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But let us attend to the several particulars which the evangelists relate concerning the whole of this transaction, and some incidents preceding it.
About three days before this agony in the garden, Jesus, having been informed of a request made by certain Greeks to one of his disciples to be introduced to him, he was thereby reminded of the great accession which should be made to his church by the admission of the gentiles into it; and consequently of his own death, by which provision should be made for their admission, and that a few days only would intervene before that event. On this occasion he found himself so affected by the prospect, that he openly declared, (John xii. 27.) « Now is iny soul troubled; and what shall I say !-(shall I say) Father save me from this hour ?" So I think (with a very judicious critic,) the passage ought to be pointed, continuing the question to the end of this clause :-- he adds, « but for this cause came I unto this hour." As if he had said, “ In the near view I have of sufferings and death, shall I indulge this strong reluctance, implanted in animal nature, against them, so far as to petition my Father to excuse me from the obligation, and release me from the necessity of enduring them? No. For it was for this purpose, that I might suffer death, and thereby a mean be provided for the reconciliation of the Gentiles and their admission into the Church of God, that I was sent into the world, and have been conducted by the divine power and providence thus near the important season and event. Wherefore, the matter of my request to him on this occasion shall be this rather ; father glorify thy name. May the knowledge of thy perfections, the honour of thy character, the purposes of thy benevolence and wisdom, and the extent of thy moral government over mankind be effectually promoted by every event thou hast appointed unto me.” Observe, I pray you, the steadiness and temper with which our Lord spoke on this occasion concerning his approaching sufferings and death, even when he owned, that his soul was troubled with the prospect.
Let us now proceed to attend our Lord through the several circumstances which we have recorded of his agony in the garden. That evening, he had celebrated his last passover; during which he said to his disciples, that he had carnestly desired to eat that passover with them before he suffered. Afterwards he had instituted another religious fes
tival in perpetual memorial of his own sufferings and death, and of that new covenant, or dispensation of God to mankind, which is confirmed by the shedding of his blood. He then went out of the house and city, where these things had been done,,sunto Mount Olivet. Probably, it was by this time late in the evening. There he told his disciples, “ all ye shall be offended because of me this night;" for that the prophecy was going to be fulfilled inmediately, which saith, " I will sunite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.”. At the same time he informed them, that he should rise again from the dead, and promised, that when he was risen, he would go before them into Gallilee. Observe again, with what temper he still spoke of his death, though now in very near view.
After some other discourses with his disciples he left the mountain, and came down to a place in the valley called Gethsemane, where was a garden, to which he and his disciples were wont to resort.
When we consider our Lord in this situation, well-knowing, that the series of his sufferings, which were to end only in death on a cross, was to begin within the space of an hour, or at most two ; and that he was going to the place where the first scene would open, through the treachery of Judas; it is natural to conclude, that his mind now laboured with most weighty and affecting thoughts; and perhaps, the darkness and solemn silence of the night might contribute somewhat to urge the painful impression deeper on his spirits ; neither doth it seem at all strange, that the labours of his mind, united with the innocent reluctances of nature against sufferings and death, should be too much for his bodily frame, which, probably, was very delicate and susceptible of impressions, to bear them undisturbed; or that great agitations were occasioned by them through the whole nervous system : and that these, in turn, greatly increased the distressed state of his inind. This seems to me to have been pretty much the case with him, and the natural cause of what followed, No doubt, the whole was under the direction of the infinitely powerful and wise, band of his beavenly Father, yet operating, as usually on other occasions, by the stated train of natural causes and effects. Jesus regarded it as a cup which his Father had put into his hand.
(To be continued in our next.)
STILL PLEAS'D TO PRAISE, YET NOT AFRAID TO BLAME."
Arr. I.–Saul: a Poem in 2 parts; by William Sotheby, Esq.
Whatever disputes may exist prosperity has wrought its worst about the hero of the Iliad, or moral effect, a man subjected to the hero of the Paradise Lost, the most complicated distress which every body must be convinced may be imagined to attend the fall that the “ Saul” of Mr. Sotheby of one who, with his virtue, lost might with much greater pro. not the remembrance that he was priety have been called “ David,” once virtuous and happy. who is indisputably the principal By the author's rigid adherence figure in six, and the most in. to the phraseology of the scripteresting in eight of the books of tures, from which he seldom de. which this poein consists. parts except by some awkward
Without a strict attachment inversion to suit his measure, we to the laws which critical writers, are constantly liable to apprehend ancient or modern, hare estas that we are attending a blished for epic song, we think copyist, and not accompanying Wr. S. has chosen a very diffi. a spirited and successful imitacult subject, and we are sorry'tor. to add, that in his management Saul is first introduced as of it, we have experienced con. “ smitten of God,” 6 rebellious," siderable disappointment. We “ urged by lust of spoil," a had imagined that with proper character entitled to our interest skill, a poem, upon the charac. only from his sufferings. Ile after. ter and history of Saul, might wards comes before us afraid of have been constructed, full of engaging, and envious at the melancholy interest: in which courage of the shepherd boy for Saul would have been conspi. offering to engage in battle, with cuous, not wholly corrupted by Goliah of the Philistines. This his elevation, and entitled to more envy is exasperated to madness than compassion in his fall. when the daughters of Jerusa.
With two exceptions, the brief lem sing “ Sanl has slain his history of Sanl which is furnished thousands, and David his ten thouby the sacred' historian is abridged sands;" and the monarch of Is. rather than espanded by the poet's rael forms his purpose of destroyfancy, and moulded by his know. ing the youth. After some sucledge of the human heart, so as to cessless attempts to accomplish exhibit a man in whom unusual this base and cruel purpose we
of his eye
nearly lose sight of Saul till to. Like sunshine from the radiance wards the close of the poem, when he relents on account, of David Looking delight on all. That sparing his life, visits the witch form was, Saul: of Endor, sees Samuel, and at Saul beautiful, Saul guiltless, length after fighting with the
Saul belov'd, fury of despair, kills himself. Unsceptre'd yet, not wearing other
The two exceptions which we pornp have noticed to the general de. Than youth's celestial graces. fect in this poem are the descrip- Such its shape. tion of Saul troubled by an eril
Ist Book, spirit, and his visit to the witch of The second book is chiefly Endor. These shew indeed that occupied with a description of the poet has not taken a sub- the armies, and with addresses ject —
made by Abner to each of the Quid ferre recusent tribes distinctly; and these ad. -humeri,
dresses we are constrained to acbut that his defects must be at. knowledge appeared to us in., tributed to the want of that “ la- tolerably heavy. bor improbus," without which no We have hcard of some persons talents will enable their possessor invited to be guests at a feast, who to obtain the wreath destined to pleaded naturally enough such exadorn the brow of the successful cuses as these, -56 One said I votary of the epic muse. In a have bought a yoke of oxen, and happy moment of inspiration the I must needs go and prove them, poet gives this fine description of I pray thee have me excused: the spirit, by which Saul was and another said, &c. ;' the para. distressed :
ble is well known. But there is
peculiar originality and we fear And oft gay scenes of blissful days very little couformity to truth or gone by,
nature in these excuses adopted O'er Saul came troublous. Then, in the heat of battle, to justify distinctly seen,
the soldier in quitting his post. A form accordant with each visi. Let the reader judge.
-Some made plea Before him. Now the spectre Of roofs new rais’d, not dedi. shape put on
cated: Some Bright imag'ry of one in bloom Of vineyards newly set, whereof
their hands Just opening into manhood. On Had gathered no increase : others his brow
alleg'd Dwelt peace, dwelt innocence, Vows incomplete, the bonds of dwelt gentle joy.
love betroth’d. Gay hope and youthful ardour
And these, shameless, brightly beam'd,
Each one his way, and spread Hath stirr'd thee up, thou, God, throughout the host
my blood accept! Distrust, and foul disorder, and But if the sons of men, light on dismay.
thy head Page 50. The vengeance : thou whose rage
has drir'n me forth With regard to the versification, From out the Lord's inheritance, we meet with such expressions, and said." &c. such cadences, and such pauses,
Page 179. as the following, which will strike every reader, and which we have
The following is the descripselected with no difficulty
tion of Saul vowing at the altar
the destruction of David
heard his prayer.
His pale lip quivered with th' unHe chose five polish'd stones.
quiet mind Page 71. And suddenly, it seem'd, strange
darkness fell And this account of a conquered Around him.
Loud his groan city
was heard of , all.
He starts : and from the sacred - They cry to heaven,
feast, untouch'd, Its dwellers, smitten with Saul's Speeds : and in merciless ven. merciless sword,
geance, fiend possessid, Woman, and man, and suckling, Broods o'er th’ unutterable felt yea the ox,
resolve, The ass, the sheep, all smitten of Vow'd at the altar : vow accorst the sword,
of blood, By the fell Edomite, at word of Vengcance against the chosen one Saul
Page 88. Slain all.
We add, as the catastrophe of Again
the death of Saul.
.66 Who offend Saul rushes?mid the battle, slaughSanl, though the nation hails
ter round, them, lov'd of God
Terror and fell destruction. IsSaul slays the congregation look- rael flies. ing on.
Page 106. Thy mountains, curst Gilboa!
stream with blood, “ If evil and transgression in my Around their king and sire, his hand
valiant sons So may thy servant perish! If Fight, fall, and perish. Lo ! the the Lord