« AnteriorContinuar »
Obs. I. Symbols, or emblems, are representatations of the things which are signified by them, or which they are made to stand for: so that they are of a representative nature.
Obs II. Symbols, or emblems, are of two kinds. (i.) Natural. (2.) Artificial.
1st. Natural symbols, or emblems, are such as carry in them a similitude or resemblance of the things of which they are representations. Thus pictures, statues, draughts of material things, &c. are natural symbols or emblems of those particular persons or things which they represent, as being real resemblances of them.
2dly. Artificial symbols, or emblems, are such as carry in them no resemblance of the things they represent, but are only made the signs or marks of them by custom and consent, or by arbitrary appointment. Thus the picture of a woman is the emblem either of a country, or of some moral virtue; and the figure of an horn is understood to be an emblem of plenty; thus also the rainbow was made an emblem of the covenant which God made with Noah; and circumcision a token, or symbol, of the covenant he made with Abraham.—The signification of these artificial symbols depends entirely on custom and consent, or arbitrary appointment; and ean only be learned either by observation or information: for between them and the
things things represented by them, there is no resemblance, from which their signification can be discovered.—The Jewish sacrifices^ if they were symbols, mult have been of this artificial kind, since there is no resemblance between them and the things of which they are supposed to have been symbols,, from which their signification can be learned, Now, as these sacrifices, or symbols
were instituted by the Deity, their signification must have depended on his will and appointment; for which reason, neither the Jew himself, nor any other person, could ever have learned the signification of those sacrifices, if it had not been made known, at first, by divine revelation. This renders it highly probable, that the signification of these sacrifices, had they been of a symbolical nature, would have been particularly explained and declared by God himself; because, if it was not, the Jews could not have known it; consequently, these sacrifices could have answered no wise end, but would have been quite useless. Wherefore, since God has made no declaration of the symbolical signification of these sacrifices, either in the Books of Moses, or any where else, 'tis natural to think, that they had no such signification: consequently, that they were not instituted as symbols or emblems of things, of which the Jews neither knew, nor could know, any thing; but with a B 4 view view to serve some end, in the knowledge of which, reason and common sense, as well as their own law, would instruct them.
Obf.Hl. In those allusions which we meet with in most kinds of writings, both sacred and profane, the thing, alluded to, is not always, nor often, intended, nor to be understood, as a symbol of the thing which is referred to, and illustrated by it: but more commonly and usually it is alluded to, only as a thing which has something, in one of more of its properties, that is naturally similar to those of the other. The occasions of making this observation are so frequent, that it is needless to waste any time, here, in the illustration of it; since all those, who have read books, with any judgment, must have often made it for themselves. I only mention it here, for the fake of the following inference, viz. That when we meet with an allusion in any writing, we are not presently to conclude, that the thing, alluded to, is- a symbol or emblem of the thing which is referred to it 3 because it may be alluded to, not as a symbol or emblem, but only as having some natural property or quality of a similar kind.
Obs. IV. In interpreting the fense of the holy scriptures, or of, any other writing, the following rules ought to be strictly observed.
Rule ist. The literal and obvious fense of the words and phrases ought, in no cafe, to be departed from, without some good reason, arising either from the texture and scope of the discourse; or from an evident necessity of departing from it, in order to render the sense good and coherent.
Rule zd. When reason, common sense, and the evident design of the writer, oblige us to depart from the literal sense, we should be careful to understand the word, or phrase, in that particular mode of rhetorical figure which was intended by the writer himself, and not in a different one.
Without a due attention to the first of these two rules, the plainest narratives of facts and doctrines, and the most literal reasonings, may be wholly converted into figure and allegory. And if a proper regard is not payed to the second, another mode of rhetorical figure may be substituted in place of the true one, intended by the writer; an allusion to some natural similitude in a thing, may be mistaken for an allusion to the thing itself, as a symbol or emblem of the thing which is referred to it. By which means, the true and genuine fense of the writer will be misrepresented.
Rule 3d. When, in any passage os a book, a lower and more common rhetorical figure, is found to give a good fense to a word, or phrase, and such as is evidently subservient
to to the scope and design of the writer; it would be wrong, and against all reason, to have recourse to a higher and less common rhetorical figure, for the interpretation of that word, or phrase.—The reason of this rule of interpretation is next to self-evident, and needs no illustration.
§. 5. Taking the lights, afforded by the foregoing observations, in my hand, I now proceed to examine the scripture-evidence which the Dr. has produced, in order to prove, That Jewish sacrifices were symbols or emblems of address to God, and of those dispositions of mind which are expressed by Prayer and Praise.—The scripture-evidence, which the Dr. brings in support and proof of this point, is taken
( Fir ft, From the way and manner in which h. ., the scriptures speak of Sacrifice and Sa~< - . crificing, in those passages which have i no relation to Jewish or Levitical sacrifices.
; Secondly, From the account which, the - scriptures gives us of the nature ofsuch Atonements as were not made by Levitical sacrifices, but by other means.
-.. I Shall, therefore, examine whatsoever
the Dr. has said under these two heads of
evidence, separately. .