Professor of the Kiev Divinity Academy
Doctor of Theology M. Olesnitsky
4th issue, St. Petersburg 1907
The consept of Morality and Moral Theology; the idea of goodness
Faith and Morality.
The relationship between moral and dogmatic philosophy.
The relationship between Moral Theology and Moral Philosophy.
The sources of Moral Theology.
The meaning and importance of Moral Theology.
A short outline of the history of this science.
The subdivision of moral theology.
1. Moral Nature of the Man.
Primordial perfection of the world and the man
Revelations’ teachings on the high human designation.
The development of freedom and moral character.
2. On the Moral Law.
The attributes of the moral law. The conscience. The Law of Moses. The Gospel Law.
3. Foundations of the Christian morality.
The Christian morality. The main moral element.
4. Motives of Fulfilling the Moral Law.
The types of motives.
5. The Actions of a Cristian Person.
A. Virtue. B. Sin. The consept of sin. Vice. The manifeststions of sin.
6. Moral Imputations.
The conditions of imputations.
7. The Adiaphoron, Collision of Responsibilities.
The question about the "allowable." The "infinite" perfections and Evangelical advice. The collision of responsibilities, casuistry.
8. Jesus Christ — the Model of Moral Life.
The features of moral perfection of Jesus Christ. Imitating Christ. The grace of the Holy Spirit.
9. Reviaval and Sanctification.
The Responsibilities and Virtues of a Christian.
1. Virtues in the Respect to God.
1.The Special Forms of the External Worshipping of God.
The confession of faith. Oath. Vows.
2. The Virtue of Self-Perfection.
Salvation of the soul. Care about the soul and education of the mind. The fostering of the will. Formation of the aesthetical feeling. Care about the body. Wealth and poverty. Public responsibilities. A good name and ambition.
3. Respect and Love for the Neighbor.
Justice and mercy. Assertion of the neighbor in good morals.
4. A Christian as a Member of Society.
А. Responsibilities and virtues in the church society. Relations between the members of society. B. Responsibilities and virtues in the respect to the family. The family. Mutual relations of spouses. Parents, children, workers. Hospitality and friendship. C. The attitude towards the state. The state and morals. The civil and political sides of the state. Authority, legislation, war
The Concept of Morality and Moral Theology; Idea of Goodness.
Just as a universal and immutable law controls physical nature, producing order and beauty, so it is in the spiritual world — and particularly in the realm of human life — where a similar universal and immutable law reigns, establishing order and generating goodness everywhere. Both the laws have their basis in the holy, almighty and benevolent will of God. But if in the physical nature the law is realized through necessity, the law in human life is accomplished freely. There, reigns compulsion and inevitability, but here it is obligation (i.e. direction without compulsion). Free or voluntary fulfillment of responsibilities that are applied on us by law or by the will of God — as our Creator and our Redeemer — is called morality, or moral living, and more precisely — as the Christian morality.
It is this morality that comprises the subject of Moral Theology, which is a study, first, about God’s moral law and the private responsibilities of a Christian that emanate from it, and secondly, about the moral life and personal good deeds of a Christian that correspond to the law. (Because the moral evil (immorality) exists in the world, necessity obliges Moral Theology to speak about violations of the law, about sin in general and personal sins).
The fulfillment of the moral law depends on the personal higher worth of the individual — his best adornment. Neither high intelligence, nor a brilliant artistic talent, nor earthly wisdom, and more over, physical strength, can satisfy the profound deficiency in a person if there is an absence of good morality in him. And it’s only the good direction of the will that imparts the true meaning and worthiness to the other abilities (mind, aesthetic talent, etc.) as well as the human creations in the world (sciences, skills, productiveness etc.)
That’s why the Lord Savior called attention to religious-moral teachings and living according to them as being the only way (Luke 10:42). And Ap. Paul writes: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels….and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:1-2). He commands the Christian women to adorn themselves "…not with braided hair or pearls or costly clothing….but with good works" (1 Tim. 2:9-10). However, this doesn’t mean that it is forbidden for a Christian to be adorned outwardly; it simply means not to define one’s worthiness in these adornments, that the true adornment of a person — is his good works. Consequently, with all the knowledge in different branches, with diverse earthly matters — the Christian must connect them with moral aims — always bearing in mind their moral significance — and direct everything toward this designation.
At the same time, a good moral life secures a person a higher welfare or, which is the same, genuine happiness. The idea of blessings is inseparably tied to the idea of morality. Goodness in general is the conformity of a subject or creature to its own designation or its own aim. If, for example, after God reviewed the world after creating it and acknowledged it as "good," it means that everything was in its place and everything was in accordance to its designation. Because the man’s nature contains many diverse facets (bodily, or physical, earthly and social, mental, or intellectual, aesthetic etc...), there are many diverse blessings available to him and varied forms of happiness. Blessings to him are food and water, satisfying hunger; blessings to him are productiveness and trade for gratifying earthly needs; blessing is society, as an opportunity to communicate with people, akin to him; blessings are science and art, satisfying the aspirations of truth and beauty. And there are many people that are inclined towards being content in their happiness, derived mainly from these forms of blessings. At times, even the very best among us are transfixed on one of the mentioned forms of blessings, as though it is the final or main purpose of our lives. Hadn’t we at some time eaten and drank, contrary to Ap. Paul’s directives that state: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31), — we sit down at table without crossing ourselves or praying, forgetting that "a person eats to live, and not live so that he can eat," and consequently overindulge. Or we immerse ourselves into commercial activity to such extent, that we are left with no time, desire, or strength to pursue spiritual and higher interests. It also happens that in association or union with people akin to ourselves (eg. marriage, friendship etc...) we come to a close, as though we have achieved the highest form of happiness for a human being. We particularly value the sciences and arts far higher than their worth; we aspire towards education with a greater zeal than toward educating ourselves in conscientiousness and piety. Meanwhile, there is a higher blessing awaiting the man, in which there is a greater happiness for him. This higher blessing and greater happiness consists of communion with God, which is achieved through virtuous life. In pleasing God, a person is in the state of sonship with God and belongs to His Kingdom; and precisely this makes up the higher designation or aim for every person, and is his primary blessing. In the Holy Gospel, this blessing is presented in the form of a highly valued pearl, over which a merchant sold all his possessions in order to secure it (Mat. 13:46). This blessing that secures the happiness of a person is, of course, inner, spiritual, invisible; the Kingdom of Heaven is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). Beyond the grave — especially at the conclusion of the earthly era and after Christ’s Second Coming — the higher happiness for righteous Christians will appear visible in all its fullness. They will then achieve complete holiness and total joy. The unity of holiness and joy represents the higher blessing. The Psalmist proclaims: "I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness" (Psalm 16:15), while Ap. Paul speaks: "Finally, there is laid for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8).
We have genuine witness of the Holy Gospel and through experience that pious people, fulfilling God’s commandments, are assisted — through God’s will — in their earthly life and in their temporary endeavors and deals. The Lord Savior said: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Mat. 6:33). And according to Ap. Paul’s words: "Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Tim 4:8). In observing earthly life, it can be uttered with King David: "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging" (Psalm 37:25).
It should be noted that within a human, as with any creature emanating from God, there is a strong desire to have moral happiness and an involuntary attraction towards it. Even the pagan philosopher Plato imagined the human anguish over this happiness, as akin to that of a prisoner over his freedom, like an itinerant over his homeland. There are frequent expressions in the holy books, of a person’s sighs and his urge towards higher happiness, especially in David’s Psalms, for e.g. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 41:2). And Ap. Paul expressed his desire to depart and be with Christ, i.e. attain higher happiness beyond the grave (Phil. 1:23). The same thought is expressed by him in the following: "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come" (Heb. 13:14), "…our citizenship is in Heaven" he exclaims as well (Phil. 3:20).
In this manner, he points out the two higher facets of understanding about morality, its law containing the norms of life for a person and the unforced performance of good works. There is a third facet that needs to be added, specifically — happiness, as a result of being moral. Thus, on the one hand, Moral Theology is an instruction about the law or duty (obligation), and on the other, about virtues, and partly about the good.
Faith and Morality.
From the understanding of morality, it ostensibly follows that it presupposes faith in a personal God or religion, with which it is found in a tight union. That’s why the Apostle declares: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
Without faith in personal, Christian God, without religion, morality would not reach the necessary base. Through necessity, faith in the unqualified meaning of the moral law and its sanctity, assumes faith in Ever-holy God, Who is not a human for Him to lie, and not a son of man for Him to betray (Num. 23:19), and whose word endures unto the ages (Psalm 118:89; Peter 1:25) and is the truth (2 Kings 7:28), and holy (Peter 1:15; Lev. 20:7-8).
Without faith in God, or without religion, there is no basis to lead moral life. However, leading moral life, we meet many impediments and often experience lack of strength. These obstacles can be removed and strength replenished by no Other than the Almighty and All-good God. This first obstacle is contained in physical nature — just as it surrounds us, it exists in our physical organism. In its turn, the physical environment of nature flows without paying attention to the life of the human spirit. But our physical organism is subject to illnesses, suffering, in general — disorders, which restrains spiritual life and activity. The second obstacle is entailed in the very spirit of a human being — in his will. Here, we sense a different law warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin (Rom. 7:23); in the consequence of which what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do (Rom. 7:15, 19). In the light of these obstacles, what are we to do?
It is essential to have faith in the all-wise and good God, directing expeditiously the flow of nature and establishing human destinies in such a way, so that they beneficially serve the person, assisting him to achieve his ultimate aim (Job 28:26; 1 Kings 2:6,7; Chron. 20:24; Mat. 10:30; 1 Peter 5:7; Rom. 8:28). Also essential is the faith in the Redeemer, proclaiming and accomplishing, with the power of the Holy Spirit for the man to be "born again," and making him capable of overcoming the "other law." It’s only from having faith in this almighty assistance, is it possible to have fortitude and energy to follow this moral task. It is only with the experience of unity with God and hope for the eternal joy, is it possible to have a happy feeling and preparedness — as with moral actions — in tolerating sufferings.
Finally, without faith in personal God, there can be no authentic substance, quality or purity in morality; there can be no elevation to it. Having "plundered" God’s worthiness and honor (Phil. 2:6) and having established life upon himself, a person makes himself the central focus of his life. Consequently, the level of his morality inescapably falls and becomes corrupted by self-centeredness, egoism and pride. Morality then slips away from its ideal, which is made up of the selfless actions of genuine love. While false love for oneself is unavoidably tied the false attachment to the world and slavish subjugation to it. According to Ap. John, it is only by having a belief in personal God, Who is a complete negation of self-centeredness (egoism), does love exist (1 John 4:16). That’s why it is the highest and most worthy subject of human aspiration and yearning. A person can then renounce self-centeredness and learn about genuine love. At the same time, he could also liberate himself from his attachment and service to the secular world. It is only before the face of the only, heavenly Father are all people brothers and sisters. It was not for no reason that Blessed Augustine named the good works of the heathens "brilliant iniquities." While even though they were good deeds, they carried within themselves the destructive elements of self-centeredness. Morality, separated from religion, reminds one of the Prometheus myths, with which the contemporary educators of morality express the spiritual state of these people: Prometheus gave people their culture and civilization by stealing fire from heaven. However, he did not make them better or pious. As punishment, Zeus chained him to a rock where an eagle picked at his liver: this is the image of the human heart being eaten away by self-centeredness and passions.
As we can see from the above, faith in personal God or religion, contains the basis of morality. Religion can be likened to the roots of a tree, while morality — the trunk and branches. However, religion cannot be true if it rejects morality. It then degenerates into Pietism, Quietism, and Mysticism. That’s why Ap. James states: "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). He that loveth not his brother abideth in death, for the commandment of God is not only in that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, it is also in that we should love one another (1 John 3:23). The root can only remain alive if the trunk and branches grow from it; likewise, religion can only be healthy if it continually appears in the moral activity, develops and strengthens within it.
The tight unity of religion and morality is explained in their analogous nature, the presence of the same elements or compositions within them. Namely: true religion has a moral character, while morality has a religious character. Religion contains not only an element of dependence, but also freedom in the man’s relationship with God. There is also not only an element of freedom in morality, but also the man’s dependence on the will of God.
Nonetheless, religion and morality make up two special fields and therefore, need not be identified. Firstly, in religion, the man’s dependence in and his ordainment by God and His blessed powers are expressed more strongly; in morality, there is more room for the man’s self-determination, and his dependence on God is not so direct. Secondly, in religion the man strives towards God; in morality, he strives to please God through activities in the sphere of his own personality, his relatives and the visible world.
The relationship between moral and dogmatic theology.
Moral Theology is found in the closest relationship with Dogmatic Theology. They are akin to blood sisters. That is why for a long time they were expounded conjointly. And even today, it is possible to encounter these intricate literary works. But with the development of the studies, the theologians realized the importance of articulating these teachings separately. This was also encouraged by convenience: with the conjoint presentation, each one of the teachings would not be able to present an opportunity to reveal in all its fullness, the substance of the other. However, the more profound basis for their separation lies in the fact that each of these disciplines present themselves as a specific subject, having a right to individuality. God’s Kingdom is set up, on the one hand — God’s actions, and on the other — the man’s actions. God’s actions in establishing this Kingdom is the subject of Dogmatic, while man’s actions in this establishment, makes up the subject for Moral Theology. That’s why the subject of Dogmatic is sealed with the characteristics of divine indispensability and is the basis of faith in a human; while the subject of Moral Theology is dependant on the free will of the man, and appears as the basis of his actions. This is the mutual contrast between these two disciplines.
From this perspective, all other particular subjects that enter into them are divided among them, e.g. both Dogmatic and Moral Theology speak of the law. However, in the former, the law is examined from the standpoint of God’s revelation and the educational guidance of the human race; while in Moral Theology — from the standpoint of human responsibilities. Both disciplines speak of the Church; in the first, the Church appears as an arrangement by the divine grace, while in the latter, it is created by the faithful. "I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Mat. 16:18) — this is a dogmatic condition; strive to enrich yourself with spiritual gifts toward the Church’s edification….only let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:12, 40) — this is a moral state. Likewise, teachings on regeneration and enlightenment are present in both Dogmatic and Moral Theology; in the former, the subject is examined mainly from the point of view of God’s grace, while in the latter — from the point of view of Man’s free will. God produces in us both the desire and action, according to His will (Phil. 2:13) — this is a dogmatic state; effecting your own salvation, with fear and trembling (v. 12) — is a moral state.
The relationship between Moral Theology and Moral Philosophy.
If morality is a fact that is common to the mankind and belongs to the whole humanity, then it is understandable that its teachings can have a place not only in the Christianity, but also among the philosophers and heathens. Indeed, Moral Theology developed alongside Moral Philosophy, while in the pre-Christian era; only the heathen philosophy expressed scientific moral awareness. Both these sciences are analogous and study the one and the same subject, namely — research into the laws and norms of moral living. However, because their research emanates from disparate beginnings and head towards different directions, there is a differentiation between them. Moral Theology, so to speak, moves from the centre to the periphery, while Moral Philosophy — from the periphery to the centre. Moral Theology stems from the revealed moral teachings, and strives to explicate and justify it on the basis of historical tradition and human reason. It also aims to demonstrate its correspondence with the general human needs and consequently, present it as a genuine human benefit. Apart from that, while Moral Philosophy seeks the truth, it assumes that its beginning is unknown and as a consequence, its primary thrust is nothing but the elusive X; and this X is sought with the strength and means of the human mind. Therefore, it is understandable that in the light of such circumstances of scientific research, Moral Theology cannot err. True, a theologian could incorrectly interpret certain segments of the Holy Gospel. However, in as much as Moral Theology is the authentic teaching of the Holy Gospel, it expresses undoubted truth. Generally, Moral Philosophy and the innate teachings of the mind may easily deviate into a false direction and thereby distort moral truth, presenting it as half-truth or as a complete falsity. These — as an example — are moral teachings that are formed on the basis of pantheism or materialism, and also on the teachings of Kant and the school of Herbert. The latter preaches half-truth (though it doesn’t reject personal God, it separates morality from religion, promoting deism); while the former — complete untruth, rejecting personal God. And to talk about understanding genuine morality on the heathen grounds is quite superfluous. The following words can be applied to the philosophical and heathen teachings on morality: "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:5).
A heathen, moreover a philosopher in the Christian era, has a conscience and moral awareness. However, this innate awareness and conscience, by themselves, are unable to attain the pure and full moral truth. Consequently, Moral Philosophy has to be completed and corrected by Moral Theology. Without theology, philosophy does not have the capacity to resolve the question of absoluteness, and likewise on the question of the origin of the evil and its defeat. Nobody knows about things of God, except the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11).
Of course, there can exist the Christian philosophy; it is encountered where it research and conclusions are permeated with the Christian spirit and conform to its teachings. And her ability is more apparent in that, in the current times, there is not one element in a person’s spiritual life which was not created by the Christianity, having become the basis of our historical development of all our culture. However, even in this instance philosophy and theology differ: and Moral Philosophy has to be repleted with Moral Theology. In the first place, philosophy always moves in the sphere of general comprehension, and as a consequence, we shall be unable to find specific teachings about the Christian’s responsibilities (i.e. all that makes up the second part of Moral Philosophy; it has only the first, general part). And in the general first part, Moral Philosophy does not delve deep enough in its examination of the moral perceptions of a Christian, as does Moral Theology, i.e. in the section dealing with moral laws, philosophy deliberates more on the law as an abstract norm rather than as an expression of God’s personal will. Or in the segment on good works, she does not portray the personality and works of Christ the Savior as the complete expression of good works, and the source of moral regeneration and life of a Christian. Apart from that, it is an intrinsic and immutable part of Moral Theology.
The sources of Moral Theology.
If Moral Theology emanates from God-revealed moral teachings, and places God-given truth at the centre of its discourse, then consequently, its primary source is the Holy Scripture. According to an Apostle, it is God-inspirited and beneficial for learning, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16); which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (par. 15). And Jesus Christ Himself gives witness: "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). St. Hippolytus writes: "Just like a person that wants to learn earthly wisdom, cannot achieve this without studying the philosophers, likewise if we want to study piety that is worthy of God, it can be done none other than from studying the Divine Gospel."
However, the teachings on God’s Kingdom proclaimed in the Holy Gospel, had been slowly revealed in the Christian Church over many centuries. Consequently, apart from the Holy Gospel, it is essential to refer to the teachings of the Christian Orthodox Church, expressed in the creations of her Holy fathers and teachers, and in the "symbolic" books. Here we will find the repletion of the Holy Gospel in the holy Tradition — as witnessed by Ap. Paul: "Now I praise you, bretheren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you (1 Cor. 11:2), therefore, bretheren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle" (2 Thes. 2:15). — "It is necessary to preserve tradition — writes St. Epiphanius — because it is impossible to discover everything in the Gospel alone; the Holy Apostles left one part in the Gospel, and the other — in the tradition."
And the fact that only the Church embodies the completely authentic explanations of the Holy Gospel, follows from the promise given by the Lord Jesus Christ to the Church: "I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Mat. 16:18). He promised to send to His Apostles and their successors — the Spirit of truth, which would abide with them forever, guiding them into all truth (John 14:16, 17; 26; 16:13). From the Apostle’s words: "Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1Tim. 3:15). The Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs write: "We believe that the divine and Holy Gospel is imbued by God; that is why we must believe in it unquestionably, and with that, not according to our understanding but as expounded and assigned by the Ecumenical Church. A person that speaks from himself, can err, cheat and be mislead, but the Ecumenical Church is incapable of erring." Finally, we can find models of moral living within the Church, because the Church Fathers submitted themselves to the path of piety, cleansed themselves of lusts, became churches of the Holy Spirit and God’s friends, carried within themselves the promise and foretaste of the eternal bliss.
With regard to the human reasoning, its significance lies in that it is capable to evaluate the zenith of the Biblical teachings on morality: observes the specifics of human life and on their basis, indicates people’s need towards the uncovered moral truths, and their consonance with the higher interests of humanity. In other words: by the way of critique and logical methods of philosophical learning, and from human consciousness and everyday life, the reason confirms that the Holy Gospel gives witness to the revelation. The Scriptures approve of the activity of reason in the learning of religious-moral truth; there, a person is called to: "Search the Scriptures…test all things; hold fast what is good…do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God…that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God…abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (John 5:39;1 Thess. 5:22; 1 John 4:1; Rom. 12:1; Phil. 1:9,10). Fathers of the Church, especially Justin the Philosopher, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Blessed Augustine, Theodoretus and others, confirm the benefits of applying the reason in learning the Christian truth. Although the Holy Scripture does warn the Christians not to be led astray by philosophy and empty deception, by human tradition and earthly constituents, and not by the spirit of Christ (Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20).
The meaning and importance of Moral Theology.
The meaning and importance of Moral Theology, by themselves, are revealed from the understanding of morality and its importance. If moral life is the carrying out of ordinances, which had been directed by God to the man, if it conveys to him personal and higher worthiness, provides him with genuine welfare and happiness, then the importance and obligation to study Moral Theology can be seen from this. It is important not only for selected individuals, for example, those in authority or educators, but for everyone without exception, because everybody is called to lead God-pleasing and moral life.
Of course, knowledge of moral rules only — by itself — does not generate morality, as Socrates thought in asserting that knowledge is a virtue, or Fichte (science is the seed of life), likewise Hegel (a logical idea is the genitor of existence). It is possible to know moral teachings and yet not to live by them. Unfortunately, it is quite common to meet such instances. These situations are presupposed by the Holy Scripture, which states: "And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes" (Luke 12:47). That is why the Lord does not call blessed those that listen to His teachings and know them, but those, who fulfill them: "blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it…If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" (John 13:17). In order to fulfill morality, it is essential that knowledge is appended with the will. This free will is dependent upon the performing individual. Every person must have a desire, and apply his will. In any case, knowledge serves as the administrator for the will. Consequently, Moral Theology indicates and illuminates the path towards moral life, and it is this that embodies its meaning and importance. The following words of the Psalmist can be applied to this: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).
A short outline of the history of this science.
The first centuries of the Christianity were not so much centuries of science as of life. That is why in the beginning of the Christian era, we do not meet any systematic teachings on morality. However, the early Christians can be proud of such high moral life that this is rarely seen among the subsequent Christians. The explanations on the moral thoughts of the Gospel, the Holy Scripture and its leading elements, were the Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church, which served as the guides for the moral living. These interpretations were conducted in the form of a dialogue, sermons on the Scripture’s theme and dissertations, or monographs on the question of the moral living.
Among the fathers and teachers of the Eastern or Greek Churches that are renowned in this regard, are Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Origen. Having received his education in philosophy, Clement injects a philosophical element into the development of the Christian moral understanding. As a consequence, he gets closer than the others to the scientific and systematic outline on moral teachings: "Admonitions to the Hellenists," "A Pedagogue" and "Miscellanies." Basil the Great delineates in pure Biblical moral teachings. He left quite a few dialogues on morality, wrote "Morals" and was the first to compile the monastic rules. The sermons of Chrysostom also embody rich educational material. In moral outlook and thoughts, Origen is very similar to those of Clement of Alexandria, but they are dispersed in his dogmatic creations on which his moral teachings are based.
Among the fathers of the western or Latin Church are Saint Ambrose of Mediolan and Blessed Augustine. Ambrose wrote a book titled "About Responsibilities," in a Ciceronian manner. Blessed Augustine left a number of works of educational character ("On God’s City," "On Morality of the Catholic Church," "About the Christian study," "On Faith, Hope and Love"), where he develops the material on moral teachings. Blessed Augustine is of enormous importance in the history of moral teachings, and his influence in this sphere continued for the period of many centuries. It is also worthy to mention Tertullian, who advocated rigorous (strict) morals, and his admirer — Cyprian of Carthage.
After Blessed Augustine (6th century), the spirit of independent development of moral learning waned. In the West (where it was essentially studied), the teachers of the church confined themselves to either explaining dogmas, or, encyclopedic compilation and comparison of diverse opinions of the teachers of morals — the Christian as well as the heathen. This was the composition of those edifying compilations that were issued under the editorship of Boethius. At that same time, in the beginning of the 8th century, there appeared some collections (under the editorship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore), presenting the compendium of sins and their corresponding punishments, as well as submitting the former powerful methods that were held in the hands of the clergy for disciplining people’s lives. In the East, where Dogmatic was primarily being developed, works on moral teaching by Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus, appeared at that time. "Holy Parallels," written by the latter, presents itself as a rich collection of enlightening thoughts and moral rules, taken from the Holy Scripture, works of the Church’s Fathers and classic literature.
In the Middle Ages, Theology was transformed into the form of learning, and at the same time Moral Theology became a specific study. But more importantly for our study is Thomas Aquinas. In his work "Summa Thelogiae," based on the elements of Blessed Augustine, we find the complete organic system of moral teachings. The enunciations demonstrate the finesse and clarity of the author’s mind. The Catholic theology is being built along Aquinas pattern up to this day. But just like Blessed Augustine had Pelagius as his antagonist, so did Thomas Aquinas have his antagonist in the form of Duns Scott. Instead of having a theonomic point of view, he took an autonomic standpoint (of the personal self-rule); instead of faith and grace; his writings are filled with skepticism and sophistry. It subsequently served as the model for the Jesuits justification of the man’s arbitrary freedom.
This branch of middle-age theology is known under the name of scholasticism, or scholastic Theology. Scholasticism is characterized by the prevalence of reason, domination of abstract and often empty forms, surfeit of a rubric with countless divisions and sub-divisions, overwhelming the reader with a mass of diverse opinions and viewpoints of philosophers and theologians. It did not contain any life and positive revelations on the moral Christian truths. From this branch of moral teaching, there is another limb that is called mysticism. Here, the overwhelming feeling was religious. The mystics’ task was in the liberation — where possible — of moral life from the outward decrees, to guide the human soul into the more direct relationship with God, and indicate its level, by which it can elevate itself to the complete unity with God. The best works on this approach belong to Thomas a` Kempis: "The Imitation of Christ." However, some mystics understand the unity with God in the pantheistic or semi-pantheistic sense, i.e. in the sense of indifference and fusion of the divine and human natures.
In the Middle Ages, there appeared a third type of moral teaching — casuistic. Casuistry, in its essence, is based on scholasticism, but has a peculiar system for the mystery of confession. It did not involve itself in the study of general rules of moral living, but focused only on the particular "incidents of conscience." It taught how conscience can — in one or another difficult situation — avoid submission to the moral demands. At the same time, it determined the dimension (the quality of the act remained in the background) of every moral action. In such determinations of the difficulties of conscience, there is much legal sophistry. As we have seen earlier, the beginnings of casuistry were laid in the 8th century, in the "penitentials." Casuistry flowered in the 13-15th centuries. The most well-known works were the 4 books of Raimundo de Pennaforte "Summa de casibus poenitentiae."
The teachings of the Catholic theology on the infinite deeds, on the possibility of buying off one’s sins, on the actions of the morally indifferent, on mortal and pardonable sins, etc. led to such coarseness in casuistry that it evoked reformation. The main thinking of the Protestantism is justification by faith, and is in direct contrast to the catholic teachings on the works of the law. That is why the Lutheran religious teaching is a lyrical flow from the heart, reverential before redemption. Consequently, there is little room for examination and with the first Protestants one cannot find any systematic teachings on morality. However, in the Reformation more attention is paid to the law and works, and as a consequence, there is more area for the scientific study. At the end of the 16th and in the 17th centuries, the Protestant theologians — in creating Moral theology on new elements — elevated it to the higher status of a science (Daneus, the Reformation member, and Callistus, a Lutheran). At that time, those that wrote and acted in the Catholic Church were the Jesuits.
However, abstractness and schooling pervaded into the Protestant theology, and it began to adopt the form of a new scholasticism. The Jesuits degraded the absolute moral concepts, expressed in the Holy Scripture and preserved in the Holy Traditions, to the subordinate level of authority of the visible head of the Church, and through sophistic interpretation they attempted to position it for the benefit of the head and his church. At the same time, they endeavored to make the fulfillment of the Commandments much easier possible for the sinful man. In opposition to the first, there appeared Pietism, while the antagonist to the second — Jansenism, which tried to insert simplicity of thought, warmth of feelings and strictness of demands into moral teachings…
In the 18th century, Moral Theology enters into a collision course with philosophy and receives a new enlightenment. The Protestant theologians (in particular Buddeus and Mostgeim) place the theological teachings on the philosophical base. However, English Deism and French Materialism influence upon it unfavorably, causing the teachers to retract. Not having the strength to fight with the attackers, they limit themselves with only complaints about the corruption of morals. It was only in the figure of Kant that the theologian-moralists found a reliable ally. Kant’s "categorical imperative" was in harmony with their lofty outlook on the moral laws, and imparted stability and firmness. Kant’s "autonomy" had such an influence as to make Moral Theology — when compared to dogmatic — emerge in first place. The theologians-Kantians (De Vitte, Ammon, Schwartz, Flitt and others), engaged themselves not so much with Dogmatic as with the moral teachings. However, extreme thinking permeated into their moral teachings: they were more concerned with the subtle understanding of the moral activities, rather than with bringing them into life. To them, the Gospel was not the power or life, but just a line of moral ideas.
The intensification of this trend evoked a responsive reaction in the face of philosopher and theologian, Schleiermacher, who liberated moral teachings from Kant’s dogmatism, and replaced the incontrovertible "must" with the free "need." He pointed out the heart as the source of good and evil. He asserted that the self-consciousness of a Christian is structured on the Christian precepts; he viewed moral activities of each person as a creative process, original, and not as just a copy of the law (as with Kant). The Protestant theologian, Rote is regarded as the best exponent of this trend. However, unnecessary speculation has to be added to his deficiencies, which are incompatible with the simplicity of the Christian teaching.
Currently, the theologians and moral teachers of the West have placed as their task, on the one hand — to liberate the moral teachings from the pressures of the philosophical system, and build it simply on the Biblical and Church beginnings, while on the other hand — to impart it the scientific appearance and stability. It is in this spirit that the moral systems were written by Bemere, Schmidt, Schwarz, Wutte, Palmer, Martenson, Pheelmer, Ettinger, Dorner, Frank and others — those Protestant, and by Braun, Zeidler, Rygler, Hyrcher, Linazeman and others — those Catholic ones.
In our homeland, the Christian moral teachings were expounded in the form of the catechism. The well-known works are "The Orthodox Confessional" by Peter Mogila, the Metropolitan of Kiev (17th century) and "The Catechisms" by Metropolitans Plato and Philaret (19th century). At the same time, much valuable material on the moral teachings can be found in the works of our saints, especially Tikhon of Zadonsk. The moral teachings in a systematic form can be found in the works of Bishop Innocent, "Active Theology" (1819), Archpriest Kochetov’s "Features of the Active Teaching on Faith" (1824), Archpriest’s Bazhanov, "About the Christian’s Responsibilities," Archbishop Plato (1854), Archpriest Solyarsky (186 in 3 parts), Archpriest Halkolivanov (1876), Archbishop Gabriel (1885), tutor Pyatnitsky (1890), Bishop Theophanus (1891), tutor Pokrovsky (1904), under the heading — "The Orthodox Moral Theology." In the scientific sense, Archpriest Yashnev’s work "Recitation on the Christian Morality" must be placed above these systems. Archpriest Favorov’s similarly titled work (1880) can also be assigned to this higher level. He too wrote "The Outlines on the Moral Teachings" (1868).
The subdivision of Moral Theology.
Moral Theology may be separated into two parts. The first part enunciates the general teaching on the moral law and the life of a Christian, while the second — particular teaching on his responsibilities and good works (and on sin).
The first part has, in the first instance, the task of scrutinizing composite parts of morality and point out its essence, and secondly, to depict the process of the moral life of a Christian, beginning with regeneration and ending with enlightenment; the second part has its task in the reviewing of the moral relationship of a Christian with God, with his friends and with himself.
On the moral law of God
1. Moral Nature of Man.
Primordial perfection of the world and the man.
Not only in the history of philosophy, but also in the history of the Church were diverse viewpoints on the present state of Earth and Man. The most extreme of these views are known under the heading of Optimism, or Pelagianism, and pessimism, or Manichaeism.
In the optimistic view, the Earth and the man are in a normal state; they are essentially pure and good. The evil is an accidental blemish, shadow, which can be easily removed with the power and means of the person himself, with his free will. Consequently, there is no need for some extraordinary, supernatural means to overcome evil and for salvation. As well, it’s only the soaring evil that sooner elevates the charm of the landscape than in spoiling it; and therefore, it comfortably reconciles itself with good. In the main, the evil consists in ignorance, in the lack of education, in barbarism; and therefore, it will begin to disappear with the development of culture and civilization. Then harmony shall assert itself on earth; and it’s in this that higher good is made up of. According to the pessimistic viewpoint, the evil is indissolubly bound with the very existence, with the substance of everything that exists; and consequently, with the human essence. That is why a human is found not only in an abnormal and adverse state, but will always remain in that condition, because evil cannot be separated or removed from human life. As a consequence, all human ideals are nothing but phantom of imagination; all of human life is aimless, and the higher good that it aspires to is unattainable.
The Holy Scripture and the true Christianity, correct both these viewpoints, combining within itself that, which is true in both pessimism and optimism.
Thus, the Holy Scripture depicts in clear portrayals, the dark picture of deep corruptness of the man and every individual, from the days of his sinful downfall. It’s sufficient to turn to Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans chap. 1-3; 5, 12 and others (James 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:22; Eph. 2:3), and then compare it to the Book of Genesis, chap. 4-11. This is how Ap. Paul portrays the moral condition of the heathen world: "Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…" (Rom. 1:21-31). And if we turn our attention to the Book of Genesis, we shall see the factual confirmation of this judgment of the human race. Cain’s fratricide was the sharp appearance of moral evil in the world. Whereupon, God pronounces the following judgment on the whole pre-Flood humanity: "And the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). The depravity of the human race ended with a consequential punishment — the Great Flood. However, this example of frightening punishment, didn’t improve humanity. The evil, which soon reappeared after the Flood in the very family of Noah, soon grew and reaching its extreme manifestation during the building of the Babylonian tower. "The imagination of Man’s heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8:21). Having given His pledge not to destroy the human race in future, God scattered it throughout the whole land so as to weaken the power of evil (Gen. 11:8). However, the evil spread unrestrainedly. Idolatry, and with it corruption and all kind of vice, strides throughout the whole history of the mankind, ending in a new state of decay before the Coming of the Lord Savior onto the earth. Such is the condition of idolatry.
Among the world of idolatry, the Jewish people were segregated. But even these people are no less than pathetic witnesses of the deep corruption of human nature. Proud with their knowledge of the law, they (prior to the Babylonian bondage) continuously were engaged in idolatry (Books of Judges and Kings). And the pastime of serving the other gods was accompanied by the sins of sensuality and of every other type, which were so often and severely condemned by the Prophets. After their bondage, there was an intrusion of a purely outer spirit, of the mechanical fulfilling of the law, completely blocking the inner moral basis and muffling the conscience. That made the Jewish people incapable of true goodness. It was through the Prophet Isaiah that God called upon the Jewish people: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When you come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; new moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies, — I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth; they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them" (Is. 1:11-14). However, the extremes of this purely legalistic direction of moral life were reached out to the century when the Lord Savior appeared on the earth.
Who is not familiar with the Savior’s condemnation of the Pharisees as hypocrites, who…only make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments…pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith…blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel… cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence… are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. That’s why the Lord Jesus Christ reiterates the woe upon them (Mat. chap. 23).
Finally, if we look around and examine the Christian communities, we shall find that even here there is nothing easier than prove the existence of the sin and evil in the world, and the universal corruption of human nature. Every newspaper, every publication, every book dealing with practical life, notifies us with an abundance of information about the all possible types of sins and their accompanying calamities, with all their grief and horrors. Moral apathy, indulgences, depravity, envy, animosity, vengeance, intrigues, vanity, pride, ambition, avarice, self-delusion, hypocrisy, religious indifference, godlessness, callousness, disparaging everything holy, conflicts and bloody wars — these are all the unavoidable fellow-travelers of life and the Christian societies. One is involuntary forced to acknowledge: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51-5); who is born clean from an impure? No one. If one day of his life on earth (Job 14:4); there is no righteous person on earth who does good and doesn’t sin (Eccl. 7:20); everybody has turned away, became the same as useless; there’s no one who does good, no, not one (Psalm 14-3); if we say we are without sin, — we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1-8); the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (5-19); for all have sinned and are denied the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). (Compare 2 Chron. 6:36, Prov. 20:9, Rom. 7:14-24, Eph. 2:2-3, 4:17-18).
Naturally, just as there are relatively righteous individuals among the Jewish people, so are there — and even more so — in the Christian communities. These people can perceive the sting of sin within them, and notice the damaging effect it produces on the others. The best people among the Israelites — instead of bringing animals for sacrifice — craved with extraordinary passion for new revelations and true reconciliation of the man with God; they realized that the Jewish people would disintegrate if they didn’t follow the path of regeneration announced by the Prophets. There are also people among the Christians, who are dissatisfied with them, those who censure and try to purify themselves, those who earnestly acknowledge the demands of the moral law and are truly engaged in improving themselves.
However, the Holy Gospel speaks of the primal perfection of both the earth and the man. From the understanding of the perfection of the Creator, it follows that the world created by Him was also perfect. "Inasmuch as by His nature, the Creator is good, — proclaims the epistle on the Orthodox faith sent by the Eastern Patriarchs — everything that He has created, has been created magnificent, and He can never be a Creator of evil." Together with His goodness, the Creator possessed an omnipotence so as to create a magnificent earth. According to the Psalmist’s perception, God created everything in wisdom, i.e. superlative (Psalm 104:24). However, there are direct citations in the Holy Scripture as to the perfection of the created earth. After God saw everything that He had made, He found it very good (Gen. 1). In the Ecclesiastes it is said, everything that God created was good at that time. In the New Testament, Apostle Paul gives witness that every God’s creation is good (1 Tim 4:4). That’s why it’s possible to agree with the optimist, Leibniz, who states that our world is the best of all possible worlds. The beauty and eminence of creation is unfolded especially in a human being, only slightly diminished from the Angels, which are crowned with glory and honor (Psalm 8:6).
Thereupon, the Holy Scripture teaches that after the sinful downfall, the remains of goodness were retained by the man. Before all else, the image of God remained with him. In pronouncing the law against shedding the man’s blood, God points out to Noah that: in the image of God made He man (Gen. 9:6), consequently, even after the man’s sinful downfall, the image of God is not taken away from him. The Eastern Patriarchs write: "We believe that the man, though having fallen through crime, stained and deprived of perfection and his absence of passion, had not lost that nature, which he received from the most gracious God; because, in the event of the opposite happening, he would have become mindless and consequently, not human." Moreover, because the man’s downfall was not as great as that of the devil, the future human life was not totally severed from God’s life, and as a consequence, it preserved within itself to a certain degree, God’s likeness, i.e. to a certain degree, the man was akin to God, conforming to the norms of a spiritual-moral being.
Particularly, the best of the people — the founders of religion, reformers of morality, philosophers etc. — earnestly strove to find the means and ways for reconciling the human with himself, towards his return to the primordial condition from which he emerged. Regarding the heathens, Ap. Paul states that not having the law, they perform according to their nature, being the law unto themselves. (Rom. 2:14). Notwithstanding the fact that Cornelius was a heathen, he is cited in the Acts of the Apostles as "a just man, one who fears the Lord" (Acts 10:2,22). And Ap. Peter attests that "in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:35). That is why Ap. Paul attests that before God’s judgment, the lawful works of the heathens is of equal worthiness to the works of the Judeans: "Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?" (Rom. 2:26). Even if in fact the mankind could not be commended for its moral deeds, at least its aims would be directed at seeking goodness or moral ideals. The better part of mankind is always willing to oppose bad inclinations and actions. Normally, people feel kind and decent inclinations — at least among the better section of them. It’s even possible to point out the somewhat moral progress of ancient people, progress in the expansion of the understanding of individuality, in the development of moral laws, regulating moral relationships between people, in the expansion of teachings about immortality, in the transition from flippant optimism or depressing pessimism, to an inclination towards their unity on a higher level.
And if the heathens did not attain that which comprises the higher essence of moral conception, they had made some preliminary work for its realization. Or, if before the arrival on earth of the Lord Jesus Christ, heathenism was in the state of moral decline and even deterioration, there was an escalation in the desire and expectation of deliverance. It can especially be said about the Jewish people that apparent realization of God’s moral law, sentient perception of sin, in the main — zealous endeavors towards fulfilling the commandments of Moses (even though mainly its customs), expectations of the Messianic kingdom — were always present with these people, which more or less made it possible for them to maintain a serious moral struggle and improvement. Genuine moral life and hope for the restoration of the mankind is particularly possible in the primordial blessed state in the Christianity. It is based on the teachings of the New Testament on the arrival of the Son of God on earth, and the mankind’s redemption by Him, and on the influence of the Holy Spirit on the Christian Church.
From all that has been said, it follows that the optimistic viewpoint (pelagianistic) and pessimistic (Manichean) cannot be considered, even though they contain some partial truth. That is why the Holy Scripture enunciates a dual outlook on our world. On the one hand, It directs not to love the world and that, which is in it (1 John 2:15); if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (same section); friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4); the world represents a valley of sorrow and suffering (in Psalms); on the other hand, It states — for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16); the world is depicted as a field where God’s Kingdom is sown (Mat. 13:27). Consequently, according to the teachings of the Holy Scripture our world is like a two-dimensional entity; it’s not heaven, it’s not hell, neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but it is the portal to one and the other. Both wheat and chaff is inter-mixed.
Revelation’s teaching on the high human designation.
According to the clear teachings of the Historian and author of the Book Ecclesiastes (Genesis 2:7; Ecc. 12:7; Mat. 10:28), a human is a dual creature: sentient, or natural, and spiritual, or private.
The sentient or natural side of a person, is common with the other creatures and objects of the physical word; here, there is no higher merit and designation; there is no God’s image or likeness — there is only, so to speak, God’s vestige, only a reflection of God’s attributes. However, since the sentient or physical side in a person is joined with the spiritual side into a whole, and is designated to be its direct organ and its symbol, then even by its body, its structure and its expression, a human differentiates from animals and is superior to them.
The vertical position of the human body (as distinguished from animal’s horizontal position), the direction of the face, surveying all the environs with an elevated fixed gaze — indicates the selection of the human to be lord over nature (Gen. 1:26) and to fulfill the higher mission on earth. Of the physical organs, especially those that indicate the moral appointment of a human being, it is worthy to turn attention to the hands. Whereas organs — which correspond to the hands — of an animal only, serve to support its body and assist in securing food, the human hands have been designated for multifaceted activity. Hands make a human capable of productive and artistic undertakings and creations. A human imposes his stamp on nature with his hands. He offers his hand as a sign of friendship and reconciliation. He also thanks with his hand. He raises his hands in prayer, and blesses the young with them. Hands commit all possible types of felonies. There is even a special ability to deduce a person’s life and future by "reading" his hands (chiromancy).
It is also known that a person can only enunciate words through the association with his body, and a spoken word plays an important role in the man’s position in the outer world, as well as for his moral upbringing. Through the spoken word, the entire world surrounding the man adapts to the world of his thoughts, and assimilates with his spirit — and the man gives names to all objects. By his action in giving names to all the animals on earth, Adam ostensibly showed his knowledge of their nature, expressed in their analogous names and thereby accepting them into his custody. It is through the spoken word that God’s Spirit speaks to a person; and the Divine teachings are imprinted in words in the Bible for all generations and centuries. The association of the word with the spirit and human morality is clearly expressed in the following sections of the Holy Gospel: For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Mat. 12:37). In the explanation of "The Sower and seeds," Christ’s teachings are referred to as the word (Mat. 13:19). In John’s Gospel (1:1), the Son of God is called the Word.
However, the body is not just an organ of the spirit; it is also its symbol. Consequently, the man’s higher designation is seen not only through the examination of the body — as an organ of the moral soul — but also as a symbol of the spirit. It is well known that every human personality is endowed from the beginning with an individual distinctiveness that distinguishes it from all the other human individuals. And this individual uniqueness in every person is present not only in the soul, but is expressed in the body. Just as there are no two human souls that are completely alike, there are no two human bodies (in terms of outward appearance) that are totally similar. Consequently, even the physical side of a human being, encompasses a rich beginning of individual diversity that is not found in an animal’s organism, which depicts itself only as an exemplar of its breed. Moreover, there is conformity between the individual distinctiveness of the soul with the individual distinctiveness of the body (build and facial expression): as a consequence, the distinctiveness of the body expresses the spiritual-moral distinctiveness. This certainty is evidenced in our desire to see in some way, some outstanding feature in a person. This certainty is also explained in that, as soon as we meet an unfamiliar person, we look into his face and endeavor to form a first impression of him, based on the impression that he has on us. If the Gospel states that the children approached Christ confidently, exclaiming "hosanna" it’s because Christ’s face evoked this immediate effect.
Christ’s face reflected His heavenly soul. He was more magnificent than any son of humanity was (Psalm 44:3). Conversely, if the Book of Genesis states that God "appointed a sign on Cain" (Chap. 4:15), by which people would recognize Cain as a murderer and flee from him in fear, then it means that his disfigured face expressed features of his culpable soul. That is why we must also be able to interpret on the physical side, God’s handwriting in human nature and observe its elevated or heavenly make-up, noticing God’s image and likeness. It’s certainly impossible not to agree that sin had disarranged and corrupted not only the soul, but the body, and that a human, succumbing to vices, disfigures not only his soul but his body as well. However, one who is sufficiently observant and primarily has — within himself — sufficient love toward his neighbor, he will be able to notice through all the miasma of vices and iniquities, a glimmer of the divine spark. We of course would be wrong, if we wanted to fathom his inner substance from his outward appearance, if we wanted to correctly and precisely evaluate his inner being from his exterior features. If one can really say about an animal that its body is its whole visible soul, then a human being secretes his riches in his soul, which can never be expressed in all its fullness and accuracy in his outward appearance; consequently, if we are to judge the worthiness of a human being, our main focus should be directed at his soul. God’s image and likeness is contained in the soul, in the individuality of the person.
The existence of the personal state or morality is in the following: self-awareness or the intellect, self-determination or freedom. A person has mastery over these attributes: in the strength of these attributes, he is a moral being, image and likeness of God. Through the strength of our self-awareness, or intellect, we adopt a moral code. There will be a discussion on this moral code in the next chapter. At this stage, our study is of self-determination, or freedom. (Although even there is an inference of the existing law).
One must differentiate between the two freedoms: the formal, or psychological freedom (freedom of the will), and the essential (real, genuine), or moral (freedom of the spirit).
The formal or psychological freedom is the freedom of choice (liberum arbitrium), i.e. the ability to direct one’s activity towards one or another subject, select one or another path, make oneself God’s child or a slave of the sin.
The Holy Gospel finds it barely necessary to speak of formal freedom: when It speaks of a person and his activities, It presumes this freedom is a well-known and indubitable fact. Hence, having created the man, God said to him: you may eat of every tree in Eden, except that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is expressed more clearly in Deuteronomy: I offered you life and good, death and evil: choose life so that you and your seed may live (chap. 30:15-19). Jesus, the son of Sirach writes: When God, in the beginning, created man, he made him subject to his own free choice. If you choose you can keep the commandments; it is loyalty to do his will. There are set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand (Sir. 15-14:17). In a censuring speech to the Pharisees, in the New Testament, the Lord concludes with the following words: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the Prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings, and ye would not" (Mat. 23:37). "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments," said the Lord to the wealthy youth (Mat. 23:37). "You always resist the Holy Spirit," exclaims the Apostle to the Jews (Acts 7:51). And in the first Epistle to the Corinthians: "but has power over his own will" (7:37). Methodius of Patara writes: "In wanting to respect man and make him capable of recognizing the best things in life, God gave him authority through which he can do whatever he wants; He predisposes him toward better things — but not with the intention to remove his free will, but rather like a Father that tries to convince his son to learn the sciences." The man was given the ability, through which he can submit to God and it this that constitutes arbitrary freedom. Generally speaking, it was the fathers and teachers of the Church who proved the freedom of the human will against the heathens, gnostics and "Manicheans."
Freedom of choice is confirmed through the self-observation of a person. In performing any act, we feel that we ourselves decided on such an action, that there was nothing from the outside or inside of us that compelled us with irresistible necessity. Consequently, we could have acted differently. Although we acknowledge the supporting reasons for our deed, we at least concede that the ultimate decision was ours, for which the reason and the act cannot be shifted elsewhere. No one would dare to assert that he was moved to commit an act with the same overwhelming necessity as the movement of a thrown rock. The second fact that proves the freedom of a person’s will is repentance coupled with the practice of punishment of criminals in all human societies. If a person was not free to perform a known act, if he is not at fault or the cause of it, then why repent and what reason is there to punish him? Apparently, repentance is a person’s regret that he acted in such a way and not otherwise. He is an involuntary acknowledgment that he could have acted in a different manner. In everyday actions that have no immediate bearing on the higher aims or ultimate human appointment, the freedom of will is revealed very clearly, for example, in walking down the street of a city and reaching the crossroad, I am completely free to turn left or to turn right — according to my will. (Freedom also makes itself apparent in the theoretical region, i.e. in the area of thought. It would be impossible to think without freedom. We combine our thoughts in one way or another, depending upon our need).
The determinists reject the freedom of choice. Their stance is that not one human action is without a motive or stimulus towards the activity (be it from notions on subjects or from inclination), which predetermines will, and as a consequence, is not free. However, this begs the question: how do you explain the pressure and that struggle, which is experienced by willpower before deciding on the course of action? If everything is accomplished by itself, independent of the will, and if — as the determinists think — will is just a passive or suffering side while motive is active and real, then why should the will strain itself, why struggle? This struggle is not very evident in the sphere of everyday or customary activities, but becomes manifest in unusual or significant circumstances. Motives only stimulate and give reason for the will to appear, while the cause that produces the action is that very same free will. That is why a motive becomes the cause and generates a decision or action, when the will assimilates it and makes it part of itself. Thus, it can be surmised that the last reason for decision and action of the will within the will, is that it has within itself the ability to commence a succession of new activities, be the cause for the reason of the decision and action.
The fact that the human will cannot act other than by motives, i.e. evoked on the one part by the merit of different subjects and on the other part, by their attractiveness, which is deep-rooted in natural individuality, only shows that it is not the absolute will (like God’s will), but is conditioned by circumstances i.e. limited. God’s free will is itself the source of existence and its laws. Consequently, the basis of its life and all its actions are contained solely within itself. The human will receives its topics through its outside activity; they are presented to it readymade and are not produced by it. Consequently, it is limited by them and is summoned to act by them. According to the Holy Gospel, God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11); But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? And what his soul desireth, even that he doeth (Job 23:13). Whereas, it is stated that before acting, anyone must "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2) and only then to act. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephes. 5:17).
Он есть свет и тьмы в Нем нет, ни единой (1Ин. 1:5; Иак. 1:17). Furthermore, the human soul always lives in two realms: bright, conscious, and dark, subconscious. The substance of the latter can never be fully transferred to the former; the dark, subconscious realm always appears as the basis for the bright and conscious realm. That is why the freedom of a person, belonging to the bright realm, is always tied to the restrictions of the dark realm; dark and blind natural tendencies always serve as the basis for the evoking action from the conscious and free will — whilst in God, there are no such contrasts; His whole being and His whole life belong to the bright realm. He is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5; James 1:17).
There is also an opinion (Blessed Augustine), that, although the man was born free, through his falling out from grace, he lost his freedom and once and for all, became a captive (servum arbitrium), and that is why he is outside of the domain of redemption and grace — to which he relates as a passive vessel that can only sin. If there is freedom remaining in him, then it is only for prosaic and outward actions, and not for moral God-pleasing ones. It is impossible not to recognize the profound humility, genuine feeling and relative truth, expressed in this admission. We have already mentioned that within the means offered outside the Christianity, morality is very distant from its ideal state i.e. from the selfless activity of an altruistic love. However, if outside the Christianity absolute morality doesn’t exist, it doesn’t follow that it is impossible for it to have all types of morality. Do not we know individuals in the heathen world (e.g. Leonard), whose activities have to be regarded as virtuous, honest, unselfish, laudable! And does not God apply any distinction between the deeds that are devoted to the duty and fatherland, like Leonard, and the deeds of some coward and shameful traitor? If a normal person (living outside the Christianity) did not have any moral freedom, i.e. a chance to do good, then it would be impossible for him to be converted into the Christianity, or at least, this conversion would carry no value, as this would have been achieved forcibly; and non-conversion into the Christianity would not incur any culpability on that person. A person is not only a member of a race, which emanates from the theory of moral detention from the days of Adam’s sin — he is an individual. Consequently, having sinned through Adam by being born with his original sin and therefore — a guilty creature — a person at the same time, can either incur an even greater culpability through his new personal sins, or he can struggle with his corrupt nature, thereby diminishing his sinful burden and guilt.
The true teachings on freedom are obliged to contend not only with determinism, but with its opposite — indeterminism. According to this teaching, the human will is in a state of indifference (apathy), is found under all types of motives or inclinations, and at any given time could follow with equal ease, one or another motive — according to its personal desire; for example, a villain can become a good person instantly if only he properly assesses his own behavior. According to this teaching, the reason for the will being free is that it is independent of motives, and freedom is none other than a clear ability to choose.
Not only that this type of freedom is not needed by us as it is not confirmed either through practice or in the Holy Scripture, and it is not this type of freedom that we are promoting in our treatise and in the moral practice. We need that type of freedom that would gradually strengthen in its unwavering pursuit of goodness, and not the one that would indifferently drift over the good and evil. With indeterminist freedom, moral improvement is not feasible. According to this teaching, the more a person would strengthen in creating good and the more he curbed opportunities to the commit evil, the greater his loss of freedom would be. While the more irresolute he would be in creating good, the more freedom he would have. But who of us would agree with this point of view on freedom? As we shall see now, the essence of freedom is not confined to the formal choice. If we turn to experience, we shall see the rebuttal of the indeterminist teachings at every step of the way. With every person that we know, we tend to form some kind of impression and assume that with all possible types of situations, he would more or less sustain his habits and his character. For example, in the time of need, I would not turn to a stingy or a cold-hearted person. I would approach a charitable person who is used to helping people. Having decided to perform a dishonest act together with another person, I would not approach an honest individual, but one who is accustomed to ignoring his conscience and demeaning his dignity. If I see that a familiar person was able to overcome vile inclinations within him and is able to resist temptation, then I — in no way — would regard him as not being free, even though it is impossible for him to act against his conscience. Likewise, in the absence of, and contrary to this situation, I still see freedom in full authority.
In rejecting the teachings of indeterminism, we have passed into the second manifestation of freedom, specifically, into substantive or genuine freedom, towards moral and complete freedom. In this sense, freedom consists of a voluntary endeavor of a person towards the God-directed destiny or goodness. Consequently, this does not exclude the sin. When a person reaches a state where the choice between the good and evil has been eliminated, when he has directed himself entirely towards goodness, he then becomes completely free. Primarily, it is in this sense that the Holy Scripture refers to as freedom; it is this type of freedom that is deemed by It as being lofty and virtuous. For example, And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32); Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (v.36); where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17); For the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2); But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25); So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty (James 2:12); Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21).
That is why, according to the Holy Scripture, true freedom is the realized one, personality akin to God — the new man, created by God in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24), — restored to reason in the image of his Creator; true freedom is as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God (1 Peter 2:16). According to the teachings of the Holy Scripture, it is for this reason that he who commits sins is not a free man: whoever commits sin is a slave of sin (John 8:34); God came to free people from the sin and make them free children of God; "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered" (Rom. 6:17. Generally speaking, there is no mention of freedom in the Gospel on subjects that don’t relate to Christ. It is in this sense that the Lord stated: "for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
The truth of the Biblical identification of freedom with the ultimate destiny for the man is witnessed in everyday life. Thus, when an educator encourages sensible and good aspirations of a child, then it is said that he is morally "liberating" him. Or, when the person inclined towards drunkenness or theft is persuaded to quit these vices, again it is said that he is being "liberated morally." Obviously, here the word "freedom" is understood in the sense of life’s tasks or aims; and it is in this sense that a person can be set free — contrary to his wishes. The question why a person’s endeavors towards goodness and resemblance to God are called freedom can be answered in such a way: in general, freedom is self-determination, submission to oneself and not to the strange will — it is independence. Consequently, when a person strives towards his true calling, i.e. towards goodness and God, he defines himself from his true and primal nature, and not from some type of outside or enforced matter. When he commits a sin, when he deviates from God and submits to the evil, he identifies himself not according to his true nature, but to the strange power (because the evil and sin are alien to the God-given nature of the man); consequently, he is vanquished by the outward powers and becomes a captive — by the words of the Holy Gospel, he becomes a "slave of sin." Although his will is free, his spirit is not, for it is submitted to the evil will.
The development of freedom and moral character.
Developing one’s character in freedom and morality — in the sense pointed out in the previous chapter — embodies the main task in a person’s life. Irrespective in what direction a person develops, towards good or evil, he always assumes a characteristic, i.e. alongside his free actions he imposes a fundamental stamp on his will. However, the higher calling is made up of the development of the moral character, i.e. directing the will and life towards a good path. The history of the Christian martyrdom shows what kind of will, power and strength of character a human being can attain. For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the flashes thereof are flashes of fire, A very flame of the Lord, many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it (Song of Songs 8:6-7). Or here is an example of Mucius Scaevola from the heathen world: he quietly placed his hand into the fire for incineration to show his enemies with whom they are dealing. Obviously, not everybody, not even the Christians, are capable of the same exertion of will, and it is here that God’s and the Church’s indulgence is shown towards the man’s weaknesses. However, if everyone possesses freedom, even if it is to a minute degree, he already has the potential to struggle and to strengthen himself. With the aid of continuous struggle, he will be able to progress from level to level, and finally arrive at such potency and moral completeness that initially seemed too distant and unattainable. The Apostle says of himself: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12-14). These Apostle’s words express the constant and intense striving along the levels towards the moral perfection, from which he was more or less at a close distance. In another part of the Gospel, Ap. Paul compares a Christian running with other athletes in an arena. Just as the latter, having set themselves the aim to receive an earthly laurel, concentrated all their efforts without distractions in order to secure it as soon as possible, the same way should a Christian set his aim towards obtaining the heavenly laurel (2 Cor. 9:24).
The development of moral character and attaining our goals is dependant upon freedom and the efforts of the person itself. However, not from this alone. They are dependent upon God’s blissful help. The Lord stated: "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10). "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). According to Ap. John (ch.1:17), notwithstanding the sinful state of the man, everything given is good and every gift from above is perfect (1:17).
There will now be a discussion about the relationship of the grace and the man’s moral living, citing natural means — as well as personal rules — for the development of will and character.
2. On the Moral Law.
The attributes of the moral law.
Free will is one of the elements or one part of morality. The second element or second part — just as substantial — is the law of morality. So that a person could attain the ultimate goal, or his calling, he must be in a correct relationship with his calling, in the requisite order. The order is impossible without the law. Consequently, there must be rules in the moral sphere, which gives direction as to how a person should live in order to attain his calling.
Every real law must possess two attributes: universality and necessity — and the moral law possesses these traits. It is universal, because that very same rule that my conscience hears, is heard within by other people, producing on the basis of what was heard the positive mental notes. It is necessary, because in relation to the man, aspiring to reach its goal it represents an unfailing demand: there is no other path towards this aim than the path of fulfilling the law. In this sense, the moral law is no different to the physical one.
However there is a difference between them. Regarding the necessity of the law, we can say that it is possible in a dual sense: unconditional and provisional. Unconditional necessity reigns in the physical nature; here, the law trespasses directly into an action. In the moral sphere, the necessary law is dependent upon its acknowledgement by the man’s free will. However, this does not mean that in cases where the law is rejected by a person’s free will, its objective significance is destroyed. No, in not attaining a positive confirmation on the part of a person, it is then attained by the negative means. It influences a person, inflicting on him those destructive consequences, which are inseparable with the deviation of the matter from the law of its nature, i.e. self-disintegration, self-destruction, continuing until the person once again subjects himself to the inevitable necessity of the law. As the prophet witnesses: "But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword" (Is.1:20)
The provisional necessity of the law is called an obligation. An obligation is submission without coercion. And the Holy Scripture calls the force that obliges and commands, the authority or power. As an obligation, authority combines freedom and necessity: when a behest is performed under duress or coercion (despotism), or, where there is insufficient force to influence those unfulfilling commands, there is the absence of genuine authority.
We must note that although all people conform to and fulfill the general moral rule in the similar fashion, there is a difference between diverse people in the fulfillment of it and their actions. It depends partly on their individuality, the composition of their personality, on the diversity of their moral ability to apply the general demands of the law to the personal situations, as well as the diversity of tasks, consigned by God to various people. A moral activist does not relate directly to the moral law in the same way that a copy does to its original. If, for example, Ap. Paul encourages the Romans to "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Chap.12:2), what he has in mind is to awaken them to trials and knowledge. This is not only in the sense of general demands that were well known to them and which applied equally to everyone, but those that were specifically directed to the Romans by God, in that specific situation as they were found, and with those spiritual gifts, which they possessed. And in the spiritual sphere "there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit." The greatest moral wisdom is not in just knowing the general prescription of the law and rules, but in understanding them, and knowing how to apply them to life’s circumstances.
It is sufficient to point to the Bible’s examples of Isaac and Jacob, Martha and Maria, Apostles Peter and Paul, to show examples of the varied storehouse of the moral living — in the strength of individual diversity. In order to prove the essentiality of the individual element in the moral living, one can point to spouses’ love: this is the basis of every moral society. Love, in particular, conjugal one, has been mandated to us by the law, although it cannot direct the person to the subject of this love. While this is the personal choice of an individual, the law — in any case — still applies. This can be said of any moral action, although in the other instances the individual element may not be as evident. Thus, for example, the law directs us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the others, for the society. But it does not determine the entire private instances and circumstances of this sacrifice. It depends on each person’s individuality: one sacrifices himself as a soldier, the second — as a doctor, another — as a pastor of the Church, the fourth — as an academic, another — as a friend etc. In these sacrifices, some give their lives, while others struggle for justice. Every person acts in conformity to his individual circumstances in the moral world, and according to his personal initiative. However, this should not be treated as a contradiction to the general moral law. Of course, a contradiction is possible, but then we are deviating from the moral path. As long as we retain the correct point of view, within the limits of the law and not in opposition to it but in the womb of the very law, each and every one of us contributes something of ourselves. Everyone is obliged to give something from himself and interpret the moral law in private and unexpected situations, and seek the means to adapt the law in the each separate case.
By making a distinction between the essentiality and generality of the moral law, and the essentiality and generality of the physical one, we obtain a clear understanding about duty and its relationship to the law. What is a duty or obligation? A duty is an acknowledgment by an individual of his obligation to fulfill a prescribed law under the certain circumstances. The law applies to all people, and everybody is subjected to the higher authority. Whereas a duty or obligation, it relates to a specific person, to an individual being. We fulfill the law — we carry out our duty. That’s why we say: "It’s my duty, I carry out my responsibility," and not: my law, I carry out my law.
Teachers of morality with empyreal leanings suppose that the moral law appeared from the human experience. According to their thinking, the idea of obligation is not a prior but a posterior one, i.e. it is not a primal idea that is a part of human nature. It formed with the passing of time, engendered by the civilization and passed on from generation to generation. It is only based on the habit and tradition. It appeared like any other moral, from benefit and sympathy, i.e. people’s involuntary inclination towards favorable life and sympathy, similar to theirs. However, in the opposition to this theory, there is a general idea of obligation and the impossibility for people to eliminate it. If I became conscious that the idea of obligation has no substantial meaning and is not linked to my nature, I would then be able to free myself from it. However, I can never be in this situation to do this. The inherited transfer of meaning of the good and evil can only explain the habit of obedience, but certainly not its necessity. Kant, while acknowledging the idea of obligation as the prior one, calls its source the human intellect. Nevertheless, the man’s intellect is not the authority that could empirically insist and order its execution without fail.
Such an authority can only be the holy and omnipotent will of God. Consequently, the latter basis of the idea of obligation is the will of God. "There is only one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12) exclaims Apostle James. God does everything, whatever He wants (Psalm 113:11). We often read in the Holy Scripture — this is the will of God, this is His commandment, this is what God wanted. Ap. Paul exhorts the Christians: "to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). God’s will contains the ultimate source and all human legislation, and all authority: "For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (Rom. 13:1). It was Heraclaedes who noted that "all human laws obtain their nutrition from the divine law." Consequently, obeying or disobeying the human authority, is like obeying or disobeying God: "Therefore whoever resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Rom. 13:2).
God’s will becomes known to a person in two ways: firstly, by his personal inner being and secondly, through the revelations or laws, communicated by God and incarnate the Lord Jesus Christ, and recorded by the Prophets and Apostles. The first means of communication or God’s will is called inner or natural, while the second — outward, or paranormal. The first is of the psychological nature, and the second — historical.
Apostle gives clear testimony of the existence of the inner, or natural, moral law, stating: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15). And on the basis of this law, written in their hearts, the written laws appeared among the heathen people, serving as a guide for communal living, and educating each individual person in moral freedom. While these morals and laws were not perfect, without them the society would have been far worse, because complete wantonness and dissoluteness would have appeared among them. As the wise declare: "Where no wise guidance is, the people falleth" (Proverbs 11:14).
The presence of the natural law of morality in every person is made known by the personal conscience. Having spoken on the matter of the law, written in the very nature of the heathens, the Apostle adds: "their conscience also bearing witness" (Rom. 2:15). The conscience exists in all three known psychic powers: knowledge, feeling and will. The very word conscience (from to aware, know), and also the ordinary sayings: the conscience spoke, conscionable or unconscionable — shows that there is an element of awareness in it. Furthermore, the feeling of joy or sorrow within the conscience, peace or turbulence makes it akin with feeling. Finally, we sometimes utter: my conscience is holding me back from this, or my conscience is forcing me to do this. Consequently, we relate the conscience to the will. Thus, the conscience is a "voice" (as is commonly expressed), arising from the original combination of all three psychic abilities. It arises from the relationship of a person’s self-consciousness with his self-determination and his actions.
совести. The conscience has the same importance for an action as the logic has for thinking, or just as the feeling of rhythm, beat etc. — for poetry, music etc. Consequently, the conscience is something that is primogenital, innate in a person, and not something that had been produced, imposed. It always testifies of a person’s divinity and the necessity to fulfill God’s commandments. When the seducer was tempting Eve in Eden, the conscience that was on guard appeared instantly, announcing the prohibition of the violation of God’s law. Eve said: "And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die" (Gen. 3:2-3). That is why even the ancients use to say about the conscience: est Deus in nobis i.e. it is through our conscience that we feel not only that which is human, but above the human level — the divine side. According to the words of wise Sirach, God had implanted His eye in the human heart (17:7). The essence of insuperable power and grandeur of the conscience is in human designs and actions. You cannot bargain, agree upon or come to an arrangement with conscience: a conscious is incorruptible. There is no need for discussion or reasoning in order to hear its decision: it speaks immediately. Just as soon as a person thinks of doing something wrong, the conscience appears instantly, cautioning and threatening him. Immediately after he commits a vile act, his conscience immediately chastises and tortures him. No wonder it is said that it is not the person that controls the conscience, but the conscience controls the person. A person is dependent on his conscience.
How does the conscience work? By its activities, the conscience differentiates between the legislative and judgmental (punishable). The first is a gauge for measuring our actions, while the second is the result of such measurement. Ap. Paul names the legislative conscience as a witness to deeds (of heathens; Rom. 2:15), while in another section: "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 9:1). However, the Holy Scripture speaks more on the judgmental conscience. Thus, as with Adam after his sin, Cain after committing fratricide, Joseph’s brothers after their unwarranted vengeful act against him — they all experience torment in their souls, by their consciences. The second Book of Samuel speaks of a broken heart, i.e. about the conscience’s judgment (chap. 24:10). In David’s Psalms, more than one reference is made to such a feeling in a person. The New Testament speaks that when the scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to the Lord Savior, that "being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one" (John 8:3). In the Epistles of Aps. Peter and Paul, the sections speaking about the conscience say more on the judgmental conscience, i.e. rewarding or punishing.
What are the states of the human conscience? Because the conscience is an innate voice heard in the very nature of a person, as a consequence, it is in a very tight contact with the state of the person’s soul, depending upon its moral development — from its education, lifestyle and background in general. The Holy Scripture confirms this impression. Above all else, the task of the history of Revelations is to clearly disclose the law, so that the man could agree with it through his personal understanding. Ap. Paul recognizes the gradual growth of moral wisdom in a person, and demands this when he says: "For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:13-14). And again: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). The development and perfection of the conscience depends on the cultivation of the mind, as well as the perfection of the will. Strict uprightness and partly — love for truth and harmony in practical actions with theoretical knowledge — these are the main basis of clarity, incisiveness and vigor of the conscience (conscientiousness). At the same time, the external auxiliary means are: the upbringing of parents, the voice and example of the better part of society, but mainly — the Holy Scripture, clearly revealing moral truth in all its purity and justly censuring human vices.
If the conscience is found dependant on the general state of a person, mental and moral, developed under the influence of his surrounds — both as individuals as well as whole nations, which are often perverted — then it is for this reason that the conscience is heard differently by different people, sometimes contradictory. As examples, let us remember the Inquisition, about the heathen people’s practice of killing their weak newly-born and their old and infirm. Often, even among us, one may perform — with the clear conscience — an act that outrages the conscience of another. Finally, the conscience in a person may speak differently at different times. It follows from this that the conscience does not appear the same with everyone, that its voice can be sincere or insincere — either in varying degrees. That is why in his Epistle to the Corinthians, Ap. Paul speaks of weak or deviate consciences, about the consciences of idols, i.e. consciences that acknowledge idols as real powers (1 Cor. 8:7,13). Consequently, the idea that a person’s conscience contains "a complete and organized moral law that is constant," and at times of deviation and moral degeneracy, all he has to do is look to his conscience in order to understand his digression, his deformed condition and revert to the better path.
The history of life of the heathens and their conversion to the Christianity does not support this opinion. The history not only states that not all peoples have the same codes of law, but that with the conversion of the heathens to the Christianity, this was not limited to just reminding them of their consciences. Difficult and lengthy effort ensued; requiring uninterrupted and persistent influence on the heathen’s whole being, on his whole consciousness. That is why the struggle of missionaries with the heathens’ superstitions and morals are far from easy — which it would have been, if this opinion had been correct. Nonetheless, this struggle is possible, it gives results and the heathens are converted to the Christianity. This indicates that the opportunity to reform one’s conscience and be governed by its correct and pure directions is open to all people. Every person is the image and likeness of God.
Rightness or wrongness, certainty or doubt (probability) — these are the traits of the legislative conscience. We call the judging conscience as calm or disturbed, peaceful or turbulent, consoling or tormenting. The Holy Scripture calls it good, pure, uncorrupted or evil, corrupt, defiled, scorched. Appearing before the Judean Sanhedrin, Ap. Paul testified that he had lived in all good conscience to this day (Acts 23:1). Ap. Peter exhorts the Christians to have a good conscience, "that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed" (1 Peter 3:16, 21). In Ap. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, he expresses his certainty that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably (13:18). He directs the clergy to hold "the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience" (1 Tim. 3:9), and speaking of himself, mentions: "I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men" (Acts 24:16). In his Epistle to the Hebrews, when called upon to the approach with the true heart and complete faith, the heart being cleansed from iniquity with a sprinkling (Christ’s Blood — Baptism), the Apostle names conscience as either evil or iniquitous. In his Epistle to Titus, when he speaks of people, the Apostle refers to the conscience as "defiled": "their mind and conscience are defiled." "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work" (Titus 2:15). "In latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Here the word "seared" is used to mean the agonizing realization of guilt.
In the terms of power or energy, the conscience is called decisive or scrupulous. There is the conscience, similar to the latter, which is suspicious. It is typical of the people that are prone to depression and distrust the sin-cleansing measures. Under the influence of passions and earthly tumult, the conscience is often poorly heard by a person and thereby becomes muffled. If the conscience’s voice is frequently muffled, it grows softer and softer, it begins to ail, and this process ends with its death, i.e. the state of being unconscionable.
However, speaking of the unconscionable state, we do not mean the nonexistence of the chastising powers of a person’s conscience, but only the absence of his conscionableness, i.e. trampling all God’s and the man’s laws and rules, the decline of all moral feelings. Of course, the storms and din of this world can smother even the chastising conscience. But even in these situations, the judging conscience makes its presence felt in a person. It then emerges in the form of mysterious depression, melancholy, anguish, the state of hopelessness. When the vices and earthly din subside (which occurs during the length of one’s life, and especially before death), then the angry conscience descends on the person with all its fury. It then produces an alarm and fear within the person, and an agonizing expectation of the impending retribution. Cain, Saul and Judas, Orestes can serve as examples. Consequently, the conscience can be either an Angel-comforter, or the devil-tormentor.
We cited all the quotes of the Holy Scripture that related to the human conscience. All that remains is to point out one part of Ap. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians; it reads thus: "‘Conscience’, I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?" (1 Cor. 10:29). These words present the conscience as an individual case: it means that every person has his own individual conscience. It therefore follows that I must beware of raising the voice of my conscience on the law degree of the others, thereby do harm to my own conscience. I must treat other consciences with consideration and graciousness, just as I would do with my own.
The Law of Moses.
God did not confine Himself to just creating the man and equipping him with the moral strength. Having created the man, as a good Father, He educates him. This education assumes itself as an influence from without. That is why having given the man an inner law, God completed him by the measure of his needs and the outer law, which is called Revelations. Consequently, there is not only no difference between the first and the second laws, but they in fact complement one another.
As can be seen from the Book of Genesis, that before the sinful downfall of the first man, God used to appear and instruct Adam in Eden. He gave him specific laws on the sanctity of Eden, on the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of the good and evil, and apparently, on the consecration of the seventh day of the week (Gen. 2:3). However, the need for the Revelation laws developed especially after the sinful downfall, when the moral feelings and consciousness became blunted and distorted. That is why Ap. Paul writes that the law was given because of our transgression, i.e. the result of our sinful downfall (Gal. 3:19). Indeed, the law that we currently have in the Bible is tightly bound to the man’s corrupt state. When the man’s conscience became dimmed and distorted, the help arrived through Moses in the form of commandments, which expressed God’s will. Ap. Paul also indicates another meaning of Moses’ law: the law came later thus increasing the offences (Rom. 5:20), an offence is recognized through the law (3:20), and further: without the law an offence is dead because when the law arrived, sin was awakened as corrupted human nature is inclined to do that which is forbidden (7:8,9), and in another section: "law brings about wrath" (4:15). All these statements indicate that the law was given not only to explain God’s will to the people, but also to reveal their own personal corrupt state. In order to treat an illness, it is necessary first to reveal its hidden contaminant. Ap. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians expresses a more general meaning of the Old Testament law, where he refers to it as a mentor or guide towards Christ (3:24), i.e. he gives it an instructive meaning. The law had to discipline the lives of the Jewish people and induce them to act in accordance with the decrees of God’s will, making them righteous and holy. However, finally, they had to be convinced that the law alone was not sufficient to attain that goal ("but no one is justified by the law in the sight of God" (3:20), because an offence is known through the law). The new, indispensable, higher assistance was needed — and it was revealed with the coming to the earth of the Lord Savior. The heathens acknowledged the essentiality of such help by taking paths based on the historical experiences, while the Jews — on the revealed law.
The Old Testament moral law, enunciated through the 10 Commandments in précis, was given amid lightning and thunder and begins with the majestic and stern words: "I am the Lord thy God!" The majestic and powerful Legislator, demanding obedience — this is the first thing that the Old Testament instills and demands from people’s education, especially from such coarse people as the Jews with their proclivity towards the heathen inclinations. God speaks and people should only listen and fulfill. With this, every directive was accompanied with a threat of instant punishment for non-fulfillment, and a promise of a reward for its fulfillment: I am your Lord God, a jealous God that punishes the children of fathers of the third and fourth generations that hated Me, while granting mercy up to a thousand generations to those that love Me and fulfill My commandments (Exodus 20:5-6). The contents of the law should wholly encompass a person’s life and his attitude. The first 4 commandments speak of a person’s correct attitude towards God, while the last six — correct attitude towards people. By fulfilling these commandments as well as other private directives in the Pentateuch, a person assumes the correct attitude towards himself. There are also decrees dealing with the attitudes towards animals, eg. Don’t muzzle the ox’s mouth when he is milling the corn (Deut. 25:4).
With regard to all the possible attitudes of a human life, the decrees of the law stretch out even to the most trivial aspects, directed mainly at the apparent side of life. This explains why the status of the law is expressed mainly in a form of exclusions: nearly all the commandments commence with the words: "Thou shalt not." Because of its prevailing judicial character, the Old Testament moral law does not rigorously differ from the customary and civil laws, which are just as sacred to ancient Israel as the moral law. The dictates of these three laws in the Pentateuch are intermixed among themselves. Notwithstanding on the definitive demands in every instant to agree the human will with that of God’s, Israel’s heart and its will continually separated from the demands of the law. Consequently, in order to reunite it, it is necessary to often repeat the commandment — thou shalt not do this or that. On the strength of all these circumstances, by the Apostle’s expression, the Old Testament law is the law of slavery (Gal. 5:1), and by itself, was incapable of giving the man a new heart and save him: "no one is justified by the law in the sight of God" (Gal. 3:11). They could not redeem their sins with sacrifices: "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin" (Heb. 10:4).
Nonetheless, the Apostle states that the law is sacred, just and good (Rom. 7:12). While the Law of Moses is by itself complete, it is limited in the light of the imperfection of time and the people that received it. The Pentateuch reflects very clearly the completeness of the law and the need for the complete life that corresponds to it. Thus God, speaking in the law amid thunder and lightning, is the same God that granted assurances to the Patriarchs, and also led the Israelites out of Egypt: consequently, through the strictness of the law, God reveals His goodness and grace, and through the law, God leads the man towards goodness and redemption. Although an ardent and strict guardian of the truth, Moses was named the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3). Furthermore, although the law was directed against the outward and vile actions, the frequent reiteration in the law — thou shalt not covet — shows that not only the criminal acts are prohibited, but even the most secret thoughts and wishes that are directed to the detriment of the neighbor, and the destruction of the moral essence of a person. The main Christian law, that of love, is also found in the Old Testament: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. 6:5), "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. 19:18). Although the ceremonial Law of Moses kept the Jews in a strict check with its physical side, it had a symbolic meaning, i.e. by means of the visible subjects; it wanted to evince the spiritual and unseen subjects. As examples, all the directions about clean and unclean food, about the non-mixture of various grain, farm animals, even the threads in clothing etc. were aimed to show the idea of sensible differentiation — the idea established by God and the very nature of order and cleanliness. The main purpose of the ceremonial law — the service of high priests and sacrifices, accompanied by many emotional signs — were but a mere shadow of the good things to come (Heb. 10:1), i.e. pointing to that event — "the very image," as expressed by the Apostle — which is accomplished with the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Law.
The idea of the instructional meaning of the law in the Old Testament contains the basis of its relationship with New Testament times. In the instructional, there is always something — with age — that has to be set aside, while there is also something that has to be preserved by the learner. That which is retained becomes clearer to him — proportionate to his level of development. At the same time, the new means for the higher life are imparted to him.
The ceremonial law, which carried the reformative meaning and instructed the Israelites in the system of visible forms and outward actions, is revoked in the New Testament. This revocation had been prophesied by the Prophets (sacrifice and oblation to cease, "upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate" Dan. 9:27), and testified by the Apostle "having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in the ordinances (Eph. 2:15). This does not mean that with the advent of New Testimony era, the idea of ceremony itself had lost all the meaning. So long as the man lives on earth and the visible, sentient earth has meaning to him, he will be in need of rituals. That is why rituals also exist in the Christian world. But they are simpler, purer, inspirited. Apostle Paul directs the Christians to glorify God "in your body and in your spirit" (1 Cor. 6:20). Ap. Peter calls the Christians live stones: "are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5). However, as the ritual side has a secondary meaning in the New Testament era, the Lord Jesus Christ gave only general directives in this regard (with teachings as with His own example), leaving more specific determinations on the church services and church legislature of subsequent times. Particularly, the idea of the moral law, declared in the OT, is fully supported by the NT. And not only the idea, but the whole cohesive moral law has significance and strength in the NT, as the embodiment of unalterable and eternal truth. That is why Christ declared: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Mat. 5:17).
Jesus Christ continued to build on the foundations established by the Prophets in ancient times. However, his structure is more complete: He simultaneously fulfilled and completed the law. Firstly, He liberated the moral law from its ties with the judicial arrangement, with the law of outward deeds, and elevated it not only to the level of deeds but, more importantly, the inner state — disposition of the heart. This is evident from the Sermon on the Mount. They heard what was told to those of old: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…..You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mat. 5:21 and others). By transferring the law from the outward to the inner, He merges it into one, with the man's personal inclinations and demands, making it a law of freedom, law of the spirit (Gal. 4:26; Rom. 3:27). In this sense, the Apostle speaks of the righteous, that "the law was not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate" (1 Tim. 1:9). Secondly, in elevating the law to the level of the spirit and liberty, the Lord Jesus Christ simultaneously, reveals the intrinsic and hidden seed of the law, comprised of demands of self-denial and altruistic love. "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also….You have heard that it was said: "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’, But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and prosecute you" (Mat. 5:38 and others). Thirdly, having guided the law of Moses towards that of the conscience and heart — which as a consequence is written not on stone tablets but on the tablets of the heart (Rom. 8:10) — the Lord elevated our thoughts from the earthly and transient blessings (that motivated the Israelites towards fulfilling the law), towards incorruptible and eternal blessings. He directed the Christian’s thoughts towards Heaven as being the reason for his existence, encouraging not to worry about earthly gains and glory but to seek — before anything — the Kingdom of Heaven and God’s truth, while the rest will be provided automatically (Mat. 6:33). That is why the NT law is called the law of good news and faith (Gal. 2:5, Rom. 3:27). Finally, what is most important is that the Lord Jesus Christ not only imparted the law to the people but He also granted them strength for fulfilling them. Whereas the OT in this regard, was quite ineffectual (Rom. 3:11, 21).
Having fulfilled the law Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ — even now — always fulfills it within us and for us, dwelling in our souls and imparting the grace of the Holy Spirit. Not only the Lord’s words continually work within us, but also His personality. For example, the commandment on love is called the new commandment not because it was not known in the Old Testament, but primarily because now the man is inspired by the new spirit, new aspirations, through the strength of which he may achieve the ideals of love. That’s why the NT commandment is called the commandment of grace (Gal. 2:21); it is God’s power for salvation to every believer (Rom. 1:16).
In his fourth book against heresy, St. Irenaeus explains in detail the relationship between the NT law with the OT one. While St. Basil the Great states the following on the subject: "And a lamp is beneficial until sunrise; and the stars are pleasant, but only at night. If a man is funny that lights a lamp in sunlight; then funnier still is he that remains under the canopy of the law during an Evangelical sermon." And because the Evangelical sun had risen eternally, for all times and for all people, then the Evangelical law — disparate to the OT one — will preserve its potency till the end of the world. That is why Christ’s law (and the New Testament) is called eternal (Heb. 13:8,10). As the Apostle declares "But even if we, or an Angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9). The Montanists assert the opposite. They think that after Christ’s era, the Holy Spirit age will arrive, which will be revealed in the Montanists’ prophesies. However, as stated by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit "will not speak on His own authority…. He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26; 16:13). The task for the Christian Church is not to link God’s new revelations with those Divine ones within Christ, but to only clarify Christ’s revelations.
In order to demonstratively present the Lord Jesus Christ’s relationship with the OT moral law, which consisted of the Lord preserving the old and introducing the new, we shall draw a parallel between the relationship of Moses’s Jewish law with the laws of other peoples, the heathens. In the terms of words, Moses did not add much with the Ten Commandments to that, which was already known to the human race. That killing, dishonorable conduct towards parents, adultery, etc. were the offences, not only known to the Jews. That is why the Ten Commandments, in more or less completeness, are met in other peoples, especially in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead." Nonetheless, the Israelites revere Moses as their own, new legislator. Here, in the first instance, new denotes the interpretation of the old law, where loving one’s neighbor is developed to a point of being an obligation, and secondly, the law had been given from the face of the almighty and holy Jehovah, founding a new order of living from this point on. This is the same position of the Lord Jesus Christ, in relation to the Old Testament. He does not convey any new law by way of the written word; but He communicates it in such an elevated meaning that the law, which was truly unknown up to this point of time — as a consequence — becomes the new law. Apart from this, having established the New Testament with His appearance on earth and through being the Redeeming Sacrifice, He shows the new, most fertile soil for moral activity and for the successful fulfillment of the commandments.
3. Foundations of the Christian morality.
The Christian morality.
What is the essence of morality or its principal beginning? The essence of morality should combine within itself those aspects, which can be found in it today. And what are found in it are freedom and the law, which should be combined in morality. Those moralists, who present the law or freedom on a unilateral basis, preach the false element of morality. We shall start by reviewing this false element.
Those who promote freedom or fluctuating feeling as the principal matter, are promoting "eudemonism" or utilitarianism. They apply happiness as the main beginning of morality in the ordinary sense of the word. According to this theory, a person’s activity should be directed towards his prosperity, happiness. This type of beginning is often expressed in philosophical, and in general, natural morality. However, sometimes it is also encountered in the theological morality.
However, quite often a Christian is obliged to prefer sad moments in his life to those of gaiety abundance. Sometimes, we involuntarily acknowledge an unfortunate Christian as being more fortunate than a privileged one. According to the Holy Scripture, it is crucial for us to walk the narrow path and pass through narrow gates (Mat. 7:13-14). It is essential to deny ourselves and take up our cross (Mat. 16:24). Moreover, that, what promised the eternal joy should not impel us towards morality, i.e. it should not be said that we must act in accordance with God’s will, mainly because of receiving eternal rewards. This inclination would be impure, self-serving, egoistical and endemonistical.
Other moralists support a unilateral point of view on the law or God’s will, in order to avoid moral corruption. The main proponent of this thought appears philosopher Kant. According to his teachings, the essence of morality is comprised exclusively in the form of general legislature, and not in the matter or content. His formalism traverses into despotism, because the law does not indicate any basis for its directives and completely neglects a person’s voluntary agreement with the law. Sie volo, sie jubeo — this is the formula for the moral law. Similar ideas are articulated in theological morality. This was sharply expressed by Duns Scott and his followers. They state: "God does not want goodness because it is goodness by itself, but the opposite — it is good, because God wants it. And if God gave goodness the name that is opposite to what is called goodness, then we would have been forced to acknowledge it as goodness. Here apparently, God’s will is presented as an unthinking wanton act that is applied forcibly on the man.
Even having the correct view on the Divine will, one should not be limited only with God’s legislative will. The question is: what composes God’s will, and on what grounds does it dictate one thing as being good, while rejecting and forbidding another as evil? Besides, for the basis of morality it is necessary that the objective will of God would be accepted by the subjective will of the man, and there would be the readiness of the man for the fulfillment of the will of God, so that it could become the force, attracting the man. True morality is possible only in the form of freedom, it should come out of the good treasure of the heart (Math.12-35:36).
Some theologians point at "perfection" as at the essence of morality. In the Holy Scripture it is said: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Math.5:48). But there arises the question: of what does perfection consist? In what is "the bond of perfectness," on the expression of the Apostle? Obviously, the idea of perfection is a formal idea; but we should be aware of the real content of morality.
More often they recall of the "similarity to God," as to the element of morality. In the Holy Scripture we are often called to be similar to God. God made the man exactly for that he could become His image. But there comes a question: in what case do we become similar to God? In what is the essence of God’s life, which we must reproduce in our life?
The main moral element.
On the question of a Jewish lawyer, which is the greatest commandment in the law, the Lord Jesus Christ answered: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Math. 22:36 and f.). And more: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (Ин. 15:12). The Apostle as well said that love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:8-10). The whole law is in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Gal.5:14). Love is also called the royal law (James 2:8).
In order to show how much the man needs love and how much it is typical of his life, it suffices to remember the medium in which appears a newly-born, and any kind of human activity. A child, being born, on the spot is being surrounded with such love, that the Lord compares His love for the mankind with that love of a mother towards a child (Is. 49:15, 66, 13). Paying attention to the human activity, we shall ask: with what, mainly, is provided the success of this activity? With nothing else, but love for one’s business. Whatever we do, first of all it is necessary to have love for the subject of our activity. The same happens in the moral sphere. All the types of moral activity and the Christian virtues come out of love.
What is true moral love? First of all, it is not only an involuntary feeling, led only by the power of imagination; it possesses the will, guided by the mind as well. The depth of the will is the base of true love. Therefore such love can belong to the person, when his feelings are silent and he is left by the power of imagination. What is love about? It is the combination of my personal "I" with the other "I," and simultaneously, taking of the other "I" into my personal "I’. But this union of the two creatures is not simply merging and deprivation of the personality, as it is according to the doctrine of the Mystics; on the contrary, the necessary condition of true love is in the fact that those loving each other persons would preserve their individuality. That being in love does not lose himself in the loved one, but forgets oneself in him. In this is the mystery and height of love and moral life, that the man can reject himself for the sake of the other person, and forget oneself in him, but at the same time preserve his individual conciseness and personal dignity. He can dwell in the other, but still such life would be his personal life, too. Consequently, in love get combined self-dedication and self-assertion.
It is obvious that love, which requires the confluence of my own "I" with the other "I" is impossible without self-sacrifice, without self-denial, very frequently suggested to us by the Holy Scripture (Math. 16:24). I set others as a goal, and I convert myself into the means of achieving this goal. But sacrificing oneself that who loves finds himself in the other, enriched and elevated by the general and more complete life. He follows the biblical direction: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). He knows that of all goods, which the man possesses and what can be given to the other, the best gift there is himself, his personality (Rom.13:8). On him is fulfilled the Evangelical promise: he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (Matf.10:39). The dear one, in his turn, renounces himself and sacrifices himself; he wants to complete himself, living with the one who loves him. Generally, love requires reciprocity and therefore it has a reward in itself. It cannot be said that love is based on reciprocity; the heart can strongly love, without obtaining equal reciprocity; but by the purpose such love has an expectation to reach mutual love, it has hope, that it would be understood and answered with love as well. There where this goal is not achieved and hope does not reach its expectations, there love cannot remain living and active. But one of the qualities of moral love is the fact that it suffereth long, according to the expression of the apostle, hopeth all things (1 Cor. 13:4,7). There is possible suffering love. Consequently, not by chance and not unnaturally the Gospel commands us to love enemies (Math.5:44; Luke 6:35). Loving enemies, we hope to overcome evil with good (Rome 12:21) and to make those hating us loving, in other words, to reach the purpose of love: reciprocity, accordion, peace.
In what is the basis of love, and where is its source? If we love each other, then the basis of our love consists of the affinity of human nature, and even with the individual differences there is the essential connection between us, hidden in the depths of the mankind. In the view of this connection all people compose one body, according to the expression of Ap. Paul, or "one city," according to the expression of Zenon. This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23): by these words Adam expressed his enthusiasm with the appearance of Eva and his love for her, and as to the basis of his love, he indicates the fact that in her he sees the same nature, which he bears in himself. The same thought express the words of the writer of Genesis: for Adam there was not found an help meet for him (2:20). Consequently, the similarity composes the condition of close connection or love between the creatures.
But the general human nature, which lies at the basis of their faces and which impels to the mutual love, indicates the more general nature, universal, or divine, which lies at the basis of the first. As the man is the similarity of another person, from whom he was born, so all humanity in totality is the similarity of its Creator, and in the view of this similarity it is impelled to love for the Creator. It is directly said in the Holy Scripture that we are of Godly kind (Acts 17:20). It is also said: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him (Gen. 1:27). And more: in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). So, consequently, the source of love is God. In His essence, He is eternal love: "God is love," — says Ap. John (4:8,16). After creating the world with love, as His similarity, by this God bound the man to love Him as his prototype. The love of God is the first love, while our love is the second love. Therefore the apostle says: We love him, because he first loved us (1 John, 4:19). His love for the world God expressed in sending of His Son for the atonement of the mankind. God loved the world so, that he gave His begotten Son (John 3:16). In this action of God was most clearly expressed the essential element of love — self-sacrifice. This element must characterize our love for God. We must deny and forget ourselves, in order to live with God and in God.
Although to forget oneself does not mean to lose oneself in God. As in love of God for us there is not only self-sacrifice, but also self-assertion, i.e. God does not lose Himself in the world, but saves the world and glorifies Himself, the same happens in love of the man for God: it consists not only of self-sacrifice, but also of self-preservation, as the consequence of the personal individuality. If before the face of God the man preserves his individuality, and meanwhile in love for God he got distracted from his limited individual existence and moved himself into the domain of the limitless existence of God, then hence by itself follows that his life obtains such abundant content and is filled by such contentment, which can never become the lot of an egoist, who is reserved in his own scant individuality. God is the highest, last source of love and inexhaustible source of life: the man only has to derive from this abundant source, and this is possible only in such a case, when he loves God. Since he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16). Love is something divine in the man; it is, so to say, the most human from that in the man, and the most divine of that what is in God.
Love for God forces us to love neighbors as the similarity of God, and together to learn to love God as a mean, and to prove one’s love for God. Who says: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (1 John 4:20-21). In the neighbor we love God, and in God we love the neighbor. The idea of true humanity is hidden here. And humanity, i.e., the kingdom of neighbors, is wider and more abundant than a single person, so, moving oneself, by the means of love, into the mankind and living its life, a single person enriches and pleases his personal life. But an egoist, without coming out of himself, again remains in his narrow and poor medium. Love does not produce leveling or indifference in the medium of the members of society; it is the element, which organizes society, joining all the members into one great and excellent body, on the words of Ap. Paul (Eph. 4:15). It does not destroy those assumed by God differences among the medium of human society and does not deny the authority and respect among the medium of society; it indicates everyone’s own place in the historical and social order; but at the same time it calls all the members of society to the mutual service and help, it requires that the similar to God personality would be respected and honored in each member of society.
4. Motives of Fulfilling the Moral Law.
The types of motives.
In solving the question of the element of the Christian morality, we also solved the question of its motives. Love towards God and a neighbor is the prime and purest motive toward the moral activity. It is akin to say a person that is involved with a science: if he loves it, he is motivated by the purest motives. That is why the more advanced is a being in moral completeness; the more this encourages — in the moral life — its altruistic love towards God and beings like him. Thus, God’s Angels are incited in their lives by the most pure love towards God and those around them. However, it is natural for a person to strive for serenity, joy, happiness, and the more he seeks this in the very love towards God and his neighbors and deeds which emanate from it, the higher and more complete is he in the moral sense. The more a person loves a discipline that he is involved in, the more he finds satisfaction, joy and happiness in it; and akin to this are the Lord Jesus Christ’s words: "And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21-23). Thus, in loving the Lord, the soul has the Lord within itself, the subject of its desires and aspirations. It is then that a person has complete joy, about which the Lord Savior mentioned to His disciples, while instructing them on the commandment of love, and also when He prayed to His Heavenly Father on the eve of His suffering (John 15:11;17:13). In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Ap. Paul concludes with the following words: "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity" (6:24) — the Lord is proclaimed through those that love Him. A moral person thirsts for the future life in heaven. However, its not because he looks upon this as a payment or reward for his labors on earth (akin to a servant) but because in that future life, he hopes to achieve a full and immutable love towards — and by the strength of this love — unity with God, from which he will receive the harvest that emanates from it — the eternal joy.
We have depicted the highest and purest motive towards moral life. However, not everyone and not always is impelled by this lofty motive. Because our love for God is far from absolute, especially with people that are on the lower rungs of completeness, we are often forced to induce ourselves towards a moral life through different motives, which act upon us as coercion. Namely, on the one hand, God’s will is depicted as a demand for obedience, while on the other, as a memory of the expected punishment or reward, depending upon the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of God’s will. This point of view refers to those, for example, studying non-adults that force themselves to study disciplines and maintain good behavior, bearing in mind the commandments and the expected punishment or reward. We are often induced towards moral life by these directive motives found in both the Old and the New Testaments. On the one hand, It says: by example of the Holy One that has summoned you, you, too, be holy in all your deeds, for it is written: "Be holy, for I am holy" (1Peter 1:15-16). For such is the will of God (1Peter 2:15), for this is commendable (1 Peter 2:19); "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment (1 John 3:23).
On the other hand, it says: Fear God (1Peter 2:17). For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Mat. 16:27). For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Gal. 6:7). In particular: will receive the wages of unrighteousness (2Peter 2:13). For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men (Rom. 1:18). Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil (Rom. 2:9). For the end of those things is death (Rom. 6:21-23; 1:23). And on the opposite: if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (Mat. 19:17) and he shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat. 5:19). We shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:9) — and our labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). There is laid up the crown or righteousness for those having good exploits (2 Tim. 4:7-8). For whoever gives a cup of water to drink in God’s name, he will by no means lose his reward (Mark 9:41) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). Or who is not familiar with the Lord Savior’s Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount for the meek, poor in spirit, timid etc. (Mat. 5:3 and f.). Everyone is aware of the Gospel’s depictions of the eternal suffering of sinners and eternal joy of the righteous.
The lowest form of motivation towards moral life is when a person compels himself towards it for the sake of sentient and transient blessings — and not spiritual and eternal ones. However, this type of impulsion is not totally excluded of the Holy Scripture. Particularly in the Old Testament, the chosen people were often exhorted by Moses and other Prophets toward serving God correctly and fulfilling their responsibilities, by pointing out the earthly rewards (in that instance) that awaited them. Even the New Testament states that all needed earthly blessings shall, of their own accord, materialize to the seekers of God’s Kingdom and His truth (Mat. 6:33). Anybody who leaves his home, brothers, or sisters, or mother or father, or his wife, or children, or his land for My name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life (Mat. 19:29). "Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Tim 4:8). And to the evil people, there is a prediction of them being besieged, ravaged and utterly destroyed (Luke 19:42-44).
5. Actions of a Christian person.
The display of the human will that is in accord with the Divine will, and which emanates from love for God and one’s neighbor, is called good or virtuous. Those that are not in agreement with the law and spring from egoism and narcissism are called evil or sinful — as a sin. Thus the word "virtue" is equipollent with the word "morality," while the word "sin," is equivalent to the word "immoral." Consequently, the attributes of virtue are the same as those of morality, namely — freedom and legality; and virtue is initially inspirited by love. However, human freedom by itself isn’t sufficient to fulfill the moral law and animate genuine love towards God; what differentiates the Christian goodness from the heathen one, is that the former is assisted by the divine grace. While we have partially touched upon virtue in relation with the moral activity — we shall be coming back to this — at this time, we shall limit ourselves to some observations regarding virtue.
In ancient times people asked: is virtue singular or they are many? Can it be studied or not? The Stoic individuals insisted that it was singular. They contended that he who has one virtue has the rest of them, because they are all very tightly bound together. Indeed, if we bear in mind the singular active will, the law of activity and character that generates the moral activity, virtue is singular. That’s why Apostle James exclaimed: "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (2:10). Why? Because sinning with one thing damages the singularity of the will, destroys the wholeness of the moral character, and violates the unity of the law and the holy will of the Lawgiver. However, there are many virtuous people, if you take into consideration human activity in the multitude of diverse subjects, the many facets and moments endured by a person in his endeavors to improve. From this standpoint, virtue does fragment. From one aspect, a person could be more virtuous, while from another — less virtuous, or even dissolute; one is only commencing virtuous life, and his good deeds are still feeble, incomplete and few, while another is more developed and his good deeds are firm, complete and realized. Singular by nature, virtue has been fragmented to the extreme by the catholic theologians, especially with the casuists and Jesuits. In this aspect, they are opposite to the Stoics.
Can virtues be studied? Socrates thought so, although he mixed virtue with knowledge. Aristotle rightly noted that apart from knowledge, virtue contains practice and habit. Indeed, in as much as there is knowledge in virtue, namely — knowledge of rules for its activity and its circumstances, to this extent it can be studied and parents and teachers can directly educate children and students in virtue in this manner. However, as far as virtue is made up of practice and habit, it is to this extent that it cannot be studied i.e. it cannot be imparted from books or orally by teachers and parents. It is necessary to obtain this individually for oneself — and this is the prime feature of virtue.
B. Sin. The concepts of sin, vice.
The conscious and uninhibited opposition of a person’s will to the moral law and Divine will is called sin. Sin is lawlessness, declares Ap. John (3:4). Such is the formal definition of sin. By its nature, sin is converse to love and is egoism or deceiving self-centeredness. Instead of concentrating his life on God, a sinful person places himself as the centre of his life. He decided to be like gods, i.e. he envisaged achieving self-fulfillment through himself, independent of any type of the higher being. As Ap. Paul characterizes them: "For all seek their own" (Phil. 2:21). That is why he exhorts the Christians not to live for themselves "but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15) — "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well being" (1 Cor. 10:24). And the sinful person, who commits himself only to himself, also commits himself to the world. Together with deceiving self-centeredness, he is characterized with a fallacious love of the world. That is why the Apostle speaks of sinners "who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25).
Since ancient times the existence of sin and evil in the world has formed the greatest puzzle for the thinkers. They could not explain to themselves how the evil could arise and exist in a blessed world. Their difficulties and perplexities ended with the recognition that the evil and sin are inevitable features of the human race. Some thought that a human is a creature of limitations and as a consequence, must certainly sin; others thought that because a human is endowed with a sentient body, this circumstance inevitably led him towards sin, etc. There were some (like the Persians and Manicheans), that viewed the evil as a substance, having the same independent existence as goodness. However, all these theories led to nowhere. The only thing left that is credible above all else — and for a Christian, indubitable — are the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, which state that sin and evil appeared as a result of free choice and decision of the human will.
It does not take as much human willpower to sin in current times as it did for the first human being. The reason for this is that because the contemporary man is Adam’s descendant, his nature already carries an inclination towards sin, or as Ap. Paul expresses it — evil desire (Rom. 7:8). This congenital evil desire that we all carry is the main source of temptation, and sin always begins with temptation. Ap. James states: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" (1:14). However, these inner temptations do not exclude outward tempters: specifically — the world, which in the words of the Apostle, "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19), and "the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1Peter 5:8); "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephes. 6:12). The devil tempted Job and Ananias (Acts 5:3), tempted the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Mat. 4:1). God can only test a person but not tempt him. "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13). The difference between testing and tempting lies in the purpose. The testing of a person has a good aim, specifically "be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" (2 Peter 1:10). It is in this sense that it’s necessary to understand Ap. James’ words of comfort to the Christians who are experiencing sorrow (James 1:2). There is evil intent with temptation, specifically — to lead a person into sin, and the words of the Lord Jesus Christ (who taught us how to pray to our Heavenly Father), "do not lead us into temptation" must be understood in this light.
Temptation by itself is not a sin. One can be tempted and not commit a sin. This can be seen in the personage of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sin begins only when imagination and feeling begin to enjoy and succumb to the subject of that temptation, when the will consents to temptation and is occupied with it. We can see this situation with our mother of the mankind — Eve. That’s why James declares that sin is born when desire is conceived: "when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin" (1:15), and sin produces death, i.e. inner and outer calamity, as a witness to the sin’s false promise of happiness: an executed sin gives birth to death (the same).
As a result of repeating the sin, a person develops a practice of sinning and sin becomes a habit. At the same time, passions within the person grow stronger. The joining of habit and passion gives birth to vice. Habit and passion overpower an iniquitous person to such an extent that he becomes blinded, and is not a morally free being. They lead a person towards the gratification of his shameful desires, just as an animal’s needs are satisfied through its natural instincts. The connection between the world of a sinner with the demonic kingdom is especially pronounced in iniquity. It’s this connection that explains that curse, that spell, which the iniquitous person is subjected to. It is not without reason that it was said about Judas (who suffered from love of money) that satan entered him (John 13:27).
The manifestations of sin.
Sins can be divided according to their essence and the level of guilt. Ap. John created the basis for this division: "For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world" (1John 2:16). Earthly pride is labeled as a sin of conceit — pride and anger. Lust of the body is called the sin of concupiscence, or passion for sentient enjoyment, gluttony and sensuality; while sins of avidity, avarice and envy are called the lust of the eyes. Thus, there are six main sins from which all others are born. If we add another main sin to them — laziness from dread of spiritual/moral application of effort — we then have 7 main sins, which are in accord with the same number of divisions of our Church’s symbolic books.
Insofar as levels of guilt are concerned, sins are divided in accordance with the level of the will’s involvement in committing the sin and the awareness of the violation of the law. The greater the awareness of the violated law and the more energy expended in committing the sin, the heavier the sin; and vice versa. The Stoics recognized all sins as equal. However, in the Holy Gospel, the various levels of sin are clearly presented when it says: The one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin (John 19:11); when sin doesn’t lead to death (1 John 5:16) The truth in the Stoics’ teachings is that all sins have attributes that are against God, and in this sense they are all equal. That’s why Apostle James states: "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (2:10). However, sins can be ungodly to a larger or lesser degree.
There exist degrees of iniquity or iniquitous state, and in order to determine the degree of iniquity in a sin, it’s necessary to know the whole iniquitous state of a person. Moral dereliction and indifference, self-delusion, moral slavery and cruelty differentiate this condition.
Moral dereliction and indifference is such a condition where a person is reluctant to be introspective about himself and thinks about his responsibilities and the aftermath of his actions. He lives the way he has to, according to what nature suggests and regulations of the surrounding environs. Ap. Paul labels this type of life as a life without law (Rom. 7:9). He likens it to a sleeping state: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light" (Eph. 5:14).
If in the state of indifference a person forgets about the necessity to change and improve his life, then the next step, i.e. level of self-delusion, is to reject this essentiality. The wealthy youth in the Gospel (Mat. 19:16), who imagined himself to be morally complete and have fulfilled all the commandments, can serve as a good example of this. It is possible that hypocrisy may join self-delusion — making it worse. Pharisees serve as a good example. The wealthy youth was not hypocritical and thought that he had really fulfilled all the commandments during his adolescence; whereas the Pharisees, presenting themselves as righteous before the public, knew very well what type of individuals they were and the low acts they had often committed.
Moral slavery is a state where a person, immersed in a vice, has neither the inclination nor strength to free himself from it. Another time a slave of sin may attempt to shake loose his offence. However, as the sin got him chained, his efforts are useless. Then, having experienced this failure a number of times, he ceases all attempts and goes down the path of perdition. Even the best of people sensed within themselves the law of sin (Rom. 7:23) and adherence to sin (v.14), which in the worst circumstances can reach an irredeemable point.
Finally, cruelty is a sinful state in which a person has smothered within himself, all moral feelings, stubbornly resists all good influences directed at him, hates and tramples everything that is good and finds evil enjoyment in evil itself. Prophet Isaiah depicts this condition with the following words: "Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not" (6:9). In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Ap. Paul envisages this condition in the similar mode: "Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (4:18-19).
The extreme degree of cruelty is called a sin against the Holy Spirit. The Lord Savior speaks about this sin: "Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Mat. 12:31-32). This sin cannot be forgiven as the person himself drives away God’s sin-forgiving grace.
6. Moral Imputations
The conditions of imputations.
From the fact that a person has a free will, it directly follows that he is responsible for his actions. The fact that human actions are imputable means that one must receive either a reward or punishment for them, depending upon his merit or guilt. The expression "imputation" is found in the Book of Genesis: Abraham believed in the Lord and imputed to Him his righteousness (15:6), in the Book of Psalms: "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity" (32:2), — in the Epistle to the Romans: "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (4:4-5), and to the Corinthians: "that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them" (5:19).
The imputation or appraisement of human action is effected — before anything else — within the person himself, in his own conscience. Here, the person directly perceives that the committed acts are inalienably his, which the judgment of his conscience either approves or condemns him. However, the judgment of the conscience is not flawless — at least not while a person is on earth, in the state of incomplete moral development. That’s why the Apostle states: "In fact, I do not judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; He who judges me is the Lord" (1 Cor. 4:3-4). Thus, the highest judge of human deeds is God: "there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Heb. 4:13). According to Apostle James, He is Lawgiver and judge (4:12). However, as each one of us belongs to the human society — the society which holds to the idea that it must be the custodian of justice, and consequently judge our actions and either reward or punish us for them — then we are subject to spiritual and secular courts, represented by individuals. The expression of "judge not that you be not judged" refers to the private relationships between individuals and not in relation to a person as a member of society, to the society. And the fact that in a secular court — on the basis — there is a manifestation of God’s law-court, is especially evident in the Mystery of Confession; here, whatever is bound or released by the Church’s representative is bound or released by God Himself. However, as the society’s court is at the outset a human court, and everything human is not perfect, we again reach the conclusion that only God is the complete and fully just judge.
The primary rule of imputation is that we are imputed only with that which is complete, autonomous and free. Consequently, everything that is carried out during our childhood, when an individual speaks like a child, reasons as a child (1 Cor. 13:11), cannot be imputed to him. That’s why the Church does not call the children to confession until they are 7 years old. Even the civil laws send the under-aged offenders to correctional institutions instead of jails. However, even an adult can be found in the state of imputation. We have no right to speak of imputation about those that sin in their sleep, lunatics, mentally disturbed, etc., whose moral being, so to say, is manacled (Gen. 9:20), although this situation must be somewhat qualified. Thus, a person committing a crime while drunk is guilty because he voluntarily brought about his state in which he involuntarily committed the crime. He is guilty, if not directly in the act itself, then in the state, in which he was, while committing the crime. Here, the imputation is indirect. Dreams can also be imputed if they are the result of an immoral lifestyle. Actions that are forced upon us cannot be imputed. A person falling from a roof and killing a passer by is not guilty. If during the Christian suffering, the heathens forced the Christians to place incense into fires before idols with their hands, or defiled the Christian women, the latter were blameless. Martyr Glikiria said: "You have full authority over a body, but our spirit belongs to Christ. The body is not defiled where there is no agreement of the will and mind; and you will never be able to bring our will to agree to the sinful acts; God looks upon the concordance of the will, rather than the acts of a body brought about by force." Likewise, there is no imputation in cases of ignorance, concerning the law. The Lord said to the Pharisees: if you were blind, you would have no sin (John 9:41). But in the relation to adults, it has to be said that in the main, their ignorance is not pardonable and has to be imputed together with their actions, performed consciously — even in ignorance. This is precisely the judgment that the Lord enunciated about the Pharisees. He states that His appearance on earth and the works that He performed, should have led them out of the state of ignorance; and that’s why they have no excuse for their sin (John 15:22 and others). About the servant that was ignorant of his master’s wishes and made himself worthy of punishment, the Lord states that he too will be beaten, although to a lesser degree (Luke 12:48). By the words of the Apostle, the heathens that have bowed down to idols are culpable, because they had the opportunity to know God (Rom. 1:19-20). Also the Old Testament demands a cleansing sacrifice for the sin of ignorance (Lev. 5:17-19).
Let us examine the particular rules of imputation. Currently, it is necessary for everyone to know these rules, because anyone can be called for jury service and be obliged to judge people.
First, it is necessary to pay attention to the circumstance, if this is the first crime against the law, whether it is single or the law is frequently infringed by this person and it might be one of the whole series of unlawful actions. If the man for the first time, once, came across the unlawful action, then his fault is mitigated, but if he frequently transgressed the law, then his guilt augments. Secondly, it is necessary to investigate, if the unlawful action proceeded out of the mature decision, or it is committed without thinking. The misdeed on impulse is not as grave as that thought over. Thirdly, it is necessary to learn, if a crime was committed under the affect of the strong passion, i.e., greater emotional excitation, agitation. Fourthly, there occur cases, when the man is under the extremely difficult circumstances, for example, in the dire need, great grief or fear: in this case the punishment can be mitigated. Fifthly, it is necessary to ascertain, if the man was not tempted to commit a crime. That who committed a crime without any direct temptation, is guiltier than the one who was led into a crime. Sixthly, we are imputed not only the fulfilled action, but also all its consequences (Kings, 3:11 and f., Math. 18:6). For example, if the parents lead a dissolute and disorderly life, then they are imputed not only their own immoral life, but also the similar life of their children, since it is a consequence of the negligent upbringing. Generally, the more clearly one could foresee the ruinous consequences of his actions, the guiltier he is, and the more these consequences were not realized by him, and he could not foresee them, the less guilty he is. As the seventh reason, the basis of the mitigation of guilt can be the negligent upbringing, obtained by that misbehaving. Finally, one should focus attention on the repentance of a criminal in the crime. It is possible to think that the one who confessed the crime will regret about it, and therefore he has already been found on the way towards correction.
7. The Adiaphoron; Collision of Responsibilities.
The Adiaphoron (neutral).
Adiaphoron, or morally neutral actions, are called such actions, which are not directly commanded in the law, they are not forbidden, i.e. they do not directly belong neither to the category of the good nor to the category of the evil. These are such actions as dances, jokes, games, theatrical visits, secular music, splendor in clothing, food and beverages and the like. The sphere of adiaphoron is in particular the sphere of those actions and states, to which the man devotes himself during the rest after the work, and entertainment in the free time.
But these actions are by no means unimportant. They are always either morally bad or morally good. They are bad, if they do harm to the morals and when the aesthetically beautiful is in the contradiction with the moral element. Who does not know that theatrical shows, dances, games, balls, especially masquerades, luxury in food and clothing, conversations in the meetings frequently are of such quality, that they must be absolutely forbidden as destroying the moral nature of the man? Or to give oneself up to the prolonged sleep for the purpose of rest, which to a great extent exceeds the need of the organism? But if the indicated means of entertainment and leisure are moderated and noble, if they do not contradict the dignity of a Christian, then they should be recognized as morally good, since they refresh our spirit, strengthen our forces for the fulfillment of responsibilities; they report to us energy for the tolerance of labors. Everything, assisting us to tolerate labors and fulfill responsibilities, possesses the known degree of the moral dignity.
Sometimes such cases, when even the actions, which have the direct relation to the highest purpose of life, are neutral in the moral sense. This comes along with moral ignorance, for example, in the life of small children. For a child, in whom the consciousness of duty and law is not developed, much of that, what is important for an adult, enlightened by the moral understanding, is of no importance. But one ought not to forget that, where there is no moral consciousness, there are no morals; here we deal with the pre-morals acts, and there should be no discussion about the morally neutral actions, as the defenders of adiaphoron understand them.
If we turn to the Holy Scripture, then we shall find that even such acts as eating and drinking for maintaining the organism, are considered there not neutral in the moral sense. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, says Ap. Paul (1 Cor. 10:31). But to do something to the glory of God — this is not a neutral action, but that, which is morally good. In another extract the apostle requires to do everything in the name of Lord Jesus Christ: and whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col. 3:17). In the book of Revelation the state, in which the man is neither cold nor hot, i.e., indifferent, is condemned, as the morally wrong (3:15). Condemning the hypocritical attitude of the free will to the moral law, the Holy Scripture says that love for the good and the aspiration for the reign of God should penetrate to the very depth of the human soul, so that from there they would spread over all actions of the man, to all his words and motions, uniting them in one final goal and reporting to everything the moral character. Each of the moments of human life, even the most insignificant, refer to the whole. If we examine life in its length, duration, or width, i.e., the field of activity, one and the same moral personality always acts, and searches for that indicated by God designation for a reasonable and free creature everywhere. Although the moral responsibilities are not divided to such an extent that to each moment and motion of the man would correspond the special responsibility, hence it does not follow that there are the moments in life, in no way being connected with the morals, — the orders of the law substitute here the moral arrangement and tact, which possess no indifference.
The question about “the allowable.”
To the question about adiaphoron is connected and even coincides with it, a question about "the allowable" or granted to the man. The sphere of the allowable is, first of all, the sphere of those aesthetical actions (dances, theater, games, etc.), which some consider morally sinful, the others —neutral, and the rest — possible (since they are neither commanded nor forbidden in the Scripture). We as well can call them possible.
We have already limited the region of the allowable by the fact, that it would not include unnatural elements. Now we must make a new limitation in this sphere, noting the words of the apostle: All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient (1 Cor. 6:12), all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not (10:23). These words indicate the following: although all the named subjects that belong to the sphere of the allowable are permissible, generally speaking, but in the detail, i.e., for the certain persons, they can be "not expedient" — they can not edify the man, but spoil him, and therefore they are not permissible. Therefore it is possible to decide, according to the internal state of the personality, in what measure each of us can participate in the entertainments of the indicated kind, and how wide the sphere of the allowable is for each one. That, what is permissible for one person, could harm another one.
For example, to the one, who feels in himself the surplus of youthful forces, — dances are suitable entertainment; but to dance in the old age is no way suitable occupation, so, dances suite the youth.
Thus, all those entertainments, which impede our moral activity, must be acknowledged prohibitive. These are those actions, which leave a sting in our conscience or they are in the way of the state of the spirit, described by the apostle: continue in prayer… pray without ceasing. It is necessary to pay attention to the selection of targets for leisure and entertainments, to the individuality, age, rank and state, to the remaining responsibilities in order not to cause them damage. It is possible to recollect in the present case the words of Ap. Paul: whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). Commenting on these words, one moralist says: "Everything is sinful for me, what did not come out of the basic persuasion (which must be the determining element of my entire life), that what is not in accordance with this persuasion."
The “Infinite” Perfections and Evangelical Advice.
After putting aside the study about adiaforon, or morally neutral actions, we proved that in the sphere of the human will there is nothing too negligible and unimportant and all actions are determined by law or the Divine will. Now one should prove that in the sphere of the free will there is nothing too high, which exceeds the limits of the moral law. But meanwhile the Catholics allow the latter in their study about the infinite perfection. Presenting the moral law in the form of the certain quantity of commandments, copied by the man in his life, they think that it is possible to rise higher than the orders of law there, where the sphere of the absolute will of the man (simply saying — arbitrariness) and of his extraordinary merits begins; there the will of God cannot order the man, but perhaps only advise.
In affirmation of their study the Catholics refer to the discerning of the Evangelical commandments and Evangelical advice. Basing the entire study about the "advice" on the extract from the Gospel of Luke: when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do (Luke 17:10), they for the vows of misery and celibacy, in particular, quote the certain extracts from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18:22, Mathew, chapter 19:11; 12:21, and from the Epistle of Ap. Paul to Corinthians, chapter 7; 9:4. 5:14-17. The vow of monasticism is based on these extracts in our orthodox church as well. But, according to the doctrine of our church, monks do not accomplish anything infinite by their vows. The Evangelical advice, on our doctrine, is not put together with the commandments as something completely different from them, but within the limits of the commandments and obligation; and so, they also turn out to be commandments, — not for all, but for the certain people in the certain circumstances. About the Evangelical young man, to whom the Lord proposed to give up the property and to follow him, we know that he got sad and left Lord Jesus. The Lord, watching him go, said to His disciples: a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. So, following of the given to the young man advice was the condition of entering into the Heavenly Kingdom; and if so, then this was advice in the usual sense of the word for all, but such advice, which was given to this particular young man. The same one should also say about the vow of celibacy, about which Lord Jesus Christ said: All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given…He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. The expression given clearly shows that the election of marital or celibate life is not given to the arbitrariness of the man, but must be based on the individual gift and the state of each person. So, the one, who obtained the gift of celibacy, but who did not use it, must be condemned similarly to the lazy slave, that digged his talent in the earth. But if so, then the advice of celibacy has the value of commandment, but not for all, — only for the persons called to that. Even the orthodox Christians do not sometimes pay the adequate attention to this circumstance; what results is the fact that many persons, who have a gift for the celibate life, do not enter monasticism (considering joining it as something depending only on their will, and not on the order of God, which consists of their individuality and circumstances of life). And vice versa, many persons, who did not obtain such a gift, enter monasticism (considering this as that depending on their arbitrariness). But the extract from the Gospel of Luke (17:10), in which it is said about the unprofitable servant, is incorrectly explained by the Catholic moralists. According to their interpretation, Lord Jesus Christ calls unprofitable, i.e., worth of nothing, undeserving, that Christian, who accomplishes only that what he is obligated to complete; so, they say, a Christian can accomplish more than he is required on his responsibility. In fact, the thought of this Evangelical extract is such, that no matter what good deeds the man can accomplish, he must realize, that he did only, what he was obligated to do, and he should not expect for the merit, infinite perfection and reward. But if God rewards us, then He does this on His mercy. And we are unprofitable, i.e., undeserved slaves, especially because we are sinners, so consequently, it is necessary for us to appeal for forgiveness, but not to seek for reward.
However, the positive refutation of the Catholic study about the infinite perfections and falling out of the limits of duty, the Evangelical advice consists of the commandment about love, which is the crown of the law. If we are obligated to love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, then it does not follow that all the good that we make, will be only the performance of love; and love is not only the advice, given to the will of the man, but the common Christian commandment. It is necessary to take into consideration the place from the Epistle of Ap. James: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (4:17). So, if the Evangelical advice is good for someone, then its non-fulfillment imputes to him as a fault, this is sin for him. Thus, if the man is in such a position, in which entering into monasticism is the best way of all the possible, then it becomes a strict responsibility for him. But if it does not seem a strict responsibility for this person, then it happens only because it is understood by him as the better way of all the possible. Who does not agree with this position, supposes that the man is allowed to select the worst.
In that circumstance that the will of God does not force anyone to the identical method of realization, and that it is not always immediately clear for everyone, of what consists that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God with respect to it (Rom. 12:2), lies the explanation of the sense of the word "advice," in the contrast with the word "commandment." The true side of the Catholic study lies in the fact that each must "get advise" from oneself and the others. But such a conference must be directed only to the investigation of the will of God, which must be fulfilled in this case without fail; however, this latter fact is not taken into the view by the Catholics.
But correcting the Catholic view on the Evangelical advice and its consequences, we cannot disregard the protestant view on this subject. The Protestants do not accept monasteries and monastic way of life; they do not want to know such establishments, which consist of those, who dedicated themselves to the highest religious-moral life, who perceives as commandments such Evangelical advice as celibacy, non-covetousness and renunciation of their will. But if among the Christians there are those, who, according to their individual gifts convert the Evangelical advice into commandments and who are headed to this way of life by the Divine Providence, then hence follows that these persons will comprise a special circle in the medium of the Christian society and will live in special communities, in the monasteries. The monasteries were not created artificially, but they themselves appeared as a result of aspiration of some persons for the highest spiritual life. This view is confirmed by the history. Those following the Evangelical advice at first lived separately, hiding in the deserts, caves and other secluded places. Subsequently, in the view of the natural tendency of the man towards the cohabiting with the similar to themselves, they got united in communities and established monasteries. But the statement that their celibate and generally selfless life possesses a high moral merit — this will be explained and proved further.
Collision of Responsibilities, Casuistry.
Although the duty of each person is one, it is subdivided into many responsibilities. By the performance of these responsibilities, each of us fulfills one’s duty, and at the same time — the moral law. Our task is to arrange the accomplishment of these responsibilities harmoniously and in the right time so that each would have its time and they would not collide. However, in our life, where the sin produced disorder, such a collision frequently occurs; it is called the collision of responsibilities. In this case it is necessary for the man to carry out two responsibilities at the same time (which is impossible), or by the performance of one responsibility to harm another one. For example, Erodes gave a vow to give to the dancer everything that she will ask for; she asked for the head of John the Baptist. Here it is obvious the collision of two responsibilities: the responsibility to fulfill the oath and not to cause death to an innocent man. Or for example, into the house ran a person, pursued by a killer, and he begged to hide him; and so I did. In this case one must either lie, after stating that the person is not there, or give out that pursued, breaking the responsibility of love to the neighbor, acting pitilessly. Or the case about such children, whose parents fight, the father forbids that, what the mother orders, and vice versa: here is the collision of the responsibility of obedience to the father and the responsibility of obedience to the mother.
In the Middle Ages there was formed the whole "science" — casuistry, which had to resolve doubtful and intricate cases of conscience. But in the course of time this "science" lost confidence as a result of its artificiality and unfitness for life and even the corrupting influence on the society. The casuists tried to foresee any case of the moral life (even not encountered) and to create a rule for it. The accomplishment of this objective is impossible and superfluous. Moreover, they were frequently occupied with such assumed cases, about which it is better to hush up. The remnants of the casuistry can be found in the contemporary Catholic moralization. However, the protestant theologians decisively declare that the moralization has nothing to do with casuistry; in their opinion, in any doubtful case the matter must be resolved singularly by the conscience of the man, his moral code, and that there is no place to any rules. We, the Orthodox, selected the average way; which is the true way.
First of all, it is necessary to take care about the prevention of collisions, and in particular of such ones, in which we are guilty ourselves. For example, the man did not carry out the urgent work, and in the following time the collision of two works will occur: of the past and the present one. For avoidance of such collisions it is necessary to distribute the time expediently. It is necessary to do everything in its time (To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, says Ecclesiastes 3:1), then all responsibilities will be located in the accordion between themselves, and the time will not seem to us neither too long, dull nor too short for the fulfillment of the necessary.
It is necessary also to be alert in order not to take the false collision for the real one, i.e. the collision of a responsibility with an inclination. For example, the greedy for money conceals his passion in the responsibility to worry about the family; that inclined to stealing justifies himself by the deficiency in daily bread and so forth. To the same class of seeming collisions belong the cases uniting responsibilities of rights and love. For example, one Catholic priest stole leather in order to sew boots for the poor. This is already the case of error or, according to the expression of Ap. Paul, temptation of the man, who imagines, that it is possible to be benevolent for the poor, violating the rights of the rich. The mentioned Catholic did not pay attention to the words of Ap. Paul: him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth (Еph. 4:28).
However, in the cases of a real collision it is necessary to be guided by the following rules. First, the responsibilities, the subjects of which are of the highest quality, must give preference to those, of the lowest quality. Therefore martyrs sacrificed their life, since the main responsibility for them was to preserve the truth and faith. According to the same rule we sacrifice the responsibility of compassion for animals to the responsibility to develop the science (when we run experiments on animals for the sake of the life of the man). The same rule means Ap. Paul, when he says: We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29; 4:19).
In the second place, it is necessary to prefer wider responsibilities to the narrower ones. This rule follows a soldier, when he leaves the family and goes to serve to the fatherland, which is the wider group than the family. We follow the same rule, when we sacrifice our interests for the peace and prosperity of others.
Thirdly, the case of collision of the height of responsibility with its width is possible. In this case the width of responsibility must be sacrificed to the height of it. For example, family and fatherland are wider than the volume of the individual personality, and therefore an individual must sacrifice himself to them; but the family and society have no right to require from an individual to act dishonorably, to sacrifice own dignity (to commit theft, to break the oath) for the survival and prosperity of the family or fatherland. Keeping in mind the latter two rules, it is possible to discuss, what is true and false in the advice of Caiaphas, given to the Israelites, "it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not" (John 11:50).
We do not assert that these rules give precise directions for all the cases of collisions; such precise indications do not exist. Each individual case requires special consideration and its own solution. The rules serve for the refinement of conscience and for the acquisition of the moral tact. Conscience and tact — senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebr. 5:14), must solve the problems. The more the conscience of the man is perfect and pure, the more accurate the resolution of a question will be. The more the man worries about gaining that spiritual armor about which Ap. Paul speaks in the Epistle to Ephesians (6:10-17), the more successfully he will act in the every given case. Sobriety and prayer have value here. Those who are led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:14), will come out of the most intricate circumstances as victory-bearers. We know from the Evangelical legends that for the Lord Jesus Christ there were no collisions. The most wisely interlaced speeches of the Pharisees were torn up, as the cobweb, before of His Ever-clear look and pure intentions (Math. 22:15 and further). So it follows that a true disciple and follower of Christ can hope for the satisfactory settling of collisions and for the retention of purity and tranquility of the conscience. But if it happens to him not to carry out one responsibility or to move aside another one for some time, because of the performance of a certain duty, then his reassurance consists of the thought, that this is not due to the unwillingness, but to the impossibility to carry out two responsibilities simultaneously. However, his intention is always to combine all responsibilities expediently in himself.
8. Jesus Christ — the Model of Moral Life.
The features of moral perfection of Jesus Christ.
For the success in the moral life the abstract law is insufficient, the concrete example is necessary for such life. We have this model in God: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Math. 5:48); but still we need such an example, which would satisfy the requirements and carry out the moral ideal, under those conditions, in which we were put. This model moves into us the faith in the possibility of the true-moral life on the earth; it attracts us to virtues and paves the way to such life. Such a model we have in the face of the incarnated and having lived on the earth Lord Jesus Christ. In the Holy Scripture there are numerous places, which call us to the resemblance to Christ. For example, in the Epistle of Ap. Peter we read: Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Pet. 2:21). He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:6). Ap. Paul calls the Christians to have the same sensations, which were in Christ: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5), not to please ourselves….for even Christ pleased not himself (Rom.15:1-3), walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us (Eph. 5:2), looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebr.12:2). The Lord said to his disciples after washing their feet: I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you (John 13:15); and pointed at his love as to the example of their mutual love: love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12).
Having a closer look at the model value for us of the life of Jesus Christ, we find that He carried out the highest moral freedom and perfect love in His life. This freedom was manifested in the absence of sin in Him and sensation of the sinful burden, in the harmony of His nature, which excludes passions and any fascinations, and in the powerful and independent attitude to the world. Understanding the complete freedom from sin he says: which of you convinceth me of sin? (John 8:46) or the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me (John 14:30). As the One, Who is sinless (although tempted), the conscience did not burden Him and it did not arise in Him the feeling of separation with the divine will.
The harmonious nature of the Lord Jesus excluded the one-sided predominance in Him of any side of the human personality. For example, we distinguish male and female natures, with the predominance of distinctive qualities. However, in Christ the Savior we see the harmonious combination of male perfections, precisely, —incomparable struggle, conquering the world heroism, and female — kindness, limitless devotion, extreme patience, infinite obedience. We distinguish reserved and contemplative, open and active, or practical characters.
However, in Christ the Savior we see the harmonious combination of the contemplation and practical activity. But the absence in Lord the Savior of fascinations and passions we see from the fact that in Him any emotional state never overcomes the others and the others do not predominate. For example, deep grief is soon changed in Him for sincere happiness, happiness is immediately dissolved by grief (Marc 14:8-9); anger is mitigated by compassion, and compassion passes into anger (Math. 23:39); in humiliation the Lord Savior never forgets of His royal sublimity; and possessing it He always remembers that He accepted the image of a slave and came not so that they would serve Him, but in order to serve the others. Denying the presence of passions in the Lord Savior, we assert that there was only animation and the strong desire to carry out His destination on the earth in Him. Therefore he says: I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 12:49).
Possessing moral freedom, Lord Jesus Christ is so free in all his relations with the surrounding world. For example, he was fasting, but he "is eating and drinking" when finds this necessary. He is out of the family relations, but He accepts the invitation to the marriage. The Son of man hath not where to lay his head, but never asked anybody for alms. He considers Himself free from the payment of tax to the temple; however, He pays tax, finding this necessary for His goal. The Pharisees tempt Him, they want to catch him in the violation of Moses’ law, in the disturbance against the royal authority, but He with a single word exposes all their intrigues and comes out of the temptation as the victory-bearer. People are enraptured with Him and want to proclaim Him the King, but He is higher than any terrestrial honor.
But love the Lord Jesus Christ expressed by leaving the quiet dwelling in Nazareth and stepping onto the thorny way of life, by the fact that He with incredible selflessness and patience worked for the good and salvation of people, He carried their weaknesses and their contradictions and abuse, accepted those despised by everybody publicans and sinners, blessed children, selected the disciples, loved by Him, He was close to His native Israeli people, embraced at the same time the entire world with love and finally voluntarily gave His life for the people. "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16). Love of Jesus does not arrange touching scenes, it does not invent refined expressions; however, how much inimitable tenderness is manifested in the farewell conversation of the Savior with His Disciples, or in the restoration after the Resurrection of fallen Peter!
But love for the Heavenly father Lord Jesus Christ expressed by the unconditional obedience, complete devotion, accurate performance of the will of the Father, by the internal unity with the Father and the sincere prayer, which frequently lasted for the entire night. Even in those hours, in which the Father, apparently, leaves him (on the cross), His love remains invariably faithful, appealing to the Father.
Imitating Christ. The Grace of the Holy Spirit.
Following Christ must not be copying of Christ, not the literal reproduction of all His actions; otherwise we must accomplish all the miracles, performed by Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Savior; our task is in using the fruits of salvation under those conditions, in which we are placed to live on the earth. On the word of the apostle, we must possess the same sensations, the same direction of the will, what was in Jesus Christ. The same image or modus operandi, what was in Him. Although Jesus Christ, as the begotten Son of God was the Only among people, at the same time He expressed in His life and left to us the specific example of the man, which we must imitate and reproduce in ourselves.
The second inaccuracy in the study about the imitation to Christ, characteristic of the rationalists, consists of the statement, that we (as if) can be the true imitators of Jesus Christ and carry out truly God-pleasing life, without being in the internal, spiritual unity with Lord Jesus Christ and having Him only as an external model. No, the relation between the personality of Christ the Savior and the personalities of the Christians is not as external as it is between the teacher and his students. It cannot be said that the students must only be taught by the teacher, but they should also derive the example for themselves from his life. Meanwhile the Christians, being taught from the words of the Lord and imitating His example, must at the same time derive the completeness of life from His personality, live His life. This requirement is clearly expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ in the words: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:4-5). It is evident from these words that the Lord is not only the teacher and model for us, but also the source of moral life.
The force, which opens to us this exemplary source and helping us to derive from it and to live on the doctrine and model of Jesus Christ, is the Holy Spirit, his Divine Grace. By the grace of God I am what I am, says the apostle (1 Cor.15:10). Has there ever existed a true Christian, who would thank himself for his moral Christian state, but not the Lord Jesus Christ, abundantly sending to him grace through the Holy Spirit? Grace is necessary both for the beginning of the Christian life and for its continuation. The apostle says that without grace not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves (2 Cor. 3:5), and even we know not what we should pray for as we ought (Rom. 8:26). However, in the Holy Scripture all the Christian virtues are called the fruits of grace (love, joy, peace, longsuffering…Gal. 5:22-23), whole blameless spirit and soul (1 Thess. 5:23). Have not any Christian experienced that the grace of the Holy Spirit was necessary not only for the first floating of the soul to God, but also later, when emptiness and weakness will begin to overwhelm the soul again?
9. Revival and Sanctification.
Revival, as the matter of the divine grace.
Although the development of the moral Christian life, from the first elusive beginnings to its perfect state of holiness (speaking relatively), includes the wide variety of emotional states and influences of the Divine Grace upon the soul, all this it is possible to bring under the main concepts such as revival, conversion and sanctification (biblical expressions).
The influence of God on the man is called revival. The basic revival, in the true sense of the word, is accomplished in the sacrament of baptism of babies, prior to consciousness and freedom. Everything subsequent is based on this revival (as in the natural life everything conscious and free assumes existence of the unconscious and restricted sphere, from which it is developed). Consequently, the man cannot truly be converted, if over him is not perfected the sacrament of baptism, when the union between God and the man, to whom is opened the inexplicable spring of grace, is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. But besides the revival in baptism, is accomplished the revival of the man by God in his independent and free life. Since the man is a reasonable creature, the influence of God affects not only the unconscious aspect of his life, but also the conscious one, and salvation of the man is accomplished not only with the power of the Divine grace, but also with his own efforts. This revival can be called revival in the wide meaning of this word.
In the conscious and free life the Divine Grace influences the man, reviving him, in the first place, by means of the word, either the sermon about Christ, and, in the second place, by the circumstances of life of the man or by God’s Providence. Ap. Peter says about the revival by the means of the word: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever… And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you (1 Pet. 1:23-25). And Ap. James: begat he us with the word of truth (1:18). But the circumstances of life, which facilitate influence of the reviving grace, can be external and internal. The external include, first, different disastrous upheavals of the entire societies and of each man individually; for example prophet Haggai says: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts (Hagg. 2:6-8). In the second place, different God’s welfares, granted to the man: for example, the Lord’s readiness to visit the house of Zacchaeus so much animated and gladdened him that the favorable crisis occurred in his culpable soul. But the internal circumstances include the emotional sensations of need, dissatisfaction and incompleteness of life. The person, not revived morally, grieves over the circumstance that he is in the land of the shadow of death (Is. 9:2), i.e., it is deprived of the true enlightenment, does not possess the truth, or, that the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15), that he does not love anyone sincerely and is not loved by the others, — either, that tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil (Rom. 2:9), and that he treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 2:5), or, generally, that he that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:12).
However, conversion is the matter of the man himself. Conversion is a radical breach with the sin, "putting off the old man and putting on the new man," on the expression of the apostle (Eph. 4:22-24), stepping onto the new way of life. This breach is accomplished by the man consciously and freely, but under the influence of the Divine Grace. Free will and grace were combined, and the new personality was founded in him, the beginning of the new nature was established, revival and conversion were completed. Ap. Paul says: therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17). Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (Jam. 1:18).
Those being converted can be divided into three classes. To the first class let us ascribe those, who after the baptism went by the road of grave sins and vices. With conversion, they had to break with these sins and vices. As an example it is possible to point at the prodigal son. Ap. Paul thinks of this kind of persons, when he says: But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). To the second class let us ascribe those persons, whom it is not possible to name absolute or obvious sinners, but who are living not on the clean ideal of the Gospel, but on the relative ideals of good sense; although they have not left God, but they zealously serve to the world; according to the expression of the apostle, they are in bondage under the elements of the world (Gal. 4:3), live after the rudiments of the world (Col. 2:8, 20). Ap. Paul says about himself that he all his advantages, which he had possessed before the conversion, imputed for Christ as loss, and even dung (Phil. 3:5 and f.); by this strong expression he wants to show the lowest merit of those goods, to which belonged his heart before conversion, in comparison with that good, the partaker of which he became after conversion. But to the third class let us ascribe the ones, whom it is possible to call the best of the medium of the Christians. These are those Christians, who lived righteously also in the childhood, and, growing up, they preserved themselves, relatively speaking, as innocent and zealously served the Lord. For such persons it is also necessary to be converted. We know from the parable about the prodigal son that the contradictions with the father happened not only with the junior son, who left the house of the father and went via the way of vices, but also with the elder one, which never left the house of the father and lived according to his will (Luke 15:28 and further). So, the eldest son, comparatively innocent and loving the father, had a necessity to put aside something obstinate (Job 4:17 and f.). — Furthermore, conversion is not returning, it is deepening. For each Christian without exception there comes a period in life, when he must consciously convince himself to act in everything according to the Christian requirements he knows about, and freely obtain the determination to go via the way of the Christian virtues. And then to those converted it is frequently necessary to tolerate a real fight with doubts. Without the indicated conversion their life will be only the stereotype repetition of the environment with the features of natural righteousness, and therefore it will have little moral merit. The deepening can be completed, also, with conversion of the other depicted by us categories of persons. Thus, it is said about the prodigal son that he came to himself (Luke 15:17).
The time of conversion.
When does the proper time for the plunging of the man into himself and for conversion come? This depends on the individuality of the man. There are people, who since their childhood already reveal inclination to the reflection and deepening into themselves and who therefore earlier than the others become mature in the religious sense. But it is dangerous to turn children to the religious- moral development by the artificial means prematurely. The time of such conversion comes, when coming out of the childhood. Furthermore, we cannot ascribe time and order of influences on the conscious and free life of the man to the Divine Grace. "The time for the Lord to pass" (Luke 19:4) is given to God.
Does the conversion happen immediately or gradually? If we keep in mind the turning point from one state to another, then conversion is accomplished immediately, but up to this turn there were the preparatory moments, which have their history, and in this sense it is accomplished gradually.
Is it possible to remember the conversion time? It cannot be remembered, if it was completed little by little and unnoticeably, if we for long and much fought, fell not once before conquering the enemy. To remember the fact of conversion is possible, if it is attached to some outstanding case (it is possible to mention blissful Augustine, as an example), or if we revealed some special energy immediately over the defeated enemy. Then time of taking the new road of life is usually memorable for us.
Conversion is accompanied by the feeling of happiness about the deliverance from the fetters of sin and ruin, and about the adoption into the society and the divine life. This is the joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17). That one who found the treasure, as it is said in the Evangelical parable, for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath (Math. 13:44). But not always the degree of happiness corresponds to the degree of conversion that happened. As a result of many circumstances, for example, the individuality of the man, difficulties of the experienced struggle and fear, how to preserve the gained victory, — the glad and calm feeling might not completely correspond to the fact of conversion; the man can still for a while be agitated or sad, although, in the essence, he already has a reason for to be glad. And vice versa, the feeling of joy can precede conversion; the man can be quieted, although conversion did not happen yet in the reality. Therefore it is not possible to trust absolutely to someone’s feeling and to make it the unique standard of measuring one’s degree of conversion. About this must testify the deeds, characteristic of it.
What to think about the late conversion and even that on the mortal bed? For saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ez. 33:11), then we do not have a right to indicate the limit, further than which, from the side of God, the conversion of the man is impossible. God cannot but heed to the appeals of the man, if they are sincere. He cannot reject the sinner, who with a howl of a drowning man stretches his hands to Him. He did not reject the crucified malefactor in the last hour of his life. But from the human side, conversion becomes less possible, the longer one was putting it aside. The sinful habit, ever more taking root with years, makes more difficult the possibility of conversion. Alike results the dying disease, accompanied with the agonizing uneasiness and not at all disposing to the correction of the soul and conversion. Therefore it is dangerous to the highest degree to put conversion aside. That putting aside conversion commits the sin against the Holy Spirit. The Lord Savior calls us not to linger, saying: Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison (Math. 5:25-26). Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain (Eccl. 12:1-5).
Repentance and faith.
If we more precisely analyze the act of conversion, then we shall find in it two moments: repentance and faith. "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" — with such words began the sermon the Lord Savior (Marc 1:15). On the repentance and faith preached John the Baptist in front of the people. The first is the negative moment, and the second one — positive. These two moments are not the separate acts, i.e., as if first carried out one act, and then — the other; they are combined.
Repentance is the living admittance of sin in oneself and its decisive negation in the depth of the soul. One can distinguish the moments of repentance and confession in it. Repentance is deep internal grief, spiritual torment, which is accompanied by the condemnation of one’s sins. If it did not pass into confession, i.e., into the sincere desire to be released of sins and be saved by the mercy and Divine Grace, in the decisiveness "to rise and to go to the Father," consequently, into such a state, which is already filled with faith, then it would finally turn into desperation, since the man finds nothing in himself to pay for his fault. But he has the source, from which he can receive grace for grace (John 1:16). Repentance, generally, is reproach and an appeal about the pardon not because of this or that particular committed sin, although this must take place as well, but because of the general state of guilt, because the man is isolated from God. According to the individuality of the man, the process of repentance and confession is expressed either in the quiet melancholy or agitated anxiety. As to the model of repentance and confession it is possible to recall of King David from the Old Testament, and from the New Testament — of the publican.
Faith is the voluntary acknowledgement of the truths of the Revelation, especially, of the truth of embodiment and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of salvation of the mankind, and His presence beside each Christian, and into the same time faith — is the sincere readiness and desire to be saved by Him and absolute hope, that He will not reject the repentant sinner, but will save him. "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:17-21). And more: we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (Gal. 5:5). The just shall live by faith (Hebr. 10:38).
We shall speak about faith in detail later (in the second part), and here let us only say that faith comprises the seeds of hope and love. Ap. Paul says: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:6). By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2). In the first phrase is expressed the relation of faith to love, and in the second — the connection of faith and hope. In the Epistle to the Thessalonians Ap. Paul, depicting the state of the Christian community by them, for which he unceasingly thanks God and recalls them in his prayers, he names: "work of faith," "labor of love," and "patience of hope" (Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father 1 Thess. 1:3).
Conversion to the new life of a Christian and bringing him to the possible on the earth perfection is called sanctification. It is also possible to name this the formation of the Christian nature. The term "sanctification" is undertaken from the Holy Scripture. The Lord Savior prayed to her Heavenly Father: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world (John 17:17,18). Ap. Paul writes: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23). And he calls the Christians sanctified and the saints (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:2).
It is evident from the indicated places of the Holy Scripture that the participation of the Divine Grace is also necessary for sanctification of a Christian. As a Christian cannot begin the true Christian life without the assistance of God, so he cannot continue it without the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Just as clearly the Scripture indicates the participation of a Christian himself in his sanctification. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1). For this is the will of God, even your sanctification... For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (1 Thess.4:3-7). Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebr. 12:14).
Sanctification is expressed in the Scripture as well by the word "renewing" — in the sense of continuation of the act, which was completed in revival and conversion. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2). Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col. 3:9-10).
In the process of sanctification of a Christian there are two sides: negative and positive. The first is in the extermination of the enemy defeated in conversion, and the second — in the growth of the new life. Both the sides cannot be separated, because in the fight with the enemy the power of life is strengthened and developed; and growth of the force of life of a new person is necessarily accompanied by extermination of the old one.
In revival and conversion the power of sin is overcome; the sin is ejected from the center of the personality to the periphery, from within to the outside. Whosoever is born of God, says the Word of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God (1 John 3:9). The one revived and converted cannot consciously and deliberately agree to sin, until he is truly in the state of revival and renovation. But the sin continues to live in him; and is not only felt by him as a burden, but also constantly awaits and tempts him to return to the previous, old state. Therefore the Word of God says: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown (Rev. 3:11).Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12). So as Christ the Savior rules in the midst of enemies, on the word of the Psalmist (109:2), the same way a Christian accomplishes the matter of his sanctification in the resistance of the enemies. Therefore sanctification or acquisition of the Christian nature is impossible without struggle. Where there is no struggle, there either is achieved the complete extermination of the old person and the completeness of perfection (which in this life is impossible), or the man is conquered and deposed by the enemies of his salvation.
Temptations, by which the enemies attempt to implicate that converted to his previous state, can be of the double nature: enticing, either flattering and threatening, or intimidating. In the first case a Christian is enticed in order to satisfy any form of lust (visual or carnal lust, or of the earthly pride) and to find in this pleasure and happiness. But in the second case he is carried along to run from sufferings and grief, as from unbearable. Although, of course, these two forms of temptations turn one into the other and get combined. In the face of the Lord Savior we see the model of the victory over the both forms of temptation. In the desert He gained the victory over the first form of temptations, while in the Gethsemane garden — above the second one. The first form of temptations happens to a Christian rather in the beginning of the Christian life, and the second, predominantly, at the end. The first form of temptations the Lord Savior meant, when he said: "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Math. 5:29-30). And He meant the second form of temptations, when He told the disciples: "All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad" (Math. 26:31). Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation (41). The wise says: when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials (Sir. 2:1).
Ap. Paul, on the legend of the Book of Acts, "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith" taught them that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (14:22). The special form of the intimidating temptations are those, which generate in a Christian doubts about the truth of the Divine revelation and Providence, or about the confidence in the own salvation. The first kind of temptation underwent Job. And John the Baptist in the hours of the similar temptation sent to ask the Lord Jesus: Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (Math.11:3). But the second kind of temptation kept in mind Ap. Paul, when he said: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:31-34).
When overcoming temptations, while temptations become harmless and not dangerous for a Christian, the progress in his moral life is accomplished, the Christian nature is acquired. But independent of the struggle and overcoming of temptations, in the revived Christian constantly takes place the growth in the spiritual life, as it was accomplished in the Lord Jesus Christ. The spiritual growth can be compared with the physical one. The increase of height is not observed daily, but with the known period of time it becomes noticeable. The same happens with the spiritual growth. After the significant time interval we, and the surrounding us people cannot but note the happened in us change for the better. The change reveals itself in the fact that we become more capable of the easy and perfect resolution of the forthcoming tasks, of selflessness, patience, forgiveness of offences and so forth. Ap. Paul writes: We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure (2 Thess. 1:3-4).
It is possible to combine the entire behavior of a Christian in the state of sanctification with the concept of faithfulness. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life, says the Spirit (Rev. 2:10). Faithfulness combines in itself not only the preservation of what is gained in the moral revival, but also in the increase of that gained. This thought is clearly expressed by the Lord Savior in the parable about talents.
Dangers in the life of a Christian.
From a Christian is directly required such life in the state of sanctification, in which he always remains the conqueror over the enemies of his salvation and their temptations. Ap. John assures us in the possibility of this life: Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Ap.Paul says: God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). Therefore in the epistle to Philippians he writes: And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ (1:9-10). But there can happen, unhappily, such cases, when the morally revived succumbs in the fight and falls. Such cases are implied by Ap. Paul, when he commands to the Christians to accomplish their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). Different downfalls are possible. There can take place the downfall, after which a Christian soon comes to senses and arises, washing by the tears of repentance the sinful spot and strengthening himself for the further fight with the belief in the pardoning and helping Divine Grace. There can be a downfall, after which the man continues to lie in mud of the sin carelessly. There can be the downfall, which occurred as the result of carelessness: or such a downfall, which happened because of the sinful delight and internal predisposition to the sin.
In the latter case there is the threat of the danger to lose taste for the spiritual good, to lose the Divine Grace and to return to that state, when the man was prior to conversion. With such a form of the downfall a Christian needs to pass the entire process of conversion, which we have depicted above, again. But if he remains in the state of non-repentance, then he commits the sin against the Holy Spirit, and therefore, perishes. Unlike the revival in the baptism, which is not repeated, conversion can be multiple. How many times can it happen? The cases of its repetition can take place several times (since God does not want the death of a sinner); but is possible such a case, in which after the first falling away from God the man perishes. In any case Lord the Savior indicates the great danger of falling away from God after conversion, when he says: When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first (Luke 11:24-26).
The more sincere and profound the conversion of a Christian was, the less possible is the falling from God and the less the danger in the case of downfall is (i.e. he will hurry to turn to God again); and the more superficial conversion was, then more rapidly the falling from God will follow, and the more dangerous can be this fall. The given words of Lord the Savior relate in particular to the cases of the imperfect conversion. That those fallen need the divine assistance, if they want to return to the previous state, is superfluous to speak about. King David did not convert and even did not realize his sin properly, until prophet Nathan was sent to him by God. Ap. Peter began to cry bitterly only after he met with the exposing look of the Lord Savior.
Those accomplishing the matter of sanctification must be warned mainly against the two dangers, to which they easily yield. On the one hand, realizing after the first excitement in conversion, the difficulty of the fight and the remoteness of the goal of sanctification (i.e. complete holiness), after feeling from time to time the distraction of his soul (with the educational purpose) from the Divine Grace, experiencing finally several times the defeat in the fight, a Christian easily yields to despondency and cowardice. On the other hand, feeling in himself the abundance of grace, victoriously fighting with the enemies of his salvation and seeing the constant personal growth in the spiritual life, he easily yields to dangerous exaltation and courage. In the first case it is necessary to call a Christian towards courage and hope and to remind him of the words of Ap. Paul: be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10); I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Phil. 4:13). And more: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9). But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses (2 Cor. 6:4). And in the second case he should be reminded of the words of Apostle James: God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (Jam. 4:6); and of the words of the Lord Savior: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Math. 5:3). Humbleness, first of all, is most necessary for preserving and improving of the Christian state. And it is completely compatible with the Christian courage. When I am weak, then am I strong (2 Cor. 12:10). Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).
The means of sanctification.
What are the means for sanctification? In other words, the means for overcoming temptations and victory over the enemies and for succeeding in the Christian life? There can be religious and purely moral means. The means of the first type are as well beneficial, by which the man is reported the helpful Divine grace. These are: pious reflections and reading of the word of God, prayer and sacraments (of confession and the Eucharist). Let us add to them vows. Pious reflections and reading of the word of God — this are mainly the means of divine contemplation and divine enlightenment. Prayer and sacraments — these are the means of mysterious connection of a Christian with God and obtaining grace. However, vows have the value of self-restriction and motivation to lead the religious-moral life.
About these means we shall speak in detail further, in the study about the responsibilities of a Christian in the respect to God. Therefore let us make only the following observation now. There cannot be any growth without nourishment, i.e., without assimilating material and vital forces from without. This relates both to the bodily growth and to the spiritual one. By means of pious reflections, reading of the word of God, prayers, confession and communion there is accomplished the assimilation of God by the soul and obtaining from Him spiritual nourishment. This view is clearly expressed in the Holy Scripture. So the Word of God is called the spiritual bread: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Math. 4:4). The flesh and blood of Christ are named meat and drink indeed: for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:55). But since the whole creation is the mapping of the divine qualities and includes the abundance of forces and phenomena, the spiritual nourishment is borrowed from the world surrounding us: people and physical nature.
The second type of means of sanctification, purely moral ones, consists of self-trial, vigilance, self-curbing and self-exercise. Self-trial is examination, made by a Christian in the light of the divine law of internal life and external personal behavior, for the purpose of revealing weaknesses and deficiencies, with the intention to get rid of them. Ap. Paul calls us to self-trial, when he says: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup… For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged (1 Cor. 11:28-31). Self-trial must not be random; it is necessary to try oneself daily. The best time for that is in the evening. To self-trial contributes solitude. The Evangelists say that the Lord Savior Himself frequently secluded. But in order not to fall into delusion in self-trial, it is necessary to listen to the opinion about us of the other people, both the friends and enemies.
Vigilance, combined with sobriety, is constant attentiveness of a Christian to his moral state and to the surrounding circumstances of his life, especially to the threatening temptations, for the purpose without weakening to rule oneself, to prevent temptations and to use the opportunities for good deeds. To vigilance calls us the Lord Savior Himself, saying: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak… for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come (Маth. 24:42). Peter as well calls for vigilance, for he personally experienced the danger of its deficiency: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). The opposition to vigilance and sobriety are moral negligence and carelessness, compared to sleeping by Ap. Paul: Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober (1 Thess. 5:6), awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead (Eph. 5:14).
Self-curbing and discipline is self-restriction or abstention for the purpose of conquering the old person and assignment of supremacy to the "new" one. Ap. Paul says about himself: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection (1 Cor. 9:27). He commands to the Christians: The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom. 13:12-14). And in another extract: every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things (1 Cor. 9:25). It is evident from these two extracts that self-restriction or abstention must be spread both to the physical and to the spiritual side. It must consist not only of abstention in food and beverages (fasting), etc., but also of abstention in the satisfaction of spiritual inclinations, (for example, to the aesthetical pleasures, the desire to be in the society and converse with people), one especially needs to avoid the inclinations of sinful nature (towards anger and envy, arguments, vindictiveness). Warning against the false self-curbing, which consists of that they curb the body, and give complete freedom to the sinful soul, the apostle says that it has only"a shew of wisdom" (Col. 2:23).
Finally, self-exercise is acquisition of the habit of the moral development and improvement. These are — strengthening the will and its training to do efforts. Ap. Paul calls to the exercise and effort, comparing the Christians with those which run in a race (1 Cor. 9:24) and teaching them in the Epistle to the Ephesians to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," to be enveloped in the divine readiness in order to overcome everything and to keep balance, "take the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace… taking the shield of faith… the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:10-17); and in the Epistles to Colossians he calls to continue in prayer (4:2).
Using such ascetic means, a Christian reaches self-possession and renunciation. Self-possession and renunciation — this is not the same. Self-possession is known to heathens as well, for example, Socrates and in particular the stoics required of their students that they should be their own masters in all situations of their life. However, renunciation belongs only to the Christians. Selfishness can be combined with self-possession; however, renunciation is death of any selfishness. The renunciation of a Christian lies in the fact that he subordinates his will to the will of God and dies for himself in order to have eternal life in God. Self-possession serves this renunciation, as one of its elements. The Lord Savior calls us to selflessness, saying: And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The degrees of sanctification.
Since the old times they distinguished three degrees of sanctification, or acquisition of the Christian nature. To the first degree they assign those beginning their sanctification (incipientes), to the second — continuing (proficientes), while to the third — perfected (perfecti). The basis for this differentiation exists in the Holy Scripture. So Ap. John distinguishes the spiritual ages: little children, young men, fathers (1 John 2:12,14). In the Scripture frequently is encountered the notion "perfect" (Math. 19:21), and also the name of "newborn babes" in Christ (1 Pet. 2:2; Hebr. 5:13). However, the differentiation of degrees of sanctification can be made only relatively, but not unconditionally, since in one sense it is possible to belong to novices, but in the other — to those continuing, in one sense — to those continuing, but in the other — to those perfect.
Those "beginning" sanctification are the people, who, according to the expression of the book of Revelation, are in the state of the "first love" (2:4). Inspired and glad with convertion, they consider "the burden of Christ light" and at the same time are ready to appeal with Ap. Peter: it is good for us to be here (on the earth), let us make here three tabernacles (Math. 17:4). It seems to them that their will is already completely united with the divine will and that they have nothing more to do than to preserve their first connection with the Lord. At the same time the tendency towards holiness and heavenly bliss seems to them compatible with the terrestrial happiness; and they cannot renounce the desire of the latter and inclination towards it. The cross inevitable in the life of a Christian frightens them; they try in every possible way to deviate from it. They grow and develop in the quiet and rest.
Those "continuing" sanctification are the fighters. Introduced by ruling the world both into the history of temptations and into the history of sufferings, they get convinced, that their will is not yet united with the divine one, that they still have to fight with themselves for the achievement of this unity. And they fight. Succeeding, as the result of the fight, in the supremacy of the spirit over the flesh, they at the same time succeed in the development of the spirit and in ability to pray selflessly and to fulfill the responsibilities of their rank and their relations to the neighbor. At the same time they get convinced, that on the way to holiness it is always necessary to be ready to renounce the terrestrial happiness. And they learn to renounce, to be deprived, to suffer, to be subdued.
Finally, to those perfect ones a Christian can be assigned when his will was truly combined with the divine will, and he was so much filled with the heavenly peace, was so raised in the firm hope for the future glory, that all terrestrial grieves and sufferings for him are far more exceeded by this glory (2 Cor. 4:17), and therefore he is ready to renounce even from his most ardent terrestrial desires. Although he realizes his weakness, at the same time he is confident in the complete victory, since he feels that in him lives and acts the One who strengthens him (Phil. 4:13). He truly can speak about himself: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal.2:20). Therefore peace and spiritual joy fill his soul.
But perfection, which a Christian can reach in the present life, is relative. The absolute perfection and complete resemblance to God, which will be given to a Christian in the future life, is inaccessible on the earth. Even Ap. Paul, who, undoubtedly, must be assigned to those perfect, says about himself in the old age: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus…I count not myself to have apprehended (Phil. 3:12-13).
The Responsibilities and Virtues of a Christian.
The second part of Moral Theology presents the responsibilities of a Christian and the corresponding to them particular actions and virtues, and also the study about sins. All the responsibilities of a Christian can be divided into three types: on the responsibilities to God (upward), the neighbor (outside) and to oneself (inward). Ap. Paul in the Epistle to Titus used this expression for this triple kind of responsibilities: denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Tit. 2:12). The triple moral attitude is indicated by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the commandment about love for God, and for the neighbor as for oneself (Math. 22:37-39).
1. Virtues in the Respect to God.
The responsibility of the reverent attitude to God.
All the responsibilities in the respect to God include the general concept of reverence or adoration of God. Reverence is acknowledgement and expression by a Christian of the unconditional dependence on God as on the highest Ruler and Creator of all, and the sheerest devotion to Him as to his father and Benefactor. It is not possible to imagine such relation on the earth, which would be equal to the relation between the man and God. Even the relation between the powerful king and the poorest poor is a very weak similarity of the relations between God and the man, since the terrestrial king, after presenting the poor with all his goods, did not bring him existence and cannot deliver to his soul eternal salvation or eternal death. But this is reported and brought to the man by God. This is why even the seraphims, according to proph. Isaiah (6:2-3), cover their faces, being unable to tolerate the sublimity of the Divine glory. This is why the apostle calls us, born on the earth, to serve God with reverence and godly fear (Hebr.12:28). But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word, — says the Lord through His prophet (Is. 66:2).
Internal and external piety.
If human nature is arranged so that the activity, both spiritual and physical, internal and external, are inseparably connected in it, and if God is the Creator not only of the soul, but also of the human body, then hence naturally follows that we must "glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20). Thus, it is possible and necessary to respect the internal and external. One is inseparably connected with the other. Without the spiritual side, reverence would be the body without soul, lifeless, mechanical, having no price. It would be even hypocrisy, self-delusion; and therefore God through the prophet expresses indignation in the respect to such a divine service: This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me... But in vain they do worship me... (Is. 29:13; Math. 15:8). In the conversation with the Samaritan the Lord calls true worshippers those, who bow to God by the spirit and truth. But, on the other hand, without the outer or physical side, reverence would be incomplete, inoperative and it could not be strengthened in the man. The experience shows that the disregarding external means of expression of religious sensations (the cross sign, bow of the head, kneeling, etc.) usually are deprived of internal religiosity. And vice versa: those zealously and with sense using these means strengthen in themselves the internal religious mood. And it is natural, for indeed each spiritual act is more perfect, the more it finds the corresponding to it expression in his body and the outside world. At the same time each living being attempts to express himself in the outside; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Math. 12:34). Therefore there is no such religion on the earth, which would not have the exterior form of divine service. Abraham was chosen and led by God Himself, but wherever he came during his wanderings — everywhere he arranged the altar for God (Gen. 13, 18 and f.). The Son of God, Who came to the earth, was spiritual to the highest degree, but also He expressed His prayer with external signs (lifting the eyes up to the sky, by kneeling and looking above, John 17:1).
Virtues, expressing the internal reverence.
Since God is the highest good and the final goal of our desires, first He deserves that we most of all would love Him. Only with His assistance and guidance we can reach the indicated goal, then we must most of all trust Him and hope for Him. Since God is our highest Ruler and the infallible Truth, then we must have unconditional faith in Him. These are the three virtues, which express the internal reverence: faith, hope and love. They present the basis and essence of the whole Christian life. Ap. Paul treats them so — now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three. These three basic virtues introduced into the system of moralization blissful Augustine, after replacing with them four basic heathen virtues (temperantia, fortitud, justitia, prudentia). In the contrast to the latter, these three virtues are subsequently called theological virtues. If we focus attention on the content of the apostolic Epistles, then Ap. Paul can be called the apostle of faith, Ap. Peter — the apostle of hope, and Ap. John — the apostle of love.
Faith and its meaning.
We cannot enter into any relation with God, hope for God, love Him and pray to Him and so forth, if not we shall not, first of all, believe in Him. Therefore the apostle says that everyone, for he that cometh to God must believe; without faith it is impossible to please him (Hebr. 11:6). Аnd faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (11:1). In the contrast with the physical world, which is directly seen with our eyes, God (as our soul) is the invisible creature; but nevertheless we must be convinced in the truth of His existence, as we are convinced in the existence of the physical world. If our belief in the existence of the physical world comes with knowledge, then conviction in the existence of spiritual God comes together with faith.
Knowledge (by itself) does not have the character of a virtue, since it involuntarily imposed upon the man with his acquaintance with the external world; however, faith is a virtue (and responsibility), since it is the free acknowledgement of existence of invisible God and the truthfulness of everything reported to us in the Revelation. Therefore Ap. Paul tells about the obedience to faith (submissiveness, Rom. 1:5). He thanks God for the fact that the Romans, were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you (6:17). Faith possesses the element of love, since the religious faith has a personality as its object, i.e., personal God; and personality can and must be the object of love. Consequently, faith seizes all powers of the soul, it comes out of the depth of our essence, it sets in motion the mind, will and feeling, and is not only the cold acknowledgement or even only probable assumption, but is energetic, hot and complete, not requiring the artificial proofs of the logic, conviction in the truth of the One, in Whom we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). Thou canst make me clean — here is the expression of the essence of faith, i.e., direct belief in the miraculous force of Christ.
But where does faith come from? Where is the basis of belief in the existence of God and in the truth of everything opened to us by God? The basis of faith is located in a certain mysterious connection of our soul with God and generally with the truth. On the word of Ap. John, it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6). In the view of this mysterious connection of a human soul with God the heathens as well are strongly drawn to God as to their original source. In the view of the same connection of the soul with the truth, generally, we frequently seemingly sense and guess the truth without excessive discussions on our scientific studies. But this feeling of existing and living among us God in the beginning is, naturally, unclear and unsteady. It is revealed and strengthened in the medium of the heathen world through the examination of the visible world, on the indication of Ap. Paul (Rom.1:19-20), and in the medium of the Christian world — by the study of the sincere Word. This Word is willingly accepted by the truthful person, i.e., listening to the primitive voice in the depth of his soul. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ tells the Pharisees: He that is of God heareth God's words (John 8:47) and Pilates: Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (18:37).
For the strengthening of faith the scientific research of the truths of faith is necessary. The apostles call the Christians in their Epistles to be sound in the faith (Tit. 1:13), no…carried about with every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14), be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope (1 Pet. 3:15). The Lord Himself by no means required the blind, unaccountable faith in Himself; He constantly referred for the proof of the truth of His study to the beneficial character and height of His study (John 3:17-21), to His miraculous deeds (John 5:36), to His holy life (John 8:46), to the evidence of God-Father about His mission (John 5:32,37), to the prophecies of the Old Testament (John 5:39,46). It is as well necessary for the strengthening of faith to go through various events, both sad, and happy, which teach the man to feel on himself the hand of the invisible Ruler, taking care of our life. But the more a Christian is strengthened in the moral life, the more frees his soul from the fetters of this world and cleans his heart and, so, the more worthy he becomes of the mysterious unity with God, the more superfluous become all the outside reinforcements of his faith, and the stronger he believes, disregarding of all resistance and all the apparent contradictions of the mind. Pure by heart in this life already see God with the spiritual eye. Then faith becomes stronger than knowledge. Under the threat of tortures and death people renounced their knowledge (for example, Galileo); meanwhile no tortures and death could force the Christian martyrs to recant the faith.
If in faith the man acts together with omnipotent God, if he even acts due to the power of omnipotent God, then hence it is understandable, why the Lord Jesus Christ allotted to faith such force, that He considered everything to be possible for the believer: If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Math.17:20). Ap. Paul depicts the extraordinary acts of faith in the 11th chapter of the Epistle to Hebrews. The ancient righteous men, he says, by means of faith conquered reigns, built the truth, they got promises, blocked the mouths of lions, extinguished the force of fire, they avoided the point of a sword, they were strengthened in infirmity, they were strong in the war, drove away the regiments of strangers. Ap. John as well writes: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4). But if faith is such a lively and strong connection of the soul with God, that it becomes the starting point, which determines all thoughts and actions of the man and guides them to God and divine objects, then hence it is understandable, why the Lord and His apostles gave such an important significance to faith, that they placed on its dependence the fate and salvation of the man. To the question of the people: What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? — the Lord answered: this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent (John 6:28-29); He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life (John 3:36). Onto the question of the keeper of the prison: what must I do to be saved? — Ap. Paul and Silas answered: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30-31). But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
The sin of disbelief.
The deviations from the Christian faith are expressed in the forms of superstition, coldness and indifference to faith (indifferentism), doubt (or skepticism), apostasy and disbelief (atheism).
The faith of a Christian must be reasonable and have a good basis. It can be higher than the mind, but it cannot be in contradiction with it. But if the man "became vain in imaginations… became fool" (Rom. 1:21-22), faith becomes a superstition, i.e., vain, unreasonable faith. Superstition appears, where they assign such power and expect such actions of the usual terrestrial things, which can be expected only from God; or they assign to God and expect from Him that, what should not be expected and what humiliates the name of God.
The first type of superstition is expressed in the following forms: the idolatry, when people, on the word of the apostle, changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator (Rom. 1:25); guess-work or sorcery, when instead of giving one’s life to the divine providence, they attempt to penetrate into the concealed future in order to arrange their matters; magic, when they call for the help of the evil spirits; the belief in ghosts and spiritism, when they think that the dead or some mysterious forces on the will of the man can enter the game or not depending of his will can disturb him. All these types of superstitions produce a very harmful effect on the moral life, dazzling the mind and heart, mixing up the high truths and rules of the Christian life with the human inventions, and frequently causing religious hatred and fanaticism. Therefore in the Old Testament all forms of sorcery were punished by death (Lev.20:27; Deut. 18:9; Mic.5:11; Zech. 10:2; Mal. 3:5; 1 Kings 28).
But the second type of superstition is expressed in the following forms: first, in the form of abuse in using of the name of God and of the sacred objects, when from their simple use they expect special signs and miracles, and, secondly, in the form of excessively sensual idea about the supernatural objects, when they want almost absolutely to enclose the spiritual into the physical and measure it with the categories of the latter (i.e. space, time, etc.). The third and first commandments of the ten are set, by the way, against these two types of superstition. The first means for elimination of superstitions consists in healthy education with the correct differentiation of the natural and supernatural worlds, which acquaints with the authentic properties and phenomena of one and the other world. But this alone is insufficient, and the educated people can also be superstitious. There is necessary benevolent love for God and devotion to His holy providence.
Indifference to faith — neither cold nor hot — according to the expression of the Revelation (3:15), is the moral state, in which the man does not listen to the voice of his conscience and the sincere law, does not plunge into their requirements, and therefore this voice, which guides our thoughts to God, does not make obvious influence on the human life. With such a state the determining element in life is not the thought about God, but the terrestrial interests. The religious indifference almost always is a sign of sinking of the man into the sensuality and sensual pleasures. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, says the Lord Savior (Math. 6:21). As the type of this vice can serve the Evangelical rich person (this Epicurean and indifferentist), Pilates with his apathetic attitude to the Truth (what is the truth?), the people of the ultimate days of the world; the Lord Jesus Christ prophesies about them: For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Math. 24:38-39). Direction of the thoughts to the spiritual world and its questions and needs is the first and main means against the indifferentism.
If indifference composes the opposition to the living faith, then skepticism, or doubt, is the decisive opposition of faith. The Holy Scripture compares those wavering to a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:6). That wavering has neither the basis nor stability. It is necessary to distinguish theoretical doubt, or that of the mind, and practical doubt, or of the heart. The first unavoidably is connected from time to time with the cognitive work, with searching of the truth, and therefore by itself it is not a sin. The sin begins when to the doubt of the mind gets combined with the doubt of the heart. In this state people do not search for the truth, but loved darkness, on the word of the Lord Savior, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). The doubt about faith is, therefore, the consequence of the moral decline of the human soul. As an example it is possible to point at the Hebrew people of the times of the Lord Jesus Christ, who first declared and confessed the faith in the Savior, then immediately renounced this faith. The same way doubted Ap. Thomas, to whom the Lord said: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29). Especially in our time, when they want to base everything on the experience and to understand everything with the mind, when the knowledge puffeth up (1 Cor. 8:1), and the religious doubt finds its base in this. The sincerity of the heart, simplicity of the soul and authentic desire to possess the truth — here are the means against the doubt. Ap. Thomas possessed these qualities, and therefore his temporary doubt on the spot was converted into complete and firm faith, which was expressed in the exclamation: My LORD and my God! Otherwise the man even with the visual demonstrations of the truth of faith can doubt it, and his doubt can be finally transformed into disbelief.
In the state of disbelief the man denies the existence of personal God. But he calls impersonal and all-absorbing nature as deity, or the absolute. The disbelief is expressed in two forms: either in the form of the idealistic pantheism, or in the form of the materialist naturalism. But denying existence of personal God, the unbeliever as well denies the immortality of the soul, freedom, the moral responsibility, the sin. Selfishness becomes the main element of life and human actions. The human life is represented not more than the highest degree of the animal world. The Holy Scripture calls this state of disbelief of the man folly: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God (Psalms13:1). Besides the pride of the mind, which does not want to subordinate itself to the simplicity of faith, the reason of disbelief in our time is frequently ill-upbringing and bad influences of the people and books. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners…for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame, says Ap. Paul (1 Cor. 15:33-34). Therefore for averting of disbelief it is necessary to spread and strengthen the seed of faith and piety in the man from the early age; and when the disbelief already penetrated into the soul, then it is necessary to influence the whole person, the change of all his dispositions and customs. There are such cases, when an unbeliever immediately becomes a believer as a result of any extraordinary signs either miracles or staggering cases and revolutions in his life. In the Holy Scripture and in the lives of saints are described a lot of such cases and conversions. Nowadays in the press appears the news about such cases as well.
Among the number of sins against the faith let us name apostasy. It is, obviously, the special form of disbelief; specifically, such disbelief, which was preceded by faith and perhaps even sincere one, but it did not prove to be constant and unchangeable. Meanwhile there can be such disbelief, which was always alien to faith, or to which preceded only indifference or skepticism (doubt). So, apostasy is the betrayal of faith. As an example we can point at Julian the Recanter and those Christians, who in the times of persecutions renounced Christ from the fear of tortures, or because of the mundane benefits. But there are examples of deviation from faith in peacetimes as well. The gravity of this sin depicts Ap. Paul, when he speaks in the Epistle to Hebrews: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (6:4-6). The same apostle warns against the sin of apostasy, when he says: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong (1 Cor. 16:13). Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life, says the Lord Himself in the book of Revelation (2:10).
Hope, its qualities.
Christian hope is very closely connected with Christian faith. If faith is confidence in the "invisible," i.e. in the fact that there is the Creator, taking care of the world and that the atonement of the mankind is accomplished by the son of God, then hope is the confidence in "that desired and expected," i.e. the fact that the purpose of creation of the world and atonement of the man will be achieved, and the highest good will be fulfilled. But the purpose of creation and atonement is the common perfection and corresponding to it happiness. Therefore the object of hope is, in the first place, perfection and happiness of each one of us, and secondly, perfection and happiness of all the other people and the whole world. In particular, the subject of hope is the release from the sin and death, the free disclosure of all forces of a human being, the complete connection of the man with Christ the Savior and God-Father by the means of the Holy Spirit. This subject in the most perfect manner is depicted by Apostle Paul in the Epistles to Corinthians and Romans. It is said there that, as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive but every man in his own order Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power …The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:22-28). Then as well for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom.8:19).
The next subject of Christian hope is first of all, and mainly, the future life. But to the extent the moral perfection is accessible on the earth, the present life can be the subject of hope, too. AP. Peter writes: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet.1:13). Ap. Paul expresses hope that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). Not only moral and spiritual values are the subject of Christian hope, but also the physical or bodily ones (health, property, etc.), as much they are necessary for the acquisition of spiritual goods. The Lord himself teaches us to pray about the "daily bread."
Although hope is directed towards the future, as faith is directed towards the past, but faith is directed to the accomplished in the history revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement of the mankind, and earlier — to the creation of the world from the eternity by existing God, so it follows that the essence of Christian hope lies in the fact that the future is manifested in it as the present, being accomplished now, — while the essence of faith lies in representing the past like something happening at the present time. Hope would not be true and efficient, i.e. full of firm confidence and filling the man with courage and energy, if it was only pure expectation, if its subject and purpose were totally absent now, i.e., would be located only in the distant and misty future. The subject of hope, precisely God and Christ, belong to the man at present (Math. 28:20; Eph. 3:20; Luke 1:37). This does not report to the Christian hope falsity and force, as God is not false and strong to save men (on the word of the Holy Scripture, Rom. 3:4; 2 Tim. 2:13; Hebr. 10:23). Ap. Paul says that we are saved by hope (Rom. 8:24) This expression, on the one hand, indicates the fact that our salvation is still ahead and is expected by us further in the future, and on the other hand, that this future by means of the steadfast hope already seemingly exists in the present. For this is also indicated the basis, which consists of the fact that we already, in the present time, have the firstfruits of the Spirit in ourselves: but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23). Hence we see that hope can take place only in the Christianity. Although hope, as faith, is characteristic of the man in general, but out of the Christianity there is no sufficient basis for hope. Therefore the apostle calls the heathens as others which have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13).
True (Christian) hope is the simple and barren desire, proceeding from the merry disposition, but it is the voluntary and fruit-bearing determination and therefore, as faith, is a virtue. In this determination are combined, in the first place, the readiness to tolerate all the occurring sufferings (the internal and external "cross," according to the Evangelical expression), in the understanding that they are assigned to us by the fostering mercy of God, since we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22), and whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (Hebr. 12:6; Rev. 3:19), and though now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Hebr. 12:11); secondly— contentment with the personal state, and realization that each one of us is put at his own place and in his state by God Himself (1 Cor. 7:20; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11; Rom. 12:3-8), and that for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Tim. 6:7,8); thirdly — faithfulness to the will of God and hope for Him in realization that He cares about us (Math. 10:29 and f.), that the hope for Him maketh not ashamed (Rom. 5:5), that all things work together for good to them that love God (Rom 8:28) and that if we have the Lord, we would not ask about none upon the earth, not in heaven (Psalms 72:25). The Christian hope, obviously, directly calls to patience, without which its existence is impossible; therefore the virtue of patience is the daughter of hope.
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it, as the apostle said (Rom. 8:25). The Lord Jesus Christ call us to be patient when He says: In your patience possess ye your souls (Luke 21:19), But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Math.24:13), — and Ap. Paul, when he says: let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebr. 12:1-2). Apostle James points at the model of patience in the example of Job (5:7-11).
Christian patience differs from the stoic renunciation or apathy (impassivity). This becomes evident from the above-indicated qualities of Christian hope. A Christian hopes for the power of eternal God, Who desires to him any good and therefore is directing everything towards his welfare; while a stoic knows only the impersonal power of nature, only blind fate, which cannot take into account his interests. A Christian tolerates all those occurring sufferings voluntarily, because of obedience to his good and merciful to him God; meanwhile a stoic forces himself to tolerate the inevitable evil and to get accustomed to it. Therefore a Christian is not humiliated with sufferings, while a stoic is. Further, a Christian, by the voluntary subordination to the highest authority and hope for it testifies about his humbleness and submissiveness, which will lead him to the final reconciliation with the highest force, to the fulfillment of hope and to the crowning of his patience; however, a stoic by the willful resistance to that being outside and above him force testifies about his pride, which never and nowhere gets calmed and does not achieve its goal. Finally, a Christian with all sufferings and humiliations values life and realizes high merit of the entire existence in general, while a stoic treats the existence neglectfully; he even frequently despises his own life.
The absence of hope.
Deviations from Christian hope are expressed in the forms of self-reliance, weak faith, false hope, impatience and desperation. As an example of a self-reliant person, it is possible to remind of that Evangelical rich person, who, relying on his wealth, considered his position durable, reliable, instead of relying on God. Other people, instead of God, put not their trust in princes… in the son of man, on the Psalmist’s expression, on the important and powerful of this world; in whom there is no help (Psalms, 145:3). Still others rely on their abilities, resourcefulness, experience, shielding by them the divine help. Such hopes are condemned by the words of Ap. James: Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that (4:13-15). Thus, self-reliance always puts hope for this terrestrial world, for its perishable and transient benefits against hope for God, Who alone is unalterable and not perishable. Keeping that in mind, Ap. Paul commands to Timothy: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). The Proverbs say: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Prov. 3:5).
Weak faith is shyness of the human soul, which does not find in it the ability to rely on the future decisively and firmly. It appears from a deficiency in strong faith in the providence of God in the difficult circumstances. In this state once were, for example, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ during the floating through the stormy sea. In great fear they woke the sleeping Teacher and appealed to Him: save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? (Math. 8:26). To those having weak faith and the timid are addressed the words of Ap. Peter: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:7). Those having weak faith must be taught from the Psalmist, who in the misfortunes appealed to himself: Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance (Psalms 41:5, 2 Cor. 4:8 and f. 6:8).
False hope is rash, dreamy, even audacious hope for God. It is expressed, mainly, in two forms. First, in the state and desire of the man to manage the matters of the divine providence and miraculous force of God arbitrary. For example, they subjected their physical and emotional life to a great danger in the hope, that they will be miraculously saved; they confidently expect a miracle from God as the proof of somebody’s innocence; in need and poverty they are inactive in the expectation of the divine help; in disease they do not want to see a doctor, giving the whole matter to God. In this case the man tempts God, according to the biblical expression (Deut. 6:16, Math. 4:7). Secondly, false hope is manifested in the extremely great confidence in one’s own eternal salvation. That false hoping in this sense forgets the words of the apostle: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). To the both types of false hope are directed the word of the wise: he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool (Prov. 28:25-26). There can be such strange and senseless false hope: the man requests and expects the assistance of God in evidently evil matters and deeds, for example, in vindictiveness, stealing, fraud and the like. To expose such false hope Ap. James writes: Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (4:3).
Impatience is such a state, in which the man is agitated and burdened by the terrestrial life, with its disorganizations and disasters, and impatiently expects the fulfillment of the divine promises, about the absolute revelation of the reign of God and about the coming fulfillment of everything that exists. Instead of obeying the order of the gradual arrangement of the reign of God and of using the conditions of the terrestrial life as the means of education for the reign of God, the man wants to destroy this order, prematurely gain this glorious Reign, and therefore constantly complains about the terrestrial life. Already the first disciples of the Lord addressed Him with the impatient question: is not this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6).
Love for God.
Faith and hope are not sufficient in order to raise the man to the highest degree of the moral state. The devils also believe, and tremble (Jam. 2:19). For the achievement of the indicated goal love for God is necessary. Love for God is an ardent desire and aspiration of the soul of the man to get connected with God as with the highest good, and therefore, the highest object of desires and aspirations. The Psalmist expresses this with the words: As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalms 41:1-2). And Ap. Paul says: I am…having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ (Phil.1:23). In this connection with God the soul finds the complete rest and bliss by the means of love.
The elements of love are already included in the Christian faith, this mother of all virtues; since the true faith already contains grains of that childish receptivity in it, which reaches the further development in love. But in love is developed not only the receptivity, as in faith, but also devotion, i.e., giving oneself to God, and in the terms of this it differs from faith and exceeds it. Therefore the Apostle said about charity that it is greater than faith (1 Cor. 13:13). But love together with need leads to hope; since the incomplete unity of the man with God (the incomplete realization of love for God), impels him to hope that it will be carried out in the future. But love nevertheless remains the object of hope; and hope will cease, when love will be absolutely accomplished. That is why the apostle gives greater significance to love, in comparison with hope (but the greatest of these is charity, 1 Cor. 13:13).
If by the means of faith a Christian enters into the secrets of divine knowledge, then by the means of love he enters into the secrets of divine life. Ap. John says: he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16), in it is established the relation of being the son of God. But to him also are opened the highest secrets of knowledge, since in love his spirit becomes open for the messages and actions from the side of God, and his close unity with Him can be compared to the relations between two friends. And about the friendly relations the Lord said: Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you (John 15:15). Apostle John as well says: He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (1 John 4:8).
Although love, as faith, and hope, composes the natural necessity of the man, and therefore without love as without faith, or hope, the man cannot live, love, as faith and hope, obtains the highest character and becomes a virtue when it is combined with the sense of duty, which directs it to the certain object, that is, to the object, worthy of love. But the highest and most worthy object of love is God. But how love for God can be made the object of duty, when it is the free feeling, independent of anyone’s orders or the will of the man! Is it possible to love by order, by commandment? It is possible in a certain sense, it is possible with the sense of duty to direct attention to the infinite kindness and divine beauty and to revive in oneself those ideas, from which naturally comes love for God (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9 and further, Rom. 5:8). Therefore there is the commandment of love for God, and together with that it is called principal: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment (Math. 22:37-38, Deut. 6:5). It is also possible to pray about lighting and maintenance in us of love for God, since the love of God, on the word of Ap. Paul, is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5); and on the word of apostle John: for love is of God (1 John 4:7). Generally, as any virtue (for example, faith), love is excited in us, first of all, by God; our love is the answer to the love of God. Therefore Ap. John says: We love him, because he first loved us (verse 19); and more: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us (verse 10).
Someone will ask: is love for God, Who is the invisible creature, possible (No man hath seen God at any time, John 1:18), and if it is possible, then how? In order that love for any creature could be conceived, it is necessary to have, first of all, the concrete visualizing of this creature, expressed for us in any sensory image. Therefore A. John says: he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:20). Consequently, the visual image is the first necessary condition of love. And we learn to love God, first of all, on the example of people, loving people, who are the image of God. A child, for example, first of all loves his father and mother, and then he transfers love for parents to the invisible God. At the same time on the basis of the Holy Scripture, which depicts the essence and qualities of God, and especially on the basis of the Evangelical legends, from which we learn about the life and deeds of the Lord Jesus Christ, who incarnated and lived among people, we compose the visual idea about God as about the ever-blissful and loving creature, and we bear it in our mind and heart. To this idea contribute the observations of visible nature (since the invisible is His, and His are eternal forces and Deity, from the creation of the world through the understanding by the things that are made (Rom.1:20). But the Lord Jesus Christ is not only a historical person, who once lived on the earth and now does not exist on it: He till now invisibly dwells among us, exciting in us by the Holy Spirit love for Himself and God. Meaning this, Ap. Paul calls us to remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead (2 Tim. 2:8). Ap. Peter says that, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet. 1:8).
The qualities of true love for God.
In order to present the qualities or signs of true love for God visually, let us compare this love for the Heavenly Father with love of a child for his terrestrial father. Sincerely loving his father, a child must, in the first place, have awe or the filial fear for him. Similar to this a Christian expresses true love for God, first of all, with awe, or fear of God. Fear of God is the sacred fear not to do anything unworthy and sinful before great and dear God. This fear not only does not contradict to love, but it is even required and is completely compatible with it. Loving someone sincerely, we in every way possible try not to insult him with anything. And the higher the dear creature is, the more reverentially we treat him, the more we beware of causing him something unpleasant, of cooling his love for us and making him anger. — Therefore fear of God is called in the Holy Scripture the beginning of wisdom and the condition of any moral activity (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 8:13, 9:10, 15, 33; 16:6; Ps. 110:10; 112:1; Deut. 5:29; 6:2. 13; 10312, 20; Sir. 2:15-17; 2 Cor. 7:1).
Ap. Peter, and the Old Testament Ecclesiast call to fear God (1 Pet. 2:17; Eccl. 12:13); and the Psalmist calls to serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling (Ps. 3:11). Ap. Paul writes: let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1); let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebr. 12:28); submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:21). And ap. Peter says: pass the time of your sojourning here in fear (1 Pet. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:11; Philip 2:12; Acts 9:31). But there also exists slavish fear, incompatible with love and unworthy of a true Christian. Thinking of this fear, Apostle John says: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). And Ap. Paul says: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Rom. 8:15; 2 Tem. 1:7). While the man is on the lowest stage of the moral state, up to that time the motives of his moral activity are mixed with slavish fear, i.e., the fear of punishment, which has torture in it, on the word of the apostle, i.e., causes anxiety, uneasiness. But especially experiences this torture the person who is vicious, who is under the constant fear of punishment of God and who experiences uneasiness of conscience (Luke 19:21). But the more a Christian is improved in the moral life and in love for God, the more he approaches Him and unites with Him, the more his fear of God becomes filial, that, which brings not torture, but peace into the soul.
In the second place, a child must prove love for the terrestrial father by obedience. Therefore the second quality or sign of love of a Christian for God is obedience. Lord Jesus Christ Himself said to his disciples at the Mystical Supper: If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23), if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love (15:10). The same says the beloved disciple of Christ: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments (1 John 5:3). If we experienced in our heart even the sweetest feelings of love and assured in it by the most ardent words, but would not have the corresponding deeds, then we would be in self-delusion, thinking that we have true love; we would be similar to the barren fig-tree, covered with gorgeous leaves. The truly loving without fail selflessly acts for the beloved. But since the commandments of God include our responsibilities not only to God, but also to the neighbors, then our love must prove itself by the active fulfillment of responsibilities not only to God, but also to the neighbor. Therefore Ap. John says: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar…and this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also (1 John 4:20-21). And more: But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (1 John 3:17). Consequently, love for God and true love for people not only are compatible, but also need each other. Loving God, we must love everything that is of God. Thanks to love for the neighbor, whom we see, we learn to love God, Whom we do not see.
Thirdly, a child must prove love for the terrestrial father by gratitude. Therefore the third sign or quality of true love of a Christian for God is gratitude. Gratitude is the appreciation for the obtained blessings, connected with the need to prove gratitude in reality. A Christian even in the successes of his occupations sees the divine gift. Gratitude to God is expressed in prayer, by the good usage of the sent goods, sacrifice to God, by sharing one’s goods with the neighbor. In the last case the grateful recalls the word of the Lord Jesus Christ: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Math. 25:40). Ap. Paul in many extracts of his Epistles calls the Christians to giving thanks always for all things unto God (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 18), giving of thanks, be made for all men (1 Tim. 2:1), do all, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col. 3:17; Phil. 4:6).
Fourthly, loving the terrestrial father, children always worship him and are zealous about his honor. Therefore let us name the respect for God and zeal about his glory the following sign of love for God. To revere God means willingly recognize by the entire behavior the divine sublimity and glory, and to express the personal evidence about subordination and dependence on God. If the Pharisees told that born blind: Give God the praise (John 9:24), then they called him to honor God by the confession of the truth. If the Lord Jesus Christ says about the heeled lepers: there are not found that returned to give glory to God (Luke 17:18), — then He reproaches them in the fact that they did not honor God by the gratitude. If in the Book of Proverbs the wise says: He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker (14:31), — then by these words he calls us to revere God by the fulfillment of his commandments. In the Epistle of Ap. Peter the reverence of God is called the patient and glad toleration of sufferings (1 Pet. 4:16); and in the book of the Revelation — the repentance in life without God and giving Him glory (16:9). We revere and glorify God by prayers of gratification and chants, by arrangement and decoration of the Holy temples, by many religious rites, by perseverance of the Holy feasts in holiness. The anointment of the feet of Jesus by Mary by the precious Myrrh can be an example for us. To the reverence of God belongs the zeal about the honor and glory of God. The son cannot remain indifferent, when they blame and gossip about the name of his absent father. So a Christian cannot remain indifferent, when the name of his heavenly Father is abused by words or actions. This is the negative side of zeal about the honor of God. But the positive one is in spreading between the people the true understanding of God and good disposition sermon, with the example and other possible means so that the name of God could be hallowed not only in us, but also out of us so that His Kingdom would come not only to us, but also to all.
Finally, loving the terrestrial father, children always remember about him, they keep his image in the heart, and it guides them even during his absence. Therefore let us name the last sign of love for the heavenly father as remembering about God. It consists of the ability to be more often distracted from the world and its entertainments and to concentrate the thoughts on God and His attitude towards us and by this method to excite in ourselves the appropriate feelings and intentions. And even among the labors and terrestrial occupations a true Christian unceasingly prays (Thess. 5:17). The Psalmist calls blissful that one, whose will is in the law of the Lord and who reflects about His law day and night (Ps. 1:2-4; 118:1-11). Jesus, the son of Sirach, says: Reflect on the precepts of the LORD, let his commandments be your constant meditation; then he will enlighten your mind, and the wisdom you desire he will grant (6:37).
Absence of love for God.
Opposite of true love for God are: A) pride and distorted love for oneself. Pride is locked in the circle of its own interests and targets, and thinks only of its own honor and benefit, but not of the glory of God and general benefit. The center, around which revolves its entire life, is not in God, but in its own ego. It, obviously, lacks selflessness and mercy, without which there cannot be true service to God and truly moral life. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Math. 16:24), — says the Lord.
b) Excessive love for creation on account of love for the Creator, i.e., muffling the feeling of love and aspiration towards the Creator. Such distorted love for the world is unavoidably connected with the distance of the man from God and selfish love for himself. After renouncing God, the man nevertheless searches for the object of his love, and this object seems to him to be in the surrounding world. And the more willingly he handles his heart to it, for in there everything enhances his selfish disposition and satisfies his lust (the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, on the word of Ap. John, 1 John 2:16). Meaning such distorted love for the world, Ap. James writes: the friendship of the world is enmity with God (4:4). Lord Jesus Christ Himself said: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Math. 16:26). That is why Ap. John says to the Christians: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15). Love for the world is correct and legal only when we love the world not as an independent existence, which has as a goal in itself, but as the creation of God, which has its final goal in the Creator, and when, therefore, love for the world is subordinate to love for God.
c) Laziness and the oblivion of God. Although the man in this state realizes the need for placing God above all and serving to Him more than to anything else, the heavy body and soul draw him not to the top, but to the bottom. Yielding to this inclination, he neglects the service to God; and such little by little conducts him to the almost perfect oblivion of God. Meaning this inclination, Lord the Savior says: And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life…Watch ye therefore, and pray always (Luke 21:34-36).
d) Ingratitude in the respect to God. The ungrateful to god either sees the reason of his happiness and any good in his own abilities and force (and sometimes fate), or values the gifts of God too little and thinks a little about them. Even ingratitude to people is considered in the society a rough and shameful deed; the worse it is in the respect to God. "An ungrateful person" — such an opinion is rather humiliating. For the disgrace of the ungrateful the Lord points at the nonverbal animals, instinctively drawn to their benefactor, through proph. Isaiah: The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider (Is. 1:3). In the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ expressed the indignation with the ungrateful while healing the lepers: Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger (Luke 17:17-18). Ingratitude testifies about the dry, and often of together with that perfidious heart.
e) The false zeal about God or fanaticism. This defect is the aspiration for to spread the divine knowledge and to guard the honor and glory of God not by those means, which are indicated in the Gospel and which correspond to the spirit of Christ and religion, which are: patient directing, gentle making listen to the reason, a good example, the honest attitude to one’s occupation, attention to human dignity. But by such means, which contradict the Christian religion and its commandments, like: violence, fear, persecution, power-loving and ambitious plans. But after being blinded with the passion, fanatics cannot make the choice between the truth and the lie and therefore consider to be the truth only that what they preach and are zealous about, and all the rest they impute to be a lie and consider it unworthy of existence. In order to see the models of fanaticism, let us recall the propagation of Mohammed's study by fire and sward, about the horrors of the Spanish inquisition, about the Bartholomew’s night and the like. If about the Zealots (adherents of the Law of Moses) Ap. Paul said that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2), then moreover this judgment should be referred to the mentioned fanatics.
f) Hatred towards God. It is the perfect opposition of love for God. Instead of searching for the communication and union with God, that one, who hates God, breaks any union with God, he fights against and jeers about everything sacred, wants to throw away from himself any dependence on God and avoids any reminders of Him. Although he is internally forced to believe in God, since the devils also believe, and tremble (James 2:19), but tries to muffle this faith with blasphemy. To him might be related the words of the Psalmist: Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us (Ps. 2:1-3).
Faith, hope and love for God, belonging to the internal essence of a Christian, hiding themselves in the depths of his soul, nevertheless are revealed and expressed in the outside. The forms of their external detection are the following: the prayer, public divine service, sacraments, the Christian way of spending the holy feasts and fasts.
The prayer is a conversation of the human soul with God. This way determine the prayer John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nissa, Ephraim the Syrian. In this conversation with God the man speaks out his desires and requests, expresses to God gratitude and glorifies Him. Therefore they divide the prayer into supplication, thanksgiving and glorification (Math. 7:7; John 16:23, 24; Philip. 4:6; Rom. 15:6; Math. 11:25). If in the prayer we open our desires and needs before God, then this does not mean that the prayer is the means to make known to God our needs and desires. God, being Omniscient, always knows everything, but as the terrestrial father, well knowing the needs of his child, nevertheless frequently satisfies them only then, when a child will turn to him with a request, the same way acts with us our heavenly Father.
The prayer is one of the responsibilities, especially frequently suggested to us by the Holy Scripture (Math.7:7; Mac. 11:24; James 1:5 and f. 1 Tim. 2:1-3 and f.). Only to that praying is given the promise of proximity to God and of salvation: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:8); the LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them (Ps.144:18-19). Some protestant moralists call the prayer only the means for the acquisition of virtues. In fact it is not only the means for the acquisition of virtues, but also a virtue itself in its living manifestation. But, on the other hand, it is important to say that virtues are acquired in the prayer, since the prayer inspires the human soul, makes it light and capable of any good deed, brings down on it the abundance of the divine grace and makes human life truly Christian.
Some philosophers reject the value and necessity of prayer (Kant, for example). They indicate that the man by his desires and words, said in the prayer, cannot change the world order, the world guidance will go its way, disregarding of that, if we pray or we do not. But to assert so means to deny the moral world order, i.e. to recognize the action in the world and mankind only of the blind and restricted forces. The one who accepts the moral world order (And Kant, the greatest enemy of materialism and eudemonism, fights for the moral order), necessarily must agree that the world order and life flow are caused, by the way, with human freedom and actions; consequently, they can change one way or another, depending on the human actions, to which belongs the prayer. In the Personal World Guidance God takes into consideration human actions in general, and in particular, and the prayer as well. Depending on one or another character of human actions, God says: — I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand (Deut. 32:39; 27:15). But the rejection of prayer by the pantheists and materialists is understandable by itself: if they do not accept the existence of personal God, then there is no one to appeal to in the prayer.
As far as the object of the prayer is concerned, one should beware of two extremes. Some personalities (especially highly educated and philosophizing) are filled by that persuasion, that one should pray only generally, about the general good, that God would arrange everything in the best possible way, on His very wise and ever-good will, but it is not necessary to pray, they think, about any particular objects and blessings (for example about the recovery, satisfactory return from the journey, deliverance from danger, success in deeds, etc.), since it is left for the man only to give himself into the will of God; the prayer can be only one: Thy will be done! The other personalities (open-hearted and incapable of the philosophical thinking) focus attention during the prayer mainly on the particular objects and cases of life; they want as if to give God detailed directions, when and how he can help them and free them. One should keep to the average way. On the one hand, a Christian has the right to appeal to God for help in different particular cases of his life and to expect help. Ap. Paul writes: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philip 4:6). And we have the right to turn to God for help not only in the spiritual need, but also in the physical; in the prayer "Our Father" there is the plea about the daily bread. But, on the other hand, we must give ourselves into the will of God and subordinate all our particular desires and needs to the common general desire and need: let the Kingdom of God come.
The model of such a prayer gave us the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: He prayed in the Gethsemane garden, saying: O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, but He finishes His prayer with the words: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Math. 26:39). Ap. Paul says about himself that he begged the Lord thrice so that He would move away from him the disturbing him angel of the satan, but it was said to him: my grace is sufficient for thee (2 Cor. 12:7-9). When our prayers are not fulfilled, we must be satisfied with the thought that the divine grace remains with us, which is better than any particular and temporary benefits of life; that we nevertheless remain the children of God. We must remember that God is not the Distributor of gifts, but also our educator, therefore we must submit to his upbringing leadership.
What are the conditions of the blessed and successful prayer? The one, who wants to pray with the true prayer, must first pray with faith, not at all doubting in the power of the prayer. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive, says Lord Jesus (Math. 21:22). But let him ask in faith, writes Ap. James, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord (1:6-7). The consciousness of the personal unworthiness must not harm faith and hope during the utterance of the prayer, since we rely not on our merits, but on the merits of Lord Jesus Christ and on the mercy of God. And, so, during the prayer deep humbleness is required.
Therefore as the second condition of the true prayer it is necessary to have humbleness and to realize the personal unworthiness. We know the parable about the subdued and "justified" publican and the full of pride and "unjustified" Pharisee. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise, says King and Prophet David (Ps. 50:17). But to this man will I look, — says God through the prophet, — even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Is. 66:2).
Thirdly, that praying with the true prayer must free his soul from any sensuality so that his soul could be spiritually raised and breathe with the finest air of eternity. Therefore the Lord commanded to us to pray likewise: And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life (Luke 21:34). Not by chance from the earliest times and in all nations prayers were combined with fasting. Each one knows from his personal experience, how difficult it is to pray with the full stomach and how easy it is to be present at the divine service without eating. Generally the person, not capable of ruling his sensual inclinations, cannot be a true man of prayer.
Further, for the accomplishment of the true prayer is required the concentration of thoughts and spirit, strict attentiveness. Absent-mindedness is opposite to it. Even the great men of prayer acknowledged that for them it was not always possible to avoid absent-mindedness while praying. It is necessary to prepare oneself, looking at an icon, to think of the presence and sublimity of God, to renounce the usual occupations and that position, which can distract the thoughts from the prayer and scatter them. Before making a vow have the means to fulfill it (Sir. 18:23), writes the wise. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door (Math.6:6), says Lord Jesus Christ. But when during the prayer there come strange thoughts into the head, then, according to the Ladder-writer, with the first encounter it is necessary to rebuff them in mind (Degr. 28).
Finally, the one who wants to pray successfully and God-pleasingly must bring his will as a sacrifice to the divine will (the prayer is an offering) and banish from the heart all the passions. God will not begin to found his throne in that soul, in which idolatry altars are arranged. Ap. Paul says: The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19). He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination, says the wise (Prov. 28:9). About the discord with the neighbor as an obstacle for successful prayer, Jesus Christ says: Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Math. 5:23-24).
From everything aforesaid it follows that the prayer is in the close connection with the entire life of the man. The one whose life is not directed towards the desire to become a favorable sacrifice for God, that is not prepared to the sacred offering of the prayer. The having regained vision born-blind judged well, when he said: God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth (John 9:31; Luke 6:46).
According to what signs is it possible to learn that the prayer was heard? According to the three signs. First, due to the feeling of internal peace in oneself after the prayer, the peace of God, which exceeds any reason; secondly — noticing in oneself the increase of the highest force, which revives us in our weaknesses; thirdly — due to the internal illumination. When all this happened, then words of Christ were carried out: we (I and my Father) will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23). It happens sometimes, that after the prayer one notes nothing special, sometimes even comes the state of dryness or certain dissatisfaction. This must not confuse a Christian; he should continue his activity, must pray in the time settled for the prayer. We already know that God is not only the Distributor of goods, but also the educator of the man. For the purpose of testing and strengthening of faith, sincere devotion and patience of that being praying, God sometimes closes from him His Kingdom, deprives him from the spiritual soothing sent before. As an example it is possible to mention the Canaan woman, whose request Lord the Savior first left without attention and even treated it cruelly, but then exclaimed: O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt (Math. 15:28). So, the prayer of a Christian must be persistent. It must be as persistent as, according to the words of the Lord’s parable, the request of a widow to the judge about her protection from the rival: "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" (Luke 18:7). Ap. Paul writes: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Col. 4:2).
In the fight with obstacles for the prayer and while praying without slips and laziness, the praying gift is acquired, i.e., predisposition to the prayer and capability for the perfect prayer. It is possible to say that the gift of prayer, as the other spiritual gifts, are sent to a Christian by the divine mercy, but it must be acquired by him. On the one hand, a Christian must be attentive to the visits of the Holy Spirit in his soul, he must pray especially in those hours, when he has the mood to pray and to appeal to God about sending him the praying gift. But on the other hand, he must not remain without prayer in those times, when he does not have the mood for the prayer, he must submit to the praying discipline, realize, that the prayer is his responsibility, and therefore it must be accomplished as any another duty.
The Apostle commands to the Christians to pray unceasingly (1 Col. 5:17). And the very Lord Jesus Christ said: Watch ye therefore, and pray always (Luke 21:36). This does not mean that we must put off the terrestrial matters and spend all our time in prayer. Even recluses and anchorites of the first centuries, these perfect specimens of the contemplative prayer, sometimes replaced the prayer with terrestrial concerns. The commandment about the unceasing prayer relates not to the external prayer, expressed by the specific words and position of the body, but to the internal, to supplication in the Spirit, on the word of the apostle (Ephes. 6:18). Unceasingly prays the one who constantly stores the praying arrangement in his spirit, who often raises the mind and heart to God among the terrestrial works, and in particular begins and finishes works with a prayer, who all his deeds directs to the glory of God and builds his life in accordance with the will of God. St. John Chrysostom writes: "Do not tell me that it is impossible for an occupied person to spend the entire day in prayer. It is possible. In prayer are necessary not so much the sounds, as the thought, not the uplifting of the hands, but the elevation of the mind; not the external looks, but the internal sense. Any place or time cannot disturb it. If only your spirit becomes ardent because of the prayer, then although you do not kneel, do not uplift hands and do not beat yourself at the breast; your prayer is perfect." This way, for the accomplishment of prayer it is not necessary to express it by words. Overwhelmed by a praying feeling or plunged in the terrestrial work a Christian does not always find the suitable words for his prayer; then he prays with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26). The prayer of the publican in the temple, which was expressed by sorrowful sighs, was more pleasing to the Lord than multiple words.
But we as well need the ready specimens of the prayer. And such specimens exist. The first and main prayer, the model of all prayers, is the prayer of the Lord "Our Father." Brief in volume, but rich in the content, it envelops everything essential, about which a Christian must pray. The sky and the earth, the height and depth, glory and sublimity of God and need and calamity of the man — all this is combined here. This prayer is applicable to any position and case of life and it is equally suitable for all people. It is divided into two parts: the first directs our thoughts upwards to God, whose honor, reign and will must be the first object of our desires; and the second one brings our thoughts down to the earth, directs them to our physical and spiritual necessities and needs. We also have the prayer-book, complete and shortened, that contains the certain number of prayers, fitted for the morning, evening, the beginning and end of labors, the beginning and end of the meal. There we would find the main canons and Acathists to the Savior, the Mother of God and certain saint, short chants for the feasts and some other days. As an excellent guide for the praying flight of our souls to God can also serve the book of Psalms, which abounds with pleading, thanksgiving and gratification prayers. But still more prayers of different kind are contained in our Books of Needs. Our orthodox church can boast with the extraordinary abundance of the divine service chants and prayers, comprised by the Holy fathers of church and brought into use since the first centuries of the Christianity. But for each individual Christian it is impossible, and even unnecessary to have all the books of Needs in order to pray, using them. For to pray on these books we must come to a temple for the public prayer or public divine service.
The Divine Service.
The secret prayer, in the closet, with the door shut (Math.6:6), is the first and most convenient for any time form of prayer. But the man is not only an individual, i.e., a single creature; he is a member of the genus as well. As such, he must participate in the life and activity of other people and the entire society. And as he participates in the general life of his family, society and the state, the same way he must also participate in the joint life of the church as its member. And if the family and public or state meetings are gathered for different terrestrial needs and occupations, then the meetings of the church are comprised for the highest needs, for the direct service to God. Lord Jesus Christ left to us the vow of success and of the own God-pleasing state of the public prayer, or of the divine service, accomplished in the temples, when he said: For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Math. 18:20). Ap. Paul left us his will to be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephes. 5:18,19). And we know from the book of the Acts of the apostles, already the apostles and the first Christians gathered for the unanimous prayer: These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, it is said about the apostles (1:14; 2:1); And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, it is said about the first Christians (2:42-46), converted by the sermon of Peter.
The very Lord Jesus Christ prayed not only in the solitude, but also in front of the people (at the revival of Lazarus, John 11:41 and f.), and among His disciples (at the Mysterious Supper, John 17:1 and f.). The force of public prayer depends on the fact that in the church meeting the prayer comes from that person, living especially in the church or the Christian society of the Holy Spirit, and both weakness and insufficiency of the prayer of a single person are completed by fortitude and perfection of the prayer of all. Furthermore, the public prayer raises the feeling of co-belonging of all believers. St. John Chrysostom says: "it is possible, of course, to pray at home; but you cannot pray here in the manner you pray in the church, where have been gathered so many people, where the unanimous appeal is ascended to God. You will not be heard so soon, praying to the Lord alone as praying with the brothers, since here is something greater: identity of ideas, the union of love, the prayer of the priests. During the public prayer not only the people make their appeal, but also the angels appeal to the High Priest and archangels pray."
The public divine service is more important than the particular prayer, also, in that sense, that it is more complex and fuller than the latter. Here not only the prayers are raised and songs are chanted, but also are accomplished many divine official actions and the word of God is preached. The sermon of the word of God is the necessary part of the public Divine service; without it believers cannot consciously and reasonably master the sacraments of the Christian faith and succeed in piety. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ left to the apostles the will: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Math. 28:19-20). But the divine official actions or church rites are important in that sense, that they visually depict for us the extra-sensual and mysterious objects of religion, and thus they instruct and edify everyone, even the simple man, and excite in people the aspiration for the highest contemplation and highest sensations. But concerning the church chants, St. John Chrysostom writes: "Nothing inspires the spirit, nothing suspends it so from the earth and bodily bonds so, like the order of chanting of the church chants." But as bad and ill-aimed is that sermon, which shines with poetic constructions and oratorical methods instead of edification, the same way does not befit that church cant, in which attention is drawn only to the musical skill, but not to the tender emotion of the heart and involvement of the will into the highest world. The church cants must have more similarity with the field lilies, than with the magnificent and motley garment of Solomon. But the divine-official actions and rites must not reach such theatricality, which they reach in the Catholic Church. However, the main reason, why the public prayer and divine service are more important than the personal one, lies in the fact that during the public divine service are accomplished the sacraments.
The Church sacraments.
It is necessary to say here about the moral value of the sacrament of the Eucharist and the sacrament of confession preceding it. The sacrament of the Eucharist is the highest means of expression of love for God and for the unity with God. It is the highest report of inexhaustible love of God for a Christian.
In the Eucharist is combined everything that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us, that He always wants to accomplish for us in His Church and that He promised to make for us in the future. The Eucharist is, first of all, the recollection about the once perfected by the Lord Jesus Christ atonement of us. This do in remembrance of me, — commanded the Lord to the apostles and to all the believers (Luke 22:18, ср.1 Cor. 11:26). But it is not only the recollection of the past; it is each time the renovation for us of that accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ great matter; it presents to us His sacrifice as the one, acting at present and saving us. That very Christ Himself, who said: this do in remembrance of me, said as well: I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Math. 28:20). He commanded to us to commemorate Him not as an absentee, but as that being present, not as a dead person, but as the resurrected from the dead and living among us. Participating in the sacrament of the Eucharist, we are closely connected to the Lord Jesus Christ and obtain spiritual life. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him (John 6:56); so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me (57); Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (53).
But the action of the Eucharist is not limited only by the spiritual sphere. As we take in whole indivisible Christ in the sacrament of communion both in the spirit and throughout His body (Take, eat: this is my body), so as well the influence of this sacrament spreads over the physical sphere. Therefore this sacrament is a guarantee of the resurrection of the body and eternal life with the renowned body. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (54). Generally, the Eucharist is placed in the Holy Scripture into the closest connection with the eschatological (last) fates of the man (for example: I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom (Math. 26:29); it is the prophecy and pre-formation of that connection of believers with Christ, which will follow in the future life, after the resurrection of the dead. But since in the Eucharist all believers take communion of that one bread, on the word of the apostle (1 Cor. 10:17), and thus are combined into one body, then the Eucharist is the pre-image of the closest interconnection of believers in the future life.
The internal experiences of a Christian after the participation in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the same as after the true prayer, (only after the Eucharist they are felt to the highest degree); are the spiritual peace, renovation of love for God and neighbor and increase in the force for exploits and the struggle of life. The Eucharistic gift is the divine grain, put into a Christian, developing in him and bringing the appropriate fruits, if it does not meet obstacles in its growth.
But not any communion of the Eucharistic Gifts is beneficial for the man. It is possible to take communion as damnation, on the word of the apostle: For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself (1 Cor. 11:29). For the worthy communion the apostle requires that we should "examine" ourselves: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup (28). Self-trial must produce in us, first of all, regretting about the sins. The confessionary feeling and confession is the first condition of the worthy communion. Self-trial and the concentrated reflection about the "the Body of Christ" (the apostle says that we must think about the Body of Christ), must cause in ourselves the mood, which would correspond to the sublimity of the Eucharistic Gift. "To think about the body of Christ" — means to isolate the Lord’s Meal from the usual meal and to look at it as at the heavenly, extraordinary meal, and also to have living confidence in the real presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the gifts and to approach communion with complete faith and awe. The Holy Church appeals: "With the fear of God, and with faith draw near!" "To think about the Body of Christ" means to recall about the death of Christ, announced by the sacrament of the Eucharist, which completed our atonement, and therefore to approach the sacrament with deep gratitude for always shown to us wonderful love and good deeds of God. Finally, it is necessary to approach communion with unfeigned thirst to be connected with Christ in this sacrament. According to the expression of one parable of Christ, we must come to the Lord’s Supper in a wedding garment. This expression must be understood, of course, figuratively, in the sense of purity and adornment of the soul by virtues. But in the present case it is possible to recognize its literal sense: that coming for communion should be in the pure and decent state. After communion it is necessary not to be immersed in the everyday matters immediately, but to be in the pious state so that the grace could fulfill the proper action in us.
How often one should take communion? The answer to this question depends on the personal state of each Christian. The more worthily the man lives, the more he is capable of receiving the Holy of Holiest and at the same time the more he has a need to receive Him, the more frequently he can take communion. And vice versa: Lord Jesus Christ warns — not to give that which is holy unto the dogs, and neither to cast the pearls before swine (Math. 7:6). But that, who does not feel the need and is not capable to take communion worthily at least one time a year, cannot be named a Christian and be counted belonging to the society of Christ. By that being zealous about piety the Holy Church proposes to take communion each fast, i.e., four times a year. But in the clergymen it assumes such height of life that each Sunday and holy feast commands them to take communion, as often as possible. But even without taking communion bodily, we obtain great spiritual benefit from being present at the accomplishment of the holiest sacrament of the Eucharist.
We saw that the first condition of the worthy communion of the Holy Gifts is purification from sins. That is why confession is prior to the communion of the Holy Gifts, in which sins are absolved. And during the prayer both private, and public, we appeal to God about the forgiveness of sins. But in the prayer the forgiveness of sins cannot be complete, since in this case is missing that perfect action of the grace of the Holy Spirit in the man, which occurs with the participation of a Christian in the sacrament, due to the atonement merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. The prayer and public divine service have preparatory value in the respect to the sacrament; they make us worthy to participate in the sacrament and to get its beneficial fruits. Praying and other pious exploits (fasting, alms, plunging in oneself and reflection about oneself, abstention from anger, quarrels, judging, and other passions), which precede confession and communion of the Holy Gifts, are called "govenie." The force of govenie depends not so much on its duration, as on the internal determination of the one fasting; but one should appoint as well the specific time (from 3 to 6 days) so that the fasting would be worthily prepared.
The essential and necessary condition of the forgiveness of sins in confession is, in the first place, repentance. To the guilty in the crime Simon the Magician Ap. Peter gives such a direction: Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee (Acts 8:22). And, on the whole, he admonished the Hebrews, willing to atone for their sins: make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed (12:13). We already had a chance to determine the concept of "repentance": it is deep grief about the personal sins, grief both about the particular sins (especially heavy) and generally about the guilty state, about the alienation from God. As a model can serve the publican, "smoting upon his breast" (Luke 18:13). Prophet Joel calls the people to repentance, when he says: turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning and rend your heart (2:12-13). Weeping and mourning of the repentant must be, first of all, internal, sincere; but they can be expressed also in the outside, be external weeping. But the true repentance, which leads to the forgiveness of sins, is the regret about the sins not because we by vicious life caused ourselves some damage in the terrestrial life, or that we can be punished for the crimes, etc., but because we insulted God, our most great Benefactor and Father with sins, and became unworthy of Him. Therefore it is said: godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).
But that truly confessing does not remain in the depressed and humiliated state of regret and grief about the sins. He excites in himself intention and gives in front of God the promise not to sin more. This is the second condition of the forgiveness of sins at confession. For this can serve as a model the prodigal son, who, after repenting in bad behavior, internally appealed to himself: I will arise and go to my father (Luke 15:18). In the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel said: But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby (33:19). Christ, pardoning the woman for the sin of adultery, said: go, and sin no more (John 8:11). The intention to correct the way of life must be connected with the readiness to smooth out all those injustices and offences, which appeared because of our sinful actions. As the model can serve Zacchaeus the publican, who, after realizing his previous sinful life and after being honored of the gracious attitude to himself of Lord the Savior, said: the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold (Luke 19:8). To the same we call with the words of St.John the Baptist: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance (Math. 3:8). And in the book of Revelation it is said: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works (2:5). That being confessing must not try to be wise, mentioning the fact that one cannot be sinless and as a result he will sin; also, after confession, — for the moment, i.e., at the confession, he must be entirely filled with the understanding and feeling, that one must not sin and it is necessary to strive for sinless life. But after confession it is necessary to try with all the forces and to show with deeds the inclination towards such life. In the moral life of each Christian must be accomplished the progress without fail, and each confession must lead to the improvement in life.
Since that being confessed cannot get rid of the sins by his own force and return to himself the lost innocent state, then the third necessary condition of confession is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which expiated us from the sin and spiritual death, and hope for His pardoning mercy. To him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness, through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43). By the wonderful action of the grace of the Holy Spirit in the soul of that being confessed in a minute is accomplished much more than he is able to achieve with his own force in many years.
According to the regulations of the Orthodox Church the repentant must orally confess his sins. Oral confession is necessary, already because the judgment over that being confessed is accomplished in confession; and in order to judge and on the basis of judgment to remit or retain the sins (Read John 20:23), a priest must know these sins. Furthermore, oral confession is the means of revealing not only the degree of the depravity of the heart and will of that being confessed, but also the sincerity of his repentance. At the same time oral confession has beneficial value for the repentant himself: it impels him to the absolute realizing of his sins and to the sincere repentance, and asserts him in the confidence that the confessed sins are absolved. We do not mention the fact that in the human soul there is the deep need to speak everything out in the presence of the others and by this method to relieve the feelings. The Holy Scripture shows oral confession to be natural, when It says: for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Math. 12:34). Those coming to John the Baptist were "confessing their sins" (Math. 3:6). The same method of confession was practiced in the apostolic church. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds (Acts 19:18). Ap. John writes: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
Since each person has very many sins, and generally all people have many sins, so that being confessed must not enumerate all human sins, but indicate his own sins and vicious inclinations, bad habits and passions and to reveal those sins, in which he especially limps. And then it is necessary to recognize the personal guilt in all the sins, inevitable in human life. It is possible to use the certain order from the catechism or from the system of moralizations for the recollection of sins. So it is possible to confess according to the Ten Commandments, or according to the three classes of responsibilities: to God, to the neighbor and to oneself, or to be guided by the division of sins into three types: the sins of haughtiness, sensuality and greediness.
Confession is not only judgment over that being confessed, it is edification, soothing and encouragement for the repentant. A priest must be skillful in order to report all this to that being confessed. He must know how both to open to him the danger of his spiritual state and to warn him against the soul confusion and despondency. He must possess the skill of learning through the questions the moral state of the man, (if the repentant himself does not know how or for some other reason does not reveal it), and of giving him the reasonable advice for the correction of life. As far as penance is concerned, in the Orthodox Church it does not have that value, which it has by the Catholics, i.e., the value of satisfaction to the truth of God for the sins. Therefore it might be not assigned. The common and best penance is the firm and sincere promise to be changed and to abstain from the committed sins. Towards the same target of correction must be directed all the particular forms of penance, if they are assigned. In the Holy Scripture there are indications of the possibility and expediency of giving penance; thus, Ap. Paul ordered to deliver such one (the one, who is guilty of incest — transl. remark) unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved (1 Cor. 5:5; compare 2 Cor. 6 and f.). In the preceding church they divided the repentant into four classes: weeping, listening to, those kneeling and standing together.
What are the fruits of the sacrament of confession? First, it gives soothing of the conscience, in the second place, — purification of the soul, a change in the internal mood and moral improvement.
Holiness of the temple.
For the public divine service the Christians are gathered in a temple. Therefore a temple has extremely important significance for the Christians as the place of the special presence of God and special appearance of the divine grace, and as the "house of prayer." Hence arises the responsibility of each Christian to worship the temple and its sacred things and to take care of the welfare of the temple.
The worshipping of a temple is expressed in giving honor (passing by a temple, one should be bare headed and cross oneself), in the protection of a temple from everything discordant with its honor (for example, in the church graveyard one cannot arrange any games and smoke, near a temple there must not be opened saloons, meat cannot be brought into a temple, etc.), one needs to enter a temple with desire, having decent looks and be present there with the awe. Having heard the church peal, a Christian must tell himself: I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD (Ps. 121:1) My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God (Ps. 83:2). How strict Lord the Savior was with those having no reverence and with the profaners of the temple, we know from the Evangelical history: after banishing from the temple all of those selling and buying and those exchanging money, he said: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (Math. 21:12-13).
One must worship all the objects in a temple. Since the ancient times they are consecrated by the use in the church and serve for us as if the manifestation of our faith and to our edification. — The Holy Cross lies in the basis of our salvation and a Christian should most of all appreciate the Cross (1 Cor. 2:2). There is nothing more natural for us than to see the cross everywhere and to make the sign of the cross. Holy Gospel is like the living sermon of the Lord Savior for us. The Holy icons transfer our thought and heart from the image to the prototype. The holy relics are a part of the essence of a saint and therefore they deserve special respect. Also wonder-working icons are specially revered as chosen by God Himself in order to reveal through them His grace. The Holy Chalice, Diskos and the Holy Gifts Box contain the Body and the Blood of Christ; they are the most respected of all the sacred vessels. The other church things must be kept with respect as sacred objects.
The concern about welfare and improvement of a temple is expressed in the care about the clean bread and pure wine for the sacrament of the Eucharist, in the acquisition of the Chalice and Diskos from the noble metal, in the effort to acquire the icons of the better manner of painting and to have a good chorus of those chanting, in the aspiration for the adornment of the entire temple and the acquisition of the best possible church objects and icon-lamp oil. Those rich Christians which worry more about the splendor of their houses, than about the splendor of temples, pervert the order of things. The wisest of the Hebrew kings Solomon applied most efforts and welfare to the construction of a temple, worthy of great God. And the Lord wonderfully revealed His goodwill in the sanctification of this temple. But since for the improvement of the temple material supplies will be required, then each Christian, in proportion to his means, must willingly sacrifice money for the temple. As an example we have the poor widow, who of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living (Mark 12:41-44). We know as well, that the Lord Jesus Christ gave money for the temple (Math. 17:21; Mark 12:21). The concern about the temple must also spread upon the servants of the temple so that they would serve the temple without difficulties. They which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple, and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar (1 Cor. 9:13-14), on the word of the apostle.
For the public divine service as generally for any service to God and for the peace in God, there are assigned Sundays and holy feasts. Even independently of religion, the human society must understand that it is necessary to appoint such a day in a week, during which the workers could rest and restore forces. The Christian Church, after legalizing Sundays and holy feasts, does a good deed to the mankind also in the economic sense: it spares the working force of people and gives them the possibility to work more successfully. After having rest in the holiday, the man will feel himself better during the week. The legalization of holidays does a good deed for the family life. It is known that the head of the family, having certain occupation in the society or, generally, taking care about the subsistence of his family, is frequently forced to spend the greater part of time away from his family; therefore it is very important so that at least one day in a week he would be able to spend in the circle of his family. But the main designation of the Christian feasts consists of the sparing of the man from the terrestrial concerns and fuss and in elevating him into the sphere of his eternal designation. Therefore the feasts serve as the prototype of the future peace in God of all the believing in the reign of the blissful; there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God, about which Ap. Paul says in the Epistle to Hebrews (Hebr. 4:9). From the feasts proceeds the blessing for the next workdays. Six days of work with the blessing of God mean more than seven days of work without His blessing. The feasts are as if the sun, which illuminates and warms the workdays of the week, making even the most difficult and gloomiest of them facilitated and clarified.
The commandment about the celebration of one day of the week is marked in the Ten Commandments: Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God (Ex. 20:8,9,10). By the Christians the last day of the week, Saturday, is to commemorate the completion of the matters of creation, is substituted with the first day, i.e., Sunday, into the memory of the accomplishment of the atonement of them by Christ's death and the Resurrection. It is as well known that the Holy Spirit was sent into the world on Sunday, and it gives to each Christian the fruits of atonement. There exist the indications that even in the times of the apostles the first day of the week, i.e., Sunday, was dedicated to the Lord (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). AP. Paul reveals the commandment about the dedication of this day to the Lord for the all the Christian times, when he says: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead (2 Tim. 2:8). Subsequently the events from the life of Lord the Savior and Ever-Holy Virgin Mary were attached to Sunday, as the commemoration of the saints of God. As a bright diadem, covered with precious stones of different value and colors, these feasts frame the course of the whole year.
How one should spend the days of the feasts? In order to celebrate them in accordance with the Evangelical spirit, it is necessary to avoid extremes, on the one hand, the old testament Judaism and English Puritanism, which understand the commandment about the feasts more in the sense of the letter, than of the spirit, but on the other hand — the western liberalism, barely making difference between the feasts and the common days. The Judaic law forbids in the feasts even the matters of need (for example, the preparation of food, the limitation of the way, matters of mercy and visit of a patient by a doctor). Meanwhile the Lord Jesus Christ justified the disciples, who pluck the ears of corn in the fields on the sabbath (Math. 12:1), and taught Pharisees both in a word and example, to do good on the sabbath. The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:23-27; Luke 6:9; John 5:1), i.e., the commandment about Saturday is only the means for training the man and for his achievement of the good. On this reason everything that composes the pressing need for the body and which directly serves for the succeeding of a Christian in virtues, is permissible on the feast. However, the English puritans and generally rigorists consider prohibitive even the innocent entertainments and pleasures, for example, music, in the feasts. They require that people would spend the entire holiday if not in the temple, then in the four walls of their house. But hardly such a way of spending of the feasts will serve to the absolute revival and strengthening of the man for the work, and it hardly is in accordance with the spirit of the true Christianity. The true Christianity in no way prohibits the man the mundane entertainments or noble amusements. Happiness on the Christian feast must embrace the person completely, it must be absolute; so, aesthetical enjoyment cannot be prohibited on the feast. For the same reason in the feast day one should have the best food and the best clothing.
But in the present times is necessary to fight not so much with the rigorist, as with the weak view on the holidays. With the weakening of religion and piety weakens the spending of feasts in many places. First, on the feasts they want to continue the usual mundane works (sale in the stores, etc.), and in the second place, they give themselves up to entertainments and pleasures, which rather abuse the holiness of the feast: to alcoholism, carouse, disputes and discords, immoderate sleep and the like. All the so-called slavish works, dragging the man down, but not bringing upward, do not contribute to the decency of the feast. The feast, of course, must not be an occasion for the lack of activity, idleness. As well on the feast a Christian must be occupied, but with the highest occupations, those more inspiring: prayer, reading the edifying books, spiritual conversations, aesthetical enjoyment and the like. If the man simply rests, then leisure during the feast is combined with the understanding, that he is the image and part of rest of a human in God. Worst of all, if the man gives himself up to the vicious entertainments and sinful pleasures in the feast; this is still worse than to be occupied with the usual work.
This is what is supposed to be normal for spending the feast: first of all to be present in the temple at the divine service. It is not possible to call a true Christian that person, who does not try to visit the temple each feast. In the second place, a Christian enters into the sincere disputes with relatives and the family members; he expresses to people his love. The conversations during the workdays are mostly on any subject, they are random; however, in the feast they free and not forced, they are caused by the kindness of the heart. In the feast a Christian as if even more greatly loves his neighbors, he receives relatives and acquaintances with visits or attends their houses. But remaining at home, he is occupied with reading, reflection, leisure or prayer. He must always remember that everything must be accomplished on the word of the apostle decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40), i.e., moderately and decently. He, generally, does not allow himself anything, that would upset the blissful state of the soul, obtained in the temple at the divine service. Further: a Christian counts as a rule to do any good deed for a neighbor on the feast. For example, to visit the ill, give alms, not to get angry the whole day, not to say an offensive or rough word to anyone and the like (which, of course, is desirable not only during the feasts). The parents and elders edify children in the feasts, telling them the history of the feast or explaining the Evangelical reading. Finally, allowing themselves the best food and clothing in the feast, it is necessary to remember that everything must be accomplished to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
With the study about feasts it is possible to combine the study about fasts, since fasts usually anticipate and they prepare for feasts. Thus, Wednesday and Friday anticipate Sunday; fasting during these days is to commemorate the treachery of Judas, giving over to death and the death itself of Lord the Savior, serves as the preparation to the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. The great Lent prepares the Christians for the celebration of the Holy Pascha; the Philip fast anticipates the Navity of Christ, etc.
The model of fasting was introduced to us by Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who spent forty days in the abstention from food and drinks and got hungry, on the observation of the evangelist. Lord Jesus Christ Himself previously indicated fasts in the Christian church, when he noted to the Pharisees: the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast (Math. 9:15). He indicated the need for fasting, connected with the prayer, for the victory over the enemy of our salvation: Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Math.17:21). The apostles fasted as well (Acts 13:2,3; 14:23).
The fast consists not only of moderation in the use of food and beverages, but also in the total abstention from the certain types of food (meat food), but sometimes in the limitation of the usual consumption of food or in the complete abstention from any food. The latter is proposed to the Christians during such special days, as Good Friday (until they carry out the shroud of Christ), the first day of the Great Lent (before the evening dawn comes), the eve of the Navity of Christ and Epiphany (till the sanctification of water), in the day of the Holy Trinity (till the end of the vespers, connected with the Liturgy), the morning of each holy feast (to the end of the divine service). But, however, the degree of participation in this exploit is subjected to zeal and habit of each Christian. That, what is impossible for an indifferent in the religious sense and not experienced in fasting person, is easy for that one, who is zealous and accustomed to fasting. It is not approved to fast up to the weakening of the organism and impossibility of labor; such fasting cannot be called God-pleasing. Till the man lives on the earth, he cannot free himself from the terrestrial needs.
The value of the fast lies in the fact that it subdues our flesh, helps us to overcome sensual wishes, softens our soul and makes capable of concentration and of being raised upwards in the prayer and thinking of God. In this is the ascetic value of the fast. But the fast has the symbolic value: it serves as the expression of grief. Here grief has the double direction: on the one hand, it is the grief about the suffering Savior, while on the other hand, it is the grief about the sin. The Savior meant this when He said: when the bridegroom shall be taken from them (the marriage sons), and then shall they fast (Math. 9:15). The physical fast does not have value by itself, independent of the further, corresponding to it activity of the spirit, (therefore the Savior said: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Math. 15:11); the fast is important for the spiritual growth and defeat of passions. Calling the people through Prophet Joel to fasting, the Lord God at the same time calls them: turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart… turn unto the LORD your God (2:12 and f.). The Holy Church cants in the first day of the Great Lent: "The true fast is alienation from evil, abstention of the tongue, dismissal of fury, rejeccion of lusts, slander, lies and perjury..." Finally, the fast has its social value. First, limiting ourselves in food and beverages, we save the extra money and thus we have more possibility to help the poor and to derive misery from the society. The Holy Church directly and clearly calls us to benevolence as the necessary belonging or the consequence of fasting, canting in the Lent the words of Proph. Isaiah: to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house (58:6-7). Secondly, the voluntary abstention of rich people will beneficially influence the poor, who have to fast because of need.
In our time in the medium of the so-called educated class frequently there are no fasts. For justification they give different reasons, which tolerate absolutely no criticism from the moral point of view. In reality the main reason for the breach of fasts it the fact that the meat food is more pleasant, and it does not bring difficulties to those preparing it. They say that the meat food is healthier, but the lenten food is healthier in reality, and the very change in the food is highly useful for the organism. Many more people die of intemperance, than of abstention. It is possible to ascertain, that where they fast, the people are stronger and healthier than where they do not fast (having different diseases is another thing).
The sin of negligence in worshipping God.
Examining the internal and external sides of worshipping God and speaking about the necessity of their combination into one piece, we at the same time showed, what results would occur, if a Christian separated them in his life. On the one hand, there would be mechanical performance of the external worshipping and even imaginary devotion or the Pharisaical state, while on the other — disrespect to the sacred rites and decisions of the Church, and hence — weakening of the internal religiosity. But the disrespect to the church rites and decisions can go further and be expressed in the blasphemy and swearing. Such a person is not limited with the cold disrespect to the sacred objects, but he laughs them out and despise. At the basis of this sin might lie the different degree of the spoiling of the heart. There is blasphemy because of light-mindedness, but it can be because of the anger for the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ expressed the strictest sentence to blasphemers (Math. 12:31,32; Marc 3:28-29). Already in the terrestrial life God frequently brings to senses and punishes those blaspheming and swearing. The severe fate of Belshazzar and Antioch can serve as a warning for all times (Dan. 5:2, Mac. 9). To the same type belong sacrilege and simony. Simony is the sin of acquisition for money of any spiritual gifts. We know the history of Simon the Magician (Acts 8:18 and f.). Warning against this sin, the Lord Jesus Christ says: "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Math. 10:8). The theft of the sacred or belonging to the church things is called sacrilege. But in the broad sense under the name of sacrilege they understand the non-reverent usage of the sacred objects and abuse of them, and in particular — the unworthy participation in the Holy Sacraments. Here belongs the given to the apostles commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine (Math. 7:6).
The Special Forms
of the External Worshipping of God.
The confession of faith.
Confession, as the responsibility in the respect to God, is the evidence or acknowledgement in front of the world of the belief in God, our hope and love for Him. But preaching is the announcement of the divine truths before the world. The latter is the responsibility not only for the clergymen, but also for all the Christians, who are zealous in spreading of Christian faith and piety. Each in his circle and under the suitable circumstances can be a preacher. Confession depends more on different circumstances of time and place, and preaching more greatly depends on the desire and the corresponding training of a Christian. The responsibility of confession of God definitely is laid upon us by the Lord Jesus Christ: Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (Math. 10:32-33; Marc. 8:38). Ap. Paul writes: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Rom. 10:9-10; ср. 1 Tim. 6:12,13). To the responsibility to preach about God definitely calls us Ap. Peter, saying: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2:9).
The special value obtains confession in the times of the open persecutions of faith. The Christians experienced such attacks especially in the first centuries, and will experience, on the prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ, before His Second Coming. This exploit is called a confessionary feat and martyrdom. This is the highest glorification of God by the man on the earth and the highest glory of the Christianity. Together with this exploit preaching is appropriate. We know that the apostles and martyrs made speeches about Christ; they preached God and with their speech converted into the Christianity even their tormentors. The persecution of faith is possible at any time, and if it is not external, then it is internal, if not with the fire and sword, then with words, books and holy life. For example, in our time the Christians have to fight a lot with freethinking, with the indifference to faith and pursuit of some earthly and material targets and the like. Under any circumstances a Christian must not be shamed of the Gospels of Christ. His entire life must be the grateful confession: I beseech you therefore, brethren, — writes Ap. Paul, — by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). A Christian not at all worries about what he will say and how the world will react on it, if his entire life, all his motions and speeches will have the Christian nature.
The zeal to confess God must not have its roots in vanity and pride; it must be filled with humbleness and cleanliness. Meanwhile in the times of persecuting the Christians some of them free-willingly longed for martyrdom, desiring, so to say, to "steal" the martyr crown from God with their own hands. Confession must not be self-reliant. Ap. Peter gives us a sad example. Apparently, he felt in himself the surplus of zeal to confess Christ, but straight away renounced Him. Finally, confession must be filled with love. An example for this we see in the face of Ap. Paul, who said in front of Agrippa: I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds (Acts 26:29).
The sins, opposite to the responsibility of confession, are, on the one hand, indifference, coldness, and on the other one — fanaticism.
The oath is one of the types of confession of belief in God as in the omniscient Judge. It is caused by the need of society, in which there is a sin of fraud and consequently, there is an occasion for distrust and with the help of the oath they want to make more reliable indications and promises.
Some sects reject the oath on the basis of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ from the sermon on the Mount: But I say unto you, Swear not at all…but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation (Math. 5:34-37; James 5:12). They say that by these words the Lord Jesus Christ prohibits the oath. But in the sermon on the Mount the Lord depicts the ideal of the reign of God, thought in its perfection; and from this point of view the oath, of course, must be acknowledged inappropriate, since it appears from the distrust of people to each other, meanwhile in the pure reign of God there cannot be any distrust. This reign of God not only is expected by us in the future, but it already began at present; that is why in the present time the oath between the people is superfluous, if there is love between them. Requiring the supremacy of love and confidence from his followers, the Lord Jesus Christ, naturally, requires the destruction of the oath as well. One is connected with the other. But since together with the reign of God there exists the other human reign or the reign of the civil justice, and since between the people there is the sin, lies and distrust, then for understanding of the truth, a Christian, on the demand of the authorities, must not reject the oath. On the trial of the high priest the Lord Jesus Christ treated the oath with respect: He at first kept silent, but when the high priest said: I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God? — then he answered (Math. 26:63). AP. Paul frequently uses in his epistles the constructions of speech, akin to the oath; for example, I call God for a record upon my soul (2 Cor. 1:23); God is my witness (Rom. 1:9).
The essence of the true oath lies in the fact that the one bringing it confirms before the face of the omniscient God his testimony or promise and places himself in the unconditional dependence on God, clearly realizing that He strictly punishes any untruth and that the one falsely swearing draws to himself the terrible judgment of God.
The one, who wants to make the oath, must prepare for it. The preparation must consist of the realization of importance of the forthcoming matter and responsibility for the made oath. The oath must be pronounced reverentially, also, with the decisive intention to testify about the truth and stand for it. Do not say the name of your Lord God in vain, says the third commandment of the Scripture.
The oath can be of two types. The first type is related to the facts of the present or past, and the other — to the events of the future. In the first case we give testimonies in the trial in the law court, and in the second — with the inauguration and in some other cases.
The infamy of the false oath and perjury lies in the fact that the one falsely swearing, or a perjurer, plays not only with the particular truth, which is subjected, let us assume, to the investigation in the law court, but he also laughs at the truth in general, he laughs at the belief in God. To break the oath, given in the full consciousness and on the free will, means to complete the most disgusting treachery not only in the respect of the people, but also in the respect of relation to the personal conscience and to God. But the false oath is still more disgusting, when the offender of the oath, at least, when he gave oath, could have an intention to fulfill the promise; meanwhile that falsely swearing from the beginning to the end despises truth and faithfulness. To the sins against the oath it is necessary to assign as well swearing, which is the frivolous, needless usage of the oath in the usual conversation and matters.
It is possible to distinguish vows in the wide or in the personal sense of the word. Vows in the wide sense of the word are such, as the vow of baptism, vow while marrying, while holding a post. The vow of holy life is given in the baptism; in the sacrament of marriage — that of the conjugal faithfulness; the vow of the accurate service to society and thorough performance of responsibilities is given when holding a post. These vows act beneficially, since the one who had given them, feels obligated before God to fulfill the promise honestly. However, the narrow vows, in the true sense of the word, include the over-usual vows, given to God in the difficult circumstances of life or serving to the honor of God and directed towards succeeding in our salvation. For example, in the disease a Christian can give the vow to strengthen the visit of divine services on the recovery or to hold a journey into the certain monastery. Even with the danger for his life he can give a vow to give the significant sum of money to the poor. In a heavy temptation or great danger to sin he might start the special fast or govenie.
Many protestant theologians reject vows, considering them unworthy of a true Christian. It is possible, of course, to understand and to fulfill vows so that they will be unworthy of a Christian; but it is not possible to name them unworthy, understanding them in the correct sense. Vows, understood as the payment to God for His good deed, are unworthy. It is necessary to understand vows in the sense of a grateful sacrifice to God and to voluntarily lay on oneself pious exercises for strengthening of oneself in the habit to do well. To vows in the narrow sense of the word can be assigned good intentions, for example, taken at the confession. Confessing, we assume our intention and give promise to be corrected. (Here can be attributed the establishments of the societies of sobriety). The Protestants object that, if someone wants to live virtuously, he will begin to live like that having no vows, and if someone does not want, then no promises will help. But the given promise will always serve us as a reminder about the need for virtuous life; furthermore, after having given the promise, we shall be cautious, as not to add one sin to another one; so, we shall be double sober.
In the Holy Scripture there is the straight and clear study about vows. There we find both indication of the facts of vows and explanation of the worthy attitude towards them. They know the vows of patr. James (Gen. 38:20), Jephthah (Judg. 11:30-31), Anna, the mother of Samuel (1 Kings 1:11), David (Ps. 65:13, and f.), St. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), Ap. Paul (Acts 18:18; 21:23 and f.). One is prescribed the sincere and reverential state of the soul with utterance and performance of the vow: Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared (Ps. 75:11). But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing (Mal. 1:14). It is being persistently reminded about the need for the quick fulfillment of the vow: When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed (Eccl. 5:3-4). One is adverted not to vow light-mindedly, i.e. to give promise to fulfill something, what is not so easy to accomplish or even morally indecent: It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry (Prov. 20:25).
In our orthodox church there is the vow of monasticism and selflessness connected with it. In the present extract let us only give the observations about the different forms of selflessness: anchorite life (St. Anthony the Great, Paul of Thebes, Onuphrius the Great, Mary of Egypt and others), seclusion (St. Abraham, Irinarchus, etc.), pillar saints (St. Simeon, Nikita, Daniel et al.), fools-for-Christ (Simeon, Andrew) and so forth. All these are the diverse ways, on which entered the elects of God for expression of one and the same, exactly — the infinite love for God and readiness to sacrifice everything terrestrial for God. No matter if they moved away into the desert or seclusion, they wanted to deviate from the mundane noise and entertainments in order to reflect about God in concentration and to serve Him day and night. Choosing the pillar-standing, they wanted to be, so to say, close to the sky and to God externally as well, and at the same time to invariably assert their existence and life on the firm base, which is God. Lifting the exploit of being a fool-for-Christ, they led selflessness and spiritual misery to the fact that they decided to be "insane" in the eyes of the world and despised wanderers on the earth (1 Cor. 1:27, 1:18-29; 3:18). To all the Christian devotees we can assign the words of Ap. Paul: But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Hebr. 11:16). (Of whom the world was not worthy): they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebr. 11:38). About ourselves we should say, remembering of these devotees: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us (Hebr. 12:1).
2. The Virtue of Self-Perfection.
Salvation of the soul.
Together with the responsibility to love God (Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart) the Lord Savior directly combines the responsibility to love the neighbors: Thou shalt love thy neighbour (Math. 22:37 and f.). We should say about the responsibilities of love for the close ones, but the Lord commands to love the neighbor as we love ourselves: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Based on love for God, love for the neighbor must go through the true love to oneself, to become alive and active. The one, who respects and truly loves himself, will respect and truly love the neighbors. The one, who feels the necessity in leniency towards him, will be lenient towards the others and will pardon them. He would accomplish the words of the Lord: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them (Math. 7:12).
Therefore let us first say about the responsibilities of a Christian towards himself. They can be divided into general and particular. To the general ones first of all belongs the responsibility of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is spinning around the three questions: a) what am I? b) what should I be? and c) what have I become? — This all was thought to be the beginning of wisdom in the ancient-Greek philosophy. It is written upon the face of the new philosophy as well. The fact, that self-knowledge has a great meaning also in the Holy Scripture, was stated above. The responsibility of self-knowledge contradicts to mental laziness and carelessness.
Self-knowledge leads to self-respect, which is the second responsibility towards oneself. Self-knowledge is based on the high post, which is held by the man in the world. The wise calls us to self-respect when he says: prize yourself as you deserve (Sir. 10:27). But self-respect must be combined with profound humbleness, based on the acceptance of the eternal supremacy of the Creator, in comparison to the creature and on the recognition of the human weaknesses and deficiencies, fostered by the grace. And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? — says Ap. Paul, — now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Cor. 4:7). The Lord Himself says: when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do (Luke 17:10). The compatibility of humbleness with the recognition of the personal dignity (both that of the mankind and private) we may see in the example of Ap. Paul, who realized that he is "apostle" (1 Cor. 9:1), "seen Jesus Christ our Lord" (the same source), "worketh the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 16:10, 2 Cor. 11:23 and f.), but at the same time calling himself "the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). We obtain the combination of humbleness and recognition of personal worthiness, if together with that we would realize our absolute dependence on God and would not possess the intention to show our worthiness in front of the people and boast with it.
To self-respect joins love for oneself and reasonable aspiration for elevating one’s own life and dignity, and this is the third responsibility towards oneself. In the doctrine about the main element of the Christian morality, about egoism as the essence of the evil, about self-love as a sin, opposite to love for God, we have already elucidated the difference between the true and false love to oneself. That is why now we shall say in brief, that the true love of a Christian towards oneself is in the fulfillment of the given to him by God purpose. Reaching this purpose, naturally, is impossible without self-rejection. From this point of view let us look at the different forms of display of love towards oneself.
Care about the soul and education of the mind.
Since the soul is more important that the body, the main attention of a Christian must be drawn to the soul education, i.e. that of the mind, will and feelings.
The education of the mind is made by science. There are people, who think that the Christianity is hostile towards science and impedes it. To prove their idea, they refer to some extracts of the Holy Scripture, where, for example in the Epistle to Colossians, the apostle equalizes the philosophy with vain deceit (2:8), in the Epistle to Corinthians he sharply contrasts the divine wisdom to the human one (1 Cor., ch. 1 and 2), he as well says that knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth (1 Cor. 8:1). This indicates that the Christianity requires that everything should be based upon faith. While science is the field of knowledge, not of faith. But the Holy Scripture treats unfavorably and even roughly only the pseudo-science, not the real one; and a Christian should not give himself to any first-coming philosophy or "scientific" theory. But if the Christianity requires faith, then, in the first place, by no means it follows to think that in science there is no faith at all; science possesses faith (for example, faith in existence of invisible atoms, faith in the constant laws of nature, faith in delusiveness of the mind and external feelings). In the second place, the Christianity requires not only faith, but also knowledge; it values true knowledge. So, Ap. Paul writes to the Corinthian Christians: be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men (1 Cor. 14:20). In another Epistle he expresses the desire that the Christians would be led into all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2-3). Simon Peter expressed his opinion in the answer to the known suggestion of the Lord Jesus Christ: we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:69).
It is even necessary to say that successful and complete development of knowledge and science became possible only due to the Christianity. If the apostle says that in Christ are concealed all the treasures of wisdom and conducting, then he wants to say by these words that the one who recognizes in Christ the Savior of his soul, will find the new rich world for knowledge and will be able to understand the sense of the world-running and human life; meanwhile out of the Christianity it is impossible. The Christianity reported the true and durable concept about the element of everything existing, about the designation of the man, the divine world-ruling, about the last goal and the final outcome of the history. But without knowing all this, it is not possible to have the correct and sane view on different events and incident in the world and human life. All particular knowledge obtains value and strength only when it is connected with the general knowledge, i.e. with the knowledge of the world and human life in their entire totality. If the latter is possible only owing to the Christianity, then, therefore, all the particular knowledge can have a value and durability only due to the Christianity. Furthermore, the Christianity, being a public matter, made high truths and thoughts of science open and accessible for all the people; meanwhile out of the Christianity they are concluded in the close circle of the elects of science.
The object of knowledge and science is God, the man with his history and physical nature. Everyone, who wants to be an educated person, must have the certain amount of information about all these objects. This circle of data composes the so-called "general education." It is necessary for each person. But besides general education there is special, or professional, education. It is necessary for the man as an official. For example, the study of philosophy or the Scriptures, Moral Theology with the study about the divine service and with the biblical and church history belongs to the general education, since it is necessary for each educated person. The study of Pastoral Theology or Homiletics, the study of juridical sciences, medicine and so forth belongs to vocational education, since it is necessary to those, who are prepared for holding the specific post in the society. Specialized education, without the general one, cannot be fruitful; it becomes extremely one-sided. Equally the general education, separated and not completed with the vocational one, is insufficient for the human life. This is understood in our time.
A person, who studies sciences and educates the mind, needs to have, first of all, love for the truth. Science itself searches for the truth, correspondence of the correct thoughts about existence and essence of everything existing and happening. In the second place, for obtaining the education one needs energy and independence of the mind. The passive and lazy mind is not capable of education. Thirdly, one needs modesty, readiness to learn from the others, the skill to listen to the others. In the Gospel is mentioned, that adolescent Jesus Himself when visiting the Temple of Jerusalem, was sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions (Luke 2:40). To the deficiencies of our time it is necessary to assign, by the way, the fact that young people frequently consider themselves clever, are proud and do not want to be taught by the past, by the fathers and ancestors, they look at themselves as at the source of every truth. Ap. Paul says in regard to this: Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise (1 Cor. 3:18). With the wisdom of a serpent we should combine the harmlessness of a dove. We should remember that these things are hidden from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Math. 11:25).
The fostering of the will.
Everything mentioned above about the education of the Christian nature also relates to the education of the will. We indicated the means of the education of the will: self-trial, vigilance, discipline and self-practice. They are combined with the religious or beneficial means, such as prayer and the others. Now it remains to us to make particular indications about the formation of the will.
In order to avoid defeats and downfalls, that fostering his will at first must not over-trust him and rely on himself, but immediately overcome weak temptations; and only having tested his forces in weak temptations, he can pass over to the great ones. But even then, of course, many downfalls will expect him. For a person, not seriously occupied with fostering of the will in him, the downfalls are very harmful, since they take away his energy and intimidate in the possibility to go with the good path. To the one, who dedicated himself to the education of the will, the downfalls render that service of impelling to the circumspection and the larger strain of the forces, and on the other hand allow him to feel his pitiful state on the downfall, in the comparison with which the previous state, when he was the conqueror of his passions and morally free — will seem to him high and desired. Ap. Peter, renouncing Christ and bitterly crying, recognizing his nonentity, can serve us as an example.
Though the downfalls are inevitable (Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one, Job 14:4), but intention and firm determination of the man must be directed towards the aspiration not to sin not even once. Only on the condition of this decisive determination the sins can be absolved to us at the confession. However, in the case of transactions with the sin, one ought not to expect good results. So, in fostering of the will the radical rapture with the sin is needed. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other (Math. 6:24).
Except the cases of downfalls, in the life of a Christian there are many other cases, which report a certain push to the will and generate the new, better direction of life. Let us recall at least the days of "govenie" and communion of the Holy Gifts, which remind about the necessity of correction, let us recall about the death of a close person, which generates the thoughts about the frailty and fuss of everything terrestrial, let us recall about different happy cases, which impel to gratification of God and life, worthy of those mercies, shown by Him. Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation, — should say the man in such cases together with the apostle (2 Cor. 6:2). Redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16; compare Rom. 13:11-12). There also are the cases, when the man solemnly before the face of the Church and state gives the promise to serve honestly and to live worthily (for example, holding a post, or a sacred position, and even more monasticism). But although a promise can be given, after obtaining the corresponding to it intention, it is not possible to change the real state of will immediately, one cannot make the evil will good immediately. This is possible only from the point of view of indeterminism, which is rejected by us. However, from the point of view of the true study about freedom it is necessary to work on oneself constantly and much in order to change the own nature.
Although the cases, when people sometimes immediately broke with their previous sinful life and began new holy life, are known to us, this does not mean that they immediately became saints. However, immediately the man can be freed in the sacrament of confession precisely of the guilt from the sin; but the consequences of it, i.e. the inclination and predisposition towards the sin still remain in the man for long. However, as in the sacrament of baptism the child is freed only of the fault in Adam's sin, the consequence of this sin, the evil lust, lives in him. For example, reading St. Mary of Egypt’s life, we see that she immediately felt her pitiful and even terrible state, immediately confessed and took communion of the Holy Gifts, after giving the promise not to sin more in front of the icon of the Mother of God. By this her fault was taken off. But the tracks of her previous sinful life remained in her for long. According to her own testimony, many years she was forced to fight with the strongest inclination to return to the previous sinful life, with the almost insurmountable desire of "common of the past meat and wine," as it was expressed in her confession before Zosimus, until finally, after the entire decade, "the quiet light lit up her soul" and she was freed from evil temptations and sinful desires. By this are explained the frequent downfalls of the man from that height, to which, as it seemed, he ascended. For example, a drunkard can immediately cease drinking, but after several months he can get drunk still worse. But if a drunkard got rid of his drunkenness in such a way that he would gradually limit drinking the wine, finally reaching the minimum, then he could be confident of his victory over the passion. As the man cannot immediately become a scientist, but only gradually, the same happens with those highly moral or saint. The will must quietly and smoothly be strengthened in order to go by the true and reliable road.
Until the man did not change his nature in the work on himself, before those times he must try to change his external position or the circumstances so that they would serve not to his temptation and downfall, but to the improvement and strengthening in the good. The Scripture says: With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward (Ps. 17:26). Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better (Eccl. 7:3). Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Ps.1:1). Among the nations in the history, especially the ancient Greeks assigned important significance to association. To avoid bad association and to search for the good one was the main rule of moral education for them. But we communicate not only with people, but also with books: so it is necessary to choose between the good and bad association here as well. "Probatos semper lege," noted Seneca long ago.
When any bad thought either passion pursues the man, then, following the rule about the change of the own position or circumstances, he must immediately direct his thoughts toward another object or still better — to find himself an occupation. For example, to plunge into the reading of an interesting book, studying of the dear art or craft, physical work, coming out into the garden; it is possible even to get occupied with felling and sawing (which is useful not only in the physical, but sometimes even in the moral sense) or to find a good company. St. Tikhon says about himself that as soon as he noted in himself the attack of despondency, he came out into the garden — and the despondency scattered. And the ancient experienced devotees to the question of the brothers: "What am I supposed to do? A certain bad desire constantly pursues me" answered: "Cease to think about it, get busy with something else." But in the certain cases even fundamental realignments in one’s position are required. For example, those, who experienced the heavy vital blow (the loss of the wife, all the property, etc.), and who feared desperation, set off for the journey, changed the place of residence, entered monasticism, etc.
The beneficial action of the following quality is tested: in the impulse of any passion, for example, anger, vengeance, the man must produce in himself a pause, internally appeal to himself —stop! At this time it is right to propose to oneself the questions: "What do I do, and how this action of mine will result?" During this reflection the withdrawal of the accumulated feelings will follow, after which the man becomes more steadfast. And if then he succeeds in changing his intention, then this will be the great victory, which for the others will remain imperceptible, and perhaps such a person will be considered by them even as a coward, but he will be more right before himself. For the same reason one should sometimes postpone the answers to some demands or letters, resolutions and the like. This means is known even to the simple people, which give such advice: when you are strongly angry with someone, then at the same moment read the brief prayer to yourself (at least "Our Father"), or count to ten. The similar case is also mentioned in the Gospel. The Pharisees brought to the Lord Jesus a woman, seized on the spot of a crime. Filled with hatred towards Lord Jesus and with vindictiveness towards the woman, they entirely muffled their conscience with those passions, and that exposed them in not minor sins. However, what was there with the Lord? Instead of giving answers to the questions of the Pharisees, He bent and began to write on the earth. He wanted to force the Pharisees to change the mind by His silence. And when they changed their mind, then they actually accused not the sinner, but themselves, and that was why they had to leave in shame (since in that what was written by the Lord, each one of them read their own sins, John 8:9).
In the ancient time and in the Middle Ages there was recommended "memento mori!" (to remember about death) as the means of moral self-education. And in the Holy Scripture it is said: remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin. When the man recalls the death, then all hostile and vindictive thoughts are scattered, and all sensual and voluptuous desires lose charm and attraction, all the haughty and selfish feelings are dulled. The dust, which the man will become in some time, and the judgment, before which he will appear after his death, could subdue even a giant. Looking at St. Mary Magdalena's icons, we see in front of her the skull: this is the means of the memory about death, which Mary Magdalena always had before the eyes and which made from a great sinner a great righteous woman.
But generally attention and memory have important significance in the matter of moral self-education. The sensible state of these abilities is in the close cooperation with the sensible state of the entire human spirit. Not in vain some philosophers explain that all human weaknesses and deficiencies proceed from the incapacity to be attentive. Not by chance some contemporary teachers speak about attention and memory, not concerning the division of the intellectual education, but concerning the division of the method of education in general. They say: "The fostering activity assumes some preliminary conditions of its success, and, first of all, of attention and memory." It is known, how strongly is impeded and frequently collapse the upbringing of some children or wild peoples, of which are characteristic absent-mindedness and inattention. Give heed to yourselves! — calls Ap. Paul. Be not a forgetful hearer (James 1:25), it is also said in the Holy Scripture.
Formation of the aesthetical feeling.
The formation of an aesthetical feeling is accomplished by the means of fine arts: poetry, music, singing, painting, etc., and the observations of the wonderful phenomena of nature and human life. The refined or beautiful is the adequate (appropriate, harmonious) expression of any idea or thought in the concrete form. So, the beautiful has for us the value of making ideas visual. And making ideas visual, expressing them in the corresponding sensual forms, it attracts us to them, draws our heart. For example, how the idea of infinity, when we present it in the image of the boundless celestial sphere or boundless ocean, powerfully influences us! How reverentially solemn church chanting influences us! But also, independently of the content, the beautiful beneficially influences us with its accordion. It introduces accordion into our internal life, pacifies the soul, calms passions, distracts from everything rough and banal, ennobles. At the same time the beautiful gives us sublime enjoyment. It is the excellent means for refreshment and leisure of a working person. Furthermore, we give ourselves to the beautiful unselfishly, on the highest ideal interest, from pure love for this object. And the more purpose the moral activity has, the higher it is, if it is not accomplished for any external motives and purposes. Thus, art serves to moral activity in this case. Especially in our mercantile and utilitarian time it is useful to excite in the society the highest interests with the help of art and to accustom to the benevolent activity. Finally, aesthetical education helps the man to preserve the standard of morals.
We know from the Evangelical legends that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself related very sympathetically to the beauties of nature and loved it. For to pray He went to the hills and mountains, taught people at the picturesque shores of the sea, in the fields in the beauty of harvest, turned the attention of listeners to the luxurious lilies of Palestine, transfigured on one of the most beautiful mountains of Galilee. And the Christian devotees loved to choose for their exploits the places, which differed with their beauty. For example, St. Basil the Great in the letter to St. Gregory the Theologian with enthusiasm describes the charm of the chosen by him place of seclusion. And the Psalmist not once was fascinated by the beauties of nature in the psalms. For example, For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! (Ps. 91:5,6). He compares the righteous with the flourishing palm tree, his growth he compares to a cedar in Lebanon (the same, verse 13).
After what is said it is possible not to doubt that for each of us there exists the responsibility to bring up in oneself the aesthetical feeling and taste for the beautiful. We are not the incorporeal spirits, we possess sensual nature; therefore our soul involuntarily searches for the embodiment of the spiritual in sensual forms, moreover in the forms of perfection, beauty. And there is no man, who would be incapable of the aesthetical or artistic upbringing. If not each is capable to create artistic works, to be a poet, composer, painter, etc., then each is capable of perceiving artistic works, to be delighted by them. And in the field of singing each one can take an active part.
It is known from the history that fine art was brought to perfection by the Ancient Greek people. But their perfection as generally the heathen art, of the lowest choice, in comparison with the Christian art; it is expressed mainly in the exterior forms, meanwhile the Christian art introduced into these ideal forms the highest ideas. If, for example, we enter the Athenian marble temple of Theseus and then into the Constantinople temple of St. Sofia, then what enormous difference we shall feel in the mood under the impression of the architectural style of that and the other temple, (although the Moslems spoiled the latter). Or how many times more sublime, cleaner, spiritualized is the image of the Mother of God of a Christian artist, in comparison with the heathen statue of any goddess. The Christianity opened the heights of the soul, the depth of the heart, unknown to the heathen world, to art. In particular the highest idea of the Christianity, the idea of victorious sublimity in deepest humbleness, expressed in the image of the Lord Savior, being in the law court of Pilates or in the Gethsemane garden, or on the cross, was completely incomprehensible for the paganism.
The properties of authentic art are mainly chastity, or purity, and the truth. As a result of the close connection of art with sensual forms, it easily can acquire the physical and vicious nature. Then it does not raise and pacify the soul, but tempts and excites passions. For example, a song sometimes is passionate and tempting and not only by the content, but also by the melody. So that art would be pure, it is necessary that the sensual side in it would be under the supremacy of the spirit, ideas. The aesthetically beautiful must be subdued to the moral side of the beautiful. If an artistic work does harm the moral and religious feeling, then it destructively influences the soul, but not harmoniously, and therefore the goal of art is not reached. But to the requirements of the truth in art relates the fact that art must depict not any completely fictitious world, but the real one, only in the ideal and complete form. It must not depict anything discordant towards the psychological laws. But at the same time it must preserve the agreement with the moral law and world-order; and so, to represent lies and the evil precisely as lies and the evil, bearing in itself the destructive and disastrous element, but not to recolor them and to show in the shell of the truth and good.
Care about the body.
Taking care mainly about the soul and eternal life in heaven, a Christian does not leave the concerns both about the body and life on the earth. The soul can live and act on the earth not otherwise as in the body; and reaching of the eternal life in the future century is caused by the temporary life in the present century. But hence follows the responsibility to care about life in the healthy body. In the book of Genesis is depicted the moving in of the breath of life, i.e., of the originated from God soul, into dust of the ground, i.e., into the formed by God body as into the organ and symbol of the soul (Gen. 2:7). Ap. Paul calls the body a tabernacle (2 Cor. 5:1, 4) and a vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). At the same time we are called by the Holy Scripture to act, while it is day, i.e., until the terrestrial life continues; the night cometh, i.e. the terrestrial life will cease when no man can work (John 9:4). As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men (Gal. 6:10), says Ap. Paul. At the Dread Judgment every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). The highest view upon the human body of the Holy Scripture is expressed, when he says that bodies are the members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15; Eph. 5:26), the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:19; 3:16 and f.), and when he says, that when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live (John 5:25 and f.) and will be glorified similarly to the glorification of the body of Christ (Phil. 2:21; 1 Cor. 15:47-49). From this follows the responsibility — to preserve the moral purity of the body. Ap. Paul calls the Christians to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Rom. 12:1), your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23)
It is possible to distinguish the negative and positive side in the responsibility relating to the physical life and health. The negative side is their protection from harmful and that reducing life influence. First of all one should name the intentional destruction of life, or suicide. The crime of this sin lies in the fact that a suicide is agitated against the creative and providential divine order and the own designation, one arbitrarily ceases his life, which belongs not only to him, but also to God (and the close ones), and which is given to him for moral success, and not for the abuse of it, — he renounces all the lying on him responsibilities and comes to the other world uncalled. Ap. Paul says about the belonging of our life to God: For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's (Rom. 14:7-8). About the belonging of our life to the close ones he says: to abide in the flesh is more needful for you (Phil. 1:24). AP. Peter calls the Christians: seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless, and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — i.e. try to appear before the Lord chaste, and His eternal patience, which is expressed in the retention and prolongation of our life, to consider their salvation (2 Pet. 3:14-15). Generally to the sin of suicide it is possible to assign the words of the Holy Scripture: If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy (1 Cor. 3:17). One should recollect also the gloomy picture of the suicide of Judas, depicted in the Holy Scripture. A suicide tramples the natural law as well, since, according to this law, no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it (Eph. 5:29). Some show at the courage of a suicide that no each one will decide to fulfill this daring act. On this basis the heathens praised the suicide as heroism. But from the Christian point of view a suicide is not a hero, but a coward, since one cannot tolerate those troubles and the misfortunes (for example, the loss of property either a dear person, or an incurable disease, the shame whether it is deserved or not, etc.), because of which they usually decide to commit a suicide. Generally, a suicide reveals his strong attachment to the blessings of the world and happiness, as soon as he rejects to live in misery. But he shows even larger senselessness, because avoiding of the temporary calamity he subjects himself to the eternal one. In our time many are inclined to explain each suicide by the temporary insanity. But this explanation is far from being correct.
Besides the direct and intentional suicide, people very often accomplish the indirect and unintentional suicide, either the reduction of life, as a result of not knowing the hygienic rules, or as a result of intemperance or carelessness. The wise says: Does not a little suffice for a well-bred man? When he lies down, it is without discomfort. Distress and anguish and loss of sleep, and restless tossing for the glutton…In whatever you do, be moderate, and no sickness will befall you (Sir. 31:22 and f.).
A duelist sins against the responsibility of self-preservation as well. Subjecting to the direct danger the life of a neighbor, he subjects to the equally great danger his own life. And for what purpose? Usually they challenge someone to duel for the insult of honor. But would I really restore my honor by the fact that I shall call the insulter for a duel? It is necessary to have a much distorted concept of honor in order to assert this. Chasing the external and imaginary honor, a duelist loses internal honor or moral merit. He is alike a suicide, who, being chasing the terrestrial and temporary good, after losing it, deprives himself also of that true and eternal good. And on what right does a duelist challenge his enemy to duel? For the resolution of disputes and satisfaction of insults there are legal law courts in the society. However, a duelist tramples the law and puts willfulness in its place. And what force does solve the argument at a duel? Not the force of truth, but the force of adroitness, promptness, physical superiority. So, a duel resembles the times of the fist-fighting. But if an insult is of such a type, that it cannot be presented before a judge, then it is better for a Christian not to pay attention to it and to forgive, than to resort to the unworthy means of restoring honor. The Holy Scripture says: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath (Rom. 12:19) … Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:16-17). And more: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Gal. 5:26).
To the negative side of the responsibility of self-preservation belongs the protection of oneself in the case of attacking our life. One should protect himself not for to kill the attacker, but in order to weaken him, to make him harmless and then to give into the hands of justice. The model of self-defense is seen in the very Lord Jesus Christ. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:59).
But the positive side of responsibilities in the respect to physical life is the maintenance of forces and strengthening of the body so that it would be useful for the activity of the soul. Ap. Paul even sends Timothy a dietetic piece of advice: Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities (1 Tim. 5:23). He also warns the Colossians against neglecting of the body (Col. 2:23). Besides the reasonable nourishment, to the strengthening of forces contributes the correct change of labor and rest. It is also necessary to care about healing of the body during a disease. The wise says: Hold the physician in honor, for he is essential to you, and God it was who established his profession… God makes the earth yield healing herbs which the prudent man should not neglect (Sir. 38:1 and f.).
But the responsibility of self-preservation has its limitations. Since physical life is not the highest good, then it is necessary to sacrifice life for the highest purposes and reaching of the highest goods in other cases. The cases of life sacrifice can occur, in the first place, in the service to God. For example it is possible to remember about the martyrs. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26 and f.). And further: He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (Math. 10:39; 16:25). In the second place, in the performance of the responsibilities of one’s post. A soldier, doctor, clergyman can serve as an example. Ap. Paul says: "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24). Thirdly, these are the acts of love for the neighbor and for his profit. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, says Lord the Savior (John 15:13). Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16), says Ap. John. In all these cases the duty of self-preservation converts into the duty of self-sacrifice.
How should one treat brief and long human life? The model of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who lived on the earth only for 33 years, shows that its full weight can be combined with the short lifetime. In this case the man, having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career (Wisdom 4:13). For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age (the same, chap. 8 и 9). And vice versa: the long life can be empty by the content, it might not have its price for the eternal life. For should they attain long life, they will be held in no esteem, and dishonored will their old age be at last (Wisdom 3:17). But generally speaking, a Christian must treat it as the divine gift and God’s long-lasting mercy, if he obtained the lot of long life. Ap. Peter says: And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation (2 Pet. 3:15). The more prolonged is life, the greater the time for doing good and preparation for the eternity will be.
Therefore the desire of death is a doubtful thing. Very frequently it is the unwillingness to work and to tolerate vital calamities. Even if it is the positive desire of perfect life after death, even then it is necessary to remember that death is always premature, if it is not sent to the man by God. The Lord knows better, when it is time for our life to be finished: "and in thy book all my members were written" (Ps. 138:16), "in whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10). Generally, the desire of death has more right, the more the man matured for the eternal life, and the falser and having less rights it is, the less he matured for it. In the latter case, instead of the desire of death, it is necessary to care about the truly Christian life.
Wealth and poverty.
Wealth and poverty by themselves are morally neutral, i.e. neither wealth nor poverty by themselves do not make the man good or bad. Everything depends on the attitude of the heart towards wealth and poverty, on this or that attitude of the man towards them. That is why in the number of the saints glorified by the Church we meet and rich, and poor. Both wealth and poverty have their benefits and advantages as well as their dangers and temptations. Not in vain in the book of Solomon's proverbs the following appeal to God is raised: "Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die. Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain" (ch.30:7,8,9). As we see, the average material welfare is depicted in the Holy Scripture as the most favorable in the moral sense.
That wealth and generally any property are not reprehensible for a Christian is evident from the fact that God himself granted to the man the right to dominate the earth and replenish (Gen. 1:26; 9:1). But any property is the fruit of the earth. On the possession of property is based the possibility of spiritual upbringing of the man and acquisition of the known degree of self-reliance and independence, necessary for the activity in the world. However, the property allows gaining the possibility of benevolence. But, possessing property, it is necessary to be to internally independent from it, not to be captivated by it. If riches increase, set not your heart upon them (Ps. 61:10). Not wealth must possess us, but we must possess wealth, freely manage it and use it for good matters. The anti-moral possession of wealth and sinful use of it are expressed in the form of covetousness, self-interest, stinginess or in the form of extravagance and moral carelessness with the relying on wealth. The Holy Scripture speaks out very sharply against self-interest and stinginess. It calls its idolatry: covetousness, which is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10). Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Math.6:24). The Holy Scripture gives us the model of extravagance in the example of the prodigal son: wasted his substance with riotous living (Luke 15:13). But the model of false hope for wealth and moral carelessness is seen in the Evangelical rich person, who relying on the abundance of the gathered fruits, said to his soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry (Luke 12:19). Ap. Paul prescribes Timothy to edify the Christians not to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17).
The morally justified source of enrichment and acquisition of property is indicated in the face of Adam, who is commanded: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread (Gen. 3:19). Labor and thrift — these are the sources of the enrichment of a Christian. To the labor as the source of subsistence and material welfare, points Ap. Paul to the Thessalonians, in the medium of whom spread walking disorderly and eating for nothing (2 Thess. 3:6-12). And the example of thrift showed the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who said to the apostles after saturation of the people with the grain crops: Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost (John 6:12). To give away the money under the legal percentage and to use one’s property for the multiplication of it is, of course, permissible. In the parable about the talents is shown the permissibility of the latter. But any extortion, undoubtedly, is unnatural, about what says the Holy Scripture, already quoted above. The high example of returning of the illegally acquired property is seen in the example with Zacchaeus.
If the rich and wealthy must have internal independence from wealth, then the poor must have internal independence from poverty. Those forced to live poorly must internally desire to remain poor. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Tim. 6:8,7). At the same time the poor must realize, that also having material poverty they can be spiritually rich and high. Ap. Paul says: "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6:10). Ap. James says: Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low (ch. 1:9-10). Poverty has its dangers and temptations: it gives chance for fraud, embezzlement, envy, dissatisfaction with one’s fate, cowardice, complaints on God. About these temptations must remember the poor people and beware of them. But poverty has its advantages, such as deliverance of the man from the temptations of wealth. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition (1 Tim. 6:9).
The rules of how a Christian should perceive wealth and poverty are as well the management for his attitude to the benefits and pleasures of life, and also to the calamities, sufferings and diseases. Specifically: we must preserve moral freedom, our internal independence in all cases, we must not be the slaves of the own happiness or misfortune, but their hosts. Any sufferings and diseases are the educational means in the hands of God, without them the moral state of humanity would deteriorate much. With the visit of misfortune a Christian must ask, on the direction of the very Lord (John 9:3), not about that, with what he deserved the misfortune, but about how to use it so that the intentions of God would be carried out in it. But the divine intentions are to purify a Christian and impel him to the zealous service to God and to the salvation of his soul in the hearth of misfortunes and sufferings. Ap. Peter says: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:6,7). The Father of the spirits, says Ap. Paul, chastens us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness (Hebr. 12:10).
Misfortunes and sufferings impel us to self-examination and understanding of our deficiencies and defects, they show to us vanity and transience of everything terrestrial and excite the desire of eternal and intransient blessings, learn us to pray and to lay our hope on God, they bring up our patience and self-renunciation, dispose us towards grief and misfortunes of our neighbor and make us lenient to the deficiencies in the neighbor. Sufferings serve as preventative means as well. Ap. Paul says about himself: there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure (2 Cor. 12:7). Even about the Lord Jesus it is said that he through his sufferings "learnt obedience": Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebr. 5:8). Certainly, sufferings and diseases can produce the reverse effect: they can make the man irritable, angry, dissatisfied and complaining, impatient, an egoist. All these dangers it is necessary to have in view to that suffering and ill in order to protect himself from them. That suffering must be courageous and have self-control. He must strengthen himself in the thought, that "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them" (Hebr. 12:11), that those whom God loves, those He rebukes and chastens (Rev. 3:19), that Christ ought to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory (Luke 24:26). It is necessary to follow this: humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Pet. 5:6,7). It is natural for a Christian in sufferings and diseases to resort to the religious help, to the help of the Holy Church, to confess, to take communion, to order molebens, water sanctification. But if he did not practice in patience and courage in the days of healthy and satisfactory state, then hardly it will be possible to preserve patience during the days of disease and calamities. Therefore it is necessary to prepare the soul to live throughout the tests.
The designation of the man for heavenly life, for the service to God, in any way, does not exclude his designation for terrestrial life, for the service in the medium of human society. On the contrary, in terrestrial life and by the terrestrial service in the society, a Christian must prepare himself for heavenly life and accomplish to the full his service to God. Therefore each person must choose the specific occupation or the service in the society, in which his labor will be. Apostle Paul bequeaths: if any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thess. 3:10). The study of the Holy Scripture prescribes the service to one another with the help of that gift, which everyone had obtained (1 Pet. 4:10), about the reasonable "ruling of the household" (Luke 12:42), about the fact that "if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Pet. 4:11), about "working the works while it is day" (John 9:4), it relates also to the terrestrial post. With his post each one not only serves to the society, but also improves his own personality, obtaining at the same time true satisfaction. As a consequence of absence of the specific occupation the man will unavoidably be guilty in walking disorderly and eating for nothing, about which Ap. Paul says in the 2-d Epistle to Thessalonians: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies (3:11).
The selection of a post or profession depends partly on abilities or the talent of the man, and partly on the circumstances of his life, in which should be perceived the ways of the divine providence. To one are given five talents, to another two, to another one (Math. 25:15); one is born under some conditions and obtains one type of education; another is born under different conditions and obtains different kind of education.
But whatever the service might be, the main thing is, that it would be executed correctly. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things (Math. 25:21). Faithfulness to the service is expressed, first of all, in the zeal and strain of forces to its most scrupulous and complete fulfillment. Here is involved the fight with the obstacles in the fulfillment of the service. We must value our service (without despising the other types of service) and to look at it as to the service to the very Lord (Rom. 14:18; Col. 3:17). The one, who thinks about changing the type of service, is unfaithful to it. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called, bequeaths Ap. Paul (1 Cor. 7:20). If our service seems to us unattractive and heavy, then it is not necessary to run from it, but to get occupied with it more zealously and more persistently, and then it will become light in our opinion. If the man can develop his independent activity in the work, then this makes the work more interesting and attractive. The one, who with each difficulty is ready to give up his service, proves to unfit any other post. If actually we meet in the service many hardships and difficulties, then it is necessary to recall the general human fate: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread (Gen.3:19). This commandment relates not only to some farmers and craftsmen, but also to teachers, artists, clergymen and so forth. The development of the interest for other kinds of service in oneself is not excluded; on the contrary, it is required for the harmonious and complete education of one’s own personality, and for fruitfulness of occupations in one’s service.
A good name and ambition.
Readiness and success of the man in the field of his service and responsibilities make him estimated or give him honor. Honor is the acknowledgement of one’s personal merit by other people or by the society. Therefore the responsibility to worry about acquisition and retention of our honor lies on us.
In the Holy Scripture honor very definitely is acknowledged as the good, and a Christian is suggested to take care of it. In the book of Solomon's proverbs a good name is placed above gold and silver: A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches (22:1). Have a care for your name, — says Sirach — for it will stand by you better than precious treasures in the thousands (41:12). The evangelist notes about Jesus Christ that He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52). And to the first Christian society it is imputed into the merit, by the way, that it was "having favour with all the people" (Acts 2:47). Honor is an important condition of success of our activity and in the society; the one who is not respected and honored in the society that cannot beneficially act in it. We are also commanded to edify the neighbor by our good example (Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven); but how can we edify the neighbor, if the neighbor thinks badly of us?
But we must be careful in order not to undergo the false dependence on honor, i.e. in order not to value honor in the medium of people more than the honor of God and our conscience, in order not to sacrifice our internal honor (the unconditional good) to external honor (the relative good). The false dependence on honor is expressed in the forms of ambition and vanity. The ambitious strive for an important position in the society, for the differences, signs of respect, and the vain wants to have sympathy with the others, to interest them. Keeping in mind false dependence on honor, Ap. Paul says: "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self… but he that judgeth me is the Lord" (1 Cor. 4:3,4). Reproaching the ambitious and vain Pharisees, Lord Jesus Christ says: How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:44). Chasing the glory in the medium of people, the man loses his glory in God. Therefore we must be ready to carry the undeserved trampling of our honor patiently. A high example is seen in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must comfort ourselves together with Ap. Paul by the thought, that though now we are as unknown, and yet well known (2 Cor. 6:9). We also have the high promise of the Lord: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake (Math. 5:10-11).
We have a right, and frequently even are obligated, to protect our honor. The very Lord Jesus Christ protected His honor: with the charges, in the attempt of Israelites on His life he reminded them of His deeds, which did not at all deserve that (Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? John 10:32). Ap. Paul protected his personal dignity, mentioning his labors, exploits and suffering (2 Cor. 11:21). At present each citizen will find protection of the trampled honor in a law court; but it does not suite to a Christian to make complaint in a law court with any insult of honor. Magnanimous forgiveness of offence is the most real salvation of honor. Powerful means of rehabilitating of honor is the strict sequence of our actions in the service to honesty and the good. Seeing our faithfulness to the moral element, our slanderers or those not understanding us will involuntarily become silent. Let those suffering on the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator, says Ap. Peter (1 Pet. 4:19).
3. Respect and Love for the Neighbor.
Respecting and loving himself, a Christian respects and loves neighbors: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Respect towards neighbors is based both on their general human dignity and on the personal one. We must respect neighbors, as soon as each of them is the image of God, for each poured the blood of the Lord Savior on the cross and each is called to the eternal life in the unity with God. In this is the general human dignity of each neighbor. But if the neighbor is a Christian, then moreover he is revived in the sacrament of baptism and belongs to the same Church, as we do. But our neighbor has the personal dignity, which consists of his moral merits. In the latter case we must especially respect the neighbor. But since neighbors appreciably differ on the personal dignity or moral merits, they deserve our greater or minor respect.
The Holy Scripture suggests to us respect for the neighbor very clearly. That he made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. For the man is made in the image of God — says the Lord, commanding respect for the life of the neighbor (Gen. 6:9). Christ the Savior, Who is not ashamed to call them brethren (Hebr. 2:11), pronounces the strict sentence to those disrespectfully treating the neighbor: whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (an empty person), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Math.5:22). Honour all men, — says Ap. Peter (1 Pet. 2:17). Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, — writes Ap. Paul, — in honour preferring one another (Rom. 12:10).
Respect is opposite to disrespect or even contempt to the neighbor. We must not despise even a morally unworthy, vicious person. We can and even must be averted from it. And this is the aversion not from the personality of the man, but from the vice living in him. Aversion from the personality is more inappropriate and inadmissible, while next to the vice there is something good in each person as well (until the man did not reach the devilish state). We must not despise a vicious person, but expose, for the purpose of his correction. We must remember the words of the apostle: for God is able to make him stand (Rom. 14:4). Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things (1 Cor. 13:7). We do not see from the Evangelical legends that the Lord Jesus Christ would treat someone, even the morally unworthy people, for example, the Pharisees, contemptuously; He treated them accusatory; and exposing, He was compassionate (Math. 23:2-37). And what should we say about the disdainful treatment of the neighbor and so, of the morally worthy, without distinction? But meanwhile recently there was formed the entire philosophical system of Schopenhauer, which propagates contempt for the people. But mostly we treat the neighbor disdainfully simply because of our selfishness.
Respecting neighbors, we must love them. Love for the neighbor is wishing him any good and the inclination to contribute to his welfare, both physical and spiritual. In our time many say about humanity and philanthropy. But both of the notions are not identical to the true Christian love. Humanism proceeds from understanding of the human dignity of each neighbor, is filled with the false optimistic view on the state of human nature and therefore cannot see all the depths of the human distortion, and consequently, cannot doctor them (it does not even have means for that); it means only terrestrial prosperity of the neighbor and does not at the same time forget its own interests, it searches not for the glory of God, but for its own, i.e., is connected with selfishness. Meanwhile, the true Christian love for the neighbor results from thinking of for God and the Atoner of all people and love for Him, it sees all ulcers upon the mankind, produced by the sin, and is in the state to propose the appropriate cure, takes care not only of the terrestrial prosperity, but most of all about the eternal and heavenly, is filled with renunciation and inclination towards the glory of God. But, however, the word "humanity" can be understood, also, in its highest sense, as the true Christian love, especially because this word in our time is very frequently used also in the Christian sphere. It is only necessary to distinguish the true humanity from that unreal or incomplete.
As respect for the neighbor must spread over all the people without exception, the same way love for the neighbor must embrace all without exception. In the parable about the Samaritan the Lord teaches us to be benevolent to the neighbor, disregarding the differences in the nationality, religion, their moral merit (Luke 10:29). But since we cannot have a contact with the extremely wide circle of people, then as with our neighbor, we must count the circle of those persons, with whom we are in especially close relations and in whose life we can actively participate. Precisely such a concept about the neighbor is given in the parable about the merciful Samaritan. Neighbors are called such people, who are given the chance to show mercy to the others (Luke 10:36-37). Ap. Pavel distinguishes love for the neighbor and love for brethren. As brethren, or neighbors in the narrow sense of the word, he calls those united in faith (Rome 8:17,29; Gal. 3:26, 4:26; Hebr. 3:1). So, the Christians, especially orthodox, are mainly our neighbors, to whom preferably we must show mercy. Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). Chiefly from love for brothers we must learn, on the word of the apostle, to love all neighbors. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you (1 Thess. 3:12). The Orthodox Christians on the advantage are our neighbors both because they are in the especially close relation to us, and also because we have more possibilities and cases to be benevolent to them. In the same relations we are with our relatives or those who are under our care, with our nation, colleagues and inhabitants of one city and so forth. All these persons are mainly our neighbors.
Justice and mercy.
All forms and acts of love for the neighbor it is possible to combine with justice and mercy.
To what an extent justice is expressed in the reporting of our thoughts to the neighbor, to the same extent it is truthfulness or truth; how much it is implied in our feelings, to the same extent it appears to be sincerity; and how it is evinced in different practical actions towards our neighbor, to the same measure it appears to be honesty.
The duty of truthfulness is laid on us by the Holy Scripture: Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another (Eph. 4:25). Thus, we must tell the truth, being the members of one body, and we must serve each other. The deep basis of the responsibility to tell the truth lies in the fact that we must be the servants of the eternal Truth. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5). It cannot be, of course, said that we are obligated to say everything to everybody; the truth must be reported wisely, and therefore sometimes it is necessary to be held from telling the bitter truth: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Eccl. 3:7). There are such cases, when we are obliged due to love for the neighbor, for example, to the sick, to hide the truth from him. But any lie on the selfish motives must decisively be rejected. And not only a lie with the intention to hurt the neighbor, but also a frivolous lie. Lying lips are abomination to the LORD, says the wise (Prov. 12:22). The complex tissue of lie is called insidiousness.
The duty of sincerity requires from us the report to the neighbor of true feelings to the full measure. The duty of frankness is candor, straightforwardness. Showing the sincere man, the Psalmist indicates that he speaketh the truth in his heart (Ps. 14:2). And Ap. Paul teaches by his example to renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness (2 Cor. 4:2; Acts 4:19,20). The opposition of candor is in simulation and hypocrisy, which extreme measure is called treason, treachery. As an example of simulation can serve the Pharisees with the Herodians, who flatteringly asked Lord Jesus: Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore and so on (Math. 22:16 and f.). But as of an example of treachery it is possible to remind of Judas Iscariot’s act. However, the opposition of frankness is reticence.
Finally, the duty of honesty, or righteousness in the respect to the neighbor was commanded to us by the prophets: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness… yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD (Is. 26:9,10). John the Baptist answered the publicans’ question: Exact no more than that which is appointed you, — and the soldiers: Do violence to no man (Luke 3:13,14). The very Lord Jesus Christ said: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Math. 7:12); or: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Math. 7:1-2); Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees… for ye have omitted the weightier matters of judgment (Math. 23:23). Finally, the apostles taught: Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Rom.13:7); or: the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). The duty of honesty requires that we should strictly follow the right of each one, and returned everything belonging to the others in the practical actions, as far as the neighbor is concerned. At the same time we must require the same of neighbors so that they would preserve our rights and give us our due. But a Christian must soften the strict right by the Christian humanity; he must remember that neighbors have a right for our love. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law (Rom. 13:8), and therefore he must combine his rights in the respect to the neighbor with love and condescension.
To the responsibilities of honesty, or righteousness, belongs the responsibility of thanksgiving. The man is already impelled to thanksgiving by the natural feeling (Luke 6:32-34; Is. 1:3); and to say — "he is ungrateful" — means to make a very humiliating judgment about the man, means to name his perfidious. Ap. Pavel says: "In every thing give thanks" (1 Thess. 5:18). In the Epistle to the Romans the apostle sends greetings to Priscilla and Aquila both from himself and from the entire church (16:4). We know about the reproach, given by the Lord Jesus Christ to the nine people healed from the leprosy (Luke 17:18).
The mercy to the neighbor is expressed in the following forms: soothing of the sick and sad, benevolence to those in need, patience to those sinning and forgiveness of those misbehaving with us, and also love for the enemies.
The duty to sooth the sick and those saddened is laid on the Christians. Ap. Paul, when he commands to weep with them that weep (Rom. 12:15) and to remember them that are in bonds (Hebr. 13:3). To sooth the sad must not be only with the words, but also with the attitude. The caution and skill are necessary while soothing, in order not to cause vexation to the sad (similar to the friends of Job). Comforting those suffering as the result of their own fault (for example, the prisoners), it is necessary to know how to combine mercy with seriousness. But together weeping with those weeping, a Christian, of course, rejoices with them that do rejoice (Rom. 12:15); i.e. not only he commiserates, but also co-rejoices.
The Holy Scripture gives us the perceptible motives for benevolence. For example, the Lord says: Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Math. 5:42). But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest (Luke 6:35). But to do good and to communicate forget not, writes Ap. Paul (Hebr. 13:16). Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, — says Proph. Isaiah — and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him (Is. 58:7). He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again (Wisdom 19:17). For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy, says Ap. James (2:13). The merit of mercy is shown by the Lord in depicting the Dread Judgment. Mercy must not be limited by the material aid alone; it must also include the moral correction of the poor, their ability to "pray and work," and, so, reaching such a state, in which they could exist without the help from the outside. Therefore the benevolent, materially helping the poor, must try to influence their personality, visiting their houses, entering into conversations, giving advice how to get out of a tight corner. With random and street alms to the poor this is impossible. Therefore charity must be organized; i.e. there must be arranged the shelters for the poor, wherever they will obtain the necessary aid, both physical, and spiritual. Each Christian must participate in the arrangement of such shelters. Giving alms to the poor in the street, it is also necessary to have a good understanding, in order not to feed those eating for nothing (2 Thess. 3:10) and not to reject those in real need.
The qualities of the true benevolence are the following. First, cheerfulness: Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Secondly, unselfishness. One should not expect any appreciation, glory, reward. Therefore it is better to do it secretly. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Math. 6:3,4). Therefore balls, concerts and the like with the charitable purpose are distant from its truly Christian forms. Thirdly, selflessness. One must be benevolent not only from surplus, but also in poverty (on an example of the poor widow), depriving oneself of something for the neighbor. Fourthly, tenderness to those obtaining alms, without reproaches, as God, according to Ap. James, "giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not" (1:5), and without humiliating those obtaining mercy. We must not let feel that we, their benevolent, give to them because of our generosity. Finally, not selecting whom to give. To be merciful to all in need without exception — to the Christians and non-Christians, native and strange on the national character, good and evil, to friends and enemies. Bless them that curse you... That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Math. 5:44-45).
Mercy is also expressed in the long-suffering and forgiveness of offences, which are the condition of the world. We are surrounded by the sinful people, who are ready to vex and to harm us. We must suffer and be meek. In your patience possess ye your souls, says the very Lord (Luke 21:19). And Ap. Paul said: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Col. 3:12). Let not the sun go down upon your wrath (1 Eph. 4:26). The blessing of the meek by the Lord is also known (Math. 5:5). Patience and meekness — this is the force, which stops irritation and anger, and gives the man the possibility not to break the union of love with the neighbor. We must, certainly, pander to the sins of the neighbor for the preservation of peace with him (Rom.12:18); it is possible to be angry with the neighbor, but also being angry, not to sin (Eph. 4:26); anger must not pass into the passionate anger and step over the measure and boundaries of mercy towards the neighbor. We must not be touchy, but bear in the heart the unexhausted source of forgiveness, which mentioned the Lord Savior: whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also (Math. 5:39,40). It will be not difficult for us to do this, if we recollect, that also the neighbor sometimes has to suffer from us many troubles and vexations (meaning this, the apostle said: Bear ye one another's burdens, Gal. 6:2) and that we are forgiven by God infinitely much more than that what neighbor owes to us. One should remember the parable about the merciful king and the hard-hearted slave (Math. 18:32). "Forgive us our debts" we read in the prayer, "as we forgive our debtors." It is necessary to learn to see the best sides in life and actions of the neighbor, instead of distrusting, suspecting them and interpreting everything with bad sense. Forgiveness must be sincere and complete; the offence must be not only forgiven, but also forgotten. The opposition to forgiveness is hatred and vengeance.
In the case of happened disorder and separation with the neighbor, we must be ready to be making up. If we are guilty ourselves, then we must ask for forgiveness. The first step towards reconciliation must, of course, make the culprit or insulter. But since it is usually difficult for the guilty to give the hand of reconciliation and since more or less both sides are guilty in the disorder, then the victim must make it easier for the insulter to obtain forgiveness. Their friends must also take part in the matter of peacemaking, remembering the word of the Savior: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Math. 5:9). The opposition to peacemaking is hostility.
And when the neighbor does not want to reconcile first, shows himself an enemy, hates us and in every possible way harms us, we must not turn away from him. We must love the enemies of ours. Love your enemies, — says the Lord, — bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Math. 5:44). Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink, — writes the apostle (Rom. 12:20;14:17). Loving the enemies, we want to defeat the evil. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom.12:21). Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things (1 Cor. 13:7); therefore we hope that the enemy can become our friend.
The exterior form of expression of love for the neighbor is courtesy, or politeness. It is expressed in greetings, handshakes, kisses and other forms of the amiable treatment of the people. Sending the apostles for the sermon, the Lord Jesus Christ gave them such a direction: And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house (Luke 10:5). The apostles frequently greeted the Christians with a kiss in the Epistles (1 Pet. 5:14, Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:19 and f.). We, of course, frequently greet each other absolutely mechanically; however, in greetings must be shown our love and attitude. Politeness is akin to helpfulness. We are helpful, when, for example, we lend our neighbor the money in his financial difficulties, when we carry out any work for him, etc.
Assertion of the neighbor in good morals.
We must be ready to serve the neighbor, sincerely transferring to him our knowledge, and especially — edifying him in religion and good life. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another (Col. 3:16).
Taking care about the good morals of the neighbor, we ourselves must show a good example, being cautious, not to be a temptation for the neighbor. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Math. 5:16). Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh (Math. 18:7). One must encourage the neighbor to do good, edify, provoke, advise, punish. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, says Ap. Paul (1 Thess. 5:11). And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Hebr. 10:24). Comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men (1 Thess. 5:14). But all this must be accomplished very carefully, with wisdom, in the spirit of meekness and love, otherwise the result can prove to be opposite to that we expect.
The heaviest sin against the life of the neighbor is called homicide. This is one of the sins, appealing to the sky about vengeance. The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground (Gen. 4:10). The shadow of that killed constantly pursues the killer; and after death he will face the part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). But it is possible, of course, to ruin the health and very life of the neighbor indirectly, which is not a less heavy sin.
The crime against the property of the neighbor is called robbery or stealing. A robber and thief also is the one who by dishonest means transfers the others’ money into his pocket. For example, the one who takes extra payment, or does not pay to the full, robs and steals. All forms of rapaciousness and direct stealing are spread in our time. By the way, in the Holy Scripture is said, that nor thieves… nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10). And it is sufficiently proved by the experience, that "the other’s goods will do no good." Treasures of wickedness profit nothing (Prov. 10:2).
However, to the care about the honor and good name of the neighbor contradict their judgment and slander. The judgment of the neighbor is the unnecessarily passion, that has no distinction, caused by sinful self-satisfaction, to speak about deficiencies of the neighbor and to talk about them on ill-will. The Lord says: Judge not, that ye be not judged…And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Math. 7 and f.). However, we are especially guilty of the sin of judging, when we plunge into the depth of the heart and soul of the neighbor (which are accessible only to God, controlling the hearts) and blame (on the basis of his actions) his heart and character. There is one lawgiver, says Ap. James, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (4:12). But slander or muck-raking is spreading the false information about the neighbor. Backbiters and despiteful the apostle puts in line with those most vicious, doing not convenient (Rom. 1:30). Cursed be gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many, — says Sirach (28:13).
4. A Christian as a member of Society.
А. Responsibilities and virtues in the church society.
Relations between the members of society.
The "edification" of the church is accomplished by the joint efforts of pastors and the flock with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. The responsibility of pastors is, first of all, the preaching of the word of God and accomplishment of the divine services. But the responsibilities of a pastor are not limited by this, i.e., he must feed his flock, also, out of the temple. And here the very wide field for his activity is being opened: to edify the unbelievers, those who lost the way and doubting, to encourage those losing heart and the sick, to sooth the suffering, to suggest courage to those tempted, to raise the spirit of the abandoned, to reconcile the quarrelling, to instruct and punish the vicious and embittered, to admonish the dying. The activity of a pastor of the church is full of selflessness. Pastoral theology indicates the means and methods for the accomplishment of the mentioned objective. We shall only note that for the accomplishment of this objective is required, besides the mental and moral preparation, as well the knowledge of the human souls and their different states, here is also necessary the ability to be fitted to all and to be, on the word of the apostle, all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22), and finally, one needs the width of the heart: "our heart is enlarged, ye are not straitened in us" (2 Cor. 6-11:12). As far as the disciplinary relations between pastors and the flock are concerned, in our Orthodox Church they occupy the golden middle point between the extremes of the Catholicism and Protestantism. The Roman Catholic priests excessively guard the flock, and the Protestants have too great independence of the flock in the respect to the pastors.
The responsibility of the flock is to contribute to the pastors with their own efforts in the fulfillment of their task (Rom. 15:30). And then — the flock must have deep respect and love for the pastors as their spiritual fathers. The apostle says: And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake (1 Thess. 5:12,13). But about the relation of the guided between themselves the apostle says: be at peace among yourselves (the same verse), endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). The unity of the Spirit and peace among the Orthodox is especially disrupted by heresies and schisms. Heresy is distortion or negation of any dogma of faith (Arias, Macedonius, etc.). And schism is distortion or rejection of any truth of moralization, divine service or decision of the Orthodox Church (Novatius, Donatus, etc.). Dissenters, in their turn, can be decomposed into different flows and sects. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Rom. 16:17). The apostle expresses the following responsibilities of the members of the flock to each other with such words: let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
The Orthodox Church enters into relation both with those departed and with the Church, Which triumphs in heaven. In the respect to the dead, our responsibility consists of commemorating them, of continuation of their good deeds and of the prayer about them. And all this happens in hope of being received in their everlasting habitations (Luke 16:9). The prayer for the departed persons is absolutely natural: if we love the close ones, then our love follows them after their departure as well (Charity never faileth — 1 Cor. 13:8); if their good state interested us within their life, then the more it interests us after their death. The prayer for the departed has its effect, since we are in one and the same reign of God with them (Luke 20:38; Rom. 14:8), and since the change in the state of the dead is possible before the Dread Judgment. Therefore prayers for the departed always existed in the Christian church. Even if the rich man in hell bustled about his brothers, who remained on earth (Luke 16:27), then should not we pray for the departed more? Ap. Paul commands to pray for all men, since God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:1,4). Pronouncing the prayer "Thy Kingdom come" we pray, of course, so that the Reign of God would arrive into all existence domains, therefore, as well into the sphere of the departed. It is indicated in the 2-d Book of Maccabees that there was brought a sacrifice for the Israelites killed in the battle (12:42-45).
To grieve and cry about the dead persons is not prohibited to us. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles we read that with the burial of the first martyr Stephan the Christians made great lamentation over him (8:2). The very Lord wept at the coffin of Lazarus (John 11:35). But we should grieve not even as others which have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13).
The burial of corpses in the earth is absolutely natural in accordance with the Holy Scripture. Thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken (Gen. 3:19). It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). Our church opposes to the custom to burn corpses (cremation).
We must treat the members of the Church, which triumphs in heaven, as our patrons and defenders before God. Our highest Patroness and Protectoress is Ever-Holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Lord, "more honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim." She Herself said a prophecy: from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed (Luke 1:48). Many of Her wonder-working icons in entire Russia loudly speak about the abundance of grace, poured through Her by God to the mankind. Then there come the faces of archangels and angels. Among them, we must especially appeal to the angel in our charge (Ps. 90:11). Finally, the glorified saints solicit for us before God. To them in particular is applicable the saying of Ap. James: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (5:16). According to how it was depicted by Ap. John, before the Lamb in Heaven there are raised golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints (Rev. 5:8). Ap. Pavel commands to commemorate teachers, who preached to you the word of God, and looking at the decease of their life, to follow their faith (Hebr. 13:7). The special respect deserve the saints, glorified by our church and helping our Russian people (for example, St. Nicolas), and also the saint, whose name we bear.
Our Russian people believe that one or another saint especially helps in this or that human need. For example, St. Panteleymon is considered to be an assistant especially in diseases; St. Gourias, Samonas and Abibus — in the family life; St. Blaise — in cattle breeding; St. Conon the Gardener — in gardening; St. Ap. Peter — in fishing; St. Martinian and Moses the Hungarian (Ugrin) — in the fight of the man with sensual lust, and so forth. This belief has its basis in the biography of the saints. It is narrated there, that the named saints either themselves dealt with those matters, in which they help, or on their death showed miraculous help in this, or they underwent any temptation with that sin, from which they free those appealing to them, in their life.
In the respect to the Christians of other beliefs and non-Christians, an orthodox Christian bares the duty of religious tolerance and prayers about the "connection of churches" and about the conversion of unbelievers into the Christianity, and also participation in the missionary activity. The participation can be personal, or at least, monetary.
B. Responsibilities and virtues in the respect to the family.
The family is the first basis of the moral peace. Here for the first time the man becomes acquainted with morals and develops in himself moral life. That was why the Lord Savior before He began the service for society, blessed a marrying couple by His visit. And the apostles, preaching the word of God to the nations, first of all introduced it into the houses. On the moral welfare of each family depends the welfare of the entire society, and the state; and destruction of the family has by the inevitable consequence destruction of society and the state.
Family is based on marriage, which is nothing else but the voluntary and based on love union of two persons of different sexes, which has as a goal the perfect mutual completion and assistance, and its consequence is the birth and upbringing of children. It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him (Gen. 2:18); or: shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh (Math. 19:5; Gen. 2:24); here is the expression of the purpose of marriage. And God blessed them, and God said unto them (Adam and Eve): Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen. 1:28) — this is the expression of the consequence, or the fruit of marriage. Childlessness does not destroy the essence of marriage and does not deprive of its purpose. True marriage is possible only with monogamy; by polygamy are excluded complete devotion and equality of two persons, required by the essence of marriage. Marriage according to its idea must be indissoluble. Getting married with the thought about its possible dissolution subsequently makes complete devotion of two persons impossible.
Entering into marriage is not given to the arbitrariness of the man. For the persons, destined by nature and circumstances for life in marriage, entering into marriage is the requirement of duty. Marriage, which leads the man into many moral tasks and responsibilities, is an important school of a person’s training for his activity. At the same time the mankind can continue on the divine arrangement only through marriage. Therefore deviation from marriage because of selfish purposes is unnatural. But there occur cases of obligation to remain out of marriage. Celibacy can be involuntary and free. There can be that, for example, the service is incompatible with the marital state; either the man will fail in choosing the person to get married, or he does not have means for supplying the wife and children, in this case it is necessary to remain out of marriage temporarily or forever. But voluntary celibacy is known under the name of monasticism. After obtaining the gift of celibate life, the man accepts it for the kingdom of heaven's sake (Math. 19:11). He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife (1 Cor. 7:32,33). Ap. Paul by no means belittles the significance of marriage; on the contrary, he calls marriage "a great mystery" (Eph. 5:32), and those lowering its merit he calls "speaking lies," "seducing spirits" (1 Tim. 4:1-3). But at the same time celibacy for the Lord and the reign of God he places above marriage. It is good for a man not to touch a woman, He says (1 Cor. 7:1). I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I (8). He that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better (38). The preference of celibacy for the Reign of God is supposed in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given…He that is able to receive it, let him receive it (Math. 19:11,12). As the book of Revelation depicts, before the heavenly throne it is being sung a song, which cannot learn no one from the "defiled with women" (14:3,4). And who will not agree that the state, with which they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven (Math. 22:30), must be set above that state, in which they are in dependence on the terrestrial conditions and carnal sensations? Or who will not agree that that being rejecting the benefits of marriage, brings to God great sacrifice? But, certainly, unclean celibacy, which violates the vow to God, must be set much lower than clean marriage. Therefore the apostle says: But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor. 7:9).
So that marriage would be correct from the moral point of view, it must be marriage not only on the inclination, but also on the reason. Marriage is abnormal, if those getting married have a great difference in age (an old man is married to a young girl). There cannot be complete accordion and unity, also, in such a case, when between the persons getting married there is the enormous difference in upbringing and education. Marriages of the persons of different religions are allowed from the canonical point of view and they can be happy. Although one cannot fail reminding of some moral difficulties because of different confessions of spouses. Finally, marriages in the family relationship are prohibitive. The basis for the prohibition of marriages between close relatives is the following: between the relatives already exist certain moral relations, and these relations would be defiled and destroyed with the new relations, started in marriage.
The parents can show essential assistance to the desiring to get married. The children will need to obtain the blessing for the marriage from the parents, for a father's blessing gives a family firm roots (Sir. 3:9), the children must turn to the parents for advice in this important deal. But in this case the parents have right only to approve, but not to choose; the choice must be of the one getting married. To marry following the order is immoral.
Mutual relations of spouses.
The task of those marrying is to carry out the entrusted to them by God designation. This designation lies in the pious preserving of the formed union, to assist to each other in moral succeeding, to share the burdens of life and to foster the children, if God blesses by them.
The first responsibility of spouses is faithfulness to the promise, given before the Church. Conjugal adultery is the main evil, which generates disorder and destruction of the whole family house. Faithfulness must spread onto the depth of the motions of the heart, since that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Math. 5:28). But about unfaithfulness in action, the apostle says: Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge (Hebr.13:4). No adulterers shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9,10). Faithfulness does not require that spouses would forget the surrounding world and get reserved; then their love would be selfish, and their life would dry up. Faithfulness and true conjugal love exclude blind and passionate jealousy, for which any free motion of a spouse already seems the violation of faithfulness. Spouses must have confidence in each other, but should not be indifferent and too confident in the fact that they are inseparably connected; they must try again and again to gain love and respect of one another. "Let the husband, — says the apostle, — render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband" (1 Cor. 7:3).
Spouses should share everything between themselves. For this there is required absolute frankness in their mutual relations. A deficiency in frankness testifies about incomplete love. Spouses must take mutual part in their occupations. The husband must be interested in the occupations of his wife, and the wife — in the occupations of the husband. Loving the husband, the wife must love his post. As far as possible, spouses must help each other in their occupations, share both grieves and happiness, first of all, those of the family character, in which there is no deficiency ever.
Since those united in marriage as all the people, are sinful, with many deficiencies and weaknesses, then they are obligated to have mutual patience and condescension, also the concern about elimination of deficiencies, in particular of the vices. The one, who sincerely loves, will without fail care about the moral improvement of his spouse and about the elimination of his own deficiencies, unpleasant to the other spouse. Spouses will have many lucky chances for mutual beneficial influence. The force of the husband in the respect to the wife consists of his mental and volitional superiority; and the force of the wife in the respect to the husband — of her devotion, requests, melancholy, and tears.
According to the doctrine of the Holy Scripture, the husband is the head of the wife and family; and the wife must stay in obedience to the husband. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5:22-33; Gen. 3:16). This does not mean that the wife is lower than the husband in the moral or personal merit, in this respect they are completely equal: there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7); the supremacy of the husband is a natural consequence of the properties of nature of the man and woman. There cannot be two heads in the house. Already Aristotle noted that each family house must to be a monarchy, not a republic. The fact that the supremacy of the husband, in any way, is not of despotic nature, is evident from the clear commandment of the Holy Scripture: Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Col. 3:19). As the head of the wife and family, the husband must protect his wife and spare her as the weaker vessel, according to the expression of the apostle (1 Pet. 3:7), care about the provision of the family (1 Tim. 5:8), to rule the house (1 Tim. 3:4) and to be a representative and a guardian in the society. But the wife must be by the soul of the house, she must improve the house, maintain it in order, save and reasonably use that acquired by the husband property for the needs of the family (1 Tim. 2:5). The excellent model of a housewife sketches Solomon in the book of Wisdom, 30:10-31.
So-called emancipation of a woman is well-spread in our century. Women leave the family house and occupy the same posts, equally with the man. This direction is based on the misunderstanding: on the one hand, in this case they do not investigate the qualities of the nature of a woman, while on the other hand, do not value properly the importance of occupations of women with children and the house. The responsibilities of a woman are in no way easier and less important than the occupation of men. In fact, is it really easier to organize the house properly than to be occupied in the office or with another work? Is it really easier and less important to foster children than those male occupations? The upbringing of children is a difficult and important task, and emancipation of women unavoidably leads to the worsening of the family state and even to its destruction; and this will harmfully influences the state and humanity. If a woman has authentic female nature, then she cannot feel herself well, being wrenched out from the family hearth; she is as the plant, pulled out of the soil. In her is fulfilled the word: every one that exalteth himself shall be abased (Luke 18:14). The woman has influence on the public life, but her influence is not direct, but by the means of fostering children. If she suggests them love for the church and fatherland, the skills for the useful activity for the society and state, with this she renders great service to the society itself, much greater than the work out of the family.
Parents, children, workers.
The duty of parents towards children is to raise them and to bring them up. A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame, says wise Solomon (Prov. 29:15). An unruly child is a disgrace to its father if it be a daughter she brings him to poverty, says Sirach (22:3). The task of upbringing means to bring children to the moral maturity, i.e. to the ability to long for the good and to be averted from the evil independently. Together with children must obtain the necessary knowledge and skills for the service in the society. The means of upbringing are discipline, admonishment наставление and study. Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, says the apostle (Eph. 6:4). The means of discipline are order, supervision, and punishment. The means of control are the personal example, directions, reading of the books. However, the control is based on the force of those developing in a child conscience and the feeling of authority and love for the educator. It is necessary to know how to correctly combine discipline and control, and to beware of the extremes of the both. Otherwise a child will obtain slavish upbringing with the strict discipline. But without the discipline, only with edification, there will be liberal upbringing. Both the types of upbringing have harmful consequences. Too strict discipline makes a child oppressed, timid, deprived of any energy and independence, even hypocritical and flattering. But liberal upbringing will make a child disorderly, easily fascinated, capricious, self-reliant, haughty, obstinate, and audacious. The younger is that being brought up, the more necessary is the discipline; however, in proportion with the approximation of upbringing to the end, the discipline must convert into control. Upbringing has a goal to introduce obedience, first forced, and then voluntary. Obedience is the first and the main virtue of that being brought up.
Together with moral must take place religious upbringing. There are the educators, who think that religious upbringing must not begin early, since the small children are not capable of understanding high religious truths. This is correct only with early religious education. But here the main thing is not education, but the religious atmosphere of the family, in which grows a child. If in the behavior of the parents and all living in the house is manifested the true spirit of piety, then a child very early will be filled with it and will become a religious man. With the religious feeling and conscience it is necessary for a child to begin to learn to be pious. And then it must be combined with religious education. Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God (Mark 10:14). Mental education is accomplished mainly in the schools. Consequently, education in general must be not only private or family, but also public. The care of children must be connected with spiritual and physical upbringing.
In conclusion let us present Apostle Paul's words: So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). And actually, upbringing is far from being all-mighty, and its results sometimes prove to be not those, for which parents strove. Therefore the parents, upbringing children, must in the same time pray about them to God. The parental prayer is especially strong before God and brings God’s blessing upon the children.
But the responsibility of children to parents is respect, obedience and gratitude. Full of confidence, respect is the basis of behavior of a child. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee (Exod. 20:12; Math. 15:3,6). Disrespect for parents is an extremely heavy sin. Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death (Exod. 21:16; Math. 15:4). Respect is also required from children in such a case, when parents reveal any weaknesses and deficiencies. Even if his (the father’s) mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering--it will take lasting root. In time of tribulation it will be recalled to your advantage, like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins (Sir. 3:13-15).
The consequence of respect is obedience of the children. Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old (Prov. 23:22). Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right (Eph. 6:1). About Jesus Christ in His adolescence it is noted that He was subject unto them (Joseph and His Mother) (Luke 2:51). Only in such a case, when parents would have required from their children anything contrary to the divine law, children must not obey them.
Finally, gratitude to parents is absolutely natural and has well-founded reasons. On the word of the apostle, children should learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents (1 Tim. 5:4). With your whole heart honor your father; your mother's birthpangs forget not. Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you? (Sir. 7:27,28). The gratitude must spread, also, beyond the limits of life of parents, being expressed in prayers and their commemoration.
By the spirit of children's responsibilities is determined the whole attitude of students towards teachers and educators, generally of the young to elders. Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder, says the apostle (1 Pet. 5:5). Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren, the elder women as mothers (1 Tim. 5:1,2).
As far as the mutual relations between brothers and sisters are concerned, already from nature they are in a close alliance, on the basis of which must be developed the moral association and unity between them, mutual mercy, sharing of goods without envy and unselfishly, and also doing favors to each other. The happening collisions between brothers and sisters as the consequence of the proximity of relations must be eliminated faster. Elder children must help parents in the upbringing of the younger ones. But with death of the parents they must replace them for junior children. Generally, concerning the relations between relatives, Apostle Paul says: But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8).
To the family house in the broad sense belong the official personnel. In our time there are heard many complaints about servants, who, in their turn, complain of their masters. In the old times between them there were personal and moral relations, now everything is reduced only to the money deal. Masters are interested only in the greatest benefit from domestic workers, and for these latter masters are only the source of income. Authority and respect, mutual participation in life fell back to the background. Therefore for an improvement in relations in the family house it is necessary to restore the moral or personal relations between masters and workers.
Masters must see persons in their domestic workers, respect them and love as brothers in the Lord (Philim. 16), for Whom there is neither bond nor free (Gal. 3:28), and neither is there respect of persons with him (Eph. 6:9). Therefore masters must not only pay salary (Jam. 5:4), but also participate in their life and give advice and directions in difficulties. Masters must not only require the fulfillment of works, but also take care of the religious and moral upbringing of their workers, to control their behavior and the order in the house and to give the model of good life with a personal example. For the zealous and honest fulfillment of works one must reward not only with gifts, but also with the expression of personal contentment and confidence. With such an attitude to themselves, decent servants will feel respect for masters and will not start to change houses in hope of obtaining the better salary. Is it is necessary to treat especially affectionately those long-standing servants and even those who grew old in the house. However, immoral servants should be faster removed away from the house. In their turn, workers must fulfill their duties patiently and without vexation in singleness of heart, fearing God (Col. 3:22-24), to preserve the interests of the house and to avoid the most fine manifestations of dishonesty (Titus 2:10), to be grateful for the care of good masters. The apostle says: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake… Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart (1 Pet. 2:13; Eph. 6:5). Of course, servants must not fulfill the unlawful demands of masters.
Hospitality and friendship.
Families should not be withdrawn into themselves; they must have a contact with other families and outside persons. In this case appear sociable relations and responsibilities, those of hospitality and friendship.
The high model of hospitality is seen in the example of Abraham (Gen. 18:1 and f.). Ap. Paul says: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers (Hebr. 13:2). At the Dread Judgment the Lord will say to the righteous: I was a stranger, and ye took me in (Math. 25:35). But although there are no direct commandments in the Holy Scripture about friendship, since in the first times friendship was included into the general relations of the Christian brotherly love however we know that Lord the Savior called the disciples His friends at the Mystical Supper: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you (John 15:14-15). He also called Lazarus the friend of His (John 11:11). We know of the friendship between David and Jonaphanus, Ap. Paul and Timothy, great fathers and teachers of the church Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. True friendship has the important moral value: the true friend is as if a mirror, or our personified conscience. In him is reflected and clearly seen both everything good in our thoughts, intentions and actions and everything bad. Not by chance wise Sirach said: A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds (Sir. 6:16).
At the same time friendship is, after the family relations, the very first and simplest form of love, by means of which we can learn to love generally. For true friendship are necessary: identical view on life and common general persuasions, mutual frankness, confidence, devotion, readiness to render personal assistance to a friend and to sacrifice oneself for him, constant faithfulness. There are numerous untrue friends. Authentic friendship is really an outstanding phenomenon. When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him (Sir. 6:7).
C. The attitude towards the state.
The state and morals.
Many families, united with one general origin, compose people. But when people get organized and introduce between them the juridical order, then there has been formed the state. So, the state is the union of people, controlled by the historically worked out laws, or jurisdiction, under the supremacy of the sovereign or government in general. The state can comprise of several nations. When the laws and establishments of the state are in accordance with the Christian study, then this state is called the Christian state.
The basic rights, on which the state is founded, we find in the Holy Scripture. When after the flood humanity began to get multiplied and to spread over the earth, God proclaimed such a law: Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man (Gen. 9:6). So, the existence of the right in the state is based on the divine order. The authority of those ruling ones rests on the divine authority. But the last goal of existence of peoples and states was expressed by the Ap. Paul in the speech to the Athenian areopagus: And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us (Acts 17:26-27). It cannot be said, of course, that the state and moral spheres cover each other, that they are identical, as some philosophers assert, for example, Hegel, and some protestant theologians, inclined to mix up the morals with culture and civilization. The sphere of the state is the sphere of right and justice; and the moral sphere is mainly that one of love. The state sphere relates more to external life of human relations, this is the sphere of external improvement of the society; and the moral sphere is mainly the sphere of internal motives for activity, the sphere of spiritual motions and personal improvement of the man. But the state and moral spheres are found in the close alliance and interaction. The state would be fragile without the morals. The morals suggest us to obey the state orders not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake (Rom. 13:5). Without the motives from the side of the morals we would be very poor and unreliable citizens. And without the state the morals and all purely moral establishments, forces and relations (family, church, community, and personal relations between the people) would not have, so to say, any stronghold. It cannot be said that they are obliged to the state by their origin, — they have the own roots of existence, nourishment and development; but the state is their guardian. Without the state there would occur disorder in the society. This would produce the ruinous effect onto the flow of purely moral human life: we could not be able to live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Tim. 2:2).
The civil and political sides of the state.
The state can be examined from two sides: from the civil or public (social), and from the political side. Examining the civil side, it is necessary to say about the classes of society; and examining the political side — about the government and citizens.
They divide the classes of the civic community differently. We divide them into three classes: 1) the class, which feeds the society: farmers, industrialists, and merchants, 2) the enlighteners of the society: spiritual persons, scientists and people of art, 3) the keepers of the social order: administrative, judicial and servicemen. However, the sovereign is placed apart and even higher than any class. Now we shall examine the responsibilities and virtues of the first class.
Agriculture is the basis of culture and civilization. Therefore in ancient times it was even considered to be a sacred occupation; especially because the growth of the grain possesses a certain secret. A farmer must heed to this secret and be taught from it, and, generally, be taught from nature, with which he is in the very close relations. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead (Rom. 1:20). Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Math. 6:26). Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (28-30). At the same time a farmer is directly called to the order and constancy as to the basic condition of the moral activity. To be conservative — is the natural virtue of the farmers. So the farmers strictly preserve religiosity, knowing that the fate of their sowings is in the hands of God. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain (James 5:7). A farmer learns to rely on God and to be patient. At the same time he is impelled to the prayer. Finally, farmers are characterized by the simple way of life. Therefore their clothing does not depend on the fashion. A farmer is in very close relations with domestic animals and therefore he tries to treat them with care. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov. 12:10). After the cancellation of serfdom, peasants obtained important personal rights, but, unfortunately, the serious vices got spread among them: drunkenness, lewdness, cheating and litigiousness, using the labor of the others for personal profit. The next step is the release from these defects.
In the close relations with peasants also live important landlords. Their duty is to acquaint peasants with the improvements in agriculture, to take care of the national schools and the welfare of churches.
However, the task of industrialists is to work up the products of agriculture for the needs of the man. This is done by craftsmen and manufacturers. In the heathen world crafts were not honored. But the Israeli people were of another opinion about it, and another exists with the Christians. Even Ap. Paul, the most educated from the Israelites, was making tents (Acts 18:3; 20:34, etc.). About the very Lord Jesus Christ we know that He helped Joseph in the occupation with carpentry. Nature itself helps a farmer in the work, but a craftsman needs to make everything only with his labor, hands and machines. The industrial class is inclined to the progress. In our time the man began successfully fulfill the divine commandment about the replenishment of the earth and subduing it (Gen. 1:28). Having in mind this success it is necessary to warn the man against temptation — to forget God and to assign the entire progress exceptionally to his genius. Meanwhile the Holy Scripture indicates that any industrial and artistic skill is sent by God (Exod. 1:26). Therefore people must not forget that all success in labor (science and technology) is given by the Lord God (Sir. 38:39).
The task of the commercial class is to be the mediator between the producer and the user and to bring into all places the works of both nature and art. Commercial people, more than the others, face the danger of doing harm to the honesty, precisely, — the levy of the excess profit, lie and fraud. Sirach says: Like a peg driven between fitted stones, between buying and selling sin is wedged in (27:2). Therefore truthfulness and honesty must be the first commandment of the people, who are busy with commerce and, furthermore, they must remember that although commerce is their private affair, but they serve and are obligated to serve the society, and neighbors. Large commerce renders the favor to the nations and humanity, for it serves the mutual contact, not only to the material, but partly to the spiritual one. Conducting commerce requires from time to time certain risk; but senseless risk is prohibitive. At the same time merchants, instead of saying: "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain — should say: "If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that"(James 4:13-15).
Authority, legislation, war.
Examining the political side of the state, it is necessary to say about the government and citizens. The state is unthinkable without the government. Where no counsel is, the people fall (Prov.11:14). The powerful state is impossible without the strong government. Historically in different nations appeared various forms of administration. But the most ideal form is a monarchy, since it most corresponds to the idea of administration and is most capable of supporting the order and firmness of the state. Especially characteristic of the Russian state was the monarchist administration with the living faith in unique personal God, together with acceptance of the parental authority. Therefore the Russian people wanted to have the only personal ruler, whom it is possible to address with devotion and respect, with unconditional confidence and love. Happy are the people, whose sovereigns are God-fearing, truthful, they serve to the people as the model of the accurate performance of responsibilities. The orthodox Russia could boast with such sovereigns. The autocratic ruling of such sovereigns can be only for the good of the citizens. The unlimited monarch is called autocratic. This indicates not that he is above the law, but that in all the questions of legislation and control the last solution proceeds from the Sovereign. He is not obligated to give report about his solution to no one as only to very God, to himself and to the judgment of the subsequent history. Therefore the Sovereign is protected.
The Holy Scripture very clearly teaches about the origin of the power of the state not from below, not on the will of people, but from above, from God. In the Old Testament the Lord announced: "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth" (Prov. 8:15,16). Authority was given you by the LORD and sovereignty by the Most High, says the wise (Wisdom 6:3). In the New Testament Jesus Christ Himself said: Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above (John 19:11). Ap. Paul teaches: For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God (Rom. 13:1,2). Even in the states, where the rulers are elected by people, the authority of the state is by no means from people; if people themselves elect the organs of authority, then this does not mean that they are the source of power. Therefore very much mistake those, who think that people possess supremacy in the respect to the rulers and can elect and fire the rulers. The hereditary monarchy clearly expresses the idea of the divine origin of authority of the state, which appeared to be our Russian monarchy.
The functions of the government or the authority of the state are, in the first place, the perseverance of order within the state and, secondly, the protection of the state from external enemies from the side of other states.
The perseverance of order has a function of the laws’ issue (scriptures of the truth, as the wise said) and administration on the basis of the existing laws. Legislation is the totality of orders, which regulate the relations between the citizens and government and between individual persons. But control is putting the laws into action by means of the appointed persons — officials (that are sent — 1 Pet. 2:14). Officials are divided into administrators and judges. Judges rule the criminal law. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Rom. 13:4). And the main virtue of administrators and judges is the truth and faithfulness to the law.
The idea of the punitive law, or the criminal law, is understood differently. Some think, that the central objective of punishment is frightening of the citizens, and others, that their central objective is the correction of criminals; still others assume that their purpose is retribution. The latter theory is correct. A judge is named the vengeance-carrier to that doing evil in anger (see above). And we indeed justly, said the crucified malefactor, for we receive the due reward of our deeds (Luke 23:41). Punishment is, first of all, the reaction of a right against its violation. The law of justice declares itself the firm force in the respect to a criminal. With designation and fulfillment of punishments there must be preserved justice and humaneness. Any inhumanity (tortures, markings and so forth) must be banished from the line of punishments. The heaviest punishment is the capital punishment. It is assumed by the Holy Scripture: Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Gen. 9:6). He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Rom. 13:4). All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Math. 26:52). He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword (Rev. 13:10). Ap. Paul said before the process: I refuse not to die (Acts 25:11). Those denying the capital punishment consider that the man is punished by another person, who does not have authority over the life of the similar to himself, and that the purpose of punishment is correction. Meanwhile not only people, but also God punishes in the state, i.e., a judge on behalf of God, and the first purpose of punishment is not correction, but retribution.
The second function of the state authority is protection of the state from without or from another state. Authority protects the state both from internal and external enemies. The state must protect itself from attacks and unjust claims, but it can also act offensively, having the sufficient basis. The war is the greatest whip of humanity, since it is a homicide in the widest sizes and destruction of peaceful life and its fruits. The beneficial side of the war is that it raises the people forces, revives patriotism, calls citizens to self-sacrifice for the common matter, and teaches to pray and to be subdued before the terrible fates of the King of all Kings. Some optimists dream about the settlement of "the eternal peace on the earth." But wars are inevitable, until the sin lives on the earth. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars…for all these things must come to pass (Math. 24:6). There remains only to limit the wars as far as possible. The war is impossible without troops. The same way, the state is unthinkable without troops. The main responsibility of the soldiers — is the strictest subordination of the lowest to elder ones. However, as much is common of the soldiers heroism, the absence of fear for those which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Math. 10:28). St. John the Baptist commanded to the soldiers: Do violence to no man… and be content with your wages (Luke 3:14).
The responsibilities of the citizens in the respect to the government (and to the Supreme Authority) are the general responsibilities — to follow the civil virtues, which come out from love for the fatherland, or patriotism. Love for the fatherland is love for the country, in which we were born and live, to our people, religion, customs, and finally to the state and its head. Love for the fatherland is expressed in the honest fulfillment of responsibilities of the own title, in the assistance to the overall welfare of the country, aid to those in need, and also in the reverence towards the Supreme Authority (Fear God. Honour the king — 1 Pet. 2:17) and in obedience to Its directions (Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him or: submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake (1 Pet. 2:13), in the readiness to protect the fatherland even at the cost of one’s life and pay the necessary taxes to the state (Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; or: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom (Rom. 13:7), and at last — in the prayer for kings, and for all that are in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
To patriotism, either to love for the fatherland is opposite that cosmopolitanism, which dreams about the whole world, and meanwhile does not care about its own people and country, or which degrades its people before the other nations and states.
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The editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant).