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be accomplished according as men would act. Thus Jere. miah told the kings and the people of Judah, that if they would repent, they should be prosperous; if not, they should be destroyed : and to Zedekiah he privately declared : “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, If thou wilt assuredly go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burnt with fire, and thou shalt live, and thy house. But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord which I speak unto thee: so shall it be well with thee, and thy soul shall live.'
Thus Achilles in Homer is represented as having a twofold conditional event declared to him: if he returned home, he was to prolong his days, but to live and die in obscurity; if he continued in the army, he was to be cut off in the flower of his youth, but to obtain everlasting honour; upon which he preferred glory to length of life.
Μήτηρ γάρ τι με φησί θεα, Θέτις αργυρόπεζα,
αίων "Έσσεται, εδέ κε μ' ώκα τέλος θανάτοιο κιχείη.
ΙΙ. Ι. 41Ο.
The same poet tells us that Polyidus, a diviner, assured his son Euchenor, that, if he stayed at home, he should fall sick and die; and if he went to Troy, he should be slain in battle: upon which the youth chose the latter fate.
"Ην δε τις Ευχήνωρ, Πολυδε μάντιος υιος,
ΙΙ. Ν. 663.
Thus the Pagans had the same notion with that which is mentioned in scripture, of a double destiny depending upon human choice.
Again. Man would be glad to know that he shall obtain a future good.
Hope is one of the greatest comforts that poor mortals have in this world; but a certain foresight of prosperity produces a more solid joy, and a firmer support.
God made some favourable predictions to Noah.
He promised a multitude of blessings to Abraham, relating to him, to his family, and to his posterity.
When Hagar was driven from her home, she and her son, and cast out into the wide world, an angel comforted her, and assured her that her son should be the father of a
God repeated the same promises to Isaac which he had made to Abraham.
He revealed himself to Jacob, when he was forced to fice from his father's house, and gave
him assurances of
support and protection.
He foretold to Moses, that by him he would deliver the people of Israel ; and to Joshua, that he should be victorious in all his wars; and to David, that he should be king of Israel, and that the kingdom should continue in his family.
Jeremiah comforted Baruch in his affliction with this prophecy, “Thus saith the Lord, I will bring evil on all flesh, but thy life will I give thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.' xlv. 5.
He himself, who was a man of sorrows, and lived in calamitous times, received this consolation from God, 'I am with thee, to save thee and to deliver thee.'
He also received an order from God to say to Ebedmelech the Æthiopian, “I will bring evil upon this city, but I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord, and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid : for I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee, because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord.'
In the New Testament we find that St. Paul, on soine occasions, had a promise of deliverance out of the hands of his enemies. Our Saviour prophesied evil, that is, temporal
evil, to all his disciples, and told them that they should be exercised with sufferings and afflictions; but to compensate this, he promised them, in the present world peace of mind, and joy in the holy Spirit, and the divine assistance, and in the world to come eternal happiness.
It must have been a great satisfaction to the illustrious persons whom we have mentioned, and to others recorded in sacred history, that they were secure of the divine favour and protection. This must have given them courage and constancy under all the difficulties of life, ard have enabled them to look danger and distress in the face. The Greek poet, describing Ulysses as an example of prudence, patience, resolution, and presence of mind under a variety of trials, supposes that he had not only the assistance of Pallas, but a prediction from Tiresias, that he should at last return kome, and subdue his domestic enemies, and reign happily over his happy subjects, and come to a good old age. Odyss. A. 90.
To receive predictions of future unavoidable evils would be a curse rather than a blessing; and in the scriptures when such predictions are delivered, it is by way of punishment.
Thus God foretold to Eli all the evil which he would bring upon his family; and the prophets denounced, upon some occasions, the calamities which should befal some wicked persons, and the untimely death which they should not escape.
To know future blessings of which we shall partake, and to receive an admonition how we may avoid an impending evil, are favours which men would often be glad to receive ; and these favours were granted to the people of God in antient times and ruder ages, for several reasons which we have enumerated; but when by his Son he had introduced a purer and sublimer religion, he no longer continued, under the evangelical dispensation, to inform men of such temporal events. It is enough for a Christian to know, that he may secure to himself everlasting happiness by his obedience. As the great things relating to the next state were more clearly revealed, the smaller things relating to this world, and to its frivolous concerns, were shut
The knowledge of the things which will befal us, and our
· parents, and children, and friends, how long we and they shall live, and when and how we shall die, are secrets which God has concealed from us, and which in wisdom and kindness he has concealed from us. Sometimes prosperous events come most agreeably when they are least expected; and it would be a sad thing to anticipate all our griefs, and to be miserable before-hand.
And yet such has been the disposition of men in almost all ages, that many have had an intemperate desire of this knowledge ; which gave rise and encouragement to wicked arts and to vile impostures. History both antient and modern informs us of this, and affords us several examples of princes, statesmen, politicians, who have had little or no religion, who have been mere atheists both in principles and in practice: as Tiberius, the cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin, and others, who yet were very credulous in this
credulous in this way, with all their free-thinking, and gave great heed to divination, and to predictions made by pretenders to those arts ; so that irreligion and superstition are not at all inconsistent; and he who believes no God, may believe in evil spirits, or unknown powers, or fatal influences of the heavenly bodies. Pliny the elder, who had atheistical notions, yet says of earthquakes, that the mischief which they portend is as great as that which they cause, if not greater; and that the city of Rome was never shaken with one which did not forebode future evil. “Nec vero simplex malum, aut in ipso tantum motu periculum est; sed par aut majus ostento. Nunquam urbs Roma tremuit, ut non futuri eventus alicujus id prænuncium esset.' L. II. lxxxvi.
113. • Il n'y a rien de si commun, que de voir les incrédules entêtez de l'astrologie judiciaire, et persuadez que les magiciens font des choses qui sont au dessus de l'ordre de la
Par exemple, on accuse deux grands ministres d'état, dont les actions ne nous laissent pas croire que la foi en Dieu fût une de leurs plus grandes vertus, d'avoir crû tous deux les prédictions des astrologues ; et l'un d'eux, de s'être persuadé qu'un homme qui vomissoit diverses liqueurs, le faisoit
le moyen de la magie. “Le cardinal de Richelieu," dit Vittorio Siri, Mem. Rec. t. viii. p. 669. “ consultoit outre l'astrologie, toute sorte de divinations, jusqu'à des femelettes; dont la science consiste en des va
peurs de mere, qui leur font prédire par hazard quelque évènement fortuit. Il étoit si crédule qu'il attribuoit à l'opération du démon l'art de jetter par la bouche toutes sortes de liqueurs, après avoir bû de l'eau, comme le faisoit un charlatan Italien. Mazarin n'étant pas encore cardinal, ayant éclatté de rire à un discours si simple, pensa perdre sa faveur par là ; et le cardinal irrité de cet éclat de rire, par lequel il jugea que Mazarin se moquoit de lui, lui dit ironiquement, qu'il n'étoit pas Monsieur Mazarin qui avoit une profonde étude et une exacte connoissance de tout, Mazarin repliqua tout soumis, qu'en donnant cinquante pistoles, que le charlatan demandoit pour enseigner son secret, on verroit si l'opération du démon s'en mêloit. Mazarin regardoit toutes les divinations, comme des sottises, excepté l'astrologie, dont il étoit fort entêté, quoiqu'il feignit le contraire. Lorsque Madame Mancini sa sæur mourut, et ensuite la duchesse de Mercaur sa niece, comme il eut vů par-là accomplie la prédiction, qu'un astrologue en avoit faite à Rome par écrit longtems auparavant, il en devint extraordinairement triste et mélancholique; non par ten. dresse pour ses parens, mais parceque ce même astrologue avoit fixé le tems de sa mort à un terme qui s'approchoit. I en perdit l'appetit, et demeura plusieurs nuits sans dormir."
On sait aussi que l'empereur Julien, qui n'avoit pû ajouter foi aux prophésies de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testament, étoit excessivement addonné aux augures, et aux présages que l'on tiroit des entrailles des victimes, et les Payens mêmes l'en ont repris.' Voiez Ammien Marcelin. 1. xxv. c. 5.
Je pose en fait que ces sortes de choses sont aussi difficiles à croire, si on les considère en elles-mêmes, que les mystères et les miracles de la religion chrétienne. Mais les incrédules y ajoûtent foi, pendant qu'ils refusent de croire à l'évangile; 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 mau. vaises habitudes.' Le Clerc De l'Incrédulité. Part. I. ch. i.
It is a question of importance, whether there has ever been in the Pagan world such a thing as divination, or a fore-knowledge of things. The strongest argument against