that look, nor could I, on second thought, have deserted
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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."