Saturday, January 14, 2017

Do not neglect your salvation.

Saint Anthony the Great.

   Beloved and honoured brothers, Antony greets you in the Lord!. 
   "Truly, my beloved in the Lord, God did not visit his creatures only once, but since the beginning of the world. As soon as anyone has turned through the law of promise to the Creator of all, God embraced him in his benevolence, grace and Spirit. As for those rational beings in whom the law of promise grew cold and whose faculties of the mind thus died, so that they could no longer know themselves after their first formation, they have all become irrational and serve the creatures instead of the Creator. But in his great benevolence the Creator of all visited us through the law of promise, for our essence is immortal.
   Those who have become worthy of grace and have been fortified with the law of promise and taught by the Holy Spirit and accepted the Spirit of adoption, they have become able to worship the Creator as it is proper. As Paul says, for our sake they have not yet received the promise.
   In his irrevocable love the Creator of all desired to visit our afflictions and confusion. He thus raised up Moses, the Lawgiver, who gave us the written law and founded for us the house of truth, the spiritual Church, which creates unity, since it is God's will that we turn back to the first formation. Moses built the house, yet did not finish it, but left and died.
   Then God by his Spirit raised up the council of the prophets, and they built upon the foundation laid by Moses, but could not complete it and likewise they left and died. Invested with the Spirit, they all saw that the wound was incurable and that none of the creatures was able to heal it, but only the Only-begotten, who is the very mind and image of the Father, who made every rational creature in the image of his image. Knowing that the Saviour is a great physician, they all assembled and offered prayers for their members, that is for us, crying out and saying: Is there no balm in Gilead?. Is there no physician there?. Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?. We would have healed her, but she is not healed: now therefore let us forsake her. But God in his abundant love came to us and said through his saints, Son of man, make to thyself vessels of captivity.
   And he, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be equal with God: but emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus Christ every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
   Now then, beloved, let this word be manifest to you, that for our sake the Father in his benevolence did not spare his Only-begotten, but delivered him up for the salvation of us all. He gave himself for our sins, and our iniquities humbled him, and by his stripes we were healed, and by the word of his power he gathered us from all lands, from one end of the earth to the other, resurrecting our minds, giving us remission of our sins, and teaching us that we are members of one another.
   My brothers, I beseech you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, understand this great dispensation that he was made like unto us, yet without sin. Every rational being, for whom the Saviour came, ought to examine his way of life and know himself and discern between evil and good, so that he may be freed through his coming. For all those who are freed by his dispensation are called the servants of God. But this is not yet perfection, rather it is the time of righteousness, and it leads to adoption. Jesus, our Saviour, knew that they were about to receive the Spirit of adoption, and that they knew him, since they were taught by the Holy Spirit, and thus he said, Henceforth I call you not servants, but brothers and friends, for all things that the Father has taught me, I have made known unto you and taught you. 
   Grown bold in their minds, knowing themselves and their spiritual essence, they gave voice and said: Even though we have known Thee after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Thee so no more. And they received the Spirit of adoption, and cried out saying, We have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Now, therefore, O God, we know what Thou hast given us: that we are the children and heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
   Let this word be manifest to you: Whosoever has not prepared his own betterment, nor struggled with all his strength, let him know that for him the coming of the Saviour will be unto judgment, for to some it is the savour of death unto death, and to some the savour of life unto life. For he is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against.
   I beseech you, beloved, in the name of Jesus Christ, do not neglect your salvation, but let each one rend his heart and not his garment, lest we wear this garment in vain, preparing ourselves for judgment. For the time is near in which the work of each one of us shall be examined. As for the all too few words: there are many others, which could be written to you. But it is said, Give occasion to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser. I salute you from the least to the greatest. And may the God of peace keep you all, my beloved.

Rubenson S. (1984), The Letters of St Antony: Monasticism and the Making of a Saint, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, U.S.A.