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18 Of the unclean demons, some tempt the man as man and others agitate him as irrational animal. And the first, when they approach, cast into us mental representations of vainglory or pride or envy or condemnation, which very things affect none of the irrational animals. The second, when they draw near, set anger or desire in motion contrary to nature. For these very passions are common to us and to the irrational animals, concealed by the rational nature. For that reason, the Holy Spirit says to those who have fallen into human thoughts: ‘I said: you are all of you gods and sons of the Most High. You will die as men and fall as one of the rulers.’ [Ps. 81, 6–7.] Towards those who are being set in motion irrationally, what does he say? ‘Do not become as the horse and the mule, in which animals there is not understanding, with the muzzle and the rein you will press tight the jaws of those who do not draw near to you.’ [Ps. 31, 9.]
If, then, ‘The soul which sins, that soul shall die,’ [Ezek. 18, 4; 18, 20] then it is apparent beforehand that men who die as men will be buried by men, whereas those who die as irrational animals, that is, who fall, will be eaten by vultures or ravens, the young of the second of which call upon the Lord [cf. Ps. 146, 9], while the young of the first defile themselves in blood [cf. Job 39, 30]. ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ [Matt. 11, 15; etc.]
19 When one of the enemy draws near and wounds you, and, according to the passage in Scripture, you wish to turn his sword against his own heart [cf. Ps. 36, 15], do in the way that we say: When you are by yourself, divide the thought that was cast into you by the enemy, which very thought: When does it occur? And from what objects was it composed? And which of those objects is the one which especially oppresses the mind? What I am saying is this sort of thing: Let the thought of avarice be the one which was sent by the demon. Divide this thought: into the mind which received it and into the mental representation of gold and into gold itself and into the passion of avarice. Ask, further, which of these things is sin. Whether it is the mind, and, if so, how? The mind is the image of God. But is it the mental representation of gold? But who would ever say this who had a mind? But is gold itself sin? And for what reason has it come to be? It therefore follows that the cause of sin is the fourth, which thing is not a thing which exists substantially nor the mental representation of an object, nor, again, the bodiless mind—but a certain pleasure hateful of men which is given birth out of the free will and which obliges the mind to use evilly the things created by God, to circumcise which very pleasure has been entrusted to the Law of God.
And while you are examining these things minutely, the thought will be utterly destroyed, analysed into its own contemplation; and the demon will flee from you, your intellect by this very gnosis having been raised on high.
If you wish to use the demon’s own sword, but desire first by your own sling to conquer him, take out a stone, you also, from your shepherd’s bag [cf. 1 Kgs. 17, 48–51] and seek the contemplation of this: how angels and demons draw near to our world, whereas we do not draw near to their worlds; neither are we able to unite any further the angels to God; nor do we deliberately choose to make the demons more unclean; and how the harbinger of dawn which rises in the morning was cast down upon the earth [cf. Isa. 14, 12] and ‘considers the sea as an unguent-box and the Tartarus of the Abyss as a captive and causes the Abyss to boil like a cauldron,’ [Job 41, 23–4] throwing all into great agitation by his evil and wishing to rule over all. For the contemplation of these particular things greatly wounds the demon and causes all his host to flee. But these particular things occur to those who have been purified a little and who see to a certain extent the reasons of things which have come to be. The unclean do not know the contemplation of these things, neither will they be heard if they learn from others to utter the incantation, much dust and noise having been formed during the course of the war on account of the passions. For it is necessary for the camp of the Philistines to keep completely quiet so that Goliath, alone, meets our David [cf. 1 Kgs. 17].
Let us make use both of the division and of the form of war against all the unclean thoughts.
20 When certain of the unclean thoughts are quickly put to flight, let us seek the cause whence this has occurred, whether because of the rarity of the object, or because the matter is hard to procure, or because the enemy could not prevail against us because of the dispassion which is present in us.
If a certain one of those who are living the life of solitude, annoyed by a demon, were to think deeply on being entrusted with the spiritual governance of the capital city, he obviously will not persist in imagining this thought, and the reason is intelligible from what is said. If, then, this happens for all cities, and even the most insignificant, and the anchorite reckons in a similar way, then he is blessed on account of the dispassion.
And similarly with regard to the other thoughts: the method of this sort will be found through examination.
It is necessary to know these things for the sake of our zeal and fortitude, if we have crossed the
21 The demon of avarice seems to me exceedingly various, and skilful in contriving deceits. Many times, constrained by the consummate renunciation, it immediately feigns the steward and the lover of the poor; it receives the not-yet-present foreigners in a more lawful manner; it sends ministrations to others who are in want; it visits the prisons of the city, and, supposedly, it redeems those who have been sold; it cleaves to rich women; it secretly shows those men who ought to be well-treated; and it admonishes others, again, who have a fat purse to bid farewell to it. And, in this way, having bit by bit thoroughly beguiled the soul, it encompasses it with the thoughts of avarice and delivers it to the demon of vainglory, which introduces a multitude of those glorifying the Lord on account of these very ministrations; certain persons little by little even speaking with each other concerning the priesthood; it further foretells the death of the present priest and adds that the anchorite would not be able to escape, having done countless things; and thus the wretched mind, entangled in these very thoughts, fights with those men who do not admit these things, and readily bestows gifts on those who do admit them, and approves the prudence of these persons. He surrenders certain persons who rise in rebellion to the judges and gives orders that they be exiled from the city. Well, then, these very thoughts being within and turning to and fro, immediately the demon of pride comes on by surprise and forms continual lightning bolts in the air of the cell and lets loose winged dragons and finally works the loss of the wits.
But let us who have prayed for the destruction of these very thoughts live together with poverty in thanksgiving, ‘For we brought nothing into the world and, manifestly, neither are we able to take anything out; having, then, food and clothing, let us be content with these things,’ [1 Tim. 6, 7–8] remembering Paul, who said: ‘Avarice is the root of all evils.’ [1 Tim. 6, 10.]