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other : Hence the prediction of the nearer event was properly the literal or primary sense, as given for the present information of God's Servants; and the more remote event for their future information, and so was as properly the secondary sense, called with great propriety figurative, because conveyed under the terms which predicted the nearer event. But I hope a first and a second, a literal and a figurative, may both together at least make up a DOUBLE SENSE.
SELDEN understood this matter better, when he said, “ The Scripture may “ have more senses besides the literal, because God “ understands all things at once; but a man's writing “ has but one true sense, which is that which the author " meant when he writ it *.”
2. His second argument runs thus,—“Words are " the signs of our thoughts, and therefore stand for the “ ideas in the mind of him that uses them. If then “ words are made use of to signify two or more things
at the same time, their significancy is really lost, and “ it is impossible to understand the real certain intention “ of him that uses them. Were God therefore to dis" cover any thing to mankind by any written Revelation, “ and were he to make use of such TERBIS as stand " for ideas in men's minds, he must speak to them so as " to be understood by them. They must have in their “ minds the ideas which God intended to excite in them, “ or else it would be in vain to attempt to make dis“ coveries of his Will; and the TERMs made use of must
be such as were wont to raise such certain ideas, or is else there could be no written Revelation. The true
sense therefore of ANY PASSAGE of Scripture can be but ONE; or if it be said to contain more senses than
one, if such multiplicity be not revealed, the Revelation “ becomes useless, because unintelligible.” pp. 222, 223.
Men may talk what they please of the obscurity of : Writers who have two senses, but it has been my fortune * Table Talk.
to meet with it much oftener in those who have none. Our Reasoner has here mistaken the very Question, which is, whether a Scripture PROPOSITION (for all Prophecies are reducible to Propositions) be capable of two senses; and, to support the negative, he labours to prove that WORDS OR TERM8 can have but one.--If then words are made use of to signify two or more THINGS at the same time, their significancy is really lost-such TERMS as stand for ideas in men's minds TERMS made use of must be such as are wont to raise such certain ideas—All this is readily allowed; but how wide of the purpose, may be seen by this instance : Jacob says, I will go down into Sheol unto any son mourning Now if sheol signify in the ancient Hebreu", only the Grave, it would be abusing the TERM to make it signify likewise, with the vulgar Latin, in infernuni, because if words (as he says) be made to signify two or more things at the same time, their significancy is lost.But when this PROPOSITION of the Psalmist comes to be interpreted, Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell [ShE01] neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption ; though it literally signifies security from the curse of the Law, upon transgressors, viz. immature death, yet it is very reasonable to understand it in a spiritual sense, of the resurrection of Christ from the dead; in which, the words or terms translated Soul and Hell, are left in the meaning they bear in the Hebrew torgue, of Body and Grave.
But let us suppose our Reasoner to mean that a PROPOSITION is not capable of two senses, as perhaps he did in his confusion of ideas, for notwithstanding his express words to the contrary, before he comes to the end of his argument, he talks of the true sense of ANT PASSAGE being but one; and then his assertion must be, That if one Proposition have two Senses, its significancy is really lost ; and that it is impossible to understand the real certain intention of him that uses them ;. C01.
sequently Revelation will become useless, because unin, telligible.
Now this I will take the liberty to deny. In the fol- , lowing instances, a single Proposition was intended by the writers and speakers to have a double sense. The poet Virgil says,
-“Talia, per clypeum Volcani, dona parentis
( TUM *.” The last line has these two senses : First, that Æncas bore on his shoulders a shield, on which was engraved a prophetic picture of the fame and fortunes of his posterity: Secondly, that under the protection of that piece of armour he established their fame and fortunes, and was enabled to make a settlement in Latium, which proved the foundation of the Roman einpiret.
Here then is a double sense, which, I believe, none who have any taste of Virgil will deny. The preceding verse introduces it with great art,
“ Miratur, rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet :" and prepares us for something mysterious, and hid. behind the letter.
On Peter's refusing to eat of elean and unclean meats, promiscuously, in the vision presented to him, the Holy Spirit says, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common I. The single proposition is, That which God hath cleansed is not common or impure; but no one who reads this story can doubt of its having this double sense: 1. That the distinction between clean and unclean meats was to be abolished. 2. And That the Gentiles were to be called into the Church of Christ. Here then the true sense of these PASSAGES is not one, but two: and yet the intention or meaning is not, on this
* Æneid. lib. viii. in fin.
Acts x. 152
account, the least obscured or lost, or rendered doubtful or unintelligible.
He will say, perhaps, “ that the very nature of the subject, in both cases, determines the two senses here explained.” And does he think, we will not say the same of double senses in the Prophecies? But he seems to take it for granted, that Judaism and Christianity have no kind of relation to one another: Why else would he bring, in discredit of a double sense, thi se tvo verses of Virgil;
“ Hi motus animorum, atque hæc certamina tauta
“ Pulveris exigui jactu composta quiescunt.” On which he thus descants—The words are determinate and clear.-Suppose now a man haviny occasion to speak of intermitting fevers and the rufle of a man's spirits, and the easy cure of the disorder by pulverized bark, &c. p. 225.-To make this pertinent, we must suppose no more relation between the fortunes of the Jewish Church and the Christian, than between a battle of Bees, and the tumult of the animal Spirits: if this were not his meaning, it will be hard to know what was, unless to shew his happy talent at a parody.
But as he seems to delight in classical authorities, I will give himn one not quite so absurd; where he himself shall confess that a double meaning does in fact run through one of the finest Odes of Antiquity. Horace thus addresses a crazy ship in which bis friends had embarked for the Ægean sea;
O navis, referent in mare te novi
Nudum remigio latus*, &c. In the first and primary sense, he describes the dangers of his friends in a weak unmanned vessel, and in a tempestuous sea: in the secondary, the dangers of the Republic in entering into a new civil war, after all the losses and disasters of the old. As to the secondary sense,
* Hor. Od. lib.i. Od. 14.
which is ever the most questionable and obscure, we have
Nuper sollicitum quæ mihi tædium,
Vites æquora Cycladas.
, nothing less natural or gracious, on account of the enormous length into which it is drawn.---Ezekiel has an allegory of that sort which Quintilian supposes this to be, (namely, a proper allegory with only one real sense) and he manages it with that brevity and expedition which a proper * See the beginning of this volume,