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besmears himself anew. Such is the temper and conduct of corrupt and wicked men, who had escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but are again entangled, and overcome: the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.It is happened unto them according to the true proverb: "The dog is turned to his vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire." Allured by the promises of the gospel, or alarmed by the terrors of the law, they abandoned some of their evil courses, and performed many laudable actions; but, their nature and inclinations remaining unrenewed by divine grace, they quickly shook off the feeble restraints of external reformation, and returned with greater eagerness than ever to their former courses.
The hog was justly classed by the Jews among the vilest animals in the scale of animated nature; and it cannot be doubted, that his keeper generally shared in the contempt and abhorrence which he had excited. The prodigal son in the parable, had spent his all in riotous living, and was ready to perish through want, before he submitted to the humiliating employment of feeding swine. In Egypt, if we may believe Herodotus, the swine-herd was numbered with the profane, and forbidden to enter the temples of their gods; and even the lowest dregs of the people refused to give their daughters to him in marriage. Homer, it must be admitted, honours, with many commendations, Eumæus, the swine-herd of Ulysses; but it may be inferred, from the total silence of all other ancient poets, that the station of a swine-herd was extremely contemptible in Greece and the surrounding countries. The pastoral bards, in their Bucolics, divided the keepers of cattle 4 Lib. ii, cap. 47.
P 2 Pet. ii, 22. VOL. II.
into three classes; the neat-herds, the shepherds, and the goat-herds. Theocritus never once introduces the swineherd among those who tended the flocks and herds, in his Idylls; and Virgil observes the same guarded silence, in his Eclogues; a sure proof that public opinion had placed the keeper of swine among the very refuse of society. These remarks illustrate the miserable condition of the prodigal son, who, by his own mismanagement, fell from a state of affluence and honour, into the deepest indigence and contempt. In want of the necessaries of life, and neglected or despised by every human being, he was fain to accept of the vilest situation on earth, and to allay the agonizing demands of hunger, by feeding among the swine. But this glowing picture of human wretchedness becomes more interesting, when we recollect, that it is intended to display the extreme and diversified wretchedness of the Gentile nations, before the coming of Christ, and the triumphs of his gospel.
Under the beautiful allegory of a vine, the royal Psalmist describes the rise and fall of the Jewish commonwealth, in this address to Jehovah: "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt, thou hast cast out the heathen and planted it. Thou preparedst a room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they that pass by the way, do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it." This terrible animal is both fierce and cruel, and so swift that few of the savage tribes can outstrip him in * Psa. lxxx, 8-13.
running. His chief abode, says Forbes, is in the forests and jungles: but when the grain is nearly ripe, he commits great ravages in the fields and sugar plantations. The powers that subverted the Jewish nation, are compared to the wild boar, and the wild beast of the field, by which the vine is wasted and devoured; and no figure could be more happily chosen. That ferocious and destructive animal, not satisfied with devouring the fruit, lacerates and breaks with his sharp and powerful tusks, the branches of the vine, or with his snout digs it up by the roots, pollutes it with his touch, or tramples it under his feet. In Egypt, according to Herodotus and other writers, the labours of this ferocious animal are rendered useful to man. When the Nile has retired within his proper channel, the husbandman scatters his grain upon the irrigated soil, and sends out a number of swine, that partly by treading it with their feet, partly by digging it with their snout, immediately turn it up, and by this means cover the seed.t But in every other part of the world, the hog is odious to the husbandman:
Hostia sus meruisse mori quia semina pando
It was an established custom among the Greeks and Romans, to offer a hog in sacrifice to Ceres, at the beginning of harvest, and another to Bacchus, before they began to gather the vintage; because that animal is equally hostile to the growing corn, and the loaded vineyard. From these examples it is quite evident that the prophet meant to describe, under the figure of a wild boar, the cruel and implacable enemies of the church. And it is extremely pros Orient. Mem. vol. ii, p. 276. * Lib. ii, cap. 14.
bable, that he alluded to some more remarkable adversary, as Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, or Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon; both of whom, were not less ferocious and destructive, than the savage by which they were symbolized.
The enemies of the church are intended in another periphrasis, by the same writer: "Rebuke the company of the spearmen, (or more literally, the wild beast of the reed), the multitude of the bulls with the calves of the people." The wild beast of the reed probably means the boar out of the forest, that fixes his usual residence among the reeds of the marsh, from whence he issues to devastate the neighbouring fields and vineyards:
"tenet ima lacunæ
Lenta salix, ulvæque, leves, juncique palustres,
Some writers, however, understand it of the hippopotamus, that, like the boar, loves to repose "under the shady trees, in the covert of the reeds and fens." It is not easy to determine to which of these stupendous tenants of the marsh, the sacred writer alludes: nor is the question of much importance; for the meaning is the same, and the figure equally beautiful and striking.
" Ps. lxxviii, 30.
BEASTS OF PREY.
The Lion The Leopard.-The Bear.-The Wolf.The Hyana.
AMONG the beasts of prey to which the Scriptures allude, the first place is due to the lion. That noble animal is strongly made, and of an elegant and majestic form. A stranger to fear, and conscious as it were of his pre-eminent strength, he looks around him with an air of superiority; and when he walks, it is with peculiar gracefulness and ease. Isidore and other writers call him the king of beasts. The companions of Samson admitted his strength to be equal, at least, to that of the most powerful animal that ranges the forest: "What," said they, "is stronger than a lion ?" Solomon, directed by the Spirit of inspiration, proceeds a step farther, and pronounces him the strongest among beasts. These statements are confirmed by the testimony of many common writers of undoubted veracity.
Homer declares, that with one shake he breaks the neck of an ox:
Της δ' εξ αυχεν εαξε, λαβών κρατεροισιν οδύσι.
Il. lib. xi, 1. 175.
a Bochart. Hieroz. lib. iii, p. 713. Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. viii, cap. 17. Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. iv, cap. 34, and lib. v, cap. 39. Buffon's Nat.
Hist. vol. v, p. 68, 70.
b Lib. xii, cap. 2.
Judges xiv, 18.
Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. xv, cap. 17.