Cassian describes his initial travels to Egypt with Germanus and their first encounter with Abba Chaeremon, and man of great age and holiness and seek a word from him regarding the path to perfection. Acknowledging their desire for God, the old man agrees and settles down to speak of the three things that forestall vicious behavior, namely, fear of punishment, hope of reward, and love. To the three checks on evil there correspond three virtues - faith, hope and love. The virtues in question are all directed toward a good end, to be sure, but they are not all equally excellent, for they correspond in turn to three significantly different states: Fear belongs to the condition of a slave, hope to that of a hireling and love to that of a son. Only those who have attained to the image and likeness of God may be numbered in the third state, which is the noblest.
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