71And when I had made an end of speaking these words, there was sent unto me the angel which had been sent unto me the nights afore:
2And he said unto me, Up, Esdras, and hear the words that I am come to tell thee.
3And I said, Speak on, my God. Then said he unto me, The sea is set in a wide place, that it might be deep and great.
4But put the case the entrance were narrow, and like a river;
5Who then could go into the sea to look upon it, and to rule it? if he went not through the narrow, how could he come into the broad?
6There is also another thing; A city is builded, and set upon a broad field, and is full of all good things:
7The entrance thereof is narrow, and is set in a dangerous place to fall, like as if there were a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water:
8And one only path between them both, even between the fire and the water, so small that there could but one man go there at once.
9If this city now were given unto a man for an inheritance, if he never shall pass the danger set before it, how shall he receive this inheritance?
10And I said, It is so, Lord. Then said he unto me, Even so also is Israel’s portion.
11Because for their sakes I made the world: and when Adam transgressed my statutes, then was decreed that now is done.
12Then were the entrances of this world made narrow, full of sorrow and travail: they are but few and evil, full of perils, and very painful.
13For the entrances of the elder world were wide and sure, and brought immortal fruit.
14If then they that live labour not to enter these strait and vain things, they can never receive those that are laid up for them.
15Now therefore why disquietest thou thyself, seeing thou art but a corruptible man? and why art thou moved, whereas thou art but mortal?
16Why hast thou not considered in thy mind this thing that is to come, rather than that which is present?
17Then answered I and said, O Lord that bearest rule, thou hast ordained in thy law, that the righteous should inherit these things, but that the ungodly should perish.
18Nevertheless the righteous shall suffer strait things, and hope for wide: for they that have done wickedly have suffered the strait things, and yet shall not see the wide.
19And he said unto me. There is no judge above God, and none that hath understanding above the Highest.
20For there be many that perish in this life, because they despise the law of God that is set before them.
21For God hath given strait commandment to such as came, what they should do to live, even as they came, and what they should observe to avoid punishment.
22Nevertheless they were not obedient unto him; but spake against him, and imagined vain things;
23And deceived themselves by their wicked deeds; and said of the most High, that he is not; and knew not his ways:
24But his law have they despised, and denied his covenants; in his statutes have they not been faithful, and have not performed his works.
25And therefore, Esdras, for the empty are empty things, and for the full are the full things.
26Behold, the time shall come, that these tokens which I have told thee shall come to pass, and the bride shall appear, and she coming forth shall be seen, that now is withdrawn from the earth.
27And whosoever is delivered from the foresaid evils shall see my wonders.
28For my son Jesus shall be revealed with those that be with him, and they that remain shall rejoice within four hundred years.
29After these years shall my son Christ die, and all men that have life.
30And the world shall be turned into the old silence seven days, like as in the former judgments: so that no man shall remain.
31And after seven days the world, that yet awaketh not, shall be raised up, and that shall die that is corrupt.
32And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell in silence, and the secret places shall deliver those souls that were committed unto them.
33And the most High shall appear upon the seat of judgment, and misery shall pass away, and the long suffering shall have an end:
34But judgment only shall remain, truth shall stand, and faith shall wax strong:
35And the work shall follow, and the reward shall be shewed, and the good deeds shall be of force, and wicked deeds shall bear no rule.
36Then said I, Abraham prayed first for the Sodomites, and Moses for the fathers that sinned in the wilderness:
37And Jesus after him for Israel in the time of Achan:
38And Samuel and David for the destruction: and Solomon for them that should come to the sanctuary:
39And Helias for those that received rain; and for the dead, that he might live:
40And Ezechias for the people in the time of Sennacherib: and many for many.
41Even so now, seeing corruption is grown up, and wickedness increased, and the righteous have prayed for the ungodly: wherefore shall it not be so now also?
42He answered me, and said, This present life is not the end where much glory doth abide; therefore have they prayed for the weak.
43But the day of doom shall be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein corruption is past,
44Intemperance is at an end, infidelity is cut off, righteousness is grown, and truth is sprung up.
45Then shall no man be able to save him that is destroyed, nor to oppress him that hath gotten the victory.
46I answered then and said, This is my first and last saying, that it had been better not to have given the earth unto Adam: or else, when it was given him, to have restrained him from sinning.
47For what profit is it for men now in this present time to live in heaviness, and after death to look for punishment?
48O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee.
49For what profit is it unto us, if there be promised us an immortal time, whereas we have done the works that bring death?
50And that there is promised us an everlasting hope, whereas ourselves being most wicked are made vain?
51And that there are laid up for us dwellings of health and safety, whereas we have lived wickedly?
52And that the glory of the most High is kept to defend them which have led a wary life, whereas we have walked in the most wicked ways of all?
53And that there should be shewed a paradise, whose fruit endureth for ever, wherein is security and medicine, since we shall not enter into it?
54(For we have walked in unpleasant places.)
55And that the faces of them which have used abstinence shall shine above the stars, whereas our faces shall be blacker than darkness?
56For while we lived and committed iniquity, we considered not that we should begin to suffer for it after death.
57Then answered he me, and said, This is the condition of the battle, which man that is born upon the earth shall fight;
58That, if he be overcome, he shall suffer as thou hast said: but if he get the victory, he shall receive the thing that I say.
59For this is the life whereof Moses spake unto the people while he lived, saying, Choose thee life, that thou mayest live.
60Nevertheless they believed not him, nor yet the prophets after him, no nor me which have spoken unto them,
61That there should not be such heaviness in their destruction, as shall be joy over them that are persuaded to salvation.
62I answered then, and said, I know, Lord, that the most High is called merciful, in that he hath mercy upon them which are not yet come into the world,
63And upon those also that turn to his law;
64And that he is patient, and long suffereth those that have sinned, as his creatures;
65And that he is bountiful, for he is ready to give where it needeth;
66And that he is of great mercy, for he multiplieth more and more mercies to them that are present, and that are past, and also to them which are to come.
67For if he shall not multiply his mercies, the world would not continue with them that inherit therein.
68And he pardoneth; for if he did not so of his goodness, that they which have committed iniquities might be eased of them, the ten thousandth part of men should not remain living.
69And being judge, if he should not forgive them that are cured with his word, and put out the multitude of contentions,
70There should be very few left peradventure in an innumerable multitude.
81And he answered me, saying, The most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few.
2I will tell thee a similitude, Esdras; As when thou askest the earth, it shall say unto thee, that it giveth much mould whereof earthen vessels are made, but little dust that gold cometh of: even so is the course of this present world.
3There be many created, but few shall be saved.
4So answered I and said, Swallow then down, O my soul, understanding, and devour wisdom.
5For thou hast agreed to give ear, and art willing to prophesy: for thou hast no longer space than only to live.
6O Lord, if thou suffer not thy servant, that we may pray before thee, and thou give us seed unto our heart, and culture to our understanding, that there may come fruit of it; how shall each man live that is corrupt, who beareth the place of a man?
7For thou art alone, and we all one workmanship of thine hands, like as thou hast said.
8For when the body is fashioned now in the mother’s womb, and thou givest it members, thy creature is preserved in fire and water, and nine months doth thy workmanship endure thy creature which is created in her.
9But that which keepeth and is kept shall both be preserved: and when the time cometh, the womb preserved delivereth up the things that grew in it.
10For thou hast commanded out of the parts of the body, that is to say, out of the breasts, milk to be given, which is the fruit of the breasts,
11That the thing which is fashioned may be nourished for a time, till thou disposest it to thy mercy.
12Thou broughtest it up with thy righteousness, and nurturedst it in thy law, and reformedst it with thy judgment.
13And thou shalt mortify it as thy creature, and quicken it as thy work.
14If therefore thou shalt destroy him which with so great labour was fashioned, it is an easy thing to be ordained by thy commandment, that the thing which was made might be preserved.
15Now therefore, Lord, I will speak; touching man in general, thou knowest best; but touching thy people, for whose sake I am sorry;
16And for thine inheritance, for whose cause I mourn; and for Israel, for whom I am heavy; and for Jacob, for whose sake I am troubled;
17Therefore will I begin to pray before thee for myself and for them: for I see the falls of us that dwell in the land.
18But I have heard the swiftness of the judge which is to come.
19Therefore hear my voice, and understand my words, and I shall speak before thee. This is the beginning of the words of Esdras, before he was taken up: and I said,
20O Lord, thou that dwellest in everlastingness which beholdest from above things in the heaven and in the air;
21Whose throne is inestimable; whose glory may not be comprehended; before whom the hosts of angels stand with trembling,
22Whose service is conversant in wind and fire; whose word is true, and sayings constant; whose commandment is strong, and ordinance fearful;
23Whose look drieth up the depths, and indignation maketh the mountains to melt away; which the truth witnesseth:
24O hear the prayer of thy servant, and give ear to the petition of thy creature.
25For while I live I will speak, and so long as I have understanding I will answer.
26O look not upon the sins of thy people; but on them which serve thee in truth.
27Regard not the wicked inventions of the heathen, but the desire of those that keep thy testimonies in afflictions.
28Think not upon those that have walked feignedly before thee: but remember them, which according to thy will have known thy fear.
29Let it not be thy will to destroy them which have lived like beasts; but to look upon them that have clearly taught thy law.
30Take thou no indignation at them which are deemed worse than beasts; but love them that always put their trust in thy righteousness and glory.
31For we and our fathers do languish of such diseases: but because of us sinners thou shalt be called merciful.
32For if thou hast a desire to have mercy upon us, thou shalt be called merciful, to us namely, that have no works of righteousness.
33For the just, which have many good works laid up with thee, shall out of their own deeds receive reward.
34For what is man, that thou shouldest take displeasure at him? or what is a corruptible generation, that thou shouldest be so bitter toward it?
35For in truth there is no man among them that be born, but he hath dealt wickedly; and among the faithful there is none which hath not done amiss.
36For in this, O Lord, thy righteousness and thy goodness shall be declared, if thou be merciful unto them which have not the confidence of good works.
37Then answered he me, and said, Some things hast thou spoken aright, and according unto thy words it shall be.
38For indeed I will not think on the disposition of them which have sinned before death, before judgment, before destruction:
39But I will rejoice over the disposition of the righteous, and I will remember also their pilgrimage, and the salvation, and the reward, that they shall have.
40Like as I have spoken now, so shall it come to pass.
41For as the husbandman soweth much seed upon the ground, and planteth many trees, and yet the thing that is sown good in his season cometh not up, neither doth all that is planted take root: even so is it of them that are sown in the world; they shall not all be saved.
42I answered then and said, If I have found grace, let me speak.
43Like as the husbandman’s seed perisheth, if it come not up, and receive not thy rain in due season; or if there come too much rain, and corrupt it:
44Even so perisheth man also, which is formed with thy hands, and is called thine own image, because thou art like unto him, for whose sake thou hast made all things, and likened him unto the husbandman’s seed.
45Be not wroth with us but spare thy people, and have mercy upon thine own inheritance: for thou art merciful unto thy creature.
46Then answered he me, and said, Things present are for the present, and things to come for such as be to come.
47For thou comest far short that thou shouldest be able to love my creature more than I: but I have ofttimes drawn nigh unto thee, and unto it, but never to the unrighteous.
48In this also thou art marvellous before the most High:
49In that thou hast humbled thyself, as it becometh thee, and hast not judged thyself worthy to be much glorified among the righteous.
50For many great miseries shall be done to them that in the latter time shall dwell in the world, because they have walked in great pride.
51But understand thou for thyself, and seek out the glory for such as be like thee.
52For unto you is paradise opened, the tree of life is planted, the time to come is prepared, plenteousness is made ready, a city is builded, and rest is allowed, yea, perfect goodness and wisdom.
53The root of evil is sealed up from you, weakness and the moth is hid from you, and corruption is fled into hell to be forgotten:
54Sorrows are passed, and in the end is shewed the treasure of immortality.
55And therefore ask thou no more questions concerning the multitude of them that perish.
56For when they had taken liberty, they despised the most High, thought scorn of his law, and forsook his ways.
57Moreover they have trodden down his righteous,
58And said in their heart, that there is no God; yea, and that knowing they must die.
59For as the things aforesaid shalt receive you, so thirst and pain are prepared for them: for it was not his will that men should come to nought:
60But they which be created have defiled the name of him that made them, and were unthankful unto him which prepared life for them.
61And therefore is my judgment now at hand.
62These things have I not shewed unto all men, but unto thee, and a few like thee. Then answered I and said,
63Behold, O Lord, now hast thou shewed me the multitude of the wonders, which thou wilt begin to do in the last times: but at what time, thou hast not shewed me.
91He answered me then, and said, Measure thou the time diligently in itself: and when thou seest part of the signs past, which I have told thee before,
2Then shalt thou understand, that it is the very same time, wherein the Highest will begin to visit the world which he made.
3Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of the people in the world:
4Then shalt thou well understand, that the most High spake of those things from the days that were before thee, even from the beginning.
5For like as all that is made in the world hath a beginning and an end, and the end is manifest:
6Even so the times also of the Highest have plain beginnings in wonder and powerful works, and endings in effects and signs.
7And every one that shall be saved, and shall be able to escape by his works, and by faith, whereby ye have believed,
8Shall be preserved from the said perils, and shall see my salvation in my land, and within my borders: for I have sanctified them for me from the beginning.
9Then shall they be in pitiful case, which now have abused my ways: and they that have cast them away despitefully shall dwell in torments.
10For such as in their life have received benefits, and have not known me;
11And they that have loathed my law, while they had yet liberty, and, when as yet place of repentance was open unto them, understood not, but despised it;
12The same must know it after death by pain.
13And therefore be thou not curious how the ungodly shall be punished, and when: but enquire how the righteous shall be saved, whose the world is, and for whom the world is created.
14Then answered I and said,
15I have said before, and now do speak, and will speak it also hereafter, that there be many more of them which perish, than of them which shall be saved:
16Like as a wave is greater than a drop.
17And he answered me, saying, Like as the field is, so is also the seed; as the flowers be, such are the colours also; such as the workman is, such also is the work; and as the husbandman is himself, so is his husbandry also: for it was the time of the world.
18And now when I prepared the world, which was not yet made, even for them to dwell in that now live, no man spake against me.
19For then every one obeyed: but now the manners of them which are created in this world that is made are corrupted by a perpetual seed, and by a law which is unsearchable rid themselves.
20So I considered the world, and, behold, there was peril because of the devices that were come into it.
21And I saw, and spared it greatly, and have kept me a grape of the cluster, and a plant of a great people.
22Let the multitude perish then, which was born in vain; and let my grape be kept, and my plant; for with great labour have I made it perfect.
23Nevertheless, if thou wilt cease yet seven days more, (but thou shalt not fast in them,
24But go into a field of flowers, where no house is builded, and eat only the flowers of the field; taste no flesh, drink no wine, but eat flowers only;)
25And pray unto the Highest continually, then will I come and talk with thee.
26So I went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he commanded me; and there I sat among the flowers, and did eat of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me.
27After seven days I sat upon the grass, and my heart was vexed within me, like as before:
28And I opened my mouth, and began to talk before the most High, and said,
29O Lord, thou that shewest thyself unto us, thou wast shewed unto our fathers in the wilderness, in a place where no man treadeth, in a barren place, when they came out of Egypt.
30And thou spakest saying, Hear me, O Israel; and mark my words, thou seed of Jacob.
31For, behold, I sow my law in you, and it shall bring fruit in you, and ye shall be honoured in it for ever.
32But our fathers, which received the law, kept it not, and observed not thy ordinances: and though the fruit of thy law did not perish, neither could it, for it was thine;
33Yet they that received it perished, because they kept not the thing that was sown in them.
34And, lo, it is a custom, when the ground hath received seed, or the sea a ship, or any vessel meat or drink, that, that being perished wherein it was sown or cast into,
35That thing also which was sown, or cast therein, or received, doth perish, and remaineth not with us: but with us it hath not happened so.
36For we that have received the law perish by sin, and our heart also which received it.
37Notwithstanding the law perisheth not, but remaineth in his force.
38And when I spake these things in my heart, I looked back with mine eyes, and upon the right side I saw a woman, and, behold, she mourned and wept with a loud voice, and was much grieved in heart, and her clothes were rent, and she had ashes upon her head.
39Then let I my thoughts go that I was in, and turned me unto her,
40And said unto her, Wherefore weepest thou? why art thou so grieved in thy mind?
41And she said unto me, Sir, let me alone, that I may bewail myself, and add unto my sorrow, for I am sore vexed in my mind, and brought very low.
42And I said unto her, What aileth thee? tell me.
43She said unto me, I thy servant have been barren, and had no child, though I had an husband thirty years,
44And those thirty years I did nothing else day and night, and every hour, but make my prayer to the Highest.
45After thirty years God heard me thine handmaid, looked upon my misery, considered my trouble, and gave me a son: and I was very glad of him, so was my husband also, and all my neighbours: and we gave great honour unto the Almighty.
46And I nourished him with great travail.
47So when he grew up, and came to the time that he should have a wife, I made a feast.