ephrem-isaac-aphrahatEveryone who reads the sacred scriptures, both former and latter, in both covenants, and reads with persuasion, will learn and teach.

But if he strives about anything that he does not understand, his mind does not receive teaching.

But if he finds words that are too difficult for him, and he does not understand their force, let him say thus:

“Whatsoever is written is written well, but I have not attained to the understanding of it.”

And if he shall ask about the matters that are too hard for him of wise and discerning men who inquire into doctrine, then, when ten wise men shall speak to him in ten different ways about one matter, let him accept that which pleases him.

And if any please not him, let him not scorn the sages; for the word of God is like a pearl, that has a beautiful appearance on whatever side you turn it.

And remember, O disciple, what David said, From all my teachers have I learned (Psalm 118:99).

And the Apostle said: Thou readest every Scripture that is in the Spirit of God.  And prove everything; hold fast that which is good; and flee from every evil thing (1 Thess. 5:21-22; 2 Tim. 3:16).

For if the days of a man should be many as all the days of the world from Adam to the end of the ages, and he should sit and meditate upon the Holy Scriptures, he would not comprehend all the force of the depth of the words.

And man cannot rise up to the wisdom of God; as I have written in the tenth discourse.

But, however, the words of all speakers who do not take from the great treasure, are accursed and to be despised.  For the image of the king (on his coin) is received wherever it goes; but (the coin) in which there is base metal, is rejected and is not received.

[…] I also according to my insignificance have written these things, a man sprung from Adam, and fashioned by the hands of God, a disciple of the Holy Scriptures.

For our Lord said: Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and for him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matt. 7:8).

And the prophet said: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh in the last days, and they shall prophesy. (Joel 2:28).

Therefore whoever shall read anything that I have written above, let him read with persuasion, and pray for the author as a brother of the Body, that, through the petition of all the Church of God, his sins may be forgiven.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 22 – On Death and the Latter Times (26). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

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