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when Jesus, in few words, repeats the substance of this Prophecy to the High-Priest, on the like occasion for which he delivered it at large to his Disciples, he describes the destruction of Jerusalem in those high terms from whence the SECONDARY sense is inferred: for when Jesus was accused of threatening, or of designing to destroy the Temple, and was urged by the High-Priest to make his defence, he says-Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven*; which words the context necessarily confines to his coming in judgement on Jerusalem."
To this I answer, That it was not for fear of being put to the proof, that it was taken for granted that this Prophecy had a double sense, a primary and a secondary; because it is only quoting a passage or two in it, to chew that it must necessarily be confessed to have both.
1. That Jesus prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem, appears from the concluding words recorded by all the three Evangelists-Verily, I say unto you, that THIS GENERATION shall not pass away till ALL these things be done or fulfilled. Hence, by the way, let me observe, that this fulfilling in the primary sense being termed the fulfilling all, seems to be the reason why St. John, who wrote his Gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem, hath omitted to record this Prophecy of his Master.
2. That Jesus at the same time speaks of the destruction of the World, at his coming to judge it, appears likewise from his own words recorded by the same Evangelists-But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no not the Angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. For if the Whole be to be understood only of one single event, then do these two texts expressly contradict one another; the first telling us that the event should come to pass near the close of that very genera
tion; the latter telling us that the time is unknown to all men, nay even to the Angels and to the Son himself:then does the last quoted text expressly contradict the Prophecy of Daniel*, that very Prophecy to which Jesus all the way refers; for in that prophecy, the day and hour, that is, the precise time of the destruction of Jerusalem, is minutely foretold.
Hence it follows that this famous Prophecy hath indeed a DOUBLE SENSE, the one primary, and the other secondary.
It is true, the infant-Church saw the destruction of the world so plainly foretold in this Prophecy, as to suffer an error to creep into it, of the speedy and instant consummation of all things. This, St. Paul found necessary to correct-Now I beseech you, says he, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or troubled, as that the day of Christ is at hand, &c. And it was on this account, I suppose, that St. Luke, who wrote the latest of the three Evangelists, records this Prophecy in much lower terms than the other two, and entirely omits the words in the text quoted above, which fixes the secondary sense of the Prophecy-of that day and hour, &c.
If St. Paul exhorted his followers not to be shaken in mind on this account; his fellow-labourer St. Peter, when he had in like manner reproved the scoffers, who said, where is the promise of his coming? went still further, and, to shew his followers that the Church was to be of long continuance here on earth, explains to them the nature of that evidence which future times were to have of the truth of the Gospel; an evidence even superior to that which the primitive times enjoyed of MIRACLES; We have also a more sure word of PROPHECY; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light which shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts §. This
Chap. viii. ver. 13, 14. † 2 Peter, i. 17.
† 2. Thess. ii. 1. & seq.
evidence of PROPHECY is justly qualified a more sure word*, when compared to MIRACLES, whose demonstrative evidence is confined to that age in which the power of them was bestowed upon the Church: whereas the prophecies here meant, namely, those of St. Paul and St. John†, concerning the GREAT APOSTASY, were always fulfilling even to the last consummation of all things; and so, affording this demonstrative evidence to the men of all generations.
However, if from this prophecy the first Christians drew a wrong conclusion, it was not by the fault of the Divine Prophet, but their own. Jewish Tradition might at first mislead the followers of Jesus to believe that the destruction of the World was very soon to follow the destruction of Jerusalem: But these men soon put off Tradition, with the Law: And Scripture, which was then recommended to them as their only study, with the DOUBLE SENSES with which it abounds, might easily have led them to a distinction of times in this Prophecy, a Prophecy formed, as they must needs see, upon the ancient models.
But as Providence is always educing good out of evil (though neither for this, nor any other reason, is evil ever connived at by the disciples of Christ, as appears from the conduct of St. Paul, just mentioned above) this error was fruitful of much service to truth. It nourished and increased a spirit of piety, seriousness, and charity, which wonderfully contributed to the speedy propagation of the Gospel.
Before I conclude, let me just observe (what I have always principally in view), that this explanation of the Prophecy obviates all those impious and absurd insinuations of licentious men, as if Jesus was led either by craft or enthusiasm, cither by the gloominess of his own BiCatórepov, more firm, constant, and durable.
+ See Sir Isaac Newton on the Prophecies, c. i. of his Observations upon the Apocalypse of St. John.
ideas, or by his knowledge of the advantage of inspiring such into his Followers, to prophesy of the speedy destruction of the World.
-But by strange ill fortune even some Believers, as we have observed, are come at length to deny the very existence of double senses and secondary prophecies. A late writer hath employed some pages to proclaim his utter disbelief of all such fancies. I shall take the liberty to examine this bold rectifier of prejudices: not for any thing he hath opposed to the Principles here laid down; for I dare say these were never in his thoughts; but only to shew, that all he hath written is wide of the purpose : though, to say the truth, no wider than the notions of those whom he opposes; men who contend for Types and Secondary senses in as extravagant a way as he argues against them; that is, such who take a handle from the doctrine of double senses to give a loose to the extravagancies of a vague imagination: consequently his arguments, which are aimed against their very being and use, hold only against their abuse. And that abuse, which others indeed have urged as a proof against the use, he sets himself to* confute: a mighty undertaking! and then mistakes his reasoning for a confutation of the use.
His Argument against double senses in Prophecies, as far as I understand it, may be divided into two parts, 1. Replies to the reasoning of others for double senses. His own reasoning against them.-With his Replies I have nothing to do (except where something of argument against the reality of double senses is contained) because they are replies to no reasonings of mine, nor to any that I approve. I have only therefore to consider what he hath to say against the thing itself.
1. His first argument against more senses than one, is as follows-"Supposing that the opinion or judgment
The Principles and Connexion of Natural and Revealed Religion, distinctly considered, p. 221. by Dr. Sykes.
"of the Prophet or Apostle is not to be considered in "matters of Prophecy more than the judgment of a
mere` amanuensis is,—and that the point is not what the opinion of the amanuensis was, but what the inditer · “intended to express; yet it must be granted, that if "God had any views to some remoter events, at the same time that the words which were used were
equally applicable to, and designed to express, nearer events those remoter events, as well as the nearer, * were in the intention of GOD: And if both the nearer " and remoter events were equally intended by God in any Proposition, then the LITERAL SENSE OF THEM
IS NOT THE ONE NOR THE OTHER SINGLY AND
APART, BUT BOTH TOGETHER must be the full meaning of such passages." p. 219.
-Then the literal sense of them is not the one nor the other singly and apart, but both of them together, &c. i. è. if both together make up but one literal sense, then there is neither a secondary nor à double sense: and so there is an end of the controversy. A formidable Adversary truly! He threatens to overthrow the thing, and gives us an argument against the propriety of the name. Let him but allow his adversaries that a nearer and a remoter event are both the subjects of one and the same Prediction, and, I suppose, it will be indifferent to them whether he call it, with them, a Prophecy of a double and figura·tive sense, or they call it, with him, a Prophecy of a single literal sense: And he may be thankful for so much complaisance; for it is plain, they have the better of him even in the propriety of the name. It is confessed that GOD, in these predictions, might have views to nearer and remoter events: now these nearer and remoter events were events under two different Dispensations, the Jewish and the Christian. The Prediction is addressed to the Jews, who had not only a more immediate concern with the first, but, at the time of giving the Prophecy, were not to be let into the secrets of the other: