6 Wherefore, fear God and thou shalt live: and whosoever shall fear him, and keep his commandments, their life is with the Lord. But they who keep them not, neither is life in them.[p. 220]
That we must flee from evil, and do good.
I HAVE told thee, said he, that there are two kinds of creatures of the Lord, and that there is a two-fold [*1] abstinence. From some things therefore thou must abstain, and from others not.
2 I answered, Declare to me, sir, from what I must abstain, and from what not. Hearken, said he. Keep thyself from evil, and do it not; but abstain not from good, but do it. For if thou shalt abstain from what is good, and not do it, thou shalt sin. Abstain therefore from all evil, and thou shalt [*2] know all righteousness.
3 I said, What evil things are they from which I must abstain? Hearken, said he: from adultery, from drunkenness, from riots, from excess of eating, from daintiness and dishonesty, from pride, from fraud, from lying, from detraction, from hypocrisy, from remembrance of injuries, and from all evil speaking.
4 For these are the works of iniquity, from which the servant of God must abstain. For he that cannot keep himself from these things, cannot live unto God.
5 But hear, said he, what follows of these kind of things: for indeed many more there are from which the servant of God must abstain. From theft, and cheating; from false witness, from covetousness, from boasting, and all other things of the like nature.
6 Do these things seem to thee to be evil or not? Indeed they are very evil to the servants of God. Wherefore the servant of God must abstain from all these [*3] works.
7 Keep thyself therefore from them, that thou mayest live unto God, and be written among those that abstain from them. And thus have I shown thee what things thou must avoid: now learn from what thou must not abstain.
8 Abstain not from any good works, but do them. Hear, said he, what the virtue of those good works is which thou must do, that thou mayest be saved. The first of all is faith; the fear of the Lord; charity; concord; equity; truth; patience; chastity.
9 There is nothing better than these things in the life of man; [*4] who shall keep and do these things in their life. Hear next what follow these.
10 To minister to the widows; not to despise the fatherless and poor; to redeem the servants of God from necessity; to be hospitable; (for in hospitality there is sometimes [*5] great fruit) not to be contentious, but be quiet.
11 To be humble above all men; to reverence the aged; to labour to be righteous; [*6] to respect the brotherhood; to bear affronts; to be long-suffering; [*7] not to cast away those that have fallen from the faith, but to convert them, and make them be of [*8] good cheer; to admonish sinners; not to oppress those that are our debtors; and all other things of a like kind.
12 Do these things seem to thee to be good or not? And I[p. 221]
said, What can be better than these words? Live then, said he, in these commandments, and do not depart from them. For if thou shalt keep all these commandments, thou shalt live unto God. And all they that shall keep these commandments shall live unto God.
That we must ask of God daily; and without doubting.
AGAIN he said unto me; [*1] remove from thee all doubting; and question nothing at all, when thou askest anything of the Lord; saying within thyself: how shall I be able to ask anything of the Lord and receive it, seeing I have so greatly sinned against him?
2 Do not think thus, but turn unto the Lord with all thy heart, and ask of him without doubting, and thou shalt know the mercy of the Lord; how that he will not forsake thee, but will fulfil the request of thy soul.
3 For God is not as men, mindful of the injuries he has received; but he forgets injuries, and has compassion upon his creature.
4 Wherefore purify thy heart from all the vices of this present world; and observe the commands I have before delivered unto thee from God; and thou shalt receive whatsoever good things thou shalt ask, and nothing shall be wanting unto thee of all thy petitions; if thou shalt ask of the Lord without doubting.
5 [*2] But they that are not such, shall obtain none of those things which they ask. For they that are full of faith ask all things with confidence, and receive from the Lord, because they ask without doubting. But he that doubts, shall hardly live unto God, except he repent.
6 Wherefore purify thy heart from doubting, and put on faith, and trust in God, and thou shalt receive all that thou shalt ask. But and if thou shouldest chance to ask somewhat and not ( [*3] immediately) receive it, yet do not therefore doubt, because thou hast not presently received the petition of thy soul.
7 For it may be thou shalt not presently receive it for thy trial, or else for some sin which thou knowest not. But do not thou leave off to ask, [*4] and then thou shalt receive. Else if thou shalt cease to ask, thou must complain of thyself, and not of God, that he has not given unto thee what thou didst desire.
8 Consider therefore this doubting, how cruel and pernicious it is; and how it utterly roots out many from the faith, who were very faithful and firm. For this doubting is the daughter of the devil, and deals very wickedly with the servants of God.
9 Despise it therefore, and thou shalt rule over it [*5] on every occasion. Put on a firm and powerful faith: for faith promises all things and perfects all things. But doubting will not believe, that it shall obtain anything, by all that it can do.
10 Thou seest therefore, says[p. 222]
he, how faith cometh from above, from God; and hath great power. But doubting is an earthly spirit, and proceedeth from the devil, and has no strength.
11 Do thou therefore keep the virtue of faith, and depart from doubting, in which is no virtue, and thou shalt live unto God. And all shall live unto God, as many as do these things.
Of the sadness of the heart; and that we must take heed not to grieve the spirit of God that is in us.
PUT all sadness far from thee; for it is the sister of doubting and of anger. How, sir, said I, is it the sister of these? for sadness, and anger, and doubting, seem to me to be very different from one another.
2 And he answered: [*1] Art thou without sense that thou dost not understand it? For sadness is the most mischievous of all spirits, and the worst to the servants of God: [*2] It destroys the spirits of all men, and torments the Holy Spirit; and again, it saves.
3 Sir, said I, I am very foolish, and understand not these [*3] things. I cannot apprehend how it can torment, and yet save. Hear, said he, and understand. They who never sought out the truth, nor inquired concerning the majesty of God, but only believed, are involved in the affairs of the heathen.
4 And there is another [*4] lying prophet that destroys the [*5] minds of the servants of God; that is of those that are doubtful, not of those that fully trust in the Lord. Now those doubtful persons come to him, as to a divine spirit, and inquire of him what shall befall them.
5 And this lying prophet having no power in him of the divine Spirit, answers them according to their demands, and fills their souls with promises according as they desire. Howbeit that prophet is vain, and answers vain things to those who are themselves vain.
6 And whatsoever is asked of him by vain men, he answers them vainly. Nevertheless he speaketh some things truly. For the devil fills him with his spirit, that he may overthrow some of the righteous.
7 Whosoever therefore are strong in the faith of the Lord, and have put on the truth: they are not joined to such spirits, but depart from them. But they that are doubtful, and often repenting like the heathens, consult them, and heap up to themselves great sin, serving idols.
8 As many therefore as are such, inquire of them upon every occasion; worship idols; and are foolish, and void of the truth.
9 For every spirit that is given from God needs not to be asked; but having the power of divinity speaks all things of itself; because he comes from above, from the power of God.
10 But he that being asked speaks according to men’s desires, and concerning many other affairs of the present world, understands not the things which relate unto God. For these spirits are darkened through such affairs, and corrupted and broken.
11 As good vines if they are[p. 223]
neglected, are oppressed with weeds and thorns, and at last killed by them; so are the men who believe such spirits.
12 They fall into many actions and businesses, and are void of sense, [*1] and when they think of things pertaining unto God, they understand nothing at all: but if at any time they chance to hear anything concerning the Lord, their [*2] thoughts are upon their business.
13 But they that have the fear of the Lord, and search out the truth concerning God, [*3] having all their thoughts towards the Lord; apprehend whatsoever is said to them, and forthwith understand it, because they have the fear of the Lord in them.
14 For where the spirit of the Lord dwells, there is also [*4] much understanding added. Wherefore join thyself to the Lord, [*5] and thou shalt understand all things.
15 Learn now, O unwise man! how sadness [*6] troubleth the Holy Spirit, and how it saves. When a man that is doubtful is engaged in any affair, and does not accomplish it by reason of his doubting, this sadness enters into him, and grieves the Holy Spirit, and makes him sad.
16 Again, anger when it overtakes any man for any business he is greatly moved; [*7] and then again sadness entereth into the heart of him, who was moved with anger, and he is troubled for what he hath done, and repenteth, because he hath done amiss.
17 This sadness therefore seemeth to bring salvation, because he repenteth of his evil deed. But both the other things, namely, doubting and sadness, such as before was mentioned, vex the spirit: doubting, because his work did not succeed: and sadness, because he angered the Holy Spirit.
18 [*8] Remove therefore sadness from thyself, [*9] and afflict not the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in thee, lest he [*10] entreat God, and depart from thee. For the spirit of the Lord [*11] which is given to dwell in the flesh, endureth no such sadness.
19 Wherefore clothe thyself with cheerfulness, which has always favour with the Lord, and thou shalt rejoice in it. For every cheerful man does well; and relishes those things that are good, and despises [*12] sadness.
20 But the sad man does always wickedly. [*13] First, he doth wickedly, because he grieveth the Holy Spirit, which is given to man, being of a cheerful nature. And again he does ill, because he prays with sadness unto the Lord,[p. 224]
and maketh not a first thankful acknowledgment unto him of former mercies, and obtains not of God what he asks.
21 For the prayer of a sad man has not always efficacy to come up to the altar of God. And I said unto him, Sir, why has not the prayer of a sad man virtue to come up to the altar of God? because, said he, that sadness remaineth in his heart.
22 When therefore a man’s prayer shall be accompanied with sadness, it will not suffer his requests to ascend pure to the altar of God. For as wine when it is mingled with vinegar, has not the sweetness it had before; so sadness being mixed with the Holy Spirit, suffers not a man’s prayer to be the same as it would be otherwise.
23 Wherefore cleanse thyself from sadness, which is evil, and thou shalt live unto God. And all others shall live unto God, as many as shall lay aside and put on cheerfulness.
That the spirits and prophets are to be tried by their works; and of a twofold spirit.
HE shewed me certain men sitting upon benches, and one sitting in a chair: and he said unto me seest thou who sit upon the benches? Sir, said I, I see them. He answered, They are the faithful; and he who sits in the chair is an earthly spirit.
2 For he cometh not into [*1] the assembly of the faithful, but avoids it. But he joins himself to the doubtful and empty; and prophesies to them in corners and hidden places; and pleases them by speaking according to all the desires of their hearts.
3 For he placing himself among empty vessels, is not broken, but the one fitteth the other. But when he cometh into the company of just men, [*2] who are full of the spirit of God, and they pray unto the Lord; that man is [*3] emptied because that earthly spirit flies from him, and he is dumb, and cannot speak anything.
4 As if in a store-house you shall stop up wine or oil; and among those vessels shall place an empty jar; and shall afterwards come to open it, you shall find it empty as you stopped it up: so those empty prophets when they come among the spirits of the just, are found to be such as they came. [*4]
5 I said, How then shall a man be able to discern them? Consider what I am going to say considering both kinds of [*5] men; and as I speak unto thee so shalt thou prove the prophet of God, and the false prophet.
6 And first try the man who hath the spirit of God; because the spirit which is from above is humble, and quiet; and departs from all wickedness; and from the vain desires of the present world; and makes himself more humble than all men; and answers to none when he is asked; nor to every one singly: for the Spirit of God doth not speak to a man when he will, but when God pleases.
7 When therefore a man who[p. 225]
Click to enlarge
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. FROM A ”BOOK OF THE EVANGELISTS.” GREEK MANUSCRIPT OF THE TWELFTH CENTURY.
hath the Spirit of God shall come into the church of the righteous, who have the faith of God, and they pray unto the Lord; then the holy angel of God fills that man with the blessed Spirit, and he speaks in the congregation as he is moved of God.
8 Thus therefore is the spirit of God known, because whosoever speaketh by the Spirit of God, speaketh as the Lord will.
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