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the open window, but its mate closed in a terrific death

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"And, in sooth, even the chief of the disciples, Peter, the Rock of the Faith, in the very season of the Saviour's Passion, failing for a little while in his stewardship, that he might understand the worthlessness and misery of human frailty, fell under the guilt of denial. Then he straightway remembered the Lord's words, and went out and wept bitterly, and with those hot tears made good his defeat, and transferred the victory to his own side. Like a skilful man of war, though fallen, he was not undone, nor did he despair, but, springing to his feet, he brought up, as a reserve, bitter tears from the agony of his soul; and straightway, when the enemy saw that sight, like a man whose eyes are scorched with a fierce flame, he leaped off and fled afar, howling horribly. So the chief became chief again, as he had before been chosen teacher of the whole world, being now become its pattern of penitence. And after his holy resurrection Christ made good this three-fold denial with the three-fold question, `Peter, lovest thou me?', the Apostle answering, `Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.'

the open window, but its mate closed in a terrific death

"So from all these and many other examples beyond count we learn the virtue of tears and repentance. Only the manner thereof must be noted it must arise from a heart that abominateth sin and weepeth, as saith the prophet David, `I am weary of my groaning: every night will I wash my bed and water my couch with my tears.' Again the cleansing of sins will be wrought by the blood of Christ, in the greatness of his compassion and the multitude of the mercies of that God who saith, `Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow,' and so forth.

the open window, but its mate closed in a terrific death

"Thus therefore it is, and thus we believe. But after receiving the knowledge of the truth and winning regeneration and adoption as sons, and tasting of the divine mysteries, we must strive hard to keep our feet lest we fall. For to fall becometh not the athlete, since many have fallen and been unable to rise. Some, opening a door to sinful lusts, and clinging obstinately to them, have no more had strength to hasten back to repentance; and others, being untimely snatched by death, and having not made speed enough to wash them from the pollution of their sin, have been damned. And for this cause it is parlous to fall into any kind of sinful affection whatsoever. But if any man fall, he must at once leap up, and stand again to fight the good fight: and, as often as there cometh a fall, so often must there at once ensue this rising and standing, unto the end. For, `Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you,' saith the Lord God."

the open window, but its mate closed in a terrific death

To this said Ioasaph, "But how, after baptism, shall a man keep himself clear from all sin? For even if there be, as thou sayest, repentance for them that stumble, yet it is attended with toil and trouble, with weeping and mourning; things which, methinks, are not easy for the many to accomplish. But I desired rather to find a way to keep strictly the commandments of God, and not swerve from them, and, after his pardoning of my past misdeeds, never again to provoke that most sweet God and Master."

Barlaam answered, "Well said, my lord and king. That also is my desire; but it is hard, nay quite impossible, for a man living with fire not to be blackened with smoke: for it is an uphill task, and one not easy of accomplishment, for a man that is tied to the matters of this life and busied with its cares and troubles, and liveth in riches and luxury, to walk unswervingly in the way of the commandments of the Lord, and to preserve his life pure of these evils. `For,' saith the Lord, `no man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.' So also writeth the beloved Evangelist and Divine in his Epistle, thus saying, `Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.'

"These things were well understood by our holy and inspired fathers; and mindful of the Apostle's word that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, they strove, after holy baptism, to keep their garment of immortality spotless and undefiled. Whence some of them also thought fit to receive yet another baptism; I mean that which is by blood and martyrdom. For this too is called baptism, the most honourable, and reverend of all, inasmuch as its waters are not polluted by fresh sin; which also our Lord underwent for our sakes, and rightly called it baptism. So as imitators and followers of him, first his eyewitness, disciples, and Apostles, and then the whole band of holy martyrs yielded themselves, for the name of Christ, to kings and tyrants that worshipped idols, and endured every form of torment, being exposed to wild beasts, fire and sword, confessing the good confession, running the course and keeping the faith. Thus they gained the prizes of righteousness, and became the companions of Angels, and fellow-heirs with Christ. Their virtue shone so bright that their sound went out into all lands, and the splendour of their good deeds flashed like lightning into the ends of the earth. Of these men, not only the words and works, but even the very blood and bones are full of all sanctity, mightily casting out devils, and giving to such as touch them in faith the healing of incurable diseases: yea, and even their garments, and anything else that hath been brought near their honoured bodies, are always worthy of the reverence of all creation. And it were a long tale to tell one by one their deeds of prowess.

"But when those cruel and brutal tyrants brought their miserable lives to a miserable end, and persecution ceased, and Christian kings ruled throughout the world, then others too in succession emulated the Martyrs' zeal and divine desire, and, wounded at heart with the same love, considered well how they might present soul and body without blemish unto God, by cutting off all the workings of sinful lusts and purifying themselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit. But, as they perceived that this could only be accomplished by the keeping of the commandments of Christ, and that the keeping of his commandments and the practice of the virtues was difficult to attain in the midst of the turmoils of the world, they adopted for themselves a strange and changed manner of life, and, obedient to the voice divine, forsook all, parents, children, friends, kinsfolk, riches and luxury, and, hating everything in the world, withdrew, as exiles, into the deserts, being destitute, afflicted, evil entreated, wandering in wildernesses and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, self-banished from all the pleasures and delights upon earth, and standing in sore need even of bread and shelter. This they did for two causes: firstly, that never seeing the objects of sinful lust, they might pluck such desires by the root out of their soul, and blot out the memory thereof, and plant within themselves the love and desire of divine and heavenly things: and secondly, that, by exhausting the flesh by austerities, and becoming Martyrs in will, they might not miss the glory of them that were made perfect by blood, but might be themselves, in their degree, imitators of the sufferings of Christ, and become partakers of the kingdom that hath no end. Having then come to this wise resolve, they adopted the quiet of monastic life, some facing the rigours of the open air, and braving the blaze of the scorching heat and fierce frosts and rain-storms and tempestuous winds, others spending their lives in the hovels which they had builded them, or in the hiding of holes and caverns. Thus, in pursuit of virtue, they utterly denied themselves all fleshly comfort and repose, submitting to a diet of uncooked herbs and worts, or acorns, or hard dry bread, not merely saying good-bye to delights in their quality, but, in very excess of temperance, extending their zeal to limit even the quantity of enjoyment. For even of those common and necessary meats they took only so much as was sufficient to sustain life. Some of them continued fasting the whole week, and partook of victuals only of a Sunday: others thought of food twice only in the week: others ate every other day, or daily at eventide, that is, took but a taste of food. In prayers and watchings they almost rivalled the life of Angels, bidding a long farewell to the possession of gold and silver, and quite forgetting that buyings and sellings are concerns of men.

"But envy and pride, the evils most prone to follow good works, had no place amongst them. He that was weaker in ascetic exercises entertained no thought of malice against him of brighter example. Nor again was he, that had accomplished great feats, deceived and puffed up by arrogance to despise his weaker brethren, or set at nought his neighbour, or boast of his rigours, or glory in his achievements. He that excelled in virtue ascribed nothing to his own labours, but all to the power of God, in humility of mind persuading himself that his labours were nought and that he was debtor even for more, as saith the Lord, `When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."' Others again persuaded themselves that they had not done even the things which they were commanded to do, but that the things left undone outnumbered the things already well done. Again, he that was far behind in austerity, perchance through bodily weakness, would disparage and blame himself, attributing his failure to slothfulness of mind rather than to natural frailty. So each excelled each, and all excelled all in this sweet reasonableness. But the spirit of vain glory and pleasing of men -- what place had it among them? For they had fled from the world, and were dwelling in the desert, to the end that they might show their virtues not to men, but to God, from whom also they hope to receive the rewards of their good deeds, well aware that religious exercises performed for vain glory go without recompense; for these are done for the praise of men and not for God. Whence all that do thus are doubly defrauded: they waste their body, and receive no reward. But they who yearn for glory above, and strive thereafter, despise all earthly and human glory.