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 á 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 ineekness 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 sweetThe 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 fivd him saying in the same connexion :

6. 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 that 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 wil. derness, 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.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small]


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 Ed. wards; 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, ete. 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 com. munity, 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 cove

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, Every place where thou art is sweet, My heart by thy sweetness, by thy honeyed joy, ls delighted."

The following is Hafiz's method of calling for a cup of wine :

“ 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 fre-
quently used in poetry of this kind.' The following are specimens :

Wine - Devotion.
Perfume-Religious hope.
Kiss-Pious rapture.
Beauty-Perfections of God.
Tresses-Glory of God.
Lips-Mysteries of God.

Ebriety-Religious ardor.
Surely no one acquainted with Oriental literature will think it
strange or far-fetched to give to the Canticles an allegorical inter-
pretation; on the contrary, the literal interpretation, to the Orien-
tal eye, is the one which is, beyond example, strange and far-




By Rev. EDWARD BBBCHER, 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 đenies 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

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 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.



NO. 2.

but had been repeatedly examined and re-examined, with the aid both of German and English light, yet we felt ourselves called upon by these facts to give to the work of Professor Stuart a careful and oft repeated perusal. We think that among all competent judges, there can be but one opinion as it regards the great and permanent value of large portions of Prof. Stuart's work. Injit the reader will find copious stores of valuable verbal interpretation and criticism. He will be interested and instructed by the presentation of the Apocalyptic literature of the centuries preceding and following the t postle John. He will feel grateful for the thorough and conclusive discussion of the question of the authorship of the Apocalypse.

But iwhen we come to consider the fundamental principles of prophetic interpretation, and raise the inquiry, has the interpretation of our fathers been radically and thoroughly overthrown, and ought the German interpretation to supersede it, then we must beg leave to demur. We do not believe that the fundamental idea in the interpretation of our fathers has been overthrown, or that it can

And this last and greatest effort of Professor Stuart has the more confirmed us in that belief. The reasons of this conviction we proceed to assign.

We do not rely on the mere fact that the language of ch. 13-19 of the Apocalypse can be applied with striking power to the papacy and to the civil system in league with it; for there is a general similarity in the principles and aspects of Satan's kingdom in all ages

: and what was first meant for Egypt, or Nineveh, or Tyre, or Babylon, or any other power of his kingdom, may often with striking appropriateness be applied to subsequent principalities and powers, through which he has ruled the darkness of this world. Nor do we rely on the mere fact that the common English interpretation of the Apocalypse has been much used and would still be of great use in the warfare with Romé. If the Holy Spirit did not give the Apocalypse for such a use, then God forbid that it should be longer so used. We advocate no system of pious frauds. In fighting the battles of truth we ask for no armor but the armor of truth.

The reasons of our conviction are these :

1. The English system of interpretation, in its essential elements, has nowhere been stated and answered with clearness and discrimination in the work of Professor Stuart.

2. It is so inwrought into the fundamental structure of the Apocalypse that it is impossible to remove it without doing violence to the book.

3. The German theory, after all that Prof. Stuart has done to give it consistency and strength, is exposed to numerous, and, in our judgment, fatal objections.

What then is the English theory, in its fundamental elements ?

« VorigeDoorgaan »