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comfort and final happiness ; inculcating a cheerful, liberal, and charitable use of temporal blessings, without expecting to derive from them any permanent or satisfactory delight; to be patient under unavoidable evils; not to aim at perilous, arduous, and impracticable changes; to fill up the station allotted us, in a peaceable, equitable, and prudent manner; to be humble, contented, and affectionate; and to do good abundantly, and persevere in so doing, for the pleasure arising from it, and from the expectation of a gracious reward.*
The Song of Solomon, as a poem, is allowed by the best judges to be finished in the highest style of elegance and beauty; and, from the earliest age of the church, it has been considered as a mystical allegory, in the form of a pastoral, in which are represented the reciprocal love of Jehovah and his church, under figures taken from the endearing relation and chaste affection which subsist between a bridegroom and his espoused bride,an emblem continually employed in the Scriptures. I
The Prophecies of Isaiah have been divided into six parts. Part I. consists of four prophetic discourses delivered in the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham; in which the prophet inveighs against the crimes of the Jews, declares the judgments of God against them, and predicts a more auspicious time, and foretells the promulgation of the Gospel, and the coming of the Messiah to judgment, (ch. i.-vi.) Part II. concerns the reign of Ahaz, and consists of three prophetic discourses, in which the prophet speaks of the siege of Jerusalem by Pekah and Rezin, and of the birth of Immanuel, as a proof of the approaching deliverance of Judah; predicts the calamities which were to fall on the kingdoms of Syria and Israel ; foretells the destruction of Sennacherib's army; and thence takes occasion to launch forth into a display of the deliverance of God's people by the Messiah, (ch. vi.-xii.) Part III. consists of eight prophetic discourses, probably delivered in the reign of Abaz, in which he declares the fate of the Babylonians, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Egyptians, Tyrians, and other nations with whom the Jews had any intercourse, (ch. xiii.---xxiv.) Part IV. consists of five discourses, delivered in the reign of Hezekiah, containing a prediction of the great calamities which should befall the people of God, his merciful preservation of a remnant, and their restoration to their own country, their conversion to the Gospel, and the destruction of Antichrist, (ch. xxiv.-xxxvi.) Part V. contains the history of the invasion of Sennacherib, and the destruction of his army, (ch. xxxvi.—xxxix.) Part VI. consists of twelve discourses, probably delivered towards the end of Hezekiah's reign; in which the prophet predicts the return from the Babylonian captivity ; exposes the folly of idolatry; and, personifying the Messiah, speaks of his sufferings, death, and burial; foretells his coming, the vocation of the Gentiles, the glory of the latter days, and the disgrace of all false prophets and teachers, &c. (ch. xl.—Ixvi.) I
* Comprehensive Bible, Introd. to Ecclesiastes. + Idem, Introd. to the Song of Songs.
t Idem, Introd. to Isaiah.
The Prophecies of Jeremiah were delivered at various times, and on particular occasions, during forty or forty-three years, under Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jechoniah, and Zedekiah, as well as after the destruction of Jerusalem, and also in Egypt. These prophecies, the circumstantial accomplishment of which is often specified in the Sacred Writings, are of a very distinguished, determinate, and illustrious character. He foretold the fate of Zedekiah, and the calamities which impended over his country ; representing, in the most descriptive terms, and under the most expressive images, the destruction which the invading army should produce; and bewailing, in pathetic expostulation, the spiritual adulteries which had provoked Jehovah, after long forbearance, to threaten Judah with condign punishment, at a time when the false prophets deluded the nation with promises of assured peace,' and when the people, in impious contempt of the word of the Lord,' defied its accomplishment. He also predicted the Babylonish captivity, and the precise period of its duration; the destruction of Babylon, and the downfall of many nations; the gradual and successive completion of which predictions kept up the confidence of the Jews, for the accomplishment of those prophecies which he delivered relative to the Messiah and his period; his miraculous conception, (ch. xxxi. 22); his divinity and mediatorial kingdom, (xxii. 5,6. xxxiii. 14—18.); and particularly the new and everlasting covenant which was to be established with the true Israel of God upon the sacrifice of the Messiah, (ch. xxxi. 31–36. xxxiii. 8, 9, 26.) *
The Prophecy of Ezekiel opens with an account of Ezekiel's first vision, his call to the prophetic office, his commission, instructions, and encouragements for executing it, (ch. i.-iii.); after which he foretells the impending captivity and dreadful calamities of the remnant of Judah and Jerusalem, for their idolatry, impiety, and profligacy, and the Divine judgments to be inflicted on the false prophets and prophetesses who had deluded and hardened them in their rebellion against God, (ch, iv.-xxiv.); predicts the destruction of the Ammonites, (ch. xxv. 1—7), Moabites, (ver. 8—11), Edomites, (ver. 12–14), and Philistines, (ver. 15–17); announces the ruin and desolation of Tyre and Sidon, (ch. xxvi.—xxviii.); the fall of Egypt, and the base degeneracy of its future inhabitants, (ch. xxix.—xxxii.); exhorts the Jews to repentance and reformation, and consoles them with promises of their future deliverance under Cyrus, but principally of their final restoration and conversion under the kingdom of the Messiah, and the destruction of their enemies, (ch. xxxiii.—xxxix.); and describes his prophetic vision of the New city of Jerusalem and the temple, and the directions concerning the division of the Holy Land, (ch. xl.-xlviii.)t
The Book of DANIEL may be divided into two parts. Part I. is chiefly historical, and contains an account of the captivity and education of Daniel and his companions, (ch. i.); Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream, with its interpretation, (ch. ii.); the miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, from the fiery furnace, (ch. ii.); the punishment of Nebuchadnezzar's pride and arrogance, by the loss of his reason and throne for seven years, (ch. iv.); the impiety and portended fate of Belshazzar, (ch. v.): the miraculous preservation of Daniel in the lion's den, (ch. vi.) Part II. is strictly prophetical, and comprises an account of Daniel's vision of the four beasts, respecting the four great monarchies of the world, the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Macedonian, and Roman, (ch. vii.); his vision of the ram and he-goat, in which is foretold the destruction of the Medo-Persian empire, typified by the ram, by the Macedonians, or Greeks, under Alexander, represented by the he-goat, (ch. viii.); his prediction of the seventy prophetic weeks, or 490 years, which should elapse from the date of the edict to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, to the death of the Messiah, (ch. ix.); his last vision, in which he is informed of various particulars respecting the Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, the kingdom of the Messiah, and the rise, tyranny, and fall of Antichrist, (ch. x.--xii.)*
* Comprehensive Bible, Introd, and Concluding Remarks to Jeremiah.
The Book of Hosea consists of fourteen chapters, in which the prophet, under the figure of a wife proving unfaithful to her niarriage vows, and bearing children who follow her example, represents the shameful idolatry of the Israelites, which provoked God to cast them off; though the evil will be hereafter amply repaired, (ch. i.); he exhorts them to repent, and forsake idolatry, threatening them with captivity and a series of afflictions for their wickedness, (ch. ii. 1—13.); promises them a future restoration and abundant prosperity, (ch. ii. 14—23.); and, under the figure of taking back his wife on amendment, he represents the gracious purposes of Jehovah towards them, in their conversion and restoration, (ch. iii.); he then inveighs against the bloodshed and idolatry of the Israelites, admonishing Judah to beware of their sins, (ch. iv.); and denounces the divine judgments against priests, princes, and people, and exhorts them to repentance, (ch. v.-vi. 3.); his exhortations proving ineffectual, God complains of their obstinate iniquity and idolatry, (ch. v. 4.-vii. 10.); denounces that they shall be carried captive, notwithstanding their reliance on Egypt, (ch. vii. 11.-viii.); further threatens their captivity and dispersion, (ch. ix. x.); reproves them for their idolatry, and promises their return to their own country, (ch. xi.); he again renews his threatenings on account of their idolatry, and after a terrible denunciation of Divine punishment mingled with promises of restoration from captivity, (ch, xii. xiii.); he exhorts them to repentance, furnishes them with a beautiful form of prayer adapted to their situation, and foretells their reformation from idolatry, and the subsequent restoration of all the tribes from their dispersion, and their conversion to the Gospel, (ch. xiv.) +
The Book of Joel consists of three chapters ; in which the prophet, in consequence of a dreadful famine caused by locusts and other noxious insects, calls upon both priests and people to repent with prayer and fasting, cries unto God for them, and represents the very beasts as joining in his supplications, (ch. i.); he predicts still greater judgments by an army of locusts, earnestly exhorts them to public fasting, prayer, and repentance, promises the removal of these calamities on their repentance, with various other blessings, makes an elegant transition to the effusion of the Holy Spirit under the Gospel, and foretells the consequent destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, interspersed with promises of safety to the faithful and penitent, (ch. ii.); he then predicts the divine judgments to be executed on the enemies of God's people, and the subsequent peace, prosperity, and purity of Israel, (ch, iii.) *
• Comprehensive Bible, Introd, to Daniel.
+ Idem, Introd, to Hosea.
The Book of Amos consists of nine chapters, of which Calmet and others think that the seventh is the first in order of time; in which the prophet denounces the judgments of God on Syria, (ch. i. 3—5.), Philistia, (6—8.), Tyre, (9, 10.), Edom, (11, 12.), and Ammon, (13—15.), for their cruelty and oppression of Israel ; upon Moab, for his impotent revenge on the dead body of the king of Edom, (ch. ii, 1–3.); on Judah for his contempt of God's law, (4,5.); and on Israel, for idolatry, iniquity, and ingratitude, (6—16.); he then expostulates with Israel and Judah, warning them of approaching judgments, (ch. iii. 1–8.); calls the Philistines and Egyptians to behold the punishment of Samaria and the ten tribes for their sins, (9—15.); reproves the Israelites for luxury and oppression, warning them to prepare to meet God, who is about to execute vengeance upon them, (ch. iv.); laments over the destruction of Israel, exhorting them to renounce their idols and to seek the Lord, (ch. v. 1– 15.); declares the judgments of God on the scornful, presumptuous, and hypocritical Israelites, whom God sentences to captivity, (16—27.); denounces the most terrible calamities on the self-indulgent and self-confident Jews and Israelites, (ch. vi.); averts by prayer the judgments of the grasshopper and fire, (ch. vii. 146.), and shews, by a wall and plumb-line, the strict justice of God in Israel's punishment, (7--9.); being accused to Jeroboam by Amaziah the priest, and forbidden to prophesy in Bethel, (10—13.), he shews how God called him to prophesy, and predicts the ruin of Amaziah and his family, (14—17.); under a vision of a basket of summer-fruit, he shews the speedy ruin of Israel, (ch. viii. 1-3.); reproves their oppression and injustice, (4—7.), shews the complete ruin of Israel, (8—10.), and threatens a famine of the word of God, (11—14.); he then declares the certainty of the judgments to be inflicted on Israel, (ch. ix. 1—7.), though a remnant shall be preserved, (8—10.); and predicts the blessings of Messiah's kingdom, and the conversion and restoration of Israel, (11-15.) +
The Book of OBADIAH foretells the destruction and ruin of the Idumeans by the Chaldeans, and finally by the Jews, whom they had used most cruelly, when brought low by other enemies; and he concludes, as almost all the other prophets do, with consolatory promises of restoration and prosperity to the Jews.*
The Book of JONAH, with the exception of the sublime ode in the second chapter, is a simple narrative ; and relates, that Jonah being commanded to go and prophesy against Nineveh, attempts to flee to Tarshish; but being overtaken by a storm, he is cast into the sea, swallowed by a great fish, and continues in its belly three days, (ch. i.); when earnestly praying to God, he is marvellously delivered from his perilous situation, (ch. ii.): at the renewed command of God, he goes to Nineveh, and denounces its destruction; and the Ninevites, excited by the king, believe, fast, pray, and reform themselves, and are graciously spared, (ch. iii.); Jonah, dreading to be thought a false prophet, peevishly repines at the mercy of God, and wishes for death, for which he is gently reproved by God, (ch. iv. 1— 4.): leaving the city, he is shadowed by a gourd, which withers; and manifesting great impatience and rebellion, he is shewn, by his concern about the gourd, the propriety of God's mercy to Nineveh, (5—11.) +
The Book of Mical consists of seven chapters; in which the prophet denounces the divine judgments against Samaria and Jerusalem for their sins, and laments the terror and distress of the Assyrian invasion under Shalmaneser, (ch. i.); reproves the people for their iniquity, avarice, opposition to the prophets, and attachment to false prophets, and foretells the captivity of both nations, (ch. ii.); reproves the princes for cruelty, and the prophets for falsehood and selfishness, and vindicates his own prophetic mission, (ch. iii.); he then predicts the future triumphant and prosperous state of the church in the latter days, when Zion's troubles should end, and her enemies be destroyed, (ch. iv.); foretells the birth and kingdom of the Messiah, and his powerful protection of his people, the increase, purity, and peace of the church, and the ruin of her enemies, (ch. v.); he next inveighs against the iniquities of the people, and then denounces upon them the divine judgments, (ch. vi.); bewails the decrease of godly men, and the iniquity of the people, yet encourages himself to trust in God; and predicts the victory of God's people over their insulting foes, and their conversion and restoration to their own land, (ch. vii.):
The Book of Nanum consists of three chapters, forming one entire poem, the conduct and imagery of which are truly admirable. In the exordium, the prophet sets forth with grandeur the justice and power of God, tempered with lenity and goodness, (ch. i. 1—8.); foretells the ruin of the Assyrian king and his army, and the deliverance of the people of God, with their rejoicing on the occasion, (ver. 9—15.); predicts the siege and taking of Nineveh by the Medes and Babylonians, the ruin of the Assyrian empire, the plundering and destruction of the city, and the extinction of the royal family, for their oppression and cruelty, (ch. ii.); denounces a heavy woe against Nineveh for her perfidy, and violence, and idolatries,
+ Idem, Introd. to Jouah.
• Comprehensive Bible, Introd. to Obadiah.
1 Idem, Introd. to Micah.