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ed to know of the divinity whether tery, died the ninth day after he he should facrifice a white or black was born. Tacitus,. Suetonius, bull.
and Josephus, applied to Vefpafian In the temple of the goddess of the prophecies that regarded the Syria, when the statue of Apollo Meriah. was inclined to deliver oracles, it The oracles were often very sweated, moved, and was full of equivocal, or fo obscure, that their agitations on its pedestal. Then, signification was not understood the priests carrying it on their till after the event. A few exshoulders, it pushed and turned amples, out of a great many, will them on all sides, and the high- be sufficient. - Cresus having repriest interrogating it on all sorts ceived from the Pythoness this anof affairs, if it refused its consent, swer, that, by passing the river it drove the priests back; if other- Halys, he would destroy a great wise, it made them advance. empire; he understood it to be
Suetonius fays, that, some the empire of his enemy, whereas months before the birth of Au- he destroyed his own. The oracle guftus, an oracle was current, im- consulted by Pyrrhus gave him an porting, that nature was labouring answer, which might be equally unat the production of a king, who derstood of the victory of Pyrrhus, would be master of the Roman em- and the victory of the Romans, pire; that the senate, in great, his enemies. confternation, had forbid the rear. Aio te, Æacida, Romanos vincere poffe. ing of any male child who fhould
The equivocation lies in the be born that year, but that the construction of the Latin tongue, fenators, whose wives were preg- which cannot be rendered in Eng. nant, found means to hinder the lifh. The Pythoness advised Creinscribing of the decree in the fus to guard against the mule. public registers. It seems that the . The king of Lydia understood noprediction, of which Auguftus was thing of the oracle, which denoted only the type, regarded the birth Cyrus descended from two different of Jesus Christ, the spiritual king nations, from the Medes by Manof the whole world; or that the dana, his mother, the daughter of wicked spirit was willing, by sug- Altyages ; and from the Persians gesting this rigorous decree to the by his father Cambyses, whose race fenate, to dispose Herod, by this
was by far less grand and illustrious. example, to involve the Mefliah, Nero had for answer, from the in the massacre that was made by oracle of Delphos, that seventyhis orders of all the children of three might prove fatal to him.He two years and under. The whole believed hewas safe from all danger world was then full of the expecta- till that age, but, finding himself tion of the Messiah's coming. We deserted by every one, and hearsee by Virgil's fourth Eclogue, that ing Galba proclaimed emperor, he applies to the son of the con-, who was seventy-three years of sul Alinius Pollio the prophecies, age, he was sensible of the deceit which from the Jews had then of the oracle. paffed into foreign nations. This
St. Jerome obseryes, that, if child, the object of Virgil's flat.' the devils declare any truth, they
always join lies to it, and use such of God, graved in a mysterious ambiguous expresions, that they manner. Without designing to may be applied to contrary events. discover what has 'not been ex
Whilft the false oracles of de- plained us, we should understand, mons deceived the idolatrous na- by Urimeand Thummim, the ditions, truth had retired among the vine inspiration annexed to the chosen people of God. The Sep- confecrated breaft-plate. tuagint have interpreted Urim and
Several paffages of the scripture Thummim, manifeitation and truth, leave room to believe, that an arSúdwont vý s'anderdy;
** which ex ticulate voice came forth from the presses how different those divine propitiatory, or holy of holies, oracles were from the false and beyond the veil of the tabernacle; equivocal ones of demons. It is faid and that this voice was heard by in the book of Numbers, that the high-priest. Eleazar, the fucceffor of Aaron, If the Urim and Thummim did fhall interrogate Urim in form, and not make anfwer, it was a sign of that a resolution shall be taken ac God's anger. · Saul, abandoned cording to the answer given. by the Spirit of the Lord, con
· The ephod applied to the cheft fülted it in vain, and obtained no on the facerdotal vestments of the sort of answer. It appears by high-priest, was a piece of stuff co fome paffages of St. John's gospel, vered with twelve precious ftones, that, in the time of Christ, the on which the names of the twelve exercise of the chief-priesthood was tribes were engraved. It was not ftill attended with the gift of proallowed to consult the Lord by phecy. Urim and Thummim, but for the When men began to be better king, the president of the Sanhe- inftructed by the lights philosophy drim, the general of the army, had introduced into the world, the and other public perfons, and on falfe oracles insensibly, loft their affairs that regarded the general credit. Chryfippus filled an intire
interest of the nation. 1. If the volume with false or doubtful oraE affair was to fucceed, the stones of cles. Oenomaus, ' to be revenged
the ephod emitted a sparkling light; of some oracle that had deceived or the high-priest infpired predict him, made a compilation of oraed the fuccess: * Jofephus, who cles, to fhew their ridicule and was born thirty years after Christ,' vanity. Eusebius has preferved says, that it was then two hundred fome fragments of this criticism years since the ftones of the ephodon oracles by Oenomaus. I might, had given an answer to consulta says Origen, have recourse to the tions by 'extraordinary luftre. authority of Ariftotle, and the
The scriptures only inform us, Peripatetics, to make the Pythothat Urim and Thummim were ners much fufpected; I might exfomething that Moses had put in tract from the writings of Epicurus the high-priest's breaft-plate. Some and his feetators an abundance rabbins by Tath conje&tures," have' of things to difcredit oracles; and believed that they were two small> I might fhew that the Greeks Statues hidden within the breast themselves made no great account plats; others, the ineffable name of them..
The reputation of oracles was febius for this oracle, which is not greatly leffened, when they became now found in his works; and Auan artifice of politits. Themisto- guftus's peregrination into Greece cles, with a design of engaging was eighteen years before the birth the Athenians to quit Athens, and of Chrift. to embark, in order to be in a bet Suidas and Cedrenus give an ter condition to refift Xerxes, made account also of an ancient oracle the Pythonefs deliver an oracle, delivered to Thulis, a commanding them to take refuge Egypt, which they say is well auin wooden walls. Demosthenes thenticated. The king having said, That the Pythoness philip- consulted the oracle of Serapis, to písed, to signify that she was gain know if there ever was, or would ed over by Philip's presents. be, one fo great as himself, re
The ceffation of oracles is at-ceived this answer : “ First God, tefted by--feveral profane authors, next the Word, and the Spirit as Strabo, Juvenal, Lucan, and with them. They are equally others. Plutarch accounts for the eternal, and make but one, whole cause of it, either that the benefits power will never end. But thou, of the Gods -are not eternal as mortal, go hence, and think that
, is who presided over 'oracles, are sub- certain." jeet to death ; or that the exhala Van Dale, in his treatise of tions of the earth had been ex- oracles, does not believe that they hausted. It appears that the last ceased at the coming of Christ. reason had been alledged in the He relates several examples of time of Cicero, who ridicules it' oracles consulted till the death of in his second book of Divination, Theodofius the Great. He quotes as if the spirit of prophecy, sup- the laws of the emperors, Theodoposed to be excited by subterra- fius, Gratian, and Valentinian, neous effluvia, had evaporated by againft those who consulted oracles, length of time, as wine or pickle as a certain proof that the superstiby being long kept.
tion of oracles still subfifted in the Suidas, Nicephorus, and Ce- time of those emperors. drenus relate, that Auguftus haya The opinion of those that be ing consulted the oracle of Del- lieve, that the demons had ne phos, could obtain no other an- share in the oracles, and that the swer but this : The Hebrew Child coming of the Mefiah made no whom all the God's obey, drives change in them; and the contrary me hence, and sends me back to opinion of those who pretend that hell: get out of this temple with the incarnation of the Word imout speaking one word.” Suidas posed a general silence on all ora-. adds, that Auguftus dedicated an cles, should be equally rejected. altar in the Capitol, with this in. The reasons appear from what has fcription : « To the eldest Son of been said, and therefore two sorts God.” Notwithstanding these tef- of oracles ought to be distinguishtimonies, the answer of the oracle ed, the one dictated by the spirits of Delphos to Augustus seems very of darkness, who deceived" men fufpicious. Cedrenus cites Eu- by their obscure and doubtful an
wers; the other, the pure artie, and Socrates, in their ecclesiastical ice and cheat of the priests of false histories. The fophist Libanius, liyinities. As to the oracles given who was an enemy of the christians, but by demons, the reign of Satan confessed also that St. Babylas had vas destroyed by the coming of , filenced the oracle of Apollo, in he Saviour; truth shut the mouth the faburbs of Antioch. Ef lies; but Satan continued his Plutarch relates, that the pilot old craft among idolaters. All the Thamus heard a voice in the air, devils were not forced to filence at crying out: “ The great Pan is the fame time by the coming of the dead" whereupon Eusebius obMessiah ; it was on particular och serves, that the accounts of the cafions that the truth of christianity, death of the demons were frequent and the virtue of christians im- in the reign of Tiberius, when posed filence on the devils. St. Christ drove out the wicked spirits. Athanafius tells the pagans, that The fame judgment may be passed they have been witnesses themselves on oracles as on poffesfions. It that the sign of the cross pats, the was on particular occasions, by the devils to fight, filences oracles, divine permission, that the chriand diffipates inchantments. This stians caft out devils, or filenced power of filencing oracles, and oracles, in the presence, and even putting the devils to flight, is also by the confession of the pagans attested by Arnobius, Lactantius, themselves. And thus it is we Prudentius, Minutius Felix, and should, it seems, understand the feyeral others. Their testimony is passages of St. Jerom, Eusebius, a certain proof that the coming of Cyril, Theodoret, Prudentius, and the Messiah had not imposed a ge- other authors, who faid, That the neral filence on oracles.
coming of Christ had impofed The emperor Julian, called the filence on the oracles. Apoftate, consulting the oracle of As to the second sort of oracles, Apollo in the suburbs of Antioch, which were pure artifices and cheats the devil could make him no other of the priests of false divinities, answer, but that the body of St. and which probably exceeded the Babylas, buried in the neighbour- number of those that immediately hood, imposed filence on him. proceeded from demons, they did The emperor transported with rage not cease till idolatry was abolishand vexation, resolved to revenge ed, though they had lost their his gods, by cluding a folemn pre, credit for a considerable time be- , diction of Christ. He ordered the fore the coming of Christ. It was Jews to rebuild the temple of Jeo concerning this more common and rusalem, but in beginning to dig general fort of oracles, that Mithe foundations, balls of fire burst nutius Felix said, they began to out, and consumed the artificers, discontinue their responses, acwith their tools and materials. cording as men began to be more These faets are attested by Am- polite. But, howsoever decried mianus Marcellinus, a pagan, and oracles were, impoftors always the emperor's historian; and by found dupes, the grofleft cheats St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory Ná having never failed. zianzen, and Theodoret, Sozomen
Daniel discovered the imposture dinary a manner, that the ignorant of the priests of Bel, who had a people attributed it to the ftrength private way of getting into the of the god he was poffeffed by. temple, to take away the offered He had long before prepared a meats, and who made the king be- head of a dragon made of linen, lieve, that the idol consumed them. which opened and shat its mouth Mundus, being in love with Pau- by means of a horse's hair.--He lina, the eldest of the priefteffes went by night to a place where the of Ifis, went and told her, that foundations of a temple were digthe god Anubis, being paffionately ging, and, having found water, fond of her, commanded her to either of a spring or rain that had give him a meeting. She was af- fettled there, he hid in it a goofeterwards fhut up in a dark room, egg, in which he had inclosed a where her lover Mundus, whom little serpent, that had been juft she believed to be the god Anubis, hatched.
The next day, very was concealed. This impofture early in the morning, he came having been discovered, Tiberius quite naked into the street, having ordered those detestable priests and only a scarf about his middle, holdpriefteffes to be crucified, and with ing in his hand a fcythe, and toffing them Idea, Mundus's free-woman, about his hair as the priests of who had conducted the whole in- Cybele then getting a-top of trigue. He also commanded the a high altar, he said that the place temple of Ifis to be levelled with was happy to be honoured by the the ground, her ftatue to be thrown birth of a god.—Afterwards, run
into the Tiber, and, as to Mun- ning down to the place where he dus, he contented himself with had hid the goofe-egg, and going sending him into banishment. into the water, he began to sing the
Theophilus, bishop of Alexan- praises of Apollo and Esculapius, dria, not only destroyed the tem- and to invite the latter to come and ples of the false gods, but difco- few himself to men. With these vered the cheats of the priests, by words he dips a bowl into the fhewing that the statues, some of water, and takes out a mysterious which were of brass, and others egg, which had a god inclosed in of wood, were hollow within, and it; and when he had it in his hand, led into dark passages made in the he began to say that he held Escuwall.
lapius. Whist all were eager to ' Lucian, in discovering the im- have a fight of this fine mystery, poftures of the false prophet Alex- he broke the egg, and the little ander, fays, that the oracles were serpent starting out, twisted itself chiefly afraid of the subtilties of about his fingers.
Epicureans and Chriftians. These examples fhew clearly, The false prophet Alexander fome- that both christians and pagans times feigned himself seized with were so far agreed as to treat the a divine fury, and by means of the greater number of oracles as pureherb fopewort, which he chewed, ly human impoftures, frothed at the mouth in so extraor