The Four Hundred Chapters on Love (Part IV)

St. Maximos the Confessor

St. Maximos the Confessor

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

THE FOUR HUNDRED CHAPTERS ON LOVE (Part IV)
by Saint Maximus the Confessor

FOURTH CENTURY

  1. The mind is first of all in wonder when it reflects on God's universal infinity and that inaccessible and greatly desired ocean. Next it is amazed at how from nothing He has brought into existence everything that is. But just as, "of His greatness there is no end," so is His wisdom and unsearchable.
  2. How can one help but marvel when considering that immense ocean of goodness which is beyond astonishment? How can one not be struck when reflecting on how and whence rational and intelligent nature came to be, and also the four elements which make up bodies, when there was no matter at all previous to their existence? And what kind of power is it that moved them to reality and brought them into being? But the pagan Greeks do not admit this and remain in ignorance about the All-Powerful goodness and its efficacious wisdom and knowledge which is beyond the mind's power.
  3. Eternally existing as Creator, God creates when He wishes by His consubstantial Logos/Word and Spirit out of infinite goodness. But do not object: For what reason did He create at this time, since He was always good? Because, I say in turn, the inscrutable wisdom of the infinite nature is not subject to human knowledge.
  4. When He willed it, the Creator gave substance to and produced His eternally preexisting knowledge of beings. It is of course absurd to doubt that an Omnipotent God can give substance to something when He wishes.
  5. Seek the reason why God created, for this is knowledge. But do not seek how and why He only recently created, for that question does not fall under your mind since while some divine things are comprehended by men others are not. As one of the Saints has said, "Unbridled speculation can push you over the precipice."
  6. Some say that created things eternally exist with God, which is impossible. For how can what is limited every way eternally coexist with the wholly infinite? Or how are they really creatures if they are coeternal with the Creator? But this is the theory of the Greeks, who admit God as the Creator not of the substance at all but only of the properties. But we who know the Almighty God affirm that He is the Creator not of the properties but of the substance endowed with properties. And if this is true, creatures do not eternally coexist with God.
  7. God, along with divine realities, is in sense knowable and in another sense unknowable: knowable in ideas about Him, unknowable in Himself.
  8. Do not search for states and aptitudes in the simple and infinite substance of the Holy Trinity, lest you make is composite like creatures. To have such notions about God is absurd and impious.
  9. Only the infinite and all-powerful substance which created all things is simple, of one form, unqualified, peaceful, and undisturbed. Every creature, on the other hand, is a composite of substance and accident and in constant need of Divine Providence since it is not free from mutability.
  10. Every intellectual and sensitive substance receives from God, when He brings them into existence, powers which allow them to apprehend beings, the intellectual substance through thoughts and the sensitive substance through sensations.
  11. God is participated only; the creature both participates and communicates. He participates in being and in well-being but communicates only well-being, corporeal substance in one way, incorporeal in another.
  12. Incorporeal substance communicates well-being by speaking or acting or by being object of contemplation. Corporeal substance does so by being an object of contemplation only.
  13. Whether the rational and intelligent being has eternal being or nonbeing lies in the will of the one who created all good things. Whether it be good or bad by choice lies in the will of the creatures.
  14. Evil is not to be regarded as in the substance of creatures but in its mistaken and irrational movement.
  15. The soul is moved reasonable when its concupiscible element is qualified by self-mastery, its irascible element cleaves to love and turns away from hate, and the rational element lives with God through prayer and spiritual contemplation.
  16. When one, in time of temptation, does not bear up under incidental annoyances but cuts himself off from the love of his spiritual brothers, he does not yet have perfect love nor the knowledge of Divine Providence in its depths.
  17. The purpose of Divine Providence is to unify by an upright faith and spiritual love those who have been separated in diverse ways by vice. Indeed it was because of this that the Savior suffered, to gather together into one the children of God who were dispersed. Therefore, the one who does not endure disturbances or bear up under distress or undergo hardships walks outside Divine Love and the purpose of Providence.
  18. If "love is patient and kind," how can the person who is fainthearted in the troubles that befall him and who consequently deals wickedly with those who offend him, cutting himself away from love for them, help but fall away from the purpose of Divine Providence?
  19. Be on guard lest the vice that separates you from your brother be not found in your brother but in you; and hasten to be reconciled to him, lest you fall away from the commandment of love.
  20. Do not disdain the commandment of love, because by it you will be a son of God. If you transgress it you will become a son of Gehenna.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George