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rature of Germany, and some of them possibly superior to those just named, but they are unknown in this country, at least the author has in vain ransacked numerous catalogues to find them.
It is an observation of Maimonides, “ That he who would understand all that the Prophets have said, must particularly apply himself to the study of the parabolic, metaphorical, and enigmatical parts of Scripture.” It has evidently seemed good to the Great Author of Revelation to clothe the mysteries of divine doctrine and prediction under the veil of emblems and figures, a mode which suited the genius of the Hebrew people and the nations of the east in general. On which account we find the books of the Old Testament especially, filled with allegories of various kinds. The Egyptians appear to have been the earliest cultivators of this species of composition, and in this the Jews were rather imitators than originals. That this was a part of the wisdom of Egypt, in which Moses excelled, is suggested by Philo, in his Life of Moses, by Clemens of Alexandria, in his Stromata, and by many others. That the Chaldeans also were addicted to the use of emblems and allegories appears from some ancient writers, for whom, see Stanley's History of Philosophy. The Syrians and Phænicians are affirmed to have prosecuted the same study, according to Jerome, Josephus, Eusebius, &c.
The whole of the Levitical service was, as is allowed by all, an adumbration of the events, the doc
trines, or the spiritual worship of the new dispensation, consisting of various figures, so as to deserve the name which Paul gives it, 1 Cor. ii. 7, “ the wisdom of God in a mystery,” or as described in Heb.
a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things.” Wherefore Abarbanel, Abenezra, Maimonides, and other judicious Jewish interpreters, have sought in the sacrifices and rites of the Old Testament, the images of future and spiritual things. Our Saviour and his apostles use the same forms of speaking which the writers of the Old Testament employed ; and Buxtorf and Saubert have shewed that some of the parables which Jesus uttered, in his addresses to the people, are to be found in the Talmud. Paul, on the other hand, has borrowed many of his allusions from the Pagan mysteries, the Grecian games, the Roman customs, and the like.
The wisdom of God wonderfully appears in making choice of this manner of revealing his will. For symbols, allegories, and metaphors, greatly sharpen the human intellect, afford food for serious meditations, and allure the mind to spiritual exercises. Images thus borrowed from nature and art, from antiquity and from periods less remote, from national customs and religious rites, present a vast field of analogy, leading the faculties into a habit of comparing and examining, till every object becomes more or less fruitful of instruction. The student being at length convinced that all this imagery is only a vehicle for conveying sublime and abstract truths, feels himself divested of many prejudices, and delivered from those false and absurd conceptions which he had previously formed respecting the nature, perfections, and operations of the Deity. Those anthropomorphite notions which he had before entertained, in consequence of reading familiarly of the divine hand, and arm, and eye-of the anger and repentance of God—of the cup of his wrath-of his locomotion—and all those other ideas which seem to limit ubiquity and circumscribe infinity, as well as to impute to the All-Perfect mere human weaknesses-are laid aside as unworthy and unsuited to the Supreme Spirit. Neither can such a reader be deceived when he is informed of celestial nuptials, of sitting at table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, so as to figure to himself carnal delights, where only spiritual joys are intended. An answer, too, is thus afforded to the sneers and cavils of infidels and sciolists, who ridicule the language of Scripture, because it employs images drawn from common life: whereas this employment of the symbolical and figurative style, when rightly understood, constitutes much of the sublimity, gravity, and richness of the sacred volume. Had' every thing in Scripture been drily literal and plainly didactic, the Bible would have wanted half its charms.
It must, however, be owned, that here a luxuriant and unreined imagination must have no license. The symbols are not to be interpreted wantonly or applied rashly; all must be under the guidance of a sober, chaste, and pious judgment; afraid of giving forth that as divine truth, which has its origin only in human fancy. As the priest approached the altar of old, not with a light step or giddy thoughts, but with the awe and solemnity which his office inspired, so we must investigate the meaning of the sacred emblems under deep impressions of the importance of divine truth.
Nor is the subject easily exhausted. The study of theology resolves itself into many parts, and the subdivision of labour is as needful here as in common sciences. What has been done for the elucidation of the symbolic language before now, as well as what is here attempted to be done, will still leave a vast plain to be traversed by others, where a harvest, rather than mere gleanings, may be gathered. A student taking the books of Moses only ; another, the didactic parts of Scripture ; a third, the prophets ; a fourth, the New Testament, would each find full and varied employment. The union of all their labours would barely suffice to illustrate the mystical parts of Revelation.
It may be mentioned here, that the term symbol was anciently employed for several purposes. It was customary to call the apostles' creed a symbol, from oopbaadav, to throw or cast together, as if the apostles had each thrown in his article of belief to compose it, a notion completely disproved by Lord King. The
term was also applied to military watchwords or signs, by which the soldiers of an army could distinguish each other, so that the term in that sense corresponded to the Latin Indicium. But the most frequent application of it was to the rites of the heathen religion, where those who were initiated in their mysteries, and admitted to the knowledge of their peculiar services, which were concealed from the greatest part of the idolatrous multitude, had certain signs or marks called symbola delivered to them, and on declaration of these were admitted without scruple, in any temple, to the secret worship and rites of that god whose symbols they had received. These symbols were of two sorts, mute or vocal, concerning which, those who would inquire farther, may have recourse to Clemens Alexandrinus, to Arnobius, to Julius Firmicus Maternus, and other ancient writers. The last named author acquaints us with the following symbol of some idolators : “ That on a certain night they placed an image upright in a bed, and then wept round about it; which when they had sufficiently done, a light was brought in, and then the priest anointed the cheeks of all those who had lamented, pronouncing, with a soft murmur, these words : · Be confident, ye initiated ones of the Saved God, for there shall be salvation to us from our labours.'»
Some singular remarks respecting symbols appear to be contained in a work known the learned, but which the present writer has never seen, beyond a