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Apostles declared. This is the Method of the great GROTIUS; whose Commentaries on the Bible will ever be esteem'd by all those, who desire truly to understand it; notwithstanding the Imputation of some upon him, that he could neither find the MESSIAS in the Old Testament, nor the Pope in the New. But the Anti-allegorists, rejecting the Method of GROTIUS, of a critical Examination of the Writings of the Prophets by the common Use of Language, and supposing the Prophets to use common Words in a peculiar and enigmatical Sense, and most remote from vulgar Acceptation, and making that remote-enigmatical Sense to be the literal Sense, are guilty of the highest Absurdity imaginable. For they not only put a Sense upon the Prophets Words, which is remote from the literal Sense ( wherein they so far concur with the Allegorists); but, proceeding by Rules contrary to all Use of Language and to common Sense, they put a Sense upon the Words subversive of the true literal Sense ; whereby properly speaking they are no Interpreters at all, or rather worse than none, being mere Indulgers of Fancy. And there has never been a Typist, Mystist, or Allegorist (no, not BURMAN, or ALTING, or ALLIX, or the great Cocceius himself, all celebrated for putting remote allegorical Senses on the Old Testament) that have exceeded Mr. W. in Extravagancy ; who, for Example, finds (r) the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the four first Verses of the 29th of ISAIAH ;
(r) Whistor's Essay on the Revelations, p. 303. 312,
the (s) Destruction of the Turks at Armageddon in the four next Verses; the fame (t) Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, in the "first twenty Verses of the 24th chapter ; the (u) Restoration of the Jews to their own. Country, in the 23d Verse of that Chapter ; and, what is still more extravagant, the (w) Destruction of the Turks, 3c. in Verses 17--23 of the fame Chapter, whereby the same Verses have, according to him, at the same Time several remote-abfurd-pretended-literal Meanings ; tho' ISAIAH's View and Intention in all these Places have no Obscurity or Difficulty in them, and do most plainly relate to the great Ravage the Assyrian Army should make in
Judæa, and of the Destruction of that Army. And Mr. W. to support this Hypothesis of such remote-literal Meaning, is forced to represent the Prophets, as the most incoherent and (x) abrupt Writers imaginable, and to break their several Books, whose Parts are connected and depend on each other, into independent Prophesies. For did He consider them as Authors having the least Connection in their Writings, that Connection would limit their Sense to fome very obvious Matter, and take away all Colour for such Increase of Prophesies, and for the chimerical Meanings he puts upon those his fiĉtitious Prophesies.
(0) Whiston's Elay. p. 361. 363.
(20) p. 361. 362. (x) Whiston's Leat. p. 67. See also his Colle&tion of ScriptureProphesies at the End of bis Essay on the Revelation.
He endeavours (y) to support his Hypothefis by saying, If the Prophefies are allow'd to have more than one Event in View at the same Time, we can never be satisfied, but they have as many as any Vifonary pleases; and so instead of being capable of a direct and plain Ěxposition to the Satisfaction of the Judicious, will be lyable to the foolish Application of fanciful and enthusiastick Men. As if his Method, which, as has appear'd, subjects the Prophesies to the very fame Kind of chimerical Meanings, and often to the very fame Meanings with the Allegorists, was less absurd, because every single Visionary can have but one such chimerical Meaning at a Time, or exercise but one (2) extravagant Liberty of Fancy or of Interpretation. As to his faying, (a) that if this double Intention in Prophesies be allow'd by us Christians, we lose all the real Advantages as to the Proof of our common Christianity; and, besides, expose ourselves to the Insults of Yews and Infidels in our Discourses with them; I answer how can he hope less to expose himself to Jews and Infidels than the Allegorists, by putting the same remote Meaning on the Prophesies with them under the Notion of that remote Meaning being the literal Meaning ? Will not, nay must not the Yews and Infidels fee each of their Meanings to be equally remote from the true literal Meaning, by what ever Names their
(y) Whiston's Leat. p. 15.
Meaning is call’d ? And, by Consequence, must they not reject with equal Contempt the enigmatical-literal Meaning of Mr. W. as well as the allegorical Meaning of others ? And will not they in a particular Manner insult, when they find him (6) changing and altering the Holy Bible, according to his Pleasure, in Order to avoid the Scheme of a double Sense of Prophesies, and to introduce his own coverd mystical enigmatical-literal Scheme.
"I know he pretends in behalf of his Scheme ; that there is a peculiar (c) prophetick Language ; and that the Words of the Prophets, tho' not understood according to their common Sense, or in the fame Sense as in any other Discourses, have yet a single, fix'd, and determinate Signification. And he and others fuppose, that they have in divers Respects found cut the certain Rules of that Language ; in Virtue of which they pretend to be no less positive in their Interpretations of certain Prophesies, than if they were historical Passages, · wherein Words are used in their common Sense. And it must be confess'd that many Prophesies explain’d and apply'd, according to those Rules, to certain past Events, have such an Agreement to those Events, as to occafion many to think those Prophesies rightly explain’d and even to (d) excuse some Dif.
(6) Allix's Rem. on Whiston’s Papers, p. 7.
(c) Whiston's Boyl. Lect. and Essay on the Revelation of St John.'
(d) Nichols's Conf. with a Theift. Vol. 3, p. 107.
agreement between the Prophesies and the Events, as a Defect only in the Explainers.
But such Agreement can carry no real Conviction along with it. For the Reason of such Agreement is plainly This, that the Explainers have had both the Prophesies and Events lying for a long Time before them, with a View to make them accord. In Consequence whereof, they have, by mending and piecing of Systems, and varying and changing Ideas to Words, found out the most plausible Meanings possible for certain Words in the Prophesies, in Order to apply those Prophesies to the Events they would have to be intended in them. For Nothing is easier than for artful and learned Men to make Accomodations, in this case, between Things, to a certain Degree. But perfect Accomodations seem impoffible ; and accordingly, no Explications, grounded on the before-mention'd pretended Rules, of any Prophesies existing before the Events and refer'd to past Events, will perfectly agree to those Events (tho’the pretended Peculiarity of the Language gives the Explainers the utmost Latitude to allign what Ideas they please to Words); as ( for an Example ) may be seen by the several Explications invented in Relation to DANIEL's Weeks, or any other such Prophesies. For as to DANIEL's Weeks ; let them understand by Weeks, Weeks of Years (tho' there be no (e) Foundation in the Old Testament for such Use of the Word) or what other Portion of Time
(e) Le Clerc Bibl. Chois. Tom. 15. p. 201.