And when all the saints were exulting, lo, Satan, the prince and leader of death, said to Hades: Make thyself ready to receive Jesus, who boasts himself to be the Son of God, and is a man fearing death, and saying, My soul is sorrowful, even unto death. And he has withstood me much, doing me evil; and many whom I made blind, lame, deaf, leprous, and demoniac, he has healed with a word; and those whom I have brought to thee dead, he has dragged away from thee.
Hades, answering, said to Prince Satan: Who is he that is so powerful, when he is a man in fear of death? For all the powerful of the earth are kept in subjection by my power, whom thou hast brought into subjection by thy power. If then, thou art powerful, what is that man Jesus like, who, though fearing death, withstands thy power? If he is so powerful in humanity, verily I say unto thee, he is all-powerful in divinity, and his power can no one resist. And when he says that he fears death, he wishes to lay hold on thee, and woe will be to thee to the ages of eternity. And Satan, prince of Tartarus, answered and said: Why hast thou doubted, and feared to receive this Jesus, thy adversary and mine? For I have tempted him, and I have roused up my ancient people the Jews with hatred and anger against him; I have sharpened a lance to strike him; I have mixed gall and vinegar to give him to drink; and I have prepared wood to crucify him, and nails to pierce him, and his death is near at hand, that I may bring him to thee, subject to thee and me.
Tartarus answered and said: Thou hast told me that it is he himself who has dragged away the dead from me. Now there are many who are here kept by me, who, while they lived on earth, took the dead from me, not by their own powers, but by godly prayers, and their almighty God dragged them away from me. Who is that Jesus, who by his word has withdrawn the dead from me without prayers? Perhaps he is the same who, by, the word of his command, brought alive Lazarus, after he had been four days in stench and corruption, whom I kept dead. Satan prince of death answered and said: That Jesus is the same. And when Hades heard this he said to him: I adjure thee by thy powers and mine, do not bring him to me. For I at that time, when I heard the command of his word, trembled with terror and dismay, and all my officers at the same time were confounded along with me. Nor could we keep that Lazarus; but, shaking himself like an eagle, he sprang out, and went forth from us with all activity and speed, and the same ground which held the dead body of Lazarus immediately gave him forth alive. So now, I know that that man who could do these things is God, strong in authority, powerful in humanity, and He is the Saviour of the human race. But if thou bring Him to me, all who are here shut up in the cruelty of the prison, and bound by their sins in chains that cannot be loosened, He will let loose, and will bring to the life of His divinity for ever.
And as Prince Satan and Hades were thus speaking to each other in turn, suddenly there was a voice as of thunders, and a shouting of spirits: Lift up your gates, ye princes; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting gates; and the King of glory shall come in. Hades hearing this, said to Prince Satan: Retire from me, and go outside of my realms: if thou art a powerful warrior, fight against the King of glory. But what hast thou to do with Him? And Hades thrust Satan outside of his realms. And Hades said to his impious officers: Shut the cruel gates of brass, and put up the bars of iron, and resist bravely, that we, holding captivity, may not take Him captive.
And all the multitude of the saints, hearing this, said to Hades, with the voice of reproach: Open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in. And David cried out, saying: Did I not, when I was alive upon earth, prophesy to you: Let them confess to the Lord His tender mercies and His wonderful works to the children of men: for He has shattered the brazen gates, and burst the iron bars; He has taken them up out of the way of their iniquity? And after this, in like manner, Esaias said: Did not I, when I was alive upon earth, prophesy to you: The dead shall rise up, and those who are in their tombs shall rise again, and those who are upon earth shall exult; because the dew, which is from the Lord, is their health? And again I said, Where, O Death, is thy sting? where, O Hades, is thy victory?
And when all the saints heard this from Esaias, they said to Hades: Open thy gates. Since thou art now conquered, thou wilt be weak and powerless. And there was a great voice, as of thunders, saying: Lift up your gates, ye princes; and be ye lifted up, ye infernal gates; and the King of glory shall come in. Hades, seeing that they had twice shouted out this, says, as if not knowing: Who is the king of glory? David says, in answer to Hades: I recognise those words of the shout, since I prophesied the same by His Spirit. And now, what I have said above I say to thee, The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle; He is the King of glory. And the Lord Himself hath looked down from heaven upon earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, and to release the sons of the slain. And now, most filthy and most foul Hades, open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in. While David was thus speaking, there came to Hades, in the form of a man, the Lord of majesty, and lighted up the eternal darkness, and burst asunder the indissoluble chains; and the aid of unconquered power visited us, sitting in the profound darkness of transgressions, and in the shadow of death of sins.
When this was seen by Hades and Death, and their impious officers, along with their cruel servants, they trembled at perceiving in their own dominions the clearness of so great a light, when they saw Christ suddenly in their abodes; and they cried out, saying: We have been overcome by thee. Who art thou, that to the Lord directest our confusion? Who art thou, that, undestroyed by corruption, the uncorrupted proof of thy majesty, with fury condemnest our power? Who art thou, so great and little, lowly and exalted, soldier and commander, wonderful warrior in the form of a slave, and the king of glory dead and alive, whom slain the cross has carried? Thou, who didst lie dead in the sepulchre, hast come down to us alive; and in thy death every creature trembled, and the stars in a body were moved; and now thou hast been made free among the dead, and disturbest our legions. Who art thou, that settest free those who art held captive, bound by original sin, and recallest them to their former liberty? Who art thou, who sheddest a divine, and splendid, and illuminating light upon those who have been blinded by the darkness of their sins?
In like manner, also, all the legions of the demons, terror-stricken with like fear from their fearful overthrow, cried out, saying: Whence art thou, O Jesus, a man so powerful and splendid in majesty, so excellent, without spot, and free from guilt? For that world of earth which has been subject to us always until now, which used to pay tribute for our uses, has never sent us such a dead man, has never destined such gifts for the powers below. Who therefore art thou, that hast so intrepidly entered our bounds, and who hast not only no fear of our punishments, but, moreover, attemptest to take all away from our chains? Perhaps thou art that Jesus of whom our prince Satan said, that by thy death of the cross thou wast destined to receive the dominion of the whole world.
Then the King of glory, trampling on death by His majesty, and seizing Prince Satan, delivered him to the power of Hades, and drew Adam to His brightness.
Then Hades, receiving Prince Satan, said to him, with vehement revilings: O prince of perdition, and leader of extermination, Beelzebub, derision of angels, to be spit upon by the just, why didst thou wish to do this? Didst thou wish to crucify the King of glory, in whose death thou didst promise us so great spoils? Like a fool, thou didst not know what thou wast doing. For, behold, that Jesus by the splendour of His divinity is putting to flight all the darkness of death, and He has broken into the strong lowest depths of our dungeons, and has brought out the captives, and released those who were bound. And all who used to groan under our torments insult us, and by their prayers our dominions are taken by stem, and our realms conquered, and no race of men has now any respect for us. Moreover, also, we are grievously threatened by the dead, who have never been haughty to us, and who have not at any time been joyful as captives. O Prince Satan, father of all impious wretches and renegades, why didst thou wish to do this? Of those who from the beginning, even until now, have despaired of salvation and life, no bellowing after the usual fashion is now heard here; and no groaning of theirs resounds, nor in any of their faces is a trace of tears found. O Prince Satan, possessor of the keys of the lower regions, all thy riches which thou hadst acquired by the tree of transgression and the loss of paradise, thou hast now lost by the tree of the cross, and all thy joy has perished. When thou didst hang up that Christ Jesus the King of glory, thou wast acting against thyself and against me. Henceforth thou shall know what eternal torments and infinite punishments thou art to endure in my everlasting keeping. O Prince Satan, author of death, and source of all pride, thou oughtest first to have inquired into the bad cause of that Jesus. Him in whom thou perceivedst no fault, why, without reason, didst thou dare unjustly to crucify? and why hast thou brought to our regions one innocent and just, and lost the guilty, the impious, and the unjust of the whole world?
And when Hades had thus spoken to Prince Satan, then the King of glory said to Hades: Satan the prince will be in thy power forever, in place of Adam and his sons, my just ones.
[Next week: Part 3]
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