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stands the full verbal meaning of the original. We say verbal, and refer to the understanding only, as being but one avenue or means of approach to the spiritual meaning; which last is a much higher attainment, and one which sometimes appears the result of an instinctive tact of spiritual discernment given from above, and independent of any common means.
The state of learning in the Christian church has been to a considerable extent anticipated in our account of the several versions. The principal truths of the Old Testament having been embodied in the New, and the Greek version being in very general use, Hebrew learning very soon languished in the church ; and though it was from time to time partially revived by the accession of a Jewish convert, yet it had ceased to be cultivated with any profit to the church before the time of Origen. The encomiasts of Origen boast of the short time in which he mastered Hebrew. This only leads to the suspicion that he had by no means mastered it, and nothing in his remaining works shews any deep or critical acquaintance with the language. Of Jerome, this is not merely a suspicion, but a certainty, for his comments prove, that, with all the pains he had taken, in procuring four different Jews for instructors, his knowledge of Hebrew scarcely exceeded that of a well-taught schoolboy. But we think this has been to us rather an advantage than otherwise : for as the chief use of Jerome's works and Origen's fragments is to verify the sacred text, this is better done by the servile adherence to the letter of Scripture, which their conscious weakness imposed upon them, than by any critical
On the contrary, we have rather occasion to rejoice that they were not gifted with the learning, if it had been accompanied with the recklessness of either Houbigant or Bentley, as they might then have endeavoured to model the text according to those notions of amendment which would best suit their translations; and not, as they have done, given us every where the letter, whether they could make their own sense of it or not. Jerome died A. D. 420; and for nine hundred years we find no traces of Hebrew learning in the writings of the Western church. With the generation that succeeded Jerome, or soon after, Greek literature also declined, and the subtleties of the schoolmen took the place of theology in the church, and their barbarous Latin became its only learning: and many a precious manuscript was erased, to furnish parchment for Thomas Aquinas or P. Lombard. Had we space, it might be instructive to trace out the heresies and superstitions which have from time to time arisen, in their connection with the learning or the credulity whence they severally sprang. Heresy is dangerous and infectious only in proportion to the learning which accompanies it-if, indeed, perverted learning be not its only soil. In the Western church we find but little of heresy, after the time of Athanasius, till the revival of learning in the fifteenth century; but in the East, where a certain portion of learning subsisted, heresies springing from a perversion of learning abounded : and, monstrous as the superstitious accumulation embodied in the Papacy appears, it is less hateful than the wild, hopeless, irremediable heresies of the East. These heretical perversions have no fixity or substance with which to grapple, and rest on no principle on which you can take your stand; but superstition has generally a basis of truth, and you have only to clear away the rubbish to discover the goodly foundation on which it rests. The first symptoms of a revival of learning in the church appeared in Nic. de Lyra, 1320. He may be considered as the forerunner of the Reformation, by his knowledge of Hebrew loosening the spell of ignorance in which the church had been so long imprisoned, and by the freedom of his comments preparing the way for that perfect liberty of private interpretation which the Reformers established. Luther says of him, Ego Lyram ideo amo, et inter optimos pono, quod ubique diligenter retinet et persequitur historiam :” and he is commonly said to have held Luther's stirrup. The miseries which now overwhelmed the East, and the persecutions in Spain, drove multitudes of learned men into Italy, bringing with them their books, their only solace. The ardent Italians immediately caught the flame, and learning at once blazed forth in all its several quarters. The principal instrument in reviving Hebrew, was Picus of Mirandula, who in 1484 astonished the world by the variety and precocity of his talents, and whose early death left his contemporaries under the full impression of the emulation he had excited, and took away the jealousies and other attendant evils. His whole career was brilliant and extraordinary, and he had taken up that branch of Hebrew learning which was most calculated to excite astonishment, and produced by it an effect on that age which probably has not its parallel. Galatine and Reuchlin were first led to Hebrew by the meteoric glare which Picus left in his track; but Reuchlin, in his zeal for the preservation of some Rabbinical books, was brought into contest with the monks : in this contest he was supported by the principal Reformers, and its circumstances contributed greatly to give notoriety and eclat to Hebrew literature. The Reformers had also now found the necessity of continually appealing to the original Scriptures, and most of them became in consequence good scholars. Bibles, grammars, and lexicons were abundantly circulated ; and many a man, who never emerged from privacy, was enabled by these means to become well acquainted with the Scriptures, and in his own sphere of acquaintance to diffuse the truths of the Reformation, though his name was unknown beyond the pivate circle. At the beginning of the Reformation the greatest portion of learning was on the side of the Reformers: the
Papists felt their disadvantage, and did their utmost to supply
OLD-TESTAMENT PROPHECIES QUOTED IN THE NEW.
The Prophecy of Immunuel's Name, Isai. viii.-ix. 8.
The prophecy of the viiith chapter is intimately connected with the prophecy of the viith, in that they both begin by treating of the judgment of God brought upon Syria and Ephraim because of their God-defying enterprise to cut off the line of David. But, whereas the prophecy which we have interpreted did chiefly bear and conclude against Ephraim, determining the period of his dispersion as a people, this prophecy now under consideration doth begin by a judgment on Damascus, which is given with all the circumstance, and certified with all the assur ance, of a most determinate purpose of God. It thus begins : “ Moreover, the Lord said unto me”—that is, in addition to what had been said in vers. 7–9 of the preceding chapter, against Damascus and Samaria ; and what had been given as a sign thereof in vers. 15, 16, the Lord added this command
ment, “Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz.” It was the custom of the East, and is to this day the custom, to roll, and not to fold, their writings. This roll, which the Prophet is commanded to take, is appointed to be of great dimensions, as being intended to contain much matter - how much, will appear in the sequel. In this roll he was to write with a man's pen—that is, as I suppose, in no cipher, with no mystery, but in such plain character and style as men do in their ordinary correspondence. And the thing written is to be concerning a child of the prophet not yet in existence. The prophet had a child, Shear-jashub, of such years as that he might take him in his hand when he went to prophesy before king Ahaz; and this Shear-jashub, which being interpreted, is, “the remnant shall return,” was made the sign of the dispersion of Ephraim; a sign of hope, a stone of help, on which was written, “ The remnant shall return." Ephraim, though broken from being a people, shall have a remnant left, who shall return. But this other son of the Prophet hath a name of larger omen, Mahershalal-hash-baz, which, being interpreted, is,“ in making speed to the spoil he hasteneth the prey;" or "make speed to the spoil, he hasteneth the prey.” These two children were for signs and for wonders in Israel (ver. 18); and if the first be a sign that the remnant of Israel is to return, then the second seemeth to be a sign of that for which they are to return, calling them with speed to a spoil, and hastening the prey, teaching, as I conceive, that the remnant should return to the spoiling of the nations, to the prey which the Lord hastened. This, however, we do not lay down as interpretation, but merely as the combined power and signification of these two names or signs; for, as to all the circumstances connected with the spoil and the prey, they must not be taken for granted, but patiently gathered from the interpretation of the whole prophecy. The Prophet, having been thus instructed of the Lord, went about his instructions with great care and diligence : “ I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah.” Of what were these witnesses called upon to record their testimony ? I think, of all that the prophet was commanded to write concerning his son, who was not yet conceived. What that was which he wrote concerning him, is, as I judge, the matters contained in this chapter and the next, and I think also the three following ; but certainly, as will appear, all that we have to do with in this interpretation. It is the prophecy. of the spoil and of the prey which the child of the virgin, then unborn, along with the remnant of Ephraim, is to make of all his enemies, and especially of the Assyrian, the last of his enemies. And I say again, that this prophecy of the prey and the