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NON-CANONICAL EPISTLES AND RELATED WRITINGS

tence before the court of the elders, i.e., of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose charge it is to investigate the case of their children. Then will the fathers disown their own children as evildoers. And fi­ nally the malefactors will cry amidst the torment of their punishment: Hear us, O Lord God, for our father Abraham has not known us, and Isaac and Jacob have disowned us! Thus then let the children conduct themselves that (some day) they may find themselves in the bosom of father Abraham. That is to say, that they may remain praiseworthy in his remem­ brance and be not as the daughters of Zion whom the Holy Spirit reproaches through Isaiah: “They moved together through the streets, dancing with their heads erect. And they engaged them­ selves to men in the villages of Jerusalem, and heaped up iniquity to the sky, and the Lord was angry and delivered them up to king Nebuchadnezzar to slavery for seventy years.”17 You also are disobedient and undisci­ plined, you who do something even worse than the first committed. In the end you also will be delivered up to the wicked king Nebuchadnezzar, as he says, i.e., to the devil who will fall upon you. And as they (the Jews), after they had spent seventy years in anguish, returned to their own places of abode, so a period of seven years is (now) appointed under Antichrist. But the pain of these seven years presents eternal anguish. And as, after their return to their homeland, they henceforth experienced much evil, so is it also now with (these): after death the soul of each one will be tormented unto the judgment day. And again, after the slaughter of the beast, the first resurrec­ tion will take place; and then will the faithless souls return to their dwellings; and according to the increase of their (earlier) evil-doings will their torment

(now) be augmented beyond the first punishment. Therefore, beloved, we must combat the works of the flesh because of the coming retribution. In order then that ye may escape eternal torment, ye must struggle, daughters, against flesh and blood so long as a period for that contin­ ues and a few days still remain wherein ye may contend for life. Why should the man who hast renounced the flesh be held fast in its lust? Why, O virgin, thou who has renounced a man, dost thou hug this physical beauty? Why (ascetic) givest thou up to a strange woman (i.e., one belonging to Christ) the body which was not made for that? Why strivest thou against thine own salvation to find death in love? Hear the apostle who says to you: “See,” he says, “that ye give not place to the flesh through the liberty of God.”18 And again: “Fulfill not the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. These are opposed to one another. Therefore, he says, do not what ye would. Otherwise the Spirit of God is not in you.”19 O inherently false one, to despise the commandments of the holy law and (through) a deceitful marriage to lose in secret the life everlasting! O honeyed cheat, to draw on torment in the future! O unbridled passion for glory, to offend against the devotion that has been vowed to God! O steps that lead astray from the way, that a virgin is fond of the flesh of another! O faith(less) craving, theft of fire, honor entangled in crime! O broken promise, that the mind blazes up for a stranger! O pledge of lust, beauty in­ clined to crime! O alluring symbol of vice that brings disdain! O seminari da

17

The source of this apocryphal quotation cannot be traced. 18Gal. 5:13. 19Gal. 5:16.

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