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they need assistance, and to supply food for the necessitous. But they are not allowed to benefit their own relations, without the consent of their directors. They dispense their anger with justice; they restrain their passion; they are models of fidelity and ministers of peace. Their word on every occasion is as firm as an oath: they avoid the administration of oaths, as thinking the practice of swearing worse than perjury. For in their opinion, he who cannot be believed without an appeal to God, acknowledges his own guilt. They study, with extraordinary diligence, the works of the ancients, selecting such parts of them as are useful to the mind or to the body. Hence medicinal plants, and the properties of stones, are investigated by them to heal diseases."
"A man desiring to join this sect, is not immediately admitted as a member, but is kept out a year as a probationer, leading the same course of life, and wearing the girdle and white robe. Having given, during this interval, a proof of selfgovernment, he approaches nearer to a communion, and to participate in the more holy waters of baptism: but he is not as yet permitted to live with them. For, notwithstanding the demonstration of temperance already given by him, his character is farther tried two years more: if he appears worthy after this trial, he becomes a
lawful member of the society.
But before he
touches bread in common with them, he pledges himself by a most awful oath to cultivate piety towards God, to maintain justice towards men, always to shun the wicked, and to co-operate with the virtuous; to be faithful to all men, and especially to men in power, for such they think receive their authority by the appointment of God. He farther binds himself that, if power be placed in his hands, he will not abuse it; that he will not endeavour to outshine his subjects by splendour of dress, or any superfluous ornaments; that he will stedfastly adhere to the truth, and reprove those who are guilty of falsehood; that he will keep his hands clear from theft, and his soul from unlawful gains; that he will conceal nothing forbidden from the society, nor reveal nothing forbidden to others, though urged to do it by tortures unto death. Besides these things, they bind him by an oath not to teach any man the doctrines of the sect otherwise than he has himself received them; to abstain from robbery, and to preserve their sacred books with the names of their ministers unadulterated. Such are the oaths by which they oblige the converts to preserve their institutions."
"Those who are detected of heinous crimes are expelled the society; and a person, who is thus separated, often perishes in a miserable man
ner; being prevented, by the most solemn engagements, from partaking of the food used by others. He therefore feeds on herbs, or wastes to death by famine. For this reason they have compassion on many, and receive them again in their last extremities; thinking sufferings so nearly fatal a sufficient punishment for their guilt."
During the hours of religious exercise, the members are divided into three classes: and so far are the juniors deemed inferior to their seniors, that one of the latter, if he should touch any of the former, washes himself, as is usually done after mixing with strangers. From the simplicity of their diet, and the regularity of their conduct, they live so long, that some of them exceed a hundred years. They despise terrors, and triumph over sufferings by the greatness of their minds, deeming death itself, if encountered with glory, to be preferable to immortality."
"The loftiness of soul, which they all possess, was evinced in the late war with the Romans, in which they were wrung, and dismembered, and burnt, and maimed, in order to blaspheme their legislator, and to eat those things which are contrary to their customs. But they did neither of these things; they rather smiled under their tortures, and submitted to every species of torment without a tear. So far were they from depre
cating their tormentors, that they defied and derided them; being ready to deliver up their lives with chearfulness, as convinced that they are again to resume them."
"For the opinion is confirmed among them, that the body decays, as consisting of perishing materials, while the soul, composed of subtle ether, and confined within it, as within a prison, by some physical affinities, continues immortal. When it is disengaged from the bonds of flesh, it springs aloft, rejoicing in its deliverance, as from a long continued bondage. They think, and in this agree with them the sons of Greece, that for virtuous souls are reserved a constitution, and a country never harassed by storms, nor hail, nor inclement heats, but which is cooled by eternal zephyrs flowing from the ocean: while the bad are separated into a pit, dark, tempestuous, and full of endless torments. From this notion the Greeks appear to have adopted their Island of the Blessed, consecrated to those brave men, whom they call heroes or demi-gods; and the region of the impious in Hades, appropriated to the souls of the wicked, where fable represents Tantalus and Sisyphus, and Ixion and Tityus, in torments. By this they inculcate the immortality of the soul, restrain vice, and enforce virtue. For good men are made better in this life by the hope of future reward, and
the wicked restrained by the fear of endless punishment after death. Such are the sentiments of the Esseans respecting the soul, and they thus attach, by an irresistible allurement, those who have once tasted their religion."
Josephus, having given this account of the Esseans, in his book concerning the Jewish war, has repeated the following shorter narrative in his Antiquities. Lib. i. 5.
"The Esseans refer all things to God: they teach the immortality of the soul, and hold forth the reward of virtue to be most glorious. They send gifts to the temple, but they differ from the other Jews in their ideas of purification. For this reason they are excluded from the holy place, and do not offer sacrifice, themselves being the only acceptable sacrifice which they offer to God. Their principles and conduct in other respects, too, are far better than those of other men; nor do they pursue any employment but the cultivation of the ground. They deserve to be admired beyond all other men who profess virtue, for their justice and equality. For in opposition to every selfish consideration, they make their goods common property, whence the rich has not greater command or enjoyment of his own than those who have no legal claim to them. This practice has not obtained among the Greeks or barbarians for any length of time, nor in any individual in