Imagini ale paginilor
[ocr errors]


connexion between the literal and the allegorical sense. There is always a clue, which leads us from one sense to the other. But if we endeavour to find an allegorical sense, either in history or in prophecy, we endeavour to find a sense, with which the literal sense is wholly unconnected. The sense therefore will be supplied by mere imagination: and not only will different interpreters invent different senses, but even the same interpreter may invent as many as he pleases. Indeed there have been Jewish Commen. tators, who have boasted, that they could discover seventy Midrashin, or mystical meanings in one sen

Some limit therefore is absolutely necessary: and enough has been already said to shew, that the only limit, in which we can confide, is the limit assigned by the authority of Christ and his Apostles.

This appeal to authority, as the foundation of secondary senses, is consistent also with the plan, which is adopted in these Lectures. For it has been already shewn, that there are prophecies, which foretel the coming of Christ, according to their literal and primary sense. By these prophecies, united with the argument from miracles, we establish the divine authority of Christ and his Apostles, independently of secondary senses. When we appeal therefore to their authority in proof of secondary senses, we are not liable to the charge of arguing in a circle. Such a charge applies only to those, who, wbile they under. take to prove the truth of our religion from prophecy,

[ocr errors]

yet argue only on the supposition of secondary senses. For, as the existence of secondary senses depends on the authority of Christ and his Apostles, we cannot argue from those senses to the truth of our religion without taking for granted the thing to be proved. But, on the other hand, though we cannot apply them to that particular purpose, there are other purposes, to which they may be applied. For though they prove nothing by themselves, yet when combined with those prophecies, which relate to the Messiah in their primary sense, they serve at least to illustrate that unity of design, which connects the Jewish with the Christian Dispensation.

If we further undertake to examine, what particular passages of the New Testament afford exam. ples of prophecy applied in a secondary sense, we shall find it to be a question, in which there ever has been, and probably ever will be a diversity of opin. ion. For not only are commentators at variance on the question, what are literal prophecies of our Sav. iour, and what are not, but even they who are agreed on this previous question, are still at variance as to the question, what appellation shall be given to those passages, which are applied to the period of our Saviour's ministry, and yet literally belong to another period. That there are such passages we cannot doubt: and we may allege, as an instance, that passage in the thirty-first Chapter of Jeremiah, which is applied to the massacre of the children at Bethlehem.

The words of Jeremiah are, “ A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping : Rahel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears : for thy work shall be rewarded saith the Lord, and they sball come again from the land of the enemy.” This passage evidently relates to the carrying away of the Jews into captivity, and their future return. For it appears from the fortieth Chapter of Jeremiah, that Ramah was the place, to which Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar's guard, first brought his captives from Jerusalem. According to its literal meaning therefore it is obvi. ously a prophecy of a totally different event from the massacre of the children in Bethlehem by order of Herod. Nor do we perceive how it can be a propbecy of this event even in a secondary sense. For not only were Ramah and Bethlehem two distinct places, the one lying as far to the north as the other to the south of Jerusalem, but the consolation, afforded to Rahel, that her children should come again, was a consolation, which could not be afforded to the mothers of the murdered children in Bethlehem. A com. parison therefore of the sorrow, expressed in the one case, with the sorrow, wbicb was felt in the other, appears at least to constitute the sole ground of application. Such applications of passages in the old Testament to events recorded in the New, various writers, for instance Bishop Kidder in his Demonstration of the Messias, and Dr. Nicholls in his Con. ference with a Theist, have called by the name of accommodation. But other writers have asserted that even such passages are prophecies, at least in a secondary sense, of the event, to which they are applied. The very passage, which we have been just considering, is introduced with the words, « Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet.” Hence it has been inferred, that St. Matthew, who quoted the passage, regarded it as a prophecy at least in some sense, since the use of the term “ fulfilled ” implies a prediction of that event, in which it was fulfilled. And if in the opinion of an inspired Apostle any passage of the Old Testament was a prediction of that event to which he himself applied it, we must conclude, that such passage really was a prediction of that event, though we ourselves could not have discovered it. To diminish however tbe difficulties, which we should still feel on such occasions, a distinction has been made by some Com. mentators, especially by Professor Dathe in the Notes to his Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible, between quotations introduced with the formula, “ Then was fulfilled,” and quotations introduced with the formula, “ This was done that it might be fulfilled.” Though quotations therefore of the latter kind are quotations of prophecies, relating either in a primary or in a secondary sense, to those very events, to which they are applied, quotations of the former kind are supposed to have been intended for nothing more, than what is called an accommodation, or an application of a passage to a corresponding event. And this distinction has really a foundation in the practice of the Jews themselves. For Surenhusius in his third Thesis De formulis allegandi, has quoted Rabbinical expressions corresponding to the expressions of the New Testament, “ Then was fulfilled,” and “this was done that it might be fulfilled.” And it appears, that the latter expression only was used with passages, which were quoted by way of argument, or proof. But if the term accommodation be applied, as it is by some writers, to passages of the Old Testament, which are quoted in the New Testament with the strong expression, “this was done that it might be fulfilled," the use of it in such cases is neither warranted by the practice of the Jewish writers, nor can be consonant with the design of the sacred writers themselves. Passages so in. troduced must be regarded as real prophecies, at least in a secondary, if not in a primary sense.

To use therefore the term accommodation for the passages

in general, wbich are taken from the Old Testament, and applied to the events of the New, is to carry the principle of accommodation to an extent, which it will not bear. Nor can the term "secondary sense” be applied in that general manner: for there are certain. ly prophecies in the Old Testament, which relate to

« ÎnapoiContinuați »