beneficial for him; and he said unto him once, “Thou shalt not do this thing,” but the young man hearkened not unto him. Now when the old man saw that he would not hearken unto him, he let him alone, and troubled no more about him; and the young man shut the door of the place where the bread was kept, and departed from the cell, and left the old man without bread for three days, and when he went back, the old man did not say unto him, “Where hast thou been?” or, “What hast thou been doing outside?” Now the young man treated the old man in this fashion, like a beast. Then afterwards, when one of the old man’s neighbours perceived the delay of the young man, he boiled a little food, and let it down to the old man from the wall, and made him eat it; and when, by chance, his neighbour said unto him, “The young man tarrieth a long time,” the old man said unto him, “He hath not tarried, but when he is disengaged he will come.”

279. A certain brother made a second key and opened the cell of one of the old men and took his money out of the cupboard, and the old man wrote on a piece of paper, saying, “Do me an act of love and leave me one half of my money, for I have need of it for my necessities”; and he divided the money (or oboli) into two parts, and laid the paper upon them. And the brother who stole the money came as usual, and he tore up the paper and took all the money. Now two years later that brother was forced to die, but his soul was not permitted to go forth from him, and then he called the old man, and made entreaty unto him, saying, “Father, pray on my behalf; it was I who took thy money.” Then the old man said unto him, “Why didst thou not confess this before the light became black to thee?” And the old man prayed and set free the spirit of that brother, and he sold his Book of the Gospel and made a memorial for him.

280. A certain man used to relate that an old man from Scete went up to the Thebaïd to dwell there, and according to the custom with those who are from Scete he made bread sufficient for his wants for several days. And behold, the men of the Thebaïd came to him, saying, “How is it that thou dost not keep the word of the Gospel which commanded men not to care for the morrow?” The old man said unto them, “What is your custom?” And they said unto him, “We work day by day with our hands, and we sell [what we make], and buy food for ourselves in the market.” The old man said unto them, “My market is my cell, and whensoever I have need I lay down the work of my hands, and take up food for myself.”

281. An old man used to say, “Discretion is the most excellent thing of all.”

282. They used to say that certain men came to plead a case for judgement before Abbâ Ammonius, and the old man paid no attention to them, but behaved as if he did not hear them; and behold, a woman said unto her companion, “This old man hath no stability.” And the old man heard her speaking thus to her companion, and he called her, and said unto her, “How many labours have I performed in the desert so that I might acquire this instability! Yet, through thee, I have destroyed this day.”

283. An old man used to say, “Do not eat before thou art hungry, and do not lie down before thou art sleepy, and do not speak before thou art questioned.”

284. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Do I eat too many garden herbs?” The old man said unto him, “It will not benefit thee [to do so], but eat bread and a few vegetables, and thou shalt not go to thy kinsfolk for the sake of things [to eat].”

285. An old man used to say, “It is meet that a monk should be like the Cherub—all eyes.”

286. An old man used to say, “For a man to attempt to teach his neighbour, when he hath not been required [so to do], is the same as offering him a rebuke.”

287. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Why doth a man distress himself to build the house of others, and not to over throw his own?”

288. He also used to say, “Why is it necessary for a man to enter by cunning, and not to learn [how to do so] properly?”

289. He also used to say, “Everything which is immoderate is from the devils.”

290. The old men used to say, “God demandeth nothing from Christians except that they shall hearken unto the Divine Scriptures, and shall carry into effect the things which are said in them, and shall be obedient unto their governors and the orthodox fathers.”

291. An old man used to say, “Whensoever I have been able to overtake my soul when I have transgressed, I never stumbled a second time.”

292. An old man used to say, “The man who setteth death before his eyes at all times easily overcometh dejection and littleness of soul.”

293. An old man used to say, “Take heed, with all thy might, not to do anything which deserveth blame, and do not take pleasure in making thyself acceptable.”

294. Abbâ Theodore used to say, “There is no spiritual excellence so sublime [as that which consisteth in] not despising a man and treating him with contempt.”

295. An old man was asked, “How, and by what means can the soul acquire humility?” And he made answer, saying, “By examining and enquiring into its own wickednesses only.”

296. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “All the spiritual excellences have entered into this monastery, with the exception of the one without which in labour [no] man standeth”; and they asked him, saying, “Which spiritual excellence is that?” and he said, “That which maketh a man blame and despise himself.”

297. The disciple of a certain old man and Rabbâ was attacked by the lust for fornication, and he went into the world, and betrothed to himself a wife; and the old man, being greatly grieved, prayed to God, and said, “O Lord Jesus Christ, do not Thou permit Thy servant to be defiled.” And it came to pass that when he was shut up with the bride in the bedchamber he yielded up his spirit, and he was not polluted with the union of marriage.

298. An old man used to say:—“If temptation come upon a man, and attack him on all sides to such a degree that his mind falleth into despair, and he murmureth, all his friends will turn away their faces from him as if by reason of the temptation”; and he related the following story (in illustration of this statement) and said: “There was a monk in a cell, and temptation came upon him, and all his friends and beloved ones who met him refused even to salute him, and not one of them would allow him to enter into his cell. If he lacked provisions, and wanted a man to lend him some, none would lend him, and he was compelled by reason of his tribulation to go and work in the harvest field; and when he came back he did not find any bread in his cell. Now it was the custom among the holy men that every man who went to work in the harvest field should on his return eat in the church, but when that brother came on the Sabbath no man took him and gave him refreshment in the usual way, and he went to his cell, and he gave thanks unto God without complaining. Now when God saw his patient endurance, He abated the temptation in him, and straightway a man came and knocked at his door; and he had with him a camel carrying bread which had been sent to him from Egypt; then he began to smite himself and to weep, saying, ‘I am not worthy [of this].’ And the temptation having departed, all the fathers took him, and gave him refreshment, and they persuaded him to let them take him to their cells, and through his patient endurance he found great benefit.”

299. On one occasion certain Greeks came to give gifts of grace in the city of ’Estarkînâ, and they took with them the stewards of the city that they might show them what it was necessary for them to give them, and they took them to a certain brother who had elephantiasis, but he refused to accept anything, saying, “Behold, I have these few palm leaves, I will work at them, and weave ropes, and will eat bread.” Then they carried them to a certain widow, and they knocked at the door, and her daughter answered from inside, for she was naked, now her mother had gone out to work, for she was washing clothes and lived by her labour. And when they saw that the maiden was naked, they gave her clothes and money, but she refused to accept them, saying, “My mother will come, and say unto me, ‘My daughter, God hath willed [it], and I have found some work to-day, and again we have sufficient food for this day.’ ” Then when the mother came, she refused [to accept the apparel and money], and said unto them, “O ye men, I have One Who provideth for me, that is, God, and ye seek to take away from me this day Him that hath provided for me all my days”; and when they saw her faith they glorified God.

300. A certain man offered gold to one of the aged fathers, saying, “Take [it] and let it be to thee for expenses, because thou hast grown old”; now the old man was an Arian, and he answered and said unto him that had given [the gold] to him, “Hast thou come to take away from me Him that hath reared me for sixty years? For it is sixty years since I have been in this sickness, and I have wanted for nothing because God fed me and provided for me”; and he would not consent to accept anything.

301. One of the fathers told the following story, saying, “I was in the room for receiving strangers, and some poor folk came to receive charity at eventide on the Sabbath, and there was among them only one man who had a mat to lie upon when they lay down; and he threw it down under him, and then reclined upon it. Now it was exceedingly cold, and he took a half of the mat from under him and covered himself over therewith, and he reclined on the other half. And I went out during the night and heard him complaining about the cold, and then the man turned to himself and said, ‘I give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, because how many are the rich men, and the owners of possessions who are at this present moment lying in irons, and in afflictions, and in prisons, and there are, moreover, others whose feet have been put in the stocks, who are unable to turn round to any side, whilst I, like a king, can spread out my feet and lie down, and besides this, I can go whithersoever I please.’ And when he had said these things, now I was standing up listening to him, I went in and told them to the brethren, and they benefited by the words of that poor man.”

302. An old man used to say, “Let me think first, and pray next, and then let us begin the work, and afterwards let us boast ourselves in God.”

303. A certain brother asked an old man, saying, “Why is it that I feel disgusted when sitting in my cell, and why am I sluggish in respect of works of spiritual excellence?” And the old man answered and said unto him, “Because thou dost not keep in mind the rest which those who labour expect, and the torments which are laid up for the lazy. For if, in very truth, thou wert seeing these things, thou wouldst be watchful and strenuous in thy labour.”

304. An old man used to say, “The man who maketh a boast of the Name of God, and who doeth not the works which are suitable to that Name, is like unto a poor man who, when a feast cometh, borroweth some clothes and putteth them on, and who, when the feast hath passed, strippeth them off himself because they are not his own, and giveth them to their owners.”

305. Abbâ Ammon used to say concerning Abbâ Paphnutius the Simple, who was from Scete, “When I went down there I was a young man, and he would not allow me to dwell there, saying, ‘In my days I will not permit the faces of young men, which resemble those of women, to dwell in Scete, because of the war of the Enemy against the holy men.’ ”

306. Abbâ Poemen (or Ammon) used to say, “If Nûzardân (Nebuzaradan), the chief of the warriors, had never come to the land of Judea, he would never have burnt down the temple of God which was in Jerusalem with fire”; [now the meaning] of these words is, that if the pleasures of the lust of the belly had never entered in on the soul the mind would never have been vanquished in the war of the Adversary.

307. A certain man asked Abbâ Sisoes, saying, “Hast thou not even yet arrived at the measure of Abbâ Anthony, our father?” And the old man answered and said, “If I had even one thought like unto Abbâ Anthony, the whole of me would become like unto fire; but I know one man who, even with great labour, is able to bear his thoughts.”

308. Abbâ Abraham asked Abbâ Agathon, saying, “How is it that the devils make war upon me?” And Abbâ Agathon said unto him, “Do the devils make war upon thee? But they do not make war against us so fiercely as we ourselves do with our own wishes, though they do make war against us in proportion as our wishes do. Our desires become devils, and they force us to fulfil them. Now if thou wishest to see against whom they have made war, [it is] against Moses and those who resemble him.”

309. A brother asked an old man, saying, “In what condition is it meet for a monk to be?” And he said, “Even as I myself am, if one may [compare] one man with another.”

310. And an old man was also asked, “Why am I afraid when I go about in the desert?” The old man said unto him, “Because thou art still alive.”

311. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Why doth my spirit go round and round violently?” And he said unto him, “Because thou hast not yet seen the storehouse of life.”

312. And he was also asked, “What is it meet for a monk to do?” And he said, “Let him perform all kinds of good works in very deed, and let him acquire remoteness from every evil thing.”

313. And he was also asked, “What is a monk’s work?” And he said, “He must possess discretion.”

314. An old man said, “Unto every thought that riseth up in thee say, “Art thou of us, or of our enemies?” And the thought will always make confession unto thee.

315. Abbâ Agathon used to say, “The crown of the monk is humility.”

316. Abbâ Isidore said, “When I was a youth and was living in a cell, I possessed not the capacity for the service [of prayer and praise], for by night and by day there was service to me.”

317. He also said, “For forty years, I neither leaned upon anything nor lay down.”

318. He also said, “I was standing forty nights, and did not lie down.”

319. He also said, “For twenty years I continued to fight against one thought—that I might see all men of one mind.”

320. An old man was asked, “Why is it that whilst I am sitting in my cell my heart wandereth about?” The old man said to his questioner, “Because thine external lusts feel the motions which are in hearing, and in breathing, and in taste, for from these, if it be possible for a man, there is pure labour, and he should make them to be healthy and satisfied within.”

321. An old man was asked, “How is it possible for a man to live so that he may be seemly in God’s sight?” and he said to him, “[It is possible if a man have an] equable [mind].”

322. An old man also said, “Our labour is wood which burneth away.”

323. Abbâ Benjamin said unto his disciples, “Do these things and ye shall be able to live. Rejoice at all times, and pray without ceasing, and give thanks for everything.”

324. He also said, “Abstinence in respect of the soul consisteth in making straight its ways and habits, and courses of action, and in cutting off the passions of the soul.”

325. He also said, “Travel in the path of the kingdom, and count the miles, and thy spirit shall not be sad in thee.”

326. An old man said, “Thou must be in the same state of fear as a man who is going to endure tortures.”

327. An old man used to say, “A man shall not trouble, but let him like a life of silent contemplation, and hide himself, for these meditations (?) are the begetters of purity.”

328. An old man used to say also, “Thou shalt desire to become a eunuch, for this will help thee.”

329. He also said, “The giving of thanks maketh entreaty on behalf of the feeble before God.”

330. An old man used to say, “I do not as yet carry all my body so that I may fulfil all my desire.”

331. Abbâ Sisoes said, “Exile consisteth in a man living a silent and solitary life.”

332. One of the fathers said, “I once asked Abbâ Sisoes and besought him to speak a word of life to me, and the old man answered and said, He who taketh care to guard himself against esteeming himself, and against comparing himself [with other men] in every work of understanding (or discretion), is he who fulfilleth the Book.”

333. And I asked him also, “In what doth the power of exile consist?” And he said unto me, “Wheresoever thou dwellest hold thy peace; and about whatsoever thou seest, be it good or be it evil, say nothing; and if thou hearest anything from a man which befitteth not the upright conduct of the ascetic life, say, ‘This concerneth me not; I have to do with myself, and myself only.’ This is [the power of] exile.”

334. One of the old men said, “The love of the work of the hands is the ruin of the soul; but the stablishment thereof is rest and peace in God,”

335. Abbâ Theodore said, “If I did not cut off my soul from the friends of this world they would not let me be a monk.”

336. He also said, “If we seek God He will reveal Himself unto us, and if we lay hold upon Him He will protect us.”

337. On one occasion certain of the old men were sitting and talking about the thoughts, and one of them said, “They would not appear to be a great matter if a man were to see his thoughts from a distance.”

338. Another [old man] said, “I have never allowed error to have dominion over me even for an hour.”

339. Abbâ Poemen said, “As long as the food which is being boiled is on the fire the flies will not approach it, but as soon as it is taken off they cluster round it”; the meaning of this is that as long as our hearts are fervent in the spirit impure thoughts will not approach us, but that if we are negligent and make ourselves to be remote from the converse (or occupation) of the spirit they will then gain dominion over us.

340. An old man used to say, “It is necessary to make enquiries concerning spiritual works, for through them we advance in excellence; for it is great labour for us to go forth from the body in such wise that we do not perform the works of the body.”

341. An old man used to say also, “Affliction and poverty are the instruments wherewith a monk cultivateth his handiwork.”

342. Certain of the old men used to say, “Whosoever hath not the instruments of the craft of labour cannot remain long in his cell, whether they be the instruments of the craft of the labour of spiritual beings, wherewith he findeth comfort from God in his inner man in the spirit, or the instruments of the craft of human labour. He who possesseth not the one or the other class of instruments cannot remain very long in his cell.”

343. The spirit of God rested upon Abbâ John because of the fear in which he held God; for it is the fear of God which teacheth a man all good works.

344. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Abbâ Paphnutius was exceedingly great and mighty, and he ran at all times to minister unto shortcoming.”

345. An old man was asked by a brother, “How should a monk dwell in his cell?” The old man said unto him, “Let him dwell by himself, so that his thoughts may be with God.”

346. And a brother also asked him, saying, “What shall I do, for when I am by myself I am greatly afflicted by the multitude of evil thoughts of all kinds which crowd upon me, and by the weight of the disgust which troubleth me?” The old man said unto him, “Give thy soul work, that is to say, have a care to pray and have love towards God, and straightway the spirit of Satan will flee from thee.”

347. An old man used to say also, “If thou doest something which is good, and thou art praised for it, destroy it; guard thyself against the thoughts which praise thee, and which hold thy neighbour in contempt.”

348. Abbâ Isidore’s thoughts praised him, saying, “There is none like unto thee among the fathers”; and he said, unto them, “Am I like Anthony or Abbâ Agathon?” And the devils said unto him, “After all the labours which thou hast performed thou wilt go to torment”; and he said unto them, “And ye also will be below me. For a thief through one word inherited the kingdom.” And Judas also, who wrought mighty deeds with the Apostles, in one night lost all his labour, and he went down from heaven to Sheol; therefore let not him that conducteth himself uprightly boast himself. For all those who have been over confident about themselves have fallen among the devils of greed. Retard thou then [thy desire], saying, “Thou hast had enough; wait a little,” and eat thou temperately and slowly. For he who hasteth in his eating is like unto him that seeketh to eat much.

349. An old man saw sitting among the brethren a brother who pretended not to be of them, and he said unto him, “How canst thou walk in a country which is not thine?”

350. They used to say that Abbâ Poemen never wished to magnify his word over that of any old man, but in everything he praised his and belittled his own.

351. There was a certain monk who led a life which was full of severe ascetic labours, and the Devil laid many plans and schemes to make him abate them, and to make him to desist therefrom; but the monk would not give him a hearing in any way whatsoever, but, on the contrary, he played the man more strenuously than ever, and resisted his wiles and crafts. Now when the Devil had spent much time in this strife against him, another devil came to help him; and having enquired of his companion what manner of war and battle he should set in array against him, and how it was that the holy man was abating and making an end of all the things which he was making [against him], the accursed devil who had come last, answered and said by the counsel of the Evil One, “Do not lift up thyself below him, but raise up thyself above him, and in this way thou shalt be able to be stronger than he.”

352. An old man asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “What shall I do, father, with my son Isaac, who hearkeneth unto me with pleasure?” Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “If thou wishest to be of benefit to him, shew him [an example] by deeds and not by words, lest through observing words only he be found useless; for if thou wilt shew him by deeds, the deeds themselves will abide with him, and he will profit.”

353. Certain of the fathers said to Abbâ Macarius the Egyptian, “Whether thou eatest or whether thou fastest, thy body hath already dried up”; and the old man said unto them, “A piece of wood which hath been burned and consumed by the fire burneth wholly, and thus also the heart of a man, if he be purified by the fear of God, consumeth the lusts from his flesh, and drieth up his bones.”

354. Abbâ Theodore used to say, “If God imputeth to us carelessness in prayer, and the snare in [His] service wherein we have been captured, we shall not be able to stand.”

355. They used to say of one of the old men that he had passed twenty years in the church, and had never lifted his eyes and seen the roof thereof.

356. There was a certain monk whose name was Paul, and his rule of life and conduct was such that he did not approach the excessive labour of the work of the hands, nor any trafficking whatsoever, except such as was sufficient to provide for his small amount of daily food; but he performed one sort of work of excellence, that is, he prayed continually and ceased not, and he laid down the rule for himself that he should pray three hundred prayers each day, and he placed sand in his bosom, and at every prayer which he prayed, he would lay one grain of sand in his hand. Now this man asked Saint Macarius, saying, “Father, I am greatly afflicted”; and the old man pressed him to tell him the cause of his affliction. Then he answered and said, “I have heard about a certain virgin who hath led an ascetic life for thirty years, and Father Pîôr related concerning her that every week she went forth and recited five hundred prayers in the day. Now when I heard these things I despised myself greatly, for I am not able to recite more than three hundred prayers.” Then the holy man Macarius answered and said unto him, “I have led an ascetic life for sixty years, and I make fifty prayers a day, and I work sufficiently to provide myself with food, and I receive the brethren who come to me, and I say unto them what it is seemly to say, and I pay my debts, and my mind doth not condemn me as one who hath treated [God] lightly; but thou who makest three hundred prayers in the day, art thou condemned by thy thoughts? Perchance thou dost not offer them with purity [of heart], or thou art able to do more, and dost not do it!”

357. I used to know a certain holy man whose name was Aurelius, and he laboured so hard that he might have been thought to be a shadow because of his disposition to work; during the Forty Days’ Fast he used to pass whole weeks [without eating], and in respect of the other days he would eat only once every two or three days.

358. An old man was asked [by a brother], “If I see the sin of my brother am I to despise him?” And the old man said, “If we hide [the fault] of our brother God will also hide our [faults]; and if we expose our brother’s [faults], God will also expose ours.”

359. An old man was wont to say, “There was a brother whose name was Timothy, and he used to lead a life of silent contemplation in a religious house; and a temptation came upon one of the brethren of that house, and the head of the house asked Timothy, saying, ‘What shall I do to this brother?’ Timothy said unto him, ‘Expel him’; and when he had expelled him, the temptation of that brother was sent upon Timothy, and he cried out to God, saying, ‘I have sinned, O my Lord, have mercy upon me.’ And he passed the whole night in a grave of dead men, crying out and saying, ‘I have sinned, O my Lord, forgive me,’ and the temptation was upon him until he was greatly exhausted. And a voice came to him, saying, ‘Timothy, do not imagine that these things have happened unto thee for any other reason than because thou didst offend thy neighbour in the time of his trial.’ ”

360. A brother asked an old man, saying, “How shall I be able to avoid despising my brother?” The old man said unto him, “We and our neighbour are two faces. Now if we provide the mirror of prayer we shall see the beam in our own eye, and we shall also see in the mirror the face of our brother polished and pure.”

361. A brother asked an old man and said, “What shall I do? For there is no feeling in my soul, and I have no fear of God.” The old man said unto him, “Seek thou out a man who feareth God, and then cling closely to him, and from him thou shalt learn to fear God.”

362. Abbâ Poemen said that Abbâ Athanasius used to say, “Unless a man possess good works before God giveth him a gift because of himself, it is well known that no one can be made perfect through the weariness which cometh to him through himself; but if he reveal [it] to his neighbour, he will then receive the gift because of his neighbour, and be gratified.”

363. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Shew me a word whereby I may live.” The old man said unto him, “Work with thy hands with all thy power, and give alms.”

364. They used to say that Abbâ. Copres attained to such a measure [of perfection] that even when he was sick and wanted something, he would cut off his desire from that which his soul asked him [to give it]; and he would give thanks unto God and endure his sickness with joy and without complaint.

365. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, “What is the meaning of these words which the Prophet spake, ‘My heart shall rejoice in those that fear Thy name’?” (Psalm 33:21.) And the old man answered and said, “The Holy Spirit spake this word to man even unto death, and [unto] to-day also.”

366. An old man also said, “If a man were to make new heavens and new earth he would not be able to be free from care, because the wickedness of the devil is hidden behind them; but for a man to have no care either for his raiment or his food is possible.”

367. A [brother] also asked an old man, “What shall I do in respect of that which I love, but which is not profitable to me?” The old man said unto him, “Approach it not, and touch it not, and it will of its own accord become an alien thing unto thee. For David the Prophet wrote unto Joab the captain of the host, and said unto him, ‘Hold fast on the war, and fight mightily against the city until thou dost subdue it’ (2 Samuel 11:25). Now in this case the city is enmity.”

368. Anthony said, “The greatest might of a man is to bring upon his soul his transgression at all times before God, and he must expect temptation until the end.”

369. An old man used to say, “This is the rule of conduct which God gave to Israel, that he should remove himself from that which is outside nature, that is to say, anger, and wrath, and envy, and hatred, and evil-speaking, and a man must not judge his neighbour, together with all the other commandments of the olden time.”

370. On one occasion certain of the brethren came to Abbâ Sisoes in order that they might hear some profitable words, and when they had spoken much with him, he said nothing unto them about whatsoever they had said, but only, “Forgive me.” Then they saw that he was plaiting palm leaves, and they said unto Abraham his disciple, “What are ye doing with these palm-leaf ropes and mats?” And he said unto them, “We send them out here and there.” Now when the old man heard this he said, “Sisoes eateth here and there.” And when they had heard [these things] they were greatly profited, and they departed in great joy because they had seen his humility.

371. Abbâ Copres said, “Whosoever loveth the gratifying of his own will more than the gratification of the will of God hath no fear of God.”

372. A brother asked Abbâ Amônîs, saying, “How ought a man to act when he wisheth to begin some [kind of] work, or when he wisheth to go or to come, or to go from one place to another, so that action may be according to the will of God, and may be free from the error of devils?” The old man said unto him, “He must first consider in his mind and see the motive of that which he wisheth to do, and whence it cometh, and if it be from God or Satan, or from the man himself, and then let him do the work [which he contemplateth], but let him flee from going and coming, and from going from one place to another. If he [acteth] not [thus] he will finally become a laughing-stock for the devils. But afterwards let him pray and beseech God that that work which is His he may do, and then let him begin the work, and afterwards he may boast in God.”

373. He also said, “Bear with every man in such a way that God may also bear with thee.”

374. The disciple of Abbâ Ammon told the following story:—One night the old man came out and found me lying down in the courtyard of the cell, and he stood up above me, and with lamentation and tears said, “Where is the mind of this brother who can thus lie down (or sleep) without care?”

375. There was a certain priest in Thebaïs whose name was Dioscurus, and he was the spiritual father of many monks, and at the time when they were about to receive the Holy Mysteries he used to say to the brethren, “Take thought and see lest any man among you have been snared by the phantom of a woman during the night, and he be so bold as to receive the Holy Mysteries. Now the emissions which occur as the result of a phantom are not caused by the desire of a man, but take place independently thereof, for they happen naturally, and are due to the excess of matter [in the body], and they do not, therefore, lead [a man] into subjection to sin. But the phantoms which arise from the desire are the sign of an evil wish. For it is meet that the monk should be superior to the law of nature, and that he should not be found with the smallest impurity of body, but that he should waste the body and humble it, and should not permit any superfluity of matter to be found therein. Work out plans, then, that thou mayest cut off [the superfluity of] matter by means of a long period of fasting, for if we do not thus it will in cite the other lusts to come upon us; and it is not meet that a monk should be occupied with the lusts which rise up in him daily. And if we do not thus, in what way are we different from those who live in the world? For we have observed that men of this kind often make themselves to be remote from the desires of their lust, either for purposes of bodily health, or for other reasons which are not worth mentioning; how very much more, then, should it thus be especially a care to the monk for the sake of the health of his spirit, and of his soul, and of his body!”

376. They used to say that Abbâ Macarius the Alexandrian at one time dwelt in a cave in the desert, and that beyond his cave was another wherein dwelt a panther; one day when he opened the door of his cave the panther came in and did homage to the blessed man, and she drew nigh and took hold of the corner of his garment, and dragged him along gently and went outside. And the old man answered and said, “What can this animal want?” And he went with her until she arrived at her cave, and she left him outside, and went in and brought out her young, which were blind, and dropped them at his feet; and when he saw them, he prayed, and spat in their eyes, which were opened straightway, and the panther gave them suck, and took them and went inside. And on the day following the panther came bringing a sheepskin, and she approached and placed it before him; then the old man smiled to himself at the discernment and knowledge which the animal had shewn, and he took the skin and slept upon it, until it was quite worn out.

377. Now on another occasion, when the door of his cell was shut, and the old man was sitting in his courtyard, that panther leaped down into the courtyard from the wall and came to him carrying one of her young in her mouth; and when the old man saw that the little panther was blind, he spat in its eyes, and they were opened, and its mother took it and departed. And one day later she brought to the blessed man a sheepskin, and the blessed woman Melania told me, saying, “I received this same skin from the hands of the old man as a gift.”

378. A brother asked an old man, saying, “Whatshall I do if when I have given to my brother a little bread or money, the devils pollute it, as if [it were given to gain] the approbation of men?” The old man said unto him, “Even though the adulation of men may come, we must give to our neighbour that which is necessary,” and the old man adduced a proof of this statement, and said, “Two men dwelt in a certain city, and one sowed [a field] and produced a crop of somewhat dirty grain, but the other sowed [no field] at all, and produced no crop of any kind, neither clean nor dirty; in the time of tribulation which of these two men would live [and not die] of hunger?” And the brother said unto him, “He who produced the crop of dirty grain”; and the old man said unto him, “Let us then produce a few [good actions], even though they be defiled, so that we may not die in the time of famine.”

379. An old man used to say, “Dainty meats remove [a man] from heavenly honours. For satiety, and luxurious living in this world, and the multitudes of lustful habits shut the door in our face and prevent us from entering into the happiness of God. Consider now the history of the rich man and Lazarus; what was it that carried Lazarus into the bosom of Abraham? Was it not the immeasurable troubles among which he had been brought up? And what brought the rich man to Gehenna? Was it not the pleasures and lusts which were flaming within his body? Each one of us, then, according to his measure, by the nod of the fire of his person which is found with him, shall receive his deserts in the world which is to come; and each one of us, unless he be watchful, shall be shaken up with the wood, and the straw, and the stubble. And since it is necessary for us to extinguish carefully the lusts which bestir themselves in us, we have need [to drink] water, and not wine.”

380. An old man used to say, “True obedience is like unto a chaste woman who is betrothed, and who is not drawn aside after strange voices; and the ear which turneth away, ever so little, from the truth, is like an adulterous woman who turneth away from her husband; and the mind which is led by every doctrine of error is like unto a harlot, who obeyeth every one who calleth her. Let us then rebuke the wandering mind which is corrupted by strange voices, and which loveth the voice of its seducer instead of that of the true bridegroom; for it hath accepted to be called by the name of a stranger, and not by that of Christ.”

381. An old man used to say, “If thou hast prayed for thy companion thou hast also prayed for thyself, but if thou hast prayed for thyself only thou hast impoverished thy petition; and if thou hast shown that thy brother hath offended thee, thou hast also shown that thou hast offended thyselt. Those prayers, which have not taken their mind with them when they have ascended and gone up, stand outside the door, and it is love which openeth the door before them. The prayer which possesseth not the wings of the spirit to [mount up] on high standeth before the mouth of him that prayeth it, and thinking that it hath flown away he doth not perceive that it remaineth [near him]. Offer with thine offering salt, as it is written (Leviticus 2:13). Let the love of thy Lord be salt for thy sacrifice, for the sacrifice which hath not salt through His love is despised and rejected before Him.”

382. One of the holy men used to say thus:—“I have passed the whole period of twenty years in striving so that a strange thought might not enter into my heart, and I have seen Satan, until the ninth hour, with his bow stretched ready to shoot an arrow into my heart; and when he could not find an opportunity, he was filled with disgust, and he would depart each day, having been put to shame.”

383. An old man said, “If thou art a [true] penitent thou hast nothing whatsoever to do with these who are in the world.”

384. There was a certain holy man in Egypt who dwelt in the desert, and a little way beyond him was an elder (or priest), who was a Manichean; and this Manichean was obliged to make a journey and to go to one who was of the same faith as himself, and as he was going along the road, he arrived at eventide at the place where the holy man lived, and the Manichean was in great distress, for he had no place near at hand wherein to enter. Now he was afraid to go to the holy man, for he thought that he would recognize him, and would not allow him to enter [his cell]; nevertheless, being sore pressed, and not knowing where [else] to go, he knocked at the door of that holy man; and he opened the door, and the Manichean went in, and the holy man received him with gladness, and he knew who he was, and he urged him to pray, and he relieved all his wants, and the Manichean slept, and was refreshed. And it came to pass during the night that the Manichean came to himself, and said, “How is it that there is nothing which it was seemly to do which this blessed man hath not done for me? Verily this is a man of God.” Then he rose up and fell down at his feet, and said, “From this day onwards I shall believe as thou believest”; and he turned to the truth, and he became a friend of the holy man and lived with him always.

385. I have heard that Abbâ Isaac said concerning Abbâ Muthues his Rabbâ, now they both arrived at the dignity of the episcopacy, that first of all Abbâ Muthues built his monastery in the country of the Harbĕlâyê (Herakleans), but that being much troubled by the multitudes who came to him, he left that place, and departed, and went to another spot in order that he might find quietness, and he built a monastery for himself there. And by the operation of Satan as it were, he found there a certain brother with whom he was at enmity, and he afflicted him greatly; and the old man saw [this], and he rose up and departed to his village, so that the man might not be vexed through him, and there he built a monastery, and shut himself in it. Now after a time, the fathers of that place wherefrom Abbâ Muthues had departed gathered together, and they took that brother who was aggrieved, and they went to him in order to entreat him and to bring him to his monastery; and when they had arrived at the place where Abbâ Sôrîôn used to dwell, they left their cloaks there, and the aggrieved brother was with them. And when the fathers had knocked, the old man brought forward a ladder, and he recognized them, and said unto them, “Where are your cloaks?” And they said, “They are here with us, with such and such a brother.” Now when the old man heard the name of that brother, in sheer joy he took an axe and opened the door, and he ran to the place where that brother was, and the holy man fell at the feet of the saint, and he made entreaty to him, and he kissed him, and saluted him, and he brought him and the fathers to his cell, and he refreshed both him and them for three days; and he made ready a meal, which he was not in the habit of doing, and he rose up and went with them with great joy. Now afterwards he was called to the office of Bishop, and he became a worker of signs and miracles, and he also made his disciple Abbâ Isaac a Bishop, and he continued to lead a life of spiritual excellence until the end of his life.

386. They used to say of Abbâ Serapion, the Bishop, that whensoever a man came to him to receive the monastic garb, he said these words to him, “When thou prayest say, ‘Lord, teach me to do Thy will.’ ”

387. On one occasion Abbâ Paphnutius was living in a remote desert, and it happened that a certain brother came to him and found him sick, and the brother took him, and washed him, and of the food which he had with him he boiled a little, and brought it to him to eat. And when he saw [this] he answered and said, “In very truth it had passed from my mind that this gratification for the children of men existed”; and he brought him a cup of cream. Now when the old man saw him, he wept, and said, “I never expected that, even to the day of my death, I should drink wine.”

388. One of the fathers told a story, saying: “On one occasion two brethren according to the body came to the desert to a certain monk, and they conducted themselves in an excellent manner, and they were praised by the whole brotherhood. And it came to pass that one of them fell into a sickness which lasted not a few years, and his brother ministered unto him, and certain fathers came to visit him, and they began to praise him that ministered unto him, saying, ‘Thy willingness and thy abstinence profit the whole brotherhood.’ And he answered and said unto them with great humility, Forgive me, O my fathers, for I have not as yet begun to lead a life of rule, but it is my brother who doeth the works of excellence, and that ye may indeed learn that such is the case, come after me and see.’ ” Then he took them in to his brother in the cell wherein he lay, and he said unto him, “Father, where is the axe which I gave thee yesterday?” And he began to seek for it. Then he said unto him, “See, O my brother, do an act of grace and seek for it with me,” and the sick brother took it upon himself to be asked for that which he had not taken. And having profited [by his example] the fathers departed from that place.

389. An old man used to say, “Flee from that love which subsisteth by means of the things which are corrupt, for with them a man also passeth away and is destroyed.”

390. Abbâ Elijah used to say, “The love which a man possesseth for his neighbour, and which is caused by some temporal matter is, in the process of time, turned into fierce enmity.”

391. And he also said, “Whatsoever hath its being for God’s sake endureth and abideth for ever with those who are true.”

392. On one occasion the priest of Pîlîsîôn heard that certain of the brethren were idle and lazy, and that they were constantly in the city, and that they swam in the baths, and neglected the works of excellence which belong to the life of the monk, and when they came to the congregation he took their monkish dress from them; and having done [this] he was sad at heart, and repented, and he went to Abbâ Poemen and informed him about them. And the old man said unto him, “Hast thou nothing of the old man about thee?” [And he said “Yea.” And the old man said unto him], “Therefore thou thyself art like unto them, and thou art nigh unto sin.” Then the priest went and expressed his sorrow to them, and he put on them the dress of monks [once more]. Now they were twelve in all.

393. On one occasion tribulation came upon the monks in a certain place where they were living, and they wished to forsake it and come to Abbâ Ammon; and behold, he was travelling in a boat, and he saw them going along by the side of the river, and he ordered the boatmen to bring [the boat] close to land. Then he called these brethren and said unto them, “I am Ammon to whom ye wish to go”; and he entreated them to go back to their place, and he comforted them, and told them to endure patiently, for there was in the matter no loss to the soul, but only human vexation.

394. On one occasion an old man went up from Scete to the brethren in the mountain, and when they saw that he was a man of great ascetic labours, and that he practised stern self-denial, they entreated him to let them make a meal for him, and they brought him a little wine to drink. Now the people of the country heard about him, and they brought him a man who was afflicted with a devil that he might heal him; and when the devil saw him, he began to revile him, saying, “Hast thou brought this winebibber to me?” And the old man did not wish to cast him out because of the praise of men, but, because the devil had reviled him, he said unto him, “I believe in Christ, and I shall not have drunk [this] cup of wine until thou hast gone forth”; and as he began to drink that devil cried out, and said, “Thou art consuming me”: and before the old man could drink that cup [of wine] the devil went forth by the grace of Christ.

395. They used to say that a certain father who was a recluse had a brother, according to the body, who lived in another cell, and that this brother fell ill, and sent to him a message to come and see him before he died; and his brother said, “I am unable to go out for the sake of my brother in the flesh.” And his brother sent him another message, saying, “Come, if it be only in the night, that I may see thee”; and the recluse said, “I cannot do so, for if I did my heart would not be pure before God.” So the brother died, and they did not see each other.

396. They once wanted to make Abbâ Isaac priest in Scete, and when he heard [this] he fled to Egypt, and he went into a field and hid himself among the crop because the fathers were pursuing him, and when they came to that field they began to weary a little; and they turned the ass which they had with them out to feed, but he left the whole field, and went and stood up in that place where Abbâ Isaac was hidden. And in the morning they went out to look for the ass, and they found the ass and the old man [together] and they marvelled; and when they wished to make Abbâ Isaac take an oath [not to run away] he would not allow them [to do so], and he said unto them, “I shall not flee again, for it is the will of God, and whithersoever I flee I shall come to this thing, for this is a consecration by God.”

397. Abbâ Macarius asked Abbâ Arsenius, saying, “Is it good for a man not to have any pleasure at all in his cell? I know a brother who used to have a few garden herbs in his cell, and to prevent himself from having any gratification therefrom, he pulled them up by the roots”; and Abbâ Arsenius said unto him, “This is good, but every man [must do] as he is able, and if he hath not strength to persist in this perhaps he should plant others.”

398. The old men who were in Egypt told Abbâ Elijah that Abbâ Agathon was a great man. And the old man said unto them, “Considering his youth he was a great man in his generation, but he was very far removed from the men of old. I saw in Scete an old man who was able to hold back the sun in his course in the heavens like Joshua, the son of Nun”; and when they heard [this] they marvelled and praised God.

399. A certain brother asked Abbâ Poemen about fornication, and he answered and said, “[It cometh upon a man] because our eyes will not allow us to see the help of God which surroundeth a man, for a man is constrained to humility and to the fear of God at all times, even as he is constrained [to draw] the breath which goeth forth from his mouth.”

400. An old man used to say, “If thou wishest to learn to know [thy] neighbour praise him more than thou rebukest him.”

401. They used to say that whensoever one of the fathers wished to sleep a little, he would sit down in his cell at some distance from the wall, so that whenever he nodded his head he became wide awake.

402. And whensoever another of the old men lay down he used to hold up a book above him, and when he dropped off to sleep the book would fall down and wake him.

403. Abbâ Besarion said, “I stood up for forty nights and did not sleep.”

Abbâ Anthony said, “I do not fear God, on the contrary I love Him.”

404. One of the old men whilst exhorting the brethren to work of spiritual excellence used to say, “Troubles are hard unto those who are not accustomed to them. Troubles are like unto dogs; for as dogs bite those who are not familiar with them and wag their tails at those who are, so also are labours, because they give pain to those who have no experience of them, and they are pleasing unto those who are trained in bearing them. This exception must, however, be made: lusts are wont to produce troubles and adversities, but troubles are the cause of pleasure and delights.”

405. On one occasion Abbâ Ammon came to cross the river, and he found that they were making ready a boat to take [some] men over, and he sat down in it; and behold, there was another boat which was going to take over some women, and they cried out to him, “Come thou, father, and cross over with us.” And he answered and said unto them, “If I had not been going to cross over in the public boat I could not cross [with you].” Now he had with him a bundle of palm leaves, and he sat down and plaited mats until that boat was ready, and then he crossed over the river [in it]. And the brethren expressed their regrets, saying, “Why hast thou done thus?” Then the old man said unto them, “Because I do not at all times travel in great haste, and because my thoughts are not always in a turmoil.” Now this is a proof that a man should travel on the path of God with a well ordered mind.

406. One of the old men came to one of the fathers [and asked him] to go and visit Abbâ Joseph, and he said to him, “Tell thy disciple to go with us”; and the father said, “Call him, and whatsoever thou commandest him, he will do.” The old man said unto him, “What is his name?” and the Rabbâ of the disciple said, “I know not.” The old man said unto him, “And how long hath he been with thee? Dost thou not know his name?” And the father said, “Behold, he hath been with me for two years”; then the old man answered and said, “If he hath been with thee for two years, and thou hast not learnt his name, how can I learn it in one day?”

407. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, and said, “On one occasion I was distressed, and I begged one of the holy men to lend me a certain thing, and he gave it to me as a free gift; now if God prospereth me shall I give it to another man, or shall I return it to him that gave it to me in the time of my tribulation?” The old man saith, “The gift was most certainly from God, and it is meet for thee to return it to Him, for it belongeth to Him.” And that brother said unto him, “Supposing that I carry it to Him, and He refuse to take it, and say unto me, ‘Get thee gone, and give it as a free gift to anyone at thy pleasure,’ what am I to do?” The old man said, “The thing still belongeth to Him. For if a man bringeth thee something of his own accord and thou hast no knowledge about it, in this manner the thing is his; but if thou hast borrowed something, either from a monk or from a man in the world, and he refuseth to take it back, it belongeth to thee and thou mayest do what thou pleasest with it.”

408. Abbâ Joseph related that Abbâ Isaac said, “I was on one occasion sitting with Abbâ Poemen, and I saw that he was in a state of great stupefaction, and because I possessed some influence over him, I offered entreaty to him, saying, ‘Father, where is thy mind?’ And after I had pressed him greatly, he answered and said, ‘My mind was in the place of the Crucifixion, where the holy woman Mary, the God-bearer, was standing and weeping by the Cross of our Redeemer, and I was wishing that I might at all times feel thus.’ ”

409. They used to say that Abbâ Sisoes the Theban was wont to dwell among the reeds of Arsânîâ, where there was, at some distance from him, an old man who was sick; and when he heard [of it] he was distressed, for he fasted two days at a time, and that day was the day on which he ought not to eat. And he said in his mind, “What shall I do? For perhaps the brethren will compel me to eat, and if I wait [to go to the old man] until to-morrow perhaps he will be dead. I can only do this. I will go, but will not break the law and eat”; so he went, and he ate not, and he did not break the rule of life which [he observed] for God’s sake.

410. They used to say that Abbâ Netîrâ, who was the disciple of Abbâ Sylvanus, and who dwelt in his cell in Mount Sinai, trained his body, and exercised it in ascetic labours with moderation; but when he was called by force to the episcopacy, he afflicted himself with stern and laborious works. And his disciple said unto him, “Abbâ, when we lived in the desert thou didst not lead such a life of abstinence and self-denial as thou now doest”; and the old man said unto him, “There I had the desert, and silence, and poverty, and I only had to direct my body in moderation so that it might not become ill; but here I have the world, and I must vex my body so that it may not be caught by any lust whatsoever, and that I may not lose my labours.”

411. They used to relate that Abbâ Poemen and the brethren at one time worked with their hands, but he could not sell their work; and they were distressed because they had no one to buy their work; and one of the brethren, who was a friend of theirs, went to a certain believing merchant and informed him of the matter. Now Abbâ Poemen [always] refused to accept anything from any man, so that he might not be entreated [for alms] by the multitude. And when the merchant heard [about their need], because he wished to do something for the old man, he made the excuse that he was in need of [the kind] of work [which they did], and he bought a camel and carried away the work as if he had been in need of the same; and the brother who had told the merchant came to Abbâ Poemen, and hearing that the merchant had come and carried away what they had to sell, he said before Abbâ Poemen, “Verily, O father, the merchant hath taken [the work] away, although he did not want it.” Then Abbâ Poemen said to Abbâ Job, his brother, “Arise, stop the camel, and bring him back, for if thou dost not do so Poemen will not dwell here with you. For I do not wish to wrong any man by making him unnecessarily to suffer loss on my account, and to take my profit.” And the brother departed and brought the camel back with great difficulty, and then Abbâ Poemen was persuaded to stay with them, and when he saw [the camel] he rejoiced as one who had found a great treasure.

412. A certain stranger came to Scete, and brought there much gold, and he entreated the priest that it might be given to the brethren, and the priest said unto him, “It is useless to them”; and having entreated him many times, and the priest not consenting [to this], the man laid the gold down openly at the door of the church. And the priest said, “My brethren, if any man hath need let him take [some],” but they refused to touch it, and some of them would not even look at it. Then the priest said unto him, “God hath accepted thy gift, go, and give it to the poor”; and having been greatly helped he departed.

413. On one occasion the steward of Scete went up to Constantinople, and the Emperor seeing him asked him how the fathers in Egypt were; and the steward did homage, and answered and said to the Emperor, “Behold, they eat each other, and live.” Now when the Emperor heard this, he marvelled, and asked him, “What is the meaning of ‘They eat each other?’ ” And the steward said, “The meaning of ‘They eat each other’ is this:—When it happeneth that one of them is going to die, he commandeth that whatsoever he hath shall be given to various men according to their needs; and similarly when a man worketh he bringeth [the results of] his labour, and refresheth all the brethren therewith, and in this way they live.” The Emperor said unto for ye are saved and freed from thim, “Verily blessed are ye, he cares of the world, and also from the judgement of Gehenna. We, on the other hand, are troubled by the cares of the world, and Gehenna is prepared for us because of our sins.”

414. They used to say of Abbâ Betimius that, when [the brethren] were coming down from the harvest to Scete, they brought down as a gift for the brethren who were there a jar of oil, which contained the measure of a kestâ and was sealed with plaster. And at the return of the period the year following when they were going to the harvest, they brought everything which was of benefit to the church; and Abbâ Betimius made a small hole with a needle in the vessel of oil, and poured out a little for himself, and thought that he had done some great thing in not having consumed the whole of the oil which was in the vessel. And when the brethren brought their vessels with the plaster coverings intact and the vessels themselves unopened, whilst his vessel had been perforated, he stood there full of shame, just like a man who thinketh that he hath been found [committing] fornication.

415. There was a great and holy man who used to dwell in the inner desert, in a state of glorious ascetic excellence, and the gifts of casting out devils and of healing the sick had been given to him by God, and he used to work great miracles in the Name of Christ, and the beasts also made themselves subject to him at his command. For it chanced on one occasion when he was journeying in the desert that he saw a herd of wild asses feeding, and he said unto them, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, let one of you come hither”; and one of them came, and crouched before him very gently, and the blessed man mounted him and sat upon him, and the animal carried him whither he wished to go.

416. One day when the blessed Anthony was sitting in the desert with the brethren about him, suddenly there fell upon him a state of stupor, and he became exceedingly sad and sorry, and he bent his knees and prayed; and when, after a long time, he stood up, he wept and groaned, and the old man began to pluck out his hair, and to throw it away. Now when the brethren saw him weeping they entreated him to tell them what he had seen; and he answered and said unto them, “A great pillar hath fallen this day from the church.” Now he spake concerning that holy man who had fallen from his rule of life. And he sent to him straightway two brethren to see what had happened and to comfort him, and when the holy man sawthem, hewailed andcried, and took dust and cast it upon his head, and he fell down before them, saying, “Go ye and say to Abbâ Anthony, ‘Pray for me that ten days may be given me to live, and I believe that I shall repent’ ”; but he died before five days had passed, and did not remain long enough to offer up repentance for his sin.

417. There was a certain man of noble rank who sold everything which he had, and divided [the money] among the poor and the strangers, and he shaved his head and went and dwelt in a monastery; now there remained to him a remnant of his possessions sufficient for his wants. And after a little time, when he had obtained freedom of speech, he began to be proud and to exalt himself above the other brethren, saying, “They lack education, and the knowledge of learning”; and the blessed Mâr Basil, the Bishop, sent him a message in a letter, saying, “Thou hast lost the great name which thou hadst in the world, for thou wast called ‘nobleman’, and thou hast not become a monk.”

418. Abbâ Gregory made an answer against the thoughts and said to the brethren, “My brethren, inasmuch as we have passed the measure of children, let us cease from the mind of children, that is to say, let us free ourselves from the careless habits of filthy lusts; for it would be a shameful thing for us if, since childhood hath passed from us, and old age hath come upon us, the things of shame had not also passed away from us.”

419. They used to say that when Abbâ. Macarius was walking in the desert, he went and found a beautiful spot which was like unto the Paradise of God; and there were in it fountains of water, and numerous palm trees, and trees of various kinds which bore fruit, and when he had come and told the brethren about it, they begged and entreated him to go and settle them there. Then the old men, the aged members of the congregation, who led lives of stern labour, entreated them not to leave their place, and they said, “If pleasure and delight be found in that spot, and if a man may live therein without vexation and labour, what pleasure and delight do ye expect to receive from God? Nay, it is right for us to endure the hardness of this place wherein we dwell, and to suffer tribulations so that we may enjoy pleasure in the world to come.” And when he had said these things the brethren were restrained and departed not.

420. There was a certain holy man who used to see visions, and he told the following story, saying, “Once when I was standing up in prayer, I heard a devil complaining in the presence of his companion, saying, ‘I am [suffering] great labour and trouble.’ And when the other devil asked him so that he might learn from him the cause of his trouble, he said to him, ‘This is the work which hath been handed over to me. When I have carried these monks, who are in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, to Mount Sinai I have to bring those who are in Mount Sinai to Jerusalem, and I have no rest whatsoever.’ ”

421. There was a monk who lived in a cell, far away in the desert, and this monk had a brother who lived in the world, and whose end was nigh, for he had to die; and he sent a message to the monk, saying, “For God’s sake do an act of grace, and come that I may see thee before I die.” And when the monk heard [this], he shut the door of his cell, and set out to go to him, and as he was travelling through the desert, he saw an old man sitting on the wayside mending nets; now this old man was the Calumniator, who was making ready his snares to catch in them those who were journeying on the road of spiritual excellence. And he was exceedingly anxious to overthrow that brother, and to trip him up by his snares, for he had not only never allowed his foot to become entangled in the meshes of his nets, but he had also slit in pieces and destroyed his pitfalls through the remembrance of God. Now the monk did not know that the man who was sitting by the roadside mending his nets was Satan, and he said unto him, “Why art thou sitting here in this parched desert? And what art thou doing here?” The Calumniator said unto him, “I am mending my nets wherewith I wish to catch the gazelle which are in the desert.” And the monk said unto him, “Make me a net also, for I want to catch with it the gazelle which go into my garden and lay it waste.” Then that devil said unto him, “Get thee on thy journey, and I will make a net for thee which shall be better than that which thou now seest.” And when the monk had gone to his brother, he saw him, and remained with him for two days, and on the third day his brother died; and he wrapped him up in his graveclothes, and buried him with the honour which is due to believing men. And as he was lying there in his brother’s house, his brother’s wife rose up by night, and came and lay down by his side through the agency of the Calumniator, and she began to say unto him thus:—“God hath sent thee hither to provide for thy brother’s children, and to bring them up; take me, then, to wife, and take care of thy brother’s house and of his children, and stay here in peace in thine own house.” And when the monk had heard what she said to him, he was moved to wrath against her, and he said to her, “Fie upon thee, O woman! Get thee behind me, Satan!” And he rose up straightway, and took his staff, and set out to go through the desert to his cell, and as he was journeying along the way, he saw that old man sitting in his place and mending his nets; and the monk said unto him, “Art thou still sitting here, O old man? Hast thou prepared for me that net concerning which I spake to thee?” Then Satan became furious, and he looked at him in fierce anger and said, “Get thee forth from my presence. Yea, thou hast indeed broken the net which I made for thee. Didst thou not know that thou wast breaking and slitting in pieces during the past night that other net which was better than the first one? I am not able to make a net which [will catch] thee.” And as he was speaking he changed himself into a great serpent. Now when the monk saw this he understood that it was Satan who had appeared unto him; and he fled from the place in fear, and went to his cell, and he gave thanks unto God Who had delivered him from the snare of Satan, who had wished to snare him and to drag him down into his net through his brother’s wife.

422. A certain brother had recently received the garb of a monk, and he went and shut himself up in a cell, and said, “I am a desert monk.” And when the fathers heard [this], they came and took him out of his place, and made him to go about to the cells of the brethren, and to make apologies to them, saying, “I am not a desert monk, and I have only just begun to be a disciple.”

423. On one occasion Abbâ Abraham went to Abbâ Arêâ, and whilst they were sitting talking, a certain brother also came to Abbâ, and repeated the following:—There was a certain rich man in Jerusalem who had become rich by means of fraud, and avarice, and oppression, and wicked acts of various kinds; and when this man came to himself, and understood that there was judgement to come, he drew nigh to a certain teacher, and said unto him, “I beseech thee [to hearken unto me]. My mind is led captive by worldly care, and by anxieties which are of the earth; make me whole then, so that I may not perish.” And the teacher gave him to read the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, and as he was reading [it], he found a verse which said, “He who hath compassion upon the poor, lendeth to God.” Then he shut the book, and gave it to the teacher, saying, “Who is there that is more sure and more to be trusted than God, Who if I shew compassion upon the poor, will give me back both principal and interest?” Then he went immediately, and sold everything which he possessed and divided it among the poor, and he left nothing whatsoever of it to himself except four dînârs, which were to be [spent] in burying him; and he fell into want, and became exceedingly poor, and he went about begging, but no man either shewed compassion upon him or gave him food. Finally he meditated within himself, and said, “I will go to the Lord my God, and will enter into judgement with Him because He led me astray and made me scatter all my possessions.” Now as he was returning to Jerusalem, he saw two men fighting with each other, and each was striving to take from his companion a certain stone of great excellence, which had fallen from the ephod which was on Aaron, the high priest; now the men did not know what the stone was. Then the man said unto them, “Why are ye fighting and contending with each other?” And they answered and said unto him, “We have found a stone, and we do not know what its value is”; and he said unto them, “Give it to me, and take four dînârs,” and they gave him the stone gladly. Then the man went into Jerusalem and shewed the stone to a goldsmith, who, as soon as he saw the stone, said unto him, “Where didst thou find this? For behold, because [of the loss] thereof all Jerusalem hath been in an uproar for the last three days. But go, and give it to the high priest, and he will make thee a rich man.” Now when he had gone into the temple, the angel of the Lord appeared unto the high priest, and said unto him, “Behold, a man hath come unto thee, and he hath with him the stone which was lost; give him, then, gold and silver, and precious stones according to his desire, and rebuke him and say unto him, ‘Have no doubt whatsoever in thy mind, and restrain not thyself from lending to God as if thou wert not a believer and a true man, for, behold, I have given unto thee twofold in this world [for what thou didst lend Me], and in the world to come life everlasting.’ ”

424. And the fathers also said:—There was a rich philosopher in a certain city and he never gave anything to any man, and the Bishop of the city said unto him, “Dost thou know, O my beloved brother, that when we came into this world we brought nothing in with us, and that we shall not be able to carry anything out with us? But from that which Christ hath given unto thee thou shouldst lend in this world, and in the next He will reward thee several times over.” Then the philosopher said unto the Bishop, “Wilt thou be surety to me that if I lend [money] unto Him He will reward me?” And the Bishop answered and said, “Yea, I will be surety to thee”; and the Bishop having become surety to him, straightway the rich man began to scatter his possessions, and whensoever he gave alms to any man he used to write thus: “Behold, I have lent to Christ such and such things, Bishop So-and-so being security for the same”; and he did thus until he had scattered all the riches which he possessed. Now when the day arrived for him to go forth from the world, he commanded his household, saying, “I make you to take an oath by Christ, in Whom I have trusted, that this paper shall be laid with me in the grave”; and they took the oath even as he made them to do. And after many days the Bishop came to the city, and he went to the kinsfolk of the philosopher, and he comforted them and said unto them, “Did he not give you any commands? And did he not make a will?” And they said unto him, “When he was dying he made us swear that the paper of indebtedness should be laid with him [in the grave], and we did even as he said.” And the Bishop said unto them, “Come ye and ‘shew me his grave,” and when he had gone and entered into the grave, he saw the paper laid on the breast of the philosopher, and he took it, and opened it, and found that there was written in it thus, “I, the philosopher So-and-so, have gone to Christ, and everything which I lent unto Him He hath returned unto me many times over; and henceforward I have no claim whatsoever upon Him, except for tranquillity and peace.” And every one who saw and heard [this] praised God, unto Whom all things are easy.

425. There was a certain rich man in Alexandria whose name was Dômyânôs, and he fell sick of a grievous disease, and being afraid that he was going to die he divided thirty pounds’ weight of gold among the poor; and it happened that he recovered, and then he repented of what he had done. Now he had a rich friend, who was a chaste and excellent man, and he revealed to him everything about which he repented, and the friend answered and said unto him, “Be not sad, O my brother, for it is meet that thou shouldst rejoice, because thou hast made an offering unto God of thy gold”; but the rich man did not agree with him. Then he said unto him, “I will give thee thirty pounds’ weight of gold, and thou must not be vexed, but come with me to the temple of Mâr Mînâ, the martyr, and say thus: ‘It is not I who have given these alms, but this man,’ and take that which is thine and go.” And having done this, he took thirty pounds’ weight of gold, and went to go forth by the door of the church, and the angel of the Lord smote him and he fell down straightway, and died. Then the priests who were in the temple of Mâr Mînâ gathered themselves together, and they said to the friend, “Take thy gold, and be gone.” And he said unto them, “God forbid that I should take anything from Christ, for I have offered it to Him, and it is His, but if it seem [fit] to you let it be divided among the poor”; and it was divided according to his command, and every one who heard feared and glorified God. My brethren, let us admire the excellence of that friend, and let us not be sad when we offer alms and oblations unto God, for we [only] offer unto Him that which is His. And He Himself hath written that He is the debtor and the borrower, and hath promised a reward even for a cup of cold water, saying, “Whatsoever ye do unto one of these little ones, ye do unto Me” (St. Matthew 10:42; 25:40); may He make us worthy to do His will. Amen.

Here follow the counsels which belong in order to the old man who spake against the thoughts of fornication, saying, “Be like unto a man who passeth through a street of taverns, etc.” (see No. 593, Book I).

426. O man, for thy sake was Christ born, and the Son of God came that He might make thee to live; He became a babe, He became a child, and He became a man, being [at the same time] God in His Nature, and the Son of God.

427. He Who was the Lawgiver became a reader, and He took the Book in the synagogue, and read, saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, and therefore He hath anointed Me, and hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor” (St. Luke 4:18).

428. Like a subdeacon He made a whip of cord, and drove out from the temple all those who sold oxen, and rams, and doves, et cetera.

429. Like a servant He girded a napkin about His loins, and washed the feet of His disciples, and He commanded them to wash the feet of their brethren.

430. Like a priest He sat among the priests and taught the people.

431. Like a Bishop He took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave unto His disciples. He was beaten for thy sake, He was crucified for thy sake, and He died for thy sake, yet for His sake thou wilt not even bear disgrace! He rose as God, and He ascended as God. He wrought all things for us, fittingly and in order, that He might redeem us. Let us, then, be watchful, and zealous, and constant in prayer; let us do all things which are pleasing unto Him, and which gratify those who love Him, so that we may be redeemed and live. Was not Joseph sold into Egypt, and was he not in a strange land? And the three Holy Children in Babylon, peradventure they acquired knowledge with man and stood in front of them [of themselves]? Nay, it was because they feared God that He helped them, and made them glorious.

432. An old man, who hath delivered himself unto God, used to say, “The monk hath no will of his own. Now he who abideth in ministering unto the will of God never wearieth, but if thou performest thine own will thou becomest weary and exhausted, because God doth not support thee.”

433. The old man also said, “When a soldier entereth the battle he taketh care for himself only, and so also is it with the huntsmen; let us then be like unto these, for riches, and kinsfolk, and wisdom are dung without a correct rule of life and conduct.”

434. The old man also said, “God dwelleth in the man who worketh with God, for He said, ‘I will dwell in them, and I will walk in them, and they shall be to Me a people, and I will be unto them a God.’ ”

435. The old man also said, “God saith unto thee thus: If thou lovest Me, O monk, that which I wish do, and do not what I desire not. The life of a monk consisteth of:—Good works, obedience, training, not to blame his neighbour, not to calumniate any man, and not to complain, for it is written, ‘The mercy of the Lord hateth evil things.’ ”

436. The same old man used to say, “The life and conduct of a monk are these:—He must not act iniquitously, and he must not look upon evil things with his eyes, and he must not hearken with his ears unto things which are alien to the fear of God, and he must not utter calumnies with his mouth, and he must not seize things with his hands, but must give especially to those who are in need, he must neither be exalted in his mind nor meditate with wicked thoughts, and he must not fill his belly. All these things he must perform with intelligence, for by them is a monk known.”

437. A certain brother vexed an old man several times by saying unto him, “What shall I do in respect of the wicked and filthy thoughts of all sorts and kinds which go through me?” And the old man answered and said unto him, “Thou art like unto a stagnant pool which is at one time filled with water, and which at another, when water hath been drawn up from it, runneth dry. Why canst thou not rather be like unto the spring which never faileth? Patient persistence is victory, and victory is constancy, and constancy is life, and life is kingdom, and kingdom is God.”

438. Abbâ Epiphanius used to say, “Whatsoever food thou wishest to eat with pleasure desire not to give to thy body, especially when thou art not sick, and that food for which thou lustest thou shalt not eat. When, however, thou art eating the things which aresent unto thee by God, give thanks unto Him at all times, and be grateful unto Him. We have received pleasures and delights because of the name of monastic life, but we perform not the works of monks, and it shall be that thou art not a monk. What then? Wilt thou not play the man that, peradventure, thou mayest be clothed in the apparel which is alien unto thee? Tell me, O brother, how can a man possess the seal of service unless he possesseth humility? For the humble man who seeth another sinning weepeth bitterly, saying, ‘This man may perhaps sin to-day, but how many times shall I sin to-morrow?’ But, if any man sin before thee, no matter who he may be, condemn him not, but consider thyself to be a greater sinner than he is, even though he be both a child of this world, and make people to sin against God.”

439. He also used to say, “Know thyself, and thou shalt never fall. Give work unto thy soul, that is to say, constant prayer, and the love which is in God, before another can give it evil thoughts; and pray ye that the spirit of error may be remote from you.”

440. He also used to say, “Whatsoever thou doest successfully, and makest a boast of, that destroy, for it is not right for a monk to boast about his good deeds, and if he boasteth he will fall.”

441. “When thou prayest say with a hidden voice unto God, ‘Lord, how am I to acquire Thee? Thou, even Thou knowest that I am a beast, and that I know nothing. Thou hast brought me to the highest point of this life, O redeem me for Thy mercy’s sake. I am Thy servant and the son of Thine handmaiden. O Lord, by Thy wish make me to live.’ ”

442. The old man is falsehood, and the new man is truth. Truth is the root of good works, falsehood is death. If the liar, and the thief, and the calumniator, knew that they were to be exposed and made known to all at a subsequent period they would never commit their offences, and it is even thus with those who commit adultery.

443. The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord, but they feared not God, and they and all their house perished.

444. He who layeth hold upon, and bindeth, and taketh to himself the remembrance of evil things, is like unto the man who burieth fire within chopped straw.

445. If thou wouldst talk to a man concerning life, and if thou wouldst say a word unto him with suffering, and with repentance, and with weeping, speak unto him that heareth and doeth; and if thou dost not [do this] speak not at all, lest thou die, and depart without profit from the words wherewith thou didst wish to vivify others. For unto the sinner God saith, “What are the Books of My commandments unto thee, for thou hast taken My covenant in thy mouth?”

446. Abbâ Epiphanius said, “When the thought cometh to fill thy bosom, that is to say, thy heart, with vainglory or pride, say thou unto it, ‘Old man, behold thy fornication.’ ”

447. And he also said, “If we do evil things God will be unmindful of His longsuffering; but if we do good things it will not help us greatly, for in order to increase the profit of freedom, and that the merchandise of the will may not be spoiled, a man must rejoice in contending.”

448. On one occasion the brethren entreated Rabbâ Epiphanius, saying, “Speak to us, father, something whereby we may live, even though thou speakest and we keep not the seed of thy word because our ground is a salted thing.” And the old man answered and said unto them, “He who doth not receive all brethren, and who maketh distinctions between them, he who doth this, I say, cannot be perfect.”

449. If a man revile thee, bless him, and if he accept the blessing it shall be good for both of you; and if he doth not, he shall receive the reward of his reviling, and thou of the blessing.

450. It is right for a monk to live even as Abbâ Arsenius lived. Take care each day to stand before God without sin, and draw nigh unto Him with tears as did the sinful woman; and pray thou unto the Lord God as if He were standing before thee, for He is near and looketh at thee carefully.

451. He who wisheth to dwell in the desert must be a teacher by his own knowledge, and he must not be in need of being taught, lest, peradventure, he be harmed by devils, and lest he scrutinize his understanding too closely, and lest, in some form or other, he become a laughing-stock to the beings who are above, and to those who are below.

452. The correct rule of conduct for him that loveth God is to be without blame.

453. A certain old man returned an answer against evil thoughts, and said unto the brethren, “Now I beseech you, O my brethren, that we cease from the ascetic life and its labours, and that we also desist from the anxieties of evil thoughts. For what are we? A sound which cometh from the fine dust, or a sound which cometh from the dust of the ground. Joseph of Râmâh, having asked to [be allowed to] take away the body of Jesus, removed it and swathed it with swathings of fine linen, and then laid it in a new grave. Now the pure heart is the new grave of the new man.”

454. The devils said unto one of the old men, wishing to lead him astray, “Dost thou wish to see Christ?” And he said unto them, “My curse be upon you, and on that which ye say, for I believe in Christ Who said, ‘If they say unto you, Behold, here is Christ, or, Behold, there is Christ, believe them not’ ” (St. Matthew 24:23); and immediately the devils disappeared.

455. What is [the meaning of] the word which the Apostle spake, “To the pure all things are pure?” (Titus 1:15.) The old man said unto him, “If a man cometh to this word, and arriveth at this measure, he will see that he himself hath more shortcomings than any other creature, and that he is inferior to every being.” The brother said unto him, “How is it possible for me to consider myself more imperfect than a murderer and inferior to him? Is it possible for me to consider the murderer and the fornicator, whose actions are abominable, better than myself?” And the old man answered and said unto him, “If a man attaineth unto this word, and he seeth his neighbour committing a murder, or doing something else which is not good, he will think within himself, saying, ‘This is [only] one sin, and this man hath only committed this one sin, but I am at all times a murderer through hatred and a wicked will.’ ”

456. A brother asked Abbâ Job, the brother of Abbâ Poemen, concerning a word which the Apostle spake, saying (Philippians 2:3), “Esteem every man to be more excellent than thyself.” And the old man answered and said, “If a man hath arrived at this measure, and he seeth the offence of his brother, he will conceal it as if it had never happened.”

457. An old man used to say, “I never take a step without first learning where I am about to put my foot, but I stand up and look about me carefully, and I am not careless, and I do not let [my foot go] until God guideth me, and leadeth me on the path to the place which pleaseth Him.”

458. An old man used to say, “God giveth a man the opportunity to repent as long as he wisheth to do, and in proportion as he wisheth, for it is written, ‘Speak first thy sins, and thou shalt be justified.’ ”

459. An old man used to say, “Silence is filled with all life, but in the speech which is abundant death is hidden.”

460. And the old man also said, “Lying and sin are wont to lie in ambush in the words which are long and broad.”

461. An old man used to say, “Humility never becometh angry, and never provoketh a man to wrath.”

462. Abbâ Joseph said unto Abbâ Lôt, “Thou art unable to become a monk, but thou mayest become wholly like a flame which burneth and blazeth fiercely.”

463. An old man was asked, “What is humility?” And he said unto him that asked the question, “If thy brother offend thee, and thou forgive him before he can repent and entreat thee [that is humility].”

464. An old man also said, “Keep thy conscience with thy brother, and thou shalt find rest.”

465. Abbâ Paphnutius used to say, “He who esteemeth himself as nothing, whithersoever he goeth, or wheresoever he dwelleth, he shall find rest.”

466. The same old man said, “During all the days of the life of the old men I used to go and visit them twice each month, and my cell was distant from them twelve miles, and in respect of every thought about which I asked them, they never said to me anything except, ‘Wheresoever thou goest esteem thyself as nothing, and thou shalt find rest.’ ”

467. One of the old men used to say, “Love knoweth not how to keep a storehouse [full] of possessions.”

468. The same old man also said, “I do not know the actual thing whereby, on two occasions, the enemies led me into error, and into the committing of sin, and into the transgression [of the Law].”

469. Certain old men asked John the Less, saying, “When thou wast in Crete with the fathers, how didst thou see them conducting themselves?” And he said unto them, “By night and by day they were performing with all their might the work of God, that is to say, [they were reciting] the service, and they prayed, and read, and were anxious with divine solicitude, and instead of being idle they worked with their hands.”

470. On one occasion Abbâ Ammon came to the brethren, and they, whilst expressing regret [for troubling him, asked him] to say some words of excellence to them; and the old man answered and said unto them, “It is right that we all should travel the path of God with well-ordered [minds].”

471. Abbâ Anthony used to say, “When we rise up in the morning each day let us think that we shall not abide until the evening, and when we come to lie down also let us think that we shall not abide until the morning; for we know not the days of our life, but they are known unto God. If we do this each day we shall not sin, and we shall do nothing wicked before God, and we shall not lust eagerly for anything belonging to this world, and we shall not be angry with anyone, but in everything we shall be regarding our souls, even as men who await death.”

472. And he also said, “As fish die when they are drawn out of the water, even so do monks, who have forsaken the world, become sluggish, when they remain with the children of this world or dwell with them; it is then meet for us to hasten to the mountain even as fish haste to the water.”

473. Now they used to say that Abbâ Anthony was wholly [illumined] by the appearance of the light of the spirit, and that he could see what was happening from a distance; now on one occasion he saw the soul of the blessed Ammon being taken up into heaven by the hands of angels, although he was distant from him ten stages.

474. One of the brethren asked him once about the thoughts, and the old man answered and said unto him, “Do not carry them into effect, but let them settle down and down until they breed worms and perish.”

475. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “If a man pass a hundred years in the cell he will not understand his departure from this world and become a monk, unless he attribute sin to himself at all times, and make himself to be remote, both in his mind and in his actions, from those things which he knoweth will separate him from God, and make supplication unto God at all times through suffering and tears.”

476. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “What is the repentance of sins?” And he said unto him, “The repentance of sins consisteth in a man not committing the sin again from the moment wherein he repenteth of it; and on account of this the righteous were called ‘spotless,’ and because they had forsaken [their] sins, and had cleansed themselves from them.”

477. And another brother also asked him, saying, “Shew me a word whereby I may live”; and the old man said unto him, “The first thing of all which the fathers have given us [to do] is to mourn.”

478. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “The passions are four heads”; and a brother said unto him, “What are they?” The old man said unto him, “Worldly grief which cometh about many things, the love of money, vainglory, and fornication; and it is meet that we should be on the watch against these before all other passions.”

479. He said also, “If a monk hateth two things he is able to free himself from the world, and these are,” said he, “the gratifications of the body, and vainglory.”

480. The same old man also said, “Wrath is a natural thing in man, it is his nature, but it must be used to cut off evil passions. Hunger is natural in a man, but it must be employed [in satisfying] the want of the body, and not [to gratify] the feeling of eager lust [to eat], even as the blessed David said, ‘With him whose eye is lofty and whose heart is greedy I have not eaten’ (Psalm 101:5; 131:1). Sleep too is natural in man, but [it must not be indulged] to satiety.”

481. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “Tell me, why it is that when I offer repentance to a brother who is wroth with me I do not see him pleased with me?” The old man said unto him, “Tell me truly: when thou offerest to him repentance hast thou not the opinion that thou art not doing it because thou hast sinned against him, but because of the commandment?” And the brother said unto him, “It is even thus.” The old man said unto him, “Because of this God doth not permit him to be pleased with thee, and because thou dost not offer repentance to him in fulfilment of thine own desire, but as if thou hadst not sinned against him, but he had sinned against thee.”

482. They used to say that when the disciples of Abbâ Agathon were building a cell he remained with them for a period of four months, and when they had finished it, on the first Sabbath on which they dwelt in it, the old man saw in it something which did not afford him profit, and he said unto his disciples, “Arise, let us go away from here.” And when they heard [this], they were greatly troubled, and they answered and said unto him, “If thou hadst this thought to depart, why have we done all this work and built the cell? Moreover, men will be offended with us, and will say, ‘They have left this place because they can abide nowhere.’ ” Now when the old man saw that their souls were grieved, he said unto them, “If some men be offended at us, there are others who will be edified by us, and they will say, ‘These blessed men departed for God’s sake, and they considered nothing [else].’ However, let him that wisheth to come with me come, for I shall certainly depart.” Then they threw themselves on the ground, and entreated him to let them go with him.

483. Abbâ Agathon also used to say, “The monk’s cloak is a sign of the absence of wickedness”; and he also said, “God asketh from those who begin the service of the works of the fear of God nothing except that they shall order their bodies by obedience to the commandments against the passions of the lusts.”

484. Abbâ Agathon also said, “He who removeth from before his eyes accusations, and disgrace (or insult), and loss (or belittlement) is able to live.”

485. A brother said unto Abbâ Agathon, “Father, I had the order to dwell in a certain place, and I have war there, and I want to depart; I would fulfil the command, but I am afraid of the war.” The old man said unto him, “If it were Agathon, he would keep the command, and overcome the war.”

486. The same old man also said, “If the inner man be watchful he will be able to guard the outer man also; but if he be not, let us guard the tongue by every means in our power.”

487. The old man Benjamin was asked by a brother, “Of what consisteth the life of a monk?” And he answered and said, “A mouth of truth, a holy body, and a pure heart.”

488. They used to say concerning a certain old man that, on account of the great humility which he possessed, God gave him the gift of becoming a seer of visions, and he could see beforehand when anyone was coming to him, and it was revealed to him concerning it; now the old man was sorry and did not wish for this thing, and he made supplication unto God that it might be taken away from him. And he went to an old Rabbâ, and entreated him, saying, “My brother, labour for me, so that this gift may be removed from me”; then each of them sat down in his cell and made entreaty unto God concerning this matter, and a voice was heard by that old man, saying, “Behold, I remove the gift from thee, but whensoever thou wishest it is thine.” And he went straightway to the old Rabbâ and shewed him what had been said unto him, and when he heard [it] he gave thanks unto God.

489. The fathers once asked Abbâ Sylvanus, saying, “What work of ascetic excellence hast thou performed that thou didst receive the wisdom which thou dost possess, and the gift with which is endowed thy face?” And the old man answered and said unto them with great humility, “[I received these things] because I never left in my heart a thought which could provoke God to wrath.” And they used to say that the face of the old man Sylvanus shone so brightly, even as did the face of Moses, with the glorious splendour which he had received from God, that no man was able to look upon it with his eyes wide open.

490. Zeno, the disciple of Abbâ Sylvanus, said on a certain occasion, “Dwell not in a place which is famous, and abide not with a man who hath a great name for ascetic excellence.”

491. One of the brethren asked an old Rabbâ, saying, “Abbâ, what shall I do? For whensoever I see the face of a woman the war of fornication is stirred up against me.” And the old man answered and said, “My son, guard thine eyes against looking on a woman, and behold, henceforth thou wilt have no fear.” The brother said unto him, “Behold, how very often doth a man meet women by chance, without expecting to do so!” The old man said unto him, “As far as it is possible for thee to do so keep thy watch carefully, both within and without; and as concerning that which happeneth by chance, and a man meeting women without thinking about it, [in that case] passion will have no power to bestir itself. But take good heed to thyself that such a thing doth not happen unto thee of thine own will, for it is this which the Holy Book condemneth, saying, ‘Every man who looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ For if when thou art not thinking about them thou meetest women, and the passion stirreth itself up against thee, lift up thy mind immediately to God, and He will help thee.” Then wishing especially to strengthen that brother, he answered and said unto him, “Behold, my son, know thou that thou hast been with me for two years, and that I have not as yet seen what manner of face thou hast, whether it be good, or whether it be bad, and it was this [fact] which urged me to tell thee to guard thine eyes from the sight of women.” And afterwards he made a prayer over him, and sent him away to depart to the coenobium, for that brother used to dwell in the church.

492. They used to say about one of the old men that when the church was dismissed, he fled straightway and departed to his cell, and [they said] that he had a devil, but the holy man was [only] fulfilling the work of God.

493. An old man used to say, “Without prayer thou shouldst do nothing, and afterwards thou wilt not be sorry.”

494. A brother asked an old man, saying, “If I am in a clean place, and the time for service hath arrived am I to return?” The old man said unto him, “Who, when he remembereth riches, will return to poverty?”

495. The old man Theodotus used to say, “Constant hunger maketh monks to be emaciated and driveth them mad.”

496. Abbâ Daniel used to say, “Constant vigil especially drieth up and maketh the body to diminish.”

497. Abbâ Ammon asked Abbâ Sisoes, saying, “When I read in the Book my mind wisheth to arrange the words so that there may be an answer to [my] question.” The old man said unto him, “This is unnecessary, for only purity of heart [is required].” From this it ariseth that a man should speak without overmuch care.

498. Abbâ Theonâ used to say, “Because we put ourselves out of the sight of God we are led captive by the passions of the body.”

499. Abbâ Poemen used to say, “Temptations are a sure sign whereby a monk may be known.”

500. Abbâ Agathon once fell sick, and another of the old men with him, and as they both were lying in the cell a brother read the Book of Genesis to them; and when he came to the place where Jacob said unto his sons, “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye would take Benjamin away that ye may bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol,” the old man answered and said, “Were not the ten other sons sufficient for thee, O Jacob?” And Abbâ Agathon said, “Hold thy peace, old man, if God holdeth a man to be innocent, who shall condemn him?”

501. One of the fathers came to Abbâ Theodore of Pîrmê, and said unto him, “O father, behold, brother So-and-So hath gone back to the world.” And the old man said unto him, “Dost thou marvel at this? Wonder not at this, but be surprised when thou hearest that a man hath been able to flee wholly from the world.”

502. If a man thinketh filthy thoughts, doth he himself become defiled? Some of the old men said, “Yes, he is defiled,” and others said, “He is not defiled, for if he doth it is impossible for simple folk like ourselves to live at all; but [the truth] is that a man must not carry his filthy thoughts into deeds.”

503. A certain brother went to a strenuous and tried old man, and asked him about this matter, and the old man said unto him, “Every man is required [to do] according to his ability.” Then a brother entreated the old man, saying, “For our Lord’s sake explain these words to me.” The old man said unto him, “Behold, supposing that some very desirable thing were placed here, and that two brethren came in, one being of great stature and the other of little stature. If now the mind of him that was of full strength were to say, ‘I wish to possess that thing,’ and he did not carry his soul’s desire into effect, but straightway cut it short, the man would not be defiled; if then the man of lesser strength were to desire the thing, being incited thereto by his thoughts, and he took it not, he also would not be defiled. But, if he desiring it were to take it, he would be defiled.”

504. The old man said, “If thou seest a young man going up to heaven of his own will, lay hold upon his leg, and sweep him away therefrom; for thus will a man help him.”

505. The same old man used to say, “If thou criest unto God in prayer with a pure heart thy prayer shall not return unto thee fruitless.”

506. The same old man used to say, “As two words cannot be uttered [at the same time] by one voice, and be recognized and understood, so is it with the mixed prayer which is uttered by a man before God.”

507. He also said, “If thou seest the wings of ravens stretched out in flight, even so is the foolish prayer of the mind which is lifted up.”

508. He also said, “If thou art earnest in asking God for things, but wilt not pay back as far as thou art able, thou must hear the words, ‘Thou shalt ask and shalt not receive, because thou didst accept a loan and didst not pay it back.’ ”

509. He also said, “The words of the mouth of him that prayeth purely before God are a fetter wherewith he shall be able [to bind] the devils beneath his feet like a sparrow; and, as prisoners tremble before him that is their master, even so will they quake at the words of his prayer.”

510. He also said, “As the rain when it falleth upon the earth taketh the place of a key in the lock thereof, and openeth [it] and bringeth forth to sight the growth of the seeds and roots which are in it, so are the soul and the mind of him that receiveth and tasteth the heavenly droppings, for by the words of his lips shall be made known unto man his hidden conduct before God, I mean to say, that when a man’s request and entreaty about everything are made within the words of his pure prayer, he openeth the door of the treasury of the Trinity, Who is the Lord of treasures, and bringeth out therefrom the treasures which are hidden for those who are worthy of them.”

511. Concerning Abbâ Anthony they used to say:—There was a man with an unclean spirit which sought to cast him into the water, and the monks who were with Abbâ Anthony came and entreated him to pray over the man who was thus troubled, but he excused himself [from doing so]. And when the demoniac had remained with him for a long time, he smote the blessed man on his cheek, whereupon the old man made ready the other cheek; and having done this that evil spirit took to flight.

512. A brother asked Abbâ Muthues, saying, “What shall I do? for my tongue vexeth me. Whensoever I sit among the brethren I am unable to restrain myself, but I condemn them in every good work, and treat them with contempt. What shall I do, then?” The old man answered and said unto him, “If thou art not able to restrain thyself, get thee away, and stay by thyself, for this is a disease. Now, he who sitteth among the brethren must not possess four corners, but he must be altogether round, so that he may move smoothly in respect of every man.” And the old man said unto him also, “I myself do not dwell alone as an example of spiritual excellence, but as an emblem of feebleness, for mighty men are those who are among the brethren.”

513. When the brethren were talking to an old man about the thoughts they said unto him, “Our hearts are hard, and we do not fear God; what are we to do so that we may come to fear God?” The old man said unto them, “I think that if a man will lay hold in his heart upon that which rebuketh him, it will bring to him the fear of God.” And they said unto him, “What is the rebuke?” The old man said unto him, “In every act a man should rebuke his soul, and say unto it, ‘Remember that thou hast to go forth to meet God.’ And let him say also, ‘What do I seek with man?’ I think that if a man remain in these things the fear of God will come to him.”

514. Abbâ Timothy said unto a certain brother, “How art thou?” The brother said unto him, “I destroy my days, O father.” And the old man said unto him, “My son, my days also are destroyed, and I give thanks.”

515. An old man used to say, “The Shunammite woman received Elisha because she had no human promise with man; and they spoke of the Shunammite woman [as] a person of the soul, and of Elijah [as] a person of the Spirit of God; when the soul maketh itself remote from commotion and trouble, the Spirit of God abideth on it, and then it is able to bring forth, though hitherto it hath been barren.”

516. Abbâ Ammon used to say, “I said unto Abbâ Poemen, ‘If I go to my neighbour’s cell, or he cometh to mine concerning any matter whatsoever, are we two to be ashamed to speak, lest some alien subject of discourse appear between us?’ The old man said unto him, ‘Thou wilt do well, for youth hath need of care and watchfulness.’ And I said unto him, ‘What do the old men do?’ And he said unto me, ‘The old men have been skilled, and have had experience, and they have arrived at the measure for speech, for in them there is nothing alien which they can speak with the mouth.’ And I said unto him, ‘And supposing that I have the necessity to talk with a neighbour, wouldst thou that I should speak with the words of the Scriptures, or with the words of the old men?’ And he said unto me, ‘If thou art not able to hold thy peace it is better for thee to use the speech of the old men rather than that of the Scriptures, for there is danger in a man employing the speech of the Scriptures.’ ”

517. Abbâ Daniel used to say that a man of business once came to Abbâ Arsenius, and brought him a testament of a certain kinsman who had left him a very large inheritance, and having received the deed he wished to tear it to pieces. Then the man of business fell down at his feet, and said, “I beseech thee, do not tear it up, for if thou dost I shall die.” And Abbâ Arsenius said unto him, “I died before he did, though he hath only now died, but shall I live?” And he sent the man of affairs away without having taken anything.

518. A monk went to a nunnery to visit his sister, for she was sick; now she was a woman who was great with God, and a firm believer, and she never allowed herself to see the face of a man, not even that of her brother, lest through her he might go in among the women. And she sent him a message, saying, “Go, my brother, and pray for me, that Christ, by His grace, may make me worthy to see thee in that world of the kingdom of heaven.”

519. A brother asked an old man and said unto him, “What is the best thing for me to do, so that I may do it and live thereby?” And the old man said unto him, “God [alone] knoweth which is best; but listen. One of the old men said that the mind which rebuked a man was his [best] adversary, for it resisted a man who sought to carry out his desires in the flesh, and to rebel against God, and not to be obedient unto Him, and it would also deliver a man over to his enemies.”

520. An old man also said, “It is meet that the soul should be occupied in the service [of God] by day and night, even like Huldah, the prophetess, who used to sit in the house of, the Lord with supplication and ministration; and also like Hannah, who never ceased in her ministrations during a period of eighty years.”

521. A brother asked an old man, saying, “What shall I do, father? For my belly vexeth me, and I am unable to restrain it, and therefore I am leading a life of luxury.” The old man said unto him, “If thou dost not throw on it the fear of fasting thou wilt never be able to straighten the path. Place before it the following parable. A certain man had an ass, and as he was sitting upon it and journeying along, the animal would not go straight, but went first to this side of the road and then to that; and he took a stick and smote it. And the ass said, ‘Beat me not, and henceforward I will go straight.’ Now when he had gone a little further on, the man alighted from the ass, and placed the stick in [his] cloak-bag which was on it, but the ass knew not that the stick was on his back. And when the ass saw that its master was not carrying the stick, he began to hold him in contempt, and he walked among the crops; thereupon his master ran after him, and took the stick and beat him with it until he went straight. Now the belly of the body is even like unto the ass.”

522. A brother said to Theodore of Parmê, “Speak a word to me, for behold, I am about to perish.” And with great labour the old man said unto him, “I stand in danger myself, and what have I to say to thee?”

523. Abbâ Kêrîôn used to say, “I have performed more bodily labours than my son Zechariah, but I have not reached his measure of humility and silence.”

524. Abbâ Macarius used to say, “Guard thyself against freedom of word and deed, for it is meet for a monk not to permit his thought to be his judge in anything whatsoever.”

525. Mother Sarah used to say to her brethren, “It is I who am a man, and ye who are women.”

526. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, “How can it be right for me to take good heed to my ways when I am sitting in my cell?” The old man said unto him, “For a season I was a man who had fallen into the mire up to my shoulders, and a basketful of gall hung from my neck, and I was crying out to God, ‘Have mercy upon me.’ ”

527. They used to say of the men who were in the cells “that their rules were so strict that during the night they slept four hours, and assembled for service four hours, and worked for four hours; that during the day they worked with their hands until the ninth hour, and that after that they prepared the small quantity of food which they ate, and if any man had anything to do in his cell he then did it. In this way they filled up their day.”

528. A brother asked Abbâ Sisoes, saying, “Why do not the passions depart from me?” The old man said unto him, “Because their possessions are in thee; give them their pledge (or security), and they will depart.”

529. On one occasion the fathers were summoned by the Archbishop Theophilus, and they went to Alexandria to him so that he might make a prayer and cleanse a house of idols; and as they were eating with him, flesh of a calf was set before them, and they ate it in simplicity, doubting nothing. And the Archbishop took a piece of meat and gave it to an old man who was near him, saying, “Behold, this piece of meat is very good, father”; and they all answered and said unto him, “Behold, up to the present we have been eating herbs, but if it be flesh, we do not eat flesh,” and not one of them ate anything more.

530. They used to tell a story of a brother who was the neighbour of an old Rabbâ, and say that he would go into the cell of the old man, and steal whatsoever he found there, and though the old man saw him he never rebuked him, but worked with his hands and wearied himself the more, saying, “Perhaps that brother is in need”; and the old man suffered much tribulation at the thought, and ate his food in sadness. And when the old man was about to die, the brethren sat round about him, and when he saw in their midst the brother who used to steal from him, he said unto him, “My son, come near to me”; and when he had drawn nigh to him, he kissed his hands, saying, “My brother, I am grateful to these hands, for through them I shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now when that brother heard these things he was sorry, and he also repented, and he became a well-tried monk through the things which he had seen in that old man.

531. On one occasion, when Abbâ Agathon was travelling, and some young men were with him, one of them found a small bag on the road, and he said to him, “Father, dost thou wish me to take this little bag?” and the old man looked at him in wonder, saying, “My son, didst thou place it there?” And the young man said, “No.” Then the old man said unto him, “If thou didst not place it there, how canst thou desire to take it?”

532. Abbâ Joseph, the priest of Ascalon, told us the following story, saying: There was a certain merchant in Ascalon who borrowed from other people much money, and he hired a ship for himself and put out to sea; and a fierce storm rose up against him, and he lost everything which he had with him; but he himself was saved. And when he returned to the city those to whom he owed money seized him, and they took everything which he had in his house, and sold it, and shut him up in prison; but they left him his wife as an act of charity, so that she might beg for him and feed him. And the woman went about from door to door, and she herself begged for bread for her husband; and one day as she was sitting and eating bread with her husband, one of the chief men of the city went in to give alms to the prisoners who were there, and he saw the woman and lusted for her, for she was beautiful. And he sent his servant to call her, and she came thinking that he wished to give her alms; but he took her aside, and said to her, “Why hast thou come here?” And she related unto him the whole matter. Then he said unto her, “If I pay one-third of thy husband’s debt wilt thou lie with me this night?” And that chaste, free woman said unto him, “I have heard that the holy Apostle said, ‘A woman hath no power over her body, but her husband.’ I will first ask my husband, and whatsoever he commandeth me that will I do.” And having come she told her husband, and he was grieved; and he wept, and said unto her, “Go, and say unto him, ‘I have told my husband, and it hath not pleased him, and I have hope in God that He will not forsake us.’ ” Now there was in the prison-house a certain thief who had been a highway robber, and he was shut up [in a room] inside beyond them, and at that moment he happened to be sitting at a window which faced them, and he heard everything which they were saying; and with tears he said unto himself, “Woe is me! For although these people are in such great trouble, they are not willing to deliver over their freedom, and accept money, and go forth from this place, but they hold their chastity to be more valuable than riches. What then shall I, the wretched one, do? For the thought that there is a God hath never entered my mind, and I never remember that my evil deeds will be judged, and I have committed many wickednesses, and many awful murders. And I know that when the judge cometh here he will kill me without asking a question, as is just.” And he answered and said unto the woman and her husband, “Because I see that ye preserve the purity of your bodies for Christ’s sake, and that ye have chosen to remain in great tribulation and not to destroy your chastity, God hath put it into my heart to do unto you an act of grace which ye deserve, and perhaps God will shew me mercy through you on the day of judgement. Go ye to the northern side of the city wall, and dig there in a certain place, and behold, ye shall find there a large earthen pot, beneath which is a vessel full of gold. Take it, and pay your debt, and may a great blessing abide with you so that you may live upon it; but I beseech you to pray for me continually, that I may find mercy before God in the day of judgement.”

And after three days the judge came to the city, and he ordered them to cut off the head of that thief without [asking any] questions, and after he had been slain, that noble woman said unto her husband, “Wilt thou command me to go and see if that which the thief said is true?” And he said unto her, “Go.” And she went at the time of evening, and by the indications which the thief had given her, she found the place, and having dug a little she found the money, even as he had told her, and she took it and went to her house, giving thanks unto God. And she brought it out little by little, and she gave it to the creditors, who thought that she brought it to them as the result of her begging, a little from here and a little from there; then when she had paid her husband’s debt, he came forth from prison, thanking and glorifying God.

Then Abbâ Joseph said unto us, “Behold these men, O my brethren! Because they chose to live in affliction, and refused to despise the command of God, God multiplied His grace unto them without delay. For even if the woman had hearkened unto that lascivious man he might not, perhaps, have given her what he promised her; but because they preserved their chastity which is pleasing to God, God rewarded her with the whole amount of their debts, and brought them to a greater state of prosperity than [that which they enjoyed] at first. And, my beloved, I think thus concerning Adam when he was in Paradise. Had he kept that little command, honour greater than that which he had at first would have come to him; but when he transgressed the command of his Lord, he fell from and was driven out of the delight and pleasure wherein he lived. May our Lord make us worthy to keep His commandments! Amen.”

533. On one occasion when Abbâ John and the brethren who were with him were going up from Scete, he who was guiding them lost the way, and the brethren said unto Abbâ John, “What shall we do, father? For this brother hath lost the way, and peradventure we shall die in wandering about.” Abbâ John said unto them, “If ye tell him he will be grieved and feel ashamed. But behold I will feign to be sick, and will say that I am not able to go on any further”; and the brethren said, “Father, thou hast well said.” And they acted thus, and decided that they would stay where they were until the morning, rather than rebuke the brother who was guiding them.

534. Abbâ Serenus used to say, “I have passed the whole period of my life in cutting and twisting and sewing palm leaves, and in spite of it all, had not the hand of the Lord fed me I should not have had enough to eat.’ ”

Demonstrations which are suitable to Lazy Men and Sluggards, and to all those who take no care for their Souls

535. Those who are in despair, and who have delivered themselves over to the filthy work of their abominable lusts, and who make loose their ways at all times, and who love the lusts which harm them, are like unto the sterile land, and the arid desert, and a house laid waste, and a vineyard without grapes, and an empty vessel, and a body without a soul, and eyes without light, and a dead body without a voice, and hands which are cut off, and knees which are bowed, and a paralytic lying on a bed, and a vessel filled with stinkingness.

536. AGAINST THOSE WHO LOVE VAINGLORY, AND THOSE WHO BOAST OF THEIR ALMS. Those who love vainglory, and those who boast of their fair works and life, are like unto a broken cistern, and a bag with a hole in it, and a tree without fruit, and a naked man, and a moth-eaten garment, and a wormeaten beam of wood, and unto other things which are consumed by their [false] glory.

537. AGAINST HIM THAT IS NOT CAREFUL (or WATCHFUL) IN RESPECT OF HIS TONGUE. He who is not watchful in respect of his tongue is like unto him whose house door is open, and whose riches are plundered by every man, and he is like unto an uncovered vessel (or unrolled garment), and like that which is unsealed.

538. AGAINST THOSE OVER WHOM EVIL THOUGHTS HAVE DOMINION, AND IN WHOSE MIND WICKED COGITATIONS RISE UP. Those who through their sluggishness give a hand to the thoughts which make a mock of them, and by their negligence help filthy devils to have dominion over them, are like unto an abode which is full of snakes, and a house which is full of evil-smelling things, and a ship which is tossed by the waves, and a poor piece of land which is full of briars and brambles, and unto the thorns that choke it, the end of which is burning.

539. AGAINST HIM WHO DOTH NOT SUPPRESS IN HIMSELF WRATH AND ANGER, AND WHO KEEPETH HIS HATRED AGAINST HIS BROTHER. He who doth not suppress in himself wrath and anger, and who keepeth his hatred against his neighbour, is like unto a savage animal which cannot be tamed, and which goeth along every road, and wandereth about in an erring manner, and unto the man who burieth fire in chopped straw, and like the man who putteth in his bosom the spawn of serpents, and like a den which is full of enraged serpents, and like a cleft in the rock which is full of reptiles which shoot out venom, and a mad dog that barketh at every man, and a wild boar that gnasheth his teeth as soon as he seeth a man, and like the evening wolf which goeth about with his mouth wide open to destroy the simple lambs, and the panther which leapeth upon the gazelle in the desert, and the ship which saileth on the sea with an evil spirit for her steersman, and the savage beast which cannot be subdued, and which walketh on every road and wandereth about in error without discernment. These [words] are [directed] to those who are not humble, so that they may correct themselves and their savage habits, and to those who are lifted up against their brethren in their pride, and who do not wish to travel in the path of the humility of Christ.

540. AGAINST THE CHANGE OF THE EVIL WILL OF THOSE MEN WHO DENY THE GRACE WHICH IS PERFORMED TOWARDS THEM. One of the teachers said, “If thou hast made thyself humble, they despise thee without discernment. If thou hast made thyself angry, they hate thee without understanding. If thou hast made thyself pleasant, they swallow thee, and thou disappearest. If thou hast made thyself bitter (or cruel), they reject thee, and thou art reviled. And if thou hast mingled with folk they hold thee to be a liar fair[-spoken], and wandering. If they have fallen ill, they command thee, and if they are despised, they judge thee; if they be visited, they abuse thee; and if thou art whole, they leave thee; and if they are reclining, they drive thee away; and if aught be required from them, they curse thee; and if mercy be shown unto them, they oppress thee. Neither grace (or goodness), nor justice will ever please those who belong to every evil of every kind.”








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