페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

particularly affirm'd by Numenius the Pythagorean,) that the Brachmans also of India were not unacquainted with it, and that the Laws of the wiseft Heathen Nations were taken from the Laws of Mofes. All which would have appear'd in many more and plainer Instances, if the Greeks had been more ingenuous and fincere ; if it had not been their Custom to h derive the Names of Places from some Hero of their own In vention ; if they had not i fet up false Inscriptions; if k Plagiarism had not been a common thing among them; and if in their Histories they had not chang'd the Names of Persons and Places to conceal their Thefts.

III. The Oracles ascrib'd to the Sibyls are so plain and fo particular, that if they should be admitted for genuine, not only the Revelations made to the Jews, but all the Mysteries of the Christian Religion, must be fully discover'd to the Heathen : But their Plainness has been the Cause why their Authority has been much question'd; which yet ought not wholly to be rejected, since the Sibylline Oracles were preserv'd in the Capitol, till the Reign of Honorius, when they were burnt by Stilico : and it is not to be imagined, that Justin Martyr, and other Christians, would cite O acles which were in the poffeffion of those against whom they cited them, unless they had been able to make good their Authority. This is a Subje& which has exercised the Pens of many learned Men. I shall here set down what appears to me most probable upon the Question, as briefly as I can.

k Tois

hoi Juece ang toe avra 9 now?eg, &c. Pausan, Phocic. P, 322.

i Ei je Angoud zo stilegrex, ib. p. 355. και η πραγματι κέχρη) (Θεόπομπος) τοϊς αυτοίς, έτε 29ν δ' όνομα μεγενήνoχε. . ου μόνον και τούτω τω ονόμαίι λικρύσ7ς ή κλοπίω, inne sej Tómo uslægert. Porphyrius apud Euseb. Præpar. Evang. 1. IO. C. 3.

1. It is eviderit from Virgil, that in the Verses of the Sibyl of Cuma, the Birth of some Great Person was foretold; and from Tully, that this Person was to be a King : though both in Tully and Virgil the Pror phecy be misapply'd to a wrong Person. The Fourth Eclogue of Virgil contains the Sense of the Sibyl ; and however it were design’d by him, is in most things much more applicable to our Saviour, than to the Person whom he defcribes.

In Cataline's Conspiracy, Lentulus fatter'd himself with the hopes of being a King, from the Şibylline Oracies. And from the fame Oracles, as well as from the Scriptures, it is probable the Expe&ation of a King, who should arise out of fudea, which both Suetonius and Tacitus mention,m was spread through out the East.

What Tully says, [lib. 2. de Divin. ) in disparagement of this Oracle, is not much considerable in the case; because that whole Book is written with a der sign to disparage all Divination in general : For being an Academic, as he profefles throughout his Books of Philosophy, he acknowledg'd no more of any part of their Religion, than was just neceßary to comply with the Laws, as he owps himself in divets places. However, from him it appears, that a Sibylline Orar cle was alledg’d to the purpose there mention'd; and that being in favour of Cxfar, and of Monarchy, if there had been no other, was cause enough for Tully to reject it, and turn it to ridicule; who, n when this Oracle was apply'd to Ptolemy King of Ægypt, had another Opinion of it.

2. Though the Verses of the Sibyl of Cuma were burnt with the Capitol, A. U.C. DCLXXI. yet Virgil

" Tull. in Catilin. Orat. 3. Salluft. Bell

. Catilin. m Tacit. Hift. I. 5. Sucron. in Vernal. c. 1.

Quemadmodum homines Religiofi Sibylle placere dixerunt. Cic Epit, ad Famil. L. I. Ep. 7..

2

expresly expresly naming Cuma, this Sibyl's Verses must be still remaining, or fuppofed to be so ; unless what he writes became some way or other known before the burning of the Capitol, and was deliver'd afterwards down by Tradition. Tully quotes Sibylla Erythrea; [ lib. 1. de Divin.) and if he mean the fame Sibyl in the 2d. Book, Martianus Capella says, that Sibylla Erythræa and Cumana were the same. And in the search which was made for the Sibylline Oracles in Italy, and in all other places where there was any probability of finding any Remains of them, after the Burning of the Capitol, it is likely her Verses might be recover'd. For p Valerius Maximus says, that M. Tul lius (as he calls him, not Attilius) was put to Death by Tarquinius, for suffering Petronius Sabinus to tranfcribe the Sibyl's Verfes; and whether they were difpers’d in divers Copies before it was discover'd, so as not to be suppress’d, it is not known. 9 Augustus caus'd a diligent search to be made for the Sibylline Verfes, in all places where they were suppos’d to be preservd, and those which were judged to be genuine, he'order'd to be kept with great care. This was about eleven Years before the birth of Christ; and from hence Virgil seems to have contriv'd his Poem. But if they were the Verses of some other Sibyl, which went under the Name of the Sibylof Cuma, after her's were burnt with the Capitol, it is not much material; however, the Romans certainly thought they had the Oracles of the Cuman Sibyl: for, as Lactantius says, * they allow'd the Verses of all the other Sibyls to be copy'd out and publish'd, though they would not fuffer those of Cuma to be read, but by Order of the Senate.

ز

• Martian. Capel. Nupti Philolog. 1. 2. p Val. Max. l. I. €. 1.

9 Tacit. Annal. l. 6. Sueton. Aug. c. 31. $75 Lastant. du falsà Relig.c. 6.

Notwith

Notwithstanding all this care, they could not keep them conceal’d; for we meet them often quoted by Heathen Authors. Indeed, the Oracles in the Capitol were only Copies taken from Originals which were left in those places, from whence the Romans had their own Copies transcribed ; and the Originals might be read, and other Copies taken, how carefully foever the Romans kept their own.

3. It being known that the Sibylline Oracles con tain'd things which concern'd the Kingdom of the Mesias, and the Verses themselves being in divers hands, this gave occasion to some to make many more Verses, under the Name of the Sibyls, relating the. whole History of our Saviour, &c. But if the Sibyls. Verses had been all burnt or lost, or if they had been kept so close, that no body could possibly come to the Knowledge of them, without leave from the Senate, there could have been no pretence for any Imposture, nor would the Christians ever have alledg’d them as genuine. Celsus obje&s only, That many things were added to the Verses of the Sibyls: Not that they were all Counterfeit, or that the Christians had no means of coming by the True; which was an Advantage that an Adversary much less subtle than Celsus would not have omitted, if there had been any ground for it. Origen replies, That it was a malicious Accusation, and that he was able to bring no Proof of it, by producing ancient Copies more genuine than those which the Christians made use of. very well, that it had been the greatest Rashness and Imprudence imaginable, and most destructive of the Design, at which they aim'd, the Establishment of Christianity, for the Fathers to cite Books, which the Heathen were fure could never come to their Know jedge, and which those, to whom they cited them

u Blondel ar gues

1 Dionyf. Halicarn. l. 4. Feneftella apud Lactant. ibid. & Origen. contra Cell. 1. 7;"- u Lib. I. cap. 18.

knew x Tilleinont Memoir. Eccl. Tom. 2. Part. 1. p. 340. y Grabe not. in Apol. I.

knew to contain no such things as they pretended to produce from them.

“ When this, says he, is as im& pudent and fenfless, as if some few, from Wri« tings lately forg'd, full of Criminal Accufations a“ gainst the Saviour of the World, Thould maintain " to the very Faces of Christians, that he found them « in the New Testament; that the Apostles were the “ Authors of them, and that the Church having 41+

ways had them in her Custody, had conceald them. He says, “ That this and much more to the fame “ purpose, any Man of common Reason might easily « perceive, and that Fustin Martyr would have ob« ferv'd it, if he had consider'd things with more « Calmness. But what is there in all the Writings of Justin Martyt, that discovers his Want of Calmness, or rather, that does not fhew him to have been considerate, learned, and prudent? He is effectually vindicated from the Mistake, with which he has been charg'd, concerning the Statue erected at Rome, of Simon Magus: and a y probable Account has been given, that not by His, but by fome Transcriber's

, Philadelphus. However, every candid Readet mast acknowledge, as well that Justin Martyr could not be fo far ignorant of the Age when Herod liv'd, as that it was

impossible for fo obvious Inconveniencies, as Blondel mentions, to escape the Obfervation of Fustin or any of the Fathers, or almost of any other Man. If Justin Martyr were void of all Sense and Modesty, would the rest have pursued the fame Course of Folly, only to make themselves ridiculous and odious by his Example? They were neither impudent nor stupid Men, and that which could proceed from nothing, but a mixture of Impudence and Stupidity, can with no Reafon or Justice be charg'd upon them, and there

fore

« 이전계속 »