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mit to their influence. But in this part of his discourse, our Lord is warning his hearers not to be unmerciful and severe in censuring others, in marking and aggravating their faults, nor to correct their vices or mistakes, while they are chargeable themselves with much more heinous crimes. They were not to suffer sin in their brother, but were bound to reprove his faults, and endeavour his reformation ; their counsels and reproofs, however, were to be managed with wisdom and prudence, and were not to be unseasonably lavished on hardened and profligate sinners, who, instead of receiving them in a becoming manner, would be exasperated by them, and turn with fury upon their indiscreet advisers. “Give not wisdom,” says the Hebrew adage, “ to him who knows not its value, for it is more precious than pearls, and he who seeks it not, is worse than a swine that defiles and rolls himself in the mud; so he who knows not the value of wisdom, profanes its glory.”
The fierce and truculent disposition ascribed to the hog, in this proverbial saying of Jesus, perfectly corresponds with the natural history of that animal. He is obstinate and untractable; and “ of all quadrupeds, the most rude and brutal. All his habits are gross ; all his appetites are impure; all his sensations are confined to a furious lust, an insatiable gluttony, and a savage cruelty. He devours indiscriminately every thing that comes in his way; even his own offspring, immediately after their birth.”m His powers of annoyance and destruction are of no ordinary kind." He grows, in a wild state, to a very large size ; his tusks are from nine to ten inches long; they are flat, sharp, and bend
m Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. iii, p. 511, 51 n Hesiod. Scut. Herc. 1. 386-389. Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. x, c. 16.
in a circular form. In the rutting season, he is more fero. cious than ever ; and when another male appears, he becomes perfectly furious. He prepares for the combat by turning his side directly to his antagonist, and lowering his head; and in this attitude, he waits the attack with fearless intrepidity. Even when the lion, who is particularly fond of his flesh, has marked him for his
he " has sometimes been known to defend himself with so much bravery, that the victory has inclined to neither side; the carcases of them both having been found lying one by the other, torn and mangled to pieces.
The usual residence of the wild boar, which differs not in disposition and habits from the domestic, is in the thickest recesses of the forest, or in the reedy marsh; but when roused by hunger, he leaves his native retreats, makes an inroad into the cultivated parts of the country, and, with undistinguishing rage, spreads destruction wherever he comes. From this brief statement it will appear, that the character given to that animal in the passage under consideration, is perfectly correct. It may be thought to refer more properly to the wild boar, than to the domestic hog; but their dispositions are nearly the same, as well as the danger to be apprehended from their ferocity.
The hog delights more in the fætid mire, than in the clear and running stream.
The mud is the chosen place of his
repose ? and to wallow in it, seems to constitute one of his greatest pleasures. To wash him is vain ; for he is no sooner at liberty, than he hastens to the puddle, and
• Dr. Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 324. Homer gives the victory to the lion after a long and fierce contest. Lib. xvii, l. 825.--Hesiod says the lions and the wild boars sometimes attack each other in bands, and many fall on both sides. Scutum Herc. 1. 168-176.
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.”p 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 refor. mation, 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 in- . ferred, 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 pas toral bards, in their Bucolics, divided the keepers of cattle p 2 Pet. ii, 22.
9 Lib. ii, cap. 47. 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. Ixxx, 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. But in every other part of the world, the hog is odious to the husbandman :
prima putatur Hostia sus meruisse mori quia semina pando
Erueret rostro, spemque interceperit anni.” 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.