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Jefus : to Him, it might be so applied ; and we know that be spake of the temple of bis body, (ver. 21.]
The same equivocal use was, sometimes, purposely made of proverbial expressions, as learned men have observed [k].
I omit many other causes of obscurity in the prophecies; such as the seeming incredibility, fometimes, of the things predicted -- the undefined chronology and geography - the intricacy of the method and many other considerations. But you will collect 'froin these brief hints, respecting the expreffion only, that, though the symbolic language 'be reducible to rule, and therefore, in the main, sufficiently intelligible, yet that there is room enough for the introduction of so much obscurity into the prophetic writings, as may answer the ends of the inspirer, and conceal the full meaning of them from the most fagacious interpreter, till it be revealed, in due time, by the event.
[*] See Grotius on Matth. xxvi. 23.
: Or, if it be thought that such difficulties as the event removes, are not, in their own nature, invincible, before it happens, it is still to be considered, that the giver of the prophecy is, by supposition, divine; and as he, therefore, forefaw, in framing the texture of it, that such difficulties would, in fact, be invincible, they served the purpose of a designed concealment just as well, as if, in nature, they were. Whence the conclusion is still the same, That the prophetic style might be the cover of impenetrable obscurities in a prophecy; before its completion, and yet the terms of it be clearly explicable on established rules; the event only enabling the expositor more skilfully and properly to apply those rules. i
| IV. To conclude this subject; It will now be acknowledged, that the suspicions which have been taken up against the prophetic way of writing, as if it were vague, illusory, or unintelligible, are utterly without foundation. The style of the prophets
was the known, authorized style of their
For we have seen, that the scheme of fcriptural prophecy extends through all time; and is so contrived as to adumbrate future and more illustrious events, in preceding and less important transactions : a circumstance, which shews the harmony and connection of the whole scheme, and
is not imitable by any human art, or fore. thought whatsoever. But now a figurative style is so proper to that end, that we fcarcely conceive how it could be accomplished by any other.
For thus the expression conforms, at once, to the type, and antitype: it is, as it were, a robe of state, for the one'; and only, the ordinary, accustomed dress of the other : as 'we may see from the prophecies, which immediately respect the restoration of the Jews from their antient captivities, and, ultimately, their final triumphant return from their present dispersion from the prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, which prefigure, at the fame time, the day of judgment from those concerning the first coming of Christ, which, also, set forth his reign with the saints on earth, and even the glories of his heavenly kingdom-and in a multitude of other instances.
Thefe successive, and so different, schemes of providence could only be signified together in a mode of language, that con
tracted, tracted, or enlarged itself, as the occasion required. But such is the singular property of a symbolic style. For nonę but this, hath fold and drapery enough, if I may so speak, to invest the greater subjects; while yet (so complying is the texture of this expression) it readily adapts itself to the less considerable, which it ennobles only, and not disfigures. The difference is, that what is a metaphor in the former cafe, becomes an hyperbole in the latter. And this double use of the same symbol, is the true account of such figures as are thought most extravagant in the description of the prophets.
We see, then, in every view, how reafonable, how expedient, how divine, the fymbolic style is, in such writings, as the prophetic. So that if any be disposed, in our days, to take up the complaint of the text, and to upbraid the prophets by asking, Do they not speak Parables? We may now take courage to answer, Yes : but parables, which, as dark as they are accounted to