Thursday, January 03, 2013

Pharisee: Rests at the Top of all Human Goodness.

Enoch, a friend of God, who walked with God in truth, making no account of the world, was transferred into paradise; and there he abides until the Judgment (for when the end of the world draws near he shall return to help the world with Elijah and one other). And so men, having knowledge of this, through desire of paradise, began to seek God their creator.

For 'Pharisee' strictly means 'seeks God' in the language of Canaan, for there did this name begin [as a] way of deriding good men, since the Canaanites were given up to idolatry, which is the worship of human hands.

Whereupon the Canaanites, beholding those of our people that were separated from the world to serve God, when they saw such an one, said in derision 'Pharisee!' that is, 'He seeks God'; as much as to say: 'O madman, you have no statues of idols and adore the wind; look to your fate and come and serve our gods.'

Truly, all the saints and prophets of God have been Pharisees not in name, as you are, but in very deed. For in all their acts they sought God their creator, and for love of God they forsook cities and their own goods, selling [their goods] and giving to the poor for love of God."

As God lives, in the time of Elijah, friend and prophet of God, there were twelve mountains inhabited by seventeen thousand Pharisees; and so it was that [even] in so great a number there was not found a single reprobate, but all were elect of God. But now, when Israel has more than a hundred thousand Pharisees, may it please God that out of every thousand there be one elect!"

Elijah, the friend of God, at the prayer of his disciple Elisha, wrote a little book in which he included all human wisdom with the Law of God our Lord. He writes the little Book as-

"To all them that desire to walk with God, their creator,  

-Whoever desires to learn much, they (sic) fear God little, because he who fears God is content to know only that which God wills. They that seek fair words do not seek God, who does nothing but reprove our sins.

-They that desire to seek God, let them shut first the doors and windows of their house, for the master does not suffer himself to be found outside his house [in a place] where he is not loved. Therefore guard your senses and guard your heart, because God is not found outside of us, in this world in which he is hated.

-They that wish to do good works, let them attend to their own-selves, for [there is no profit] in gaining the whole world and losing one's own soul.

-They that wish to teach others, let them live better than others, because nothing can be learned from him who knows less than ourselves. How shall the sinner amend his life when he hears one worse than he teaching him?

-They that seek God, let him (sic) flee the conversation of men; because Moses being alone upon Mount Sinai found him and spoke with God, as does a friend who speaks with a friend.

-They that seek God, shall come forth [to where] there are men of the world only once in [every] thirty days for in respect of the business of him that seeks God works for two years can be done in one day.

-When he walks, let him not look save at his own feet.
-When he speaks, let him not speak save that which is necessary.
-When they eat, let them rise from the table still hungry; thinking every day not to attain to the next; spending their time as one draws his breath.

-Let one garment, of the skin of beasts, suffice.
-Let the lump of earth sleep on the naked earth [and] for every night let two hours of sleep suffice.
-Let him hate no one save himself; condemn no one save himself.
-In prayer, let them stand in such fear as if they were at the Judgment to come.
Now If you do this in the service of God, with the Law that God has given you through Moses, you shall find God [so] that in every time and place you shall feel that you are in God and God [is] in you."

This is the little book of Elijah.

There is nothing worse here upon earth than [when] a man covers himself with [the] profession and garb of religion [in order] to cover his wickedness. Here is one single example of the Pharisees of old time, in order that you may know the present ones.

After the departure of Elijah, because of the great persecution by idolaters, that holy congregation of Pharisees was dispersed. For in that same time of Elijah more than ten thousand prophets who were true Pharisees were slain in one year.

Two Pharisees went into the mountains to dwell there, and one [of them] abode fifteen years knowing nothing of his neighbour, although they were but one hour's journey apart. See then if they were inquisitive! It came to pass that there arose a drought on those mountains, and so both set themselves to search for water, and so they found each other.

The more aged [one] said - for it was their custom that the eldest should speak before every other, and they held it a great sin for a young man to speak before an old one - the elder, therefore, said: 'Where do you dwell, brother?'

He answered, pointing out the dwelling with his finger: 'I dwell here' (for they were near to the dwelling of the younger.)
The elder said: 'How long [have] you dwelt here, brother?'
The younger answered: 'Fifteen years.'
The elder said: 'Perhaps you came [here] when Ahab slew the servants of God?'

'Even so,' replied the younger.
The elder said: 'O brother, do you know who is now king of Israel?'
The younger answered: 'It is God that is King of Israel, for the idolaters are not kings but persecutors of Israel.' 
'It is true,' said the elder, "but I meant to say, who is it that now persecutes Israel?'

The younger answered: 'The sins of Israel persecute Israel, because, if they had not sinned, [God] would not have raised the idolatrous princes up against Israel.'
Then the elder said: 'Who is that infidel prince whom God has sent for the chastisement of Israel?'

The younger answered: 'How should I know, seeing [that for] these fifteen years I have not seen any man except you, and I do not know how to read so no letters are sent to me?'
The elder said: '[But] how new are your sheepskins! Who has given them to you, if you have not seen any man?'

The younger answered: 'He who kept the raiment of the people of Israel good for forty years in the wilderness has kept my skins even as you see [them].'

Then the elder perceived that the younger was more perfect than he, for every year he had had dealings with men. So, in order that he might have [the benefit of] his conversation, he said: 'Brother, you do not know how to read, [but] I know how to read, and I have in my house the psalms of David. Come, then, that I may give you a reading each day and make plain to you what David says.'
The younger answered: 'Let us go now.'

The elder said: 'O brother, it is now two days since I have drunk water; therefore let us seek a little water.'
The younger replied: 'O brother, it is now two months since I have drunk water. Let us go, therefore, and see what God says by his prophet David: the Lord is able to give us water.'

[And so] they returned to the dwellings of the elder, at the door of which they found a spring of fresh water. The elder said: 'O brother, you are a holy one of God; God has given this spring for your sake.'

The younger answered: 'O brother, you say this in humility; but it is certain that if God had done this for my sake he would have made a spring close to my dwelling [so] that I should not [have to] depart [in search of it]. For I confess to you that I sinned against you. When you said that for two days you did not drink [and that] you sought water, and I had been for two months without drinking, I felt an exaltation within me, as though I were better than you.'

Then the elder said: 'O brother, you said the truth, therefore you did not sin.'
The younger said: 'O brother, you have forgotten what our father Elijah said, that he who seeks God ought to condemn himself alone. Surely he did not write it that we might [only] know it, but rather that we might observe it.'

The more aged [of the two], perceiving the truth and righteousness of his companion, said: 'It is true; and our God has pardoned you.' 
And having said this he took the Psalms, and read that which our father David says: I will set a watch over my mouth that my tongue decline not to words of iniquity, excusing with excuse my sin. And here the aged man made a discourse upon the tongue, and the younger departed. 

[After this] there were fifteen more years before they found one another, because the younger changed his dwelling. Accordingly, when he had found him again, the elder [Pharisee] said: 'O brother, why have you not returned to any dwelling?'
The younger answered: 'Because I have not yet learned well what you said to me.'
Then the elder said: 'How can this be, seeing [that] fifteen years have past?'

The younger replied: 'As for the words, I learned them in a single hour and have never forgotten them; but I have not yet observed them. To what purpose is it, then, to learn too much, and not to observe it? Our God does not seek that our intellect should be good, but rather our heart. So, on the Day of Judgment, He will not ask us what we have learned, but what we have done.'

'The elder answered: "O brother, say not so, for you despise knowledge, which our God wills to be prized." 
The younger replied: "Now, how shall I speak now so as not to fall into sin: for your word is true, and mine also. I say, then, that they who know the commandments of God written in the Law ought to observe those [first] if they would afterwards learn more.And all that a man learns, let it be observe it, and not [merely] to know it."

Said the elder: "O brother, tell me, with whom have you spoken, that you know you have not learned all that I said?"
'The younger answered: "O brother, I speak with myself. Every day I place myself before the judgment of God, to give account of myself. And ever do I feel within myself one that excuses my faults."
'Said the elder: "O brother, what faults have you, who are perfect?”

The younger answered: "O brother, say not so, for that I stand between two great faults: the one is that I do not know myself to be the greatest of sinners, the other that I do not desire to do penance for it more than other men."

'The elder answered: "Now, how shouldst you know yourself to be the greatest of sinners, if you are the most perfect [of men]?"
'The younger replied: "The first word that my master said to me when I took the habit of a Pharisee was this: that I ought to consider the goodness of others and my own iniquity for if I should do so I should perceive myself to be the greatest of sinners."

'Said the elder: "O brother, whose goodness or whose faults consider you on these mountains, seeing there are no men here?"
The younger answered: "I ought to consider the obedience of the sun and the planets, for they serve their Creator better than I. But them I condemn, either because they give not light as I desire, or because their heat is too great, or there is too much or too little rain upon the ground."

'Whereupon, hearing this, the elder said: "Brother, where have you learned this doctrine, for I am now ninety years old, for seventy-five years whereof I have been a Pharisee?"
The younger answered: "O brother, you say this in humility, for you are a holy one of God. Yet I answer you that God our creator looks not on time, but looks on the heart: wherefore David, being fifteen years; old, younger than six other his brethren, was chosen king of Israel, and became a prophet of God our Lord."

'This man was a true Pharisee. The leaven of the Pharisee is want of faith in God, and thought of self, which has corrupted not only the Pharisees of this day, but has corrupted Israel. For the simple folk, not knowing how to read, do that which they see the Pharisees do, because they hold them for holy ones.

Know you what is the true Pharisee? He is the oil of human nature. For even as oil rests at the top of every liquor, so the goodness of the true Pharisee rests at the top of all human goodness. He is a living book, which God gives to the world; for everything that he says and does is according to the Law of God. Wherefore, who does as he does observes the Law of God.

The true Pharisee is salt that suffers not human flesh to be putrefied by sin; for every one who sees him is brought to repentance. He is a light that lightens the pilgrims' way, for every one that considers his poverty with his penitence perceives that in this world we ought not to shut up our heart.

But he that makes the oil rancid, corrupts the book, putrefies the salt, extinguishes the light - this man is a false Pharisee. If, therefore, you would not perish, beware that you do not as does the Pharisee today?

The End.
Not Yet Verified.

Source: Gospel of Barnabas.

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