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Mystic Treatises

Isaac of Nineveh: Mystic Treatises (X)

Trad. A. J. Wensinck

segunda-feira 18 de outubro de 2021, por Cardoso de Castro

Isaac of Nineveh, Mystic Treatises


The encouragement which our Fathers give us in their writings and the help towards repentance which is in the writings of the Prophets and the Apostles, should not be taken by us as a reason to disregard the threats of the divine acts of judgement, nor the punishment which God has decreed firmly against the transgression of the borders which should not be passed, through the mouth of all His saints and by means of all kinds of laws  , in order to eradicate sins. As if the hope of repentance could be reason for us to strip from ourselves the feeling of fear in order to sin more freely and without dread. These (threats) are confirmed by the seals of the word of God, in all the scriptures of our salvation, and by the (divine) decrees fixed against them, (threatening) all kinds of terror. Some of these He has partly revealed to the many or to the few (people) by the punishments He brought upon them in order to show that He hated sin. Or why then were drowned in the Deluge the generations of the days of Noah? Was it not on account of the vileness of lasciviousness, because they had violated the beauty of the daughters of Kain? In that time there was no love of money nor adoration of idols, nor sorcery, nor wars waged (by men) against one another.

Or again, why were five towns of the Sodomites for ever burnt? Was it not because they had given way to lust of the flesh, which had taken possession of them according to its good pleasure, consisting in all kinds of impurity? Was it not because of the fornication of one man that in Israel, the firstborn of God, there fell twenty-five thousand by the plague in an instant? Why then was Simson rejected by God, Simson, the man of strength, the Naziraean from the womb, the sanctified to God, whose birth was annunciated by an angel like that of John the son of Zecharia, through whose hand (God) which God infused into his body smote a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass and became a saviour and a judge unto Israel ? Was it not because he made impure and defiled his hallowed limbs by intercourse with a harlot, that the Lord left him and gave him into the hands of his enemies? David  , the heart of God, for whose excellence the promise made unto the righteous Fathers was carried out in his offspring from whom sprouted Christ the Saviour of the whole world - was it not by adultery with one woman and for the feebleness of one moment that from a glance of his eye he got an arrow in his soul and wrought evil against himself from within his own house; for the son which was to come forth from his loins was to pursue him?

And this happened although he showed repentance and the Lord said to him: Also have I put away thy sin; thou shall not die, and he wept a flood of tears so that he moistened his bed during the nights.

I return to what I was saying before: Why then did distress and destruction hit the house of Eli the priest, the righteous old man, a priest and a judge of Israel during forty years? Was it not because of Pinehas and Hophni his sons who treated the women scornfully that came to pray in the tabernacle, though he himself did not sin, at any rate not wilfully, but only in so far as he was silent and reprehended with words only, without showing fervour against the fornication of his sons, so that the judgement of the Lord took revenge on them? And lest any one should think that the Lord shows His zeal only against those who are sinners in their lifetime, He also displays it against this audacious sin hated of Him, in the case of those who are near to Him, His priests and judges and the heads of the people and against those men who were holy unto Him and by whose hands He had done wonderful things, yet whom, when they violated the laws   He had laid down, He did not spare. As is written in Ezechiel where He says to the man whom He orders to smite the people of Jerusalem with a hidden sword: Begin before my altar and do not spare, neither old man nor boy nor youth; to show that it was the people near to Him, those who walked in fear and chastity before Him and performed His will. The saints of the Lord and those near to Him are good works and a pure heart. But when they reject the ways of the Lord’s will, He also rejects them and puts them away from before Him and takes His grace from them.

And why then did the judgement of the Exalted smite Belshazzar by the sign of the hollow hand? Was it not because he had behaved audaciously against the holy vessels which he had taken from Jerusalem and in which he drank with his concubines? And in the same way the judgement of the Exalted will of a sudden smite him who in abandoned audaciousness uses for worldly purposes the limbs that once were set apart for the holiness of the Lord, just as Belshazzar was smitten who behaved audaciously against the holy vessels taken from the sanctuary of the Lord.

Therefore we should not make use of the confidence in repentance and the heart-giving words of the scriptures as a motive for disregarding the words and the threats of the Lord and disdain Him by evil deeds, disdaining thereby also the limbs that once we have offered as a sacrifice for the ministration of His sanctuaries and for the use of His service.

Verily we are the sanctified of the Lord and the Naziraeans abstaining from women, as Elijah, Elisha and the prophets and the other sanctified Naziraeans and holy virgins by whose hands great and amazing things were done, who spoke with God face to face; and as those who lived afterwards, John the virgin and the holy Simeon and the other preachers of the New Testament who sanctified themselves to the Lord and received mystic secrets from Him, some from His own mouth, others by revelation. And so they became mediators between God and mankind, and the receptacles of His revelations and the. preachers of the Kingdom to the inhabitants of the world.

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