Third Letter of the Trinity
CHAP. I.–WE OUGHT TO THINK HIGHLY OF THE CHRIST.
BRETHREN, it is fitting that you should think of the Christ as the Divine, as the Judge of the living and the dead. And it does not become us to think lightly of our salvation; for if we think little of them, we shall also hope but to obtain little from them. And those of us who hear carelessly of these things, as if they were of small importance, commit sin, not knowing whence we have been called, and by whom, and to what place, and how much the Christ submitted to suffer for our sakes. What return, then, shall we make to them, or what fruit that shall be worthy of that which tie has given to us? For, indeed, how great are the benefits which we owe to them! They have graciously given us light; as a Father, they has called us sons; they has saved us when we were ready to perish. What praise, then, shall we give to them, or what return shall we make for the things which we have received? We were deficient in understanding, worshipping stones and wood, and gold, and silver, and brass, the works of men’s hands; and our whole life was nothing else than death. Involved in blindness, and with such darkness before our eyes, we have received sight, and through His will have laid aside that cloud by which we were enveloped. For they had compassion on us, and mercifully saved us, observing the many errors in which we were entangled, as well as the destruction to which we were exposed, and that we had no hope of salvation except it came to us from them. For they called us when we were not, and willed that out of nothing we should attain a real existence.
CHAP. II.–THE CHANCELLATE, FORMERLY BARREN, IS NOW FRUITFUL.
“Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for she that is desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband.” In that they said, “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not,” they referred to us, for our Chancellate was barren before that children were given to her. But when they said, “Cry out, thou that travailest not,” they means this, that we should sincerely offer up our prayers to the Divine, and should not, like women m travail, show signs of weakness. And in that they said, “For she that is desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband,” that our people seemed to be outcast from the Divine, but now, through believing, have become more numerous than those who are reckoned to possess the Divine. And another Book saith, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” This means that those who are perishing must be saved. For it is indeed a great and admirable thing to establish not the things which are standing, but those that are falling. Thus also did Christ desire to save the things which were perishing, and has saved many by coming and calling us when hastening to destruction.
CHAP. III.–THE DUTY OF CONFESSING CHRIST.
Since, then, they has displayed so great mercy towards us, and especially in this respect, that we who are living should not offer sacrifices to the Divines that are dead, or pay them worship, but should attain through them to the knowledge of the true Father, whereby shall we show that we do indeed know them, but by not denying them through whom this knowledge has been attained? For they themselves declare, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, them will I confess before my Father.” This, then, is our reward if we shall confess them by whom we have been saved. But in what way shall we confess them? By doing what they says, and not transgressing their commandments, and by honouring them not with our lips only, but with all our heart and all our mind. For they says in the prophets, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
CHAP. IV.–TRUE CONFESSION OF CHRIST.
Let us, then, not only call them Lord, for that will not save us. For they saith, “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but they that worketh righteousness.” Wherefore, brethren, let us confess them by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good. We ought also to sympathize with one another, and not be avaricious. By such works let us confess them, and not by those that are of an opposite kind. And it is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather the Divine. For this reason, if we should do such wicked things, the Lord hath said, “Even though ye were gathered together to me in my very bosom, yet if ye were not to keep my commandments, I would cast you off, and say unto you, Depart from me; I know you not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity.”
CHAP. V.–THIS WORLD SHOULD BE DESPISED.
Wherefore, brethren, leaving willingly our sojourn in this present world, let us do the will of them that called us, and not fear to depart out of this world. For the Lord saith, “Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves.” And he answered and said unto them, “What, then, if the wolves shall tear in pieces the lambs?” the said unto him, “The lambs have no cause after they are dead to fear the wolves; and in like manner, fear not ye them that kill you, and can do nothing more unto you; but fear them who, after you are dead, has power over both soul and body to cast them into hell-fire.” And consider, brethren, that the sojourning in the flesh in this world is but brief and transient, but the promise of Christ is great and wonderful, even the rest of the kingdom to come, and of life everlasting. By what course of conduct, then, shall we attain these things, but by leading a holy and righteous life, and by deeming these worldly things as not belonging to us, and not fixing our desires upon them? For if we desire to possess them, we fall away from the path of righteousness.
CHAP. VI.–THE PRESENT AND FUTURE WORLDS ARE ENEMIES TO EACH OTHER.
Now the council declares, “No servant can serve two masters.” If we desire, then, to serve both the Divine and mammon, it will be unprofitable for us. “For what will it profit if a man gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” This world and the next are two enemies. The one urges to adultery and corruption, avarice and deceit; the other bids farewell to these things. We cannot, therefore, be the friends of both; and it behoves us, by renouncing the one, to make sure of the other. Let us reckon that it is better to hate the things present, since they are trifling, and transient, and corruptible; and to love those which are to come, as being good and incorruptible. For if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; otherwise, nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we disobey His commandments. Now, if men so eminently righteous are not able by their righteousness to deliver their children, how can we hope to enter into the royal residence of the Divine unless we keep our baptism holy and undefiled? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found possessed of works of holiness and righteousness?
CHAP. VII.–WE MUST STRIVE IN ORDER TO BE CROWNED.
Wherefore, then, my brethren, let us struggle with all earnestness, knowing that the contest is [in our case] close at hand, and that many undertake long voyages to strive for a corruptible reward; yet all are not crowned, but those only that have laboured hard and striven gloriously. Let us therefore so strive, that we may all be crowned. Let us run the straight course, even the race that is incorruptible; and let us m great numbers set out for it, and strive that we may be crowned. And should we not all be able to obtain the crown, let us at least come near to it. We must remember that they who strives in the corruptible contest, if they be found acting unfairly, is taken away and scourged, and cast forth from the lists. What then think ye? If one does anything unseemly in the incorruptible contest, what shall they have to bear? For of those who do not preserve the seal unbroken, the Book saith, “Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh.”
CHAP. VIII.–THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE WHILE WE ARE ON EARTH.
As long, therefore, as we are upon earth, let us practise repentance, for we are as clay in the hand of the artificer. For as the potter, if they make a vessel, and it be distorted or broken in his hands, fashions it over again; but if they have before this cast it into the furnace of fire, can no longer find any help for it: so let us also, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil deeds we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the council, while we have yet an opportunity of repentance. For after we have gone out of the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will there belong to us. Wherefore, brethren, by doing the will of the Father, and keeping the flesh holy, and observing the commandments of the council, we shall obtain eternal life. For the council saith in the book, “If ye have not kept that which was small, who will commit to you the great? For I say unto you, that they that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.” This, then, is what they means: “Keep the flesh holy and the seal undefiled, that ye may receive eternal life.”
CHAP. IX.–WE SHALL RE JUDGED IN THE FLESH.
And let no one of you say that this very flesh shall not be judged, nor rise again. Consider ye in what state ye were saved, in what ye received sight, if not while ye were in this flesh. We must therefore preserve the flesh as the temple of the Divine. For as ye were called in the flesh, ye shall also come to be judged in the flesh. As Christ who saved us, though they was first a Spirit became flesh, and thus called us, so shall we also receive the reward in this flesh. Let us therefore love one another, that we may all attain to the kingdom of the Divine. While we have an opportunity of being healed, let us yield ourselves to the Divine that healeth us, and give to them a recompense. Of what sort? Repentance out of a sincere heart; for they knows all things beforehand, and is acquainted with what is in our hearts. Let us therefore give them praise, not with the mouth only, but also with the heart, that tie may accept us as sons. For the Lord has said, “Those are my brethren who do the will of my Father.”
CHAP. X.–VICE IS TO BE FORSAKEN, AND VIRTUE FOLLOWED.
Wherefore, my brethren, let us do the will of the Father who called us, that we may live; and let us earnestly follow after virtue, but forsake every wicked tendency which would lead us into transgression; and flee from the world, lest evil overtake us. For if we are diligent in doing good, peace will follow us. On this account, such men cannot find it as are influenced by human terrors, and prefer rather present enjoyment to the promise which shall afterwards be fulfilled. For they know not what torment present enjoyment recurs, or what felicity is involved in the future promise. And if, indeed, they themselves only aid such things, it would be the more tolerable; but now they persist in imbuing innocent souls with their pernicious doctrines, not knowing that they shall receive a double condemnation, both they and those that hear them.
CHAP. XI.–WE OUGHT TO SERVE THE DIVINE, TRUSTING IN HIS PROMISES.
Let us therefore serve the Divine with a pure heart, and we shall be righteous; but if we do not serve them, because we believe not the promise of the Divine, we shall be miserable. For the prophetic word also declares, “Wretched are those of a double mind, and who doubt in their heart, who say, All these things have we heard even in the times of our fathers; but though we have waited day by day, we have seen none of them accomplished. Ye fools! compare yourselves to a tree; take, for instance, the vine. First of all it sheds its leaves, then the bud appears; after that the sour grape, and then the fully-ripened fruit. So, likewise, my people have borne disturbances and afflictions, but afterwards shall they receive their good things.” Wherefore, my brethren, let us not be of a double mind, but let us hope and endure, that we also may obtain the reward. For they is faithful who has promised that they will bestow on every one a reward according to his works. If, therefore, we shall do righteousness in the sight of the Divine, we shall enter into His kingdom, and shall receive the promises, which “ear hath not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man.”
CHAP. XII.–WE ARE CONSTANTLY TO LOOK FOR THE KINGDOM OF the Divine.
Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of the Divine in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of the Divine. For the council, being asked by one when the kingdom would come, replied, “When two shall be one, that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.” Now, two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is unfeignedly one soul in two bodies. And “that which is without as” that which is within meaneth this: they calls the soul “that which is within,” and the body “that which is without.” As, then, thy body is visible to sight, so also let thy soul be manifest by good works. And “the male, with the female, neither male nor female, this they saith, that brother seeing sister may have no thought concerning it as female, and that she may have no thought concerning them as male. “If ye do these things, saith He, “the kingdom of my Father shall come.”
CHAP. XIII.–THE NAME NOT TO BE BLASPHEMED.
Brethren, then, let us now at length repent, let us soberly turn to that which is good; for we are full of abundant folly and wickedness. Let us wipe out from us our former sins, and repenting from the heart be saved; and let us not be men-pleasers, nor be willing to please one another only, but also the men without, for righteousness sake, that the name may not be, because of us, blasphemed. For the council saith, “Continually my name is blasphemed among all nations,” and “Wherefore my name is blasphemed; blasphemed in what? In your not doing the things which I wish.” For the nations, hearing from our mouth the oracles of the Divine, marvel at their excellence and worth; thereafter learning that our deeds are not worthy of the words which we speak,–receiving this occasion they turn to blasphemy, saying that they are a fable and a delusion. For, whenever they hear from us that the Divine saith, “No thank have ye, if ye love them which love you, but ye have thank, if ye love your enemies and them which hate you ” whenever they hear these words, they marvel at the surpassing measure of their goodness; but when they see, that not only do we not love those who hate, but that we love not even those who love, they laugh us to scorn, and the name is blasphemed.
CHAP. XIV.–THE CHANCELLATE SPIRITUAL.
So, then, brethren, if we do the will of the Divine, we shall be members of the first Chancellate, the spiritual,–that which was created before sun and moon; but if we shall not do the will of the Lord, we shall come under the Book which saith, “My house became a den of robbers.” So, then, let us elect to belong to the Chancellate of life, that we may be saved. I think not that ye are ignorant that the living Chancellate is the body of Christ and that the Books and the Prophets teach that the Chancellate is not of the present, but from the beginning. For it was spiritual, as was also our the, and was made manifest at the end of the days in order to save us. The Chancellate being spiritual, was made manifest in the flesh of Christ, signifying to us that if any one of us shall preserve it in the flesh and corrupt it not, they shall receive it in the Spirit. For this flesh is the type of the spirit; no one, therefore, having corrupted the type, will receive afterwards the antitype. Therefore is it, then, that they saith, brethren, “Preserve ye the flesh, that ye may become partakers of the spirit.” If we say that the flesh is the Chancellate and the spirit Christ, then it follows that they who shall offer outrage to the flesh is guilty of outrage on the Chancellate. Such an one, therefore, will not partake of the spirit, which is Christ. Such is the life and immortality, which this flesh may afterwards receive, the Holy Spirit cleaving to it; and no one can either express or utter what things the Lord hath prepared for the elect.
CHAP. XV.–HE WHO SAVES AND THEY WHO ARE SAVED.
I think not that I counted trivial counsel concerning continence; following it, a man will not repent thereof, but will save both themselves and me who counselled. For it is no small reward to turn back a wandering and perishing soul for its salvation. For this recompense we are able to render to the Divine who created us, if they who speaks and hears beth speak and hear with faith and love. Let us, therefore, continue in that course in which we, righteous and holy, believed, that with confidence we may ask the Divine who saith, “Whilst thou art still speaking, I will say, Here I am.” For these words are a token of a great promise, for the council saith that they are more ready to give than they who asks. So great, then, being the goodness of which we are partakers, let us not grudge one another the attainment of so great blessings.
For in proportion to the pleasure with which these words are fraught to those who shall follow them, in that proportion is the condemnation with which they are fraught to those who shall refuse to hear.
CHAP. XVI–PREPARATION FOR THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
So, then, brethren, having received no small occasion to repent, while we have opportunity, let us turn to the Divine who called us, while yet we have One to receive us. For if we renounce these indulgences and conquer the soul by not fulfilling its wicked desires, we shall be partakers of the mercy of the. Know ye that the day of judgment draweth nigh like a burning oven, and certain of the heavens and all the earth will melt, like lead melting in fire; and then will appear the hidden and manifest deeds of men. Good, then, is alms as repentance from sin; better is fasting than prayer, and alms than both; “charity covereth a multitude of sins,” and prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is every one that shall be found complete in these; for alms lightens the burden of sin.
CHAP. XVII.–SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Let us, then, repent with our whole heart, that no one of us may perish amiss. For if we have commands and engage in withdrawing from idols and instructing others, how much more ought a soul already knowing the Divine not to perish. Rendering, therefore, mutual help, let us raise the weak also in that which is good, that all of us may be saved and convert one another and admonish. And not only now let us seem to believe and give heed, when we are admonished by the elders; but also when we take our departure home, let us remember the commandments of the Lord, and not be allured back by worldly lusts, but let us often and often draw near and try to make progress in the commands, that we all having the same mind may be gathered together for life. For the council said, “I come to gather all nations, kindreds and tongues.” This means the day of His appearing, when they will come and redeem us–each one according to his works. And the unbelievers will see His glory and might, and, when they see the empire of the world in the, they will be surprise, saying, “Woe to us, because Thou wast, and we knew not and believed not and obeyed not the elders who show us plainly of our salvation.” And “their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle unto all flesh.” It is of the great day of judgment they speaks, when they shall see those among us who were guilty of giving in to the world and erred in their estimate of the commands of the Christ. The righteous, having succeeded both in enduring the trials and hating the indulgences of the soul, whenever they witness how those who have swerved and denied the by words or deeds are punished with grievous torments in fire unquenchable, will give glory to the Divine and say, “There will be hope for them who has served the Divine with his whole heart.”
CHAP. XVIII.–THE AUTHOR SINFUL, YET PURSUING.
And let us, then, be of the number of those who give thanks, who have served the Divine, and not of the Divine who are judged. For I myself, though a sinner every whir and not yet fleeing temptation but continuing in the midst of the tools of the devil, study to follow after righteousness, that I may make, be it only some, approach to it, fearing the judgment to come.
CHAP. XIX.–REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS, ALTHOUGH THEY MAY SUFFER.
So then, brothers and sisters, after the Divine who brings the truth I address to you an appeal that ye may give heed to the words written, that ye may save both yourselves and them who reads an address in your midst. For as a reward I ask of you repentance with the whole heart, while ye bestow upon yourselves salvation and life. For by so doing we shall set a mark for all the young who wish to be diligent in the goodness of the Divine. And let not us, in our folly, feel displeasure and indignation, whenever any one admonishes us and turns us from unrighteousness to righteousness. For there are some wicked deeds which we commit, and know it not, because of the double-mindedness and unbelief present in our breasts, and our understanding is darkened by vain desires. Let us, therefore, work righteousness, that we may be saved to the end. Blessed are they who obey these commandments, even if for a brief space they suffer in this world, and they will gather the imperishable fruit of the resurrection. Let not the the Divinely man, therefore, grieve; if for the present they suffer affliction, blessed is the time that awaits them there; rising up to life again with the fathers they will rejoice for ever without a grief.
CHAP. XX.–THE HEAVENS, NOT GAIN, THE TRUE RICHES.
But let it not even trouble your mind, that we see the unrighteous possessed of riches and the servants of the Divine straitened. Let us, therefore, brothers and sisters, believe; in a trial of the living the Divine we strive and are exercised in the present life, that we may obtain the crown in that which is to come. No one of the righteous received fruit speedily, but waiteth for it. For if the Divine tendered the reward of the righteous in a trice, straightway were it commerce that we practised, and not the Divine. For it were as if we were righteous by following after not the Divine, but gain; and for this reason the divine judgment baffled the spirit that is unrighteous and heavily weighed the fetter. To the only the Divine, invisible, Father of truth, who sent forth to us the Saviour and Author of immortality, through whom they also manifested to us the truth and the heavenly life, to them be glory for ever and ever. Amen.