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his people in the latter ages of the world'.' There are innumerable instances,' says bp. Hurd, in the Jewish prophets, wherein their predictions have a double accomplishment; and accordingly we find, that the writers of the New Testament give to many of the old prophecies an interpretation, very different and remote from that which may be reasonably thought the primary and immediate view of the prophets themselves.' And the more distant events which they prefigure are generally far the most important; the style of the prophet so adapting itself to this double prospect, as to paint the near and subordinate event in terms, that emphatically represent the distant and more considerable3."
The following instance of an expression of a double import is given by Warburton. 'On Peter's refusing to eat of clean and unclean meats promiscuously, in the vision presented to him, the Holy Spirit says, What God hath cleansed that call thou not common. The single proposition is, that which God hath cleansed is not common or impure; but no one who reads this story can doubt of its having this double sense: 1. That the distinction between clean and unclean meats was to be abolished. 2. And that the Gentiles were to be called into the church of Christ. Here, then, the true sense of these passages is not one, but two: and yet the intention or meaning is not, on this account, the least obscured or lost, or rendered doubtful or unintelligible'.
That there are various prophecies of a double sense is very generally admitted, and by theologues of the correctest judgment, as by Limborch and Grotius, by Ludovicus Capellus and Campegius Vitringa, by Dr. Jortin and Dr.
1 On Isa. x. 20.
2 Vol. I. p. 61, 127. The double sense of prophecy, says bp. Lowth, the sacred writers of the New Testament clearly suppose, and according to' it they frequently frame their interpretation of passages of the Old Testament.' On Isa. xi. 1.
4 Acts, x. 15.
3 Vol. I. p. 65, 68.
5 Div. Leg. of Moses, 1765, vol. V. p. 314.
Samuel Clarke. So strong are the reasons for concluding, that some predictions are of this description, that extremely few are the writers, minutely conversant in the prophetic scriptures, who have denied their existence.
'Since from the express prophecies before cited of the Messiah's everlasting kingdom of righteousness, it appears,' says Dr. Clarke, that God had in fact a view to that, as the great and general end of all the dispensations of providence towards his true worshippers from the beginning; and no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation, (that is, the meaning of the prophecies is not what perhaps the prophet himself might imagine in his private judgment of the state of things then present,)— but holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: there may, therefore, very possibly and very reasonably be supposed to be many prophecies, which, though they may have a prior and immediate reference to some nearer event, yet by the Spirit of God (whom those prophecies that are express show to have had a farther view,) may have been directed to be uttered in such words, as may even more properly and more justly be applied to the great event which Providence had in view, than to the intermediate event which God designed as only a pledge or earnest of the other'.' In agreement with this bp. Hurd says, 'it does not appear, that the later prophets always understood the drift of the more ancient; or, that either of them clearly apprehended the whole scope and purpose of their own predictions.'
In order to prove the existence of a double sense in prophecy, Mr. Lowth says, there are several prophecies, in which some of the most remarkable passages were never fulfilled in the persons of those, concerning whom they were first spoken: as those passages in David's Psalms, they pierced my hands and my feet, they parted my gar
6 2 Pet. i. 20, 21.
7 Evi. of Nat. and Rev. Rel. p. 409.
8 Vol. I. p. 135.
ments, and cast lots upon my vesture; they gave me gall to eat, and vinegar to drink"; were never, that we can find, literally true of David, though it is likely both those psalms were at first penned by him with regard to his own circumstances. In short, let any man compare the literal sense of the prophecies relating to Christ, as it is explained by Grotius, (who has took more pains to clear this matter than any other expositor) with the' secondary and more important sense, and he will find, that generally speaking the primary or literal sense does not come up to the full import and meaning of the words: but looks narrow and forced in many places, in comparison of the' other". 'David,' says Dr. Jortin, 'seems to speak concerning himself when he says, thou shalt not leave my soul in hell12, nor suffer thy holy one to see corruption'. He intended perhaps no more than this, thou shalt not suffer me to come to an untimely end, to be killed by mine enemies and cast into the grave but then the divine impulse, which was upon him, made him use words which should suit exactly to Christ, and to himself only in a loose and figurative sense. Of this the prophet himself might be sensible, and might know that his words had another import, and that they should be fulfilled twice, both in the sense which he intended, and in the sublimer sense of the holy spirit. By these means a shade was cast over the prophecy, and the sense of the Spirit was concealed till the event unfolded it and made it conspicuous14.' These words of David, the apostles, Peter and Paul, speak of in such terms, as if they concluded them to be an undoubted prediction of Christ's re
9 By St. Matthew this is referred to as a prediction of Christ (xxvii. 35).
10 Ps. xxii. 16, 18; lxix. 21.
11 Vindic. of the Div. Auth, and Insp, of the Old and New Test. p.
That this is the true
12 That is, thou wilt not leave my life in the grave. and literal signification of the words, Dr. Whitby has proved at length (on the Acts, ii. 27).
13 Ps. xvi. 10.
14 Rem. on Eccl. Hist. vol. I. p. 129.
surrection from the dead's; and certainly the Christian, who is persuaded that there are predictions, relative to the holy founder of our religion, interspersed in the pages of the Jewish prophets, cannot but think, that this was a circumstance eminently worthy of being foretold.
One reason, says Mr. Lowth, why the prophecies should have a secondary sense, as well as a primary and literal one, may 'be taken from the nature and use of prophecy in general, which makes it requisite, that prophecies should be delivered with some degree of obscurity-I deny not but there are some plain prophecies in scripture, but as much the greater part of them have something of obscurity, so I doubt not but to make it appear, that the obscurity of the prophecies is so far from being an objection against them, as some pretend, that on the contrary it is absolutely requisite, that most prophecies should be obscure, or else they would not answer the designs for which they were given, nor be accomplished in a way agreeable to the methods of providence."
Without allowing a double sense in prophecy, we shall,' says Mr. Lowth, make great confusion and disorder in the prophetical writings, if we suppose them to break off abruptly from the matter in hand, and without any visible transition go to a quite different subject. And this is, to speak more particularly, very unreasonable to suppose in the prophet Isaiah, who as he is most eminent for the clearness of his prophecies concerning the Messiah, so he is as remarkable for the regular order and contexture of his prophecies, and their coherence one with another. And the historical relations, which he intersperses in his writings, serve as a key to open the primary and literary intention of his whole prophecy. But the beauty of it taken all together will be quite spoiled, except we suppose him in most cases to have some regard to the subject he is upon, and rather to take hints from thence to discourse concerning the
15 Acts, ii. 27; xiii. 36. VOL. II.
16 Vindic. &c. p. 162.
state of the gospel, than to fly out into a foreign subject without any respect to order or coherence".?
That the doctrine of the double sense of prophecy has frequently been recurred to for the explication of predictions, where no secondary signification is to be found, cannot be doubted. Hence some have been ready to conclude, because it has been falsely ascribed to some prophecies, that it therefore belongs to none. But certainly, whether the doctrine be or be not well-founded, the arguments drawn from the abuse of it constitute no very logical proof of its non-existence. From the same cause, however, both prophecy and Christianity have, in the eyes of some, fallen into disrepute; and the reality of the one has been questioned, and the truth of the other has been controverted 18.
My next citations I shall introduce with the less scruple, because they proceed from the pen of a writer, whose discourses on prophecy, on account of the importance of the matter, and the elegance of the style, will long continue to be perused with pleasure.
When the Jews were selected from the other nations, to answer many wise ends of providence, it pleased God,' says bp. Hurd, to institute a form of government for
17 P. 147.
18 After the paragraph above in the text was written, I met with the following passage in Warburton. If, says the prelate, it be asked, what it is which hath prejudiced some persons against typical and secondary senses? I answer, the folly of fanatics, who have abused it in support of the most abominable nonsense. But how unreasonable is this prejudice! Was there ever any thing rational or excellent amongst men, that hath not been thus abused? Is it any disparagement to the method of geometers, that some conceited writers on morality and religion have of late taken it up, to give an air of weight and demonstration to the whimsies of pedantic importance? Is there no truth of nature, or reasonableness of art, in grammatical construction, because cabalistic dunces have in every age abused it to pervert all human meaning? We might as well say, that the ancient Egyptians did not write in hieroglyphics, because Kircher, who endeavored to explain them, hath given us nothing but his own visions, as that the ancient Jews had not types and secondary senses, because modern enthusiasts have allegorised their whole story.' Div. Leg. of Moses, 1765, vol. V. p. 353.