"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.'
"Said the king, `And what is the way that beareth thither?' That bright spirit answered, `To know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, and the Holy and quickening Spirit.'
"The king, endowed with understanding worthy of the purple, said unto him, `What hath hindered thee until now from doing me to wit of these things? For they appear to me too good to be put off or passed over, if they indeed be true; and, if they be doubtful, I must search diligently, until I find the truth without shadow of doubt.'
"The chief counsellor said, `It was not from negligence or indifference that I delayed to make this known unto thee, for it is true and beyond question, but `twas because I reverenced the excellency of thy majesty, lest thou mightest think me a meddler. If therefore thou bid thy servant put thee in mind of these things for the future, I shall obey thy behest.' `Yea,' said the king, `not every day only, but every hour, renew in me the remembrance thereof: for it behoveth us not to turn our mind inattentively to these things, but with very fervent zeal.'
"We have heard," said Barlaam, "that this king lived, for the time to come, a godly life, and, having brought his days without tempest to an end, failed not to gain the felicity of the world to come. If then at a convenient season one shall call these things to thy father's mind also, peradventure he shall understand and know the dire evil in which he is held, and turn therefrom and choose the good; since, for the present at least, 'he is blind and cannot see afar off,' having deprived himself of the true light and being a deserter of his own accord to the darkness of ungodliness."
Ioasaph said unto him, "The Lord undertake my father's matters, as he ordereth! For, even as thou sayest, the things that are impossible with men, are possible with him. But for myself, thanks to thine unsurpassable speech, I renounce the vanity of things present, and am resolved to withdraw from them altogether, and to spend the rest of my life with thee, lest, by means of these transitory and fleeting things, I lose the enjoyment of the eternal and incorruptible."