wore neither bit nor bridle, but were guided entirely by
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When the king had thus spoken, his son said, "A righteous doom hast thou judged this day, O king. The Lord establish this thy mind! I too have the same bidding for my teacher." And, turning round to Nachor, who was supposed to be Barlaam, he said, "Thou knowest, Barlaam, in what splendour and luxury thou foundest me. With many a speech thou persuadedst me to leave my father's laws and customs, and to serve an unknown God, drawn by the promise of some unspeakable and eternal blessings, to follow thy doctrines and to provoke to anger my father and lord. Now therefore consider that thou art weighed in the balance. If thou overcome in the wrestling, and prove that the doctrines, which thou hast taught me, be true, and show that they, that try a fall with us, be in error, thou shalt be magnified as no man heretofore, and shalt be entitled `herald of truth'; and I will abide in thy doctrine and serve Christ, even as thou didst preach, until my dying breath. But if thou be worsted, by foul play or fair, and thus bring shame on me to-day, speedily will I avenge me of mine injury; with mine own hands will I quickly tear out thy heart and thy tongue, and throw them with the residue of thy carcase to be meat for the dogs, that others may be lessoned by thee not to cozen the sons of kings."
When Nachor heard these words, he was exceeding sorrowful and downcast, seeing himself falling into the destruction that he had made for other, and being drawn into the net that he had laid privily, and feeling the sword entering into his own soul. So he took counsel with himself, and determined rather to take the side of the king's son, and make it to prevail, that he might avoid the danger hanging over him, because the prince was doubtless able to requite him, should he be found to provoke him. But this was all the work of divine providence that was wisely establishing our cause by the mouth of our adversaries. For when these idol-priests and Nachor crossed words, like another Barlaam, who, of old in the time of Balak, when purposing to curse Israel, loaded him with manifold blessings, so did Nachor mightily resist these unwise and unlearned wise men.
There sat the king upon his throne, his son beside him, as we have said. There beside him stood these unwise orators who had whetted their tongues like a sharp sword, to destroy truth, and who (as saith Esay) conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. There were gathered innumerable multitudes, come to view the contest and see which side should carry oft the victory. Then one of the orators, the most eminent of all his fellows, said unto Nachor, "Art thou that Barlaam which hath so shamelessly and audaciously blasphemed our gods, and hath enmeshed our king's well beloved son in the net of error, and taught him to serve the Crucified?" Nachor answered, "I am he, I am Barlaam, that, as thou sayest, doth set your gods at nought: but the king's son have I not enmeshed in error; but rather from error have I delivered him, and brought him to the true God." The orator replied, "When the great and marvellous men, who have discovered all knowledge of wisdom, do call them high and immortal gods, and when all the kings and honourable men upon earth do worship and adore them, how waggest thou tongue against them, and, in brief, how durst thou be so mighty brazen-faced? What is the manner of thy proof that the Crucified is God, and these be none?" Then replied Nachor, disdaining even to answer the speaker. He beckoned with his hand to the multitude to keep silence, and opening his mouth, like Balaam's ass, spake that which he had not purposed to say, and thus addressed the king.
"By the providence of God, O king, came I into the world; and when I contemplated heaven and earth and sea, the sun and moon, and the other heavenly bodies, I was led to marvel at their fair order. And, when I beheld the world and all that therein is, how it is moved by law, I understood that he who moveth and sustaineth it is God. That which moveth is ever stronger than that which is moved, and that which sustaineth is stronger than that which is sustained. Him therefore I call God, who constructed all things and sustaineth them, without beginning, without end, immortal, without want, above all passions, and failings, such as anger, forgetfulness, ignorance, and the like. By him all things consist. He hath no need of sacrifice, or drink-offering, or of any of the things that we see, but all men have need of him.
"Now that I have said thus much concerning God, according as he hath granted me to speak concerning himself, come we now to the human race, that we may know which of them partake of truth, and which of error. It is manifiest to us, O king, that there are three races of men in this world: those that are worshippers of them whom ye call gods, and Jews, and Christians. And again those who serve many gods are divided into three races, Chaldeans, Greeks and Egyptians, for these are to the other nations the leaders and teachers of the service and worship of the gods whose name is legion. Let us therefore see which of these hold the truth, and which error.
"The Chaldeans, which knew not God, went astray after the elements and began to worship the creature rather than their Creator, and they made figures of these creatures and called them likenesses of heaven, and earth and sea, of sun and moon, and of the other elements or luminaries. And they enclose them in temples, and worship them under the title of gods, and guard them in safety lest they be stolen by robbers. They have not understood how that which guardeth is ever greater than that which is guarded, and that the maker is greater than the thing that is made; for, if the gods be unable to take care of themselves, how can they take care of others? Great then is the error that the Chaldeans have erred in worshipping lifeless and useless images. And I am moved to wonder, O king, how they, who are called philosophers among them, fail to understand that even the very elements are corruptible. But if the elements are corruptible and subject to necessity, how are they gods? And if the elements are not gods, how are the images, created to their honour, gods?
"Come we then, O king, to the elements themselves, that we may prove concerning them, that they are not gods, but corruptible and changeable things, brought out of non-existence by the command of him who is God indeed, who is incorruptible, and unchangeable, and invisible, but yet himself seeth all things, and, as he willeth, changeth and altereth the same. What then must I say about the elements?
"They, who ween that the Heaven is a god, are in error. For we see it turning and mowing by law, and consisting of many parts, whence also it is called Cosmos! Now a `Cosmos' is the handiwork of some artificer; and that which is wrought by handiwork hath beginning and end. And the firmament is moved by law together with its luminaries. The stars are borne from Sign to Sign, each in his order and place: some rise, while others set: and they run their journey according to fixed seasons, to fulfil summer and winter, as it hath been ordained for them by God, nor do they transgress their proper bounds, according to the inexorable law of nature, in common with the heavenly firmament. Whence it is evident that the heaven is not a god, but only a work of God.