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Oracles of Nostradamus
Charles A. Ward
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 280
Publication Date: 1891
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Written by one of the best known 'Nostradamians'. Ward is an emphatic believer in the accuracy of the predictions, and he makes some key points for any prospective interpreter of Nostradamus. One which comes up again and again is that it is almost impossible to use Nostradamus to actually predict events. The predictions usually only make sense in hindsight. What distinguishes Nostradamus is the accuracy of his 'hits' when viewed in the rear view mirror. In particular, Wards' exposition of Nostradamus' presages of specific events of the French revolution is one of the strongest portions of the book. If you're looking for just the Prophecies with no commentary, go here.
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THIS is no doubt a strange book. An attempt to gather a meaning out of a few of the involved, crabbed, and mystical quatrains of the great seer of France, the greatest perhaps that the world has ever seen, must of necessity be strange. My treatment, too, may possibly seem to many no less strange than the subject-matter itself. I will speak specially as to this latter point towards the close of the preface.
In last December treating upon Nostradamus in the Gentleman's Magazine, I had occasion to remark that every honest man of awakened powers is a kind of prophet, and has to do with the future, or eternity, as it is usually styled. Since then I have come upon the same idea in the writings of Philo Judæus. He thinks that the Scriptures testify in some sort that every good man is a prophet:
"For a prophet says nothing of his own, but everything that he says is strange, and prompted by some one else; and it is not lawful for a wicked man to be an interpreter of God, as also no wicked man can be properly said to be inspired; but this statement is only appropriate to the wise man alone, since he alone is a sounding instrument of God's voice."--PHILO, Heir of Divine Things, § 52, Bohn, ii. 146.
Again, at page 30 of this book, it will be seen that I have described the faculty of anticipating the future, a thing so remarkably developed in Nostradamus, as being, if once we admit its existence in him, a perceptive endowment of the whole human race, that must be classified as a sixth sense. I have since found, with no little delight, that Coleridge, in his "Table Talk" (ed. 1836, p. 19), designated such faculty as "an inner sense," for, speaking of ghosts and dreams, he says;
'It is impossible to say whether an inner sense does not really exist in the mind, seldom developed, indeed, but which may have a power of presentiment. All the external senses have their correspondents in the mind; the eye can see an object before it is distinctly apprehended; why may there not be a corresponding power in the soul? The power of prophecy might have been merely a spiritual excitation of this dormant faculty."
In the matter of prophecy, Photius says, in his "Amphilochia," that prophecy is by no means necessarily connected with virtue: for that Herod pre-announced, as it were, that the Gentile magi, Judæa, and the world were about to recognize Christ for King, and so he desired to make away with him. In this way he played the part of prophet to the whole human race. Caiaphas, he thinks, was not conscious of what he said; in the mania of a desire to kill, his lips prophesied that it was right that one should die to save the whole world. "Let his blood be upon us and upon our children," is a foreboding instinct of the same description. In the council of the Pharisees (John xi. 48), it was prophetic, "If we let him alone, the Romans will come and take away our place and nation;" and though they followed out then own counsel, this is just what happened. "And see," he adds, "the ass in the Old Testament could forecast future things." He was an heretical writer, Photius, but he was evidently not so far away, as the world is now, from believing that prophetic endowment is a sense widely distributed to humanity in general. These hints alone may furnish us with food for useful meditation.
Now, with all this a reader will very likely say, Supposing we grant you the prophetic as a sixth sense, to be henceforth reckoned as a permanent though generally latent endowment of the race, what is the good of such a sense, supposing, with you, that your prophet can never be understood till after the event has taken place, and then only when some drudging interpreter has untwisted his tortuous language and thrown it into the intelligible vernacular?
There are several ways of replying to this. First, are there not thousands of objects in the domain of nature that man has not yet discovered the use of? Anatomists are still at a stand to tell us what is the use of the spleen. What naturalist can say for what reason the noxious serpent is sent into the world? Why was the Georgium Sidus only discovered by Herschel in 1781, instead of by Pythagoras, a much greater man? Sensible men have commonly to content themselves with simply ascertaining the existence of a fact, and they have to rest all the while in total ignorance of why this fact exists. Again, suppose you believe, as the majority do, in the Christian revelation; how can you account for the multiplicity of sects who read the Bible each in its own way? Can you account for a divine revelation that reveals one thing to one man and a contrary thing to another? Obviously, then, there are many things that exist as facts, and yet no man living can assign the reason for them. With regard to any fact that can be asserted, the first thing to establish is, Is it a fact? That once settled, you may wait for the rest of it until you can get it.
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