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struction of these words would be absurd, and therefore cannot be admitted as the real meaning of the Prophet : for which reason some would scruple to give it the name of a literal construction, being that it is no construction of Scripture in that case, no sense of the text. But though such literal sense is not the true meaning of the text, (since the figurative construction is the only true one,) yet it is not amiss to say, that the words in themselves, or in their literal import, do properly signify what they express; only they are here to be figuratively taken, and the letter must give place to the intention. But though it be owned, in such instances, that those words of Scripture, considered as Scripture, have no literal sense at all, nor any but figurative; yet it will not from thence follow, that such figurative meaning is the literal sense of Scripture, or that it ought so to be called. All that follows is, that some places of Scripture admit of no literal meaning at all, while others do. To give the name of literal to a figurative construction (only because the figurative here happens to be the true one) is confounding literal with figurative, and that very needlessly. For since the intent is only to avoid (what the Romanists plead for) two or more true constructions of the same words, this end is as well answered by saying, that the literal sense, in such case, is really no sense of the text; and so the text has but one true sensec, which is the figurative. But if every true sense of any place were therefore to be called its literal sense, then even a mystical construction, when it happens to be the true one, might be called literal ; and in this way, all true constructions of Scripture, of what kind soever they were, would of course be called literal ones, which would breed great confusion.
Besides, while some comprehend figurative under lite
· Ex sermonis fine atqne scopo manifestum est, unicum solum ejus esse posse et debere sensum : licet enim subinde adhibeantur voces formulæque duplicem sensum admittentes, proprium et figuratum ; necesse tamen est ut ex intentione loquentis unicus tantum locum inveniat. Buddæus de Sermo. nis sensu vero, p. 317.
ral, they are forced to distinguish literal construction into two kinds, viz. simply literal and figuratively literal d, which sounds very harsh; or else into proper and impropere, which is no better than the other: wherefore, for the avoiding perplexity in terms, and as great confusion in ideas, it appears highly requisite to make literal entirely distinct from figurativef, as two branches in the division, and not to run both into one.
Of figurative construction, there may be as many kinds as there are tropes or figures, though they have not yet been, and indeed need not be, enumerated, nor have special names assigned them: only a metaphorical construction is what often occurs under that very name, and it is one species of figurative. When Herod is denominated a fox, as resembling that animal in some particular quality or qualities, the sense is figurative, and metaphorical. Sometimes a discourse runs in a continued metaphor, which rhetoricians are used to call an allegory. It is a kind of allegory in words or expressions, very different from the theological or scriptural allegory, which is an allegory in things or in realities 8; as shall be more fully explained hereafter in the proper place.
The prophetic writings abound in metaphors and other figures of speech, but more in symbols, or emblems; which, though near akin to metaphors, are not the same thing with them, but are more properly referred to mystical, than to figurative construction; as will appear in the sequel.
a Vid. Glassius, ibid. p. 370.
f As figures are of two kinds, grammatical and rhetorical, I would not be understood to exclude the grammatical from coming under the head of literal, but the rhetorical only. The gramnjatical figures are reducible to five ; ellipsis, pleonasm, enallage, hypallage, synchysis : in all which cases the construction is strictly literal, though irregular, or anomalous, out of the common rules of grammar, or syntax.
& Allegoria ex usu vocis duplex statuitur, verborum et rerum : illam rhetoricam, hanc theologicum appellat Sandæus. Glass. p. 409. conf. 1950.
III. The third kind of interpretation is mystical, which is of large extent, and will require a more particular consideration. Mystical interpretation (otherwise call spiritual) is commonly supposed to take place, when the words of Scripture, over and above their literal and immediate meaning, have also a more remote signification, a sublime or spiritual sense. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights h. The literal and historical meaning is what those words plainly and properly import, expressing the real fact, so far as concerns Jonah: but the mystical meaning, couched under the same words, is, that “the Son of man was" (or was to be) “ three days “ and three nights in the heart of the earth i.” Some Protestant Divines would scruple the allowing any mystical sense, for fear of admitting two senses of the same wordsk: but they allow the thing all the while, only they choose to call it a mystical reference, application, use, accommodation, or aspect, rather than a mystical sense. The dispute amounts only to a strife about words or names, while both sides are agreed in the main point, and both admit the same mystical interpretation under different appellations; and both defend themselves, though in different ways, against the Popish errors on this head. The difference may be accommodated by the help of a single distinction, viz. between the meaning of words and the meaning of things; or by saying, that the words of Scripture in such cases express such a thing, and that thing represents or signifies another thing. The words, properly, bear but one sense, and that one sense is the literal one; but the thing expressed by the letter is further expressive of something sublime or spiritual. Thus, for example, the words relating to Jonah carry but one meaning, the literal meaning, expressing such a fact; but then that fact expresses, prefigures, or typifies another fact of a higher and more important nature. The words mean only, that Jonah was in the belly of the fish, &c. but then his being so was significative of something more excellent; namely, of the death and burial of Christ. In this way of settling the forms of speaking (for that is all) the same one sense of Scripture texts is maintained against the Romanists; and the contending parties of Protestants may both of them obtain all that they really aim at. Those that plead most for a mystical sense (besides the literal one) do it for this reason chiefly, because the Spirit of God certainly intended such mystic meaning. Allowed: but if such mystic meaning be signified by the thing contained in the letter, it answers every purpose as well as if it were signified by the letter itself. But I pass on. Mystical interpretation (be it of words or of things) is properly distributed into four several kinds, which we may call parabolical, symbolical, typical, and allegorical : of which in their order, as here followş.
h Jonah i, 17.
h See Pfeiffer. Hermeneut. Sacr. p. 635. and compare Glassius on the other side of the question, p. 305, &c.
1. It is parabolical interpretationy when we understand any part of Scripture as containing a parable, or as written by way of parable. A parable is a kind of similitude, or fictitious parallel taken up at pleasure to represent some real case: it is a case in fiction aptly made choice of to signify some case in fact, be it supposed past, present, or futurel. Such were Jotham's m, and Nathan's n, and Micaiah’so parables: and such also are the parables so frequently occurring in the Gospels. The literal sense in a parable is the simile, or representation: the mystical is the truth, or real fact. Truth veiled under apt resemblances formed in the way of narration, is what properly
I Parabola est similitudo sen comparatio, qua res aliqua ut gesta et confecta apposite fingitur et narratur, et cum alia re spirituali confertur, seu ad eam significandam accommodatur. Glassius, p. 479.
Judg. ix. 8.
2 Sam. xii. I. o 1 Kings xxii. 19.
makes or constitutes a parable P. Sometimes a key or explication is superadded to the parable; as in Nathan's, and in many of our blessed Lord's: and then the mystical meaning is given, as well as the literal one. I say, the mystical meaning of the parable ; for as to the words expressing such explication, they are literally interpreted, and that explication is their literal meaning. In strictness also, the words of the parable have but one meaning, a literal meaning, containing a feigned narration : but that feigned narration itself, or the things contained in it, represent another thing, and therefore are said to have a mystical, or spiritual signification 9.
Glassius distinguishes parables into three kinds, from their respective matter, or contents', as containing either, 1. Things commonly done, as the parable of the leaven. 2. Or things possible to be done. 3. Or things impossible; as the parable of Jotham's speaking trees. Others look upon probability, or at least possibility, as essential to the very nature and definition of a parable: and if any such narration carries in it no appearance of probability, they call it a fable; or if it be not so much as possible, they call it an apologues: by which account, Jotham's
p Proprio ac nativo quodam sensu parabola notat artificiosam rei cujusdam fictæ, ad aliud significandum, narrationem. Georg. Neumanni Dissertat. x. p. 419.
Parabolam dicimus figmentum verisimile, protasi et apodosi constans, quo orientales potissimum doctores—doctrinam recondebant, ut sublimiora caperentur facilius, torpentesque et rudes animi quadam docendi voluptate permulcerentur. Neumann, ibid. p. 421.
9 Nobis sensum parabolæ ponderantibus, sufficit significationem rerum et verborum probe distinguere. Sensus enim verbis immediate expressus, perinde ut cujusque rei forma, unicus est : interim res illa verbis indicata denotare rem aliam potest (sive mysticam, sive moralem illam) prout a scriptore intenditur. Sic parabola Salvatoris Luc. viii. 5. Intellectui nostro offert semen; ubi nemo dixerit hoc verbo diversa hæc exprimi, et naturale semen et spirituale ; at vero semine significatur verbum Dei, quod certas quasdam rationes cum semine habet communes. Neuman. p. 432.
r Glassius, p. 482.
s Vid. Neuman. ibid. p. 424-427. Itaque apologus ut simulachrum veritatis; parabola vero ut historia et exemplum accipi debet ab auditore, p. 427.