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Of the Three Kings of Collein."
A COMMON Conceit there is of the three kings of Collein, conceived to be the wise men that travelled unto our Saviour by the direction of the star. Wherein (omitting the large discourses of Baronius, Pineda, and Montacutius), that they might be kings, beside the ancient tradition and authority of many fathers, the Scripture implieth; "The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. The kings of Tharsis and the Isles, the kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts." Which places most Christians and many rabbins interpret of the Messiah. Not that they are to be conceived potent monarchs, or mighty kings, but toparchs, kings of cities or narrow territories; such as were the kings of Sodom and Gomorrha, the kings of Jericho and Ai, the one and thirty which Joshua subdued, and such as some conceive the friends of Job to have been.
But although we grant they were kings, yet can we not be assured they were three. For the Scripture maketh no mention of any number; and the number of their presents, gold, myrrh, and frankincense, concludeth not the number of their persons; for these were the commodities of their country, and such as probably the queen of Sheba in one person had brought before unto Solomon. So did not the sons of Jacob divide the present unto Joseph, but are conceived to carry one for them all, according to the expression of their father; "Take of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present." And therefore their number being uncertain, what credit is to be given unto their names, Gasper, Melchior, Balthazar,8 what to the
7 Three kings of Collein.] Cologne on the Rhine.
Gasper, &c.] According to the following distich in Festa AngloRomana, p. 7:
Tres reges regi regum tria dona ferebant;
Myrrham homini, uncto aurum, thura dedere Deo.
Selden says, that our chusing kings and queens, on twelfth night, has reference to the three kings."-Table Talk, p. 20. See also Universal Magazine, 1774; Sir H. Piers's Westmeath, 1682, in Vallancey's Col
charm thereof against the falling sickness, or what unto their habits, complexions, and corporal accidents, we must rely on their uncertain story, and received portraits of Collein.
Lastly, although we grant them kings, and three in number, yet could we not conceive that they were kings of Collein. For although Collein were the chief city of the Ubii, then called Ubiopolis, and afterwards Agrippina, yet will no history inform us there were three kings thereof. Beside, these being rulers in their countries, and returning home, would have probably converted their subjects; but according unto Munster, their conversion was not wrought until seventy years after, by Maternus, a disciple of Peter. And lastly, it is said that the wise men came from the east; but Collein is seated westward from Jerusalem; for Collein hath of longitude thirty-four degrees, but Jerusalem seventy-two.
The ground of all was this. These wise men or kings were probably of Arabia, and descended from Abraham by Keturah, who apprehending the mystery of this star, either by the Spirit of God, the prophecy of Balaam, the prophecy which Suetonius mentions, received and constantly believed through all the east, that out of Jewry one should come that should rule the whole world, or the divulged expectation of the Jews from the expiring prediction of Daniel, were by the same conducted unto Judea, returned into their country, and were after baptized by Thomas. From whence about three hundred years after, by Helena, the empress, their bodies were translated to Constantinople. From thence by Eustatius unto Milan, and at last by Renatus, the bishop, unto Collein, where they are believed at present to remain, their monuments shown unto strangers, and having lost their Arabian titles, are crowned kings of Collein.
lectan. i. No. 1. p. 124.-A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, however, vol. xxxiv. p. 599, refers the twelfth night cake to the Roman custom of casting dice to decide who should be rex convivii.
It appears from Gentleman's Magazine, that on twelfth day, 1736, the king and the prince, at the chapel-royal, St. James's, made their offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These continue to be annually made by proxy.-Hone's Every-day Book, vol. i. p. 59.
Of the food of John Baptist, Locusts and Wild Honey.
CONCERNING the food of John Baptist in the wilderness, locusts and wild honey, less popular opiniatrity should arise, we will deliver the chief opinions. The first conceived the locusts here mentioned to be that fruit which the Greeks name Kɛpárιov, mentioned by Luke in the diet of the prodigal son, the Latins siliqua, and some panis sancti Johannis, included in a broad pod, and indeed a taste almost as pleasant as honey. But this opinion doth not so truly impugn that of the locusts, and might rather call unto controversy the meaning of wild honey.
The second affirmeth that they were the tops or tender crops of trees; for so locusta also signifieth. Which conceit is plausible in Latin, but will not hold in Greek, wherein the word is ἀκρίσι; except for ἀκρίδες, we read ἀκρόδρυα, or åкpéμoves, which signify the extremities of trees, of which belief have divers been; more confidently Isidore Pelusiota, who in his epistles plainly affirmeth they think unlearnedly who are of another belief. And this so wrought upon Baronius, that he concludeth in neutrality; Hæc cum scribat Isidorus, definiendum nobis non est, et totum relinquimus lectoris arbitrio; nam constat Græcam dictionem åкpídεs, et locustam, insecti genus, et arborum summitates significare. Sed fallitur, saith Montacutius, nam constat contrarium, åкpída apud nullum authorem classicum áкpódpva 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, Chry
9 and this opinion, &c.] Ross contends against the Dr. for the greater probability that John's diet was vegetable—on the ground that, as he
sostom, 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 aspis 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, Elian, 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 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 preachedhumiliation and repentance.
That John the Evangélist 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
Ethiopians, who were accustomed to use locusts for food, almost all fell a prey to phthiriasis, it is scarcely to be believed that John would have adopted a diet likely to entail so loathsome a disease.-Arcana, p. 95.
There is one species of the acacia tribe called the honey locust, bearing a large and very sweet pod, which is very commonly boiled and eaten in America; and this is supposed to have been the food of the Baptist.
́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 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.1
In terra è terra il mio corpo, et saragli
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
* John xxi.
1 The same is also hinted, &c.] This paragraph, together with the Italian quotation which follows it, was first added in the 6th edition.