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Behold the measure of the promise filled ;
Come, then, and added to thy many crowns
Would creep into the bowels of the hills,
Let the scholar, in a series of lessons, if necessary, designate the figures in this passage, and point out the peculiarities of the modulation.
THE APPLICATION OF THE LAWS OF FIGURES TO
The knowledge of the laws of figures is as necessary to the just interpretation of language as the knowledge is of the literal meaning of words, or the rules of grammar. They are the vehicle of the thoughts which those who employ them aim to express; and not to understand the principle on which they are used, is to lose not only much of the beauty with which they invest the objects to which they are applied, and the distinctness with which they set them forth, but often the whole meaning which it is their office to convey, and pervert them to the expression of a wholly different and false sense. This is pre-eminently true of the Scriptures, in which they are more frequently used than in any other writings. They are not only important auxiliaries in determining the sense, and raising it to a
clear certainty, but they present it, in most instances, with a beauty and power to which untropical language is wholly inadequate. No tolerable understanding of the language of the prophecies, especially of the Old Testamentthose of Isaiah, Jeremiah, most of those of Ezekiel, and, with the exception of parts of Daniel and Zechariah, all the other prophets—is possible, without a knowledge of the principles on which their figures are used; while of a large share of their predictions, a true explanation of the figures is an exposition of their whole meaning, and sets it forth with a beauty and force that are seen in no other method of interpretation. This is exemplified in the following exposition of the figures of Isaiah, chapter xiii.:
A DESIGNATION AND EXPOSITION OF THE FIGURES
OF ISAIAH, CHAPTER XIII.
The preceding visions relate almost exclusively to the Israelites, and foreshow judgments that were to be inflicted on them. A new series commences in the thirteenth chapter, in which the devastation of several countries, and overthrow of capitals whose population were to be the enemies of Judah, are foretold. The first announces the conquest and desolation of Babylon, and was written probably one hundred and twenty or thirty years before that city became, by the destruction of Nineveh and the fall of the Assyrian power, the capital of the east.
1. Metonymy of sentence for the vision in which it was heard. “The sentence of Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amos saw," v. 1. The word translated sentence, though often signifying an announcement or oracle, sometimes denotes a burden, and seems to be used only as the name of prophecies that foreshow calamities. It is on that account supposed by some to be employed by a metaphor to indicate that that is the character of the predictions to which it is prefixed. It seems improbable, however, as there is but a slight analogy between a burden imposed on a human being or a beast, and a catastrophe by which a great city is reduced to ruin, or a country to desolation. The one is proportioned in some measure to the strength of the agent that is to bear it. The other overwhelms and destroys. It is probably, therefore, used by metonymy for the vision in which it was heard. If such is not its meaning, the verb “saw” must be used by a metaphor, as there are no indications that the prophet actually beheld the scenes he describes. The prediction was communicated to him by a voice, not by a visible exhibition, as in a symbolic revelation. It