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Balak's Message to Balaam.

Balak's Message to Balaam.

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Published by: glennpease on Aug 28, 2013
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BALAK'S MESSAGE TO BALAAM.BY ALEXADER WATSO, M.A.In all ages and through all nations, pretenders to the know**ledge of fiitare events, and to the mystery of discovering se*cret things, seem to have practised their arts by certain a£*fected magical ceremonies, as do jugglers, in some measure,of the present day, in order to amuse and impose upon the^^noraoce and credulity of the people. During a long reignof general darkness, heathenism, and superstition, such pra^tices are not so much to be wondered at, as well as the sue*eesaful delusions which attended them ; when we find in th»illuminated era of Christianity, and the high state of civiliza-tion, knowledge, and refinement of the {Hresent times, the Maant^or similar arts of Icrw, mystical imposition, not less strongly*affecting the minds of the lover classes of society, and tosuch a degree, as almost to persuade us that they rather are* umb, xxUI.192 BALAK'S MESSAGE TO BALAAM.Still wandering in the obscurity of heathen ignorance, andunder the influences of pagan error, than guided by the un-clouded rays of the meridian light of heavenly revelation andgospel knowledge.The principles of astrology, astromony, and natural andmoral philosophy, with the pagan mysteries of sacred divina-tion, necromancy, and other arts connected with the litera-ture of the heathen ages, were practised, particularly in Egyptand the E!astem countries, by men of regular education, deepresearch, close and laborious study, minute and experimentalinquiries, and the strictest investigation of cause and effect,whose lives were devoted to the liberal arts and sciencies,
and occult heathen abstrusities, while all else were immergedin the thickest mists of idolatrous superstition and ignorance,and enveloped in the grossest darkness of mental error; whencethose proficient in literature and science, were generally deno-minated magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and other appella-tions inferring their exclusive possession of wisdom and a com-munication with deities of a celestial nature, which, while itbrought them frequently into the royal presoice, and con-ferred upon them the high honour and distinction of being,in all intricate matters, and such as were connected withhidden and future events, the sole expositors and predictorsof the destinies of nations and things to come, and, as it were,the sovereign's privy council; yet laid them opem^ occasion-ally, to the most imminent hazard of their lives, as we dis-cover in the violent decree of death which ebuchadnezzar,king of Babylon, pronounced against his wise men, becausethey could not reveal the dream which perplexed and badgone firom him. * __^ -.i(U• Dui.il.BALAK's message to BALAAM. ^ 193Of the order of diviners, sacred predictors, and depositoriesof celestial intelligence of the highest rank, Balaam appearsto have held the first place, in the estimation of the Moabitesand surrounding nations, whom the Israelites destroyed.AAer the reduction of the Aroorites and Bashanites, the Is-raelites were brought upon the borders of Jjioab, whose king,Balak, was so distressed through terror of them, that he lostall confidence in his own gods, and their priests and wise men ;and, in the perplexity of his mind, set his eyes upon Balaamas one who held communication with the gods of heaven, foreven the heathen were and are impressed with the opinion of the existence of divinities, whose residence is not with men.Balaam was a pagan, and a practical professor of divination,
and all those arts of incantation and mystical science whichthe soothsayers, magicians, and pretenders to supernaturalwisdom of those periods were accustomed to, for imposingupon the ignorant and superstitious, by the performance of cer-tain ceremonies, of which we have in some measure an idea,by the formalities exhibited by fortune-tellers and jugglersof the present times. From his long experience and deeppractical observation, he had acquired such proficiency in hisart, and superiority of intellectual advantage over the orudestate of the human mind in the mass, as to be universallyesteemed a prophet and servant of, and inspired by the ce*lestial gods, famed for the correctness of his predictions, andthe accuracy with which he foretold- the effects of those revo«lutionary movements and changes in the heavenly bodies,which science has made so familiar in our days, that he be-came superior to all the wise men of those nations amongwhom he resided, which the heathens ascribed to, and there-by did fairly acknowledge the existence of heavenly andspiritual powers, possessed of influences superior to anyfaculties supposed to be in the idols which they worshipped.VOL. 1. B b194 balak's message to balaamt.Strange as such a belief of the existence of heavenly deitiesmight be, yet we find it prevailing among all the pagan na-tions, ancient and modem, as appears from profane historyand ordinary intercourse with those to whom we have acoesS)and the scriptural accounts of Balak's application to Balaam^the instances recorded of ebuchadnezzar and his successorBelshazzar; and the very extraordimuy case of an altarerected in Athens, inscribed to the unknown God, * noticed inthe Acts of our Saviour's Apostles. Hence, it is clearly es*tablished, that the minds of men, even in the pagan states arefirmly fettered with the idea of a spiritual and controllingDeity, though they have degraded their rational &culties insubdividing his attributes into a multiplicity of imaginaty

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