« PreviousContinue »
Junius and Tremellius write upon the word, " Id est Babyloniæ festa agentis, ut scribitur Danielus, et apud Herodotum, lib. 2. Est enim Sheshac lingua Babylonica festum diem celebrans, et Schacæ festi dies, ut referet Athenaus, lib. 14, er Beroso, et Ctesia. Est autem hæc nominis mutatio referenda ad oeuvotyTA orationis, de qua Hermogenes tomo quarto de inventione: quæ commutatione idcirco Propheta usus est, quod hac una appellatione vellet diem ipsum casus Babylonici velut digito commonstrare, hic et infra li. 41, confer cum Is. xxxi. 5," Grotius gives the same meaning, confirming his opinion also by a reference to Dion Chrysostom. Dr. Gill copies these notes, though he says, that
why Babylon is called Sheshach it is not so easy to say: which is very strange, because he further states that this festival was held during five days, and was like that of the Saturnalia at Rome.
It would seem as if this trying to reconcile the Babylonish feast of Sacæa with the feast at which Babylon was taken, and referred to by Junius and Tremellius, had been the reason why these commentators made such confusion; for there is not the smallest resemblance between the “great feast which Belshazzar the king made to a thousand of his lords," and the Roman feast of the Saturnalia. “At Babylon they celebrated feasts called Sacæa, which greatly resembled the Roman Saturnalia. The servants then acted the part of masters.” (Calmet.)-Shach, TV, was clearly the name of a Babylonian god, after whom Mishael, the Hebrew captive, was called (Dan. i. 7).--"We take Sheshach to be a pagan deity, chiefly worshipped at Babylon. He gives this city the name of its tutelar deity, as he says, ch. 1. 2, Babylon is taken ; Bel is confounded ; Merodach is broken in pieces. Bel and Merodach were gods of the country.” (Calmet).-Sesach numen est apud Jeremian....ab eo (sic volunt viri doctissimi) Sacea, festum Babyloniorum, dicta, seu nuepas Saxeas, uti apud Romanos Saturnalia a Saturno. Atque ut Saturnalibus, servis epulantibus famulabantur domini, ita et in diebus Saceis ; qui quinque erant continui. (Selden, de Diis Syris, ch. xiii.)
The authority for this is a passage in that curious and interesting repository of antiquarian fragments preserved by Athenæus from the lost works of Berosis the Chaldæn historian, which is as follows: Βηρωσος εν τω πρωτω Βαβυλωνιακων, τω Λωω μηνι εκκαιδεκατη φησι αγεσθαι εορτης Σακεανι προσαγορευομενην εν Βαβυλωνι επι ημερας πεντε, εν αις εθος ειναι αρχεσθαι τις δεσποτας απο των οικετων, αφηγεισθαι τε της οικιας ενα αυτων ενδεδυκοτα σολην ομοιαν τη Βασιλικη, oν τε καλεισθαι Ζωγανην. Thus much is given by Selden : but a reference to the original makes still stronger for the point of identity between this feast and that of the Roman Saturnalia ; for it is introduced with express reference to that feast, the narrator quoting other places where it was celebrated, xiv. 44. "The celebration of the Saturnalia was remarkable for the liberty which universally prevailed. The slaves were permitted to ridicule their masters, and to speak with freedom upon every subject. It was usual for friends to make presents one to another, all animosity ceased, no criminals were executed, schools were shut, war was never declared, but all was mirth, riot, and debauchery.”.
Into the origin of this feast, one of the greatest and most undoubted antiquity, it is not our intention to enter.
It seems elear that the Eakea. Huepal and the Saturnalia were identical : and as the latter was frequently used by classical writers as expressive of a state of lawlessness, when the lower and baser sort ruled over the higher and the nobler, so are we to understand the expression from the mouth of the Prophet in the text. In this view, a passage of great obscurity comes out with beautiful clearness, and its interpretation is in exact harmony with other parts of Scripture. We have so often shewn that the Papacy is destroyed by lawless Infidelity, and that itself is the last form which the Anti-Christian apostasy assumes in Europe, that we shall not reiterate the proof on the present occasion. The accuracy of this view of the order of events immediately preceding the coming of the Lord is receiving fresh corroboration every day, from the scenes which are passing in rapid succession before our eyes. A great feast of Saturnalia is now commencing throughout Christendom; and, though the last to drink of the cup of fury, the worshippers shall assuredly drink of it, whatever previous reluctance they may shew; and however earnestly they may endeavour, by reformations, and by non-interference with other nations, to avoid swallowing the bitter draught. It would have been presumed to be impossible for the levelling spirit to have insinuated itself into military bodies, had we not seen the National Guard of France, amounting to nearly a million and a half of soldiers, formed upon a principle of equality, and of electing their own superiors. The same spirit has manifested itself in this country. A meeting was held at Croydon in last December, at which twenty-eight resolutions were passed, and an application founded on them to the Lord Lieutenant of the county, "for forming an armed corps of unlimited extent, and on principles of perfect equality; the corps to be governed by a committee of their own choosing, and with officers of their own choice.” Verily, a worthy body-guard to the king of Sheshach!
There is another peculiarity about the Saturnalia which must not be passed over.' They were instituted in commemoration of that perfect freedom and equality which reigned in the days of Saturn, and to which blissful state mankind has ever looked to revert. Redeant Saturnia regna. When the Saturnalia began, there was a mysterious ceremony of taking off the bonds in which the deity had been supposed to have been bound all the year, and suffering him to go at large : for which, and all other particulars, we are chiefly indebted to Macrobius. The Saturnalia, therefore, represented the heathen idea of the golden age, or reign of blessedness upon the earth, to which every people, except modern Evangelicals, has looked forward. In like manner, the spirit of lawlessness, and of contempt for church and state; the prevalence of the sacred cause of Dissent, and of the people the source of power; the independence of ancient institutions, bonds, &c. is the representation of the present idea of a reign of blessedness.
Cumberland observes, in a paper in The World, that, “ If any country gentleman should be so unfortunate in this age as to lie under a suspicion of heresy, where will he find so easy a method of acquitting himself as by the ordeal of plumb-porridge ?” Notwithstanding the tests of orthodoxy which roast beef on a Sunday and minced pies at Christmas have ever been supposed to furnish, we fear that the merry-makings of that season are easily traced to a continuation of the Saturnalia. They were condemned by the Synod of Trullus on that ground ; and Hospinian, De Origine Festorum Christ. testifies to the same fact. Nevertheless, like other abuses, the festival was legalized in some places, while it was condemned in others. In Langley's translation of Polydore Vergil we read, “The Christemass lordes that be commonly made at the nativitie of our Lorde, to whom all the householde and familie, with the master himself, must be obedient, began of the equabilitie that the servauntes had with their masters in Saturnus Feastes, that were called Saturnalia.” At these Christmas feasts it was customary to elect a lord of misrule-a king of Sheshach ;--and Warton, in his History of English Poetry, alludes to the statutes of Trinity College, Cambridge, one of the chapters of which is headed “De Præfecto Ludorum qui Imperator dicitur.” The Puritans at last put an end to the lord of misrule. The Abbot of Unreuson, as he was called in Scotland, was suppressed by the Parliament of that country in 1555; not on account of the religious, but on account of the moral and civil disorders which he occasioned, as Dr. Jamieson informs us. In France he was called, in some places, Abbas Stultorum; and in others, Abbé de la Malgouvernée. The Lord of Misrule, whatever may be thought of him during the middle ages, is now becoming a much more important personage than any who has hitherto figured in Pagan feasts or in Christmas gambols. He is become a politician, and would be a statesman: we fear he will be a king: and he was assuredly more harmless in his fooleries, than he is likely to prove now in his more serious moods.
ON THE NAMES OF CHRIST.
We were under the necessity of breaking off our meditations on the Names of Christ by want of room; and now resume the subject with the all-inclusive title CHRIST-a name at once denoting the person, offices, and work of the LORD, and our interest in them all. We are baptized into the Christian name that we may know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, who was crucified, both LORD and CHRIST; and, knowing this, may have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John i.) Thus privileged, we walk not in darkness; but, as God is light, we walk in the light : we have also fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. This knowledge, this light, this fellowship, “teacheth all things ;” and where it abideth is everlasting life. To all such Christians it is said, “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things : " “ If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father :” “And this is the promise-even eternal life:” “ But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but, as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie; and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him ; that when he shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at bis coming” (1 John ii. 20, 24-28). May that anointing of the Holy Ghost, which Christ, having received of the Father, sheds forth upon his people, now abide in us, while we consider, under its various aspects, His Name which is “as ointment poured forth” (Song i. 3); that our “joy may be full, and we may be able to testify truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ: ” and, feeling that we have also“ fellowship one with another," may manifest "how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity : like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard ; that went down upon the skirts of his garments : as the dew of Hermon, that descended upon the mountains of Zion ; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."
The title Christ denotes the" Anointed One," the “Messiah;” and points to the three special offices of our Lord, as Prophet, Priest, and King; to each of which anointing was the sign of inauguration ; but all of which anointings, or the plenitude of
any one of them, never met in one Person save in The Lord our Righteousness (Jer. xxiii. 6). The unction to the prophetic office is not so often mentioned as the other anointings, but Elijah is commanded to anoint Elisha, 1 Kings xix. 16: and it is assumed as inseparable from the prophetic office 1 Chron. xvi. 22, Psal. cv. 15: “ Touch not 'mine anointed (xplotovs,
, LXX), and do my prophets no harm.” In this character Moses was commanded to declare, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet like unto me: unto him ye shall hearken ....and it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him" (Deut. xviii. 15, 19).' The time also of his coming was foretold by the angel to Daniel (ix. 25): “Unto Messiah the Prince" (ypisov vyovpevov, the anointed Leader, LXX). And this office our Lord appropriates to himself, from Isai. Ixi. in Luke iv. 18: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath unvinted me to preach the Gospel to the poor.... this day is this Scripture fulfilled."
Though our Lord was the Eternal Word, and in that character ever has been the revealer of the Father's will; though He as Jehovah conversed with our first parents, talked with Abraham, and spake face to face with Moses; yet as Son of Man, as GodMan, as the Christ, his prophetic office did not begin till after his baptism by John. This is clear from Acts x. 36; and the very name prophet, or preacher, and the command to hear, necessarily limits the office to the time of its exercise : and Christ, now exalted to the right hand of God, has transferred the prophetic office to his church. The whole First Epistle of John rests upon this truth ; and the Apocalypse exemplifies it, being the fulfilment of the parting words of our Lord, when about to be offered up: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.... they are thine; and all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them....and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” Marvellous words! “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called sons of God!” Brethren, see your calling : “As he is, so are we in this world.”
To endow the church for this her high dignity of filling the prophetic office, of standing in Christ's stead, of ambassadors for God (2 Cor. v. 20), the Holy Spirit the Paraclete was given, to abide with the church for ever, even unto the end of the world (John xiv. 16, Matt. xxviii. 20). As the Father sent forth the Son endowed with the Holy Ghost without measure (John iii. 34), so, when the Son transferred his work on earth to the church, he said to them, “As my Father hath sent me,