« PreviousContinue »
riations, easily to be accounted for by the present corrupt state of the text_still make part of itd, and immediately precede the former e: so that in these two independent citations of the same collection, by writers contemporary with each other, and writing not many years later than our assumed date of the publication of the Oracles themselves, we have sixteen lines in sequence, which identify the collection extant in their time, with that which exists at present. In like manner, the eleven concluding lines of the fourth book, with the exception only of the last line of all, nearly word for word as they stand at present, are quoted by the Apostolical Constitutions f; and the age of the Apostolical Constitutions is either much earlier, or, at least is not later, than the last half of the third century after Christ 8.
On these topics, however, we shall perhaps be considered to have dwelt long enough. I shall take my leave of them with one more remark; viz. that
d Theophilus ad Autolycum, ii. 45. p. 210. 212. and Sibyll. Oracula, lib. iii. 332. 1–343. 2. Compare lib. viii. 676. 5, 6. Cf. Lactantius Divin. Institt. iv. 5.
e Another quotation from the Sibyll occurs also, Ad Autolycum, ii. 2. consisting of three lines, at present not found in the collection.
f Constitutiones Apostolicæ, v. 7: PP. Apostolici, 245, 246. Cf. Lactantius Divin. Instt. vii. 23. 666. and Sibyllina Oracula, lib. iv. 538.5-539. 8.
g Four lines of this fourth book, too, with some variations, page 489. 1–4. are quoted by Clemens Alexandrinus, as from the Sibyll. Also, iv. 489. 7. and 490. 1.
The passage quoted from the fifth book, 598. 1, 2, &c. is recognised by Lactantius, iv. cap. 20. Also, that from the same book, 561. 5. Cf. Lactantius, vii, 18.
often as the Sibylline oracles are referred to, by profane writers, both before and after the birth of Christ, there is no reason to suppose the present collection was intended by that designation of them. The extant Sibylline Oracles agree with those of profane writers, in nothing except in being written in Greek, and in Greek hexameters, as those were; in other respects, even the name of Sibyll, as we have seen, is disclaimed by the author of these prophecies, though assumed in every instance, by the real or supposed authors of the Sibylline oracles of profane antiquity. In repeated instances, citations from these oracles are to be met with in profane writers, or in writers whose works are connected with subjects of profane antiquity, and sometimes citations of considerable length ; not a word or a vestige of which is any where to be found in the extant collection. To such an extent is this the case, that perhaps the only oracle of antiquity, which the present collection actually contains, and that too not an oracle ascribed to a Sibyll, occurs lib. iv. 515. 1, 2: in the following couplet :
έσσεται εσσομένοις ότε Πύραμος άργυροδίνης
ήίόνα προχέων, ιερήν εις νήσον ίκηται-which Strabo shews to have been a common saying in his time, with respect to Pyramus, one of the rivers of Cilicia, flowing into the sea over against Cyprus. Vide lib. i. cap. 3. p. 141. and lib. xii. cap. 2. sect. 4 : except h that Strabo has evpuodívms, while the Oracles have άργυροδίνης. .
h Considering that the practice of writing works under false names, did not begin after the birth of Christ, but was just as common before it, as after ; and that there were some apocryphal productions properly so called, once extant, older than the
Christian era, as well as others, of more recent date; we may think it far from improbable that apocryphal Sibylline oracles, composed by Jews, might once have existed, as well as others composed by Christians, which in many respects, where both related to the same facts in the Old Testament history, might agree together. For instance, there would be no reason why a Pseudo-Jewish-Sibyll might not give the same account of the tower of Babel, and the confusion of tongues, as a PseudoChristian one; or that a Pseudo-Christian-Sibyll of later date might not so far borrow from a Pseudo-Jewish of earlier origin. This conjecture serves to explain the statement of Josephus, Ant. Jud. i. iv. 3, respecting the Sibyll's account of the tower in question, and the confusion of tongues, as known to him ; which certainly contains the substance, if not the words, of the testimony to the same effect, quoted by Theophilus, and still extant in the third book of the Oracles. Yet, as Josephus did not compose his Antiquities until the end of the reign of Domi. tian, if this part of the Oracles was extant before that time, it might have come to his knowledge, before the same time.
In Plutarch, also, De Pythiæ Oraculis, Operum vii. 567. a passage occurs, which leads to the inference that some of the Sibylline oracles, extant in his time, were known to contain a prediction which might be understood of the eruption of mount Vesuvius, which happened in the first of Titus, U. C. 832. A. D. 79. Such a prediction we have seen is extant in the fourth book of the Oracles. This book might possibly be known to Plutarch, or to his contemporaries; for he is made by Eusebius in Chron. to have fourished ad ann. 2133, in the third of Hadrian, as well as much earlier, ad ann. 2081, in the eleventh of Nero.
APPENDIX, CHAPTER IX.
ON THE PERSONAL CHARACTER OF THE SOWER
IN THE PARABLE OF THE SEED.
VIDE VOL. II. 26.
THE ministerial character of the sower of the seed was plainly declared in the interpretation of the parable, to be that of a preacher of the word: the question which we have to discuss at present is what is to be understood by his individual character; whether our Saviour in particular, or any minister of the Gospel in general.
In favour of the former supposition it might be said, first, that our Saviour's ministry is repeatedly set forth, in the complex, as his word ; and his office is described as that of a preacher of the word. On one occasion, when the people were resorting to hear his teaching, St. Luke says expressly it was to hear the word of God a.
Secondly, that the designation of the agent, who scatters the seed, as simply ó crcipwr, the sower, might appear to denote in an eminent manner the great Preacher and Evangelist, our Lord himself.
Thirdly, that the going forth of the sower, on his errand of sowing, might seem to be just as applicable to the fact of the mission of our Lord, considered as sent forth from the Father, and as coming into the world, to preach his word, and to reveal his will, unto men.
a Ch. v. 1.
Fourthly, that the time when the parable was delivered, viz. when half the duration of our Lord's personal ministry was over, would appear to imply that its success must have been adequately tried by the event, so as to furnish a counterpart to the representation of things in the parable.
On the other hand, it may be replied in answer to each of the above arguments; first, that the metaphorical description of the seed, considered as the word of God, and the corresponding description of the character of the sower, considered as a preacher of the word, apply just as properly to the ministry of any of the emissaries of the Gospel, as to that of our Saviour.
Secondly, that, although the instrumental agents in the dissemination of the Gospel might be the apostles and evangelists; still that which gave effect to these agents, and wrought with these instruments, as the true efficient cause of their success, was the cooperation of their Master. The apostles were the Shilohs of Christ, as Christ had been the Shiloh of the Father; and as the word of the latter is called on that account the word of the Father, so the word of the apostles, on the same principle, must be considered the word of Christ : and, if each of them in his proper vocation, was a sower of this word, the great sower after all, the great agent in the same work, was Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, that the supposition of the going forth of the sower would apply with more propriety to