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rivers, and rain : for, as showers rarely fall in their countries, the grass and flowers of the field become consumed by the intolerable heat, unless watered by showers or canals. Hence, flowing springs, copious showers, and nightly dews, which fertilise the fields, furnish them with a variety of pleasing images. Isa. xli. 18. and xxxv. 1. 6, 7. The blessings of the Gospel are delineated under the metaphors of dew, Isa. xxvi
. 19., moderate rains, Hos. vi. 3. gentle streams and running waters, Isa. xxvii. 3. and xliv. 3. On the other hand, no metaphor is more frequent than that by which sudden and great calamities are expressed under the figure of a deluge of waters. With this metaphor the Hebrews appear to have been extremely familiar, as if it were directly taken from the nature and state of the country. Immediately before their eyes was the river Jordan,' which annually overflowed its banks : for the snows of Lebanon and the neighbouring mountains, being melted in the beginning of summer, the waters of the river were often suddenly augmented by the descending torrents. The whole country also, being mountainous, was exposed to frequent floods after the great periodical tempests of rain. To this David alludes, Psal. xlii. 7. Immoderate rains, hail, floods, inundations, and torrents denote judgments and destruction, Isa. viii. 7. Jer. xlvii. 2. Ezek. xxxviii. 22.
To the class of metaphors derived from natural objects we may refer the anthropopathy, a metaphor by which things belonging to creatures, and especially to man, are ascribed to God, and the prosopopæia or personification, that is, the change of things to persons. Both these figures are nearly allied to the metaphor, and still more to the metonymy; but they are noticed in this place, as being upon the whole the most convenient arrangement.
1. In the consideration of anthropopathies, the two following important rules must be constantly kept in mind ; viz.
[i.] That we understand them in a way and manner suitable to the nature and majesty of the Almighty, refining them from all that imperfection with which they are debased in the creatures, and so attribute them to the Deity.
Thus, when the members of a human body are ascribed to God, we are not to conceive of him as a venerable old man, sitting gravely in heaven to observe and censure the things done on earth ; but must understand those perfections, of which such members in us are the instruments. The cye, for instance, being that member by which we discern or observe any thing, is employed to denote God's perfect and exact knoroledge of all things, Job xxxiv. 21. Psal. xi. 4. and Heb. iv. 13. ; as also his watchful providence, Deut. xi. 12. 1 Kings ix. 3. Psal. xxxiv. 15. In like manner, ears are attributed to him, to signify his gracious acceptance of his people's prayers, Psal. x. 17. and xxxi. 2. or the eract notice which he takes of the sins of others, James v. 4. By his arm we are to understand his power and strength, Exod. xv. 16. which is also expressed by his right hand, Exod. xv. 6. and Psal. cxviii. 15, 16. So, his work is expressed by his fingers, Exod. viii. 19. and Psal. viii. 3. and his love and compassion by his bowels, Isa. lxiii
. 15. Jer. xxxi. 20. Luke i. 78. through the bowels of the mercy of our God, (ola oflayxva), whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us. There are a thousand similar instances in the Scriptures.
(ii.) Further, when human affections are attributed to Jehovah, we must be careful not to interpret them in a manner that shall imply the least imperfection in Him; but must thereby conceive, (1.) Either a pure act of his will, free from all perturbation to which mea
1 Josh. ii. 15. 1 Chron. xii. 15. Ecclus. xxiv. 26.
are liable, or else, (2.) The effect of such human affections, the antecedent being put for the consequent, that is, one thing being expressed while another thing is understood, which is usually its effect, or at least follows it a figure of very frequent occurrence in the sacred writings.
Thus, when God is said to repent, we are not to imagine any change of mind in Him, with whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning, or any sorrow or trouble that is inconsistent with his perfect happiness; but, either his purpose to undo what he has done, or desist from what he is doing, which are the ordinary effects of repentance in man: so that the change is not in the disposition of the Supreme Mind, but in the dispensations of his Providence: as in Gen. vi. 6. I Sam. xv. 11. 35. 2 Sam. xxiv. 16. Psal. cvi. 45. Again, God is said in very inany passages to be angry, to have fury, &c. in order to make us apprehend hox much he hates sin, and will punish sinners. The same remark will apply to other affections which are attributed to Him.
In a similar manner are we to understand all those passages in which humaa actions are ascribed to God, as in Gen. xviii. 21. To go down and see what is done in Sodom, is to regard well, and proceed justly, orderly, and leisurely, to their punishment; though in the divine promise to be with Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 15. it means that the divine favour and protection should accompany him all the way. To search the heart and try the reins, is to discern exactly, as in Psal. vii. 9. and Jer. xvii. 10. -- Lastly, human relations are likewise ascribed to God, to express the properties of such relations : thus, he is called a King, Psal. xcv. 3. a Father, Psal. ciii. 13. Rom. viii. 15. a Husband, Isa. liv. 5. Hosea ii 19. a Shepherd, Psal. xxiii. 1.: to express his power and authority, his love, pity, tender care, and watchful providence.
2. Of the prosopopaia or personification, there are two kinds : one, when actions and character are attributed to fictitious, irrational, or even inanimate objects; the other, when a probable but fictitious speech is assigned to a real character.
[i.] The former, Bishop Lowth remarks, evidently partakes of the nature of the metaphor, and is by far the boldest of that class of figures: it is most frequently and successfully introduced by the sacred writers. In Psal. lxxxv. 10. how admirable is the personification of the divine attributes!
Mercy and truth are met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. How just, elegant, and splendid does it appear, if applied only (according to the literal sense) to the restoration of the Jewish nation from the Babylonish captivity! But if we consider it in a most sacred and mystical sense, which is not obscurely showed under the ostensible image, viz. that of the method of redemption by the sacrifice and mediation of Jesus Christ, in which the divine perfections were se harmoniously displayed, it is beyond measure grand and elevated. Again, what can be more sublime or graceful than the personification of wisdom, so frequently introduced in the Proverbs of Solomon, particularly in chapter viii. verses 2 31. She is not only exhibited as the director of human life and morals, as the inventress of arts, as the dispenser of honours and riches, as the source of true felicity, but also as the eternal daughter of the omnipotent Creator, and as the eternal associate in the divine counsels. Similar passages, exquisitely imagined, and from the boldness of tho fiction, extremely forcible, occur in Job xvin. 13. xxviü. 22. Isa. v. 14. xlvii. 1. 5. Lam. i. 1. 6. 17. Jer. xlvii. 6,7. Hos. xiii. 14. Heb. iii. 5. and 1 Cor. xv. 54.1
[ii.] The second kind of prosopopæia, by which a probable but fictitious speech is assigned to a real person -- though less calculated to excite admiration and approbation by its novelty, boldness, and variety, than the former, - is nevertheless possessed of great force, evidence, and authority. It would, as Bishop Lowth remarks, be
1 The late benevolent and learned Mr. Gilpin has pointed out many very striking personifications and other metaphorical allusions used by Saint Paul. See his Ser. mons, vol. iv. p. 405. et seq.
an infinite task to specify every instance in the sacred poems, which on this occasion might be referred to as worthy of notice ; or to remark the easy, natural, bold, and sudden personifications; the digpity, importance, and impassioned severity of the characters. It would be difficult to describe the energy of that eloquence which is attributed to Jehovah himself, and which appears so suitable in all respects to the Divine Majesty ; or to display the force and beauty of the language which is so admirably and peculiarly adapted to each character; the probability of the fiction, and the excellence of the imitation.
One example, therefore, must suffice for the present; one more perfect it is not possible to produce. It is expressive of the eager expectation of the mother of Sisera, from the inimitable ode of the prophetess Deborah. (Judg. v. 28–30.).
The first sentences exhibit a striking picture of maternal solicitude, both in words and actions; and of a mind suspended and agitated between hope and fear.
Through the window she looked and cried out,
Wherefore linger the wheels of his chariot ? Immediately, impatient of his delay, she anticipates the consolations of her friends, and her mind being somewhat elevated, she boasts with all the levity of a fond female :
(Vast in her hopes, and giddy with success
Have they not found? -- Have they not divided the spoil ? Let us now observe how well adapted every sentiment, every word, is to the character of the speaker. She takes no account of the slaughter of the enemy, of tho yalour and conduct of the conqueror, of the multitude of the captives, but
Burns with a female thirst of prey and spoils. Nothing is omitted which is calculated to attract and engage the passions of a vain and trifling woman — slaves, gold, and rich apparel. Nor is she satisfied with the bare enumeration of them; she repeats, sho amplifies, she heightens every circumstance; she seems to have the very plunder in her immediate possession ; she pauses and contemplates every particular :
Have they not found ? - Have they not divided the spoil ?
A spoil for the neck of divers colours of needlework on either side. To add to the beauty of this passage, there is also an uncommon neatness in the versification, great force, accuracy, and perspicuity in the diction, the utmost ele. gance in the repetitions, which, notwithstanding their apparent redundancy, ard conducted with the most perfect brevity. In the end, the fatal disappointment of female hope and credulity, tacitly insinuated by the sudden and unexpected apos, trophe,
So let all thine enomies perish, O JEHOVAH ! is expressed more forcibly by this very silence of the person who was just speak. ing, than it could possibly have been by all the powers of language.
But whoever wishes to understand the full force and excellence of this figure, as well as the elegant use of it in the Hebrew ode, must apply to Isaiah, whom we may justly pronounce to be the sublimest of poets. Bishop Lowth considers his fourteenth chapter, as the grandest specimen of that prophet's poetry, and as exemplifying almost every form of the prosopopeia, and indeed of all that constitutes the sublime in composition. An examination of this passage will be found in Vol. IV. 164-166.
II. The Hebrews derived many of their figures from the ordinary VOL. II.
occupations and customs of life, as well as from such arts as were practised at that time.
This source indeed is common to all nations, and in proportion as they are more polished, and cultivate more numerous arts, they are supplied with a greater variety of images. The whole course and method of common and domestic life among the antient Hebrews was simple in the highest degree. There did not exist that variety of studies and pursuits, of arts, conditions, and employments, which afterwards obtained among other nations. The Hebrews were a nation of husbandmen and shepherds: the patriarchs were possessed of great flocks and herds which they tended, though their descendants afterwards applied themselves to agriculture. Every Israelite, on the conquest of Canaan, received his allotted portion of land, which he cultivated, and which, as it could not be alienated by sale, descended without diminution to his posterity, who enjoyed unmolested the produce of his land and labour. Hence, very numerous metaphors in the sacred writings are derived from pastoral and rural occupations. Thus, kings are said to feed their people, who again are compared to a flock of sheep, which the shepherd conducts to pasture, and guards from danger. It would extend the limits of this section too far, to instance particularly with what embellishments of diction, derived from one low and trivial object (as it may appear to some) -- the barn or threshing-floor — the sacred writers have added a lustre to the most sublime, and a force to the most important subjects. Yet the following passages we cannot omit to notice, on account of their uncommon force and beauty.
Thus, Jehovah threshes out the heathen, and tramples them beneath his feet. (Hab. iii. 12.) He delivers the nations to Israel to be beaten in pieces by an indented flail, or to be crushed by their brazen hoofs. (Joel ii. 14. Heb. Jer. li. 33. Isa, xxi. 10. Mic. iv. 13.) He scatters his enemies like chaff upon the mountains, and disperses them with the whirlwind of his indignation. (Psal. Ixxxii. 13-15. Isa. xvii. 13.). But nothing can surpass the magnificent delineation of the Messiah coming to take vengeance on his adversaries, expressed by imagery taken from the wine-press, which is of frequent occurrence with the sacred poets, and which no other poct has presumed to introduce. See Isa. lxiii. 1-3.
The pastoral and rural allusions in the New Testament are almost equally numerous with those of the Old Testament. Thus the world is compared to a field, the children of the kingdom to the wheat, and the children of the wicked to fares. (Matt. xiii. 38.) The end of the world is the harvest, and the angels are reapers, (Matt. xiii. 39.) A preacher of the word is the sower. (Matt. xiii. 3.) The word of God is the seed. The heart of man is the ground. (Luke viii. 15. Heb. vi. 7.) The cares, riches, and pleasures of life are the thorns. (Luke viji, 14. Heb. vi. 8.) The preparation of the heart by repentance is ploughing and breaking up the
fal loro ground. (Hos. x. 12.) Death, which cuts down the fairest flowers of the field, is a moroct. (Psal. xc. 6.) The minister, who serves under God in his husbandry, is the labourer. (Matt. ix. 37, 38. 1 Cor. iii. 9.) The wicked are stubble. (Isa. xlvii. 14.) And the temptations and trials of the godly are the sifting of the wheat. (Luke xxii. 31.)
III. Sacred Topics, that is to say, Religion, and things connected with it, furnished many images to the sacred writers.
Numerous and diversified sacred rites were enjoined to the Israelites by Moses, and their religious worship was conducted with great pomp and splendour. Thus, the images derived from the temple and its magnificent service serve
1 A Key to the Language of Prophecy, by the Rev. W. Jones, (Works, vol. v.p. 252.) See also a Concise Dictionary of tho Symbolical Language of Prophecy in the Appendix to Vol. IV.
chiefly to denote the glory of the Christian church, the excellency of its worship, God's favour towards it, and his constant presence with it: the prophets speaking to the Jews in terms accommodated to their own ideas, as in Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. compared with Heb. viii. 10. Further, much of the Jewish law is employed in discriminating between things clean and unclean; in removing and making atone. ment for things polluted or proscribed; and under these ceremonies, as under a veil or covering, a meaning the most important and sacred is concealed, as would appear from the nature of them, even if we had not other clear and explicit authority for this opinion. Among the rest are certain diseases and infirinities of the body, and some customs in themselves evidently indifferent; these, on a cursory view, seem light and trivial; but, when the reasons of them are properly investigated, they are found to be of considerable importance. We are not to won. der, then, if the sacred poets have recourse to these topics for imagery, even on the most momentous occasions; as when they display the universal depravity of the human heart, (Isa. Ixiv. 6.) or upbraid their own people for the corruptness of their manners, (Isa. i. 5, 6. 16. Ezek. xxxvi. 17.) or when they deplore the abject state of the virgin, the daughter of Sion, polluted and exposed. (Lam. i. 8, 9. 17. and ii.) If we consider these metaphors, without any reference to the religion of their authors, they will doubtless appear in some degree disgusting and inelegant ; but if we refer them to their genuine source, the peculiar rites of the Hebrews, they will not be found wanting either in force or dignity.
The pontifical vestments, which were extremely splendid, suggested a variety of images expressive of the glory both of the Jewish and Christian church. We have an instance of this in Ezek. xvi. 10. 13. 18. and particularly in the following passage of the evangelical prophet :
I will greatly rejoice in Jetrovan:
Isa.Ixi. 10. In this verse, the elegant Isaiah is describing, in his peculiar and magnificent manner, the exultation and glory of the church, after her triumphal restoration. Pursuing the allusion, he decorates her with the vestments of salvation, and clothes her in the robe of righteousness : he afterwards compares the church to a bridegroom dressed for the marriage, to which comparison incredible dignity is added by the word Ikohen, a metaphor plainly taken from the priests' apparel, the force of which therefore no modern language can express. No imagery, Bishop Lowth further remarks, which the Hebrew writers could employ, was equally adapted with this to the display (as far as human powers can conceive or depict the subject) of the infinite majesty of God. Jenovan is therefore introduced by the Psalmist as clothed with glory and with strength, (Psal. xciii. 1.) and he is girded with power, (Psal. lxv. 6.) which are the very terms appropriated to the description of the dress and ornaments of the priests. The epistle to the Hebrews is an admirable comment on many parts of the Mosaic ritual.
IV. The Hebrews derived many of their metaphors from Sacred History.
Thus, as the devastation of the land of Israel is frequently represented by the restoration of antient chaos, (as in Jer. iv. 23–26. Isa. xxxiv. 4. 11. and Joel iii. 15, 16.) so the same event is sometimes expressed in metaphors suggested by the universal deluge (as in Isa. xxiv. 1. 18–20.), and also from the destruction of Sodom and. Gomorrah. (Isa. xxxiv. 9.) See also Psal. xi. 6.
The departure of the Israelites from Egypt, while it affords materials for many magnificent descriptions, is commonly applied in a metaphorical manner, to represent other great deliverances : as in Isa. xi. 15, 16. xliii. 16–19. xlviii. 21. and li. 10. But the figurative application of the history of the Exodus is much plainer in the New Testament. There we see Zacharias, in his prophetical hymn, on occasion of the birth of John the Baptist, celebrating the blessings