The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies
The Conferences of John Cassian
Translation and Notes by Edgar C. S. Gibson 

John Cassian was born about the year 360 to wealthy and pious parents. While still young he left the opportunities for worldly success behind him and entered a monastery. He spent many years in the monasteries of Syria, but his greatest wish was to visit the monasteries of Egypt and speak with the spiritual fathers in the desert. During two lengthy journeys, of many years extent, with his spiritual friend Germanus, he was able to learn from experience the Egyptian monastic tradition. He was sent to Rome in about 404 with a letter for Pope Innocent, and spent the rest of his life in the West. He founded a monastery near Marseille which followed the Eastern monastic tradition and wrote his three great works there, the Institutes, the Conferences and On the Incarnation. He finally died in 432.

The Conferences deal with the training of the inner self and the perfection of the heart. "The "Conferences" contain a record of the conversations of Cassian and Germanus with the Egyptian solitaries, the subject being the interior life. It was composed in three parts. The first part (Books I-X) was dedicated to Bishop Leontius of Fréjus and a monk (afterwards bishop) named Helladius; the second (Books XI-XVII), to Honoratus of Arles and Eucherius of Lyons; the third (Books XVIII-XXIV), to the "holy brothers" Jovinian, Minervius, Leontius, and Theodore. These texts were held in the highest esteem by his contemporaries and by several later founders of religious orders. St. Benedict made use of Cassian in writing his Rule, and ordered selections from the "Conferences", which he called a mirror of monasticism (speculum monasticum), to be read daily in his monasteries.

Index of Conferences 1 Thru 24


CHAPTER I.--Of our stay in Scete, and that which we proposed to Abbot Moses.
CHAPTER II.--Of the question of Abbot Moses, who asked what was the goal and what the end of the monk.
CHAPTER III.--Of our reply.
CHAPTER IV.--Of Abbot Moses' question on the aforesaid statement.
CHAPTER V.--A comparison with a man who is trying to hit a mark.
CHAPTER VI.--Of those who in renouncing the world, aim at perfection without love.
CHAPTER VII.--How peace of mind should be sought.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of the main effort towards the contemplation of heavenly things, and an illustration from the case of Martha and Mary.
CHAPTER IX.--A question how it is that the practice of virtue cannot remain with a man.
CHAPTER X.--The answer that not the reward, but the doing of the works will come to an end.
CHAPTER XI.--Of the abiding character of love.
CHAPTER XII.--A question on perseverance in spiritual contemplation.
CHAPTER XIII.--The answer concerning the direction of the heart.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of the continuance of the soul.
CHAPTER XV.--How we must meditate on God.
CHAPTER XVI.--A question on the changing character of the thoughts.
CHAPTER XVII.--The answer what the mind can, and what it cannot do with regard to the state of its thoughts.
CHAPTER XVIII.--Comparison of a soul and a mill-stone.
CHAPTER XIX.--Of the threefold origin of our thoughts.
CHAPTER XX.--About discerning the thoughts, with an illustration from a good money changer.
CHAPTER XXI.--Of the illusion of Abbot John.
CHAPTER XXII.--Of the fourfold method of discrimination.
CHAPTER XXIII.--Of the discourse of the teacher in regard to the merits of his hearers.


CHAPTER I.--Abbot Moses' introduction on the grace of discretion.
CHAPTER II.--What discretion alone can give a monk; and a discourse of the blessed Antony on this subject.
CHAPTER III.--Of the error of Saul and of Ahab, by which they were deceived through lack of discretion.
CHAPTER IV.--What is said of the value of discretion in Holy Scripture.
CHAPTER V.--Of the death of the old man Heron.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the destruction of two brethren for lack of discretion.
CHAPTER VII.--Of an illusion into which another fell for lack of discretion.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of the fall and deception of a monk of Mesopotamia.
CHAPTER IX.--A question about the acquirement of discretion.
CHAPTER X.--The answer how true discretion may be gained.
CHAPTER XI.--The words of Abbot Serapion on the decline of thoughts that are exposed to others, and also on the danger of self-confidence.
CHAPTER XII.--A confession of the modesty which made us ashamed to reveal our thoughts to the elders.
CHAPTER XIII.--The answer concerning the trampling down of shame, and the danger of one without contrition.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of the call of Samuel.
CHAPTER XV.--Of the call of the Apostle Paul.
CHAPTER XVI.--How to seek for discretion.
CHAPTER XVII.--On excessive fasts and vigils.
CHAPTER XVIII.--A question on the right measure of abstinence and refreshment.
CHAPTER XIX.--Of the best plan for our daily food.
CHAPTER XX.--An objection, on the case of that abstinence, in which a man is sustained by two biscuits.
CHAPTER XXI.--The answer concerning the value and measure of well proved abstinence.
CHAPTER XXII.--What is the usual limit both of abstinence, and of partaking food.
CHAPTER XXIII.--Quemadmodum abundantia umorem genitalium castigetur.
CHAPTER XXIV.--Of the difficulty of uniformity in eating, and of the gluttony of Brother Benjamin.
CHAPTER XXV.--A question how it is possible always to observe one and the same measure.
CHAPTER XXVI.--The answer how we should not exceed the proper measure of food.


CHAPTER I.--Of the life and conduct of Abbot Paphnutius.
CHAPTER II.--Of the discourse of the same old man, and our reply to it.
CHAPTER III.--The statement of Abbot Paphnutius on the three kinds of vocations, and the three sorts of renunciations.
CHAPTER IV.--An explanation of the three callings.
CHAPTER V.--How the first of these calls is of no use to a sluggard, and the last is no hindrance to no one who is in earnest.
CHAPTER VI.--An account of the three sorts of renunciations.
CHAPTER VII.--How we can attain perfection in each of these sorts of renunciations.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of our very own possessions, in which the beauty of the soul is seen or its foulness.
CHAPTER IX.--Of three sorts of possessions.
CHAPTER X.--That no one can become perfect merely through the first grade of renunciation.
CHAPTER XI.--A question on the free-will of man and the grace of God.
CHAPTER XII.--The answer on the economy of Divine grace with free-will still remaining in us.
CHAPTER XIII.--That the ordering of our way comes from God.
CHAPTER XIV.--That knowledge of the law is given by the guidance and illumination of the Lord.
CHAPTER XV.--That the understanding, by means of which we can recognize God's commands and the performance of a good will, are gifts from the Lord.
CHAPTER XVI.--That faith itself must be given us by the Lord.
CHAPTER XVII.--That temperateness and the endurance of temptations must be given us by the Lord.
CHAPTER XVIII.--That the continual fear of God must be bestowed on us by the Lord.
CHAPTER XIX.--That the beginning of our good-will and its completion come from God.
CHAPTER XX.--That nothing can be done in this world without God.
CHAPTER XXI.--An objection on the power of free-will.
CHAPTER XXII.--The answer, viz., that our free-will always has need of the help of the Lord.


CHAPTER I.--Of the life of Abbot Daniel.
CHAPTER II.--An investigation of the origin of a sudden change of feeling from inexpressible joy to extreme dejection of mind.
CHAPTER III.--His answer to the question raised.
CHAPTER IV.--How there is a twofold reason for the permission and allowance of God.
CHAPTER V.--How our efforts and exertions are of no use without God's help.
CHAPTER VI.--How it is sometimes to our advantage to be left by God.
CHAPTER VII.--Of the value of the conflicts which the Apostle makes to consist in the struggle between the flesh and the spirit.
CHAPTER VIII.--A question how it is that in the Apostle's chapter, after he has spoken of the lusts of the flesh and spirit opposing one another, he adds a third thing, viz., man's will.
CHAPTER IX.--The answer on the understanding of one who asks rightly.
CHAPTER X.--That the word "flesh" is not used with one single meaning only.
CHAPTER XI.--What the Apostle means by flesh in this passage; and what the lust of the flesh is.
CHAPTER XII.--What is our free-will which stands in between the lust of the flesh and the spirit.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of the advantage of the delay which results from the struggle between the flesh and the spirit.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of the incurable depravity of spiritual wickedness.
CHAPTER XV.--Of the value of the lust of the flesh against the spirit in our case.
CHAPTER XVI.--Of the excitement of the flesh, without the humiliation of which we should fall more grievously.
CHAPTER XVII.--Of the lukewarmness of eunuchs.
CHAPTER XVIII.--The question what is the difference between the carnal and natural man.
CHAPTER XIX.--Answer concerning the threefold condition of souls.
CHAPTER XX.--Of those who renounce the world but ill.
CHAPTER XXI.--Of those who having made light of great things busy themselves about trifles.


CHAPTER I.--Our arrival at Abbot Serapion's cell, and inquiry on the different kinds of faults, and the way to overcome them.
CHAPTER II.--Abbot Serapion's enumeration of the eight principal faults.
CHAPTER III.--Of the two classes of faults, and their fourfold manner of acting upon us.
CHAPTER IV.--A review of the passions of gluttony and fornication, and their remedies.
CHAPTER V.--How our Lord alone was tempted without sin.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the manner of the temptation in which our Lord was attacked by the devil.
CHAPTER VII.--How vain-glory and pride can be consummated without any assistance from the body.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of covetousness, which is something outside our nature, and of the difference between it and those faults which are natural to us.
CHAPTER IX.--How dejection and Accidie generally arise without any external provocation, as in the case of other faults.
CHAPTER X.--How six of these faults are related, and the two which differ from them are akin to one another.
CHAPTER XI.--Of the origin and character of each of these faults.
CHAPTER XII.--How vain-glory may be useful to us.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of the different ways in which all these faults assault us.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of the struggle into which we must enter against our faults when they attack us.
CHAPTER XV.--How we can do nothing against our faults without the help of God, and how we should not be puffed up by victories over them.
CHAPTER XVI.--Of the meaning of the seven nations of whose lands Israel took possession, and the reason why they are sometimes spoken of as "seven" and sometimes as "many".
CHAPTER XVII.--A question with regard to the comparison of seven nations with eight faults.
CHAPTER XVIII.--The answer how the number of eight nations is made up in accordance with the eight faults.
CHAPTER XIX.--The reason why one nation is to be forsaken, while seven are commanded to be destroyed.
CHAPTER XX.--Of the nature of gluttony, which may be illustrated by the simile of the eagle.
CHAPTER XXI.--Of the lasting character of gluttony as upheld against some philosophers.
CHAPTER XXII.--How it was that God foretold to Abraham that Israel would have to drive out ten nations.
CHAPTER XXIII.--How it is useful for us to take possession of their lands.
CHAPTER XXIV.--How the lands from which the Canaanites were expelled had been assigned to the seed of Shem.
CHAPTER XXV.--Different passages of Scripture on the meaning of the eight faults.
CHAPTER XXVI.--How, when we have got the better of the passion of gluttony, we must take pains to gain all the other virtues.
CHAPTER XXVII.--That our battles are not fought with our faults in the same order as that in which they stand in the list.


CHAPTER I.--Description of the wilderness, and the question about the death of the saints.
CHAPTER II.--Abbot Theodore's answer to the question proposed to him.
CHAPTER III.--Of the three kinds of things that there are in the world, viz., good, bad, and indifferent.
CHAPTER IV.--How evil cannot be forced on any one by another against his will.
CHAPTER V.--An objection, how God Himself can be said to create evil.
CHAPTER VI.--The answer to the question proposed.
CHAPTER VII.--A question whether the man who causes the death of a good man is guilty, if the good man is the gainer by his death.
CHAPTER VIII.--The answer to the foregoing question.
CHAPTER IX.--The case of Job who was tempted by the devil, and of the Lord who was betrayed by Judas, and how prosperity as well as adversity is advantageous to a good man.
CHAPTER X.--Of the excellence of the perfect man who is figuratively spoken of as ambidextrous.
CHAPTER XI.--Of the two kinds of trials which come upon us in a threefold way.
CHAPTER XII.--How the upright man ought to be like a stamp, not of wax, but of hard steel.
CHAPTER XIII.--A question whether the man can constantly continue in the one and same condition.
CHAPTER XIV.--The answer to the points raised by the questioner.
CHAPTER XV.--How one loses by going away from one's cell.
CHAPTER XVI.--How even celestial powers above are capable of change.
CHAPTER XVII.--That no one is dashed to the ground by a sudden fall.



CHAPTER I.--Of the chastity of Abbot Serenus.
CHAPTER II.--The question of the aforesaid old man on the state of our thoughts.
CHAPTER III.--Our answer on the fickle character of our thoughts.
CHAPTER IV.--The discourse of the old man on the state of the soul and its excellence.
CHAPTER V.--Of the perfection of the soul, as drawn from the comparison of the centurion in the Gospel.
CHAPTER VI.--Of perseverance as regards care of the thoughts.
CHAPTER VII.--A question on the roving tendency of the mind, and the attacks of spiritual wickedness.
CHAPTER VIII.--The answer on the help of God and the power of free-will.
CHAPTER IX.--A question on the union of the soul with devils.
CHAPTER X.--The answer how unclean spirits are united with human souls.
CHAPTER XI.--An objection whether unclean spirits can be present in or united with the souls of those whom they have filled.
CHAPTER XII.--The answer how it is that unclean spirits can lord it over the possessed.
CHAPTER XIII.--How spirits cannot be penetrated by spirits, and how God alone is incorporeal.
CHAPTER XIV.--An objection as to how we ought to believe that devils see into the thoughts of men.
CHAPTER XV.--The answer, what devils can, and what they cannot do, in regard to the thoughts of men.
CHAPTER XVI.--An illustration showing how we are taught that unclean spirits know the thoughts of men.
CHAPTER XVII.--Of the fact that not every devil has the power of suggesting every passion to men.
CHAPTER XVIII.--A question whether among the devils there is any order observed in the attack, or system in its changes.
CHAPTER XIX.--The answer, how far an agreement exists among devils about the attack and its changes.
CHAPTER XX.--Of the fact that opposite powers are not of the same boldness, and that the occasions of temptation are not under their own control.
CHAPTER XXI.--Of the fact that devils struggle with men not without effort on their part.
CHAPTER XXII.--Of the fact that the power to hurt does not depend upon the will of the devils.
CHAPTER XXIII.--Of the diminished power of the devils.
CHAPTER XXIV.--Of the way in which the devils prepare for themselves an entrance into the bodies of those whom they are going to possess.
CHAPTER XXV.--Of the fact that those men are more wretched who are possessed by sins than those who are possessed by devils.
CHAPTER XXVI.--Of the death of the prophet who was led astray, and of the infirmity of the Abbot Paul, with which he was visited for the sake of his cleansing.
CHAPTER XXVII.--Of the temptation of Abbot Moses.
CHAPTER XXVIII.--How we ought not to despise those who are delivered up to unclean spirits.
CHAPTER XXIX.--An objection, asking why those who are tormented by unclean spirits are separated from the Lord's communion.
CHAPTER XXX.--The answer to the question raised.
CHAPTER XXXI.--Of the fact that those men are more to be pitied to whom it is not given to be subjected to those temporal temptations.
CHAPTER XXXII.--Of the different desires and wishes which exist in the powers of the air.
CHAPTER XXXIII.--A question as to the origin of such differences in powers of evil in the sky.
CHAPTER XXXIV.--The postponement of the answer to the question raised.


CHAPTER I.--Of the hospitality of Abbot Serenus.
CHAPTER II.--A question propounded on the different kinds of spiritual wickedness.
CHAPTER III.--The answer on the many kinds of food provided in Holy Scripture.
CHAPTER IV.--Of the double sense in which Holy Scripture may be taken.
CHAPTER V.--Of the fact that the question suggested ought to be included among those things to be held in a neutral or doubtful way.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the fact that nothing is created evil by God.
CHAPTER VII.--Of the origin of principalities or powers.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of the fall of the devil and the angels.
CHAPTER IX.--An objection stating that the fall of the devil took its origin from the deception of Eve.
CHAPTER X.--The answer about the beginning of the devil's fall.
CHAPTER XI.--The punishment of the deceiver and the deceived.
CHAPTER XII.--Of the crowd of the devils, and the disturbance which they always raise in our atmosphere.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of the fact that opposing powers turn the attack which they aim at men, even against each other.
CHAPTER XIV.--How it is that spiritual wickedness obtained the names of powers or principalities.
CHAPTER XV.--Of the fact that it is not without reason that the names of angels and archangels are given to holy and heavenly powers.
CHAPTER XVI.--Of the subjection of the devils, which they show to their own princes, as seen in a brother's vision.
CHAPTER XVII.--Of the fact that two angels always cling to every man.
CHAPTER XVIII.--Of the degrees of wickedness which exist in hostile spirits, as shown in the case of two philosophers.
CHAPTER XIX.--Of the fact that devils cannot prevail at all against men unless they have first secured possession of their minds.
CHAPTER XX.--A question about the fallen angels who are said in Genesis to have had intercourse with the daughters of men.
CHAPTER XXI.--The answer to the question raised.
CHAPTER XXII.--An objection as to how an unlawful intermingling with the daughters of Cain could be charged against the line of Seth before the prohibition of the law.
CHAPTER XXIII.--The answer that by the law of nature men were from the beginning liable to judgment and punishment.
CHAPTER XXIV.--How this that is said of the devil in the Gospel is to be understood, viz., that "he is a liar and his father".


CHAPTER I.--Introduction to the Conference.
CHAPTER II.--The words of Abbot Isaac on the nature of prayer.
CHAPTER III.--How pure and sincere prayer may be gained.
CHAPTER IV.--Of the lightness of the soul which may be compared to a wing or feather.
CHAPTER V.--Of the ways in which our soul is weighed down.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the vision which a certain elder saw concerning the restless work of a brother.
CHAPTER VII.--A question how it is that it is harder work to preserve than to originate good thoughts.
CHAPTER VIII.--The answer on the different characters of prayer.
CHAPTER IX.--Of the four kinds of prayer.
CHAPTER X.--Of the order of the different kinds laid down with regard to the character of prayer.
CHAPTER XI.--Of supplication.
CHAPTER XII.--Of prayer.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of intercession.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of thanksgiving.
CHAPTER XV.--Whether these four kinds of prayers are necessary for every one to offer all at once or separately and in turns.
CHAPTER XVI.--Of the kinds of prayer to which we ought to direct ourselves.
CHAPTER XVII.--How the four kinds of supplication were originated by the Lord.
CHAPTER XVIII.--Of the Lord's Prayer.
CHAPTER XIX.--Of the clause "Thy kingdom come".
CHAPTER XX.--Of the clause "Thy will be done".
CHAPTER XXI.--Of our supersubstantial or daily bread.
CHAPTER XXII.--Of the clause "Forgive us our debts, etc."
CHAPTER XXIII.--Of the clause "Lead us not into temptation".
CHAPTER XXIV.--How we ought not to ask for other things, except only those which are contained in the limits of the Lord's Prayer.
CHAPTER XXV.--Of the character of the sublimer prayer.
CHAPTER XXVI.--Of the different causes of conviction.
CHAPTER XXVII.--Of the different sorts of conviction.
CHAPTER XXVIII.--A question about the fact that a plentiful supply of tears is not in our own power.
CHAPTER XXIX.--The answer on the varieties of conviction which spring from tears.
CHAPTER XXX.--How tears ought not to be squeezed out, when they do not flow spontaneously.
CHAPTER XXXI.--The opinion of Abbot Antony on the condition of prayer.
CHAPTER XXXII.--Of the proof of prayer being heard.
CHAPTER XXXIII.--An objection that the confidence of being heard as described belongs only to saints.
CHAPTER XXXIV.--The answer on the different reasons for prayer being heard.
CHAPTER XXXV.--Of prayer to be offered within the chamber and with the door shut.
CHAPTER XXXVI.--Of the value of short and silent prayer.


CHAPTER I.--Introduction.
CHAPTER II.--Of the custom which is kept up in the Province of Egypt for signifying the time of Easter.
CHAPTER III.--Of Abbot Sarapion, and the heresy of the Anthropomorphites, into which he fell in the error of simplicity.
CHAPTER IV.--Of our return to Abbot Isaac and question concerning the error into which the aforesaid old man had fallen.
CHAPTER V.--The answer on the origin of the heresy described above.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the reasons why Jesus Christ appears to each one of us either in His humility or in His glorified condition.
CHAPTER VII.--What constitutes our end and perfect bliss.
CHAPTER VIII.--A question on the training in perfection by which we can arrive at perpetual recollection of God.
CHAPTER IX.--The answer on the efficacy of understanding which is gained by experience.
CHAPTER X.--Of the method of continual prayer.
CHAPTER XI.--Of the perfection of prayer, to which we can rise by the system described.
CHAPTER XII.--A question as to how spiritual thoughts can be retained without losing them.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of the lightness of thoughts.
CHAPTER XIV.--The answer how we can gain stability of hearts or of thoughts.



CHAPTER I.--Description of the town of Thennesus.
CHAPTER II.--Of Bishop Archebius.
CHAPTER III.--Description of the desert where Chæremon, Nesteros, and Joseph lived.
CHAPTER IV.--Of Abbot Chæremon and his excuse about the teaching which we asked for.
CHAPTER V.--Of our answer to his excuse.
CHAPTER VI.--Abbot Chæremon's statements that faults can be overcome in three ways.
CHAPTER VII.--By what steps we can ascend to the heights of love, and what permanence there is in it.
CHAPTER VIII.--How greatly those excel who depart from sin through the feeling of love.
CHAPTER IX.--That love not only makes sons out of servants, but also bestows the image and likeness of God.
CHAPTER X.--How it is the perfection of love to pray for one's enemies, and by what signs we may recognize a mind that is not yet purified.
CHAPTER XI.--A question why he has called the feeling of fear and hope imperfect.
CHAPTER XII.--The answer on the different kinds of perfection.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of the fear which is the outcome of the greatest love.
CHAPTER XIV.--A question about complete chastity.
CHAPTER XV.--The postponement of the explanation which is asked for.

Omitted in this translation.


CHAPTER I.--Introduction.
CHAPTER II.--A question why the merit of good deeds may not be ascribed to the exertions of the man who does them.
CHAPTER III.--The answer that without God's help, not only perfect chastity, but good of every kind, cannot be performed.
CHAPTER IV.--An objection, asking how the Gentiles can be said to have chastity without the grace of God.
CHAPTER V.--The answer on the imaginary chastity of the philosophers.
CHAPTER VI.--That without the grace of God we cannot make any diligent efforts.
CHAPTER VII.--Of the main purpose of God, and His daily providence.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of the grace of God and the freedom of the will.
CHAPTER IX.--Of the power of our good will, and the grace of God.
CHAPTER X.--On the weakness of free-will.
CHAPTER XI.--Whether the grace of God precedes or follows our good will.
CHAPTER XII.--That a good will should not always be attributed to grace, nor always to man himself.
CHAPTER XIII.--How human efforts cannot be set against the grace of God.
CHAPTER XIV.--How God makes trial of the strength of man's will by means of his temptations.
CHAPTER XV.--Of the manifold grace of men's calls.
CHAPTER XVI.--Of the grace of God, to the effect that it transcends the narrow limits of human faith.
CHAPTER XVII.--Of the inscrutable providence of God.
CHAPTER XVIII.--The decision of the Fathers that free-will is not equal to save a man.


CHAPTER I.--The words of Abbot Nesteros on the knowledge of the religious.
CHAPTER II.--Of grasping the knowledge of spiritual things.
CHAPTER III.--How practical perfection depends on a double system.
CHAPTER IV.--How practical life is distributed among many different professions and interests.
CHAPTER V.--Of perseverance in the line that has been chosen.
CHAPTER VI.--How the weak are easily moved.
CHAPTER VII.--An instance of chastity which teaches us that all men should not be emulous of all things.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of spiritual knowledge.
CHAPTER IX.--How from practical knowledge we must proceed to spiritual.
CHAPTER X.--How to embrace the system of true knowledge.
CHAPTER XI.--Of the manifold meaning of Holy Scripture.
CHAPTER XII.--A question how we can attain to forgetfulness of the cares of this world.
CHAPTER XIII.--Of the method by which we can remove the dross from our memory.
CHAPTER XIV.--How an unclean soul can neither give nor receive spiritual knowledge.
CHAPTER XV.--An objection owing to the fact that many impure persons have knowledge while saints have not.
CHAPTER XVI.--The answer to the effect that bad men cannot possess true knowledge.
CHAPTER XVII.--To whom the method of perfection shall be laid open.
CHAPTER XVIII.--Of the reasons for which spiritual learning is unfruitful.
CHAPTER XIX.--How often even those who are not worthy can receive the grace of the saving word.


CHAPTER I.--Discourse of Abbot Nesteros on the threefold system of gifts.
CHAPTER II.--Wherein one ought to admire the saints.
CHAPTER III.--Of a dead man raised to life by Abbot Macarius.
CHAPTER IV.--Of the miracle which Abbot Abraham wrought on the breasts of a woman.
CHAPTER V.--Of the cure of a lame man which the same saint wrought.
CHAPTER VI.--How the merits of each man should not be judged by his miracles.
CHAPTER VII.--How the excellence of gifts consists, not in miracles, but in humility.
CHAPTER VIII.--How it is more wonderful to have cast out one's faults from one's self than devils from another.
CHAPTER IX.--How uprightness of life is of more importance than the working of miracles.
CHAPTER X.--A revelation on the trial of perfect chastity.


CHAPTER I.--What Abbot Joseph asked us in the first instance.
CHAPTER II.--Discourse of the same elder on the untrustworthy sort of friendship.
CHAPTER III.--How friendship is indissoluble.
CHAPTER IV.--A question whether anything that is really useful should be performed even against a brother's wish.
CHAPTER V.--The answer, how a lasting friendship can only exist among those who are perfect.
CHAPTER VI.--By what means union can be preserved unbroken.
CHAPTER VII.--How nothing should be put before love or after anger.
CHAPTER VIII.--On what grounds a dispute can arise among spiritual persons.
CHAPTER IX.--How to get rid even of spiritual grounds of discord.
CHAPTER X.--Of the best test of truth.
CHAPTER XI.--How it is impossible for one who trusts in his own judgment to escape being deceived by the devil's illusion.
CHAPTER XII.--Why inferiors should not be despised in conference.
CHAPTER XIII.--How love does not only belong to God, but is God.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of the different grades of love.
CHAPTER XV.--Of those who only increase their own or their brother's grievances by hiding them.
CHAPTER XVI.--How it is that if our brother has any grudge against us, the gifts of our prayers are rejected by the Lord.
CHAPTER XVII.--Of those who hold that patience should be shown to worldly people rather than to the brethren.
CHAPTER XVIII.--Of those who pretend to patience, but excite their brethren to anger by their silence.
CHAPTER XIX.--Of those who fast out of rage.
CHAPTER XX.--Of the feigned patience of some who offer the other cheek to be smitten.
CHAPTER XXI.--A question how if we obey the commands of Christ we can fail of evangelical perfection.
CHAPTER XXII.--The answer that Christ looks not only at the action, but also at the will.
CHAPTER XXIII.--How he is the strong and vigorous man, who yields to the will of another.
CHAPTER XXIV.--How the weak are harmful and cannot bear wrongs.
CHAPTER XXV.--A question how he can be strong who does not always support the weak.
CHAPTER XXVI.--The answer that the weak does not always allow himself to be borne.
CHAPTER XXVII.--How anger should be repressed.
CHAPTER XXVIII.--How friendships entered upon by conspiracy cannot be lasting ones.


CHAPTER I.--Of the vigils which we endured.
CHAPTER II.--Of the anxiety of Abbot Germanus at the recollection of our promise.
CHAPTER III.--My ideas on this subject.
CHAPTER IV.--Abbot Joseph's question, and our answer on the origin of our anxiety.
CHAPTER V.--The explanation of Abbot Germanus why we wanted to stay in Egypt, and were drawn back to Syria.
CHAPTER VI.--Abbot Joseph's question whether we got more good in Egypt than in Syria.
CHAPTER VII.--The answer on the difference of customs in the two countries.
CHAPTER VIII.--How those who are perfect ought not to make any promises absolutely, and whether decisions can be reversed without sin.
CHAPTER IX.--How it is often better to break one's engagements than to fulfil them.
CHAPTER X.--Our question about our fear of the oath which we gave in the monastery in Syria.
CHAPTER XI.--The answer that we must take into account the purpose of the doer rather than the execution of the business.
CHAPTER XII.--How a fortunate issue will be of no avail to evil-doers, while bad deeds will not injure good men.
CHAPTER XIII.--Our answer as to the reason which demanded an oath from us.
CHAPTER XIV.--The discourse of the elder, showing how the plan of action may be changed without fault provided that one keeps to the carrying-out of a good intention.
CHAPTER XV.--A question whether it can be without sin that our knowledge affords to weak brethren an opportunity for lying.
CHAPTER XVI.--The answer that Scripture truth is not to be altered on account of an offence given to the weak.
CHAPTER XVII.--How the saints have profitably employed a lie like hellebore.
CHAPTER XVIII.--An objection that only those men employed lies with impunity who lived under the law.
CHAPTER XIX.--The answer that leave to lie, which was not even granted under the old Covenant, has rightly been taken by many.
CHAPTER XX.--How even Apostles thought that a lie was often useful, and the truth injurious.
CHAPTER XXI.--Whether secret abstinence ought to be made known, without telling a lie about it, to those who ask, and whether what has once been declined may be taken in hand.
CHAPTER XXII.--An objection that abstinence ought to be concealed, but that things that have been declined should not be received.
CHAPTER XXIII.--The answer that obstinacy in this decision is unreasonable.
CHAPTER XXIV.--How Abbot Piamun chose to hide his abstinence.
CHAPTER XXV.--The evidence of Scripture on changes of determination.
CHAPTER XXVI.--How saintly men cannot be hard and obstinate.
CHAPTER XXVII.--A question whether the saying, "I have sworn and am purposed," is opposed to the view given above.
CHAPTER XXVIII.--The answer telling in what cases the determination is to be kept fixedly, and in what cases it may be broken if need be.
CHAPTER XXIX.--How we ought to do those things which are to be kept secret.
CHAPTER XXX.--That no determination should be made on those things which concern the needs of the common life.



CHAPTER I.--How we came to Diolcos and were received by Abbot Piamun.
CHAPTER II.--The words of Abbot Piamun, how monks who were novices ought to be taught by the example of their elders.
CHAPTER III.--How the juniors ought not to discuss the orders of the seniors.
CHAPTER IV.--Of the three sorts of monks which there are in Egypt.
CHAPTER V.--Of the founders who originated the order of Coenobites.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the system of the Anchorites and its beginning.
CHAPTER VII.--Of the origin of the Sarabaites, and their mode of life.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of a fourth sort of monks.
CHAPTER IX.--A question as to what is the difference between a Coenobium and a monastery.
CHAPTER X.--The answer.
CHAPTER XI.--Of true humility; and how Abbot Serapion exposed the mock humility of a certain man.
CHAPTER XII.--A question how true patience can be gained.
CHAPTER XIII.--The answer.
CHAPTER XIV.--Of the example of patience given by a certain religious woman.
CHAPTER XV.--Of the example of patience given by Abbot Paphnutius.
CHAPTER XVI.--Of the perfection of patience.


CHAPTER I.--Of the Coenobium of Abbot Paul, and the patience of a certain brother.
CHAPTER II.--Of Abbot John's humility, and our question.
CHAPTER III.--Abbot John's answer why he had left the desert.
CHAPTER IV.--Of the excellence which the aforesaid old man showed in the system of the Anchorites.
CHAPTER V.--Of the advantages of the desert.
CHAPTER VI.--Of the conveniences of the Coenobium.
CHAPTER VII.--A question on the fruits of the Coenobium and the desert.
CHAPTER VIII.--The answer to the question proposed.
CHAPTER IX.--Of true and complete perfection.
CHAPTER X.--Of those who while still imperfect retire into the desert.
CHAPTER XI.--A question how to cure those who have hastily left the congregation of the Coenobium.
CHAPTER XII.--The answer telling how a solitary can discover his faults.
CHAPTER XIII.--A question how a man can be cured who has entered on solitude without having his faults eradicated.
CHAPTER XIV.--The answer on their remedies.
CHAPTER XV.--A question whether chastity ought to be ascertained just as the other feelings.
CHAPTER XVI.--The answer, giving the proofs by which it can be recognized.


CHAPTER I.--Of the humility of Abbot Pinufius, and of his hiding-place.
CHAPTER II.--Of our coming to him.
CHAPTER III.--A question on the end of penitence and the marks of satisfaction.
CHAPTER IV.--The answer on the humility shown by our request.
CHAPTER V.--Of the method of penitence and the proof of pardon.
CHAPTER VI.--A question whether our sins ought to be remembered out of contrition of heart.
CHAPTER VII.--The answer showing how far we ought to preserve the recollection of previous actions.
CHAPTER VIII.--Of the various fruits of penitence.
CHAPTER IX.--How valuable to the perfect is the forgetfulness of sin.
CHAPTER X.--How the recollection of our sin should be avoided.
CHAPTER XI.--Of the marks of satisfaction, and the removal of past sins.
CHAPTER XII.--Wherein we must do penance for a time only, and wherein it can have no end.


CHAPTER I.--How Theonas came to Abbot John.
CHAPTER II.--The exhortation of Abbot John to Theonas, and the others who had come together with him.
CHAPTER III.--Of the offering of tithes and first-fruits.
CHAPTER IV.--How Abraham, David, and other saints went beyond the requirements of the law.
CHAPTER V.--How those who live under the grace of the Gospel ought to go beyond the requirements of the law.
CHAPTER VI.--How the grace of the Gospel supports the weak so that they can obtain pardon, as it secures to the perfect the kingdom of God.
CHAPTER VII.--How it lies in our own power to choose whether to remain under the grace of the Gospel, or under the terror of the law.
CHAPTER VIII.--How Theonas exhorted his wife that she too should make her renunciation.
CHAPTER IX.--How he fled to a monastery when his wife would not consent.
CHAPTER X.--An explanation that we may not appear to recommend separation from wives.
CHAPTER XI.--An inquiry why in Egypt they do not fast during all the fifty days (of Easter), nor bend their knees in prayer.
CHAPTER XII.--The answer on the nature of things good, bad, and indifferent.
CHAPTER XIII.--What kind of good fasting is.
CHAPTER XIV.--How fasting is not good in its own nature.
CHAPTER XV.--How a thing that is good in its own nature ought not to be done for the sake of some lesser good.
CHAPTER XVI.--How what is good in its own nature can be distinguished from other things that are good.
CHAPTER XVII.--Of the reason for fasting and its value.
CHAPTER XVIII.--How fasting is not always suitable.
CHAPTER XIX.--A question why we break the fast all through Eastertide.
CHAPTER XX.--The answer.
CHAPTER XXI.--A question whether the relaxation of the fast is not prejudicial to the chastity of the body.
CHAPTER XXII.--The answer on the way to keep control over abstinence.
CHAPTER XXIII.--Of the time and measure of refreshment.
CHAPTER XXIV.--A question on the different ways of keeping Lent.
CHAPTER XXV.--The answer to the effect that the fast of Lent has reference to the tithe of the year.
CHAPTER XXVI.--How we ought also to offer our firstfruits to the Lord.
CHAPTER XXVII.--Why Lent is kept by many with a different number of days.
CHAPTER XXVIII.--Why it is called Quadragesima, when the fast is only kept for thirty-six days.
CHAPTER XXIX.--How those who are perfect go beyond the fixed rule of Lent.
CHAPTER XXX.--Of the origin and beginning of Lent.
CHAPTER XXXI.--A question how we ought to understand the Apostle's words: "Sin shall not have dominion over you".
CHAPTER XXXII.--The answer on the difference between grace and the commands of the law.
CHAPTER XXXIII.--Of the fact that the precepts of the Gospel are milder than those of the law.
CHAPTER XXXIV.--How a man can be shown to be under grace.
CHAPTER XXXV.--A question why some times, when we are fasting more strictly than usual, we are troubled by carnal desires more keenly than usual.
CHAPTER XXXVI.--The answer telling that this question should be reserved for a future conference.

Omitted in this translation.


CHAPTER I.--Discourse of Abbot Theonas on the Apostle's words: "For I do not the good that I would".
CHAPTER II.--How the Apostle completed many good actions.
CHAPTER III.--What is the really good which the Apostle testifies that he could not perform.
CHAPTER IV.--How man's goodness and righteousness are not good if compared with the goodness and righteousness of God.
CHAPTER V.--How no one can be continually intent upon that highest good.
CHAPTER VI.--How those who think that they are without sin are like purblind people.
CHAPTER VII.--How those who maintain that a man can be without sin are charged with a twofold error.
CHAPTER VIII.--How it is given to but few to understand what sin is.
CHAPTER IX.--Of the care with which a monk should preserve the recollection of God.
CHAPTER X.--How those who are on the way to perfection are truly humble, and feel that they always stand in need of God's grace.
CHAPTER XI.--Explanation of the phrase: "For I delight in the law of God after the inner man, etc."
CHAPTER XII.--Of this also: "But we know that the law is spiritual, etc."
CHAPTER XIII.--Of this also: "But I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing".
CHAPTER XIV.--An objection that the saying, "For I do not the good that I would, etc.," applies to the persons neither of unbelievers nor of saints.
CHAPTER XV.--The answer to the objection raised.
CHAPTER XVI.--What is the body of sin.
CHAPTER XVII.--How all the saints have confessed with truth that they were unclean and sinful.
CHAPTER XVIII.--That even good and holy men are not without sin.
CHAPTER XIX.--How even in the hour of prayer it is almost impossible to avoid sin.
CHAPTER XX.--From whom we can learn the destruction of sin, and perfection of goodness.
CHAPTER XXI.--That, although we acknowledge that we cannot be without sin, yet still we ought not to suspend ourselves from the Lord's Communion.


CHAPTER I.--How we laid bare the secrets of our thoughts to Abbot Abraham.
CHAPTER II.--How the old man exposed our errors.
CHAPTER III.--Of the character of the districts which Anchorites ought to seek.
CHAPTER IV.--What sorts of work should be chosen by Solitaries.
CHAPTER V.--That anxiety of heart is made worse rather than better by restlessness of body.
CHAPTER VI.--A comparison showing how a monk ought to keep guard over his thoughts.
CHAPTER VII.--A question why the neighbourhood of our kinsfolk is considered to interfere with us, whereas it does not interfere in the case of those living in Egypt.
CHAPTER VIII.--The answer that all things are not suitable for all men.
CHAPTER IX.--That those need not fear the neighbourhood of their kinsfolk, who can emulate the mortification of Abbot Apollos.
CHAPTER X.--A question whether it is bad for a monk to have his wants supplied by his kinsfolk.
CHAPTER XI.--The answer stating what Saint Antony laid down on this matter.
CHAPTER XII.--Of the value of work, and the harm of idleness.
CHAPTER XIII.--A story of a barber's payments, introduced for the sake of recognizing the devil's illusions.
CHAPTER XIV.--A question how such wrong notions can creep into us.
CHAPTER XV.--The answer on the threefold movement of the soul.
CHAPTER XVI.--That the rational part of our soul is corrupt.
CHAPTER XVII.--How the weaker part of the soul is the first to yield to the devil's temptations.
CHAPTER XVIII.--A question whether we should be drawn back to our country by a proper desire for greater silence.
CHAPTER XIX.--The answer on the devil's illusion, because he promises us the peace of a vaster solitude.
CHAPTER XX.--How useful is relaxation on the arrival of brethren.
CHAPTER XXI.--How the Evangelist John is said to have shown the value of relaxation.
CHAPTER XXII.--A question how we ought to understand what the Gospel says: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light".
CHAPTER XXIII.--The answer, with the explanation of the saying.
CHAPTER XXIV.--Why the Lord's yoke is felt grievous and His burden heavy.
CHAPTER XXV.--Of the good which an attack of temptations brings about.
CHAPTER XXVI.--How the promise of an hundredfold in this life is made to those whose renunciation is perfect.

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