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LECT. force of his words, he said plainly, Laa som zarus is dead. When he spake of the
deadness of the mind, a state, which, however real, must always be invisible, because the mind itself is so; he expressed it under the fame term with the death of the body; let the dead bury their dead; of which expression no sense can be made by those who are not aware, that the scripture speaks to us by things instead of words. Admit this principle, and then all is clear and consistent. It is as if Christ had said, “ let those who are dead in their spirits, (with respect to the new life of the gospel) employ themselves in burying those who are dead in body; for they are fit for nothing else: but by following me and preaching the gaspel, thou shalt raise men from the death of fin unto the life of righteousness,”.
In the writings of the prophets, the spiritual blessings of the gospel are so constantly described under fome allusion to nature, that their expressions are not true till they are figuratively interpreted,
Let us take an example from the prophet LECT. Isaiah : Every valley fall be exalted, and every mountain and bill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made frait, and the rough places plain. Who ever heard that this was literally fulfilled ? In what part of the world were all the mountains levelled; the vallies filled up; the crooked and rough places made strait and plain ? But in the figurative sense all these things were to be brought to pass in the minds of men at the publication of the gospel, when all flesh Should see the salvation of God*. Then should the high and mighty of this world be confounded and brought low; the humble should be exalted, the meek encouraged, the crooked ways of men rectified, their wild and rugged tempers softened and civilized..
The bible has farther difficulties arising from another principle. For it pleased God, for wife ends, to exercise the faith and devotion of his people with a system of forms and ceremonies, which had no value but from their signification. I men- :
tion * Luke iii. 6.
LECT. tion no particulars here, because they will
occur to us abundantly hereafter; but the fact is undoubted from that general afsertion of St. Paul, that the law had a mądow of good things to come * : and again, that the instituted meats and drinks, the holy days, new moons and fabbaths, -of the law, are a Nadow of things to come, having their substance in the doctrines and mysteries of christianity; or, as the apostle speaks, whose body is of Chrifft. And therefore in the gospel things are still defcribed to us in the terms of the law; the substance itself taking the language of the shadow, that the design of both may be understood : as where the apostle faith, Cbrift our Pasover is facrificed for us, &c. from the application of which term to the person of Christ, we are taught under this one word of the pasover, that he is to us a lamb in meekness and innocence of manners; pure and potless from every stain of fin; slain (and that without the breaking of bis bones) for the redemption of his people from the wrath of the de* Heb. x. I. ' + Col. ii. 17.
stroyer; and feeding with his body those LECT. who put away all leaven from their hearts,
But now, beside this first difficulty, which we are under, of comprehending the matter of the scripture from the peculiar manner in which it is delivered, we are under a second difficulty as to the receive ing of it; without which our understanding of it will be very imperfect, if any at all. For the force of men's minds is generally found to be according to their affections ; for which reason the disaffection of the Jew is attended with a very conspicuous weakness of the understanding. We may lay it down as a certain truth, confirmed by the experience of all men, that when any. object is admitted into the mind, it must find a faculty there which corresponds with its own peculiar nature. When there is no appetite, the sweetest meat is of no value, and even the fight and favour of it may be disagreeable. When there is neither ear nor skill in mulic, heavenly sounds give no delight; and with the blind the beams of the sun
LECT. give no beauty to the richest prospects
It is thus in every other case of the kind. The mathematician and logician apply to the intuitive faculty of reason ; the poet to the imagination or mirror of the mind; the orator to the sensibility of the affections; the musician to the music cal ear. The mathematician demonstrates nothing but to patient and attentive reason s' to the imagination which is dull the poet is a trifler ; on the hard and unfeeling heart the orator makes no impression ; and the sweetest music 'is referred to the class of noises, where there is no sense of harmony. Thus when God speaks of things which are above nature, his meaning must be received by a faculty which is not the gift of nature, but superadded to nature by the gift of God himself. For spiritual truth there must be a spiritual sense ; and the scripture calls this sense by the name of faith: which word fometimes signifies the act of believing ; sometimes the matter which is believed ; but in many passages it is used for that fenfc or capacity in the intellect, by which the