« VorigeDoorgaan »
SCRIPTURE continued from last Volume.
Scripture. JEREMIAH was called to the prophetic office in the
was called to the prophetic office in the tained in the 46th and five following chapters, being Scripture. 13th year of the reign of Josiah the son of Amon, placed at the end, as in some measure unconnected with 55
A. M. 3376, A. C. 628, and continued to prophecy the rest. But in some copies of the Septuagint these six
upwards of 40 years, during the reigns of the degene- chapters follow immediately after the 13th verse of the
His sentiments, it is true, are not always tbe
principal aim is to excite the gentler affections, and to It appears from several passages that Jeremiah com- call forth the tear of sympathy or sorrow. This obsermitted his prophecies to writing. In the 36th chapter vation is very strongly exemplified in the Lamentations, we are informed, that the prophet was commanded to where these are the prevailing passions; it is, however, write upon a roll all the prophecies which be bad ut- frequently instanced in the prophecies of this author, tered ; and when the roll was destroyed by Jehoiakim and most of all in the beginning of the book (L), which the king, Jeremiah dictated the same prophecies to is chiefly poetical. The middle of it is almost entirely Baruch, who wrote them together with many additional historical. The latter part, again, consisting of the last circumstances. The works of Jeremiah extend to the six chapters, is altogether poetical (M); it contains selast verse of the sist chapter; in which we have these veral different predictions, which are distinctly marked; words, “ Thus far the words of Jeremiahı." The 52d and in these the prophet approaches very near the sublichapter was therefore added by some other writer. It mity of Isaiah. On the whole, however, not above half is, however, a very important supplement, as it illustrates the book of Jeremiah is poetical. the accomplishment of Jeremiah's prophecies respecting The book of Lamentations, as we are informed in the book the fate of Zedekiah.
the title, was composed by Jeremiah. We shall present of Lamen56 Chronolo
The prophecies of Jeremiah are not arranged in the to our reader an account of this elegiac poem from the tations. gical ar- chronological order in which they were delivered. elegant pen of Dr Lowth. rangement What has occasioned this transposition cannot now be The Lamentations of Jeremiah (for the title is proof his wri- determined. It is generally maintained, that if we con- perly and significantly plural) consist of a number of lings. sult their dates, they ought to be thus placed :
plaintive eflusions, composed on the plan of the funeral In the reign of Josiah the first 12 chapters. dirges, all on the same subject, and uttered without
In the reign of Jehoiakim, chapters xiii. xx. xxi. v. connection as they rose in the mind, in a long course 11, 14.; xxii. xxiii. xxv. xxvi. xxxv. xxxvi. xlv.- xlix. of separate stanzas. These have afterwards been put I-33•
together, and formed into a collection or correspondent
Under the government of Gedaliah, chapters xl. xliv. general subject, a regular disposition of the parts, a per-
(L) See the whole of chap. ix. chap. xiv. 17, &c. xx. 14–18.
(M) Chap. xlvi.-i. to ver. 59. Chap. lii. properly belongs to the Lamentations, to which it serves as an
Scriptorc, and with all this an uninterrupted series of elegance If there be any sorrow, like unto my sorrow, which is Scrip! and correctness, he will really expect what was foreign
inflicted on me; to the prophet's design. In the character of a mourn- Which Jehovah inflicted on me in the day of the vio. er, he celebrates in plaintive strains the obsequies of his lence of his wrath. ruined country: whatever presented itself to his mind For these things I weep, my eyes stream with water; in the midst of desolation and misery, whatever struck Because the comforter is far away, that should tranquihim as particularly wretched and calamitous, whatever lize soul : the instant sentiment of sorrow dictated, he pours forth My children are desolate, because the enemy was strong. in a kind of spontaneous eflusion. He frequently pauses,
But to detail its beauties would be to transcribe the enand, as it were, ruminates
upon the same object; fre-
heaven, in the fifth year Ezekiel was carried to Babylon as a captive, and re
Ezekiel! so that the whole bears rather the appearance of an ac
of Jehoiakin's captivity, A. C. 595.
The book of cumulation of corresponding sentiments, than an accu
Ezekiel is sometimes distributed under different leads. rate and connected series of different ideas, arranged in the form of a regular treatise. There is, however, no
In the three first chapters the commission of the prophet
is described. From the fourth to the thirty-second wild incoherency in the poem ; the transitions are easy chapter inclusive, the calamities that befel the enemies of 58
and elegant. 1 Low di. The work is divided into five parts : in the first, se
the Jews are predicted, viz. the Ammonites, the Moabvided.
ites, and Philistines. The ruin of Tyre and of Sidon, cond, and fourth chapters, the prophet addresses the
and the fall of Egypt, are particularly foretold; prophepeople in his own person, or introduces Jerusalem as
cies which bave been fulfilled in the most literal and speaking. In the third chapter a chorus of the Jews
astonishing manner, as we have been often assured by is represented. In the fifth the whole captive Jews
the relation of historians and travellers. From the 32d pour forth their united complaints to Almighty God.
chapter to the 40th he inveighs against the hypocrisy Each of these five parts is distributed into 22 stanzas, according to the number of the letters of the alphabet. them to resignation by promises of deliverance. In
and murmuring spirit of his countrymen, admonishing In the first three chapters these stanzas consist of three lines. In the first four chapters the initial letter of final return of the Jews from their dispersion in the lat
the 38th and 39tl chapters he undoubtedly predicts the each period follows the order of the alphabet ; and
ter days, but in a language so obscure that it cannot be in the third chapter each verse of the same stanza be
understood till the event take place. The nine last gins with the same letter. In the fourth chapter all the stanzas are evidently distichs, as also in the fifth, chapters of this book furnish the description of a very
remarkable vision of a new temple and city, of a new which is not acrostic. The intention of the acrostic
religion and polity. was to assist the memory to retain sentences not much
«Ezekiel is much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance ; Charace connected. It deserves to be remarked, that the verses of the first four chapters are longer by almost one half sublimity is of a totally different kind. He is deep,
in sublimity he is not even excelled by Isaiah: but bis as a wr than Hebrew verses generally are: The length of them
vehement, tragical ; the only sensation he affects to exseems to be on an average about 12 syllables. The prophet appears to have chosen this measure as being full of fire, indignant; his imagery is crowded, magni
cite is the terrible; his sentiments are elevated, fervid, solemn and melancholy:
ficent, terrific, sometimes almost to disgust: his lan“ That the subject of the Lamentations is the destruc
guage is pompous, solemn, austere, rough, and at times The sub
tion of the holy city and temple, the overthrow of the ject and state, the extermination of the people ; and that these unpolished : he employs frequent repetitions, not for
the sake of grace or elegance, but from the vehemence beauty of events are described as actually accomplished, and not
of passion and indignation. Whatever subject he treats Low it. in the style of prediction merely, must be evident to
of, that be sedulously pursues, from that he rarely deevery reader; though some authors of considerable re
parts, but cleaves as it were to it; wbence the connec* Josephus. putation* have imagined this poem to have been comJerome,
tion is in general evident and well preserved. In many Usserius, posed on the death of King Josiah. The prophet, in
respects he is perhaps excelled by the other prophets ; deed, has so copiously, so tenderly, and poetically, be
but in that species of composition to which he seems wailed the misfortunes of his country, that he seems
, completely to have fulfilled the office and duty of a by nature adapted, the forcible, the impetuous, the
great and solemn, not one of the sacred writers is supemourner. In my opinion, there is not extant any poem
rior to him. His diction is sufficiently perspicuous; all which displays such a happy and splendid selection of
bis obscurity consists in the nature of the subject. Via imagery in so concentrated a state. What can be more
sions (as for instance, among others, those of Hosea, elegant and poetical, than the description of that once flourishing city, lately chief among the nations, sitting The greater part of Ezekiel, towards the middle of the
Amos, and Jeremiah)
are necessarily dark and confused. in the character of a female, solitary, afflicted, in a state
book especially, is poetical, whether we regard the matof widowhood, deserted by her friends, betrayed by her
ter or the diction. His periods, however, are frequentdearest connections, imploring relief, 'and seeking consolation in vain? What a beautiful personification is that ly so rude and incompact, that I am often at a loss
how to pronounce concerning his performance in this of “ the ways of Sion mourning because none are come to ber solemn feasts ?” How tender and pathetic are the
“ Isaiali, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as far as relates to following complaints ?
style, may be said to hold the same rank among the Hea Chap. i. Is this nothing to all you who pass along the way ? be- brews, as Homer, Simonides, and Æschylus among the
hold and see,
Scripture. So full an account of Daniel and his writings has plished since the time of Porphyry; particularly those Scripture.
been already given under the article DANIEL, that little respecting Antichrist : now, if it contains any prophe. 62
remains to be said on that subject. Daniel flourished cies, who will take upon him to affirm that the divine Daniel.
during the successive reigns of several Babylonish and Spirit, which dictated these many centuries before they
* Ezek. xiv. connected as parts of one great scheme. They extend and the testimony of Ezekiel will prove Daniel to be
14. xxviii. 3. through many ages, and furnish the most striking de
at least his contemporary
phets. great monarchies of the world, to be succeeded by for this reason that the Jews joined them together, and
that kingdom which should not be destroyed." considered them as one volume. These 12 prophets 63 Character
The whole book of Daniel being no more than a presented in scattered hints a lively sketch of many par. of his pro- plain relation of facts, partly past and partly future, ticulars relative to the history of Judah and of Israel, as Gray's key phecies. must be excluded the class of poetical prophecy. Much well as of other kingdoms; they prophecy with histori-to the Old indeed of the parabolic imagery is introduced in that cal exactness the fate of Babylon, of Nineveh, of Tyre,
Testament. book; but the author introduces it as a prophet only; of Sidon, and of Damascus. The three last prophets as vision:ry and allegorical symbols of objects and events, especially illustrate many circumstances at a period when totally untinctured with the true poetical colouring the historical pages of Scripture are closed, and when The Jews, indeed, would refuse to Daniel even the cha- profane writers are entirely wanting. At first the racter of a prophet : but the arguments under which Jewish prophets appeared only as single lights, and solthey shelter this opinion are very futile ; for those lowed each other in individual succession ; but they bepoints which they maintain concerning the conditions came more numerous about the time of the captivity. on which the gift of prophecy is imparted, the differ- The light of inspiration was collected into one blaze, ent gradations, and the discriminations between the true previous to its suspension ; and it served to keep alive prophecy and mere inspiration, are all trilling and ab- the expectations of the Jews during the awful interval surd, without any foundation in the nature of things, which prevailed between the expiration of prophecy and and totally destitute of scriptural authority. They add, its grand completion on the advent of Christ. that Daniel was neither originally educated in the pro- Hosea has been supposed the most ancient of the 12 Prophecies phetic discipline and precepts, nor afterwards lived con- minor prophets. He flourished in the reign of Jero. of Hosea. formably to the manner of the prophets. It is not, boam II. king of Israel, and during the successive reigns however, easy to comprehend how this can diminish bis of Uzziah, Jotham, Abaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Juclaim to a divine mission and inspiration ; it may pos- dah. He was therefore nearly contemporary with Isibly enable us, indeed, to assign a reason for the dissi- saiah, Amos, and Jonah. The prophecies of Hosea bemilarity between the style of Daniel and that of the ing scattered through the book without date or conother prophets, and for its possessing so little of the nection, cannot with any certainty be chronologically diction and character of poetry, which the rest seem to arranged.
67 have imbibed in common from the schools and discip- Hosea is the first in order of the minor prophets, and Character 64 line in which they were educated.
is perhaps, Jonah excepted, the most ancient of them of their Their auThe prophecies of Daniel appear so plain and intel- all. His style exhibits the appearance of
very remote thenticity. ligible after their accomplishment, that Porplıyry, who antiquity; it is pointed, energetic, and concise. It
wrote in the 3d century, affirms, that they were written bears a distinguished mark of poetical composition, in
*Scripture. ever manner we calculate, must include a very consider- The following prophecy of a plague of locusts is de- Scrip
able space of time. We have now only a small volume scribed with great sublimity of expression :
For a nation hath gone up on my land,
Who are strong, and without number :
They have destroyed my vine, and have made my fig-
tree a broken branch.
branches thereof are made white.
70 As a specimen of Hosea's style, we select the follow
Amos was contemporary with Hosea. They both Prophed ing beautiful pathetic passage :
began to prophecy during the reigns of Uzziah over of Anos How shall I resign thee, O Ephraim!
Judah, and of Jeroboam II. over Israel. Amos saw
his first vision two years before the earthquake, which
Zechariah informs us happened in the days of Uzzial.
Amos was a herdsman of Tekoa, a small town in the
In the simplicity of former times, and in the happy cli-
mates of the East, these were not considered as dislio-
nourable occupations. He was no prophet (as he inHoly in the midst of thee, though I inhabit not thy cities.
formed Amaziah +), neither was he a prophet's son, + Amos vi
that is, he had no regular education in the schools of 14. Prophecies Concerning the date of the prophecy of Joel there
the prophets. of Joel. are various conjectures. The book itself affords nothing
The prophecies of Amos consist of several distinct by which we can discover when the author lived, or
discourses, which chiefly respect the kingdom of Israel; upon what occasion it was written. Joel speaks of a
yet sometimes the prophet inveighs against Judah, and great famine, and of mischiefs that happened in conse- threatens the adjacent nations, the Syrians, Philistines, quence of an'inundation of locusts ; but nothing can be Tyrians, Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites.
71 gathered from such general observations to enable us to Jerome calls Amos“ rude in speech, but not in their style fix the period of his prophecy. St Jerome thinks (and knowledge [ ;" applying to him what St Paul modestly + Proem. it is the general opinion) that Joel was contemporary professes of himself ç. ** Many (says Dr Lowth) have comment.
. with Hosea. This is possibly true; but the founda
. followed the authority of Jerome in speaking of this in, Amos,
$ 2 Cor. xi. tion on which the opinion rests is very precarious, viz. prophet, as if he were indeed quite rude, ineloquent, ó. That when there is no proof of the time in which a
and destitute of all the embellishments of composition. prophet lived, we are to guided in our conjectures The matter is, however, far otherwise. Let any person respecting it by that of the preceding prophet whose
who has candour and perspicacity enough to judge, not epoch is better known. As this rule is not infallible, it
from the man but from his writings, open the volume therefore ought not to hinder us from adopting any
of his predictions, and he will, I think, agree with me,
that our shepherd' is not a whit behind the
and magnificence be is almost equal to the greatest, so probable that the famine to which Joel alludes
, is the in splendou of diction and elegance of expression he is same with that which Jeremiah predicted, ch. viii. 13. 69
scarcely inferior to any. The same celestial Spirit inCharacter The style of Joel is essentially different from that of
deed actuated Isaiah and Daniel in the court and Amos of their IIosea ; but the general character of his diction, though in the sheep-folds ; constantly selecting such interprestyle. of a different kind, is not less poetical. He is elegant,
ters of the divine will as were best adapted to the occaperspicuous, copious, and fluent; he is also sublime, ani
sion, and sometimes from the mouth of babes and suckmated, and energetic. In the first and second chapters lings perfecting praise :' occasionally employing the naLowth on he displays the full force of the prophetic poetry, and
tural eloquence of some, and occasionally making others Hebrew shows how naturally it inclines
to the use of metaphors, eloquent." Poetry, allegories, and comparisons. Nor is the connection of
Mr Locke has observed, that the comparisons of this Sect. 21. the matter less clear and evident than the complexion prophet are chiefly drawn from lions and other animals of the style: this is exemplified in the display of the
with which he was most accustomed ; but the finest
Amos, of which we shall present one specimen :
To whom the house of Israel came:
And from thence go to Hamath the Great ;