« הקודםהמשך »
examine the proofs adduced by the Apostles, and their • followers, from the Old Testament for that purpose.
Of the strength, or weakness of the proofs for chris. tianity out of the Old Testament, we are well qualified to judge, as we have the Old and New Testament in our hands ; the first containing what are offered as proofs of christianity, and the latter the application of those proofs, and we should seem to have nothing more to do, but to compare the Old and New Testament together.
But these proofs taken out of the Old Testament, and urged in the New, being sometimes not to be found in the Old, nor urged in the New according to the literal, and obvious sense which they appear to bear in their supposed places in the Old, and therefore not proofs according to the rules of interpretation established by reason, and acted upon in interpreting every other ancient book : Almost all christian commentators on the Bible, and advocates for the religion of the New Testament, both ancient, and modern, have judged them to be applied in a secondary, or typical, or mystical, or allegogrical, or enigmatical sense. That is in a sense different from the obvious and literal sense which they bear in the Old Testament.
Thus, for example, Matthew, after having given an account of the conception of Mary, and the birth of Jesus, says (ch. i.) 6 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophets, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” But the words as they stand in Is.ch. vii. 14. from whence they are taken, do in their obvious, and literal sense relate to a young woman in the days of Ahaz, King of Judah, as will appear, considering the context.
When Rezin, King of Syria, and Pekah, King of Israel, were confederates in arms together, against Ahaz, King of Judah, Isaiah the prophet was sent by God, first to comfort Ahaz, and the nation, and then to assure them by a sign, that his enemies should in a litthe time be confounded. But Ahaz refusing a sign at the prophet's hand, the prophet said (see the chapter.) 66 The Lord shall give you à sign. Behold a virgin, or 66 young woman” (for the Hebrew word means both as tras truly and justly asserted by the Jews in the primitive ages against the christians, and is now acknowledge ed, and established beyond dispute by the best Hebrew scholars of this age, shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and chuse the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and chuse the good, the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." And this sign is accordingly given Ahaz by the prophet, who, ch. viii. v. 2, 18 ; took two witnesses and went to the said young woman, who in due time conceived, and bare a son, after whose birth the projcets of Rezin, and Pekah were it appears soon confounded, according to the prophecy, and sign given by the Prophet.
And the prophet himself, puts it beyond dispute, that this is the proper interpretation of the prophecy, by express words, as well as by his whole narration; for he says, “ Behold 1, and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs, and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts, that dwelleth in mount Zion.” Isai. viii. 19.
This is the plain drift, and design of the prophet, literally, otviously, and primarily understood ; and thus he is understood by one of the most judicious of interpreters, the great Grotius. Indeed to understand the prophet as having the conception of Mary, and the birth of her son Jesus from a virgin mother literally, and primarily in view, is a very great absurdity, and contrary to the very intent and design of the sign given by the prophet.
For the sign being given by Isaiah to convince Ahaz that he brought a message from God to him, to assure him that the two kings should not succeed in their attempt against him ; how could a virgin's conception and bearing a son seven hundred years afterwards, be a sign to Ahaz, that the prophet came to him with the said message from God? And how useless was it to Ahaz, as well as absurd in itself for the prophet to say, “ Before the child, born seven Hundred years hence, shall distinguish between good and evil, the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings,” which would be a banter, instead of a sign.
But a prophecy of the certain birth of a male ehild, of a particular female within a short time, seems a proper sign, as being not only what could not with certainty he foretold except by a person inspired ; but considered as soon coming to pass, it consequently evidences itself to be a divine sign, and answers all the purposes of a sign. And such a sign is agreeable to God's conduet on like occasions ; witness his conduct to Gideon, and Hezechiah, (Jud. vi. 2 Kings xx.)
This prophecy therefore not being fulfilled in Jes11%, according to the literal, and obvious sense of the words as they stand in Isaiah ; it is supposed that this, like the other prophecies cited in the New Testament, is fulfilled in a secondary, or typical, or mystical sense. That is, the said prophecy, which was literally fulfilled by the birth of the son foretold by the Prophet, was again fulfilled by the birth of Jesus, as being an event of the same kind, and intended to be secretiy and mystically signified either by the Prophet, or by God, who directed the prophet's speech. If the reader desires further satisfaction that the literal, and obvious sense of this prophecy relates to a son to be born in Isaiah's time, and not to Jesus, he is referred to the commentator Grotius, and to Huetius' Demonstrat. Evang, in loc. to the ancient Fathers, and to the most respectable of the modern christian Commentators ; who all allow and show, that the words of Isaiah are not applicable to the birth of Jesus in their literal sense, but only in a mystical, or figurative or allegorical sense.
Again, Matthew gives us another prophecy, which he says was fulfilled. He tells us, that Jesus was carried into Egypt; from whence he returned after the death of Herod (Mat. ii.) 6 that it might be fulfilled which was speken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
vut of Egypt have I called my son.'" Which being word for word in Hosea, (ch. xi. 1.) and no where else to be found in the Old Testament, are supposed to be taken from thence : where, according to their obvious sense they are no prophecy at all ! but relate and refer
to a past action, viz. to the calling of the children of Israel out of Egypt ; which will I think be denied by few. This passage therefore, or, as it is styled prophecy of Hosea, is said by learned men among christians, to be mystically, or allegorically applied, in order to render Matthew's application of it just ; and they say all other methods of some learned men to solve the difficulties arising from Matthews' citation of this passage have proyed unsuccessful.
Again, Matthew says, (ch, ii.) « Jesus came, and dwelt at Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet saying, he shall be called a Nazarene;" but as this passage does not occur in the Old Testament at all, we are precluded from ascertain. ing whether it be literal, mystical or allegorical.
Jesus says of John the Baptist, (Mat. xi. 14.) 66 This is Elias that was for to come,” wherein he is supposed to refer to these words of Malachi (ch. iv. 4.) “ Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord,” vhich, according to their literal, and obvious sense, are a prophecy, that Elijah, or Elias was to come in person (which we know from the New Testament as well as elsewhere, was the constant expectation of the Jews. Besides, this Elijah was to come “ before the great, and terrible day of the Lord,” which has not yet arrived ; and therefore this prophecy of Malachi referred to by the Evangelist was certainly not literally, but only mysti.. cally fulfilled in John the Baptist.
Again, Jesus (Mat. xiji.) cites the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. vi. 9.) “By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand :" and he assures us, that it was fulfilled in his time in those to whom he spake in parables, (which, by the way, he did, it is said, in order to fulfil a passage of the Psalms) though it is manifest that the prophecy of Isaiah quoted, according to its literal sense, undoubtedly relates to the obstinate Jews who lived in the time of Isaiah.
In fine, these, and the many other passages cited as prophecies from the Old Testament by the authors of the New, do so plainly relate, in their obvious, and primary sense to other matters than those, which they
are adduced to prove, that it is allowed by the most learned defenders of christianity, that to pretend that they prove in a literal sense what they are adduced to prove, is to give up with both hands the cause of christianity to the enemies thereof; who can so easily show in 50 many undoubted instances, the Old and New Testa ment to have no manner of connection in that respect ; but to be in an irreconcilable state.
These proofs front the prophets being so different from what we should expect, it behoves us to enquire what could induce Jesus, and his apostles to quote tho Old Testament in such a manner ?
The Jews shortly answer this question, by saying, that they did so, because they did not understand the meaning of the Books they quoted. But it has been answered by some learned christians, that Jesus, and the apostles did not quote in the manner they did through caprice, or ignorance, but according to certain methods of interpretation which were in their times of established authority among the Jews.
These rules of interpretation, which were supposed to be irrecoverably lost, were afterwards recovered to the world, by the learned Surenhusius professor of the Hebrew language in the illustrious school of Amsterdam. He made an ample discovery to the world of the rules by which the apostles cited the Old Testament, and argued from thence, wherein the whole mystery of the apostles applying scripture in a secondary, or typis cal, or allegorical sense seems to be unfolded. I shall therefore state this matter from Surenhusius. • He (Surenhusias) says 6 that when he considered the various opinions of the learned about the passages of the Old Testament quoted in the New, he was filled with grief, not knowing where to set his foot; and was much concerned, that what had been done with good success upon profane authors, could not be so happily performed upon the sacred.”
He tells us, “ that having had frequent occasions to converse with the Jews, (on account of his application to Hebrew literature from his youth) who insolently re-. , flected upon the New Testament, affirming it to be plainly corrupted, because it seldom or never agreed