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The heavens and earth are thus addressed as though they had the organ of hearing, were consciously present at the utterance of the song, and witnesses of its solemn recitals, and its prophetic warnings and announcements.
It is used in the same form by Isaiah, in the introduction of his prophecy (chap. i. 1);
"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; For it is Jehovah that speaketh."
The mountains are summoned by it (Micah vi. 2) to witness the controversy of God with his people:
"Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy,
And ye strong foundations of the earth;
For the Lord hath a controversy with his people,
The heavens are called by Jeremiah (chap. ii. 12, 13) to contemplate the apostasy of the Israelites, with the amazement and fear with which it was suited to impress beholders:
"Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this,
And be horribly afraid.
Be ye very desolate, saith the Lord,
For my people have committed two evils :
They have forsaken me,
And hewed them out cisterns,
Broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
He calls the earth to be witness of the prophetic denunciation he uttered respecting Coniah (chap. xxii. 29, 30):
"O earth, earth, earth,
Hear the word of the Lord.
Thus saith the Lord :
Write ye this man childless,
A man that shall not prosper in his days;
Sitting upon the throne of David,
Isaiah calls the heavens and earth, the mountains and forests, to celebrate with songs and joy the redemption of Jacob (chap. xliv. 23);
'Sing, O ye heavens, for Jehovah hath effected it;
Utter a joyful sound, O ye depths of the earth;
Thou forest, and every tree therein !
This is one of the most beautiful examples of the figure in the sacred writings, and has no equal in the uninspired poets. His personification of Jerusalem is eminently lofty and impressive (chap. lii. 1,9):
"Awake, awake, be clothed with thy strength, O Zion; Clothe thyself with thy glorious garments,
O Jerusalem, thou holy city!
For no more shall enter into thee
"Burst forth into joy, shout together,
Ye ruins of Jerusalem!
For Jehovah hath comforted his people;
In all these examples, the objects personified are addressed. There are others in which the affections and actions of intelligent beings are ascribed to them. Thus, in the apostrophe to the king of Babylon (Isaiah xiv. 7, 8):
"The whole earth is at rest; is quiet;
They burst forth into singing;
Even the fir-trees rejoice with respect to thee,
The cedars of Lebanon, saying
Now that thou art lain down,
The feller shall not come up against us.”
This is not a metaphor, as it is a law of that figure
that the agents or objects to which it is applied, are capable of acts or appearances that are, in some relation, like those which it ascribes to them. But firs and cedars are not competent to anything analogous to the acts they are here exhibited as exerting. They may present an appearance of beauty and cheerfulness that resembles the human countenance when exhilarated with joy, but they are not capable of any appearance or movement that answers in any degree to an address to an intelligent being in the realms of the dead.
It is employed again in the following verse:
"Hades from beneath is excited, because of thee,
To meet thee at thy coming.
It rouses for thee the mighty dead,
All the chief ones of the earth.
It raises from their thrones all the kings of the nations."
Hades, the world of the dead, is not capable of acts and conditions that correspond in any manner to those which are here affirmed of it. It is addressed as though it were an intelligent agent, and the keeper of the dead; and it is in that character that they are ascribed to it.
The figure is thus one of the most lofty and beautiful that the fancy employs, and invests the events it is used to exemplify and adorn with extraordinary
dignity and splendor. To exhibit them as of such significance that the great objects of the material world should be roused to consciousness at their presence, and touched with joy or sorrow, and burst into songs or lamentations at their occurrence, is to exalt and aggrandize them in the highest degree of which the imagination is capable.
An elliptical metaphor, by which a city or country is exhibited as a person, and the affections, acts, and conditions of a person ascribed to it, is sometimes treated by writers as a personification. As Lam. i. 7, 8:
"Jerusalem remembered, in the days of her affliction and of her miseries, all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her Sabbaths. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed; all that honored her despise her; because they have seen her nakedness; yea, she sigheth and turneth backward."
The city is not here addressed as a material structure, as it would have been had it been personified; but is used first by metonymy for its population, and is in that relation spoken of by an elliptical metaphor, as though a real woman.
Sometimes an elliptical metaphor, by which the population of a city or country are exhibited as an