“But Christ setteth us free from the hatred of these noxious beings”

But the Gerasene, or rather the herd of demons lying concealed within him, fell down before Christ’s feet, saying, “What is there between me and Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High? I beseech Thee, torment me not.'” Here observe, I pray, the mixture of fear with great audacity, and overweening pride: and that the words which he is forced, as it were, to ejaculate, are coupled with inflated haughtiness! For it is a proof of the pride of the enemy, that he ventures to say, “What is there between me and Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High? Thou knowest, then, for certain, that He is the Son of God Most High: thou therefore confessest that He is also God, and Lord of heaven and earth, and of all things therein: and how, then, having usurped that which is not thine, or rather that which is His, and assumed to thyself a glory which in no possible way is thy right:—for thou claimedst to be worshipped:—didst thou affirm that He had nothing to do with thee, Whom, as far as thy endeavours went, thou causedst to be expelled from that dignity which most fitly is His alone? All men upon earth are His; and these thou wickedly corruptedst, removing them far from the knowledge of Him Who truly is the Lord and Maker of all, and plungedst them into the mire of sin, making them thy worshippers:—and afterwards dost thou say, “What is there between me and Thee?” What earthly king would endure to have those placed under his sceptre harrassed by barbarians? Or what shepherd is so unfeeling and indifferent, as when savage beasts attack his flocks, to take no heed of the calamity, nor endeavour to aid his sheep? Confess, even though against thy will, who thou art, and to Whom thou speakest. Utter words such as befit thee: such namely as, “I pray Thee, torment me not.” “For He had commanded, it says, the spirit to go out of the man.”

Observe, I pray again, the incomparable majesty of Him Who transcends all, even of Christ. With irresistible might and unequalled authority He crushes Satan by simply willing that so it should be. He does not permit him to venture to give one look of opposition to His commands. Fire and flames unto him was Christ’s will: so that it is true as the blessed Psalmist said, that “the hills melted like wax before the face of God.” And again elsewhere, “Touch the hills, and they shall smoke.” For he compares to the hills those high and boastful powers of wickedness; which nevertheless, as though in contact with fire, melt like wax before the might and sovereignty of our Saviour. And besides this they smoke: now smoke is an indication of tire about to burst into a blaze; and this it is the lot of the impure spirits to suffer.

But Christ asked him, and commanded him to tell, What was his name. And he said, “Legion, because that many devils had entered into him.” Did Christ then ask because He did not know it, and like one of us, wished to learn it as something that had escaped Him? But how is it not perfectly absurd for us to say or imagine any thing of the kind? For as being God, “He knoweth all things, and searcheth the hearts and reins.” He asked therefore for the plan of salvation’s sake, that we might learn that a great multitude of devils shared the one soul of the man, engendering in him a wretched and impure madness. For he was their work, and they indeed are “wise to do evil,” as the Scripture saith, but to do “good they have no knowledge.”

As therefore the Psalmist said, “let us keep the feast with flowers.” And “Let all the people clap their hands.” For let us bear in mind what was the character of our enemies; and who were those princes of all beneath the heavens before the coining of our Saviour: bitter were they, impure, murderers, and full of all immorality. But Christ setteth us free from the hatred of these noxious beings. Let us therefore with exultation and gladness in our great joy exclaim, “We will cut asunder their cords, and cast away their yoke from us.” For we have been set free, as I said, by the might of Christ, and delivered from those bitter and iniquitous beings, who in old time had the dominion over us.

St Cyril of Alexandria

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One Response to “But Christ setteth us free from the hatred of these noxious beings”

  1. Edward Hara says:

    I am wrestling with apocatastasis (and that is not too strong a word) and all that it implies. As such, I have read a number of good books explaining it and have linked my Email to your website. As I consider the eternal end of souls, a question continues to haunt me, for which I have no good answer, neither in myself nor from those who are “traditional damnationists,” to coin a phrase.

    The question is this: if God is love and, as Scripture states, does not will the damnation or eternal loss of any soul, how then does He give free reign to an enemy to tempt, confuse, and deceive us?

    This is no small matter, for in the traditionalist understanding, the result of our turning to the deceptions offered us by the wicked one and embracing them is to lose our souls and be tormented forever. What kind of father would allow his child to be deceived by another man, then turn around and say to that child “Because you chose badly, I shall burn you forever.” What possible justice would be found in such actions?

    More than that, in our liturgies, death and the devil are said to be defeated foes (By death He conquered death). How does one go through the absolute unthinkable agonies of the Passion and Cross, use them to defeat death and the devil, and then turn around and give them full and free reign to deceive and damn souls? This makes absolutely no rational sense at all.

    Finally, the only sticking point I am really having trouble with (both from being a faithful believer and from those who oppose me) is that the Church has spoken on the issue of apocatastasis and condemned it at Constantinople II. Since the Church, and not our individual opinions, is the “pillar and ground of truth,” this appears to put the issue to bed once and for all. Yet, I do not like the conclusions it leads me to. How do you approach this issue of the council and the canons they wrote in it?

    Thank you for your response. I enjoy very much learning from your blogs

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