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allegory is here extremely simple. Had there existed in it the slightest key by which the second picture might have been unlocked and exhibited to their minds, the Jews could not have failed in realizing the meaning of the allegory. This key, however, was wanting; they saw no trace whatever of the second picture, and the words of the Redeemer were to them without sense.
The inaptitude of the first representation to contribute the second, may arise from two causes :
1st. From the want of any clue conducting from the first to the second.
2d. From the fact that the second picture contains an unknown reality; a reality the existence of which was previously unknown to the mind.
In reference to the first of these causes which hinder the first representation from suggesting the second, it is to be observed that it is seldom prevalent to the full extent. Most allegories do afford intimation of some kind or another of such a nature as to lead the mind to the second representation. Some spring is almost always touched, calculated to awaken that train of associations which when pursued conducts to it. Thus in the short allegory already referred to, “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber;" the word "sheepfold" in the connection in which it stands may be regarded as affording such a clue. It is an efficient key to all who are aware that Christ applies the image of sheep to his people. His people being his sheep, it is only the
perception of a natural relationship to see in the sheepfold his church or kingdom. This being known, the rest of the allegory is with ease applied. The Pharisees whom he addressed were unable to employ this key, and they were unable to apprehend his meaning. All such intimations may be regarded in the light of germinal developments of the second picture. The clue being given it simply requires mental activity in the detection of analogies, to bring the second representation out into view. The symbolic prophecies contain many such keys which are in the highest degree important towards the elimination of the meaning.
The second cause which prevents the second and concealed picture from emerging, lies in the fact that it contains an unknown reality. The presence of this cause offers a great obstacle to the interpretation. The greater number of the allegories delivered by the Saviour developed unknown spiritual realities, and hence the inability of his hearers to understand them. All prophetical allegories of unfulfilled events are subjected to this obscuring cause. They contain the representation of realities that are unknown, for the events which they foreshadow are future, and therefore unknown. When Christ said to the Jews, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again,” they would have had little difficulty in comprehending the allegory, had they known the future facts of his crucifixion and rising from the dead after three days. Hence the difficulty of interpreting all symbolic prophecies before their fulfilment. This
cause of difficulty naturally ceases when the events have transpired.
The second element which increases the enigmatical character of an allegory, is its complexity and length, provided the plan which holds its parts in relationship together be undiscovered. A short and simple allegory may be easily interpreted, if the slightest clue be had to its meaning. It is not so with one that is long and complex. Here part of the meaning may be well known, and that of the remainder may be shrouded in profound darkness. This will be the case if the continuity of arrangement which leads from the known to the unknown be undiscovered. If this be known the complexity and length of the allegory will have the opposite effect; they will conduce to the discovery and especially to the establishment of the meaning, for the continuity will be a chain with a greater number of links. It seems unnecessary to prove that a long and complex allegory must have a definite plan. To suppose it without this is as great an absurdity as to suppose an architectural building without any arrangement of the stones which compose it. It would be about as idle to prove that it must possess it as to show that a sentence must have construction. The sense of words can only be known by their relations to each other; the sense of an allegory can only be known by the relationship of its parts to one another. A few words may be intelligible without arrangement.
arrangement. It is impossible that a great number of them can. A short allegory requires no plan ; a long one demands it, for without it it can
neither cohere nor exist at all as an intelligible composition.
It is indubitable that a main cause which has hitherto prevented the true and satisfactory interpretation of the Revelation (and the true interpretation will always be satisfactory to the mind) lies in the length and complexity of the prophecy, and the ignorance which has prevailed on the part of interpreters of its plan, and consequently of the due arrangement of its parts, and their relationships to each other. These are matters absolutely indispensable to the comprehension of any long and complex allegory. That the Revelation is an allegory is certain; that it is, comparatively speaking, long and complex, is also certain ; that its plan has hitherto been unknown, is equally certain. Accordingly one principal barrier to its interpretation has hitherto been in existence. Until this be removed, its interpretation cannot be accomplished. Many parts of the book may be, and doubtless have been, truly interpreted. But these interpretations are comparatively valueless, so far as conviction is concerned. Without the plan of the allegory they can never have the seal of certainty attached to them. That demonstrative evidence is wanting which the knowledge of the plan can alone yield.
Dr. Adam Clarke, in the Preface to his Commentary on the Revelation, after specifying the various systems of interpretations which have been maintained, makes the following remarks :-"My readers
may naturally expect that I should either give a decided preference to some one of the opinions stated above, or produce one of my own: I can do neither; nor can I pretend to explain the book; I do not understand it; and in the things which concern so sublime and awful a subject, I dare not, as my predecessors, indulge in conjectures. I have read elaborate works on the subject, and each seemed right till another was examined: I am satisfied that no certain mode of interpreting the prophecies of this book has yet been found out; and I will not add another monument to the littleness or folly of the human mind by endeavoring to strike out a new course. I repeat it, I do not understand the book; and I am satisfied that not one who has written on the subject, knows any thing more of it than myself: I should, perhaps, except J. E. Clarke, who has written on the number of the beast. His interpretation amounts nearly to demonstration ; but that is but a small part of the difficulties of the Apocalypse. A conjecture concerning the design of the book may be safely indulged ; thus, then, it has struck me that the book of the Apocalypse may be considered as a PROPHET continued in the church of God, uttering predictions relative to all times, which have their successive fulfilment as ages roll on; and thus it stands in the Christian church in the place of the SUCCESSION of PROPHETS in the Jewish church; and by this especial economy prophecy is still continued, is always speaking; and yet a succession of prophets is rendered unnecessary.” The Dr. accordingly fully recognized