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Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #20


Ioasaph said unto the elder, "Are there now others, too, who preach the same doctrines as thou? Or art thou to-day the only one that teacheth this hatred of the present world?"

The other answered and said, "In this your most unhappy country I know of none: the tyranny of thy father hath netted all such in a thousand forms of death; and he hath made it his aim that the preaching of the knowledge of God be not once heard in your midst. But in all other tongues these doctrines are sung and glorified, by some in perfect truth, but by others perversely; for the enemy of our souls hath made them decline from the straight road, and divided them by strange teachings, and taught them to interpret certain sayings of the Scriptures falsely, and not after the sense contained therein. But the truth is one, even that which was preached by the glorious Apostles and inspired Fathers, and shineth in the Catholick Church above the brightness of the sun from the one end of the world unto the other; and as an herald and teacher of that truth have I been sent to thee."

Ioasaph said unto him, "Hath my father then, learned naught of these things?"

The elder answered, "Clearly and duly he hath learned naught; for he stoppeth up his senses, and will not admit that which is good, being of his own free choice inclined to evil."

"Would God," said Ioasaph, "that he too were instructed in these mysteries?" The elder answered, "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. For how knowest thou whether thou shalt save thy sire, and in wondrous fashion be styled the spiritual father of thy father?

"I have heard that, once upon a time, there was a king who governed his kingdom right well, and dealt kindly and gently with his subjects, only failing in this point, that he was not rich in the light of the knowledge of God, but held fast to the errors of idolatry. Now he had a counsellor, which was a good man and endued with righteousness toward God and with all other virtuous wisdom. Grieved and vexed though he was at the error of the king, and willing to convince him thereof, he nevertheless drew back from the attempt, for fear that he might earn trouble for himself and his friends, and cut short those services which he rendered to others. Yet sought he a convenient season to draw his sovereign toward that which was good. One night the king said unto him, "Come now, let us go forth and walk about the city, if haply we may see something to edify us." Now while they were walking about the city, they saw a ray of light shining through an aperture. Fixing their eyes thereon, they descried an underground cavernous chamber, in the forefront of which there sat a man, plunged in poverty, and clad in rags and tatters. Beside him stood his wife, mixing wine. When the man took the cup in his hands, she sung a clear sweet melody, and delighted him by dancing and cozening him with flatteries. The king's companions observed this for a time, and marvelled that people, pinched by such poverty as not to afford house and raiment, yet passed their lives in such good cheer. The king said to his chief counsellor, `Friend, how marvellous a thing it is, that our life, though bright with such honour and luxury, hath never pleased us so well as this poor and miserable life doth delight and rejoice these fools: and that this life, which appeareth to us so cruel and abominable, is to them sweet and alluring!' The chief counsellor seized the happy moment and said, `But to thee, O king, how seemeth their life?' `Of all that I have ever seen,' quoth the king, `the most hateful and wretched, the most loathsome and abhorrent.' Then spake the chief counsellor unto him, "Such, know thou well, O king, and even more unendurable is our life reckoned by those who are initiated into the sight of the mysteries of yonder everlasting glory, and the blessings that pass all understanding. Your palaces glittering with gold, and these splendid garments, and all the delights of this life are more loathsome than dung and filth in the eyes of those that know the unspeakable beauties of the tabernacles in heaven made without hands, and the apparel woven by God, and the incorruptible diadems which God, the Creator and Lord of all, hath prepared for them that love him. For like as this couple were accounted fools by us, so much the more are we, who go astray in this world and please ourselves in this false glory and senseless pleasure, worthy of lamentation and tears in the eyes of those who have tasted of the sweets of the bliss beyond.'

"When the king heard this, he became as one dumb. He said, `Who then are these men that live a life better than ours?' `All,' said the chief-counsellor `who prefer the eternal to the temporal.' Again, when the king desired to know what the eternal might be the other replied, `A kingdom that knoweth no succession, a life that is not subject unto death, riches that dread no poverty: joy and gladness that have no share of grief and vexation; perpetual peace free from all hatred and love of strife. Blessed, thrice blessed are they that are found worthy of these enjoyments! Free from pain and free from toil is the life that they shall live for ever, enjoying without labour all the sweets and pleasaunee of the kingdom of God, and reigning with Christ world without end.'

"'And who is worthy to obtain this?' asked the king. The other answered, `All they that hold on the road that leadeth thither; for none forbiddeth entrance, if a man but will.'

"Said the king, `And what is the way that beareth thither?' That bright spirit answered, `To know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, and the Holy and quickening Spirit.'

"The king, endowed with understanding worthy of the purple, said unto him, `What hath hindered thee until now from doing me to wit of these things? For they appear to me too good to be put off or passed over, if they indeed be true; and, if they be doubtful, I must search diligently, until I find the truth without shadow of doubt.'

"The chief counsellor said, `It was not from negligence or indifference that I delayed to make this known unto thee, for it is true and beyond question, but `twas because I reverenced the excellency of thy majesty, lest thou mightest think me a meddler. If therefore thou bid thy servant put thee in mind of these things for the future, I shall obey thy behest.' `Yea,' said the king, `not every day only, but every hour, renew in me the remembrance thereof: for it behoveth us not to turn our mind inattentively to these things, but with very fervent zeal.'

"We have heard," said Barlaam, "that this king lived, for the time to come, a godly life, and, having brought his days without tempest to an end, failed not to gain the felicity of the world to come. If then at a convenient season one shall call these things to thy father's mind also, peradventure he shall understand and know the dire evil in which he is held, and turn therefrom and choose the good; since, for the present at least, 'he is blind and cannot see afar off,' having deprived himself of the true light and being a deserter of his own accord to the darkness of ungodliness."

Ioasaph said unto him, "The Lord undertake my father's matters, as he ordereth! For, even as thou sayest, the things that are impossible with men, are possible with him. But for myself, thanks to thine unsurpassable speech, I renounce the vanity of things present, and am resolved to withdraw from them altogether, and to spend the rest of my life with thee, lest, by means of these transitory and fleeting things, I lose the enjoyment of the eternal and incorruptible."

The elder answered him, "This do, and thou shalt be like unto a youth of great understanding of whom I have heard tell, that was born of rich and distinguished parents. For him his father sought in marriage the exceeding fair young daughter of a man of high rank and wealth. But when he communed with his son concerning the espousals, and informed him of his plans, the son thought it strange and ill-sounding, and cast it off, and left his father and went into exile. On his journey he found entertainment in the house of a poor old man, where he rested awhile during the heat of the day.

"Now this poor man's daughter, his only child, a virgin, was sitting before the door, and, while she wrought with her hands, with her lips she loudly sang the praises of God with thanksgiving from the ground of her heart. The young man heard her hymn of praise and said, `Damsel, what is thine employment? and wherefore, poor and needy as thou art, givest thou thanks as though for great blessings, singing praise to the Giver?' She answered, `Knowest thou not that, as a little medicine often times delivereth a man from great ailments, even so the giving of thanks to God for small mercies winneth great ones? Therefore I, the daughter of a poor old man, thank and bless God for these small mercies, knowing that the Giver thereof is able to give even greater gifts. And this applieth but to those external things that are not our own from whence there accrueth no gain to those who possess much (not to mention the loss that often ariseth), nor cometh there harm to those who have less; for both sorts journey along the same road, and hasten to the same end. But, in things most necessary and vital, many and great the blessings I have enjoyed of my Lord, though indeed they are without number and beyond compare. I have been made in the image of God, and have gained the knowledge of him, and have been endowed with reason beyond all the beasts, and have been called again from death unto life, through the tender mercy of our God, and have received power to share in his mysteries; and the gate of Paradise hath been opened to me, allowing me to enter without hindrance, if I will. Wherefore for gifts so many and so fine, shared alike by rich and poor, I can indeed in no wise praise him as I ought, yet if I fail to render to the Giver this little hymn of praise, what excuse shall I have?'

"The youth, astonished at her wit, called to her father, and said unto him, `Give me thy daughter: for I love her wisdom and piety.' But the elder said, `It is not possible for thee, the son of wealthy parents, to take this a beggar's daughter.' Again the young man said, `Yea, but I will take her, unless thou forbid: for a daughter of noble and wealthy family hath been betrothed unto me in marriage, and her I have cast off and taken to flight. But I have fallen in love with thy daughter because of her righteousness to God-ward, and her discreet wisdom, and I heartily desire to wed-her.' But the old man said unto him, `I cannot give her unto thee, to carry away to thy father's house, and depart her from mine arms, for she is mine only child.' 'But,' said the youth, `I will abide here with your folk and adopt your manner of life.' Thereupon he stripped him of his own goodly raiment, and asked for the old man's clothes and put them on. When the father had much tried his purpose, and proved him in manifold ways, and knew that his intent was fixed, and that it was no light passion that led him to ask for his daughter, but love of godliness that constrained him to embrace a life of poverty, preferring it to his own glory and noble birth, he took him by the hand, and brought him into his treasure-house, where he showed him much riches laid up, and a vast heap of money, such as the young man had never beheld. And he said unto him, `Son, all these things give I unto thee, forasmuch as thou hast chosen to become the husband to my daughter, and also thereby the heir of all my substance.' So the young man acquired the inheritance, and surpassed all the famous and wealthy men of the land."


Said Ioasaph unto Barlaam, "This story also fitly setteth forth mine own estate. Whence also me thinketh that thou hadst me in mind when thou spakest it. But what is the proof whereby thou seekest to know the steadfastness of my purpose?"

Said the elder, "I have already proved thee, and know how wise and steadfast is thy purpose, and how truly upright is thine heart. But the end of thy fortune shall confirm it. For this cause I bow my knees unto our God glorified in Three Persons, the Maker of all things visible and invisible, who verily is, and is for ever, that never had beginning of his glorious being, nor hath end, the terrible and almighty, the good and pitiful, that he may enlighten the eyes of thine heart, and give thee the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that thou mayest know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the Saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe; that thou mayest be no more a stranger and sojourner, but a fellow- citizen with the Saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ our Lord himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord."

Ioasaph, keenly pricked at the heart, said, "All this I too long to learn: and I beseech thee make known to me the riches of the glory of God, and the exceeding greatness of his power."

Barlaam said unto him, "I pray God to teach thee this, and to plant in thy soul the knowledge of the same; since with men it is impossible that his glory and power be told, yea, even if the tongues of all men that now are and have ever been were combined in one. For, as saith the Evangelist and Divine, `No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.' But the glory and majesty of the invisible and infinite God, what son of earth shall skill to comprehend it, save he to whom he himself shall reveal it, in so far as he will, as he hath revealed it, to his Prophets and Apostles? But we learn it, so far as in us lieth, by their teaching, and from the very nature of the world. For the Scripture saith, `The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork;' and, `The invisible things of him from the creation Of the world are clearly understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.'

"Even as a man, beholding an house splendidly and skilfully builded, or a vessel fairly framed, taketh note of the builder or workman and marvelleth thereat, even so I that was fashioned out of nothing and brought into being, though I cannot see the maker and provider, yet from his harmonious and marvellous fashioning of me have come to the knowledge of his wisdom, not to the full measure of that wisdom, but to the full compass of my powers; yea I have seen that I was not brought forth by chance, nor made of myself, but that he fashioned me, as it pleased him, and set me to have dominion over his creatures, howbeit making me lower than some; that, when I was broken, he re-created me with a better renewal; and that he shall draw me by his divine will from this world and place me in that other life that is endless and eternal; and that in nothing I could withstand the might of his providence, nor add anything to myself nor take anything away, whether in stature or bodily form, and that I am not able to renew for myself that which is waxen old, nor raise that which hath been destroyed. For never was man able to accomplish aught of these things, neither king, nor wise man, nor rich man, nor ruler, nor any other that pursueth the tasks of men. For he saith, `There is no king, or mighty man, that had any other beginning of birth. For all men have one entrance into life, and the like going out.'

"So from mine own nature, I am led by the hand to the knowledge of the mighty working of the Creator; and at the same time I think upon the well-ordered structure and preservation of the whole creation, how that in itself it is subject everywhere to variableness and change, in the world of thought by choice, whether by advance in the good, or departure from it, in the world of sense by birth and decay, increase and decrease, and change in quality and motion in space. And thus all things proclaim, by voices that cannot be heard, that they were created, and are held together, and preserved, and ever watched over by the providence of the uncreate, unturning and unchanging God. Else how could diverse elements have met, for the consummation of a single world, one with another, and remained inseparable, unless some almighty power had knit them together, and still were keeping them from dissolution? `For how could anything have endured, if it had not been his will? or been preserved, if not called by him?' as saith the Scripture.

"A ship holdeth not together without a steersman, but easily foundereth; and a small house shall not stand without a protector. How then could the world have subsisted for long ages, a work so great, and so fair and wondrous, -- without some glorious mighty and marvellous steersmanship and all-wise providence? Behold the heavens, how long they have stood, and have not been darkened: and the earth hath not been exhausted, though she hath been bearing offspring so long. The water- springs have not failed to gush out since they were made. The sea, that receiveth so many rivers, hath not exceeded her measure. The courses of Sun and Moon have not varied: the order of day and night hath not changed. From all these objects is declared unto us the unspeakable power and magnificence of God, witnessed by Prophets and Apostles. But no man can fitly conceive or sound forth his glory. For the holy Apostle, that had Christ speaking within him, after perceiving all objects of thought and sense, still said, `We know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.' Wherefore also, astonied at the infinite riches of his wisdom and knowledge, he cried for all to understand, `O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!'

"Now, if he, that attained unto the third heaven and heard such unspeakable words, uttered such sentences, what man of my sort shall have strength to look eye to eye upon the abysses of such mysteries, or speak rightly thereof, or think meetly of the things whereof we speak, unless the very giver of wisdom, and the amender of the unwise, vouchsafe that power? For in his hand are we and our words, and all prudence and knowledge of wisdom is with him. And he himself hath given us the true understanding of the things that are; to know the structure of the world, the working of the elements, the beginning, end and middle of times, the changes of the solstices, the succession of seasons, and how he hath ordered all things by measure and weight. For he can shew his great strength at all times, and who may withstand the power of his arm? For the whole world before him is as a little grain of the balance, yea, as a drop of the morning dew that falleth down upon the earth. But he hath mercy upon all; for he can do all things, and winketh at the sins of men, because they should amend. For he abhorreth nothing, nor turneth away from them that run unto him, he, the only good Lord and lover of souls. Blessed be the holy name of his glory, praised and exalted above all for ever! Amen."


Ioasaph said unto him, "If thou hadst for a long time considered, most wise Sir, how thou mightest best declare to me the explanation of the questions that I propounded, methinks thou couldest not have done it better than by uttering such words as thou hast now spoken unto me. Thou hast taught me that God is the Maker and preserver of all things; and in unanswerable language thou hast shown me that the glory of his majesty is incomprehensible to human reasonings, and that no man is able to attain thereto, except those to whom, by his behest, he revealeth it. Wherefore am I lost in amaze at thine eloquent wisdom.

"But tell me, good Sir, of what age thou art, and in what manner of place is thy dwelling, and who are thy fellow philosophers; for my soul hangeth fast on thine, and fain would I never be parted from thee all the days of my life."

The elder said, "Mine age is, as I reckon, forty and five years, and in the deserts of the land of Senaar do I dwell. For my fellow combatants I have those who labour and contend together with me on the course of the heavenly journey."

"What sayest thou?" quoth Ioasaph. "Thou seemest to me upwards of seventy years old. How speakest thou of forty and five? Herein methinks thou tellest not the truth."

Barlaam said unto him, "If it be the number of years from my birth that thou askest, thou hast well reckoned them at upwards of seventy. But, for myself, I count not amongst the number of my days the years that I wasted in the vanity of the world. When I lived to the flesh in the bondage of sin, I was dead in the inner man; and those years of deadness I can never call years of life. But now the world hath been crucified to me, and I to the world, and I have put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and live no longer to the flesh, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. And the years, that have passed since then, I may rightly call years of life, and days of salvation. And in numbering these at about forty and five, I reckoned by the true tale, and not off the mark. So do thou also alway hold by this reckoning; and be sure that there is no true life for them that are dead to all good works, and live in sin, and serve the world-ruler of them that are dragged downward, and waste their time in pleasures and lusts: but rather be well assured that these are dead and defunct in the activity of life. For a wise man hath fitly called sin the death of the immortal soul. And the Apostle also saith, 'When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.'"

Ioasaph said unto him, "Since thou reckonest not the life in the flesh in the measure of life, neither canst thou reckon that death, which all men undergo, as death."

The elder answered, "Without doubt thus think I of these matters also, and fear this temporal death never a whit, nor do I call it death at all, if only it overtake me walking in the way of the commandments of God, but rather a passage from death to the better and more perfect life, which is hid in Christ, in desire to obtain which the Saints were impatient of the present. Wherefore saith the Apostle, `We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.' And again, `O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' And once more, `I desire to depart and be with Christ.' And the prophet saith, `When shall I come and appear before the presence of God?' Now that I the least of all men, choose not to fear bodily death, thou mayest learn by this, that I have set at nought thy father's threat, and come boldly unto thee, and have preached to thee the tidings of salvation, though I knew for sure that, if this came to his knowledge, he would, were that possible, put me to a thousand deaths. But I, honouring the word of God afore all things, and longing to win it, dread not temporal death, nor reek on it at all worthy of such an appellation, in obedience to my Lord's command, which saith, `Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.'"

"These then," said Ioasaph, "are the good deeds of that true philosophy, that far surpass the nature of these earthly men who cleave fast to the present life. Blessed are ye that hold to so noble a purpose! But tell me truly what is thy manner of life and that of thy companions in the desert, and from whence cometh your raiment and of what sort may it be? Tell me as thou lovest truth."

Said Barlaam, "Our sustenance consisteth of acorns and herbs that we find in the desert, watered by the dew of heaven, and in obedience to the Creator's command; and for this there is none to fight and quarrel with us, seeking by the rule and law of covetousness to snatch more than his share, but in abundance for all is food provided from unploughed lands, and a ready table spread. But, should any of the faithful brethren in the neighbourhood bring a blessed dole of bread, we receive it as sent by providence, and bless the faith that brought it. Our raiment is of hair, sheepskins or shirts of palm fibre, all thread-bare and much patched, to mortify the frailty of the flesh. We wear the same clothing winter and summer, which, once put on, we may on no account put off until it be old and quite outworn. For by thus afflicting our bodies with the constraints of cold and heat we purvey for ourselves the vesture of our future robes of immortality."

Ioasaph said, "But whence cometh this garment that thou wearest?" The elder answered,"I received it as a loan from one of our faithful brethren, when about to make my journey unto thee; for it behoved me not to arrive in mine ordinary dress. If one had a beloved kinsman carried captive into a foreign land, and wished to recover him thence, one would lay aside one's own clothing, and put on the guise of the enemy, and pass into their country and by divers crafts deliver one's friend from that cruel tyranny. Even so I also, having been made aware of thine estate, clad myself in this dress, and came to sow the seed of the divine message in thine heart, and ransom thee from the slavery of the dread ruler of this world. And now behold by the power of God, as far as in me lay, I have accomplished my ministry, announcing to thee the knowledge of him, and making known unto thee the preaching of the Prophets and Apostles, and teaching thee unerringly and soothly the vanity of the present life, and the evils with which this world teems, which cruelly deceiveth them that trust therein, and taketh them in many a gin. Now must I return thither whence I came, and thereupon doff this robe belonging to another, and don mine own again."

Ioasaph therefore begged the elder to shew himself in his wonted apparel. Then did Barlaam strip off the mantle that he wore, and lo, a terrible sight met Ioasaph's eyes: for all the fashion of his flesh was wasted away, and his skin blackened by the scorching sun, and drawn tight over his bones like an hide stretched over thin canes. And he wore an hair shirt, stiff and rough, from his loins to his knees, and over his shoulders there hung a coat of like sort.

But Ioasaph, being sore amazed at the hardship of his austere life, and astonished at his excess of endurance, burst into tears, and said to the elder, "Since thou art come to deliver me from the slavery of the devil, crown thy good service to me, and 'bring my soul out of prison,' and take me with thee, and let us go hence, that I may be fully ransomed from this deceitful world and then receive the seal of saving Baptism, and share with thee this thy marvellous philosophy, and this more than human discipline"

But Barlaam said unto him, "A certain rich man once reared the fawn of a gazelle; which, when grown up, was impelled by natural desire to long for the desert. So on a day she went out and found an herd of gazelles browsing; and, joining them, she would roam through the glades of the forest, returning at evenfall, but issuing forth at dawn, through the heedlessness of her keepers, to herd with her wild companions. When these removed, to graze further afield, she followed them. But the rich man's servants, when they learned thereof, mounted on horseback, and gave chase, and caught the pet fawn, and brought her home again, and set her in captivity for the time to come. But of the residue of the herd, some they killed, and roughly handled others. Even so I fear that it may happen unto us also if thou follow me; that I may be deprived of thy fellowship, and bring many ills to my comrades, and everlasting damnation to thy father. But this is the will of the Lord concerning time; thou now indeed must be signed with the seal of holy Baptism, and abide in this country, cleaving to all righteousness, and the fulfilling of the commandments of Christ; but when the Giver of all good things shall give thee opportunity, then shalt thou come to us, and for the remainder of this present life we shall dwell together; and I trust in the Lord also that in the world to come we shall not be parted asunder."

Again Ioasaph, in tears, said unto him, "If this be the Lord's pleasure, his will be done! For the rest, perfect me in holy Baptism. Then receive at my hands money and garments for the support and clothing both of thyself and thy companions, and depart to the place of thy monastic life, and the peace of God be thy guard! But cease not to make supplications on my behalf, that I may not fall away from my hope, but may soon be able to reach thee, and in peace profound may enjoy thy ministration."

Barlaam answered, "Nought forbiddeth thee to receive the seal of Christ. Make thee ready now; and, the Lord working with thee, thou shalt be perfected. But as concerning the money that thou didst promise to bestow on my companions, how shall this be, that thou, a poor man, shouldest give alms to the rich? The rich always help the poor, not the needy the wealthy. And the least of all my comrades is incomparably richer than thou. But I trust in the mercies of God that thou too shalt soon be passing rich as never afore: and then thou wilt not be ready to distribute."

Ioasaph said unto him, "Make plain to me this saying; how the least of all thy companions surpasseth me in riches -- thou saidest but now that they lived in utter penury, and were pinched by extreme poverty and why thou callest me a poor man, but sayest that, when I shall be passing rich, I, who am ready to distribute, shall be ready to distribute no more."

Barlaam answered, "I said not that these men were pinched by poverty, but that they plume themselves on their inexhaustible wealth. For to be ever adding money to money, and never to curb the passion for it, but insatiably to covet more and more, betokeneth the extreme of poverty. But those who despise the present for love of the eternal and count it but dung, if only they win Christ, who have laid aside all care for meat and raiment and cast that care on the Lord, and rejoice in penury as no lover of the world could rejoice, were he rolling in riches, who have laid up for themselves plenteously the riches of virtue, and are fed by the hope of good things without end, may more fitly be termed rich than thou, or any other earthly kingdom. But, God working with thee, thou shalt lay hold on such spiritual abundance that, if thou keep it in safety and ever rightfully desire more, thou shalt never wish to dispend any part of it. This is true abundance: but the mass of material riches will damage rather than benefit its friends. Meetly therefore called I it the extreme of poverty, which the lovers of heavenly blessings utterly renounce and eschew, and flee from it, as a man fleeth from an adder. But if I take from thee and so bring back to life that foe, whom my comrades in discipline and battle have slain and trampled under foot, and carry him back to them, and so be the occasion of wars and lusts, then shall I verily be unto them an evil angel, which heaven forfend!

"Let the same, I pray thee, be thy thoughts about raiment. As for them that have put off the corruption of the old man, and, as far as possible, cast away the robe of disobedience, and put on Christ as a coat of salvation and garment of gladness, how shall I again clothe these in their coats of hide, and gird them about with the covering of shame? But be assured that my companions have no need of such things, but are content with their hard life in the desert, and reckon it the truest luxury; and bestow thou on the poor the money and garments which thou promisedst to give unto our monks, and lay up for thyself, for the time to come, treasure that cannot be stolen, and by the orisons of these poor folk make God thine ally; for thus shalt thou employ thy riches as an help toward noble things. Then also put on the whole armour of the Spirit, having thy loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and wearing the helmet of salvation, and having thy feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and taking in thine hands the shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And, being thus excellently armed and guarded on every side, in this confidence go forth to the warfare against ungodliness, until, this put to flight, and its prince, the devil, dashed headlong to the earth, thou be adorned with the crowns of victory from the right hand of thy master, the Lord of life."


With such like doctrines and saving words did Barlaam instruct the king's son, and fit him for holy Baptism, charging him to fast and pray, according to custom, several days: and he ceased not to resort unto him, teaching him every article of the Catholick Faith and expounding him the holy Gospel. Moreover he interpreted the Apostolick exhortations and the sayings of the Prophets: for, taught of God, Barlaam had alway ready on his lips the Old and New Scripture; and, being stirred by the Spirit, he enlightened his young disciple to see the true knowledge of God. But on the day, whereon the prince should be baptized, he taught him, saying, "Behold thou art moved to receive the seal of Christ, and be signed with the light of the countenance of the Lord: and thou becomest a son of God, and temple of the Holy Ghost, the giver of life. Believe thou therefore in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, the holy and life-giving Trinity, glorified in three persons and one Godhead, different indeed in persons and personal properties, but united in substance; acknowledging one God unbegotten, the Father; and one begotten Lord, the Son, light of light, very God of very God, begotten before all worlds; for of the good Father is begotten the good Son, and of the unbegotten light shone forth the everlasting light; and from very life came forth the life-giving spring, and from original might shone forth the might of the Son, who is the brightness of his glory and the Word in personality, who was in the beginning with God, and God without beginning and without end, by whom all things, visible and invisible, were made: knowing also one Holy Ghost, which proceedeth from the Father, perfect, life-giving and sanctifying God, with the same will, the same power, coeternal and impersonate. Thus therefore worship thou the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in three persons or properties and one Godhead. For the Godhead is common of the three, and one is their nature, one their substance, one their glory, one their kingdom, one their might, one their authority; but it is common of the Son and of the Holy Ghost that they are of the Father; and it is proper of the Father that he is unbegotten, and of the Son that he is begotten, and of the Holy Ghost that he proceedeth.

"This therefore be thy belief; but seek not to understand the manner of the generation or procession, for it is incomprehensible. In uprightness of heart and without question accept the truth that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are in all points one except in the being unbegotten, and begotten, and proceeding; and that the only begotten Son, the Word of God, and God, for our salvation came down upon earth, by the good pleasure of the Father, and, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was conceived without seed in the womb of Mary the holy Virgin and Mother of God, by the Holy Ghost, and was born of her without defilement and was made perfect man and that he is perfect God and perfect man, being of two natures, the Godhead and the manhood, and in two natures, endowed with reason, will, activity, and free will, and in all points perfect according to the proper rule and law in either case, that is in the Godhead and the manhood, and in one united person. And do thou receive these things without question, never seeking to know the manner, how the Son of God emptied himself, and was made man of the blood of the Virgin, without seed and without defilement; or what is this meeting in one person of two natures. For by faith we are taught to hold fast those things that have been divinely taught us out of Holy Scripture; but of the manner we are ignorant, and cannot declare it.

"Believe thou that the Son of God, who, of his tender mercy was made man, took upon him all the affections that are natural to man, and are blameless (he hungered and thirsted and slept and was weary and endured agony in his human nature, and for our transgressions was led to death, was crucified and was buried, and tasted of death, his Godhead continuing without suffering and without change; for we attach no sufferings whatsoever to that nature which is free from suffering, but we recognize him as suffering and buried in that nature which he assumed, and in his heavenly glory rising again from the dead, and in immortality ascending into heaven); and believe that he shall come again, with glory, to judge quick and dead, and by the words which himself knoweth, of that diviner body, and to reward every man by his own just standards. For the dead shall rise again, and they that are in their graves shall awake: and they that have kept the commandments of Christ, and have departed this life in the true faith shall inherit eternal life, and they, that have died in their sins, and have turned aside from the right faith, shall go away into eternal punishment. Believe not that there is any true being or kingdom of evil, nor suppose that it is without beginning, or self-originate, or born of God: out on such an absurdity! but believe rather that it is `the work of us and the devil, come upon us through our heedlessness, because we were endowed with free-will, and we make our choice, of deliberate purpose, whether it be good or evil. Beside this, acknowledge one Baptism, by water and the Spirit, for the remission of sins.

"Receive also the Communion of the spotless Mysteries of Christ, believing in truth that they are the Body and Blood of Christ our God, which he hath given unto the faithful for the remission of sins. For in the same night in which he was betrayed he ordained a new testament with his holy disciples and Apostles, and through them for all that should believe on him, saying, `Take, eat: this is my Body, which is broken for you, for the remission of sins.' After the same manner also he took the cup, and gave unto them saying, `Drink ye all of this: this is my Blood, of the new testament, which is shed for you for the remission of sins: this do in remembrance of me.' He then, the Word of God, being quick and powerful, and, working all things by his might, maketh and transformeth, through his divine operation, the bread and wine of the oblation into his own Body and Blood, by the visitation of the Holy Ghost, for the sanctification and enlightenment of them that with desire partake thereof.

"Faithfully worship, with honour and reverence, the venerable likeness of the features of the Lord, the Word of God, who for our sake was made man, thinking to behold in the Image thy Creator himself. `For the honour of the Image, saith one of the Saints, passeth over to the original.' The original is the thing imaged, and from it cometh the derivation. For when we see the drawing in the Image, in our mind's eye we pass over to the true form of which it is an Image, and devoutly worship the form of him who for our sake was made flesh, not making a god of it, but saluting it as an image of God made flesh, with desire and love of him who for us men emptied himself, and even took the form of a servant. Likewise also for this reason we salute the pictures of his undefiled Mother, and of all the Saints. In the same spirit also faithfully worship and salute the emblem of the life- giving and venerable Cross, for the sake of him that hung thereon in the flesh, for the salvation of our race, Christ the God and Saviour of the world, who gave it to us as the sign of victory over the devil; for the devil trembleth and quaketh at the virtue thereof, and endureth not to behold it. In such doctrines and in such faith shalt thou be baptized, keeping thy faith unwavering and pure of all heresy until thy latest breath. But all teaching and every speech of doctrine contrary to this blameless faith abhor, and consider it an alienation from God. For, as saith the Apostle, `Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.' For there is none other Gospel or none other Faith than that which hath been preached by the Apostles, and established by the inspired Fathers at divers Councils, and delivered to the Catholick Church."

When Barlaam had thus spoken, and taught the king's son the Creed which was set forth at the Council of Nicaea, he baptized him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in the pool of water which was in his garden. And there came upon him the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then did Barlaam come back to his chamber, and offer the holy Mysteries of the unbloody Sacrifice, and communicate him with the undefiled Mysteries of Christ: and Ioasaph rejoiced in spirit, giving thanks to Christ his God.

Then said Barlaam unto him, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten thee again unto a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven in Christ Jesus our Lord by the Holy Ghost; for to-day thou hast been made free from sin, and hast become the servant of God, and hast received the earnest of everlasting life: thou hast left darkness and put on light, being enrolled in the glorious liberty of the children of God. For he saith, `As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.' Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son and an heir of God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Ghost. Wherefore, beloved, give diligence that thou mayest be found of him without spot and blameless, working that which is good upon the foundation of faith: for faith without works is dead, as also are works without faith; even as I remember to have told thee afore. Put off therefore now all malice, and hate all the works of the old man, which are corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and, as new-born babe, desire to drink the reasonable and sincere milk of the virtues, that thou mayest grow thereby, and attain unto the knowledge of the commandments of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that thou mayest henceforth be no more a child in mind, tossed to and fro, and carried about on the wild and raging waves of thy passions: or rather in malice be a child, but have thy mind settled and made steadfast toward that which is good, and walk worthy of the vocation wherewith thou wast called, in the keeping of the commandments of the Lord, casting off and putting far from thee the vanity of thy former conversation, henceforth walking not as the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, alienated from the glory of God, in subjection to their lusts and unreasonable affections. But as for thee, even as thou hast approached the living and true God, so walk thou as a child of light; for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; and no longer destroy by the works of the old man the new man, which thou hast to-day put on. But day by day renew thyself in righteousness and holiness and truth: for this is possible with every man that willeth, as thou hearest that unto them that believe on his name he hath given power to become the sons of God; so that we can no longer say that the acquiring of virtues is impossible for us, for the road is plain and easy. For, though with respect to the buffeting of the body, it hath been called a strait and narrow way, yet through the hope of future blessings is it desirable and divine for such as walk, not as fools but circumspectly, understanding what the will of God is, clad in the whole armour of God to stand in battle against the wiles of the adversary, and with all prayer and supplication watching thereunto, in all patience and hope. Therefore, even as thou hast heard from me, and been instructed, and hast laid a sure foundation, do thou abound therein, increasing and advancing, and warring the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience, witnessed by good works, following after righteousness, godliness, faith, charity, patience, meekness, laying hold on eternal life whereunto thou wast called. But remove far from thee all pleasure and lust of the affections, not only in act and operation, but even in the thoughts of thine heart, that thou mayest present thy soul without blemish to God. For not our actions only, but our thoughts also are recorded, and procure us crowns or punishments: and we know that Christ, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, dwelleth in pure hearts. But, just as smoke driveth away bees, so, we learn, do evil imaginations drive out of us the Holy Spirit's grace. Wherefore take good heed hereto, that thou blot out every imagination of sinful passion from thy soul, and plant good thoughts therein, making thyself a temple of the Holy Ghost. For from imaginations we come also to actual deeds, and every work, advancing from thought and reflection, catcheth at small beginnings, and then, by small increases, arriveth at great endings.

"Wherefore on no account suffer any evil habit to master thee; but, while it is yet young, pluck the evil root out of thine heart, lest it fasten on and strike root so deep that time and labour be required to uproot it. And the reason that greater sins assault us and get the mastery of our souls is that those which appear to be less, such as wicked thoughts, unseemly words and evil communications, fail to receive proper correction. For as in the case of the body, they that neglect small wounds often bring mortification and death upon themselves, so too with the soul: thus they that overlook little passions and sins bring on greater ones. And the more those greater sins grow on them, the more cloth the soul become accustomed therto and think light of them. For he saith, `When the wicked cometh to the depth of evil things, he thinketh light of them': and finally, like the hog, that delighteth to wallow in mire, the soul, that hath been buried in evil habits, doth not even perceive the stink of her sin, but rather delighteth and rejoiceth therein, cleaving to wickedness as it were good. And even if at last she issue from the mire and come to herself again, she is delivered only by much labour and sweat from the bondage of those sins, to which she hath by evil custom enslaved herself.

"Wherefore with all thy might remove thyself far from every evil thought and fancy, and every sinful custom; and school thyself the rather in virtuous deeds, and form the habit of practising them. For if thou labour but a little therein, and have strength to form the habit, at the last, God helping thee, thou shalt advance without labour. For the habit of virtue, taking its quality from the soul, seeing that it hath some natural kinship therewith and claimeth God for an help-mate, becometh hard to alter and exceeding strong; as thou seest, courage and prudence, temperance and righteousness are hard to alter, being deeply seated habits, qualities and activities of the soul. For if the evil affections, not being natural to us, but attacking us from without, be hard to alter when they become habits, how much harder shall it be to shift virtue, which hath been by nature planted in us by our Maker, and hath him for an help-mate, if so be, through our brief endeavour, it shall have been rooted in habit in the soul?"


"Wherefore a practician of virtue once spake to me on this wise: 'After I had made divine meditation my constant habit, and through the practice of it my soul had received her right quality, I once resolved to make trial of her, and put a check upon her, not allowing her to devote herself to her wonted exercises. I felt that she was chafing and fretting, and yearning for meditation with an ungovernable desire, and was utterly unable to incline to any contrary thought. No sooner had I given her the reins than immediately she ran in hot haste to her own task, as saith the Prophet, `Like as the hart desireth the water brooks, so longeth my soul after the strong, the living God.' Wherefore from all these proofs it is evident that the acquirement of virtue is within our reach, and that we are lords over it, whether we will embrace or else the rather choose sin. They then, that are in the thraldom of wickedness, can hardly be torn away therefrom, as I have already said.

"But thou, who hast been delivered therefrom, through the tender mercy of our God, and hast put on Christ by the grace of the Holy Ghost, now transfer thyself wholly to the Lord's side, and never open a door to thy passions, but adorn thy soul with the sweet savour and splendour of virtue, and make her a temple of the Holy Trinity, and to his contemplation see thou devote all the powers of thy mind. He that liveth and converseth with an earthly king is pointed out by all as a right happy man: what happiness then must be his who is privileged to converse and be in spirit with God! Behold thou then his likeness alway, and converse with him. How shalt thou converse with God? By drawing near him in prayer and supplication. He that prayeth with exceeding fervent desire and pure heart, his mind estranged from all that is earthly and grovelling, and standeth before God, eye to eye, and presenteth his prayers to him in fear and trembling, such an one hath converse and speaketh with him face to face.

"Our good Master is present everywhere, hearkening to them that approach him in purity and truth, as saith the Prophet, `The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.' For this reason the Fathers define Prayer as `the union of man with God,' and call it `Angels' work,' and `the prelude of gladness to come.' For since they lay down before all things that `the kingdom of heaven' consisteth in nearness to and contemplation of the Holy Trinity, and since all the importunity of prayer leadeth the mind thither, prayer is rightly called `the prelude' and, as it were, the `fore-glimpse' of that blessedness. But not all prayer is of this nature, but only such prayer as is worthy of the name, which hath God for its teacher, who giveth prayer to him that prayeth; prayer which soareth above all things on earth and entreateth directly with God.

"This acquire thou for thyself, and strive to advance thereto, for it is able to exalt thee from earth to heaven. But without preparation and at hap-hazard thou shalt not advance therein. But first purify thy soul from all passion, and cleanse it like a bright and newly cleansed mirrour from every evil thought, and banish far all remembrance of injury and anger, which most of all hindereth our prayers from ascending to God-ward: and from the heart forgive all those that have trespassed against thee, and with alms and charities to the poor lend wings to thy prayer, and so bring it before God with fervent tears. Thus praying thou shalt be able to say with blessed David, who, for all that he was king, and distraught with ten thousand cares, yet cleansed his soul from all passions, and could say unto God, `As for iniquity, I hate and abhor it, but thy law do I love. Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of thy righteous judgements. My soul hath kept thy testimonies, and loved them exceedingly. Let my complaint come before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.'

"While thou art calling thus, the Lord hear thee: while thou art yet speaking, he shall say, `Behold I am here.' If then thou attain to such prayer, blessed shalt thou be; for it is impossible for a man praying and calling upon God with such purpose not to advance daily in that which is good, and soar over all the snares of the enemy. For, as saith one of the Saints, 'He that hath made fervent his understanding, and hath lift up his soul and migrated to heaven, and hath thus called upon his Master, and remembered his own sins, and spoken concerning the forgiveness of the same, and with hot tears hath besought the Lover of mankind to be merciful to him: such an one, I say, by his continuance in such words and considerations, layeth aside every care of this life, and waxeth superior to human passions, and meriteth to be called an associate of God.' Than which state what can be more blessed and higher? May the Lord vouchsafe thee to attain to this blessedness!

"Lo I have shown thee the way of the commandments of the Lord, and have not shunned to declare unto thee all the counsel of God. And now I, have fulfilled my ministry unto thee. It remaineth that thou gird up the loins of thy mind, obedient to the Holy One that hath called thee, and be thou thyself holy in all manner of conversation: for, `Be ye holy: for I am holy,' saith the Lord. And the chief prince of the Apostles also writeth, saying, `If ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; knowing that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.'

"All these things therefore store thou up in thine heart, and remember them unceasingly, ever keeping before thine eyes the fear of God, and his terrible judgement seat, and the splendour of the righteous which they shall receive in the world to come, and the shame of sinners in the depths of darkness, and the frailty and vanity of things present, and the eternity of things hereafter; for, `All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.' Meditate upon these things alway and the peace of God be with thee, enlightening and informing thee, and leading thee into the way of salvation, chasing afar out of thy mind every evil wish, and sealing thy soul with the sign of the Cross, that no stumbling block of the evil one come nigh thee, but that thou mayest merit, in all fulness of virtue, to obtain the kingdom that is to come, without end or successor, and be illumined with the light of the blessed life-giving Trinity, which, in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, is glorified."