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A. M. 3301. A. C. 610; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4825. A. C. 586. I KINGS viii TO TIE END OF 2 CHRON. strengthen with a girdle,' that is, to invest with the harass and fatigue his men in fighting against rocks and pontifical habit and office; and therefore, his“ being a inaccessible mountains, but preserve them fresh and unfather to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house foiled, for their great and more important expedition of Judah, and his having the key of the house of David against Egypt. laid upon his shoulder ; so, he should open, and none The truth is, the king of Nineveh was resolved not should shut, and he should shut and none should open,' only to subdue the several nations from the Euphrates does very well agree with the part which Joakim is said to Ethiopia, but intended likewise to oblige them all to to have acted in the book of Judith. For though the 5 adore and acknowledge him only to be god ; 6 and supreme power was doubtless in Manasseh, yet, since therefore the Bethulians, who could not, without impiety, bis return from the captivity, having either sequestered and a renunciation of their religion, submit to the himself from public business, or 1 being engaged in the dominion of such a king, had reason to promise themdefence of his country in some other place, he might selves the assistance of God, in the prosecution of this intrust the management of his affairs in Jerusalem to the war ; and Judith, who found herself under a divine and irhigh priest, who, having such an amplitude of power, resistible impulse to go upón so adventurous an exploit, and acting as chief minister in that place, might be well had good reason to hope for success against a prince, enough mentioned in this transaction of Judith, 2 and in who had declared himself an enemy to the God of heaven, the deputation of the elders from Jerusalem to thank her and an usurper of that honour and adoration which befor it, without naming his master at all.

longed to him alone. What the manners and customs of the Persians were b' If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, we may in some measure learn from the Greek historians, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, who, upon the dissolution of that monarchy by the con- which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, quest of Alexander, were obliged to say something of let us serve other gods which thou hast not known, thou, a people whom they succeeded in the dominion of the nor thy fathers; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor east; but, as these historians did not write till after the hearken unto him, neither shall thine eye pity him, neither kingdom of Persia was destroyed, they have taken little shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him, but thou or no notice of other Oriental nations; and therefore alt surely kill him :' and, in pursuance of this law, what affinity there might be in their manners and usages, much more might Judith, or any other inhabitant of we cannot tell; and 3 consequently must not blame the Bethulia, whom God had inspired with the like courage author of the book of Judith, for making Holofernes act and magnanimity, endeavour to counterplot the designs out of character, as we think, unless we know how far of any person, who, in an hostile manner, should come, the customs of the Assyrians and Persians did conform not only to invade their civil rights and liberties, but to or disagree.

extirpate their religion; and, instead of enticing, to Herein, however, we know, that all Oriental nations compel them by force of arms, to receive a form of idowere unanimous, namely, in aftecting pomp and grandeur; latry, which neither they nor their fathers knew. and therefore (whether it was a Persian custom or no) we Many things may be alleged against Judith's method need not wonder, that we find Holofernes, the captain- of proceeding in this affair, but they are most of them general of the Assyrian army, 4 resting upon his bed, reducible to the common stratagems of war, which not under a canopy, which was woven with purple, and gold, only the law of arms, but the commands of God in some and emeralds, and precious stones;' and when Judith was cases, and the examples of several of the best men in introduced, coming out before his tent, a with silver sacred history, have declared to be allowable. What lamps going before him.' We need not wonder at the comes not under this denomination, we shall not pretend rapidity of his conquest, since, doubtless, he had several lieutenant-generals under him, who, with strong detach

* Judith vi. 2.

6 Deut. xiii. 6, &c. ments from the grand army, might, in separate bodies, invade all the provinces which the historian mentions ;

6 How great soever the folly and impiety was, in desiring to and, since he nowhere met with any opposition until he pass for a god, yet the king of Nineveh was not the only prince

. The fatterers of Darius the came into Palestine, but expected a great deal in Egypt, Median proposed to him to make a decree that, under pain of he thought it advisable to halt, for some time, in the being cast into the den of lions, no one should dare to ask a petineighbourhood of Bethulia, and to put his men into tion of any god or man, but of him only, for the space of thirty quarters of refreshment, until the forces which he had days, (Dan, vi

. 7.) When Alexander the Great took it into his

head, to exact the same divine honours of his people that they detached upon sundry expeditions were come up, and had formerly paid to the kings of Persia his predecessors, he had joined him. And for this reason he was not so found people about him base and prostitute enough to commend eager to press the siege of Bethulia, that he might not the design, and to maintain, that thus to advance kings above the

rank of mortal man, was not only a pious, but a prudent and advantageous thing; for so the historian expresses it: "That the

Persians, not only through motives of piety but of wisdom, worPrideaux's Connection, anno 655.

2 Judith xv. 8.

shipped their kings as gods, for they deemed majesty to be a Calmet's Preface on the book of Judith. * Judith x. 21, 22. bulwark to the welfare of the nation,” (Quint. Curt. b. viii.) The

a Holofernes may be thought, in this piece of state, to imitate Egyptians had their princes in the like veneration, and looked the custom of the Persians, among whom it was usual to carry upon them as highly raised above the condition of other men; fire before their kings, as it was afterward done before the Roman but the Greeks, it must be owned, held all this baseness and emperors, and is at present before the emperor of the Turks; abject Aattery in a just detestation, insomuch that the Athenians but the reason of this might be no more, than either that Judith put Timagoras to death, for having prostrated himself before the and her maid were apprehended, and brought to Holofernes, be king of the Persians; and Sperchius and Bulis, two Lacedemofore it was quite day, or that the inner apartment of his tent was nians, though then in a state of captivity, could not be brought so very dark, that he had lights continually burning in it.--Cal to pay that adoration to Artaxerxes, which he required of every met's Commentary on Judith x. 22.

one that approached him.- Plut, in Artux,

3

A. M. 3394. A. C. 610; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 48:25. A. C. 586. 1 KINGS viï. TO THE END OF 2 CHRON. to vindicate ; ' for the notion of mental reservations and but that many of the dificulties which at present seem ironical speeches, which are not allowed in common insurmountable, would then easily subside and sink into conversation, are but the poor subterfuges which com- nothing. The plain truth is, “there was scarce ever a mentators have used to apologise for the conduct that history written ” according to our learned Prideaux : * they can by no means justify.

observation, “but what in the very next age

will seem to The history, indeed, represents this Judith as a woman have inconsistencies enough in it as to time, place, and of great courage; but it nowhere intimates that she was other circumstances, when the memory of men concerning without faults. The manner of her preparation for the them begins to fail; and therefore we may be much more undertaking, and the success wherewith it was attended, apt to blunder, when we take our view at the distance of may make us presume, that its design was originally above two thousand years, and have no other light to from God; but then the continued train of falsehood and direct us to our object, but such glimmerings, from dissimulation wherewith it was carried on, must needs broken scraps of history, as are in effect next to nothing." persuade us, that the means of conducting it was left to The like is to be said of the several seeining absurdithe woman, who, on this occasion, has given us a very ties that may be observed in the writings and behaviour remarkable specimen of the cunning and sagacity, the of the prophets :— That were we sufficiently acquainted guile and artifice, of her sex.

with the style and manner of writing that was in use in One thing, however, may be said, and that without any those days, and especially in the eastern countries, te forced explication, in favour of her conduct:—That her should think it no strange thing to find them expressing answer to the eunuch's suggestion she might design themselves by types and figures, parabolical representafor no more than a common compliment, which the situa- tions, and emblematical actions. For, however it comes tion of her affairs, at that time, obliged her to make. about, so it is, that mankind have all along been marvel* She might perceive, very likely, the bad design which lously taken with story and picture. These excite the the Assyrian general had upon her ; but she did not curiosity of our nature ; they tempt us to learn, help us think herself concerned to discover that she perceived it. to remember, and convey instruction to the mind, in a She pretended, in some measure, to be ignorant of it; more pleasing and eftectual manner than plain documents and to pretend an ignorance of what is proposed, when can; and hence it came to pass, that a great part of the the thing is naughty and will not bear examination, is a learning of the wise men of the east consisted in propoint of modesty as well as prudence: as, where it will phecies, in subtle and dark parables, and in the secrets admit of a double construction, there to take it in the of grave sentences,' as the author of the book of Ecrle. better sense, is even reputed an act of candour and good siasticus has branched it out ; for?' to understand a probreeding. 'Let not this fair damsel fear,' says the old verb and the interpretation ; the words of the wise, and pander, 'to come to my lord, and to be honoured in his their dark sayings,' was the very best description that presence, and drink wine, and be merry with us, and be Solomon himself could give of wisdom.. Among the made this day as one of the daughters of the Assyrians, ancients, indeed, mythology was in the highest esteem. who serve in the house of Nabuchodonosor.' How the The Egyptians, who were in great reputation for learndaughters of Assyria, who served in this capacity, were ing, delivered their notions in hieroglyphics; and from used, Judith very probably had been informed: but, them the Greeks took the mode of couching their meansince the eunuch seemed to put it on the foot of a great ing in fable. Hesiod," who contends with Homer for favour and honour done her, she could not do less antiquity, is supposed by Quintilian to be the author than return him a compliment; but then we all know, of the fables which go under the name of Asop; but, 3 that the offers of service, which, upon every occasion, however this be, the very supposition of his being so, we are so apt to make to one another, and those expres- makes it probable that he did write fables, as, perhaps, sions of submission and respect, which so commonly most men of learning and note in those days accustoiupass among us, are not to be taken in a literal sense, ed themselves to this form of writing. because they always imply a tacit condition; and there- 10 But, besides this parabolical way of writing which fore the answer which the historian puts in Judith’s was in great vogue among the ancients, and to which mouth, 'surely, whatever pleaseth him, I will do speedi- the Jews, by a kind of natural genius, were wouderfully ly,' will fairly admit of this construction, whatever inclined, the people of the east had a way of expressing Holofernes shall desire of me, so far as it is consistent themselves by actions as well as words, and, to inforce with my duty, my honour, and my religion, I will not the matter they were upon, would frequently make use fail to do.'

of outward and visible signs and representations. "This Thus we have endeavoured to satisfy most of the our learned Mr Mede shows, was the practice of the popular objections, and to reconcile most of the seeming Indians, Persians, and Egyptians ; and, even among inconsistencies, that occur in the history of Judith ; and Romans, who were a people that used great modesty of if there still remain any that cannot sufficiently be cleared style, and more gravity in their actions, than many other up, they ought, in justice, to be imputed to our ignorance nations, it was a customary thing in their orations and and want of better information. Had we the ancient books pleadings, to use all arts to raise the passions, by actious of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah, to and representations as well as words ; insomuch, " that which we are so often referred in Scripture, or had we the histories of the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians,

Connection, anno 655. and Egyptians, (with whom the Jewish nation had so long Reeve's Sermons. 6 Ecclus. xxxix. 1, &c. an intercourse, perfect and entire, it is not to be doubted, 8 Jenkins' Reasonableness of Christianity, vol. ii. c. 6.

9 Quintil. Instit, b. v.c, U. Calmet's Commentary on Judith x. 13.

10 Lightfoot's Heb. and Talmud. Exercit, in Mat, xiji. 3. *Calmet's Preface on the book of Judith.

* Ibid. Il Comment, in Apocal. part. 1. p. 470.

Prov.i6

12 Cic. pro P. Seria

5

A. M. 3304. A. C. G10; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4825. A. C. 586. 1 KINGS viü. TO THE END OF 2 CHRON. they would frequently hang up the picture of the thing | salem, can hardly be understood in a sense altogether they were to speak to. Cicero tells us of himself, that literal ; because it is not probable, either, that the amhe sometimes took up a child, and held it in his arms to bassadors would take the yokes at his hands, or carry move compassion ; and to excite horror and indignation, them to their respective masters ; but then, as yokes and nothing was more common, than for the accusers to pro- bonds are common figures in Scripture, to denote captiduce, in open court, a bloody sword, or the garments of vity, and the niseries that attend it, his sending the the wounded; to show the bones that had been taken yokes and bonds, may signify no more, than his deout of the wound, or the scars that it had left behind claring, from God, the fate of these princes, when the it : “ The power of these things is usually great,” says 'king of Babylon was let loose upon them. Only it must Quintilian, “ directing the attention of men to the sub- be observed, that the prophet might really make some ject in question ;" for it can hardly otherwise happen, of these yokes and bonds, (as the Scripture says expressbut that by this means they should fix the attention of ly, that he put one upon himself,) to enliven the idea, and their hearers, when, at one and the same time, they speak make the impression of what he was to say more strong both to their eyes and ears.

and emphatical. For these ornamental figures, and From these few remarks, it appears in general, that affecting images interspersed with it, added new force the figurative expressions of the prophets, their actions, and dignity to the prophet's message, made it more and types, and parables, were not incongruous to the awful and solemn to the delivery, and gave it the advancustoms of the times and places where they lived, and tage of a deeper and more durable impression. yet very proper means to give a lively and affecting re- In like manner, again, the whole affair of this prophet's presentation of the message they had to deliver; and so girdle, his carrying it to the Euphrates, hiding it in a rock, proceed we to the passages which seem to give disgust. and, at such a determinate time, going for it again, and

To take several of these in their literal sense, would finding it quite rotten and spoiled, can hardly be taken be an effectual way to disparage the divine precept, in a literal sense ; because the vast a distance of the which, according to this acceptation, would put the pro- place, and trivialness of the errand, as well as the imphet upon acting in a manner quite inconsistent with possibility of getting out of Jerusalem, if it was then common prudence; and therefore interpreters are gen- invested by the Babylonians, make strongly against it; erally agreed, that the things of this kind, which will not and therefore we may suppose, that all this was transcome under a literal construction, were either transacted acted in the prophet's imagination only; that, in the in vision, that is, the prophet in a dream, or some other night-time, God sent upon him a vision, wherein all this deliquium, imagined that he did such and such things, series of things seemed to be performed by him, to imand then related them to the people ; or that they were print it the deeper upon his understanding, namely, that parables, which God dictated to the prophet, and the the kingdom of Judah, which was once as nearly united propbet recited to the people ; only it must be observed, to God as the girdle is to a man's loins, should be utter* that the literal interpretation of a text always claims ly ruined and destroyed ; and though the river Euphrates the preference, if there be not some weighty reason be at a wide distance from the prophet's place of abode, against it, or some intimation in the text itself, that the yet, in the vision, which is never confined to places, it words are figurative and enigmatical.

might be more aptly made choice of than any other, The prophet Jeremiah 'is ordered by God, to take thereby to denote to the Jews, that over that river they the wine-cup of his fury at his hand, and to carry it up were to be carried captive to the city of Babylon. and down, far and near Jerusalem, and the cities of The short of the matter is,-Several things which the Judah, and the kings and princes thereof: to Pharaoh prophets set down as matters of fact, might not be actualking of Egypt, and his servants, princes, and people ; ly done, but only represented as done, to make the more to all the Arabians, and kings of the land of Uz; to the lively impression upon their readers and hearers. Nay, kings of the land of the Philistines, Edom, Moab, and there are several commands which God gives Ezekiel in Ammon; to the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and of the particular, such as, his ‘lying for 390 days on one side,' isles beyond the sea, Dedan, Tema, and Buz; to the which was next to a thing impossible, ' his baking his kings of Zimri, of the Medes, and Persians, and all the bread with man's dung,' which was a thing unseemly, kings of the north.' Now, since it was morally impossi- and his shaving his head and beard,' which, as he was ble for the prophet to visit all these kings and nations a priest, 6 was a thing expressly forbidden him, that the in person, and the nature of the thing would not admit prophet is never once said to have performed, nor were of any real performance, it could be no otherwise done they indeed given him with an intent that he should perthan in vision. • The cup of God's wrath,' is a common form them, but only relate them to the people, and so figure in Scripture, to denote the severity of his judgments; and therefore, when the prophet says, that he took the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the

5 Henric. Michael Bib. Heb. notes on the passage.

6 Lev, xxi. 5. nations drink thereof,' he can mean no more, than that be prophesied against these several nations, and, by

a The learned Bochart has invented a new solution of this difvirtue of the spirit of foreknowledge which God had im- initial letter to be dropped, in the names of places and persons,

ficulty. He supposes, that as it was a common thing for the parted to him, pronounced their doom.

the Hebrew word Phrath may be supposed to stand for Ephrath • In like manner, his sending yokes and bonds to or Ephratah, which is Bethlehem, about five or six miles distant several kings, whose ambassadors were then at Jeru- from Jerusalem; by which means the prophet's journey is great

ly shortened, and the pains of going thither once again is not

much. But whether this solution, as ingenious as it is, will Instit. b. v. c. 1. 2 Scripture Vindicated, part 3. p. 72. bear the test, is left to the examination of the critics.- Calmet's Chap. xxv. 15, &c. 4 Scripture Vindicated, part 3. p. 88. Commentary, and Scripture Vindicated, in locum.

A. M. 3391. A. C. 610; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M 4825. A. C. 586. I KINGS viii. TO THE END OF 2 CHRON. make them signs unto the house of Israel,' that is, either really commanded to marry a woman of a bad reputation ; resemblances of things past, or prognostications of yet might there not be many prudential considerations things to come.

to make such a match eligible? The Scripture, we may St Peter, we may observe, 1 was commanded in his observe, in the appellations which it gives persons and vision, to do what he never did ; ' Rise, Peter, kill things, has less regard to what they actually are, than and eat :' nay, by his reply, it appears, that himself did to what they once were ; and hence it is, that Moses's not think that he was any ways bound to obey the com- rod, when turned into a serpent, 5 is still called his rod; mand; “ Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any and those whom our Saviour healed of their several inthing that is common or unclean.' And yet the use firmities, are still the deaf, 6 the lame, &c., even after which he made of this vision was, to report it to the they are cured. Now, if the woman whom Hosea was church as a sign or emblematical indication of God's ordered to marry, though once she bad lived an inconti. having accepted the Gentiles into the gospel terms of nent life, was now become chaste and virtuous, where salvation. And, in like manner, when Ezekiel, in his was the great absurdity of his actually doing it, since, vision, received the command of shaving his head and besides other motives to us unknown, he was, in this achis face,' his answer might have been in St Peter's strain, tion, to be a sign to the Israelites, and to set an example * Not so, Lord;' for, by thy law, I am forbidden 'to to them, who had gone a whoring after other gods,'? make baldness upon my head, or to shave off’the corner that, if they would forsake their false deities, and return of my beard ;' and yet he might relate this vision to to their true God, the God of their fathers, he would still the people, the better to enforce the threats which God accept, and receive them, in the like manner as the prohad authorized him to denounce against Jerusalem : phet had taken an adulteress to his wife, upon assurance 2« Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I, even I am that ever, for the future, she would prove faithful to his against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of bed ? thee, in the sight of the nations; and I will do in thee The account of Ezekiel's packing up his household that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do goods, removing them by night, and breaking through any more the like, because of all thy abominations.' the walls of his house to carry them away more secretly,

In a word, the prophets, in their visions, might receive though some interpreters have looked upon it as the several commands concerning things illegal or inde- mere narration of a vision, or the recital of a parable, cent; 3 but then they considered these not as formal yet to me it seems more probable, that the whole was commands, but as types, emblems, and predictions, de transacted just in the manner wherein it is described ; livered to them in a perceptive forin, in order to im- especially considering the near resemblance between the print the things intended the deeper upon their minds, prediction and the event. For, after that the prophet, by the and to make the representation thereof to the people symbolical action of removing his goods in a fright, had with whom they had to do more lively and affecting ; typified the taking of Jerusalem, he proceeds to apply por should it seem strange, that the divine wisdom, in what he had doue in this prediction._8" I am your sign; this case, makes choice of things improper, and some like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them : they times impracticable, since his purpose in so doing is to shall remove, and go into captivity; they shall dig make the prophet perceive at once, that it was all sym- through the wall to carry out thereby; and the prince bolical, and not designed to direct him how and what to that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the act, but how and what to apprehend, foresee, and fore- twilight, and shall go forth.—My net also will I spread tell of things to come.

upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare ; and I will Whether the command given to Hosea to marry a scatter, toward every wind, all that are about him to help woman that either had been or would prove a prostitute, him, and all his bands. And accordingly the event hapis to have a literal or figurative construction, commen- pened ; for 9 when the city was broken up,' says the tators and critics, both ancient and modern, are not a historian,' all the men of war fled by night, by the way little divided ; but since in the figurative there is no vio- of the gate, between two walls, which is by the king's lence offered to Scripture, and in the literal there is gardens, for the Chaldees were against the city round nothing immoral or absurd, it matters not much in about, and the king went the way towards the plain. which sense we take it. In Scripture, it is a common But the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, thing to represent the defection of a people from the and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, and all his service of God, 4 by the metaphors of adultery and for- army were scattered from him.' nication; and, therefore, to introduce the prophet as The like is to be said of the same prophet's being ormarrying a woman that proved an adulteress, as having dered by God to delineate upon a slate the city of Jeriseveral children by that marriage, and as calling these salem, and the Babylonish camp investing it, namely, children by such names as denoted the destruction of a that the portraiture of the fort, the mount, the camp, 2011 rebellious nation, is no bad manner of expressing the battering rams, against it,

are so very like to skal near relation between God and his people ; his constant happened at the siege, that we can hardly forbear precare in preserving and multiplying them; their vile in- suming, that the whole narration is literal, or that the gratitude in revolting from him; and the great severity prophet did really draw a sketch of the siege of the city, wherewith he intended to punish their revolt. Or, take as God commanded him. For since, as we observed the words in a literal sense, and that the prophet was before, it was a practice sometimes among the best of ara

10

1 Acts x, 13, 14, 2 Ezek, v. 8, 9.

Scripture Vindicated, part 3. p. 91. * Lev, xvii, 7. Jer, iii, 1. Ezek, xvi, 15. xxiii, 3, &c.

5 Exod. vii. 12.

6 Mat. xi. 5. and John ix. 17. *Jenkins's Reasonableness of Christianity, vol. ii. & Ezek. xii, 11, &c.

9 2 Kings Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, b. x. c. 11

p.

53.

10

A. M. 3394 A. C. 610 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4825 A. C. 586 1 KINGS viii. TO THE END OF 2 CHRUN. tors to represent, in a picture, the particular thing they were to speak to, thereby to gain the readier attention of CHAP. 111.-Of the Sacred Chronology and Profane their hearers, why should it be thought inconsistent with

History during this period. the character of a prophet, or any diminution of his discretion, or gravity, to do the same thing, in order to gain The particular difierences, and seeming incongruities, the same end ? a

in point of chronology, that have occurred in this period To walk naked indeed for three years together, as the of history, we have endeavoured to solve and reconcile prophet Isaiah " is said to have done, does not so well in the notes that are annexed to it; but there is a passage comport with the rules of decency, and seems to carry in it an appearance of frenzy or madness; but we are to ing what had arisen out of necessity, into ornament, this practice remember, that, in Scripture phrase, those are said to subsisted long after the necessity was over; especially amongst the go naked, who either go without ? their upper garment, eastern people, whose natural temperament inclined them to a or without the 3 habit that is proper to their station or mode of conversation, which so well exercised their vivacity, by quality; and that the Hebrew text does not say, that motion; and so much gratified it, by a perpetual representation

of material images. Of this we have innumerable instances in Isaiah walked in this manner for three years together, holy Scripture: as where the false prophet pushed with horns of but that he thus walked as a type or sign of the three iron, to denote the entire overthrow of the Syrians: where Jereyears' calamity which would come upon Egypt and Ethi-miah, by God's direction, hides the linen girdle in a hole of the opia. So that the sense of the passage is thus :—That of the people; puts on bonds and yokes; and casts a book into

rock near Euphrates; where he breaks a potter's vessel in sight Isaiah went about without his upper garment, in token Euphrates; where Ezekiel, by the same appointment, delineates that the Egyptians and Arabians should undergo a cala- the siege of Jerusalem on a tile; weighs the hair of his beard in mity of three years' continuance from the king of Assy- balances; carries out his household stuff; and joins together the ria; but how long or how often he did this, the Scripture two sticks for Judah and Israel. By these actions the prophets

instructed the people in the will of God, and conversed with them is silent; only it may be presumed, that he did it in in signs: but where God teaches the prophet, and, in compliance to such a manner, whether three days together, or thrice the the custom of that time, condescends to the same mode of instrucsame day, as might best prefigure the three years' cala- tion, then the significative action is generally changed into a mity: and since the action was to be typical, the pro-Jeremiah is bid to regard the rod of the almond tree, and the

vision, either natural or extraordinary: as where the prophet phet, who, through the iniquity of the times, could scarce seething pot; the work on the potter's wheel, and the baskets of gain the audience of the people at any rate, was to good and bad figs; and the prophet Ezekiel, the ideal scene of appear in an uncommon garb, and with something parti- the resurrection of dry bones. The significative action, I say, cular in his manner, to strike the eyes and awaken the was, in this case, generally changed into a vision; but not always. observation of all around him : for, had not there been Por as sometimes, where the instruction was for the people, the

significative action was perhaps in vision; so sometimes again some visible impropriety in the action, something seem- though the information was only for the prophet, God would set ingly inconsistent with the character of so grave a man, him upon a real expressive action, whose obvious meaning conit would not have answered the purpose of exciting the veyed the intelligence proposed or sought. Of this we shall give, curiosity and attention of the people for which it was cellent Maimonides, not attending to this primitive mode of

at the expense of infidelity, a very illustrious instance. The exintended.

information, is much scandalized at several of these actions, unThus we have endeavoured to vindicate the actions of becoming, as he supposed, the dignity of the prophetic office; and the prophets, or rather the wisdom of God which put is therefore for resolving them in general into supernatural visions 'them upon such actions, from all imputations of weakness impressed on the imagination of the prophet; and this, because

some few of them may perhaps admit of such an interpretation, and folly; and shall only observe farther, that our mis- In this he is followed by Christian writers, much to the discreconceptions of these things must, in a great measure, pro- dit, as I conceive, of revelatio ; and to the triumph of libertinism ceed from our ignorance of the prophetic style, as says and infidelity; the actions of the prophets being delivered as a learned examiner of this style ;„*“ For all places of realities, and these writers representing them as mean, absurd,

and fanatical, and exposing the prophet to contempt. But what Scripture that are expressed in allegorical or proverbial is it they gain by this expedient ? " The charge of absurdity and

forms of speech, or by types and resemblances of things, fanaticism will follow the prophet in his visions, when they have ; as all prophecies more or less are, must needs have been removed it from his waking actions: for if these actions were better understood in those times when they were written, be so in the imaginary; the same turn of mind operating both

absurd and fanatical in the real representation, they must needs than they can be now, because we have but an imperfect asleep and awake. The judicious reader, therefore, cannot but notion of many things to which the allusion is made, and observe, that the reasonable and true defence of the prophetic from whence the similitude is taken.”

writings is what is here offered: where we show, that information by action was, at this time and place, a very familiar mode of

conversation. This once seen, all charge of absurdity and susChap. xx. 3, 4.

picion of fanaticism, vanish of themselves: the absurdity of an * Jolin xxi. 7. Acts xix, 16. Mark xiv, 36. Mat, xxv. 26. action consists in its being extravagant and insignificative; but * 2 Sam. xix. 24. 2 Sam, vi. 20.

use and a fixed application made these in question both sober and * Jenkins's Reasonableness, vol. ii, c. 7.

pertinent: the fanaticism of an action consists in a fondoess for a Language, as appears from the nature of the thing, from the unusual actions and foreign modes of speech; but those in quesrecords of history, and from the remains of the most ancient lan- tion were idiomatic and familiar. To illustrate this last observaguages yet remaining, was at first extremely rude, narrow, and tion by a domestic example: when the sacred writers talk of equivocal: so that men would be perpetually at a loss, on any being born after the spirit,' of being . fed with the sincere milk new conception, or uncommon accident, to explain themselves of the word,' of putting their tears into a bottle,' of 'bearing intelligibly to one another; the art of enlarging language by a testimonies against lying vanities,' of taking the veil from men's scientific analogy being a late invention; this would necessarily hearts,' and of building up one another; they speak the comSet them upon supplying the deficiencies of speech by apt and mon, yet proper and pertinent phraseology of their country; and significant signs. Accordingly, in the first ages of the world, not the least imputation of fanaticism can stick upon these origimutual converse was upheld by a mixed discourse of words and nal expressions. But when we see our own countrymen reproactions; hence came the eastern phrase of “the voice of the bate their native idiom, and affect to employ only scripture sign;" and use and custom, as in most other affairs of life, improv- phrases in their whole conversation, as if some inherent sanctity

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