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antichrist a curse. Both are equally denominated mystery, or secret, whilst they remain concealed.
9-5. I shall be much misunderstood, if any one infer, from what has been now advanced, that I mean to signify, that there is nothing in the doctrines of religion which is not, on all sides, perfectly comprehensible to us, or nothing from which difficulties may be raised, that we are not able to give a satisfactory solution of. On the contrary, I am fully convinced, that in all sciences, particularly natural theology, as well as in revelation, there are many truths of this kind, whose evidence such objections are not regarded by a judicious person, as of force sufficient to invalidate. For example, the divine omniscience is a tenet of natural religion. This manifestly implies God's foreknowledge of all future events. Yet, to reconcile the divine prescience with the freedom, and even the contingency, and consequently, with the good or ill desert of human actions, is what I have never yet seen atchieved by any, and indeed despair of seeing. That there are such difficulties also in the doctrines of revelation, it would, in my opinion, be very absurd to deny. But the present inquiry does not affect that matter in the least. This inquiry is critical, and concerns solely the scriptural acceptation of the word μυςηριον, which I have shown to relate merely to the secrecy
for some time observed with regard to any doctrine, whether mysterious, in the modern acceptation of the word, or not.
$ 6. The foregoing observations will throw some light on what Paul says of the nature of the office with which he was vested : Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God", Olxovours uusapwv 88, dispensers to mankind of the gracious purposes of heaven, heretofore concealed, and therefore denominated secrets. Nor can any thing be more conformable than this interpretation, both to the instructions given to the Apostles, during our Lord's ministry, and to the commission they received from him. In regard to the former, he tells them, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; no secret, relating to this subject, is withheld from you ; but to them it is not giveno; that is, not yet given. For these very Apostles, when commissioned to preach, were not only empowered, but commanded, to disclose to all the world, the whole mystery of God, his secret counsels in regard to man's salvation. And that they might not imagine that the private informations, received from their Master, had never been intended for the public ear, he gave them this express injunction, What I tell you
in darkness, that speak ye in light. And what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. He assigns the reason, the divine decree; a topic to which he oftener than once recurs. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known. Again: There is nothing
1 Cor. iv. 1.
6 Matth. xiii. 41. 7 Matth. xxviii. 19. Mark, xvi. 15. 8 Matth. X. 26, 27.
hid, which shall not be manifested ; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad'. This may serve to explain to us the import of these phrases which occur in the Epistles, as expressing the whole Christian institution, the
mystery of the gospel, the mystery of the faith, the mystery of God, and the mystery of Christ ; mystery, in the singular number, not mysteries, in the plural, which would have been more conformable to the modern import of the word, as relating to the incomprehensibility of the different articles of doctrine. But the whole of the gospel, taken together, is denominated the mystery, the grand secret, in reference to the silence or concealment under which it was formerly kept; as, in like manner, it is styled the revelation of Jesus Christ, in reference to the publication afterwards enjoined.
§ 7. I SIGNIFIED, before, that there was another meaning which the term uusaplov sometimes bears in the New Testament. But it is so nearly related to, if not coincident with, the former, that I am doubtful whether I can call it other than a particular application of the same meaning. However, if the thing be understood, it is not material which of the two ways we denominate it. The word is some-times employed to denote the figurative sense, as distinguished from the literal, which is conveyed under any fable, parable, allegory, symbolical ac
Mark, iv. 22.
tion, representation, dream, or vision. It is plain that, in this case, the term uusmprov is used comparatively; for, however clear the meaning intended to be conveyed in the apologue, or parable, may be to the intelligent, it is obscure, compared with the literal sense, which, to the unintelligent, proves a kind of veil. The one is, as it were, open to the senses; the other requires penetration and reflection. Perhaps there was some allusion to this import of the term, when our Lord said to his disciples, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables 10 The Apostles were let into the secret, and got the spiritual sense of the similitude, whilst the multitude amused themselves with the letter, and searched no further.
In this sense, uus nprov is used in these words : The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches ". Again, in the same book: I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, &c. 12
There is only one other passage, to which this meaning of the word is adapted, and on which I shall have occasion to remark afterwards 13. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church 14. Nor is it any objection to this
10 Mark, iv. 11.
11 Rev. i. 20. 13 Diss. X. Part III. $ 9.
12 Rev. xvii. 7. 14 Eph. v. 32
interpretation of the word mystery here, that the Apostle alluded not to any fiction, but to an historical fact, the formation of Eve out of the body of Adam her husband. For, though there is no necessity that the story which supplies us with the body of the parable or allegory (if I may so express myself), be literally true; there is, on the other hand, no necessity that it be false. Passages of true history are sometimes allegorized by the sacred penmen. Witness the story of Abraham and his two sons, Isaac by his wife Sarah, and Ishmael by his bondwoman Hagar, of which the Apostle has made an allegory for representing the comparative natures of the Mosaic dispensation and the Christian 15.
$ 8. As to the passage quoted from the Epistle to the Ephesians, let it be observed, that the word uusinprov is there rendered in the Vulgate, sacramentum. Although this Latin word was long used very indefinitely, by ecclesiastical writers, it came, at length, with the more judicious, to acquire a meaning more precise and fixed. Firmilian calls Noah's ark the sacrament of the church of Christ 16 It is manifest, from the illustration he subjoins, that he means the symbol, type, or emblem, of the church; alluding to an expression of the Apostle Peter 17. This may, on a superficial view, be thought nearly coincident with the second sense of the word μυςηριον, ,
15 Gal. iv. 22, &c.
16 Cyp. Epist. 75. in some editions 43. 17 1 Pet. iii. 20, 21.