« הקודםהמשך »
Thus it appears, That the high figurative expressions in the Jewish scriptures, which are so offensive to modern ears and to minute philosophers, were occasioned by the poverty of the first language of mankind : That the boldest of these figures were derived from the ancient picture-writing : That the symbols used in that kind of writing gave rise to the dark Egyptian allegory, which was held in great estimation at the time the scriptures were written : And that in the early ages, mankind, whether barbarous or civilized, were accustomed to express their sentiments and feelings by significant actions as well as by significant sounds. These things considered, it cannot be matter either of surprise or of blame, that the Jewish prophets exhorted the people and foretold future events in such figurative language as to us moderns appears extravagant ; or that they delivered their exhortations and predictions in dark allegories, formed on the qualities and circumstances of the symbols, by which the persons, and nations concerning whom they prophesied were denoted in picture-writing ; or even, that on extraordinary occasions, they foretold things future by what may be called a drama continued through a great length of time, in which they spake and acted things which excited the wonder of the spectators, and led them to inquire what the prophets meant by them, and, when explained, could not but make a strong impression upon their imagination. These things were all done suitably to the genius and manners of the times, and were easily understood by the people for whose instruction they were intended. And with respect to the persons who, in the scriptures, are said in their natural characters and actions to have been types of future persons and events, that method of foretelling things future was of the same kind with allegorical prophecy : for surely it made no difference whether the allegory was formed on the qualities and actions of a symbol, or on the qualities and actions of a real person. In the symbolical or instituted allegory, it was shewed to be an allegory by the particulars of which it was composed. But in the natural allegory, the characters and events of which it was composed do not shew it to be an allegory. Wherefore, before these are considered by us as allegories, or prefigurations of future persons and events, we ought to be assured by some one or other of the prophets or inspired persons who afterwards arose, that they are allegories, otherwise they ought not to be considered as such.-By this rule the futility of those allegorical meanings which some of the ancient fathers put on many passages of scripture will clearly appear. And the humour of finding mystical senses in the sacred oracles, which some of the modern commentators have too much indulged, will be effectually repressed.
Upon the whole, the observation suggested in the beginning of this Essay may now be repeated with some confidence; namely, That the high figurative language by which the Jewish scriptures are so strongly marked, together with the allegorical and typical senses with which they abound, and the extraordinary things done by the Jewish prophets, instead of being instances of absurdity and signs of imposture, are proofs of their antiquity and authenticity ; and even strong presumptions of the divine sriginal of the revelations contained in these venerable writings.