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St Macarius the Great Spiritual Homilies

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HOMILY 18: Concerning the progress of a Christian.

1. As many lights and burning lamps are kindled by the fire, but all the lamps and lights are lighted up from one nature. Thus Christians also are lighted up from one nature, and shine, from the Divine fire, the Son of God; and have these lamps flaming in their hearts, and shine before him while on earth, even as he himself.

2. Christians therefore are lights that have the oil in themselves, that is, " the fruits of righteousness." But if they are not lighted up from the light of the Godhead in themselves, they are nothing. The Lord was a burning light through the Spirit of the. Godhead abiding substantially in him, and inflaming his heart according to his human part.

3. For as a rotten bag that is filled with pearls, so are Christians also, who being outwardly despicable, have in the " inward man the pearl of great price." But others are like whited sepulchres, without indeed they are beautiful; but within are full of dead mens' bones. They are dead before GOD, and clothed with all manner of shame and filth, and the darkness of the enemy.

4. The Christian ought at all times to be mindful of God. For it is written, " You shall love the Lord thy GOD with all thy heart;" that he may not only love the Lord, when he goes into his oratory, but that even when walking, and in company, and when eating, he may retain the memory of GOD, and a natural affection for him. Indeed to what thing soever the heart of any one is linked, that is his god. If the heart at all times desires GOD, he is the Lord of the heart.

But if any one that has outwardly renounced all, and is stript of his possessions, yet is wedded to himself, or to worldly desires; wheresoever his heart is chained, that is his god. And he is found to have come out of the world indeed through the broad gate, but through a wicket to have gone in again.

5. But if a man at all times cleave fast unto the Lord, and places his confidence and hope upon him; then none can hurt him: for though the devils are strong as the strong mountains, they are burnt by prayer, as wax by fire.. Yet in the mean time great is the struggle and fight that lies upon the soul against them. There are the rivers of dragons, and the mouths of lions. But the fire of love burneth up all.

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