CHAPTER I. How our eighth combat is against the spirit
of pride, and of its character.
OUR eighth and last combat is against the spirit of pride, which evil,
although it is the latest in our conflict with our faults and stands last
on the list, yet in beginning and in the order of time is the first: an
evil beast that is most savage and more dreadful than all the former ones,
chiefly trying those who are perfect, and devouring with its dreadful bite
those who have almost attained the consummation of virtue.
CHAPTER II. How there are two kinds of pride.
AND of this pride there are two kinds: the one, that by which we said
that the best of men and spiritually minded ones were troubled; the other,
that which assaults even beginners and carnal persons. And though
each kind of pride is excited with regard to both God and man by a dangerous
elation, yet that first kind more particularly has to do with God; the
second refers especially to men. Of the origin of this last and the
remedies for it we will by God's help treat as far as possible in the latter
part of this book. We now propose to say a few things about that
former kind, by which, as I mentioned before, those who are perfect are
CHAPTER III. How pride is equally destructive
of all virtues.
THERE is then no other fault which is so destructive of all virtues,
and robs and despoils a man of all righteousness and holiness, as this
evil of pride, which like some pestilential disease attacks the whole man,
and, not content to damage one part or one limb only, injures the entire
body by its deadly influence, and endeavours to cast down by a most fatal
fall, and destroy those who were already at the top of the tree of the
virtues. For every other fault is satisfied within its own bounds
and limits, and though it clouds other virtues as well, yet it is in the
main directed against one only, and specially attacks and assaults that.
And so (to make my meaning clearer) gluttony, i.e., the appetites of the
belly and the pleasures of the palate, is destructive of strict temperance:
lust stains purity, anger destroys patience: so that sometimes a man who
is in bondage to some one sin is not altogether wanting in other virtues:
but being simply deprived of that one virtue which in the struggle yields
to the vice which is its rival and opposed to it, can to some extent preserve
his other virtues: but this one when once it has taken possession of some
unfortunate soul, like some most brutal tyrant, when the lofty citadel
of the virtues has been taken, utterly destroys and lays waste the whole
city; and levelling with the ground of vices the once high walls of saintliness,
and confusing them together, it allows no shadow of freedom henceforth
to survive in the soul subject to it. And in proportion as it was
originally the richer, so now will the yoke of servitude be the severer,
through which by its cruel ravages it will strip the soul it has subdued
of all its powers of virtue.
CHAPTER IV. How by reason of pride Lucifer was turned
from an archangel into a devil.
AND that we may understand the power of its awful tyranny we see that
that angel who, for the greatness of his splendour and beauty was termed
Lucifer, was cast out of heaven for no other sin but this, and, pierced
with the dart of pride, was hurled down from his grand and exalted position
as an angel into hell. If then pride of heart alone was enough to
cast down from heaven to earth a power that was so great and adorned with
the attributes of such might, the very greatness of his fall shows us with
what care we who are surrounded by the weakness of the flesh ought to be
on our guard. But we can learn how to avoid the most deadly poison
of this evil if we trace out the origin and causes of his fall. For
weakness can never be cured, nor the remedies for bad states of health
be disclosed unless first their origin and causes are investigated by a
wise scrutiny. For as he (viz., Lucifer) was endowed with divine
splendour, and shone forth among the other higher powers by the bounty
of his Maker, he believed that he had acquired the splendour of that wisdom
and the beauty of those powers, with which he was graced by the gift of
the Creator, by the might of his own nature, and not by the beneficence
of His generosity. And on this account he was puffed up as if he
stood in no need of divine assistance in order to continue in this state
of purity, and esteemed himself to be like God, as if, like God, he had
no need of any one, and trusting in the power of his own will, fancied
that through it he could richly supply himself with everything which was
necessary for the consummation of virtue or for the perpetuation of perfect
bliss. This thought alone was the cause of his first fall.
On account of which being forsaken by God, whom he fancied he no longer
needed, he suddenly became unstable and tottering, and discovered the weakness
of his own nature, and lost the blessedness which he had enjoyed by God's
gift. And because he "loved the words of ruin," with which he had
said, "I will ascend into heaven," and the "deceitful tongue," with which
he had said of himself, "I will be like the Most High," and of Adam
and Eve, "Ye shall be as gods," therefore "shall God destroy him forever
and pluck him out and remove him from his dwelling place and his root out
of the land of the living." Then "the just," when they see his ruin,
"shall fear, and shall laugh at him and say" (what may also be most justly
aimed at those who trust that they can obtain the highest good without
the protection and assistance of God): "Behold the man that made not God
his helper, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and prevailed in
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 4
1. Isa. 14:13, 14. 2. Ps. 51 :6-9.
CHAPTER V. That incentives to all sins spring
THIS is the reason of the first fall, and the starting point of the
original malady, which again insinuating itself into the first man,
through him who had already been destroyed by it, produced the weaknesses
and materials of all faults. For while he believed that by the freedom
of his will and by his own efforts he could obtain the glory of Deity,
he actually lost that glory which he already possessed through the free
gift of the Creator.
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 5: 1. Protoplastum cf.
Wisdom 7:1; 10:1, where Adam is called protoplastos. From these passages
the term came to be used as the designation of our first parents.
So Clem. Alex. Strom. iii. 17: and in its Latin form it is found in the
early translation of Irenaeus. Haer. III. xxi. 20.
CHAPTER VI. That the sin of pride is last
in the actual order of the combat,
but first in time and origin.
AND so it is most clearly established by instances and testimonies from
Scripture that the mischief of pride, although it comes later in the order
of the combat, is yet earlier in origin, and is the beginning of all sins
and faults: nor is it (like the other vices) simply fatal to the virtue
opposite to it (in this case, humility), but it is also at the same time
destructive of all virtues: nor does it only tempt ordinary folk and small
people, but chiefly those who already stand on the heights of valour.
For thus the prophet speaks of this spirit, "His meat is choice."
And so the blessed David, although he guarded the recesses of his heart
with the utmost care, so that he dared to say to Him from whom the secrets
of his conscience were not hid, "Lord, my heart is not exalted, nor are
my eyes lofty: neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonderful
things above me. If I was not humbly minded;" and again, "He that
worketh pride shall not dwell in the midst of my house;" yet, as he
knew how hard is that watchfulness even for those that are perfect, he
did not so presume on his own efforts, but prayed to God and implored His
help, that he might escape unwounded by the darts of this foe, saying,
"Let not the foot of pride come to me," for he feared and dreaded falling
into that which is said of the proud, viz., "God resisteth the proud;"
and again: "Every one that exalteth his heart is unclean before the Lord."
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 6: 1. Cf. Milton's
"last infirmity of noble minds." (Lycidas.)
2. Hab. 1:16 [LXX]. 3. Ps. 130 :1, 2.
4. Ps. 100 :1, 2. 5. Ps. 35 :1, 2.
6. S. James 4:6. 7. Prov. 16:5 [LXX].
CHAPTER VII. That the evil of pride is so
great that it rightly has even God Himself
as its adversary.
HOW great is the evil of pride, that it rightly has no angel, nor other
virtues opposed to it, but God Himself as its adversary! Since
it should be noted that it is never said of those who are entangled in
other sins that they have God resisting them; I mean it is not said that
God is opposed "to the gluttonous, fornicators, passionate, or covetous,"
but only "to the proud." For those sins react only on those who commit
them, or seem to be committed against those who share in them, i.e., against
other men; but this one has more properly to do with God, and therefore
it is especially right that it should have Him opposed to it.
CHAPTER VIII. How God has destroyed the pride
of the devil by the virtue of humility, and various passages in proof of this.
AND so God, the Creator and Healer of all, knowing that pride is the
cause and fountain head of evils, has been careful to heal opposites with
opposites, that those things which were ruined by pride might be restored
by humility. For the one says, "I will ascend into heaven;" the other,
"My soul was brought low even to the ground." The one says, "And
I will be like the most High;" the other, "Though He was in the form of
God, yet He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, and humbled
Himself and became obedient unto death." The one says, "I will
exalt my throne above the stars of God;" the other, "Learn of me, for I
am meek and lowly of heart." The one says, "I know not the Lord and
will not let Israel go;" the other, "If I say that I know Him not, I
shall be a liar like unto you: but I know Him, and keep His commandments."
The one says, "My rivers are mine and I made them:" the other: "I can
do nothing of myself, but my Father who abideth in me, He doeth the works."
The one says, "All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them are
mine, and to whomsoever I will, I give them;" the other, "Though He
were rich yet He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made
rich." The one says, "As eggs are gathered together which are
left, so have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the
wing or opened the mouth, or made the least noise;" the other, "I am
become like a solitary pelican; I watched and became as a sparrow alone
upon the roof." The one says, "I have dried up with the sole
of my foot all the rivers shut up in banks;" the other, "Cannot I ask
my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"
If we look at the reason of our original fall, and the foundations of our
salvation, and consider by whom and in what way the latter were laid and
the former originated, we may learn, either through the fall of the devil,
or through the example of Christ, how to avoid so terrible a death from
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 8: 1. Isa. 14:13.
2. Ps. 43 :25. 3. Phil. 2:6-8.
4. S. Matt. 11:29. 5. Exod. 5:2.
6. S. John 8:55. 7. Ezek. 29:3 [LXX].
8. S. John 5:30; 14:10. 9. S. Luke 4:6.
10. 2 Cor. 8:9. 11. Isa. 10:14.
12. Ps. 101 :7, 8. 13. Isa. 37:25.
14. S. Matt. 26:53.
CHAPTER IX. How we too may overcome
AND so we can escape the snare of this most evil spirit, if in the case
of every virtue in which we feel that we make progress, we say these words
of the Apostle: "Not I, but the grace of God with me," and "by the grace
of God I am what I am;" and "it is God that worketh in us both to will
and to do of His good pleasure." As the author of our salvation
Himself also says: "If a man abide in me and I in him, the same beareth
much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." And "Except the
Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Except the
Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." And "Vain is
it for you to rise up before light." For "it is not of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy."
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 9: 1. 1 Cor. 15:10.
2. Phil. 2:13. 3. S. John 15:5.
4. Ps. 126 :1, 2. 5. Rom. 9:16.
CHAPTER X. How no one can obtain
perfect virtue and the promised bliss
by his own strength alone.
FOR the will and course of no one, however eager and anxious, is
sufficiently ready for him, while still enclosed in the flesh which warreth
against the spirit, to reach so great a prize of perfection, and the palm
of uprightness and purity, unless he is protected by the divine compassion,
so that he is privileged to attain to that which he greatly desires and
to which he runs. For "every good gift and every perfect gift is
from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." "For what
hast thou which thou didst not receive? But if thou hast received
it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?"
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 10:
1. Quamvis ferventis et cupientis (Petschenig): Quamvis volentis et currentis
(Gazaeus). 2. S. James 1:17.
3. 1 Cor. 4:7.
CHAPTER XI. The case
of the thief and of David, and of our call in order
to illustrate the grace of God.
FOR if we recall that thief who was by reason of a single confession
admitted into paradise, we shall feel that he did not acquire such bliss
by the merits of his life, but obtained it by the gift of a merciful God.
Or if we bear in mind those two grievous and heinous sins of King David,
blotted out by one word of penitence, we shall see that neither here
were the merits of his works sufficient to obtain pardon for so great a
sin, but that the grace of God superabounded, as, when the opportunity
for true penitence was taken, He removed the whole weight of sins through
the full confession of but one word. If we consider also the beginning
of the call and salvation of mankind, in which, as the Apostle says, we
are saved not of ourselves, nor of our works, but by the gift and grace
of God, we can clearly see how the whole of perfection is "not of him that
willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy," who makes
us victorious over our faults, without any merits of works and life on
our part to outweigh them, or any effort of our will availing to scale
the difficult heights of perfection, or to subdue the flesh which we have
to use: since no tortures of this body, and no contrition of heart, can
be sufficient for the acquisition of that true chastity of the inner man
so as to be able to gain that great virtue of purity (which is innate in
the angels alone and indigenous as it were to heaven) merely by human efforts,
i.e., without the aid of God: for the performance of everything good flows
from His grace, who by multiplying His bounty has granted such lasting
bliss, and vast glory to our feeble will and short and petty course of
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 11: 1. Cf.
S. Luke 23:40. 2. Cf. 2 Sam. 12:13.
CHAPTER XII. That
no toil is worthy to be compared with the promised bliss.
FOR all the long years of this present life disappear when you have
regard to the eternity of the future glory: and all our sorrows vanish
away in the contemplation of that vast bliss, and like smoke melt away,
and come to nothing, and like ashes are no more seen.
CHAPTER XIII. The teaching of
the elders on the method of acquiring purity.
WHEREFORE it is now time to produce, in the very words in which they
hand it down, the opinion of the Fathers; viz., of those who have not painted
the way of perfection and its character in high-sounding words, but rather,
possessing it in deed and truth, and in the virtue of their spirit, have
passed it on by their own experience and sure example. And so they
say that no one can be altogether cleansed from carnal sins, unless he
has realized that all his labours and efforts are insufficient for so great
and perfect an end; and unless, taught, not by the system handed down to
him, but by his feelings and virtues and his own experience, he recognizes
that it can only be gained by the mercy and assistance of God. For
in order to acquire such splendid and lofty prizes of purity and perfection,
however great may be the efforts of fastings and vigils and readings and
solitude and retirement applied to it, they will not be sufficient to secure
it by the merits of the actual efforts and toil. For a man's own
efforts and human exertions will never make up for the lack of the divine
gift, unless it is granted by divine compassion in answer to his prayer.
CHAPTER XIV. That the help
of God is given to those who labour.
NOR do I say this to cast a slight on human efforts, or in the endeavour
to discourage any one from his purpose of working and doing his best.
But clearly and most earnestly do I lay down, not giving my own opinion,
but that of the elders, that perfection cannot possibly be gained without
these, but that by these only without the grace of God nobody can ever
attain it. For when we say that human efforts cannot of themselves
secure it without the aid of God, we thus insist that God's mercy and grace
are bestowed only upon those who labour and exert themselves, and are granted
(to use the Apostle's expression) to them that "will" and "run," according
to that which is sung in the person of God in the eighty-eighth Psalm:
"I have laid help upon one that is mighty, and have exalted one chosen
out of my people." For we say, in accordance with our Saviour's
words, that it is given to them that ask, and opened to them that knock
and found by them that seek; but that the asking, the seeking, and the
knocking on our part are insufficient unless the mercy of God gives what
we ask, and opens that at which we knock, and enables us to find that which
we seek. For He is at hand to bestow all these things, if only the
opportunity is given to Him by our good will. For He desires and
looks for our perfection and salvation far more than we do ourselves.
And the blessed David knew so well that by his own efforts he could not
secure the increase of his work and labour, that he entreated with renewed
prayers that he might obtain the "direction" of his work from the Lord,
saying, "Direct thou the work of our hands over us; yea, the work of our
hands do thou direct;" and again: "Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 14: 1. The language
in this chapter is perilously near semi-Pelagianism, on which compare the
Introduction. 2. Ps. 88 :20.
3. S. Matt. 7:7. 4. Ps. 89 :17.
5. Ps. 67 :29.
CHAPTER XV. From whom we
can learn the way of perfection.
AND so, if we wish in very deed and truth to attain to the crown of
virtues, we ought to listen to those teachers and guides who, not dreaming
with pompous declamations, but learning by act and experience, are able
to teach us as well, and direct us likewise, and show us the road by which
we may arrive at it by a most sure pathway; and who also testify that they
have themselves reached it by faith rather than by any merits of their
efforts. And further, the purity of heart that they have acquired
has taught them this above all; viz., to recognize more and more that they
are burdened with sin (for their compunction for their faults increases
day by day in proportion as their purity of soul advances), and to sigh
continually from the bottom of their heart because they see that they cannot
possibly avoid the spots and blemishes of those faults which are ingrained
in them through the countless triflings of the thoughts. And therefore
they declared that they looked for the reward of the future life, not from
the merits of their works, but from the mercy of the Lord, taking no credit
to themselves for their great circumspection of heart in comparison with
others, since they ascribed this not to their own exertions, but to divine
grace; and without flattering themselves on account of the carelessness
of those who are cold, and worse than they themselves are, they rather
aimed at a lasting humility by fixing their gaze on those whom they knew
to be really free from sin and already in the enjoyment of eternal bliss
in the kingdom of heaven, and so by this consideration they avoided the
downfall of pride, and at the same time always saw both what they were
aiming at and what they had to grieve over: as they knew that they could
not attain that purity of heart for which they yearned while weighed down
by the burden of the flesh.
CHAPTER XVI. That
we cannot even make the effort to obtain perfection
without the mercy and inspiration of God.
WE ought therefore, in accordance with their teaching and instruction,
so to press towards it, and to be diligent in fastings, vigils, prayers,
and contrition of heart and body, for fear lest all these things should
be rendered useless by an attack of this malady. For we ought to
believe not merely that we cannot secure this actual perfection by our
own efforts and exertions, but also that we cannot perform those things
which we practise for its sake, viz., our efforts and exertions and desires,
without the assistance of the divine protection, and the grace of His inspiration,
chastisement, and exhortation, which He ordinarily sheds abroad in our
hearts either through the instrumentality of another, or in His own person
coming to visit us.
CHAPTER XVII. Various passages
which clearly show that we cannot do anything
which belongs to our salvation without the aid of God.
LASTLY, the Author of our salvation teaches us what we ought not merely
to think, but also to acknowledge in everything that we do. "I can,"
He says, "of mine own self do nothing, but the Father which abideth in
me, He doeth the works." He says, speaking in the human nature
which He had taken, that He could do nothing of Himself; and shall we,
who are dust and ashes, think that we have no need of God's help in what
pertains to our salvation? And so let us learn in everything, as
we feel our own weakness, and at the same time His help, to declare with
the saints, "I was overturned that I might fall, but the Lord supported
me. The Lord is my strength and my praise: and He is become my salvation."
And "Unless the Lord had helped me, my soul had almost dwelt in hell.
If I said, My foot is moved: Thy mercy, O Lord, assisted me. According
to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given Joy
to my soul." Seeing also that our heart is strengthened in the
fear of the Lord, and in patience, let us say: "And the Lord became my
protector; and He brought me forth into a large place." And knowing
that knowledge is increased by progress in work, let us say: "For thou
lightest my lamp, O Lord: O my God, enlighten my darkness, for by Thee
I shall be delivered from temptation, and through my God I shall go over
a wall." Then, feeling that we have ourselves sought for courage and endurance,
and are being directed with greater ease and without labour in the path
of the virtues, let us say, "It is God who girded me with strength, and
made my way perfect; who made my feet like hart's feet, and setteth me
up on high: who teacheth my hands to war." And having also secured
discretion, strengthened with which we can dash down our enemies, let us
cry aloud to God: "Thy discipline hath set me up unto the end, and Thy
discipline the same shall teach me. Thou hast enlarged my steps under
me, and my feet are not weakened." And because I am thus strengthened
with Thy knowledge and power, I will boldly take up the words which follow,
and will say, "I will pursue after my enemies and overtake them: and I
will not turn again till they are consumed. I will break them, and
they shall not be able to stand: they shall fall under my feet."
Again, mindful of our own infirmity, and of the fact that while still burdened
with the weak flesh we cannot without His assistance overcome such bitter
foes as our sins are, let us say, "Through Thee we will scatter our enemies:
and through Thy name we will despise them that rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow: neither shall my sword save me. For Thou
hast saved us from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that
hate us." But further: "Thou hast guided me with strength unto
the battle, and hast subdued under me them that rose up against me.
And Thou hast made mine enemies turn their backs upon me, and hast destroyed
them that hated me." And reflecting that with our own arms alone
we cannot conquer, let us say, "Take hold of arms and shield: and rise
up to help me. Bring out the sword and stop the way against them
that persecute me: say to my soul, I am thy salvation." "And
Thou hast made my arms like a brazen bow. And Thou hast given me
the protection of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath held me up."
"For our fathers got not the possession of the land through their own sword;
neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand and Thine arm and
the light of Thy countenance because Thou wast pleased with them."
Lastly, as with anxious mind we regard all His benefits with thankfulness,
let us cry to Him with the inmost feelings of our heart, for all these
things, because we have fought, and have obtained from Him the light of
knowledge, and self-control and discretion, and because He has furnished
us with His own arms, and strengthened us with a girdle of virtue, and
because He has made our enemies turn their backs upon us, and has given
us the power of scattering them like the dust before the wind: "I will
love Thee, O Lord my Strength; the Lord is my stronghold, my refuge and
my deliverer. My God is my helper, and in Him will I put my trust.
My protector and the horn of my salvation, and my support. Praising
I will call upon the name of the Lord; and I shall be saved from mine enemies."
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 17: 1. S. John
14:10; 5:30. 2. Ex persona hominis assumpti.
See the note on Against Nestorius, I. v. 3. Ps.
117 :13, 14. 4. Ps. 93 :17-19.
5. Ps. 17 :20 sq. 6. Erexit (Petschenig).
Gazaeus reads correxit, with the Vulgate. 7. Ps.
17 :33 sq. 8. Gazaeus adds cornu after the
Vulgate. 9. Ps. 43 :6-8.
10. Ps. 17 :40, 41. 11. Ps. 34 :2-4.
12. Ps. 17 :35. 13. Ps. 43 :4, 5.
14. Ps. 17 :2-4.
CHAPTER XVIII. How
we are protected by the grace of God not only in our
natural condition, but also by His daily Providence.
NOT alone giving thanks to Him for that He has created
us as reasonable beings, and endowed us with the power of free will, and
blessed us with the grace of baptism, and granted to us the knowledge and
aid of the law, but for these things as well, which are bestowed upon us
by His daily providence; viz., that He delivers us from the craft of our
enemies; that He works with us so that we can overcome the sins of the
flesh, that, even without our knowing it, He shields us from dangers; that
He protects us from falling into sin; that He helps us and enlightens us,
so that we can understand and recognize the actual help which He gives
us, (which some will have it is what is meant by the law); that, when
we are through His influence secretly struck with compunction for our sins
and negligences, He visits us with His regard and chastens us to our soul's
health; that even against our will we are sometimes drawn by Him to salvation;
lastly that this very free will of ours, which is more readily inclined
to sin, is turned by Him to a better purpose, and by His prompting and
suggestion, bent towards the way of virtue.
Note for Book 12, Chapter 18: 1. The
allusion is to the Pelagians. Cf. S. Jerome Contra Pelag. I. c. ix.;
and in Jerem. c. xxv.; and S. Augustine De Gratia Christi contra Pelag.
CHAPTER XIX. How
this faith concerning the grace of God was delivered
to us by the ancient Fathers.
THIS then is that humility towards God, this is that genuine faith of
the ancient fathers which still remains intact among their successors.
And to this faith, the apostolic virtues, which they so often showed, bear
an undoubted witness, not only among us but also among infidels and unbelievers:
for keeping in simplicity of heart the simple faith of the fishermen they
did not receive it in a worldly spirit through dialectical syllogisms or
the eloquence of a Cicero, but learnt by the experience of a pure life,
and stainless actions, and by correcting their faults, and (to speak more
truly) by visible proofs, that the character of perfection is to be found
in that faith without which neither piety towards God, nor purification
from sin, nor amendment of life, nor perfection of virtue can be secured.
CHAPTER XX. Of one who for his
blasphemy was given over to a most unclean spirit.
I KNEW one of the number of the brethren, whom I heartily wish I had
never known; since afterwards he allowed himself to be saddled with the
responsibilities of my order: who confessed to a most admirable elder
that he was attacked by a terrible sin of the flesh: for he was inflamed
with an intolerable lust, with the unnatural desire of suffering rather
than of committing a shameful act: then the other like a true spiritual
physician, at once saw through the inward cause and origin of this evil.
And, sighing deeply, said: "Never would the Lord have suffered you to be
given over to so foul a spirit unless you had blasphemed against Him."
And he, when this was discovered, at once fell at his feet on the ground,
and, struck with the utmost astonishment, as if he saw the secrets of his
heart laid bare by God, confessed that he had blasphemed with evil thoughts
against the Son of God. Whence it is clear that one who is possessed by
the spirit of pride, or who has been guilty of blasphemy against God,--as
one who offers a wrong to Him from whom the gift of purity must be looked
for--is deprived of his uprightness and perfection, and does not deserve
the sanctifying grace of chastity.
Note for Book 12, Chapter 20:
1. Viz., that of the priesthood.
CHAPTER XXI. The instance
of Joash, King of Judah, showing what was
the consequence of his pride.
SOME such thing we read of in the book of Chronicles. For Joash
the king of Judah at the age of seven was summoned by Jehoiada the priest
to the kingdom and by the witness of Scripture is commended for all his
actions as long as the aforesaid priest lived. But hear what Scripture
relates of him after Jehoiada's death, and how he was puffed up with pride
and given over to a most disgraceful state. "But after the death
of Jehoiada the princes went in and worshipped the king: and he was soothed
by their services and hearkened unto them. And they forsook the temple
of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served groves and idols, and
great wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of this sin." And
after a little: "When a year was come about, the army of Syria came up
against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and killed all the princes
of the people, and they sent all the spoils to the king to Damascus.
And whereas there came a very small number of the Syrians, the Lord delivered
into their hands an infinite multitude, because they had forsaken the Lord
the God of their fathers: and on Joash they executed shameful judgments.
And departing they left him in great diseases." You see how the
consequence of pride was that he was given over to shocking and filthy
passions. For he who is puffed up with pride and has permitted himself
to be worshipped as God, is (as the Apostle says) "given over to shameful
passions and a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient."
And because, as Scripture says, "every one who exalts his heart is unclean
before God," he who is puffed up with swelling pride of heart is given
over to most shameful confusion to be deluded by it, that when thus humbled
he may know that he is unclean through impurity of the flesh and knowledge
of impure desires,--a thing which he had refused to recognize in the pride
of his heart; and also that the shameful infection of the flesh may disclose
the hidden impurity of the heart, which he contracted through the sin of
pride, and that through the patent pollution of his body he may be proved
to be impure, who did not formerly see that he had become unclean through
the pride of his spirit.
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 21:
1. 2 Chron. 24:17, 18; 23-25 2. Rom. 1:26, 28.
3. Prov. 16:5 [LXX].
CHAPTER XXII That every
proud soul is subject to spiritual wickedness
to be deceived by it.
AND this clearly shows that every soul of which the swellings of pride
have taken possession, is given over to the Syrians of the soul, i.e.,
to spiritual wickedness, and that it is entangled in the lusts of the flesh,
that the soul being at last humbled by earthly faults, and carnally polluted,
may recognize its uncleanness, though while it stood erect in the coldness
of its heart, it could not understand that through pride of heart it was
rendered unclean in the sight of God; and by this means being humbled,
a man may get rid of his former coldness, and being cast down and confused
with the shame of his fleshly lusts, may thenceforward hasten to betake
himself the more eagerly towards fervour and warmth of spirit.
Note for Book 12, Chapter 22
CHAPTER XXIII. How perfection can only
be attained through the virtue of humility.
AND so it is clearly shown that none can attain the end of perfection
and purity, except through true humility, which he displays in the first
instance to the brethren, and shows also to God in his inmost heart, believing
that without His protection and aid extended to him at every instant, he
cannot possibly obtain the perfection which he desires and to which he
hastens so eagerly.
CHAPTER XXIV. Who are attacked
by spiritual and who by carnal pride.
THUS much let it suffice to have spoken, as far as, by God's help, our
slender ability was able, concerning spiritual pride of which we have said
that it attacks advanced Christians. And this kind of pride is not
familiar to or experienced by most men, because the majority do not aim
at attaining perfect purity of heart, so as to arrive at the stage of these
conflicts; nor have they secured any purification from the preceding faults
of which we have here explained both the character and the remedies in
separate books. But it generally attacks those only who have conquered
the former faults and have already almost arrived at the top of the tree
in respect of the virtues. And because our most crafty enemy has
not been able to destroy them through a carnal fall, he endeavours to cast
them down and overthrow them by a spiritual catastrophe, trying by this
to rob them of the prizes of their ancient rewards secured as they were
with great labour. But as for us, who are still entangled in earthly
passions, he never deigns to tempt us in this fashion, but overthrows us
by a coarser and what I called a carnal pride. And therefore I think
it well, as I promised, to say a few things about this kind of pride by
which we and men of our stamp are usually affected, and the minds especially
of younger men and beginners are endangered.
CHAPTER XXV. A description
of carnal pride, and of the evils which it produces
in the soul of a monk.
THIS carnal pride therefore, of which we spoke, when it has gained an
entrance into the heart of a monk, which is but lukewarm, and has made
a bad start in renouncing the world, does not suffer him to stoop from
his former state of worldly haughtiness to the true humility of Christ,
but first of all makes him disobedient and rough; then it does not let
him be gentle and kindly; nor allows him to be on a level with and like
his brethren: nor does it permit him to be stripped and deprived of his
worldly goods, as God and our Saviour commands: and, though renunciation
of the world is nothing but the mark of mortification and the cross, and
cannot begin or rise from any other foundations, but these; viz., that
a man should recognize that he is not merely spiritually dead to the deeds
of this world, but also should realize daily that he must die in the body--it
makes him on the contrary hope for a long life, and sets before him many
lengthy infirmities, and covers him with shame and confusion. If
when stripped of everything he has begun to be supported by the property
of others and not his own, it persuades him that it is much better for
food and clothing to be provided for him by his own rather than by another's
means according to that text (which, as was before said, those who are
rendered dense through such dulness and coldness of heart, cannot possibly
understand.) "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 25
1. See Book X. c. xviii. 2. Acts 20:35.
CHAPTER XXVI. That a man whose
foundation is bad, sinks daily from bad to worse.
THOSE then who are possessed by such distrust of mind, and who through
the devil's own want of faith fall away from that spark of faith, by which
they seemed in the early days of their conversion to be enkindled, begin
more anxiously to watch over the money which before they had begun to give
away, and treasure it up with greater avarice, as men who cannot recover
again what they have once wasted: or--what is still worse--take back what
they had formerly cast away: or else (which is a third and most disgusting
kind of sin), collect what they never before possessed, and thus are convicted
of having gone no further in forsaking the world than merely to take the
name and style of monk. With this beginning therefore, and on this
bad and rotten foundation, it is a matter of course that the whole superstructure
of faults must rise, nor can anything be built on such villainous foundations,
except what will bring the wretched soul to the ground with a hopeless
CHAPTER XXVII. A description of the
faults which spring from the evil of pride.
THE mind then that is hardened by such feelings, and which begins with
this miserable coldness is sure to go daily from bad to worse and to conclude
its life with a more hideous end: and while it takes delight in its former
desires, and is overcome, as the apostle says, by impious avarice (as he
says of it "and covetousness, which is idolatry, or the worship of idols,"
and again "the love of money," says he, "is the root of all evils")
can never admit into the heart the true and unfeigned humility of Christ,
while the man boasts himself of his high birth, or is puffed up by his
position in the world (which he has forsaken in body but not in mind) or
is proud of his wealth which he retains to his own destruction; and because
of this he is no longer content to endure the yoke of the monastery, or
to be instructed by the teaching of any of the elders, and not only objects
to observe any rule of subjection or obedience, but will not even listen
to teaching about perfection; and such dislike of spiritual talk grows
up in his heart that if such a conversation should happen to arise, he
cannot keep his eyes fixed on one spot, but his gaze wanders blankly about
here and there, and his eyes shift hither and thither, as the custom is.
Instead of wholesome coughs, he spits from a dry throat: he coughs on purpose
without any need, he drums with his fingers, and twiddles them and scribbles
like a man writing: and all his limbs fidget so that while the spiritual
conversation is proceeding, you would think that he was sitting on thorns,
and those very sharp ones, or in the midst of a mass of worms: and if the
conversation turns in all simplicity on something which is for the good
of the hearers, he thinks that it is brought forward for his especial benefit.
And all the time that the examination of the spiritual life is proceeding,
he is taken up with his own suspicious thoughts, and is not on the watch
for something to take home for his good, but is anxiously seeking the reason
why anything is said, or is quietly turning over in his mind, how he can
raise objections to it, so that he cannot at all take in any of those things
which are so admirably brought forward, or be done any good to by them.
And so the result is that the spiritual conference is not merely of no
use to him, but is positively injurious, and becomes to him an occasion
of greater sin. For while he is conscience stricken and fancies that
everything is being aimed at him he hardens himself more stubbornly in
the obstinacy of his heart, and is more keenly affected by the stings of
his wrath: then afterwards his voice is loud, his talk harsh, his answers
bitter and noisy, his gait lordly and capricious; his tongue too ready,
he is forward in conversation and no friend to silence except when he is
nursing in his heart some bitterness against a brother, and his silence
denotes not compunction or humility, but pride and wrath: so that one can
hardly say which is the more objectionable in him, that unrestrained and
boisterous merriment, or this dreadful and deadly solemnity. For
in the former we see inopportune chattering, light and frivolous laughter,
unrestrained and undisciplined mirth. In the latter a silence that
is full of wrath and deadly; and which simply arises from the desire to
prolong as long as possible the rancorous feelings which are nourished
in silence against some brother, and not from the wish to obtain from it
the virtues of humility and patience. And as the man who is a victim to
passion readily makes everybody else miserable and is ashamed to apologize
to the brother whom he has wronged, so when the brother offers to do so
to him, he rejects it with scorn. And not only is he not touched
or softened by the advances of his brother; but is the rather made more
angry because his brother anticipates him in humility. And that wholesome
humiliation and apology, which generally puts an end to the devil's temptation,
becomes to him an occasion of a worse outbreak.
Notes for Book 12, Chapter 27:
1. Col. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:10. 2. Serietas (Petschenig):
CHAPTER XXVIII. On the
pride of a certain brother.
I HAVE heard while I have been in this district a thing which I shudder
and am ashamed to recall; viz., that one of the juniors--when he was reproved
by his Abbot because he had shown signs of throwing off the humility, of
which he had made trial for a short time at his renunciation of the world,
and of being puffed up with diabolical pride--most impertinently answered
"Did I humiliate myself for a time on purpose to be always in subjection?"
And at this wanton and wicked reply of his the elder was utterly aghast,
and could say nothing, as if he had received this answer from old Lucifer
himself and not from a man; so that he could not possibly utter a word
against such impudence, but only let fall sighs and groans from his heart;
turning over in silence in his mind that which is said of our Saviour:
"Who being in the form of God humbled Himself and became obedient"--not,
as the man said who was seized with a diabolical spirit of pride, "for
a time," but "even to death."
Note for Book 12, Chapter 28:
1. Phil. 2:6, 8.
CHAPTER XXIX. The signs
by which you can recognize the presence
of carnal pride in a soul.
AND to draw together briefly what has been said of this kind of pride,
by collecting, as well as we can, some of its signs that we may somehow
convey to those who are thirsting for instruction in perfection, an idea
of its characteristics from the movements of the outward man: I think it
well to unfold them in a few words that we may conveniently recognize the
signs by which we can discern and detect it, that when the roots of this
passion are laid bare and brought to the surface, and seen and traced out
with ocular demonstration, they may be the more easily plucked up and avoided.
For only then will this most pestilent evil be altogether escaped, and
if we do not begin too late in the day, when it has already got the mastery
over us, to be on our guard against its dangerous heat and noxious influence,
but if, recognizing its symptoms (so to speak) beforehand, we take precautions
against it with wise and careful forethought. For, as we said before,
you can tell a man's inward condition from his outward gait. By these
signs, then, that carnal pride, of which we spoke earlier, is shown.
To begin with, in conversation the man's voice is loud: in his silence
there is bitterness: in his mirth his laughter is noisy and excessive:
when he is serious he is unreasonably gloomy: in his answers there is rancour:
he is too free with his tongue, his words tumbling out at random without
being weighed. He is utterly lacking in patience, and without charity:
impudent in offering insults to others, faint-hearted in bearing them himself:
troublesome in the matter of obedience except where his own wishes and
likings correspond with his duty: unforgiving in receiving admonition:
weak in giving up his own wishes: very stubborn about yielding to those
of others: always trying to compass his own ends, and never ready to give
them up for others: and thus the result is that though he is incapable
of giving sound advice, yet in everything he prefers his own opinion to
that of the elders.
CHAPTER XXX. How
when a man has grown cold through pride he wants
to be put to rule other people.
AND when a man whom pride has mastered has fallen through these stages
of descent, he shudders at the discipline of the coenobium, and--as if
the companionship of the brethren hindered his perfection, and the sins
of others impeded and interfered with his advance in patience and humility--he
longs to take up his abode in a solitary cell; else is eager to build a
monastery and gather together some others to teach and instruct, as if
he would do good to many more people, and make himself from being a bad
disciple a still worse master. For when through this pride of heart
a man has fallen into this most dangerous and injurious coldness, he can
neither be a real monk nor a man of the world, and what is worse, promises
to himself to gain perfection by means of this wretched state and manner
of life of his.
CHAPTER XXXI. How we can
overcome pride and attain perfection.
WHEREFORE if we wish the summit of our building to be perfect and to
rise well-pleasing to God, we should endeavour to lay its foundations not
in accordance with the desires of our own lust, but according to the rules
of evangelical strictness: which can only be the fear of God and humility,
proceeding from kindness and simplicity of heart. But humility cannot
possibly be acquired without giving up everything: and as long as a man
is a stranger to this, he cannot possibly attain the virtue of obedience,
or the strength of patience, or the serenity of kindness, or the perfection
of love; without which things our hearts cannot possibly be a habitation
for the Holy Spirit: as the Lord says through the prophet: "Upon whom shall
My spirit rest, but on him that is humble and quiet and fears My words,"
or according to those copies which express the Hebrew accurately: "To whom
shall I have respect, but to him that is poor and little and of a contrite
spirit and that trembleth at My words?"
Note for Book 12, Chapter 31
1. Isa. 66:2. It is noteworthy that Cassian after giving a rendering
which differs but slightly from that of the old Latin, as given in Sabbatier's
great work, adds the version of "those copies which express the Hebrew
accurately," and thus shows his acquaintance with Jerome's new translation
which he quotes. He does the same thing again in the Conferences,
XXIII. viii.; and On the Incarnation Against Nestorius IV. iii.; V. ii.;
xv. Compare also Institutes VIII. xxi., and Conf. VIII. x., where
he also betrays a knowledge of the Vulgate. As a general rule, however,
his translations are taken from the old Latin, or possibly in some cases
are made by him from the LXX.
CHAPTER XXXII. How pride
which is so destructive of all virtues can itself
be destroyed by true humility.
WHEREFORE the Christian athlete who strives lawfully in the spiritual
combat and desires to be crowned by the Lord, should endeavour by every
means to destroy this most fierce beast, which is destructive of all virtues,
knowing that as long as this remains in his breast he not only will never
be free from all kinds of evils, but even if he seems to have any good
qualities, will lose them by its malign influence. For no structure
(so to speak) of virtue can possibly be raised in our soul unless first
the foundations of true humility are laid in our heart, which being securely
laid may be able to bear the weight of perfection and love upon them in
such a way that, as we have said, we may first show to our brethren true
humility from the very bottom of our heart, in nothing acquiescing in making
them sad or in injuring them: and this we cannot possibly manage unless
true self-denial, which consists in stripping and depriving ourselves of
all our possessions, is implanted in us by the love of Christ. Next
the yoke of obedience and subjection must be taken up in simplicity of
heart without any pretence, so that, except for the commands of the Abbot,
no will of our own is alive in us. But this can only be ensured in
the case of one who considers himself not only dead to this world, but
also unwise and a fool; and performs without any discussion whatever is
enjoined him by his seniors, believing it to be divine and enjoined from
CHAPTER XXXIII. Remedies against
the evil of pride.
AND when men remain in this condition, there is no doubt that this quiet
and secure state of humility will follow, so that considering ourselves
inferior to every one else we shall bear everything offered to us, even
if it is hurtful, and saddening, and damaging--with the utmost patience,
as if it came from those who are our superiors. And these things
we shall not only bear with the greatest ease, but we shall consider them
trifling and mere nothings, if we constantly bear in mind the passion of
our Lord and of all His Saints: considering that the injuries by which
we are tried are so much less than theirs, as we are so far behind their
merits and their lives: remembering also that we shall shortly depart out
of this world, and soon by a speedy end to our life here become sharers
of their lot. For considerations such as these are a sure end not
only to pride but to all kinds of sins. Then, next after this we
must keep a firm grasp of this same humility towards God: which we must
so secure as not only to acknowledge that we cannot possibly perform anything
connected with the attainment of perfect virtue without His assistance
and grace, but also truly to believe that this very fact that we can understand
this, is His own gift.