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it has been supposed the tree of knowledge received its name, from being appointed the test and medium of knowing practically the difference between good and evil. After the fall, the tree of life was employed as an image of a happy life; and a type of eternal happiness, and of Him who was to be the author and medium of it. But to shew that this life was not to be obtained by the mere strength of human exertion, the cherubim, inclosed with cloud and revolving flame, were placed to guard the entrance to the garden where it grew.
It is observable, that the first promise of divine mercy was made in this kind of figurative language. — The seed of the woman' was to
break the serpent's head, and at the same time to be wounded by it in his heel.' These are all figurative terms. The serpent, as he had been the agent, was also to be considered as the emblem of Satan. After the fall, also, our first parents were clothed with the skins of beasts, which, there is reason to believe, had a figurative import.
The tabernacle and temple were not only types themselves, but full of typical things. Their institutions and services were all typical ; and even the instruments and utensils employed in them. But of what they were typical, is another subject of inquiry. JOSEPHUS makes the tabernacle, the sacerdotal vestments, and the holy vessels, all figurative of the system of the world and nature. The three parts of the tabernacle he resembles to the earth, the sea, and the heavens. The twelve loaves of the shew
bread, according to him, signify the twelve months. The golden candlestick (or chande-7 Ce coat lier) represents the signs of the zodiac, and the Movelatin seven lamps the planets. The curtains, of four colours, the four elements. The high priest's linen garments, design the body of the earth, and the violet-colour, the heavens- the pomegranates answer to lightning, and the bells to thunder - The four-coloured ephod bears re• semblance to the very nature of the universe, * and the interweaving it with threads of gold, to the
of the sun, which enlighten us.• The pectoral (or breast-plate) in the middle, • intimates the position of the earth in the
centre of the world.—The priest's girdle, the * sea about the globe of the earth—the two sardonyx stones on the shoulders, the sun and
moon—and by the other twelve stones on the breast, may be understood either the twelve ' months, or the twelve signs of the zodiac!'Fanciful and extravagant as this account seems, we may learn from it two things deserving observation : 1. That the antient Jews considered these things as typical and figurative ; and 2, That the carnal part of them being ignorant of the mysteries of the gospel, applied them to natural instead of spiritual objects; just as now some men (who call themselves rational
Antiq. lib. iii. cap. 7. So Philo, and among the more modern Jews, R. Abrabanel and R. Bechai, explain the tabernacle as representing the universe, in a manner not very dissimilar from Josephus. See Kidder's Messiah, 2d edit. fol. p. 113, fantasy 119.'
christians) reduce christianity to the standard of natural religion.
St. Paul, and the other New Testament writers, represent these things in a different point of view. Christ and christianity are all in all with them. In one remarkable circumstance only, St. Paul and the Jewish historian seem perfectly to agree--they make the holy of holies typical of heaven, the immediate residence of God. The epistle to the Hebrews is a system of typical exposition ; to which may be added that of St. BARNABAS, whose interpretations, however fanciful they may seem, are certainly not more so than the allegories of Philo and Josephụs.
ON THE ORIGIN OF POETRY, AND ON THE
NATURE OF THE HEBREW POETRY.
IN tracing the origin of figurative language, we have also traced the origin of poetry, since the first poetry appears to have been only language highly figurative and musical.
It is in this sense, as Dr. Blair observes, • Poetry has been said to be more antient than
prose : and, however paradoxical such an assertion may seem, yet, in a qualified sense, it • is true. Men certainly never conversed with
one another in regular numbers; but even their ordinary language would, in antient " times, approach to a poetical style; and the • first compositions transmitted to posterity were,
in a literal sense, poems; that is, compositions in which imagination had the chief hand, ' formed into some kind of numbers, and pro-, nounced with a musical modulation or tone','
It is indeed easy to believe, that human language might attain a considerable degree of elevation and force, before it acquired the exactness of prose composition. This we observe in young writers, who, if they possess any degree of genius, are generally Howery and poetic: and find much time and practice needful to attain the neatness and purity of correct prose. The human mind, like a good vine, sends forth vigorous and lofty branches; but it requires the judgment of an experienced hand to prune away the weak and unnecessary shoots, in order to give perfection to the fruit
. Or, we may compare it to a river, strong and rapid in a state of nature, but often ready to overflow its boun. daries, and desolate the surrounding country, till the hand of art rears high and strong banks, and by proper canals and locks, distributes its waters, so as to be the means only of fertility and pleasure.
The nature of the Hebrew poetry hath been so learnedly and satisfactorily ascertained by Bp. Lowth, and his system is so well known and generally adopted by the learned, that
Dissertation on Ossian's Poems, also lecture vi. p 132, &c. See likewise Bishop Lowth's Prelect. sect. iv.
what I shall offer on this subject will be little more than the result of his discoveries.
That the Hebrew poetry does not consist in rhyme, is very evident; and no less so that it consisted not in measured lines of equal length, like those of blank verse: but it is distinguished from simple prose by the following circumstances.
1. The use of highly figurative language, of which we have seen several examples in the preceding section; and with which our prophetic writers particularly abound. This is perfectly natural and consistent. Our first views of objects are generally exaggerated, and make a strong impression on the mind from their novelty: hence it is natural to speak of them in poetic language. And this language is perfectly adapted to prophecy, since it was natural to describe with rapturous and glowing language, what was seen in vision and in ecstasy.
A 2d mark of poetic composition is the arrangement of the words in their poetic order, which is often the reverse of the prosaic. To those acquainted with the learned languages this remark can want no illustration; and to the plainest English reader it may be rendered intelligible by a single verse froin the oracle to Shebna!
. And I will drive thee from thy station, . And from thy state will I overthrow thee." Here the first line gives the prosaic, and the
I Lowth's Isa. xxii. 19.