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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 fense, 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 prophet's words, which is remote from the literal sense (where. in they so far concur with the allegorists); but proceeding by rules contrary to all use of language and to common sense, they put a fenfe 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; the (s) destruction of the Turks at Armageddon in the R 3
() Whiston's Efay on the Revelations, p. 303, 312. (s) Ib. p. 361, 363.
four next verses; the fame (t) destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, in the first 20 verses of the 24th chapter ; the (21) reforation 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, &c. in verses 17-- 23 of the same chapter, whereby the same verses have, according to him, at the same time several remote-absurd-pretended-literal meanings: tho' Isaiah's view and intention in all these places have no obfcurity or difficulty in them, and do most plainly relate to the great ravage the Assyrian army should make in Judea, and of the destruction of that army. And Mr. W. to support this hypothesis of such remote-literal meaning, is forc'd 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 conlider them as authors having the least conpection in their writings, that connection would limit their ienie to lome very obvious
(t) ib. p. 203, 310.
ex) Whiston's Le&t. p. 67. See also his Collection of beripsuve- Prophefres at the end of his ElJay on the Revelas 5:03.
matters, and take away all colour for such increase of prophesies, and for the chimerical meaning he puts upon those his fictitious prophesies..
He endeavours (9) to support his hypothesis by saying, If the prophesics are alloza'd to have more than one event in view at the same time, we can never be satisfy’d, but they have as many as any visionary pleases ; and so instead of being cam pable of a direct and plain exposition to the satisfaction of the judicious, will be liable to the foolis 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 lefs absurd, because every single visionary can have but one fuch chimerical meaning at a time, or exercise but one (x) 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 lofe all the real advantages as to the proof of our common christianity; and, besides, expose ourselves to the insults of Jews and R 4
fies to the wet often to the very lefs absurd,
( Whifton's Lect. p. 15.
Infidels in our discourses with them : 1 anfwer, 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 Jews. and Infidels fee each of their meanings to be equally remote from the true literal meaning, by what ever names their meaning is callid ? And by consequence, muft they not reject with equal contempt the enigmaticalliteral 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 prophefics, and to introduce his own cover'd, mysti- ' cal, enigmatical-literal scheme.
Í 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 same sense as in any other discourses, have yet a single, fix'd, and determinate signification. And he and others
(6) Allix's Rem. on Whiffon's Papers, p. 7.
b) Whiston's Boyl. Lect. and Effay on the Revelasion of St. Joha.
suppofe, that they have in divers respects found out the certain rules of that language ; in virtue of which they pretend to be no less positive in their interpretations of certain prophefies, than if they were historical passages, wherein words are used in their common sense. And it must be confefs'd, that many prophefies explain'd and apply'd, according to those rules, to certain past events, have such an agreement to thofe events, as to occasion many to think those prophesies rightly explain'd, and even to (d) excuse fomě disagreeinent between the prophefies and the events, as a defect only in the explainers.
But such agreement ought to 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 confequence 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 prophefies, 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 accommoda
(d) Nichols's Conf. with a Theist, Vol. 3. p. 107.