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thereof to be found; whereupon arose divers doubts, and many suspicious conceptions; some believing he was not buried, some, that he was buried but risen again, others, that he descended alive into his tomb, and from thence departed after. But all these proceeded upon unveritable grounds, as Baronius hath observed; who allegeth a letter of Celestine, bishop of Rome, unto the council of Ephesus, wherein he declareth the relicks of John were highly honoured by that city; and a passage also of Chrysostom in the homilies of the apostles, “That John being dead, did cures in Ephesus, as though he were still alive.” And so I observe that Estius discussing this point, concludeth hereupon, quòd corpus ejus nunquam reperiatur, hoc non dicerent si veterum scripta diligenter perlustrassent.
Now that the first ages after Christ, those succeeding, or any other, should proceed into opinions so far divided from reason, as to think of immortality after the fall of Adam, or conceit a man in these later times should outlive our fathers in the first,—although it seem very strange, yet is it not incredible. For the credulity of men hath been deluded into the like conceits; and, as Irenæus and Tertullian mention, one Menander, a Samaritan, obtained belief in this very point, whose doctrine it was, that death should have no power on his disciples, and such as received his baptism should receive immortality therewith. 'Twas surely an apprehension very strange; nor usually falling either from the absurdities of melancholy or vanities of ambition. Some indeed have been so affectedly vain as to counterfeit immortality, and have stolen their death, in a hope to be esteemed immortal ; and others have conceived themselves dead: but surely few or none have fallen upon so bold an error, as not to think that they could die at all. The reason of those mighty ones, whose ambition could suffer them to be called gods, would never be flattered into immortality ; but the proudest thereof have by the daily dictates of corruption convinced the impropriety of that appellation. And surely, although delusion may run high, and possible it is that for a while a man may forget his nature, yet cannot this be durable. For the inconcealable imperfections of ourselves, or their daily examples in others, will hourly prompt us our corruption, and loudly tell us we are the sons of earth.
Of some others more briefly. Many others there are which we resign unto divinity, and perhaps deserve not controversy. Whether David were punished only for pride of heart for numbering the people, as most do hold, or whether, as Josephus and many maintain, he suffered also for not performing the commandment of God concerning capitation, that when the people were numbered, for every head they should pay unto God a shekel,*-we shall not here contend. Surely if it were not the occasion of this plague, we must acknowledge the omission thereof was threatened with that punishment, according to the words of the law: “When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, that there be no plague amongst them.” Now how deeply hereby God was defrauded in the time of David, and opulent state of Israel, will easily appear by the sums of former lustrations. For in the first, the silver of them that were numbered was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels; a bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary; for every one from twenty years old and upwards, for six hundred thousand, and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. Answerable whereto we read in Josephus, Vespasian ordered that every man of the Jews should bring into the Capitol two drachms; which amounts unto fifteen pence, or a quarter of an ounce of silver with us; and is equivalent unto a bekah, or half a shekel of the sanctuary. For an Attick drachm is sevenpence halfpenny, or a quarter of a shekel, and a didrachmum, or double drachm, is the word used for tribute money, or half a shekel; and a stater, the money found in the fish's mouth, was two didrachmums, or a whole shekel, and tribute sufficient for our Saviour and for Peter.
We will not question the metamorphosis of Lot's wife, or whether she were transformed into a real statue of salt;
* Exod. xxx.
+ Exod. xxxviii.
though some conceive that expression metaphorical,” and no more thereby than a lasting and durable column, according to the nature of salt, which admitteth no corruption ;3 in which sense the covenant of God is termed a covenant of salt; and it is also said, God gave the kingdom unto David for ever, or by a covenant of salt.
That Absalom was hanged by the hair of the head, and not caught up by the neck, as Josephus conceiveth, and the common argument against long hair affirmeth, we are not ready to deny. Although I confess a great and learned party there are of another opinion; although if he had his morion or helmet on, I could not well conceive it; although the translation of Jerome or Tremellius do not prove it, and our own seems rather to overthrow it.
That Judas hanged himself-much more that he perished thereby - we shall not raise a doubt. Although Jansenius, discoursing the point, produceth the testimony of Theo
2 We will not question, &c.] Dr. Adam Clarke has given a long note on this question, to which the reader is referred. He enumerates in addition to Browne's two hypotheses, a third :-viz. that, by continuing in the plain, she might have been struck dead with lightning, and enveloped and invested in the bituminous and sulphurous matter which descended. But Dr. C. evidently inclines to accept the metaphorical interpretation. A number of absurd and contradictory stories (he remarks) have been told, of the discovery of Lot's wife still remaining unchanged-and indeed unchangeable,-her form having still resident in it a continual miraculous energy, reproductive of any part which is broken off: so that though multitudes of visitors have brought away each a morsel, yet does the next find the figure-complete ! The author of the poem De Sodoma, at the end of Tertullian's works, and with him, Irenæus, asserts the figure to possess certain indications of a remaining portion of animal life, and the latter father in the height of his absurdity, makes her an emblem of the true church, which, though she suffers much, and often loses whole members, yet preserves the pillar of salt, that is, the foundation of the true faith !! Josephus asserts that he himself saw the pillar. S. Clement also says that Lot's wife was remaining, even at that time, as a pillar of salt. Recent and more respectable travellers however have sought for her in vain, and it is now very generally admitted, either that the statue does not exist--or that some of the blocks of rock salt met with in the vicinity of the Dead Sea-are the only remains of it.
3 which, &c.] Itt admitteth noe corruption in other things, but itselfe suffers liquation, and corruption too, that is, looses its savour, as appears by that remarkable speech of our Saviour, Marc. ix. 50.-Wr.
phylact and Euthymius, that he died not by the gallows but under a cart-wheel; and Baronius also delivereth, this was the opinion of the Greeks, and derived as high as Papias, one of the disciples of John. Although, also, how hardly the expression of Matthew is reconcileable unto that of Peterand that he plainly hanged himself, with that, that falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst — with many other the learned Grotius plainly doth acknowledge. And lastly, although, as he also urgeth, the word árnyšaro in Matthew doth not only signify suspension or pendulous illaqueation, as the common picture describeth it, but also suffocation, strangulation or interception of breath, which may arise from grief, despair, and deep dejection of spirit, in which sense it is used in the history of Tobit concerning Sara, ελυπήθη σφόδρα ώστε ånáyžaolat, — Ita tristata est ut strangulatione premeretur, saith Junius; and so might it happen from the horror of mind unto Judas.* So do many of the Hebrews affirm, that Achitophel was also strangled, that is, not from the rope, but passion. For the Hebrew and Arabic word in the text not only signifies suspension, but indignation, as Grotius hath also observed.
Many more there are of indifferent truths, whose dubious expositions worthy divines and preachers do often draw into wholesome and sober uses, whereof we shall not speak. With industry we decline such paradoxes, and peaceably submit unto their received acceptions.
1 CHAPTER XII.
Of the Cessation of Oracles. That oracles ceased or grew mute at the coming of Christ,5 is best understood in a qualified sense, and not without all latitude, as though precisely there were none after, nor any decay before. For (what we must confess
* Strangulat inclusus dolor. * That oracles ceased, &c.] Browne betrays, throughout, his full belief in the supernatural and Satanic character of oracles.
unto relations of antiquity), some pre-decay is observable from that of Cicero, urged by Baronius; Cur isto modo jam oracula Delphis non eduntur, non modo ætate, sed jam diu, ut nihil possit esse contemptius. That during his life they were not altogether dumb, is deducible from Suetonius in the life of Tiberius, who attempting to subvert the oracles adjoining unto Rome, was deterred by the lots or chances which were delivered at Præneste. After his death we meet with many; Suetonius reports, that the oracle of Antium forewarned Caligula to beware of Cassius, who was one that conspired his death. Plutarch enquiring why the oracles of Greece ceased, excepteth that of Lebadia; and in the same place Demetrius affirmeth the oracles of Mopsus and Amphilochus were much frequented in his days. In brief, histories are frequent in examples, and there want not some even to the reign of Julian.
What therefore may consist with history ;-by cessation of oracles, with Montacutius, we may understand their intercision, not abscission or consummate desolation ; their rare delivery, not total dereliction: and yet in regard of divers oracles, we may speak strictly, and say there was a proper cessation. Thus may we reconcile the accounts of times, and allow those few and broken divinations, whereof we read in story and undeniable authors. For that they received this blow from Christ, and no other causes alleged by the heathens, from oraculous confession they cannot deny; whereof upon record there are some very remarkable. The first that oracle of Delphos delivered unto Augustus.
Me puer Hebræus Divos Deus ipse gubernans,
A resolution e'er from hence implore. A second recorded by Plutarch, of a voice that was heard to cry unto mariners at the sea, Great Pan is dead ; which is a relation very remarkable, and may be read in his defect of oracles. A third reported by Eusebius in the life of his magnified Constantine, that about that time Apollo mourned,