BARLAAM AND IOASAPH
PARTS XXXVI - XL
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #20
In a few days, after he had ended this ministry, and emptied all his coffers, in order that the burden of his money might not hinder him from entering in at the narrow gate, on the fortieth day after his father's decease, and in remembrance of him, he called together all his officers, and those who wore soldiers' attire, and of the citizens not a few. Sitting in the front, according to custom, in the audience of all he said, "Lo, as ye see, Abenner, my father the king, hath died like any beggar. Neither wealth nor kingly glory, nor I his loving son, nor any of his kith and kindred, has availed to help him, or to save him from the sentence without reprieve. But he is gone to yonder judgement seat, to give account of his life in this world, carrying with him no advocate whatsoever, except his deeds, good or bad. And the same law is ordained by nature for every man born of woman, and there is no escape. Now, therefore, hearken unto me, friends and brethren, people and holy heritage of the Lord, whom Christ our God hath purchased with his own precious blood, and delivered from the ancient error, and bondage of the adversary. Ye yourselves know my manner of life among you; that ever since I knew Christ, and was counted worthy to become his servant, I have hated all things, and loved him only, and how this was my desire, to escape from the tempest and vain tumult of the world, and commune alone with him, and in undisturbed peace of soul serve my God and Master. But my father's opposition held me back, and the command that biddeth us to honour our fathers. So, by the grace and help of God, I have not laboured in vain, nor spent these days for naught, I have brought my father nigh to Christ, and have taught you all to know the one true God, the Lord of all; and yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me, which rescued me also from superstitious error, and from the worship of idols, and freed you, O my people, from cruel captivity. So now it is high time to fulfil the service that I promised to God; high time to depart thitherward, where he himself shall lead me, where I may perform my vows which I made unto him. Now, therefore, look you out a man whom ye will, to be your leader and king; for by this time ye have been conformed to the will of the Lord, and of his commandments nothing hath been hidden from you. Walk ye therein; turn not aside, neither to the right hand, nor to the left, and the God of peace be with you all!"
When all that company and the common people heard thereof, anon there arose a clamour, an uproar, and a mighty cry and confusion, all weeping like orphans and bewailing their loss. Lamenting bitterly, they protested with oaths and with tears, that they would never let him go, but would restrain him and not suffer in any wise his departure. While the common people, and they in authority, were thus crying aloud, the king broke in, and beckoned with his hand to the multitude and charged them to keep silence. He declared that he gave in to their instancy, and dismissed them still grieving, and bearing on their cheeks the signs of sorrow. And Ioasaph did thus. There was one of the senators first in favour with Ioasaph, a man honoured for his godliness and dignity, Barachias by name, who, as hath been already told, when Nachor, feigning to be Barlaam, was disputing with the philosophers, alone was ready to stand by Nachor and fight for him, for his heart was fired with heavenly love. Him the king took apart, and spake gently with him, and earnestly besought him to receive the kingdom, and, in the fear of God, to shepherd his people; in order that he himself might take the journey that he desired.
But Barachias would put aside and reject his offer, saying, "O king, how wrongful is thy judgement, and thy word contrary to divine command! If thou hast learned to love thy neighbour as thyself, with what right art thou eager to shift the burden off thy back and lay it upon mine? If it be good to be king, keep the good to thy self: but, if it be a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to thy soul, why put it in my pathway and seek to trip me up?" When Ioasaph perceived that he spake thus, and that his purpose was fixed, he ceased from communing with him. And now, at about the dead of night, he wrote his people a letter, full of much wisdom, expounding to them all godliness; telling them what they should think concerning God, what life, what hymns and what thanksgiving they should offer unto him. Next, he charged them to receive none other than Barachias to be ruler of the kingdom. Then left he in his bed-chamber the roll containing his letter, and, unobserved of all, went forth from his palace. But he might not win through undetected, for, early on the morrow, the tidings, that he was departed, anon made commotion and mourning among the people, and, in much haste, forth went every man for to seek him; they being minded by all means to cut off his flight. And their zeal was not spent in vain; for, when they had occupied all the high-ways, and encompassed all the mountains, and surrounded the pathless ravines, they discovered him in a water- course, his hands uplifted to heaven, saying the prayer proper of the Sixth Hour.
When they beheld him, they surrounded him, and besought him with team, upbraiding him for departing from them. "But," said he, "why labour ye in vain? No longer hope to have me to your king." Yet gave he way to their much opposition, and turned again to his palace. And, when he had assembled all the folk, he signified his will. Then with oath he confirmed his word, that he would dwell with them not one day more. "For," said he, "I have fulfilled my ministry toward you, and have omitted naught, neither have I kept back anything that was profitable unto you, in failing to show or teach you, testifying to all the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and pointing out the paths of repentance. And now behold I go the road that I have long time desired, and all ye shall see m"y face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, as saith the holy Apostle, that I am pure from the blood of you all, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."
When they heard this, and perceived the steadfastness of his purpose, that nothing could hinder him from his resolve, they wept like orphans over their bereavement, but could in no wise over-persuade him. Then did the king take that Barachias, of whom we have already spoken, saying, "This is he, brethren, whom I appoint to be your king." And though Barachias stoutly resisted, yet he established him, unwilling and reluctant, upon the royal throne, and placed the diadem on his head, and gave the kingly ring into his hand. Then he stood facing the cast and made prayer for King Barachias, that his faith toward God might be preserved unwavering, and that he might keep without faltering the path of Christ's commandments. Therewith he prayed for the clergy and all the flock, asking of God succour for them and salvation, and all that might fitly be asked for their welfare.
Thus he prayed, and then turning said unto Barachias, "Behold, brother, I charge thee, as the Apostle once adjured his people, `Take heed unto thyself, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made thee king, to feed the Lord's people, whom he hath purchased with his own blood.' And even as thou wast before me in the knowledge of God, and didst serve him with a pure conscience, so now also show the more zeal in pleasing him. For, as thou hast received of God a mighty sovereignty, thou owest him the greater repayment. Render therefore to thy Benefactor the debt of thanksgiving, by the keeping of his holy commandments and by turning aside from every path whose end is destruction. For it is with kingdoms as with ships. If one of the sailors blunder it bringeth but small damage to the crew. But if the steersman err, he causeth the whole ship to perish. Even so it is with sovranty: if a subject err, he harmeth himself more than the state. But if the king err, he causeth injury to the whole realm. Therefore, as one that shall render strict account, if thou neglect aught of thy duty, guard thyself with all diligence in that which is good. Hate all pleasure that draweth into sin: for, saith the Apostle, `Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.' Consider the wheel of men's affairs, how it runneth round and round, turning and whirling them now up, now down: and amid all its sudden changes, keep thou unchanged a pious mind. To change with every change of affairs betokeneth an unstable heart. But be thou steadfast, wholly established upon that which is good. Be not lifted and vainly puffed up because of temporal honour; but, with purified reason, understand the nothingness of thine own nature, and the span-length and swift flight of life here, and death the yoke-fellow of the flesh. If thou consider these things, thou shalt not be cast into the pit of arrogance, but shalt fear God, the true and heavenly King, and verily thou shalt be blessed. For he saith, `Blessed are all they that fear the Lord, and walk in his ways,' and `Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall have great delight in his commandments.' And which commandments above all shouldest thou observe? `Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,' and `Be ye merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful.' For the fulfilment of this commandment, above all, is required of them that are in high authority. And, soothly, the holder of great authority ought to imitate the giver of that authority to the best of his ability. And herein shall he best imitate God, by considering that nothing is to be preferred before showing mercy. Nay, further, nothing so surely draweth the subject to loyalty toward his Sovereign as the grace of charity bestowed on such as need it. For the service that cometh from fear is flattery in disguise, with the pretence of respect cozening them that pay heed to it; and the unwilling subject rebelleth when he findeth occasion. Whereas he that is held by the ties of loyalty is steadfast in his obedience to the ruling power. Wherefore be thou easy of access to all and open thine ears unto the poor, that thou mayest find the ear of God open unto thee. For as we are to our fellow-servants, such shall we find our Master to us-ward. And, like as we do hear others, so shall we be heard ourselves: and, as we see, so shall we be seen by the divine all- seeing eye. Therefore pay we first mercy for mercy, that we may obtain like for like.
"But hear yet another commandment, the fellow of the former; `Forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you;' and `If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly father forgive you your trespasses.' Wherefore bear no malice against them that offend against thee; but, when thou askest forgiveness of thy sins, forgive thyself also them that injure thee, because forgiveness is repaid by forgiveness, and by making peace with our fellow-servants we are ourselves delivered from the wrath of our Master. Again, a lack of compassion towards them that trespass against us maketh our own trespasses unpardonable, even as thou hast heard what befell the man that owed ten thousand talents, how, through his want of pity on his fellow-servant, he was again required to pay all that mighty debt. So we must take good heed lest a like fate betide us. But let us forgive every debt, and cast all anger out of our hearts, in order that our many debts, too, may be forgiven. Beside this, and before all things, keep thou that good thing which is committed to thy trust, the holy Word of faith wherein thou hast been taught and instructed. And let no tare of heresy grow up amongst you, but preserve the heavenly seed pure and sincere, that it may yield a manifold harvest to the master, when he cometh to demand account of our lives, and to reward us according to our deeds, when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, but darkness and everlasting shame shall cover the sinners. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."
And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, as it is written, and prayed again in tears. And he turned him round, and kissed Barachias, whom he had chosen to their king, and all the officers. Then came a scene fit, belike, to make one weep. They all crowded around him, as though his presence meant life to them, and his departure would reave them of their very souls; and what piteous pleading, what extravagance of grief did they omit? They kissed him; they hung about him; they were beside themselves for anguish of heart. "Wo is us," cried they, "for this grievous calamity!" They called him, Master, Father, Saviour, Benefactor. "Through thine," said they, "we learned to know God, and were redeemed from error, and found rest from every ill. What remaineth us after thou art gone? What evils shall not befall us?" Thus saying, they smote upon their breasts, and bewailed the misfortune that had overtaken them. But he with words of comfort hushed their sobs, and promised to be with them still in the spirit though he might no longer abide with them in the body. And when he had thus spoken, in the sight of all he went forth from the palace. And immediately all the people followed him. They despaired of his return; they ran from the city, as from a sight that they could no longer endure. But when they were outside the city, Ioasaph addressed them with sharp words, and chode with them harshly; and so they were parted from him, and unwillingly went home, often turning round to look on him, and stumbling on their road. And some of the hotter spirits also followed afar off weeping, until the shades of night parted them one from another.
Thus this noble man went forth from his palace rejoicing, as when after long exile a man returneth with joy to his own country. Outwardly he wore the robes that he was wont to wear, but beneath was the hair-shirt which Barlaam had given him. That night he halted at a poor man's cabin, and stripped himself of his outer raiment, which, as his last alms, he bestowed upon his poor host, and thus by the prayers of that poor man, as well as of so many others, he made God his ally, and put on his grace and help as a garment of salvation; and, clad in a coat of gladness, thus went he off to his hermit-life, carrying with him neither bread, nor water, nor any necessary food, with no garment upon him save the aforesaid rough shirt. For his heart was wounded with a marvellous longing and divine love for Christ the immortal King; he was beside himself with longing, mad for God, possessed by love of him; "For love," he saith, "is strong as fire." So drunken was he with this heavenly love, so parched with thirst, according to him that saith, "Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after time, O God. My soul is athirst for the mighty and living God"; or, as the soul that is sick of love crieth in the Song of Songs, "Thou hast ravished us, ravished us with the desire of thee"; and, "Let me see thy countenance, and let me hear thy voice, for thy voice is a sweet voice, and thy countenance is comely."
It was the desire for this unspeakable comeliness of Christ that fired the hearts of the Apostolic Quire and of the Martyr folk to despise the things that are seen, and all this temporal life, and the rather to choose ten thousand forms of death and torture, being enamoured of his heavenly beauty, and bearing in mind the charm that the divine Word used for to win our love. Such was the fire that was kindled in the soul of this fair youth also, noble in body, but most noble and kingly in soul, that led him to despise all earthly things alike, to trample on all bodily pleasures, and to contemn riches and glory and the praise of men, to lay aside diadem and purple, as of less worth than cobwebs, and to surrender himself to all the hard and irksome toils of the ascetic life, crying, "O my Christ, my soul is fixed upon thee, and thy right hand hath upholden me."
Thus, without looking back, he passed into the depth of the desert; and, laying aside, like a heavy burden and clog, the stress of transitory things, he rejoiced in the Spirit, and looked steadfastly on Christ, whom he longed for, and cried aloud to him, as though he were there present to hear his voice, saying, "Lord, let mine eyes never again see the good things of this present world. Never, from this moment, let my soul be excited by these present vanities, but fill mine eyes with spiritual tears; direct my goings in thy way, and show me thy servant Barlaam. Show me him that was the means of my salvation, that I may learn of him the exact rule of this lonely and austere life, and may not be tripped up through ignorance of the wiles of the enemy. Grant me, O Lord, to discover the way whereby to attain unto thee, for my soul is sick of love for thee, and I am athirst for thee, the well of salvation."
These were the thoughts of his heart continually, and he communed with God, being made one with him by prayer and sublime meditation. And thus eagerly he pursued the road, hoping to arrive at the place where Barlaam dwelt. His meat was the herbs that grow in the desert; for he carried nothing with him, as I have already said, save his own bones, and the ragged garment that was around him.
But whilst he found some food, though scanty and insufficient, from the herbs, of water he was quite destitute in that waterless and dry desert. And so at noon-tide, as he held on his way under the fierce blaze of the sun, he was parched with thirst in the hot drought of that desert place, and he suffered the extreme of anguish. But desire of Christ conquered nature, and the thirst wherewith he thirsted for God bedewed the heat of thirst for water.
Now the devil, being envious and full of hate for that which is beautiful, unable to endure the sight of such steadfastness of purpose, and glowing love towards God, raised up against Ioasaph many temptations in the wilderness. He called to his remembrance his kingly glory, and his magnificent body-guard, his friends, kinsfolk and companions, and how the lives of all had depended on his life, and he minded him of the other solaces of life. Then he would confront him with the hardness of virtue, and the many sweats that she requireth, with the weakness of his flesh, with his lack of practice in such rigours, the long years to come, this present distress from thirst, his want of any comfort, and the unendingness of his toils. In a word, he raised a great dust-cloud of reasonings in his mind, exactly, I ween, as it hath been recorded of the mighty Antony.
But, when the enemy saw himself too weak to shake that purpose (for Ioasaph set Christ before his mind, and glowed with love of him, and was well strengthened by hope, and steadfast in faith, and recked nothing of the devil and his suggestions), then was the adversary ashamed of having fallen in the first assault. So he came by another road (for many are his paths of wickedness), and endeavoured to overthrow and terrify Ioasaph by means of divers apparitions. Sometimes he appeared to him in black, and such indeed he is: sometimes with a drawn sword he leapt upon him, and threatened to strike, unless he speedily turned back. At other times he assumed the shapes of all manner of beasts, roaring and making a terrible din and bellowing; or again he became a dragon, adder, or basilisk. But that fair and right noble athlete kept his soul in quietness, for he had made the Most High his refuge: and, being sober in mind, he laughed the evil one to scorn, and said, "I know thee, deceiver, who thou art, which stiffest up this trouble for me; which from the beginning didst devise mischief against mankind, and art ever wicked, and never stintest to do hurt. How becoming and right proper is thy habit, that thou shouldest take the shape of beasts and of creeping things, and thus display thy bestial and crooked nature, and thy venomous and hurtful purpose! Wherefore, wretch, attempt the impossible? For ever since I discovered that these be the contrivances and bug-bears of thy malice, I have now no more anxiety concerning thee. The Lord is on my side, and I shall see my desire upon mine enemies. I shall go upon the adder and basilisk, the which thou dost resemble; thee, the lion and dragon I shall tread under my feet; for I am strengthened with the might of Christ. Let mine enemies be ashamed and turned backward: let them be driven and put to shame suddenly."
Thus speaking, and girding on that invincible weapon, the sign of the Cross, he made vain the devil's shows. For straightway all the beasts and creeping things disappeared, like as the smoke vanisheth, and like as wax melteth at the fire. And he, strong in the might of Christ, went on his way rejoicing and giving thanks unto the Lord. But there dwelt in that desert many divers beasts, and all kinds of serpents, and dragon-shaped monsters, and these met him, not now as apparitions but in sober sooth, so that his path was beset by fear and toil. But he overcame both, for love, as saith the scripture, cast out fear, and longing made toil light. Thus he wrestled with many sundry misfortunes and hardships until, after many days, he arrived at that desert of the land of Senaar, wherein Barlaam dwelt. There also he found water and quenched the burning of his thirst.
Now two full years spent Ioasaph wandering about the ocean of that desert, without finding Barlaam; for here also God was proving the steadfastness of his purpose, and the nobility of his soul. He lived thus in the open air, scorched with heat or frozen with cold, and, as one in search of precious treasure, continually looking everywhere for his treasured friend, the aged Barlaam. Frequent were the temptations and assaults of the evil spirits that he encountered, and many the hardships that he endured through the lack of herbs that he needed for meat, because the desert, being dry, yielded even these in but scant supply. But, being kindled by love of her Master, this adamantine and indomitable soul bore these annoyances more easily than other men bear their pleasures. Wherefore he failed not of the succour that is from above, but, many as were the sorrows and toils Chat he endured, comfort came to him from Christ, and, asleep or awake, refreshed his soul. By the space of those two years Ioasaph went about continually, seeking him for whom he yearned, and rivers of waters ran from his eyes, as he implored God, crying aloud and saying, "Show me, O Lord, show me the man that was the means of my knowledge of thee, and the cause of my many blessings. Because of the multitude of mine offences, deprive me not of this good thing; but grant me to see him, and fight with him the ascetic fight."
By the grace of God, he found a cave, by following footsteps that led thither. There he met a monk pursuing a hermit life. Him he embraced and saluted tenderly. He asked where to find Barlaam's dwelling, and told him his own tale, laying all bare. Of him then he learned the abode of the man whom he sought, and thither went foot-hot, as when a cunning hunter happeneth on the tracks of his game. And when he had met with certain signs, pointed out to him by this other old hermit, he went on rejoicing, strong in hope, like a child hoping after long absence to see his father. For when divine love hath broken into a soul, it proveth hotter and stronger than the natural.
So he stood before the door of the cave, and knocked, saying "Benedic, father, benedic!" When Barlaam heard his voice, he came forth from the cave, and by the spirit knew him, who by outward appearance could not easily be known, because of the marvellous change and alteration that had changed and altered his face from its former bloom of youth; for Ioasaph was black with the sun's heat, and overgrown with hair, and his cheeks were fallen in, and his eyes deep sunken, and his eyelids seared with floods of tears, and much distress of hunger. And Ioasaph recognised his spiritual father, for his features were, for the more part, the same. So the old man stood, and, facing the East, offered up to God a prayer of thanksgiving; and, after the prayer, when they had said the Amen, they embraced and kissed each other affectionately, taking their full fill of long deferred desire.
But, when they had done with embracing and greeting, they sat them down and conversed. Barlaam began, saying, "Welcome art thou, son well beloved son of God, and inheritor of the heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord, whom thou lovest, whom thou rightly desirest above the things that are temporal and corruptible! Like a prudent and wise merchant, thou hast sold all, and bought the pearl that is beyond price, and hast found the treasure that cannot be stolen, hidden in the field of the commandments of the Lord; thou hast parted with all, and spared naught of the things that so soon pass away, that thou mightest purchase that field for thyself. The Lord give thee the eternal for the temporal, the things that are incorruptible and wax not old for the corruptible!
"But tell me, dearly beloved, how thou camest hither? How did thy matters speed after my departure? And hath thy father learned to know God, or is he still carried away with his former foolishness, still under the bondage of devilish deceits? "
Thus questioned Barlaam, and Ioasaph answered, telling him piece by piece all that had befallen him since he went away; and in how many ways the Lord had prospered him, until they were come together again.
The old man listened with pleasure and amazement, and with hot tears said, "Glory to thee, our God, that ever standest by and succourest them that love thee! Glory to thee, O Christ, King of all and God all-good, that it was thy pleasure that the seed, which I sowed in the heart of Ioasaph, thy servant, should thus bring forth fruit an hundredfold worthy of the husbandman and Master of our souls! Glory to thee, good Paraclete, the all-holy Spirit, because thou didst vouchsafe unto this man to partake of that grace which thou gavest thine holy Apostles, and by his hand hast delivered multitudes of people from superstitious error, and enlightened them with the true knowledge of God!"
Thus was God blessed by both, and thus were they conversing and rejoicing in the grace of God until evenfall. Then stood they up for to pray and to perform the sacred services. Then also remembered they that it was meal-time, and Barlaam spread his lavish table, laden with spiritual dainties, but with little to attract the palate of sense. These were uncooked worts, and a few dates, planted and tended by Barlaam's own hands, such as are found in the same desert, and wild herbs. So they gave thanks and partook of the victuals set before them, and drank water from the neighbour springing well, and again gave thanks to God, who openeth his hand and filleth all things living. Then they arose again, and, when they had ended their Night Hours, after prayer, they joined in spiritual converse again, discoursing wholesome words, and full of heavenly wisdom, all the night long until day- break bade them once more remember the hour of prayer.
So Ioasaph abode with Barlaam for some many years, pursuing this marvellous and more than human life, dwelling with him as with a father and tutor, in all obedience and lowliness, exercising himself in every kind of virtue, and learning well from practice how to wrestle with the invisible spirits of evil. From that time forward he mortified all his sinful passions, and made the will of the flesh as subject to the spirit as slave is to his master. He was altogether forgetful of comforts or repose, and tyrannized over sleep as over a wicked servant. And, in brief, such was his practice of the religious life, that Barlaam, who had spent many years therein, marvelled at him, and failed to equal the earnestness of his life. For he took only so much of that coarse and cheerless food as would keep him alive; else had he died afore his time, and forfeited the reward of his well- doing. He subdued himself to watchings, as though he were without flesh and body. In prayer and mental exercise his work was unceasing, and all the time of his life was spent in spiritual and heavenly contemplation, so that not an hour, nor even a single moment was wasted, from the day that he came to dwell in the desert. For this is the end of monastic life, never to be found idle in spiritual employment: and well herein did this noble and active runner of the heavenly race order his way. And he kept his ardour unquenched from beginning to end, ever ascending in his heart, and going from strength to strength, and continually adding desire to desire, and zeal to zeal, until he arrived at the bliss that he had hoped and longed for.
Thus did Barlaam and Ioasaph dwell together, rivals in the good rivalry, apart from all anxious care and all the turmoils of life, possessing their minds undisturbed and clear of all confusion. After their many labours after godliness, one day Barlaam called to him his spiritual son, whom he had begotten through the Gospel, and opened his mouth to discourse of spiritual things, saying, "Long ago, dearly beloved Ioasaph, was it destined that thou shouldest dwell in this wilderness; and, in answer to my prayer for thee, Christ promised me that I should see it before the ending of my life. I have seen my desire: I have seen thee severed from the world and the concerns of the world, united to Christ, thy mind never wavering, and come to the measure of the perfection of his fulness. Now therefore as the time of my departure is at the door, and seeing that my desire, that hath grown with my growth and aged with my years, to be for ever with Christ, is even now being fulfilled, thou must bury my body in the earth and restore dust to dust, but thyself abide for the time to come in this place, holding fast to thy spiritual life, and making remembrance of me, poor as I am. For I fear lest perchance the darksome army of fiends may stand in the way of my soul, by reason of the multitude of mine ignorances.
"So do thou, my son, think no scorn of the laboriousness of thy religious life, neither dread the length of the time, nor the tricks of devils. But, strong in the grace of Christ, confidently laugh at the weakness of these thy foes; and, as for the hardness of thy toils, and the long duration of the time, be as one that daily expecteth his departure hence, and as if the same day were the beginning and the end of thy religious life. Thus, always forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, according to the exhortation of the holy Apostle, who saith, `Let us not faint; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
"Ponder thou over these things, beloved: quit thee like a man; yea, be strong; and, as a good soldier, do thy diligence to please him who hath called thee to be a soldier. And, even if the evil one stir in thee thoughts of neglecting duty, and thou art minded to slacken the string of thy purpose, fear not his devices, but remember the Lord's command, which saith, `In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.' Wherefore, rejoice in the Lord alway; for he hath chosen and separated thee out of the world, and set thee, as it were before his countenance. The Master, who hath called thee with a holy calling, is alway near. Be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let thy requests be made known unto God. For he himself hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." So, by the hardness of thy life, and by scorn of its rigours, win such thoughts as these, and rejoice, remembering our Lord God, for he saith, `I remembered God and was glad.'
"But when the adversary, seeking another fashion of war, proposeth high and arrogant thoughts, and suggesteth the glory of the kingdom of this world, which thou hast forsaken, and all its lures, hold out, as a shield before thee, the saving word that saith, `When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, "We are unprofitable servants, for we have done that which was our duty to do."' And, indeed, which of us is able to repay the debt that we owe our Master, for that he, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich, and, being without suffering, yet suffered, that we might be delivered from suffering? What thanks hath the servant if he suffer like as his Master? But we fall far short of his sufferings. Meditate upon these things, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep thy heart and thoughts in Christ Jesus."
When blessed Barlaam had so said, Ioasaph's tears knew no measure, but, like water from the brimming fountain, bedewed him and the ground whereon he sat. He mourned over the parting, and earnestly implored that he might be his companion on his last journey, and might remain no longer in this world after Barlaam's decease, saying, "Wherefore, father, seekest thou only thine own, and not thy neighbour's welfare? How fulfillest thou perfect love in this, according to him that said, `Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' in departing thyself to rest and life, and leaving me to tribulation and distress? And, before I have been well exercised in the conflicts of the religious life, before I have learned the wily attacks of the enemy, why expose me to fight singlehanded against their marshalled host? And for what purpose but to see me overthrown by their mischievous machinations, and to see me die, alas! the true spiritual and eternal death? That is the fate which must befall inexperienced and cowardly monks. But, I beseech thee, pray the Lord to take me also together with thee from life. Yea, by the very hope that thou hast of receiving the reward of thy labour, pray that, after thy departure, I may not live one day more in the world, nor wander into the ocean depths of this desert."
While Ioasaph spake thus in tears, the old man cheeked him gently and calmly, saying, "Son, we ought not to resist the judgements of God, which are beyond our reach. For though I have oftentimes prayed concerning this matter, and constrained the Master, that cannot be constrained, not to part us one from the other, yet have I been taught by his goodness that it is not expedient for thee now to lay aside the burden of the flesh: but thou must remain behind in the practice of virtue, until the crown, which thou art weaving, be more glorious. As yet, thou hast not striven enough after the recompense in store for thee, but must toil yet a little longer, that thou mayest joyfully enter into the joy of thy Lord. For myself, I am, as I reckon, well-nigh an hundred winters old, and have now spent seventy and five years in this desert place. But for thee, even if thy days be not so far lengthened as mine, yet must thou approach thereto, as the Lord ordereth, that thou mayest prove no unworthy match for them that have borne the burden and heat of the day. Therefore, beloved, gladly accept the decrees of God. What God hath ordered, who, of men, can scatter? Endure, then, under the protection of his grace.
"But be thou ever sober against thoughts other than these; and, like a right precious treasure, keep safely from robbers thy purity of heart, stepping up day by day to higher work and contemplation, that that may be fulfilled in thee, which the Saviour promised to his friends, when he said, `If any man love me, he will keep my word: and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.'"
With these words, and many others, full worthy of that sanctified soul and inspired tongue, did the old man comfort Ioasaph's anguished soul. Then he sent him unto certain brethren, which abode a long way off, for to fetch the things fitting for the Holy Sacrifice. And Ioasaph girded up his loins, and with all speed fulfilled his errand: for he dreaded lest peradventure, in his absence, Barlaam might pay the debt of nature, and, yielding up the ghost to God, might inflict on him the loss of missing his departing words and utterances, his last orisons and blessings.
So when Ioasaph had manfully finished his long journey, and had brought the things required for the Holy Sacrifice, saintly Barlaam offered up to God the unbloody Sacrifice. When he had communicated himself, and also given to Ioasaph of the undefiled Mysteries of Christ, he rejoiced in the Spirit. And when they had taken together of their ordinary food, Barlaam again fed Ioasaph's soul with edifying words, saying, "Well-beloved son, no longer in this world shall we share one common hearth and board; for now I go my last journey, even the way of my fathers. Needs must thou, therefore, prove thy loving affection for me by thy keeping of God's commandments, and by thy continuance in this place even to the end, living as thou hast learned and been instructed, and alway remembering my poor and slothful soul. Rejoice, therefore, with great joy, and make merry with the gladness that is in Christ, because thou hast exchanged the earthly and corruptible for the eternal and incorruptible; and because there draweth nigh the reward of thy works, and thy rewarder is already at hand, who shall come to see the vineyard which thou hast dressed, and shall richly pay thee the wages of thine husbandry. `Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation,' as proclaimed by Paul the divine, `For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him in his eternal and everlasting kingdom, being illuminated with the light unapproachable, and guerdoned with the effulgence of the blessed and life-giving Trinity.'"
Thus until even-tide and all night long did Barlaam converse with Ioasaph, who wept tears that could not be stayed, and could not bear the parting. But just as day began to dawn, Barlaam ended his discourse, lifted up his hands and eyes to heaven, and offered his thanks to God, thus saying, "O Lord, my God, who art everywhere present, and fillest all things, I thank thee, for that thou hast looked upon my lowliness, and hast granted me to fulfil the course of this mine earthly pilgrimage in thy true Faith, and in the way of thy commandments. And now, thou lover of good, all-merciful Master, receive me into thine everlasting habitations; and remember not all the sins that I have committed against thee, in knowledge or in ignorance. Defend also this thy faithful servant, before whom thou hast granted to me, thine unprofitable servant, to stand. Deliver him from all vanity, and all despiteful treatment of the adversary, and set him clear of the many-meshed nets which the wicked one spreadeth abroad for to trip all them that would full fain be saved. Destroy, Almighty Lord, all the might of the deceiver from before the face of thy servant, and grant him authority to trample on the baneful head of the enemy of our souls. Send down from on high the grace of thy Holy Spirit; and strengthen him against the invisible hosts, that he may receive at thy hands the crown of victory, and that in him thy name may be glorified, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for to thee belongeth glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen."
Thus prayed he, and in fatherly wise embraced Ioasaph, and saluted him with an holy kiss. Then he sealed himself with the sign of the Cross, and gathered up his feet, and, with exceeding great joy, as at the home-coming of friends, departed on that blessed journey, to receive his reward yonder, an old man and full of days in the Spirit.
Then did Ioasaph embrace the good father, with all the devotion and sorrow that can be told, and washed his corpse with his tears. Then he wrapped it in the hair-shirt, which Barlaam had given him in his palace; and over him he recited the proper psalms, chanting all the day long, and throughout the night, and watering the venerable body of the Saint with his tears. On the morrow, he made a grave hard by the cave, and thither reverently bore the sacred body, and there, like a good and honourable son, laid his spiritual father in his sepulchre. And then, the fire of grief kindling all the hotter within his soul, he set himself to pray the more earnestly, saying:
"O Lord my God, hearken unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Have mercy upon me, and hear me, for I seek thee with all my heart. My soul hath sought for thee: O hide not thy face from me, and turn not away in anger from thy servant. Be thou my helper; cast me not utterly away, and forsake me not, O God my Saviour, because my father and mother forsake me; but do thou, O Lord, take me up. Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in the right way because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the souls of them that afflict me; for I have been cast upon thee ever since I was born; thou art my God even from my mother's womb. O go not from me, because, except thee, there is none to help me. For lo, I set the hope of my soul upon the ocean of thy mercies. Be thou the pilot of my soul, thou that steerest all creation with the unspeakable forethought of thy wisdom; and shew thou me the way that I should walk in; and, as thou art a good God and a lover of men, save me by the prayers and intercessions of Barlaam thy servant, for thou art my God, and thee I glorify, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen."
Thus prayed he, and sat him down nigh the sepulchre, a-weeping. And as he sat, he fell asleep, and saw those dread men, whom he had seen before, coming to him, and carrying him away to the great and marvellous plain, and bringing him to that glorious and exceeding bright city. When he had passed within the gate, there met him others, gloriously apparelled with much light, having in their hands crowns radiant with unspeakable beauty, such as mortal eye hath never seen. And, when Ioasaph enquired, "Whose are these exceeding bright crowns of glory, which I see?" "Thine," said they, "is the one, prepared for thee, because of the many souls which thou hast saved, and now made still more beautiful because of the religious life that thou leadest, if thou continue therein bravely until the end. And this other crown is thine also; but it must thou give unto thy father, who, by thy means, turned from his evil way unto the Lord, and was truly penitent." But Ioasaph was as one sore vexed, and said, "How is it possible that, for his repentance alone, my father should receive reward equal to mine, that have laboured so much?" Thus spake he, and straightway thought that he saw Barlaam, as it were, chiding him and saying, "These are my words, Ioasaph, which I once spake unto thee, saying, `When thou waxest passing rich, thou wilt not be glad to distribute,' and thou understoodest not my saying. But now, why art thou displeased at thy father's equality with thee in honour, and art not rather glad at heart that thine orisons in his behalf have been heard?" Then Ioasaph said unto him, as he was ever wont to say, "Pardon! father, pardon! But shew me where thou dwellest?" Barlaam answered, "In this mighty and exceeding fair city. It is my lot to dwell in the mid-most street of the city, a street that flasheth with light supernal." Again Ioasaph thought he asked Barlaam to bring him to his own habitation, and, in friendly wise, to shew him the sights thereof. But Barlaam said that his time was not yet come to win those habitations, while he was under the burden of the flesh. "But," said he, "if thou persevere bravely, even as I charged thee, in a little while thou shalt come hither, and gain the same habitations, and obtain the same joy and glory, and be my companion for ever." Hereupon Ioasaph awoke out of sleep, but his soul was still full of that light and ineffable glory; and greatly wondering, he raised to his Lord a song of thanksgiving.
And he continued to the end, verily leading on earth the life of an angel, and after the death of his aged friend using himself to severer austerity. Twenty and five years old was he when he left his earthly kingdom, and adopted the monastic life; and thirty and five years in this vast desert did he, like one dis-fleshed, endure rigours above the endurance of man, but not before he had delivered the souls of many men from the soul-devouring dragon, and presented them to God, saved for aye; winning herewith the Apostolic grace. In will he had proved a martyr, and had with boldness confessed Christ before kings and tyrants, and had proved himself the mighty-voiced preacher of his greatness, and had overthrown many spirits of wickedness in the desert, and had overcome all in the strength of Christ. Partaking richly of the gift of grace from above, he kept his mind's eye purified from every earth-born cloud, and looked forward to the things that are to come, as though they were already come. Christ was his recompense for all: Christ was his desire: Christ he ever saw as present with him: Christ and his fair beauty everywhere met his sight, according to the saying of the prophet, "I have set God always before me; for he is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall." And again, "My soul cleaveth to thee; thy right hand hath upholden me." For verily Ioasaph's soul clave to Christ, being knit to him in indissoluble union. From this marvellous work he never swerved, never altered the rule of his ascetic life, from beginning to end, but maintained his zeal from his youth even until old age; or rather, he daily advanced higher in virtue, and daily gained purer power of vision.
Thus did Ioasaph spend his days, and render unto him that called him labour worthy of his calling, having crucified the world to himself, and himself unto the world, and, at the last, departed in peace unto the God of peace, and passed to that Master whom he had alway longed for. There he appeared in the immediate presence of the Lord, and was crowned with the crown of glory already prepared for him: there it is granted to him to behold Christ, to be with Christ, to rejoice for ever in the fair beauty of Christ, into whose hands he commended his spirit, when he departed to walk in the land of the living, where is the song of them that feast, the dwelling-place of them that rejoice.
As for his venerable body, it befell thus; about the very hour of Ioasaph's death, there came by divine revelation, from one of the neighbouring cells, a certain holy man. It was the same that once pointed out to Ioasaph his way to Barlaam. This man honoured the corpse with sacred hymns, and shed tears, the token of affection, over him, and performed all the last Christian rites, and laid him in the sepulchre of his father Barlaam; for it was only meet that their bodies should rest side by side, since their souls were to dwell through eternity together.
In obedience to the strict command of a dread Angel that appeared to him in a dream, this hermit, who had performed the last rites, journeyed to the kingdom of India, and, entering in to King Barachias, made known unto him all that had befallen Barlaam, and this blessed Ioasaph. Barachias, making no delay, set forth with a mighty host, and arrived at the cave, and beheld their sepulchre, and wept bitterly over it, and raised the gravestone. There he descried Barlaam and Ioasaph lying, as they had been in life. Their bodies had not lost their former hue, but were whole and uncorrupt, together with their garments. These, the consecrated tabernacles of two holy souls, that sent forth full sweet savour, and showed naught distressful, were placed by King Barachias in costly tombs and conveyed by him into his own country.
Now when the people heard tell of that which had come to pass, there assembled a countless multitude out of all the cities and regions round about, to venerate and view the bodies of these Saints. Thereupon, sooth to say, they chanted the sacred hymns over them, and vied one with another to light lamps lavishly, and rightly and fitly, might one say, in honour of these children and inheritors of light. And with splendour and much solemnity they laid their bodies in the Church which Ioasaph had built from the very foundation. And many miracles and cures, during the translation and deposition of their relics, as also in later times, did the Lord work by his holy servants. And King Barachias and all the people beheld the mighty virtues that were shown by them; and many of the nations round about, that were sick of unbelief and ignorance of God, believed through the miracles that were wrought at their sepulchre. And all they that saw and heard of the Angelic life of Ioasaph, and of his love of God from his childhood upward, marvelled, and in all things glorified God that alway worketh together with them that love him, and granteth them exceeding great reward.
Here endeth this history, which I have written, to the best of my ability, even as I heard it from the truthful lips of worthy men who delivered it unto me. And may God grant that all we that read or hear this edifying story may obtain the heritage of such as have pleased the Lord, by the prayers and intercessions of blessed Barlaam and Ioasaph, of whom this story telleth, in Christ Jesu our Lord; to whom belongeth worship, might, majesty and glory, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and for evermore, world without end. Amen.
[End of "Barlaam and Ioasaph"]