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the people, their impiety, their idolatry, and rejection, stand |(Rev. xxi. 2–9.), who ought to be without spot” (Eph. in the same relation with respect to the sacred covenant; as v. 27.), as the Shulamite is represented to be. (Song iv. 7.) chastity, modesty, immodesty, adultery, divorce, with respect And, surely, if this most beautiful pastoral poem had not to the marriage-contract. And this notion is so very fami- been understood in a spiritual sense, it would not have been liar and well understood in Scripture, that the word adultery admitted into the sacred canon by the ancient Jewish (or whoredom) is commonly used to denote idolatrous wor- church. Nor is this inconsistent with the opinions of the ship, and so appropriate does it appear to this metaphorical ancient Jews, who, as well as Saint Paul and other Chrispurpose, that it very seldom occurs in its proper and literal tian writers, found the Messiah almost every where in the sense.
Scriptures. Indeed, they always believed their economy to Of this mode of speaking, the sacred writers furnish us be peculiarly under the protection of the Messiah, in some with abundance of examples. Thus the evangelical prophet, one or other of his characters, as the Great Angel of the when treating of the reconciliation of the church to Jehovah, covenant, the King of Israel, or the Son of God. In particuand her restoration to the divine favour, among many images lar, they applied to him the forty-fifth psalm (which, of all of a similar nature, introduces the following:
Scripture, most resembles the Song of Songs); for the ChalFor thy husband is thy Maker;
dee paraphrase on the second verse expressly says,—" Thy Jehovah, God of Ilosts, is his name:
fairness, 0 King Messiah! exceedeth the sons of men." In And thy Redeemner is the Holy One of Israel;
the same manner they applied the seventy-second, hundred The God of the whole earth shall be be called.—Isa. liv. 5, 6. and tenth, and various other psalms, as well as many pasAnd in another passage in the form of a comparison :- sages of the prophets. For as a young man weddeth a virgin,
Bishop Lowth restricts this sublime allegory to the uniSo shall thy Restorer wed thee:
versal church, and conceives that it has no reference whatAnd as a bridegroom rejoiceth in his bride, So shall thy God rejoice in thee.-Isa. lxii. 5.
ever to the spiritual state of individuals; than which he The same image a little diversified, and with greater and ground-work of the allegory itself, as well as with the
conceives nothing can be more inconsistent with the nature freedom of expression, as better adapted to the display of general practice of the Hebrew poets.' With regard to the indignation, is introduced by Jeremiah (ii. 2. iii. I, &c.), Psalms, Bishop Horne (we think) has demonstrated their when he declaims against the defection of the Jews from spiritual application not only to the church generally, but the worship of the true God. Upon the same principle the also to believers who compose the individual members of former part of the prophecy of Hosea ought also to be ex- that church ; and that the Song of Solomon is to be legitiplained'; and whether that part of the prophecy be taken in mately and soberly interpreted in the same way, it is apprethe literal and historical sense, or whether it be esteemed hended, will satisfactorily appear from the following addialtogether allegorical, still the nature and principles of this tional observations:figure, which seems consecrated in some measure to this
The church is to be considered as composed of individual subject, will evidently appear. None of the prophets, how, believers; and that there is an analogy between the conduct ever, have applied the image with so much boldness and of God towards his church in general, and his conduct tofreedom as Ezekiel, an author of a most fervid imagination, wards individuals, is plainly indicated in many parts of the who is little studious of elegance, or cautious of offending. New Testament. Thus, sometimes the sacred writers comIlis great freedom in the use of this image is particularly pare the whole body of believers to a temple, in which they displayed in two parables (xvi. and xvii.), in which he de- form living stones, being built on the only foundation, Christ scribes the ingratitude of the Jews and Israelites to their Jesus; at other times, they consider individual believers as great Protector, and their defection from the true worship, temples of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. Eph. ii. 20 under imagery assumed from the character of an adulterous -22.) So, also, they sometimes speak of the church as one, wife, and the meretricious loves of two unchaste women. —the bride the Lamb's wife; and at other times, of distinct If these parables (which are put into the mouth of God him- churches or individual believers, as severally married to the self with a direct allegorical application, and in which, it Lord. (Rev. xxi. 9. 2 Cor. xi. 2.) In this manner, St. Paul must be confessed, that delicacy does not appear to be par- allegorizes the history of Hagar and her mistress, referring ricularly studied, according to our refined notions of deli- to the two dispensations, while at the same time he makes cacy): be well considered, we are persuaded that the Song a practical application of it to the consciences of the Galaof Solomon (which is in every part chaste and elegant) will tians. (Gal. iv. 22—31.) not appear unworthy of the divine sense in which it is
Further, we consider the allegory as designed for the usually taken, either in matter or style, or in any degree purposes of piety and devotion, which cannot be so well inferior either in gravity or purity to the other remains of the answered without such an application. Though this argusacred poets. To these instances we may add the forty-fifth ment may, at first view, appear weak, it will be strengthened psalm, which is a sacred epithalamium, of the allegorical when we recollect the doctrine of the New Testament, that, application of which to the union between God and the “ whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for church no doubt has hithert) been entertained; though many our learning;" and that their grand design is,
“ to make us suspect it, and not without good reason, to have been pro- wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” duced upon the same occasion, and with the same relation This shows both the propriety and importance of a particular to a real fact, as the Song of Solomon. Neither ought we application of scriptural truths to the circumstances and exto omit, that the writers of the New Testament have freely perience of individuals. Religion is a personal thing; and admitted the same image in the same allegorical sense with that professor is a hypocrite, the feelings of whose heart are their predecessors, and have finally consecrated it by their not influenced by it, as well as the actions of his life. authority.
The fact is, that much of the language of this poem has Thus John the Baptist beautifully represents Christ as the been misunderstood by expositors, some of whom, not enbridegroom; himself, as his friend or bridesman, and the tering into the spirit and meaning of Oriental poesy, have church as his spouse.2 (John iii. 28.) Our Lord also adopts caused particular passages to be considered as coarse and the title of Bridegroom in Matt. ix. 15.; and likewise in the parable of the virgins or bride's maids attendant upon the 4 Dr. Hales's Analysis, vol. ii. p. 400. marriage. (Matt. xxv. 1.) “ The Lamb's wife” also, the confirmation of the preceding view of the
spiritual design of this sacred
5 Williams's translation of the Song of Songs, pp. 113-115. In further church, is represented as a “ bride adorned for her husband” oriental poen, we may observe, that this allegoric mode of describing the 1 On the alleged Immorality of the language of Scripture, see Vol. I. r. and the
great Creator, is common to almost all Eastern poets from the 166.
earliest down to the present age. Without such an esoteric or spiritual 9 "In the prophetical book of the Song of Solomon,” says Bishop Hors. interpretation, it is impossible to understand inany passages of the Persian ley, "the union of Christ and his church is described in images taken poets Sadi and Hafiz: and the Turkish commentators on them have unientirely from the mutual passion and early love of Solomon and his fornly thus interpreted them; though in many instances they have purbride. Read the Song of Solomon, you will find the Hebrew king, if you sued their mystic meaning to an undue length. A similar emblematic know any thing of his history, produced, indeed, as the emblem of a mysticism is equally conspicuous in the bards of India ; and the Vedantis greater personage; but you will find Ilim in every page." Sermons, vol. or Hindoo commentators have in like manner attributed a double, that is, 1. p. 73. 2. edit.
a literal and spiritual meaning to their compositions. This is particularly 5 Commentators in communion with the Romish church, not content the case with the Gitágovinda, or Songs of Jayadeva, the subject of which with considering the song of Solomon as adumbrating the union of Christ is the loves of Chrishna and Radha, or the reciprocal attraction between and his church, extend it also to the union of Christ with the Virgin Mary. the divine goodness and the soul of man; and the style and imagery of Such is the notion of the elegant Italian translator, Melesigenio. (Good's which, like those of the royal Hebrew poet, are in the highest degree Song of Silomon, Pref. p. xxxiv.) In the short preface prefixed to this flowery and amatory. Good's Song of Songs, p. xxii. Kistemaker, Can. oook in the Dublin edition of the Anglo-Romish Bible (1825, page 596.) it is ticum Canticorum illustratum ex Hierographia Orientalium, pp. 23–40. affirmed, that "the spouse of Christ is the church, more especially as to the Sir William Jones has given several examples of the mystical or allegorical happiest part of it, viz. perfect souls, every one of which is his beloved ; language of the celebrated Persian poet, Ilafiz, in his Dissertation on the bui, above all others, the immaculate and ever blessed virgin mother !!" | Mystical Poetry of the Persians and Ilindoos. (Works, vol. iv. p. 227. 8vo.) See an account of these schools in Part IV. Chap. VII. Sect. III. $ 1. Scott, Pref. io Sol. Songs.
indelicate, which, in the original, are altogether the reverse; employment as beneath the dignity of the highest characters. while others (as the learned Dr. Gill for instance) have so Least of all, could it be supposed to be inconsistent with the confounded the literal and allegorical senses as to give character of Solomon, whose father was raised from the neither, distinctly or completely; at the same time, they sheepfold to the throne of Israel. The pastoral life is not have applied the figures to such a variety of objects, as to only most delightful in itself, but from the particular circumleave the reader still to seek the right, and, by their minute stances and manners of the Hebrews, is possessed of a kind dissection of the allegory, they have not only destroyed its of dignity. In this poem it is adorned with all the choicest consistency and beauty, but have also exposed the poem to colouring of language, with all the elegance and variety of the unmerited ridicule of profane minds. Much, unques- the most select imagery. “ Every part of the Canticles," tionably, has been done, by later writers, towards elucidating says the learned and eloquent Bossuet, "abounds in poetical the language and allusions of the Song of Songs by the aid beauties; the objects, which present themselves on every of Oriental literature and manners: but, after all the labours side, are the choicest plants, the most beautiful flowers, the of learned men, there will perhaps be found many expres- most delicious fruits, the bloom and vigour of spring, the sions which are very difficult to us, both as to the literal sweet verdure of the fields, flourishing and well-watered meaning, and the spiritual instruction intended to be convey- gardens, pleasant streams, and perennial fountains. The other ed by them; and some descriptions must not be judged by senses are represented as regaled with the most precious modern notions of delicacy. But the grand outlines, soberly odours natural and artificial: with the sweet singing of birds, interpreted, in the obvious meaning of the allegory, so ac- and the soft voice of the turtle; with milk and honey, and cord with the affections and experience of the sincere Chris- the choicest of wine. To these enchantments are added all tian, “ that he will hardly ever read and meditate upon them, that is beautiful and graceful in the human form, the endearin a spirit of humble devotion, without feeling a conviction ments, the caresses, the delicacy of love; if any object be that no other poem of the same kind, extant in the world, introduced which seems not to harmonize with this delightful could, without most manifest violence, be so explained as to scene, such as the awful prospect of tremendous precipices, describe the state of his heart at different times, and to ex- the wildness of the mountains, or the haunts of lions, its cite admiring, adoring, grateful love to God our Saviour, as effect is only to heighten by the contrast the beauty of the this does."2
other objects, and to add the charms of variety to those of With regard to the style, says Bishop Lowth, this poem grace and elegance.”3 is of the pastoral kind, since the two principal personages The Chaldee paraphrase of this book is a long and tireare represented in the character of shepherds. The circum- some application of it throughout to the circumstances of the stance is by no means incongruous to the manners of the history of the Jews. The Greek version of it is tolerably Hebrews, whose principal occupation consisted in the care exact; and Bos, in the Frankfort edition of the Septuagint of cattle (Gen. xlvi. 32–34.); nor did they consider this (1709), ascribes it to Symmachus.
ON THE PROPHETS.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE PROPHETS AND THEIR WRITINGS.
1. The prophetical Books, why so called.—II. Different kinds of Prophets mentioned in the Scriptures.-III. Situation of the
Prophets, and their Manner of Living.-IV. Mosaic Statūtes concerning Prophets.-Evidences of a Divine Mission.V. Qualifications of the Prophets.-V1. Nature of the prophetic Inspiration.–VII Antiquity and Succession of the Prophets, -V1II. Collection of their Writings, and Mode of announcing their Predictions.—Ix. Number and Order of the Prophetic Books. 1. We now enter on the fourth or prophetical part of the who were raised up among the Israelites to be the ministers Old Testament, according to the division which is generally of God's dispensations. Jehovah, at sundry times and in adopted, but which forms the second division, according to divers manners, spake unto the futhers by the prophets : for the Jewish
classification of the sacred volume. This portion prophecy came not of old time by the will of man, but holy of the Scriptures is termed PROPHETICAL, because it chiefly men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. consists of predictions of future events; though many histo- (Heb. i. 1. 2 Pet. i. 21.) rical passages are interspersed through the writings of the II. To these messengers of heaven frequent reference is prophets, as there are also many predictions of future events made in various parts of the Sacred Writings. The term scattered through those books which are more strictly histo- Propuer, indeed, is of general signification. It was applied rical. But these books also contain very many passages by the heathens to all persons
who were supposed to be conwhich relate to other subjects, such as the nature and attri- versant
with divine things;
and, in conformity to this notion, butes of God; the religious and moral duties of man; reproofs St. Paul, in his Epistle to Titus (1. 12.), when citing a pasof idolatry and other sins; exhortations to the practice of sage from a profane poet, calls him a prophet, because the true religion and virtue; together with advices and warnings heathens supposed their poets to be inspired. In the historirespecting the political state of the country, and the adminis- cal books of the Old Testament we meet with frequent notice tration of affairs, which in the theocratical form of govern- of the school of the prophets, that is, of seminaries, where rement were sent to the kings and princes of the Hebrews by ligious truths, or the divine laws, were particularly taught :: the prophets as ambassadors of their supreme monarch, for the pupils in these schools were not, strictly speaking, Jehovah. The
authors of these books are, by way of emi- all of them prophets; though God bestowed upon some of nence, termed Prophets, that is, divinely inspired persons, them the spirit of prophecy, or of predicting future events.
(2 Kings ii. 3.) Further, in the Old Testament, the prophets : The chief error of all the translators of this book, Dr. Good observes are spoken of, as "holy men of God," as " seers," and as with great truth, "results from their having given verbal renderings of " prophets," in the most exalted sense of the term. The first equivalently; a method, by which any language in the world, when inter- denomination seems to have been sometimes applied to men preted into another, may not only occasionally convey a meaning altogether of exemplary piety, who assiduously studied the divine law perfect purity and delicacy, in its original import, into one altogether
: as communicated by their legislator Moses; who firmly becate and unchaste." Song of Songs, p. xxvi.' Dr. Good illustrates this lieved in the predictions of good and evil that should attend remark by some well-chosen examples, which want of room compels us the Israelites according to the tenor of their conduct; who to omit; but the result of its application, we may be permitted to observe, was his very elegant and delicate version, in which, though he adheres 3 Bossuet, Præf. in Canticum Canticorum, Oeuvres, tom. I. p. 467. 4to. solely to the literal sense, yet he decidedly expresses himself (p. xviii.) in edit. favour of the mystical meaning of the poem.
of this volumc.
were observant of the character of the times in which they But, however they might be respected by pious monarchs, lived; and who might be able to discern the natural and the prophets were frequently exposed to cruel treatment from inevitable consequences of particular actions, without the wicked' princes, whose impiety they reprehended, and to innecessity of immediate inspiration. These men of God, sults and jeers from the people, whose immoral practices however, received peculiar communications upon certain they censured and condemned; and many of them were even emergencies. They were divinely appointed to execute some put to violent deaths. (Heb. xi. 35–38.) Yet, amid all important commissions, and to predict events which were these persecutions and this injurious treatment, they despised not in the ordinary course of things, but far beyond the reach dangers, torments, and death, and with wonderful intrepidity of human penetration. It was this which sometimes gave attacked whatever was contrary to the law and worship of them the title of seers. The higher class of prophets were Jehovah, contemning secular honours, riches, and favours those who foretold important events that were to take place with astonishing disinterestedness.3 at distant periods; which no human sagacity could foresee, IV. “ Prophecy being necessary in the early ages for the and which were most opposite to the natural conceptions or preservation of the knowledge of God, in the Hebrew comgeneral expectations of mankind : as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Eze-monwealth prophets were not merely tolerated, as some have kiel, and the minor prophets.
supposed, but they were also promised, lest the Hebrews III. The prophets, according to Augustine,2 were the phi- should have recourse to soothsayers who were idolaters, and losophers, divines, instructors, and guides of the Hebrews would seduce them into idolatry. (Deut. xviii. 9–22.) But, in piety and virtue. These holy men were the bulwarks of that advantage might not be taken of this institution by false religion against the impiety of princes, the wickedness of prophets, Moses decreed, that impostors should suffer capital individuals, and every kind of immorality. Their lives, per- punishment; and furnished the judges with two distinguishsons, and discourses were alike instructive and prophetical. ing marks, by which a false prophet might be known. Raised up by God to be witnesses of his presence, and living * 1. The prophet, who should endeavour to introduce the monuments of his will, the events that frequently happened worship of other gods beside Jehovah, was to be considered to them were predictions of what was about to befall the as an impostor; and, as a rebel against their king, to be Hebrew nation. Although the prophets possessed great capitally punished. (Deut. xiii. 2–6.). authority in Israel, and were highly esteemed by pious sove- ** 2. Whoever should predict anything which was not reigns, who undertook no important affairs without consult- accomplished by the event, although he should do it in the ing them, yet their way of life was exceedingly laborious, name of Jehovah, was to be condemned to death, as an and they were very poor, and greatly exposed to persecution impostor who had presumed to counterfeit the seal of their and ill treatment. They generally lived retired in some king: (Deut. xviii. 20—22.) Hence it is plain that the country place, and in colleges or communities, where they prophets were not sagacious men, whose perspicacity enabled and their disciples were employed in prayer, in manual la- them to foresee future events; for an error committed by bour, and in study. Their labour, however, was not such such, and unaccompanied by guilt, would never have receivas required intense application, or was inconsistent with that ed from Moses so severe a punishment.” freedom from secular cares which their office required. Thus, In consequence of these laws, “a prophet ran a great risk Elisha quitted his plough, when Elijah called him to the in undertaking a divine mission, unless he knew, by infallible prophetic office (1 Kings xix. 19, 20.); and Amos (vii. 14.) proofs, that he had really received the commands of the tells us that he was no prophet, neither a prophet's son, but a Deity, and was not deluded by his own imagination. Of herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. The pupils or the nature of these proofs we are not informed, although sons of the prophets, who lived under the direction of Elijah some circumstances are recorded, which show that the and Elisha, erected their own dwellings, for which they cut prophets were certainly possessed of them. For instance, down the timber that was requisite. (2 Kings vi. 1–4.) it is mentioned (1 Sam. iii. 7.), that, at first, Samuel did not
The apparel of the prophets was in unison with the sim- know the voice of God; and Jeremiah (xxxii. 6—9.) conplicity of their private life. Elijah was clothed with skins, fesses, that it was the correspondence of the event, which and wore a leather girdle round his loins. (2 Kings i. 8.) assured him that the direction to buy the field of his relative Isaiah wore sackcloth (xx. 2.), which was the ordinary habit had come to him from God. (Compare also Jer. xxviii. 9.) of the prophets. Zechariah, speaking of the false prophets The proofs, by which Moses was satisfied respecting his who imitated externally the true prophets of the Lord, says divine commission, are recorded at length in Exod. iii. 1.that they should not wear a rough garment (Heb. a garment iv. 17. That the prophets had other means of distinguishing of hair) to deceive. (Zech. xiii. 4.) Their poverty was con- divine revelations from their own thoughts, appears from spicuous in their whole life. The presents they received 1 Sam. xvi. 6,7. 2 Sam. vii. 1–17. 1 Chron. xvii. 1—16. were only bread, fruits, and honey; and the first-fruits of the Isa. xxxviii. 148. 2 Kings xx. 1-11. ,Occasionally, the earth were given them, as being persons who possessed impression made by the revelation was so strong, that it was nothing themselves. (2 Kings iv. 12.) The woman of Shu- impossible to doubt of its origin; so that they confess themnem, who entertained Elisha, put into the prophet's chamber selves unable to refrain from speaking, as in Jer. xx. 7–10. only what was plain and absolutely necessary. (2 Kings iv. The means, indeed, by which they distinguished their own 10.) The same prophet refused the costly presents of Naaman thoughts from divine revelations, they could not express (2 Kings v. 16.), and pronounced a severe sentence upon his in words; just as it is impossible to explain to one unacservant Gehazi, who had clandestinely obtained a part of them. quainted with the subject, how we know the painter of a (20—27.) Their frugality appears throughout their history; picture, or the author of a composition, solely by his style. for instance, the wild gourds, which one of the prophets To the hearers and first readers of the prophets their divine ordered to be prepared for his disciples. (2 Kings iv. 38–41.) mission was proved either by miracles predicted, and accordThe angel gave Elijah only bread and water for a long jour- ingly performed; or, if such were not granted, by the event ney (1 Kings xix. 6–8.); and Obadiah, the pious governor corresponding with the prophecies: for the prophecies were of Ahab's househoid, gave the same food to the prophets of a twofold description, some relating to proximate, others whose lives he saved in a cave. (1 Kings xviii. 4. 13.) to remote events. Those of the former kind, which were Their recluse, abstemious mode of living, and mean apparel, clear, and contained various circumstances of the predicted sometimes exposed them to contempt among the gay and events, which must necessarily be beyond the reach of courtly: it was probably, the singular dress and appearance human foresight, afforded by their completion a proof to the of Elisha which occasioned the impious scoffs of the young contemporaries of the prophet that he was a messenger of men of Bethel. (2 Kings ii. 23.) But, in general, the pro- God, and that his predictions concerning remote events, phets were regardea with high esteem and veneration by the coming from the same source with those which they had wise and good, and even by persons of the first rank in the seen fulfilled, were worthy of equal credit. The accomstate. (1 Kings xviii. 7.) It does not appear that the prophets plishment of these would afford to posterity the proof of his were bound by any vow of celibacy; for Samuel had chil- divine mission. This consequence was so evident, that not dren, and the Scriptures mention the wives of Isaiah (viii. 3.) a few even of the heathens, among whom Cyrus may be and Hosea. (i. 2.) But the prophets maintained a very mentioned as a most remarkable instance, were convinced guarded intercourse with the female sex, as is evident in the by it, and acknowledged that the author of these prophecies conduct of Elisha towards his benevolent hostess. (2 Kings iv. 27.)
3 Calmet, Preface Générale sur les Prophètes, Art. 3. sur la Manière de Vie des Prophètes, &c. Dissert
. tom. ii. pp. 308-311. · Dr. Cogan's Theological Disquisition, p. 275. et seq. Dr. Gregory
* Compare 1 Sam. iii. 19–21., where the general knowledge of the fact, Sharpe's Second Argument in Defence of Christianity from Prophecy, that Samuel was a divinely commissioned prophet, is stated as a conse
quence of God's letting none of his words fall to the ground; that is, of the » De Civitate Dei lib. xviii. c. 41.
regular fulfilment of his predictions.
must be the one true God. It was necessary, therefore, of Elisha ; who being requested by the three kings of Judah, that the prophets should secure the credence of their contem- Israel, and Edom, to inquire of God for them in their dis poraries in that portion of their prophecies which related to tress for water during a military expedition, was transported remote events by some predictions respecting events of with pious indignation against the wicked king of Israel : speedy occurrence. This accounts for the fact, that the but being willing to oblige the good king of Judah, called prophets sometimes predicted proximate events of little mo- for a minstrel or musician, for the apparent purpose of calmment with as much care as others of far more importance. ing his passion, and thus preparing him for the spirit of inCompare 2 Sam. xii. 14. xxiv. 11-14. 1 Kings xí. 31–39. spiration. Accordingly, while the minstrel played, we are xiii. 1–5. xiv. 6. 12. Isa. vii. 4–16.3 xxxviii. 4–8. Jer. told, the hand of the Lord came upon him. This intimates xxviii. 16, 17. xxxvii. 1. xxxviii. 28.94
one important reason why the prophets and their pupils cul V. In considering the circumstances relative to the Hebrew tivated sacred music; and also why those who composed prophets, the QuaLIFICATIONS which were requisite for the and sung divine hymns are sometimes styled prophets; viz. prophetic office claim distinctly to be considered: they were because in many cases this heavenly art was not only assisttwo in number, viz.
ed by, but wonderfully fitted persons for, celestial communi1. The first and leading qualification was, A HOLY CHARAC- cations."o TER.
3. Though prophecy was a perfectly gratuitous gift of “ As this is the uniform sentiment of Jewish writers, so God, and independent on human industry, yet it did not exit is confirmed by the history and lives of the ancient pro- clude APPLICATION AND STUDY, for the purpose of ascertainphets, and by the express testimony of St. Peter, that holy ing the meaning of a particular prophecy. men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Thus, Daniel prayed and fasted in order that he might (2 Pet. i. 21.) Though we meet with some instances of know the mystery of the seventy weeks which had been wicked men, to whom God, on special occasions, imparted predicted by Jeremiah. (Dan. ix. 2.) Zechariah applied his secret counsels, such as the covetous Balaam, and the himself seriously to the study of prophecy (2 Chron. xxvi. idolatrous kings, Pharaoh, Abimelech, and Nebuchadnezzar;5 5.); and St. Peter states, that this was the employment of yet we may presume, that none but good men were statedly the ancient prophets. (1 Pet. i. 10, 11.) honoured with these divine communications; and especially VI. Great diversity of opinion has prevailed respecting that none but such were employed as penmen of the Sacred the nature, extent, permanency, and different degrees of in· Writings. The declaration, therefore, of Peter, will, doubt- spiration which the prophets possessed. Not to enter into a less, apply to all the prophetic writers of the Old Testament. useless discussion of conflicting sentiments, we may remark, They were all men of real and exemplary holiness. The that the communication between God and man is by prayer, importance of personal piety and virtue in the extraordinary by the word of God, and by his works : in old times it was ministers of Jehovah will account for his withdrawing the also by the prophets, and before them by the angel of the spirit of prophecy from the Hebrew nation in the latter Lord, and the proper symbols of the divine presence. Manstages of their polity, that is, from Malachi to Christ; kind, at first, consulted God by prayers and sacrifices at his because during this period their religious and moral state altars. After the promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai, was universally corrupt.”
and the establishment of the priesthood, we find three modes 2. The mind of the prophet must be in a SERENE AND COM- of communicating the divine will mentioned in the Old TesPOSED FRAME, in order to receive the spirit of inspiration. tament :-1. The Shechinah:-2. The Urim and Thum
“ The Jewish doctors tell us, that a mind loaded with mim; and,—3. Revelation by Dreams, Visions, by Inspirafresh guilt, oppressed with sorrow, or disturbed with passion, tion, or by immediate Conversation with the Deity. When could not duly receive and exercise this heavenly gift. Ac- these kinds of prophecy ceased under the second temple, accordingly, when David, in his penitential psalm, after the cording to the Talmudists, they were succeeded, 4. By the affair of Uriah, prays that the holy spirit might be restored to Bath kol, or voice from heaven. him, that God would give him joy and gladness and a free 1. The ShechiNAH was the sitting or dwelling of God spirit; the Hebrew commentators understand by these ex- between the cherubim on the mercy-seat, or cover of the ark pressions, that prophetic spirit, which his guilt and distress (Psal. lxxx. 1. and xcix. 1.); whence he delivered his anof mind had banished, and that peaceful and cheerful frame, swers in an articulate voicé. (Exod. xxv. 22. xxix. 42. which would invite its return. To prove that passion unfit- Num. vii. 89.) ted the mind for the prophetic impulse, they plead the story 2. The URIM AND THUMMIM, which was on the high
1. The prophets themselves occasionally refer to this evidence of their priest's breastplate (Exod. xxviii. 30.), was another standdivine mission, and draw plainly the distinction between the proximate ing oracle, to be consulted on all great occasions (Num. cies, and those more remote which it was their principal object to foretell, and the answers were returned by a visible signification of events, by predicting which they obtain credence for their other prophe: xxvii. 21. 1 Sam. xxviii. 6. xxiii. 9. xxx. 7. Ezra ii.
63.); of prophecies of proximate events, and their accomplishment, see Allix's the divine will. This oracle was not only venerable among Reflections upon the Books of the Old Testament, ch. 3. in Bishop Wat the Jews, but was also celebrated among the Greeks, as
. The subject of the evidence of the divine mission of the prophets is Josephus informs us,7 for its infallible answers. copiously discussed by Witsius in his Miscellanea Sacra, lib. i. c. 15. de 3. Another mode of revealing the divine will was by notis veræ prophetiæ et veri prophetiæ, pp. 132–159.
Dreams and Visions, by Inspiration, or a Conversation with 3 See an illustration of this predietion of a proximate event and its fulfil. ment, supra, Vol. I. p. 121.
The Deity. * Professor Turner's and Mr. Whittingham's translation of Jahn's Intro. (1.) DREAMS, or (to adopt the elegant expressions of the duction, pp. 313. 315.
Temanite). Thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep s The transient vouchsafement of this spirit to bad men, wbile it an. swered some special purpose of divine wisdom, admirably displayed the sleep falleíh on man (Job iv. 16.), are frequently mentioned in sovereignty
of God in using the most unlikely and wicked instruments to the Scriptures as channels by which the divine will was serve his own design, in constraining, even his enemies to atter those communicated to mankind. Abimelech was reproved and their own con-lemnation and ruin. It magnified his unsearchable wisdom, admonished in a dream concerning Sarah (Gen. xx. 3.); and, holiness, and power in compelling the inost unhallowed lips to pronounce to Abraham, by a prophetic_dream, were announced the his pure mesages without the least adulteration, yea, with
astonishing bondage of his posterity in Egypt, and their deliverance, tial distinction between splendid and even miraculous gifts, and sanctify: accompanied with the promise of long life to himself before ing grace; between the occasional effusions of a prophetic spirit, and he should be gathered to his fathers. (Gen. xv. 12—16.) the genuine workings of human depravity. These lessons are forcibly The dreams of Joseph, and of Pharaoh and his servants, taught by the history of Balaam. This noted magician had been allured by Balak, king of Moab, to come to him, with a view to curse Israel, who
were divine (Gen. xxxvii. 5. xl. 5. xli. 1.); as also was that then lay encamped on his borders. The heathen nations believed that of Nebuchadnezzar concerning the fate of many kingdoms prophets or diviners could, by religious charms or ceremonies, decoy from (Dan. ii. 1.) All these were worthy of the divine interpothem, and thus ensure their destruction. Thus Ilomer represents the sition, and carried the evidence of their divine original by capture of Troy as depending on the removal from that city of the
sacred the revelations they made, and the strong impressions they umage of Minerva. The pagans, previously to a military engagement, usu left upon the mind.8 imprecation against the adverse power. But though Balaam was invited
(2.) Visions were revelations made in a trance or ecstacy, and fully inclined to perform
this office against Israel, infinite goodness, during which ideas and symbolic representations were prepower, and wisdom turned the curse into a blessing, by forcing this malis sented to the imagination of the prophet, when awake, or sent and future glory, the triumphs of their
and future Mes. siah, and the signal destruction of his and their adversaries. We see, in
6 Tappan's Lectures on Jewish Antiquities, pp. 191—193. this and similar instances, the singular beauty of the divine conduct;
1 Ant. Jud. lib. iji. c. 8. (al. 9.) $ 9. which, by thus inspiring and controlling the minds of sinful men, turned
8 Sharpe's Second Argument in Defence of Christianity
from Prophecy, their counsels into foolishness, and made their wrath and wickedness sub. pp. 20-28. Jahn, Introductio ad Vet. Fæd. $ 86. III. Witsii Miscellanea servient to his praise.
Sacra, lib. i. c. 5.
the future was exhibited as it were in distant prospect. troubled and fainted; but Moses was not so. To him the Thus, Isaiah beheld the Lord sitting upon a lofty throne, his LORD spake, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend train filling the temple, above which stood seraphim, who (Exod. xxxiii. 11.), that is, freely and familiarly, without alternately proclaimed his praises. (Isa. vi. 2, 3.). While fear and trembling.–4. Not one of the other prophets could Ezekiel was among the captives by the river Chebar, the utter predictions at their pleasure; but Moses, on whom the heavens were opened, and he beheld the visions of God, spirit of prophecy rested at all times, was free to prophesy, which he has described. (ch. i.) To this class of divine and might have recourse at any time to the sacred oracle in manifestations is supposed to belong the revelation made to the tabernacle, which spake from between the cherubim.5 Jeremiah, concerning the girdle which he was commanded "In all the cases here described, the prophets could not, to conceal near the river Euphrates, and to resume it after it without doubting the clearest and most palpable evidence, had become decayed. (Jer. xiii. 1-9.) Indeed, it is not distrust the truth of the revelations which they received ; credible, that the prophet should have been sent twice upon and, with respect to us, we have ample reason, from a cola journey of such considerable length and difficulty (for the lective consideration of their writings, to be convinced that Euphrates is computed to have been eighteen or twenty days their inspiration was accompanied with sufficient characters distant from Jerusalem), to a very great loss of his time, to distinguish it from the dreams of enthusiasm, or the viwhen every purpose would have been answered altogether sions of fancy." Though their bodily strength was someas well, if the transaction had been represented in vision. times overpowered by the magnitude of their revelations, and The same supposition of a vision must be admitted in other their eyes were dazzled with the splendour of the visionary cases also, particularly in Jer. xxv. 15—29.; for it would be light, as in the instances of Daniel (x. 5—9.)
and the apostle absurd to believe that Jeremiah actually went round with a John (Rev. i. 17.), yet they retained full possession of their zup in his hand to all the kings and nations enumerated in understanding, and the free exercise of their reason. The that chapter, and made them drink of its contents. Micaiah, prophetical spirit, seating itself in the rational powers, as in vision, beheld the Lord sitting upon his throne, surround-well as in the imagination, never alienated the mind, but in ed by the celestial host, and all Israel scattered upon the formed and enlightened it; and those who were actuated by hills. (1 Kings xxii. 17–19.) Other instances of revela- it always maintained a clearness and consistency of reason, tions by visions may be seen in Num. xxiv. 15. Ezek. iii. with strength and solidity of judgment. For God did not 1. iv. 5. 12. 15. viii. 1. et seq. Dan. vii. Acts x. 9, 10. 2 employ idiots or fools for the purpose of revealing his will, Cor. xii. 1–3. Many of the scenes represented in the Apo- but those whose intellects were entire and perfect, and he calypse were in vision. In Job iv. 13—16. there is a de- imprinted so clear a copy of his truth upon them, that it bescription of a vision by Eliphaz the Temanite, which, for came their own sense, being digested fully into their undersublimity, is unrivalled by any production of ancient or of standings, so that they were able to represent it to others as modern poetry. “ Midnight, solitude, the deep sleep of all truly as any person can express his own thoughts. And around, the dreadful chill and erection of the hair over the if at any time they did not clearly understand the prophetic whole body,—the shivering not of the muscles only, but of revelation communicated to them, they asked for an explathe bones themselves,—the gliding approach of the spec-nation : such was the conduct of Daniel (Dan. ix. 18—23. tre,—the abruptness of his pause, his undefined and inde- x. 1. et seq.), and of Zechariah. (i. 9. iv. 4. vi. 4, 5.) scribable form, are all powerful and original characters, When the various kinds of prophecy above enumerated which have never been given with equal effect by any other ceased under the second temple, they were succeeded, acwriter."2
cording to the Talmudist, by (3.) INSPIRATION was a third mode by which the divine 4. The Bath Kol, voice from heaven, or the aerial regions, designs were manifested to the prophets ; by which term we daughter-voice, or daughter of a voice; because, on the cessaare to understand “a suggestion of ideas to the understanding, tion of the divine oracle, this came in its place as its daughwithout such representations to the fancy as the former me- ter or successor. Some expositors have imagined, that this thods imply. Maimonides, one of the most rational and voice is alluded to in John xii. 28., but there appears to be no learned of the Jewish doctors, explains this inspiration to be foundation for such a conjecture. Dr. Prideaux, however, a divine impulse, enabling and urging the subject of it to has shown, that the Bath Kol was no such celestial voice as utter psalms and hymns, or useful moral precepts, or matters the Talmudists pretend, but only a fantastical way of divicivil, sacred, and divine; and that, while he is awake, and nation of their own invention, like the Sortes Virgiliana has the ordinary use and vigour of his senses. Such was among the heathens : for as, with them, the words of the the inspiration of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who on a very poet, upon which they first dipped, were the oracle whereby interesting occasion are said to have been filled with the Holy they prognosticated those future events, concerning which Ghost,' and to have uttered the most sublime acknowledg- they were desirous of information; so, among the Jews, ments or predictions. (Luke i. 41, 42. 67–79.) Such, too, when they appealed to Bath Kol, the next words which they was the inspiration of the ancient prophets in general, who heard from any one were regarded as the desired divino * spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' This sacred oracle. impulse was of a calm and gentle nature, and thus was Some of the adversaries of the Bible have represented the clearly distinguished from the fanatical inspiration of heathen Hebrew prophets as public incendiaries, who perpetually diviners. But the prophets of the true God were only denounced, and frequently brought, calamities upon their moved, that is, calmly influenced by his inspiring spirit. country, merely on account of religious opinions. "For such This influence, far from suspending, added vigour and ele- charge there is no other ground but this, víz. that the prophets vation to their own reason and prudence."
constantly testified against idolatry, equally among rulers (4.) But the most eminent of all the modes of communi- and people. It will be recollected, that idolatry in the Hecating the divine will to man was, a direct CONVERSATION brew nation was high-treason against their own constitution, with God. It is especially recorded of Moses, that there and Jehovah their king. Idolatry directly forfeited their arose no prophet subsequently, like unto him, whom the Lord territory and privileges : it was an inlet to every abomination; knew face to face. (Deut. xxxiv. 10.), This has been termed it defeated the great end for which that people was selected the Mosaical Inspiration : it was the highest degree, and was and in their fundamental laws the most destructive calamities characterized by the following circumstances, which distin- were denounced against it. Consequently, the prophets, in guished it from the revelations made to the rest of the pro- boldly arresting this evil, even at the hazard of their own phets :-1. Moses was made partaker of these divine reve- lives, showed themselves to be, not the malignant disturbers, lations, while he was awake (Num. xii. 6–8.), wher but the truest and most disinterested friends of their country: God manifested himself to all the other prophets in a dream especially as by this conduct they executed the benevolent or vision.—2. Moses prophesied without the mediation of commission with which Jehovah had intrusted them ;-a any angelic power, by an influence derived immediately from commission intended not to destroy, but, if possible, to save God, while in all other prophecies some angel appeared to the prophet.—3. All the other prophets were afraid, and
• Smith's Select Discourses on Prophecy, ch. xi. Witsii Miscell. Sacr,
lib. i. c. 7. 1 Witsii Miscellanea Sacra, lib. I. c. 3. $ ix. pp. 19, 20. Dr. Blayney, on 6 Bp. Gray's Key, p. 325. Jer. xiii. 4.
Select Discourses, pp. 190. et seq. Dr. Good's Translation of Job, p. 51.
8 Prideaux's Connection, part ii. book 5. sub anno 107. vol. ii. pp. 328, 329. : Virgil in his sixth Æneid represents the sibyl, when the prophetic spirit The Christians, after Christianity began to be corrupted, learnt from the seized her, as perfectly frantie, as struggling in vain to shake off the deity heathen the same mode of divination, and used the Bible in the same that inspired her, and as irresistibly forced to utter his dictates. (Æn. vi. manner as the heathen had employed the poems of Virgil. In pp. 329, 47. et seq. 77. et seq.) Lucan describes the Pythian prophetess in the same 330. Dr. Prideaux has given some remarkable instances of this absurd manner (Lib. v. v. 142–218.)
mode of penetrating into futurity. See also Smith's Select Discourses: on • Tappan's Lectures on Jewish Antiquities, p. 199.
Prophecy, ch. 10,