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Updated Brenton English Septuagint - Maccabees IV

Maccabees IV 1

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1As I am going to demonstrate a most philosophical proposition, namely, that religious reasoning is absolute master of the passions, I would willingly advise you to give the utmost heed to philosophy.
2For reason is necessary to everyone as a step to science: and more especially does it embrace the praise of prudence, the highest virtue.
3If, then, reasoning appears to hold the mastery over the passions which stand in the way of temperance, such as gluttony and lust,
4it surely also and manifestly has the rule over the affections which are contrary to justice, such as malice; and of those which are hindrances to manliness, as wrath, and pain, and fear.
5How, then, is it, perhaps some may say, that reasoning, if it rule the affections, is not also master of forgetfulness and ignorance? They attempt a ridiculous argument.
6For reasoning does not rule over its own affections, but over such as are contrary to justice, and manliness, and temperance, and prudence; and yet over these, so as to withstand, without destroying them.
7I might prove to you, from many other considerations, that religious reasoning is sole master of the passions;
8but I shall prove it with the greatest force from the fortitude of Eleazar, and seven brethren, and their mother, who suffered death in defense of virtue.
9For all these, contemning pains even unto death, by this contempt, demonstrated that reasoning has command over the passions.
10For their virtues, then, it is right that I should commend those men who died with their mother at this time in behalf of rectitude; and for their honors, I may count them happy.
11For they, winning admiration not only from men in general, but even from their persecutors, for their manliness and endurance, became the means of the destruction of the tyranny against their nation, having conquered the tyrant by their endurance, so that by them their country was purified.
12But we may now at once enter upon the question, having commenced, as is our wont, with laying down the doctrine, and so proceed to the account of these persons, giving glory to the all wise God.
13The question, therefore, is, whether reasoning be absolute master of the passions.
14Let us determine, then, What is reasoning? and what passion? and how many forms of the passions? and whether reasoning bears sway over all of these?
15Reasoning is, then, intellect accompanied by a life of rectitude, putting foremost the consideration of wisdom.
16And wisdom is a knowledge of divine and human things, and of their causes.
17And this is contained in the education of the law; by means of which we learn divine things reverently, and human things profitably.
18And the forms of wisdom are prudence, and justice, and manliness, and temperance.

19The leading one of these is prudence; by whose means, indeed, it is that reasoning bears rule over the passions.
20Of the passions, pleasure and pain are the two most comprehensive; and they also by nature refer to the soul.
21And there are many attendant affections surrounding pleasure and pain.
22Before pleasure is lust; and after pleasure, joy.
23And before pain is fear; and after pain, sorrow.
24Wrath is an affection, common to pleasure and to pain, if anyone will pay attention when it comes upon him.
25And there exists in pleasure a malicious disposition, which is the most multiform of all the affections.
26In the soul it is arrogance, and love of money, and vaingloriousness, and contention, and faithlessness, and the evil eye.
27In the body it is greediness and gormandizing, and solitary gluttony.
28As pleasure and pain are, therefore, two growths of the body and the soul, so there are many offshoots of these passions.
29And reasoning, the universal husbandman, purging, and pruning these severally, and binding round, and watering, and transplanting, in every way improves the materials of the morals and affections.
30For reasoning is the leader of the virtues, but it is the sole ruler of the passions. Observe then first, through the very things which stand in the way of temperance, that reasoning is absolute ruler of the passions.
31Now temperance consists of a command over the lusts.
32But of the lusts, some belong to the soul, others to the body: and over each of these classes the reasoning appears to bear sway.
33For whence is it, otherwise, that when urged on to forbidden meats, we reject the gratification which would ensue from them? Is it not because reasoning is able to command the appetites? I believe so.
34Hence it is, then, that when lusting after water animals and birds, and four-footed beasts, and all kinds of food which are forbidden us by the law, we withhold ourselves through the mastery of reasoning.
35For the affections of our appetites are resisted by the temperate understanding, and bent back again, and all the impulses of the body are reined in by reasoning.