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more than half of those who are living now, are Orientals; the Bible is an Oriental book, originally given to Orientals and written by them; and considering all these circumstances, are not the Orientals entitled, out of the 800 pages of which the Bible is composed, to have at least three pages adapted to their peculiar taste ? Considering all these circumstances, I should think this quite a reasonable allowance to make them out of their own Bible. We Occidentals assume a great deal, when we assume that this Bible, which belongs to the whole human race, and which was prepared by Oriental men, should all be exactly suited to our tastes and our habits of thought. The wonder is, that so large a portion of the Bible is adapted to the tastes and habits of thought of a people so remote in every respect, in time, in place, in mind, in manners, from its original source. Had it not been dictated by Him who knew what was in man universally, had it not developed itself from the very nucleus of human nature, its adaptations could never have been so wonderfully diversified as the fact has proved them to be.
But the objection assumes altogether too much on another ground. The allegory is not useless even to the Occidentals. There are persons and there are states of mind, even among ourselves, to which it is peculiarly fitted, and to which it affords the richest devotional excitement, and a devotional excitement of the purest character. The devotional poetry of Dr. Watts is a sufficient illustration of this point. But we have a better illustration in our own country, in the metaphysician Jonathan Edwards, who, though the driest and most astute of scholastic theologia'ns, had a heart and imagination of Oriental richness and fervor. Read the following extracts from his account of his own religious experience.
“ I remember the thoughts I used then to have of holiness, and said sometimes to myself, ' I do certainly love holiness such as the gospel prescribes.' It appeared to me that there was nothing in it but what was ravishingly lovely; the highest beauty and amiableness—a divine beauty; far purer than anything here on earth; and that everything was like mire and defilement in comparison with it.
“ Holiness, as I then wrote down some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature; which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the soul. In other words, that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers, all pleasant, delightful, and undisturbed; enjoying a sweet calm, and the gentle, vivifying beams of the sun. The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year ; low and humble in the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun's glory; rejoicing, as it were, in a calm
rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly in the midst of other flowers round about, all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature holiness of which I had so great a sense of its loveliness as humility, brokenness of heart, and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for: My heart panted after this : to lie low before God, as in the dust! that I might be nothing, and that God might be ALL; that I might become as a little child.
“ And as I was walking there (in his father's field), and looking up on the sky and clouds, there came into my mind a sweet sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I know not how to express. I seemed to see them both in sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together! It was a sweet, and gentle, and holy majesty, and also a majestic meekness; a high, great, and holy gentleness.”
“ After this, my sense of divine things gradually increased, and became more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweet
The appearance of everything was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a calm, beautiful appearance of divine glory in almost everything; in the sun, moon, and stars, in the clouds and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, and trees; in the water, and all nature ; which used greatly to fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon for a long time; and in the day spend much time in viewing the clouds and the sky, to behold the glory of God in these things; in the meantime singing forth with a low voice my contemplations of Creator and Redeemer."
After reading these extracts, you will not be surprised to find him saying in the same connexion :
“. The whole book of Canticles used to be pleasant to me, and I used to be much in reading it about that time, and found from time to time an inward sweetness hat would carry me away in my contemplations. This I know not how to express otherwise than by a calm delightful abstraction of the soul from all the concerns of the world; and sometimes a kind of vision or fixed ideas and imaginations of being alone in the mountains or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and rapt, and swallowed up in God. The sense I had of divine things would often of a sudden kindle up an ardor in my soul that I know not how to express.
“While thus engaged, it always seemed natural for me to sing or chant forth my meditations; or to speak my thoughts in soliloquies with a singing voice.”
The soft, rich, glowing, all-absorbing devotional feeling of Jonathan Edwards, would soon cure people of all their scruples in respect to the Song of SONGS WHICH IS SOLOMON'S.
3. The luscious if not lascivious character of the devotional feeling excited and nourished by the book, is urged as an objection against its sacred character.
Nothing of this kind is seen in the devotional feeling of Edwards ; very little, if any, in Watts ; not to allude to many others of equal purity. I acknowledge, however, that such a kind of devotional feeling has sometimes existed ; but it has arisen from neglecting a principle which the Bible always observes. The love of God or Christ for the individual is not expressed in the Bible by this figure, but only the divine love for the whole community of the godly. In this very poem, the plural pronoun and the plural verb are often used in respect to Shulamith, as if on purpose to prevent the possibility of this individualizing interpretation, and it is only this kind of interpretation that becomes voluptuous or fanatical.
We will close with a few hints respecting the interpretation of the allegory.
The literal costume is that of a marriage song. The imagery is evidently derived from the marriage of Solomon with the daughter of Pharaoh. Compare 1 Kings 3 : 1.7: 8. 9: 24, with Song 1:9. 6: 12, etc. The general idea is, the mutual love of God and his people ; the vicissitudes, the trials, the backslidings, the repentings, and finally the perfect and eternal union of the Church with its Lord and Savior.
If so disposed, we may make of it a very pretty allegory of the development of the Christian church out of the Jewish. In this case Shelomoh, the Prince of Peace, would be Christ. Shulamith, the rustic shepherdess, who suffers so much, the Christian community, both Jewish and Gentile, in its incipiency; the daughters of Jerusalem, the inquiring and Christianly disposed portions of the Jewish community, such as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, etc., and the envious brothers of Shulamith, the scornful and persecuting Sadducees and Pharisees.
To illustrate the extent to which the Orientals carry their allegorical application of language, we will subjoin a few extracts from the poet Hafiz. (See Sir William Jones's Works, vol. ii., p. 469.) “ He is drunk, but only with the love of the eternal covenant, He who in the manner of Hafiz drinks pure wine.” “Do not suppose that we are drunk with the juice of the grape; We visit the taverns where we become drunk with the wine of the divine coveThe following is Hafiz's method of calling for a cup of wine :
nant." “ The ebriety of love is not on thy head ; Depart, for thou art drunk with the juice of the grape.”
Thy whole form is delicately made,
Bring me the sun in the midst of the moon.” The moon is the cup, the sun is the wine. The Sufi sect have a large and regularly constructed lexicon, the very purpose of which is to give the allegorical meaning of the words most frequently used in poetry of this kind. The following are specimens:
Ebriety-Religious ardor. Surely no one acquainted with Oriental literature will think it strange or far-fetched to give to the Canticles an allegorical interpretation; on the contrary, the literal interpretation, to the Oriental eye, is the one which is, beyond example, strange and farfetched.
REMARKS ON STUART'S COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE.
By Rev. EDWARD BEECHER, D.D., Boston.
EVERY development of the providence of God seems to be giving new interest to the Romish" controversy. The great idea of the age is the conversion of the world. The great practical question is, To what shall the world be converted? The claims of the papacy are universal and exclusive. The Romish corporation, in its essential nature, is the universal and all-pervading antagonist of every other effort to convert the world. Hence, soon after the commencement of the era of Protestant missions, we see a universal revival of the papal power, manifestly as the antecedent and cause of the final and decisive struggle.
Of this struggle, too, we have been accustomed to hear our fathers speak, as the battle of the great day of God Almighty. They also firmly believed that in the Apocalyptic visions of the seer of Patmos, they had received from the Spirit of God an inspired prophetic outline of the combatants in that war, and of its origin, progress, and final results. President Edwards, in his history of the Work of Redemption, in the seventh part of the third period, vividly represents the view generally taken by our fathers of this greatest of all earthly moral revolutions. Substantially the same views may be found in most of the English commentators, under whose influence the anticipations of the main body of evangelical English and American Christians, as it regards the future destinies of the world, have been formed. In consequence of these views, they have felt themselves strengthened in view of the coming conflict, by a cheering consciousness of the closest sympathy of God with his people in their arduous conflicts with the gigantic and malignant power of Rome. In the eighteenth chapter of the Apocalypse they heard the utterance of the omnipotent emotions of long outraged divine justice towards her deeds of pollution and blood, mounting up to heaven, and calling aloud for divine vengeance.
In the nineteenth chapter, they heard the hallelujahs of heaven, over her terrific judgments and fiery doom. Then followed in rapid succession the subjugation of all the remaining enemies of God on earth, the binding of Satan and the millennial reign.
But now, just as this great battle is coming to a crisis, and the united energies and wiles of the papal world are concentrated against Great Britain and the United States, the great strongholds of spiritual Protestant Christianity and missionary enterprise, a new system of prophetic interpretation arises to strip the people of God of their arms. It denies any specific reference to the papal power in the Apocalypse ; carries back more than fifteen hundred years, passages that have been supposed to refer to the present time, and leaves us only the general assurance that all the enemies of God shall finally fall beneath the dead weight of his retributive vengeance. This view is by no means a novelty to us.
At least twenty years ago, we met it in the work of Eichhorn on the Apocalypse, and examined the principles on which it rests with all the care and thoroughness in our power. The conclusion to which we came was that whatever might be true of Germany, that view would never meet an advocate in our land, at least among the leaders of our evangelical Protestant churches. In this it seems we were mistaken. Professor Stuart has adopted the view, and devoted his great powers and learning to its defence. His introduction and commentary are the result of the patient and protracted study of years; and whatever extended and varied learning, and eminent natural abilities can do to defend the view which he has adopted, has been done. Well then and truly may we say,
Si Pergama dextra Defendi possent, etiam hoc defensa fuissent." Although the subject, as already intimated, was not new to us, THIRD SERIES, VOL. III.