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THE REV. HENRY BURGESS, LL.D., Ph.D.,
MEMBER OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE.
EDINBURGH: W. OLIPHANT AND CO. DUBLIN: S. B. OLDHAM.
No. XIII.—APRIL, 1858.
THE LITERATURE OF THE SONG OF SONGS.a When Tacitus says of our ancestors that they esteemed every unknown thing as magnificent-omne ignotum pro magnifico est, -he described a quality of the human mind restricted to no age of the world and to no development of human character. All through the ages of Christianity this tendency to exalt the unknown, to clothe what is really beyond our ken with the mythic colours of fancy, has more or less prevailed, and at no period, probably, more than in our own day. We see indications of this temper in various parts of the New Testament; and it is, probably, to counteract the inclination to dwell with fondness on the ignotum whether of the present or the future, that the statement of our Lord is written in the canonical Scriptures: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power."
On former occasions we have directed attention to this credulous inclination on the part of Christian people, with regard to the interpretation of the Apocalypse, and to unfulfilled prophecy at large. We have done so in the hope that we might be the means, in some degree, of counteracting a mode of thought and study, in relation to divine things, which has generally turned out to be unprofitable, and often tended to fanaticism.
a The Song of Songs : translated from the original Hebrew, with a Commentary, historical and critical. By Christian D. Ginsburg. London: Longmans. 1857. 8vo. pp. 200.
VOL. VII,—NO. XIII.