Tuesday, May 18, 2010

St Macarius of Egypt: Christ alone is able to heal the soul...

1. IF any one is naked for want of the heavenly clothing, which is the power of the Spirit (as it is said, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his"), let him weep, and entreat the Lord that he may receive the spiritual clothing which is from heaven; that he may have a covering for his soul, disrobed of the divine power. For he is clothed with vile affections, that is not clad with the garment of the Spirit.

2. For as in the things that are seen, if anyone is naked, he is in much confusion and disgrace; and even friends turn away from their friends that are naked; thus does God turn away from the souls that are not clothed with the garment of the Spirit in the full assurance of faith, as not "having put on the Lord Jesus Christ" in power and in truth.

3. The very first man, when he beheld himself naked, was ashamed. So great is the dishonour that attends nakedness! If therefore, in relation only to the body, being naked exposes us to so much shame, how much rather is the soul that is unclothed of the divine power, that is not clad with the raiment not to be described, immortal and spiritual, the Lord Jesus Christ, himself, covered over with shame and dishonourable affections! Every one that is unclothed of that divine glory ought to be ashamed of himself, and to acknowledge the disgrace he is under; as Adam was ashamed with respect to his body being naked, though he made himself a covering of fig leaves. Let therefore such a soul ask of Christ, who clothes it with glory which surpasses all expression, without making to itself any covering of vain thoughts, or being deluded with an opinion of its own righteousness.

4. For if any one stands only upon his own righteousness, not looking for the righteousness of God, which is the Lord, who, as the apostle speaks, is made to us righteousness and redemption, the pains he takes are vain and fruitless. For such an opinion of his own righteousness is at the last day plainly laid open as a filthy rag, as says the prophet, "All our righteousness is as filthy rags." Let us therefore beg of God, and entreat him that we may put on the garment of salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ. Glory be to his tender mercies and compassion, which surpass all expression and utterance!

5. As the woman that was diseased with an issue of blood, when she had touched the hem of our Lord's garment, was healed immediately and the impure fountain of her blood was dried up, so every soul that has the incurable wound of sin, the fountain of unclean and wicked thoughts, if she will come to Christ, recovers her health; and that fountain which sends forth impure thoughts, only through the power of Jesus, abates and is dried up.

6. To him alone is this possible. For as that woman who had spent all she was worth upon those that had promised to heal her, was yet cured by no man 'til such time as she came to the Lord and touched his hem,
so is it with the soul that has been wounded from the beginning with this incurable wound of sinful affections; which none of the righteous, neither the fathers, nor the prophets, or patriarchs have been able to cure.

7. Moses came, but was not able to give perfect health. The priests, the gifts, tithes, new moons, washings, sacrifices, whole burnt offerings, and every other branch of righteousness, were punctually observed under the Law; and yet the soul could not be healed and cleansed from the impure fountain of sinful thoughts. Neither could all its righteousness avail any thing, 'til such time as the Saviour came himself, the true Physician, who healeth freely -- who gave himself as a ransom for the race of mankind. He alone wrought the great and saving redemption, and cure of the soul: he it was that set it free from the state of bondage, and brought it out of darkness, having glorified it with his own light. He has dried up the fountain of unclean thoughts; for "behold", says the scripture, "the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world!"

8. Its own medicines out of the earth, that is, its own righteous actions, were not able to heal it of so great a plague. But by the heavenly and divine nature, the gift of the Holy Spirit, was man capable of recovering health, being purified in his heart by the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore have faith in him, and come to him in truth, that he may speedily perform his healing operation within us. For he has promised to "give to them that ask him his Holy Spirit, and to open to them that knock, and to be found of them that seek him" -- and he that promised cannot lie.

To him be glory and might for ever! Amen.


No comments: