breaks upon us as a discovery. We are surprised, wonder, and adore. There, in the Bible, we have the truth of God, spoken two or three thousand years ago; here, in existing circumstances, we see it verified. All things collateral are changed, yet we plainly discover the agreement. Similar considerations have been urged, with respect to those indirect coincidences, which may be discovered by comparing the Apostolic Epistles with other parts of the New Testament. These, as it has been justly observed, are far more striking than any direct ones could have been. For example: it appears from an expression in one of St. Paul's Epistles (1 Cor. ix. 5), that St. Peter was a married man, his wife travelling with him from place to place. Now if the same thing were merely stated in the Gospels in express terms, we might be less struck : an unbeliever might pretend to say that the agreement was designed. But the fact comes out incidentally; mention is made of Peter's wife's mother (Matt. viii. 14): and thus the agreement comes upon our minds with far greater force; and we are the more struck with it, because it appears less direct. So, in some instances, with prophecy.

It is not our design, then, to depreciate those prophecies which have had an exact fulfilment. Let it rather be said, that each kind has its province and its use. Perhaps the strict or literal fulfilments may be more intended for unbelievers, who are thus silenced or convinced; while, where, on the contrary, the fulfilment is to be traced in a correspondence or agreement,

be better suited for the believer. Persons who are less settled in the faith generally make but little of such examples : but the believer, in the study of the Word, is constantly led to discover these correspondences; they break on his mind, to his great delight, with great effect, and power of conviction ; he sees clearly that what he is reading is the word of God; and though he find not any literal accomplishment of the thing spoken, yet, to his mind, the type, the promise, the prophecy, is satisfactorily fulfilled. These remarks lead on to the views, which I purpose, if the Lord will, to develop further in subsesequent essays. B.

Quotations from the Old Testament in the New. The suggestions already offered will help us to account for those free and less literal quotations from the Old Testament, which we sometimes meet with in the New. Sometimes the Sacred Writer seems to have quoted from the Septuagint, some

the case may


times to have wrought the substance of two or three Old Testament predictions into one sentence : so that, from one cause or the other, men think that they discover a discrepance, between the citation and the original Hebrew. Now observe. If it were intended to allege that the thing taking place under the New Testament was a literal fulfilment of the citation, then, the citation, not being found word for word in the Hebrew, would present a difficulty. But if it be intended to allege only such a fulfilment as we have been speaking of, a fulfilment equally striking, equally foreknown, equally predicted, but a fulfilment rather of the spirit than of the letter, then the mere discrepancy as to words presents no difficulty whatever. If the citation follow the words of the Septuagint rather than of the Hebrew, the real correspondence is not affected ; if it be made up of ideas contained in two or three passages of the Old Testament, the correspondence is helped, brought out, and more strongly marked. And accordingly, whatever may be the frequency of such free citations in the New Testament, they are headed by two examples, which ought to satisfy every objector: for in the first instance we have the authority of an angel ; in the second, that of the Jews themselves. In the first instance, that of an angel. It occurs at the beginning of the Gospels, in the first chapter of St. Matthew. The name of our Lord is called JESUS,

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.....they shall call his name EMMANUEL.” Here the name given is not the same as the name predicted, but only a name, as divines have shewn, very remarkably, we may say adorably, corresponding to it. But here the authority, on which this substantial and not literal fulfilment of the prophecy takes place, is no less than an angel, “ the angel of the Lord," who commands the name of Jesus, not Emmanuel, to be given.—The next instance is that of the Jews themselves. This occurs at the beginning of the second chapter. For when Herod demanded where Christ should be born,“ they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea : for thus it is written by the Prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Something nearly resembling these words is to be found in the Prophet Micah ; but for their exact counterpart we should search the Old Testament in vain. Here, however, the persons quoting are “ the chief priests and scribes of the people.” We are not to wonder, then, if, upon such double authority, we afterwards find the writers of the New Testament themselves using the same free mode of quotation : ever bearing this in mind ; that an accomplishment which is real, or which lies in the agreement of things, is always quite as much an accomplishment, as any literal one could be.

This is an important point, and therefore let us consider it a little further. I am not here leaning to the idea of those, who make out quotations of the Old Testament in the New to be merely ingenious applications, and no instances of prophecies fulfilled. This notion I abhor. What I say is, that in every case there is a fulfilment. Take, for instance, the case already noticed, where our Lord receives the name of Jesus, and we are told that this is in fulfilment of the prophecy, which says that his name shall be called Emmanuel. Here the business of the Christian reader is, not to dwell upon the verbal difference, and to make it a pretence for saying that the prophecy was not fulfilled ; but to believe that the giving of the one name is a fulfilment of the promise that he should be called by the other name, and then to see whether he cannot discover how it is so.

Nor is this perhaps difficult. Since the meaning of “ Immanuel” is “God with us,” we are led at once to the inference, that Jesus is God with us. What then does the name of Jesus signify? It is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which was originally Hoshea. The learned observe, that the original name, Hosea, signifies a Saviour, or salvation; and that Joshua, the name afterwards given, (the same in Hebrew as Jesus in the Greek), means, God the Saviour, or, God our salvation. The meaning, then, of the prophecy, as quoted in the New Testament and applied to our Lord, is this : that we can have no Saviour less than God; that Jesus, the Saviour, is God, even God with us : exactly as it is intimated to the Israelites in the Old Testament, that thenceforth an Angel shall go with them, and yet it is plainly signified in other passages, that He who went with them was still no other than the Lord himself: from which we can draw no other inference, than that the Angel was the LORD, the Angel or Messenger of the eternal covenant : “ He was their Saviour......the Angel of his PRESENCE saved them.”—Applications of prophecy, viewed in this way, serve not merely, like the literal accomplishment of facts, to surprise the curious, to fix the inquiring, or to gag blasphemers, but to lead us on, by lessons of eternal truth, into all that is deepest and most saving in sound doctrine.

It will be well worth our while to notice those instances, in which the writers of the New Testament, referring to the Old, present us with an accordance of ideas, where there is none very discoverable of words. The above is one. Another, and a very striking one, exists, I think, in the Epistle to the Ephe

a very

short one:

sians. " For whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph. v. 13, 14.) But where is this said ? I am referred to Isaiah lx. 1, but find nothing exactly corresponding. What, then, are the leading ideas contained in the passage? Let us see if we cannot in this way trace it. These, then, are three: A state of sleep; " Awake, thou that sleepest:

a state of death; “ and arise from the dead : ” a state of darkness; “and Christ shall give thee light.” Do I know, then, of any passage in the Old Testament that brings together these three ideas? I do, and

-0 Lord my God, lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.(Psalm xiii. 3.) Here the three ideas will all be found. The Psalmist is already in darkness, as appears by his praying, “ lighten mine eyes;” and in imminent danger of sleep and death. We may satisfy ourselves of the correspondence, by putting his words in the place of St. Paul's. “ For whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, O Lord my God, lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.”

The general meaning is the same. The inference is, that CHRIST, of whom the Apostle speaks, is the LORD, to whom the Psalmist prayed.—These views, then, are by no means unfriendly to sound doctrine, but tend to confirm it. B.

On the Application of Prophecy to the Jews. Robbery has various degrees of criminality, according to circumstances; but we generally think the worst of those, who rob the poor. Yet this is what is done, when we take prophecy from the Jews. Prophecy is all that they have left : in prophecy is shut


all their comfort : yet some would rob them even of prophecy!

There are other things which tend to aggravate the guilt of robbery; for instance, ill-treatment. It is always deemed a great aggravation, to rob a man and beat him. Yet such is our way of dealing with the Jews: at any rate, such is the way of those, who take from them the promises of their own Scriptures, and give them nothing but ill words and hard blows.

“ And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah ii. 2.) The idea of nations flowing is metaphorical : therefore, the passage is figurative.

I answer, Prove it. Prove that one metaphor in a sentence, or half a dozen, if you please, make the whole sentence a mere


figure. It is not so in common conversation. « Our friend flew to his assistance.". To say that he flew, is a metaphor. He did not fly, but went with all speed. Yet the transaction is a real one: the speaker means to give an account of something, which actually took place : so that the mere use of a metaphor or two does not set aside the plain meaning of a passage. The expression, that all nations shall flow to the mountain of the house, may have its peculiar meanings : it may imply that they shall come abundantly, that they shall come continually, &c. : but still it means that they shall come.—You say that the Oriental languages are very metaphorical, and therefore we must not take the literal sense. But I answer, The Oriental languages are very metaphorical, and therefore we MUST take the literal sense. That is, if the language is very metaphorical, metaphors in particular expressions must so much the less be used as a plea to set aside the literal sense of the sentence.''

I am persuaded, however, that the plea of metaphorical language has been pushed much too far; and used as a pretence for getting away from the plain meaning of a passage, in cases where there is no metaphor whatever. One thing is very remarkable in the prophecies, that, where figurative expressions seem really to be used, there literal ones, explanatory of them, are often used immediately after. Thus, where the Lord declares his intention of purifying Jerusalem, we have first the figurative expression : “ I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin.”

.But then, as if to explain this, literal terms immediately follow : “ And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning : afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, The faithful city.” (Isai. i. 25, 26.) Again : first, the figurative terms; “ Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water :” then, as if to fix their meaning, the literal; “Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves," &c. (ver. 22, 23.) Again : first the figurative, describing the unhappy condition of the state ; “ The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint: from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores : they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment:" then the same things in plain terms; “ Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire,” &c. (ver. 5–8.) - What do we learn hence? What but this ? that it is not a sound mode of interpretation, to use the figurative language of prophecy in order to draw us away from the literal; but that the literal rather is the comment upon the figura

« VorigeDoorgaan »