St Isaac the Syrian. "The Ascetical Homilies".
A person called Malpa, who came from Edessa, was the author of the heresy of Euchites but he was a great ascetic and went through the harshest ascetical practices. It is said that in time of being a disciple of Julian the Blessed, also called Sava, he visited with him for a short time Mt Sinai and Egypt and there heard mysterious homilies of St Anthony about the purity and salvation of the soul. St Anthony was explaining that the mind made pure can contemplate the mysteries of the Holy Spirit and the soul by God’s grace can become passionless if only keeps the commandments and returns to its primitive healthy nature of Eden.
Then young Malpa in the prime of his life after hearing these words, became enflamed with the fire of pride, then returned to his city and dwelled as a recluse practicing harsh labours, strong asceticism and ceaseless prayers. When the passion of extreme vanity enflamed in his heart willing to reach the height (i.e. the hope of the vision of the mysteries he has heard about), he decided, without learning the art of fighting the enemies of the truth, to reach it by his deeds, sufferings, poverty and asceticism only, without self-disparagement and humility of heart, which are invincible weapons for the fight with Satan. He even forgot the Scriptures, that say: ‘So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do’ (Luke 17:10). It was his pride only that was enflaming him as he was a great ascetic, and he was enflamed to see the mysterious height he heard about. After a long time, when Satan found him lacking the practice of humility, and that he is just thirsty for visions, he appeared to him and showed himself to Malpa under the likeness of a splendid light, saying, ‘I am the Spirit, the Paraclete, and I have been sent to you by Christ as a reward for your labours in order to render you worthy of seeing the contemplations which you desire, and to give you impassibility and rest from your labours.’ And in return Satan asked him for worship. And Malpa, like a fool, not well practiced in the art of spiritual warfare, embraced the vision with joy, worshipped the devil and subjected under his power. Satan, instead of divine contemplations, filled him with demonic hallucinations, and he made him stop completely his earlier labours and held him suspended in the hope of impassibility, telling him, ‘you have no more need of labours, nor of bodily mortifications, nor of the struggle against passions.’ So he became the heresiarch of the Euchites. After the Euchites multiplied and their heresy became wide-spread, the local bishop banned them.
A certain Asuna or Asina from Edessa, the author of many Church hymns, which are sung even now, was practicing hard ascetic labours hoping to reach glory on earth. He was tricked by Satan into leaving his cell, taken to a mountain called Storius, shown a shape of chariot and horses, and told that ‘God has sent to seek you to lift you up like Elias on the chariot.’ He, as a child in understanding (1 Co 14:20), went to mount the chariot, but the fantasy dissolved and he was thrown down from very high and killed. The death most pitiful and hilarious!
I did not say all this in vain but in order to make the demoniac mockery known to us, as they crave for death of the saints; we should not starve for spiritual visions when it is still too early, otherwise we will become a laughingstock for the evil one, for I can see in our days that youths full of passions are chattering and teaching about passionlessness with no fear at all.