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certainly was an eminent type, who by faith saw so much opposition betwixt Christ and Egypt, that for that reason he refused to be called the son of « Pharaoh's daughter!' Against Rehoboam's mother, indeed, the commentators of this stamp draw an objection from her being of Ammonitish birth; and this objection which, in support of their own argument, is thought of great weight, they found upon the prohibition against admitting an Ammonite or Moabite into the congregation of the Lord'. But it should be remembered, that this prohibiţion excludes the Moabite as well as the Ammonite ; and yet we find, not long after the date of it, a Moabitish woman brought into the sacred successsion : From which it may be presumed, that Naamah, (the delightful one, as her name bears), the mother of Rehoboam, and consequently a progenitrix of the Messiah, should bid as fair, if such a female character must be had, for being the heroine of this Song, as Pharoah's daughter, who, though from the history, it may be supposed she was Solomon's best beloved wife, (a circumstance thought to weigh greatly in her favour), yet was denied the honour of producing a successór to the throne, or an ancestor to the Messiah. What weak shadow of proof has been, or may be, drawn from some expressions in the song itself, as seeming to favour this darling hypothesis, I shall consider
4 Heb. xi. 24, 25.
2 Deut. xxiii. z. 3 Ruth iv. 21. St Matth. 1. 5 .
fully when I come, in course, to the explication which I intend to offer of these passages; when I hope I shall be able to make it appear, that there is nothing in the genuine and radical signification of the words to countenance such a fancy
Upon the whole, I have never yet seen what there is either without or within this Poem, that can be adduced either as extrinsic or intrinsic evidence of its application to, or connexion with, either Pharaoh's daughter, or any other real woman, or bride, or wife whatever; of the natural Solomon: And it is this strange dream, I do not know how or when begun, of its being, in its original structure, an Epithalamium, or marriage-song, to celebrate the amorous Solomon's love of, and espousals with, some beautiful favourite damsel, that has produced such torrents of ribaldry and burlesque on the subject, and made it impossible for divines and commentators, while under the restraint of this prejudice, to give a clear and justifiable account of this heavenly Song. What a pity it is, that such a valuable piece of poetic antiquity, which contains so many instructive sublimities, and has so long made a figure among the patterns of elegant composition, should be still shaded under such an useless and ugly veil as this fundamental mistake throws over it? For my own part, rather than be burdened with this dead weight, which I find no ground for, nor service from, I could dispense with the Poem out of the sacred code altogether, and would think S 2
this this a safer piece of freedom, if in such a case any freedom can be safe, than, after admitting it into the catalogue of inspired writings, to stain the confessedly divine lustre of it with such a material blemish, of confessedly human invention. All this, you will say, is but declamation : Be it so; at least it is on the safe side, and in so far plausible. And, pray what is there on the other side but declamation? The hypothesis is first laid ; one expositor differing from, and contradicting the rest, in many other particulars, but all agreeing in this, and taking all possible methods, every thing indeed but argument and proof, to establish it. Solomon's character, it is true, in the latter part of his life, offers some handle for this hypothesis ; and I cannot help suspecting, that this lascivious turn of the old monarch may have been the occasion, some time or other, of making one of his marriages the foundation and subject of the Song before us.
· Indeed I have often almost pitied this ancient mirror of wisdom. Never, I dare say, has the world seen a more voluminous, and, if all be true that is said of him', a more instructive writer. Of all this vast treasure we have only three small pieces remaining, his Proverbs, Preacher, and Song. And what is the general reception they meet with? His Proverbs are put on a level with the moral sayings of Theophrastus; his Preacher is adduced to
5 Kings iv. 30–34.
countenance atheism, and his Song wantonness. Then we lament that his other works are lost ; his • Universal Natural History, his three thousand • Proverbs, and a thousand and five Songs ;' tho, from the way in which we treat the part that is preserved, it may be guessed how we should have treated the part that is lost. Yet we must believe him to have been the wisest man upon earth, if we be really what we profess. And wherein does this superior wisdom appear? Not, I am sure, in any of his writings that are extant, as they are commonly interpreted, where, upon that footing, there is little but what a Seneca or Epictetus, as philosophers, an Anacreon or Theocritus as poets, might have said, as much to the purpose. Is it credible, at least to christians, who acknowledge a divine providence in the preservation of what we call the Scriptures, that of all the many works of a man who is particularly recorded for his wisdom, and to whom God himself says, I have given thee a • wise and understanding heart, so that there was
none like thee before thee, neither after thee • shall any arise like unto thee', that providential care would have allowed the greatest part to perish, and only selected for preservation two or three short fragments, where, as many understand them, there seems to be little or nothing but what might have come from an almost ordinary human pen? In the case before us, of this only remaining Song,
i i Kings iii. 12.
out of a thousand and five,' 'upon the present sup position of its being designed to solemnize a great king's marrying a beautiful woman, I again put the question, What is there in it that argues the so much extolled wisdom of the inspired Solomon? And I can refer it to any of the poets or admired composers of the present age, whether with the use of the same bold metaphors, as they are called, and making allowance for the difference of manners, they could not have warbled out as lofty strains upon such a splendid occasion. Could not a royal bard, a youthful Solomon, have thus described his early loves, and serenaded his blooming blushing bride in pompously pastoral lays, without the assistance of divine inspiration? And if inspiration had no hand in it, I still ask, what has it to do in the company of the real productions of that truly and only heavenly muse? There was no necessity for the writer of it, if he was under inspiration, to have any antecedent ideas of that sort, from which to draw his description; and, if he was not under inspiration, it is not worth the explaining or commenting upon. A bright imagination, indeed, may discover a vast many beauties in it, and be able to draw a number of striking allusions from it: and the same has been done with some of Ovid's Fables and Virgil's Eclogues. But the misfortune is, imagination is a dangerous thing, and, when allowed to wander without proper direction, may as readily debase as exalt its subject. The same stretch of fancy, that can spiritualize Ovid's