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the perfect intelligibility of the prophecy, although, as he thinks, the certain mode, or, as he expresses himself in another place, THE KEY to the interpretation has not been discovered, even so late as his time, 1830. The PLAN of the allegory is the key to the prophecy.
But thirdly, that which in a very great degree tends to enhance the enigmatical quality of an allegory, is the circumstance of its being in excess. If almost every part of the representation is impregnated with a second sense, the interpretation is rendered more difficult, not in the same but in an increased ratio, because the allegory is rendered proportionably perplexed. In this respect the allegories of Scripture present a great diversity. In all a considerable portion of the language is of the nature of machinery for setting forth and connecting the different parts of the imagery. In most of the parables the greater part of the narration has no second sense at all. Many things are introduced by way of ornament and to render the narration more pleasing, which are devoid of a second sense. The parable above quoted displays the allegoric element in a stronger degree than is usual. “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Here there are few words that do not contain a second sense. The allegory may be regarded then as here in excess. The parable of the vine shows likewise the allegoric element strongly developed. In the parable
of the prodigal son, and many others, it is the salient points alone of the narration which bear a second sense.
But it is in the symbolic prophecies that we the allegoric element prevailing in its full intensity and power. In these the allegory is in great excess. In some almost every word has a double sense. Here we see the natural relations of objects to one another, which otherwise are for the most part observed, sacrificed to develop the hidden meaning. In these prophecies, indeed, the allegorical element assumes a totally new form, and coins for itself a language which is peculiar to itself. This language is at once the fruit of the allegory's being in excess, and at the same time the remedy to the difficulty occasioned thereby. So thoroughly allegoric is the prophecy, that it speaks an allegoric language. The words in which the predictions are couched bear the sense that is current in the hieroglyphic langnage native to the symbolic prophets. The difficulty or interpretation which arises from the allegory's being in excess then, is probably more than counterbalanced by the presence of this language. The parable is to be interpreted solely by the allegory which it develops; the symbolic prophecy is to be interpreted by the allegory and by the hieroglyphic language. This language has definite significations fixed by interpretations rendered in Scripture. The symbolic prophecy then stands on a vantage ground. The allegory, it is true, is excessive, but the prophecy is furnished with a language which, if it does not altogether disclose, at
least confirms and ratifies the second sense. It will be necessary to treat separately of the relations of this special language to the prophetic allegory, as its bearing on the sense of the prophecy is in the highest degree important.
Now the Revelation develops in a strong degree three of the above-mentioned features of enigma:
1st. It contains the allegory in excess.
The key to the solution of the first of these features, is the knowledge of the hieroglyphic language. This principle of solution is in our hands, for the interpretations rendered in Scripture, leave no doubt in regard to the signification of the terms employed in it. Nevertheless, these significations have a certain latitude and generalness in them which it requires the knowledge of the allegory and its plan to reduce to precision.
The key to the solution of the second element of enigma will lie in the discovery of the plan of the prophecy which resolves its complexity into simplicity. This has hitherto been an insuperable barrier to the comprehension, but more especially to the demonstration of the sense of the Revelation. It is no small part of the aim at least of the present work to develop the real plan of the prophecy.
The solution of the third enigmatical feature lies in the fact, that almost all the predictions of the book, as is generally admitted, have been fulfilled. They have thus passed from the state of unknown to that
of known realities, and hence this cause of obscurity has nearly ceased.
It is the second of these features which alone presents to the interpreter any real difficulty. The PLAN is the desideratum still wanting to fix the true bearings of the prophecy, and to invest its hieroglyphic language with that precision which it is calculated to yield, and the whole prophecy with that demonstrative evidence which it is designed to carry with it.
UNITY OF IDEA A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF THE
But in the midst of the darkness of enigma “light ariseth.” The allegory contains within itself a globe of luminous power, which requires only to be kindled to display, if not all the details of the embossment on this opaque sign, at least the general design of it. This illuminative power which the allegory contains within itself, and which is its true lamp, is unity of idea. This being apprehended the sense of the allegory is known.
This principle is inherent in every ideographic sign, whether it be called by the name of allegory or parable, type or symbol, figure or metaphor. Each of these is one sign: one sign of an idea; there hence belongs to each a unity of idea. They each
indeed be the sign of many ideas, thoughts, or conceptions, but these must be associated and combined together, so as to constitute unity in the group, inasmuch as they are represented by but one sign. Hence allegories are pervaded, however long they may be, by unity of idea.
All writers on rhetoric from Aristotle downwards,