4 Maccabees 6 (Eleazer chose pain over pleasure)

4 Maccabees Chapter 6

Eleazer chose pain over pleasure
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1 When Eleazar had in this manner answered the exhortations of the tyrant, the spearbearers came up, and rudely hated Eleazar to the instruments of torture. 2 And first, they stripped the old man, adorned as he was with the comeliness of piety. 3 Then tying back his arms and hands, they disdainfully used him with stripes; 4 a herald opposite crying out, Obey the commands of the king.

5 But Eleazar, the high-minded and truly noble, as one tortured in a dream, regarded it not at all. 6 But raising his eyes on high to heaven, the old man's flesh was stripped off by the scourges, and his blood streamed down, and his sides were pierced through. 7 And falling upon the ground, from his body having no power to support the pains, he yet kept his reasoning upright and unbending. 8 Then one of the harsh spearbearers leaped upon his belly as he was falling, to force him upright.

9 But he endured the pains, and despised the cruelty, and persevered through the indignities; 10 and like a noble athlete, the old man, when struck, vanquished his torturers. 11 His countenance sweating, and he panting for breath, he was admired by the very torturers for his courage.

12 Wherefore, partly in pity for his old age, 13 partly from sympathy of acquaintance, and partly in admiration of his endurance, some of the attendants of the king said, 14 Why do you unreasonably destroy yourself, O Eleazar, with these miseries? 15 We will bring you some meat cooked by yourself, and do you save yourself by pretending that you have eaten swine's flesh.

16 And Eleazar, as though the advice more painfully tortured him, cried out, 17 Let not us who are children of Abraham be so evil advised as by giving way to make use of an unbecoming pretence; 18 for it were irrational, if having lived up to old age in all truth, and having scrupulously guarded our character for it, we should now turn back, 19 and ourselves should become a pattern of impiety to the young, as being an example of pollution eating. 20 It would be disgraceful if we should live on some short time, and that scorned by all men for cowardice, 21 and be condemned by the tyrant for unmanliness, by not contending to the death for our divine law. 22 Wherefore do you, O children of Abraham, die nobly for your religion. 23 Ye spearbearers of the tyrant, why do ye linger?

24 Beholding him so high-minded against misery, and not changing at their pity, they led him to the fire: 25 then with their wickedly-contrived instruments they burnt him on the fire, and poured stinking fluids down into his nostrils.

26 And being at length burnt down to the bones, and about to expire, raised his eyes God-ward, and said, 27 Thou knowest, O God, that when I might have been saved, I am slain for the sake of the law by tortures of fire. 28 Be merciful to thy people, and be satisfied with the punishment of me on their account. 29 Let my blood be a purification for them, and take my life in recompense for theirs. 30 Thus speaking, the holy man departed, noble in his torments, and even to the agonies of death resisted in his reasoning for the sake of the law.

31 Confessedly, therefore, religious reasoning is master of the passions. 32 For had the passions been superior to reasoning, I would have given them the witness of this mastery. 33 But now, since reasoning conquered the passions, we befittingly award it the authority of first place.

34 And it is but fair that we should allow, that the power belongs to reasoning, since it masters external miseries. 11 Ridiculous would it be were it not so; and I prove that reasoning has not only mastered pains, but that it is also superior to the pleasures, and withstands them.

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