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charged, in express words, with denying secondary senses. take them to be the same? He must then allow secondary senses; and so give up the question; that is, retract the passages here quoted from him. He is reduced to this dilemma, either to acknowledge that he first writ, or that he now answers, to no purpose.*
From hence, to the end of the chapter, he goes on to examine particular texts urged against his opinion; with which I have at present nothing to do: first, because the proper subject of this section is the general nature only of types and double senses: and secondly, because what room I have to spare, on this head, is for a much welcomer Guest, whom I am now returning to, the original author of these profound reasonings, Mr. COLLINS himself.
We have shewn that types and secondary senses are rational, logical, and scholastic modes of information: that they were expedient and highly useful under the Jewish Economy: and that they are indeed to be found in the Institutes of the Law and the Prophets. But now it will be objected, "that, as far as relates to the Jewish Economy, a double sense may be allowed; because the future affairs of that Dispensation may be well supposed to occupy the thoughts of the Prophet; but it is unreasonable to make one of the senses relate to a different and remote Dispensation, never surely in his thoughts. For the books of the Old Testament (Mr. Collins tells us) seem the most plain of all ancient writings, and wherein there appears not the least trace of a Typical or Allegorical intention in the Authors, or in any other Jews of their time."+
I reply, that was it even as our adversaries suggest, that all the Prophecies, which, we say, relate to JESUS, relate to him only in a secondary sense; and that there were no other intimations of the New Dispensation but what such Prophecies convey; it would not follow that such sense was false or groundless. And this I have clearly shewn in the account of their nature, original, and use. Thus much I confess, that without miracles, in confirmation of such sense, some of them would with difficulty be proved to have it; because we have shewn, that a commodious and designed obscurity attends both their nature and their use. But then, This let me add, and these Pretenders to superior reason would do well to consider it, that the authority of divine Wisdom as rationally forces the assent to a determined meaning of an obscure and doubtful Proposition, as any other kind of logical evidence whatsoever.
But this which is here put, is by no means the case.
For we say,
t "Grounds and Reasons," &c.
1. That some of the Prophecies relate to JESUS in a primary sense. 2. That besides these, there are in the prophetic Writings, the most clear and certain intimations of the Gospel Economy, which are alone sufficient to ascertain the reality of the secondary.
I. That SOME Prophecies relate to the MESSIAH in a primary sense, hath been invincibly proved by many learned men before me: I shall mention therefore but ONE; and that, only because Mr. Collins hath made some remarks upon it, which will afford occasion for a farther illustration of the subject. JEsus declares, of John the Baptist— This is the ELIAS that was for to come. "Wherein" (says the Author of the Grounds, &c.) "he is supposed to refer to these words of Malachi, Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord; which, according to their LITERAL sense, are a Prophecy that Elijah or Elias was to come in person, and therefore not LITERALLY but MYSTICALLY fulfilled in John the Baptist.” * And again, in his Scheme of literal Prophecy considered, speaking of this passage of Malachi, he says, "But to cut off all pretence for a literal Prophecy, I observe, first, That the literal interpretation of this place is, that Elias, the real Elias, was to come. And is it not a MOST PLEASANT literal interpretation to make Elias not signify Elias, but somebody who resembled him in qualities?— Secondly I observe, that the Septuagint Translators render it, Elias the Tishbite, and that the Jews, since CHRIST's time, have generally understood, from the passage before us, that Elias is to come in person. But John Baptist himself, who must be supposed to know who he was himself, when the question was asked him, whether he was Elias, denied himself to be Elias; and when asked who he was, said, he was the voice of one crying in the Wilderness, &c. which is a passage taken from Isaiah.” ↑
1. The first thing observable in these curious remarks is, that this great Advocate of Infidelity did not so much as understand the terms of the question. The words, says he, according to their literal sense, are a Prophecy that Elijah was to come in person, and therefore not literally but mystically fulfilled in John the Baptist. He did not so much as know the meaning of a primary and secondary sense, about which he makes all this stir. A secondary sense indeed implies a figurative interpretation; a primary implies a literal: But yet this primary SENSE does not exclude figurative TERMS. The primary or literal sense of the Prophecy in question is, that, before the great and terrible day of the Lord, a messenger should be sent, resembling in character the Prophet Elijah; this messenger, by a figure, is called the Prophet Elijah. A figure too of the most easy and natural import; and of especial use amongst the Hebrews, who were accus† Page 127.
• "Grounds and Reasons," &c. pp. 47, 48.
tomed to denote any character or action by that of the kind which was become most known or celebrated. Thus the Prophet Isaiah: "And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams.' ""* Here, a second passage through the Red Sea is promised in literal terms: But who therefore will say that this is the literal meaning? The literal meaning, though the prophecy be in figurative terms, is simply redemption from bondage. For EGYPT, in the Hebrew phrase, signified a place of bondage. So again Jeremiah says; "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping: RACHEL weeping for her children refused to be comforted because they were not." The primary sense of these words, according to Grotius, is a prediction of the weeping of the Jewish matrons for their children carried captive to Babylon by Nabuzaradan. Will he say therefore that this Prophecy was not literally fulfilled, because Rachel was dead many ages before, and did not, that we read of, return to life on this occasion? Does not he see that, by the most common and easy figure, the Matrons of the tribe of Benjamin were called by the name of this their great Parent? As the Israelites, in Scripture, are called Jacob, and the posterity of the son of Jesse by the name of David: So again, Isaiah says, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of SODOM; give ear unto the Law of our God, ye people of GOMORRAH." Will he say, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are here addressed to in the primary sense, and the people of the Jews only in the secondary? But the preceding words, which shew the people of Sodom and Gomorrah could not now be addressed to, because there were none left, shew likewise that it is the Jewish Nation which is called by these names. Except the Lord of Hosts had left us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.§ Would not he be thought an admirable interpreter of Virgil who should criticise the Roman Poet in the same manner?-Virgil seems the most plain of all ancient writings: And he says,
"Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna."
Which, according to its literal meaning, is, that the Virgin returns, and old Saturn reigns again, in person; therefore not LITERALLY, but MYSTICALLY fulfilled in the justice and felicity of Augustus's reign. And it is a MOST PLEASANT literal interpretation, to make the Virgin and Saturn not signify the Virgin and Saturn, but somebody who resembled them in qualities. Such reasoning on a Classic, would be called nonsense in every language. But Freethinking sanctifies all sorts of impertinence. Let me observe further, that this was a kind
• Isai. xi. 15.
† Jer. xxxi. 15.
1 Isai. i. 10.
§ Verse 9.
of compound blunder: LITERAL, in common speech, being opposed both to figurative and to spiritual; and MYSTICAL signifying both figurative and spiritual; he fairly confounded the distinct and different meanings both of LITERAL and of MYSTICAL.
He goes on-I observe, that the Septuagint Translators render it Elias the Tishbite—and that the Jews since CHRIST's time have generally understood from this passage, that Elias is to come in person. And John Baptist himself, who must be supposed to know who he was himself, when the question was asked him, denied himself to be Elias.— Why does he say, Since CHRIST's time, and not before, when it appears to be before as well as since, from his own account of the translation of the Septuagint? For a good reason. We should then have seen why John the Baptist, when asked, denied himself to be Elias; which it was not Mr. Collins's design we should see; if indeed we do not ascribe too much to his knowledge in this matter. The case stood thus: At the time of the Septuagint translation, and from thence to the time of CHRIST, the doctrine of a Transmigration, and of a Resurrection of the body, to repossess the Land of Judea, were national opinions; which occasioned the Jews by degrees to understand all these sorts of figurative expressions literally. Hence, amongst their many visions, this was one, that Elias should come again in person. Which shews what it was the Jews asked John the Baptist; and what it was he answered, when he denied himself to be Elias: Not that he was not the Messenger prophesied of by Malachi (for his pretending to be that Messenger evidently occasioned the question) but that he was not, nor did the prophecy imply that the Messenger should be, Elias in person.
But to set his reasoning in the fullest light, Let us consider a similar prophecy of Amos: Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a FAMINE in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.* I would ask, is this a Prophecy of a famine of the word in a literal, or in a mystical sense? Without doubt the Deist will own (if ever he expects we should appeal again to his ingenuity) in a literal. But now strike out the explanation [not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water] and what is it then? Is it not still a famine of the word in a literal sense? Mystical, if you will, in the meaning of metaphorically obscure, but not in the meaning of spiritual. But mystical in this latter signification only, is opposed to literal, in the question about secondary senses. It appears then, that a want of preaching the word is still the literal meaning of the Prophecy, whether the explanation be in or out, though the figurative term [famine] be used to express that meaning. And the reason why the Prophet explains the term,
• Amos viii. 11.
was not, because it was a harsh or unnatural figure, to denote want of preaching, any more than the term Elijah to denote a similar character, which Malachi does not explain; but because the Prophecy of Amos might have been for ever mistaken, and the figurative term understood literally; the People being at that time, often punished for their sins by a famine of bread.
But this abusive cavil at figurative terms will remind us of his observations on the following Prophecy of Isaiah-" Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of Prayer FOR ALL PEOPLE." * This, he says, must needs relate to Jewish, not to Christian times. Why? Because sacrifices are mentioned. But how could this truth be told the Jewish People, that all nations should be gathered to the true GOD, otherwise than by using terms taken from Rites familiar to them; unless the nature of the Christian Dispensation had been previously explained? A matter evidently unfit for their information, when they were yet to live so long under the Jewish. For though the Prophets speak of the little value of, and small regard due to, the ceremonial Law; they always mean (and always make their meaning understood) when the ceremonial Law is superstitiously observed, and observed to a neglect of the moral; which last they describe in the purity and perfection of the Gospel. So admirable was this conduct! that while it hid the future Dispensation, it prepared men for it.
Thus then stands the argument of this mighty Reasoner. There are no Prophecies, he says, which relate to JESUS but in a secondary Now a secondary sense is unscholastic and enthusiastical. To this we answer, that the Prophecy of Malachi about Elijah, and of Isaiah about bringing all people to his holy mountain, relate to JESUS in a primary sense. He replies, No, but in a mystical, only. Here he begins to quibble, the sure sign of an expiring Argument: Mystical signifies as well secondary as figurative. In the sense of secondary, the interpretation of these Prophecies to JESUS is not mystical; in the sense of figurative it is. But is the use of a figurative term enthusiastical or unscholastic, when the end is only to convey information concerning a less known thing in the terms of one more known? Now whether we are to charge this to ill faith or a worse understanding, his Followers shall determine for me.
2. But we will suppose all that an ingenuous Adversary can ask"That most of the Prophecies in question relate to JESUS in a secondary sense only; the rest in a primary, but expressed in figurative terms; which, till their completion, threw a shade over their
• Isai. lvi. 7.