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6 Concerning that we ought not to take care on account of clothing or food, I think it is superfluous to write since the Lord himself, in the Gospels, has forbidden it: ‘Therefore do not take care in your soul what you shall eat or what you shall drink or with what you shall be clothed.’ [Matt. 6, 25; 6, 31.] For this is without disguise a thing of the pagans and of the unbelievers, those who refuse the providence of the Master and who deny the Creator. Such a thing as this is completely alien to Christians, those who have believed once and for all that the two sparrows which have been sold for a penny [cf. Matt. 10, 29] are under the husbandry of the angels.
However, there is also this custom of the demons: after the unclean thoughts, also to cast in those of anxious care, so that Jesus turns aside, there being a crowd of mental representations in the place of the intellect [cf. John 5, 13], and thus the word does not bear fruit, being strangled by the thorns of anxious care [cf. Matt. 13, 22].
Therefore, having divested ourselves of the thoughts which arise from anxious care, let us cast our anxious care upon the Lord [cf. Ps. 54, 23; 1 Pet. 5, 7], being content with what is at hand [cf. Heb. 13, 5]; and, using a poor life and clothing, let us strip ourselves in broad daylight of the fathers of vainglory. If someone believes that he behaves in an unseemly fashion wearing a poor habit, let him look at the holy Paul ‘in cold and nakedness’ [2 Cor. 11, 27] expecting the ‘crown of justice’ [2 Tim. 4, 8]. But since the Apostle called this world a theatre and a stadium, let us see whether it is possible for one having clothed himself in thoughts of anxious care to run ‘towards the prize of the higher calling of Christ’ [Phil. 3, 14] or to wrestle ‘with the principalities and the powers and the world rulers of this darkness’ [Eph. 6, 12]. I myself do not know, even instructed by this sensible inquiry itself: for that athlete will manifestly be impeded by his frock and he will easily be dragged about, just as the mind will be by thoughts of anxious care, if, indeed, the word is true which says that the mind will adhere firmly to its own treasure. He says: ‘Wherever your treasure is, there also will be your heart.’ [Matt. 6, 21.]
7 Of the thoughts, some cut off and some are cut off. And the evil thoughts cut off the good thoughts, while, again, the evil thoughts are cut off by the good thoughts. Therefore the Holy Spirit attends to the thought which is placed first and judges us or accepts us on the basis of that one. What I am saying is of this sort: I have a certain thought of hospitality and I have this for the sake of the Lord, but this thought is cut off when the tempter attacks and suggests that I offer hospitality for the sake of glory. And, again, I have a thought of hospitality for the sake of being seen by men, but this is cut off when a better thought insinuates itself directing our virtue towards the Lord, rather, and obliging us not to do these things for the sake of men. If, therefore, through our works we further abide in the first thoughts, being tempted by the second thoughts, we will have the reward only of the first-placed thoughts, since being men and wrestling with demons we do not have the strength always to possess the correct thought uncorrupted nor the evil thought untempted, having acquired the seeds of the virtues. However, if one of the thoughts which cuts off remains for a long time, it is established in the place of the thought which is cut off, and, set in motion, further, according to that thought, the man acts.
8 Of the thoughts which are angelic, human or from the demons, we learned from much observation that the difference is this: First, that the angelic thoughts busy themselves with the natures of objects and trace their spiritual reasons (logoi), as: for the sake of what gold has come to be; why, having a sandy texture, it has been sown somewhere below in the parts of the earth and why it is found with much labour and pain; how, having been found, it is washed and surrendered to fire and thus is placed in the hands of the artisans who are making the lamp of the Tent and the incense burner and the censers and the bowls [cf. Exod. 25, 31; etc.], in which no longer does the Babylonian King drink [cf. Dan. 5, 1–3], on account of the grace of our Saviour. Cleopas, however, bears a heart burning from these very mysteries [cf. Luke 24, 32].
The demonic thought neither knows nor understands these things: it insolently suggests the sole acquisition of sensible gold and it foretells the luxury and glory which will be from it.
The human thought neither quests after the acquisition nor delves into what gold is a symbol of, but it simply bears into the intellect the mere form of gold, having been separated from the passion of avarice.
The very same word (logos) practised in a mysterious way will be spoken, according to this very rule, in reference to the other objects also.