The Skill of Battling and Overcoming Our Adversaries

[1] From the outset we divided the knowledge of our sacred struggle into four categories, and with God’s help we have already covered the three categories. We proceed today to the fourth and final category which is called the skill of battling and overcoming our adversaries. I trust that we shall reach a favorable end to this series of speeches, for we had a good beginning. At all events, the wise adage does not speak falsely in stating: “With a good beginning, one shall also have the best possible end.” I trust that the practical methods I shall present before you and the whole nation for achieving our desired goal will meet with the same approval which those things spoken hitherto have received. For, the practical methods, as we shall see, are nothing but the consequence of the rational truths and principles which we applauded. Thus with our souls filled with bright hopes which nourish men of wisdom, let us first examine what ”art” or ”skill” (techne) means.

The word techne (art or skill), as Plato correctly observes concerning its derivation, is compounded from the words echo (I have) and nous (mind) , and was originally called echonoe; for the sake of brevity, it was later called echne, and for euphony, techne. According to this etymology art contains mind within itself, and is defined as the habit of acting according to reason and mind. It follows that an artist is one who acts with his reason and mind, and only rational works are called works of skill and art. This is why Socrates in Gorgias says very rightly: “I do not call art that which happens to be an irrational thing.”

Since works of art are produced rationally, as of necessity, they bear the stamp of reason and mind, and these qualities are reflected and observed in every true work of art. For example, drawings are works of graphic art. Now let us ask the question: before producing a painting how many observable contributing factors are required? The artist must have a mental image of what he intends to paint. But this alone is not enough. The artist secondly must know how to express or depict upon the canvas that which he has conceived mentally; he must know the dimensions and the proportions of the parts in relation to the whole. Thirdly, the artist’s hand must paint the mental image accurately upon the canvas, in no way deviating either from the artist’s mental picture, or from the dimensions of the proportion and the agreement of the parts with the whole. The combination of these three factors creates the drawing in which one perceives the fruits of mind, reason, and power. Mind is perceived in the conception of the depicted object; reason is perceived in the expression and representation of the depicted object in the dimensions and the proportions; power is observed in the habit of the hand which functioned in accordance with the artist’s mind and reason. The mind begets reason; reason expresses the mind; the power in the work of art expresses both. We must also consider these factors separately in order to explain certain phenomena.

Let us suppose that I conceive in my mind the idea of the seven-headed and ten-horned beast mentioned in the Book of Revelation together with the harlot that sits upon it, the harlot holding the cup of the “wine of fornication” from which the inhabitants of the earth became drugged. I want to represent this idea on canvas, but being unable to do this as one inexperienced in graphic art, I seek the service of a skilled artist. In this example, you see that while I have the mental image of the drawing, I lack the power of reason with which I could express the image; I lack that knowledge with which what is conceived in the mind is put down on the canvas, and thus constitutes graphic art.

Let us now suppose that a skilled artist conceived what I too conceived, and knew very well how to set his mental image down on the canvas. However, because his hand became paralyzed, he is incapable of doing the work. In this case, you see that while the artist has the mind and the reason, he lacks the necessary power. But given that along with mind and reason there also exists the required power, then only can the drawing be produced. From this example and other similar ones which we could cite, we come to these general truths or principles: 1) Every work of art has as its cause mind, reason, and power. 2) Mind, reason and power are three and one; three, because they are observed separately; one, because they are seen united and inseparable in every work of art. Now let us come to the application of these principles, and first explain certain phenomena of no small concern to us.

You have often heard and seen so-called practical persons, and others so-called theoretical. This physician, we say, is practical, or he is theoretical. This distinction between the practical and the theoretical is also made with regard to many other arts. How does one become practical, and how does another become theoretical? This is done by separating the factor of power from mind and reason. Many people are engaged in various fields of endeavor after the manner of imitation, for they lack in themselves the factor of reason which underlies the work they are doing. Such people are called simply “practical,” for while they learned to do their work, they did not learn to understand rationally and in depth the theoretical essence of their work. Others again are engaged in rational understanding, but they have not also acquired the habit of creating and expressing in actual works what they understand. Such people are called simply “theoretical,” for while they have a mental grasp of things, they are unable to express their understanding in actual works. The union of theory and practice is the sign of perfection; their separation is imperfection.

But he who speaks of the union of theory and practice means nothing else but the union of power with mind and reason. And these three things understood as inseparable from one another constitute the perfection which is worthy of our love. I do not desire to be only theoretical, or only practical, but both theoretical and practical. I do not desire only to understand, but also to express what I know by translating it into actual works. In other words, I want to have mind and reason and power, without which no good and noble deed is achieved. But if I am to realize my desire, it is quite necessary that I turn to the first Mind, the first Reason (Logos), the first Power, and that I continue in communion and unbroken relationship with them.

We are thus led to the First Cause of all things, beholding His great and wonderful creation which we call heaven and earth, and applying the principle cited above. According to this principle, every work of art has as its cause mind, reason, and power; and in every work of art its creative cause is reflected and beheld. Are not heaven and earth, this phenomenal world, a work of the most excellent art? Who then is its artist? It is altogether necessary that this first and greatest creation of the most excellent art have as its cause the First and highest Mind who begets the First, Perfect Logos, and from whom there emanates the First and Almighty Power. In my contemplation of this wonderful world, I see the First and Perfect Mind who conceived it; I see the First and Perfect Logos who expressed precisely the intelligence of the Mind; I see the First and Perfect Power Who created all things as the Mind understood and the Logos expressed them. In a word, in the contemplation of this world, I behold God whom we adore and worship, the Father-Mind, the Son-Logos, and the Holy Spirit-Power, the one, indivisible, and unconfused Holy Trinity, with Whom we are joined together and are in communion through our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

If this world is a work of art, its architect can be no other than the Holy Trinity itself. And if a true God exists, this God is the God of our Fathers in whom we believe and through whom we are saved. Let every ungodly and blasphemous tongue be still before this scientific proof of our true God, being ashamed of its own foolishness and senselessness! Let every Christian heart rejoice before this scientific proof of our true God, and let it glorify the Father of Lights! For we have seen the real Light! We have received the heavenly Spirit! We have found the true faith, worshiping the indivisible Trinity; for this Trinity has saved us![2]

Moses beheld the indivisible Trinity in relating the creation of the world and he heard this divine voice saying: “Let us create man in our image and likeness.” David, the Psalmist, also beheld the indivisible Trinity, and chanted: “By the Logos of the Lord were the heavens made firm and from the Spirit of His mouth do they derive all their power.” In addition, all the prophets beheld the indivisible Trinity, as they foretold the incarnation of the Logos. The son of thunder, St. John, the beloved of the Lord, theologized concerning the divine Trinity, saying: “In the beginning was the Logos.” The holy Apostles preached the divine Trinity to the ends of the c1vilized world, having become eye-witnesses and servants of the Logos of life: The Council of Nicaea[3] which consisted of the very finest representatives of the Greek race proclaimed the indivisible Trinity as a dogma of the faith.

It is the indivisible Trinity whom the Orthodox people of the Lord adore and worship. Science proves that the divine Trinity is the First Cause of all things. It is only the sons of folly and perdition who cannot glorify the indivisible Trinity. We, however, invoke the Divine Trinity as our helper, rejoicing that the Holy Trinity encountered us in the Logos, from whom we seek to learn the art of fighting and overcoming our adversaries. What a wonderful meeting! What a most favorable omen! We were about to ask what art is, and in the course of the discussion we discovered the Architect of the universe. It is He who shall teach us the art of fighting and overpowering our enemies. We are confident that God has descended to liberate His people and to crush the yoke of the barbarians. However, He descended just as the prophet says, “as rain upon fleece, and as a drop of water that falls upon the earth.”

What is the meaning of this manner of the divine descent? It holds great significance which we would do well to learn thoroughly. Rain falling upon fleece makes no noise, just as a drop of water falling to the ground. When God descended upon Mt. Zion to give the law of the letter to the Jews, He did so with lightning and thunder and a mighty noise. A great fear seized the souls of the people who were astonished by the grandeur of the divine might and glory. When God, however, descended upon the blessed Virgin to give the law of grace to the whole human race, being born of her as a perfect man, He then descended “as rain upon fleece, and as a drop of water that falls upon the earth”. That is, God descended in an inconspicuous and an imperceptible manner, without that grandeur of might and glory which shocks the senses and terrifies the souls of frail men.

Thus from the accounts of sacred history we know of two descents of God upon the earth: one upon Mt. Zion with lightning and thunder and a great noise; and the other upon the blessed Virgin, which happened peacefully and silently, as rain falls upon fleece and a drop of water falls to the ground. Let us now ask: which of these descents is of greater worth and bears the greater results? The first and frightful one, or the second and peaceful one? Without any doubt the second descent of God which resembles the fall of rain upon fleece. And now we say that God descended also upon us. But how did He come down? In the frightful first manner, or in the calm and meek second manner? I say, according to the second method. For by means of the gladsome light of scientific reason, God en­lightens the eyes of our mind, and in the contemplation of this world we perceive the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, i.e. the Mind, the Logos, and the Power, the one and indivisible Trinity; the creative cause of all beings and phenomena.

This manner of contemplating on and knowing God has nothing frightful or shocking in it. In fact, on the contrary, this method is full of sweetness and grace, and it attests to the kind of love which God has for us, appearing to us as the loving Father, and not the terrible and omnipotent Sovereign; But what is the purpose of such a condescension of God for us? It is obviously the liberation of His people who are sighing under the yoke of the barbaric Turks as old Israel was groaning under the unbearable yoke of the stone­hearted Pharaoh. For this purpose God offers us mind, reason, and power: Mind, to understand what things are good and just; Reason, to express these things; and Power, to translate our knowledge into action. They who receive this perfect gift from God become themselves gods and immortal, for they are unassailable and invincible with regard to mortal men.

We said above that the first cause of all things is the God of our Father, the one, indivisible, and unconfused Holy Trinity which is Mind and Logos and Power. But the God of our Fathers says to us: ”I said, ‘You are all gods and sons of the Most High'”. This deification takes place in no way other than by the acquisition of mind, reason, and power. When we possess mind and understand what things are good and just; when we possess reason and express these things; and when we hold power and translate our knowledge into action, then we are truly sons of God and gods. Then also are we unassailable and invincible with regard to mortal men who have not the seal and type of the Holy Trinity that reigns over physical and moral powers.

Just as it is impossible for one to fight against God, so too is it impossible for one to fight against the sons of God. It is as easy for the sons of God to annihilate their enemies as it is for God to fight and set at naught forces opposing Him. Therefore, if we want the feat of 1821 to be completed as quickly and as best as possible; if we want to crush the yoke of our enemies, we must attain to mind, reason, and power. We must come to be like the God of our Fathers; we too must become gods. If we are aware of the fact that we are the people of the Lord and the New Israel, we must seek to be liberated not in a human manner, but rather, in a divine manner and through God. For it was in a divine manner and through God that old Israel was also set free.

At that time, God called Moses on Mt. Zion and commanded him to go to Egypt and liberate His people from the bondage of the Pharaoh. God did not tell Moses, go, and after gathering the people together, arm them and fight the Egyptians. God rather told him, go, and take up in your hand this staff which turned into a serpent, and with which you shall work the signs indicating that the Jews are being liberated in a divine manner through God, and not in a human manner. That staff of Moses was a type and symbol of mind, reason, and power. For that staff was changed into a serpent which is a symbol of prudence, so that it might be shown that the power of the staff was united with prudence, i.e. with mind and reason. Thus if that staff which was but a type could liberate the old Israel from the bondage of the Pharaoh, the real and true staff shall all the more be able to set free the new Israel. It is enough that we all become armed with this staff, that we all learn to understand, to express, and to carry out what is good and righteous, asking and receiving from our God mind, reason, and power.

Once we carry the spiritual staff of God with us, we have no need for artillery; weapons, and other destructive machines of warfare to attain to our goal, for God’s weapon is far more powerful than all human arms put together. It is preferable to reach our goal without endangering others and without inflicting harm on other people, avoiding the devastation of lands, cities, and the murder of men, women, and children. These and other results of warfare are displeasing to God and abominable to every sensitive human being. We must, however, acquire a thorough understanding of the nature and power of the divine staff which will be the subject of our next address.


[1] Delivered August 21, 1866.

[2] Quoted from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

[3] The First Ecumenical Council of 325 A.D.

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