4 MaccabeesOriginal Source http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/index.htm#section_006
Chapter 04Original Source http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe253.htm
(i) This so called “Age of Reason” may in this chapter read that the Philosophy of Reason is 2000 years old. The story of seven sons and their mother.
1 FOR the Reason of our father Eleazar, like a fine steersman steering the ship of sanctity on the sea of the passions, though buffeted by the threats of the tyrant and swept by the swelling waves of the tortures, never shifted for one moment the helm of sanctity until he sailed into the haven of victory over death.
2 No city besieged with many and cunning engines ever defended itself so well as did that holy man when his sacred soul was attacked with scourge and rack and flame, and he moved them who were laying siege to his soul through his Reason that was the shield of sanctity.
3 For our father Eleazar, setting his mind film as a beetling sea-cliff, broke the mad onset of the surges of the passions.
4 O priest worthy of thy priesthood, thou didst not defile thy holy teeth, nor didst thou befoul with unclean meat thy belly that had room only for piety and purity.
5 O confessor of the Law and philosopher of the Divine life! Such should those be whose office is to serve the Law and defend it with their own blood and honourable sweat in the face of sufferings to the death.
6 Thou, O father, didst fortify our fidelity to the Law through thy steadfastness unto glory; and having spoken in honour of holiness thou didst not belie thy speech, and didst confirm the words of divine philosophy by p. 186 thy deeds, O aged man that wast more forceful than the tortures.
7 O reverend elder that wast tenser-strung than the flame, thou great king over the passions, Eleazar.
8 For as our father Aaron, armed with the censer, ran through the massed congregation against the fiery angel and overcame him, so the son of Aaron, Eleazar, being consumed by the melting heat of the fire, remained unshaken in his Reason.
9 And yet most wonderful of all, he, being an old man, with the sinews of his body unstrung and his muscles relaxed and his nerves weakened, grew a young man again in the spirit of his Reason and with Isaac-like Reason turned the hydra-headed torture to impotence.
10 O blessed age, O reverend grey head, O life faithful to the Law and perfected by the seal of death!
11 Assuredly, then, if an old man despised the torments unto death for righteousness’ sake it must be admitted that the Inspired Reason is able to guide the passions.
12 But some perhaps may answer that not all men are masters of the passions because not all men have their Reason enlightened.
13 But as many as with their whole heart make righteousness their first thought, these alone are able to master the weakness of the flesh, believing that unto God they die not, as our patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, died not, but that they live unto God.
14 Therefore there is-nothing contradictory in certain persons appearing to be slaves to passion in consequence of the weakness of their Reason.
Antiochus’s Persecution of the JewsOriginal Source for this heading – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=4%20Maccabees+4&version=NRSV
15 For who is there that being a philosopher following righteously the whole rule of philosophy, and having put his trust in God, and knowing that it is a blessed thing to endure all hardness for the sake of virtue, would not conquer his passions for the sake of righteousness?
16 For the wise and self-controlled man alone is the brave ruler of the passions.
17 Yea, by this means even young boys, being philosophers by virtue of the Reason which is according to righteousness, have triumphed over yet more grievous tortures.
18 For when the tyrant found himself notably defeated in his first attempt, and impotent to compel an old man to eat unclean meat, then truly in violent rage he ordered the guards to bring others of the young men of the Hebrews, and if they would eat unclean meat to release them after eating it, but if they refused, to torture them yet more savagely.
19 And under these orders of the tyrant seven brethren together with their aged mother were brought prisoners before him, all handsome, and modest, and well-born,–and generally attractive.
20 And when the tyrant saw them there, standing as if they were a festal choir with their mother in the midst, he took notice of them, and struck by their noble and distinguished bearing he smiled at them, and calling them nearer said:
21 ‘O young men, I wish well to each one of you, and admire your beauty, and honour highly so large a band of brothers; so not only do I advise you not to persist in the madness of that old man who has already suffered, but I even entreat of you to yield to me and become partakers in my friendship.
22 For, as I am able to punish those who disobey my orders, so am I able to advance those who do obey me.
23 Be assured then that you p. 187 shall be given positions of importance and authority in my service if you will reject the ancestral law of your polity.
24 Share in the Hellenic life, and walk in a new way, and take some pleasure in your youth; for if you drive me to anger with your disobedience you will compel me to resort to terrible penalties and put every single one of you to death by torture.
25 Have pity then on yourselves, whom even I, your opponent, pity for your youth and your beauty.
26 Will you not consider with yourselves this thing, that if you disobey me there is nothing before you but death in torments?’
27 With these words he ordered the instruments of torture to be brought forward in order to persuade them by fear to eat unclean meat.
28 But when the guards had produced wheels, and joint-dislocators, and racks, and bone-crushers, and catapults, and cauldrons, and braziers, and thumb-screws, and iron claws, and wedges, and branding irons, the tyrant spoke again and said:
29 ‘You had better feel fear, my lads, and the justice you worship will pardon your unwilling transgression.’
30 But they, hearing his persuasions, and seeing his dreadful engines, not only showed no fear but actually arrayed their philosophy in opposition to the tyrant, and by their right Reason did abase his tyranny.
31 And yet consider; supposing some amongst them to have been faint-hearted and cowardly, what sort of language would they have used? would it not have been to this effect?
32 ‘Alas! miserable creatures that we are and foolish above measure! When the king invites us and appeals to us on terms of kind treatment shall we not obey him?
33 Why do we encourage ourselves with vain desires and dare a disobedience that is to cost us our lives? Shall we not, O men my brothers, fear the dread instruments and weigh well his threats of the tortures, and abandon these empty vaunts and this fatal bragging?
34 Let us take pity on our own youth and have compassion on our mother’s age; and let us lay to heart that if we disobey we shall die.
35 And even the divine justice will have mercy on us, if compelled by necessity we yield to the king in fear. Why should we cast away from us this dear life and rob ourselves of this sweet world?
36 Let us not strive against necessity nor with vain confidence invite our torture.
37 Even the Law itself does not willingly condemn us to death, we being in terror of the instruments of torture.
38 Why does such contentiousness inflame us and a fatal obstinacy find favour with us, when we might have a peaceful life by obeying the king?’
39 But no such words escaped these young men at the prospect of the torture, nor did such thoughts enter into their minds.
40 For they were despisers of the passions and masters over pain.
Original Source: The Fourth Book of Maccabees.Original Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/index.htm#section_006 | sacred-texts.com
|↑1||Original Source http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/index.htm#section_006|
|↑2||Original Source http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe253.htm|
|↑3||Original Source for this heading – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=4%20Maccabees+4&version=NRSV|
|↑4||Original Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/index.htm#section_006|