Without more ado, therefore, I turned to meet the charge
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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."