Page images
PDF
EPUB

abbeys, monasteries, and churches that were debased by the superstition of the Catholics for ten or twelve centuries, and in thousands of instances are still ; or to the religious buildings of Protestants, that in them alone acceptable worship can be offered ? Is not this implied in the supposition, that the construction for which these writers contend is legitimate, and that an imperative motive is to exist for such an extraordinary migration back of European descendants from this and other lands? What a flattering issue of this attempt to spiritualize the word of God, and raise the blessings it foreshows to a higher nature than he has thought proper to give them! In the fifth place; the Israelites who are to return to their ancient land, are to return, at least generally, it is foreshown in several passages, in alienation from God, and many of them are to perish in the war in which they are thus to be involved with the anti-christian powers (Zech. xii.). "If, then, the parallel is to hold, the Gentiles also who, according to the construction of these spiritualists, are to return to the lands of their ancestors, are to return, generally at least, in alienation from God. What conceivable motive, then, is to prompt their migration back? Is it to be superstition, the desire of wealth, or the ambition of conquest? And finally, as on the principle on which these spiritual. izers proceed, no Gentiles are to migrate to Europe but the descendants of Christian ancestors there, these predictions, instead of indicating, as these writers imagine, that the whole Gentile world is to be converted, relate exclusively to the descendants of Christian ancestors, and present no intimation whatever that the pagan nations of this continent, the isles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, or the pagans and Mahomedans of Africa and Asia, are to be converted to God !

Such is the issue of this boasted method of spiritualizing the prophecies of the Scriptures!. Was there ever a more lawless perversion and degradation of the word of God? Was there ever a method contrived that more effectually emptied it of all its true meaning, and reduced it to a level with the meanest compositions that have proceeded from the pen of wild enthusiasts and ignorant dreamers?

Had the writers who pursue this method of interpretation but made themselves acquainted with the laws of figurative and literál language, they would have been withheld from thus torturing and defacing the Scriptures. No such figure exists in the prophecies, or is known to human language, as they assert and professedly make the basis of their spiritualizing constructions. There are no figures but those which we have enumerated; and they are invariably used, according to their several laws, as we have stated them; and consequently, instead of sanctioning the construction of the spiritualizers, they show, in the most demonstrative manner, the error of their theory, and brand it with disgrace, as a monstrous perversion.

This is exemplified by the interpretation, by the laws of figures, of the prophecy of the restoration of the Israelites, Isaiah, chapters xi. xii.:

A DESIGNATION AND EXPOSITION OF THE FIGURES OF

ISAIAH CHAPTERS XI AND XII.

CHAPTER XI,

The exhibition of a prince of the house of David as a shoot from the root of Jesse, with which the prediction commences, was suggested probably by the figure at the close of the tenth chapter, by which the Assyrian inonarch and his army are represented as the forest of Lebanon. Though in number, strength, and magnificence, they were like the trees of that mountain, they were to be felled by the Almighty at one stroke. On the other hand, though the house of David was to be divested of its power, and like the stump of a tree that has long been cut down, seem on the point of extinction, the great personage was at length to be born of it who had already been predicted as the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, who should regather the tribes of Israel from their dispersion, redeem the world from the curse of sin, and reign over it for ever in glory. The prophet first exhibits his descent, draws his character, and depicts his peculiarities as a king; and then describes the condition of the animal world and of mankind under his reign; foreshows the restoration of the Israelites and reconciliation of Judah and Ephraim; and finally, chapter XII., recites the song in which they are to acknowledge and celebrate God's grace to them.

1, 2, 3, 4. Metaphors in the use of shoot and branch for a descendant of Jesse, and stump and roots to denote the line of which that individual was to be born. “And there shall come forth a shoot, or sprout, from the stump of Jesse ; and a branch shall grow from his roots,” v. 1. The exhibition of the family of Jesse as a stump, implies that it was to be stripped of its royal prerogatives and reduced to ruin, before the time came in which the prediction was to be accomplished. The same image is used, chap. liii. 2. “He shall grow up before him

a tender plant; and as a root out of a dry ground.” He is denominated the Branch also by

as

several other prophets; and the same character is given by them as by Isaiah, of his reign. “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and judgment in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness.” Jeremiah xxiii. 5, 6; Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12. He is undoubtedly, therefore, the Messiah, and the earth is to be the scene of his reign. Some have, indeed, referred the prediction to Hezekiah; but that prince presents no resemblance to this monarch in wisdom and righteousness; nor did the conditions of the Israelites, the Gentile nations, or the animal tribes, during his sway, exhibit any correspondence to those that are here foretold. No restoration of the Israelites from captivity then took place, no reconciliation of Judah and Ephraim, no change of the ferocious animals to harmlessness, and no spread of the knowledge of God throughout the earth, and conversion of the Gentiles.

5. Metaphor, in the use of rest upon, to denote the perpetual presence of the Spirit,—“And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him; the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of

« PreviousContinue »