Page images
PDF
EPUB

understand what God in his counsel hath decreed of him, and to what end the Lord hath set him in safety. They shall see him, and despise him; but God shall laugh them to scorn : and they shall hereafter be a Vile carcase, and a reproach among the dead for evermore. For he shall rend them, and cast them down headlong, that they shall be speechless: and he shall shake them from the foundation: and they shall bo utterly laid waste, and be in sorrow: and their memorial shall perish. And when they cast up the accounts of their sins, they shall come with fear: and their own iniquities shall convince thein to their face. But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. Iu the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself. As gold in the furnace hath be tried them and received them as a burnt effering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks ajuong the stubble. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that put their trust in him shall understand the truth: and such as be faithful in love shall abide with him: for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect. But the ungodly shall be punished according to their own imaginations, which have neglected the righteous, and forsaken the Lord. For whoso despiseth wisdom and nurture, he is miserable, and their hope is vain, their labours unfruitful, and their works unprofitable. For though they live long, yet shall they be nothing regarded: and their last age shall be without honour. Or, if they die quickly, they have no hope, neither comfort in, the day of trial.

From the same.

The ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not-aright, Our life is short and tedious, and. in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter, as though we had never been; for the breath in our nostrils is< as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of oucs

heart: which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as tiie soft air, and our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof. For eur time is a very shadow that passeth away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again. Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present: and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments: and let no flower of the spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they be withered. Let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness: let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place: for this is our portion, and our lot is this. Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged. Let our strength be the law of justice; for that which is feeble is 'found to be nothing worth. Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous: because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law. and objecteth to our infamy the transgressions of our education. He professeth. to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men's, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits; he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected. Such things they did imagine, and were deceived : for their own wickedness hath blinded them. As for the mysteries of God, they knew them not: neither hoped they for the -wages of righteousness: nor discerned a reward for blameless souls. For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his' side do find it. Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach. We fools accounted his life madness; and hisend to be without honour. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us. We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction: yea, we have gone through deserts, where there lay no way : but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What hath pride profited us? or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow, and as a post that hasteth. by; and as a shipthat passeth over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereot cannot be found, neither the pathway of the keel in the waves; or as when a bird hath flown thpou^li

« PreviousContinue »