Macarius3The word that was spoken to Cain by his Maker, “You shall go mourning and trembling, and be tossed about upon the earth”, is a type and image of all sinners, as to their inward state.

For thus is the race of Adam tossed about with the incessant suggestions of fear and dread, and every kind of disturbance, the prince of this world tossing to and fro the soul that is not born of God;

and variously disturbing the thoughts of mankind, as corn that is continually shifted about in a sieve;

and shaking and ensnaring them all in worldly deceits, and the lusts of the flesh, with fears and troubles.

As from one Adam the whole race of mankind was spread over the earth, so one taint in the affections was derived down into the sinful stock of men; and the prince of malice is sufficiently able to shift them all in restless, and gross, and vain, and troublesome reflections.

[…] For in this do true Christians differ from the whole race of mankind besides: they have their heart and mind constantly taken up with the thoughts of heaven;

and, through the presence and participation of the Holy Spirit, do behold, as in a glass, the good things which are eternal, being born of God from above, and thought worthy to become the children of God in truth and power;

and being arrived, through many conflicts and labours, to a settled and fixed state, to an exemption from trouble, to perfect rest, are never sifted more by unsettled and vain thoughts.

Herein are they greater and better than the world. Their mind and the desire of their soul are in the peace of Christ, and the love of the Spirit; and they have passed from death to life.

Wherefore the alteration peculiar to Christians does not consist in any outward fashions, but in the renovation of the mind, and the peace of the thoughts, and the love of the Lord, even the heavenly love.

Herein Christians differ from all men besides. The Lord has given them truly to believe on him, and to be worthy of those spiritual good things.

For the glory, and the beauty, and the heavenly riches of Christians are inexpressible, and purchased only with labour, and pains, and trials, and many conflicts.

But the whole is owing to the grace of God.

Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391); Spiritual Homily 4,2-4, trans. by the Revd D.R. Jenning; full text, with corrections and editorial, at the Library Project.