Page images

declaring that such passages were not to be taken in their simple, natural, grammatical sense, but as intending only a spiritual resurrection from ignorance and error.

Lampe, whose Commentary on St. John, Hartwell Horne describes (vol. ii.) as unquestionably the most valuable work on that Gospel that was ever published, endeavours to shew, from the miracle of the marriage in Cana, that by the bridegroom is meant the governors of the Jewish church; the bride is the Jewish church itself; the marriage is the Christian dispensation ; the failing of the wine, the departure of the Spirit of God from the Jewish church, which had begun to depart from the purity of the Law ; the mother of our Lord is the heavenly Jerusalem, bringing into the liberty of the Gospel the children of the Jewish church; but she is reproved for impatience, not knowing the times and seasons or the hour, which had not yet come. The water is changed into wine; that is, prophecy and the Law are changed into the Gospel, with much more of the same kind. (Lampe, vol. i. pp. 518-520.)

The fascination of the ingenuity of such interpretations constitutes their peculiar danger, especially when adopted by men so learned and pious as Lampe. Cardinal Bellarmin, one of the most learned and upright of his order, whom Pope Sextus V. condemned for not going far enough in the assertion of Papal power, attempts to prove, from a comparison of Acts x. 13, “ Rise, Peter, kill,” &c. with John xxi. 16, that the duty of the Pope, as the successor of Peter, is to put heretics to death; an interpretation which seals the death-warrant of the Protestant church and the liberties of mankind. See T. H. Horne, vol. ii. p. 770.

On the mysterious doctrines of predestination, election, &c., Bishop Horsley says: "Differences of opinion upon these subjects have subsisted, among the best Christians, from the beginning, and will subsist, I am persuaded, to the end.” And the martyr Ridley observes: “In these matters I am so fearful, that I dare not speak further ; yea, almost none otherwise, than the text doth, as it were, lead me by the hand.”

The right way of interpreting Scripture, is to take we find it, without any attempts to force it into any particular system.” (Cecil.)

“The Scriptures are the mysteries of God," says Bishop

[ocr errors]

Jewel : " let us not be curious : let us not seek to know more than God hath revealed by them. They are the sea of God : let us take heed that we be not drowned by them. They are the fire of God: let us take comfort by their heat, and warily take heed they burn us not. They that gaze over-hårdly upon

the sun, take blemish in their eye-sight.”

Boyle says: “It ought rather to recommend than disparage the Scriptures, that what is revealed is so copious and extensive, that, like a river, it will supply alamb with what

may quench its thirst, and cannot be exhausted by an elephant. And again : “ The Scriptures being composed of several obscure texts of Scripture, mixed with clear ones, several devout persons have rather chosen to read other books, which, being free from difficulties, might promise more instruction; but as the moon, notwithstanding her spots, gives more light than the stars that are luminous; so the Scripture, notwithstanding its dark passages, will afford a Christian more light than the best authors." (Boyle on the Style of the Scriptures.)

“Scripture doth best interpret itself." (Lowth.)

“ Particular diligence should be used in comparing the parallel texts of the Old and New Testaments. It should be a rule with every one who would read the Holy Scriptures with advantage and improvement, to compare every text which may seem either important for the doctrine it may contain, or remarkable for the turn of expression, with the parallel passages in other parts of Holy Writ, i. e. with passages in which the subject matter is the same, the sense equivalent, or the turn of expression similar.” (Bishop Horsley.) These parallel passages are easily found by the marginal references in Bibles of the larger form.

Bishop Horsley's remark may be thus illustrated : By referring to Gal. vi. 15, with v. 6, and 1 Cor. vii. 19, to explain what is meant by “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," and by comparing these parallel texts, we learn he is a new creature who is under the influence of a faith which worketh by love, keeping the commandments of God; the term new creature implying a total change of principle, resulting from God's grace ; (creation being the prerogative of God ;) which a reference to John iii. 5, &c. confirms. So again, 2 Cor. i. 21, God is said to have

anointed us. In a parallel passage, 1 John ii. 20, where this turn of expression is used, the 27th verse of that chapter explains it to mean teaching, enduing with the gifts of the Spirit.

Bishop Horsley continues : “ It is incredible, to any one who has not made the experiment, what a proficiency may be gained in that knowledge which maketh wise unto salvation, by studying the Scriptures in this manner, without any other commentary or exposition than what the different parts of the sacred volume mutually furnish for each other. Let the most illiterate Christian study them in this manner, and let him never cease to pray for the illumination of that Spirit by which these books are dictated, and the whole compass of abstruse philosophy and recondite history shall furnish no argument with which the of man shall be able to shake this learned Christian's faith." (Bishop Horsley.)

“ O God, thou hast revealed more than we can know ; enough to make us happy! Teach us a sober knowledge, a contented ignorance.” (Bishop Hall.)

perverse will


The Scriptures speak of God as having hands, eyes, &c.; as repenting, swearing, hardening the heart, &c.; how are such passages to be understood ? [p. 55.] What dangers must be guarded against on this subject?

What caution is necessary in the application to ourselves of Scripture examples, and also in reference to the silence of Scripture in not condemning a wrong action ? [p. 57.]

To ascertain whether you rightly understand any doctrine, what must you do ? and also, what must you do to render the doctrine of use to yourself ? [p. 58.]

Shew that he who slights the doctrines of Christianity undermines its morality. [p. 59.]

Illustrate the practical use we should make of the promises and threatenings of Scripture. (pp. 60, 61.]

What are Archbishop Secker's rules for the interpretation of the Ten Commandments ? (p. 61.]

Give some illustration of the figurative language adopted by the Prophets, and of the meaning of such figures as the falling of stars, &c. [p. 63, 64.]

What is Sir Isaac Newton's remark on the interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy? (p. 66.]

What two rules are of importance in the interpretation of Types ? [p. 68.]

What must you particularly guard against in the interpretation of Parables; and what is the great rule for their interpretation ? Illustrate these by examples. (pp. 68—71.]

Shew the importance of attending to context, words, names. (pp. 72 –82.] Explain John ix. 3.; 1 Kings xxii. 15, &c. &c. &c.

Illustrate the value of Geography in the interpretation of Scripture, and give the names, boundaries, size, and divisions of the Holy Land. (pp. 83–90.]

Shew also, by some example, the value of a knowledge of Natural History, Chronology, Profane History, Manners and Customs of Eastern Nations, as to their dwellings, dress, &c. (pp. 90-105.]

What does the judicious Hooker consider to be a most infallible rule in the interpretation of Scripture ? [p. 107.]

Illustrate by an example the danger of disregarding it. [p. 107.]

Should the difficulties of Scripture discourage us from reading it ? What caution does Bishop Jewel, and what encouragement does Boyle, give on this subject ? [p. 108, 109.]

In the interpretation of Scripture, respecting what does Bishop Horsley recommend particular diligence ? and if such diligence be used in a spirit of prayer, what does he say will be the result ? [p. 110.]

N. B. This list of questions may be much enlarged, particularly by referring to the different passages of Scripture explained in each section, and requiring an account of such explanations.



CONTENTS.—$ i. Its distinguishing feature a Theocracy. § ii. Their

Laws. § ii. The Sabbatical Year, and the Jubilee, as illustrating their

Government and Laws. The great purpose for which the Jews were selected by God explains the peculiarity of that constitution by which they were formed into a nation immediately on leaving Egypt.

As has been already noticed (more particularly in connexion with the prophecies and types interwoven with their institutions and history, see p. 51), the great purpose of their selection by God from the rest of mankind, was through them to prepare for the coming of Christ, the world's great Deliverer.

But what was the great danger which, humanly speaking, threatened the defeat of this purpose ? Their apostasy into idolatry. The world around them had apostatized into idolatry; that is, it had sunk into the total forgetfulness that the world was God's world, formed by His power, and governeď by His will. The tendency of their own hearts was toward idolatry (Ezek. xx. 8).

Hence, as subordinate to this great purpose of preparing for the coming of Christ, their government was so framed, and so enforced, as to be a constant check upon idolatry. It was so framed and so enforced as to be, indirectly, a protest against the idolatry of the world (Numb. xxxii. 4; 1 Sam. v. vi.; Dan. iii. vi.; and the prophetic writings throughout); but its more immediate object was the preservation of the Jews from idolatry.

To this end a constant, visible, miraculous interposition of God's providence attended them; which constant visible interposition of God's providence, connecting temporal rewards with obedience, and temporal punishments with disobedience, brought before them at each step, in opposition to every form of idolatry, God as the only disposer of all things, of happiness and misery, of life and of death. The spirit of their dispensation, in this respect, is expressed in the song

of Moses, Deut. xxxii. : “ See now” (from the rewards in this life following obedience, from the punishment now following disobedience to my commands) see now, that I, even I, am He, and there is no God with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal ; neither is there any that can deliver out of




$ i. Its distinguishing feature a Theocracy. As expressive of this peculiarity of their government, it has been called a Theocracy; and an explanation of the meaning of this term will further illustrate the remarks already made. It is called a Theocracy, because God, as their Governor, assumed the title of King. The Tabernacle, and afterwards the Temple, built of the richest materials, was considered as His palace, in which in a peculiar sense He manifested Himself as their King enthroned on the mercyseat: Exod. xxv. 8, 9; 1 Chron. xxix. 1; Ps. cxxxii. 5. He performed towards them those acts which are usually performed by earthly sovereigns. For instance :

God appointed to each family that proportion of the Promised Land which it was to possess, varying from sixteen to

« PreviousContinue »