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odes, and the most exalted strains of heavenly piety, that ever were published to mankind. Those ascribed to David bear internal evidence of 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 impositions of the Bible, and of diverting his readers with the fancy of a man's walking in pro'cession at his own funeral.' But is this the frame of mind which becomes an inquirer after impor
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 far 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, obscene, 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
P. i. p. 16.
'well-expressed prayer in the Bible!' I would therefore heartily recommend it to his constant and fervent use; with an especial attention to the clause, "Remove from me vanity and lies."2 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 us 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 carnest 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 injurious 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 harvests be so called. But let Mr. P. and his disciples read Solomon's prayer for wisdom, and not for riches, long life, or the life of his enemies ;3 and his prayer at the dedication of the temple, and be ashamed of his rash and reviling calumny. The Psalms are full of prayers for spiritual and eternal blessings. Even Mr. P. commends the nineteenth Psalm,5 2 Prov. xxx. 7-9.
' P. ii. p. 39.
3 1 Kings iii. 9—14.
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 not the most proper person to declaim against the wickedness of priests and prophets !
Mr. P. treats Ecclesiastes1 as the reflections 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 penitent but as melancholy. He also asserts that Solomon had his house full ' of wives and mistresses at the age of one and 'twenty.' But where did he learn this? Solomon had one wife, the mother of Rehoboam, when David died; and he soon after married Pharaoh's daughter. The scriptures record nothing more of Solomon's conduct in this respect during his youth. And bearing false witness is not excuseable even in protesting against debauchery.-But in fact these wives and concubines are but once hinted at in the book;2 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 pros
'P. ii. p. 41, 42.
2 vii. 26-28.
pect of a future judgment, to "fear God, and "keep his commandments; for this is the whole " of man."1
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.
Our author is very merry upon 'Solomon's songs,' 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.3As 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 further argument about it : though I firmly believe it to be a very useful part of God's word.
It is curious to compare the sentiments of Gibbon, concerning the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, with those of Paine. He insinuates that they cannot be the works of the writer whose name they bear, because they " display a larger compass of thought "and experience than seem to belong either to a Jew or a "King!"-J. S.
'P. ii. p. 42, 43.
' Rev. i. 5.
v. 9-14. xiv. 3.
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.