« PoprzedniaDalej »
ciples of Jesus did not fast?” Jesus told them, it was because these were the days in which the Bridegroom was come in person to espouse the church unto himself; and, therefore, for “ the children of the bride-chamber to fast” then, was like the bringing of a dead corpse to the joys of a bride, or the pomps of coronation ; “ the days should come, that the bridegroom should retire” into his chamber, and draw the curtains, w and then they should fast in those days."
20. While Jesus was discoursing with the Pharisees, Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came to him,” desiring he would help his daughter, who lay in the confines of death, ready to depart. Whither as he was going,
a woman met him, who had been diseased with an issue of blood twelve years," without hope of remedy from art or nature; and therefore she runs to Jesus, thinking, without precedent, upon the confident persuasions of a holy faith, “ that if she did but touch the hem of his garment, she should be whole.” She came trembling, and full of hope and reverence, and “touched his garment, and immediately the fountain of her unnatural emanation was stopped," and reverted to its natural course and offices. St. Ambnese says, that this woman was Martha. But it is not likely that she was a Jewess, but a Gentile ; because of that return which she made, in memory of her cure and honour of Jesus, according to the Gentile rites. For Eusebius reports', that himself saw, at Cæsarea Philippi, a statue of brass, representing a woman kneeling at the feet of a goodly personage, who held his hand out to her in a posture of granting her request, and doing favour to her ; and the inhabitants said, it was erected by the care and cost of this woman; adding, (whether out of truth or easiness is not certain,) that at the pedestal of this statue an usual plant did grow, which, when it was come up to that maturity and height as to arrive at the fringes of the brass monument, it was medicinal in many dangerous diseases : so far Eusebius. Concerning which story I shall make no censure but this, that since St. Mark and St. Luke affirm, that this woman, before her cure, “ had spent all her substance upon physiciansm,” it is not easily imaginable how she should become able to dispend so great a sum of money, as would purchase two so great statues of brass : and if she could, yet it is still more unlikely that the Gentile princes and proconsuls, who searched all places, public and private, and were curiously diligent to destroy all honorary monuments of Christianity, should let this alone; and that this should escape, not only the diligence of the persecutors, but the fury of such wars and changes as happened in Palestine, and that for three hundred years together it should stand up in defiance of all violences and changeable fate of all things. However it be, it is certain, that the book against images, published by the command of Charles the Great, eight hundred and fifty years ago, gave no credit to the story; and if it had been true, it is more than probable, that Justin Martyr”, who was born and bred in Palestine, and Origen, who lived many years in Tyre, in the neighbourhood of the place where the statue is said to stand, and were highly diligent to heap together all hings of advantage and reputation to the Christian cause, would not have omitted so notable an instance. It is therefore likely that the statues which Eusebius saw,
I Lib. vii. Hist. c. 14.
'Επίσημον Χριστού άγαλμα, et του Χριστού ανδριάντα. - Apud Sozomen. lib. ν. c. 20.
Johan. Damas. de Imagin. Orat. iii. ex Chronico Joban. Melalæ Antioch. Episc. ait, supplicem libellum oblatum Philippo Tetrarchæ Trachonitidis regionis, ut liceret statuas erigere in memoriam accepti beneficij.
and concerning which he heard such stories, were first placed there upon the stock of a heathen story or ceremony; and in process of time, for the likeness of the figures, and its capacity to be translated to the Christian story, was, by the Christians in after ages, attributed, by a fiction of fancy, and afterwards by credulity, confidently applied to the present narrative.
21. “ When Jesus was come to the ruler's house,” he found the minstrels making their funeral noises for the death of Jairus's daughter, and his servants had met him, and acquainted him of“ the death of the child;" yet Jesus turned out the minstrels, and “ entered with the parents of the child into her chamber, and taking her by the hand, called her," and awakened her from her sleep of death, and “commanded them to give her to eat,” and enjoined them not to publish the miracle. But as flames, suppressed by violent detentions, break out and rage with a more impetuous and rapid motion;
m Mark, v. 26. Luke, viii. 43.
· Lib. iv. de Imagin. cap. 15.
so it happened to Jesus; who, endeavouring to make the noises and reports of him less popular, made them to be æcumenical ; for not only we do that most greedily from which we are most restrained, but a great merit, enamelled with humility, and restrained with modesty, grows more beauteous and florid, up to the heights of wonder and glories.
22. As he came from Jairus’s house, he cured two blind men upon their petition, and confession that they did believe in him; and cast out a dumb devil, so much to the wonder and amazement of the people, that the Pharisees could hold no longer, being ready to burst with envy, but said, cast out d'ęvils by help of the devils :" their malice being, as usually it is, contradictory to its own design, by its being unreasonable; nothing being more sottish than for the devil to divide his kingdom upon a plot; to ruin his certainties upon hopes future and contingent. But this was but the first eruption of their malice; all the year last past, which was the first year of Jesus's preaching, all was quiet; neither the Jews, nor the Samaritans, nor the Galileans, did malign his doctrine or person, but he preached with much peace on all handso; for this was the year which the prophet Isaiah called in his prediction “ the acceptable year of the Lord,”
Ad SECTION XII,
Considerations upon the Intercourse happening between the
Holy Jesus and the Woman of Samaria,
1. When the holy Jesus, perceiving it unsafe to be at Jerusalem, returned to Galilee, where the largest scene of his prophetical office was to be represented, he journeyed on foot through Samaria ; and being weary and faint, hungry and thirsty, he sat down by a well, and begged water of a Samaritan woman that was a sinner; who at first refused him, with some incivility of language. But he, instead of returning anger and passion to her rudeness, which was com.
Epiphan. in Panar. lib. ii. tom. 1. hæres. 51,
upon the interest of a mistaken religion", preached the coming of the Messias to her, unlocked the secrets of her heart, and let in his grace, and made “ a fountain of living water to spring up” in her soul, to extinguish the impure flames of lust which had set her on fire, burning like hell ever since the death of her fifth husband, she then becoming a concubine to the sixth. Thus Jesus transplanted nature into grace, his hunger and thirst into religious appetites, the darkness of the Samaritan into a clear revelation, her sin into repentance and charity, and so quenched his own thirst by relieving her needs : and as “it was meat to him to do his Father's will,” so it was drink to him to bring us to drink of “ the fountain of living water.” For thus God declared it to be a delight to him to see us live, as if he were refreshed by those felicities which he gives to us as communications of his grace, and instances of mercy, and consignations to heaven. Upon which we can look with no eye but such as sees and admires the excellency of the Divine charity, which, being an emanation from the mercies and essential compassion of eternity, God cannot choose but rejoice in it, and love the works of his mercy, who was so well pleased in the works of his power. He that was delighted in the creation, was highly pleased in the nearer conveyances of himself, when he sent the holy. Jesus to bear his image, and his mercies, and his glories, and offer them to the use and benefit of man. For this was the chief of the works of God, and therefore the blessed Master could not but be highliest pleased with it, in imitation of his heavenly Father.
2. The woman, observing our Saviour to have come with his face from Jerusalem, was angry at him upon the quarrel of the old schism. The Jews and the Samaritans had differing rites, and the zealous persons upon each side did commonly dispute themselves into uncharitableness : and so have Christians upon the same confidence, and zeal, and mistake. For although “righteousness hath no fellowship with unrighteousness, nor Christ with Belial ;" yet the consideration of the crime of heresy, which is a spiritual wickedness, is to be
a Apnd ipsos fides obstinata, misericordia in promptu, adversus omnes alios hostile odium. Tacit.
b Quæ nubit toties non nubit, adultera lege est. Offendor mechà sim, pliciore minùs. - Martial. Ep.
separate from the person, who is material. That is, no spiritual communion is to be endured with heretical persons, when it is certain they are such, when they are convinced by competent authority and sufficient argument. But the persons of the men are to be pitied, to be reproved, to be redargued and convinced, to be wrought upon by fair compliances and the offices of civility, and invited to the family of faith by the best arguments of charity, and the instances of a holy life ; “ having your conversation honest among them, that they may, beholding your good works, glorify God in the day when he shall visit them.” Indeed, if there be danger, that is, a weak understanding may not safely converse in civil society with a subtle heretic; in such cases they are to be avoided', not saluted: but as this is only when the danger is by reason of the unequal capacities and strengths of the person; so it must be only when the article is certainly heresy, and the person criminal, and interest is the ingredient in the persuasion, and a certain and a necessary truth destroyed by the opinion. We read that St. John, spying Cerinthus in a bath, refused to wash there where the enemy of God and his holy Son had been. This is a good precedent for us when the case is equal. St. John could discern the spirit of Cerinthus; and his heresy was notorious, fundamental, and highly criminal, and the apostle a person assisted up to infallibility. And possibly it was done by the whisper of a prophetic spirit, and upon a miraculous design; for, immediately upon his retreat, the bath fell down, and crushed Cerinthus in the ruins. But such acts of aversation as these, are not easily, by us, to be drawn into example, unless in the same, or the parallel concourse, of equally concluding accidents. We must not quickly, nor upon slight grounds, nor unworthy instances, call heretic; there had need be a long process, and a high conviction, and a competent judge, and a necessary article, that must be ingredients into so sad and decretory definitions, and condemnation of a person or opinion. But if such instances occur, come not near the danger nor the scandal. And this advice St. Cyprianf gave to the lay people of his diocese: “Let them decline their discourses,
c 1 Pet. ii. 12. d Tit. iii. 10. 2 Epist. John, x.
Irenæ. lib. xi. cap. 3. Euseb. lib. iii. cap. 13.
Lib. i. ep. 3.