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Chapter XIX.

That the athlete of Christ, so long as he is in the body, is never without a battle.

The athlete of Christ, as long as he is in the body, is never in want of a victory to be gained in contests: but in proportion as he grows by triumphant successes, so does a severer kind of struggle confront him. For when the flesh is subdued and conquered, what swarms of foes, what hosts of enemies are incited by his triumphs and rise up against the victorious soldier of Christ! for fear lest in the ease of peace the soldier of Christ might relax his efforts and begin to forget the glorious struggles of his contests, and be rendered slack through the idleness which is caused by immunity from danger, and be cheated of the reward of his prizes and the recompense of his triumphs. And so if we want to rise with ever-growing virtue to these stages of triumph we ought also in the same way to enter the lists of battle and begin by saying with the Apostle: “I so fight, not as one that beateth the air, but I chastise my body and bring it into subp. 241 jection,” 856 that when this conflict is ended we may once more be able to say with him: “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” 857 For otherwise we cannot possibly join battle with them nor deserve to make trial of spiritual combats if we are baffled in a carnal contest, and smitten down in a struggle with the belly: and deservedly will it be said of us by the Apostle in the language of blame: “Temptation does not overtake you, except what is common to man.” 858



1 Cor. 9:26, 27.


Eph. vi. 12.


1 Cor. x. 13.

Next: Chapter XX. How a monk should not overstep the proper hours for taking food, if he wants to proceed to the struggle of interior conflicts.