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An Exposition

[An intimate acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures is a secure haven, and an impregnable bulwark, and an immovable tower, and imperishable glory, and impenetrable armour, and unfading joy, and perpetual delight, and whatever other excellence can be uttered.]


J. Collord, Printer.


OAK. The religious veneration paid to this tree, by the original natives of our island in the time of the Druids, is well known to every reader of British history. We have reason to think that this veneration was brought from the east; and that the Druids did no more than transfer the sentiments their progenitors had received in oriental countries. It should appear that the Patriarch Abraham resided under an oak, or a grove of oaks, which our translators render the plain of Mamre; and that he planted a grove of this tree, Gen. xiii, 18. In fact, since in hot countries nothing is more desirable than shade, nothing more refreshing than the shade of a tree, we may easily suppose the inhabitants would resort for such enjoyment to

Where’er the oak’s thick branches spread
A deeper, darker shade.

Oaks, and groves of oaks, were esteemed proper places for religious services; altars were set up under them, Joshua xxiv, 26; and, probably, in the east as well as in the west, appointments to meet at conspicuous oaks were made, and many affairs were transacted or treated of under their shade, as we read in Homer, Theocritus and other poets. It was common among the Hebrews to sit under oaks, 709Judges vi, 11; 1 Kings xiii, 14. Jacob buried idolatrous images under an oak, Gen. xxxv, 4; and Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, was buried under one of these trees, Genesis xxxv, 8. See 1 Chron. x, 12. Abimelech was made king under an oak, Judges ix, 6. Idolatry was practised under oaks, Isaiah i, 29; lvii, 5; Hosea iv, 13. Idols were made of oaks, Isa. xliv, 14.

OATH, a solemn invocation of a superior power, admitted to be acquainted with all the secrets of our hearts, with our inward thoughts as well as our outward actions, to witness the truth of what we assert, and to inflict his vengeance upon us if we assert what is not true, or promise what we do not mean to perform. Almost all nations, whether savage or civilized, whether enjoying the light of revelation or led only by the light of reason, knowing the importance of truth, and willing to obtain a barrier against falsehood, have had recourse to oaths, by which they have endeavoured to make men fearful of uttering lies, under the dread of an avenging Deity. Among Christians, an oath is a solemn appeal for the truth of our assertions, the sincerity of our promises, and the fidelity of our engagements, to the one only God, the Judge of the whole earth, who is every where present, and sees, and hears, and knows, whatever is said, or done, or thought in any part of the world. Such is that Being whom Christians, when they take an oath, invoke to bear testimony to the truth of their words, and the integrity of their hearts. Surely, then, if oaths be a matter of so much moment, it well behoves us not to treat them with levity, nor ever to take them without due consideration. Hence we ought, with the utmost vigilance, to abstain from mingling oaths in our ordinary discourse, and from associating the name of God with low or disgusting images, or using it on trivial occasions, as not only a profane levity in itself, but tending to destroy that reverence for the supreme Majesty which ought to prevail in society, and to dwell in our own hearts.

The forms of oaths,” says Dr. Paley, like other religious ceremonies, have in all ages been various; consisting, however, for the most part of some bodily action, and of a prescribed form of words.” Among the Jews, the juror held up his right hand toward heaven, Psalm cxliv, 8; Rev. x, 5. The same form is retained in Scotland still. Among the Jews, also, an oath of fidelity was taken by the servant’s putting his hand under the thigh of his lord, Genesis xxiv, 2. Among the Greeks and Romans, the form varied with the subject and occasion of the oath: in private contracts, the parties took hold of each other’s hands, while they swore to the performance; or they touched the altar of the god by whose divinity they swore: upon more solemn occasions, it was the custom to slay a victim; and the beast being struck down with certain ceremonies and invocations, gave birth to the expression, ferire pactum; and to our English phrase, translated from this, of striking a bargain.” The form of oaths in Christian countries is also very different; but in no country in the world worse contrived, either to convey the meaning or impress the obligation of an oath, than in our own. The juror with us, after repeating the promise or affirmation which the oath is intended to confirm, adds, So help me God;” or, more frequently, the substance of the oath is repeated to the juror by the magistrate, who adds in the conclusion, So help you God.” The energy of this sentence resides in the particle so: So, that is, hâc lege, upon condition of my speaking the truth, or performing this promise, and not otherwise, may God help me! The juror, while he hears or repeats the words of the oath, holds his right hand upon a Bible, or other book containing the Gospels, and at the conclusion kisses the book. This obscure and elliptical form, together with the levity and frequency of them, has brought about a general inadvertency to the obligation of oaths, which, both in a religious and political view, is much to be lamented; and it merits public consideration, whether the requiring of oaths upon so many frivolous occasions, especially in the customs, and in the qualification for petty offices, has any other effect than to make such sanctions cheap in the minds of the people. A pound of tea cannot travel regularly from the ship to the consumer, without costing half a dozen oaths at least; and the same security for the due discharge of their office, namely, that of an oath, is required from a churchwarden and an archbishop; from a petty constable and the chief justice of England. Oaths, however, are lawful; and, whatever be the form, the signification is the same. Historians have justly remarked, that when the reverence for an oath began to diminish among the Romans, and the loose epicurean system, which discarded the belief of providence, was introduced, the Roman honour and prosperity from that period began to decline. The Quakers refuse to swear upon any occasion, founding their scruples concerning the lawfulness of oaths upon our Saviour’s prohibition, Swear not at all,” Matt. v, 34. But it seems our Lord there referred to the vicious, wanton, and unauthorized swearing in common discourse, and not to judicial oaths; for he himself answered, when interrogated, upon oath, Matt. xxvi, 63, 64; Mark xiv, 61. The Apostle Paul also makes use of expressions which contain the nature of oaths, Romans i, 9; 1 Cor. xv, 31; 2 Cor. i, 18; Gal. i, 20; Heb. vi, 13–17. The administration of oaths supposes that God will punish false swearing with more severity than a simple lie, or breach of promise; for which belief there are the following reasons: 1. Perjury is a sin of greater deliberation. 2. It violates a superior confidence. 3. God directed the Israelites to swear by his name, Deut. vi, 13; x, 20; and was pleased to confirm his covenant with that people by an oath; neither of which, it is probable, he would have done, had he not intended to represent oaths as having some meaning and effect beyond the obligation of a bare promise.

710OBADIAH the prophet is thought to have been the same as the governor of Ahab’s house, 1 Kings xviii, 3, &c; and some are of opinion, he was that Obadiah whom Josiah made overseer of the works of the temple, 2 Chron. xxxiv, 12. Indeed, the age in which this prophet lived is very uncertain. Some think that he was contemporary with Hosea, Amos, and Joel; while others are of opinion that he lived in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and that he delivered his prophecy about B. C. 585, soon after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. His book, which consists of a single chapter, is written with great beauty and elegance, and contains predictions of the utter destruction of the Edomites, and of the future restoration and prosperity of the Jews.

OBED-EDOM, son of Jeduthun, a Levite, 1 Chron. xvi, 38, and the father of Shemaiah and others, 1 Chron. xvi, 5. We learn that the Lord blessed this man exceedingly, on account of the ark resting under his roof, 2 Sam. vi, 10, 11. David having removed the ark to the place he had previously prepared for its reception, Obed-Edom and his sons were appointed to be keepers of the doors of the temple, 1 Chron. xv, 18, 21. Obed-Edom is called the Gittite, probably because he was of Gathrimmon, a city of the Levites beyond Jordan, Joshua xxi, 24, 25.

ODED, a prophet of the Lord, who, being at Samaria when the Israelites of the ten tribes returned from the war with their King Pekah, together with two hundred thousand of the people of Judah, whom they had taken captive, went out to meet them; and through his remonstrances the captives were liberated, 2 Chron. xxviii. This circumstance is all that is recorded concerning Oded.

OFFERINGS. Among the Jews, under the Mosaic law, a variety of offerings of different kinds were appointed, which are accurately and fully described in the beginning of the book of Leviticus.

Burnt-offerings, or holocausts, sacrifices in which the victims were wholly consumed, were expiatory, and more ancient than any others, and were, for that reason, held in special honour. It was in consideration of these circumstances that Moses gave precepts in regard to this kind of sacrifices first, Lev. i, 3. Holocausts might be offered by means of the Hebrew priests, when brought by the Heathen, or those who had originated from another nation; such persons being unable to offer sin or trespass-offerings, since this sort of sacrifices had particular reference to some neglect or violation of the Mosaic law, by whose authority they did not acknowledge themselves bound. Holocausts were expiatory, and we accordingly find that they were offered sometimes for the whole people; for instance, the morning and the evening sacrifices; and sometimes by an individual for himself alone, either from the free impulse of his feelings, or in fulfilment of a vow, Psalm li, 19; lxvi, 13, 14. They were required to be offered under certain combinations of circumstances pointed out in the Mosaic laws; namely, by a Nazarite, who had been unexpectedly rendered unclean, or who had completed the days of his separation, Num. vi, 11–16; by those who had been healed of leprosy; and by women after child-birth, Lev. xii, 6, 8. The victims immolated at a holocaust were bullocks of three years old, goats and lambs of a year old, turtle doves, and young pigeons. Not only the parts which were expressly destined for the altar, but also the other parts of the victims, were burned. A libation of wine was poured out upon the altar. It was the practice among the Gentile nations, (an allusion to which occurs in Phil. ii, 17, and 2 Tim. iv, 6,) to pour the wine out between the horns of the victims which they immolated to their idols. The priest partially wrung or cut off the heads of the turtle doves and young pigeons, sprinkled the blood on the side of the altar, plucked out the feathers and the crop, and cast them to the east of the altar into the place for the reception of ashes, and placed the remainder, after having cleft or broken the wings, upon the fire, Lev. i, 3–17.

Drink-offerings. With a bullock, half a hin of wine, with three-tenth deals of flour, and half a hin of oil. With a ram, one-third of a hin of wine, with two-tenth deals of flour, and one-third of a hin of oil. With a lamb or a kid of the goats, one quarter of a hin of wine, one-tenth deal of flour, and one quarter of a hin of oil. With a sheaf of the first-fruits, one quarter of a hin of wine, one-tenth deal of flour, with oil.

Meat-offerings. These, like the drink-offerings, were appendages to the sacrifices. They were of thin cakes or wafers. In some instances they were offered alone.

Heave-offerings. So called from the sacrifice being lifted up toward heaven, in token of its being devoted to Jehovah.

Peace-offerings. Bullocks, heifers, goats, rams, and sheep, were the only animals sacrificed on these occasions, Lev. iii, 1–17; vii, 23–27. These sacrifices, which were offered as an indication of gratitude, were accompanied with unleavened cakes, covered with oil, by pouring it upon them; with thin cakes or wafers, likewise unleavened, and besmeared with oil; also with another kind of cakes, made of fine meal, and kneaded with oil. The priest, who sprinkled the blood, presented one of each of these kinds of cakes as an offering, Lev. vii, 11–14, 28–35. The remainder of the animal substance and of the cakes was converted by the person who made the offering into an entertainment, to which widows, orphans, the poor, slaves, and Levites were invited. What was not eaten on the day of the offering might be reserved till the succeeding; but that which remained till the third was to be burned: a regulation which was made in order to prevent the omission or putting off of the season of this benevolence and joy, Lev. vii, 15–21; Deut. xii, 18. This feast could be celebrated beyond the limits of the tabernacle, or temple, but not beyond the city.

Sin-offerings were for expiation of particular 711sins, or legal imperfections, called therefore sin-offerings: the first sort were for sins of ignorance or surprise, either from the high priest, or body of the community, from the rulers, or any one of the common people. The other sort of sin-offerings were for voluntary sins; but as to the more capital violations of the moral law, as murder, adultery, or the worship of idols, no expiatory sacrifice was admitted.

Trespass-offerings were not required of the people as a body. They were to be offered by individuals, who, through ignorance, mistake, or want of reflection, had neglected some of the ceremonial precepts of Moses, or some of those natural laws, which had been introduced into his code, and sanctioned with the penalty of death; and who were subsequently conscious of their error. The person who, being sworn as a witness, concealed the truth by keeping silent; the man who, having become contaminated without knowing it, had omitted purification, but had afterward become acquainted with the fact; the person who had rashly sworn to do a thing, and had not done it; all these delinquents offered a lamb or kid, or, in case of poverty, two doves or young pigeons, the one for a trespass, the other for a sin-offering. In case the person was unusually poor, he was required to offer merely the tenth part of an ephah of fine meal, without oil or frankincense, Lev. iii, 1–16. Whoever appropriated to himself any thing consecrated, or any thing that was promised, or found, or stolen, or deposited in his possession for keeping; whoever swore falsely, or omitted to restore the goods that belonged to another, or injured him in any other way, presented for his trespass a ram, which had been submitted to the estimation of the priest, and not only made restitution, but allowed an additional amount of a fifth part by way of indemnification. He who had committed fornication with a betrothed bondmaid, previously to her being redeemed from servitude, offered a ram for the trespass, Lev. xix, 20–22. Nazarites, who had been unexpectedly rendered unclean, presented a lamb of a year old, Num. vi, 11. Finally, lepers, when restored to health, and purified, sacrificed a ram, Lev. xiv, 10–14. The ceremonies were the same as in the sin-offerings.

Wave-offering. It was so called, because it was waved up and down, and toward the east, west, north, and south, to signify, that he to whom it was offered was Lord of the universe, the God who fills all space, and to whom all things of right belong. See Sacrifices>.

OG, a king of Bashan; being a giant of the race of the Rephaim. Moses records the conquest of Og, and his destruction. After which his country was given to the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, Num. xxi, 33. See Giants.

OIL, . The invention and use of oil is of the highest antiquity. It is said that Jacob poured oil upon the pillar which he erected at Bethel, Gen. xxviii, 18. The earliest kind was that which is extracted from olives. Before the invention of mills, this was obtained by pounding them in a mortar, Exod. xxvii, 20; and sometimes by treading them with the feet in the same manner as were grapes, Deut. xxxiii, 24; Micah vi, 15. The Hebrews used common oil with their food, in their meat-offerings, for burning in their lamps, &c. As vast quantities of oil were made by the ancient Jews, it became an article of exportation. The great demand for it in Egypt led the Jews to send it thither. The Prophet Hosea thus upbraids his degenerate nation with the servility and folly of their conduct: Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; he daily increaseth falsehood and vanity: and a league is made with Assyria, and oil carried into Egypt,” Hosea xii, 1. The Israelites, in the decline of their national glory, carried the produce of their olive plantations into Egypt as a tribute to their ancient oppressors, or as a present to conciliate their favour, and obtain their assistance in the sanguinary wars which they were often compelled to wage with the neighbouring states. There was an unguent, very precious and sacred, used in anointing the priests, the tabernacle, and furniture. This was compounded of spicy drugs; namely, myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, and cassia, mixed with oil olive.

OLIVE TREE, , aa, Matt. xxi, 1; Rom. xi, 17, 24; James iii, 12; a, oleaster, the wild olive, Rom. xi, 17, 24. Tournefort mentions eighteen kinds of olives; but in the Scripture we only read of the cultivated and wild olive. The cultivated olive is of a moderate height, and thrives best in a sunny and warm soil. Its trunk is knotty; its bark is smooth, and of an ash colour; its wood is solid, and yellowish; its leaves are oblong, and almost like those of the willow, of a dark green colour on the upper side, and a whitish below. In the month of June it puts forth white flowers, growing in bunches, each of one piece, and widening toward the top, and dividing into four parts. After this flower succeeds the fruit, which is oblong and plump. It is first green, then pale, and, when quite ripe, becomes black. Within it is enclosed a hard stone, filled with oblong seeds. The wild olives were of a less kind. Canaan much abounded with olives. It seems almost every proprietor, whether kings or subjects, had their olive yards. The olive branch was, from most ancient times, used as the symbol of reconciliation and peace.

OLIVES. The Mount of Olives was situated to the east of Jerusalem, and divided from the city only by the brook Kidron, and by the valley of Jehoshaphat, which stretches out from the north to the south. It was upon this mount that Solomon built temples to the gods of the Ammonites, 1 Kings xi, 7, and the Moabites, out of complaisance to his wives of those nations. Hence it is that the Mount of Olives is called the mountain of corruption, 2 Kings xxiii, 13. The Mount of Olives forms part of a ridge of limestone hills, extending to the north and the south west. Pococke describes it as having four summits. On the 712lowest and most northerly of these, which, he tells us, is called Sulman Tashy, the stone of Solomon, there is a large domed sepulchre, and several other Mohammedan tombs. The ascent to this point, which is to the north-east of the city, he describes as very gradual, through pleasant corn fields, planted with olive trees. The second summit is that which overlooks the city: the path to it rises from the ruined gardens of Gethsemane, which occupy part of the valley. About half way up the ascent is a ruined monastery, built, as the monks tell us, on the spot where our Saviour wept over Jerusalem. From this point, the spectator enjoys, perhaps, the best view of the holy city. On reaching the summit, an extensive view is obtained toward the east, embracing the fertile plain of Jericho, watered by the Jordan, and the Dead Sea, enclosed by mountains of considerable grandeur. Here there is a small village, surrounded by some tolerable corn land. This summit is not relatively high, and would more properly be termed a hill than a mountain: it is not above two miles distant from Jerusalem. At a short distance from the summit is shown the supposed print of our Saviour’s left foot; Chateaubriand says the mark of the right was once visible, and Bernard de Breidenbach saw it in 1483! This is the spot fixed upon by the mother of Constantine, as that from which our Lord ascended, and over which she accordingly erected a church and monastery, the ruins of which still remain. Pococke describes the building which was standing in his time, as a small Gothic chapel, round within, and octagonal without, and tells us that it was converted into a mosque. The Turks, for a stipulated sum, permit the Christian pilgrims to take an impression of the foot print in wax or plaster, to carry home. Twice,” says Dr. Richardson, I visited this memorable spot; and each time it was crowded with devout pilgrims, taking casts of the holy vestige. They had to purchase permission of the Turks; but, had it not been in the possession of the Turks, they would have had to purchase it from the more mercenary and not less merciless Romans or Greeks.” On ascension eve, the Christians come and encamp in the court, and that night they perform the offices of the ascension. Here, however, as with regard to Calvary and almost all the supposed sacred places, superstition has blindly followed the blind. That this is not the place of the ascension, is certain from the words of St. Luke, who says that our Lord led out his disciples as far as Bethany, and lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up to heaven,” Acts i. Bethany is a small village to the east of the Mount of Olives, on the road to Jericho, not farther from Jerusalem than the pinnacle of the hill. There are two roads to it; one passes over the Mount of Olives; the other, which is the shorter and easier, winds round the eastern end, having the greater part of the hill on the north or left hand, and on the right the elevation called by some writers the Mount of Offence, which is, however, very little above the valley of Jehoshaphat. The village of Bethany is small and poor, and the cultivation of the soil is much neglected; but it is a pleasant and somewhat romantic spot, sheltered by Mount Olivet on the north, and abounding with trees and long grass. The inhabitants are Arabs.

The olive is still found growing in patches at the foot of the mount to which it gives its name; and as a spontaneous produce, uninterruptedly resulting from the original growth of this part of the mountain, it is impossible,” says Dr. E. D. Clarke, to view even these trees with indifference.” Titus cut down all the wood in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem; but there would seem to have been constantly springing up a succession of these hardy trees. It is truly a curious and interesting fact,” adds the learned traveller, that, during a period of little more than two thousand years, Hebrews, Assyrians, Romans, Moslems, and Christians, have been successively in possession of the rocky mountains of Palestine; yet, the olive still vindicates its paternal soil, and is found, at this day, upon the same spot which was called by the Hebrew writers Mount Olivet and the Mount of Olives, eleven centuries before the Christian era,” 2 Sam. xv, 30; Zech. xiv, 4.

OMEGA, the last letter in the Greek alphabet, Rev. i, 8; a title of Christ.

OMNIPOTENCE. See Almighty.

OMNIPRESENCE, that attribute of God by which he is present in all places. The statement of this doctrine in the inspired records, like that of all the other attributes of God, is made in their own peculiar tone and emphasis of majesty and sublimity. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off” “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” Behold, heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” “Though he dig into hell, thence shall my hand take him; though he climb up into heaven, thence will I bring him down; and though he hide himself in the top of Carmel, I will search and take him out from thence.” In him we live, and move, and have our being.” “He filleth all things.”

Some striking passages on the ubiquity of the divine presence may be found in the writings of some of the Greek philosophers, arising out of this notion, that God was the soul of the world; but their very connection with this speculation, notwithstanding the imposing phrase occasionally adopted, strikingly marks the difference between their most exalted views, and those of the Hebrew prophets on this subject. To a large proportion of those who hold a distinguished 713rank among the ancient theistical philosophers, the idea of the personality of the Deity was in a great measure unknown. The Deity by them was considered not so much an intelligent Being, as an animating power, diffused throughout the world, and was introduced into their speculative system to account for the motion of that passive mass of matter, which was supposed coëval, and indeed coëxistent, with himself. These defective notions are confessed by Gibbon, a writer not disposed to undervalue their attainments: The philosophers of Greece deduced their morals from the nature of man, rather than from that of God. They meditated, however, on the divine nature, as a very curious and important speculation; and, in the profound inquiry, they displayed the strength and weakness of the human understanding. Of the four most considerable sects, the Stoics and the Platonicians endeavoured to reconcile the jarring interests of reason and piety. They have left us the most sublime proofs of the existence and perfections of the First Cause; but as it was impossible for them to conceive the creation of matter, the workman, in the Stoic philosophy, was not sufficiently distinguished from the work; while, on the contrary, the spiritual god of Plato and his disciples resembled more an idea than a substance.”

Similar errors have been revived in the infidel philosophy of modern times, from Spinoza down to the later offspring of the German and French schools. The same remark applies also to the oriental philosophy, which presents at this day a perfect view of the boasted wisdom of ancient Greece, which was brought to nought” by the foolishness” of apostolic preaching. But in the Scriptures there is nothing confused in the doctrine of the divine ubiquity. God is every where, but he is not every thing. All things have their being in him, but he is distinct from all things; he fills the universe, but is not mingled with it. He is the intelligence which guides, and the power which sustains; but his personality is preserved, and he is independent of the works of his hands, however vast and noble. So far is his presence from being bounded by the universe itself, that, as we are taught in the passage above quoted from the Psalms, were it possible for us to wing our way into the immeasurable depths and breadths of space, God would there surround us, in as absolute a sense as that in which he is said to be about our bed and our path in that part of the world where his will has placed us.

On this, as on all similar subjects, the Scriptures use terms which are taken in their common-sense acceptation among mankind; and though the vanity of the human mind disposes many to seek a philosophy in the doctrine thus announced deeper than that which its popular terms convey, we are bound to conclude, if we would pay but a common respect to an admitted revelation, that, where no manifest figure of speech occurs, the truth of the doctrine lies in the tenor of the terms by which it is expressed. Otherwise there would be no revelation, we do not say of the modus, [manner,] (for that is confessedly incomprehensible,) but of the fact. In the case before us, the terms presence and place are used according to common notions; and must be so taken, if the Scriptures are intelligible. Metaphysical refinements are not Scriptural doctrines, when they give to the terms chosen by the Holy Spirit an acceptation out of their general and proper use, and make them the signs of a perfectly distinct class of ideas; if, indeed, all distinctness of idea is not lost in the attempt. It is therefore in the popular and just, because Scriptural, manner, that we are to conceive of the omnipresence of God. If we reflect upon ourselves, we may observe that we fill but a small space, and that our knowledge or power reaches but a little way. We can act at one time in one place only, and the sphere of our influence is narrow at largest. Would we be witnesses to what is done at any distance from us, or exert there our active powers, we must remove ourselves thither. For this reason we are necessarily ignorant of a thousand things which pass around us, incapable of attending and managing any great variety of affairs, or performing at the same time any number of actions, for our own good, or for the benefit of others. Although we feel this to be the present condition of our being, and the limited state of our intelligent and active powers, yet we can easily conceive there may exist beings more perfect, and whose presence may extend far and wide: any one of whom, present in what are to us various places, at the same time, may know at once what is done in all these, and act in all of them; and thus be able to regard and direct a variety of affairs at the same instant: and who farther being qualified, by the purity and activity of their nature, to pass from one place to another, with great ease and swiftness, may thus fill a large sphere of action, direct a great variety of affairs, confer a great number of benefits, and observe a multitude of actions at the same time, or in so swift a succession as to us would appear but one instant. Thus perfect we may readily believe the angels of God.

We can farther conceive this extent of presence, and of ability for knowledge and action, to admit of degrees of ascending perfection approaching to infinite. And when we have thus raised our thoughts to the idea of a being, who is not only present throughout a large empire, but throughout our world; and not only in every part of our world, but in every part of all the numberless suns and worlds which roll in the starry heavens,--who is not only able to enliven and actuate the plants, animals, and men who live upon this globe, but countless varieties of creatures every where in an immense universe,--yea, whose presence is not confined to the universe, immeasurable as that is by any finite mind, but who is present every where in infinite space; and who is therefore able to create still new worlds, and fill them with proper inhabitants, attend, supply, and govern them all,--when we have thus gradually raised and enlarged our conceptions, we have the best idea we can form of the universal 714presence of the great Jehovah, who filleth heaven and earth. There is no part of the universe, no portion of space, uninhabited by God; none wherein this Being of perfect power, wisdom, and benevolence is not essentially present. Could we with the swiftness of a sun beam dart ourselves beyond the limits of the creation, and for ages continue our progress in infinite space, we should still be surrounded with the divine presence; nor ever be able to reach that space where God is not. His presence also penetrates every part of our world; the most solid parts of the earth cannot exclude it; for it pierces as easily the centre of the globe as the empty air. All creatures live and move and have their being in him. And the inmost recesses of the human heart can no more exclude his presence, or conceal a thought from his knowledge, than the deepest caverns of the earth.

The illustrations and confirmatory proofs of this doctrine which the material world furnishes, are numerous and striking. It is a most evident and acknowledged truth that a being cannot act where it is not: if, therefore, actions and effects, which manifest the highest wisdom, power, and goodness in the author of them, are continually produced every where, the author of these actions, or God, must be continually present with us, and wherever he thus acts. The matter which composes the world is evidently lifeless and thoughtless: it must therefore be incapable of moving itself, or designing or producing any effects which require wisdom or power. The matter of our world, or the small parts which constitute the air, the earth, and the waters, is yet continually moved, so as to produce effects of this kind; such are the innumerable herbs, and trees, and fruits which adorn the earth, and support the countless millions of creatures who inhabit it. There must therefore be constantly present, all over the earth, a most wise, mighty, and good Being, the author and director of these motions.

We cannot, it is true, see him with our bodily eyes, because he is a pure Spirit; yet this is not any proof that he is not present. A judicious discourse, a series of kind actions, convince us of the presence of a friend, a person of prudence and benevolence. We cannot see the present mind, the seat and principle of these qualities; yet the constant regular motion of the tongue, the hand, and the whole body, (which are the instruments of our souls, as the material universe and all the various bodies in it are the instruments of the Deity,) will not suffer us to doubt that there is an intelligent and benevolent principle within the body which produces all these skilful motions and kind actions. The sun, the air, the earth, and the waters, are no more able to move themselves, and produce all that beautiful and useful variety of plants, and fruits, and trees, with which our earth is covered, than the body of a man, when the soul hath left it, is able to move itself, form an instrument, plough a field, or build a house. If the laying out judiciously and well cultivating a small estate, sowing it with proper grain at the best time of the year, watering it in due season and quantities, and gathering in the fruits when ripe, and laying them up in the best manner,--if all these effects prove the estate to have a manager, and the manager possessed of skill and strength,--certainly the enlightening and warming the whole earth by the sun, and so directing its motion and the motion of the earth as to produce in a constant useful succession day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest; the watering the earth continually by the clouds, and thus bringing forth immense quantities of herbage, grain, and fruits,--certainly all these effects continually produced, must prove that a Being of the greatest power, wisdom, and benevolence is continually present throughout our world, which he thus supports, moves, actuates, and makes fruitful.

The fire which warms us knows nothing of its serviceableness to this purpose, nor of the wise laws according to which its particles are moved to produce this effect. And that it is placed in such a part of the house, where it may be greatly beneficial and no way hurtful, is ascribed without hesitation to the contrivance and labour of a person who knew its proper place and uses. And if we came daily into a house wherein we saw this was regularly done, though we never saw an inhabitant in it, we could not doubt that the house was occupied by a rational inhabitant. That huge globe of fire in the heavens, which we call the sun, and on the light and influences of which the fertility of our world, and the life and pleasure of all animals, depend, knows nothing of its serviceableness to these purposes, nor of the wise laws according to which its beams are dispensed, nor what place or motions were requisite for these beneficial purposes. Yet its beams are darted constantly in infinite numbers, every one according to those well chosen laws, and its proper place and motion are maintained. Must not, then, its place be appointed, its motion regulated, and beams darted, by almighty wisdom and goodness, which prevent the sun’s ever wandering in the boundless spaces of the heavens, so as to leave us in disconsolate cold and darkness, or coming so near, or emitting his rays in such a manner, as to burn us up Must not the great Being who enlightens and warms us by the sun, his instrument, who raises and sends down the vapours, brings forth and ripens the grain and fruits, and who is thus ever acting around us for our benefit, be always present in the sun, throughout the air, and all over the earth, which he thus moves and actuates

This earth is in itself a dead, motionless mass, and void of all counsel; yet proper parts of it are continually raised through the small pipes which compose the bodies of plants and trees, and are made to contribute to their growth, to open and shine in blossoms and leaves, and to swell and harden into fruit. Could blind, thoughtless particles thus continually keep on their way, through numberless windings, without once blundering, if they 715were not guided by an unerring hand Can the most perfect human skill from earth and water form one grain, much more a variety of beautiful and relishing fruits Must not the directing mind, who does all this constantly, be most wise, mighty, and benevolent Must not the Being who thus continually exerts his skill and energy around us, for our benefit, be confessed to be always present and concerned for our welfare Can these effects be ascribed to any thing below an all-wise and almighty cause And must not this cause be present wherever he acts Were God to speak to us every month from heaven, and with a voice loud as thunder declare that he observes, provides for, and governs us; this would not be a proof, in the judgment of sound reason, by many degrees so valid: since much less wisdom and power are required to form such sounds in the air, than to produce these effects; and to give, not merely verbal declarations, but substantial evidences of his presence and care over us. In every part and place of the universe, with which we are acquainted, we perceive the exertion of a power, which we believe, mediately or immediately, to proceed from the Deity. For instance: in what part or point of space, that has ever been explored, do we not discover attraction In what regions do we not find light In what accessible portion of our globe do we not meet with gravity, magnetism, electricity; together with the properties also and powers of organized substances, of vegetable or of animated nature Nay, farther, what kingdom is there of nature, what corner of space, in which there is any thing that can be examined by us, where we do not fall upon contrivance and design The only reflection, perhaps, which arises in our minds from this view of the world around us, is, that the laws of nature every where prevail; that they are uniform and universal. But what do we mean by the laws of nature, or by any law Effects are produced by power, not by laws. A law cannot execute itself. A law refers us to an agent.

The usual argument a priori, on this attribute of the divine nature, has been stated as follows; but, amidst such a mass of demonstration of a much higher kind, it cannot be of any great value:--The First Cause, the supreme all-perfect Mind, as he could not derive his being from any other cause, must be independent of all other, and therefore unlimited. He exists by an absolute necessity of nature; and as all the parts of infinite space are exactly uniform and alike, for the same reason that he exists in any one part he must exist in all. No reason can be assigned for excluding him from one part, which would not exclude him from all. But that he is present in some parts of space, the evident effects of his wisdom, power, and benevolence continually produced, demonstrate beyond all rational doubt. He must therefore be alike present every where, and fill infinite space with his infinite Being.

Among metaphysicians, it has been matter of dispute, whether God is present every where by an infinite extension of his essence. This is the opinion of Newton, Dr. S. Clarke, and their followers; others have objected to this notion, that it might then be said, God is neither in heaven nor in earth, but only a part of God in each. The former opinion, however, appears most in harmony with the Scriptures; though the term extension, through the inadequacy of language, conveys too material an idea. The objection just stated is wholly grounded on notions taken from material objects, and is therefore of little weight, because it is not applicable to an immaterial substance. It is best to confess with one who had thought deeply on the subject, There is an incomprehensibleness in the manner of every thing about which no controversy can or ought to be concerned.” That we cannot comprehend how God is fully, and completely, and undividedly present every where, need not surprise us, when we reflect that the manner in which our own minds are present with our bodies is as incomprehensible as the manner in which the supreme Mind is present with every thing in the universe.

OMNISCIENCE. This attribute of God is constantly connected in Scripture with his omnipresence, and forms a part of almost every description of that attribute; for, as God is a Spirit, and therefore intelligent, if he is every where, if nothing can exclude him, not even the most solid bodies, nor the minds of intelligent beings, then are all things naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Where he acts, he is; and where he is, he perceives. He understands and considers things absolutely, and as they are in their own natures, powers, properties, differences, together with all the circumstances belonging to them. Known unto him are all his works from the beginning of the world,” rather, ap a, from, all eternity; known, before they were made, in their possible, and known, now they are made, in their actual, existence. Lord, thou hast searched me and known me; thou knowest my down-sitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. The darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day. The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings; he searcheth their hearts, and understandeth every imagination of their thoughts.” Nor is this perfect knowledge to be confined to men or angels; it reaches into the state of the dead, and penetrates the regions of the damned. Hell,” hades, is naked before him; and destruction,” the seats of destruction, hath no covering.” No limits at all are to be set to this perfection: Great is the Lord, his understanding is infinite.”

In Psalm xciv, the knowledge of God is argued from the communication of it to men: Understand, ye brutish among the people; and, ye fools, when will ye be wise He that planted the ear, shall he not hear He that 716formed the eye, shall he not see He that chastiseth the Heathen, shall not he correct He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know” This argument is as easy as it is conclusive, obliging all who acknowledge a First Cause, to admit his perfect intelligence, or to take refuge in atheism itself. It fetches not the proof from a distance, but refers us to our bosoms for the constant demonstration that the Lord is a God of knowledge, and that by him actions are weighed. We find in ourselves such qualities as thought and intelligence, power and freedom, &c, for which we have the evidence of consciousness as much as for our own existence. Indeed, it is only by our consciousness of these, that our existence is known to ourselves. We know, likewise, that these are perfections, and that to have them is better than to be without them. We find also that they have not been in us from eternity. They must, therefore, have had a beginning, and consequently some cause, for the very same reason that a being beginning to exist in time requires a cause. Now this cause, as it must be superior to its effect, must have those perfections in a superior degree; and if it be the First Cause it must have them in an infinite or unlimited degree, since bounds or limitations, without a limiter, would be an effect without a cause. If God gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to men of understanding; if he communicates this perfection to his creatures, the inference must be that he himself is possessed of it in a much more eminent degree than they; that his knowledge is deep and intimate, reaching to the very essence of things, theirs but slight and superficial; his clear and distinct, theirs confused and dark; his certain and infallible, theirs doubtful and liable to mistake; his easy and permanent, theirs obtained with much pains, and soon lost again by the defects of memory or age; his universal and extending to all objects, theirs short and narrow, reaching only to some few things, while that which is wanting cannot be numbered; and therefore, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so, as the prophet has told us, are his ways above our ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts.

But his understanding is infinite; a doctrine which the sacred writers not only authoritatively announce, but confirm by referring to the wisdom displayed in his works. The only difference between wisdom and knowledge is, that the former always supposes action, and action directed to an end. But wherever there is wisdom there must be knowledge; and as the wisdom of God in the creation consists in the formation of things which, by themselves, or in combination with others, shall produce certain effects, and that in a variety of operation which is to us boundless, the previous knowledge of the possible qualities and effects inevitably supposes a knowledge which can have no limit. For as creation out of nothing argues a power which is omnipotent; so the knowledge of the possibilities of things which are not, (a knowledge which, from the effect, we are sure must exist in God,) argues that such a Being must be omniscient. For all things being not only present to him, but also entirely depending upon him, and having received both their being itself, and all their powers and faculties from him; it is manifest that, as he knows all things that are, so he must likewise know all possibilities of things, that is, all effects that can be. For, being himself alone self-existent, and having alone given to all things all the powers and faculties they are endued with; it is evident he must of necessity know perfectly what all and each of those powers and faculties, which are derived wholly from himself, can possibly produce: and seeing, at one boundless view, all the possible compositions and divisions, variations and changes, circumstances and dependencies of things; all their possible relations one to another, and their dispositions or fitnesses to certain and respective ends, he must, without possibility of error, know exactly what is best and properest in every one of the infinite possible cases or methods of disposing things; and understand perfectly how to order and direct the respective means, to bring about what he so knows to be, in its kind, or in the whole, the best and fittest in the end. This is what we mean by infinite wisdom.

On the subject of the divine omniscience, many fine sentiments are to be found in the writings of Pagans; for an intelligent First Cause being in any sense admitted, it was most natural and obvious to ascribe to him a perfect knowledge of all things. They acknowledge that nothing is hid from God, who is intimate to our minds, and mingles himself with our very thoughts; nor were they all unaware of the practical tendency of such a doctrine, and of the motive it affords to a cautious and virtuous conduct. But among them it was not held, as by the sacred writers, in connection with other right views of the divine nature, which are essential to give to this its full moral effect. Not only on this subject does the manner in which the Scriptures state the doctrine far transcend that of the wisest Pagan theists; but the moral of the sentiment is infinitely more comprehensive and impressive. With them it is connected with man’s state of trial; with a holy law, all the violations of which, in thought, word, and deed, are both infallibly known, and strictly marked; with promises of grace, and of a mild and protecting government as to all who have sought and found the mercy of God in forgiving their sins and admitting them into his family. The wicked are thus reminded, that their hearts are searched, and their sins noted; that the eyes of the Lord are upon their ways; and that their most secret works will be brought to light in the day when God the witness shall become God the judge. But as to the righteous, the eyes of the Lord are said to be over them; that they are kept by him who never slumbers or sleeps; that he is never far from them; that his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in their behalf; that foes, to them invisible, are seen by his eye, and 717controlled by his arm; and that this great attribute, so appalling to wicked men, affords to them, not only the most influential reason for a perfectly holy temper and conduct, but the strongest motive to trust, and joy, and hope, amidst the changes and afflictions of the present life. Socrates, as well as other philosophers, could express themselves well, so long as they expressed themselves generally, on this subject. The former could say, Let your own frame instruct you. Does the mind inhabiting your body dispose and govern it with ease Ought you not then to conclude, that the universal Mind with equal ease actuates and governs universal nature; and that, when you can at once consider the interest of the Athenians at home, in Egypt, and in Sicily, it is not too much for the divine wisdom to take care of the universe These reflections will soon convince you, that the greatness of the divine mind is such, as at once to see all things, hear all things, be present every where, and direct all the affairs of the world.” These views are just, but they wanted that connection with others relative both to the divine nature and government, which we see only in the Bible, to render them influential; they neither gave correct moral distinctions nor led to a virtuous practice, no, not in Socrates, who, on some subjects, and especially on the personality of the Deity, and his independence on matter, raised himself far above the rest of his philosophic brethren, but in moral feeling and practice was perhaps as censurable as they. See Prescience.

ON, or AVEN, a city of Egypt, situated in the land of Goshen, on the east of the Nile, and about five miles from the modern Cairo. It was called Heliopolis by the Greeks, and Bethshemeth by the Hebrews, Jer. xliii, 13; both of which names, as well as its Egyptian one of On, imply the city or house of the sun. The inhabitants of this city are represented by Herodotus as the wisest of the Egyptians; and here Moses resided, and received that education which made him learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” But notwithstanding its being the seat of the sciences, such were its egregious idolatries, that it was nicknamed Aven, or Beth-Aven, the house of vanity,” or idolatry, by the Jews. A village standing on part of its site, at the present day, is called Matarea; while the spring of excellent water, or fountain of the sun, which is supposed to have given rise to the city, is still called Ain Shems, or fountain of the sun, by the Arabs. This is one of the most ancient cities of the world of which any distinct vestige can now be traced. It was visited eighteen hundred and fifty years ago by Strabo, whose description proves it to have been nearly as desolate then as now. Most of the ruins of this once famous city, described by that geographer, are buried in the accumulation of the soil: but that which marks its site, and is, perhaps, the most ancient work at this time existing in the world, in a perfect state, is a column of red granite, seventy feet high, and covered with hieroglyphics. Dr. E. D. Clarke has given a very good representation of this column; to whom, also, the curious reader is referred for a learned dissertation on the characters engraved upon it.

The city On, according to Josephus, was given to the Israelites to dwell in, when they first went into Egypt; and it was a daughter of a priest of the temple of the sun at this place, who was given in marriage to Joseph by Pharaoh. Here, also, in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, leave was obtained of that king by Onias, high priest of the Jews, to build a temple, when dispossessed of his office by Antiochus; which was long used by the Hellenist Jews. It was predicted by Jeremiah, xliii, 13, and by Ezekiel, xxx, 17, that this place, with its temples and inhabitants, should be destroyed; which was probably fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar. See Noph.

ONESIMUS was a Phrygian by nation, a slave to Philemon, and a disciple of the Apostle Paul. Onesimus having run away from his master, and also having robbed him, Philemon v, 18, went to Rome while St. Paul was there in prison the first time. As Onesimus knew him by repute, (his master Philemon being a Christian,) he sought him out. St. Paul brought him to a sense of the greatness of his crime, instructed him, baptized him, and sent him back to his master Philemon with a letter, inserted among St. Paul’s epistles, which is universally acknowledged as canonical. This letter had all the good success he could desire. Philemon not only received Onesimus as a faithful servant, but rather as a brother and a friend. A little time after, he sent him back to Rome to St. Paul, that he might continue to be serviceable to him in his prison. And we see that after this Onesimus was employed to carry such epistles as the Apostle wrote at that time. He carried, for example, that which was written to the Colossians, while St. Paul was yet in his bonds.

ONESIPHORUS is mentioned, 2 Tim. i, 16, 17, and highly commended by St. Paul.

ONION, , Num. xi, 5; a well known garden plant with a bulbous root. Onions and garlics were highly esteemed in Egypt; and not without reason, this country being admirably adapted to their culture. The allium cepa, called by the Arabs basal, Hasselquist thinks one of the species of onions for which the Israelites longed. He would infer this from the quantities still used in Egypt, and their goodness. Whoever has tasted onions in Egypt,” says he, “must allow that none can be had better in any part of the universe. Here they are sweet; in other countries they are nauseous and strong. Here they are soft; whereas in the northern and other parts they are hard, and their coats so compact that they are difficult of digestion. Hence they cannot in any place be eaten with less prejudice, and more satisfaction, than in Egypt.” The Egyptians are reproached with swearing by the leeks and onions of their gardens. Juvenal ridicules some of these superstitious people who did not dare to eat leeks, garlic, or onions, for fear of injuring their gods:--

718Quis nescit, Volusi Bythynice, qualia demens
Ægyptus portenta colit
Porrum et cepe nefas violare aut frangere morsu;
O sanctas gentes quibus hæc nascuntur in hortis Numina!
Sat. xv.
“How Egypt, mad with superstition grown,
Makes gods of monsters, but too well is known.
’Tis mortal sin an onion to devour;
Each clove of garlic has a sacred power.
Religious nation, sure! and blest abodes,
Where ev’ry garden is o’errun with gods!”

So Lucian in his Jupiter, where he is giving an account of the different deities worshipped by the several inhabitants of Egypt, says, sta d µµ, those of Pelusium worship the onion.” Hence arises a question, how the Israelites durst venture to violate the national worship, by eating those sacred plants. We may answer, in the first place, that whatever might be the case of the Egyptians in later ages, it is not probable that they were arrived at such a pitch of superstition in the time of Moses; for we find no indications of this in Herodotus, the most ancient of the Greek historians: secondly, the writers here quoted appear to be mistaken in imagining these plants to have been generally the objects of religious worship. The priests, indeed, abstained from the use of them, and several other vegetables; and this might give rise to the opinion of their being reverenced as divinities: but the use of them was not prohibited to the people, as is plain from the testimonies of ancient authors, particularly of Diodorus Siculus.

ONYX, , Gen. ii, 12; Exod. xxv, 7; xxviii, 9, 20; xxxv, 27; xxxix, 6; 1 Chron. xxix, 2; Job xxviii, 16; Ezekiel xxviii, 13. A precious stone, so called from the Greek , the nail, to the colour of which it nearly approaches. It is first mentioned with the gold and bdellium of the river Pison in Eden; but the meaning of the Hebrew word is not easily determined. The Septuagint render it, in different places, the sardius, beryl, sapphire, emerald, &c. Such names are often ambiguous, even in Greek and Latin, and no wonder if they are more so in Hebrew. In Exodus xxviii, 9, 10, a direction is given that two onyx stones should be fastened on the ephod of the high priest, on which were to be graven the names of the children of Israel, like the engravings on a signet; six of the names on one stone, and six on the other. In 1 Chron. xxix, 2, onyx stones are among the things prepared by David for the temple. The author of Scripture Illustrated” observes, upon this passage, that “the word onyx is equivocal; signifying, first, a precious stone or gem; and, secondly, a marble called in Greek onychites, which Pliny mentions as a stone of Caramania. Antiquity gave both these stones this name, because of their resemblance to the nail of the fingers. The onyx of the high priest’s pectoral was, no doubt, the gem onyx; the stone prepared by David was the marble onyx, or rather onychus; for one would hardly think that gems of any kind were used externally in such a building, but variegated marble may readily be admitted.”

OPHIR, a place or country remote from Judea, to which the ships of Solomon traded. There has been much discussion respecting the situation of this place; some supposing it to have been the island of Socotora, without the straits of Babelmandel; others, that anciently called Tabrobana, which is supposed by some to have been Ceylon, and by others Sumatra; while others fix its situation on the continent of India. M. Huet and, after him, Bruce, place Ophir at Sofala, in South Africa, where mines of gold and silver have been found, which show marks of having been very anciently and extensively worked. The latter says, also, that the situation of this place explains the period of three years which the Ophir ships were absent, from the different courses of the monsoons and trade winds, which they would have to encounter going and returning. Ruins of ancient buildings have also been found in the neighbourhood of these mines. In confirmation of this opinion, Bruce says there was a place called Tarshish near Melinda.

In the same direction with Ophir lay Tarshish; the voyage to both places being accomplished under one, and always, as it would seem, in the same space of time, three years; by which it may be inferred that, notwithstanding the imperfect navigation of the times, they must be at a considerable distance from the ports of Judea. But the true situation of these places must ever remain matter of conjecture; and all that can be considered as certain respecting them is, that from the articles imported from them, namely, gold, silver, ivory, apes, peacocks, and precious stones, they must have been situated in the tropical parts of either Africa or Asia.

ORACLE denotes something delivered by supernatural wisdom; and the term is also used in the Old Testament to signify the most holy place from whence the Lord revealed his will to ancient Israel, 1 Kings vi, 5, 19–21, 23. But when the word occurs in the plural number, as it mostly does, it denotes the revelations contained in the sacred writings of which the nation of Israel were the depositaries. So Moses is said by Stephen to have received the lively oracles” to give unto the Israelites. These oracles contained the law, both moral and ceremonial, with all the types and promises relating to the Messiah which are to be found in the writings of Moses. They also contained all the intimations of the divine mind which he was pleased to communicate by means of the succeeding prophets who prophesied beforehand of the coming and of the sufferings of the Messiah with the glory that should follow. The Jews were a highly privileged people in many and various respects, Rom. ix, 4, 5; but the Apostle Paul mentions it as their chief advantage that unto them were committed the oracles of God,” Romans iii, 2. What nation,” says Moses, is there that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day” Deut. iv, 8. The psalmist David enumerates their excellent properties under various 719epithets; such as the law of the Lord, his testimony, his statutes, his commandments, his judgments, &c. Their properties are extolled as perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, and righteous altogether; more to be desired than much fine gold; sweeter than honey and the honey comb. Their salutary effects are all mentioned; such as their converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes; and the keeping of them is connected with a great reward, Psalm xix. The hundred and nineteenth Psalm abounds with praises of the lively oracles, the word of the living God; it abounds with the warmest expressions of love to it, of delight in it, and the most fervent petitions for divine illumination in the knowledge of it. Such was the esteem and veneration which the faithful entertained for the lively oracles under the former dispensation, when they had only Moses and the prophets; how, then, ought they to be prized by Christians, who have also Christ and his Apostles!

Among the Heathen the term oracle is usually taken to signify an answer, generally couched in very dark and ambiguous terms, supposed to be given by demons of old, either by the mouths of their idols, or by those of their priests, to the people, who consulted them on things to come. Oracle is also used for the demon who gave the answer, and the place where it was given. Seneca defines oracles to be enunciations by the mouths of men of the will of the gods; and Cicero simply calls them, deorum oratio, the language of the gods. Among the Pagans they were held in high estimation; and they were consulted on a variety of occasions pertaining to national enterprises and private life. When they made peace or war, enacted laws, reformed states, or changed the constitution, they had in all these cases recourse to the oracle by public authority. Also, in private life, if a man wished to marry, if he proposed to take a journey, or to engage in any business of importance, he repaired to the oracle for counsel. Mankind have had always a propensity to explore futurity; and conceiving that future events were known to their gods, who possessed the gift of prophecy, they sought information and advice from the oracles, which, in their opinion, were supernatural and divine communications. The institution of oracles seemed to gratify the prevalent curiosity of mankind, and proved a source of immense wealth, as well as authority and influence, to those who had the command of them. Accordingly, every nation, in which idolatry has subsisted, had its oracles, by means of which imposture practised on superstition and credulity. The principal oracles of antiquity are, that of Abæ, mentioned by Herodotus; that of Amphiaraus, at Oropus in Macedonia; that of the Branchidæ at Didymeum; that of the camps at Lacedæmon; that of Dodona; that of Jupiter Ammon; that of Nabarca in the country of the Anariaci, near the Caspian Sea; that of Trophonius, mentioned by Herodotus; that of Chrysopolis; that of Claros, in Ionia; that of Amphilochus at Mallos; that of Petarea; that of Pella in Macedonia; that of Phaselides in Cilicia; that of Sinope in Paphlagonia; that of Orpheus’s head at Lesbos, mentioned by Philostratus. But of all oracles, the oracle of Apollo Pythius at Delphi was the most celebrated; this was consulted in the dernier resort by most of the princes of those ages.

Most of the Pagan deities had their appropriate oracles. Apollo had the greatest number: such as those of Claros, of the Branchidæ, of the suburbs of Daphne at Antioch, of Delos, of Argos, of Troas, Æolis, &c, of Baiæ in Italy, and others in Cilicia, in Egypt, in the Alps, in Thrace, at Corinth, in Arcadia, in Laconia, and in many other places enumerated by Van Dale. Jupiter, beside that of Dodona and some others, the honour of which he shared with Apollo, had one in Bœotia under the name of Jupiter the Thunderer, and another in Elis, one at Thebes and at Meroe, one near Antioch, and several others. Æsculapius was consulted in Cilicia, at Apollonia, in the isle of Cos, at Epidaurus, Pergamos, Rome, and elsewhere. Mercury had oracles at Patras, upon Hæmon, and in other places; Mars, in Thrace, Egypt, and elsewhere; Hercules, at Cadiz, Athens, in Egypt, at Tivoli, in Mesopotamia, where he issued his oracles by dreams, whence he was called Somnialis. Isis, Osiris, and Serapis delivered in like manner their oracles by dreams, as we learn from Pausanias, Tacitus, Arrian, and other writers; that of Amphilochus was also delivered by dreams; the ox Apis had also his oracle in Egypt. The gods, called Cabiri, had their oracle in Bœotia. Diana, the sister of Apollo, had several oracles in Egypt, Cilicia, Ephesus, &c. Those of fortune at Præneste, and of the lots at Antium are well known. The fountains also delivered oracles, for to each of them a divinity was ascribed: such was the fountain of Castalia at Delphi, another of the same name in the suburbs of Antioch, and the prophetic fountain near the temple of Ceres in Achaia. Juno had several oracles: one near Corinth, one at Nysa, and others at different places. Latona had one at Butis in Egypt; Leucothea had one in Colchis; Memnon in Egypt; Machaon at Gerania in Laconia; Minerva had one in Egypt, in Spain, upon mount Ætna, at Mycenæ and Colchis, and in other places. Those of Neptune were at Delphos, at Calauria, near Neocesarea, and elsewhere. The nymphs had theirs in the cave of Corycia. Pan had several, the most famous of which was that in Arcadia. That of the Palici was in Sicily. Pluto had one at Nysa. Saturn had oracles in several places, but the most famous were those of Cumæ in Italy, and of Alexandria in Egypt. Those of Venus were dispersed in several places, at Gaza, upon Mount Libanus, at Paphos, in Cyprus, &c. Serapis had one at Alexandria, consulted by Vespasian. Venus Aphacite had one at Aphaca between Heliopolis and Byblus. Geryon, the three-headed monster slain by Hercules, had an oracle in Italy near Padua, consulted by Tiberius; that 720of Hercules was at Tivoli, and was given by lots, like those of Præneste and Antium. The demi-gods and heroes had likewise their oracles, such were those of Castor and Pollux at Lacedæmon, of Amphiaraus, of Mopsus in Cilicia, of Ulysses, Amphilochus, Sarpedon in Troas, Hermione in Macedonia, Pasiphäe in Laconia, Chalcas in Italy, Aristæus in Bœotia, Autolycus at Sinope, Phryxus among the Colchi, Zamolxis among the Getæ, Hephæstion the minion of Alexander, and Antinous, &c.

The responses of oracles were delivered in a variety of ways: at Delphi, they interpreted and put into verse what the priestess pronounced in the time of her furor. Mr. Bayle observes that at first this oracle gave its answers in verse; and that it fell at length to prose, upon the people’s beginning to laugh at the poorness of its versification. The Epicureans made this the subject of their jests, and said, in raillery, it was surprising enough, that Apollo, the god of poetry, should be a much worse poet than Homer, whom he himself had inspired. By the railleries of these philosophers, and particularly by those of the Cynics and Peripatetics, the priests were at length obliged to desist from the practice of versifying the responses of the Pythia, which, according to Plutarch, was one of the principal causes of the declension of the oracle of Delphos. At the oracle of Ammon, the priests pronounced the response of their god; at Dodona, the response was issued from the hollow of an oak; at the cave of Trophonius, the oracle was inferred from what the suppliant said before he recovered his senses; at Memphis, they drew a good or bad omen, according as the ox Apis received or rejected what was presented to him, which was also the case with the fishes of the fountain of Limyra. The suppliants, who consulted the oracles, were not allowed to enter the sanctuaries where they were given; and, accordingly, care was taken that neither the Epicureans nor Christians should come near them. In several places, the oracles were given by letters sealed up, as in that of Mopsus, and at Mallus in Cilicia. Oracles were frequently given by lot, the mode of doing which was as follows: the lots were a kind of dice, on which were engraven certain characters or words, whose explanations they were to seek on tables made for the purpose. The way of using these dice for knowing futurity, was different, according to the places where they were used. In some temples, the person threw them himself; in others, they were dropped from a box; whence came the proverbial expression, The lot is fallen.” This playing with dice was always preceded by sacrifices and other customary ceremonies. The ambiguity of the oracles in their responses, and their double meaning, contributed to their support.

Ablancourt observes, that the study or research of the meaning of oracles was but a fruitless thing; and that they were never understood till after their accomplishment. Historians relate, that Crœsus was tricked by the ambiguity and equivocation of the oracle:

s daßa µea a atase.

Thus rendered in Latin:

Crœsus Halym superans magnam pervertet opum vim.
[If Crœsus cross the Halys he will overthrow a great empire.]

Thus, if the Lydian monarch had conquered Cyrus, he overthrew the Assyrian empire; if he himself was routed, he overturned his own. That delivered to Pyrrhus, which is comprised in this Latin verse,

Credo equidem Æacidas Romanos vincere posse,”
[I believe indeed that the sons of Æacus the Romans will conquer,]

had the same advantage; for, according to the rules of syntax, either of the two accusatives may be governed by the verb, and the verse be explained, either by saying the Romans shall conquer the Æacidæ, of whom Pyrrhus was descended, or those shall conquer the Romans. When Alexander fell sick at Babylon, some of his courtiers who happened to be in Egypt, or who went thither on purpose, passed the night in the temple of Serapis, to inquire if it would not be proper to bring Alexander to be cured by him. The god answered, it was better that Alexander should remain where he was. This in all events was a very prudent and safe answer. If the king recovered his health, what glory must Serapis have gained by saving him the fatigue of the journey! If he died, it was but saying he died in a favourable juncture after so many conquests; which, had he lived, he could neither have enlarged nor preserved. This is actually the construction they put upon the response; whereas had Alexander undertaken the journey, and died in the temple, or by the way, nothing could have been said in favour of Serapis. When Trajan had formed the design of his expedition against the Parthians, he was advised to consult the oracle of Heliopolis, to which he had no more to do but send a note under a seal. That prince, who had no great faith in oracles, sent thither a blank note; and they returned him another of the same kind. By this Trajan was convinced of the divinity of the oracle. He sent back a second note to the god, in which he inquired whether he should return to Rome after finishing the war he had in view. The god, as Macrobius tells the story, ordered a vine, which was among the offerings of his temple, to be divided into pieces, and brought to Trajan. The event justified the oracle; for the emperor dying in that war, his bones were carried to Rome, which had been represented by that broken vine. As the priests of that oracle knew Trajan’s design, which was no secret, they happily devised that response, which, in all events, was capable of a favourable interpretation, whether he routed and cut the Parthians in pieces, or if his army met with the same fate. Sometimes the responses of the oracles were mere banter, as in the case of the man who wished to know by what means he might become rich, and who received for answer from the god, that he had only to make himself master of all that lay between Sicyon 721and Corinth. Another, wanting a cure for the gout, was answered by the oracle, that he was to drink nothing but cold water.

There are two points in dispute on the subject of oracles; namely, whether they were human, or diabolical machines; and whether or not they ceased upon the publication or preaching of the Gospel. Most of the fathers of the church supposed that the devil issued oracles; and looked on it as a pleasure he took to give dubious and equivocal answers, in order to have a handle to laugh at them. Vossius allows that it was the devil who spoke in oracles; but thinks that the obscurity of his answers was owing to his ignorance as to the precise circumstances of events. That artful and studied obscurity in which the answers were couched, says he, showed the embarrassment the devil was under; as those double meanings they usually bore provided for their accomplishment. Where the thing foretold did not happen accordingly, the oracle, forsooth, was misunderstood. Eusebius has preserved some fragments of a philosopher, called Œnomaus; who, out of resentment for his having been so often fooled by the oracles, wrote an ample confutation of all their impertinencies: When we come to consult thee,” says he to Apollo, “if thou seest what is in futurity, why dost thou use expressions that will not be understood Dost thou not know, that they will not be understood If thou dost, thou takest pleasure in abusing us; if thou dost not, be informed of us, and learn to speak more clearly. I tell thee, that if thou intendest an equivoque, the Greek word whereby thou affirmedst that Crœsus should overthrow a great empire was ill chosen; and that it could signify nothing but Crœsus’s conquering Cyrus. If things must necessarily come to pass, why dost thou amuse us with thy ambiguities What doest thou, wretch as thou art, at Delphi employed in muttering idle prophecies!” But Œnomaus is still more out of humour with the oracle, for the answer which Apollo gave the Athenians, when Xerxes was about to attack Greece with all the strength of Asia. The Pythian declared, that Minerva, the protectress of Athens, had endeavoured in vain to appease the wrath of Jupiter; yet that Jupiter, in complaisance to his daughter, was willing the Athenians should save themselves within wooden walls; and that Salamis should behold the loss of a great many children, dear to their mothers, either when Ceres was spread abroad, or gathered together. Here Œnomaus loses all patience with the god of Delphi. This contest,” says he, “between father and daughter is very becoming the deities! It is excellent, that there should be contrary inclinations and interests in heaven. Poor wizard, thou art ignorant whose the children are that Salamis shall see perish; whether Greeks or Persians. It is certain they must be either one or the other; but thou needest not to have told so openly, that thou knewest not which. Thou concealest the time of the battle under those fine poetical expressions, ‘either when Ceres is spread abroad, or gathered together;’ and wouldest thou cajole us with such pompous language Who knows not, that if there be a sea fight, it must either be in seed time or harvest It is certain it cannot be in winter. Let things go how they will, thou wilt secure thyself by this Jupiter, whom Minerva is endeavouring to appease. If the Greeks lose the battle, Jupiter proved inexorable to the last; if they gain it, why then Minerva at length prevailed.”

It is a very general opinion among the more learned, that oracles were all mere cheats and impostures; either calculated to serve the avaricious ends of the Heathen priests, or the political views of the princes. Bayle says positively, they were mere human artificers, in which the devil had no hand. He was strongly supported by Van Dale and Fontenelle, who have written expressly on the subject. Father Balthus, a Jesuit, wrote a treatise in defence of the fathers with regard to the origin of oracles; but without denying the imposture of the priests, often blended with the oracles. He maintains the intervention of the devil in some predictions, which could not be ascribed to the cheats of the priests alone. The Abbé Banier espouses the same side of the question, and objects that oracles would not have lasted so long, and supported themselves with so much splendour and reputation, if they had been merely owing to the forgeries of the priests. Bishop Sherlock, in his Discourses concerning the Use and Intent of Prophecy,” expresses his opinion, that it is impious to disbelieve the Heathen oracles, and to deny them to have been given out by the devil; to which assertion, Dr. Middleton, in his Examination,” &c, replies, that he is guilty of this impiety, and that he thinks himself warranted to pronounce from the authority of the best and wisest of the Heathens themselves, and the evidence of plain facts, which are recorded of those oracles, as well as from the nature of the thing itself, that they were all mere imposture, wholly invented and supported by human craft, without any supernatural aid or interposition whatsoever. He alleges, that Cicero, speaking of the Delphic oracle, the most revered of any in the Heathen world, declares, that nothing was become more contemptible, not only in his days, but long before him; that Demosthenes, who lived about three hundred years earlier, affirmed of the same oracle, in a public speech to the people of Athens, that it was gained to the interests of King Philip, an enemy to that city; that the Greek historians tell us, how, on several other occasions, it had been corrupted by money, to serve the views of particular persons and parties, and the prophetess sometimes had been deposed for bribery and lewdness; that there were some great sects of philosophers, who, on principle, disavowed the authority of all oracles; agreeably to all which Strabo tells us, that divination in general and oracles had been in high credit among the ancients, but in his days were treated with much contempt; lastly, that Eusebius also, the great historian of the primitive church, declares, that there were six hundred writers among the Heathens themselves who had publicly 722written against the reality of them. Plutarch has a treatise on the ceasing of some oracles; and Van Dale, a Dutch physician, has a volume to prove they did not cease at the coming of Christ; but that many of them ceased long before, and that others held till the fall of Paganism, under the empire of Theodosius the Great, when Paganism being dissipated, these institutions could no longer subsist. Van Dale was answered by a German, one Mœbius, professor of theology at Leipsic, in 1685. Fontenelle espoused Van Dale’s system, and improved upon it in his History of Oracles;” and showed the weakness of the argument used by many writers in behalf of Christianity, drawn from the ceasing of oracles. Cicero says, the oracles became dumb in proportion as people, growing less credulous, began to suspect them for cheats. Plutarch alleges two reasons for the ceasing of oracles: the one was Apollo’s chagrin; who, it seems, took it in dudgeon to be interrogated about so many trifles. The other was, that in proportion as the genii, or demons, who had the management of the oracles, died, and became extinct, the oracles must necessarily cease. He adds a third and more natural cause for the ceasing of oracles; namely, the forlorn state of Greece, ruined and desolated by wars; for, hence, the smallness of the gains let the priests sink into a poverty and contempt too bare to cover the fraud. That the oracles were silenced about or soon after the time of our Saviour’s advent, may be proved, says Dr. Leland, in the first volume of his learned work on The Necessity and Advantage of Revelation,” &c, from express testimonies, not only of Christian but of Heathen authors. Lucan, who wrote his Pharsalia” in the reign of Nero, scarcely thirty years after our Lord’s crucifixion, laments it as one of the greatest misfortunes of that age, that the Delphian oracle, which he represents as one of the choicest gifts of the gods, was become silent.

Non ullo sæcula dono
Nostra carent majore Deum, quam Delphica sedes
Quod sileat.
Pharsal. lib. v, 111.
Of all the wants with which the age is curst,
The Delphic silence surely is the worst.”

In like manner, Juvenal says,

Delphis oracula cessant,
Et genus humanum damnat caligo futuri.
Sat. vi, 554.
Since Delphi now, if we may credit fame,
Gives no responses, and a long dark night
Conceals the future hour from mortal sight.”

Lucian says, that when he was at Delphi, the oracle gave no answer, nor was the priestess inspired. This likewise appears from Plutarch’s treatise, why the oracles cease to give answers, already cited; whence it is also manifest, that the most learned Heathens were very much at a loss how to give a tolerable account of it. Porphyry, in a passage cited from him by Eusebius, says, The city of Rome was overrun with sickness, Æsculapius and the rest of the gods having withdrawn their converse with men; because since Jesus began to be worshipped, no man had received any public help or benefit from the gods.” With respect to the origin of oracles, they were probably imitations, first, of the answers given to the holy patriarchs from the divine presence or Shechinah, and secondly, of the responses to the Jewish high priest from the mercy seat: for all Paganism is a parody of the true religion.

ORDINATION, the act of conferring holy orders, or of initiating a person into the ministry of the Gospel, by prayer and with or without the laying on of hands. In the church of England, ordination has always been esteemed the principal prerogative of bishops; and bishops still retain the function as a mark of their spiritual sovereignty in their diocess. Without ordination no person can receive any benefice, parsonage, vicarage, &c. A person must be twenty-three years of age, or near it, before he can be ordained deacon, or have any share in the ministry; and full twenty-four before he can be ordained priest, and by that means be permitted to administer the holy communion. A bishop, on the ordination of clergymen, is to examine them in the presence of the ministers, who in the ordination of priests, but not of deacons, assist him at the imposition of hands; but this is only done as a mark of assent, not because it is thought necessary. In case any crime, as drunkenness, perjury, forgery, &c, is alleged against any one that is to be ordained, either priest or deacon, the bishop ought to desist from ordaining him. The person to be ordained is to bring a testimonial of his life and doctrine to the bishop, and to give an account of his faith in Latin; and both priests and deacons are obliged to subscribe to the thirty-nine articles. In the ancient discipline there was no such thing as a vague and absolute ordination; but every one was to have a church, whereof he was to be ordained clerk or priest. In the twelfth century the bishops grew more remiss, and ordained without any title or benefice. The council of Trent, however, restored the ancient discipline, and appointed that none should be ordained but those who were provided with a benefice; which practice still obtains in the church of England.

The reformed held the call of the people the only thing essential to the validity of the ministry; and teach, that ordination is only a ceremony, which renders the call more august and authentic. Accordingly the Protestant churches of Scotland, France, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, &c, have no episcopal ordination. For Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Melancthon, &c, and all the first reformers and founders of these churches, who ordained ministers among them, were themselves presbyters, and no other. And though in some of these churches there are ministers called superintendents, or bishops, yet these are only primi inter pares, the first among equals; not pretending to any superiority of orders. Having themselves no other orders than what either presbyters gave them, or what was given them as presbyters, they can convey no other to those they ordain. 723On this ground the Protestant Dissenters plead that their ordination, though not episcopal, is the same with that of all the illustrious Protestant churches abroad; and object, that a priest ordained by a popish bishop should be received into the church of England as a valid minister, rightfully ordained; while the orders of another, ordained by the most learned religious presbyter, which any foreign country can boast, are pronounced not valid, and he is required to submit to be ordained afresh. In opposition to episcopal ordination, they urge that Timothy was ordained by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, 1 Tim. iv, 14; that Paul and Barnabas were ordained by certain prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch, and not by any bishop presiding in that city, Acts xiii, 1–3; and that it is a well known fact, that presbyters in the church of Alexandria ordained even their own bishops for more than two hundred years in the earliest ages of Christianity. They farther argue, that bishops and presbyters are in Scripture the same, and not denominations of distinct orders or offices in the church, referring to Phil. i, 1; Titus i, 5, 7; Acts xx, 27, 28; 1 Peter v, 1, 2. To the same purpose they maintain, that the superiority of bishops to presbyters is not pretended to be of divine, but of human, institution; not grounded on Scripture, but only upon the custom or ordinances of this realm, by the first reformers and founders of the church of England; nor by many of its most learned and eminent doctors since. See Stillingfleet’s Irenicum, in which the learned author affirms and shows this to be the sentiment of Cranmer, and other chief reformers both in Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth’s reign, of Archbishop Whitgift, Bishop Bridges, Lee, Hooker, Sutcliff, Hales, Chillingworth, &c. Moreover, the book entitled, the Institution of a Christian Man,” subscribed by the clergy in convocation, and confirmed by parliament, owns bishops and presbyters by Scripture to be the same. Beside, the Protestant Dissenters allege, that if episcopal ordination be really necessary to constitute a valid minister, it does not seem to be enjoined by the constitution of the church of England; because the power of ordination which the bishops exercise in this kingdom, is derived entirely and only from the civil magistrate; and he authoritatively prescribes how, and to whom ordination is to be given: that if an ordination should be conducted in other manner and form than that prescribed by him, such ordination would be illegal, and of no authority in the church. Accordingly the bishop at the ordination of the candidate asks, Are you called according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the due order of this realm” The constitution and law of England seem to know nothing of uninterrupted lineal descent, but considers the king vested, by act of parliament, or the suffrage of the people, with a fulness of all power ecclesiastical in these realms, as empowering and authorizing bishops to ordain: and this power of ordination was once delegated to Cromwell, a layman, as vicegerent to the king. They farther think it strange, that the validity of orders and ministrations should be derived, as some have contended, from a succession of popish bishops; bishops of a church, which, by the definition of the nineteenth article of the church, can be no part of the true visible church of Christ, and bishops, likewise, who consider the Protestant clergy, although ordained by Protestant bishops, as mere common unconsecrated laymen.

On reviewing the whole of this controversy, says Dr. Watts, that since there are some texts in the New Testament, wherein single persons, either Apostles, as Paul and Barnabas, ordained ministers in the churches, or evangelists, as Timothy and Titus; and since other missions or ordinations are intimated to be performed by several persons, namely, prophets, teachers, elders, or a presbytery, Acts xiii, 1; 1 Timothy iv, 14; since there is sometimes mention made of the imposition of hands in the mission of a minister, and sometimes no mention is made of it; and since it is evident that in some cases popular ordinations are and must be valid without any bishop or elder,--I think none of these differences should be made a matter of violent contest among Christians; nor ought any words to be pronounced against each other by those of the episcopal, presbyterian, or independent way. Surely all may agree thus far, that various forms or modes, seeming to be used in the mission or ordination of ministers in primitive times, may give a reasonable occasion or colour for sincere and honest searchers after truth to follow different opinions on this head, and do therefore demand our candid and charitable sentiments concerning those who differ from us. Among the Wesleyan Methodists, the ordination of their ministers is in the annual conference, with a president at its head, and is by prayer without imposition of hands. The latter they hold to be a circumstance of ordination, not an essential. They sometimes therefore use it, and at others omit it. The missionaries sent out by that body, if not previously ordained by the conference, are set apart by a few senior ministers; and ordinarily in this case, the service of the church of England, with some alterations, is used, with imposition of the hands of the ministers present.

OSSIFRAGE, , Lev. xi, 13; Deut. xiv, 12. Interpreters are not agreed on this bird; some read vulture,” others the black eagle,” others the falcon.” The name peres, by which it is called in Hebrew, denotes to crush, to break;” and this name agrees with our version, which implies the bone-breaker,” which name is given to a kind of eagle, from the circumstance of its habit of breaking the bones of its prey, after it has eaten the flesh: some say also, that he even swallows the bones thus broken. Onkelos uses a word which signifies naked,” and leads us to the vulture: indeed, if we were to take the classes of birds in any thing like a natural order in the passages here referred to, the vulture should follow the eagle as an unclean bird. The Septuagint interpreter also renders vulture; and 724so do Munster, Schindler, and the Zurick versions.

OSTRICH, ; in Arabic neamah; in Greek µ, the camel bird; and still in the east, says Niebuhr, it is called thar edsjammel, the camel bird,” Lev. xi, 16; Deut. xiv, 15; Job xxx, 29; Isaiah xiii, 21; xxxiv, 13; xliii, 20; Jer. 1, 39; Lam. iv, 3; Micah i, 8; , Job xxxix, 13. The first name in the places above quoted is, by our own translators, generally rendered owls.” “Now it should be recollected,” says the author of Scripture Illustrated,” “that the owl is not a desert bird, but rather resides in places not far from habitations, and that it is not the companion of serpents; whereas, in several of these passages, the joneh is associated with deserts, dry, extensive, thirsty deserts, and with serpents, which are their natural inhabitants. Our ignorance of the natural history of the countries which the ostrich inhabits has undoubtedly perverted the import of the above passages; but let any one peruse them afresh, and exchange the owl for the ostrich, and he will immediately discover a vigour of description, and an imagery much beyond what he had formerly perceived.” The Hebrew phrase , means the daughter of vociferation,” and is understood to be the female ostrich, probably so called from the noise which this bird makes. It is affirmed by travellers of good credit, that ostriches make a fearful, screeching, lamentable noise.

Ostriches are inhabitants of the deserts of Arabia, where they live chiefly upon vegetables; lead a social and inoffensive life, the male assorting with the female with connubial fidelity. Their eggs are very large, some of them measuring above five inches in diameter, and weighing twelve or fifteen pounds. These birds are very prolific, laying forty or fifty eggs at a clutch. They will devour leather, grass, hair, stones, metals, or any thing that is given to them; but those substances which the coats of the stomach cannot act upon pass whole. It is so unclean an animal as to eat its own ordure as soon as it voids it. This is a sufficient reason, were others wanting, why such a fowl should be reputed unclean, and its use as an article of diet prohibited. The ostrich,” says M. Buffon, was known in the remotest ages, and mentioned in the most ancient books. How indeed could an animal so remarkably large, and so wonderfully prolific, and peculiarly suited to the climate as is the ostrich, remain unknown in Africa, and part of Asia, countries peopled from the earliest ages, full of deserts indeed, but where there is not a spot which has not been traversed by the foot of man The family of the ostrich, therefore, is of great antiquity. Nor in the course of ages has it varied or degenerated from its native purity. It has always remained on its paternal estate; and its lustre has been transmitted unsullied by foreign intercourse. In short, it is among the birds what the elephant is among the quadrupeds, a distinct race, widely separated from all the others by characters as striking as they are invariable.” “On the least noise,” says Dr. Shaw, “or trivial occasion, she forsakes her eggs, or her young ones; to which perhaps she never returns; or if she does, it may be too late either to restore life to the one, or to preserve the lives of the others. Agreeably to this account the Arabs meet sometimes with whole nests of these eggs undisturbed: some of them are sweet and good, others are addle and corrupted; others again have their young ones of different growth, according to the time, it may be presumed, they have been forsaken of the dam. The Arabs often meet with a few of the little ones no bigger than well grown pullets, half starved, straggling and moaning about like so many distressed orphans for their mother. In this manner the ostrich may be said to be hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers; her labour, in hatching and attending them so far, being vain, without fear, or the least concern of what becomes of them afterward. This want of affection is also recorded, Lam. iv, 3, ‘the daughter of my people is become cruel, like ostriches in the wilderness;’ that is, by apparently deserting their own, and receiving others in return.” Natural affection and sagacious instinct are the grand instruments by which providence continues the race of other animals: but no limits can be set to the wisdom and power of God. He preserveth the breed of the ostrich without those means, and even in a penury of all the necessaries of life. Notwithstanding the stupidity of this animal, its Creator hath amply provided for its safety, by endowing it with extraordinary swiftness, and a surprising apparatus for escaping from its enemy. They, when they raise themselves up for flight, laugh at the horse and his rider.” They afford him an opportunity only of admiring at a distance the extraordinary agility and the stateliness likewise of their motions, the richness of their plumage, and the great propriety there was in ascribing to them an expanded quivering wing. Nothing certainly can be more entertaining than such a sight, the wings, by their rapid but unwearied vibrations, equally serving them for sails and oars; while their feet, no less assisting in conveying them out of sight, seem to be insensible of fatigue.


Illustrating the

OWL. There are several varieties of this species, all too well known to need a particular description. They are nocturnal birds of prey, and have their eyes better adapted for discerning objects in the evening or twilight than in the glare of day. 1. , Lev. xi, 17; Deut. xiv, 16; Psalm cii, 6, is in our version rendered the little owl.” Aquila, Theodotion, Jerom, Kimchi, and most of the older interpreters, are quoted to justify this rendering. Michaëlis, at some length, supports the opinion that it is the horned owl. Bochart, though with some hesitation, suspected it to be the onocrotalus, a kind of pelican, because the Hebrew name signifies cup, and the pelican is remarkable for a pouch or bag under the lower jaw; but there are good reasons for supposing that bird to be the of the next verse. Dr. Geddes thinks this bird the cormorant; and as it begins the list of water fowl, and is mentioned always in 725the same contexts with , confessedly a water bird, his opinion may be adopted. 2. , Lev. xi, 17; Deut. xiv, 16; Isaiah xxxiv, 11. In the two first places our translators render this the great owl,” which is strangely placed after the little owl, and among water birds. Our translators,” says the author of Scripture Illustrated,” “seem to have thought the owl a convenient bird, as we have three owls in two verses.” Some critics think it means a species of night bird, because the word may be derived from , which signifies the twilight, the time when owls fly about. But this interpretation, says Parkhurst, seems very forced; and since it is mentioned among water fowls, and the LXX. have, in the first and last of those texts, rendered it by ß, the ibis, we are disposed to adopt it here, and think the evidence strengthened by this, that in a Coptic version of Lev. xi, 17, it is called ip or hip, which, with a Greek termination, would very easily make ß. 3. , which occurs only in Isaiah xxxiv, 15, is in our version rendered the great owl.” 4. , Isa. xxxiv, 14, in our version the screech owl.” The root signifies night; and as undoubtedly a bird frequenting dark places and ruins is referred to, we must admit some kind of owl.

A place of lonely desolation, where
The screeching tribe and pelicans abide,
And the dun ravens croak mid ruins drear,
And moaning owls from man the farthest hide.

OX, , in Arabic bœkerre and bykar, the male of horned cattle of the beeve kind, at full age, when fit for the plough. Younger ones are called bullocks. Michaëlis, in his elaborate work on the laws of Moses, has proved that castration was never practised. The rural economy of the Israelites led them to value the ox as by far the most important of domestic animals, from the consideration of his great use in all the operations of farming. In the patriarchal ages, the ox constituted no inconsiderable portion of their wealth. Thus Abraham is said to be very rich in cattle, Gen. xxiv, 35. Men of every age and country have been much indebted to the labours of this animal. So early as in the days of Job, who was probably contemporary with Isaac, the oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them,” when the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away. In times long posterior, when Elijah was commissioned to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, prophet in his stead, he found him ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, 1 Kings xix, 19. For many ages the hopes of oriental husbandmen depended entirely on their labours. This was so much the case in the time of Solomon, that he observes, in one of his proverbs, Where no oxen are, the crib is clean,” or rather empty; but much increase is by the strength of the ox,” Prov. xiv, 4. The ass, in the course of ages was compelled to bend his stubborn neck to the yoke, and share the labours of the ox; but still the preparation of the ground in the time of spring depended chiefly on the more powerful exertions of the latter. When this animal was employed in bringing home the produce of the harvest, he was regaled with a mixture of chaff, chopped straw, and various kinds of grain, moistened with acidulated water. But among the Jews, the ox was best fed when employed in treading out the corn; for the divine law, in many of whose precepts the benevolence of the Deity conspicuously shines, forbad to muzzle him, and, by consequence, to prevent him from eating what he would of the grain he was employed to separate from the husks. The ox was also compelled to the labour of dragging the cart or wagon. The number of oxen commonly yoked to one cart appears to have been two, Num. vii, 3, 7, 8; 1 Sam. vi, 7; 2 Sam. vi, 3, 6.

The wild ox, , Deut. xiv, 5, is supposed to be the oryx of the Greeks, which is a species of large stag.