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appears to many incongruous with those mutual regards between Christ and his church, that form, in the apprehension of the orthodox, the great subject of this work. But the very same imagery, it should be recollected, is employed, and for the very same purpose, by the most undoubted of our scriptural writers, and in the first and foremost of our scriptural books. To present one example out of those which occur in the Old Testament, we have the prophet Isaiah saying, “ Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved, touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill," Isaiah v. 1, &c. See further, Isaiah lxi. 10, and lxii. 5. Jer. ï. 2. Ezek. xvi. 8. Hosea ii. 19, 20. Matt. ix. 15; xxii. 2, &c.; xxv. 1, &c. John iii. 29. But even the New Testament, more didactic and less poetical, as it is conceived to be, abundantly exemplifies the style and form of representation that have been so much objected to, in this part of scripture. The affection of Christ for the church, is, doctrinally and without a figure, set forth in Acts xx. 28—where the measure of his love may be estimated by the price which he gave for it, having "purchased it with his own blood." This forms the commencement of a new relation, we are told in Rom. vii. 4, between the sinner who is redeemed and the Saviour who has thus redeemed him. Raised by Him from death, we are married to Christ, “that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” The image is repeated by the apostle in his second epistle to the Corinthians, xi. 2. “I have espoused you to one husband,
that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” And the preparation for our full enjoyment of Him in heaven, is our investiture here in all the graces of moral and spiritual excellence; and accordingly, the great work of Jesus Christ as the Lord our strength and our sanctifier, is to make us meet for that inheritance, whereof the spirit is said to be the earnest.* This is followed up by a more full development of the image in Eph. v. 25—32—which imagery is not only sustained by Paul throughout the preparation for union with Christ here ; but is employed by John, when he sets forth the completion of it in heavenwhere a glorious and immortal festival awaits all those " who are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb."t Our business here is to be diligent, that we may be found without spot and blameless in the great day of reckoning. This we are enabled to prosecute through Christ helping us, who prepares His disciples for Himself, “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” When this is accomplished, He may say, in the language of the Canticles, “ Thou art fair, there is no spot in thee," Song iv. 7. It is thus that we have scriptural authority, if not for the positive confirmation of the title of this work to a place in the canon, at least for the removal of the objections against it. We admit that it has not much more of affirmative evidence to rest upon, than the historical fact of its reception by the Jewish and Christian churches-coupled, however, with the uniform testimony of Christ and his apostles
* Eph. i. 14; iv. 30.
+ Rev. xix. 7-9; xx, 1, 2.
on the side of “scripture," whereof this work formed part and parcel in their time. With the exception, perhaps, of one passage in the New Testament, the second book of Kings would have scarcely had any other than the same grounds to rest upon--yet in that passage it is at once quoted as scripture, and thus has its scriptural place and authority conclusively stamped upon it. The Song of Solomon has not the benefit of any reference so distinct and peculiar as this; but the strong circumstance-both in its favour, and in that of all other books which held occupancy in the Hebrew scriptures of that day, is—that Christ and His apostles, in their repeated notices of the whole collection, under this their received and understood title, never complains of any unlicensed intrusion, made by any work among the sacred writings of their countrymen.
Yet neither are we altogether destitute of scriptural evidence on this subject, as we have made out to a certain extent already, and of which we offer a few additional examples below.* By the general consent of the Jewish and Christian churches, this work has a place in the canon : And there are not wanting examples, in the history of the church, of those pure in heart, those lofty and accomplished disciples in the school of spiritual and experimental religion, as St. Bernard and Thomas Aquinas, who have rejoiced in the preciousness of this scripture, and inhaled the very
• Cant. i. 4.-John vi. 44. Cant. v. 1.- Rev. iii. 20. iv. 7.-Eph. v. 27.
v. 2.- Rev. ii. 20. Many more similar quotations might be given-but these will account for the fact, why, not only our most spiritual men, but taose who are best acquainted with scripture in general, are most reconciled and most attached to the Song of Solomon in particular.
atmosphere of heaven, without one taint of the base or the unholy, while they luxuriated over its pages.
“ Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled," Titus i. 15.
For the interesting subject of the relation, in which the external stands to the internal evidence, on the question of the canon or the inspiration of any book, we would refer our readers to a succeeding chapter.
29. Before entering, in detail, on the prophetic books-it may be right to exhibit a few of the scriptural testimonies for the existence of such works in the general, and the respect in which they were held. “ That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets,” Matt. ii. 23. “ We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write,” John i. 45—thus ascribing to the prophets, an authority co-ordinate with that of Moses. “ As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began,” Luke i. 70. “ All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished,” Luke xviii. 31. “ Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” Acts iïi. 21. “ Yea, and all the prophets have likewise foretold of these days,” Acts iï. 24.
66 Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,” Rom. i. 2. “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,” Heb. i. 1. We forbear to multiply instances in proof of a thing so palpable, as that there existed a collection of prophetical writ
ings in the days of our Saviour, in favour of which we have the joint testimony both of Jews and Christians, accompanied by the frequent appeals both of Christ and his apostles.
30. Isaiah.] This most illustrious of the Old Testament prophets seems to have been honoured in the days of our Saviour, with a separate volume for his own compositions. See Luke iv. 17. Their human authorship is clearly assigned to him --and that, not by an external, but by an incorporated title. Isaiah i. 1. See also ii. 1 ; xiii. l; XX. 2 ; xxx. 8, &c. &c. He speaks throughout repeatedly in his own person, as in vi. 1, which passage decides also the chronology of this prophet—a point, however, decisively established by direct scriptural history, and more particularly of the reign of Hezekiah in the second book of Kings and second book of Chronicles. The great difficulty lies, not in finding, but in selecting the testimonies, which are so profusely scattered over the Bible in favour of this prophet. “ Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and should have been like unto Gomorrah,” Isaiah i. 9. “ And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha,” Romans ix. 29.
-“ And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it,” &c. Isaiah ii. 2, &c. “ But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the