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but what he did say was this namely, that “whenever our Saviour's expressions were erroneously taken in their literal sense, and he meant them to be figurative, it was his constant practice instantly to explain himself, and let his audience understand that his words were to be taken figuratively*.” The reader of the preceding pages (133—149) will bear in mind the conspicuous zeal—and the no less conspicuous want of success with which Dr Wiseman endeavoured to establish our Lord's “constant practice”- his “invariable practice”-his “undeviating adherence to the rule”—of explaining figuratively what was literally misunderstood. The force, indeed, of the argument employed entirely depended upon the uniformity of our Lord's proceeding in such
But, contends the learned author, “I have never said that our Saviour was bound to answer.” Where then, so far as the argument is concerned, is the difference between affirming that our Lord “ was bound" to answer and that “it was his constant practice” to answer? Is there, in short, to be found a single member of the Roman Catholic Church who would, for a moment, hesitate to denominate such a distinction as this a miserable subterfuge? Moreover, Dr Wiseman in the outset engaged to collect and examine all passages, where the hearers of our Saviour erroneously take his figurative expressions in their literal sense, and raise objections in consequence of it, and see what is his conduct upon such occasions*;" and in stating the
* Lectures, p. 99.
passages themselves he again and again declared that he was showing that our Lord's “constant practice” was, to answer objections alleged under those circumstances. He now. says—“I have examined only his practice, when he did answer or explain.” In other words, his avowed design was to prove that our Lord “constantly answered;" and he subsequently ventures to inform us that he "examined only” the cases in which our Lord did answer.
Is there, I once more ask, a single member of the Roman Catholic Church, who would, for a moment, hesitate to denominate this replya miserable subterfuge? Finally, the sentence“I have examined only his practice, when he did answer or explain ”-involves an admission that there are instances of erroneous literal interpretation, in which our Lord did not explain ;” an admission which shakes Dr Wiseman's system, even according to his own view of it, to the very foundation. That the Jews did in numerous instances, grossly misconceive our Lord's meaning, is beyond all doubt; and that he frequently left them to their misconceptions, is equally certain.
Whether he did so, by an indignant silence-or by an indignant re-assertion of his statements
may have depended upon circumstances, connected with the temper and moral condition of the people at the time, which we
* Lectures, p. 94.
have not the means of taking into account. With regard to the discourse in John vi.—how very far the people of Capernaum were, in our Lord's estimation, from being in the slightest degree entitled to any explanation of his doctrines, has already been shown in these pages.
The fourth and last reply, to the objection arising from John ii. 18—22, now requires a moment's attention. St John informs us that, when our Lord said, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”-“he spake of the temple of his body.” Dr Wiseman takes a more enlarged view of the matter. “In spite of the reasoning of Storr, Süskind, Schott and others ”—he seems to care but little for St John--he “cannot read the passage, without being convinced” that our Lord alluded also to rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem, which stood before him. After remarking that an allusion like this, to the temple, would be extremely appropriate to the occasion, he goes on to observe that “the pronoun TOÛTOV—THIS (temple) would naturally denote the building in which he spoke.” When the learned author was previously engaged in proving, not only that the expression was to be understood figuratively, but was so common, in that point of view, that it could scarcely be taken in any other—he made much of the argument—that, when our Lord mentioned “this temple,” he pointed to himself. We are now taught that the same phrase “would naturally
denote the building in which he spoke.” As Dr Wiseman has not produced his authority for holding opinions thus opposed to each other, I can only question, as I have before done, his exemption from the laws which are usually deemed binding upon human intelligence. In support of his present notions, the learned author—who is not very particular with regard to the character of his evidence— next produces the false witnesses who appeared against our Saviour, when on his trial. “If,” says the author with commendable caution, " he used the epithet attributed to him by the false witnesses in Mark xiv. 58, Tòv vaơv TOūTOV TÒV Xelpotointov, “this temple built with hands,' he can hardly be supposed to have alluded primarily to any thing but the real temple.” Although the Evangelist expressly states that these men " bare false witness,” and that “neither did their witness agree together”—yet Dr Wiseman places great reliance upon their testimony. He sees “no reason why the witnesses added the epithet” built with hands; and if they did not add it, our Lord, he thinks, could not have applied the expression to his own body. In this manner Dr Wiseman demonstrates that the expression was to be taken in its literal sense, and applied to the real temple ;—thus professing to have made the import of the passage altogether as plain in its literal, as he had before shown it to be in its figurative, signification. A strange fatality appears to attend the learned author in his exertions. Having availed himself of the false witnesses, quite as far as was seemly in a modern divine; having supported the literal meaning of our Lord's phrase, in opposition to St John; having pointed out the effect of the epithet xexpoTointov, built with hands, in deciding the literal sense—he assigns this reason for thinking that the witnesses did not add the epithet_namely, that “it tended to weaken their own testimony, by rendering our Saviour's words more enigmatical and obscure!”... We find still more discussions on this passage — which has given the author no small trouble; but I cannot induce myself to extend my observations on the subject. I shall therefore conclude it, by suggesting, for the consideration of those whom it may concern, the following caseSuppose that, in interpreting the sixth chapter of St John, or any other portion of Scripture cited in elucidation, a Protestant had set aside the clear explanation of an Evangelist, and substituted his own reasonings in its stead—what would a Roman Catholic divine have thought, or said, or preached, or written, on such a proceeding?
The second objection alleged against Dr Wiseman's rule is derived from John iv, 10–15; where “our Saviour speaks of giving living waters, in a figurative sense, and the Samaritan woman manifestly understands him literally; yet he gives no explanation.” To the objection, thus stated, Dr Wiseman responds as follows: