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though some conceive that expression metaphorical,2 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 árnyαro 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, ἐλυπήθη σφόδρα ὥστε áráуEαooα-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.
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.
5 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,
An Hebrew child, a God all gods excelling,
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 ren 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,
declaring his oracles were false, and that the righteous upon earth did hinder him from speaking truth. And a fourth related by Theodoret, and delivered by Apollo Daphneus unto Julian, upon his Persian expedition, that he should remove the bodies about him before he could return an answer, and not long after his temple was burnt with lightning.
All which were evident and convincing acknowledgments of that power which shut his lips, and restrained that delusion which had reigned so many centuries. But as his malice is vigilant, and the sins of men do still continue a toleration of his mischiefs, he resteth not, nor will he ever cease to circumvent the sons of the first deceived. And therefore, expelled from oracles and solemn temples of delusion, he runs into corners, exercising minor trumperies, and acting his deceits in witches, magicians, diviners, and such inferior seducers. And yet (what is deplorable) while we apply ourselves thereto, and, affirming that God hath left off to speak by his prophets, expect in doubtful matters a resolution from such spirits; while we say the devil is mute, yet confess that these can speak; while we deny the substance, yet practise the effect, and in the denied solemnity maintain the equivalent efficacy;-in vain we cry that oracles are down; Apollo's altar still doth smoke; nor is the fire of Delphos out unto this day.
Impertinent it is unto our intention to speak in general of oracles, and many have well performed it. The plainest of others was that of Apollo Delphicus, recorded by Herodotus, and delivered unto Croesus; who as a trial of their omniscience sent unto distant oracles: and so contrived with the messengers, that though in several places, yet at the same time they should demand what Croesus was then a doing. Among all others the oracle of Delphos only hit it, returning answer, he was boiling a lamb with a tortoise, in a brazen vessel, with a cover of the same metal. The style is haughty in Greek, though somewhat lower in Latin.
Aquoris est spatium et numerus mihi notus arenæ,
I know the space of sea, the number of the sand,
Hereby indeed he acquired much wealth and more honour, and was reputed by Croesus as a deity: and yet not long after, by a vulgar fallacy he deceived his favourite and greatest friend of oracles, into an irreparable overthrow by Cyrus. And surely the same success are likely all to have, that rely or depend upon him. 'Twas the first play he practised on mortality; and as time hath rendered him more perfect in the art, so hath the inveterateness of his malice more ready in the execution. 'Tis therefore the sovereign degree of folly, and a crime not only against God, but also our own reasons, to expect a favour from the devil, whose mercies are more cruel than those of Polyphemus; for he devours his favourites first, and the nearer a man approacheth, the sooner he is scorched by Moloch. In brief, his favours are deceitful and double-headed, he doth apparent good, for real and convincing evil after it; and exalteth us up to the top of the temple, but to tumble us down from it.
Of the Death of Aristotle.
THAT Aristotle drowned himself in Euripus, as despairing to resolve the cause of its reciprocation, or ebb and flow seven times a day, with this determination, Si quidem ego non capio te, tu capies me, was the assertion of Procopius, Nazianzen, Justin Martyr, and is generally believed among Wherein because we perceive men have but an imperfect knowledge, some conceiving Euripus to be a river, others not knowing where or in what part to place it, we first advertise, it generally signifieth any strait, fret, or channel of the sea, running between two shores, as Julius Pollux hath defined it; as we read of Euripus Hellespontiacus, Pyrrhæus, and this whereof we treat, Euripus Euboicus, or Chalcidicus, that