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Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Ninive

Isaac of Ninive : VII ON OTHER SUBJECTS

Trad. A. J. Wensinck

segunda-feira 18 de outubro de 2021

Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Niniveh. Translated by A. J. Wensinck from Bedjan’s syriac text with an introduction and registers. Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1923.

VII ON OTHER SUBJECTS, CHAPTER BY CHAPTER, IN SHORT SECTIONS. ON THE CHARACTER? OF TRUST? IN GOD AND FOR WHOM IT IS BECOMING TO TRUST IN GOD. AND FURTHER: WHEN A MAN TRUSTS, HE WILL HAVE POWER? ACCORDING TO (THE STATE OF) HIS MIND?. AND WHO TRUSTS FOOLISHLY AND WITHOUT DISCERNMENT

There? is a trust in God?, with a faith of the heart, which is beautiful and which rises from the discernment of knowledge?. And there is another trust which is insipid and rises from folly?; and this is false? trust.

That a man who has absolutely no care? for any of these passing things? and whose soul is night and day given to the works of God, without thought? of any work of this world? because of his great zeal for excellence and because of his absorbing anxiety for the divine? things, and who, therefore, neglects to prepare dress and food and to fix and to prepare a place? for his shelter and the like, - that such a man trusts in God that He will prepare in its due season all he needs and that He will care for him - this is really true trust and a trust of wisdom. And in truth?, for such a man it is also beautiful to confide in God, because he is His servant, and he is ladened with thoughts concerning Him and he bears the weight of His works without neglect. And so it is becoming to Him to show? care for him, which is distinguished from His care for the rest of mankind, because he has eminently maintained in his person? the word? of our Lord saying?: seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and: Take no thought for your body?. And if ye care for this, the world will prepare all for you, like as a servant. And as unto a master it will be obedient unto your words without hesitation, without thwarting your will in anything.

Therefore, because such a man does not desist on account of (worldly) causes? from standing perpetually before Him, he will not surrender? himself to those things which the body needs. For he does not care for other things either, but he abstains from them all equally, be they small or great, be they things of comfort or pleasure - an abstention based on fear? of God. So he will find sustenance in a wondrous way, even though he does not touch? any of these things, nor fatigues himself with them.

Another however, whose heart is wholly buried in the earth? and who constantly eats dust with the serpent without caring in any way for the things pleasant to God, who fatigues himself in every respect? by the bodily things and is occupied by and constantly cares for intercourse and pleasure and luxury, and who has manifold worldly connections, - when such a man, given to such laxity and indifference? regarding excellence, from time to time gets into trouble or want, or the fruits of sinfulness disturb him in any way, and (when he) says as follows: I trust in God, He will work for me without doubt? and He will comfort me, - o fool, till now thou hast not recalled God but thou hast disdained Him by the laxity of thy works and His name was slandered among the nations, as the scripture says. And now thou sayest with a full mouth: I confide in Him who will help me and care for me. God has well said through the prophet, scorning such people: They seek me daily and delight to know? my ways, as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice?. To them belongs the fool who does not even spiritually come near unto God, but, at a time when the darkness of troubles surrounds him, elevates his hands unto Him in confidence. That such become wise, requires that they be branded several times. For, although they have no works such as could be a basis for trust in God, yet they have been thought worthy of chastisement and loaded with mercy, as it were from (the midst) of their evil? works and their indifference regarding their duties. They should not mislead themselves and forgetting the rank of their previous way of life, say: I trust in God. Such have to be chastised, lest they, though not possessing works of faith, stretch out their feet in idleness?, saying: I believe that God will give me to eat, as if they were toiling in the works of God.

Or it may come to pass that some one goes and falls into a pit through his own folly, and although he has never thought of God before, he says now: I trust in God, He will deliver me. Err not, thou fool. Trust in God has to be preceded by works for the sake of God and by the sweat of His service. If thou believest in God thou doest well. But also faith requires works; and confidence in Him requires the testimony of the heart which is born of the toils (for the sake) of excellence. Believe that God is He who cares for His creatures and who is clad with all power. But connect with this faith the works which suit it. Then He will answer thee. Take no wind in thy fist, viz. faith without deeds.

If a man travel a road? without being? conscious? of the fact? that there are evil beasts or murderers on it, or the like, how many times will this universal? care of God cause (the danger) to pass, by retaining him at the place where he is, for any cause, till the danger is over, or by some one meeting him and causing him to return. Or another time, a dangerous serpent lies on the way, which he has not noticed. If God will that he be not entangled in evil, the animal? will at once make a sound or leave its place and disappear, or it will creep farther so that he sees it and is cautious. Thus God will save him, even if he be not worthy, for motives which God alone knows, especially for His mercy’s sake. Or, another time a house? or a wall or a rock? is on the point? of falling or slipping from its place and coming down instantly (at the place) where some men are sitting. Thereupon God will order? an angel? and will hinder this accident? and prevent it till those people have risen (and left) that place, for any reason? whatsoever that makes them go away, so that none will remain under (the falling thing?). But as soon as they have left (the place), it will fall. But if it happens that anyone be under it, he will not be damaged. By this God desires to show the greatness? of His power.

Such things and the like are (signs of) universal care. The righteous possesses this grace perpetually; as an individual?, not as a member of the community?. The rest, however, are ordered by God to govern themselves with insight and to mingle in their affairs? intelligence? with the care of God. But the righteous does not need this insight in order to govern with it his affairs. In stead of this insight he possesses faith by which he storms strong fortresses. And such things as we have enumerated he does not fear. As scripture says: the righteous is bald as a lion and he ventures all through his faith. Not as one who tempts God but as one who possesses confidence in Him and as one who is armed and strongly clad with the force of the spirit. And concerning His great perpetual care for him God has said thus: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. He who is weak in his works and lax or negligent, or whose deeds are evil, it is impossible that this hope be his. But it will be for him that is constantly with God in all things and who is His relative by his beautiful works, who directs constantly the gaze of his heart towards God’s grace, as David   says: My eyes? fail while I wait for the Lord.


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