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Chapter IX.

Of the care with which a monk should preserve the recollection of God.

I should say then that the saints who keep a firm hold of the recollection of God and are borne along, as it were, with their steps suspended on a line stretched out on high, may be rightly compared to rope dancers, commonly called funambuli, who risk all their safety and life on the path of that very narrow rope, with no doubt that they will immediately meet with a most dreadful death if their foot swerves or trips in the very slightest degree, or goes over the line of the course in which alone is safety. And while with marvellous skill they ply their airy steps through space, if they keep not their steps to that all too narrow path with careful and anxious regulation, the earth which is the natural base and the most solid and safest foundation for all, becomes to them an immediate and clear danger, not because its nature is changed, but because they fall headlong upon it by the 525weight of their bodies. So also that unwearied goodness of God and His unchanging nature22612261    Substantia. hurts no one indeed, but we ourselves by falling from on high and tending to the depths are the authors of our own death, or rather the very fall becomes death to the faller. For it says: “Woe to them for they have departed from Me: they shall be wasted because they have transgressed against Me;” and again: “Woe to them when I shall depart from them.” For “thine own wickedness shall reprove thee, and thy apostasy shall rebuke thee. Know thou and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing for thee to have left the Lord thy God;” for “every man is bound by the cords of his sins.”22622262    Hos. vii. 13; ix. 12; Jer. ii. 19; Prov. v. 22. To whom this rebuke is aptly directed by the Lord: “Behold,” He says, “all you that kindle a fire, encompassed with flames, walk ye in the light of your fire and in the flames which you have kindled;” and again: “He that kindleth iniquity, shall perish by it.”22632263    Isa. l. 11; Prov. xix. 9.

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