Wednesday, 18 March 2015

St Cyril Of Jerusalem on Repentance and Remission of Sins, and Concerning the Adversary.


4. The devil then is the first author of sin, and the father of the wicked: and this is the Lord's saying, not mine, that the devil sins from the beginning : none sinned before him. But he sinned, not as having received necessarily from nature the propensity to sin, since then the cause of sin is traced back again to Him that made him so; but having been created good, he has of his own free will become a devil, and received that name from his action. For being an Archangel he was afterwards called a devil from his slandering: from being a good servant of God he has become rightly named Satan; for Satan is interpreted the adversary. And this is not my teaching, but that of the inspired prophet Ezekiel: for he takes up a lamentation over him and says, You were a seal of likeness, and a crown of beauty; in the Paradise of God were you born : and soon after, You were born blameless in your days, from the day in which you were created, until your iniquities were found in you. Very rightly has he said, were found in you; for they were not brought in from without, but you yourself begot the evil. The cause also he mentions immediately: Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty: for the multitude of your sins were you wounded, and I did cast you to the ground. In agreement with this the Lord says again in the GospelsI beheld Satan as lightning fall from heavenLuke 10:18 You see the harmony of the Old Testament with the New. He when cast out drew many away with him. It is he that puts lusts into them that listen to him: from him come adultery, fornication, and every kind of evil. Through him our forefather Adam was cast out for disobedience, and exchanged a Paradise bringing forth wondrous fruits of its own accord for the ground which brings forth thorns.
5. What then? Some one will say. We have been beguiled and are lost. Is there then no salvation left? We have fallen: Is it not possible to rise again? We have been blinded: May we not recover our sight? We have become crippled: Can we never walk upright? In a word, we are dead: May we not rise again? He that woke Lazarus who was four days dead and already stank, shall He not, O man, much more easily raise you who art alive? He who shed His precious blood for us, shall Himself deliver us from sin. Let us not despair of ourselves, brethren; let us not abandon ourselves to a hopeless condition. For it is a fearful thing not to believe in a hope of repentance. For he that looks not for salvation spares not to add evil to evil: but to him that hopes for cure, it is henceforth easy to be careful over himself. The robber who looks not for pardon grows desperate; but, if he hopes for forgiveness, often comes to repentance. What then, does the serpent cast its slough , and shall not we cast off our sin? Thorny ground also, if cultivated well, is turned into fruitful; and is salvation to us irrecoverable? Nay rather, our nature admits of salvation, but the will also is required.
6. God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure. For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive? Will He grant pardon? Hear what the Psalmist says: How great is the multitude of Your goodness, O Lord! Your accumulated offenses surpass not the multitude of God's mercies: your wounds surpass not the great Physician's skill. Only give yourself up in faith: tell the Physician your ailment: say thou also, like David: I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in your case, which he says immediately:And you forgave the wickedness of my heart.