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now roaring as he perceived his lifeless fellow stretched

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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?"

now roaring as he perceived his lifeless fellow stretched

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."

now roaring as he perceived his lifeless fellow stretched

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

now roaring as he perceived his lifeless fellow stretched

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.'