« PreviousContinue »
the gospel hath called him out of it, there is little hope that he will ever be awake again to any good purpose. Pleasure, riches, and the cares of life, act as opiates; and the unhappy people, on whom they operate, know little more of their real condition than if they were in a dream. At last the charm will be dissolved, and the objects to which their fancy hath attributed substance and importance will be empty as the visions of the night, which vanish as soon as we are awake. When they are like to be alarmed, either by the word of God or the visitations of his providence, the enemy of mankind encourages them in their security, administers some new potion to stupify their consciences, and persuades them they may safely sleep on and take their rest. The mind in this sluggish state is fond of darkness, involving itself in error and scepticism, and dreading the light of truth, as the thief hides himself from the return of the morning. How much more dreadful will be the morning of the resurrection; when every sluggard must awake, and every deceiver shall be dragged out to the light! This is the hour, in which they shall wish for the mountains to fall on them, and the hills to cover them: but the night is departed for ever, and all Sleep is departed with it. The natural world and its vicissitudes are swallowed up in the spiritual, in which men must live, act, and be awake for ever, not as men but as spirits. This consideration will comfort those, who lament that they lose in Sleep so much of that precious time, which they would bestow upon the cultivation of the mind, to the honour of their Maker, and the benefit of their fellow-servants. And it is as terrible to reflect, that the miseries of another life, to those who shall experience them, will have no intermission. But the thought is necessary for us all: and they who make the proper use of it will have this advantage, that as the fear of sin increases in them, in the same proportion will the fear of Death be diminished.
SENSE AND SIGNIFICATION
As it is described in the SONG of SOLOMON.
A PLEASING scene in the Song of Solomon having invited me to survey attentively its several particulars, I have endeavoured to illustrate and apply them : with how much propriety, I must leave the judicious reader to determine for himself. Justice will require, that he should read with candour and suspense, what cannot well be judged of with precipitation.
The attempt to illustrate the following subject by passages, of the Scripture, would be absurd, unless we take the Song of Solomon for a mystic allegory, pregnant with prophetical allusion in every part of it. It might be tedious and impertinent to justify this opinion formally in the discourse itself; and therefore I beg leave to offer a word or two by way of Preface.
To some readers more nice than wise, the Canticles have given offence : Whiston was for excluding them from the sacred Canon ; but Carpzovius of Leipsic, shewed long ago that his objections were superficial and groundless, and his authorities very disingenuously falsified *. Bishop Lowth has gone deeper than Carpzovius; having not only indicated the general plan, but illustrated with great judgment some particular passages in the Song of Solomon: and the learned reader will find both pleasure and satisfaction if he peruses carefully the thirtieth and thirty-first Prelections.
There are three sorts of allegorical composition, the continued metaphor, the parable, and the mystic allegory. The Song of Solomon is most properly referred to the last of
* Carpzovii Critica Sacra, p. 111. circa Pseudocriticam Gull. Whistonii.