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Let us return to the Hindus, among whom we now find the same emblematical theology, which Pythagoras admired and adopted. The loves of Crishna and Radha, or the ' reciprocal attraction between the divine good'ness and the human soul, are told at large in the tenth book of the Bhagavat, and are the subject of a little pastoral drama, entitled Gitagovinda: it was the work of Jayadéva, who flourished, it is said, before Calidas, and was born, as he tell us himself, in Cenduli, which many believe to be in Calinga; but, since there is a town of a similar name in Berdwan, the natives of it insist that the 'finest lyric poet of India was their country'man, and celebrate, in honour of him, an ' annual jubilee, passing a whole night in representing his drama, and in singing his * beautiful songs.'
The sum of our evidence in favour of the allegorical import of the Song of Songs amounts to this: That there is a rational ground for the allegory in divine truth; that the same imagery is allegorically employed in other undoubted parts of scripture; that this is per- : fectly in the eastern taste; that it has been almost the universal sense of ancients and moderns, who have studied this book; and that otherwise, it were very difficult, not to say impossible, to account for its admission into the sacred canon.
It has been said that some of these arguments prove only the possibility of the case and not the fact; that it may be allegorical and
not that it is so. I think they go farther: but if the possibility of this fact be admitted, from some of these considerations, others will induce a very high degree of probability, sufficient for conviction in the present case. For. instance, if from the eastern taste of composition, and more particularly from the style of the sacred writers, it appears that the same or. similar images are employed in the description of divine mysteries, it surely follows, from the admission of this book into the sacred canon, that very probably this is of the same import: at least that those who placed it there, and had far better opportunities than we of judging, thought so this is much strengthened by the, general current of early Jewish and Christian writers, and comes nothing short, as I conceive of sufficient evidence to satisfy any reasonable. enquirer. But to fasten the conviction and, complete the evidence I have reserved to this place the following argument, which being. of a moral nature, stands distinguished from the rest'.
The argument is this: that the book in its allegorical sense has been instrumental to the comfort and edification of thousands of pious
I am sensible of having omitted one argument on which some advocates for this book have laid considerable stress ; I mean the difficulty of accommodating many parts of this poem to a literal sense but I have omitted it intentionally, because, 1st, I have endeavoured to accommodate the whole in this manner; and 2d, because there is a like difficulty in spiritualizing the whole; still, however, I am disposed to think with Mr. Henley, that had the poem been intended merely as a marriage song, some passages would not have been admitted.
Jews and Christians of all ages. Now if we admit a providence superintending all human affairs, and especially the concerns of the church, how shall we reconcile it to the character of God, to suppose he has suffered his church to be deluded with a mere love-song, and in the opinion of the objectors, a very loose and profane one, for three or four thousand years? The supposition amounts to such a high degree of improbability as we seldom admit; little inferior to that of supposing, that the English church might have been so imposed on, as to mistake the poems of Rochester for a book of divine hymns and spiritual songs.
OF THE INSPIRATION OF SOLOMON'S SONG.
THIS may rather be considered as an inference from the preceding evidence, than as another subject of enquiry. For if this book were written by Solomon, a writer confessedly inspired, and contain the divine mysteries of revelation, no good reason can surely be assigned, why it should not be admitted of equal authority with the other sacred books, and particularly with other books composed by him.
Nothing therefore remains but to consider a few objections, which have not been above discussed; and they shall be taken chiefly from
Mr. WHISTON, who lays great stress upon them, and knew how to do them justice. I shall reduce them to two or three.
1. That there is no foundation for an allegorical or mystical sense of this book; there being not the least sign of a sober, virtuous, or divine meaning therein; nor any thing that in the least concerns morality or virtue, 'God'or religion, the Messiah or his kingdom: nay farther, that the use and intro• duction of double senses of scripture among the Jews, is much later than the days of Solomon, and cannot therefore be supposed to ' belong to any book of his writing."
What foundation there is for an allegorical sense in this book I have endeavoured to shew above and if this be admitted, then is the book full of morality and virtue, God and religion, the Messiah and his kingdom,' as will appear in the subjoined commentary.
The objection to the antiquity of allegory is evidently unfounded. Solomon employs it both in his Proverbs and Ecclesiastes'; Nathan's parable to David was earlier, and that of Jo
Some writers have added, that the name of God does not occur in this book, as an additional objection to its inspiration. But this is, 1st. childish and nugatory; neither does it occur in the book of Esther, which is much longer: 2d. It is false; the name JAH (a contraction of Jehovah) occurring in chap. viii. 6. Not to say that the Messiah is designated throughout as a bridegroom, as by the prophets.
Supplement to his Essay toward restoring the Text of the Old Testament, p. 12, 13, 22.
Prov. viii. Eccles. xii.
tham still more ancient; not to appeal to the - writings of Moses, nor to the 45th psalm above considered.
As a kind of supplement to this objection, another writer observes, that in all other alle'gories there is something to fix the design, and 'to assist us in finding out their meaning; as well as to oblige us to allegorize' in explaining them whereas this affords no key to the allegory, and admits a literal exposition".
But neither of these assertions is correct and true. Nathan's parable had so little in it that appeared allegorical, that David took it for a true narrative; and Solomon's allegory in Ecclesiastes has been much disputed. The keys to most allegories are to be found in their history, when no explanation is subjoined. The key of this song is to be found in the 45th psalm and other parts of scripture, where the like imagery is employed in the same way. The necessity of allegorizing this book, if not apparent in the book itself, is sufficiently evident from the arguments in favour of its allegorical design and the difficulty of otherwise accounting for its admission and continuance in the Canon. Nor can this be accounted for, as this writer pretends, from the Jews' partiality to Solomon and his writings; otherwise, why did they not insert the Book of Wisdom, and other antient pieces which bear his name? Nor is it likely that the Christians should adopt it out of complaisance to the
'Judges, ix. 2 Dissertation on Solomon's Song, 1751. :