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communications upon certain emergencies. They were divinely appointed to execute some important commissions, and to predict certain events, which were not in the ordinary course of things, and far beyond the reach of human penetration. It was this which sometimes gave them the title of Seers. Thus Samuel who was commissioned to anoint Saul to be king over Israel, and was subsequently enabled to give him signs to direct his, course, is called a Seer. “Samuel answered Saul, I am the Seer."* Hanan the Seer reproved Asa, king of Judah, for a want of confidence in his God, and predicted that he should have wars. Elijah and Elisha were eminent for these oc. casional inspirations ; although they were ignorant of events which personally concerned themselves. But the higher class of Prophets were those who foretold important events which were to take place at distant periods ; in which no. human sagacity could avail; and which were most opposite to the natural conceptions or general expectations of mankind : as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the minor prophets. These having predicted events, which were not to be immediately accomplished, and some of which respected future generations, their predictions were committed to writing; and carefully preserved; under a conviction that they contained important truths, to be hereafter more fully revealed ; and which were to receive their accomplishment at the appointed periods.
* i Sam. ch. ix. v. 9.--ch, x.
Opposed to these were constant successions of false prophets; who were extremely numerous in seasons of great degeneracy. They also were of different classes and characters. It
characters. It appears, evidently, from various passages in sacred writ, that they were depraved or apostate Israelites. When the ten tribes revolted, and Jeroboam had introduced the worship of the two golden calves, to prevent his subjects from going up to Jerusalem, they did not, at the commencement, entirely forsake Jehovah. They professed to worship him under these emblems. But the adoption of one custom of the Pagans introduced another and before they forsook totally the God who brought them out of Egypt, they profanely worshipped him with the rites of paganism. The true worshippers of God being permitted to consult the oracle for direction, advice, and assistance, the advantage was too great and honourable not to be counterfeited ; and these corruptors of the true religion, in the progress of their degeneracy, attempted to consult the oracles
of the living God, by all those superstitious modes of divination, enchantments, and even cruel and horrid rites, which characterised idolatry. They also converted their influence over the people into an engine of political power ; making it subservient to their own interests, by complying with the desires of the people, and favouring the ambition of their sovereigns. So great was their progress in apostasy from the true worship, that they learned all the tricks of diviners and soothsayers of the heathens, and then attempted to persuade the ignorant among both princes and people, that they were inspired by the God of heaven.
Notwithstanding this conduct appears too profane to be credible, it is frequently mentioned as a fact, particularly during the reigns of Ahab and Hoshea.
The false prophets who professed to be the servants of Jehovah, claimed an equal power to advise, direct, and control, with that which was occasionally exercised by the true prophets of the Lord. Thus, in the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, Hananiah, the prophet. of Gibeon, foretold that the yoke of Babylon should quickly be broken in opposition to the alarming denunciations of Jeremiah. He took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it:
" and Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, thus saith the Lord; even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from all the nations, within the space of two full years.” The word of the Lord by Jeremiah, spake a different language, “Then said the prophet Jeremiah to Hananialı, the Lord has not sent thee, but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord, I will cast thee from the face of the earth. This
year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebel. lion against the Lord. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month."*
It is plain also, from the instance already mentioned, of the superior credit given by Johanan and his followers, to the false prophets, concerning the policy of flying into Egypt, that they not only pretended to be inspired by the God of heaven, but they ventured to oppose the directions and counsel of the true prophets; for, encouraged by their bold assertions, “ Johanan, and all the proud men, said unto Jeremiah, thou speakest falsely; the Lord our God has not sent thee to say, go not into Egypt to sojourn there.”+
As imposition and falsehood are founded upon the most sordid self-interest, thus were the whole
* Jerem. ch. xxyiii.
† Jerem. ch. xliii. v. 2.
tribe of false prophets of a mercenary disposi. tion. They sold their predictions, their blessings, their curses, for gain. The prophet Micah, complaining of the universal corruption of manners in Zion and Jerusalem, says,
“ the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money ; yet will they lean upon the Lord and say, is not the Lord among us ? no evil can come upon us.”
Nehemiah asserted, as we have already noted, that a false prophet had been hired by Tobias and Sanballat to contradict him. Hence it was that they were always careful to utter whatever would be most grateful to their employers. But it was characteristic of the true prophets, that they were no respecters of persons, disdained
every bribe, and spake the truth at the hazard of their lives. Micaiah was hated by Ahab, because he would not counsel and predict according to his desires, and was incessantly opposing his plans. An attempt was made, by the messenger that was sent to conduct him to the conference between Ahab and Jehoshaphat, to seduce him ; " saying, behold now the words of the prophets declare good things to the king, with one mouth, let thy words. I pray thee be like the words of one of them; and speak that which is good. Micaiah replied, “ as the Lord liveth what the Lord sayeth