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Barlaam And Ioasaph by St. John Of Damascus

‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are sons of God’ saith the inspired Apostle. Now to have been accounted worthy of the Holy Spirit and to have become sons of God is of all things most to be coveted; and, as it is written, ‘They that have become his sons find rest from all enquiry.’ This marvellous, and above all else desirable, blessedness have the Saints from the beginning won by the practice of the virtues, some having striven as Martyrs, and resisted sin unto blood, and others having struggled in self-discipline, and having trodden the narrow way, proving Martyrs in will. Now, that one should hand down to memory the prowess and virtuous deeds of these, both of them that were made perfect by blood, and of them that by self-denial did emulate the conversation of Angels, and should deliver to the generations that follow a pattern of virtue, this hath the Church of Christ received as a tradition from the inspired Apostles, and the blessed Fathers, who did thus enact for the salvation of our race. For the pathway to virtue is rough and steep, especially for such as have not yet wholly turned unto the Lord, but are still at warfare, through the tyranny of their passions. For this reason also we need many encouragements thereto, whether it be exhortations, or the record of the lives of them that have travelled on the road before us; which latter draweth us towards it the less painfully, and doth accustom us not to despair on account of the difficulty of the journey. For even as with a man that would tread a hard and difficult path; by exhortation and encouragement one may scarce win him to essay it, but rather by pointing to the many who have already completed the course, and at the last have arrived safely. So I too, ‘walking by this rule,’ and heedful of the danger hanging over that servant who, having received of his lord the talent, buried it in the earth, and hid out of use that which was given him to trade withal, will in no wise pass over in silence the edifying story that hath come to me, the which devout men from the inner land of the Ethiopians, whom our tale calleth Indians, delivered unto me, translated from trustworthy records. It readeth thus.

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