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"given by a considerable though neglected critic; it is a notion "which, if kept in view, would conduce much to the right under"standing of them, that the whole collection forms a sort of Heroic "Tragedy. The redemption of man, and the destruction of Satan is "the plot. The persons of the drama are the Persons of the God'• head,—Christ united to one of them,—Satan, Judas, the apostate "Jews, the heathen persecutors, the apostates of latter times ;—the "attendants, believers, unbelievers, angels;—the scenes, heaven, * earth, hell;—the time of the action, from the fall to the final over"throw of the apostate faction, and the general judgment."'— pp. xiii—xviii.
Thus, the learned Prelate, in his usual peremptory style, affirms the very extensive reference of the Psalms to the ReDeemer of mankind. So far as we can collect his reasons from his-implications, and the grounds of his assertions from his assertions themselves, we venture to state them thus:—
It seems to be assumed, that the Psalms prophetic of the Messiah are chiefly, if not exclusively, those composed by David. Then it is argued—
1. That the complaints, supplications, thanksgivings, and denunciations, of which those Psalms consist, have but a faint and incomplete relation to any facts in David's life, but have a clear and perfect accomplishment in the life, sufferings, and exaltation of Christ.
2. David was an inspired prophet. But it could not need inspiration to enable him to describe his own sufferings and deliverances. Therefore such descriptions could never have been intended for anything in his own life, but their "true subject 'was—something put into his mind by the Spirit of God.'"
3. Many of the descriptions, especially those of conquest and triumph, have a remarkable resemblance to the symbolical descriptions of the glorified Saviour in the book of the Revelation of St. John.
The following general remarks will be acknowledged to be, at least, curious.
'The supplicatory Psalms may be generally divided into two classes according to the prayer; which in some regards the public, and in others, the individual. In those of the latter class, which is the most numerous, the supplicant is always in distress. His distress arises chiefly from the persecution of his enemies. His enemies are always the enemies of God and goodness. Their enmity to the supplicant is unprovoked. If it has any cause, it is only that he is the faithful servant of Jehovah, whose worship they oppose. They are numerous and poweriul, and use all means, both of force and stratagem, for the supplicant's destruction; an object in the pursuit of which they are incessantly employed. The supplicant is alone, without friends, poor, and destitute of all support but God's providential protection. When the great inequality between the supplicant and his enemies is
considered, with respect to their different rank and fortunes in the world, it seems strange that one so inconsiderable as he is described to be, should at all attract the notice of persons so greatly his superiors; or that, having once incurred their displeasure, he should not be immediately cut off. But, although their malice is perpetually at work, their point is never carried. They keep him indeed in perpetual alarm and vexation, but they seem never to advance a single step nearer to the end of their wishes, viz his destruction. The suppliant, on the other hand, often miraculously relieved, is yet never out of danger, though he looks forward with confidence to a period of final deliverance. If at any time he is under apprehension of death, it is by the visitation of God in sickness. And at those seasons, the persecution of his enemies always makes a considerable part of the affliction They exult in the prospect of his dissolution; upbraid him as deserted by his God; and, in the end, feel the highest disappointment and vexation at his recovery.
• From these circumstances, which in the aggregate will not apply to any character in the Jewish history, there is good reason to conclude that the suppliant is a mystical personage; sometimes the Messiah, sometimes the Church, sometimes an individual of the faithful. The enemies, too, are mystical;—the devil, and the evil spirits his confederates, and atheists and idolaters considered as associated with the rebellious angels. The sickness, too, is mystical: when the Messiah himself is the sick person, the sickness is his humiliation, and the wrath which he endured for the sins of men: when the church is personated, her sickness is the frailty of her members. But in some Psalms the sick suppliant is the believer's soul, labouring under a sense of its infirmities, and anxiously expecting the promised redemption; the sickness is the depravity and disorder occasioned by the fall of man.'—Notes on Psalm VI.
What degree of satisfactory evidence there is in these observations, we take not upon us to determine: but we fear that they are not sufficiently strong to sustain the weight laid upon them. We propose our difficulties in the form of doubts.
I. Does not this hypothesis require such a plastic use of words as, if once admitted, would nullify all the certainty of language? For example, the XXVth Psalm is applied to Christ.
« In the first twelve verses, the man Christ Jesus, (or, in the Hutchinsonian phrase, the humanity of Chiist,) prays to the Trinity. In ■ the first three, to the Word to which the humanity was united, for support. In the fourth and fifth to the Holy Spirit, to instruct and guide him. In the sixth, seventh, and eighth, to God the Father, to spare him. The imputed guilt of man, in verse seventh, he speaks of as his own, because it was imputed to him. But what, it may be asked, were the trespasses anc disobediences of Messiah's youth, which he requests may not be remembered? I agree with Mr. Hutchinson, that the sins of '"vj; may be the sins, juniorum, of his younger brethren, %. e. of Christians.'—Vol. I. pp. 209.
A more lamentable display of criticism travestied it has sel.
dom been our lot to light upon. What can be more arbitrary than the imagined changes in the reference of the prayer? What more a violation of the faith of language than the quibbling and torturing of the plain words; " Remember not the sins of my "youth, nor my transgressions ;—pardon mine iniquity for it is "great;—forgive all my sins?"* The word cited never, in the Hebrew Scriptures, signifies youth in the concrete, or any thing but the period of youth, literally or metaphorically.
II. Would such interpretations ever convince an infidel, a Jew, or a Socinian? Are they not calculated to bring into con-> tempt and derision the argument from prophecy, and the most profound doctrines of Christianity?
III. Are not the features of description, alleged to be inapplicable to David or any other of the numerous writers of the Hebrew lyre, stated too strongly and too generally? An examination of each instance would, we think, greatly reduce them.
IV. Is it not an error, to assume that the Psalms prophetic of the Messiah, were chiefly, if not exclusively, composed by David' The Clld is a striking exception, evidently belonging to the time of the captivity; and the XLVth does not appear to have been a composition of David.
There are, in our humble opinion, but two bases on which can be built a safe and solid application of Old Testament passages to the Messiah. These are, first, the clear Au rHoKir? of the New Testament; and second, the fact that the terms of any passage in question, in their plain, natural, untortured sense, and in the evident scope of their connexion, apply to the Divine Redeemer, and cannot be deprived of such application, unless by a violence of interpretation, and a contradiction of the fair and grammatical construction of language. An attempt to build on other foundations than these, we cannot but apprehend would be weakening the evidence of truth, and giving large advantages to error on the right hand and on the left.
As the most compendious way of conveying an idea of the manner and general merits of the Translation, we shall transcribe a few passages , and we shall take the liberty of following them with versions of our own, in which we have endeavoured closely to express the sense of the original, and which, we assure our readers, were made and written as here presented before
* We quote from the common version, as being strictly literal to the words, and exact to the sense. But the Bishop's own version is not at all the more favourable to his interpretation : " The trespasses'^ "my youth, and my disobediences, remember not;—Pardon thou my "iniquity, because of thy goodness, O Jehovah: truly that [viz. thy "goodness J is'great;—pardon all my trespasses."—By the way, we cannot but remark on the unwarrantable liberties, both in translation, and in transposition, taken with verse 11.
We had looked at the Bishop's. Our apology for this mode of proceeding is its fairness, and its conveying our views more clearly and concisely than could be done by rtiere annotations' and comments. Those of our readers who study Hebrew, Wilt lay before them the original, and we recommend to others to form the comparison with the Authorized English Version, or with any others which they may have at hand.
Psalm II.—Bishop Horsley's Translation.
'Part I.—Psalmist. * 1. To what purpose do the heathen confederate, And the nations meditate a vain thing?
• 2. The kings of the earth set themselves in array, And the statesmen sit in council together, Against Jehovah, and against his Anointed One.
'3. *' Let us break off their fetters,
"And cast away from us their twisted cords."
'4. He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh,
The Lord shall make scorn at them. '5. Then shall he speak against them in his wrath,
And in hisburning-anger he shall strike-them-with-dismay;
« 6. "Yet will I anoint my King Upon my holy hill of Zion.'
• Part II.—Messiah.
» 7. I will publish the decree of God: Jehovah saith unto me, My Son art Thou; I, this day, have begotten thee.
'8. Demand of me; for I appoint the Heathen thine inheritance, And the extremities of the Earth thy-fast-possession.
* 9. Thou shalt rule them with a sceptre of iron,
Thou shalt break them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'
'Part III.—Psalmist. '10. Now, therefore, O ye kings, grow wise, Be taught, O ye judges of the earth. '11. Serve the Jehovah
With fear, and rejoice with diffidence. '12. Kiss the Son
Lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way;For, within a little shall his wrath blaze forth.— Blessed is every one who taketh shelter under Himr*
The Reviewer's Translation.
1. Why rage the nations?
And the peoples contrive vanity?
2i The kings of the earth have set up themselves,
3. « Let us burst their bands,
4. Sitting in the heavens, he will laugh, The Lord will hold them in derisien.
5, Then he will rebuke them in his wrath;
And, in his burning anger, he will alarm them.
6. But I, I have anointed my King,
7« I will declare the decree: Jehovah hath said to me,
S. " Ask from me, and I will give the nations, thine inheritance; "And thy possession, the uttermost bounds of the earth.
9. " Thou shalt break them with an iron sceptre:
"As the vessels of a potter, thou shalt dash them."
10. Now, therefore, ye kings, have understanding: Be corrected, ye judges of the earth.
11. Serve Jehovah with reverence, And rejoice with trembling.
12. Do homage to the Son, lest he be angry,
When his wrath is even for a moment kindled!
Psalm XVI.—8—11. Bishop Horsley's Translation.
'8. I have set Jehovah always before me;
Because he is at my right hand I shall not slip.
'9. Therefore my heart is glad, my tongue rejoiceth; My flesh also shall rest in security.
'10. For thou wilt not relinquish my soul to hell,
Thou wilt not suffer thine Holx One to see corruption.
'11. Thou wilt shew me the path of immortality;
The Reviewer's Translation.
8. I have set Jehovah before me continually;
Since [he is] at my right hand, T shall not be moved.
9. Therefore my heart rejoiceth, and my glory exulteth;
10. For thou wilt not leave my life in the grave;
11. Thou wilt make me to know the path of life,