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style is not, in some degree, metaphorical; which, indeed, really constitutes much of its essential beauty.
The language of the Bible is highly figurative, particularly the Old Testament; for which, besides its remote antiquity, two particular reasons have beer. assigned. First, the eastern nations, possessing warm imaginations, and living in climates rich and fertile, surrounded by objects equally grand and beautiful, naturally delighted in a figurative mode of expression, far beyond that of the more sober taste of Europeans in less luxuriant regions. The other is, that many of the books of the Old Testament consist of Hebrew poetry; in the style of which the author is allowed, by universal consent, the privilege of illustrating his productions by images and similitudes, drawn from every striking subject which may be present to his imagination. Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and other sacred poets, abound with figures; on every occasion their compositions are adorned with the richest flowers and the most instructive metaphors, to impress the minds and affect the hearts of their readers. But their propriety, design, and beauty, can be appreciated fully only by possessing a tolerable idea of the country in which the inspired poets flourished, the peculiarities of its inhabitants, and the idioms of its language.
The style of the New Testament also, especially the discourses of our Saviour, are remarkably metaphorical; by mistaking which the most extravagant notions have been published as divine doctrine; some professors of christianity adopting a literal application of those expressions which were figuratively intended. A few examples will show the incorrectness of a literal interpretation of some of the words of our Lord. Speaking of Herod the king, Christ says, "Go ye, and tell that fox," Luke xiii. 32. Here, as every reader perceives, the word fox is transferred from its literal signification, that of a beast of prey, proverbial for its profound cunning, to denote a cruel tyrant, and that use of the term conveys, as was designed, the idea of consummate hypocrisy.
Our Lord said to the Jews, "I am the living bread
which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world," John vi. 51. The sensual Jews understood his words literally; and said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" ver. 52. not considering that he intended the sacrifice of his life, which he gave as an atonement for the sins of the world.
In the institution of the Lord's Supper, our Saviour said of the bread, "This is my body;" and of the wine, "This is my blood," Matt. xxvi. 26-28. Upon these words the Roman Catholics, since the twelfth century, have put a forced construction; and in opposition to other passages of the scriptures, as well as every principle of nature and sound reason, they have attempted to establish their monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation; or, the conversion of the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper into the real body and blood of Christ, when the priest pronounces the words of pretended consecration, though to all the senses it remains just the same bread and wine unchanged. The evident meaning of our Lord was, that the bread represented his body, and the wine signified his blood. This mode of expression may be seen used in the Old Testament, Gen. xli. 26, 27. Exod. xii. 11. Dan. vii. 24. and by our Saviour himself in his parables, Matt. xiii. 38, 39. John x. 7-9. Also, Christ calls himself the door, John x. 9. a vine, John xv. 1. a shepherd, John x. 11.
The most common and remarkable figures of speech in the Bible are the following:
I. A Metaphor is a figurative expression, founded on some similitude which one object bears to another, as, To bridle the tongue, Jas. i. 26. For the sword to devour flesh, Deut. xxxii. 42. To be born again, John iii. 3.
II. An Allegory is a continued metaphor, as the discourse of our Saviour concerning eating his flesh, John
III. A Parable is the representation of some moral or spiritual doctrine under an ingenious similitude, as that of the Sower, Matt. xiii. 2-23. the Prodigal Son,
Luke xvi. 11-32. and the Ten Virgins, Matt. xxv. 1-13.
IV. A Proverb is a concise, sententious saying, founded on a penetrating observation of men and manners. Brevity and elegance are essential to a proverb, Prov. x. 15. Luke iv. 23.
V. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word is put for another; as, They have Moses and the prophets," Luke xvi. 29. meaning not their persons, but their writings.
VI. Prosopopæia, or Personification, attributes the actions of persons to things, as in Ps. lxxxv. 10. it is said, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
VII. Synecdoche puts a part for the whole of any thing, or the whole for a part, as Luke ii. 1. "All the world;" and Acts xxiv. 5. "Throughout the world," by which is meant the Roman empire, or parts of it. In Acts xxvii. 37. the word "souls" is put for the whole persons.
VIII. Irony is a figure in which a different thing is intended from that which is spoken. Examples of this kind are not very frequent in the Bible; yet there are a few. Such is the address of Elijah to the priests of Baal, 1 Kings xviii. 27. and the remark of Job to his friends, Job xii. 2.
IX. Hyperbole is a representation of any thing_as being much greater or smaller than it is in reality. For examples of this figure, see Num. xiii. 33. Deut. i. 28. ix. l.
CH. XIV.-INDEX TO THE SYMBOLICAL LANGUAGE OF THE BIBLE.
ABADDON, in Hebrew, of the Arabian kings, and Apollyon, in Greek
A name derived from the title
applied to the Mohammedan powers, by which the christian church in the east was oppressed, Rev. ix. 11.
Abomination-1. Sin, in general, Isa. lxvi. 3. Ezek. xvi,
2. An idol, 2 Kings xxiii. 13. Isa. xliv. 19.
Abomination-3. Idolatrous rites and ceremonies of popery, Rev. xvii. 4.
Abomination of desolation-The idolatrous ensigns of the Roman army, Matt. xxiv. 15.
Adulteress, or Harlot-An apostate city or church, Isa. i. 21. Rev. xvii. 5.
Adultery--Idolatry and apostacy Jer. iii. 8, 9. Rev. ii. 22.
Angels-1. Intelligent beings employed by God as ministers of his providence, Ezek. x. 8, &c. Heb. i. 4-7. 14. Rev. iv. 6. v. 11.
2. Apostate spirits, Matt. xxv. 41. Jude 6.
3. The pastors or bishops of churches, Rev. i. 20. ii. 1. 8. 12. 18.
4. Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Zech. i. 11. Arm-1. The omnipotence of God, Jer. xxvii. 5. xxxii.
2. The power and miracles of Christ, Isa. liii. 1. John xii. 38.
3. Gracious influences of God on mankind, Isa. li. 9.
Armour-Spiritual graces, Rom. xiii. 2. Eph. vi. 11.
2. Slanderous words, Ps. lxiv. 3.
Babes-1. Unskilful and foolish princes, Isa. iii. 4.
2. Young or feeble christians, 1 Cor. iii. 1. Heb. v. 13. Babylon-Papal Rome, Rev. xiv. 8. xvii. xviii. Balaam-The errors and impurities of that apostate, 2 Pet. ii. 15. Jude 11. Rev. ii. 14.
Beast-1. A heathen power, Dan. vii. 17.
2. The papal antichrist, Rev. xiii. 2. 12. xvii. 3. 7, 8. &c.
Beast - The four living creatures, improperly called beasts, Rev. iv. They denote the cherubim described Ezek. i. x.
Black, Blackness-Afflictions, Jer. xiv. 2. Joel ii. 6. Blasphemy-Idolatry, especially that of popery, Rev. xiii. 1.5, 6. xvii. 3.
Blindness-Ignorance of divine doctrine, Isa. xxix. 18. Rom. xi. 25. Eph. iv. 18.
Blood-1. Slaughter and mortality, Isa. xxxiv. 3. Ezek. xxxii, 6. Rev. xiv. 20.
2. Symbol of the atonement by Christ, Matt. xxvi. 28. Heb. xiii. 20.
Body--The sanctified church of Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 13. 27. Book-Symbol of the divine decrees, Ps. xl. 7. Heb. x. 7. Book of Life-The heavenly register of the people of God, Rev, iii, 5. xx. 12. 15. xxii. 19. Matt. iii. 16. Bow-1. Vigorous health, Job xxix. 20.
2. Symbol of evangelical conquest, Rev. vi. 2. Bowels-Tender sympathy, Phil. ii. 1. Luke i. 78. Gr. bowels of mercy.
Branch-Christ, Isa. xi. 1. Jer. xxiii. 5. xxxiii. 15. Zech. iii. 8.
Bread, food-1. Divine doctrine, Deut. viii. 3. Isa. lv. 2. Matt. iv. 4.
2. Christian fellowship, 1 Cor. x. 17. Bride-The church of Christ, Rev. xxi. 9.
Bridegroom-Christ, the husband of the church, John iii. 29. Rev. xxi, 9.
Briers-Persons of pernicious principles, Isa. lv. 13. Brimstone-1. Perpetual desolations, Job xviii. 15. Isa. xxxiv. 9.
2. Emblem of torment, Rev. xiv. 10.
Bulls-Violent men, Ps. xxii. 12.
Cedars-Eminent men, Zech. xi. 2.
Cedars of Lebanon-Kings, princes of Judah, Isa. ii. 13. Cedars, twigs of-Nobility, military chiefs, Ezek. xvii. 4. Chaff-Worthless, irreligious persons, Ps. i. 4. Matt.
Chain-Calamity or affliction, Lam. iii. 7.
Clouds Armies, multitudes, Jer. iv. 13. Isa. lx. 8. Heb. xii. 1.
Crown of life-of glory-Immortality, felicity, and glory of heaven, Jas. i. 12. Rev. ii. 10.
Cup-1. Blessings of divine providence and grace, Psa.
2. Divine judgments, Isa. li. 17.