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PREF A CE.
Think 'tis necessary to premise some
Obfervations concerning the number of the Sibyls, and the time they liv'd
in, and the burning and collection of the Sibylline Oracles ; I will afterwards consider the ancient Testimonies, to prove that there were many Inspired Women amongst the Gentiles, and that they publish'd their Prophesies in some Easterii Language ; and I will lastly explain the Symbolical Characters us’d in the Oracles, and conclude this Preface with some Observations concerning the Usefulness of these Proa phefies in explaining the Revelations.
By way of Postscript, I will add an Extract out of the Fathers concerning the Return of the Jews, Antichrift, and the Millennium, which they took out of these Oracles, and make a large Parallel betwixt the Ora'cles and Revelations, and so conclude with an Answer to the Objections against these Oracles, made by Opsopeus, Is. Vossius, and du Pin; adding some Chronology about the Saracens, and ancient History of the Turks, by which both the Oracles and Revelations will be better understood.
1. Concerning the Number of the Sibyls the Critics disagree: Some will have but
one; but since Sibylla signifies a Propher tess, and all the Critics allow that there were inany Prophetesses amongst the Gentiles, this Dispute is only nominal; and I think, by the Authority of Lactantius, we may conclude, that their number was ten; for Varro, as he is quoted by Lactantius, names ten Sibyls, 1. the Persian or Chaldean, niention'd by Nicanor ; 2. the Libyan, mention’d by Euripides ; 3. the Delpbica; 4.
the Cimmeria in Italy; 5. the Erythrean, who foretold the Destruction of Troy; 6. the Samian ; 7. the Cumana, call's Herophile, who brought nine Books to Tarquinius Priscus, of which she burnt all but three, and these perish'd with the Capitol 83 Years before Christ; 8. the Hellespontiaca, born in Marpefus, in the time of Cyrus ; 9. Phrygia, who prophesied at Ancyra ; 10. Albunda, or Tiburtina. Ælian reckons ten Sibyls, and Suidas gives the Names of the ten, but they differ from Varro's; and 'tis probable fome Sibyls had different Names, as, the Babylonián is callid Erythræa: Chaldaica, Persica, Judaica, Sambethe, are probably the fame. ;
2. As to the time in which the feveral Sibyls liv’d, I find these Observations collected by Opsopeus: The Sibyl at Delphos was a Phrygian, ancienter than Orpheus; one Sibyi liv'd in the time of the Jewish Judges'; the Cumean, in the time of simafias; the Sem mian, in the time of Fosiah; there was a Sibyl in Samos, in the time of Darius Astyages. The Sibylla Cumana prophesied in the fiftieth
Olympiad, or fifty-fourth. The Delphica is the ancientest Sibyl, and liv'd before the Trojan War; Homer borrow'd many of her Verfes; the Erythræan after the Trojan War, and the prophesied that the Lesbians should loose the dominion of the Seas long before it happen'd; the Hellefpontiaca liv'd in the 60 Olympiad, the Libyca before the 80 Olympiad, the Persica Sibylla in the 120 Olympiad; she writ particularly of Christ as God.
St. Jerome affirms, that the Erythrean Sibyl was in the time of Romulus, and the Samian Herophile in the time of Numa, or Hostilius. St. Augustin fays, the Cumean Sibyl Lib. 18, was in Numa's time, when Manaffes flew E. cap. 24. Saias; and he says, the Erythraan was in Romulus's days; and Flaccianus the Roman Proconsul, when he discours’d of Christ with him, shew'd him a Greek Copy of the Sibylla Erythræa's Verses; but he says, some place the Erythraan in the time of the TrojanWars.
That the Sibyls were before Homer is probable, because he took some of their Verses, as Guil. Canterus testifies, Homerus multis in locis, ut aperte constat, Sibyllam fit imitatus, ejufq; hemistichia multa sua poesi inseruerit. This Authority is sufficient to oppose Galleus, who thinks the Sibyls stole some Hemiftichia from Homer : The plainness of the Sibyls Stile is a true sign of their Antiquity, and pureness of Homer's, a proof of later Ages.
3.Concerning the burning and fresh colle&ion of the Sibylline Oracles, Tacitus says,
After the burning of the Capitol, the Sibylline Verses were brought from Samos, Ilium, .
? Pliny says, were burnt in Sylla's time (i. e. 83 Years before Christ); after the new collection they remain’d at Rome, till the time of Honorius and Theodofius junior, and then Stilico being about to raise a Sedition, burnt ?em. The Romans brought 1000 of these Verses to Rome, after rebuilding the Capitol.
Suetonius gives this account, That Augustus burnt 2000 Prophesies whofe Authority was uncertain, Ac solos retinuit Sibyllinos, bosq; dele&tu habito.
Lactantius quotes those Verses which relate to one God, and they are the same as we now read in the Sibylline Books; they were common to all Men; and these were the Verses of the Erythræan Sibyl; none were conceal'd by the Romans but those of the Cumaan Sibyl : The reason of keeping these from the Vulgar was, the Cumaan Sybil foretold the Destruction of Rome and its Empire and Idolatrous Religion, in the 8th Book of the Oracles.
But besides these Sibylline Oracles, there were kept in the Capitol fome Heathen Oracles prefcrib’d by the Pythia, and the suggeftion of the Devil at Delphos, and these were promoters of Idolatry, and from these the Romans learnt which of the Heaihen Gods were to be worship’d, and what Sacrifices were to be perforni'd in Earthquakes,Wars, Seditions, Famines, c. but the Sibylline Oracles condemn'd all Idolatry. That this diftin&tion must be made, is plain by the begioning of the 4th Book,
dictata à numine magno, Non or acla quidem dantis mendacia Phæbi. And 'tis evident by the Roman Histories that they consulted the Oracles for Predictions as well as their idolatrous Worship, upon great occasions; and the truc Predictions could be found only in the Sibylline Oracles. Cicero mentions two sorts of Priests, one, Cic. lib. 2. d quod prasit ceremoniis & sacris; the other, legibus. quod interpretur fatidicorum, vatum fata incognita. There were many collections of these Oracles; the first was of icoo Verses, by those the Senate sent into the East; a second in Augustus's time, and a third in Tiberius's reign, as Mr. Eachard affirms ; a new Volume of the Sibyls Books was receiv'd in the third Year of our Saviour's Ministry, and added to the rest by a Decree of the Senate of Rome, but not well relish'd by the Emperor Tiberius : For this he quotes Tacitus and Dion; therefore this Collection was not perfected till Augustus and Tiberius's time. The Romans permitted none to see the Cumaan Sibyl but the fifteen Men appointed, and the Oracles were not consulted without a Decree of the Senate : And since none of the Sibylline Oracles were conceal'd in the Capitol but the Cumaan, none were lost by the Burning, but that.
I some inspir’d Women among the Gentiles.