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IV.

* fairer than the children of 'men: full of CHAP.

grace are thy lips, because God hath “ blessed thee for ever--Thy feat, O God, “ endureth for ever; the sceptre of thy

kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou haft loved rigḥteousness and hated iniquity; " wherefore God, even thy God, hath “ anointed thèe with the oil of gladness “ above thy fellows 9.”

of an

Oriental poetry.

In that beautiful specimen of Oriental Solomon's poetry, the Song of Songs, the mutual pared with

other specilove of Christ and his church are exhibited mens of under the frequent Scriptural type epithalamium. Literally indeed composed by Solomon on his marriage with the princess of Egypt, it spiritually relates to the mystical marriage of the Lamb. Though his spouse, the Church, be black and deformed with fin, yet is she beautiful in his eyes, when washed in his all-cleansing blood. “Until the day broke, and the sha“ dows fled away.",” the Church took her station in “ the mountain of myrrh, and " in the hill of frankincense.” During the period of typical and ceremonial obscurity, the smoke of the sacrifices and the odour

9 Pralm xlv.

i Cant. iv. 6.

of

II.

sect. of the richest perfumes daily ascended up

to heaven from the sacred hill of Zion : but now the spouse is indulged with a clearer view of her gracious Lord and protector. Conscious of her own weakness, she relies upon his support during her journey through this world, and “ cometh up « from the wilderness leaning upon her 66 beloveds.”

That this divine song of loves is to be interpreted mystically, appears from several considerations. To suppose, that a mere epithalamium should be admitted into the sacred canon is improbable; and to imagine, that, if it had crept in through accident or negligence, our Saviour would not have rectified the mistake, is incredible. The general style of a book ought likewise to be considered, before we venture to pronounce definitively upon the signification of a detached passage. Scripture ought to be compared with Scripture, and the whole carefully weighed, left we be found guilty of presumptuously flighting this portion of it. Ignorance is ever petulant and forward; but cautious piety will take heed

s Cant. viii. 5.

to

to her ways,

lest haply she be found a de- CHAP. spiser of the revealed will of God.

IV.

The Song of Solomon is perhaps the most perfect model of the mystic Oriental poetry now extant. A short poem on the same subject is preserved in the Prophecies of Isaiah 4, where a similar turn of expression is fedulously adopted. The fortyfifth Pfalm likewise is styled a Song of Loves; and, accordingly, we find that it treats of the union of Christ and his church, under the very fame allegory of a marriage. This metaphor is uniformly pre

ferved by the Prophets. Throughout their · writings, the Lord is pleased to style him

self the husband of the Jewish church"; and, in strict analogy to this idea, idolatry is continually called adultery. The very fame image is preserved in the Apocalypse ; and the

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page of Scripture is triumphantly closed with the marriage of the Lamb, and the overthrow of his enemies. From a consideration of all these circumstances, our

s See Patrick's Pref. to the Song of Solomon.
* Isaiah c. T.
* See Isaiah liv. 5. Jer. xxxi. 32. Hof. ii. 2, & 7.
I Rev. xix. 7. & xxi, 9. see also Ephes. v. 32.

trans

1

sect. translators were fully justified in pronounc11. ing this portion of Scripture to be typi

cal of the mutual love of Christ and his church?.

A view of the mystical poetry of the Oriental world will confirm the hypothesis adopted by our translators. No book can be thoroughly understood, unless the style of the country, in which it was written, be attended to. The comparatively phlegmatic mode of composition used in the West throws an additional difficulty in the way; and it will be necessary to divest ourselves of all prejudice, before we can tolerate the luxuriancy of Asiatic poetry. .

It is a remarkable circumstance, that the spiritual mode of interpreting the Song of Solomon is so far from being contrary to Oriental notions, that it is singularly analogous to them.

The Eastern poets. actually do describe the mutual love between God and the soul of man, under the same metaphor, and nearly in the fame language, as that which characterizes the book of Canticles. The ardent glow of

? See the Prefaces prefixed to each Chapter of this Book

IV.

devotion towards the great first Cause, CHAP. which breathes in the souls of the pious, has immemorially, throughout the wide regions of Asia, been painted in the vivid colours of allegory. The Indian philosophers of the Vedanta school appear to have been the source, from which this mode of expression was equally derived to the ancient Hushangis and modern Sufis of Persia ; and the votaries of the ancient academic theology seem to have borrowed their sentiments from the same original. Though the hidden meaning of this species of poetry be almoft'universally the exercise of the religious affections towards God; yet at the first view it appears only descriptive of a vehement and unrestrained voluptuousness. Such are the rapturous Songs of Hafiz and Jayadeva, of which a mystical love is the constant subject.

The union between God and a pious soul is described by the Hindoos under the very fame image which prevails through the Song of Solomon; they are supposed to be joined to each other by a nuptial contract. Chreeshna, an incarnation of their mediatorial deity, is represented as married to Radha, a word signifying atoneVOL. II.

ment,

N

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