Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

concludeth in neutrality; Hæc cum scribat Isidorus, definiendum nobis non est, et totum relinquimus lectoris arbitrio; nam constat Græcam dictionem azpios, et Locustam, insecti genus, et arborum summitates significare. Sed faliitur, saith Montacutius, nam constat contrarium, 'Axpioa apud nullum authorem classicum Axgóðgua significare. But above all Paracelsus with most animosity promoteth this opinion, and in his book De Melle spareth not his friend Erasmus. Hoc à nonnullis ita explicatur ut dicant Locustas aut cicadas Johanni pro cibo fuisse ; sed hi stultitiam dissimulare non possunt, veluti Jeronymus, Erasmus, et alii propheta neoterici in Latinitate immortui.

A third affirmeth that they were properly locusts, that is, a sheath-winged and six-footed insect, such as is our grasshopper. And this opinion seems more probable than the other. For beside the authority of Origen, Jerome, Chrysostom, Hilary, and Ambrose to confirm it, this is the proper signification of the word, thus used in Scripture by the Septuagint; Greek vocabularies thus expound it; Suidas on the word 'Axgis observes it to be that animal whereupon the Baptist fed in the desert; in this sense the word is used by Aristotle, Dioscorides, Galen, and several human authors. And lastly, there is no absurdity in this interpretation, nor any solid reason why we should decline it, it being a food permitted unto the Jews, whereof four kinds are reckoned up among clean meats. Besides, not only the Jews, but many other nations, long before and since, have made an usual food thereof. That the Ethiopians, Mauritanians, and Arabians did commonly eat them, is testified by Diodorus, Strabo, Solinus, Ælian, and Pliny; that they still feed on them is confirmed by Leo, Cadamustus, and others. John therefore, as our Saviour saith, “came neither eating nor drinking,” that is, far from the diet of Jerusalem and other

9 and this opinion, fc.] Ross contends loathsome a disease.— Arcana, p. 95. against the Dr. for the greater probability There is one species of the acacia that John's diet was vegetable-on the tribe called the honey locust, bearing a ground that, as the Ethiopians, who large and very sweet pod, which is very were accustomed to use locusts for food, commonly boiled and eaten in America; almost all fell a prey to phthiriasis, it is and this is supposed to have been the searcely to be believed that John would food of the Baptist. bave adopted a diet likely to entail so

riotous places, but fared coarsely and poorly, according unto the apparel he wore, that is, of camel's hair; the place of his abode-the wilderness, and the doctrine he preached— humiliation and repentance.

CHAPTER X.

That John the Evangelist should not die.

The conceit of the long living, or rather not dying, of John the Evangelist, although it seem inconsiderable, and not much weightier than that of Joseph, the wandering Jew, yet being deduced from Scripture, and abetted by authors of all times, it shall not escape our enquiry. It is drawn from the speech of our Saviour unto Peter after the prediction of his martyrdom: “Peter saith unto Jesus, Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry until I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that this disciple should not die.” *

Now the belief hereof hath been received either grossly and in the general, that is, not distinguishing the manner or particular way of this continuation, in which sense probably the grosser and undiscerning party received it; or more distinctly, apprehending the manner of his immortality, that is, that John should never properly die, but be translated into Paradise, there to remain with Enoch and Elias until about the coming of Christ, and should be slain with them under Antichrist, according to that of the Apocalypse ; “I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth ; and when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and overcome them and kill them.” Hereof, as Baronius observeth, within three hundred years after

* John xxi.

VOL. III.

Y

Christ, Hippolytus the martyr was the first assertor, but hath been maintained by Metaphrastes, by Freculphus, but especially by Georgius Trapezuntius, who hath expressly treated upon this text, and although he lived but in the last century, did still affirm that John was not yet dead.

The same is also hinted by the learned Italian Poet Dante, who in his poetical survey of Paradise, meeting with the soul of St. John, and desiring to see his body, received answer from him, that his body was in earth, and there should remain with other bodies until the number of the blessed were accomplished.

In terra è terra il mio corpo, et saragli
Tanto con gli altri, che l' numero nostro
Con l'eterno proposito s' agguagli.

As for the gross opinion that he should not die, it is sufficiently refuted by that which first occasioned it, that is, the Scripture itself, and no further off than the very subsequent verse; “Yet Jesus said not unto him, he should not die, but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" And this was written by John himself, whom the opinion concerned, and (as is conceived) many years after, when Peter had suffered and fulfilled the prophecy of Christ.

For the particular conceit, the foundation is weak, nor can it be made out from the text alleged in the Apocalypse; for, beside that therein two persons only are named, no mention is made of John, a third actor in this tragedy. The same is also overthrown by history, which recordeth not only the death of John, but assigneth the place of his burial, that is, Ephesus, a city in Asia Minor ; whither, after he had been banished into Patmos by Domitian, he returned in the reign of Nerva, there deceased, and was buried in the days of Trajan, And this is testified by Jerome, by Tertullian, by Chrysostom, and Eusebius,* (in whose days his sepulchre was to be seen,) and by a more ancient testimony alleged also by him, that is, of Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, not many suc

* De Scriptor. Ecclesiast. De anima.

i The same is also hinted, fc.] This tation which follows it, was first added paragraph, together with the Italian quo- in the 6th edition.

cessions after John; whose words are these, in an epistle unto Victor, Bishop of Rome : Johannes ille qui supra pectus domini recumbebat, doctor optimus, apud Ephesum dormivit. Many of the like nature are noted by Baronius, Jansenius, Estius, Lipellous, and others.

Now the main and primitive ground of this error was a gross mistake in the words of Christ, and a false apprehension of his meaning ; understanding that positively which was but conditionally expressed, or receiving that affirmatively which was but concessively delivered. For the words of our Saviour run in a doubtful strain, rather reprehending than satisfying the curiosity of Peter: as though he should have said, “thou hast thy own doom, why enquirest thou after thy brother's?—what relief unto thy affliction will be the society of another's ?—why pryest thou into the secrets of God's will ?-if he stay until I come, what concerneth it thee, who shalt be sure to suffer before that time?" And such an answer probably he returned, because he foreknew John should not suffer a violent death, but go unto his grave in peace. Which had Peter assuredly known, it might have cast some water on his flames, and smothered those fires which kindled after unto the honour of his Master.

Now why among all the rest John only escaped the death of a martyr, the reason is given; because all others fled away or withdrew themselves at his death, and he alone of the twelve beheld his passion on the cross. Wherein notwithstanding, the affliction that he suffered could not amount unto less than martyrdom: for if the naked relation, at least the intentive consideration of that passion, be able still, and at this disadvantage of time, to rend the hearts of pious contemplators, surely the near and sensible vision thereof must needs occasion agonies beyond the comprehension of flesh; and the trajections of such an object more sharply pierce the martyred soul of John, than afterwards did the nails the crucified body of Peter.

Again, they were mistaken in the emphatical apprehension, placing the consideration upon the words, “ If I will," whereas it properly lay in these, “ until I come.” Which had they apprehended, as some have since, that is, not for his ultimate

and last return, but his coming in judgment and destruction upon the Jews; or such a coming, as it might be said, that generation should not pass before it was fulfilled; they needed not, much less need we, suppose such diuturnity. For after the death of Peter, John lived to behold the same fulfilled by Vespasian: nor had he then his nunc dimittis, or went out like unto Simeon; but old in accomplished obscurities, and having seen the expire of Daniel's prediction, as some conceive, he accomplished his revelation.

But besides this original and primary foundation, divers others have made impressions according unto different ages and persons by whom they were received. For some established the conceit in the disciples and brethren which were contemporary unto him, or lived about the same time with him. And this was, first, the extraordinary affection our Saviour bare unto this disciple, who hath the honour to be called the disciple whom Jesus loved: now from hence they might be apt to believe their Master would dispense with his death, or suffer him to live to see him return in glory, who was the only apostle that beheld him to die in dishonour. Another was the belief and opinion of those times, that Christ would suddenly come; for they held not generally the same opinion with their successors, or as descending ages after so many centuries, but conceived his coming would not be long after his passion, according unto several expressions of our Saviour grossly understood, and as we find the same opinion not long after reprehended by St. Paul:* and thus, conceiving his coming would not be long, they might be induced to believe his favourite should live unto it. Lastly, the long life of John might much advantage this opinion; for he survived the other

twelve—he was aged twenty-two years when he was called · by Christ, and twenty-five (that is the age of priesthood) at

his death, and lived ninety-three years, that is sixty-eight after his Saviour, and died not before the second year of Trajan: now, having out-lived all his fellows, the world was confirmed he might still live, and even unto the coming of his Master. The grounds which promoted it in succeeding ages, were

2 Thess. ii.

« НазадПродовжити »