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•with language in general, and with his own language in particular, by digging in the mine of poetry; •without appropriating to himself by poetical exercises those more daring habits of thought and expression, which in the professed poet are beauties, but which are quite out of place in the language of the historian. Yet it must be observed^ that although Gibbon never cultivated. poetry, his' diction in general approaches too near to that of poetry; and, unfortunately, the style of poetry which, it resembles, is not of the best kind. From any such improprieties his two rivals are entirely free, as indeed they are also from that appearance of affectation > which cleaves more or less to Gibbon, in every thing he writes, but which shews itself superlatively in his history. Yet, in justice to the man we are bound to add, that it is only in his manner of writing, that this seeming affectation is discovered; in his character j as shewn by his writings, and especially in his letters, an ingenuousness which is the very opposite to affectation, is predominant.'
(To be concluded in our next Number.)
Art. II. The Book of Psalms; translated from the Hebrew: Notes, Explanatory and Critical. By Samuel liorsley, LL.I ). F.R.S. F.A.S. late Lord Bishop of St. Asaph. 2 Vols. 8vo. pp. 33i and 325. Price 11. 12s. Rivingtons. 1815.
"JY/TAN is a paradox: but some of the species furnish exam-'-*-'- pies of this trite saying more than ordinarily striking and instructive. In this peculiar class of men, none will hesitate to assign an eminent station to Bishop Horsley. His Herculean talents found their balance in an equal weight of pride, self-confidence, and defiance. Among the numerous streams which diverge from the fountain of all knowledge, he selected the •widest and the deepest, the great rivers of the intellectual domain: and of these, spurning all consideration of their magnitude, their difficulty, or their remoteness from each other, he did not taste only, but he drank largely and deeply. He was a theologian, ( — which, alas 1 cannot be affirmed of every mitred bead, — ) a mathematician, a philosopher, a philologist, a critic, a lawyer, and a statesman ; and, in each of these characters, he courted all kinds of competition, lie shrunk from no man's rivalship, and he never relinquished a claim which he had onceadvanced.
But we have now to do with this distinguished person in his proper province, as a Divine, and a Scripture critic. Here, though in the very temple of the Deity, he never " put off the ** shoes from his feet," he never divested himself of his lofty character. Stern, bold, clear, and brilliant, often eloquent, sometimes argumentative, always original, — he was too often led, by his disdain of what is common, into hazardous speculations and hasty conclusions, and not infrequently into confident assertions of dubious and paradoxical points, "it is hut too plain that, under the influence, perhaps unconscious, of his hierarchical prejudices, he has a perpetual propensity to fill up the chasms of proof with the perishable material of human authority He seems to have always taken it as an axiom,—at least tposition which' no man but himself was entitled to question,— that weak evidence could be helped out by ecclesiastical decision, and that the strongest was defective if it wanted that corroDoration. It is a painful feeling, but it is what the serious Christian cannot escape in contemplating the character, and reading the divinity works of Bishop Horsley, that spiritual and practical Christianity was a less object in his esteem than the pomp and majesty of a secularized religion, lifting, as Mr. Burke said, 'its mitred front in courts and parliaments;' and <hit the Gospel of Jesus was more an arena for the display of polemical eye and nerve, than a provision of rest to the weary soul, a source of pardon and holiness to the contrite heart. We read him with interest evernew, we look up with wonder to his colossal genius,—we always admire, and we often approve: but, when we have closed the book, 'the iron enters into our 'soul,' and the sentiment irresistibly occurs which melted into tears the Benevolent Redeemer,—" If thou hadst known, even "thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy "peace!"—
Five years have elapsed since the Bishop's posthumous papers were announced as containing 'a mass of more important 'biblical criticism and research, than has for many years made 'its appearance from the press '* Of these papers, the present work on the Psalms is the first that is given to the world. It is remarkable that the Editor, (Mr. Heneage Horsley, of Dundee, the Bishop's son,) in his former notice, described this work as 'being more calculated for the use of the scholar and the theo- 'logical student, than for the libraries of the generality of 1 readers;'t but now he gives his opinion that—'the work 'seems to have been intended for the edification of the Christian 'reader in his closet.' Pre/, p. vii. These two accounts, if taken, .in the common acceptation of terms, do not quite agree.
'The Psalm's, being all poems, and the original composition 'of them in the metrical form, the Bishop hath adhered to the' 1 bemistichal division; and the translation, in most parts, is so 'dose, as to exhibit to the English reader the structure of the 'original: Pref. p. viii. Tliig alleged closeness of the version must be understood eas?
'Pref. to Bp. Horsley's Sermoney vol. I. pi iv. f
hypothesi. Grant to the translator his notions of the meaning and constructive application of the terms, and his translation, may be allowed to be literal. But in few of the labours of learned industry is there more need of a cautious judgement, and of strict rules of proceeding, than in the translation and interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures. The natural character which belongs to the structure of the Hebrew language, and the simplicity of its idioms, make the work of translation apparently easy: but, the paucity of terms, rendering necessary in many instances a large diversity of significations; the loss of many radicals, of which one or two derivatives only exist; and the number of words occurring but two or three times in the whole range of the Hebrew writings; create immense difficulties to those students who wish to stand on solid ground in the interpretation of the Divine Oracles. The Jews of the middle ages, and their modern-successors, furnish a very questionable sort of aid; and the Hebraicians, at the revival of letters, and during the sixteenth and the seventeeth centuries, were contented to rest principally on this aid in the compilation of their lexicons and in their Bible translations: but the extreme puerility of most of the Rabbinical writers, their being totally devoid of taste, their want of just principles of philology, their general ignorance, and their antichristian prejudices, render them frerniently fulse guides, and never to be implicitly trusted.
Perceiving these evils, some later scholars have invented a new method. They have assumed for the Hebrew tongue, <(.existing in the Old Testament, a sort of perfection peculiar to itself, and unsupported by any evidence from reason, from the nature of the case, or from the analogy of other languages. They regard it as self-interpretative: that is, that all the philological learning necessary for the perfect understanding and explication of every word and phrase in the Old Testament, is contained within the Old Testament itself; that every derivative vocable can be referred to its own radical within those precincts; that each radical has an exuberance of latent and mystical meanings; and even that systems of natural philosophy, as well as great points of revealed theology, are comprized within the nutshell of one small word. Ample scope is thus afforded for fancy. With this instrument great wonders have been brought to light, by men of warm imagination and inventive genius: the only delect has been, the lack of proof.
There is a third school of Hebraicians, which probably was first excijed by the publication of the London Polyglott in 1657, and which was advanced to a great degree of perfection by the profound erudition and the comprehensive mind of the elder §chultens. The leading principles of these scholars are, that it is as unreasonable to suppose that the whole Hebrew language. roots and branches, is contained in the book of the Old Testament, as it would be to entertain an opinion that the whole Greek language would be comprised in a selection, of equal bulk with the Hebrew Scriptures, from writers of different ages; that Hebrew is a sister dialect with Chaldee, Samaritan, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic; that the remains of the ancient Hebrew, existing confessedly no where but in the narrow bounds of the Old Testament, are most rationally and safely illustrated by comparison with those cognate dialects, especially the Arabic, which subsists in the most copious form; that the radicals of many Hebrew words exist only in these dialects; that this mode of investigatHB, combined with a discriminating use of the Rabbinical and the idiuhermenentic methods, is likely to lead to the surest results; and, finally, that the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible will receive great additional advantage from the study of the Ancient, and especially the Oriental, Versions. Bishop Lowth's version of Isaiah, and Mr. Good's of the Book of Job, are the best specimens that we know of this mode of Scripture study. Bishop Horsley appears to have adopted, to a considerable extent, the principles of interpretation which belong to the tecond of these classes; though he certainly would not have carried them to the utmost length of their partisans. He r •pettedly quotes Mr Hutchinson, with respectful approbation: but in philosophy the Bishop was no Hutchinsonian.
A principal feature of this work is the application to the Messiah of Psalms and parts of Psalms, with a profusion which would alarm the generality of those who are usually called sober expositors. But, before we proceed to offer our own opinion on this interesting point, it is proper to hear the Bishop's statement of his principle, as very properly extracted by the Editor from an unpublished Sermon on Psalm II. 1.
'" It is true, that many of the Psalms are commemorative of the u miraculous interpositions of God in behalf of the chosen people; '' for, indeed, the history of the Jews is a fundamental part of revealed "religion. Many were probably composed upon the occasion of rel; war-able passages in David's life, his dangers, his afflictions, his "deliverances. But of those which relate to the public history of "the natural Israel, there are few in which the fortunes of the mysti"cal Israel, the Christian Church, are not adumbrated: and of those "which allude to the life of David, there are none in which the Son "of David is not the principal and immediate subject. David's com "plaints against his enemies are Messiah's complaints, first, of the un11 believing Jews, then of the heathen persecutors, and the apostate "tact urn in later ages. David's afflictions are the Messiah's suffer"ings. David's penitential supplications are the supplications of "Messiah in agony, under the burden of the imputed guilt of man. 'David's songs of triumph and thanksgiving are Messiah's songs of "triumph and thanksgiving, for his victory over sin, and death, and "hell. In a word, there is not a page of this Book of Psalm?, Jn "which the pious reader will not find his Saviour, if he reads with a "view of finding him; and it was but a just encomium of it that came "from the pen of one of the early Fathers, that it is a complete sys- "tem of divinity for the use and edification of the common people of "the Christian Church." '—pp. x. xi.
'" The Psalms appear to be compositions of various authors, in "various ages; some much more antient than the times of King "David, some of a much later age. Of many, David himself was un"doubtedly the Author; and that those of his composition were pro"phetic, we have David's own authority, which may be allowed to over"power a host of modern expositors. For thus, King David, at the "close of his life, describes himself and his sacred songs:—'David, "'the son of Jesse, said, and the man who was raised up on high, "' the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, "'said, the Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was in my "' tongue.' It was the word, therefore, of Jehovah's Spirit, which "was uttered by David's tongue. But it should seem the Spirit of "Jehovah would not be wanting to enable a mere man to make com"plaint of Aw own enemies, to describe his own tufferingsjust as he felt '• them, and his own escapes just as they happened. But the Spirit of '' Jehovah, described by David's utterance what was known to that "Spirit only, and that Spirit only could describe. So that, if David "be allowed to have had any knowledge of the true subject of his own "compositions, it was nothing in his own life, but something put into "his mind by the Holy Spirit of God; and the misapplication of the "Psalms to the literal David has done more mischief than the misap'• plication of any other parts of the Scriptures, among those who "profess the belief of the Christian religion.
'" A very great, I believe the far greater part are a sort of Dramatic "Ode, consisting of dialogues between persons sustaining certain "characters. In these Dialogue-psalms the persons are frequently "the Psalmist himself, or the chorus of Priests and Levites, or the "leader of the Levitical band, opening the ode with a proem declara"tive of the subject, and very often closing the whole with a solemn "admonition drawn from what the other persons say. The other "persons are Jehovah, sometimes as one, sometimes as another of "the three Persons; Christ in his incarnate state, sometimes before, "sometimes after, his resurrection; the human soul of Christ as "distinguished from the divine essence. Christ, in his incarnate "state, is personated sometimes as a Priest, sometimes as a King, "sometimes as a Conqueror; and in those Psalms, in which he is intro"duced as a Conqueror, the resemblance is very remarkable be"tween this Conqueror in the book of Psalms and the Warrior on the "white horse in the book of Revelations, who goes forth with jr •'crown on his head, and a bow in his hand, conquering and to con"quer. And the conquest in the Psalms is followed, like the con"quest in the Revelations, by the marriage of the Conqueror. These "are circumstances of similitude which, to any one versed in the "prophetic style, prove beyond a doubt that the Mystical Conqueror '' u the same personage in both.
'" It U not a bad general notion of the book of Psalms, which is