« 前へ次へ »
among the ancients, and Burnet, with some few more of the moderns, have taken great liberties in the mythical way, resolving many important points of sacred history into fable or apologue ; which was very injudicious, and of mischievous consequence, both in the Church and out of the Church, as the very reason of the thing shows it must be h.
To conclude, as there are various ways of interpreting various parts of Scripture, viz. literal, figurative, symbolical, typical, parabolical, allegorical, so it is of great moment to distinguish carefully those several kinds : and no one thing requires more thought or judgment, than to be able to discern in particular passages which of these kinds of interpretation ought to take place. I refer to Glassius principally for rules and canons i to direct in such cases, being the best I know of; though not so full or perfect as they might be, but capable of several improvements. The narrow limits of a preface will not permit me to enlarge farther : but if what I have briefly offered may be of any use by way of caution to common readers, for the preventing confusion and mistakes, or by way of incitement to abler hands, for the farther illustrating and filling up the subject, I have my end.
In conclusion, I shall subjoin a sketch of the several divisions and subdivisions of Scripture interpretation.
b Semel pessumdato aut falsitatis insimulato literali sensu iis in locis ubi omnes qui requiri possunt characteres historici coalescunt, corruat necesse est scripturarum auctoritas apud Gentiles, apud Hæreticos, apud Christianos. Apud Gentiles, qui potius inde occasionem sument rejiciendæ Scripturæ, tanquam Spiritu Sancto indignæ, quam illius allegorice (mythice] interpretandæ necessitatem colligent: apud hæreticos qui boc principio abutentur, ut se ex iis expediant locis quæ contra suos ipsorum errores pug. nant: denique apud Christianos, quos in fidei suæ detrimentum et in perpetaas animi anxietates ita adducet, ut legendis Scripturis prorsius renunciare maluerint. Carolus Delarue, in præfat. ad tom. ii. Opp. Origenis, p. 16, 17.
i Canons for the Literal and Figurative Sense, p. 371, &c. Canons for the Typical, p. 465, &c. Canons for the Parabolical, p. 483, &c. Conf. Carpzov. Introduct. ad Libr. Bibl. part. iii. p. 352. Buddæus, Observat. in Elementa Philosophiæ, &c. p. 319, &c.
Catachresis, Hyperbole, Meiosis, Allegory, verbal.
, or moral.
Didactical, or prophetic. real Allegory, Anagogical, or sublime.
The book, entitled Christianity as Old as the Creation, is a declamatory libel against revealed religion, under colour and pretence of setting up natural religion in its place. The author, probably, has no more regard for natural religion than he has for revealed : for if he had been really a friend to one, it is not conceivable how he could become such an adversary to the other. Natural religion, justly so called, is bound up in revealed, is supported, cherished, and kept alive by it; and cannot so much as subsist in any vigour without it. To take away revealed religion from it, is to strip it of its firmest aids and strongest securities, leaving it in a very low and languishing state, without lights sufficient to explain it, or guards to fence it, or sanctions to bind it. This is what the author himself must be aware of, if he be a person of any reflection: and therefore there is great reason to suspect, that his real design is as much against both as either, (since they stand or fall together,) and that his pretended favour for one, in opposition to the other, is only a decent cover for what could not handsomely be owned ; lest the reader should be shocked at once, and the execrable attempt meet with all the odium and ignominy it deserves.
Natural religion does not want, does not desire to be so complimented, or so defended, at the expence of revealed; neither is it indeed defending it, but meanly betraying it. No thanks to such persons for commending what all the world admires, and what envy itself must praise. It is a tribute which the public voice demands, and which always must and will be paid to virtue. The very name of virtue has so awful a sound, and carries such majesty along with it, that even its bitterest adversaries are forced to pay a kind of awkward reverence and veneration to it.
But to return to the book I mentioned: there are two principal ends or aims which, though oddly blended and jumbled together, visibly run through the whole performance: one is to vilify the holy Scriptures, which the author does very frankly, and without disguise, speaking from his heart; the other is to magnify the law of nature, which, as I have hinted, is the artificial part, and can pass for nothing else but hypocrisy and fam. My design is only upon the scriptural part, to rescue the word of God from misrepresentation and censure, from the reproaches and blasphemies of foolish man.
It is matter of melancholy consideration, that after the unparalleled love of God shown to mankind in our Saviour CHRIST, there should be men found so abandoned and profligate, as wilfully to shut their eyes against light and knowledge, (which is wholly unnatural,) nay and even to take a pride and pleasure in throwing him back his favours, and affronting him to his face. But let not any well-meaning Christians be shocked or scandalized at such things. It is foretold in the New Testament, that “there shall come in the last days scoffers a.” And as God permits Satan to walk “about, seeking whom he
may devour b,” so he permits his agents and emissaries to do the same thing, for the trial, exercise, and improvement of honest and faithful men, “ that they which are
approved may be made manifest c.” There have been always men of corrupt minds, and there always will be: there was a Judas amongst the Apostles themselves : there was a Simon Magus that withstood St. Peter, and “ bewitched the peopled:” there was Elymas, a sorcerer, who withstood St. Paul and St. Barnabas, and made it his business “ to turn away the Deputy from the faithe;" there was Hymeneus and Philetus, that gave great disturbance to the Church of Christ, “ and overthrew the faith of “some':” and Alexander, joining with both the other 8, “ did much evil h” to the good Apostle Paul, obstructing the progress of the Gospel : and Diotrephes also, “ loving “ to have the preeminence,” was not afraid to set up against St. John himself, the only then surviving Apostle, but “prated against him with malicious words,” and opposed his good and great designs.
Þ 1 Pet. v. 8.
c I Cor. xi. 19.
a 2 Pet. iii. 3.
Acts viii. 9, 11.
These instances I take notice of, for the sake of common Christians; that they may not think it strange or new, that presumptuous men should take upon them to fly in the face of Heaven, and bid defiance to the undoubted truths of God. There is the less reason for being surprised at it, because it is certainly known with what views, and upon what motives, they generally do it: it is not for want of sufficient evidence of the truth of the Gospel, but it is because they do not relish it, it is too pure and perfect for them : they “ love darkness rather “ than light,” because their affections are corrupt,“ be
cause their deeds are evil k.” The best account which they themselves can give of it, whenever they speak their real sentiments (as they do in private letters to each other) is, that they intend to save a soul from the dismal
apprehensions of eternal damnation," or to relieve a person “from labouring under that uneasiness of mind which “ he often is under, when pleasure and Christianity come “in competition !.” This is the whole secret of infidelitym, the noble and generous aim which the writer I am
• Acts xiii. 8.
8 1 Tim. i. 20. to 2 Tim, iv. 14. i 3 John 9, 10.
* John iii. 19. I See Two Letters from a Deist to his Priend, p. 17, 19.
I take it for granted, that there is not one unbeliever in whom several “ of these defects (viz. immorality, pride, prejudice, stupidity, laziness,]
are not remarkable; and I take their own consciences to witness." L. Clerc, Causes of Incredulity, p. 108, 110.