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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,
“Ήματί καν τριτάτω Φίην ερίβολον ίκoιο.
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. xü. 7. concerning revelations by dreams. Josephus has recorded a remarkable dream of Glaphyra, Antiq. xvii. 12. and Bell. Jud. ii. 7. But Noris, in his Cenotaph. Pis. and Le Clerc Bibl. Chois. iv. 60. observe, that it cannot be true that Archelaus married the widow 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 i. 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 Dict. Majus, not. (D.] Maldonat, not. [G.] where he says of
prophetic dreams, De tels faits, dont l'univers est tout plein, embarrassent plus les esprits forts qu'ils ne le témoignent.'
As the reader may not have the books to which I have referred, it may save him some trouble, and give him some satisfaction or amusement to peruse what follows:
Quidam ad Landresium, in operibus, proximè oppidum cubans, somnio monitus ut cuniculum hostis caveret, surrexit. Vix egressus erat, prorumpit vis tecta, locumque disjicit. At Salmatium si videris, historiam tibi referet,
patre suo auctore. Ad eum venit quidam Græcæ linguæ plane ignarus. Is in somnio voces Græcas has audierat; άπιθι ουκ οσφράινη την σην αψυχίαν ; experectusque Gallicis literis sonum earum vocum perscripserat. Cum ejus nihil intelligeret, rogatus Senator Salmasius ei verba interpretatur, est enim filii doctissimi doctus pater. Migrat homo ex ædibus. Eæ nocte sequente corruunt. Hoc his adjice quæ Cicero, Tertullianus, aliique ex omnium gentium historiis de somniis collegere. και γαρ τ' όναρ εκ Διός έστιν, interdum, contra quàm censent Peripatetici.' Grotius,
Le Clerc, where he gives an account of this
passage, tells us, that Salmasius the father was 'conseiller au parlenent de Dijon.'
La Mothe le Vayer seems to relate the same story that Grotius had from Salmasius, but with some difference. Un conseiller du parlement de Dijon nommé Carré, ouït en dormant qu'on lui disoit ces mots Grecs, qu'il n'entendoit nullerment, άπιθι, ουκ αισθάνη την σου ατυχίαν. Ils luy furent interpretéz--abi, non sentis infortunium tuum ;-et comme la maison qu'il habitoit menaçoit de ruine, il la quitta fort à propos, pour éviter sa cheute qui arriva aussi-tôt aprés.' La Mothe probably took his account from common rumour, when the story had undergone some alteration in passing from one to another. 'Aturíay would be a more eligible word than dibuylar, if we were at liberty to choose; 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 hand, we cannot absolutely deny and disprove, they are irretrievably lost and buried under the rubbish of the false, ambiguous, and trifling 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 cast a grievous reproach 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 a livelihood of predicting, and drew up the art into a system.
Setting aside these sorts of divination as extremely suspicious, there remain predictions by dreams, and by sudden impulses upon persons who were not of the fraternity of impostors; these were allowed to be sometimes preterna. tural 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 impulses were caused by the immediate inspiration of God, or by the me. diation 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, possessed with a 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 servants of the most high God, which show unto us the the way of salvation. And this she did many days; but Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.'
Thus the divine Providence so ordered it, that this occurrence should turn greatly to the honour and advancement of Christianity. But this prophetess might be in repute for discovering lost or stolen goods, or for revealing what happened in distant places, or for predicting changes of wea. ther, or for many things of a like nature, and might not be able to foretell the future actions of men.
As to Isaias, we may infer, with Vitringa, from his words, that God was determined so to conduct the great revolutions which were brought about in the world, and so to order the things relating to the victories of Cyrus, and to
the fall of Babylon, that his predictions should be accomplished, and that the Chaldæans and other Pagan prophets should be filled with the spirit of error and of ignorance.
I am the Lord—that frustrateth the tokens of liars, and maketh diviners mad.' And again he declares, that the idols of Babylon should be destroyed, and their false gods not able to defend themselves. So that the declarations in Isaiah may be supposed to relate to the predictions made by Isaiah and by other prophets, in which their superiority over the diviners should manifestly appear, to the confusion of their Pagan neighbours. This, I
This, I say, follows; but not that, where there was no competition between the God of Israel and the Pagan deities, no such thing as divination should ever be found in any age, and in any part of the Gentile world. It
may be said that, in all probability, God will not endue bad angels with the spirit of prophecy, or permit them to reveal things to come. It is probable indeed he will never do it, where there is a competition between true religion and idolatry, and when it would make men worse than they would else be. But it appears from the scriptures, that the prophetic afflatus has sometimes inspired bad men; and we cannot be certain that God may not bring about some of the designs of providence even by evil spirits, by unworthy creatures and immoral agents: much less can we be certain that good angels were never employed as ministring spirits among the Pagans.
Milton treats this subject in his Paradise Regained, i. 446, and makes Christ say to Satan :
-Whence hast thou then thy truth,
It may be said also that divination among the Pagans helped, indirectly at least, to support idolatry and paganism. Socrates, and Plato, and Xenophon, and other worthy men believed divination by dreams and impulses ; and this opinion had a tendency to confirm them in their
religion, that is, in the belief of a supreme God, and of inferior gods and good dæmons. It may be so; but the divine Providence seems hitherto never to have intended that Judaism, or afterwards Christianity, should be the religion of all mankind, since neither of these religions was ever fairly proposed to all mankind. Divination, or the opinion of it, contributed to keep up Paganism in Pagan nations; it contributed also to keep out atheism; and there is a sort of Paganism which, such as it is, is far better than atheism, with Bayle's leave be it said, who was pleased to affirm the contrary, and who, whatsoever were his design, has highly obliged all atheists and infidels by many argu, ments and remarks scattered up and down in his writings. Bayle was not the inventor of this hypothesis, though he adorned and improved it. Lucretius and other esprits forts had maintained it:
Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona.
Lucretius i. 81.
Illud in his rebus vereor, ne forte rearis
may have been modes of idolatry which were worse than atheism, and which indeed, strictly speaking, were a kind of atheism, as Bayle and others have truly observed; there may have been atheists in the Pagan world who were better citizens and honester people than many of their superstitious countrymen ; and some Epicureans, as to per. sonal qualities, might be, preferable to some Peripatetics and Stoics : atheism in idolatrous nations and in former ages was not altogether so great a depravity as it is now, since natural religion has received so much friendly and from natural philosophy, and from the excellent Newtonian system, and has been so well illustrated and confirmed by many skilful writers ; Deism likewise is not so bad in places where Christianity is clouded and defaced by superstition, as it is in countries where revealed religion is free from such gross errors and defects. There have been several idolaters, Jews, Mahometans, and Christians, several reverend inquisitors,