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23. Origin of circumcision, and covenant of God with Abraham, and damnation of the uncircumcised.

And having said this, Jesus sat nigh unto the mountain which they looked upon. And his disciples came to his side to listen to his words. Then said Jesus: 'Adam the first man having eaten, by fraud of Satan, the food forbidden of God in paradise, his flesh rebelled against the spirit; whereupon he swore, saying: "By God, I will cut thee!" And having broken a piece of rock, he seized his flesh to cut it with the sharp edge of the stone: whereupon he was rebuked by the angel Gabriel. And he answered: "I have sworn by God to cut it; I will never be a liar!"

'Then the angel showed him the superfluity of his flesh, and that he cut off. And hence, just as every man taketh flesh for the flesh of Adam, so is he bound to observe in his sons, and from generation to generation came down the obligation of circumcision. But in the time of Abraham there were but few circumcised upon the earth, because that idolatry was multiplied upon the earth. Whereupon God told to Abraham the fact concerning circumcision, and made this covenant, saying: "The soul that shall not have his flesh circumcised, I will scatter him from among my people for ever."'

The disciples trembled with fear at these words of Jesus, for with vehemence of spirit he spake. Then said Jesus: 'Leave fear to him that hath not circumcised his foreskin, for he is deprived of paradise.' And having said this, Jesus spake again, saying: 'The spirit in many is ready in the service of God, but the flesh is weak. The man therefore that feareth God ought to consider what the flesh is, and where it had its origin, and whereto it shall be reduced. Of the clay of the earth created God flesh, and into it he breathed the breath of life, with an inbreathing therein. And therefore when the flesh shall hinder the service of God it ought to be spurned like clay and trampled on, forasmuch as he that hateth his soul in this world shall keep it in life eternal.

'What the flesh is at this present its desires make manifest— that it is a harsh enemy of all good: for it alone desireth sin.

'Ought then man for the sake of satisfying one of his enemies to leave off pleasing God, his creator? Consider ye this: All the saints and prophets have been enemies of their flesh for service of God: wherefore readily and with gladness they went to their death, so as not to offend against the law of God given by Moses his servant, and I go and serve the false and lying gods.

'Remember Elijah, who fled through desert places of the mountains, eating only grass, clad in goats' skin. Ah, how many days he supped not! Ah, how much cold he endured! Ah, how many showers drenched him and [that] for the space of seven years, wherein endured that fierce persecution of the unclean Jezebel!

'Remember Elisha, who ate barley-bread, and wore the coarsest raiment. Verily I say unto you that they, not fearing to spurn the flesh, were feared with great terror by the king and princes. This should suffice for the spurning of the flesh, O men. But if ye will gaze at the sepulchres, ye shall know what flesh is.'