« НазадПродовжити »
If figurative language be interpreted not fancifully, but agreeably to the scriptures, there will be few cases where humble and prayerful Christians will differ. Hooker's rule is here of great value, “I hold it for a most infallible rule in expositions  of sacred scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst. There is nothing more dangerous than this licentious and deluding art which changes the meaning of words as Alchymes does or would do the substance of metals, makes of any thing what it lists, and brings in the end all truth to nothing.
The extracts from varied authors in the note in a former page (especially those from Bishop Hall) will shew to what great lengths able and good men have gone in that spiritualizing system, which, especially where it is exclusive, has been far from a harmless perversion of the words of the Holy Spirit.
Every passage of God's word should be interpreted literally where the predictions can be literally fulfilled, unless there be a necessity from the subject or the context, to the contrary, or an absurdity by doing so, or a scriptural authority to justify another interpretation. Dr. John Smith justly remarks,“Although the prophets use words so frequently in a figurative or metaphorical sense, yet we ought not without necessity to depart from the primitive and original sense of the language." We must not forsake the proper meaning, without an evident reason and necessity. David Levi justly  reproaches Christians, "Can anything be more absurd than to explain the prophecies which foretell ihe calamity which is to befall the Jews in a literal sense, and those which speak of their future felicity in a spiritual and mystical sense!" In the literal interpretation, however, there is a peculiar need of exercising that waiting spirit, which is the characteristic posture of a believer's mind in the interpretation of prophecy. Hab. ii. 1-4.
Vitringa gives this important rule—“We must never depart from the literal meaning of the subject mentioned, in its own appropriate name, if all or its principal attributes square with the subject of the prophecy.” A farther rule of Vitringa's may assist us where a literal interpretation will not stand: “If the attributes by no means agree with the subject expressed by its own name, we must think of another parallel or corresponding subject, which is mystically called by this name, on account of the agreement between the type and antitype. There are instances in the case of Elias, Mal. iv. 5; David, Jer. xxx. 9. Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24: Solomon, Psa. lxxii. 1; Edom, Isaiah lxiii. 1."
Gaussenus (quoted by Vitringa) thus illustrates the subject: “The whole of the Old Testament, with the exception of a few places, has a meaning sufficiently suited for those times, and some way or other adapted to the circumstances of the Israelites; but the unalterable wisdom of God shewed itself in this, that he superinduced upon it a more exalted meaning; and while the apostles open this out by the secret skill of the Holy Spirit, we are struck with astonishment at such great things, and praise our heavenly Father, who has revealed to his children  those things which he has hidden from the wise and prudent.”
There are but few predictions of scriptures that have received their full accomplishment. Even those relating to nations connected with the Jews have not in all their parts been fulfilled. A list might be drawn out of particulars unfulfilled, as well as of those which have been fulfilled respecting Babylon, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and other countries. When God foretells things, he takes that large view which comprehends the whole of his dispensation, and frequently passes rapidly from a commencing to a completing accomplishment. We shall thus find the first and second coming of Christ so intermingled, that only the result can shew us the fulfilment of the whole. The name Babylon given to the Roman church seems to intimate that there may be a farther fulfilment in it of those predictions in the Old Testament which were first pronounced against Babylon of old.
PROPHECIES RESPECTING THE JEWS.
 Many of the prophecies of the Old Testament, as far as they regard the Jews, have already been LITERALLY ACCOMPLISHED. Let us, when we have to consider a prophecy, first inquire after this point, and endeavour to ascertain whether it may not have received a literal accomplishment. The value of such a prophecy still remains. It marks the constant and particular foreknowledge and providence of God, illustrates his dealings with his creatures, and furnishes a most solid evidence of the divine inspiration of the holy scriptures. The actual accomplishment must, therefore, never be overlooked, especially that which regards the first coming of our Saviour in the flesh among the Jews, and the diffusion of his gospel among the nations of the earth, through the labours of apostles
selected from the Jewish church. The first advent of Christ was the greatest event which this lower world has hitherto witnessed, and the confirmation of it affects the faith and happiness of the whole human race: and no wonder, therefore, that it is so much dwelt upon, both in prophecy and in the history of the New Testament,  where the fact is confirmed, and the truth and inspiration of the prophecies are established.
In order rightly to interpret other prophecies, we must notice the time when they were delivered. There are, generally, express statements, in connection with every particular prophecy, which discover this important circumstance. All the prophets of the Old Testament, except the last three, flourished before the return from the captivity in Babylon. Zechariah and Haggai also prophesied at the time of the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, and seventy years before the return of a large body under Ezra. It appears, from various expressions, that some of the ten tribes also returned at the same time. Ezra vi. 17-21; viii. 35. The prophecies, therefore, foretelling their return to their own land, received a commencing, though only partial, accomplishment in their return from captivity, yet by no means adequate to the fulness and largeness of varied predictions. Indeed Ezekiel xxxvii. 16, and Hosea i. 6—10, point out the difference between Israel and Judah, and include God's dealings with both.
It is evident that a variety of events may fulfil in a regular series the same prophecy. The first promise of Christ, (Gen. iii. 15.) and the prophecies respecting Noah's sons, shew this. Hence many events in successive ages may be but as parts of one full sense in which a prophecy shall ultimately be fulfilled. Hereby the divine foreknowledge, and the inspiration of the holy scriptures, are in the result most remarkably displayed and illustrated. Thus there may be a growing accomplishment of prophecy through many ages.*
 Many prophecies respecting the land of Judea have received already a remarkable and literal fulfilment; as Mr. Keith has ably shewn in the fifth chapter of his work on prophecy: others remain unaccomplished.
* Lord Bacon's statement on this subject is in the usual style of that great man, who takes original and comprehensive views of all that he considers. It occurs in the first section of his Work, “De Augmentis Scientiarum,” and is as follows:—“The history of prophecy consists of two relatives; the prophecy, and the accomplishment: whence the nature of it requires that every scripture prophecy be compared with the event, through all the ages of the world, for the better confirmation of the faith, and the better information of the church, with regard to the interpretation of prophecies not yet fulfilled. But here we must allow the latitude which is peculiar and familiar to divine prophecies; which have their completion not only at stated times, but in succession, as participating of the
nature of their author, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, and therefore are not fulfilled punctually at once, but have a growing accomplishment through many ages, though the heighth of fulness of them may refer to a single age or moment.
But let us confine our attention more particularly to the expectations which we may justly entertain respecting THE FUTURE STATE OF THE JEWS.
There are many expressions in the Old Testament which may lead us to expect not only the conversion of the Jews, but their NATIONAL RESTORATION FROM THEIR PRESENT DISPERSION to their own land. The late Mr. Scott thus summed up his own views on the subject, in his work on the Restoration of Israel. He says:
“It is now becoming more and more the opinion of serious Christians, that when Israel shall be converted to their longrejected Messiah, they will be gathered from their dispersions, and reinstated in their own land; which being rendered as fertile as in times past, (perhaps much more so,) and extended to the utmost limits of the grants made to the Patriarch, will yield them in rich abundance, all things  needful and comfortable for this present life. It is also thought that they will live in this land under rulers of their own nation as the vicegerents of the Messiah, of David, or the Son of David, in entire peace and security, free from invader or oppressor, and from the fear of any: and that, along with all spiritual blessings in rich abundance, they will be voluntarily regarded by all other nations, then truly converted, with peculiar love, and gratitude, and honour, as the source of all their spiritual blessings, and especially as most nearly related to their common Messiah and Saviour, who is the light of the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel."*
* The author has given a full reference to all the prophecies on the conversion and restoration of the Jews, in his Occasional works, p. 134-140. A collection of promises concerning the calling of the Jews and ihe glory which shall be in the latter days: taken from Powel's Concordance, published in 1673. It is referred to by Doddridge in his Lectures on Divinity, and is as follows:
“I. The Jews shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are now scattered, and brought into their own land.
For this see Isaiah xi. 11; xxvii. 12, 13; xliii.5, 6; xlix. 11, 12; 1x. 4. Compare Jer. iii. 18; xvi, 14, 15; xxiii. 3; xxx. 10; xxxi. 7, 8, 10; xxxii. 37. So Hos. xi. 10, 11; Zeph. iji. 10; Zech. viii. 7. 8; x. 8, 9, 10.
"II. They shall be carried by the Gentiles to their place; who shall join themselves with the Jews, and become the Lord's people.
Isaiah xlix. 22; xiv. 2; 1x. 9; lxvi. 18, 20; and ii. 2, 3, 4. Compare Jer. iii. 17; xvi. 19; Ez. xlvii. 22, 23; Mic. v. 3; Zec. ii. 11; viii. 20 to 23.
“III. Great miracles shall be wrought when Israel is restored as formerly, when they were brought out of Egypt-viz.
1. Drying up the river Euphrates. Isa. xi. 15, 16; Zec. x. 11; Rev. xvi. 12; Hos. xi. 15; Mic. vii. 15.
2. Causing rivers to flow in desert places, Isaiah xii. 17, 18, 19; xlviii. 20, 21; xliii. 19, 20.
3. Giving them prophets. Isa. lxvi. 18, 19, 20, 21; Hos. xii. 9, 10.
 It may be useful to remember, when we are forming an opinion respecting minute particulars of unfulfilled prophecy, that the utmost caution, forbearance  and reverence become us, lest we intrude upon the glories and peculiar attributes of Jehovah, and go a step beyond what he has authorized or revealed. For instance, any interpretations which would refer the main promises concerning the Jews either to any state of mere worldly, or of mere spiritual glory and splendour, may fall far short of the event, just as their expectations respecting an immediate temporal kingdom of the Messiah were disappointed by that spiritual kingdom, which he established, and which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Rom. xiv. 17.
It appears, however, from a careful consideration of the
4. The Lord Christ himself shall appear at the head of them. Isa. xxxv. 4; lii. 12; lvii. 8; Hos. i. 10, 11; Mic. ii. 12, 13.
"IV. The Jews, being restored and converted to the faith of Christ, shall be formed into a state, and have judges and counsellors over them as formerly: the Lord Christ himself being iheir King, who shall then also be acknowledged King over all the earth.
Isa. i. 26; 1x. 17. Compare Jer. xxiii. 4; xxx. 8, 9, 21; Hos. iii. 5; Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24; xxxvii. 21, 25; Isaiah liv. 5; Obad. 21; Zec. xiv. 5, 9; Psalm xxii. 27, 28.
"V. They shall have the victory over all their enemies, and all kings and nations of the earth shall submit unto them.
For which see Isaiah xi. 13, 14; xiv. 1, 2; xli. 14, 15, 16; xlix. 23; 1x, 12; xxv. 10, 11, 12; Joel iii. 7, 8, 19, 20; Obad. 17, 18; Micab iv. 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13; v. 5, 6, 7; vii. 16, 17; Zech. ii. 13; ix. 13, 14, 15, 16; x. 5, 6; xii. 6; Num. xxiv. 17; Isaiah 1x. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Txvi. 19, 20.
“VI. The Jews, restored, shall live peaceably, without being divided into two nations, or contending with one another any more.
Isaiah xi. 13, 14; xiv. 1, 2; Jer. iii. 18; 1. 4; Ezek. xxxvii. 21, 22; Hos. i. 11. 2. They shall be very numerous, and multiply greatly. Isaiah xxvii. 6; xliv.
3,4; xlix. 18, 19, 20, 21; liv. 1, 2, 3; Ixi. 9; Jer. xxiii. 3; xxx. 18, 19, 20, xxxi.
27; Ezek. xxxi. 37, 38. 3. They shall have great peace, safety, and outward temporal prosperity.
Isaiah xxxii. 16, 17, 18; xxxiii. 24; liv. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17; 1x. 18, 21; Jer. xxiii. 3, 4, 5, 6; xxx. 10; xxxi. 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40; xxxiii. 6, 7, 8, 9; 1. 19, 20;
Joel iii. 17, 18; Micah vii. 18, 19, 20; Zeph. iii. 13; Zech. iii. 9, 10. 4. They shall be very glorions, and a blessing in the whole earth. Isaiah
xix. 24, 25; 1xi. 9; Jer. xxxiii. 9; Ezek. xxxiv. 26; Zeph. iii. 19; Zech. viii. 13.
“VII. The land of Judea shall be made eminently fruitful, like a Paradise; or the Garden of God,
Isaiah xxix. 17; xxxv. 1, 2, 7, 9; li. 3. 16; liv. 11, 12, 13; 1v. 12, 13; 1x. 13, 17; Ixv. 25; Ezek. xxxiv. 26, 27; xxxvi. 36; Joel iii. 18; Amos ix. 13, 14.
“VIII. Jerusalem shall be rebuilt, and after the full restoration of the Jews, shall never be destroyed, nor infested with enemies any more.
Isaiah lii. 1; xxvi. 1; 1x. 18; xxxiii. 6; Joel iii. 17; Obadiah 17; Zech. xiv. 10, 11; Jer. xxxi. 38, 39, 40; Ezek. xxxviii. 11.
"IX. A little before the time of the Jews' call and conversion, there shall be great wars, confusion and desolation throughout all the earth.
Isaiah xxxiv. throughout; Joel iii. 1-10; Zeph. iii. 8, 9; Ezek. xxviii. 25, 26; Haggai ii. 21, 22, 23; Jer. xxx. 7, 8, 9, 10; 2 Chron. xv. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. “So that we may say, as Balaam did, prophesying of that very time: Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! Num. xxiv, 23,