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oracle of Bacis, in which there is a remarkable expression, and in the style of the Scriptures,
Δία δίκη σβέσσει κρατερον κόρον, ύβριος υιόν:
Compescet juvenem meritissima pæna superbum:' as Psalm lxxxix. 22.-'nor the son of wickedness afflict him.' 2 Sam. vii. 10. ( neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them.' Judas is called “the son of perdition,' John xvii. 12. where see Grotius.
Herodotus also relates prophetic dreams, which were said to have been accomplished; as the dream of Cræsus, of Astyages, and of others. ' Having travelled,' says Prideaux, through Ægypt, Syria, and several other countries, in order to the writing of his history, he did, as travellers used to do,-he put down relations upon trust, as he met with them, and no doubt was imposed upon in many of them.
” ' Tiresias had an oracle at Orchomenus, which having been famous for some ages, was silent after a plague had raged in that town. It is highly probable, as Bayle observes, that the distemper swept away all the priests, and that none was left to conduct the affair, and to forge responses. Bayle Dict. Tiresias. As to the evil dæmons, it is to be supposed that the plague did not destroy them, and that they were as capable of prophesying after, as before it.
Van Dale, in his book De Oraculis, observes, that the oracular temples were usually situated in mountainous places, which abounded with caverns fitted for frauds:
That the oracles were delivered only at stated times :
That at Delphi, the priestess had priests, prophets, and poets, to take down, and explain, and mend her gibberish; which served to justify Apollo from the imputation of making bad verses : for if they were defective the fault was laid upon the amanuensis :
That the consulters sometimes wrote their requests, and received answers in writing :
That the priests had the art of opening letters and closing them again, without breaking the seal :
That the adyta, whence the oracles were delivered, were shaded with branches, and clouded with incense, to help the fraud :
That in the temples sweet smells were suddenly diffused, o show that the god was in good humour :
That there are drugs, herbs, and fumigations which will make a man foam at the mouth, and be delirious; and that the priestess might use such methods :
Father Ange de S. Joseph, a Carmelite and missionary in the Levant, relates that a person worthy of credit having taken a pill of Persian opium, was forced, for many hours, to laugh and to talk nonsense, in spite of himself. He saw little phantasms pass before his eyes, and goblins who made a very grotesque appearance, and felt several other extraordinary effects, without any bad consequence.
This example shows how certain compositions can operate upon the imagination and the senses. The father did not care to say that himself was the person to whom this happened; but Chardin attests it in his Voyages.' Beausobre, Hist. de Manich. i. 186.
That it might also sometimes be grimace and artifice:
That the god sometimes gave answers himself, by a voice, or by the motion of his statue, &c.
This is what I had to offer concerning divination and prophecy in general, the Sibylline oracles excepted, which shall be examined apart.
The prophecies relating to our Saviour and to Christianity have some of them a mixture of obscurity, and the interpretations which have been given of them are various : but this ought to be matter neither of wonder nor of offence, because in the nature of things it cannot be otherwise.
• It were indeed to be wondered if obscurity should not lie upon some of the prophecies, the latest whereof was written at the distance of above two thousand years ago.
* Prophetic writings, besides what is common to them with other writings, to grow dark with age, have something peculiar in their nature to render them less intelligible. Prophecies, remote from the time of their accomplishment, and whose completion depends on the concurrence of free agents, are not wont to be delivered very distinctly at first.
· The obscurity becomes greater from the language wherein they are written. The Hebrew, as other eastern languages, is entirely different from the European. Many things are there left to be supplied by the quickness of the reader's apprehension, which are with us expressed by pro
per words and repetitions. Particles disjunctive and advercative, significative marks of connection and of transition from one subject to another, are often omitted here. Dialogues are carried on, objections answered, comparisons made, without notice in the discourse ; and through frequent change of persons, tenses, and numbers, we are left to guess who are the persons spoken of, which gave no difficulty to them whose living language it was. “The prophetic style is of all other the most copious
li seems to be a sort of language by itself. It ties itself to no order or method, but passes from one subject to another insensibly, and suddenly resumes it again, and often sallies out to the main thing that was in. tended in the prophet's thoughts. The prophets used to act part of what they were to foretell. Those actions suprlying the place of words, and being not expressed in the writing, a sort of chasm is sometiines to be discerned in them; as, at other times, different discourses or addresses distinguishable in the speaking, by proper signs and motions, seem now to be connected, though they have no relation to each other.
What increases the disficulty, is the little or no order that the collectors have placed the prophecies in, according to the usage of the antients, who joined together writings upon different occasions of the same authors, and sometimes of different authors, as if they made but one continued discourse.
· The mistake might have been in some measure prevented, had the books written by the Jews after their return from the Babylonian captivity remained to our days.-But these helps fail us; and not one book written in the Hebrew tongue, since prophecy ceased, hath escaped the general calamity that hath befallen the Jewish writings.' Bp. Chandler Introd. to Defense of Christian.
• Oratio Jesaiæ sic est constructa, ut de illius arte, elegantia, év:py:io, pondere, nihil tam magnificum cogitari ac dici possit, quin sit infra ejus meritum.-Sed id ipsum est, quod interpretem multis in locis impedit, ejusque, studiosi etiam et bonis subsidiis instructi, ciligentiam ac judicium valde exercet. Imo vero censeo, nullius mortalis, licet in Hebræis literis docte versati, tantum esse acumen, peritiam, perspicaciam, ut prophetæ nostro longe pluribus locis red
dere potuerit genuinum suum sensum, nisi lectio antiqua synagogica per traditionem in scholis Hebræorum fuisset conservata, ut eam nunc Masoretharum punctulis expressam habemus.' Vitringa, Præfat. ad Jesaiam.
Il y a dans les prophetes beaucoup de mots très.obscurs, qui pouvoient être clairs autrefois, que la langue Hebraique étoit florissante. Il y a encore plus de passages, où la construction et la liaison du discours ne sont pas faciles à dé. veloper, et où l'on ne voit pas bien ce que les prophetes ont voulu dire. Les allusions fréquentes à des choses, qui nous sont inconnues, soit à l'égard des Juifs, soit à l'égard de la plûpart des peuples voisins, dont il ne nous reste aučuns monumens, ne servent pas peu à embarrasser les interpretes. Le Clerc, Bibl. Chois. xxvii. 381.
' Nos sane suas elegantias esse Hebræorum linguæ, quemadmodum ceteris omnibus, non negamus; sed cum cultis et copiosis linguis conferendam esse non putamus. Monendus tamen est lector eam a nobis spectari, non quaLis olim dum florebat fortasse fuit, sed qualis superest in libris sacris, quibus omnes ejus reliquiæ continentur. Multo quidem plura vocabula, pluresque phrases in usu fuisse, quam quæ in modico volumine leguntur, non ægre fatemur. Sed quoad potest ex ejus reliquiis judicium ferri, inopem eam, ambiguam, et parum cultam fuisse existimamus, quod jam ostendere aggredienur.
Linguarum omnium laudes in tribus potissimum rebus sitæ sunt, in copia vocabulorum et phrasium, in perspicuitate orationis, ejusque elegantia, cujus a rhetoribus canones describuntur; quibus rebus multo Hebraicâ superiores sunt multæ linguæ, et Græca quidem præ ceteris ; nec quasi pulcherrimam jactari Hebraicam posse, manifestum est,' &c. &c. Le Clerc, Proleg. ad V. T. Diss. i.
Such are the difficulties which attend the interpretation of the prophecies, and which I chose to represent in the words of competent judges.
And yet that Jesus was the Messias foretold by the prophets, appears thus :
The prophets speak of a new and second covenant which God would make with his people. They mention, not once or twice, but very often, the conversion of the Gentiles from superstition and idolatry to the worship of
the true God; they speak of four successive empires, the last of which was the Roman empire; and under this last empire they say that a new and everlasting kingdom should be established by one to whom God should give absolute power and dominion. A great person was to come, who should be Emmanuel, or, God with us, the Son of God, and the Son of man, of the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, and of David; born of a virgin, poor and obscure, and yet one whom David calls his Lord; the Lord to whom the temple belonged, the mighty God, a great king, an everlasting priest, though not of the tribe of Levi; born at Bethlehem; a prophet like unto Moses, but greater than Moses ; a prophet who should preach to the poor
and meek, and proclaim liberty to the captives, and comfort the mourners, and heal the broken-hearted; who should proclaim his gospel first and principally in the land of Zebulon and Naphthali, in Galilee of the Gentiles; who should have a forerunner in the spirit of Elias, crying in the wilderness, • Prepare ye the way of the Lord;' who should instruct in a mild and peaceable manner, without wrath and contention, before the destruction of the temple, in which temple he should be seen and heard; who should enter into Jerusalem meek and humble, and riding on an ass; who should work miracles more than Moses and all the prophets, and miracles of the merciful ard beneficent kind, open
eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf, and make the dumb to praise God, and the lame to leap like a hart; who, notwithstanding all his power and goodness, should be rejected by the greater part of the nation, to whom he should be a stumbling-block; who should be despised and afflicted, a man of sorrow, and cut off from the land of the living; who should have enemies numerous, powerful, crafty, and wicked; who should be accused by false witnesses, betrayed by an intimate and particular friend, sold for thirty pieces of silver, and the money given for a potter's field, when it had been flung away by the traitor, who should not live long after his crime, and whose office should be filled up by another; that his enemies should use him contumeliously, buffet him, and spit upon him, whilst he should be led like a lamb to the slaughter, not opening his mouth, and uttering nothing, except intercessions for the trans