Chapters 31 - 40

When our mind begins to perceive [spiritually] the consolation of the Holy Spirit, then Satan also consoles the soul in a certain sweet-seeming sense[1] when in the nocturnal times of stillness one comes as it were to the edge of a very light sleep.  If at that time the mind be found to be keeping the holy name of the Lord Jesus in extremely warm remembrance and if it make use of that holy and glorious name as a weapon against the deception,[2] then the deceiver departs from his ruse and henceforth is inflamed towards a substantial war of the soul.[3]  Whence, knowing the deception of the Evil One exactly, the mind progresses further in the experience of discernment.
The good consolation occurs while the body is alert or even at the hint of a sleep which is going to come, when in the warm remembrance of God one has as it were adhered to his love;[4] but the consolation of deception ever occurs when the contender has come, as I said, into a certain light sleep with a moderate remembrance of God.[5]  The first, as clearly being from God, wishes to console the souls of the contenders for piety in a great outpouring of the soul towards love; the second, since it is accustomed to fan the soul in a certain wind of deception, attempts to steal by means of the sleep of the body the experience of the healthy mind concerning the memory of God.  Therefore, if the mind be found, as I said, to have been remembering the Lord Jesus[6] attentively, it disperses that sweet-seeming breeze of the Enemy and rejoicing it is stirred to war against the Enemy,[7] having as a second weapon after Grace the boast that comes from experience.
If while he who is set into activity by Divine Grace is alert or coming into sleep in the way that I have said[8] the soul is kindled by a movement without doubt and without fantasy towards the love of God, drawing as it were the body towards the depth of that unspeakable love, the soul conceiving nothing else at all except that only towards which it is being stirred, it must be known that the activity is of the Holy Spirit.  For being completely seasoned by that inexpressible sweetness, the soul is then able to conceive nothing else at all since it rejoices with a steadfast joy.  If, then, there is any doubt at all or if the mind conceives some sordid thought when it is set into activity or even if it makes use of the holy name towards defence from evil and not only towards the love of God now,[9] one must deem that the consolation is from the Deceiver in an outward appearance of joy; and that joy is without attribute and completely disordered,[10] the Enemy wishing the soul to commit adultery.  For when the Enemy sees the mind boasting exactly of its own [spiritual] sense[11] then with certain good-seeming consolations, as I have said, it provokes the soul so that the soul being dispersed by that empty and very wet sweetness [and the Enemy being] unrecognized,[12] there occur the intercourse of the Treacherous One [with the soul].[13]  Therefore from this we will know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.  Nevertheless, it is impossible for one to taste the divine goodness in [spiritual] perception or to make trial perceptibly of the bitterness of the demons unless one gives assurance to oneself that Grace has come to dwell in the depths of the mind whereas the evil spirits linger around the limbs[14] of the heart,[15] which very thing the demons do not at all ever wish to be believed by men, lest the mind, having learned this exactly, arm itself against them with the remembrance of God.
One thing is the love which is natural to the soul and another thing is the love which is added to it by the Holy Spirit.  For when we wish, the love from our own will is stirred proportionately, and for that reason it is easily plundered by the demons whenever we do not control our own inclination with violence[16].  The other love, however, so much enkindles the soul towards the love of God that in a certain limitless simplicity of disposition all the parts of soul then fasten on in an unutterable way to the goodness of the divine longing.  For having then become as it were pregnant by the spiritual activity,[17] the mind gushes out a sort of fountain of love and joy.
Just as when it is agitated the sea has the nature to give way to the oil poured upon it, the storm being defeated by the nature of the oil, thus also our soul gladly becomes serene when it is fattened by the goodness of the Holy Spirit.  Rejoicing, it is defeated according to the saint who says: ‘Yet be submissive to God, O my soul,’ in that dispassionate and unutterable goodness overshadowing it.  On account of this, therefore, as many irritations as are then contrived by the demons against the soul it remains without anger and full of every joy.  One comes to this very thing or remains in it if one unceasingly sweetens his soul in the fear of God.  For the fear of the Lord Jesus bears a certain kind of purification to those who are engaged in ascetical struggles: ‘For the fear of the Lord is pure, remaining to the Ages of Ages.’
Let no one hearing ‘sense of the mind’ hope that the glory of God will be seen by him visibly.  For we say that it is sensed, when one might have purified the soul, in a certain unspeakable taste of divine consolation, not that one of the invisible things physically appears[18] to it, for now we walk by faith and not by visible form[19], as says the blessed Paul.  Therefore, if there should appear to one of the contenders in asceticism a light, or some figure[20] having the form of fire, let him by no means accept the vision of this sort.  For it is a clear deception of the Enemy, which very thing having suffered from ignorance many have departed from the road of truth.  We know that insofar as we sojourn in this corruptible body we are abroad from God, that is to say, we are not able to see visibly either him or one of his Heavenly wonders.
The dreams that appear to the soul in the love of God are undeceiving accusers[21] of the soul that is in any way healthy.  Wherefore they[22] are neither transformed from one shape to another,[23] nor do they suddenly shake the [spiritual] sense, nor do they laugh or suddenly take on a gloomy air, but they approach the soul with every clemency, completely filling it with every spiritual gladness.  Whence, once the body has awoken the soul seeks the joy of the dream with great longing.  But the fantasies of the demons are the opposite in every respect.  For they[24] neither remain in the same shape nor show for very long an undisturbed form.  For what they do not have from their free will but make use of only from their own deception is unable to suffice them for very long; moreover, they also say grandiose things and very often threaten, often shaping themselves into the appearance of soldiers; occasionally they chant to the soul with shouting.  Whence, once it has been purified, recognizing them clearly the soul that has been subjected to the fantasy wakes the body; and there is also the case where it even rejoices at having been able clearly to recognize the ruse of the demons.  For which reason, having rebuked the demons in the very dream, the soul moves them to a great anger.[25]  Yet there is also the case where the good dreams do not bear joy to the soul but create in it a sweet sorrow and painless weeping.  This occurs to those who make great progress in humility.
We ourselves have said what we have heard from those who have come to experience:[26] the discernment of good from bad dreams.  For the sake of great virtue, however, let it be sufficient for us not to be in any way persuaded by any fantasy at all.  For dreams are for the most part nothing other than the mental phantoms of deluded thoughts or again, as I said, the mockeries of demons.  So if there would sometime be sent to us a vision from the goodness of God and we did not accept it, our most longed-for Lord Jesus would not grow angry with us on account of this.  For he knows that we come to this on account of the ruses of the demons.  For the aforesaid discernment is exact but it happens that through the plundering of something imperceptible the soul which has been made filthy—no one is found to be exempt from this, I think—loses the trace of exact discernment and believes in things which are not good as if they were good.
As an example for us of this thing, let there be the servant hailed by night by his master from in front of the enclosing walls of the house after a long absence abroad.  To whom the servant absolutely refused the opening of the doors.  He was frightened lest the similarity of voice, plundering him, prepare him to become the betrayer of those very things that were entrusted by the master.  With whom his lord did not get angry once it had become day but found him worthy of many praises, for the servant thought that even the voice of the master was a deception, not wanting to lose any of his master’s goods.
It must not be doubted that when the mind begins to be set constantly into activity by the divine light it becomes somewhat transparent so that it richly sees its own light; and [one must not doubt that] that this word will come to pass when the power of the soul has subjugated the passions.[27]  That everything appearing to the mind with visible shape[28], either as light or as fire, occurs through the evil art of the Enemy, the divine Paul teaches us clearly, saying that he[29] is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore one must not undertake the ascetical life with this hope, so that Satan not find the soul ready for plunder on account of it, but [we must undertake the ascetical life] only so that we arrive at loving God in every [spiritual] perception and inner spiritual assurance[30] of heart, which very thing is the ‘with the whole heart and with the whole soul and with the whole intellect’.  For he who is set by divine Grace into activity towards this departs from the world even if he should be present in the world.

[1] I.e. a false spiritual sense.
[2] This appears to be the first explicit reference to the Jesus Prayer in history.
[3] Because the Devil cannot accomplish his goal indirectly with a false consolation he engages in direct combat with the soul.
[4] I.e. adhered to the love of God.  It is not clear to us whether or not the author is drawing a parallel with someone on the verge of sleep embracing his loved one in the marriage bed.
[5] This is a remark on the intensity of the practice of the Jesus Prayer at the time of the consolation.  In the case of a genuine consolation, the practice is intense, but in the case of a demonic consolation it is only moderate.
[6] Rutherford drops ‘Jesus’ based on two early manuscripts.
[7] In this case, the Jesus Prayer as it were ‘picks up speed’ to attack the Devil with a zeal born both of Grace and personal experience while at the same time becoming focused as a weapon on the temptation.
[8] The grammar is tortuous here, this clause (in the Greek, phrase) having an inexplicable change of grammatical gender which prevents it from referring to the soul.
[9] The soul praying the Jesus Prayer turns automatically and without conscious intervention from a love directed solely to God in the Prayer, to an attack focused on the interloper—still by means of the Jesus Prayer.  There is no conscious intervention of the ascetic in this movement, it being a spiritual movement of the soul beyond his conscious intervention.  When it happens, it is a sure sign that the consolation is demonic in origin.
[10] Recall that the author has just discussed the sure taste of things spiritual by the spiritual sense.  Here he gives the taste of the false consolation as discerned by the spiritual sense.
[11] I.e. when the Devil sees that the mind possesses exact spiritual discernment.
[12] There is another grammatical problem here since ‘unrecognized’ is dangling.  To convey what seems to be the sense of the passage we have been obliged to supply ‘[and the Enemy being]’, also changing the case of ‘unrecognized’.
[13] This is a spiritual intercourse of the Devil or demon with the soul—a spiritual mixing of the two.  However the phrase ‘very wet sweetness’ might hint at a nocturnal emission.
[14] As the author will develop later, he means the more external parts of the heart taken as both a physical and spiritual organ.
[15] As the author develops later, this occurs only in Baptism.
[16] This is the violence of the Gospel not violence actionable in law.  This sentence is interesting for its psychology of natural affection: the author states that natural affection is closely related to our intention: we choose to love someone or at least acquiesce in our inclination to love them.  Moreover, the author teaches, rather than encouraging such natural affection, which is easily subverted by the demons, we must forcibly restrain the inclination with a view to attaining to the Gospel love added to us by the Holy Spirit.  Recall that ‘particular friendships’ are forbidden in the monastery.  They are an example of natural rather than Gospel affection; they are by their very nature relationships exclusive of others that can lead to all manner of evil—the plundering by the demons the author speaks of.
[17] I.e. the activity of the Holy Spirit.  This is a metaphor: ‘as it were’.
[18] I.e. with the bodily senses.
[19] ‘Visible form’: Greek: eidous.
[20] Greek: schema.
[21] Greek: kategoros.  ‘Accuser’ is the denotation of this Greek word but the context makes the reading difficult.
[22] I.e. the personalities in the dream.
[23] The author is clearly paraphrasing Evagrius here.
[24] I.e. the demons.
[25] I.e. in the dream itself the mind converses with the demons—fallen angels with actual personality—and by reproaching them provokes them to great anger.
[26] The author’s discussion of dreams seems to draw heavily on Evagrius.
[27] Cf. Evagrius: Logos Praktikos, 64 and Peri Logismon, 40.
[28] ‘Visible shape’.  Greek: schema.  Schema means ‘shape, form or figure’.
[29] I.e. Satan.
[30] ‘Inner spiritual assurance’.  Greek: plerophoria.  So elsewhere.