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for we cannot fully understand his message, unless we take into consideration the station of the messenger and the people he addressed. The princely Isaiah, prophesying to princes, pours forth strains of the loftiest and most polished verse. Amos, "the herdsman of Tekoa," has a plain, brief, but strong, pithy style. While the Royal Psalmist, who had known every variety of station, runs through the whole compass of the prophetic harp, from the simple melody of the shepherd song to the refined and varied harmony of the palace, leads the full chorus of praise to Jehovah, or clangs his loud cymbal to the battlefield shout. He had also passed through every variety of spiritual experience; whence every man, however situated, can find something there to which his own experience responds and this universality of character has made the Psalms of David to be ever regarded as the richest treasure of the church. All these various characters were under the direction of the same Spirit, who, without destroying their characteristic distinctions, led them all to testify, each in his own way, to the same grand truths, the oneness of God, his electing love, and the certain completion of his purpose; and, on the other hand, man's fall, his insufficiency in himself, his all-sufficiency when trusting in God, and his lofty destination in future ages.

Nor is it to man alone that prophecy is confined; nor is the intelligent creation its only theme. It strikes a note which fills the whole range of existence; and every thing that hath a being echoes back a song to the glory of God. The creature, now subject to vanity not willingly (Rom. viii. 20), is waiting in earnest expectation of its deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Then shall be exhibited the restitution of all things," and the whole creation in one chorus take up the "new song: The Lord reigneth: let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord...... Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is Holy." And the triumphant song of that creation, at whose foundation" the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job xxxviii. 7); and whose redemption-mystery "angels have desired to look into " (1 Pet. i. 12): this triumphant song, which bursts from the redeemed creation, shall the angelic hosts take up and prolong, and with ten thousand times ten thousand voices shall exclaim, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and

glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever." (Rev. v. 11-13.)



(Communicated by the Rev. EDWARD IRVING.)

No. I.

THE great question which, after fourteen hundred years, is again brought into public and open issue before the whole church, concerning the literal accomplishment of every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets, is a question of such vast importance-touching, as it doth, the veracity of God, the integrity of faith, the object of hope, and almost every other subject of intercourse between God and man-that I have meditated very much in my own mind, how the merits of such a question might best be brought before the eyes of men, and an impartial judgment obtained it. It is a question purely of interpretation, resolving itself into this simple issue, Whether God's word is to be interpreted after the same manner and by the same rules as the word of any man; whether the holy Scriptures are to be understood according to the way of understanding another book, by the natural meaning of the words, similitudes, metaphors, and other figures which are employed therein. We, who stand up for literal interpretation, hold that it ought to be so interpreted and understood; and only with the more diligent and exact study of the language, because it is the word of God. Therefore we would examine every jot and tittle, because we know that "one jot or tittle shall not pass from the Prophets, till all be fulfilled." A figure of speech, we hold, should be treated as a figure of speech is elsewhere treated; an emblem, as an emblem; a symbol, as a symbol; all in order to come at the real thing which the word seeketh to express. That real thing may be a truth concerning God's own being, which is not visible; concerning our own spirit, which likewise is not visible; or it may be concerning God's Image in flesh—that is, Christwhich is visible; or concerning our own body, which is visible; or concerning the destinies of nations upon the earth, and of the earth itself, which are likewise visible. But of whatever kind it is, the only way, we maintain, by which the real thing intended to be made known can be known, is through the exact, honest, and common-sense interpretation of the words in which it is made known. We do not mean to say, that when the real truth of the words hath been arrived at we are then arrived at the ultimate end of God; which, to an intelligent and

responsible creature, cannot be in the mere understanding of a fact, but must rise into the apprehension of the purpose. God hath in communicating the same unto men ;—a purpose originating with himself, and terminating with men; or rather embracing men, and through men returning again into himself. It is therefore an error to impute unto us, who stand for the literal interpretation of God's word, the fault of stopping short when we have arrived at the knowledge of the visible or historical thing therein conveyed: which indeed we prize only as the ground upon which to stand, and from which to demonstrate the being and the purpose of God to his fallen and responsible and redeemed creatures. Far be it from us to object to the raising of every good doctrine, and the enforcing of every spiritual truth, upon the basis of every historical revelation of God. Nay, we are zealous for understanding the thing declared concerning men, and nations, and the church, for this very reason, that, being firmly persuaded of the truth thereof, we would use them for "doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness." It must surely be some mistake, concerning our purpose and design in literal interpretation, which moveth any honest-hearted believer in God's word to quarrel with us, to discountenance us, or to mistrust us, in our well-meant endeavours to arrive at the real thing which God intendeth to declare, and to use it for the end for which he hath declared that he caused it to be written.

To suppose, with Origen and his followers, that there are subtle and recondite senses in the text of Holy Writ, is not only to degrade the understanding of man, as we see it degraded in the Rabbinical writers, and to introduce those Gnostic aberrations which misled the Christian church in the primitive ages; but it is really to strike at a higher mark, even at God himself; and to suppose, that in revealing his mind to man he adopted a cipher which a few might attain unto by erudition, or obtain the secret of by revelation, but from which the many should be for ever hidden, or, at least, until some of the illuminated ones should disclose to them the matter. This is the very basis of the Papal tenet, most hateful to God and pernicious to man, that the Scriptures are not to be interpreted by the people for themselves, but only through the medium of the church. For if it be true that there are other principles of interpretation than those which the common good sense of men would by natural sagacity and ingenuity guide them to, then those methods must be attained by some uncommon means; and those only who have attained them can be allowed to interpret the writing unto the rest. Call those initiated ones the Church, or the assembled Councils of the learned of the church, and you have the Papal tenet in its perfection. But if, as all we Protestants believe, and I trust

many Romanists also, if they durst avow it—and many of them, God be praised, do not scruple to avow it-the Scriptures are to be given to the people in their mother tongue, according to the best translation which can be made thereof by the learned; then have we done a great injury both to God and man, unless we believe that God wrote for the understanding of common men; and that common men, by the right use of their understanding, are able to comprehend him. While thus we speak, we do no injury to the truth, that "the natural man apprehendeth not the things of the Spirit, which are spiritually discerned :" for such spiritual discernment never cometh but through the revelation of the word. It hath been lost by the fallen and rebellious will, and can no otherwise be attained save by a communication from God, spoken by the mouth of accredited messengers, or written in their inspired books; and he who withdraweth himself from the hearing or from the reading of the same, need not to expect spiritual discernment, but will walk in that darkness and ignorance of God wherein men, all men, are naturally found. As Luther said to Bullinger, " God's word is an instrument through which the Holy Ghost worketh and accomplisheth his work, and prepareth a beginning to righteousness or justification." By your error," said he again, cut in sunder and separate the word and the Spirit; you separate those that preach and teach the word, from God who worketh the same; you also separate thereby the ministers who baptize, from God who commandeth it. Oh no: but I conclude thus: God himself preacheth, threateneth, reproveth, affrighteth, comforteth, absolveth, administereth the sacraments, &c. As our Saviour Christ saith, Whoso heareth you, heareth me; and, What ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, &c. Likewise, It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.........Every hearer must conclude and say, 'I hear not St. Paul, St. Peter, or a man, speak; but I hear God himself speak, baptize, absolve, excommunicate, and administer the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper...... Therefore we conclude, short and round, that God through the word worketh, which is an instrument whereby we are instructed to know him in heart, as by the present and happy example of the conversion of this our loving brother Bullinger we apparently see and hear." (Luther's Table-Talk, pp. 12, 13.)



These sentiments of Luther, which were blessed to the conversion of Bullinger, are the very basis and groundwork of the Reformation, and the corner-stone of every Protestant church; which all do hold the right of private judgment, yea, the duty, and even the necessity of it, in order to the obtaining of any knowledge or comfort of the Holy Scriptures, any profit of the preacher's voice, any nourishment

of the sacraments, any edification of the church. The faculties of the man himself, head and heart, are one element; the ordinances of the church, whereof the written word is a chief one, are another element, towards the working of any good work by the Holy Ghost in the soul of a believer; and being so, according to what principles is a man to exercise his natural faculties, if not according to the principles upon which they are constituted and exercised in all other matters whatever? And if this be so, unto what method or form of man's understanding should God inscribe his revelation, save unto that common form and method which he hath impressed upon all men by his creative hand, and which pertaineth not to man as learned or unlearned, as clerical or legal, as Jew or Gentile, as Christian or heathen, but as Man? Unto that common form, I say, of human reason which pertaineth to man as man, hath God inscribed his revealed word; and the man who is most exercised in the largeness and commonness of reason, and least conversant with the peculiarities of a school, of a class, or of a nation, is the man upon whom the word of God, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, will produce the largest and truest effect.


These remarks I make with the view of introducing what I take to be an unexceptionable method of bringing_the great question concerning the literal interpretation of Prophecy to a fair and final determination. The method is simply this, To take the Holy Ghost himself for our guide; who in the New Testament hath directed us to the application of a great number of the prophecies of the Old Testament, expressly declaring, in most instances, that in such an event was such and such a word of prophecy fulfilled. Sometimes with greater_latitude expressing an agreement between a prophecy and an event-as in Acts xv. 15, "To this agree the words of the Prophet, as it is written ;" and Matt. iii. 23, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophets." But in whatever way referred to, and it is generally in the most exact and determinate, the Holy Ghost by such quotation doth give us a clue wherewith to follow the supposed labyrinth of the prophecies thus quoted and referred to. By taking this infallible guidance, we have no doubt that we shall be able to make it appear, that in every instance God interprets literally his own blessed word: and this I think occurring in well nigh, if not more than, an hundred instances, will prove warrant enough for every wise and pious man to conclude that his word ought ever to be interpreted literally. In thus exhibiting the use which God maketh of his own Scriptures, I shall have great delight in subverting and destroying a modern hypothesis, that these quotations in the New Testament are, many of them, made in the way of elegant allusion, of loose analogy, or poetical ornament;

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