صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

to the most intimate relationship and intercommunion of the divine and human spirits ? As though, in looking abroad upon the universe, the soul saw God, and the enjoyment of God's presence, as constituting the value and the reality of every other possession. It is only metaphorical language, says the neologist, into which we infuse the life and warmth of later evangelical sentiment. In its older use it comes from those ideas of temporal possession and allotment in the land of Canaan, to which they had been so long accustomed. Be it so. But then it certainly shows how strong the spiritualising tendency, and how distinct the spiritual teaching, which led to such an application. It is, too, no weak proof, that such was actually one main design of the author of the Scriptures, in giving to the letter of the sacred books, such a wonderful capability of accommodation. It suggests the same law of hermeneutics which the apostle adopts in his favorite parallel between the literal and the heavenly Canaan, the temporal and the eternal rest ; and it warrants us in applying the same mode to other parts of the Old Testament, with the confident belief, that we are using no forced interpretation, but only tracing out the legitimate harmony, which exists between the letter and the spirit.

Again, how can we account for the same earnestness of language, the same strong confidence, the same elevation of assurance, even under circumstances in which all merely temporal hopes, must surely be regarded as vanishing fast away, and the speaker as drawing nigh to that period, which, if the unevangelical theory be true, he must look upon as the final and total cessation of his brief existence. There is, however, no failing of strength, none of assurance, none of triumph even in the very prospect of the grave. “ I will come in the power of the Lord Jehovah, I will make mention of thy righteousness, of thine only. Oh God! Thou hast taught me from my youth, and even now will I declare thy won. derful deeds. In old age and hoary hairs, O God, thou wilt not forsake me. Thou hast caused me to see many and sore troubles yet wilt thou quicken and bring me up again from the depths of 'Thou wilt bring me up again from the depths of the Earth.The Hebrew here 77 pizaina would seem to be only another expression for Sheol, Hades, Orcus, the invisible subterranean world, which was supposed to be the residence of departed spirits, even of the saints, (as in the case of the ghost of Samuel, 1. Sam. 28: 14) until their deliverance from their quiet, (see 1 Sam. 28 ; 15.) and blessed, although imperfect and temporary resting place in the Ge-tzalmaveth, the "Valley of the shadow of death," the Terra umbrarum, or Land of the Shades. The declaration here may have no reference to the resurrection of the body; and yet we see not why one class of commentators may not be as much justified in so regarding it, as another in confining it to the merest tem. poral deliverance. It might, perhaps, be taken metaphorically for great and overwhelming afilictions, as in Ps 42 : 8, did not the preceding mention of eztreme old age, such as is generally expressed by the Hebrew nanir force the thoughts to the contemplation of a future and more spiritual deliverance. It the earth. Wherefore I will praise thy truth (Heb. thy faithfulness) with the psaltery. I will sing unto thee with the harp, thou Holy One of Israel. "My lips shall triumph, because I sing of thee and of my soul which thou hast redeemed.”—Ps. 71:17.

What means the redemption of the soul, in this passage; or may it have a higher and lower significance ? Soul is only a term for life, says the neologist ; uid? (nephesh) is animal breath; its redemption is only a rescue from animal and temporal death ; it is simply a prolongation of the present brief existence to a little longer en. durance of trial and suffering; the depths of the earth,is only a metaphorical term for overwhelming troubles from which there is obtained a short respite before the sufferer goes hence and is no more forever. This then, is the only redemption sung of, and for this the delivered one tunes his harp in such lofty and triumphant strains, to the Holy One of Israel. Now the unevangelical interpreter may, if he pleases, give it the lower sense. The passage is undoubtedly capable of being so taken. But again, we say apply the test; take into view the whole context; dwell upon the strength and elevation of language, the serious and holy triumph, the serene faith, the solemn joyfulness; and what an immense difficulty is there found in supposing these to be the words of an aged materialist rejoicing in a mere momentary deliverance from a death which he knows must soon, in the inevitable course of nature, come upon him, and which, moreover, he regards as the end of his being,—especially when viewed as the close of an existence, which he so feelingly laments as having been only a lengthened scene of “great and sore troubles."

Be it admitted, then, that there are two senses here; or rather two degrees of sense, in these and similar passages. Let him who chooses it, take the lower. It may be to him

a true, and useful, and instructive sense. The spiritually-minded Christian, however, feels that there is such an adaptedness, such a perfect sympathy with the higher sentiment, and the higher emotion, that he cannot doubt of its having been intended by the author of the Scriptures, may thus signify some release of the human spirit from Sheol or Hades, without supposing any designed allusion to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body itself; although the langnage does indeed look so much like it. The Scotch version, in its beautiful simplicity and faithfulness, seems to present strongly this idea of a bodily resurrection, and yet it would be very difficult to show wherein it departs from the most rigid and truthful rendering of the Hebrew.

Thou Lord who great adversities,

And sore to me didst show,
Shall quicken and bring me again

From depths of earth below.
Thee, with thy truth, I'll therefore praise,

My God with psaltery,
Thou Holy One of Israel,
: With harp I'll sing 10 thee.

and of the evangelical being, not only an allowable, but the more substantial, the more universal, and, therefore, in fact, the more real interpretation,—although unobtruded upon the soul that does not love, and, therefore, cannot perceive its higher significance.

At times, however, the language rises to an elevation, at which the spiritual stands out so prominently, and every possibility of any other sense so entirely disappears, that the veriest rationalist is compelled to acknowledge the presence of the higher element. “ Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol; thou wilt not suffer thy beloved one to see corruption.” This, too, if one so chooses, may be taken in the lower sense of a mere prolongation of natural life,' and, in this way, of a redemption, or rescue from the grave; although it is exceedingly difficult to reconcile such an interpretation with the common rendering of the Hebrew verb employed in the first member. So also in the last verse of this sixteenth psalm: “Thou wilt make me to know the path of life, the fullness of joys that are in thy presence, the pleasures that are at thy right hand

מִכְתָּם

[ocr errors]

! That this sixteenth psalm refers to a spiritual redemption, and to one that takes place after death, is made probable from the very title, Professor Stuart in his commentary, (Biblical Repository No. I.) is very much perplexed in respect to the meaning of this inscription, and, after going to the Arabic and other cognate tongues, comes at last, to no satisfactory conclusion. We think however, that there is no need of resorting to anything else than the Hebrew, and the Biblical usage of the root. A comparison of Jeremiah, 2: 22, with a parallel passage, Jeremiah 17: 1, seems to show that the true meaning of

in the former passage, is not spotted or stained, as Professor Stuart supposes, and as is favored by our version, but rather stamped, engraved, or imprinted. The other rendering, (spotted,) was doubtless suggested by the preceding word nie (soap). The participle bon would mean, according to the exigency of the climax in that passage; more than stained. It would denote something which could not be washed out-something cut in, or engraved. In Jeremiah 17: 1, maana written and many engraven, are used in the same conection, and in perfect parallelism with bap? Jeremiah 2; 22. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond; it is graven upon the tablet of their hearts." Hence, very easily and naturally the secondary sense which we find in the noun ons, stamped or coined gold, in distinction from pure gold. So also from

.

Hence also, by a very natural transition, the meaning which the Lxx have given to

in the inscription to this psalm, namely, ornhoypaqla, engraving, monument, epitaph super mortuum. How admirably, in this sense, is it adapted to the application which the apostle makes. It is “Michtam to David,even the spiritual David. It is the michtam of the Holy Sepulchre, the monumental epitaph of Christ, and of Christ not only, but also of every one who dies in the Lord.

חָרוּץ

.חָרַץ

מִכְתָּם

Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol.
Thou wilt not suffer thy beloved to see corruption.
Thou wilt show them the way to life-
The joys at thy right hand forevermore.

forevermore." All this, if any one will have it so, may mean only temporal prosperity; all these swelling and glowing expressions of a rapturous faith, “ the path of life," the bliss of the Divine presence, the “fullness of joy at God's right hand forevermore,” may possibly denote only a worldly happiness, a rejoicing indeed, in the Divine favor and goodness, but only for “the corn, the wine, and the oil." It is true, hardly any one can fail of being struck with the strange incongruity so apparent, in that case, between the soaring fullness of the diction, and the comparative poverty of the thought; but yet, if the interpreter prefers the unevangelical rendering, there are, doubtless, many good and plausible arguments in favor of such an exercise of hermeneutical skill. He may tell us of the oriental metaphor, the luxuriance of the Jewish figurative language, of the Jewish fondness for hyperbole, in such strange contrast with the meagreness and unspirituality of the Jewish religion ; and thus find only earth and earthliness, where the apostles, and the church, and evangelized souls in all ages, have found Christ, and the higher life, and Christ's redemption. All, this is possible, in respect to the passage on which we have been dwelling. But when the strain rises higher and clearer, even to the triumphant finale of the succeeding (or 17th) psalm, there is no longer any denying the presence of the spiritual and the eternal. The temporal utterly vanishes away, besides being absolutely excluded by the strong contrast between the present, and some higher and more enduring life. “Deliver my soul from the wicked, thy sword-from mortal men, who are thy hand, O Lord—from men (of Heled,) of the present temporal world, (rerum terrestrium amantes. Ges.) whose portion is in life, (or among the living,) whose belly (or appetite,) thou dost fill with hid treasures, who are satisfied in their children, and leave their residue to their babes. But as for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake in thine image.” Even Rosenmüller finds the future and glorified life in this passage. The lower sense is wholly absorbed in the higher. No mere worldly prosperity, it is felt, no deliverance from temporal danger alone, no accession of wealth or power, no triumph over enemies, is at all in harmony with the holy sublimity of this strain of clear and joyful assurance.

The morality of the Old Testament, it is said, was formal and outward ; but where do we find stronger dissuasions from mere ceremonial morality, than in the Hebrew prophets.' Where do we find sterner denunciations of the spirit that would look to God for acceptence and justification on the ground of mere ritual observances, without sincerity, truthfulness, repentance, faith and love? “Bring me no more vain oblations ; incense is an abomina

· The Hebrew may be rendered, “ when thine image, or similitude awakes," referring to some tranformation of the soul, after its rest in Hades, or when the body awakes, at the resurrection, in the image and glory of Christ.

tion unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies I cannot away with ; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices, saith the Lord. When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil

, learn to do well; relieve the oppressed ; judge the cause of the fatherless ; plead for the widow. Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” And yet shall we dare to maintain that the prophetic declarations were required to counteract the false and carnal spirit of the law? This would be indeed to set them in opposition, as some have done, and to derive them from altogether different sources. The prophetic messages, moreover, are loud in their assertions of the purity of the law, and in denunciations of the divine vengeance, on those who departed from its spirit.

And what is the law, even the ceremonial law, to one who reads it aright, but a continual enforcement of inward holiness by the most vivid typical representations of outward purity ? For what purpose are those baptisms, and washings, and sprinklings, and ceremonial purifications, and separations, but to serve as a standing presentment of God's love of inward purity of soul, thus ever pictured forth to the outward senses. It is hard to suppose that the pious Jew, even of ordinary grace and intelligence, failed to perceive the higher intent of these solemn ceremonial instructions, or was unable to see that the law, even the ritual and ceremonial law, which seemed to “stand (outwardly,) in meats and drinks, and divers baptisms," had regard to a higher end, than mere bodily health and purity. In other words, what was all this minute concern for personal cleanliness, but the most impressive method that could be adopted to represent to those prepared to receive it, the infinitely greater value of holiness, or sanctification of the soul. So the prophets speak of it in their vehement and impassioned exhortations-so the apostles interpreted, and so may we view it, not in the way of forced accommodation, but in the spirit of a true and rational hermeneutics,-strange indeed in itself, and yet deduced most legitimately from the study of those most strange and peculiar Scriptures.

It was this aspect of the law which led the devout Israelite to those expressions of fond attachment, which are so frequently to be found in the devotional books of the Old Testament, and which, when viewed in reference only to the naked ritual, might seem tumid and extravagant. Compare the great variety of epithets which occur in the passionate ejaculations of the 119th Psalm. The author never seems to become weary, in the reiterations of

« السابقةمتابعة »