Page images

in the late disquisitions of that enterprising writer in theology and metaphysics, Dr. PRIESTLEY. His system of materialism is represented as absurd and inconsistent; and his principles of necelfity as irreligious and immoral. As a mere speculacist, lecluded from society, and reasoning only on abstract and metaphysical grounds, the writer of this article confesses, that he has not been able to withstand the force of Dr. Priestley's arguments on these subjects. · Hitherto he has not seen them answered so fully and fatisfac

torily, as not to leave the Doctor ample scope to turn every objection that hath been alleged against him back on the oponent. The capital points, on which the most popular objections fix, are by no means peculiar to his system. Remove a few fpecious appearances, divest the subject of a few commodious forms, and the fystem of immaterialism and liberty, generally espoused (by Christians at least), is liable ultimately to objections, equally insurmountable with those which attend the opposite system of materialism and neceffity. While certain data respeáing the attributes and providence of the Deity are mutually acceded to, the latter is not more embarrassed with difficulties than the .former ; perhaps these difficulities may less affect it on the whole, though confidered in a detached view, some parts of it may have the appearance of an immoral tendency; and it is these parts; brought forward in a strong light, and beightened with the colours of rhetoric, which principally affect the minds of common and superficial speculatifts; and when the imagination is terrified by a display of pretended consequences, reason too frequently submits in silence; and because it is awed, it is thought to be convinced.

We acknowledge, however, that we do not see the utility of the system contended for by Dr. Priestley, when viewed in a moral and civil light. A few refined and philosophic minds may be ca. pable of comprehending the full extent of this system, and to understandings so enlarged and so cultivated, it may not prove detrimental. But when only partially understood (and it is only So understood by the generality), it may prove highly prejudi. cial to the more substantial interefts of virtue and piety. lis good consequences lie very remote from the apprehension of common minds, and can only be perceived, after a long chain of reasoning, and never properly felt but by an affociation of ideas, which can only be acquired by a habit of close reflection, joined to a high degree of mental purity and devotion. In Thort, the system of materialism and neceflity, if it be true, is not fit for common use; and, if it be false, its opponents will say, that its pernicious tendency encreases and aggravates the error.


high expectations we may have formed of them, yet we may hope rome genius may arise, who will strike out such elucidations of Scripture from them, as are in vain to be expected from the present text.' A large field; however, is, in our Author's opinion, still left for conjectural criticism ; for, as to the omission of clauses or. periods, or the transpofition of them, this is not, he imagines, to be expected from the MSS. His meaning is, that defects of this sort cannot be rectified by collation ; they must be. Tupplied by conjecture. As a specimen of our Author's talent in this line, we will present our Readers with the following remarks on a text in Isaiah, where an omisfion is supposed, and which he ventures to supply by this mode of criticism :: • In'ssaiah i. 21. the text stands thus:

How is the faithful city become a harlot ? . It was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it; • But now murderers.

In my judgment two words have been dropped here by the transcriber. These, which I take to have been Maleah Damim, filled with bloodshed, I supply from the context, ver. 15. If these be admitted, the translation will ran thus :

How is the faithful city become a harlot?
How is the, that was full of judgment, filled with bloodshed ?

Righteousness once dwelled in her, but now murderers ! If the two words have been omitted, the parallelism of the two first lines, and the contrast in the last, seem to vindicate me in replacing them.'

The subjects discussed in this volume are curious and interesting in a very high degree, as will appear from the following enumeration of their contents:

The speech of Lamech to his two wives.--The last prophetic words of Noah to his three sons. The last prophetic words of Isaac to his two sons.-The last prophetic words of Jacob to his twelve sons.-The Song of Moses upon the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.- A Song of the Israelites upon Jehovah's giving them water in the Wilderness (Numb. xxi. 17, 18.)– The Song of the Amorite Bard upon the conquest of Helhbon (same chapter).—The prophetic Parables of Balaam.-The Admonitory Song of Moses to the Israelites (Deut. xxxii.) -The last prophetic words of Moses to the Twelve Tribes (chap. xxxiii.) – The Song of Deborah. - The Thanksgiving of Hannah on the birth of Samuel. --The Lamentations of David over Saul and Jonathan.—The Lamentation of David over Abner.-The last prophetic words of David. -The Song of Solomon.–The Admonitory Song of Isaiah to the Israelites (Isa. v.)- A Thanksgiving (Isa. xiii. 1-6.)—A Parable, or Triumphant Song, of the Jews, on the fall of the King of Babylon their oppreffor (Isa. xiv. 3-20.)- A Song of


day, the night, aff:ighted, Aies away-precipitates herself into the bottom of the deep, and involves in ber dark veil, the god of filence and of sleep. The fleeting dreams fly before thy car of rubies and of adamant, and slide into the bottom of the shades.

• Thou gildest the lofty summit of the high mountains, and the majestic tops of haughty pines and oaks, neighbours of the thunder.. Thou shineft in the most profound vallies. Amazed at thy lively Splendour, all the universe rooses. A thousand birds flutter about on the boughs of the tender fhrubs, whose Aowers they fhake off, and come together in a choir, to celebrate thy fplendour by their melo. dious songs.

· Roured by these charming concerts, the king of nature-man, . raises his 'noble countenance, that imperious countenance, made to contemplate the heavens, and command all beings. He awakes with joy, and goes forth to admire thy rising and enjoy thy gifts.

The thunder, whose redoubled claps, shook, during the night, the foundations of the earth, the dreadful thunder-bolts, that were heard, at the close of day, to roth, with a bellowing noise, through that vaft chain of mountains, and resound in the neighbouring vallies, rumble no more in the air. The sky was never more serene; nature, never appeared more beautiful.

• Ab! how pleasing of a fine morning, to gather, in those meads, the flowers which the fun begets. How delightful! to respire an air embalmed with the sweetest perfumes, and to bebold chat enamelled plain, whose tender and springing verdure gladdens the fight. Peace. able rivolet, I will follow the course of thy tranquil stream, that me. anders and flows gently through those happy plains, o'er which thou. heddelt freshness and fecundity. Delightful walks, what tranquillity you afford to my mind!

• Here, bending o'er this limpid bagin, I behold the sports of the nimble inhabitants of the water, excited by the heat of the air, they Swim, dive, and eagerly cross one another ;-they glide o'er each other a hundred times without corrupting the purity of the water.'

There, I admire the beauty of a ftarely swan, who, proud of the whiteness of his plumage, clears its alabaster in the rays of the sun extends bis shining wings, and, fovereign of the flood, rides at plea. fure on its surface; at one time yielding to the current-at another opposing it with a majestic haughtiness.

** There, I hear with rapture a fock of birds, who falute the approach of spring, on the branches of that solitary poplar, that Thades those happy banks. The jealous nigbtingale fwells her flexible throat, and warbles forth her notes. Her rivals abashed, are filent ;-thev feem to suspend their songs, to liften in filence to the melodious ac. cents of the sylvan muse-to her varied notes, prolonged and quavered with so much art.

• Enchanting inhabitants of those lovely regions, who delight, by your concerts, heavenly minds, and foften the troubles of this tranheac life, alas ! yoor songs, your joys will soon be at an end : already the merciless bird-catcher advances haftily, and surveys with furtive eye that thorny bush, those hospitable branches, that, by the chickdess of their foliage, seemed to offer you an impenetrable Melter. Infensible to your cries, already he deals bis fingers into your neft, and


VI. Doubtless the wicked shall not flourish;

They are all like thorns thrust away,

Which shall not be taken by the hand.
VII. But the man who shall lay hold on them

Shall be armed with iron, and the staff of a spear,

And they shall utterly be burned with fire.'' We shall present our Readers with the Author's Critical and Explanatory Notes at large, leaving it to the learned to determine how far they tend to support his hypothesis ; and how far the Author is qualified to contend with so profound a scholar in biblical learning as the eminent Prelate whom he hath ventured to attack on a controverted paffage in Ifaiah.

• Period 1-8.] The learned fecm now to be agreed, that this illurtrious prophecy, introduced in fó magnificent a manner, is to be onderstood of Chrif's spisitual kingdom, and his final triumph over the enemies of it. The beginning of its accomplishment may properly be dated from his entrance upon his mediatorial office; it was yet farther fulgilled upon the establishment of Chriftianity by the civil powers; but when the time shall be of its perfect completion, is yet a secret in the hands of God. ." The royal Pfalmift, when the spirit of prophecy was moft Atrong. ly upon him, probably just before his death, being favoured by God with a clearer and more distinct revelacion of this great and wonderful event, begios first with expressing the deep sease he had of the Divine goodness, in this gracious and comfortable communication to him, and of the certainty and powerfulness of the inspiration he was under. In per. 1. this peculiar grace and favour is heightened from a confideration of the person inspired; one wbom, from obscure parentage and low condition, God had exalted to be King over his chofen people, and made him an instrument of ellablishing, or ac least of improving, the most delightful part of his religious worship : and in per. 2.--of the author of the inspiration, the Lord Jehovah the God and Rock of Israel-whose powerful impulse is expressed by a repetition of the words, He faitb, be speaketh, and His word is upon my tongue.

• After this magnificent introduction he breaks out into a kind of transport of joy and admiration at the prospect before him:

The Just One ruleth over man! • In per. 4. he describes the spiritual and glorious effects of this dominion ; at per. 5. his firm allurance of its perpetuity, and of the designation of it to a person of his own house and lineage; with a lively declararion of the delight and comfort which this affurance gave him. In per. 6. and 7. he gives a mort but dreadful representaiion of the condition of the wicked, and of the everlasting vengeance which awaits them at that terrible day, when the wheat thall be gathered into his garner, and the chaff thall be burned with fire un. quenchable.

• Per. 1. Who was raijed on bigh) This cannot be better explained than fron: P?. Ixxviii. 70.–The construction would be more natural, il, by a change of the vowels, we read hekim yal, instead of bukam, the nian whom the Most High hach raised op. In this sense it is used in Jer, XXX. 9.

• Ibid.

• Ibid. Sweet Pfalmif) This title feems most eminently to belong to David, not only as he composed most of the Psalms, but established the musc service of the Temple.

• Per, 3. Tbe Just One.) This is the firft time that we meet with the Meffiah under this title. The evangelical prophet adopts it, and gives us ap jofight into his office, as the Juftifier of the ungodly, Ifa. liji, 12. By the knowledge of him shall the Just One, my servant, junify

many ; Por he shall bear their iniquities. Our translators, not knowing this to be a title of the Mefliah, though it is used as such, A&ts jii. 14. vii. 52. xxii. 14. James v. 6. 1 Pet. iii. 18. bave made it an adjective to the fubftantive following, rendering it, my righteous fervani. But they ought to have known that, in Hebrew, che adjective always follows the substantive; and would have set them right.-The Bishop of London, in his translation of this passage of Ilaiah, omits this title of the Messiah, alleging, that is makes the hemiftic too long, and that' two or three MSS. omit it. As to the hemiftic, this ille confiits but of two syllables; and it muft require a nice discernment, to say a hemistic is too long or too Short by two syllables : and as this title is of such importance as to be the subject of David's last prophetic words, and is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, if thirty or forty MSS. had omitted it, I should not regard them; especially as it is used here with the utmodt propriety, where the prophet is speaking of Jesus in the very act of juftifying, by bearing our iniquities; to say nothing of the beauty of the figure, the Just One pall jurify.

"As I published four years ago a translation of the 53d of Isaiah, I will take this opportunity to say a word or two in support of it. The prophet begins this subject at the 13th per. of the lii. The two next periods are plainly opposed to each other. The LXX, found that opposition in the copy they translated from. And this has induced men of the greatest eminence for learning, Grotius, Le Clerc, Bishop Chandler, Archbishop Secker, Dr. Grey, Dr. Durel, Bishop Lowth, and Dr. Jabb, who could never find in the present text the apodofis of the opposition in per. 15. to wish to see it restored. Now, if the Greek translators of Isaiah rendered the same Hebrew word by the same Greek word, I have pointed out the very word which they found out in their copy (See my Note). This word ruits the place, while the present reading makes little better than nonsense of it. Ad. mitting the LXX.'s reading to be the true one, there arises chis plain feose and oppositionAs, on the one hand, many (the Jews) shall be astonished at the

Sigbt of him :
Because his appearance will be meaner than that of a man of rank,
And his figure than that of common men:
So, on tbe other hand, many nations (the Gentiles) mall survey

him with wonder,
Aod Kings that their mouths out of surprise ;
Because they shall see him, of whom they never had been told;
And contemplate him, of whom they had never heard.

B 3

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »