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the present subject, at the smiting of the rock in Horeb. * Surely these particulars explain to us what was meant by the declaration, “ wherewith thou shalt do signs," and prepare us to understand the words of Moses, only four verses farther on in the same seventeenth chapter, “ And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek : tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the Rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek : and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand that Israel prevailed, and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” Now, could any unprejudiced reader of this, and of the accounts which are given of the previous occasions on which Moses had done signs with his rod, in all of which he is (as one might naturally expect) represented as holding the rod of God in his hand, not hands—could any one, I say, who was impartially seeking truth, imagine, that on this occasion, Moses stretched out both hands at once, so as to make his body a type of the cross ? Can we doubt that he stretched forth his hand, holding the “ rod of God,” as at other times ?
But this allegorical interpretation does not know what to make of the thaumaturgic rod; and, with the caprice which so eminently characterizes its proceedings, it casts it aside, and says not a word about it. Surely, if the action was typical, the rod of God, which Moses had thought it worth while to declare that he would hold in his hand, must be a feature too important to be thus passed over. In one thing, of course, this sign wrought by the rod of God would differ from all the previous ones—namely, that instead of being accomplished instantly, or in a very short time, it occupied a whole day; and Moses would naturally be obliged, to use first one hand, and then the other, and when both became (as we are told they were) heavy, he would as naturally avail himself alternately of the assistance of those on each side of him. If any one prefers supposing that Moses held the rod with both hands, it seems to me that he equally destroys the very ground and essence of the figure, which is the form of the cross. I can hardly suppose that any attempt will be made to evade this, by saying that notwithstanding what is previously said of the rod, it is not expressly stated that Moses had it, or anything else, in his hand, when he held it up. If it be, however, there is enough in the language of the passages to which I have referred, to remove any doubt that the mention of the one, was equivalent to that of both. For instance, (chap. ix. 22,) “ The Lord said unto Moses, · Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven that there may be hail ;'”+ and in the next verse we read, “ And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven.” It is more likely that we may be told that in this history of the conflict with Amalek, the Septuagint and Samaritan reading is, that when Moses
*" And the Lord said unto Moses, G) on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel ; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.” (Ex. xvii. 5.)
† Chap. ix. 22— And again, “ The Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt and Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt.” (Chap. x. 12, 13.) VOL. XXVII.—May, 1845.
up his “ hands” Israel prevailed. This is true; and it does not appear to me to be any contradiction of what I have suggested as the sense of the passage; for, whether alternately or both together, it is quite clear that Moses did lift up his “hands,” and that during the time that he did so, Israel prevailed. If, however, it can be shown that there is a difference amounting to a real contradiction, I must beg to stand (with our translation) on the Hebrew text. That is quite clear and express; and should it appear at all strange that the LXX. Greek translators, if they understood that the hands of Moses were raised singly and alternately, should have used the plural number, I will, for a moment, waive all consideration of authority, and ask, in return, whether it would not be much more strange that a writer who meant to tell us that both the hands of Moses were lifted at once, should have used the singular number? If this seems trifling, it must be remembered that the very root and foundation of the whole matter, is the assumption that Moses placed his body “so as to form a type of the cross," and if he did not in fact do so, the whole matter falls to the ground, and we are simply listening to one who (whether intentionally or not) is, in fact, a deceiver who is falsifying the word of God. I am compelled to use language which may seem harsh, because, without it, the insidious but pernicious error which I oppose would slip away under some form of fancy, or poetry, or perhaps under a halfreluctant smiling confession, that to dull people it might seem to be nonsense. You, I am sure, understand me, and I anxiously desire that every one who sees these lines may do the same. Let any man who chooses make up these fancies, and call them poetry or prose, or what he pleases, or let him take them up on any authority, or no authority, and call them traditions, because he knows not what else to call them; but when he describes them as “interpretations of Scripture"-when he presents them to the church as meanings" (natural, or supernatural,* or what not) of the written word of God I call on men to beware of him as a seducer, even though he may come as an angel of light, and really be himself persuaded that he is one.
For you will observe, and it should be most deeply considered, that this mode of allegorizing comes before us with peculiarly high pretensions. It claims to be the revelation of hid treasure. It pities those who are gathering up the mere product of the surface, and intimates that it has something far more valuable to offer to those who are worthy to receive it; but that it dares not rashly expose things so high and holy, lest it should be casting pearls before swine. The author of No. 89 tells us that the date of A.D. 136, assigned to the epistle ascribed of St. Barnabas, “ deserves notice because it suggests sufficient reason for the freedom with which the author, in a popular tract, exhibits the method of symbolical exposition, which was generally rather withdrawn from ordinary eyes. The calamity, perhaps, was great and astounding enough to justify disclosures otherwise irregular, for the consolation and establishment of the faithful."--p. 16.
* What would have been said of me four years ago if I had added "nonnatural"?
I am glad to quote these words, not only as containing a pretty strong statement of the claim which is made in behalf of the allegorizing system, but because, under their protection, I hope I may offer some further remarks without encountering the usual retort. If, without something of the kind, I had ventured to say that even supposing this allegory not to outrage truth or falsify scripture, yet I did not see the expediency of making it, or the profit to arise from it, I should have expected to be sneered down as an utilitarian-a mere cui-bono man-one who, when heavenly wisdom was offered, had the brutish soul to ask “ what is to be got by it?” Now, however, there is no fear of any such thing. Mysterious as the matter may be in itself, its object and use is plainly declared. The church was probably suffering from great and astounding calamity, and these disclosures were “ for the consolation and establishment of the faithful.” This is, undoubtedly, a very high object, a very great practical good; and it is admitted that, without being a mere cui-bono man, or a rationalist, or anything of the kind, we may suppose that this good object formed a sufficient reason for what was not only unusual, but « irregular.” This is, as I have said, taking high ground, and making a high claim. Now let us, if we can, for a moment cast aside our belief that the allegories about Moses and Abraham, to which I have called your attention, are mere fictions contrary to the word of God, and let us suppose them to be all true, what was there in them calculated to console and establish Christians suffering under great and astounding calamity ? Suppose the “disclosure" all true, what does it amount to ? What is the esoteric truth thus irregularly delivered “ to Christian men and women without distinction,” because the circumstances of the time called for unusual comfort? I really do not know whether the author means the disclosure of these particular truths about Moses, Abraham, &c., or the disclosure of the fact that there was a species of allegorical interpretation in use among certain persons in the church which they kept secret from “ Christian men and women in general.” I suppose the latter is his meaning, and that we are to consider the consolatory fact to be, the annunciation that such allegories had been made out of the Old Testament, and were known to persons who, like the author of the epistle, could, if they would, reveal them to those who were “worthy ;” and that we, and they to whom the epistle was addressed, are only to regard the allegories which it contains as specimens of what might be done in that kind.
I do not mean to argue about this. It might be so; and perhaps the suffering church was comforted; and if it was, we have no right to judge Him, who works out his own pleasure by his own means. It might be so, and there may be many" Christian men and women” in the present day who would tell me that they found these allegories most edifying, and peculiarly conducive to the consolation of their minds and the establishment of their faith. It is to such a degree a matter of taste and feeling and circumstance that it would be absurd to attempt to arglie it on any general grounds; but I will beg leave to make one observation respecting it. I will suppose, for the sake of argument, that the epistle had its intended effect, and that the suffer
ing church was consoled and established by it; but then, I cannot but add my conviction that the church must have been in a very unhealthy state. Nor can I help forming the same opinion respecting the mind of every man who prefers hunting about in uncertain allegory to taking plain truth as he finds it. I am not speaking against the lawful use of poetry and riddles and the like, but I believe that in all serious matters the desire and object of the mind should be the apprehension and perception of truth. I cannot but imagine that a suffering church of Israelite Christians in a healthy state would have been more comforted by calling to their remembrance the plain truth, that when Amalek would have destroyed their fathers, the uplifted rod of God, in the hands of Moses had given them strength and victory; or by reminding them of their Saviour's pregnant declaration, that their father Abraham had seen his day with rejoicing, than by disclosing to them the hidden mystery that the body of Moses was put into the form of a cross, or that the number of the persons circumcised by Abraham would make a cypher of the name of Jesus and the cross. I do not, I repeat, deny (for who can prove?) that the church in astounding calamity was comforted by these disclosures, but I also repeat my persuasion that a proneness to seek out such allegories, and to feed upon them, far from being a high attainment, is a symptom of a mind either naturally weak or debilitated by dabbling with fiction. I cannot reverence it. Even when it puts on its most imposing air of mystery, I cannot feel veneration. I feel that I ought not to respect it, because it is not founded in truth, and it leads to the disrespect and undervaluing of truth. Of this I gave such instances in my former letter as warrant my thus speaking.
It may be worth while to offer a few suggestions as to the cause of this; and to account, if we can, for the production of an effect so surprising and so lamentable in persons not only endowed with high intellectual powers, but with a strong sense of morality and religion.
We see, says the author of the tract,“ how meanly even respectable persons allow themselves to think of the highest sort of poetry;" I do not know what is referred to as the highest sort of poetry, nor do I know in what manner the opinion of respectable people has been expressed on the subject; but I believe that poetry, like everything else, will be, and should be, degraded in the eyes of wise men when it gets out of its place; and that it does get out of its place when it interferes with the interpretation of Scripture. I shall probably expose myself to ridicule, but I will go further, and express my belief that whenever it so mixes what is real and what is imaginary, or to speak more plainly, truth and falsehood, as that the one is liable to be taken for the other, it is mischievous. Poetry has, I doubt not, a sphere of truth—that is, it is not out of the power, or out of the legitimate province, of poetry to deal with pure truth, whatever may be the strength of its temptation to adorn and adulterate it with fiction. Such work would probably require high powers, get few readers, and be thought rather dull even by “ respectable persons." Well then, there is the whole world of inagination open to him; let him soar through the infinite space of fiction, explore it, and bring back its treasures; or, if he has not strength of wing for this, let him minister his gift to his fellow-sinners, who are
looking to him to express the feelings for which they have no language, affections which swell their bosoms and fill their eyes, but which they have no skill to utter; let him be the interpreter of their hearts to each other and to God. Or if this is not enough, and he sighs for more worlds—if nothing will satisfy him but mixing up truth and fiction, let him displace all geography and derange all chronology, and play his pranks with all the kingdoms of the earth, their monuments, and their chronicles, and make them just what he pleases. It matters comparatively little to mankind whether Constantinople was taken by the Turks under Cæsar, or the Tartars under Wellington; and if one way of representing the matter is more commodious than the other to the wayward bard, or if a nice eclecticism in history enables him to bring together the heroes and exploits of all ages, with picturesque and poetical effect, he must have his way. It is making him a great concession. It is reluctantly yielded because we are willing that he should take all we have, if he will but spare our lives ; if he will but keep his hands off the oracles of God—if he will but be contented without mixing up his own imaginations with the sacred revelation of truth. Strange indeed it seems to me that any man, who believes the Bible to be the word of God, should approach it in such a humour and for such a purpose, and should take it as the subject on which to use his invention.
ON THE LATE DR. ARNOLD'S TWO SERMONS ON PROPHECY.
SIR.-One of your correspondents in the British Magazine for the present month (April) has called the attention of your readers to the opinions of the late Dr. Arnold. Perhaps you will allow me, an original subscriber to the British Magazine, to follow up the subject, and to offer a few remarks upon the views which that singular man entertained upon the interpretation of Scripture prophecy. If those views really were, as Dr. Arnold supposed, (Sermons on Prophecy, p. 7,) at least harmless, even though erroneous, it would be an ungracious task to attempt a refutation of them ; but if, as the writer of these lines is of opinion, they are fraught with most dangerous consequences, and betray that tampering with truth which is so earnestly and ably deprecated in the fifth paper upon Modern Hagiology, it then behoves every lover of the truth to enter his protest, however feeble, against such doctrines, and to expose, as far as he is able, their fallaciousness and evil tendency.
Dr. Arnold seems to have framed his scheme upon the fundamental notion, that all the prophecies in holy writ may be reduced to one measure, and interpreted upon one general principle. I must transcribe his own words, because there is an ambiguity about them, which cannot but confuse the reader, as it evidently perplexed the author himself. He says in the notes, (p. 41,) “Whatever scheme of interpretation we adopt for prophecy, it is at any rate necessary that it should proceed upon some fixed principle, and not be varied according to the supposed meanings of particular passages. It is consistent to