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with Cerinthus, the chief Heretic and adversary of the gospel then living, that he would either have confuted and put him to shame by the force of his reasoning, or confounded him by some act of that extraordinary power with which he was endued from above.
But St. John, as Dr. Waterland, declares, was all love, meekness, and charity : and this indeed is said to have been his peculiar character, above that of the other apostles. And we are told of bim by St. Jerom," that in his extreme age, when he used to be carried to the church by his disciples, it was his custom to do nothing more than repeat this single exhortation--My little children, love one another : and when the people grew tired with bearing nothing else from bim but that one precept, and asked, why he continued always to repeat the same thing, he answered, It is a saying worthy of John, and a precept of our Lord, and if you practise this alone, it is sufficient." The same doctrine, of love, charity, and mutual benevolence, was eminently propagated also by his two principal scholars, Ignatius, and Polycarp: What thanks are due to you, says Ignatius, if you love only the good disciples? You must subdue rather the more pestilent sort, by your mildness and gentleness. And Polycarp, speaking of one who had fallen away from the faith, says, Be moderate on this occasion, and look not on such as enemies, but call them back, as suffering and erring members.
How much more amiable then, and agreeably to his proper character, is this same apostle represented in another story, delivered also by the ancients, concerning his painful and affectionate pursuit of the captain of a band of robbers ; whom he followed into the mountains, and, by his affectionate and paternal remonstrances, brought back from the head of his crew, and restored to the church ! yet from this charitable and benevolent act, Dr. Waterland has contrived to draw a most perverse and pernicious inference, that by Aying from the Heretic and running after the Robber, he shewed, how much more he detested heresies, than cominon immoralities.
It is observable likewise, that this story is related with po small variation by the ancients themselves. Epiphanius tells it more than once, not of Cerinthus, but of another Heretic, called Ebion : and why might not both of them, says the editor of Irenæus, be found together in the bath at the same time? Baronius makes the same supposition, to
reconcile the two fathers; while others suppose, that Cerinthus and Ebion are but different names of the same person. Yet Tertullian expressly distinguishes them, and calls Ebion the successor of Cerinthus. But Mr. Tillemont solves the matter more judiciously by remarking, that there is no need of such conjectures, because it is common with Epiphanius to make blunders in history; who has added, he says, several other particulars, both irifling and impro- . bable, to this very story. One of the particulars which he has added, is tbis-That St. John had never before made use of the public baths, till he was sent thither on this occasion by a divine inspiration, to give this open testimony of his detestation of heresy. Some of the other fathers as well as Epipbanius, declare Cerinthus to have been the disciple of Carpocrates, who was not in being, as the chronologers tell us, till after the death of St. John; and if so, this whole story must of course fall to the ground.
The moderns also, in their turn, have added some embellishments to the same story. Fevardentius, in his notes on this
passage of Irenæus, says, that St. Jerom, in his treatise against the Luciferians affirms, that immediately after the retreat of St. John, the bath actually fell down anil crushed Cerinthus to death. Yet there is not the least intimation of any such fact, as Dr. Grabe observes, either in that, or any other part of St. Jerom's works. Another writer with as little truth, asserts the same thing, on the authority of venerable Bede; and some also appeal to Polycarp, as the voucher of it; and all of them take occasion to moralize upon it with great gravity, as an instance of God's judgment upon Heretics.*
* Monsieur Bayle, who mentions this story with all these particulars, makes the following remark upon it: “Obserre," says he, “ the progress of it. Irenæus was probably the first who published it, and contented himself with relating, barely, what he had heard. But those who came after him, finding his warrative too simple and naked, added some embroidery to it. They fancied it dishonourable to the memory of the apostle to have it believed that he had ever made use of the public baths: they affirmed, therefore, that he had never done it before, and was sent thither on this occasion by the express command of Heaven. It was necessary, in the next place, to find out a good reason for so particular an inspiration : and a reason was presently found ; viz, the importance of letting the faithful know what a horror they all ought to conceive against the enemies of the truth ; and how the divine justice was always ready to exert itself by some exemplary severity against an arch-heretic. Lastly, as it might seem indecent for St. John to be thought liable to any vain and unnecessary fear, so it was found convenient to suppose, that the heretic, with whom he refused to bathe himself, was crushed to pieces by the fall of the house." Vide Artic. CERINTHUS, Note D. in Dictionaire,
-ere he framed
Father, thy hand
Rustle, no jewels shine, nor envious eyes
My heart is awed within me, when I think
Written on thy works I read
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
There have been holy men who hid themselves
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