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276

Chapter IV.

How vainglory attacks a monk on the right had and on the left.

And so one who wishes to go along the King’s highway by means of the “arms of righteousness which are on the right hand and on the left,” ought by the teaching of the Apostle to pass through “honour and dishonour, evil report and good report,”10041004    2 Cor. vi. 7, 8. and with such care to direct his virtuous course amid the swelling waves of temptation, with discretion at the helm, and the Spirit of the Lord breathing on us, since we know that if we deviate ever so little to the right hand or to the left, we shall presently be dashed against most dangerous crags. And so we are warned by Solomon, the wisest of men: “Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left;”10051005    Prov. iv. 27 (LXX.). i.e., do not flatter yourself on your virtues and be puffed up by your spiritual achievements on the right hand; nor, swerving to the path of vices on the left hand, seek from them for yourself (to use the words of the Apostle) “glory in your shame.”10061006    Phil. iii. 19. For where the devil cannot create vainglory in a man by means of his well-fitting and neat dress, he tries to introduce it by means of a dirty, cheap, and uncared-for style. If he cannot drag a man down by honour, he overthrows him by humility. If he cannot make him puffed up by the grace of knowledge and eloquence, he pulls him down by the weight of silence. If a man fasts openly, he is attacked by the pride of vanity. If he conceals it for the sake of despising the glory of it, he is assailed by the same sin of pride. In order that he may not be defiled by the stains of vainglory he avoids making long prayers in the sight of the brethren; and yet because he offers them secretly and has no one who is conscious of it, he does not escape the pride of vanity.


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