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necessary attendant upon prophecy; not that, indeed, which confuses the diction and darkens the style, but that which results from the necessity of repressing a part of the future, and from the impropriety of making a complete revelation of every circumstance connected with the prediction. The event itself, therefore, is often clearly indicated, but the manner and the circumstances are generally involved in obscurity. To this purpose imagery, such as we have specified, is excellently adapted, for it enables the prophet more forcibly to impress upon the minds of his auditors those parts of his subject which admit of amplification, the force, the splendour, the magnitude of every incident; and at the same time more completely to conceal what are proper to be concealed, the order, the mode, and the minuter circumstances attending the event. It is also no less apparent, that in this respect the sacred poetry bears little or no analogy to that of other nations; since neither history nor fable afforded to the profane writers a sufficiently important store of this kind of imagery; nor did their subjects in general require that use or application of it.
This species of metaphor is indeed so adapted, as I before observed, to the nature of prophecy, that even profane poetry, when of the prophetic kind, is not altogether destitute of it; and we find that Virgil himself, in delivering hisprophecies, has more than once adopted this method: « Simois nor Xanthus shall be wanting there;
A new Achilles shall in arms appear :
And great Achilles urge the Trojan fate :"* Though some will perhaps be inclined to interpret this passage literally from the completion of the Great Year, and the doctrine of the general restitution of all things. I There is, indeed, this difference between the sacred and profane writers, that among the latter we find frequent examples of metaphors taken from some remarkable person and event, applied to some other event or character is but we never * Dryden's Virgil, Æn. vi. 135. Eclog. iv. 41.
See Origen contra Celsum, lib. iv. p. 208. Edit. Spencer. § Allusions to ancient history, both fabulous and authentic, are common with the poets and orators of all nations. There is a very fine one of this kind in
find from such facts a general or common image derived, which, as an established mode of expression, is regularly applied to the illustration of similar objects, even to the designation of a universal or unlimited idea.
l' have classed all these examples under one general head of Metaphor, though many of them might more properly be referred to that of Allegory; but this circumstance is of no importance to the object which I was desirous of elucidating. Many, indeed, of those which I have produced on this last occasion, might more properly be referred to that sublimer kind of allegory, which in its principal view looks forward to a meaning much more important than that which is obvious and literal; and
under the ostensible subject, as under a rind or shell, conceals one interior and more sacred. Of this, however, we shall presently have occasion to speak more explicitly; for when we come to treat of the allegory of the Hebrews, it will be necessary to touch
that species (however difficult and obscure the subject) in which the sublimity of many of the sacred poems will be found chiefly to consist. *
the second Philippic of Cicero. When he replies to Antony's accusation of being concerned in Cæsar's death, he exclaims, that he glories in the accusation :-“I esteem it,” says he, “as great an honour to be accounted a partner in such an action, as if, with the princes of the Greeks, I had been inclosed in the Trojan horse.” But I do not recollect a more beautiful instance than one of a contemporary poet:
“ Humility herself, divinely mild,
Sublime Religion's meek and modest child,
Hayley's Essay on History, addressed to
Mr Gibbon, Essay iii. v. 379.-T. * Professor Michaelis makes a very considerable addition to this Lecture, concerning those images or figures which are taken from poetic fable. He asserts, that such fable is essential to all poetry; that whoever has a taste for poetry cannot possibly take it in a literal sense; and that the sole purpose of it is ornament and pleasure.
He observes, that there are many particulars in which a wonderful agreement may be discovered between the fables of the Greeks and Romans and those of the Hebrews. He is of opinion, that this agreement clearly indicates a common source, which he supposes to be Egypt. From Egypt, Homer and the other Greek poets borrowed the principal of their fables, as we may learn from Herodotus and Heliodorus: nor is it at all improbable, that the Hebrews should do the same, who were for two successive ages the subjects and scholars of the Egyptians. The most ancient Hebrew poem, Job, abounds in Egyptian and
fabulous imagery; as may be seen in the Professor's Dissertation on that subject before the Academy of Sciences.
He begins with instancing a common fabulous notion of the sun retiring to rest in the sea, and there spending the night in the indulgence of the passions. This, he says, is so familiar an idea to the Hebrews, that it occurs even in prose. The setting sun is called x12, (to enter or come in), and the moon 70817, (to be received as a guest). In the 9th Psalm, however, the fiction is expressed in still bolder terms:
" For he hath set a tabernacle for the sun,
Who coineth forth as a bridegroom from his chamber,
And rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.” Nor is the description of the Atlantic very far distant from this idea, Psal. cxxxix. 9.
“ If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
And thy right hand shall hold me. The resemblance between this image and the fable of Aurora, who was supposed to retire to rest to the borders of the ocean, and there enter the chamber of Tithonus, can scarcely fail to strike every classical reader. There is this difference, however, between the Greek and Hebrew fictions: With the latter, the “ Sun runs his race," and Aurora is depicted with wings; with the former, who perhaps might imitate the Persian manner in the description, the Sun has a chariot and horses, which do not occur in the Hebrew poets, though they are mentioned as appendages to the idol of the Sun, 2 Kings xxiii. 11.
The Professor next observes, that the Greek and Latin poets assigned to their Jupiter a chariot and horses of thunder, probably from the resemblance between the noise of a chariot and that of thunder. The Hebrews, he remarks, have a similar fable; and the cherubim are expressly the horses of JEHOVAH's chariot. He refers to a dissertation on this subject published by himself in the Gottingen Memoirs, T. i. p. 157–189. He reminds his readers of the common but truly poetical expression, “ JEHOVAH of Hosts,” and how frequently he is described as “ sitting upon the cherubim," Psal. xcix. l.
“ Jehovah reigneth, let the people tremble;
He sitteth on the cherubim, let the earth be inoved.”
In plain language, he thunders so that the earth shakes, or, as Horace would have expressed it,
“ JEHOVAH per cælum tonantes
Quo bruta tellus, & vaga flumina,
“ JEHOVAH, Lord of all above,
His thundering steeds and winged chariot drove :
Infernal Styx, the dire abode
Francis's Hor. B. i. v. 34
The expression is still bolder in Psal. Ixviii. 17., and the same idea is introduced with superior elegance in the lxvth, where God is described as visiting the earth, and dispensing fatness and plenty. He refers also to Psal. xviii. 10. civ. 3, 4. and to Habak. iii. 8. He shows that this has not only been a common fiction with the Greeks and Romans, but even with the Swedes and other northern nations. He remarks the admirable use which Milton bas made of it, as well as of other poetical fictions applied to sacred subjects.
Another fable which our commentator points out as common to the Hebrews with the Greeks and Romans, and evidently derived from the same source, is the fiction of a golden age. To this purpose he cites the three prophecies of Isaiah, in which the kingdom of the Messiah is described in almost the same colours as Virgil depicts the happy state of Rome under Augustus.
He proceeds, in the third place, to point out the resemblance between the poetic descriptions of a future state, which are furnished by the Hebrew poets, and those of the Greeks. He is of an opinion contrary to that of many learned men, who have attributed them to the Celts, that the Greeks were altogether indebted to Egypt for their descriptions. He quotes Josephus, who, speaking of the Essenes, a people who, as to country, philosophy, opinions, discipline, were more Egyptian ihan Jewish, adds, “ that in this respect they resemble the Greeks, namely, in asserting that the good shall enjoy another life, in a pleasant situation beyond the ocean, free from storms, tempests, and all excesses of cold or heat, and which is constantly refreshed by a delightful breeze springing from the ocean."-" The Greeks, in the same manner,” he observes, “ have assigned to their heroes and demigods the happiness of Elysium." The opinion of the Bramins is similar, who, the Professor asserts, have borrowed all their manners and philosophy from the Egyptians, as well as the Gauls, the Greeks, &c. &c. He thinks this hypothesis is clearly demonstrated by the analogy between these opinions and the rites or ceremonies of sepulture among the Egyptians.' Buto, the Egyptian goddess who presided over the dead, had a temple built upon some floating islands in the Butic lake. To this the Greeks are, by their own confession, indebted for their fable of Charon, &c. ; for, on the day appointed for burial, the name of the deceased being announced, certain judges were convened at the lake, where a boat was ready; the pilot of which, in the Egyptian language, was called Charon. Before the deceased was put on board, full liberty was given to all present of accusing him. But if no accuser was present, or if his accusation was proved groundless, the body was put into the boat, and carried across the lake to the sepulchral fields, (Diod. Sic. l. i. c. 92.) The sepulchres of their kings also were situated on islands formed by art, by admitting the water of the Nile, as Herodotus testifies, (1. ii. c. 124.)
Moses, therefore, being educated among them, and initiated in their hieroglyphic learning, to which the Grecian mythology is under so many obligations, seems to allude to the fable of Elysium (or the Blessed Isles), when in that beautiful poem which constitutes the xcth Psalm, at the 10th verse, he thus expresses himself:
“ The strength of our years is labour and sorrow,
It passeth over quickly, and we fly.” “ The words we fly, if I am not mistaken,” adds the Professor, “ might be rendered we set sail, since there is something alike in the actions of sailing and flying, and the one is frequently made use of poetically for the other.
There is another passage of Moses, which, contrary to the opinion of all the commentators, M. Michaelis observes, seems to have been understood by St Paul alone in the sense he speaks of, namely, the words “ beyond the sea," as alluding to the sepulchre, or Elysian fields. Moses is addressing the Israelites, not as a poet indeed, but as an orator, concerning “ the circumcision “ of the heart," of which the common rite was only an emblem or a type. The law, says he, which I command thee this day is not hidden from thee, dic. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it down to us? Neither is it BEYOND THE SEA, that thou shouldest say, Who will go over the sea for us ? &c. Deut. xxx. 11, 12, 13. St Paul, after quoting these words, adds, Who shall descend into the deep that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. The Professor acknowledges that these words created bim no small difficulty, before he could perceive their agreement with the original; until one of his auditors remarked, that “ Moses might probably allude to the custom of the Egyptians, who buried their dead on the other side of a lake," &c. This sentiment, he says, struck him so forcibly, that he immediately adopted it, and, in consequence of it, offers the following paraphrase of the passage already quoted. “ The precept,” says Moses, “ which I now inculcate, (namely, that of loving and worshipping the one true God, which is the real circumcision of the heart), " is unlike some of my precepts, which have a mystical meaning, not easily understood. There is no need that some person of uncommon learning should come down from heaven to instruct you in it; no need that some person should cross the lake to the Isles of the Blessed, to learn from the dead what this obscure precept conceals. All is easy and obvious," &c. Our Annotator next refers to a passage in Job, ch. ix. 25, 26.
“ My days are swifter than a courier,
They fee away, they see no pleasure :
As an eagle rushing on his prey."
“ Thou shalt forget thy misery,
Or remember it as waters passed away ;
Thou shalt dig (thy sepulchre), and calmly lie down." If any one should doubt of these examples, he thinks there is one still clearer in ch. xxiv. 18-21.
“ He is light upon the waters :
His portion in the earth is cursed.
He shall not behold the way of the vineyards," &c. " That is," as he explains it, “ The wicked shall be carried down the rapid stream of Acheron, and shall have their portion in a land which is accursed. It shall not be permitted them to enter into the gardens of the blessed.”
The learned Professor is of opinion, that even the infernal rivers were not unknown to the Hebrews, and that they are mentioned in the xviiith Psalm under the name of the rivers of Belial. He thinks it not fair to interpret Belial in this place Satan, into whose power David was not apprehensive of falling, though lie complains that the snares of death fell upon him, ver. 4–6. It is rather, he asserts, derived from the negative particle beli (non), and jagnal (altus fuit), that is, not high, or estimable; whence men of Belial are the vilest