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tead. Julian fays, that the Oracles of Æscul:pius return'd Answers to thofe that consulted them; and he calls Jupiter to witness, that himself had often been cured by Medecines and Remedies which Æsculapius dire&ted him to use ; tho'd Porphyry had declar'd, that fince Jesus was worship’d, Æsculapius and all the Gods had forsaken them, as to any publick Help or Benefit, and their private Favours were more liable to Impofture. But this, which Julian says, fupposing the Truth of the Fact, does not prove that false God to have had more Skill than a Physician might have had; but only shews , 1 that Devils may have such Knowedge of the Nature of things, as to be able to give Prescriptions in Phyfick. And in former times, for one or two that were Cured, thousands that came to Æsculapius's Temple, were never the better, but rather grew worse. Some Oracles might pollibly take their Answers from the Scriptures, as that of Jupiter Hammon concerning Alexander's Victories, if it were not merely a piece of Flattery, which prov'd true by chance. Evil Spirits might likewise be able to inform Men, at a great distance, of Victories, the same day they were won, as it is related 8 of several, and in particular of the Conquest of Perseus King of Macedon, by Paulus Æmilius, when P.Vatienus, to whom this was discover'd the same day, was imprison'd, till the News of the Victory was confirm'd, and then he was rewarded with an Estate, fettled upon him by the Senate. But they could not foretel things that depended upon the Choice of free Agents, and which were not to be fulfillid till many hundred years after the Predi&ion ; this is peculiar to God himself, who ¢ Apud Cyril. 1. 7. p. 235. d Apud Eufeb. Evang. Præp. I. v.c. r

e Arnob. lib.i. f Dispositiones etiam Dei ex nunc Prophetis concionantibus excerpant,

E nunc Lectionibus resonantibus carpunt. Ita e hinc fumentes quafdam temporum fortes, amulantur divinitatem, dum furantur Divinationeri, Tertull

. Apol. c. 22. & Cic. de Nat. Deor. l. 2.


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would never fuffer the World to be imposed upon by Oracles of this nature, if it had been possible for the Devil to give them out. And though their Predictis ons of future Events did sometimes prove true, yet they very often fail'd ; for which no Reason can be given, but the want of Knowledge or Power in the evil Spirits, and the over-ruling Providence of God to disappoint and discover the Delusions. He fiuftram teth the tukens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; he turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish, Isai. xliv. 25. & Their Gods would sometimes confess, that they foretold Events by the Stars ; that they were unable to resist the Decrees of Fate ; that the Temperature of the Air was the Cause why they could not always make true Predictions; and therefore they would often forewarn, that what they ans fwerd was not to be credited, and that what they declar'd, was by Force and Constraint. Force me to speak no more, says Apollo, for I shall tell you Lyes. All which is prov'd by Eusebius and Theodoret, from Porphyry, who had made a Collection of all the Oracles, and took great pains to frame a System of Philosophy out of them. h Diogenianus appeaľd to daily Experience, and even to those, who profess’d Divination, whether the Answers return'd were not commonly false; and from thence argued, that when they prov'd true, it must be by Chance. And their most famous Oracles were glad to conceal their Meaning in so ambiguous terms, that they wanted another Oracle to explain them ; for by this means they endeavour'd to avoid the being discover'd to be false. Yet this Device would not keep up their Reputation, t but most of

g Euseb. Præp. I. vi. c. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Theodoret. de Provid. Serm. 10. Tom. 4.

h Diogenian. apud Eufeb. Præpa. I. 4. C. 2. & Theodoret. de Provid. Serm. 10. Tom. 4. | Euseb. de Præp. I. iv: C. 2.


the Seas of Philosophers had little or no régard for them; and i OEromaus a Cynick Philosopher, finding himself deceiv'd by the Oracle of Apollo, wrote a particular Treatise to discover the Imposture of Oracles. Demosthenes observ'd, that the Delphian Oracle was bribed by Philip of Macedon; and divers Instances k of the Corruption and Subornation of Oracles, are to be found in Herodotus, Plutarch, and other Authors. In Tully's time, nothing grew more contemptible than the Oracles; for, as Men became wiser, they were less regarded, and began to cease, 'till by the Power of the Gospel they were quite filenc'd; which put the 1

Heathen upon great Enquiries, to find out what reason could be given why they should fail. The Cessation of Oracles was not all at once, but by degrees, as the Ceflation likewise of true Prophecies and Miracles was, which were to oppose and abolish them. Their false and ambiguous Answers had brought them into contempt before, as we learn from Tully de Divin. l. ii. in many places; and upon the Revelation of the Gospel, their Power was still less, and they

m every day became more despicable ; and then they were upheld chiefly by human Artifice and Imposture, 'till they were wholly fubdued and decry'd: They were silenc'd in the same proportion as Christianity prevaild, and became establish'd in the World.

The Devil could not always foretel what was to come to pass, and therefore his Agents had need of their Vaults and hollow Statues, and other Artifices, to conceal their Ignorance, and help them out, when their Arts of Conjuration faild. But we have no rea

i Cited by Euseb. de Præpar. l. v. C. 19, 20, c.
k Vid. Van Dale de Oraculis Ethnicorum.
į Cic. de Divin. Plut. de Defect. Oráculorum.

η Τοίς αρχαίοις μάλλον ήν ών τιμή και η Μανική καθόλα, και τα χρησήρια, νωί και ολιγωρία καλέκι πολλή. Strabo 1. 17.


son to think that the Devil, who is so industrious to
promote his evil Ends, by all possible means, would
omit such an opportunity as was given him by the
Opinion which the Heathens had of their Oracles.
And the Trials which Cræsus and Trajan made, are
sufficient to prove, that there was something Superna-
tural and Diabolical in them. u Creus sent to have
many Oracles consulted at a set time, and the Que-
stion to be put to them, was, what Cræfus himself at that
time was doing; and he resolv'd to be employ'd about
the most improbable thing that could be imagin’d,
for he was boiling a Tortoise and a Lamb together in
a Brass Pot: and yet the Oracle of Delphi discover'd
to the Messengers what the King was then about o.
Trajan, when he was going into Parthia, sent a blank
Paper, seald up, to an Oracle of Asyria for an An, .
swer; the Oracle return'd him another blank Paper,
to shew that it was not so to be imposed upon. Blu-
tarch P gives an Account of a Governor of Cilicia,
who, for Experiment, sent a seald Note to the Ora-
cle of Mopfus ; and had so direct'an Answer to it, as
made him ever after reverence that Oracle. And
there is no doubt to be made, but that the Emperor
and that Governor would contrive theirs Seals as
skilfully as Lucian could do, who says, That he had
sometimes seaľd his Notes, which he sent so carefully,
that all the ways and tricks which he mentions in his
Pseudomantis could not open them, without his dif-
covering it, when they were to be again return'd to
him, with the Answer to his Questions. But though
things of present Concernment were discover'd, both
to Cræsus and Trajan, beyond all human Power to
know, yet both were imposed upon by ambiguous
Answers, when they consulted about things future, of
which the Devil could not attain the knowledge.

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n Herodot. 1. i. C. 47.
p De Orac. Defecłu.

o Macrob. Saturn, I. i. c 23.


Many 9. of the Heathen Priests themselves, upon examination, publickly confessed several of their Oracles to be Impostures, and discover'd the whole contrivance and management of the Deceit, which was entred upon Record. And in the reft, the Power of the Devil was always fo limited and restrained, as to afford fufficient ineans to undeceive Men, though many of his Predictions might come to pass. The whole - Mystery of Soothsaying was of no effect to those who profess’d to disregard it; which was declared by an Author never suspected of Superstition, to be a known and a very great Instance of the Divine Goodness."

$ The presence of Christians at the Heathen Sacrifices, when they figned themselves with the sign of the Cross, in token of their Christianity, though this were unknown to the Priests that facrificed, would hinder the Damons from making those Discoveries of the Events, by the Entrails of Beasts, which they were wont to do. Every ordinary Christian could dispónless them, by his Prayers, and bare Adjurations. Apollo declared, that the Fuft upon Earth hindred him from returning true Answers. And as the Devil was forced to declare our Saviour to be the Son of God, by the Months of those whom he had pofsefs'd; fo he was constrain'd to confess and commend him, by his-most noted Oracies, as one of the greatest Enemies of the Gospel, -* Porphyry himself has inform’d

. q Euseb. Præpar. 10.4. c. 2. Vid. Theodorit. Hift. 1.5.C. 22• * In Augurum certè disciplinâ conftat, neque Diras, neque ulla Aufpicia pertinere ad eos, qui guamque rem ingredientes, abfervare fe ea regaverint : quo munere divine indulgentia majus nullum eft. Plin. Hist. 1. 28.

s Lactant. l. 4. c. 27. de mort. Persecut. C. 10.

τ “Όσα αν δίαιο προσάγειν απλότερG- άνθρωπο και ως επίπαν qs ideas y có TorĞtoy weg 77871. Origen. contra Celf. 1. 7.

v Eureh, Vit. Conftant. 1.2. C.50, 51. w Euseb. Dem. lib. iii. c. 6. Aug. de Civ. Dci, l. 19. 23.

C. 2.

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