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exposition, the pattern of which had been borrowed from our Saviour himself, and his immediate followers, till almost every Psalm, touched by the talisman of his genius, stood confessed in its genuine form as the harbinger of the Prince of Peace.
The application of the Psalms to the mysteries of the Gospel was the great aim of this excellent prelate; a scheme of interpretation which, if it did not originate with him, has so flourished under his hand, as to have become his by a sort of right of culture: the constituents of the landscape were given him, but under his tasteful disposition of its forms and objects, the scenery has assumed a magnificence worthy of inspiration, opening into that paradise wherein our second Adam has spread before the soul an everlasting verdure, has planted again the tree of life, and removed from the portals the fiery sword. Almost every Psalm, according to the method of interpretation pursued by Dr. Horne, is capable of a double sense and application. It has a literal and historical meaning, confined to temporal occurrences in the lives of great personages, or in the past or actual state of the Jewish nation; but in these secondary subjects the shaded resemblance of the glorious Redeemer is pourtrayed, and the great mystery of the atonement is prophetically recorded. In David, especially, we are taught to see the illus trious representative of the Messiah; and in applying the letter of the poem to him and his eventful career, to reserve a spiritual appropriation to the suffering and triumphant Saviour, bearing his cross on earth, and exalting his sceptre in heaven.
In thus spiritualizing these sacred compositions, the learned Bishop of Norwich seemed to be sufficiently aware of the danger of excess, and as a security against it, he recommends a cautious preliminary study of the literal meaning of the Psalm before any attempt is made to engraft upon it a superior sense; and while he seems to think that, in some instances, the literal meaning is the only meaning, he allows very few of the Psalms to be simply prophetical, and to belong only to the Messiah, without the intervention of any other person; differing in this respect from St. Augustin, who attends scarcely at all to the literal sense. This, indeed, seems to have been the character in general of the interpretations left us by the Fathers. They, for the most part, apply the Psalms immediately to Christ and his Church, and see in almost all of them a direct spirit of prophecy, divested of all connection with a lower order of events. It seems to us, that each of these methods has its extreme, from which some injury to the wholesome and edifying influence of the Psalter may be apprehended. By asking too much, we may dispose men to allow too little, and this may be the consequence of a spiritual refinement on the one side; while, by running a
parallel between human and heavenly things, with the zeal which usually accompanies such discoveries, we are often urged into a littleness of detail, unsuitable to the majesty of scriptural truth, on the other.
What Dr. Horsley thought on this subject, we may in a great degree collect from the translation before us, but we have to regret, in the absence of all preface or introduction to the work, the want of those instructive comments on this subject of consideration, which he probably would have added, had he lived to be the publisher of his own performance.
The extremes to which we have above alluded, appear to have been judiciously avoided by the Author of the subject of this article. His method seems to have been to take the shortest road towards the object of his research. Where he has observed a Psalm to have an obvious and direct spiritual bearing, though in a highly figurative dress, he has never gone beyond the necessity in seeking for any occasional or historical matter of allusion or description, but has considered the scope of the composition as purely prophetical. When by the legitimate exercise of poetical freedom the kingdom of Christ, the glory of the Saints, the victories of faith, the accomplishment of the promises, the destruction of sinners, and the consummation of all things, are figuratively described by allusions to the great phenomena of the natural world, or to experiences of the past, or scenes of the present time the most awfully impressive, he applies the Psalm singly to this one grand object, without looking for any more immediate reference to the history of the Jewish nation, or to the occurrences of the life of David or Solomon. Where the reference to these passing events is obvious and express, Dr. Horsley has admitted with other expositors, both a primary and ulterior sense. In the distinct allusions to the public history of the natural Israel, he sees adumbrated the fortunes of the mystical Israel, the Christian church; and in the private life of the Holy David he sees personified the Holier Son of David, the Lord of all things, both in earth and heaven. That of such of the Psalms as dwell upon the persecution and sufferings of David, he himself was the author; and that those of his composition were prophetic, "we have," as Dr. Horsley has observed, "the authority of David himself, who, at the close of his life, thus 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 should seem," "continues the Bishop, "that the Spirit of Jehovah would not be wanting to enable a mere man to make complaint of his own enemies, to describe his own sufferings just 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 spirit 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 misapplication of any other parts of the Scriptures, among those who profess the belief of the Christian religion."
Upon the whole, Dr. Horsley, in his interpretation of the. Psalter, has had less resort to this divided application of the meaning than either Dr. Lowth or Dr. Horne, and in this respect he appears to us to have improved upon those able and excellent expositors. For wherever a simple prophetical sense can be fairly educed, it is neither useful nor rational to go in search of temporary topics, and to load the argument with additional senses and allusions. It was to this disposition in the commentators on the Psalms that Erasmus adverted, when, in one of his epistles, he declined adding himself to the number, alleging his fears, ne turba commentariorum obscuraretur sermo propheticus citius quam illustraretur.
The principal events which happened to the Jewish nation were too signal to be mistaken, and in many of the Psalms the allusions to them are so plain as not to be doubted of; but no inspiration would have been necessary to describe them with truth and exactness, and we are not to wonder, that the writers of the New Testament interpret this part of the Psalms in a much deeper sense than that which lies upon the surface, and regard it as a continued series of prophecy in the form of allegory. Thus Egypt, Israel, the wilderness, the land of Canaan, and the various fortunes of the chosen people, considered in a typical and figurative sense, are representative of the bondage of sin, the heirship of the promise, the Christian militant state, and the happiness of the redeemed in heaven. There is therefore a holy and a spiritual sense to be put upon all these titles, places, and occurrences, of which the gross and natural existences are only the pictures and the emblems. Without this double sense these Psalms would lose all their beauty by losing all their point; and, when read in a Christian Church, would be totally unappropriate and senseless. The same may be said of the various allusions to the ritual, sacrifices, and services of the Mosaic institution, and to the offices of the priesthood; all which are reasonably and authoritatively referred by the Christian believer to higher and holier objects; to the one great sacrifice once offered for all men; to the spiritual temple not made with hands; and to the great High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. It is absolutely impossible
for any thinking, unprejudiced man, to read the ecstatic expressions of David in the 119th Psalm, and not plainly perceive that laws, and testimonies, and statutes, and ordinances, of higher value and more saving efficacy than any comprehended within the ceremonial or moral dispensation of the Jews, were the theme of his wonder and praise.
Those Psalms wherein the person from whose mouth they appear to issue describes his sorrows, his sufferings, and his triumphs, represent with such fidelity the history of the Son of God, that we need scarcely seek for any other application. For the circumstances of David, or Solomon, or any human condition, they will generally be found to be too great in depth, and breadth, and altitude. A pre-eminence in suffering points to the Man of Sorrows, a more than mortal majesty points to the King of Glory." Girding his sword upon his thigh, we see the Warrior of Salvation surrounded with the trophies of his victorious grace; anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, we see the blessed Bridegroom of the church. Nor shall we do full justice to the pen of the ready writer unless we put Solomon and his nuptials out of our view, and fix our thoughts upon him whose sceptre is a right sceptre, and upon her who comes forth in her odoriferous garments, the consort of Christ, in the beauty of holiness. Even in the Penitential Psalms, where complaint is made of the burthen and number of sins and iniquities, oppressing and weighing down the speaker, we still hear the voice of the Messiah. We hear him complaining, that "innumerable evils have compassed him about, that his iniquities have taken such hold upon him, that he is not able to look up, that they are more in number than the hairs of his head, and that, therefore, his heart has failed him." Doubtless these were not his own sins, but the sins of mankind, of which he took upon himself the burthen and the atonement, and "bare in his own body on the tree;" being "made sin for us who knew no sin." That the Messiah is the person that speaks in some at least of these penitential Psalms we have the authority of the Apostles to assure us, who, in their quotations from them, constantly refer them to our blessed Saviour, who took the sins of the world upon himself, that he might expiate them upon the cross, and cover them with his personal righteousness,
In the translation of Dr. Horsley the Messiah is perpetually present, speaking in his own person: and wherever the words are applicable to his most holy life and character, the translator never supposes in them a primary sense referrable to the case of any mortal being, except where this double bearing is distinctly and necessarily to be inferred. The form of dialogue, or the dramatic cast given to these divine compositions in the present translation, seems to us to result from the truest conception of the spirit and
style of Hebrew poetry; and to remove the veil which has hitherto concealed from us so much of their interior grace and loveliness. If Dr. Horsley has not the entire merit of this discovery, for the first application of it to the Psalter in particular we are chiefly indebted to his admirable discernment.
To assist the reader in arriving at the view which Dr. Horsley took of the nature and design of the Psalms in general, the Editor has introduced into the preface to the work an extract from a sermon of the Bishop's on the 1st verse of the second Psalm; and from this extract we produce what is said of the form of dialogue, which, in his opinion, belongs to so large a part of the Psalter.
"But 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-psalins 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 declarative 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 introduced as a conqueror, the resemblance is very remarkable between this conqueror, in the book of Psalms, and the warrior on the white horse, in the book of Revelations, who goes forth with a 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 conquest 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 is the same personage in both. It is no objection to this notion of Psalms in dialogue, that none of them are distinguished into the parts of the different speakers. In the works of any profane writer, the parts that belong to different persons in a scene are usually distinguished by prefixing to the beginning of each speech, the initials of the name of the person to which the speech belongs; but this is a modern practice. In the oldest MSS. of the ancient Greek plays, the persons of the drama are not so distinguished any more than the persons in the Psalms; but these distinctions have been supplied by editors. But in publishing the sacred text it was justly thought that it would be too great a liberty in the Editor were he to insert marks of his own, which the Holy Penman had not thought necessary. It would be useful, however, if a paraphrase were given with these distinctions in their proper places, and, yet the want of them is not very great; for I will venture to say, that a reader of ordinary penetration, who has once had the hint that he is reading a dialogue, will easily perceive to what speakers the different