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  • THE BOOKS OF THE OLD COVENANT
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    III. POETICAL BOOKS, AND THOSE WHICH CONTAIN MAXIMS

    FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF LIFE

    JOB

    This book gives the history of an Arabian chief illustrious for his riches, patience, and piety. It contains principally conversations in a highly poetical strain between him and his friends, concerning the providence and perfections of God. He was at first very rich and affluent; but God permitted him to be deprived of his property and children, and also to be sorely afflicted in his body: all which he bore with exemplary patience, which was at last rewarded with a double increase of temporal blessing, and the high approval of his Maker. When he flourished, is very uncertain.

    PSALMS

    This is a book of one hundred and fifty most elegant and spiritual hymns, chiefly written by King David. As poetic effusions, they excel every thing written by man; and from their depth and sublimity, their just descriptions of the majesty and perfections of God, the nature and consequences of sin, and the heights and depths of holiness, properly challenge a distinguished place among the inspired writings of the Old Testament.

    PROVERBS

    This book contains a very large collection of wise sayings, spoken at different times by Solomon, king of Israel, and other eminent sages; affording counsels and maxims for the direction and regulation of every department, office, and circumstance of life. They are delivered in a high oriental strain; and may be said to contain all the wisdom of the ancient world.

    ECCLESIASTES

    A book supposed to have been written by Solomon in order to show the vanity of the world, and of human life, whether in high or low estate: and that no happiness can be expected by the human soul, but in the fear, love, and obedience of God.

    CANTICLES, OR THE SONG OF SOLOMON

    This is a very highly finished Hebrew ode, which, if literally taken, seems to describe the great love and affection which subsisted between Solomon and his queen, the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. But most commentators suppose it to be an allegorical poem, in which Solomon represents Christ, and his queen the Christian Church. Taken in this sense, it shows the great love which Christ bears to his genuine followers, and the duty and affection which they owe to him. It is in the form of a pastoral.

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