And the apostle went forth to go where the Lord had bidden him. And when he came near the second milestone he turned a little out of the way, and saw the body of a beautiful youth lying; and he said: Lord, was it for this that Thou broughtest me out to come here, that I might see this trial? Thy will therefore be done, as Thou purposest. And he began to pray, and to say: Lord, Judge of the living, and of those that are lying dead, and Lord of all, and Father—Father not only of the souls that are in bodies, but also of those that have gone out of them; for of the souls that are in pollutions Thou art Lord and Judge—come at this time, when I call upon Thee, and show Thy glory upon him that is lying down here. And he turned and said to those that followed him: This affair has not happened idly; but the enemy has wrought and effected this, that he might make an assault upon him; and you see that he has availed himself of no other form, and has wrought through no other living being, but through his subject.
And when the apostle had thus spoken, behold, a great dragon came forth from his den, knocking his head, and brandishing his tail down to the ground, and, using a loud voice, said to the apostle: I shall say before thee for what cause I have put him to death, since thou art here in order to reprove my works. And the apostle says: Yes, say on. And the dragon: There is a certain woman in this place exceedingly beautiful; and as she was once passing by, I saw her, and fell in love with her, and I followed and watched her; and I found this young man kissing her, and he also had intercourse with her, and did with her other shameful things. And to me indeed it was pleasant to tell thee this, for I know that thou art the twin-brother of Christ, and always bringest our race to nought. But, not wishing to harass her, I did not at this time put him to death; but I watched him passing by in the evening, and struck him, and killed him, and especially as he had dared to do this on the Lords day. 2350 And the apostle inquired of him, saying: Tell me, of what seed and of what race art thou?
And he said to him: I am the offspring of the race of the serpent, and hurtful of the hurtful; I am son of him who hurt and struck the four brothers that stood; I am son of him who sits on the throne of destruction, and takes his own from what he has lent; 2351 I am son of that apostate who encircles the globe; I am kinsman to him who is outside of the ocean, whose tail lies in his mouth; I am he who went into paradise through the hedge, and spoke with Eve what my father bade me speak to her; I am he who inflamed and fired Cain to kill his brother, and through me thorns and prickles sprang up in the ground; I am he who cast down the angels from above, and bound them down by the desires of women, that earth-born 2352 children might be produced from them, and that I might work my will in them; 2353 I am he who hardened the heart of Pharaoh, that he should murder the children of Israel, and keep them down by the hard yoke of slavery; I am he who caused the multitude to err in the desert when they made the p. 543 calf; I am he who inflamed Herod and incited Caiaphas to the lying tales of falsehood before Pilate, for this became me; I am he who inflamed Judas, and bought him, that he should betray Christ; I am he who inhabits and holds the abyss of Tartarus, and the Son of God has wronged me against my will, and has gathered his own out of me; I am the kinsman of him who is to come from the east, to whom also power has been given to do whatever he will upon the earth.
And that dragon having thus spoken in the hearing of all the multitude, the apostle raised his voice on high, and said: Cease henceforth, O thou most unabashed, and be ashamed and altogether put to death; for the end of thy destruction is at hand, and do not dare to say what thou hast done through thy dependants. And I order thee, in the name of that Jesus who even until now makes a struggle against you for the sake of His own human beings, to suck out the poison which thou hast put into this man, and to draw it forth, and take it out of him. And the dragon said: The time of our end is by no means at hand, as thou hast said. Why dost thou force me to take out what I have put into him, and to die before the time? Assuredly, when my father shall draw forth and suck out what he has put into the creation, then his end will come. And the apostle said to him: Show us, therefore, now the nature of thy father. And the dragon went up, and put his mouth upon the wound of the young man, and sucked the gall out of it. And in a short time the skin of the young man, which was like purple, grew white, and the dragon swelled. And when the dragon had drawn up all the gall into himself, the young man sprang up and stood, and ran and fell at the apostles feet. And the dragon, being swelled up, shrieked out and died, and his poison and gall were poured forth; and in the place where his poison was poured forth there was made a great chasm, and that dragon was swallowed up. And the apostle said to the king and his brother: Take workmen, and fill up the place in which the dragon has been swallowed up, and lay foundations, and build houses-above it, that it may be made a dwelling-place for the strangers.
And the young man said to the apostle, with many tears: I have sinned against the God proclaimed by thee, and against thee, but I ask pardon of thee; for thou art a man having two forms, and wherever thou wishest there art thou found, and thou art held in by no one, as I see. For I beheld that man, when I stood beside thee, who also said to thee, I have many wonders to show by means of thee, and I have great works to accomplish by means of thee, for which thou shalt obtain a reward; and thou shalt make many to live, and they shall be in repose and eternal light as the children of God: do thou therefore bring alive—he says, speaking to thee about me—this young man who has been cast down by the enemy, and in all time be the overseer of him. Thou hast, then, well come hither, and again thou shalt well go away to him, he being not at all forsaken by thee. And I am without care and reproach, for the dawn has risen upon me from the care of the night, and I am at rest; and I have also been released from him who exasperated me to do these things: for I have sinned against Him who taught me the contrary, and I have destroyed him who is the kinsman of the night, who forced me to sin by his own practices; and I have found that kinsman of mine who is like the light. I have destroyed him who darkens and blinds those who are subject to him, lest they should know what they are doing, and, ashamed of their works, withdraw themselves from them, and their deeds have an end: and I have found Him whose works are light, and whose deeds are truth, of which whoever does them shall not repent. I have been set free also from him in whom falsehood abides, whom darkness as a covering goes before, and shame conducting herself impudently in idleness follows after. And I have found also Him who shows me what is beautiful, that I should lay hold of it, the Son of the truth, who is kinsman of concord, who, driving away the mist, enlightens His own creation, and heals its wounds, and overturns its enemies. But I entreat thee, O man of God, make me again to behold and see Him, now become hidden from me, that I may also hear His voice, the wonders of which I cannot declare: for it is not of the nature of this bodily organ.
And the apostle said to him: If, as thou hast also said, thou hast cast off the knowledge of those things which thou hast received, and if thou knowest who has wrought these things in thee, and if thou shalt become a disciple and hearer of Him of whom, through thy living love, thou now desirest the sight, thou shalt both see Him, and shalt be with Him for ever, and shalt rest in His rest, and shalt be in His joy. But if thou art rather carelessly disposed towards Him, and again returnest to thy former deeds, and lettest go that beauty and that beaming countenance which has now been displayed to thee, and if the splendour of the light of Him whom thou now desirest be forgotten by thee, thou shalt be deprived not only of this life, but also of that which is to come; and thou shalt go to him whom thou hast said thou hast destroyed, and shalt no longer behold Him whom thou hast said thou hast found.
And when the apostle had thus spoken, he went into the city, holding that young man by p. 544 the hand, and saying to him: Those things which thou hast beheld, my child, are a few out of the many which God has: for it is not about these things that appear that the good news is brought to us, but greater things than these are promised to us; but inasmuch as we are in the body, we cannot tell and speak out what He will do for our souls. If we say that He affords us light, it is seen by us, and we have it; and if riches, they exist and appear in this world, and we name them, since it has been said, With difficulty will a rich man enter into the kingdom of the heavens. 2354 And if we speak of fine clothing, which they who delight in this life put on, it has been said, They that wear soft things are in kings palaces; 2355 and if costly dinners, about these we have received a commandment to keep away from them, not to be burdened by carousing and drunkenness and the cares of life; 2356 as also in the Gospel it has been said, Take no heed for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor for your body, what ye shall put on: because the life is more than food, and the body than clothing. 2357 And if we speak of this rest lasting only for a season, its judgment has also been ordained. But we speak about the upper world, about God and angels, about ambrosial food, about garments that last and become not old, about those things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath there come into the heart of sinful men what God has prepared for those that love Him. 2358 Do thou also therefore believe in Him, that thou mayst live; and have confidence in Him, and thou shalt never die. For He is not persuaded by gifts, that thou shouldst offer them to Him; nor does He want sacrifices, that thou shouldst sacrifice to Him. But look to Him, and thou shalt not look in vain, for His comeliness and desirable beauty will make thee love Him; and neither will He allow thee to turn thyself away from Him.
And when the apostle was thus speaking to that young man, a great multitude joined them. And the apostle looked, and saw them lifting themselves up that they might see him; and they went up into elevated places. And the apostle said to them: Ye men who have come to the assembly of Christ, and who wish to believe in Jesus, take an example from this, and see that if you do not get high up, you cannot see me, who am small, and cannot get a look of me, who am like yourselves. If, then, you cannot see me, who am like yourselves, unless you raise yourselves a little from the earth, how can you see Him who lives above, and is now found below, unless you first raise yourselves out of your former behaviour, and unprofitable deeds, and troublesome desires, and the riches that are left behind here, and create things that are of the earth, and that grow old, and the garments that are destroyed, and the beauty that ages and vanishes away, yea, even out of the whole body in which all these have been stored past, and which grows old, and becomes dust, returning into its own nature? for all these things the body itself sets up. 2359 But rather believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we proclaim to you, in order that your hope may be upon Him, and that you may have life in Him to ages of ages, that He may be your fellow-traveller in this land, and may release you from error, and may become 2360 a haven for you in this troublous sea. And there shall be for you also a fountain welling out in this thirsty land, and a fold full of food in the place of the hungry, and rest for your souls, and also a physician for your bodies.
Then the multitude of those assembled that heard, wept, and said to the apostle: O man of God, as for the God whom thou proclaimest, we dare not say that we are his, because our works which we have done are alien from him, not pleasing to him; but if he has compassion upon us, and pities us, and delivers us, overlooking our former doings; and if he set us free from the evil things which we did when we were in error, and shall not take into account nor keep the recollection of our former sins, we shall become his servants, and we shall do his will to the end. And the apostle answered and said to them: He does not reckon against you the sins which you did, being in error; but He overlooks your transgressions which you have done in ignorance. 2361
Comp. Acts xvii. 30.
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