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These, and other observations of Fabricius, in his judgment upon this collection, have a great appearance
of probability. We have good reason, I think, to conclude, that our collection contains a great part of the Sibylline books used by the fathers; because it has in it almost all the verses particularly quoted by them, and answers the character wbich they give of theirs. Justin Martyr, toward the end of his . Exhortation to the Greeks, (if that piece be his,) says: The Sibyl expressly and clearly fore
• " * tells the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.' And again, a little after : • That she o not only expressly and clearly
foretells the future coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ, .but also all things that should be done by him.' So do ours, as will appear presently. Whether that work be Justin's, as is generally supposed, or not, is not very material in this case: it appearing from what he says in his p first Apology, an indisputed work, that he had in his hands some Sibylline books, which were very favourable to the christian cause. St. Augustine 9 too says, that the
• Sibyl has nothing in her whole poem favourable to the * worship of false gods; but on the contrary she so speaks * against them, and their worshippers, that she may be • reckoned to belong to the city of God.'
However, some things contained in our present collection may have been added to those Sibylline writings which were in the hands of the first fathers. There may be some reason to suspect that the Acrostic, in particular, has been since added; it being first quoted by Constantine, and no where clearly referred to by Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, or Theophilus; whereas, had they known of it, it is likely we should have found in them soine hint of it. Nor is theres any good ground to think that Tertullian has alluded to it, as some have supposed.
I shall make no use therefore of that Acrostic in my extracts here, which ought to be confined to writings of the second century : and that the main part of this collec
Την του Σωτήρος ημων Ιησου Χριςου αφιξιν σαφως και φανερως προayopevsoa. Ad. Cohort. p. 36.
της του Σωτηρος ημων Ιησου Χρισου μελλουσης εσεσθαι παρεσιας, και περι παντων των υπ' αυτου γενεσθαι μελλοντων, σαφως και φανερως προαναφωνουση. Ιb. p. 37. Α. P P. 82.
9 Hæc autem Sibylla, sive Erythræa, sive, ut quidam magis credunt, Cumana, ita nihil habet in toto carmine suo, cujus exigua ista particula est, quod ad deorum falsorum sive fictorum cultum pertineat, quinimo ita etiam contra eos et contra cultores eorum loquitur, ut in eorum numero deputanda videatur, qui pertinent ad civitatem Dei. De Civ. Dei, l. xviii. cap. 23.
r Ora. ad Sanctor. Cæt. cap. 18. ap. Eus. H. E. p. 592.
s See Mr. Rob. Turner, as before, p. 207, 208; and Fabricius,
tion was made within that time, I shall show briefly in two or three observations.
1. Justin Martyr is the first christian writer who appears to have quoted this collection of Sibylline Oracles, or any Sibylline Verses whatever, containing the peculiar doctrines of christianity. The more ancient writers preceding him, who have mentioned the Sibyls, have quoted nothing but what might be found in Sibylline writings among the heathen. This is an observation of " Fabricius, to whom I refer for the particular proof of it.
2. Celsus, who wrote before the end of the second century, gives the christians the name of Sibyllists; and says, that w some of them had a great value for the Sibyl, • and had interpolated her writings with many blasphemous . things. I shall not need to put down here Origen's answer to this charge, his answer being allowed by many learned men not to be sufficient. Celsus then
be koned to be a good evidence, that there were in his time Sibylline verses, which were more christian than heathen.
3. The author betrays his age by several things in this collection. He says, at the conclusion of the eighth book, that he y is a christian. In the fifth book he says, he had a
the second ruin of the desired house ;' most a probably ineaning the destruction of Jerusalem in the time of Vespasian. In the beginning of the fifth book he describes the Roman emperors to Adrian, and says, that after him three shall reign,' [that is, Antoninus, Marcus, and Lucius:] and that the third of these shall obtain the power of all
They are quoted likewise, or referred to, by the anonymous author of the Preaching of Peter, who probably lived about the same time with Justin Martyr. Sce before, p. 255. note".
u Fab. Bib. Gr. 1. i. cap. 33. sect. xi.
Υμεις δε καν Σιβυλλαν, η χρωνται τινες υμων, εικοτως αν μαλλον προεσησασθε ώς το θεου παιδα: νυν δε παρεγγραφειν μεν εις τα εκεινης πολλα και Braoonua elkn duvaola. Ibid. 1. vii. p. 368.
* Fab. Bib. Gr. 1. i. c. 31. sect. 13. Blondel, des Sibylles, I. i. ch. 20. p. 86–88. See also Du Pin, Dissert. Prælim. I. ii. c. 7. p. 115, 116. Amst. 1701. Johan. Richardsoni Prælectiones Ecclesiasticæ, vol. i. p. 161, 162. Jer. Jones, New and Full Method, &c. vol. i. p. 457.
ΚΑΙ Τ' ουνεκ' αρ' ημεις και όσιης Χρισοιο γενεθλης
Ουρανιης πεφυωτες, επικλεομεσθα συναιμοι
L. v. p. 332. Paris. a Vid. Fabr. Bib. Gr. 1. i. c. 32. sect. 7. et Blondel, des Sibylles, 1. i. c. 4. p. 12.
Τρεις αρξaσιν, ο δε τριτος οψε κρατησει παντων, L. v. p. 304. Paris.
things,' and in his time shall come the end of the world, This must have been written before 169, in which year Lucius died. He being the youngest, the author guessed he would have the longest reign. But Marcus survived him, and obtained the power of all,' or became sole emperor.
So this is generally understood: but possibly by the • third' the author means Marcus. Lucius indeed, while he lived, was the third and last, in point of rank and dignity, as well as age; but, after bis death, Marcus might be spoken of as the third and last. I suspect that he is the person here intended : and the author prophesies of his sole empire, after it obtained. If Marcus is the person whom the author calls the third,' then the passages, in which the “universal power' of one of the three is mentioned, were written after the death of Lucius in 169.
He speaks to the like purpose again in the eighth book : That after him who shall take his name from the Adriatic Sea, that is, Adrian, “three shall reign in the last day,' and then comes the end of the world. But first of all Rome shall d be destroyed • in the 948th year from her foundation, which is the year of Christ 195. The event not answering this prediction, it is reasonable to conclude, that this is only a vain conjecture, delivered before the time here mentioned. It is not easy to suppose that any one should publish such a false prediction after the tine fixed for its accomplishment.
I forbear to insist now on the sentiments of the author concerning the Millennium, and other matters, which might show the collection to be ancient, but do not prove it to be written in the second century.
4. These are things which have been already often urged by learned men in the dispute about the Sibyls. I shall add one observation more, though perhaps not very material. The first christians lay under the calumny of practising promiscuous lewdness, and other crimes, in their assemblies. It has been often supposed, that these calum. nies arose from the licentious manners of those called heretics. Eusebiuso expressly says, that the impurities practised by the Valentinians, and other heretics, gave • Τον μετα τρεις αρξaσι πανυσατον ημαρ εχοντες.
L. viii. p. 367. Paris.
τριακόσιες και τεσσαρακοντα και οκτω 11ληρωσεις λυκαβαντας, όταν σοι δυσμαρος ηξη Μοιρα, βιαζομενη τεον ουνομα πληρωσασα.
L. viii. p. 375. Paris. · H. E. 1. iv. c. 7. p. 120. D
occasion to the infidel Gentiles to reproach the christian religion, and all christians in general. But this was not so commonly said, by the most early christian writers, to be the ground of these calumnies. Justin Martyrf freely owus in his first Apology, that he did not know whether • those scandalous things, which the true christians were so * commonly charged with, were done by the heretics or • not :' and says it 8 was the wickedness of the heathen wbich disposed thein to believe such things of other people which they practised themselves. Tatian and Theophilus i
. speak of those calumnies, without making the heretics the occasion of them. Athenagoras,k as well as Justin, says, the general wickedness of the heathen was the reason of their charging the christians as they did, though they were exemplarily virtuous. Just so the pretended Sibyl. The author describing, as I apprehend, the sect of the christians, writes to this purpose : Happy' are those men, who praise · the great God before they eat or drink, who shun temples and altars defiled with the blood of four-footed beasts and other animals, and worship the one God; who commit no murder, nor theft, nor adultery, nor unnatural uncleanness: but the rest of the world will not imitate their virtuous behaviour, but will scorn and jeer them, and falsely impute to them the crimes which they commit themselves. This is all he says of that matter, in perfect agreement with the fore-mentioned early ecclesiastical writers.
Having shown this collection to be, for the main part, a work of the second century, we are now to observe what use the author appears to have made of the books of the New Testament.
1.) In the first book, the Sibyl, or the author under her name, foretells the coming of Christ in this manner: “Thenm
Mev. p. 70. B. C.
Ει δε και τα δυσφημα εκεινα μυθολογουμενα εργα πραττουσι-ου γινωσκο
8 Και τα φανερως υμιν πραττομενα, ημιν προσγραφετε. p. 71. Α.
h P. 162. D. i Ad Autol. lib. iii. p. 119. B. C. 126. D. 127. A.
Αλλ' οι τοιουτοι (ω τι αν ειπoιμι τα απορρητα ;) ακοομεν τα της παροιμιας, η πορνη την σωφρονα. κ. λ. Legat. p. 37. C. D.
-Και ηθεα ανερες αλλοι
L. iv. p. 287. Paris. 1599. p. 1494. Orthodoxogr. Basil. 555.
L. i. p. 184. Paris. p. 1473
shall come the sou of the great God, clothed in flesh, made like to men on earth. He hath in his name four vowels and tv:o consonants ;' that is, he shall be called Iesous, according to the Greek writing of that name. Here is a reference to Matt. i. 21. The author says, Christ shall be • clothed in flesh, and made like to men on earth. There are so many texts of the New Testament to this purpose, that it is not easy to determine a particular reference to any of them; as John i. 14; Rom. viii. 3; Gal. iv. 4; Heb. ij. 17; and many others.
2.) Afterwards : · But" do you remember [that this is Christ, the Son of the most high eternal God. He will fullil the law of God, and not destroy it, bearing a complete resemblance, and will teach all things. To him shall come priests offering gold, and myrrh, and frankincense ; for be will perform all these things. But when a certain voice shall come in the desert, teaching men, and shall call to all to make straight paths, and to cleanse their hearts from all wickedness, and to be baptized in water, that, being born again, they may no more practise unrighteousness; a man of a barbarous disposition shall cut it off, for the reward of a dance by which he has been ensnared, Then shall suddenly appear to men a great sign, when a fair stone shall come safely preserved from the land of Egypt. The Hebrew people shall stumble at him; but the Gentiles shall come to his doctrine, and through him know the most high God.'
Here is a reference to Matt. v. 17, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I ain not come to destroy but to fulfil :" and to Matt. ii. 11, in what is said of the offering which should be brought to Christ. It is plain the author was acquainted with the first two chapters of St. Matthew. He afterwards seems to refe to our Saviour's flight into Egypt, and his preservation there from the designs of Herod, recorded likewise in the second chapter of the same gospel. He also confirms the history of John the Baptist's preaching and death which we have in our gospels.
3.) He presently proceeds to foretell or relate many of our Saviour's miracles in this manner :
• And • then he will heal the diseased and infirm, all whosoever believe in him : then the blind shall see, and the lame walk, and the deaf hear, and the dumb speak. He will expel dæmons, and raise the dead; he will walk upon
n L. i. Paris. p. 187. Orthod. p. 1474 " L. i p. 187, 188, 191. Paris.