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not so much above them as to be unable to dis- j ion, to have measured it, and found it fifteen tinguish their persons, and to be heard by them, cubits. They say, that even the lapse of sewas struck on beholding his mother, and venteen centuries does not prevent their clearly the group which surrounded her. He con- discerning even now, the spot where St. John sidered, that as Joseph was dead, Mary had and the three Marys stood. They maintain, lost her only protector, and might suffer all the that there are still remaining vestiges, which miseries of want, and thinking that St. John, they show to those who visit the Holy Land, from whom he was even now receiving marks and which they call the way of biiterness. of friendship, would not refuse his last request, For, my brethren, what do not they see, who to him he committed the care of his mother; it view things through the medium of superstiwas indeed a precious charge. He wishing the tion, and do they not find in every object, apostle to fullil towards her the various duties nourislunent for their chimerical and false de of husband and son, therefore said, “This is votion, which amply repays them for all the froin henceforth to be thy mother,” and to fatigues and difficulties they may have underMary, " Behold thy son.” St. John faithfully gone. Is there any event so trifling, any reobserved this commission, and inviolably ad- cital so simple, any place mentioned in sacred hered to it, and from that time Mary had 10 history, so obscure as not to be traced by them? home but his. This, my brethren, seems to be The house of Joachim, father of the virgin, the the general import of the affecting narrative room in which she was born, the stone on which under consideration; on which the following she sat when the angel saluted her, the place questions are sometimes started.
where our Saviour was born, the seat on which Why is Mary, the sister of the in, and she received the wise men from the east, the mother of James and Joseph, called the wife grotto where she suckled our Lord, the fig-tree of Cleophas?
that he cursed, and which up to this time, proSome have said that Cleophas was her fa- duced no fruit, the place where he stood when ther, others say, with a greater appearance of Mary said, “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my probability, that he was her husband; why then brother had not died;" where he composed the was her son James called the son of Alpheus? Prayer still distinguished by his name. The it has been supposed that she was twice marri- dungeon where he was shut up when they led ed, and that her first husband, whose name was hin before Pilate; the arch through which PiAlpheus, was the father of James; and the se- late showed him to the people; the street in cond, Cleophas, the one mentioned here. But which he was scourged; the spot in which Juthe prevailing opinion is, that the Syriac or das betrayed him with a kiss; the room in Hebrew word in the original, may be rendered which he instituted the holy sacrament; the with equal propriety, Cleophas or Alpheus, so room in which he appeared to lois disciples, the that it is not difficult to perceive that the Al doors being shut; the form of his left foot, which pheus mentioned by St. Luke, is the same was made on the rock when he ascended into whom St. John has named Cleophas.
heaven; the pedestal of the column on which Again, Who is this other Mary, surnamed the cock crowed; the place where Judas hung Magdalene, probably from her birth-place, himself; the apartment in which the apostles Magdala, either the town of that name, near were when they received the gift of the Holy Capernaum, on the borders of the sea of Tibe- Ghost; the place in which they composed the rias, or another place of the same name, on the Creed; the abode of the wicked rich man; the other side. She is commonly supposed to be door through which the angel led St. Peter out the same out of whom went seven devils. of prison; the fountain where Philip was bapSome have inquired whether she is the same tized; and many other places, which are all seMary who is mentioned in the 11th chapter of perately shown, and regarded with veneration. St. John, whose brother Christ raised from the But even this is not all, they pretend, that dead, on whom, and on her family, he had the afflictions of the Virgin overpowered her, wrought so many miracles, and who was near and she fainted away and fell to the ground. ly related to him. But these are questions Cardinal Cagison says, that they formerly kept which do not concern us, and which we have a festival in the church, called, “The feast of no means of deciding.
the fainting," in memory of this event. And These, and many other inquiries, may be not if any one inquires into the history of this improperly started, and pursued to a certain fainting, the reply they receive is from the length, provided they are proposed, not as works of a visionary, who published eight vopoints of importance in themselves, but as all lumes of his speculations, and whom the popes ihat concerns the history of our Saviour's life canonized by the title of St. Brigite, or the seand death should be deemed interesting to us. raphic cardinal Bonaventura, whose letter is so But after all, as I remarked before, there is no carefully preserved at Lyons, or one named event in the sacred volume narrated in a man. Mallonius, and other authors of this sort, who ner so simple, so intelligible, and on that ac- lived in the fifteenth century. But still this is count so little open to contradiction, as that trifling, compared with the signification which now under consideration. But, my brethren, superstition has attached to the words, “Woit is scarcely credible, that superstition has man, behold thy son.” “Behold thy mother.” been more than usually busy in fabricating They include, according to the opinions of the misrepresentations on this subject. Supersti doctors of the Romish Church, the greatest tion has multiplied the minute details of this mysteries of religion, they afford the strongest afflictive event, and has given a more particu- proof of the powerful protection which the lar account than our evangelist. Some pre- Virgin affords to the church, and the religious tend to have ascertained the exact distance be worship due to her from the church. St. John, tween Christ and the spectators of his crucifix. I they say, represents, in this place, all the faith
ful. Christ put in his person the whole human your power, angels themselves bow, and these race under the government and protection of behold fresh sources of pleasure; the just imMary. “Woman, behold thy son,” or in other plore a share in your righteousness, the guilty words, I delegate to thee, all the power and look to you for pardon.” authority, that my divinity and quality of Me Some persons have had the courage to prodiator give me over the church; from hence- | test against these erroneous doctrines, even forth, be thou its firmest pillar, its strongest among the Catholics, and to desist from the support and defence; be to its children a light worship of the virgin. “O my God," cried to lighten their darkness, be their counsellor in feebly, one of their most celebrated preachers, all difficulties, in persecution itself, their guide " is it necessary, in this age, so strenuously to in all their wanderings, their consolation in defend the homage that the Christian world trouble, and life to them even in the last ago- pays to the Holy Virgin. Must it fall to my nies of expiring nature. In the words, “ Be- lot to fight against the false scruples of those hold thy mother," he says, Mortals attend, who fear to praise thee, and dare to complain while I point out to you the most worthy ob- of the honour given to thy name. But notject of your worship and humble adoration; withstanding the enterprises formed by the here you behold the fountain of all my favours, enemies of religion to destroy thy worship; and it is through her alone that you can hope through all these ages it still remains. O to attain to my glory. Cease then to weep for blessed Virgin, never shall the gates of hell my death, regret no longer my absence from prevail against the zeal of real Christians.” you, I compensate for it all, by leaving Mary Alas, how many persons feed on this unsubwith you. In accordance with this opinion, the stantial food. What a deplorable example of Virgin is addressed as “the help of the weak, prejudice and bad education. How do those the tower of David, the arch of the holy alli- minds deserve pity, which are enveloped in ance, the door of heaven, the queen of the the veil of superstition, and blinded to prevent apostles, confessors, and martyrs, the coadju- them from discerning the truth. It is thus, trix with God in the work of salvation;" and my brethren, that the enemy of our salvation these titles are given, not in the writings of in- suits his attacks to the dispositions of every dividuals, for which they were personally re- man. Does he wish to deceive those lofty sponsible, but in the public offices and services spirits, who would lead captive to their will, of the church.
even the oracles of God, instead of submitting We see solemn vows paid to her in all ages. themselves to them, those rebellious souls who Among many thousands of them was that of bring down the most sublime mysteries of reLouis XIII., who consecrated to her service, ligion to the level of their own capacity? To his person and kingdom, by an inviolable oath them he represents the doctrine of the divinity From this source spring all the blasphemies of of our glorious Redeemer as confused and conthose who have dared to maintain, that the tradictory, persuading them, that this wonderVirgin created all the universe; that her influ. ful and incomprehensible mixture of grandeur ence with God, is almost equal to authority and misery, of glory and ignominy, of divinity and sovereign power; that she approaches the and humanity, is at variance with all common throne of Christ, not in quality of a servant, and received ideas; he thereby persuades them but as his equal; as a goddess; that all in hea- to refuse obedience and worship to him, whom ven, even God himself, acknowledge her sway even the angels obey, in whose presence every and submit to her power; that the authority of knee shall bow, both of things in heaven and Christ is founded on justice; that of the Virgin of things on the earth; or is his concern with on love. They argue, that if the foolish virgins those weak minds who are led astray by every had called on her, instead of God, and had appearance of wonder, any thing new? To substituted the invocation of her name, for the them he represents, that many creatures parwords, “Lord, Lord,” the doors of heaven take of the glory of God; he persuades them would have been opened to them. In the psal to worship together with God, beings of an inter of St. Bonaventura, the name of Mary has ferior order. Thus some refuse to pay any been substituted for that of God, in all the psalms homage to God at all, while others adore him of David, and to her are ascribed all the names, in a wrong and ineffectual way; thus he sucperfections, worship, and works of the Deity, ceeds too well in his wicked plans for the ruin and all the passages cited by the apostles from of mankind. the Old Testament, to prove the Divinity of But praised be God, we need not fear the Christ, are likewise applied to the Virgin. We inroads of superstition in our time: the only find also the following prayer, “O Virgin, ex- feelings that it is likely to excite in our minds, ercise your parental authority over your Son. are those of pity and indignation. O church Who can understand, O blessed and holy mo- of Rome, if thou wouldest re-establish thy sway ther, the extent of your mercy. Who can com- amongst us; arm afresh thy inquisition, equip prehend the height, the breadth, or the depth, thy galleys, light up again thy fires, prepare of it. It extends itself even to the day of judg- new tortures, open thy dismal dungeons, erect ment, it is wide as the universe, it reaches up more gibbets, and devise more cruel martyr. to the heavens, and descends to the deepest doms. With such arguments as these, thou abyss. It is your presence that forms the joy mayest perhaps, prevail on some feeble profes. of heaven, your absence the torments of hell; sors of our reformed religion, through the inby your counsel the new Jerusalem is edified fluence of fear, to become thy proselytes; but and sanctified. Intelligent beings all pray to all thy reasonings, thy specious tales, and false you; some to be delivered from the torments arguments, only serve to sap the foundations of hell, others, who have attained eternal hap- of an old building even now in ruins. piness, for an increase of their felicity. To Superstition has also invented numerous
histories, well known to be entirely fabulous, 1. The case of Mary exemplifies the conflictwhich have been added to that given by St. | ing emotions that agitate the souls of those John of the Virgin. The evangelist relates, who surround the dying pillow of their dearthat from that hour the disciple took her unto est relatives. Nature, reason, and religion, his own home; and we find, both after the all must lend their aid to support their tremdeath of our blessed Lord, and after his resur- bling courage. And let me inquire, who is rection, that she continued with the apostles there among you, my brethren, who sufficiently constant in prayer and praises; after this we feels the force of the demonstration of which lose, in the sacred writings, all farther trace his proposition is susceptible. If any of you of the life of this holy woman; and we find have concentrated your principal care, your nothing which could serve for the materials of warmest affections, on one object, on one faa complete history of her life and death. The vourite child, to whom you have looked for books written in the first century are also silent consolation in trouble, whom you have regardon this subject, and do not present any thing ed as the honour of your house, to whose filial to fill up the void in the sacred writings. A tenderness you have trusted for the support of letter from the council held at Ephesus in the your declining years; to the feelings of such a fifth century, affords some very slight grounds one I appeal, to picture to his mind a scene for supposing that she might be buried in that which battles all attempts at description. Let city; and one who lived a considerable time him put himself in the place of Mary, and before that period, acknowledges his ignorance view in the death of our Saviour, that of his on this subject. He says, that he cannot be beloved child: he will still form but an impersure whether she is really dead, or whether fect idea of the mental agonies which Mary she received the gift of immortality, and re was suffering. She beheld her Son, whose mained alive at that time; whether she suf- birth was miraculously announced to her by fered martyrdom, or terminated her life by a an angel; that Son, on whose appearance the natural and easy death; no one knows any thing armies of heaven sung with triumphant joy; of her latter end. So general a silence, unani- that Son, whose abode on earth was a distinmously preserved at a time when particulars guished course of mercy, charity, and compasrelative to the death of the Virgin might have sion; she saw him, whose abode on earth crownbeen so easily procured, should teach succeeding ed it with blessings, ready to quit it for ever. ages to beware of speaking positively on this She anticipated the frightful and dreary solisubject. But when an author is so jnfatuated, tude in which she was so soon to be plunged; as to be intent on endeavouring to fix the par- she viewed herself forsaken and deserted by all, ticulars of events, in themselves quite uncertain deprived of the dearest object of her affection; and unimportant, what difficulties does he find the rest of the world appeared to her a blank, too great to overcome, what obstacles of suffi- as if she remained alone, the only inhabitant cient magnitude to arrest his progress. Thus, of this spacious globe. And in what manner we see in succeeding ages, that men have even is she about to lose her beloved Son? He dies thought they could trace the features of the a death, he suffers a martyrdom of unexam. Virgin, which they pretend to have seen de pled agony. She sees those hands, which had lineated by St. Luke, in a picture drawn for so often dispensed blessings, cured diseases, fed an empress who supposed she had found ber the hungry, clothed the naked, and wrought tomb; they have also detailed the slightest cir- so many miracles, pierced with nails. She becumstances of her life and death. To give a held those lips, on which dwelt grace and beaushadow of plausibility to these impositions, they ty, and from which had flowed the accents of have attributed them to persons of celebrity, mercy, scandalized by the impurities of the from whose names they might derive popu- furious Jewș. That royal head, which the larity. Of this nature was a work published crown of the universe would become, torn and in the second century, entitled, “The Life lacerated with thorns; that arm destined to and Death of the Blessed Virgin," and placed wield the sceptre of the world, bearing a reed among the apocryphal books. And as all in mockery. She saw the temple of her God; these histories had no other foundation than that temple which had been distinguished as the imaginations of their authors, we perceive the peculiar abode of the divinity, which had a diversity of opinions, similar to the diversity been blessed with peculiar manifestations of of the persons, from the fertility of whose in- his wisdom, his glory, his justice, and his mercy, ventions they sprung. Some maintain that and all those perfections which belong to the the holy Virgin suffered martyrdom; others Supreme Being, falling beneath the attacks of that she followed St. John to Ephesus, where the impious multitude. She heard the voice she died at a very advanced age; others assert of the children of Edom, crying, “ Down with that after her death she arose from the grave: it, down with it!" and levelling the dwelling but others have carried their theories still far- of the Most High with the ground. Then she ther, and pretended that she was taken up beheld the full accomplishment of that saying, to heaven in a chariot of fire, as was Elias. of which she could not formerly perceive the But we will turn from the consideration of meaning: "A sword shall pierce through thine this subject, and employ the rest of our time own soul also,” Luke ii. 35. Again, she was in considering the two principal branches of denied the sad consolation of approaching this our subject.
her beloved Son, to comfort him, and to re1. The conflict passing in the minds of those ceive his last breath. Oye, his murderers, who behold the last moments of those who are allow her at least to embrace him once more; dear to them.
let her shed her tears by his side, and bid him II. The conflict, or rather the triumph, of a final farewell; let her stop the blood which theme who thus expire.
has began to flow in large drops, and consumes
the remainder of his nearly exhausted strength. / in the beauties of holiness; from the womb of O let her approach this expiring Prince, and the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth?" pour a healing balm into its wounds. But no; Ps. cii. 1–3. she is forced to yield to the violence of those I know not, my brethren, what were the who surround her; the thick darkness obliges feelings of these holy women, and this beloved her to depart, all the care and tenderness that disciple, at this trying period; what rays of she could show to our Lord, all her tears are comfort were afforded to them, to lighten their useless. Holy woman, if “all generations mental darkness; nor what assistance was shall call thee blessed,” Luke i. 48, “because granted them in this conflict. But I know, thou wast the mother of thy glorious King and that the cross of Christ is a stumbling-block Redeemer,” shall not endless ages commise to the Jew, and to the Greek, foolishness. I rate thy grief. when destined to behold him know that the Jewish nation had, in all ages, suffering so shameful and agonizing a death. fixed their attention on the glory of the Mes.
But I mentioned also that reason and faith siah, and forgot his previous humiliation; and led the holy Virgin into a conflict of a different I know that even the disciples of Christ, tremnature. How could a human understanding, bled at the name of the cross. St. Peter beareven with the aid of reason and religion, pierce ing his divine Master speak of his approaching the thick veil that covered the divinity of our death, said “Be it far from thee, Lord, this Saviour, at the time of his crucifixion. If the shall not be unto thee,” Matt. xvi. 22; and mystery of the cross surpasses and startles our when Christ spoke to them of a future resurfinite imaginations now, when it is announced rection, they questioned one with another, to us by a preacher, who gives us the infallible ! what the rising from the dead should mean, word of God as security whereon to rest our Mark ix. 10. Christ rebuked them, saying, belief, what must have been its effect on the “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that minds of those who beheld Christ suffering by the prophets have spoken,” Luke xxiv. 25. the hand of murderers, chosen of God for this The women came to the disciples to tell them, purpose. Every circumstance of his passion, that they had been eye-witnesses of his resurhad indeed been exactly foretold by the pro- rection; but their information seemed more phets of old and the close accordance, the like the day-dreams of a confused imagination, great harmony, that was visible between the than the result of cool deliberation, or unpreprophecies, and their accomplishment, ought judiced judgment. Thomas, especially, notto have carried conviction to the minds of all withstanding the testimony of these same wowho attentively consider the subject. The men, and that of the rest of the apostles, represumption certainly was strong, that he who plied to those who said they had seen the so well fulfilled the humiliatory and painful Lord, " Except I shall see in his hands the part of the prophecies concerning him, would print of the nails, and put my finger into the likewise verify those parts that referred to his print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his exaltation and glorious triumph. But the side, I will not believe,” John xx. 25. Thus, spectators of the death of Jesus, saw only his although we are disposed to think very highly degradation; his glory was yet to corne; death of the virtue and constancy of these holy withad now seized his victim, and his resurrection nesses of the crucifixion of our Lord, we dare was to them uncertain; the predictions of his not propose them as models for your imitation; humiliation were fulfilled, but they had not although we have a strong conviction, that seen the accomplishment of those concerning they did not fall under the attacks of the enehis exaltation. This Jesus whom we now be- mies of salvation, yet we dare not affirm, that hold ready to expire, the thread of whose life they entirely triumphed over them; and in is almost spun out, and who will only come discoursing upon their conflicts, we dare not down from the cross to be laid in the tomb, and enter fully on the subject of their victory, to go into the lower regions of the earth, can But not so, when we look to our blessed and this, I ask, be the promised Messiah, who will adorable Redeemer; if we place Christ before “ascend on high, and lead captivity captive, your eyes, we give you a perfect model: you and receive gifts for men?” Ps. Ixviii. 18. Can shall see him struggling, and you shall also this same Jesus, that we see wearing a crown see him more than conqueror; we shall speak of thorns upon his head, with a reed in his less of his struggle, than of his conquest: hand, addressed by the insulting titles, " Jesus “ And Jesus seeing his mother, and the disciof Nazareth, king of the Jews,” John xix. 19, ple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto be the Messiah of whom God says, “I have his mother, Woman, behold thy son. Then set my King upon my holy bill of Zion. Ask saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother; of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thy and from that hour that disciple took her to inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the his own home.” earth for thy possession?" Ps. ii. 6. 8. Is he We are to remark in this place, First, the whom I see insulted, despised, and lightly es- presence of mind, that showed itself through teemed, is he the Messiah, called by the pro- all the sufferings of Christ; no man was ever
“Wonderful, Counsellor, Prince of placed in circumstances so likely to destroy peace, the everlasting Father!" Isa. ix. 6. this feeling, as was our blessed Lord at this This Jesus, who now is nailed to an ignomini- time. My brethren, when we have lived as
is he the Messiah, the Lord to whom men generally do, without thought or reflecGod said, “Sit thou at my right band, until tion, except of the things and affairs of this I make thy enemies thy footstool. The Lord transitory world; and paid no attention to that shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; future day of judgment, which is so fast aprule thou in the midst of thy enemies. Thy proaching, and when our eternal destiny will people shall be willing in the day of thy power, I be determined; when we behold the coming
of death, and have made no preparation for it, feasts to which he was invited, and sanctified never fixed our thoughts on religious subjects, them with his heavenly conversation. nor acted agreeably to the dictates of con This compassionate kindness shone most science; have not restored our ill-gotten wealth; conspicuous in the period referred to by the if we have slandered our neighbour; have evangelist in the words of our text, the weighty made no reparation; have never learned what cares of his soul, which he was on the point is the end of our existence, nor what is death; of yielding into the arms of his Father, did can we view the approach of the king of ter- not make him neglect his temporal concerns, rors, under these circumstances, without emo- he thought of his mother's grief, he procured tion will not our minds be filled with confused her a comforter of her poverty, and gave her ideas, and overpowered with the multiplicity a maintenance. of concerns; and having so many objects But, my brethren, the example of Christ is pressing on them, be prevented from attending worthy not only of praise, but of imitation.
The same religion, which directs our thoughts But if we have, on the contrary, been, to a future state, and to the hour of death, during the whole course of our life, consider- teaches us rightly to perform our duties in the ing our latter end, and following the example present life. A Christian before he dies, will of our blessed Saviour; have always been dili- regulate his affairs, make his will, exhort his gent to do the work of the Lord, and have family, direct the education of his children, never lost sight of that awful period, to which recommend to them proper tutors and guarwe approach rapidly but insensibly; if such dians, and declare what are his dying requests. has been our conduct through life, we may But unhappy are they, who on their death-bed meet death with calmness. When the Chris- are wholly taken up with such cares; religion, tian on his death-bed, beholds around him a while she directs us to give them a portion of weeping family, near relations and intimate our attention, forbids their having it all. Look friends full of grief, he still is calm, he retains to the example of Christ, who seeing his mohis self-possession through a scene so affecting ther and the disciple whom he loved, said to Death to him is not a strange object, he views his mother, Behold thy Son, and to the disciit without alarm, and employs the moments ple, Behold thy mother. that yet remain, in administering consolation But how was Mary provided for, now she to his friends, instructing or comforting his was under the protection of St. John; what family, or in the exercise of religion. And was the prospect that she had before her: he this tranquillity of soul is perhaps one of the was poor; it is true, that he was disposed faithbest characteristics of a happy death, and fully to fulfil the trust reposed in him by his yields greater satisfaction than more trium- adorable master; and that poverty and misforphant expressions, for which there is less solid tune, so fatal to common friendships, only foundation. I have seen men in whose minds served to animate his. But what assistance or the approach of death excites emotions that protection could she hope for from an apostle partake more of the turbulence of frenzy, than devoted to his ministry, and treading in the of zeal; they heap Scripture upon Scripture, footsteps of his crucified master. It was, my and prayer upon prayer, and from not having brethren, but a poor hope, a feeble consolation, thought soon enough of their last moments, for his mother to cling to; but here again we they can now think only of them, and can nei- see the triumph of Christ, which he gained ther see, nor hear, nor think, of any thing else. over those fears, which so often disturb the bed How different were the ast moments of of death. We see in the last moments of our Christ; in the midst of all his agony, he still Lord, none of those suspicions, none of those distinguished from the crowd of spectators his bitter cares, that so often empoison the peace mother; he saw her, and pitied her, and re-of the dying; that criminal distrust of God, commended her to the care of his beloved dis- which offends him at a time, when by prayer ciple. Woman, behold thy Son, Son, behold and praise we ought to conciliate his favour. thy mother.
Christ displayed on this, as on other points, a We see, secondly, the tenderness and com- perfect confidence in the great Disposer of all passion of our Lord. There is a certain dis- events. But Christ triumphed again in anoposition in some, that partakes more of fero-ther way, in which we should endeavour to city, than piety; that possesses none of the imitate him. Do you say what will become amiable properties of true religion. On pre- of my children, or my family: Do you think tence of being Christians, they cease to be that you were the only person to whose care men: as they must one day quit the world, God could confide them, or that if he calls you they will form no connexions in it. Being away, he will have no resource left for their occupied with the concerns of the soul, they subsistence? Do you think that the manifold forget the care of this life, and the concerns wisdom of God, can raise them up no other proof it.
tector? Do you think that if the paternal chaThe piety of Christ was not incompatible racter excites in you such tender emotions, with the innocent cares and concerns of life, that he who is the Father of all, does not feel he contributed largely to the pleasure of those them also? Do you imagine that he who parwith whom he associated, he behaved towards dons all your sins, cleanses you from your them with kindness, mildness, and condescen- guilt, snatches you from destruction, invites sion. He changed water into wine, at the you to glory, will disdain to supply food and marriage in Cana; he multiplied the loaves clothing, to those who survive you? No, he and fishes in the desert, to afford subsistence to will not: had they for their sole resource, a those who followed him; he partook of the man in such a sphere of life as was St. John,