Page images
PDF
EPUB

as

gins] they need only marry them*: As allo what excuses they may have in denying the facts, if any one attempis to enquire into them; for amongst most other nations it is a ftudied art, how men may transgress their laws. But no such thing is permitted amongst us for though we be deprived of our wealth, of our cities, or of the other advantages we have, our law continues immortal : Nor can any Jew go so far from his own country, nor be so affrighted at ihe severest lord, not to be more affrighted at the law than at him. if, therefore, this be the disposition we are under, with regard to the excellency of our laws let our cnemies make us this concel. fion, that our laws are most excellent; and it still they im. •agine, that though we lo firmly adhere to them, yet are they bad laws notwithstanding, what penal.ies then do they deserve to undergo, who do not observe their own laws, which they efteemed so far superior to them! Whereas, therefore, length of time is esteemed to be the truest touchstone in all cases. I would make that a testimonial of the excellency of our laws, and of that belief thereby delivered to us concerning God. For as there hath been a very long time for this comparison. it any one will but compare its duration with the duration of the laws made by other legislators, he will find our legislator to have been the ancienteit of them all.

40. We have already demonstrated that our laws have been such as have always inspired admiration and imitation into all oilier men ; nay, the earliest Grecian philosophers, though ia appearance they observed the laws of their own countries, yet did they, in their actions, and their philofophic doctrines, fola low our legislator, and instructed men to live sparingly, and to have friendly communication one with another. Nay, tar. ther the multitude of mankind itself have had a great inclia nation of a long time to follow our religious oblervances; for there is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the barbari. ans nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on the seventb day hath not come, and by which our tasts and lighting up lamps, and many of our prohibitions as to our food are not observed ; they also endeavour to imitate our murual concord with one another, and the charitable diftribus tion of our goods, and our diligence in our trades and our forritude in undergoing the distresses we are in, on account of our laws; and what is here matter of the greatest admiration, our law hath no bait of pleasure to allure men to it, but it prea vails hy its own force; and as God himself pervades all the world,' so hath our law passed through all the world also. that it any one will bui reflect on his own country, and his own family, he will have reason to give credit to what I say,

So

• Or for corrupting other tren's wives de Same allowance. VOL. IIJ,

$ 3

It is therefore but juft, either to condemn all mankind of indulging a wicked disposition, when they have been fo defit. ous of imitating laws that are to them foreign and evil in themselves, rather than following laws of their own that are of a better character, or else our accusers must leave off their spite against us. Nor are we guilty of any envious behaviour to. wards them, when we honour our legiflator, and believe what he by his prophetic authority, have taught us concerning God. For though we hould not be able ourselves to understand the excellency of our own laws, y'et would the great multitude of those that desire to imitate them juflity us, in greatly valuing ourselves upon them.

41. But as for the [diftin&] political laws by which we are governed, I have delivered them accurately in my books of Antiquities : And have only mentioned ihem now so far as was necessary to my present purpose, without proposing to my self, either to blame the laws of other nations, or to make an encomium upon our own; but in order to convi&t those that have written about us unjustly, and in an impudent affectágion of disguising the truth. And now I think I have suffi. eiently completed what I proposed in writing these books. For whereas our accusers have pretended, that our nation are a people of very late original, I have demonstrated that they are exceeding ancient; for I have produced as witnesses there to many ancient writers, who have made mention of us in their books, while they said no such writer had to done. Moreover they had said, that we were sprung from the Egyptians, while I have proved that we came from another country into Egypt; while they had told lies of us, as it we were expelled thence on account of diseases on our bodies, it has appeared on the contrary, that we returned to our country by our own choice, and with found and strong bodies. Those accusers reproached our legiilátor, as'a vile fellow : Whereas God in old time bare witness to his virtuous conduct; and since that teflimony of God, time itself hath been difcovered to have borne witness to the same thing.

42. As to the laws themselves, more words are unnecessary, for they are visible in their own nature, and appear to teach not impiety but the truest piety in the world. They do not make nien hate one another, but encourage people to commudicate what they have to one another freely; they are enemies to injustice, they take care of righteousness; they bapith idleness and expenGive living, and infruét men to be content with what they have, and to be laborious in their callings : They forbid men to make war from a delire of getting more, but make men courageous in defending the laws: They are inexorable in punilhing maletactors : They admit no lophif. try of words, but are always establilhed by actions themselves, which aâions we ever propose as surer demonstrations than

what is contained in writing only; on which account I am so bold as to say, that we are become the teachers of other

men, in the greatest number of things, and those of the most .excellent nature only : For what is more excellent than invi, olable piety? what is more just than lubmillion to laws ? and what is more advantageous than mutual love and concord? And this so far that we are to be neither divided by calamities, nor to become injurious and seditious in prosperity, but to contemn death when we are in war, and in peace to apply qurlelves to our mechanical occupations, or to our tillage of the ground; while we in all things and all ways are satisfied that God is the inspector and governor of our actions. It these precepte had either been written at first, or more exactly kept by any others before us, we hould have owed them thanks as disciples owe to their masters: But if it be visible that we have made. use of them more than any other men, and if we have demonstrated, that the original invention of them is our. own, let the Apions, and the Molons, with all the rest of those that delight in lies and reproaches, ftand contuted; but let this and the foregoing book be dedicated to thee, Epaphroditus, who art so great a lover of truth, and by thy means to thọfe that have been in like manner delirous to be acquainted with the affairs of our nation.

AN

EXTRACT

OUT OF

JOSEPHUS'S DISCOURSE

TO THE GREEKS

CONCERNING HADES.

$". N

as to Hades, wherein the souls of the righteous

and unrighteous are detained, it is necessary to speak of it. Hades is a place in the world not regularly finished; a fubterraneous region, wherein the light of this world does not thine ; .from which circumstance, that in this region the light does not thine, it cannot be but there must be in it perpetual darkness. This region is allotted as a place of custody for souls, in which angels are appointed as guardians to them, who distribute to them temporary punishments, agreeable to every "one's behaviour and manners.

2. In this region there is a certain place' fet apart, as'a lake of unquenchable fire; whereinto we suppose no one bath hitherto been cast but it is prepared for a day aforedetermined by God, in which one righteous sentence shall deservedly be passed upon all men ; when the unjult and those that have been disobedient to God, and have given honour to such idols as have been the vain operations of the hands of men as to God himself, shall be adjudged to this everlasting punishment, as have ing been the causes of defilement; while the juit shall obtain an incorruptible and never-tading kingdom. These are now indeed confined in Hades, but not in the faine place wherein tbe unjust are confined.

3. For there is one descent into this region, at whose gate we believe there stands an archangel with an hoft; which gate when those pass through that are conducted down by the an. gels appointed over fouls, they do not go she same way, but the just are guided to the right hand, and are led with hymns, sung by the angels appointed over that place, unto a region of light, in which the just have dwelt from the beginning of the world ; not constrained by necessity, but ever enjoying the prospect of the good things they fee, and rejoicing in the expeciation of these new enjoyments which will be peculiar to cvery one of them, and elteeming those things beyond what we have bere ; with whom there is no place of toil, no burning heal, no piercing cold, nor any briers there, but the coun.

tenance of the fathers and of the juft, which they see always fniles upon them, while they wait for that relt ane eternal new life in heaven which is to succeed this region. This place we call the bofom of Abraham.

4. But as to ibe unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by the angels allotted for punishment, no longer going with a good will, but as prisoners driven by violence; o whom are sent the angels appointed over them to reproach them and threaten them with their terrible looks, and to thrust them ftill downwards Now thole angels that are set wher these fouls drag them into the neighbourhood of hell itlelt; who when they are hard by it, continually hear the noise of it, and do not stand clear of the bol Vapour itselt; bu: when they have a nearer vicw of this (pectacle, as of a terrıile and exceeding great prospect of fire, they are flruck with a fearlul expectation of a future judgement, and in effect puuished thereby : And not only fo, but where they see the place for choirs of the fathers and of the just, even hereby are they punished; tor a chaos deep and large is fixed between them; infomuch ihat a juit man har hath coup.fliun upon them can. not be admitted, nor can one that is unjust, it he were bold enough to attempt it, pals over it.

5. This is the discourle concerning Hades, wherein the fouls of all men are confined until a proper iealon, which God hath determined when he will make a reiurrection of all men from the dead ; not procuring a transmigration of fouls from one body to another, but raising again thule very bodies, which you Greeks leeing to be diffolved, do not believe their refurrection.] Bui learn not to disbelieve it; for while you believe that the soul is created, and yet is made immorial by God, according to the doctrine of Plato, and this in time, be not incredulous but believe that God is able, when he hath raised to lite that body which was made as a compound of the fame elements to make it immortal ; for it must never be said of God, that he is able to do some things, and unable to do others. We have therefore believed, that the body will be raised again ; for although it be dissolved, it is not perished ; for the earth receives its remains, and preserves them; and while they are like feed, and are mixed among the more fruit. ful foil, they flourish, and what is Jown is indeed sown bare grain, but at the mighty sound of God the Creator, it will Sprout up, and be raised in a clothed and glorious condition, though not betore it has been diffolved, and mixed (with the earth.] So that we have not rafhly believed the resurrection of the body ; for although it be dissolved for a time on account of the original transgression, it exifts still, and is caft in. to the earth as into a potter's furnace, in order to be formed again, not in order to rise again such as it was before, but in a

« PreviousContinue »