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DVLCIS ET INNOCES (sic) HIC DORMIT SEVERIANVS SOMNO PACIS CVIVS SPIRITVS IN LVCE DOMINI SVSCEPTVS EST, -IN SEMPETERNALE
AEVVM QVIESCIT SECVRVS. “ Here lies in the sleep of peace, the sweet and innocent Severianus, whose spirit is received into the light of God. He rests free from care throughout endless time.”
But how were these Christians so confident of the future life," asked the Greek, " when the greatest of the philosophers and sages—a Socrates or Cicero—never rose above a vague 'perhaps,' and even the philosophic Pliny, anticipating only annihilation, writes, “there is no more consciousness after death than before birth ?'"
"Find there thy answer, young man,"exclaimed Primnitius, and with a gleam of exultation in his eyes, he pointed to the following epitaphs :
CREDO QVIA REDEMPTOR MEVS VIVIT ET NOVISSIMO
DIE DE TERRA SVSCITABIT ME IN CARNE MEA
I believe, because that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day shall raise me from the earth, that in my fleshi I shall see the Lord.”
HIC REQVIESCIT CARO MEA NOVISSIMO VERO DIE PER CHRISTVM CREDO RECVSCITABITVR A MORTVIS.
“ Here rests my flesh, but at the last day, through Christ, I believe it will be raised from the dead.”
“And must the soul, then, slumber with the body in blank unconsciousness till this last day ?'” asked the Greek. Methinks I should shudder at going out into the dark inane, like a taper extinguished in these gloomy vaults. Better is the dim and ghostly Hades, and Elysian Fields of our own mythology, than that."
"Not so, my son," replied Primitius, "we believe with the blessed Paul—that as soon as the soul passes from earth's living death, it enters into the undying life and unfading bliss of heaven.” And he pointed out, one after another, the fullowing epitaphs corroborating his view :
CORPVS HABET TELLVS ANIMAM CAELESTIA REGNA MENS NESCIA MORTIS VIVIT ET ASPECIV
FRVITVR BENE CONSCIA CHRISTI. “The soul lives unknowing of death, and consciously rejoices in the vision of Christ.”
PRIMA VIVIS IN GLORIA DEI ET IN PACE DOMINI
NOSTRI XR. “Prima, thou livest in the glory of God, and in the peace of Christ our Lord."
“This is indeed a high philosophy, beyond aught I ever heard before,” said Isidorus, deeply moved. “Whence do you Christians derive such lofty teachings ? For as Hilarus but now said, most of your sect are poor and lowly in this world's goods and rank.”
"Our teaching comes, my son, from God Himself, the Great Father of lights, and from Jesus Christ our Lord. Behold, as the greatest favour I can do thee, I will lend thee this precious MS. of the Gospel of the blessed John;" and he took from a leathern case a purple vellum parchment scroll, inscribed with letters of silver. Cherish it carefully; 'tis worth more than gold. When thou hast well pondered it, I will lend thee the letter of the blessed Paul to the infant Church in this city of Rome. But here comes Hilarus to conduct thee back to the light of day. Return hither, if thou canst, on the fourth day from now --the day of our Sabbath assembly. My blessing be upon
thee. Pax vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo." The young Greek knelt at the old man's feet, then rose and kissed his hand, and followed in silence the fossor Hilarus. At length he broke the silence by inquiring,–
“What's the meaning, good Hilarus, of all these strange figures which I have noted on the tombstones as I passed. I have observed a lion, a pig, an ass, a cobbler's last, carpenters', masons', and wool-combers' implements; a fish, a ship, an anchor, and the like-all scratched or painted on the stone slabs. They have no religious significance, surely ?"
“ Well, no, not all of them," said Hilarus, with a smile. “You see, many of the Christians being
lowly craftsmen, are unable to read, so the tools or emblems of their calling are inscribed on the tombs of their friends, that they may recognize and find them again in this vast cemetery."
“But the ship, anchor, and fish are not signs of a handicraft, unless that of sailor or fisherman.”
“No, the fish has another and a secret meaning. I need not tell a scholar like you, that the first letters of the Greek names for Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Saviour, make up the word Ichthus, or fish, so it is used as a secret symbol of our faith. The ship is the emblem, I have been told, even in your own country, of a well-spent life, and to us it signifies a soul entering into the haven of eternal rest. While our holy hopes are the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil.”
Well, and the lion, ass, aud pig? What about them?”
“ These," said the fossor, with a laugh, which seemed as incongruous to him as it would be to a modern sexton, for such his office virtually was, “these are a sort of play upon the names of Leo, Onager, and Porcella, the latter was a sort of pet name, I suspect— Little Pig'— by which their friends, who could not read, could find their tombs.”
“ What wives these Christians must have had,” continued the keenly-observing Greek. “I have
noticed several inscriptions, in which they are said to bave passed ten, twenty, thirty, and one even fifty years of married life-SINE IVRGIO, SINE AEMVLATIONE, SINE DISSIDIO, SINE QVERELA• Without contention, without emulation, without dissension, without strife.' There are no such wives in Rome now, I'll be bound-at least in the Rome I am acquainted with."
“Yes," said the old man, with a sigh, “come with me into yonder chapel. I always, in passing this way, stop there to see again the sepulchre of the best wise God ever gave to any man.” After walking in silence some minutes, he entered a sort of family vault, and lit a bronze lamp, shaped like a ship, hanging from the vaulted ceiling, while Isidorus studied out the following inscription, not altogether free from errors in spelling and grammar:
CONIVGE VENEVANDE BONE INNOCVA FLORENTIA
CVNCTIS AMATRIX PAVPERVM. BIXIT MECVM
SCRVPVLOS XII. SEMPER CONCORDES SINE VLLA
CONIVX GEMITV TRISTI LACRI MIS DEFLIT.
“To my wife Florentia, deserving of honour, good,