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beautiful odes, and the most exalted strains of heavenly piety, that ever were published to mankind. Those ascribed to David bear internal evidence df being genuine; and it is generally understood that a considerable part of the collection was penned by other prophets and inspired persons. The absurd supposition, however, of David being the author of the hundred and thirty seventh Psalm, gives Mr. P. an opportunity of declaiming against the imposition of the Bible, and of diverting his readers with the fancy of 'a man's walking in procession at his own funeral.' But is this the frame of mind, which becomes an enquirer after important truth?
Mr. P. allows that there is some wisdom in the Proverbs ascribed to Solomon; though he once decided, (at a time when he had no Bible,) that they were inferior to the proverbs of the Spaniards, or the maxims of Dr. Franklin!* But he supposes it to have been the fashion of that day to make proverbs, as it is now to make jest-books. If this were indeed the case, that should have been called the Age of Reason, and this the age of levity and folly: for surely wise proverbs are more reasonable, than profane, filthy, and scurrilous jests, according to the custom of modern times!
Mr. 'P. expresses great approbation of Agur's prayer,' as the only sensible, well-conceived, and well
•P. i. p. 16.
'expressed prayer in the Bible!'* I would therefore heartily recommend it to his constant and fervent usej with an especial attention to the clause, "-remove "from me vanity and lies.''f If Agur were a gentile, as he supposes, the Jews were not so bigotted, as to reject what they found good even among the heathen: but I imagine Mr. P. knows no more than the rest of up, who Agur and Lemuel were.
He adds, 'The Jews never prayed but when they 'were in trouble; and never for any thing but victory, vengeance, and riches!'—All, who deem prayer their duty and privilege, will be peculiarly earnest in it during special trials, though they never wholly neglect it: and nations engaged in war, if they trust in God and appeal to him, must pray for victory.— Most of the prayers of this kind, recorded in Scripture, were presented by the rulers of Israel, when assaulted by injurions and blasphemous invaders: few prayers for vengeance can be found, which are not evident predictions, or warnings to the enemies of God: and scarcely any for riches, unless exemption from famine, and the blessings of plentiful harvest be so called. Solomon's prayer, for wisdom, and not for riches, long life, or the life of his enemies, was not offered in trouble. Mr. P. commends the nineteenth Psalm,\ yet the latter part of it is a prayer, neither for victory, vengeance, nor riches: and no one, conversant in the Scripture, can be at a loss for instances of a similar .kind. He who thus wantonly slanders a whole
nation, is net the most proper person to declaim against khe wickedness of priests and prophets. i
Mr. P. treats Ecclesiastes, as the reflection of a worn out debauchee, and supposes the exclamation, "All "is vanity," to relate entirely to Solomon's thousand wives and concubines: and he represents him, not as a penitent but as melancholy. But in fact these wives and concubines are but once hinted at; while the preacher shews in the most convincing and affecting manner, from experience and the nature of things, that magnificence, authority, and sensual indulgence; and even science and wisdom, unless connected with true religion, are vanity and vexation of spirit: and he closes with exhorting the reader in the prospect of a future judgment, to "fear God, and keep his com"mandments; for this is the whole duty of man."
Far be it from me to vindicate Solomon in that conduct, of which he seems to have deeply repented: yet he is represented in Scripture, as drawn aside in his old age, and not as licentious in his youth. Probably his immense seraglio was principally a foolish affectation of superior magnificence, and a conformity to the eastern customs; while some of his women gained the ascendancy over him, and induced him, towards the decline of life, to commit those crimes, from which he had before been exempt.
* P. ii. p. 41,40.
Our author is very merry upon Solomon's sottgs, as he calls this book; and I agree with him, that he wants the tunes, and cannot sing such songs: that is, his heart is not in tune for them.f As this book is not quoted in the New Testament, and as few derive benefit from it till they have learned divine truth from other Scriptures; I shall not enter into any furher argument about it: though I firmly believe it to be a very useful part of God's word.
The sacred writers are not accountable for the order in which the several books are placed in the Old Testament: nor are they arranged in the same manner in the Hebrew Bible, as in our translation. If therefore Solomon's Song has been misplaced; that does not at all disprove the divine inspiration of the holy Scriptures, which is the point I have undertaken to defend.
• P. ii. p. 42, 43. t Rev. i. 5. v. 9—14. xiv. 3.
IT is probable, that Mr. P. is the first writer, capa- ble of attracting the public notice, who has deemed the book of Isaiah to be 'bombastical rant, extrava• gant metaphor, such stuff as a school-boy would have 'been scarcely excusable for writing!'* I shall however, leave him to setde this point with those able criticks, and admired judges of fine writing, who have decidedly preferred many parts of Isaiah's poetry, for sublimity and beauty, to all other compositions now extant in the world.
Occasional poems and sermons are not always arranged in very regular order: some able authors have published volumes of miscellanies; and we ought not to judge of an eastern writer by our rules of method. A cursory perusal will not always enable a man to discern the drift and plan of an author, when they may be clearly ascertained upon a more accurate investigation; and sometimes the conclusion of one poem or message, and the beginning of another, escape the notice of a hasty reader: so that there may
* p. ii. p. 4S.