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mired Arabic and Persian poets. But this is not the style of the New Testament, if we except the symbolical descriptions of the Apocalypse, evidently deduced from that of the Jewish prophets. The style of the evangelists and apostles is that of plain men, men of serious business, and who had not the leisure, nor the inclination, nor any of the ordinary motives, to practise the arts of rhetoric. If we study their sacred productions, under a persuasion that they are wreathed in flowers, and that their solemn declarations of truth and authority are to undergo a large discount, on the score of hyperbole, metaphor, and allegory, it is more than probable that we shall miss the treasure and embrace a cloud.
An attentive perusal of the Christian scriptures may lead us, also, to observe, that whatever figures do occur, they are either the easy and spontaneous product of pure natural feeling; † or if the marks of design appear, they are mani. festly employed, not to recommend the writer, not to dazzle or even to please the reader, but with the honest and unmixed purpose of making truth more plain to the understanding, or of impressing
* See Note (C) at the end of this Chapter.
+ “ Translationem dico,quæ quidem cum ita est ab ipså nobis concessa naturâ, ut indocti quoque ac non sentientes eâ frequenter utantur.”—“ Such metaphors as, arising from natural feeling, are frequently used by the unlearned, and by those who are not in the least aware of it." Quintil. viii. 6,
it more deeply on the heart; not to adorn, but to illustrate; not to confound, but to convince.
Another circumstance of importance, in the figurative diction of the New Testament, relates to the sources from which it is drawn. Our Lord himself generally adverts to the works of nature and the ordinary labours of men : but, in the epistles, it is particularly observable that the materials of allusion, comparison, and metaphor, by which doctrinal points are illustrated, are derived almost erclusively from the religious observances of the Old Testament; the constitution and the principal officers of the Israelitic state; the site and the services of the temple ; the sacrifices and the altar; the holy place and the mercy seat.
Figures of this kind, above all others, possessed the advantage of a deterininate and well known signification. They were parts of a system, originally of divine appointment, and the shadow of good things to come. Their significancy did not depend on the invention of ingenious analogies, but on fixed and solid principles, the design of the whole, and the relation and use of the parts. The principal occurrences, in the dispensations of God towards the Israelites, are declared to have
happened to them as types.—The law was an instructor leading to Christ.-It was the bringing in of a better hope. The first tabernacle was a
parable for the time then present. Its priests performed their ministry to that which was a copy and shadow of heavenly things. The holy places made with hands, were a type answering to the true ones. The law had a shadow of good things to come.'
These observations will not, I hope, appear irrelevant to those who have remarked the manner in which scriptural evidence is eluded, under the prétence of its being couched in figurative expressions. Under this allegation, often true in itself, those theologians who oppose the Deity and Atonement of Christ, dispose very compendiously of many texts : as if their being metaphorical, or allusive to the Levitical rites, were a sufficient reason for setting them aside as of little or no significancy. This easy method of arguing is generally coupled with a style of censorial remark upon the language itself of the scriptures, not very modest, or much becoming those who acknowledge that the entrance of God's word giveth light, and who receive it with the meekness of reverential acquiescence. The following passages may serve as specimens :-“ Undoubtedly Christ spoke thus on purpose, that his words might be understood in different ways, so that wicked men, not sufficiently scrutinizing the words, might have some plausible ground of objection: for it was Christ's usual manner to use such ex
1 Cor. x. ll. Gal. iii. 24. Heb. vii. 19; ix, 9; viii. 5; ix. 24; x. 1.
pressions as would, in some way, entangle wicked
“ St. Paul can hardly be considered as entirely free from blame: he hath had too little regard to the consistency of these representations. This proceeding could not but tend to throw confusion into our views of the end and design of the death of Christ.” † This, I am apprehensive, will appear to be but little satisfactory to any one that wisheth to see Christianity effectually cleared from a charge of licentiousness. At best, it is disappointing his reader, whose expectations he had raised so high by the spirited manner in which he resented the imputation, and begun his answer; by putting him off with a mere allusion, instead of a solid argument. But even the allusion seems to be faulty, It is both arbitrary and defective.”+
" Whether or no St. Paul's undoubted good sense was satisfied with it, it answered his purpose the best of any method in the world.”“ As the Jews boasted much of their priesthood, their sacrifices, and their temple, the writer of this epistle [to the Hebrews] finds a high priest, a sacrifice, and a temple, in the Christian scheme. But, in this, it may be easily
* “ Nihil dubitandum est Christum ita locutum esse studio, ut et hoc et illo modo verba ipsius intelligi possent, ut homines improbi verba non considerantes haberent quod speciosè carperent. Hic enim mos Christi fuit, homines improbos suis sermonibus quasi intricare.” Val. Smalcius contra Frantz. p. 81, ap. Calovii Socin. Prof. p. 86, ed. 1652.
+ Dr. Priestley, in Theol. Rep. vol. iii. p. 206, * Id. ib.
205. $ Id. ib. p. 199,
supposed, there is room for much imagination in fancying resemblances where the appearances are very slight, so that much stress is not to be laid on arguments of this kind.”* “ This epistle contains many important observations, and many wholesome truths, mingled indeed with some far-fetched analogies and inaccurate reasonings.” † “ The writer of this epistle, having found in Psalm cx. the priesthood of the Messiah compared with that of Melchisedec, strains the similitude to as many points of resemblance as possible.”
“ Jesus knowing their mean and secular views, resolved to release himself from these selfish and unworthy attendants; and, for this purpose, he delivers a discourse which they could not comprehend, and the design of which was to shock their prejudices, to disgust their feelings, and to alienate them from his society.”Such designs, and such contrivances to accomplish them, the Calm Inquirer attributes to the wisest and best, the most benevolent and amiable of teachers! And such bad faith, as well as bad reasoning, do the leaders of the sect not scruple to attach to the greatest of the apostles, a man who, irrespectively of his inspiration; may vie with all history for integrity of character and independence of mind !
The RADICAL ERROR, which is latent in these bold declarations, and which appears to me to
* Dr. Priestley's Notes on Scripture, vol. iv. p. 451, + Impr. Vers. of N. T. note on Heb. xiii. 25. † Calm. Ing. p. 160.
p. 57, on Joh. vi.