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Three Inducements Toward Perfection


11. There are three virtues that induce people to crush their passions: the fear of hellís tortures, the desire to receive the Kingdom of Heaven and the love of virtues. It is written in Proverbs hat the fear of God leads away from sin: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (8:13). It is also said that hope restrains from the lure of temptations: "No one who has trust in Him shall perish." It is said that there is no fear in love and that it "never fails" (John 4:18 and 1 Cor. 13:8). That is why on matters of salvation, the Apostle concentrates on the acquisition of these three virtues, saying: "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three" (1 Cor. 13:13). Faith, in arousing our fear of the coming judgment and suffering, diverts us from passions; hope, in wrenching our mind away from this passing world, stimulates us to despise all carnal pleasures; and love, by inflaming our love for Christ and desire to succeed in virtues, urges us to completely detest everything that stands contrary to them. Although these three virtues stimulate restraint from everything that is not permissible, their levels of worthiness differ between them. The first two are natural to people who strive toward success and have not yet embraced goodness fully; the third belongs exclusively to God and has been transferred from Him to humans, who restored within themselves His likeness and image. Because only God does good ó not from fear or desire to reward, but solely from the love of goodness. He generously releases His gifts on the worthy, as well as the unworthy. Being eternally perfect and by nature unalterable goodness, He cannot be grieved by insults nor annoyed by peopleís iniquities. (Blessed John Cassian)

11. Differentiate clearly in matters and deeds, and know that there is no real goodness apart from virtue, emanating from the fear of God and love toward Him, and that there is no real evil ó apart from sin and withdrawing away from God. Now let us examine this carefully: did it ever happen that God (Himself or through somebody else) inflicted something bad on any of His Saints? Without a doubt, you will not find this anywhere. Because it has never happened that somebody could force another to sin when that person is against it and resists. If it did happen that the person was forced to sin, it is because he had an inclination toward that sin, a lack of resolution in his heart and a corrupted will. Thus, for example, when the devil wanted to plunge the righteous Job into sin, he directed all the snares of his hatred, depriving him of all his wealth, killing all his children and covering him with sores from head to toe. Nevertheless, in no way could he stain Job with sin, because in "all these misfortunes ," Job was resolute and did not utter an inane word against God. (Blessed John Cassian)

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