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THERE is in the Gospel ascribed to John,'a passage -quoted as a prophecy, which, as it has been looked on as a proof text, ought to have been mentioned in the 7th chapter. It is this. The Evangelist (John xix. 23,) says, 66 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jea sus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part'; and also his coat ; now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it ; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, “ They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots."' Now however plausible this prophecy! may appear, it is one of the most impudent applications of passages from the Old Testament that occurs in the New. It-is taken from the 18th verse of the 224 Psalin, which Psalm was probably made by David in reference to his humiliating and wretched expulsion from Jerusalem by his son Absalom, and what was done in consequence, viz. that he was hunted by ferocious enemies whom he compares to furious bulls, and roarin, lions ; gaping upon him to devour him ; that his palace was plundered and that they divided his treasured garments ; [In the East, where the fashions never change, every great man has constantly presses full of hundreds and thousands of garments, many of them very costly ; they are considered as a valuable part of his riches, and cast lots for his robes. This is the real meaning of this passage quoted as a Prophecy. In the same Psalm there is another verse, which has been from time immemorial quoted as a prophecy of the crucifixion. v. 16, 6 They pierced my hands and my feet.” In the original there seems to have been a word dropped importing 6 they tear," or something like it, for it is literally " Like a lion.my
bands and my feet," and there is there no word answer. ing to 66 pierced.” The meaning however of the verse is not difficult to be discerneil, “ dogs have compassed ine ; the assembly of wicked men have enclosed me; like a lion-[they tear] my hands and my feet.” The meaning may be discovered from the context, where David represents himself as in the utmosi distress, helpless, and abandoned amidst his enemies, raging like wild beasts around him, then by a strong, but striking Oriental figure, he, represents himself like a carcase surrounded by dogs, who are busied in tearing the flesh from his bones ; their teeth fixed in his hands and feet and pulling him asunder. . This is the import of the place, and this interpretation is at last adopted, for the first time I believe by Christians, in the new version of the Psalms used by the Unitarian Church in London.
There is not a more palpable instance of the facility with which good natured and voracious Piety is made to swallow the most flimsy arguments, if only agreeable to its wishes, and wants, than the case under consideration. This Psalm containing these passages “ they parted my raiment among them ;” and “ they pierced my hands and my feet” is read, and for ages has been read, in the name of God, to the good people of the Church of England, on every Good Friday, as undoubt-edly a prophecy of the Crucifixion; when yet the learned Divines of the Church of England (and of these it can boast a noble Catalogne indeed,) certainly know, and are conscious, that the Psalm which contains these passages has no more relation to Jésus Christ, than it has to Nebuchadnezzer.
A Reference ought to have been subjoined at the end of the 10 chi to the Dialogue called 6. Philopatris” in Lucian's Works, for an aceount of the customs, habits, and personal appearance of the early Christians, corroborative of what is said in the 17, and 18 chapters of this work. · Lest however Lucian's testimony in this matter should be objected to, because he was a satirist,, and of course may have been guilty of giving an overcharged picture of the subjects of his ridicule; I request the reader to peruse, if he can obtain it, “ Lami’s A.C. mount of the Domestick habits and personal appearance,
and practices of the Primitive Christians." Lami was a very learned, and sincere Christian, and of course his testimony cannot be objected to, and the reader will find, on a perusel of his work, that what I have asserted in the 17 and 18 chapters is altogether true, and not the whole truth neither. Indeed that the statements in those chapters as to the effects of the peculiar maxims of the New Testament upon the heart, and understanding are substantially correct, will I believe be discovered by asking any honest individual among the Methodists who is an enthusiast i. e, sincere, and thorough going in his religion. I have no doubt that he, or she will avow without hesitation to the enquirer, and glory in it, that chastity is more honourable than marriage ; that Faith is every thing; that doubt is damna. ble and a proof of “ an unregenerated mind;" that all the goods and pleasures of this world are trash ; that human institutions are mere 6 carnal ordinances :" and that human science and learning is a snare to faith, and an abomination to a true Disciple of the cross.
Page 3, 1. 19, for 6 Barrabas," read Barnabus.
8, l. 2, from the bottom, for 6 tis," read would be.
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