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and in a desert place, with five loaves and seafish, abundantly satisfy five thousand, and the fragments will fill five baskets for the chaste virgin. But the people of Israel, he says, will not understand ; • but will strike him with the hand, and spit upon him most offensively, and give him impiously gall for his meat, and vinegar to drink.
But when he shall have stretched out his hands, and bore a crown of thorns, and his side has been pierced with a spear, for his sake there w.ill be the dismal darkness of the night for three hours in the middle of the day. And then the temple of Solomon shall give to men a great sign, when he shall go down to the grave, declaring a resurrection for the dead. Then shall he, in three days, return to the light, and show to men that death is but a sleep: and, having taught all things, he will ascend to heaven upon the clouds.'
We ought to observe here, that where we read, in our collection, sea-fish,' Lactantius seems P to have had in his copy, two fish ;' for so it is in his quotation from the Sibyl. And whereas afterwards, in our copies, we have • for the chaste virgin ;' in Lactantius 9 it is for the hope' or encouragement of many.' And much to the same purpose, in the eighth book of our collection, where the same miracle is spoken of, it is · for the hope of the people. I do not stay to 'enquire the distinct meaning of this writer's obscure expressions ; but possibly in those words · for the hope of the people, or
many,' he refers the great satisfaction the people had in this miracle, which suited their desire and expectation of a temporal kingdom : which is more particularly related by St. John than
any other of the evangelists; insomuch that they were coming to “ take him by force, to make him a king, John vi. 14, 15.
It is not necessary for me to refer here particularly to the several places of the gospels, in which all these matters are related. Certainly what I have transcribed is sufficient to satisfy every one, that it is from our gospels these pretended prophecies are taken. Beside the many iniracles of our Saviour, here is an attestation of the wonders and signs attending our Saviour's crucifixion, recorded in our gospels; as the rending of the vail of the temple, and the three hours' darkness. The account of our Saviour's ascension he could not take from St. Matthew or St. John, because it is not mentioned by them; but probably from
P Kal exOveool doloLoLV. Lact. Div. Inst. I. iv. c. 15. p. 398. 9 Δωδεκα πληρωσει κοφινες εις ελπιδα πολλων. Lact. Ιbid.
Mark xvi. 19; or Luke xxiv. 51; and likewise from Acts i. 9; where alone is mentioned the • cloud, which received • him out of their sight.'
4.) This author has divers other expressions plainly taken from our gospels. O blessed' servants,' says he, whom the Lord, when he comes, shall find watching ; who always watch, expecting him with waking cyes; for he will come in the morning, or in the evening, or at noon.' He has here joined the texts of two evangelists, but it was not necessary for him to take the words exactly : “ Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching," Luke xii. 37. “ Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh; at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the inorning,” Mark xiii. 35.
5.) And soon after: • Woes to them who are with child in that day, and who give suck to infants, and that dwell near the sea. The two former of these expressions are in Matt. xxiv. 19; Mark xiii. 17; Luke xxi. 23. The last woe may be taken from Rev. xii. 12, “ Woe to the inhabitants
6 of the earth and of the sea.”
I shall put down an abstract of some other passages, where he writes of our Saviour, as he has already done, with some additional particulars.
6.) In the sixth book, which is very short, he says: I sing the great Son of the Eternal, washed in the river Jordan, on whom the gentle Spirit descended with the wings of a white dove. He will teach men rigbteousness; he will walk on the waves, deliver njen from their diseases, and raise the dead.' The writer then denounces ruin to the Jews, for having put on him a crown of thorns,' and ' giving him gall to drink,' and crucifying him.
Fabriciust ought to be consulted upon the beginning of
12 μακαρες θεραποντες, όσες ελθων αγρυπνοντας
L. ii. Paris. p. 199, 200. Orth. p. 1476.
Γασερι φωραθωσιν, όσαι δε τε νηπια τεκνα
L. ii. Paris. p. 200. Orth. p. 1476. Liber sextus perbrevis, sed in quo clarissime agitur de Filii Dei baptismo ad Jordanem, et Spiritu ei superveniente. Locus corruptus forte ita restituendus:
Εκ πατρος εκ πρωτ8 πρωτος θεος. ώ τε και ηδυ
Πνευμ' επιγινομενον λευκης πτερυγεσσι πελειης. Ex hoc Sibyllæ loco Lactantius, l. iv. cap. 15. Spiritus Dei descendit super eum, formatus in speciem columbæ candidæ.' Fabr. ibid. p. 209.
this book, who has offered an emendation of the ordinary copies of our collection; and supposeth that to this place
1 of the Sibyl Lactantius had an eye, when he says, “The
Spirit of God descended upon him, in the shape of a • white dove :' which ought, I think, to be reckoned an argument of the genuineness or antiquity of this part of our collection, and that it is, in the main, the same which was used by the fathers. The author took the baptism of our Saviour in Jordan, and the descent of the Spirit, from our gospels; but the colour of the dove is an invention of
A man of his fancy could easily add a circumstance for which there was no foundation, and he would make no scruple of so doing. It makes his work a little more poetical
7.) 'In the eighth book, near the end, the author expressly names Mary the mother of our Lord, and the angel Gabriel ;
relates or foretells his visit to her, ber surprise and joy, and the nativity of our Lord at Bethlehem of a virgin mother : all manifestly taken from the first and second chapters of St. Matthew, and the first of St. Luke. 8.) He goes on : . When" this child was born, heaven,
• and earth, and the whole world rejoiced. The wondrous new star that appeared was revered by the wise men; and the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, was shown to them in a manger, for their obedience to God. Bethlehem, the place of the nativity of the Word, is told to neatherds, goatherds, and shepherds.' See Matth. ii ; Luke i. ii. St. Luke speaks only of shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.' It was easy to add to them the keepers of other sorts of cattle.
9.) In the same eighth book is the largest and most particular account of our Saviour's miracles, and the extraordinary signs at bis death, of which I shall also give some account, • He" will do all things by his word, and heal every dis
He will calm the winds by a word, and compose the tempestuous sea, and by faith walk upon it. He will give his cheek to envenomed spittle, and his sacred back to stripes-He will be silent, when smitten on the cheek
. Land will bear a crown of thorns. He will feed,
Καινοφανης δε μαγοισι σεβασθη θεσφατος ας ηρ.
L. viii. p. 400. Paris. v L. viii. p. 384, 387, 388.
with five loaves and two fishes, five thousand in a desert place; and the fragments taken up will fill twelve baskets, for the hope of the people. And he will pronounce the souls blessed, that, when derided, return good for evil, who are beaten, whipped, and endure poverty. Knowing all things, seeing and hearing all things, he will lay open the breasts of men. He who raised the dead, and healed all manner of diseases, will at last come into the hands of wicked and infidel men: and with impure hands they will strike God, and give him gall for his meat, and vinegar to drink. The vail of the temple will be rent, and at mid-day be the horrid darkness of the night for three hours.' He then
says, he will be three days in the grave, and return to the light: and will be the first who shall show to the
• called the beginning of the resurrection. Then the Lord will first of all appear to his own in the body, as he was before, and show the four marks imprinted in his hands and his feet.'
10.) These things must be reckoned a confirmation of our gospels, and satisfy us that they were books used by christian people, as containing our authentic history of Jesus Christ, his birth, preaching, miracles, and sufferings, and resurrection.
The author has borrowed very little from the epistles ; but he may be supposed indebted to the book of the Revca lation for several things. However I shall not transcribe any thing of that kind : 1 content myself with having shown a constant respect to our gospels, in these pretended predictions concerning Christ.
11.) But many of these things being so plainly taken from the books of the New Testament, perhaps some may suspect our present collection of Sibylline Oracles not to be genuine ; that is, the same which was used by the ancient fathers : for how could any men take these for ancient predictions of the Sibyl, written before our Saviour's coming ?
To which I answer, that the general character of the Sibylline Oracles, before taken from the fathers, gave us ground to expect as much. And a good part of these oracles, some of the plainest and most particular, those taken above from the eighth book of our collection, are still extant in Lactantius, who flourished at the end of the third, and the beginning of the fourth century, quoted by bim from the Sibyl in the original Greek. As it may
be satisfaction to some, I shall place in the margin a valuable
w Vid. in primis, l. iv. c. 15. p. 397–399. et c. 18. p. 417, 419.
passage of* St. Augustine, in which he gives at once a summary account (though it is not complete) of the testimonies alleged by Lactantius from the Sibyl. And that the Sibylline books, quoted by the ancient christian writers, contained plain and full testimonies to the christian sentiments, may be concluded from the exceptions made to them all along by the heathen, as not being a genuine production of the ancient Sibyl. We have already taken notice of the passages of Celsus preserved in Origen. We have likewise observed in Y another place, from St. Clement of Alexandria, that these oracles were not then received by the heathen people.
Lactantius also, Constantine,” St. Augustine, and others, are witnesses of this exception being made by the heathens of their times. I shall translate only a short passage of Lactantius. Having quoted the same oracles, before translated by me from the eighth book of our collection, representing Christ doing all things by his word, healing diseases, calming the winds, and the seas, feeding five thousand in the desert, and other miracles, he presently adds :
* Inserit etiam Lactantius operi suo quædam de Christo vaticinia Sibyllæ, quamvis non exprimat cujus. Sed quæ singillatim ipse posuit, ego arbitratus sum conjunctim esse ponenda, tanquam unum sit prolixum, [carmen,] quæ ille plura commemoravit et brevia.
• In manus iniquas,' inquit, • infidelium postea veniet, et dabunt Deo alapas . manibus incestis, et impurato ore exspuent venenatos sputus. Dabit vero • ad verbera simpliciter sanctum dorsum.'
• Et colaphos accipiens tacebit, ne quis agnoscat quod verbum, vel unde * venit ut inferis loquatur; et coronâ spineâ coronabitur.'
• Ad cibum autem fel, et ad sitim acetum dederunt; inhospitalitatis hanc • monstrabunt mensam.'
Ipsa enim insipiens gens tuum Deum non intellexisti ludentem mortalium • mentibus, sed et spinis coronâsti, et horridum fel miscuisti.'
• Templi vero velum scindetur, et medio die nox erit tenebrosa nimis in « tribus horis.
• Et morte morietur tribus diebus somno suscepto, et tunc ab inferis regressus • ad lucem lætam veniet primus, resurrectionis principio vocatis ostenso.' Ita Lactantius carptim per intervalla disputationis suæ, sicut ea poscere videbantur quæ probare intenderat, adhibuit testimonia Sibyllina ; quæ nos, nihil interponentes, sed in unam seriem connexa ponentes, solis capitibus distinguenda curavimus. Aug. de Civ. Dei, l. xviii. c. 23. Vid. Fabricius, ubi supra, p. 227.
y P. 259. 2 Ad Sanctorum Cætum, cap. 19. a Nisi forte quis dixerit illas prophetias christianos finxisse de Christo, quæ Sibyllæ nomine, vel aliorum, proferuntur. Aug. de Civ. Dei, 1. xviii. c. 46. Sed quæcumque aliorum prophetiæ de Dei per Christum Jesum gratiâ proferuntur, possunt putari a christianis esse confictæ. Ideo nihil est firmius ad convincendos quoslibet alienos, si de hac re contenderint, nostrosque fulciendos, si' recte sapuerint, quam ut divina prædicta ea proferantur, quæ in Judæorum scripta sunt codicibus. Ibid. c. 47.