And so by the struggle with temptation the kindly grace of the Saviour bestows on us larger rewards of praise than if it had taken away from us all need of conflict. For it is a mark of a loftier and grander virtue to remain ever unmoved when hemmed in by persecutions and trials, and to stand faithfully and courageously at the ramparts of God, and in the attacks of men, girt as it were with the arms of unconquered virtue, to triumph gloriously over impatience and somehow to gain strength out of weakness, for “strength is made perfect in weakness.” “For behold I have made thee.” saith the Lord, “a pillar of iron and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Judah, and the princes and the p. 543 priests thereof, and all the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee and shall not prevail: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.” 2344 Therefore according to the plain teaching of the Lord the kings highway is easy and smooth, though it may be felt as hard and rough: for those who piously and faithfully serve Him, when they have taken upon them the yoke of the Lord, and have learnt of Him, that He is meek and lowly of heart, at once somehow or other lay aside the burden of earthly passions, and find no labour but rest for their souls, by the gift of the Lord, as He Himself testifies by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “Stand ye on the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls.” For to them at once “the crooked shall become straight and the rough ways plain;” and they shall “taste and see that the Lord is gracious,” 2345 and when they hear Christ proclaiming in the gospel: “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you,” they will lay aside the burden of their sins, and realize what follows: “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” 2346 The way of the Lord then has refreshment if it is kept to according to His law. But it is we who by troublesome distractions bring sorrows and troubles upon ourselves, while we try even with the utmost exertion and difficulty to follow the crooked and perverse ways of this world. But when in this way we have made the Lords yoke heavy and hard to us, we at once complain in a blasphemous spirit of the hardness and roughness of the yoke itself or of Christ who lays it upon us, in accordance with this passage: “The folly of man corrupteth his ways, but he blames God in his heart;” 2347 and as Haggai the prophet says, when we say that “the way of the Lord is not right” the reply is aptly made to us by the Lord: “Is not My way right? Are not your ways rather crooked?” 2348 And indeed if you will compare the sweet scented flower of virginity, and tender purity of chastity to the foul and fetid sloughs of lust, the calm and security of monks to the dangers and losses in which the men of this world are involved, the peace of our poverty to the gnawing vexations and anxious cares of riches, in which they are night and day consumed not without the utmost peril to life, then you will prove that the yoke of Christ is most easy and His burden most light.
S. Matt. xi. 28-30.543:2347
Prov. xix. 3 (LXX.).543:2348
Ezek. xviii. 25 (LXX.).
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