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It may be of assistance to the reader of this Treatise
Letter and the Spirit.'
In popular use, the phrase “the Letter and the Spirit’ frequently represents the meaning which lies on the surface and the meaning which lies below. It is the contrast between the verbal expression and the inner intention in the writer's mind.
Thus the letter of the law is contrasted with its spirit. The former can be kept while the latter is broken. Indeed the letter can be urged to frustrate the spirit. The letter of a Scripture text may be broken while its spirit is observed. The letter is the outward form, the spirit is the inward reality. The external observance of a religious rite is described as the letter, while the personal surrender of the heart is called the spirit.
Explained in this sense, as representing the distinction between the outward and the inner meaning, the phrase 'the Letter and the Spirit' when applied to Scripture becomes a method of interpretation.