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An Extract out of Josephus's Discourse to The Greeks Concerning Hades by Flavius Josephus

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An Extract out of Josephus's Discourse to The Greeks Concerning Hades

by Flavius Josephus

Translated by William Whiston

1. Now as to Hades, wherein the souls of the of the good things
they see, and rejoice in the righteous and unrighteous are
detained, it is necessary to speak of it. Hades is a place in the
world not regularly finished; a subterraneous region, wherein the
light of this world does not shine; from which circumstance, that
in this region the light does not shine, it cannot be but there
must be in it perpetual darkness. This region is allotted as a
place of custody for souls, ill which angels are appointed as
guardians to them, who distribute to them temporary punishments,
agreeable to every one's behavior and manners.

2. In this region there is a certain place set apart, as a lake
of unquenchable fire, whereinto we suppose no one hath hitherto
been cast; but it is prepared for a day afore-determined by God,
in which one righteous sentence shall deservedly be passed upon
all men; when the unjust, and those that have been disobedient to
God, and have given honor 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 having been the
causes of defilement; while the just shall obtain an
incorruptible and never-fading kingdom. These are now indeed
confined in Hades, but not in the same place wherein the unjust
are confined.

3. For there is one descent into this region, at whose gate we
believe there stands an archangel with an host; which gate when
those pass through that are conducted down by the angels
appointed over souls, they do not go the 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 see, and rejoic in the expectation of those new
enjoyments which will be peculiar to every one of them, and
esteeming those things beyond what we have here; with whom there
is no place of toil, no burning heat, no piercing cold, nor are
any briers there; but the countenance of the and of the just,
which they see, always smiles them, while they wait for that rest
and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region.
This place we call The Bosom of Abraham.

4. But as to the 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; to whom are
sent the angels appointed over them to reproach them and threaten
them with their terrible looks, and to thrust them still
downwards. Now those angels that are set over these souls drag
them into the neighborhood of hell itself; who, when they are
hard by it, continually hear the noise of it, and do not stand
clear of the hot vapor itself; but when they have a near view of
this spectacle, as of a terrible and exceeding great prospect of
fire, they are struck with a fearful expectation of a future
judgment, and in effect punished thereby: and not only so, but
where they see the place [or choir] of the fathers and of the
just, even hereby are they punished; for a chaos deep and large
is fixed between them; insomuch that a just man that hath
compassion upon them cannot be admitted, nor can one that is
unjust, if he were bold enough to attempt it, pass over it.

5. This is the discourse concerning Hades, wherein the souls of
all men are confined until a proper season, which God hath
determined, when he will make a resurrection of all men from the
dead, not procuring a transmigration of souls from one body to
another, but raising again those very bodies, which you Greeks,
seeing to be dissolved, do not believe [their resurrection]. But
learn not to disbelieve it; for while you believe that the soul
is created, and yet is made immortal 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 life that body
which was made as a compound of the same 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 seed, and are mixed among
the more fruitful soil, they flourish, and what is sown 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 before it has been dissolved, and mixed
[with the earth]. So that we have not rashly believed the
resurrection of the body; for although it be dissolved for a time
on account of the original transgression, it exists still, and is
cast into 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 state of purity, and so as never to he destroyed any
more. And to every body shall its own soul be restored. And when
it hath clothed itself with that body, it will not be subject to
misery, but, being itself pure, it will continue with its pure
body, and rejoice with it, with which it having walked
righteously now in this world, and never having had it as a
snare, it will receive it again with great gladness. But as for
the unjust, they will receive their bodies not changed, not freed
from diseases or distempers, nor made glorious, but with the same
diseases wherein they died; and such as they were in their
unbelief, the same shall they be when they shall be faithfully
judged.

6. For all men, the just as well as the unjust, shall be brought
before God the word: for to him hath the Father committed all
judgment : and he, in order to fulfill the will of his Father,
shall come as Judge, whom we call Christ. For Minos and
Rhadamanthus are not the judges, as you Greeks do suppose, but he
whom God and the Father hath glorified: Concerning Whom We Have
Elsewhere Given A More Particular Account, For The Sake Of Those
Who Seek After Truth. This person, exercising the righteous
judgment of the Father towards all men, hath prepared a just
sentence for every one, according to his works; at whose
judgment-seat when all men, and angels, and demons shall stand,
they will send forth one voice, and say, Just Is Thy Judgment;
the rejoinder to which will bring a just sentence upon both
parties, by giving justly to those that have done well an
everlasting fruition; but allotting to the lovers of wicked works
eternal punishment. To these belong the unquenchable fire, and
that without end, and a certain fiery worm, never dying, and not
destroying the body, but continuing its eruption out of the body
with never-ceasing grief: neither will sleep give ease to these
men, nor will the night afford them comfort; death will not free
them from their punishment, nor will the interceding prayers of
their kindred profit them; for the just are no longer seen by
them, nor are they thought worthy of remembrance. But the just
shall remember only their righteous actions, whereby they have
attained the heavenly kingdom, in which there is no sleep, no
sorrow, no corruption, no care, no night, no day measured by
time, no sun driven in his course along the circle of heaven by
necessity, and measuring out the bounds and conversions of the
seasons, for the better illumination of the life of men; no moon
decreasing and increasing, or introducing a variety of seasons,
nor will she then moisten the earth; no burning sun, no Bear
turning round [the pole], no Orion to rise, no wandering of
innumerable stars. The earth will not then be difficult to be
passed over, nor will it he hard to find out the court of
paradise, nor will there be any fearful roaring of the sea,
forbidding the passengers to walk on it; even that will be made
easily passable to the just, though it will not be void of
moisture. Heaven will not then be uninhabitable by men, and it
will not be impossible to discover the way of ascending thither.
The earth will not be uncultivated, nor require too much labor of
men, but will bring forth its fruits of its own accord, and will
be well adorned with them. There will be no more generations of
wild beasts, nor will the substance of the rest of the animals
shoot out any more; for it will not produce men, but the number
of the righteous will continue, and never fail, together with
righteous angels, and spirits [of God], and with his word, as a
choir of righteous men and women that never grow old, and
continue in an incorruptible state, singing hymns to God, who
hath advanced them to that happiness, by the means of a regular
institution of life; with whom the whole creation also will lift
up a perpetual hymn from corruption, to incorruption, as
glorified by a splendid and pure spirit. It will not then be
restrained by a bond of necessity, but with a lively freedom
shall offer up a voluntary hymn, and shall praise him that made
them, together with the angels, and spirits, and men now freed
from all bondage.

7. And now, if you Gentiles will be persuaded by these motives,
and leave your vain imaginations about your pedigrees, and
gaining of riches, and philosophy, and will not spend your time
about subtleties of words, and thereby lead your minds into
error, and if you will apply your ears to the hearing of the
inspired prophets, the interpreters both of God and of his word,
and will believe in God, you shall both be partakers of these
things, and obtain the good things that are to come; you shall
see the ascent unto the immense heaven plainly, and that kingdom
which is there. For what God hath now concealed in silence [will
be then made manifest,] what neither eye hath seen, nor ear hath
heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, the things that
God hath prepared for them that love him.

8. In whatsoever ways I shall find you, in them shall I judge you
entirely: so cries the End of all things. And he who hath at
first lived a virtuous lift, but towards the latter end falls
into vice, these labors by him before endured shall be altogether
vain and unprofitable, even as in a play, brought to an ill
catastrophe. Whosoever shall have lived wickedly and luxuriously
may repent; however, there will be need of much time to conquer
an evil habit, and even after repentance his whole life must be
guarded with great care and diligence, after the manner of a
body, which, after it hath been a long time afflicted with a
distemper, requires a stricter diet and method of living; for
though it may be possible, perhaps, to break off the chain of our
irregular affections at once, yet our amendment cannot be secured
without the grace of God, the prayers of good men, the help of
the brethren, and our own sincere repentance and constant care.
It is a good thing not to sin at all; it is also good, having
sinned, to repent; as it is best to have health always, but it is
a good thing to recover from a distemper. To God be glory and
dominion for ever and ever Amen.

End of Gutenberg's Josephus's Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades

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