Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ancient Temper: How it Lays Wait for Man?

In four ways tempts that wicked one. The first is when he tempts by himself, with thoughts. The second is when he tempts with words and deeds by means of his servants; the third is when he tempts with false doctrine; the fourth is when he tempts with false visions. Now how cautious ought men to be, and all the more according as he has in his favour the flesh of man, which loves sin as he who has fever loves water.

Truly, if a man fear God he shall have victory over all, as says David His prophet: "God shall give His angels charge over you, who shall keep your ways, so that the devil shall not cause you to stumble. A thousand shall fall on your left hand, and ten thousand on your right hand, so that they shall not come near you."

Furthermore, our God with great love promised to us by the same David to keep us, saying: "I give to you understanding, which shall teach you; and in your ways wherein you shall walk I will cause My eye to rest upon you."

But what shall I say? He has said by Isaiah: "Can a mother forget the child of her womb? But I say to you, that when she forget, I will not forget you."
Tell me, then, who shall fear Satan, having for guard the angels and for protection the living God?
Nevertheless, it is necessary, as says the prophet Solomon, that "You, my son, that are come to fear the Lord, prepare your soul for temptations."

Truly, a man ought to do as the banker who examines money, examining his thoughts, that he sin not against God his creator.

There have been and are in the world men who hold not thought for sin [and] who are in the greatest error. Tell me, how [did] Satan sin? It is certain that he sinned in the thought he was more worthy than man. Solomon sinned in thinking to invite all the creatures of God to a feast, [so] a fish corrected him by eating all that he had prepared.

Not without cause, Prophet David says, that to ascend in one's heart sets one in the valley of tears. And why does God cry by his prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘Take away your evil thoughts from my eyes?’ And to what purpose [does] Solomon say, ‘With all your keeping, keep your heart?"

As God lives, in whose presence my soul stands, all [scripture speaks] against the evil thoughts with which sin is committed, for without thinking it is not possible to sin. Now tell me, when the husbandman plants the vineyard does he set the plants deep? Assuredly yes. Satan does [the same]. In planting sin [he] does not stop at the eye or the ear, but passes into the heart, which is God's dwelling, as Moses His servant, [said]: I will dwell in them, in order that they may walk in my Law.

Now tell me, if Herod the king gave you a house to keep in which he desired to dwell, would you let Pilate, his enemy, enter there or place his goods in it? Surely not. Then how much less ought you let Satan enter into your heart, or place his thoughts [in your heart]. Our God has given you your heart to keep, which is His dwelling.

Observe, therefore, [how] the banker considers [his] money. [He considers] whether the image of Caesar is right, whether the silver is good or false, and whether it is of due weight. He turns it over much in his hand. Ah, mad world! How prudent you are in your business; in the last day you will reprove and judge the servants of God of negligence and carelessness, for without doubt your servants are more prudent than the servants of God.

Tell me, now, who is he who examines a thought as the banker a silver coin? No one."

Now, how is the examination of a thought like to [that of] a coin?"
The answer is: "The good silver in the thought is piety, because every impious thought comes of the devil. The right image is the example of the holy ones and prophets, which we ought to follow; and the weight of the thought is the love of God by which all ought to be done. Whereupon the enemy will bring there impious thoughts against your neighbour, [thoughts] conformed to the world, to corrupt the flesh; [thoughts] of earthly love to corrupt the love of God."

Do not think that you ought to think little, in order that you may not !fall into temptation. Actually, two things are necessary for you. The first is to exercise yourselves much, and the second is to talk little: for idleness is a sink wherein is gathered every unclean thought, and too much talking is a sponge which picks up iniquities. It is, therefore, necessary not only your working should hold the body occupied, but also that the soul be occupied with prayer. For it needs never to cease from prayer.

For an example: There was a man who paid ill, wherefore none that knew him would go to till his fields. Whereupon he, like a wicked man, said: 'I will go to the market-place to find idle ones who are doing nothing, and will therefore come to till my vines.'

This man went forth from his house, and found many strangers who were standing in idleness, and had no money. To them he spoke, and led them to his vineyard. But truly none that knew him and had work for his hands went thither.

He is Satan, that one who pays ill; for he gives labour, and man receives for it the eternal fires in his service. Wherefore he has gone forth from paradise, and goes in search of labourers. Assuredly he sets to his labours those who stand in idleness whoever they be, but much more those who do not know him. It is not in any wise enough for any one to know evil in order to escape it, but it behoves to work at good in order to overcome it."

For an example. There was a man who had three vineyards, which he let out to three husbandman. Because the first knew not how to cultivate the vineyard the vineyard brought forth only leaves. The second taught the third how the vines ought to be cultivated; and he most excellently hearkened to his words; and he cultivated his, as he told him, insomuch that the vineyard of the third bore much.

But the second left his vineyard uncultivated, spending his time solely in talking. When the time was come for paying the rent to the lord of the vineyard, the first said: "Lord, I know not how your vineyard ought to be cultivated: therefore I have not received any fruit this year."

The lord answered: "O fool, do you dwell alone in the world, that you has not asked counsel of my second vinedresser, who knows well how to cultivate the land? Certain it is that you shall pay me."

And having said this he condemned him to work in prison until he should pay his lord; who moved with pity at his simplicity liberated him, saying: "Begone, for I will not that you work longer at my vineyard; it is enough for you that I give you your debt."

The second came, to whom the lord said: "Welcome, my vinedresser! Where are the fruits that you owe me? Assuredly, since you know well how to prune the vines, the vineyard that I let out to you must needs have borne much fruit."

The second answered: "O lord, your vineyard is backward because I have not pruned the wood nor worked up the soil; but the vineyard has not borne fruit, so I cannot pay you."

Whereupon the lord called the third and with wonder said: "You said to me that this man, to whom I let out the second vineyard, taught you perfectly to cultivate the vineyard which I let out to you. How then can it be that the vineyard I let out to him should not have borne fruit, seeing it is all one soil."

The third answered: "Lord, the vines are not cultivated by talking only, but he needs must sweat a shirt every day who wills to make it bring forth its fruit. And how shall your vineyard of your vinedresser bear fruit, O lord, if he does nothing but waste the time in talking? Sure it is, O lord, that if he had put into practice his own words, [while] I who cannot talk so much have given you the rent for two years, he would have given you the rent of the vineyard for five years."

The lord was wroth, and said with scorn to the vinedresser, "And so you have wrought a great work in not cutting away the wood and levelling the vineyard, wherefore there is owing to you a great reward!"

And having called his servants he had him beaten without any mercy. And then he put him into prison under the keeping of a cruel servant who beat him every day, and never was willing to set him free for prayers of his friends."

Truly, on the day of judgment many shall say to God: "Lord, we have preached and taught by your Law."

Against them even the stones shall cry out, saying: "When you preached to others, with your own tongue you condemned yourselves, O workers of iniquity." 

"He who knows the truth and works the contrary shall be punished with such grievous penalty that Satan shall almost have compassion on him.

Tell me, now has our God given us the Law for knowing or for working? Truly, all knowledge has for end that wisdom which works all it knows. 
Tell me, if one were sitting at table and with his eyes beheld delicate meats, but with his hands should choose unclean things and eat those, would not he be mad?"
"Yes, assuredly," said the disciples.

Then Jesus said: "O mad beyond all mad men are you, O man, that with your understanding know heaven, and with your hands choose earth; with your understanding know God, and with your affection desire the world; with your understanding know the delights of paradise, and with your works choose the miseries of hell. Brave soldier that leaves the sword and carries the scabbard to fight! Now, know you not that he who walks by night desires light, not only to see the light, but rather to see the good road, in order that he may pass safely to the inn?

O miserable world, to be a thousand times despised and abhorred! since our God by his holy prophets has ever willed to grant it to know the way to go to his country and his rest: but you, wicked one, not only wiliest not to go, but, which is worse, have despised the light! True is the proverb of the camel that it likes not clear water to drink, because it desires not to see its own ugly face. So does the ungodly who works ill; for he hates the light lest his evil works should be known.

But he who receives wisdom, and not only works not well, but, which is worse, employs it for evil, is like to him who should use the gifts as instruments to slay the giver." 

Its true that God had not compassion on the fall of Satan, but yet [had compassion on the fall of Adam; And let this suffice you to know the unhappy condition of him who knows good and does evil.

The End.
Not yet Verified.

Source: -Gospel of Barnabas.

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