« PreviousContinue »
their nominatives, or the agents or subjects to which they are applied, are the agents or subjects of the acts or events which the figures express. If the passage, therefore, were a metaphor, or a hypocatastasis, the mountain of the Lord's house, and all nations, as well as Jehovah, would be the subjects and agents of the acts and events that are severally predicted of them; not a different place, and different peoples. Indeed, how can all nations be supposed to stand for other nations, when there are no others in the world? The fancy that the terms are used in such a relation, implies that the peoples whom the prediction contemplates are inhabitants of another sphere. Nor could the allegory any more make it the vehicle of such a sense. So far from it, it would make the Israelites the people whom the prophecy most specifically contemplates ; for it is the law of that figure, that the parties whose conduct, condition, or history it is employed to exemplify, are those who are expressly mentioned, either at its beginning or its close, as the persons or people whom it represents. But this prediction is directly addressed in the title to the Israelites : “The word that Isaiah saw”-that is, that was communicated to him—“concerning Judah and Jerusalem;" in which Judah and Jerusalem are used by metonymy for their inhabitants. This is shown also by the apostrophe at the close : “O, house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord;" it being the law of that figure, that the persons or objects addressed are the persons and objects exclusively that are meant: and they are here the Israelites, the house of Jacob being used by metonymy for the family or descendants of Jacob, who are the Israelites. Moreover, as in the allegory, all the descriptive parts are representative, if the mountain of the Lord's house, his temple itself, Zion, Jerusalem, and the act of all nations in going to it, are representative, so must the nations themselves, their expressions, their beating their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks, and their learning war no more, be representative also; so that the all nations of whom those acts are predicted cannot be the nations of this world, for they are by the supposition representatives, not those represented, but must be nations of some other orb, which is impossible. It is not only certain, therefore, that the passage is not used by either of these figures, but equally certain that if it were, it could not make it the vehicle of the mystical sense which these spiritualizing interpreters ascribe to it.
The assumption these writers tacitly make, that the agents, objects, and actions mentioned in it are used in much the same manner as the symbols of Daniel and John are, is equally mistaken and absurd; for as it is a law of symbols, that agents represent agents, acts denote acts, effects effects, places places, and conditions conditions; if the passage is symbolic, not only must Jerusalem, Zion, the mountain of the Lord's house, and Jehovah's temple itself, be used as representatives of different but analogous places; but all nations also, and their going up to the mountain of the Lord's house, their consultations and resolutions, and their beating their swords and spears into implements of husbandry, must be representative of a different set of nations, and different classes of acts; which is impossible, as there are no other nations besides all the nations of the world. That it is not symbolical, is seen, also, from the fact, that the objects, agents, and acts of the prediction were not seen by the prophet in vision actually passing as they are here described. The events which he predicts he represents as future, not as having been already beheld by him in vision; but all the symbols of the Scriptures were actually beheld by the prophets, who describe them, either in vision or by the natural eye; and the representative spectacles are depicted by them in the past tense as having already had existence and been seen; and it is in that relation, as agents, objects, and occurrences that have already had an existence, that they are employed as prophetic representatives of other similar or analogous agents, objects, acts, and events that are to exist at a future period. The construction placed on the passage by the spiritualizing interpreters, is thus as inconsistent with the supposition that it is symbolical, as it is with the fancy that it is figurative.
The pretext, therefore, that there is any figure besides those we have enumerated, or that there is any legitimate principle on which mere philological passages like that which we have been considering can be construed, as though they were used, as a whole, by some peculiar figure, or were symbolical, so that a mystical sense is to be educed from them, and made to supersede their natural and philological meaning, is wholly groundless, and involves a monstrous perversion of the histories and predictions to which it is applied. It is a most unscholarly and clumsy contrivance, without a solitary reason to justify it, to set aside the plain and indubitable teachings of the word of God, for the purpose of substituting in their place the lawless fancies and absurd dreams of presumptuous men.
THE EFFECT OF FIGURES ON STYLE.
FIGURES, it is seen from the foregoing analysis, are not only highly ornamental to style, but are important aids to a clear, forcible, and emphatic expression of thought. There is not one, in the long series that has been quoted, that does not give distinctness and point, as well as grace, to that which it is employed to depict or express; while the most elegant examples, especially of the comparison, the metaphor, the hypocatastasis, the apostrophe, the personification, and the allegory, invest the subjects they are used to illustrate with a drapery of light, and raise them to a beauty and splendor of which they would otherwise be wholly devoid.
Persons differ much in their capacity and disposition to express themselves in tropes. As they are founded on the resemblances that subsist between different things, the power and disposition