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St Macarius the Great Spiritual Homilies

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HOMILY 3: Christians ought to go over the course of this world with care, that they may attain the praise of God.

1. WHAT shall GOD do with him that gives himself up to the world, and is deceived by the pleasures of it, or drawn away with the hurry of earthly distractions? The man upon whom he bestows the succors of his grace, is he who divorces himself from gross pleasures, and at all times forcibly urges his mind towards the Lord, both denying himself, and seeking after the Lord only. This is the person whom GOD takes into his special care, that keeps himself disentangled from the snares of this world; that " works out his salvation with fear and trembling;" that with the utmost heed passes through all the toils of the world, both seeking after the Lord for his assistance, and hoping in his mercy to be saved through grace.

2. As iron, or lead, or gold, or silver, when cast into the fire is freed from that hard consistency which is natural to it, being changed into softness, and so long as it continues in the fire, is still dissolved from its native hardness-after the same manner the soul that has renounced the world, and fixed its desires only upon the Lord, and has received that heavenly fire of the Godhead, and of the love of the Spirit, is disentangled from all love of the world, and set free from all the corruption of the affections; it turns all things out of itself, and is changed from the hardness of sin, and melted down in a fervent and unspeakable love for that heavenly Bridegroom alone, whom it has received.

3. But I tell thee, that if these very brethren, so. much desired by him, draw back from that love, he too is turned away from them. For that very thing is the soul's life and refreshment,-namely, the hidden and unspeakable communion of the heavenly King. For if the love of that fellowship which is in the flesh causes a separation from father, mother, and brethren, and sets one at liberty from all love besides, how much more shall they, as many as have been thought worthy to partake of that Holy Spirit, who is the heavenly object of our love, come entirely off from the love of the world, and all things else appear to them as impertinent superfluities, in that they have been perfectly overcome with heavenly desire, and united to the falling down of it? There are their desires, there are their thoughts employed; there do they live, there do their thoughts rove up and down; there is the mind continually taken up, being overcome with divine and heavenly love, and spiritual desire.

4. What remains then, beloved brethren, but that, having such good things laid before us, and so great promises being made us by the Lord, we throw off all impediments, renounce all love of the world, and give ourselves wholly to that only good; that so we may obtain that unspeakable love of the Spirit, which the blessed Paul has exhorted us to hasten after; saying, "Follow after charity;" that we maybe changed from our own hardness by the hand of the Most High, and may come to the spiritual sweetness and rest, having been wounded with the love of the Divine Spirit. For the Lord bears an exceeding friendly affection for man, waiting with compassion for the time when we shall entirely turn to-him. For though through the abundance of ignorance, and childishness, and corruption we are turned away from life, and multiply impediments upon ourselves, yet he is touched with abundance of compassion for us-suffering long till we return to him, and are* enlightened in our inward man, that our faces may not be covered with shame at the day of judgment.

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