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Testament, respecting the sacrifices of the Hebrews, and therefore, say some, must be understood in a figurative or metaphorical sense. But the figure looks a different way from what they suppose, who make this remark. The law was a shadow of good things to come; the sacrifices of the law were figures of the true sacrifice, which is Jesus Christ, slain from the foundation of the world. He was the original, and they of the law were figures of him. Had it not been for his priesthood and his sacrifice foreordained of God, there would have been no priests, and no sacrifices appointed in the Jewish ritual, neither would the ideas of propitiation and atonement be inwoven as they now are, into the very
tissue of the Scriptures. So the natural world around us would have been very different from what it now is, had it not been for the spiritual facts that underlie it, and have given shape to its phenomena. Thus in the physical evils that afflict the world, we may see the representations of man's sinful state, and the indications of the divine displeasure at human sinfulness, while also the goodness of God is poured out over all the earth, and even his very judgments are tempered with mercy, in order, during this dispensation of grace, to lead the children of men to repentance.
3. A third remark is, that important aid towards the understanding of the figurative language of the Scriptures may be derived from the cultivation of the imagination. Imagination is that power by which we form images or pictures to be seen by the eye of the mind, as the objects of the outward world are seen by the bodily eye. It was through the imagination that a large part of the revelations recorded in the Bible were made to those holy men who have transmitted them unto us. Divine revelations were addressed to the minds of the prophets by symbols set before them in visions and dreams, and the events of their daily life. Now it is imagination alone, that can reproduce these symbols to the mind of the reader, so that they may be clearly apprehended, and stand out before his mind as they did before the mind of the prophet. Moreover, imagination looks into the soul and liv. ing principle of things, discerns those moral ideas, or spiritual
truths which they are fitted and designed to express. The poet and the clown may both look at the same outward object, e. g. the western sky at the time of some brilliant sunset; but the one sees in it only what strikes his bodily eye, while the other may see in it the emblem of the gateway to the celestial city. If the natural world is laid out so as to represent the spiritual world, there is a reason in the nature of things why certain moral ideas should be expressed by certain figures, and not by others. It requires but little imagination to see that there is a reason, in the nature of things, why the moral idea of right should be designated by a word meaning straight, rather than by a word meaning crooked ; and why the moral idea of wrong should be designated by a word meaning crooked, rather than by a word meaning straight; or why knowledge should be represented by light, and ignorance by darkness. And since it is one province of the imagination to discern the true correspondency between the phenomena of outward nature and the facts of the spiritual world, the cultivation of this faculty will furnish essential aid to the understanding of the figurative language of the Scriptures.
4. A fourth principle to be observed in the interpretation of figurative language is, that we remember the inadequacy of figures of speech, or of any sensible symbols, fully to express spiritual truth. The inadequacy of a symbol is to be distinguished from its falsity. A symbol may be perfectly true so far as it goes, and yet be utterly inadequate to express the whole truth. Our ideas of God are utterly inadequate to the reality, and yet may be true ideas for all that. So of spiritual truths generally. However formless spiritual realities may appear to us in the spiritual world, yet, so long as we are in the body, they can be conceived or expressed by us only in forms and figures. So far as spiritual truth is in itself formless, so far is human language incapable of giving it adequate expression ; for language was originally applied to forms and appearances in the natural world, and still bears the marks of its origin; yet human language is capable of giving a true expression of spiritual things; for
the natural world is an image and picture of the spiritual world. The soul of man is now known to us, in part, by the expression of his face. Yet internal consciousness assures us that in the soul of every man there are depths of thought and feeling which cannot be told by the lineaments of his face. So internal consciousness assures us that the truths of the spiritual world are of a deeper measure than can be contained within the forms of material things. The limitations of form and figure, under which spiritual truths appear to us, are not also the limitations of our knowlenge. But to convey our knowledge to others, or clearly to apprehend it ourselves, it must assume some form, more or less definite. And there are many spiritual truths which will require many different figures in order rightly, in some measure, to express their fulness and greatness. E. g. all our language with regard to God is figurative: “God is a spirit,” “ God is a rock,” “God is a high tower," “ God is a dwelling-place,” God is a sun and shield.” Yet no one of these figures, nor all possible figures put together, can adequately express God to us.
All created things fail adequately to do this, though all created things do, in a measure, tell us of him. And as God cannot adequately be expressed in any finite form, so neither can the truths which relate to his government and kingdom. It may be said of figures, what Dr. Bushnell has said of creeds: “No one creed contains the whole truth, and therefore the more creeds the better;" so no one figure contains the whole truth, and therefore the more figures the better; provided, however, that they be true to nature — that there be a true correspondency between the figure and the spiritual reality expressed by it.
We close with one suggestion to our ministerial brethren. They whose business it is to communicate spiritual truth to others, should make much use of figures as vehicles of truth. This is taught us by the example of the inspired writers, and especially by the example of our great Teacher, who hath taught us to look upon nature with a spiritual eye, and from the fowls of the air and the flowers of the field to learn the lessons of wisdom and piety. In our ideas of spiritual
truth, we cannot divest ourselves of images and forms, if we would. What we have to do is, to see that our figures and images are true and according to nature. Nature is an inex. haustible storehouse of hieroglyphics, pregnant with spiritual meanings. What we have to do is, to bring those meanings into the clear light of consciousness, and that not in dead abstractions, but in the living forms which nature herself of. fers to us. “ The more vivid,” says Schlegel, “the more striking, and apparently startling, the more boldly figurative and rare, are the terms or forms of expression employed, the more pertinently and clearly do they often convey our meaning, and the more happily chosen and to the point do they appear. In proof and confirmation of this assertion, I would appeal to the language of Holy Writ. Most, if not all, its descriptions of matters belonging to the invisible world, if we could still recall or still experience the first fresh impression, would at once be confessed to be the boldest that language has ever ventured upon. Long familiarity, however, has made them seem ordinary and tame. And it is necessary to contemplate them long and intensely, if we would revive their original fulness and peculiar significancy.”! It would be well for us, in our use of words, to call up the images which lie at their base, so as to have a clear and distinct view of them in our own minds, and then endeavor to call up the same images in the minds of those to whom we speak. Much that is not literally true, is yet most true, because it makes the truest impression.
1 Philosophy of Language, Morrison's translation, p. 419.
THE INFLUENCE AND METHOD OF ENGLISH STUDIES.
By William G. T. Shedd, Professor at Andover.
That the philological structure and history of the English language is a branch of investigation very greatly neglected by all to whom this tongue is vernacular, will hardly be questioned. If one examines the public or private libraries of this country, he finds them better supplied with works in almost every other department of knowledge, than with those that relate to the origin and early progress of the literature of the Englishman and Anglo-American. How little is known of the lexicographical labors of Junius, Lye, and Spelman; of the critical researches of Hearne, Ritson, Pink.erton, Tyrwhitt, Wright, and Price; and even of the histories of Warton, and Ellis. The publications of the Camden and Percy societies rarely make their way over the Atlantic, The small but increasing stock of Anglo-Saxon literature, well edited by scholars like Conybeare, Thorpe, Bosworth, Kemble, and Cardale, and still more, the Anglo-Norman literature brought to light by Michel and other French scholars, is a terra incognita to many whose explorations in classic and oriental regions have been extensive and accurate. Notwithstanding the genial and thorough criticism of Coleridge, Hazlitt, and Schlegel, it can hardly be affirmed that the literature of the Elizabethan era, has made that profound impression upon the thinking and composition of the present age, which its intrinsic merits entitle it to. That hearty and idiomatic, yet flowing and graceful, style of Eng. lish, which is one result of the study of this portion of the language and literature, is confined to a comparatively small circle of writers. The common English diction of the day, has been formed more by the age of Queen Anne, than by that of Shakspeare and Bacon. The orator, reviewer, and paragraphist, puts on the “ learned sock," not of Jonson the VOL. XIII. No. 60.