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The Egyptian darkness.

[1] For thy judgments, O Lord, are great, and thy words cannot be expressed: therefore undisciplined souls have erred. [2] For while the wicked thought to be able to have dominion over the holy nation, they themselves being fettered with the bonds of darkness, and a long night, shut up in their houses, lay there exiled from the eternal providence. [3] And while they thought to lie hid in their obscure sins, they were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being horribly afraid and troubled with exceeding great astonishment. [4] For neither did the den that held them, keep them from fear: for noises coming down troubled them, and sad visions appearing to them, affrighted them. [5] And no power of fire could give them light, neither could the bright flames of the stars enlighten that horrible night.

[6] But there appeared to them a sudden fire, very dreadful: and being struck with the fear of that face, which was not seen, they thought the things which they saw to be worse: [7] And the delusions of their magic art were put down, and their boasting of wisdom was reproachfully rebuked. [8] For they who promised to drive away fears and troubles from a sick soul, were sick themselves of a fear worthy to be laughed at. [9] For though no terrible thing disturbed them: yet being scared with the passing by of beasts, and hissing of serpents, they died for fear: and denying that they saw the air, which could by no means be avoided. [10] For whereas wickedness is fearful, it beareth witness of its condemnation: for a troubled conscience always forecasteth grievous things.

[11] For fear is nothing else but a yielding up of the succours from thought. [12] And while there is less expectation from within, the greater doth it count the ignorance of that cause which bringeth the torment. [13] But they that during that night, in which nothing could be done, and which came upon them from the lowest and deepest hell, slept the same sleep. [14] Were sometimes molested with the fear of monsters, sometimes fainted away, their soul failing them: for a sudden and unlooked for fear was come upon them. [15] Moreover if any of them had fallen down, he was kept shut up in prison without irons.

[16] For if any one were a husbandman, or a shepherd, or a labourer in the field, and was suddenly overtaken, he endured a necessity from which he could not fly. [17] For they were all bound together with one chain of darkness. Whether it were a whistling wind, or the melodious voice of birds, among the spreading branches of trees, or a fall of water running down with violence, [18] Or the mighty noise of stones tumbling down, or the running that could not be seen of beasts playing together, or the roaring voice of wild beasts, or a rebounding echo from the highest mountains: these things made them to swoon for fear. [19] For the whole world was enlightened with a clear light, and none were hindered in their labours. [20] But over them only was spread a heavy night, an image of that darkness which was to come upon them. But they were to themselves more grievous than the darkness.

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