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St Macarius the Great Spiritual Homilies

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HOMILY 17: God executes the dispensations of his grace upon mankind, after a two fold manner.

1. THE wisdom of GOD being infinite and incomprehensible, he executes the dispensations of his grace upon mankind, after an unsearchable manner, with great variety, that they may be manifest that seek him with all their heart, and endure all manner of danger and labor upon his account. Some are prevented with the favors and gifts of the Holy Spirit, immediately, as soon as they ask, without toil, and sweat, and fatigue; GOD affording them grace, not by chance, but by a wisdom that exceeds all expression. Let these who so quickly obtain the Divine grace, be sensible of the benefit and kindness that has been shown them, and of the sweetness of GOD, according to the proportion of grace received, without any pains of their own: let them give proof of their diligence and their conflict, and make a suitable return for those gifts, by giving their wholeselves to the love of the Lord, doing his will only, and Evithdrawing themselves perfectly from all carnal desire.

2. On others, (though they have withdrawn from the world, and persevere in prayer, and fasting and diligence) GOD does not immediately bestow his grace and rest, and the gladness of the Spirit, but withholds the gift, that he may see whether-they thought him the faithful and true GOD, who has promised, to give to then that ask, and to open to them that knock, the door of life; that he may observe whether they endure to the end, asking and seeking; or whether through remissness, they fall off, not holding on to the end.

3. For some that receive not in a little time, are the more desirous after heavenly things; and every day adds to their former industry, and speed, and struggle, and hunger and thirst after that which is good; nothing, dispirited, by the trials that are present with their souls, nor turning to impatience, or despair; yea, the more the Lord puts them upon the trial, so much the more eager, diligent, and obstinate they are, in seeking after the gift of GOD; being fully assured that GOD cannot lie, who has promised to give his grace, to them that continue to ask.

4. Wherefore suitably to this assurance, do they make an estimate of themselves `wherein they are deficient,; whether it be in labor, or conflict, or application, or any other point, and when they make this scrutiny; with all the exactness they are able, they force and urge themselves, all they can, to do what is well-pleasing to the Lord; as having this full confidence, that GOD, -who is true, will not deprive them of the gift of the Spirit, if they persevere to the end in the expectation of him: but they shall receive the heavenly grace, while they continue in the flesh, and shall obtain eternal life.

z5. And thus do they direct their eye to the Lord, looking for him only with, great desire, and ever waiting for the consolation of-grace, and taking no comfort in any thing of this world. At the same time the Lord himself is already, after an hidden manner, present with them, and succors, and preserves them, and is their support Although they have not obtained the grace of the Spirit, and the refreshment of the heavenly gift; yet let them not fear; they that take up such an intention, and endeavor, and pains, and desire of virtue, and continue in it to the end, shall of a truth obtain life, and the everlasting kingdom.

6. Let not therefore any of the brethren be lifted up against his brother, so as to say, I have the spiritual gift, and you have not. For you know not what the morrow may bring forth; or what end his will be, and what your own. But let every one, looking Well to himself, sift his conscience at all times, and prove the work of his heart, what application and conflict he has in his mind towards God. And aiming at the perfect mark of liberty, and freedom from disorderly affections, let him run without intermission, never placing his confidence in any gift, or in any act of righteousness.

Glory and worship be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, for ever! Amen.

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