Life in the world is like a manuscript of writings that is still in rough draft. When a man wishes or desires to do so, he can add something or subtract from it, and make changes in the writings. But the life in the world to come is like documents written on clean scrolls and sealed with the royal seal, where no addition or deletion is possible. Therefore, so long as we are found in the midst of change, let us pay heed to ourselves; and while we have power over the manuscript of our life, which we have written by our own hand, let us strive earnestly to add to it by leading a good manner of life, and let us erase from it the failings of our former life. We have power to erase our debts from it as long as we are here. And God will take into account every change we make in it, so that we may be deemed worthy of eternal life before we go before the King and He sets His seal upon it. For so long as we are in this world, God does not affix His seal either to what is good or to what is evil, even up to the moment of our departure when the service of our fatherland is completed and we set out upon our journey. And as Saint Ephraim says, we should make our soul like a ready ship that does not know when a wind will come upon it, or like an army that does not know when the trumpet of battle will sound. And if, he says, merchants are so well prepared for the sake of a little gain, though they will perhaps soon return from their voyage, how much more should we make ourselves ready, and in advance prepare ourselves before the coming of that decisive day, that bridge and door into the new age? May Christ, the mediator of our life, grant us to arrive at that decisive judgment in full preparation, He that has glory, worship, and thanksgiving unto the ages. Amen.
St Isaac the Syrian, from Homily Sixty-Two