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diency, I had almost said, the necessity, of Sermon this style, considered as the medium, or vehicle of prophetic inspiration.
For we have seen, that the scheme of scriptural prophecy extends through all time; and is so contrived as to adumbrate future and more illustrious events, in preceding and less important transactions : a circumstance, which shews the harmony and connexion of the whole scheme, and is not imitable by any human art, or forethought whatsoever. But now à figurative style is so proper to that end, that we scarcely conceive how it could be accomplished by any other. For thus the expression conforms, at once, to the type, and antitype : it is, as it were, a robe of state, for the one; and only, the ordinary, accustomed dress of the other: as we may see from the prophecies, which immediately respect the restoration of the Jews from their ancient captivities, and, ultimately, their final triumphant return from their present dispersion — from the prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, which prefigure, at the same time, the day of judgment — from those concerning the first coming of Christ, which, also, set forth his reign with the saints on earth, and
even the glories of his heavenly kingdom and in a multitude of other instances.
These successive, and so different, schemes of Providence could only be signified together in a mode of language, that contracted, or enlarged itself, as the occasion required. But such is the singular property of a symbolic style. For none but this, hath fold and drapery enough, if I may so speak, to invest the greater subjects; while yet (so complying is the texture of this expression) it readily adapts itself to the less considerable, which it ennobles only, and not disfigures. The difference is, that what is a metaphor in the former case, becomes an hyperbole in the latter. And this double use of the same symbol, is the true account of such figures as are thought most extravagant in the description of the prophets.
We see, then, in every view, how reasonable, how expedient, how divine, the symbolic style is, in such writings as the prophetic. So that if any be disposed, in our days, to take
up the complaint of the text, and to upbraid the prophets by asking, Do they not speak Parables? We may now take courage
to answer, Yes : but parables, which, as dark as they are accounted to be, may be well understood ; and, what is more, parables, which
1 are so expressed, as to carry an evidence in themselves that they are, what they assume to be, of divine inspiration.
THE STYLE AND METHOD OF
EZEKIEL XX. 49.
- They say of me, Doth he not speak
SERMON ALL the prophecies of the Old and New
Testament are written in parables; that is, in highly figurative terms; which yet, on-examination, have appeared to be explicable on certain fixed and rational grounds of criticism,
So far, therefore, as any prejudice may have been entertained against the prophecies concerning Antichrist, as if the language of them
were too, abstruse or fanciful to be understood, SERMON enough hath been already said to shew, that it is not well founded.
It must, however, be confessed, that the book of Revelations a, which contains the most, and the chief prophecies on the subject of Antichrist, is of a deeper and more mysterious contrivance, than any other of the prophetic
to the authority of this extraordinary book (although the discussion of this point be foreign to my present purpose) it may be proper to acquaint such persons, as have not made the inquiry for themselves, and are perhaps incapable of making it, with the sentiments, which our ablest writers have entertained of it.
Mr. Mede, a capable inquirer, if there ever was any, says roundly ~ " The Apocalypse hath more human (not " to speak of divine) authority, than any other book of the • New Testament besides, even from the time it was first « delivered.” Works, p. 602.
And to the same purpose, Sir Isaac Newton“ not find any other book of the New Testament so
strongly attested, or commented upon so early, as this " of the Apocalypse.” Observations on Daniel, &c. page 249.
Thus, these two incomparable men. What some mi. nute critics have said, or insinuated to the contrary, is not worth-mentioning; farther, than just to observe, that, if the authority of this momentous book be indeed questionable, the church of Rome could hardly have failed long since to make the discovery, or to triumph in it.
Hoc Ithacus velit, et magno mercentur Atrida.
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