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natural history. It is a well ascertained fact, that persons employed in the manufacture of olive-oil, and afterwards filling it in large casks for exportation, are not liable to be infected with the plague; which is attributed to their persons being anointed, and clothing fully impregnated with oil in the course of their occupation.*
To return: spiritual interpretation is the grand means established by God to preserve scriptural truth from adulteration. That it is a means effectually answering this end, will appear from this circumstance. Since the great doctrines of the fall of man, the divinity and atonement of Christ, salvation of grace through faith, and the fruits and work of the Spirit, rest by this means not upon mere insulated doctrinal and abstract texts, which various critics may twist and bend to an infinite variety of contradictory theories; but in order to warp the truth they exhibit, they must (on the scheme of spiritual interpretation) be compelled not only to wrest and mistranslate abstract terms in the texts themselves, but they must also be compelled to make a correspondent alteration in
• Of the success of olive-oil administered as a cure for the plague, a curious account is given in Jackson's “Morocco.”
the circumstances of the whole ritual of the Mosaic law; the denunciations and figures of prophecy; and the whole biography of the typical personages and prophetic figures, by which those truths are prefigured throughout the whole of Scripture. Thus every page of the Bible must be in some respect altered, before one fatal error can find legs to stand on. It is by this means that every part of the divine record is dovetailed into one solid mass, and trenailed down, as it were, on Christ the rock of ages; so that no storm, however furious, can ever more wash away any part of the lighthouse, without tearing up the whole. Hence the literal sense of Scripture, even down to the most minute circumstantial detail, acquires dig. nity, importance, and sanctity, by being the conveyance, by bearing witness to, and being the interpreter of that spiritual truth, which is alone that living and eternal reality, without which the letter would be a mere dead, dry, and unavailing husk.
Again; the mode adopted by the Holy Spirit of couching eternal truths under sensible types, is a necessary consequence of the fallen state of
When man fell, his spiritual light departed. His spiritual senses became closed; and as spiritual truths are not objects of sense, it became necessary to clothe them in sensible types, to manifest to him the invisible truths proposed to that faith which is alone the gift of God. It became necessary, when he had forgotten his native heavenly tongue, to have the language of the heavenly Canaan, which he did not understand, translated into a language of sensible objects which he did understand : and having first acquired accurate conceptions of those truths from sensible images, he was prepared by this key to unlock the doctrinal and abstract positions, to which else he would not have affixed a definite sense. Accordingly, we find the Epistles, or doctrinal and abstract parts of Scripture, addressed to already established churches, who were hence in possession of the key ; whereas, in the infancy of the church, it was addressed in the parabolic language of the Old Testament, or that used by our Lord in the New; or by the plain matter of fact preached by the apostles in the Acts; but in all instances instruction by palpable figures or facts is given to the unlearned; and instruction by abstract position only to those already established.
And probably multitudes of persons might go on for ages, agreeing in any theoretic position, whilst no two understood by it the same idea ; unless there were some means of translating it into a palpable language of realities, which would definitely fix its sense.
Hence, spiritual truths being at once the most foreign to temporal things, and yet the most necessary to be thorougbly understood, it, follows that, of all other books, the Bible must the most abound in parabolic representation and typical illustration.
Again; the parabolic mode of writing is the only one by which the book of divine revelation can be made to suit every different stage of Christian experience. Were we asked on what plan a work purporting to be a divine revelation should be written, we should probably immediately feel our plan entangled in the following inextricable difficulty. If the work were written for beginners, it would be superfluous and a weariness to further advanced Christians; and if it suited the further advanced, it would be unintelligible to the beginner, and place burdens on him which he was not able to bear, and thus drive him to despair. To write a work so voluminous as to suit all, in every stage, would be to burden every individual with a library more voluminous than the Alexandrian; and to leave him at last in doubt which part to turn to. That this difficulty takes place respecting all human religious books, is obvious
The commencing and the advanced Christian have each their favourite books, When the beginner takes up a more advanced work, his conscience is distressed and perplexed at what he can neither realize nor understand. He is oppressed, and not assisted ; and when the mature Christian dips into the other class of works, he turns with disgust from their unspirituality.
The book of God is the only exception to all these inconveniences. By being composed in the parabolic style, each passage offers, as it were, various strata of true exposition, suited to the various stages of Christian knowledge and experience: and thus the word of God's Spirit without, always tallies with the manifestation of God's Spirit within. In this respect the Word of God may be compared to the works of God. A person who had repeatedly traversed every country of the habitable globe, might imagine, like a person who had repeatedly perused every page of the Bible, that he had a perfect knowledge of it. Yet were his information bounded there, every manufacturing town might probably show him hundreds of valuable uses, combinations, and applications of the objects he had familiarly seen, without suspecting the wealth of their resources, and hundreds of powers elicited from them which he had never dreamt