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Moses.-Alas! but, good Lord, thou showest such clemency to thy creatures! thou pardonest them twice or three times; I have sinned but once, and am not to be forgiven!
God.-Thou knowst not what thou sayst; thou hast committed six sins.
I remember to have sworn thy death or the destruction of Israel; one of the two must be accomplished. If thou wilt live, Israel must perish.
Moses.-0 Lord, be not so hasty. All is in thy hands. Let Moses perish, rather than one soul in Israel.
After several discourses of this sort, the echo of the mountain says to Moses, “ Thou hast but five hours to live.' At the end of five hours, God sends for Gabriel, Zinguiel, and Samael. He promises Moses that he shall be buried, and carries away his soul.
When we reflect that nearly the whole earth has been infatuated by similar stories, and that they have formed the education of mankind, the fables of Pilpay, Lokman, or Esop, appear quite reasonable.
Apocryphal Books of the New Law. Fifty Gospels, all very different from one another, of which there remain only four entire—that of James, that of Nicodemus, that of the infancy of Jesus, and that of the birth of Mary. Of the rest we have nothing more than fragments and slight notices.
The traveller Tournefort, sent into Asia by Louis XIV. informs us that the Georgians have preserved the gospel of the Infancy, which was probably communicated to them by the Azmenians.*
In the beginning, several of these gospels, now regarded as apocryphal, were cited as authentic, and were even the only gospels that were cited. In the Acts of the Apostles we find these words, uttered by St. Paul-t" And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive."
St. Barnabas, in his Catholic Epistle, makes Jesus Christ speak thus— “Let us resist all iniquity; let
* Tournefort, letter xix. f Chap. xx. v.35. I No. 4 and 7.
us hate it.
Such as would see me and enter into my kingdom, must follow me through pain and sorrow.”
St. Clement, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, puts these words into the mouth of Jesus Christ="If you are assembled in my bosom, and do not follow my commandments," I shall reject you, and say to you, Depart from me; I know you not; depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.”
He' afterwards attributes to Jesus Christ these words;" Keep your flesh chaste, and the seal unspotted, in order that you may receive eternal life.”+
In the Apostolical Constitutions, composed in the second century, we find these words—" Jesus Christ has said, Be ye honest exchange-brokers."
We find many similar quotations, not one of which is taken from the four gospels recognized by the Church as the only canonical ones. They are, for the most part, taken from the Gospel according to the Hebrews, a gospel which was translated by St. Jerome, and is now considered as apocryphal.
St. Clement the Roman says, in his second Epistle—“The Lord, being asked when his reign should come, answered—When two shall make one, when that which is without shall be within, when the male shall be female, and when there shall be neither female nor male.”
These words are taken from the Gospel according to the Egyptians; and the text is repeated entire by St. Clement of Alexandria. But what could the author of the Egyptian gospels, and what could St. Clement himself be thinking of? The words which he quotes are injurious to Jesus Christ; they give us to understand that he did not believe that his reign would come at all. To say that a thing will take place when two shall make one, when the male shall be female, is to say that it will never take place. A passage like this is rabbinical, much rather than evangelical.
There were also two apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. They are quoted by St. Epiphanius." In these Acts it is related that St. Paul was the son of an idolatrous father and mother, and turned Jew in order to marry the daughter of Gamaliel; and that either being refused or not finding her a virgin, he took part with the disciples of Jesus. This is nothing less than blasphemy against St. Paul.
* No. 4. No. 8.
The other Apocryphal Books of the First and Second
The Book of Enoch, the seventh man after Adam, which mentions the war of the rebellious angels, under their captain Samasia, against the faithful angels led by Michael. The object of the war was, to enjoy the daughters of men, as has been said in the article Angel.t
The Acts of St. Thecla and St. Paul, written by a disciple named John, attached to St. Paul. In this history, Thecla escapes from her prosecutors to go to St. Paul, disguised as a man. She also baptizes a lion ; but this adventure was afterwards suppressed. Here, too, we have the portrait of Paul-staturà brevi, calvastrum, cruribus curvis, surosum, superciliis junctis, naso aquilino, plenum gratia Dei.
Although this story was recommended by St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, &c. it had no reputation among the other doctors of the church.
The preaching of Peter. This writing is also called the Gospel or Revelation of Peter. St. Clement of Alexandria speaks of it with great praise; but it is easy to perceive that some impostor had taken that apostle's name.
* Chap. xxx. par. 16.
+ There is also another Book of Evoch among the Christians of Ethiopia, which Peiresc, counsellor to the parliament of Provence, bad brought over at a great expense. It is by another impostor. Must there be such in Ethiopia also ?
The Acts of Peter, a work equally supposititious.
V. The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. It is doubted whether this book is by a Jew or a Christian of the primitive ages; for it is said in the Testament of Levi, that at the end of the seventh week there shall come priests given to idolatry,—bellatores, avari, scribæ iniqui, impudici, puerorum corruptores et pecorum ; that there shall then be a new priesthood ; that the heavens shall be opened ; and that the glory of the Most High and the spirit of intelligence and sanctification shall descend
upon this new priest;—which seems to foretel Jesus Christ.
The Letter of Abgarus, a pretended King of Edessa, to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ's answer to King Abgarus.' It is, indeed, believed that, in the time of Tiberius, there was a toparch of Edessa, who had passed from the service of the Persians into that of the Romans; but his epistolary correspondence has been considered by all good critics as a chimera.
The Acts of Pilate. Pilate's Letters to Tiberius on the Death of Jesus Christ. The Life of Procula, Pilate's wife.
The Acts of Peter and Paul, in which is the history of St. Peter's quarrel with Simon the magician. Abdias, Marcellus, and Hegesippus, have all three written this story. St. Peter first disputed with Simon, which should resuscitate one of the emperor Nero's relatives, who was just dead; Simon half restored him, and St. Peter finished the resurrection. Simon next flew up in the air; but Peter brought him down again, and the magician broke his legs. The Emperor Nero, incensed at the death of his magician, had St. Peter crucified with his head downwards, and St. Paul decapitated, as one of St. Peter's party.
The Acts of Blessed Paul the Apostle and Teacher of the Nations. In this book, St. Paul is made to live at Rome for two years after St. Peter's death. The author says, that when St. Paul's head' was cut off, there issued forth milk instead of blood; and that Lucina, a devout woman, had him buried twenty miles from Rome, on the way to Ostia, at her country house.
The Acts of the Blessed Apostle Andrew. The author relates, that St. Andrew went to the city of the Myrmidons, and that he baptized all the citizens. A young man named Sostratus, of the town of Amarea, which is at least better known than that of the Myrmidons, came, and said to the blessed Andrew, “ I am so handsome that my mother has conceived a passion
I abhorred so execrable a crime, and have fled. My mother, in her fury, accuses me, to the proconsul of the province, of having attempted to violate her. I can make no answer, for I would rather die than accuse my mother.” While he was yet speaking, the guards of the proconsul came and seized him. St. Andrew accompanied the son before the judge, and pleaded his cause. The mother, not at all disconcerted, accused St. Andrew himself of having instigated her son to the crime. The proconsul immediately ordered St. Andrew to be thrown into the river; but, the Apostle having prayed to God, there came a great earthquake, and the mother was struck by a thunderbolt.
After several adventures of the same sort, the author has St. Andrew crucified at Patras.
XI. The Acts of St. James the Greater. The author has him condemned to death at Jerusalem by the