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No. 1370.JAMES ii. 2.
A man with a gold ring.
By this circumstance the apostle describes a rich man. Among the Romans, those of the senatorian and equestrian orders were distinguished from the common people by wearing a gold ring. In time the use of them became promiscuous. The ancients used to wear but one.
No. 1371.-iv. 15. If the Lord will.] It was a custom among the Jews to begin all things with God. They undertook nothing without this holy and devout parenthesis, If God will. They otherwise expressed it, if the name please ; or, if the name determine so. The phrase was so common that they abbreviated it, using a letter for a word. But this was not peculiar to the Jews; it was common with all the eastern people. Few books are written in Arabic, but they begin with the word Bismillah, in the name of God. With the Greeks the expression is our Ow: with the Latins Deo volente. See GREGORY's Works, p. 99.
No. 1372.--1 PETER i. 18, 19.
re were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver
and gold—but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
It has been conjectured that buying and selling was originally conducted by the exchange of one article for another, as cattle for land; and that the money then used had the stamp of cattle upon it. Agreeably hereto it is thought that among the Latins the word pecunia came to denote money, from pecus, cattle. And on the same account that proverbial saying among
the Greeks, Bås ette ydwrly, there is a bull (or cow) upon
his tongue, came to be applied to one who was bribed to silence by money which had on it the stamp of a bull. To the money used among the Hebrews having on it the stamp of a lamb St. Peter is thought by some to allude in these words. Companion to Holy Bible, p. 26.
No. 1373.-iii. 3. Of plaiting of the hair.) This was a way of adorning themselves that was practised in the East anciently, and still continues to be the common usage of those countries. The Editor of the Ruins of Palmyra, (p. 22.) found that it anciently prevailed there, for he discovered with great surprise mummies in the Palmyrene sepulchres, embalmed after the ancient Egyptian manner, by which means the bodies were in such a state of preservation, that among other fragments which he carried off with him was the hair of a female, plaited exactly after the manner commonly used by the Arabian women at this time.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 381.
No. 1374.-iii. 3. And of wearing of gold.] The Jewish women used to wear a crown of gold on their heads in the form of the city of Jerusalem, called a golden city; this they wore after its destruction in memory of it. They might not go out with it on the sabbath-day. The apostle here means to discourage whatever was excessive and extravagant. GILL, in loc.
No. 1375.-iii. 18. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.] The notion of the victim's being substituted to suffer death and be consumed in the room of the transgressor for whom it was offered, is very ancient, and was commonly received among Gentiles and Jews, as well as Christians. Thus Ovid supposes the sacrificed animal to be a vicarious substitute, the several parts of which were given as equivalents for what was due by the offerers.
Cor pro corde, precor ; pro fibra sumite fibras ;
No. 1376.-iv. 3. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.] Much of the distinguishing spirit of this passage is lost when it is understood as descriptive of the immoralities of common life, and not as giving an account of the polluted nature of what the heathens called sacred transactions. The first word here used, lasciviousness, refers to lewd practices : the second, lusts, to irritation of voluptuous desire : the third, Osvobavy.e, translated excess of wine, seems to mean buffoonery through drinking too much wine : the other two words revellings and banquetings, mean riotous and excessive eating and drinking.
An extract from Maillet. (Lett. X. p. 59.) will illus. trate the ridiculous buffoonery here alluded to. “ You can hardly imagine how many traces of this ancient religion are still met with in Egypt, which have subsisted there for many ages. In fact, without speaking of their passion for pilgrimages, which, notwithstanding its having changed its object, is nevertheless the same; the modern Egyptians have still the same taste for processions that was remarked in their ancestors. There is perhaps no country in the world, where they are more frequent than they are here. All the difference that I find in the matter is, that the ancients practised them in honour of their idols, and that the Egyptians of our days perform them in honour of their santons or saints, who are not much better. As to what remains, there is no regularity in these ceremonies, neither in their way
of walking, nor in their vestments : every one dresses himself as he likes ; but those that are in the most grotesque and most ridiculous habits are always most esteemed.
Some dance ; others caper ; shout. In one word, the great point is, who shall commit most follies in these extravagant masquerades. The more they do, the more they believe themselves possessed by the spirit of their prophet.”
HARMER, vol. iv. p. 384. .
No. 1377.-1 JOHN iii. 17.
Bowels of compassion.
The inhabitants of Otaheite have an expression that corresponds exactly with this phraseology. They use it on all occasions when the passions give them un. easiness ; they constantly refer pain from grief, anxious desire, and other affections, to the bowels as their seat, where they likewise suppose all operations of the mind to be performed. Cook's Voyage to the Pacific Ocean.