Imatges de pÓgina
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HANCOCK PROFESSOR OF HEBREW, ETC., AND DEXTER LECTURER

IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

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B51424 N6 1880

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by

THE AMERICAN UNITARIAN ASSOCIATION,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts

UNIVERSITY PRESS: JOHN WILSON & Son,

CAMBRIDGE.

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INTRODUCTION.

I. GENERAL CHARACTER AND VALUE OF THE PSALMS.

THE Book of Psalms has been styled by some of the German critics, in allusion to a portion of Grecian literature, THE HEBREW ANTHOLOGY; that is, a collection of the lyric, moral, historical, and elegiac poetry of the Hebrews. Regarded in this light alone, it presents a most interesting subject of literary taste and curiosity. Many of these psalms must have been composed some hundreds of years before the period which is commonly assigned to the origin of the Iliad of Homer. But is not with them as with many of the productions of the classic Muse, of which the antiquity constitutes their greatest claim upon the attention of the scholar, and of which the subjects possess little or no interest for the world in its manhood. It was the privilege of the Hebrew bards to be employed upon subjects possessing an interest as enduring as the attributes of God and the nature of dependent man. Their poetry has the deep foundation of eternal truth. It comes, for the most part, in language the most glowing, from the very depths of the soul, rich in sentiments adapted to the soul's most urgent wants. Hence its living spirit, its immortal freshness. Hence its

power of reaching the hearts of all men, in all countries and in all ages. Where, in the whole compass of literature, can one find more of the “thoughts that breathe and words that burn " than in the Hebrew Anthology? Then, too, what variety is there in the subjects of these ancient compositions ! How diverse the states of heart and fortune that occasioned them! How various the strains of joy, sorrow, gratitude, love, hope, confidence, fear,

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