« ÎnapoiContinuă »
direction; which a diligent enquirer into the sense of scripture, will be able, in reading it, to make farther improvements upon.
(5.) In order to our understanding the scriptures, we must take notice of the several figurative modes of speaking that are used therein. As,
1st, The part is often put for the whole. Thus the soul, which is one constituent part of man, is sometimes put for the whole man; as in Gen. xlvi. 26. we read of the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt; and, in Rom. xii. 1. the body. is put for the whole man; I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies, that is, yourselves, a living sacrifice to God. So the blood of Christ, which is often spoken of, in scripture, as that by which we are redeemed, justified, and saved, is to be taken for the whole of his obedience and sufferings, both in life and death, to which our salvation is to be ascribed, as well as to the effusion of his blood.
2dly, The thing containing, is put for that which is contained therein t; so the cup in the Lord's supper, is put for the wine, 1 Cor. xi. 25. And the thing signified is put for the sign thereof. Thus when it is said, This is my body, ver. 24. the meaning is, this bread is a sign of my body, to wit, of the sufferings endured therein.
3dly, Places are, by way of anticipation, called by those names, which in reality, were not given them, or, which they were not commonly known by, till some time after. Thus it is said, that, as soon as Israel had passed over Jordan, they encamped in Gilgal, Josh. iv. 19. that is, in the place which was afterwards so called; for it is said, that it was called Gilgal because there they were circumcised; and so the reproach of Egypt, occasioned by the neglect of that ordinance, was rolled away, chap. v. 9. Again, it is said, The kings that came up against Sodom, when Lot was taken prisoner, had smitten all the country of the Amalekites, Gen. xiv. 7. whereas, the country that was afterwards known by that name, could not be so called at that time; since Amalek, from whom it took its name, was not born till some ages after, he being of the posterity of Esau, chap. xxxvi. 11.
4thly, The time past, or present, is often, especially in the prophetic writings, put for the time to come; which denotes the certain performance of the prediction, as much as though it were actually accomplished. Thus it is said, He, that is, our Saviour, is despised and rejected of men; he hath born our griefs, he was wounded for our transgressions, Isa. liii. 4, 5. And elsewhere, The people that walked in darkness have seen
This is called Synecdoche.
†This is called a Metonymy
a great light, chap. ix. 2. and unto us a child is born, chap. v. 9. &c.
5thly, One of the senses is sometimes put for another. Thus it it said, I turned to see the voice that spake to me, Rev. i. 12. where seeing is put for hearing, or, understanding the meaning of the voice that spake.
6thly, Positive assertions are sometimes taken in a comparitive sense. Thus God says to Samuel, the people in asking a king, have not rejected thee, but me, 1 Sam. viii. 7. that is, they have cast more contempt on me than they have on thee, q. d. they have offered a greater affront to my government, who condescended to be their king; though they have been uneasy under thine administration, as appointed to be their judge. And, in Psal. li. 4. David says, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. Whereas he had sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, as having murdered the one, and tempted the other to commit adultery with him; he had sinned against the army, whom he occasioned to fall in battle, pursuant to the orders he gave Joab, with a design to destroy Uriah; yet says he, against thee, thee only, have I sinned; that is, the greatest aggravation of my sin is, that it contains rebellion against thee. And elsewhere, God says, I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, Hos. vi. 6. that is, more than sacrifice.
7thly, There are several hyperbolical ways of speaking in scripture, whereby more is expressed than what is generally understood. Thus the vessel in the temple, in which things were washed, which was ten cubits from one brim to the other, is called a molten sea, 1 Kings vii. 23. because it contained a great quantity of water; though, indeed, it was very small, if compared with the dimensions of the sea: And in 1 Kings x. 27, it is said, that Solomon made silver to be in Jerusalem, as stones; and cedars as the sycamore-trees, which are in the vale for abundance. Silver was not, strictly speaking, as plentiful as stones; but it implies, that there were vast treasures thereof, heaped up by the king, and many of his subjects, and no lack of it in any one. And, in Judges xx. 16. it is said, there were some of the Benjamites left-handed, every one of whom could sling stones at an hair-breadth, and not miss; which only signifies that they had an uncommon expertness in this matter; and when we read of some of the cities in the land of Canaan, that were great, and walled up to heaven, Deut. i. 28. it only denotes that their walls were very high: And, in Kings i. 43. it is said upon the occasion of Solomon's being anointed king, that the people rejoiced with great joy; so that the earth rent with the sound of them; the meaning of which is only this, that the shouts of the people were so great, that if
the concussion of the air, that was made thereby, could have rent the earth, this would have done it.
8thly, We sometimes find ironical expressions, and sarcasms used in scripture, with a design to expose the wickedness and folly of men. Thus, when our first parents sinned by adhe ring to the suggestions of Satan, who told them, that they should be as gods, knowing good and evil, Gen. iii. 5. God says. in an ironical way, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil, &c. ver. 22. And the prophet Elijah exposes Baal's worshippers; and Micaiah, Ahab's false prophets, by using a sarcastic way of speaking, 1 Kings xviii. 27. and chap. xxii. 15. And Job uses the same figurative way of speaking, when he reproves the bitter invectives, and false reasonings of his friends; No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom. shall die with you, Job xii. 2. And Solomon uses the same way of address, when he says, Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: But know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee inta judgment, Eccl. xi. 9. And, the man that trusts in his own righteousness for justification, is also exposed in the same way, Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled: This shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow,' Isa. l. 11. And when our Saviour says to his disciples, having found them asleep, in Matt. xxvi. 45, 46. Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners,' it is plain from the following words, that he uses this figurative way of speaking; for he immediately adds, without an irony, Rise, let us be going.
This, some think to be the method of speaking which our Saviour makes use of, when he reproves his disciples for that fond conceit that they had, that his kingdom was of this world; and contending sometimes among themselves, who should be greatest therein: Upon which occasion he bids them make provision for war; and take care to secure those two things that are necessary thereunto, money and arms: Thus he says, in Luke xxii. 36. He that hath a purse, let him take it; and
he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one;' they did not, indeed, immediately perceive that he spake in an ironical way; and therefore replied, in ver. 38. Lord, behold here are two swords: Upon which he says, still carrying on the irony, It is enough. So that, whether they understood his meaning or no, it seems to be this; if you are disposed tu contend who shall be greatest, as though my kingdom were of temporal nature, and to be erected and maintained by force.
TO BE READ BY ALL.
of arms, do you think you have sufficient treasure to hire
9thly, The scripture often makes use of a figurative way of speaking, generally called an hendyadis, whereby one complex idea, is expressed by two words, which is very common in the Hebrew language. Thus in Jer. xxix. 11. when God promises his people, that he would give them an expected end, in tending hereby their deliverance from the Babylonish captivity; the words, if literally translated, ought to he rendered, as it is observed in the margin, an end and expectation; whereas, our translators were apprized that there is such a figurative way of speaking contained in them, and therefore they render them, an expected end: And this figure is sometimes used in the New Testament; as when our Saviour tells his disciples, in Luke xxi. 15." I will give you a mouth and wisdom; that is, I will give you ability to express yourselves with so much wisdom, that all your adversaries shall not be able to gain-say it. And some think, that there is the same way of speaking used in John iii. 5. Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;' that is, except a man be born of the Holy Spirit, or regenerated, which is signified by being born of water, he cannot, &c.
10thly, Nothing is more common than for the Holy Ghost, in scripture to make use of metaphors, which are a very elegant way of representing things, by comparing them with, and illustrating them by others, and borrowing such modes of speaking from them, as may add a very considerable beauty to them. Thus repentance and godly sorrow, together with the blessed privileges which shall hereafter attend them, are compared to sowing and reaping, in Psal. cxxvi. 5, 6. They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.' And the prophet sets forth the labour and pains which Israel had ta ken in sin; and exhorts them, by a metaphor taken from hus
bandry, to be as industrious in pursuing what would turn to a better account, in Hos. x. 12, 13. where he speaks of their having plowed wickedness, and reaped iniquity; and advises them to sow to themselves in righteousness, and reap in mercy; which, as he farther adds, they should do by seeking the Lord; and it is time, says he, to seek him, till he come and rain righteousness upon you; which is necessary to a plenteous harvest of blessings, which you may hope for in so doing. And, in chap. vii. 4. he reproves their adulteries by a metaphor, taken from an oven heated by the baker; and their hypocrisy by another, taken from a cake not turned, ver. 8. and their being weakened, and almost ruined hereby, he compares to the gray hairs of those who are bowed down under the infirmities of age, ver. 9. and for their cowardice and seeking help from other nations, and not from God, he calls them a silly dove. without an heart, ver. 11.
And we may observe, that there is oftentimes a chain af metaphors in the same paragraph. Of this kind is that elegant description of old age, sickness, and death, which Solomon gives, in exhorting persons to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, Eccl. xii. 1-6. while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars be not darkened; by which, it is probable, he intends the impairing the intellect, the loss of those sprightly parts which once they had, or, of the memory and judgment; upon which account men are sometimes said to out-live themselves. And he speaks of the keepers of the house trembling; that is, the hands and arms, designed for the defence of the body, being seized with paralytic disorders; the strong men bowing themselves; that is, those parts which are designed to support the body being weakened, and needing a staff to bear up themselves; the grinders ceasing because they are few, signifies the loss of teeth; and they that look out of the windows being darkened, a decay of sight; their rising up at the voice of the bird, implies their loss of one of the main props of nature, to wit, sleep; so that they may rise early in the morning, when the birds begin to sing, because their beds will not afford them rest: And the daughters of music being brought low, denotes a decay of the voice and hearing, and being not affected with those sounds which were once most delightful to them. The almond-tree flourishing, plainly signifies the hoary head; the grashopper being a burden, is either a proverbial speech, importing a want of courage, strength, and resolution to bear the smallest pressures; or, as others understand it, their stooping, when bowed down with old age. The silver cord loosed, or, the golden bowl broken at the founrain, or the wheel broken at the eistern, signifies a decay of the animal spirits, a laxation of the nerves, the irregular