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26. How one ought to love God. And in this chapter is contained the wonderful contention of Abraham with his father.

Then said Jesus: 'There was a man on a journey who, as he was walking, discovered a treasure in a field that was to be sold for five pieces of money. Straightway the man, when he knew this, sold his cloak to buy that field. Is that credible?"

The disciples answered: 'He who would not believe this is mad.'

Thereupon Jesus said: 'Ye will be mad if ye give not your senses to God to buy your soul, wherein resideth the treasure of love; for love is a treasure incomparable. For he that loveth God hath God for his own; and whoso hath God hath everything.'

Peter answered: 'O master, how ought one to love God with true love? Tell thou us.'

Jesus replied: 'Verily I say unto you that he who shall not hate his father and his mother, and his own life, and children and wife for love of God, that such an one is not worthy to be loved of God.'

Peter answered: 'O master, it is written in the law of God in the book of Moses: "Honour thy father, that thou mayest live long upon the earth." And further he saith: "Cursed be the son that obeyeth not his father and his mother"; wherefore God commanded that such a disobedient son should be by the wrath of the people stoned before the gate of the city. And now how biddest thou us to hate father and mother?'

Jesus replied: 'Every word of mine is true, because it is not mine, but God's, who hath sent me to the house of Israel. Therefore I say unto you that all that which ye possess God hath bestowed it upon you: and so, whether is the more precious, the gift or the giver? When thy father and thy mother, with every other thing is a stumbling-block to thee in the service of God, abandon them as enemies. Did not God say to Abraham: "Go forth from the house of thy father and of thy kindred, and come to dwell in the land which I will give to thee and to thy seed?" And wherefore did God say this, save because the father of Abraham was an image-maker, who made and worshipped false gods? Whence there was enmity between them insomuch that the father wished to burn his son.'

Peter answered: 'True are thy words, wherefore I pray thee tell us how Abraham mocked his father.'

Jesus replied: 'Abraham was seven years old when he began to seek God. So one day he said to his father: "Father, what made man?"

'The foolish father answered: "Man; for I made thee, and my father made me."

Abraham answered: "Father, it is not so; for I have heard an old man weeping and saying: 'O my God, wherefore hast thou not given me children?'"

'His father replied: "It is true, my son, that God helpeth man to make man, but he putteth not his hand thereto; it is only necessary that man come to pray to his God and to give him lambs and sheep, and his God will help him."

'Abraham answered: "How many gods are there, father?"

'The old man replied: "They are infinite in number, my son."

'Then said Abraham: "O father, what shall I do if I shall serve one god and another shall wish me evil because I serve him not? In any wise there will come discord between them, and so war will arise among the gods. But if perchance the god that willeth me evil shall slay my own god, what shall I do? It is certain that he will slay me also."

'The old man, laughing, answered: "O son, have no fear, for no god maketh war upon another god; nay, in the great temple there are a thousand gods with the great god Baal; and I am now nigh seventy years old, and yet never have I seen that one god hath smitten another god. And assuredly all men do not serve one god, but one man one, and another another."

'Abraham answered: "So, then, they have peace among themselves?"

'Said his father: "They have."

'Then said Abraham: "O father, what be the gods like?"

'The old man answered: "Fool, every day I make a god, which I sell to others to buy bread, and thou knowest not what the gods are like!" And then at that moment he was making an idol. "This," said he, "is of palm wood, that one is of olive, that little one is of ivory: see how fine it is! Does it not seem as though it were alive? Assuredly, it lacks but breath!"

'Abraham answered: "And so, father, the gods are without breath? Then how do they give breath? And being without life, how give they life? It is certain, father, that these are not God."

'The old man was wroth at these words, saying: "If thou wert of age to understand, I would break thy head with this axe: But hold thy peace, because thou hast not understanding!"

'Abraham answered: "Father, if the gods help to make man, how can it be that man should make the gods? And if the gods are made of wood, it is a great sin to burn wood. But tell me, father, how is it that, when thou hast made so many gods, the gods have not helped thee to make so many other children that thou shouldest become the most powerful man in the world?"

'The father was beside himself, hearing his son speak so; the son went on: "Father, was the world for some time without men?"

'"Yes," answered the old man, "and why?"

"'Because," said Abraham, "I should like to know who made the first God."

'"Now go out of my house!" said the old man, "and leave me to make this god quickly, and speak no words to me; for, when thou art hungry thou desirest bread and not words."

'Said Abraham: "A fine god, truly, that thou cuttest him as thou wilt, and he defendeth not himself!"

'Then the old man was angry, and said: "All the world saith that it is a god, and thou, mad fellow, sayest that it is not. By my gods, if thou wert a man I could kill thee!" And having said this, he gave blows and kicks to Abraham, and chased him from the house.'