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Character of Solomon.
And Judah And Israel Dwelt Safely. Every Man, Under His Vine. And Under His Fig-tree, From Dan, Even To Beer-sheba, All The Days Of SoLomon.
/T~* H E R E is, perhaps, as much moral
■*• fense, and literary beauty, comprised in this passage, as ever was conveyed to the human understanding, by the hand of tradition. What a paradisaical picture does it give us of the reign of Solomon! Majesty and mildness, power and pleasure, seem to have been the grand supporters of his throne: and we read the history of his times, with a mixture of joy and admiration.
The very first instance of his wisdom,
gave to mankind the most delightful earn
L ^ est est of what might be expected from him. 1 speak of his judgment betwixt the two harlots. How finely did he distinguish the simplicity of natural sorrow, from the whineing complaint of advantitious woe: he saw the real parent, in her fears, her wishes, and her tears; and he detected.the imposture, by every action. The beginning of the reign exhibits this illustrious heir of the noble David in all the glory of sublunary greatness; "For he had domi"nion over all the region, on this side the "river, from Tiphshah, even to Azzah, "over all the kings on this side the river:" and in the midst of so extensive an authority, he maintained peace on all sides around him: " Every man dwelt safely under his *' vine, and under his fig-tree," from one end of his realms to the other, "from Dan *' even to Beer-sheba/"
What a prospect was here for the people! What a joyful promise for the pubI'.c heart! But with what energy—I had almost said—enchantment—is the disposi
tion of this prince characterized in the subsequent verse?
"And God gave Solomon wisdom and "understanding, exceeding much, and "largeness of heart, even as the sand that "is on the lea shore."
He had, it seems, not only the greatest wealth, but the nicest judgment, and the noblest inclination, todistributethat wealth, to make it conducive to general felicity. He equalled his father in his poetical capacity, and even surpassed him as a moralist: his songs are marked by an enthusiasm, a tenderness, and a pathos, in which all the treasures of the warmest, gayest, and sublimest Imagination, appear to have been exhausted. Image and metaphor were equally at his command; and a genius, so etherial, is sometimes discovered in these sallies of his pen, that his conception takes a flight too lofty for the eye to reach him. But, however amazing the powers of his fancy, they were, at katt, equalled by the L 2 graver
graver abilities of his judgment. He, by no means, figured less as a moral wrter: for, his Proverbs are a collection of concise maxims, which stand, altogether unrivalled ; and are the foundation of all those stiort, multitudinous remarks, which have been issued from the press, since his time: but those of Solomon will, indeed, be ever separated. from all others. Such knowledge of life, such various beauty in the expression—such astonishing terseness in the style—such poignancy in the satire— such purity in the phrase, and such solidity in the sense, entitled their author to the immortality which he claims, and which he possesses.
There stems to have been a epocha in his genius : his compositions present us with a climax. From the Poet, he rises to the Moralist, and from the Moralist he soars to the Divine. The book of Ecclesiastes, is one of the finest systems, or bodies of divinity. Every sentence is found . and orthodox. His observations are accurate