Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
Early Church Fathers
THEOPHILUS: Chapter XXXVI.—Prophecies of the Sibyl.
Chapter XXXVI.—Prophecies of the Sibyl.
And the Sibyl, who was a prophetess among the Greeks and the other nations, in the beginning of her prophecy, reproaches the race of men, saying:— p. 109
“How are ye still so quickly lifted up,
And how so thoughtless of the end of life,
Ye mortal men of flesh, who are but nought?
Do ye not tremble, nor fear God most high?
Your Overseer, the Knower, Seer of all,
Who ever keeps those whom His hand first made,
Puts His sweet Spirit into all His works,
And gives Him for a guide to mortal men.
There is one only uncreated God,
Who reigns alone, all-powerful, very great,
From whom is nothing hid. He sees all things,
Himself unseen by any mortal eye.
Can mortal man see the immortal God,
Or fleshly eyes, which shun the noontide beams,
Look upon Him, who dwells beyond the heavens?
Worship Him then, the self-existent God,
The unbegotten Ruler of the world,
Who only was from everlasting time,
And shall to everlasting still abide.
Of evil counsels ye shall reap the fruit,
Because ye have not honoured the true God,
Nor offered to Him sacred hecatombs.
To those who dwell in Hades ye make gifts,
And unto demons offer sacrifice.
In madness and in pride ye have your walk;
And leaving the right way, ye wander wide,
And lose yourselves in pitfalls and in thorns.
Why do ye wander thus, O foolish men?
Cease your vain wanderings in the black, dark night;
Why follow darkness and perpetual gloom
When, see, there shines for you the blessed light?
Lo, He is clear—in Him there is no spot.
Turn, then, from darkness, and behold the day;
Be wise, and treasure wisdom in your breasts.
There is one God who sends the winds and rains,
The earthquakes, and the lightnings, and the plagues,
The famines, and the snow-storms, and the ice,
And all the woes that visit our sad race.
Nor these alone, but all things else He gives,
Ruling omnipotent in heaven and earth,
And self-existent from eternity.”
And regarding those [gods] that are said to have been born, she said:—
“If all things that are born must also die,
“God cannot be produced by mortal man.
But there is only One, the All-Supreme,
Who made the heavens, with all their starry host,
The sun and moon; likewise the fruitful earth,
With all the waves of ocean, and the hills,
The fountains, and the ever flowing streams;
He also made the countless multitude
Of ocean creatures, and He keeps alive
All creeping things, both of the earth and sea;
And all the tuneful choir of birds He made,
Which cleave the air with wings, and with shrill pipe
Trill forth at morn their tender, clear-voiced song.
Within the deep glades of the hills He placed
A savage race of beasts; and unto men
He made all cattle subject, making man
The God-formed image, ruler over all,
And putting in subjection to his sway
Things many and incomprehensible.
For who of mortals can know all these things?
He only knows who made them at the first,
He the Creator, incorruptible,
Who dwells in upper air eternally;
Who proffers to the good most rich rewards,
And against evil and unrighteous men
Rouses revenge, and wrath, and bloody wars,
And pestilence, and many a tearful grief.
O man exalted vainly—say why thus
Hast thou so utterly destroyed thyself?
Have ye no shame worshipping beasts for gods?
And to believe the gods should steal your beasts,
Or that they need your vessels—is it not
Frenzys most profitless and foolish thought?
Instead of dwelling in the golden heavens,
Ye see your gods become the prey of worms,
And hosts of creatures noisome and unclean.
O fools! ye worship serpents, dogs, and cats,
Birds, and the creeping things of earth and sea,
Images made with hands, statues of stone,
And heaps of rubbish by the wayside placed.
All these, and many more vain things, ye serve,
Worshipping things disgraceful even to name:
These are the gods who lead vain men astray,
From whose mouth streams of deadly poison flow.
But unto Him in whom alone is life,
Life, and undying, everlasting light;
Who pours into mans cup of life a joy
Sweeter than sweetest honey to his taste,—
Unto Him bow the head, to Him alone,
And walk in ways of everlasting peace.
Forsaking Him, ye all have turned aside,
And, in your raving folly, drained the cup
Of justice quite unmixed, pure, mastering, strong;
And ye will not again be sober men,
Ye will not come unto a sober mind,
And know your God and King, who looks on all:
Therefore, upon you burning fire shall come,
And ever ye shall daily burn in flames,
Ashamed for ever of your useless gods.
But those who worship the eternal God,
They shall inherit everlasting life,
Inhabiting the blooming realms of bliss,
And feasting on sweet food from starry heaven.”
That these things are true, and useful, and just, and profitable to all men, is obvious. Even the poets have spoken of the punishments of the wicked.
Next: Chapter XXXVII.—The Testimonies of the Poets.