Wis 171 For your judgments, O Lord, are great, and your words are indescribable. Therefore, undisciplined souls have wandered astray. 2 For, while they managed to convince the unjust, so as to obtain dominion over the holy nation, they themselves were fettered with chains of darkness and of endless night, enclosed in their houses, fugitives of everlasting providence, lying in ruins. 3 And, while they thought to escape notice in their secret sins, they were scattered under a dark veil of oblivion, being horribly afraid, and having been disturbed with great astonishment. 4 For neither did the cave which enclosed them preserve them from fear, because descending noises disturbed them, and the sorrowful persons appearing to them intensified their fear. 5 And, indeed, even fire had no strength to provide them light, nor could the clear flames of the stars illuminate that horrible night. 6 Yet there appeared to them a sudden fire, filled with fear; and, having been struck with the fear of that face which is unseen, they considered those things which they did see to be worse, 7 and, having been ridiculed, the illusions were removed from their arts along with their contemptuous rebuke of glorious wisdom. 8 Indeed, those who promised to drive away fears and disturbances from a languishing soul, though they were filled with derision, were themselves languishing in fear. 9 And, even if nothing unnatural disturbed them, yet being agitated by the passing of animals and the hissing of snakes, they died of fear, denying what they themselves saw even in the air, which no one thinks to be able to escape. 10 For, while there may be apprehension with wickedness, it gives testimony to condemnation, for a troubled conscience always forecasts harshness. 11 For fear is nothing else but unfaithfulness to thinking helpful things. 12 And, while expectation is driven from within, the cause of this is supposing that one is great in knowledge, and as a result, conflict excels. 13 Yet those who were truly powerless that night, being overcome by both the vilest and the deepest hell, were sleeping the same sleep, 14 sometimes stirred up by the fear of unnatural things, other times sinking down in disgrace of soul, for a sudden and unexpected fear overcame them. 15 Then, if any among them had fallen away, he was kept in a prison without bars which had been left open. 16 For if a farmer, or a shepherd, or a worker in a field of labor were suddenly overcome, he endured an inescapable necessity. 17 For they were all bound together with one chain of darkness. Or if there were a whistling wind, or the sweet sound of birds among the thick tree branches, or the force of water rushing excessively, 18 or the strong noise of rocks crashing down, or the scattering of playful animals having been seen, or the strong voice of bellowing beasts, or the resounding of the highest mountain echo, these things made them sink down because of fear. 19 For the whole world was enlightened with a clear light, and none were being hindered in their labors. 20 But then, the heavy night was placed over the sun for them, an image of that darkness which was about to overcome them. Yet they were more grievous to themselves than was the darkness.
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