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our own days, according to the form of the Greek letter II; on which malefatcors, instead of being fastened with nails, are strangled with a halter. Crux, the Cross, the form of which we shall soon show, was distinct both from the old and the new Patibulum. On these words you may consult Casaubon,* Salmasius,f and Vossius, f who have learnedly corrected the mistakes of Lipsius.
III. The form of the cross was either the more rare, or more common. “ The more rare form,” according to Jerome, s “ was divided equally in the midst in the “ shape of the letter X, which is the figure of the “ cross :" and Isidorus | says no less perspicuously, “ The letter X is at once the figure of the cross, and “ the sign of the number ten.” It is a common and a considerably ancient, but an uncertain tradition, that Andrew's cross was of this sort. The form more frequently made use of, resembled the letter T, the erect beam, however, rising a little above the cross one.
iv. To the erect beam of the cross, there was usually fastened a piece of wood in the middle, which jutted out and was prominent betwixt the thighs of the crucified person, for the purpose of his resting on it; lest, if his hands only were fixed to the transverse beam, these should break off, and the body fall down from the cross. Tertullian calls this the projection (or bracket) of the seat. It is often taken notice of by the ancients who flourished before Constantine, when the cross was still
* Exercit. xvi. ad Ann. Bar.
“ Sedilis excessus."
in use; and one can scarcely refer to any thing else, the well known lines of Mecenas,*
Whate'er th' events that may betide,
On the sharp cross to sit, and rot. Some writers speak also of a footstool, on which the feet of the sufferer rested, or to which they were fixed. But there is hardly sufficient evidence of this from antiquity.
v. The size of the cross was not always the same. Sometimes, in order to render the example more strik| ing and impressive, oi even to increase the severity of
the pain, on account of the atrocity of the crime, or from
hatred of the person, or for the purpose of stamping | greater infamy on the man to be crucified, higher crosses
than usual were erected. Hence the mockery, to which, according to Suetonius,f Galba had recourse ; who, when one cried out, appealing to the laws for relief, and protesting that he was a Roman citizen, commanded, as if with an intention to mitigate the punishment by granting a kind of solace and honour, that the cross should be changed, and that another much higher than the rest, and also whitened, should be set up. But that ordinary crosses were not very high, appears from the circumstance, that generally, after the crosses were erected, the sufferers were fastened to them without the use of ladders; and from this, that their entrails were devoured by wolves and dogs. It is manifest, also, from the infamous and horrible baseness of Nero, who having
* Hanc mihi, vel acuta Si sedeam cruce, Sustinc.
+ Cap. ix. VOL. II.
CRUCIFIXION bound men and women to the stake, or, as Xiphlinus affirms, “ having bound young men and girls naked to crosses,” wrapt himself in the skin of a wild beast, and coming forth from a cave, rushed into the midst of them with great fury.* Such occurrences could not have happened, unless the feet of the crucified persons had been only at a little distance, three or perhaps four feet, from the ground.
VI. Whether the cross of Christ differed in any respect from those that were commonly used; or, if it did, in what the difference consisted,-no man can now say with certainty. The Evangelists having made no mention of its having any thing peculiar, most probably it was adjusted very way in the usual manner. Some light might perhaps have been thrown upon this subject by the story of our Lord's cross having been happily found, not without an impulse of the Holy Spirit and stupendous miracles, by HELENA the Empress, mother of Constantine the Great; provided the truth of that story were sufficiently confirmed. But distinguished men, and those who possess the most profound knowledge of antiquity, regard it, I find, as not only suspicious, but entirely fabulous. The question has certainly attracted so much notice, that it is worth our while briefly to examine it, and to weigh the arguments on each side.
vii. The history of this affair is related thus. The Empress HELENA, now advanced in years, having from pious motives taken a journey to the East, visited the places which had been trodden by our Lord's sacred feet; and at the expense of her son, decorated a number of them with monuments of stupendous workman
* Suet. cap. xxix.
ship. In the meantime, “ the Spirit suggested to her " that she should search for the wood of the cross. She " approached Golgotha, and said, Behold the place of the " contest, where is the victory? I seek the sign of sal“ vation, and I find it not. Am I surrounded, she " adds, with royal splendour, and is the cross of my
Lord in the dust? How can I think myself redeem"ed, if the redemption itself is not beheld?” Ambrose introduces her as using these expressions.* According to Paulinus,t she sent, in consequence, for persons of the greatest intelligence, both among Christians and Jews, “ and assembled them at Jerusalem. Confirm" ed by their unanimous declaration in favour of one
“ particular spot, she straightway gave orders, urged ! " no doubt by the impulse of that revelation with which
"she was honoured, that they should proceed to the “ operation of digging in that very spot. Nor did “ much time intervene, before the hidden cross made " its appearance. But three crosses being found toge"ther as they had anciently stood prepared for our " Lord and the two malefactors, congratulations on " account of their success began to be mingled with " anxious perplexity arising from the apprehensions " which the pious entertained, lest perhaps they should “ choose the cross of a malefactor, instead of the cross " of Christ.” Hence it may be gathered, that all the three crosses were of the same form.
VIII. But what served at the last as a mark of distinction ? If we give credit to Ambrose, no extraordinary Divine interposition was necessary; for Helena found the title affixed to the front of the cross, JESUS or NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
* Orat. in Fun. Thcodosii.
+ Epist. 11.
Thus the real state of the matter was ascertained; the cross was distinguished by the title. And such perhaps was the prevailing belief at that time. But Rufinus was dissatisfied with this account, and imagined that an affair of so high importance could not be effected without a miracle.“ A woman half-dead,” says he,“ was brought, who, after having derived no “ benefit from the touch of the first and second cross, “ no sooner felt the third applied than, suddenly open“ ing her eyes, she revived, recovered full vigour, and “ began to run up and down through the whole house “ with much greater agility than when she had been “ well, and to magnify the power of God."* If this is not sufficient to determine the point, learn from Paulinus, with whom Sulpitius Severus concurs, that another and a greater miracle was performed. “ A dead bo“ dy was introduced. After it was laid down, first one of “ the crosses was applied to it, then another, but death “ poured contempt on both. At last the resurrection of “ the body discovered our Lord's cross; and death being “ overcome by the touch of the life-giving wood, the fu“ neral clothes were shaken off, and the body stood erect.” Nicephorus joins both these miracles together.f
Ix. The Empress having thus succeeded to her wish, and being confirmed by miracles so remarkable, erected, with royal munificence, a most splendid church in the very place where she had found the cross. Sazomen and Theodoret affirm, however, that after the cross was discovered, one part of it was left at Jerusalem, and another part removed to Constantinople. Constantine, as Socrates relates, having received the latter, inclosed it in his own statue, which stood in the forum
* Ruf. Hist. lib. i. cap. 17.
+ Lib. viii. cap. 29.'