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rod, and they became serpents: But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.” And so with regard to other of the signs and wonders wrought by Moses; the magicians did so with their enchantments.
Further along in the history of the Jewish people comes the curious, interesting and highly poetical episode of Balaam. Nothing more gorgeously eastern in all its appointments and surroundings can be found anywhere in history, poetry, or fiction. A splendid embassy of the first men of the kingdom of Moab, make a journey to this heathen seer and magician, dwelling in the far east, in the highlands of the upper Euphrates, bearing in their hands the rewards of divination, and begging him to return with them, and to use the utmost of his enchantments against the strange people who had just emerged from the wilderness, and promising him, in addition, high promotion and great honor and riches. Overcoming doubt and difficulty and opposition he undertakes the mission. And when he comes with the princes of Moab, the king himself makes a journey to the utmost coast of Moab, to meet him, and conducts him with great pomp and cereinony to the capital. He accompanies him on the next day to the chief place of the worship of Baal, whence the greatest part of the Israelitish encampment could be seen, and carries into prompt execution the command of Balaam, to erect there seven altars and to prepare seven oxen and seven rams. And this magical number was repeated at every new sacrificial offer. But the seer was not permitted to curse Israel. Although his zeal was stimulated by the promise of untold riches, of unlimited honors, of being the keeper of the king's conscience; yet all his arts of divination were of no avail. · Surely,” cried the baffled magician, “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel :" and he then proceeds by Divine permission, to prophesy concerning the strange people in a strain of eloqnence and sublimity unsurpassed.
From this unknown and shadowy country, “ the East," came the first people, from the east came the builder of the great Pyramid, from the east came the three wise men to the Babe at Bethlehem, and from the east, by the almost universal judgment of the Church, will be the second coming of Christ; for which reason early Christians turned in that direction to worship, built the sanctuary and altar at the eastern end of the church, and in the celebration of the Holy Communion, the celebrant faced the east in the consecration of the elements.
If we refer to the literature of the Greeks and Romans, we find their history and poetry full of the sayings and doings of their augurs and soothsayers and sybillæ ; and we find that those hopes and desires to look into the future, and the imaginings that by some means, glimpses of com. ing events may be had, were not confined to early ages and eastern people.
Germany is full of popular prophecies—some of them so minute and specific in their details of events, and in the description of the places where they are to happen, as to challenge doubt of their authenticity.
The second sight among the Scottish highlanders—a power which comes sometimes by divination, and sometimes in a trance; whose remarkable traditional fulfilments are also the subjects of romance, poetry and song—is stiil believed in and practised among the people of the districts, where for ages it has been known and remarked.
Nor from this brief mention of seers and soothsayers should the notable name of Nostradamus be omitted. His " Centuries of Predictions” have occasioned more discussion and controversy, than even the Sybilline leaves, whose volumes were offered for a great price to Tarquinius the Second.
We find too, that Mother Shipton does not stand alone aniong the English in the claim to look into futurity. They have also Merlin, the Magician ; Michael Scott, the Sorcerer; and Friar Bacon, the Student; and around them and their utterances the glamor of antiqnity, the glow of
poetry, and the indistinct revelation which piques the curiosity. Some of Mother Shipton's prophecies are alleged to have been delivered as early as 1448 ; but the popular histories of her are unworthy of belief. She was born, or at least lived at Knaresborough, in Yorkshire, England, before or in the reign of Henry VII, who came to the throne in 1485. At all events, many of the predictions, in one form or another are old, althongh the age is disputed, as well as the authorship. For the purposes of this article, however, we take them as we find them, assuming them to be old and genuine, and to have been spoken by Mother Shipton. How can
we who read in the Books of Moses of the Egyptian Magicians, and of Balaam the seer, divest our minds entirely of the impression, that a glance into the future may have been given to others than the Hebrew Propbets ? Certainly there have been persons to whom have come the spirits, good or bad, demon or angel, and impressed their subjects or victims with knowledge not their own, and from a quarter whence they knew not. They see visions and they dream dreams, but they cannot tell the interpretation thereof, nor give form and consistency to the shadows that pass before their entranced eyes.
Is not this belief in the supernatural and in the power to fortell future events, a natural retention in our mental and moral organism, of the time when the Creator and other heavenly intelligences appeared on the earth and talked to men, and revealed personally to them, that which should be thereafter ? Could any such belief be so universal, among the untutored and unlearned if it did not arise from an element in
our nature, deeper than our own
consciousness? It is all very well to argue against it, and to prove by the undisputed rules of logic that such things cannot be ; but belief does not follow such dernonstration, and rules of reasoning are powerless against a belief for which no reason can be given. The days of prophecy are past," say the orthodox, “There never were any days of prophecy,” say the sceptical; and they agree, that the inexorable logic of events is the only guide to conclusions as to what is to be-so far at least as the supposed unfulfilled prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures do not control. But the history of the world is not to be so ignored-no man may say that the veil of the future shall never more be lifted, and that nothing more shall be known until the end of all sublunary things—especially in view of the fact that much has been revealed, and that the government of the universe seemingly remains the same. These things challenge the attention of the thoughtful, and are worthy the consideration of the student of history, of philosophy, and of the generally received revelation.
Now let us take up this prophecy of Mother Shipton, and see, on a fair and honest and reasonable construction of the words, what it is that they indicate.
The Turks came into Europe in the thirteenth century, but it is to be remarked that it was not until the year 1453, that Mohammed II, stormed Constantinople, and permanently established Islamism in Europe as a national and military and ecclesiastical power. And it was about that same year, that this prophecy was delivered. Now “twice two hundred years " brings ns to 1853, and the Crimean war, as it was called, was entered upon by Russia, "the Bear,” in 1853–in 1854 England and France," the Cock" and “the Bull” united ; and in 1856 the peace of Paris was signed, "the Bear" not having prevailed. If Mother Shipton had written her lines after this war, they could not have been inade to correspond more exactly with the historical facts. In 1853 the dread of Russian supremacy, the jealousy of interference with English interests in the east, and national pride were the incentives moving England to engage in that war. The same dread and jealousy and pride were not one whit less in 1876 than in 1853, and were urged most vehemently by one party in England, as a reason for armed intervention for Turkey in the last war
and yet, most mysteriously, “the Bull” and “the Cock” held aloof from the contest, and when the peace of Berlin was signed, it was no longer an open question that the power of Turkey, as a nation in Europe, was utterly destroyed.
From 1856, the peace of Paris, to the breaking out of the late war between Russia and Turkey was just “twice ten years." It is to be observed also concerning the war in the Crimea, that not one word was ever said about the “Cross," or the “Crescent;" but it is a matter of history, that this last war between the same powers was begun, urged, and waged for the protection and defence of Christians from the rapacity and cruelty of the Moslems. So the two portions of this prophecy are just as distinct and specific as the past history of the transactions shows that they ought to be. History and prophecy agree that the first war
a war between nations, and history and prophecy equally agree that this last was a war between and on account of religions.
The Cross shall wax, the Crescent wane,
Call this prediction what you please, the history of the world may be challenged to point out a more exact and remarkable correspondence between the march of events and the prophecy concerning them. The nations and times and the objects of the wars as well as the results are particularly set forth; and no man who reads the history can pretend to misapprehend them. If there was nothing more than this, Mother Shipton's prediction would challenge the attention of students of history; and it would also invite inquiry into that mental condition which now, after the date of the end of what has been called the era of prophecy, could thus receive and put upon record centuries ago, a series of statements which the march of time has discovered to the world, as lately accomplished facts.
The prophecy further declares as we have it now