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and the men, where Miniathek
parts of the dialogue belong. The part of Jehovah is sometimes indeed supplied (but this will never make difficulties) by an oracular voice suddenly breaking out from the Sanctuary."
" It is not a bad general notion of the book of Psalms, which is given by a considerable, though neglected critic; it is a notion which, if kept in view, would conduce much to the right understanding of them, that the whole collection forms a sort of heroic tragedy. The redemption of man, and the destruction of Satan, is the plot : the persons of the drama are the Persons of the Godhead,Christ united to one of them,
Satan, Judas; the apostate Jews, the heathen persecutors, the apostates of latter times;-the attendants, believers, unbelievers, angels ; the scenes, heaven, earth, hell ;- the time of the action, from the fall to the final overthrow of the apostate faction, and the general judgment.”
For the form of dialogue into which Dr. Horsley has thrown many of the Psalms, he was certainly indebted to Bishop Lowth's Prælections, which contain an admirable discussion of the chorus and alternations of the song in the sacred poetry of the Hebrews. Of this practice the Bishop of London presents us with . a variety of instances; as the hymn of Moses on the passage of the Red Sea, where Miriam and the women answered to Moses and the men of Israel. “And Miriam took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances; and Miriam answered them: ** “ Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously :
i The horse and the rider he hath thrown into the sea.” Which distich seems to have been introduced at regular intervals. In the same manner Isaiah describes the seraphs singing the tpoaylov: “and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the earth is full of his glory.”
So in the eleventh verse of the third chapter of Ezra : “ And they sang together by course, in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel :” and more remarkably in the 136th Psalm, where the versicle, successively repeated, forms a perpetual epode.
In the second Psalm the sense is much cleared, and the spirit improved, by the same method of interpretation; which our present translator considers as consisting of three parts: the first spoken in the person of the Psalmist, the second in that of Messiah, and again the last in that of the Psalmist. The first part, which is spoken by the Psalmist, ends with the sixth verse; Messiah speaks the seventh, eighth, and ninth; and the Psalmist concludes with the three remaining verses. Let the reader attend to these divisions, and confess the charm of perspicuity which they impart to this plainly prophetical poem. By way of specimen of this manner of division we will produce Dr. Horsley's
translation and adjustment of the parts of the 24th Psalm ; which is marked in a peculiar degree by the characters of this dramatic enunciation.
“ The 24th Psalm,” says Dr. Horsley, “ opens with a chorus, proclaiming the divinity of Jehovah, the Creator and Lord of the universe. It then describes, in questions and answers, sung by different voices, the sort of righteousness which recommends to Jehovah's favour; which consists not in any ceremonial observances, but in clean hands and a pure heart. And the song concludes with a prediction of the exaltation of the Messiah (for he is certainly the Jehovah of this Psalm), under the image of an entry of Jehovah into his temple,
The world, and its inhabitants.
Who hath not carried his soul to vanity,
PA ᎡᎢ ᎥᏓ
And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors,
A Single Voice,
- - . Another Voice.
And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors,
A Single Voice. 10. Who is he, this King of Glory?
Grand Chorus. Jehovah of Hosts-he is the King of Glory." It will occur to the reader, that this distribution of the parts into questions and answers is frequent in Hebrew poetry; and he will not fail to recollect the 63d chapter of Isaiah, which derives much of its sublimity from the same form of the composition.
In these reciprocations and divisions of parts, in the chanting or recitation of the sacred songs of the Israelites, we discern, according to Dr. Lowth, the immediate cause of the disposition of the verse into equal strophes, or stanzas; and why these consisted, for the most part, of distichs, in a sort of parallelism to each other, the last line responding to the first, and seconding, educing, and inforcing the sense.
The beautiful manner in which Dr. Lowth has illustrated this peculiar structure of the poetry of the Hebrews surpasses all praise; and the delicate observance of this same characteristic by Dr. Horsley, in his translation, and his division of the Psalms into parts, with his appropriation of them to the choruses and interlocutors, have wonderfully relieved the Psalter from the difficulties under which it has hitherto lain encumbered, and supplied a method of interpretation so natural and so easy, that, to use the words of Jeremiah, the wayfaring man may understand it. Much of that mystic allegory to which former expositors havé resorted is now become unnecessary to the sense and effect, allusions to human and temporary events less frequently obtrude themselves, and the colours of mortal misery and grandeur fade away in the presence of the incarnate God.
In this species of scenic poem the ineffable Author of our salvation performs, in general, the pre-eminent part; and we are, in a manner, made to hear him speak his blessed oracles. Thus the Psalms not only prophesy, but represent; not only describe, but personify; they are all full of the Messiah, and show only “the glory of his kingdom, and talk of his power.” In this trans lation we see how little those have felt in what company they have been when perusing the holy Psalter, whose sympathies have thereby been chiefly awakened in behalf of an earthly prince, and the catastrophes of a temporal kingdom. For those who would apply these sacred hymns to David or Solomon, Heze kiah or Zerubbabel, they do no more at best than “ raise a mortal to the skies,” but for him who finds in them their spiritual wisdom, and Christian comfort, they “ draw the Saviour down.”
In this mode of applying the Psalms, Dr. Horsley has the Jews against him, whose interpretations are posterior to the Christian epoch: according to whom, those Psalms are applicable only to David or Solomon, or the natural Israel, which all Christian 'interpreters maintain, at least, to bear a sense both literal and spiritual, and which Dr. Horsley, with the Fathers on his side, ascribes wholly and exclusively to Christ and his kingdom. But the Jews themselves, whose writings in explanation of the Scriptures were produced before the coming of Christ, interpreted the second, the forty-fifth, and the seventysecond 'Psalms, as clear prophecies of the Messiah ; and the Christian divine may draw a supply of arguments for this spiritual, and singly spiritual import, of some part of the Psalter, at least, from the enemies of Christ; whose own Targums, held by them as sacred as the Scripture itself, are thus far a register of the confutations of their own unbelief.
What has been said may suffice for a general outline of the spirit and plan of Dr. Horsley's translation; an examination of particulars, where the subject is so miscellaneous, would extend this article to too great a length. Though Dr. Horsley has not translated every Psalm, being satisfied, probably, in the cases where he has omitted so to do, with the received version; yet there is scarcely one on which he has not commented in his critical notes. These notes are a very valuable appendage to the translation, and seem to us, upon the whole, to have done more towards the true interpretation and application of the Psalms, than any commentary which sacred criticism has hitherto produced. We are desirous, however, of presenting to the reader some few specimens of the work; and so far only as may be necessary for that purpose, we propose to lead him into particulars, A slight examination will be sufficient to show the general na. tare and extent of our obligations, while the reader will probably be thereby induced to agree with us, that sometimes the translator has varied from the Bible translation without a substantial difference, and sometimes with some loss of vigour and dignity; that in some instances he has changed the style of expression, without nécessity, for a structure less harmonious; and sometimes, though rarely, has innovated from a seeming capriciousness of change, where the venerable beauty of the old translation, no less than its precision, ought for ever to have protected it from the last of petty reformation.” In our Bible translation of the Psalms, as well as of other parts of the Holy Scriptures, the language in general is inimitably pure, strong, and majestic; and some of its phrases and expressions are of so happy a texture, and so wound round our hearts by their natural aptitude, truth, and propriety, that we cannot give them up without a sigh, even
where they can be proved to be mistranslations, much less surrender them to the mere pruriency of reform, or a fastidious taste for improvement. A modern phrase can rarely be substituted for an old one, when the thought or sense is precisely the same, without the escape of a certain secret charm, the origin or operation of which it is hard to explain; for time has an elaboratory, where words and phrases are mellowed into an effect, which no skill can create, by the union of ingredients which no art can combine.
These truths, if truths they are, suggest some wholesome checks to the zeal of a translator of Holy Scripture, against which we venture to think Dr. Horsley has occasionally a little transgressed; but his errors of this kind are few in number, and probably would have been still fewer, had this great man lived to put the last hand to the work. He would have felt, in all probability, that here and there too modern a taste in language had disguised the fair proportions of truth, and the forms of an august simplicity had been sacrificed to studious decoration.
In the translation of the 10th Psalm by Dr. Horsley, a striking specimen is given of his method of explaining many of the sudden transitions in the sense, by supposing this dramatic spirit in the composition. The subject of the Psalm he seems to us very rightly to conclude to be the general oppression of the righteous by the wicked faction, that is, by the conspiracy of apostate spirits, atheists, and idolaters, rather than any particular calamity of the Jewish nation, or of any individual. A supplication, therefore, mixed with complaint, is continued from the beginning of the Psalm to the middle of the 15th verse; which verse is translated thus in our Bible: “ Break thou the arm of the wicked, and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none." Here the translator states the text to be corruptly written; the words of which are sa wwn. In three of the MSS. of Dr. Kennicott the 1 is omitted. Bishop Hare proposed to join the 1 to ba, an emendation approved by Bishop Secker. And if the emendation be adopted, the sense clearly is, “ Thou shalt seek the impious, and find him not :” which latter clause of the verse Dr. Horsley supposes to be uttered by an oracular voice from the sanctuary, promising the utter extirpation of the wicked oppressor; and then the Psalmist, with an entire faith in the completion of the promise, changes his melancholy strain to notes of the highest exultation, celebrating Jehovah's sovereignty, describing him as executing judgment, and putting an entire end to all usurped doininion. The verse is then divided thus: