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anxiety to develop the second sense as concisely as possible. It has been above mentioned, that the two ideas which compose an ideographic sign are related to each other, not on the ground of identity, but of analogy. The figure states, that these ideas are the same, which is always absurd. The truth lies in the resemblance which they bear to each other. The mind has always important deductions to make from the statement of the figure. It has a process of comparison to perform, separating the elements of agreement and of difference which obtain between the two ideas; it then founds upon the real analogy which it discovers. The more absurd the statement is, the bolder the figure is. The figure, however, owes no small amount of its attractiveness to this very feature. The mind rejoices to find in the seeming absurdity propriety and truth. The structure of the allegory is, in this respect, more scientific.
5th. That figures are well adapted for working on the feelings. By the instantaneous and vivid appli. cation of the subject which they make to the mind, by the light and force which they instantaneously carry with them, they are powerful instruments in the hands of all those who would stir the emotions. They present to the mind the whole subject to be apprehended with fulness and vividness. They are serviceable instruments in the hands of orators who would rouse the feelings, and they are employed for this end with great mastery and power by the Hebrew prophets.
It is worthy of observation, that it rarely occurs
that an allegory is to be found in the perfectly pure state according to the above definition; the second, or real sense, which it is the characteristic of the allegory to conceal, is generally in a greater or less degree developed. We should do wrong, however, to call it, on this account, a figure, even although a very considerable development of the second sense were made. To determine in a given case what is allegory and what is figure it is necessary to determine whether the composition has more of the quality of the one or of the other. This will decide the question whether it is to be ranked as allegory or as figure. If the first representation is predominant, and the second sense, though partially developed, is still really subordinate, the composition is justly to be regarded as an allegory. If, on the other hand, the second sense is the main and predominant one, it is to be held a figure. It has been disputed whether the parable of the vine, John xv., is to be regarded as an allegory or a figure. The first representation is here, however, presented to the mind in a much stronger degree than the second, which is only partially developed. It is accordingly to be properly considered as an allegory.
It seldom occurs, however, that these two kinds of composition approach each other so closely as to render a discrimination between them a matter of any difficulty when the above definition is held in view. The predominance of the first or of the second representation is a sufficiently significant criterion.
From the points of contrast which have been
stated above, and which are sufficiently obvious, it appears that there is a very considerable difference between an allegory and a figure. The former is essentially a secret, and, to a certain extent, cryptogrammic art of communication, partaking of the nature of the hieroglyphic; while this element of secrecy does not at all inhere in the figure. It follows, as a consequence, that there is a great difference between allegoric and figurative language, or, between that which delivers an allegory and that which delivers a figure. But the symbolic language of the prophets is allegorical as the interpretations show. It follows that there is a great difference between symbolical and figurative language.
Unfortunately for a legitimate and valid interpretation of the Revelation this essential difference has been overlooked by the great mass of commentators, if not all, who have written on the book. They have regarded it as if it were written in figurative language, and as if the same method of explication were to be applied to it as to the writings of the figurative prophets. Probably more errors of interpretation have flowed from this source than from any other.
A recent writer makes the following remarks on this subject, which has not yet hitherto, as we conceive, been developed with the requisite clearness and precision. The important bearing of it, however, on a right interpretation of prophetical language, can hardly be over-estimated :
“ Before proceeding to the interpretation of alle
gory, it will be expedient to inquire into the nature of the figure so termed. The word has been used in various senses, and with great vagueness.
Sometimes it is said to denote a continued metaphor. Thus Cicero says, 'When several kindred metaphors succeed one another, they alter the form of a composition ; for which reason a succession of this kind is called by the Greeks an allegory; and properly, in respect to the etymology of the word; but Aristotle, instead of considering it as a new species of figure, has more judiciously comprised such modes of expression under the general appellation of metaphors.” In like manner Dr. Blair writes, 'An allegory may be regarded as a continued metaphor.' Those who take this view of it, find it difficult, or rather impossible, to define where the one terminates and the other begins. Some confine metaphor to a word, and refer whatever exceeds this to the head of allegory.
This makes the latter include one or more sentiments. Sometimes the allegory is made a distinct species, having within itself a congruity and completeness unlike a number of tropes put together. Lowth enumerates three forms of allegory, t but their limits are not well marked. It appears to us, that some confusion would be avoided by attaching the same meaning to the term allegory wherever it occurs, and thus separating it more exactly from other figures. In allegory, as in metaphor, two things are
* De Oratore.
presented to view ; but yet there is considerable difference between both tropes. The term allegory, according to its original and proper meaning, denotes a representation of one thing, which is intended to excite the representation of another thing. Every allegory, therefore, must be subjected to a two-fold examination : we must first examine the immediate representation, and then consider what other representation it was intended to excite. Now, in most allegories, the immediate representation is made in the form of a narrative; and since it is the object of an allegory to convey a moral, not an historic truth, the narrative itself is commonly fictitious. The immediate representation is of no further value, than as it leads to the ultimate representation. It is the application, or the moral, of the allegory which constitutes its worth.
Since, then, an allegory comprehends two distinct representations, the interpretation of an allegory must comprehend two distinct operations. The first of them relates to the immediate representation; the second to the ultimate representation.'*
“ The metaphor always asserts or imagines that one object is another. Thus “Judah is a lion's whelp,' (Gen. xlix. 9 ;) 'I am the true vine,' (John xv. 1.) On the contrary, allegory never affirms that one thing is another, which is in truth an absurdity.”+-Sa
* Marsh's Lectures on the Interpretations of the Bible, pp. 343, 344.
† See A Treatise on the Figures of Speech. By Alexander