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Messiah, from the two goats of the ritual | dicate the true rest; and this again, mulof the Jewish day of atonement; nor the tiplied by three, indicates the total of the number of the apostles, from the tradi. heirs of the heavenly rest. Or, if we pretional number of the bells in the fringe of fer something simpler, there are other Aaron's ephod ; nor the spread of the schemes to accommodate us. Gospel through Europe, Asia, and Africa, take the mystic number to mean that the from the three measures of meal in which Church would be composed of married, the woman of the parable hid her leaven; widowed, and virgin members in the pronor the union of Jew and Gentile in the portion of a hundred of the first to fifty Church, from the circumstance that two of the second, and three of the last; or boats were filled with the fish caught in that the divine kingdom would embrace the first miraculous draught; nor the press the three known quarters of the globe, ence of the women at the Lord's burial with an equal contingent, represented by from the proverbial saying, “Whereso- fifty, from each. ever the carcass is, thither shall the eagles Between the Fathers and the expositors be gathered together.” The spices used of the modern world the mediæval schoolat the burial cannot have been really pre- men form the connecting link; and of dicted by the “spikenard and saffron, these the chief thing to be noted is that, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of besides keeping up the mystical and fanfrankincense "grown in the spouse's gar-tastic method of interpretation, they had den in the Canticles ; nor the crucifixion their own peculiar stone of stumbling in in Isaiah's complaint, “ I have spread out their endeavor to weld together theology my hands all the day to a rebellious peo- and philosophy in a compact, logical sys. ple." To go back to Eden for the origin tem of knowledge. Notliing is less cast of the obligation to fast, and deduce it in a systematic mould than the Bible ; and from the prohibition to eat the fruit of the it was not possible to stretch it on the bed tree of knowledge, is curiously perverse ; of the Aristotelian logic without sadly nor is it less so to turn the parable of the straining and distorting it. Under such wise and foolish virgins into a eulogy on treatment Revelation was transformed virginity and almsgiving, by making the into a code of supernatural knowledge, lamps mean the former and the oil the lat. out of which a theory of the universe ter; and the parable of the sower into an might be constructed, and the inspired appraisement of the respective merits of volume becaine a repository of proposithe married, widowed, and virgin states tions capable of being discussed like metof life, in the ascending scale of the thir. aphysical problems. How uncritical was tyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold. The the schoolien's use of Scripture may be extremely fanciful identification of the learned from the fact that even the greatfour-and-twenty elders of the Apocalypse est of them, the Angelical Doctor, Thomas with the Old Testament reckoned as Aquinas, takes “the least in the kingdom twenty-four books, and of the four living of heaven" to mean an angel of the lowest creatures with the four Gospels, still has rank in the celestial hierarchy; establishes its advocates; but we are not aware that the pre-eminence of Satan by the highly any modern expositor has ventured to en- poetical descriptions, in Job of the hippodorse any of the patristic interpretations potamus, in Isaiah and Ezekiel of the of the number of the fish, “an hundred cities of Babylon and Tyre; proves the and fifty and three,” taken in the second justification of a sinner to be the greatest miraculous draught. One scheme makes of God's works by the text, “ His mercies it up out of the fulness of the Gentiles are over all His works,” and to be instanreckoned at a hundred, the elect remnant taneous by the suddenness of the sound of Israel at fifty more, and the three Per- at the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit; sons of the Trinity, to whose praise they and bases the seven orders of the ministry are all gathered. Another gets it by add in the Roman Church on Isaiah's predicing the ten words of the Decalogue to the tion of the sevenfold grace that should seven gifts of the Spirit, and then sum- rest upon the Messiah. "If it is curious to ming the numerals from one to seventeen find his predecessor, the famous Master inclusive, which again brings out a hun. of the Sentences, interpreting the “begindred and fifty-three for the number of the ning" in the first verse of the Bible to redeemed. Another, having got the sev. mean the second Person in the Trinity, enteen as before, multiplies it by three, what can be said of a contemporary exthe number of the Trinity; the fifty-one positor who explains the cupidity of Judas thus obtained, being one in excess of the by the statement, that the bribe offered Jubilee period of the Jews, is taken to in- I him consisted of the identical pieces of
money paid by the Ishmaelites for Joseph, | be taken as typical of a good deal of the which had come down through the ages exegesis still prevalent. A pious Frenchas an heirloom in Israel, and were worth man, it is related, was bewailing the con. ten times as much as the current coins ? dition of his country, and pouring forth
Such is the long ancestral line through his sorrows in the pathetic words of the which the habit of misinterpreting Scrip- psalm, “By the waters of Babylon we sat ture has come down to modern Chris- down and wept," etc.—a psalm, by the tendom. From one point of view the way, which we have heard ascribed to antiquity of the practice may perhaps be David's inspired foresight. Being somepleaded in extenuation of our fault. We what foolishly interrupted by the question only follow our fathers, it may be urged, whether he did not feel a difficulty when and, at any rate, we are no worse than he came to the savage denunciation of they. True, we are not worse, for that Babylon in the concluding verse, “ Happy were barely possible; but our guilt is that shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy we are not greatly better — that we have little ones against the stones” – the hontaken so little to heart the warning that est mourner replied with touching simpliclies before us in their errors, and profited ity, that for him the verse had no such so little by the light which has illuminated cruel sense, but quite the reverse. The other departments of study. If our in- stones meant St. Peter, the rock on which dictment seems overcharged, let the reader the Church is built; and the blessing was reserve his verdict till he has weighed the pronounced on those who should gather evidence we shall adduce.
in the children of the heathen, and attach Probably the most prolific source of them to the Catholic faith. The story, as modern wrestings of Scripture is the de- the archdeacon says, is a beautiful illussire to discover in it what the expositor tration of the transmuting power which himself wants it to say, or thinks that it enables a devout heart, in defiance of the ought to say. When a person has any critical intellect, to extract spiritual nutritopic on the brain, as the familiar phrase ment out of the least promising materials; runs, it is surprising how that topic ap. but all the same it has a clear note of pears to him to lurk in the most unlikely warning for the mystical expositor. places, and with what ingenious dexterity
As to the instances that we now prohe hauls it forth, as a conjuror produces ceed to give, we can assure the reader his miscellanies from what looks to the that they are all genuine, although, for spectator like an empty sleeve. The obvious reasons, we shall scrupulously mind of the commentator being saturated abstain from giving names and references. with the tenets of Christianity, he is We are not attacking persons, but protesttempted to read them back unconsciously ing against a traditional and mischievous into the documents of the preceding dis. method. Nor shall we attempt to be ex. pensation, and perceive them starting up haustive : that would require almost as on all sides out of the rudimentary teach- many volumes as we have pages at our ing of the earlier ages of Revelation. service. It will be enough to make a Some particular doctrine, perhaps, has comparatively small selection of characlaid such an exclusive and tyrannical teristic specimens. grasp on his thoughts, that everything in Beginning with the common case of his eyes is colored by it, or in some way reading doctrines into passages where no or other contains it or leads up to it. legitimate construction can possibly find What expositors of this stamp draw out them, we will take, first, the great doctrine of the text is not so much what is really in of life and immortality brought to light in it, as what they themselves have brought the Gospel. In spite of the certain fact to it. They discover it there because that this doctrine was mysteriously held they have unconsciously put it there, and, back in the earlier Revelation till néar its as the proverb says, “They who hide can close, our modern expositors are find.” They remind one of a man looking stantly forcing it out of Old Testament earnestly into a mirror to ascertain what texts. When Korah's rebellious company is in it, and taking for answer the image were buried alive by the earth yawning that confronts him, which, of course, is under their feet, the simple phrase which , nothing else than his own likeness. describes thein as going down "alive into
We borrow from the late Archdeacon the pit" is compelled to yield the preposHare's very interesting work, “ Guesses terous sense that their disembodied souls at Truth,” a curious illustration of this passed on into Hades. When a parent in process, because, ludicrous as it is from a the old time spoke of going down to his critical point of view, it may not unfairly son in the grave, or a patriarch or king
was said to be gathered to his fathers, we more wild. Far be it from us to deny that are asked to strain the language so as to human love, on its spiritual side, is an make it imply a conscious reunion in the expressive emblem or shadow of “the love world of spirits. Because Josiah was told which passeth knowledge; " or that Sol. that he should be spared by his death omon's Song, viewed in the light of a from seeing the calamities coming on his sacred idealization of the marriage bond, people, the inference is drawn that news may as a whole be fairly applied to image from the upper world does not penetrate forth the mystic union of the Redeemer the abode of the departed. From Isaiah's with his bride the Church. What shocks saying that the righteous rest in their the sober critical sense, as involving an beds, each one who on earth had lived inadmissible anachronism, is the divorce uprightly, the headlong expositor takes of the Hebrew lyric from its plain histori. occasion to expatiate on the moral energy cal sense, and the literal transfer, item by of the disembodied saints. The Preach item, to the yet unrevealed mysteries of er's saying that when man dies the breath Christianity, of its poetical and impasreturns to God who gave it, instead of sioned portraiture of courtship and love. being taken as simply meaning in his Yet this is not without its parallels, one of mouth the reversal of the original cre- which may be found in the application to ative process, is turned into a proof of Christians of the characteristics of the the true but later doctrine of man's animals pronounced clean by the Levitical continued personal existence in a future law. In the clest hoof has been discerned world.
their steadfast walk in the way of the But we must not linger on any single Lord, or even their twofold faith in the doctrine. What reasonable plea can be Father and in the Son; in the ruminaturged for finding the Atonement in the ing function, their habit of meditating on scarlet thread which Rahab was to bind the divine word; in the fish's fins, the in her window at Jericho, as a signal to elevating and propelling power of their the Israelites ? or in the crimson lips of prayers. the spouse in the Canticles? or in the Belonging to the same category as the worm to which the afflicted Psalmist com extreme mystical interpretation of Solo. pares himself in his humiliation ? What mon's Song is the direct application to for discovering the Eucharist in the re. the Christian Church of the Oriental imfreshment of bread and wine offered by agery employed by the Hebrew psalmists Melchizedek to Abraham's weary troop and prophets to clothe their expectations on their homeward march ? or in our of the future triumphs of Israel. Thus Lord's condescension in receiving publi. the martial prediction, “I will render cans and sinners, and eating with them? double unto thee, when I have bent Juor in the whole of the Epistle to the He. dah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, brews, as its central topic? What for and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against tracing the mystery of the Incarnation in thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as a the circumstance that Jael was not helped sword of a mighty man -is gravely exby her husband to slay Sisera ? and the plained to mean the mission of the Aposcross, in the murderous tent-peg which tles, as arrows shot forth from Jerusalem she drove through her victim's skull ? by the bow of Christ, to preach the Gos
We have already mentioned that the pel to the heathen world. So again, the Atonement and both the sacraments have use of a feminine word in the noble probeen discerned in Solomon's beautiful cessional psalm, probably in reference to and impassioned idyl.; but that is only a the choirs of women in the sacred proces. small part of the extravagant symbolism sions of Israel, has led to the passage, found in his portraiture of the person of " The Lord gave the word; great was the his beloved. There is scarcely a part of company of the preachers,” being interher body — and the delineation is cer-preted of the part that devout women tainly not wanting in detail — which has should sustain in the first planting of not been taken to express some feature of Christianity. Many persons must have the Christian Church; as, for instance, heard the internal holiness of the Church her teeth, to signify the ministers who deduced from the words, “The king's chew spiritual meat for the babes; and daughter is all glorious within ; " yet the her breasts, the two Testaments, or else obvious meaning is merely that inside the the preachers of the Gospel to the Jews chamber the royal bride is sitting splenand Gentiles : but a good deal of this is didly dressed, as the parallelism of the not quite fit for quotation. Nowhere, per- next line shows, • Her clothing is of haps, have the mystical interpreters run wrought gold.” Something in the same
style is the discovery of the perpetual | out of the sacred text by hook or by virginity of the blessed mother of our crook, the luminiferous ether and the Lord in the description of the spouse of nebular theory; the globular form, daily Solomon's Song as a garden enclosed, a rotation, and annual circuit of the earth; spring shut up, a fountain sealed ;” and gravitation, electricity, galvanism, chemi. also in the gate of Ezekiel's visionary cal affinities; the stratification of the temple, which should forever remain earth's surface, and the remains preshut, “because Jehovah the God of Is- served in it of the fauna and fora of the rael hath entered in by it.” Such uses primeval world, — all extorted out of the of Scripture must be pronounced, on all simple poetical phrases which describe sound critical principles, as trivial and the aspects of nature as it presented itself baseless as the finding of a priestly chasu- to the eyes of the inspired prophet or ble in the cloak left behind by St. Paul at poet. Thus poetry is turned into prose, Troas, and altar-candles in the lights of primitive religion into modern science; the upper chamber at the same place, the glory of the spiritual into the materiwhen he preached to the disciples until alism of the natural ! midnight, and of a divine model of ritual But on that part of the subject we have for Christian worship in the apocalyptic no time to dwell, so many are the insymbolism of the celestial temple, evi- stances which crowd on our recollection dently borrowed from Jewish sources. of learning misapplied, historical fitness
Another cause of much straining and violated, and every sound canon of literfalsifying of Scripture has been the idea ary criticism set at defiance. We take that the inspiration of the Old Testament up a couple of erudite commentaries, and cannot be properly vindicated, unless its find two doctors of theology exhausting statements from one end to the other can the resources of their learning in deterbe shown to stand on the level of the pur- mining the form and nature of the animal est morality and the most advanced sci- which tempted Eve; one deciding in fa
To effect this, with whatever arbi- vor of an "ouran-outang," the other of a trary violence both to its spirit and letter, brilliant-winged dragon, such as he supbecomes, therefore, the aim of a consider. poses the celestial seraphim to be. To able class of expositors. When dealing bring the miracle of the passage of the with narratives of conduct contrary to the Red Sea more within our comprehension, principles of Christianity, but which we are treated to a serious discussion passed unreproved, or even gained ap- about the part played in it by the east plause, in the rude times of primitive wind; and are told that as the sea at that Revelation, they either resort to the dan- place was twelve miles broad and twentygerous expedient of inventing and reading eight yards deep, and a wind strong into the narratives special divine com- enough to scoop out a sufficient trench mands, which they suppose able to turn through it for the crossing, dry-foot, of wrong into right, as in the cases of Ehud, the six hundred thousand men of Israel Jael, and other well-meaning but unscru. would certainly have blown clean away pulous heroes and heroines; or else they the entire host with all their cattle, we take on themselves to bring the narratives must suppose the trench through the up to the proper level, by putting quite a waters to have been formed by other different complexion upon them, as when means, and must limit the use of the east they deny that Jephthah offered his un- wind to drying the bottom afterwards and fortunate daughter as a burnt sacrifice, making it easy walking. Among the and reduce his treatment of her to a dedi. strange comments to which the chronicle cation to perpetual virginity. In the of the arrest of the sun and moon during same spirit they subject to a degrading the battle of Beth-horon has given rise, violence the sublime psalm of creation two deserve especial notice as illustrawith which the Bible opens, and the vari. tions of wooden-headed dealing with the ous descriptions of nature which occur in early literature of Israel. One gives us the poetical books, that they may recono a calculation, in horse-power, of the force cile them, as they call it, with modern sufficient quickly to stop the earth's rota: physical discoveries, and make them tion, and at the end of the proper interval speak the language of science instead of to reproduce it, without causing on either their own noble but simple poetry. Book occasion any perceptible shock to the inafter book is published to carry out this habitants; the other elaborately works purpose, and very wonderful are the ex. out the conclusion, that the derangement egetical feats which are accomplished. produced on that occasion in the earth's Reading these works, we find wrenched position was exactly counterbalanced by
the second derangement, seven or eight know them not, and like parasitic growths centuries later, in Hezekiah's time, when destroy the life of what they feed upon, the shadow went ten degrees backward they become both offensive and hurtful. on the sun-dial of Abaz, so that the ab. Space would fail us to give any adequate sence now of any trace of either is satis representation of the enormous currency factorily explained. Everyone knows of this sort of false coin, and half-a-dozen the controversy, which is almost coeval instances must suffice. We may only with Christianity, about the precise rela- smile when a preacher on the continuance tionship to our Lord of his "brethren;" of the sinful nature, even in the regenerwhether they were his own younger broth- ate, founds his discourse on Joseph's ers; or sons of Joseph by a former wife, inquiry about his father, “ The old man according to the general belief of the of whom ye spake, is he yet alive?" or Church; or, as St. Jerome maintained, to when an archbishop lashes the despisers save Josepli's virginity as well as Mary's, of episcopacy from the words, “Sirs, ye sons of a sister of the virgin, and there should not bave loosed from Crete ; fore first cousins to Jesus. The question when tobacco smokers are admonished is scarcely soluble, except on sentimental from the text, “That which cometh out grounds; but a solution of it has just of the mouth, this defileth a man.” But been published by a would-be critical ex. it is a serious outrage on the historical positor, which is worth noting as showing truth of Scripture, and not merely on how far we still are from a reasonable use common sense, when, to point a denunci. of Scripture. Is it not written in an an-ation of murder, Moses is held up to cient Messianic psalm, “ I am become a reprobation as a conscience-stricken homstranger unto my brethren, and an alien icide, fearfully burying out of sight the unto my mother's children"? My moth- dreadful evidence of his crime, and es. er's children! Surely, then, prophecy caping from the stroke of justice to exsettled the matter, so as to preclude fur- piate his guilt by forty years of exile and ther inquiry, hundreds of years before hardship. We should like to know what they were born! Perhaps it is even a St. Stephen would have thought of such worse, because more serious, wresting of a version of the great deliverer's conduct. Scripture, to put, as we have seen done Notwithstanding quaint old Herbert's even in Bampton Lectures, the impreca- consolation under bad sermons, tory psalms into our Lord's mouth, and the worst speak something good ; if all want assert that they were his own personal utterances just as much as any of the God takes a' text, and preacheth patience,words spoken by him when on earth. What must fairly educated people feel we cannot withhold our pity from congre. when a preacher coolly reminds them that gations who are called on to illustrate Solomon was one of the most voluminous "the patience and the faith of the saints," writers in the Bible, and in proof tells off by listening while some tedious pulpiteer, on his fingers Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, from the trivial circumstance that Ehud Canticles, the Book of Wisdom, and some who treacherously assassinated Eglon of the Psalms to boot? or when an essay- was left-handed, deduces the wisdom and ist, enamored of the ceremonial ordi- goodness of God in causing eccentric and nances of Leviticus, pronounces Psalm abnormal variations to break the usual CXIX. to be nothing else than an elabo. uniformity of nature; or makes the inrate eulogy of them? or when an annotator quiry of Manoalı, the father of Samson, bids us observe what additional emphasis respecting the dedication of his promised is given by the spectroscope to St. Paul's child to be a Nazarite, the pretext for a illustration of the resurrection, by the long string of platitudes on the duty of familiar fact that star differeth from star educating children religiously; or proin brightness ?
pounds the amazing thesis, that as Jeph. Few more flagrant specimens of what ihah's daughter was adopted as the offermay justly be called Philistinism in litering of her people, and became the vicarious ature are to be found than those that are sacrifice of their repentance and faith, abundantly furnished by the homilists, so the Son of God became the world's who lay themselves out to improve, by atonement; or finds important indications ethical and spiritual applications, the nar- of the nature and fortunes of the univerratives and incidents of the earlier parts sal Church in the burning bush of the of the Bible. The lessons thus enforced wilderness, the brazen sockets of the tab. may be in themselves unexceptionable; ernacle, the pillars Jachin and Boaz of but when they are fathered on texts that | Solomon's temple, and the sponge filled