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In the Hymn to Apollo, the god says concerning himself, 1.32.
Χρήσω τ' ανθρώποισι Διός νημερθέα βολήν.
Oraculoque edam hominibus Jovis verum consilium. And in our learned poet, the Almighty is introduced saying to the arch-angel Michael,
As I shall thee enlighten. To prophecy is to be adjoined a knowledge of the secret intentions of men. It seems to be beyond the abilities of any created being to ķnow the thoughts of a man, particularly of a man who is agitated by no passion, and gives no indications of his mind by any outward sign. This is ascribed to God, as liis pecuļiar perfection, in many places of Scripture, and it is said, that he is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts, fc. This knowledge God often imparted to the prophets.
Cicero has treated the subject of divination in two books; in the first he alledges all that can be said for it, and in the second he argues against it. Whosoever will examine his reasons on both sides, may see, I think, that he has not overset all the proofs which he has offered for it. He observes, that all nations, civil and barbarous, always agreed in this, that there was such a thing as divination, or a foreknowledge of e. yents, to be obtained by various indications, as by the stars, by portents and prodigies, by the entrails of victims, by omens, by lots, by forebodings, by conşulting the dead, by oracles, by inspired persons, by dreams, fc. If there is such a thing as divination, said the Pagans, there must be a Dcity from whoin it
proceeds, proceeds, because man by his own natural powers can. not discover things to come ; and if there be a Deity, there is probably divination, since it is not a conduct unworthy of the Deity to take notice of mortal men, and of their affairs, and on some occasions to advise and instruct them. Thus the Pagans argued, and accordingly, for the most part, they who believed a God and a providence, believed divination, they who were atheists denied it, and they who were sceptics decided nothing about it.
Divination was a matter of fact, and to be proved like other facts, by evidence, testimony, and experience : and some philosophers rejecting all other kinds of divination, as dubious and fallacious, admitted two sorts, that by inspired persons, and that by dreams. In favour of the latter we have the authorities of Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle. Cicero de Drvin. i. 25.
Atquc dormientium animi maxime declarant divinitatem suam. Multa enim, cum remissi et liberi sunt, futura prospiciunt, &c. Cicero de Senect. 22. which is taken from Xenophon.
When Socrates was in prison, Crito went to pay him an early visit, and told him, he was informed by persons come from sea, that the ship from Delos would return to Athens that day, the consequence of which was, that Socrates would be put to death on the morrow. Be it so, said Socrates, if it please the gods : yet I think the ship will not be here to-day, but to-morrow. Why so, dear friend? Because this night a woman of a beautiful and majestic form, clothed in a white robe, appeared to me in a dream, and calling me by my name, said,
Ημαθί κεν τρίλατο Φθίην ερίβωλον κoιο.
The third day shall land thee safe at fruitful Phthia. They are the words of Achilles in Homer, when he proposed to return home. Socrates took it for a prediction of his death, because he judged that to die was to go home to his own country. And his dream was accomplished. Plato's Crito. See Le Clerc on Gen. xii. 7. concerning revelations by dreams. Josephus has recorded a remarkable dream of Glaphyra, Antig. xvii. 12. and Bell, Jud. ï. 7: But Noris, in his Cenotaph. Pis. and Le Clerc Bibl. Chois. iv. 60. observe that it cannot be true, that Archelaus married the wi.. dow of Juba ; whence it follows, that this dream of Glaphyra, supposed to be widow of Juba, and wife of Archelaus, is either entirely, or partly false...
He who would see some modern accounts of dreams and prophecies, may consult Grotius, Epist. 405. Part ï. or Le Clerc Bibl. Univ. T. i. p. 152. and La Mothe le Vayer, Problemes Sceptiques xxviii. and the life of Usher by Parr, and the visions of a strange fellow called Rice Evans, and Bayle's Diet. Majus, not. [D.] Maldonat, not. [G.] where he says of prophetic dreams, De tels fuits, dont l'univers est tout plein, enbarrassent plus les Esprits forts qu'ils ne le témoignent.
As the reader may not liave the books to which I have referred, it may save him some trouble, and give him some satisfaction or amuseinent to peruse what follows : Quidam ad Landresium, in operibus, proximè op. pridum cubans, somnio monitus ut cuniculum hostis caveret, surresit. Vix egressus erat, prorumpit vis tecta, locumque disjicit. At Salmasium si videris, historiam tibi referet, patre suo auctore. Ad eum venit guirlan Greece linguce plane ignarus. Is in somnio voces Griccas has audierat ; 67168 i'r és ppaívn tiroir dy dziur ; experrectusque Gallicis literis sonun carum rocilin perscripserat.
Cum ejus nihil intelligeret, rogatus Senator Salmasius ei verba interpretatur, est enim filii doctissimi doctus pater. Migrat homo ex ædibus. Em nocte sequente corruunt. Hoc his adjice quce Cicero, Tertullianus alique ex omni, um gentium historiis de somnis collegere, jyás tavap éx Aiós ésm, interdum, contra quàm censent Peripatetici, Grotius, p. 570. · Le Clerc, where he gives an account of this passage, tells us, that Salmasius the father was Conseiller art Parlement de Dijon.
La Mothe le Vayer seems to relate the same story that Grotius had from Salmasius, but with some dif, ference. Un Conseiller du Parlement de Dijon nommé Carré, ouït en dormant qu'on lui disoit ces mots Grecs, qu'il n'entendoit nullement, anibe, xx aiotama tik aš atuxíar. Ils luy furent interpretez, abi, non sentis infortunium tuum ; et comme la maison qui’il habitoit menaçoit de ruinne, il la quitta fort à propos, pour éviter sa cheute qui arriva aussi-tót aprés. La Mothe probably took his account from common rumour, when the story had un, dergone some alteration in passing from one to another, 'Atuxíar would be a more eligible word than a fuxiav, if we were at liberty to chuse ; but we must take it as Salmasius gives it, and not alter the language of Monsieur Le Songe,
As to the oracles which were uttered in Pagan temples, if we consider how many motives both of private gain, and of national politics might have contributed to support them, and what many of the Pagans have said against them, and what obscure and shuffling answers they commonly contained, and into what scorn and neglect they fell at last, we must needs have a contemptible opinion of them in general ; we cannot fix upon any oracles on which we can depend,
as upon prophecies which were pronounced and fulfilled ; and if there were any such, which on the other land we cannot absolutely deny and disprove, they are irretrievably lost and buried under the rubbish of the false, ambiguous, and trilling responses which history has preserved ; and those which have a plausible appearance, lie under the suspicion of having been composed after the event. Some of them were in such doggrel verse, that they cást a grievous réproach upon the god of poetry, from whom they were supposed to proceed, and betrayed the poor capacity of the laureate poet.
In the class of knaves and liars must be placed the generality of soothsayers, magicians, and they who made a craft and à livelihood of predicting, and drew up the art into a system. Setting aside these sorts of divination, as extremely suspicious, there remain prédictions by dreams, and by sudden impulses upon persons who were not of the fraternity of impostors; these were allowed to be sometimes preternatural by many of the learned Pagans, and cannot, I think, be disproved, and should not be totally rejected. If it be asked whether these dreams and impulsés were caused by the immediate inspiration of God, or by the mediation of good or of evil spirits, we must confess our own ignorance and incapacity to resolve the question. There is a history in the Acts of the Apostles, which seems to determine the point in favour of divination. A certain damsel, says St Luke, possesseil with u spirit of divination, met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servunts of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days : But Paul being grieved,