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ble a matter, had it really taken place. If it had come to his knowledge, if even the gentlest whisper respecting it had reached his ear, he ought not to have passed it over in silence.. Nay, he could not have done so, since he has detailed so minutely whatever was done by Constantine and Helena in the holy land, in the places of the nativity, the passion, and the burial of Christ,—at no time sparing in his commendations of the Empress. This affair was without doubt particularly deserving of notice, and by no means to be omitted by so accurate a writer as Eusebius. This single argument, taken from the silence of Eusebius on a subject so notorious and so extraordinary, where there was so convenient an opportunity and so urgent a necessity for relating it, is abundantly sufficient to discredit the whole story of the discovery of the cross.
xvi. To this argument Bellarmine found nothing to oppose, but one objection, which has no weight. This affair, he says, is mentioned in the Chronicle, though not in the Histories of Eusebius; and he quotes the following words from that work, on the sixteenth year of Constantine : “ Helena, the mother of Constantine, “ warned by divine visions, found the blessed wood of “ the cross, on which the salvation of the world depends “ed, at Jerusalem.” But this is either a direct fraud, or an instance of supine negligence, on the part of Bellarmine; for none of these words is to be found either in the Greek text of the Chronicle of Eusebius, or, according to the testimony of Scaliger and the admission of Spondanus, in any of the Latin Manuscripts. Baronius himself, too, confesses that the Chronicle of Eusebius has been greatly corrupted by transcribers. Besides, the matter in question speaks aloud for itself. The discovery of the cross, if it was discovered, must
be referred not to the sixteenth, but to the twenty-first year of Constantine, which is the three hundred and twenty-sixth year of Christ. This is therefore an interpolation, done by a modern hand. For these reasons we concur with Chamier, * Salmasius, † Daillé, 1 and others, in esteeming the story of the invention of the cross a mere invention and a fable.11
XVII. But to return from this digression. Let us now examine the MODE OF CRUCIFIXION, and consider in order, the circumstances which preceded, accompanied, and followed the fixing of the person to the cross. Three things were customary before the fixing to the cross, to wit, Beating, Imposition of the cross on the condemned that he might bear it to the place of crucifixion, and Stripping him of his clothes.
XVIII. The Romans were accustomed first to beat all that were condemned to capital punishment. Hence those ancient forms: “ Go, sergeant, bind the hands, “ beat, muffle up the head, suspend on the ignominious “ tree;"and, “ Sergeant, take away, strip, beat, exe“cute the law, chastise."|| This castigation was expressly appointed to precede crucifixion.“ Others be“ing scourged,” says Livy, “ were fastened to the “ cross.” And at the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews, according to Josephus, “ were, in the first place, " whipped, and tortured with all sorts of stripes, and " then crucified."** Similar examples occur very often
• Panstrat. lib. xxii. cap. 4.
De Object. cult. relig. lib. v. cap. 1. § I lictor, colliga manus, verberato, caput obnubito, arbori infelici suspendito. Il Summove lictor, despolia, verbera, lege age, animadverte.
Alii verberati, crucibus affixi, lib. xxxiv. ** Lib. v. Halose cap. 32.
11 Sce Note XI.
in history. A great number are collected by Casaubon on the first book of Polybius, where he treats of the authors of the Rhegian crime.12 This beating was sometimes performed with rols, which was considered the milder and less disgraceful form ; but more frequently with whips, which was at once more dishonour. able and more severe,—particularly when the whips were sharpened with birds' claws and small bones. “ Owing to the cruelty of the servants employed to in“ flict the punishment, many,” according to Ulpianus, “ perished under scourges of that sort."* It must likewise be observed, that the scourge was not always administered in the same place or at the same time; for it. was sometimes done in the Prætorium, before the sufferer was led away, and sometimes, on the road, whilst he was led forth to the cross. The last appears to have been the more ancient practice.
xix. The Lord of glory, it is evident, suffered scourging before he was nailed to the cross. But it deserves examination, whether this was done in conformity to the Roman custom, or for a different reason. Matthew seems to intimate the former : “ And when “ he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be cruci“ fied." Mark’s expression is of the same import. But it is clear from John,d that scourging was employed by Pilate for the purpose of pacifying, if possible, the enraged minds of the Jews, that they might desist from requiring the death of Christ; to which the words of Pilate in Luke have also a reference ; “ I will there“fore chastise him, and let him go." We cannot em
* Lib. viii. de pænis. Ch. xxvii. 26.
Ch. xv. 15. d Ch. xix. 1.
e Ch. xxiii. 22. 18 See Note XII.
brace the opinion of those who maintain, that Christ underwent two scourgings in so short a space, the one previous to the passing of the sentence according to the private intention and appointment of Pilate, of which John gives an account; the other posterior to the pronouncing of the sentence, according to the public custom of the Romans, which is mentioned by Matthew and Mark. To us the matter appears to have stood thus. Pilate saw the unrelenting hatred of the rulers and the people against our Lord, since, in spite of all his exertions to the contrary, they obstinately demanded the crucifixion of Jesus. Knowing, too, that if this extreme punishment were ultimately to be resorted to, it could not be inflicted till he were previously tortured with the scourge, he judged it proper to begin with this, hoping meanwhile that the Jews, melted by the sight, would no longer urge crucifixion. Thus Pilate, in scourging Christ, had two objects in view ; first to incline, by so sad a spectacle, the exasperated minds of the Jews to pity; or if this did not succeed, and he were absolutely compelled to deliver up Christ to the cross, to secure in this respect the observance of the Roman custom. Matthew and Mark point out the latter, and the other Evangelists the former part of the design.
xx. That our Lord was scourged in a manner truly severe and unmerciful, may easily be inferred from the end which Pilate expected to attain. He knew the obdurate spirits of the Jews, and was aware that it would have been vain and absurd to endeavour to soften them into sentiments of compassion by any other than a most miserable spectacle. Probably also, Christ was not beaten with rods, but with scourges; not merely because the latter were more common and more condu
cive to the purpose Pilate had in view than the other; but also because it is favoured by the very words of the Evangelists, Φραγελλωσις, and μαστιγωσις. The first of these terms is a corruption of the Latin word flagellum, a whip; and the last is derived from cotiž, a scourge, a switch. Many of the ancients were of opinion that Christ was bound to a pillar while he endured the scourge; nor is this foreign to the Roman usage. But it requires great credulity to believe, that that pillar still remained in the days of Jerome, and, stained with our Lord's blood, supported the portico of a church. The additions made to the gospel-history by modern discoveries respecting the sharp-pointed scourges and the number of the stripes, and other circumstances, are the bold inventions of men who delight in fables. To contrive or propagate falsehoods, is to render truly preposterous returns to Christ for his compassion to us. Nor are we to imagine that we fail to put their properi value on his sufferings, unless we exaggerate them by our own idle fabrications.
XXI. Further, his own cross was laid upon the unhappy person condemned to crucifixion, that he might bear it to the place of punishment. Artemidorus says; “ The man who is about to be nailed to the cross, in “ the first place carries it.”* This circumstance formed part of the shame and disgrace; and it afforded a salutary lesson, which Plutarch has elegantly illustrated į in his discourse “ on the slowness of the divine venge“ ance.”+ As every malefactor carries forth his cross upon his body, so every one by his wickedness is the author of his own calamities, and produces his sorrows out of his own bowels.
* Lib. ii. cap. 41.
+ De larda numinis vindicla.