« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
On sait aussi que l'Empereur Julien, qui n'avoit på ajouter foi aux prophesies de l'Ancien et du Nouveau
Testament, étoit excessivement addonné aur augures, et aux présages que l'on tiroit des entrailles des victimes, et les Payens mêmes l’en ont repris. Voiez Ammien Marcellin, l. xxv. c. 5.
Je pose en fait que ces sortes de choses sont aussi difficiles à croire si on les considerè en elles-mêmes, que les mysteres et les miracles de la Religion Chrétienne. Mais les Incredules y ajoutent foi, pendant qu'ils refusent de croire à l'Evangile ;, parce que ces sortes d'opinions n'ont aucun rapport avec la conduite de la vie, et ne sont nullement incompatibles, comme la Morale Chrétienne, avec leurs mauvaises habitudes. Le Clerc De L'Incredulite, Part I. ch. i. p. 32.
It is a question of importance, whether there has ever been in the Pagan world such a thing as divination, or a foreknowledge of things. The strongest argument against it is contained in Isaiah (ch. xli.) where Al. mighty God foretelling many great events, particularly the raising up of Cyrus to destroy the Babylonian monarchy, and to deliver the Jews from captivity, declares that he alone can discover such things, and appeals to these predictions, as tó proofs of his divinity, and evident arguments that there is no God besides him. Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us whut shall happen: let them shew the former things that they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods : yed, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed and behold it
together. together. Behold ye are of nothing, &c. And again : Į have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them ; Į did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sie nera, and thy brow brass : I have even from the beginning declared it to theç : before it came to pass I shewed it thee; lest tkou shouldst say, Mine idol kath done then, and my graven image, and my molten image huith commanded them, &e. xlviii, and more to the same purpose, Hence it has been concluded that there never was such a thing as fore-knowledge in the Pagan world, a conclusion too large and absolute to be infered from the premisses.
Hinc possunt egregie confutari, qui putant frequentissime apud Ethnicos futura a Cacodæmonibus prrenuna ciata ; quod hic a nemine, nisi u se, fieri posse statuat Deus. Pleraque omnia illa oracula, qure leguntur apud yetercs Graecos, aut numquam sunt edita, aut ab hominibus pronunciata, ut viri docti satis ostenderunt, et præsertim vir eruditus Antonius Van Dale. Svepius hic rcpititur provocatio Dei, ne leciter res prætereut, sed altius in animum desceodat, præsertim idololatrarum Judeorum.
Imo vero, dixissent Graçi, multa habemus oraculaSed Propheta reposuissct merus fraudes fuisse hominum, qui aut anbiguis responsis consultores eludebant, vel conjecturé de rebus futuris temere judicabant, quam postea arguebat eventus, Si certe credidisset Cacodæmones ipsos fudisse oracula, aliter pleue locutus esset, cum sciret homines ab ejusmodi malis spiritibus non difficulter potuisse falli, nec plebeculam eorum responsa a responsis ipsius Dei satis posse secernere.--Non ita loquerentur qui fadem habent historiis Ethnicorum de ostentis et prodigiis, quæ potentia Cacodaemonum vere contigisse volunt; ex
eorum enim sententia magna et memorabilia fuissent mal. orum spirituum per totum terrarum orbem opera. Sed Prophetre longe malumus credere, quam ejusmodi hominibus.-Clericus ad Isaiam. To whose remarks we might add, that the scriptures, though they seem in many places to allow that evil spirits may work miracles, yet no where suppose or intimate, that they can predict the future actions of men, except perhaps in Acts xvi. 16. and there it is not necessary that such prophecy should be meant. In Deut. xiii. it is said, If there arise amongst you a prophet, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,-saying, Let us go after other gods,—that prophet shall be put to death. But this seems not so much intended to declare that such false prophets should be able to shew signs and work miracles, as to secure the people against idolatry; and therefore God says, If a man endeavours to seduce you to idolatry, put him to death, even though he should give you signs and won. ders. Besides, the sign, whether real or pretended, might be rather of the miraculous than of the prophetic kind, and it could not be the prediction of a remote event, because that would not serve an impostor's purpose. The same remark may be applied to the false prophets in Mat. xxiv méyou, and yónles, who should shew signs and wonders, but whose predictions and promises should be confuted by the event.
Prophecies, in one respect, seem to carry with them surer marks of proceeding from God than miracles : for spirits, good or evil, may, by their own natural strength, and without God's immediate assistance, perform things surpassing human abilities (which to men are miracles) unless God restrain them ; but it seems altogether beyond the power of a created, finite, limited being to look into futurity, and to foresee the
actions actions and behaviour of free agents, who as yet are unborn ; this is an act, which probably implics a power equal to creation and preservation, and to upholding the universal system, and therefore prophecy must be the gift of God; and an angel, or an evil dæmon, if he foretells such remote events, must be inspired himself, or must get his knowledge from divine prophecies; or else what he delivers must be by a conjectural skill, in which he may perhaps sometimes, in some general things, aim right, and be able to form a better guess and judgment than mortal men, having larger views and longer experience. If he should have skill to foretell inclement seasons, droughts, tempests, inundations, pestilences, earthquakes, famines, fertility of the earth, plentiful harvests, &c. yet to know what good and evil shall befal the unborn grand-children of Caius and Titius, how they shall behave themselves, and how they shall spend their days, lies in all probability far beyond the sagacity of any creature. · In the book of Tobit, the angel Raphael says to To.' bias, Fear not, for she [Sarah] is appointed unto thee from the beginning, and thou shalt preserve her, and she shall go with thee : moreover I suppose that shee shall bear thee children, vi. 17. Here is an angel's conjecture, which was fulfilled, as the writer takes care to inform us, xiy. 12.
Whosoever he was who wrote the history of Tobit, his design seems to have been to draw the character of a pious and worthy man, who on account of his piety fell into great distress, and who, after having borne many calamities with resignation and constancy, was restored to prosperity, and led a long and happy life. He had a wife, pious and virtuous like himself, but once or twice a little too querulous, and a son, who
was an amiable youth, and a dutiful child to his par rents. Angels good and evil are introduced *, with a sufficient quantity of the marvellous 7. The name itself of Tobit seems to be feigned, for Táb in Hebrew means bonus. There are also other feigned names in this drama, concerning which see Grotius, Lastly, both the heroes of the story are very long lived ; the father lived 158, and the son 127 years, All this has the air of a pious fiction, and the author seems to have proposed to himself to imitate the book of Job, Virgil makes the harpy say, Æn. iii. 251.
Quc Phæbo Pater omnipotens, mhi Phoebus Apollo
Præedixit, vobis Furiarum ego maxima pando, Where Servius remarks, Notandum Apollinem, quce dis cit, ab Jove cognoscere. Æschylus 'leg.
TRūta gas naloge
hec namque pater Jupiter immittit Appollini oracula. And :
Πατρός προφήτης έσι Λοξίας Διός.
Apollo patris Jovis est propheta, Apollo, says Suidas, is Jupiter's prophet, and delivers to men the oracles which he receives from him. ó'A. πόλλων υποφήτης επί το σαθρός, και παρ' εκείνα λαμβάνει τας μας, Içías, rý Tois arb; TOIS Éx ©éget,
In *The Jews believed seven principal angels, Zech. iv. 1o. Rev. i. 4, v. 6. viii, 2. One may suppose, from the number, that they werç thought to preside over the planets. Tobil xii. 15.
+ Les Juifs ont debité un si grand nombre de fables, que leur histoire, depuis le tems des derniers des Historiens sacrez, n'est guere plus raisonable que les plus fabuleuses' histoires du Paganisme. Au moins il est certain qu'étant mieux instruits que les Payens, ils sont beaucoup plus blâmables d'avour inventé tant de mensonges. Le Clerc, Bibl, Chois, üi. 166,