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Philoxenus, Ascetic Discourse (1894) pp.49-69. Discourse 3 -- On Faith


And again come, O disciple, and hearken unto the triumphs of faith which are much to be desired. Come and incline thine ear to the voice of thy mother who giveth thee life by the sweet music of her voice. Come and suck the sweet milk of doctrine from the living breast of the mother who bore thee. Come and stand by the fountain which watereth nations and tribes, for whosoever drinketh not from her his thirst is not quenched, Come and sit at the table which is full of the food of life, for whosoever feedeth not therefrom hath no life in his life. Come and incline thine ear and hear; come, open thine eyes and see the wonderful things which have been manifested by faith. Come, hew out for thyself new eyes; come, establish for thyself secret ears; to hear secret things thou art invited, therefore secret ears are necessary for thee; and to see spiritual things thou art called, therefore eyes of the spirit are useful for thee. Come, look upon thyself [as] something which thou art not, and renew thyself before thou shalt be made new. The Creator hath made thee a new creation, and faith hath helped in the making of thee; thou hast become a change of wonder and a construction of heaven, and faith was with Him when He established thee. [p. 53] For in the beginning when He created the world and |50 all that therein is, and when He was establishing things, wisdom worked with Him, even as Solomon saith, "The Lord by His wisdom laid the foundations of the earth, and He constructed the heavens by His undertanding; and by His knowledge were the depths broken up, and the clouds distilled water." And again wisdom saith, "When He constructed the heaven I was with Him, and when He made a circle upon the face of the deep, and when He made firm the clouds from above, and when the fountains of the depths became strong".1 Now wisdom was with God in His primaeval works, but in this second creation faith is with Him; and in this second giving of birth He hath taken to Himself faith as a helpmeet. In everything faith cleaveth to God, and without it to-day He worketh no new things. It were an easy thing for Him to give thee birth from water and spirit without it, but until it is satisfied He doth not give thee new birth. He is able to make thee a new creature, and from being old to make thee new, but until He receiveth from thee faith [as] a pledge He neither changeth thee nor maketh thee a new creature.

From him that is baptized faith is required, and then he receiveth treasure from the water; but without faith everything is common. When faith hath come the most contemptible things appear glorious. Without faith baptism is water [only], and without faith the life-giving Mysteries are bread and wine [only]; and the old man appeareth as he is if it be not the eye of faith that seeth him. The Mysteries are common things, and marvellous things are to be despised [p. 54] |51 if it be not the eye of faith which seeth them. The power of faith cannot be experienced by the test of words, but it must be felt in and from itself. Faith cannot be perfected by the hearing of the ear, but it must be made certain from within by the power of the soul. The ear only receiveth the report of faith, but the substance of faith is born from the mind. The pure understanding is a fountain which floweth with faith and a simple mind in which there is nothing else. For the mind of faith is single, and there is nothing therein which maketh contest against its neighbour. Faith regardeth secretly, and peereth, and looketh fixedly beyond unto the power which is buried in things.

Now faith is more deeply seated within than knowledge, for that which knowledge seeth not by the faith which is therein is made manifest. Knowledge is not able to perform the work of faith, and when knowledge hath gone forth faith entereth in her place. For in respect of created things knowledge is external, but faith is within the thing itself. Knowledge investigateth the wisdom which is hidden deeply in creation, and faith looketh steadfastly at the hidden things of the Mysteries. Knowledge looketh through and through into the force which [is in] edible things and fruit, and in all the food which is given to the body, but faith looketh through and through into the power which is hidden in the life-giving Mysteries, which are the food of the soul. However refined knowledge may make itself it burroweth among corporeal things, and in the visible world it goeth round about and wandereth; but faith [p. 55] goeth not about among created things, and the power of created things is unable to receive it to dwell in them.

The tongue cannot taste the power of faith, |52 and speech is unable either to declare its beauties or to describe and depict its similitudes. Its might cannot be experienced by the voice, neither can it be known by the speech, nor by the portion of the mind which turneth to the body; but within the place of the hidden and spiritual holy of holies of the understanding are the mysteries of faith made manifest, and secret things revealed. For that part which is within us and is more glorious than all [the other] parts of man, that part alone is able to perceive faith; now the works of faith are visible from without, and its words may be heard with the ears. And its power must be experienced in the understanding, for even if thou seest the dead rise, or the eyes of the blind opened, or the devils going forth [from a man], still thou hast not yet seen the power of faith. For how canst thou see the power of faith in a body which riseth, for behold it also maketh the soul alive from the dead? And how canst thou experience its power in the healing of the eyes of the body, for behold it also createth eyes for spiritual natures? And how canst thou see its power in the devils going forth, for behold it also driveth out of the soul natural thoughts? To those who are without the power of faith faith appeareth in external things, but man himself must experience it by the power of the soul. To the understanding faith giveth the experience of itself by nothing that is alien, but without the intervention of any alien thing faith lighteth upon it, and maketh it to experience [p. 56] its power. To the soul within signs from without can never become means for the experiencing of faith, but faith itself dwelleth therein and maketh it glad, and enlighteneth and maketh its thoughts to rejoice; it maketh the light of its nature to rise within |53 it, and the soul admireth the new light which is shed upon it. For until faith maketh to turn and concentrateth the sight of the soul from every place it showeth not the soul the beauty of its nature, because the soul is unable to see it while its vision is distracted by other things. The natural vision of the soul becometh enfeebled when it is divided, and it looketh outside itself, and it becometh incapable of looking fixedly at the clear light of faith.

Now to the soul which becometh unto it a pure dwelling-place faith giveth such power that it doth not look upon things as they are, but as it wisheth to see them. For behold thou bearest upon thy hands the live coal of the Mysteries, which in their nature are common bread, but faith seeth therein the body of the Only One. The eye of faith seeth not as the eye of the body, but faith compelled! the vision of the body to see what is invisible to it. For the body seeth bread, and wine, and oil, and water, but faith compelleth it to see with its vision spiritually that which corporeally cannot be seen, that is to say, instead of bread we eat the Body, and instead of wine we drink the Blood, and instead of water we see the baptism of the Spirit, and instead of oil the power of Christ. [p. 57] And faith possesseth the power of God, and the will and dominion of God are in it, and it gathereth together excellent things wheresoever it wisheth. Faith draweth nigh to the bones of the saints, and instead of dead men it looketh at them as living men, and speaketh with them as with the living, and entreateth them concerning its needs. For faith revealeth itself to the dead body in order that what it lacketh it may receive from the Giver of requests, and faith is persuaded that through |54 this dead body it will receive this gift, without considering that the dead body is without life, and silent, without speech, and still without voice, and. incapable of movement, and a stranger to all the movements of nature. And faith doth not entreat the dead body to be a mediator by these things, for it knoweth that as concerns the things of its nature the dead body is insufficient in death, even as it was in life, to be a mediator for it with the Creator for this creation. But inasmuch as the dead body is superior to nature, and some of the power of Christ hath been mingled in the saints, and they also possess it, even though they are laid in the tomb, upon this faith looketh, and it entreateth the dead as if they were living, and speaketh unto those who are silent as unto those who have the power of speech.

And the eye of faith putteth off the sight of all things that are visible, and putteth on the hidden sight of all spiritual things, and in every thing which is within the body it moveth. For man standeth in one place but looketh steadfastly at another; he sojourneth in the lower world of the body but dwelleth by faith in the world above. Faith heareth concerning the resurrection of the dead, and concerning the renewing of human bodies, [p. 58] and it considereth that they have already risen and have been made new creatures. Faith hath received the promise concerning the world of life, and of the kingdom of light and of the countries of glory, and of spiritual delights, and of the food of the blessed, and of the interpretation of the Mysteries, and of becoming in the form of the angels, and having heard of these things they are accounted sure by it. And faith is an intermediary between the things which are |55 past and the things which are to come, for of all those things which took place before us, and those which are about to take place after us, we receive their teaching by faith, according to what is said by Paul, "By faith we understand that the worlds have been constructed by the word of God, and that out of the things which are unseen these things which are seen have come into being." 2

If man possesseth not faith he is able to make all these things which are written in the Holy Books a lie, and he is able to say of all hidden things which most truly exist, that they exist not; and inasmuch as they are invisible there is not rebuke near at hand for [his] doubt; but faith needeth not a testimony whereby it may be certain of what it heareth. To knowledge proofs and testimonies are necessary, and to him that desireth first of all to see and to feel and then to be certain; but faith ariseth not from wonderful things. As God hath no need to receive persuasion by mighty deeds and wonders concerning the things which are about to come into existence from Him, to Whose knowledge aforetime everything is manifest and revealed, so neither [p. 59] doth faith need wonders; for how can it be in need of that thing which it doeth? For behold, mighty deeds, and signs, and wonders and all such like things come into existence by faith; how then doth it need the testimony of that thing which it itself doeth to be certain of hidden things? As God needeth not the [testimony of] His works, in the same manner faith needeth not the [testimony of] the wonderful things which are |56 wrought by it. For faith needeth nothing, neither sight, nor feeling, nor signs and wonders, nor arguments and testimonies, but only the hearing of the word of God, and when it knoweth that it is God Who speaketh, straightway it receiveth it and doubteth not.

And none of the righteous pleased God without faith, even as the teaching of Paul testifieth, who, beginning with Abel,3 repeated all [their names] one after the other coming down unto the manifestation of Christ, and he showed that they all pleased God by faith. And setting a definite limit for all disciples he said, "Without faith man cannot please God;"4 and again he said, "In faith all these died, and did not "receive their promises," 5 for God considered aforetime help for us that they might not be perfected without us. And for their whole lives, according to the word of Christ, and until their departure [from this world] faith clave to them; by it they did mighty deeds while they were in the world, and by it they hoped and expected [p. 60] to receive the promises which were about to be, and to receive what had been promised to them for [the sake of] which they went forth after His word. Faith is the ground which receiveth the seed of the word of God, and as the seed of the husbandman is empty of produce if it hath no field [in which to be sown], so also is the word of God, as far as we are concerned, barren of spiritual advantages if the ground of faith receive it not. And as the eye of the body [receiveth] the sun, even so doth the sight of faith receive the spiritual light of the commandments of Christ. And as by the light of the sun, which maketh |57 everything manifest, nothing can be seen unless the eye receiveth it, so also the commandment of God, Who is the Maker of everything, is not made certain to us without faith. The sun is a luminous body by nature, and the word of God is mighty when it giveth the command; but as the light of the sun's nature is diminished in power in respect of blind eyes, and maketh nothing visible, so also in the soul in which there is no faith is the commandment of God esteemed a feeble thing.

Faith is the eye of discernment which looketh at everything, and it regardeth [a thing] as it is; and because the things which are visible are too small for its vision, it forsaketh them and looketh at those which are invisible, and it regardeth those things which are above nature, and beyond feeling, and is made known unto them. By faith also a name was established for us, because it gave us birth from error to the knowledge of God, [p. 61] and for this reason every one, who would draw nigh to Christ and would become a disciple of His Gospel, taketh his name from faith, and is called Faithful one; for faith gave us birth and is our mother, and it is good that we should receive our name from her who gave us birth. And it is a wonderful thing unto what limit hath arrived the majesty of faith. For as the children of men also are called by the name of God and of His Christ, so also are we called godly men after the name of God, and Christians after the name of Christ, and we are named faithful after the name of Faith. This is the name which hath separated us from all false beliefs, and hath made us strangers to all doctrines of error. For no man is called faithful except him that |58 hath been born of true faith, and she is his mother and nurse, because our whole doctrine looketh at the hope of those things which are to come, and desireth the expectation of invisible things; and the things of which we have become disciples are neither manifest nor known unto these corporeal feelings. For these reasons it is good that we have been "faithful," for the hope of all our good things standeth in faith, and if faith be removed from the way not one of these things which we have is to be believed.

For behold, whether it be Mysteries which are in this world, or the good things beyond which are promised to us, it is faith which graspeth them and preserveth them. Now if a man were to look with the eye of the body and without faith upon all the mysteries of the service of the Church, he would consider them common and contemptible, while those which took their origin in [this] world would appear to be mightier [p. 62] and more magnificent than our own. For behold with us is poverty, but with the world there are riches; with us there is disgrace, but with it glory; with us there is humility, but with it pride; with us there is inferiority, but with it dominion; with us there is indigence, but with it possessions; with us there is hunger, but with it satiety; with us there is want, but with it abundance; with us there are afflictions, but with it pleasures; with us there is subjection, but with it command; with us there is the "narrow way," but with it the broad path; with us is the single garment which is limited by command, but with it are various kinds of fine raiment and apparel; with us is the order which restraineth us from our daily food, but with it are the treasures which are |59 collected for generations and years; with us is the obligation to appear in neglect and contempt, but with it the appearance of pride and honour.

All these things, and those which are like unto them, appear glorious to the world, and better in every respect than those which we have; but if we remove from the midst faith which is our true riches, even as our teacher Paul also testified concerning this in his word, "If in this life [only] we have hope in Christ, "of all men we are the most miserable." 6 And again in another place 7 he saith, "We are fools for Christ's sake, and sick, and despised, and dishonoured, and we have nothing." And while in this world in which we live we possess nothing, we hold everything in that which is ours, also according to the words of the Apostle,8 "As having nothing, yet possessing all things;" and to speak briefly, no one thing of ours [p. 63] can be seen in this life without the eye of faith which alone can see it. For in this world our riches are not seen, nor our power, nor the various grades of our labour, nor our honours, nor our enjoyments, nor our kingdom, nor the mansions of pleasures, nor the sealed and hidden happiness which is laid up for us, nor the city of our habitation [which is] heaven, nor Zion the country of life which thirsteth and desireth to receive her children, nor our stored up treasures, nor the riches of our heavenly possessions, nor our freedom which is above all subjection, nor the fulness of all the good things which we are about to receive. For all these things of ours are hidden in this life, and they cannot be seen by |60 corporeal beings. Believing men by faith only can perceive them, and they look upon everything which is not seen, and they hear those voices which are not audible to the ear of the body, and they feel that which cannot be felt with the hand of the body, and they taste those things which cannot be tasted by the palate of the mouth, because inside, beyond all bodily senses, the perception of the spiritual good things which are, promised to us is placed. And if we have no spiritual senses faith perceiveth with them even though they be not. Now if thou sayest, "Behold the mysteries which are here are glorious," yet see, for without faith their glory cannot be perceived. And everything which we have received from [this] world and of which we make use according to the tradition which hath come down to us, if we look at it with the eye of the world, it is of the world; but if we perceive it by the eye of faith, [p. 64] it is above the world. The temples of our houses of prayer are of the world because the buildings thereof are derived from the world and constructed [therein]; but they are spiritual things above the world, because they are types of that Church of the firstborn, whose [names] are inscribed in heaven, which is Jerusalem the free, the mother of us all.9 And all the altars and all the other vessels of the service of the Mysteries, and everything with which we perform the Mysteries which have been delivered to us, according to natural origin are of the world; but by reason of the greatness of those things which are administered in them they are exalted and most high, and are esteemed by us as being above nature, for they |61 are the likeness of the living and spiritual powers which are in heaven, in which the service of the hidden Mysteries of God and of His will are perfected. And again those holy Mysteries which are performed by us for the redemption of our life are taken first of all from the world, for the bread and the wine which goeth up on the spiritual altar is of the world; but when the altar receiveth them, as the womb received the Word, it maketh them to be above the world, and to be the Body and living Blood of God Who is above the world. And thus also is it with the water which is [mixed] with the oil, with which the mystery of our baptism is performed, for both are taken from this world; but when the time hath arrived that those who are called to Grace should be born by and from them, the baptism of common oil and water becometh the womb and power which give birth to spiritual beings. For the dead sinner who hath gone down to baptism cometh up alive, [p. 65] even as Christ [rose] from the grave on the third day; but instead of becoming alive on the third day like our Lord, the sinner is renewed by three baptisms in three names.

And as our Lord after His resurrection departed to a spiritual life from the corporeal life which [He led] before His crucifixion, so also the man, who hath been quickened into life by baptism as from the grave, walketh in a new life according to the doctrine of Paul.10 Now we bury our dead after the manner of all other men, and the external appearance of our method of sepulture and burial is in no way different from that of the heathen and the Jews; but we, in the |62 hope of faith and in the expectation of the vivification of the dead, commit our dead to life and not to death, and according to our faith they are sent by us to heaven and not to hell. And the dead of those who err because the hope of faith is not found in them are sent to death and destruction.

The mysteries of believing men are great and exalted, if one will draw nigh unto them with the mind of faith. And because the eye of the body was too small for the sight of our mysteries, another eye, that of faith, was given to us, which is sufficient to look at them and to see them as they shall be, and not as they are; and the things which are remote and which have been promised to us it seeth as if they were near, and they are not accounted afar off by it.

Therefore must thou understand, O thou who wishest to become a disciple of Christ, that all our affairs are established by faith, and without faith neither can we be seen, nor the things which we have, nor those which come from us, nor those which are promised to be given, and they are as if they existed not. So then in the beginning [p. 66] of thy discipleship take to thyself faith, and go forth after God, for thou wilt not hear Him to keep His commandments unless thou dost first believe in Him. Now faith hath been planted and set in thee by the Creator, that thou mightest believe in Him by the faith which He placed in us. Turn not back then the power of faith, and by its means believe those things which are not; and instead of believing in these things which are fixed and abide for ever thou must believe in what is not fixed and in what remaineth not. For all the things which exist here in appearance pass away and are dissolved, according to the teaching of |63 the Book;11 and all things which are promised and are about to come into being for the true believers, abide for ever, and they neither pass away nor are destroyed. Believe not then with that faith which is in thee in what passeth away, and deem it not an abiding thing, but thou shalt make use of faith in its fitting order, and shalt believe by it in spiritual things. For behold those who worship idols, and who consider stones, and blocks of wood, and all the natural substances of creation to be gods, also have faith within them, but they have changed its fair order, and instead of believing by it in God have believed in made idols, and have called them gods erringly, since they are not [gods]. For as long as faith believeth certainly in the things which are fitting thereunto it is faith; but if it believeth other things which are contrary, and thinketh them to be what they are not, it is thenceforth not faith [p. 67] but error. And it was for this reason that God set faith in thy nature, that thou mightest believe only on Him, and through Him upon what He wisheth thee to believe and nothing else. For in that manner in which the recognition of God is placed within us naturally, even as the blessed Paul said, "The notion of God is manifest in them, for God hath revealed it in them," 12 is faith also naturally implanted in all our thoughts. But as the notion of God was fixed in them, although they worshipped not His nature, and honoured not His Being, yet they worshipped His name, and paid honour [to it] in all creation, because of natural faith, so we with the faith which is placed in us believe everything, and whithersoever our desire wisheth thither it |64 turneth our faith, and it directeth the natural movements which are in us so that we may see them.

If our desire seeketh in faith to believe, it believeth in God, and if it wisheth in faith, it believeth certainly in idols and devils; and if it seeketh the world of life it believeth that it will abide for ever, and for it it lusteth and seeketh eagerly; but if it desireth this world which shall be dissolved it believeth like a true believer, and it loveth it and runneth after it. For desire is the governor of faith, as it is also of all the other natural movements which are in us, and it is the director of everything, whether of external feelings or internal thoughts. [p. 68] And as eyes are given to us to see the beauties of creation, and ears to hear the divine commandments, and hands that they may be stretched out to good things, and feet to run to the trysting-places of excellent things----now it is the will which changeth them to the opposite, and which maketh the limbs and senses do wicked and hateful things instead of the good deeds for which they were created----so also the faith which is placed in our nature, by which we believe in God and make sure of His spiritual promises, hath reversed the power of the will, and instead of God it believeth in devils therewith, and instead of spiritual things it maketh sure of corporeal things, and instead of the things which are invisible the things here which are visible, and instead of the things which do not pass away the things here which shall be dissolved.

Do thou then, O disciple, make use of faith in its fair order, and turn it not into error; and believe by it in God and in His promises, and believe not in the world and in its delights therewith. Everything which |65 is seen is temporal, and everything which is unseen is eternal, even as Paul also taught;13 believe then in God, and hope that everlasting blessing will be given to thee by Him, and let faith be the beginning of the way of thy instruction. If thou believest not in these things which are invisible thou canst not forsake the things which are visible; and if thou believest not that the promise of Christ is sure and also in the blessings which were promised by Him to all those who should go forth after His Gospel, thou wilt not forsake that of which thou hast possession, and wilt not run after the good things which He promised to thee. [p. 69] "Unless a man deny his father, and his mother, and his brothers, and his sisters, and the whole world, and also himself, he cannot be My disciple;" 14 hear this voice, O disciple, and go forth from the world, and this Gospel which promiseth spiritual blessings alone can lead thee away from the life and conduct and habits of [this] world. Thou hast heard this voice, believe it then, and of it be a disciple and of nothing else, and let nothing else be the cause of thy going forth from the world, otherwise thy going forth will not prosper. For as is the first cause, so also happeneth it with the rest of the matters which follow after it. Now many have, for sundry and divers reasons, forsaken the life of the world, and have drawn nigh to the discipleship of Christ, but not by reason of the one true cause, and in consequence their discipleship hath not prospered. And they have become like sick members in the healthy body of the discipleship of Christ, and they also prevent healthy members from the |66 performance of the service of the spirit and from the doing of all the commands of our Lord; it would have been better had they remained in the world and not made an exhibition of slackness in the land of spiritual beings. The whole life and conduct of the world is sick and infirm in respect of spiritual things, but the body of the discipleship of Christ is sound and healthy. And whosoever would cut off his own members from that sick body, and come to be absorbed in this living body, [p. 70] it is the love of the Christian life and rule alone which can bring him into union with [this] body. And it is not meet that there should be [any] other cause for his drawing nigh thereto, as it is in the case of many men, for by compulsion, and from obligation, and from the forcing of parents, and by the irritation of a woman, and from many other unsound reasons, many men are driven perforce to come and be disciples to Christ. And when they have come they are only [His disciples] in name, while in truth they belong to the world; to the Christian life [they belong] falsely and according to the sight of the eye only, and to the world in thought and deed; to the Christian life for custom's sake only, and to the world for their will's sake; to the Christian life by forcible consent, and to the world by the intelligence of their own freewill. And to speak briefly, in the Christian life is their shadow, and in the world is their body; in the Christian life they exist in form and appearance only, and in the world in [their] true person, being made the cause of stumbling to themselves and also to their brethren. And they eat the bread of Christ by theft, and not by right; and although they are hired by Him they labour for another, and |67 are not ashamed. When He calleth them, they obey another who is His opponent, and when any man taketh and bringeth them as his own property, they abuse His goodness, and despise His commandments. And they are made a stumbling-block in the place of the building, and a vision of detriment in the region of excellent things, and an occasion of falling in the land of truth, and a form of iniquity among helpful appearances. And for those who are thus, it would have been better, according to the word of Christ [p. 71] if they had never been born,15 or if they were born that they had remained in the infirm country of the life of [this] world in which they were, and had not come to make others sick with themselves, or to make living limbs die, being themselves dead before God. Do thou then, O disciple of God, flee from such things as these, and let faith itself alone be the cause of thy going forth from the world, that as thou hast laid the foundation, so also the whole building of thy works may ascend. For when thy works have received strength from thy faith which is [laid down] first, and which hath brought thee forth from the world, all things will be completed and preserved by faith in sound condition, and they will abide in integrity, and they will advance towards the secret eye of God, and will be completed and perfected by the exhortation of faith itself. Now so long as faith looketh upwards it travelleth over the path of Christian life and character readily, and it runneth the way of works with swiftness. It is that eye of faith which, from the beginning, hath opened itself, and hath seen from afar the |68 promises of Christ; take heed then that ye blind it not by any cause which lighteth upon thee when thou hast begun [to walk] in the path of thy journey, lest a stumbling-block come in thy way suddenly, and thou fall down in the path along which thou art walking. But as those who begin [to walk] in a material path walk along it to the end thereof with the gaze of those who begin, taking care that they shut not their eyes in the course of their journey and so obstruct the sight which guideth them, so also do thou, O disciple, who hast begun to travel upon the heavenly road, keep with thee until the end that sight [p. 72] which thou hast had from the beginning. So long as the eye of thy faith regardeth the things which are to come, so long will the labours of thy life and conduct be light upon thee, and thou wilt delight thyself in the afflictions of thy fair deeds, And as the foot is guarded from stumbling-blocks so long as thine eye is open to see, so will thy soul be remote and free from slothfulness so long as the sight of faith is whole, and it looketh upon and regardeth heavenly things. The soul from which the sight of faith is removed is either asleep or dead. That soul which driveth away faith from it entirely is dead, and that soul which hath preserved to itself the name of faith, but whose eye is not at all times open to look upon spiritual things, is asleep, and it is sunk in the sleep of slothfulness. And although it worketh, it perceiveth not; and although it is justified, it knoweth not; and although it runneth, it is not conscious thereof. And as he that is asleep is not conscious of those things which exist by his side, so also the man whose eye of faith is shut cannot perceive the good things which are wrought by it; but |69 like as a blind man is led by another, so also is he driven by the force of custom, or because he is unable to change the forms of the labours upon which he hath laid hold, he goeth on in the place in which he is. Now it befitteth not the disciple of Christ that his virtues should be established by the laws of the children of men, lest when the laws are abrogated, or [p. 73] those who have made them seek to change them, his blessings be also dispersed and scattered. He that hath laid down the conditions of the strife for us is not a man, and therefore it is not meet for us to keep the laws of the children of men in the contest of this strife, but only the will of Christ Who hath laid down the conditions of the strife.

This then is the beginning of thy going forth from the world, O thou that wouldst begin the journey of the way of heaven! And thou must cast away from thee by faith the garment of error of the mind which is bound to the things of [this] world, and which erreth and considereth that which is not as if it were. Take heed then that thou becomest not changed in thy faith, remembering at all times the word of Paul, by which thou wilt increase thy faith, and cleanse thy thoughts from the filth of error, even as he said, "He that would draw nigh unto God is bound to believe that God is;" 16 to Whom be glory for ever, Amen.

Here endeth the Third Discourse, which is upon Faith.

[Footnotes renumbered and moved to the end.  Page numbers in brackets refer to the Syriac text in vol. 1 of the printed edition.]

1. 1 Proverbs iii. 19. 20; viii. 27-29.

2. 1 Hebrews xi. 3.

3. 1 Hebrews xi. 4.

4. 2 Hebrews xi. 6.

5. 3 Hebrews xi. 13.

6. 1 1 Corinthians xv. 19.

7. 2 1 Corinthians iv. 10. 

8. 3 2 Corinthians vi. 10.

9. 1 Galatians iv. 26.

10. 1 Romans vi. 4.

11. 1 2 Peter iii. 10, 11.

12. 2 Romans i. 19.

13. 1 2 Corinthians iv. 18.

14. 2 St. Luke xiv. 26.

15. 1 St. Matthew xxvi. 24.

16. 1 Hebrews xi. 6.

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Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts