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"fairer than the children of men: full of CHAP. grace are thy lips, becaufe God hath "bleffed thee for ever-Thy feat, O God, “endureth for ever; the fceptre of thy kingdom is a right fceptre. Thou haft "loved righteoufnefs and hated iniquity; "wherefore God, even thy God, hath "anointed thee with the oil of gladness "above thy fellows 9."


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4 Pfalm xlv.

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In that beautiful fpecimen of Oriental Solomon's poetry, the Song of Songs, the mutual pared with love of Chrift and his church are exhibited mens of under the frequent Scriptural type of an poetry." epithalamium. Literally indeed compofed by Solomon on his marriage with the princefs of Egypt, it spiritually relates to the mystical marriage of the Lamb. Though his fpoufe, the Church, be black and deformed with fin, yet is the beautiful in his eyes, when washed in his all-cleanfing 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 frankincenfe." During the period of typical and ceremonial obfcurity, the smoke of the facrifices and the odour

⚫ Cant. iv. 6.

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SECT. of the richest perfumes daily afcended up to heaven from the facred hill of Zion: but now the fpoufe is indulged with a clearer view of her gracious Lord and protector. Conscious of her own weakness, The relies upon his fupport during her journey through this world, and " cometh up "from the wilderness leaning upon her "beloved "."

That this divine fong of loves is to be interpreted mystically, appears from several confiderations. To fuppofe, that a mere epithalamium should be admitted into the facred 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 confidered, before we venture to pronounce definitively upon the fignification of a detached paffage. Scripture ought to be compared with Scripture, and the whole carefully weighed, left we be found guilty of prefumptuously flighting this portion of it. Ignorance is ever petulant and forward; but cautious piety will take heed


s Cant. viii. 5.


to her ways, left haply fhe be found a de- CHAP. fpifer of the revealed will of God'.


The Song of Solomon is perhaps the moft perfect model of the myftic Oriental poetry now extant. A fhort poem on the fame fubject is preserved in the Prophecies of Ifaiah", where a fimilar turn of expreffion is fedulously adopted. The fortyfifth Pfalm likewife is ftyled 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 preserved by the Prophets. Throughout their writings, the Lord is pleased to style himself the husband of the Jewish church3; and, in ftrict analogy to this idea, idolatry is continually called adultery. The very fame image is preferved in the Apocalypse; and the page of Scripture is triumphantly closed with the marriage of the Lamb, and the overthrow of his enemies. From a confideration of all thefe circumstances, our

• See Patrick's Pref. to the Song of Solomon. "Ifaiah c. v.

* See Ifaiah liv. 5. Jer. xxxi. 32. Hof. ii. 2, & 7. ▾ Rev. xix. 7. & xxi. 9. fee also Ephef. v. 32.


SECT. tranflators were fully juftified in pronouncII. ing this portion of Scripture to be typical of the mutual love of Chrift and his church2.


A view of the mystical poetry of the Oriental world will confirm the hypothefis adopted by our tranflators. 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 compofition ufed in the Weft 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 Afiatic poetry.


It is a remarkable circumftance, that the fpiritual mode of interpreting the Song of Solomon is fo far from being contrary to Oriental notions, that it is fingularly analogous to them. The Eaftern poets actually do defcribe the mutual love between God and the foul of man, under the fame metaphor, and nearly in the fame language, as that which characterizes the book of Canticles. The ardent glow of

z See the Prefaces prefixed to each Chapter of this Book

devotion towards the great firft Caufe, CHAP. which breathes in the fouls of the pious, iv. has immemorially, throughout the wide regions of Asia, been painted in the vivid colours of allegory. The Indian philofophers of the Vedanta fchool appear to have been the fource, from which this mode of expreffion was equally derived to the ancient Hushangis and modern Sufis of Perfia; and the votaries of the ancient academic theology feem to have borrowed their fentiments from the fame original. Though the hidden meaning of this fpecies of poetry be almost universally the exercife of the religious affections towards God; yet at the firft 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.

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The union between God and a pious foul is described by the Hindoos under the very fame image which prevails through the Song of Solomon; they are fuppofed to be joined to each other by a nuptial contract. Chreefhna, an incarnation of their mediatorial deity, is reprefented as married to Radha, a word fignifying atone




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