Traduzidos para o inglês por A. J. Wensinck, publicada em 1923
ON THE POWER AND THE EVIL ACTION OF SIN AND CONCERNING THOSE IN WHOM IT MAINTAINS ITSELF AND THOSE IN WHOM IT IS ANNIHILATED
A man is not freed from the allurements of sin in his heart until he hates from ( the depth of ) his heart and sincerely the cause of sin. This causes the vehemence of the struggle which opposes man in the blood and in which his freedom is testified to through the purity of his love of virtues.
This is the power which is called seduction, by the scent of which the weak soul is defeated because of its mighty attraction. This is the strong power of sin by which it troubles the serenity of the chaste and overpowers the pure emotions by things the knowledge of which they have never experienced. Here we have to show our endurance, my beloved.
This is the time of the unseen martyrdom in which the order of the solitaries is said to excel at all times. By the shock of this war the mind of the steadfast is troubled and upset, if it is not extremely watchful. Our Lord, who possessest almighty power, fountain of all help, support Thou in these times of martyrdom the souls who joyfully have betrothed themselves to thee, heavenly bridegroom, and who have given thee the promise of sanctity, in entire purity of emotions without an afterthought. Fill them with the force which subdues the resistance of fortresses and of heights that raise themselves against sanctity, lest they be driven away from their proposed aim by the unbearable compulsion of this time in which the struggle in the blood rages.
Not always does this severe strife take place in the struggle of chastity. Remittance may occur that a test may be applied. Woe to the weak who is put to the test in this decisive strife. It possesses great strength and maintains its customary force against those who have given themselves wholly, even though it be but once, to defeat, by submitting their deliberations to it.
Be on your guard against idleness, my beloved; intelligible death is hidden in it. Without it it is impossible that the solitary should fall into the hands of those who wish to captivate him. Not that God will judge us on that day on the basis of the Psalms we have recited or whether we have passed in idleness the times of service occasionally; but by our neglecting them, the demons win access. And when they have found an opportunity to enter and have shut our rooms, they accomplish in us tyrannically things which will necessarily bring their perpetrators under divine judgement in view of the severe punishment allotted for them. So we become enslaved through negligence in small matters which by the prudent are treated in a painstaking way, for the sake of Christ . As it has been said: Whosoever does not subject his will to God, he becomes a slave to his foe. We have, therefore, to consider as walls against those who desire to captivate us, those things which are reputed to be of a humble nature and which are accomplished in the cell, things which by those who maintain the strict institutes of the church have been laid down in prudence in a spirit of revelation, for the preservation of our life, the neglect of which is deemed insignificant by the imprudent, the harm of which, however, they do not consider. The beginning and the middle of their path is untrained freedom, which is the mother of wrongs. To trouble oneself with the care of small things is better than to give opportunity for sin by remissness regarding them. This is freedom at the wrong time; the end of which is grinding slavery.
As long as thy senses are alive to the shock of every accident, thy soul is to be deemed dead. For in that case the flames of sin will never be absent from thy limbs, whatever be thy states, and no peace will be able to settle in thy soul. If any of the solitaries promises in his heart to be watchful in such a state, he does not desire to be conscious of punishment. When a man deceives his companion he deserves the curse, such as is according to the law. When, however, a man deceives himself, he is not deserving those punishments; for while conscious he has made himself unconscious, because it is demanded from him that he shall eradicate the cause from his heart. But this is difficult in his eyes; and, for this reason, while conscious, he desires to be unconscious. O how sweet is the cause of affections. He will cut them off sometimes and be pleased to drive them away. Often he rejoices on account of their being apeased; to eradicate their cause he is, however, our will, and are distressed by the affections although we like that their causes be strong in us.
Sins we desire not; their conductors, however, we receive with delight; so secondary reasons become a mighty cause of primary ones. For he who desires the causes of the affections, is subject to them, though not of his will.
Who hates his sins, abstains from them. He who confesses his faults, receives forgiveness. There is no abstaining from customary sins without acquiring hate, nor receiving of forgiveness without confession of faults. The latter is accompanied by true humility; the former by grief, through shame rising in the heart. So long as we have not advanced to the point of hating blameworthy things, it is not possible to perceive the foetid odour they spread when perpetrated, nor their stinking smell, bearing them, as we do, in ourselves. So long as thou hast not cast evil away, thou knowest not what shame thou wilt foster nor what chastisement will rise from it. If thou seest in others that with which thou art charged, then thou knowest the shame with which thou art clad. Remove thyself from evil, then thou wilt know. For thou inhalest the foetid odour as a sweet scent, and ( considerest ) the nakedness of thy shame as a glorious cover.
Blessed is he that has removed himself from darkness and seen himself; so long as he is in it, sight and discernment are impossible. Blessed is he that has come forth from the dizziness of his wine and has seen in others the shamelessness of his drunkenness; then he will understand his own shame. As long as he himself is under the drunkenness of sins, all that he does is beautiful in his eyes. When nature has deviated from its order, it is all alike, to be drunk with wine or with desires; both ( states ) remove ( a man ) from what is becoming; both excite in their bearer, the body, the same heat; they are different as to their idea , but one in appearance; and one in madness. There is no equality in their causal ideas; but in their bearers there is no diversity.
All rest is followed by vexation; and all vexation by rest. If all in this world is liable to change, nevertheless man undergoes it in an attitude of opposition, either here or there or at the time of departure. This is especially the case with rest from lasciviousness or vexation which precedes it, in the way of sanctity. This is administered by God with compassion, so that man has to taste this torment either on his way or at its end; then he passes away. And on account of the richness of God’s compassion He ( uses ) this as a means of remuneration, like a deposit; so that the wages of good do not diminish the capital; but the wages of evil do.
As has been said: He who is chastised here, diminishes ( his torments in ) Hell.
Beware of freedom preceding subjection, beware of consolation preceding strife. Beware of knowledge older than the shock of temptations; beware of it rather than of love preceding the accomplishment of repentance.
If all of us are sinners, and none is exalted above their experience, then none among the virtues precedes repentance. Recollect that all delight is secondary to aversion and bitterness.
Beware of joy also, to which is not joined variation without cause. Concerning all things provided from above thou wilt find the cause of their variation unattainable to knowledge. Fear that which is reputed to be joined with equality it is said to lie besides the way which is trodden. He who knows to steer the ship of the world with prudence, has connected variation with all that belongs to Him. Different from this is likeness.
Distraction of the thoughts is connected with the rest of the limbs; dejection with immoderate labour distraction with dejection. Distraction differs from distraction. The former is accompanied by the strife of wantonness; the latter by the inclination to leave the cell and to ( inhabit ) various places. Moderate labour connected with constancy is priceless; where it fails, there is exuberant desire; where it prevails, there is room for trouble.
Bear the folly of nature prevailing in thy body, o brother , because thou art destined to possess that wisdom which possesses the everlasting crown of government. Be not troubled by the disturbance of the body, ( the inheritance ) of Adam , which is destined as soon as it is clad with that heavenly image which is the king of peace, to dwell in that delight of which the knowledge would overpower in this world the minds of those who are clad with flesh .
Be not troubled on account of the wild variations of nature. For the short duration of the labour caused by them is, to him to the butcher; a sound from the mouth is sufficient to make them flee. But if thou shouldst condescend to have connections with them, thou wouldst make them strong lions.
Despise mean pleasures, lest thou become subjected to the force of their heat3). A little patience regarding small things repels the danger of the approach of large ones. It is not possible to overcome great evils without a small victory over trifling ones.
Recollect the kind of way thou wilt go, o brother; there is no longer life there sustained by chemicals driving mortality; nor warmth of temperament exciting the young nature by the allurement of its pleasure. Bear the labour of the struggle into which ( He ) has introduced thee in order to put thee to the test; then thou wilt take the crown and pass; for after a little time thou wilt have rest from this world. Think of that rest without end, of that life without allurements, of that state of perfect manhood, of that course of life without shocks, of that compulsory force of divine love reigning over nature.