Page images


[ocr errors]

direction, with the frontiers of Ethiopia, is there any impropriety in saying, “ I will ftrike Egypt 6 from the tower of Syene to the borders of “ Ethiopia ?” Solinus relates, that there was a tower called Syene in lower Egypt. Ethiopia borders Egypt on the south. In striking Egypt, then, from the tower of Syene to the borders of Ethiopia, it is ftruck from north to fouth: that is, from one extremity to the other. The doctor, then, has lost his time in correcting the prophet Ezechiel's map, and substituting Arabia for Ethiopia. Yet this passage of Ezechiel is his chief plea for allegorizing Genesis : with what success let the reader judge.

[ocr errors]

A warm fancy, in a paroxysm of zeal, may indulge its boundless excursions in the path of allegory, when obscure passages and mystical expressions open a field for interpretations and allusions. Mead, Whifton, Wesley, and the doctor himself, may discover the pope in the beast with ten horns; and Rome in the great city built on seven hills. The Jewish rabbins, after obtaining permission to build a synagogue from the prince of Orange, applied to their benefactor, this famous passage of Isaiah: “On " that day, seven women will take hold of one 4 man" alluding to the Seven United Provinces that had elected him stadtholder; and I


[ocr errors]


myself, if I were in humour, could, in a longwinded discourse, enlarge upon the seven fa-, 'craments, or the three theological and four cardinal virtues; and compare them to the seven golden candlesticks mentioned in the revelations of St. John. But in a historical narration, giving an account of the origin of the world, -of a garden planted with trees, watered with four rivers,—with their names, - the countries through which they flow,—the precious stones, mines and minerals, to be found in those countries, &c.--the introduction of an allegory is the subversion of reason.

Even where allegories can be used with any propriety, our masters in rhetoric lay down as a rule," that, in the chain of metaphors conti“ nued through the discourse, aptness, relem* blance, and justness of allusion, must be “ strictly observed.” What juftness of allusion is there between the human mind, and a garden planted eastward in Eden, where God put the man whom he had created? As much as there is in saying, God made man, and placed him eastward in his mind. What analogy is there between the four rivers and the four cardinal Vir. tues? Between fortitude and Pifon or the Ganges, with the effeminate natives that inhabit its banks? Between prudence and the Euphrates ?


Justice and Gihon or the Nile, with its crocodiles ? Temperance and Hiddekel or the Tygris, which, as Moses relates, and as geography informs us, goeth towards the east of Asyria, a country famous in former days for the intemperance of its inhabitants? The four cardinal vistues being set afloat on the four rivers, arid the doctor's imagination having spent the fire of his allegory, we are at a loss what virtue to describe by the onyx-ffone, mentioned by Moses in the following words: “The name of the “ first river is Pison; that is it which compal" eth the land of Havilah, where there is gold: " and the gold of that land is good: and there “is bdellium and the onyx-stone.” By gold, doubtless, he must mean charity or patience. But of the onyx-stone there are four kinds; and we would be obliged to our dogmatizing philofophers for describing their four correspondent virtues.

Let them inform us, in like manner, whether the bdellium mentioned by Moses, be one of the theological or a branch of the cardinal virtues. For though in dispensatories, the bdellium be allowed to be a good noftrum of an emollient and discutient quality, yet the learned, whether commentators of scripture or natural philosophers, are no more agreed about the true nature of bdellium, than they are about the manner how it is produced : and it is much doubted whether the bdellium of the ancients be the same with the modern kind.


Thus, in the disputes about a drop of gum resin, the nature and production whereof perplex the most learned, we discover the weakness of human reason. We cannot dissect a fly; and we would fain comprehend the ways of Providence. We would fain sound the unfathomable ocean of the Christian religion, and arraign its mysteries at the tribunal of a glimmering reason, when the small atom that swims on the surface, baffles our severest 'scrutiny..

I have the honour to be, &c.



[blocks in formation]

To our modern philosophers, who set up the proud idols of their own fancies in opposition to the oracles of the Divinity,--and, endeavouring to discover absurdities in the Christian religion, fall into greater,---we can, without disclaiming our title to good manners, apply what St. Paul applied to the philosophers of his time: “ They “became vain in their imaginations : profes“sing themselves to be wise, they became " fools.” In order to fap the foundations of revealed religion, and to make man the sport of chance, who neither loft any privilege by Adam's fall, nor gained any thing by Christ's redemption,--they endeavour to obtrude Moses on the public as an allegorical writer. Examine his character, and acknowledge their folly.

Besides his divine mission, in what historian does truth shine more conspicuous ? He relates his personal defects, as well as the extraordinary powers with which the Lord invested him; deduces a long chain of patriarchs from the first man down to his days; traces a genealogy, in

: which

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »