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the Jewish dispensation'.” Yet he had himself just before admitted, that there were secondary senses in them.
“ Thus much I confess (he says) that without miracles in confirmation of such sense, some of them would with difficulty be proved to have it?.” Indeed, it seems impossible to doubt, that figurative senses and allegories were extremely common amongst the Jews, and pervaded the whole of their Scriptures. The late excellent Bishop Horne has illustrated this matter at great length, in his admirable commentary upon the Psalms; in which he has shewn, that there is hardly a verse, which does not relate primarily to David, and the circumstances of his time; and secondarily to Christ and the religion of the Gospel. And in very many instances, the latter seems to be the only sense, which can with any propriety be affixed to the words employed.
If any difficulty should still remain, in reconciling the fulfilment of the various prophecies relating to our Saviour, with the terms in
· Divine Legation, vol. vi. p.
92. ? Ibid. p. 77.
which they were delivered, it will probably be removed by considering, that they were fulfilled rather in their sense, than in their letter. This is laid down as a rule of interpretation by an eminent Biblical critic of the sixteenth century.
“The Apostles and Evangelists (he says) in citing the testimony of Scripture, had regard to the sense, and not to the words : about which they were indeed not very solicitous, as they ought not to have been, since the truth consists, not in the words, but in the meaning !.” If this be admitted (as I suppose it must be) it carries with it a most important consequence, and confirms my
whole argument: that the application of the prophecies of the Old Testament to our Saviour, rests entirely upon his own authority, as transmitted to us by the Evangelist in the words of the text. For if prophecies which were dictated by the Spirit of God, are to be understood otherwise than literally ; none but those who are endued with the same spirit, can with certainty determine their meaning : which is what I understand by these words of
Drusius in the Critici Sacri.
St. Peter: that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the
prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Enough, I trust has been said to shew, that that dilemma which would reduce us to choose between a primary and literal sense, which cannot always be found; and a secondary and allegorical one which cannot be supported, has absolutely no foundation. That the Jews from the prophecies of the Old Testament looked for the Messiah cannot be disputed, for they look for him still. That Jesus Christ came and claimed to be that Messiah, and by miracles proved himself to have been divinely commissioned, and therefore to be entitled to absolute belief, we learn from the New Testament, whose authenticity is established by the same kind of evidence as that of any
other ancient book, though much more abundant in quantity. The New Testament is to us the true key to the Old. The most decisive proof (said the late learned Bishop of Winchester) of the authenticity and inspiration of the ancient Scriptures, is
derived from the New Testament?.” The Christian religion throws light upon the Jewish history, during a period of four thousand years, and accords with it down to the present hour. It gives a meaning to many of their otherwise inexplicable institutions. plains rationally and satisfactorily a great mass of very obscure predictions. Now I would ask, did it do all this without any foundation in truth; were all its alleged accomplishments of prophecy, mere fanciful accommodations of unconnected events: would it not be more wonderful than any thing which it calls upon us to believe ? For upon our supposition, all that is miraculous in the Scriptures is the work of God, and for a sufficient and good purpose : but upon the contrary hypothesis, it is a most marvellous contrivance of men, and either for a bad purpose, or for no purpose at all. Between these two altera natives, as our choice has been long made, so may it long continue firm and unshaken! And may we by a frequent perusal of, and
· Elements of Christian Theology, vol. i. p. 19. Hey's Lectures, vol. i. p. 195.