Imagens das páginas

tations, by which the simple truth of this part of holy writ has been perplexed and obscured. Upon a subject, however, of so much importance in theology, as the intended relation and application of the prophetic psalms, it is our happiness not to be left either to circuitous induction on the one hand, or to fanciful hypothesis on the other ; but to have a safe and adequate guide in the only authoritative interpreter of Scripture-Scripture itself. The best method by which dangerous extremes can be avoided, is to betake ourselves implicitly to apostolical precedent and authority : here we cannot do wrong. After having given our best attention to this point, and with a full view of the conflicting opinions on either side, we must be permitted to avow our deliberate conviction, that the plain and sufficient rule for the determination of what psalms are, or are not, prophetic of the Messiah, is precisely that which decides the application of Scripture types : in both cases, we hold that those, and those only, are to be certainly ascribed to our Lord, which are distinctly stated in the New Testament to relate to him. By adhering to this authorized rule, we escape at once from all the uncertainties of conjectural criticism, building our arguments upon a rock; whereas, by any other course, we put to hazard one of the most essential parts of the Christian evidence, that derived from prophecy, which the senseless theories we oppose would go to overset and destroy.

If it be objected, that this principle, by limiting the range of the prophetic word, appears in some degree to diminish the spiritual instruction to be derived from the psalms, we answer, first, that if such were the case, truth is not to be sacrificed even to : this view of expediency; and next, that one real reference to Christ, authenticated by the New Testament, is far more available for the purposes of instruction and edification than many fanciful and shadowy resemblances, traced by the erring ingenuity of fallible man. These references are, however, by no means few, or inconsiderable. Nearly fifty of the psalms have been enumerated by Dr. Allix and others, parts of which are quoted in the New Testament; a large proportion, if the statement. be correct, considering the limitation of Jewish knowledge upon subjects connected with the evangelical economy. We should be careful not heedlessly to attribute to the writers of the psalms more light than was possessed by all the prophets put together, and not to assign to the men of those times a fuller acquaintance with the mysteries of the Christian faith, than was attained by the immediate disciples of our Lord before his resurrection. Let it be recollected also, that, as the great question in dispute at the commencement of the Christian era was, whether Jesus was the promised Messiah, and as the Jews were more likely to be convinced by any argument derived from their own prophecies, than

The prards by the that the samen was not falms,

even by miracle itself, it might be expected that the apostles would strongly urge this, and would not fail to quote, in their sermons and letters, the chief prophecies which were decisive upon the subject. To these, in fact, Our Lord himself referred, in the way to Emmaus, distinctly adverting to the things " written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning himself”; and since this conversation was not likely to be forgotten, it may be presumed that the same Scriptures were afterwards brought forwards by the apostles, as recorded in the book of Acts. The probability, therefore, under all the circumstances of the case, would appear to be very great, that the whole of the passages distinctly prophetic have been more or less definitely referred to by the New Testament writers: and if the range thus opened before us be extensive, the rule of interpretation is not less sure.

As to the assumption on which the otherwise admirable Bishop Horne affects to argue, that because some of the Psalms are applied to Our Lord, which we might not have thought of referring to him, therefore, they may all be deemed predictions of him, we can only say that it is a miserable non sequitur, a mere assertion, unsustained by the shadow of proof. For orthodox divines to invent references to Christ, at variance with the plain letter of scripture, is, in our view, just as iniquitous as it would be for the Unitarians or the German Neologians to exclude, or explain away, those numerous passages, which, we rejoice to believe, do unquestionably relate to him. It is equally possible to err on the side of excess, and on that of deficiency. That the justly celebrated Bishop Horsley should, in any degree, have lent the sanction of his great name to the fallacious theories of the Hutchinsonian school, and should have so far committed himself as to say, that “the misapplication of the psalms to the literal David, has done more mischief than the misapplication of any other parts of the Scriptures,” is no less surprising to us, than that Mr. Hartwell Horne should have quoted the sentiment in his own most valuable work, without protesting against so unguarded an assertion, Nothing can be more painful than to detect the errors of the good, and the follies of the wise : such a perversion, on the part of Bishop Horsley, can scarcely be accounted for, except from the inclination which, in common with men of a peculiar order of genius, he sometimes manifests to throw himself into a desperate cause, like Sampson at Gaza, that he may shew his herculean strength, in carrying away the gates and bars which threatened to confine him, to the surprise alike of friend and foe. We need only apply to him, in this connection, his own caustic and just remark, that “it is one thing to write histories, and quite another to make riddles.” But it is due to the


letter ofhe Unitarians omerous passages. It is equally That the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

memory of so eminent a man, to add, that his work on the Psalms was a posthumous publication.

The interests of literature and of religion alike demand, that such absurd principles of interpretation should be unceremoniously exploded ; since, if this strange licence were allowed, the foundations of all history might be broken up, and every ancient record in the world be perverted, and rendered unintelligible. Scholars know very well, that the poems of Homer himself have been put into the crucible of fanaticism, and have been supposed to contain concealed mysteries. Some have considered that, blended with feigned circumstances, the history of the Israelites was shadowed forth under these fine fictions, down to the time in which they subdued the land of Palestine under the first Kings; imagining the Odyssey to relate to the patriarchal times, and the Iliad to the conquest of Canaan, by Joshua *. Others have thought t, that under the fiction of the Trojan story, and the Grecian fables, were predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, and the life, miracles, and passion, of our blessed Saviour, together with the events of the primitive church under the emperors. Extremes, it is said, meet. We have seen popular songs parodied into religious hymns. In the sixteenth century, Horace was transposed in the same manner. We remember to have met, in the course of our reading, with a religious parody upon Horace, whose odes and epodes are transformed into pious hymns, by Dan vid Hoppius, a German, printed at Brunswick, 1568, under the particular protection of the Elector of Saxony. The original measure, and, as far as possible, the words of the Roman poet, are retained. We subjoin a single specimen for the amusement of the curious I.

(To be concluded in our next Number.)

* Cresi’s Homero Hebræo, sive Hist. Hebræorum ab Homero.

+ Vide Gray's Connection. # In Juliam Barinen. Ode viii. Lib. 2. ' PARODIA. Christi ad Peccatorem. Ulla si juris tibi pejerati

Ulla si juris tibi pejerati
Pæna, Barine, nocuisset unquam, Culpa, peccator doluisset unquam
Dente si nigro fieres, vel uno

Mente, si tantum fieres vel unâ
Turpior unqui

Tristior hora,
Crederem-sed hi simul obligâsti Plauderem-sed tu simul obligasti
Perfidum votis caput, enitescis

Perfidum votis caput, ingemiscis Pulchrior multo juvenumque prodis Ob scelus nunquam scelerumque prodis Publica cura, &c. &c.

Publicus autor, &c. &c.

Art. V.-1. The Psalmist; or Select Versions of the Psalms, from

various Authors. 48mo., pp. 316. London, (Religious Tract

Society,) 1834. 2. New Selection of Hymns, especially adapted to Public Worship,

and intended as a Supplement to Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns. The entire Profits to be given to the Widows and Orphans of

Baptist Ministers and Missionaries. London, 1828. 3. Three Hundred and Fifty Portions of the Book of Psalms, selected

from various Versions, with a Collection of Six Hundred Hymns · adapted for Public Worship. London, 1830.

TT would seem to hold good of poetry, what is certainly true of

the more material productions of Art, that the strongest impressions are produced by the rudest efforts, such as denote the very infancy of the arts. The mere emotions of taste are faint and weak, compared with those primary sentiments to which the ruder efforts of genius make their direct appeal. "The statue ' that enchants the world,' receives the frigid admiration of the self-complacent virtuoso. The black doll of Loretto, or the hideous daub of some Greek saint-painter, is worshipped by prostrate crowds. The sculptures of Phidias never awakened the deep, soul-subduing emotions which have been, through ages, inspired by the rude emblem or misshapen portraiture of Vishnoo or of Seeva. It is the same with the poet's art. The Thespian cart and primitive buskin exerted a power over the imagination, which the splendid decorations of the modern drama cannot pretend to; and the simple ballad, such as Chevy Chase, or any popular favourite, mocks the utmost efforts of later genius to call up a similar enthusiasm.

The history of music would supply illustrations of the same general law of feeling; and we had lately occasion to advert to a striking instance of it in the history of metrical psalmody *. It is even difficult to conceive of the infectious frenzy of psalm‘singing' which at one period spread through all ranks and classes, in France and Germany, and formed, apparently, one • of the chief ingredients in the happiness of social life. There can be no doubt, however, that the hymns of Luther and his followers, and those of the Bohemian brethren, as well as the Psalms of Marot and Beza, exerted a very important influence in promoting the spread of the Reformation, and in strengthening the hold of its doctrines upon the popular mind. These hymns, the Protestants of Germany were accustomed to sing, not only in their places of worship, but also in their houses, in their family

erot and those of the ver, that appiness of so apparently, and

* See page 214 of our present volume.


the tombs otional singinger. Latrob circles, como per companie Albigene

circles, over the tombs of their fathers and the cradles of their

children’. * Congregational singing was indeed no invention of the Reformers. “The Albigenses,' Mr. Latrobe states, during 'the hottest season of their persecutions, are represented as

cheering themselves, in the very prospect of death, with singing 'the psalms and hymns of their church. The Bohemian brethren published a hymn-book with notes, from which it is evident that

the melodies therein used, originated in the chants to which the 'ancient Latin hymns of the Church were sung.'+ In this country, psalmody was cherished by the disciples of Wickliff, the Morning Star of the Reformation; and in the reign of Henry VIII., some poets, such as the times afforded, translated ‘David's Psalms into verse, and it was a sign by which men's

affections to that work' (of Reformation) were every where ' measured, whether they used to sing these, or not.' A clause in the Act of Uniformity, 1548, authorized the practice of using any psalm openly, “in churches, chapels, oratories, and other

places. Bishop Jewel writes thus to Peter Martyr: “A • change now appears visible among the people; which nothing • promotes more than the inviting them to sing psalms. This 'was begun in one church in London, and did quickly spread ' itself not only through the city, but in the neighbouring places;

sometimes at Paul's Cross, there will be six thousand people singing together.' "Three or four thousand singing at a time ‘in a church in this city,' Roger Ascham writes from Augsburg in 1551, 'is but a trifle.' These performances, it must be imagined, partook of the rudeness as well as the enthusiasm of the times ; and such enthusiasm is perhaps inseparable from rudeness.

Psalm-singing, as it speedily became, on the Continent, an open declaration of Lutherism, was in like manner soon abandoned, in England, to the Puritans, and became at length almost a peculiarity of Nonconformity. For myself,' says Richard Baxter in one of his letters, ' I confess that harmony and melody • are the pleasure of my soul. I have made a psalm of praise in

the holy assembly the chief delightful exercise of my religion and my life; I have helped to bear down all the objections I have heard against church music, and against the 149th and 150th Psalms. It was not the least comfort that I had in the converse of my late dear wife, that our first in the morning, and ' last in bed at night, was a psalm of praise, till the hearing of

others interrupted it. Let those that savour not melody, leave • others to their different appetites, and be content to be so far

strangers to their delights.' Of Philip Henry, it is recorded,

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »