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Ezechiah.” These words Lightfoot quotes in a tone of triumph. “Behold, eating the Messiah, and yet no complaints upon the phraseology. Hillel is indeed blamed,” (in the commentary which I will quote just now), " for saying, that the Messiah was so eaten that he will no longer be for Israel: but on the form of speech not the slightest scruple is expressed. For they clearly understood what was meant by the eating of the Messiah ; that is, that in the days of Ezechias, they became partakers of the Messiah, received him with avidity, embraced him joyfully, and, as it were, absorbed him; whence, he was not to be expected at any future period.'
The least that can be said of the phrase of Hillel is, that it is so obscure as to be unintelligible, and in this respect forms a good commentary upon our controversy : for it demonstrates that words cannot be understood, the moment we apply them differently from their usual determinate meaning. But in order to demonstrate the fallacy of Lightfoot's argument, it will be sufficient to show that the celebrated passage of Hillel does not bear the meaning which he gives it, nor any other which can render it parallel to the phrases in John vi.
1. The words of Hillel expressly say, that the Messiah was so eaten in the days of Ezechiah, that he cannot appear again; in other words, he was destroyed or consumed at that time. This could not be by receiving him, embracing him, &c., as
“Lightfoot” supra cit. p. 626.
Lightfoot would have it. For it would be absurd to reason that the Messiah, promised solemnly by God, was to be withheld, because persons loved, embraced, and absorbed him spiritually before his coming
2. The Jewish doctors themselves did not under: stand the words of Hillel in Lightfoot's sense; and from their reply, who were certainly the best judges, it follows that either they did not understand Hillel's expression, so that he must be said to have departed from the usus loquendi or intelligible forms of speech, or else that their meaning was one every way inapplicable to John vi. In either case the passage can have no weight against us. These are the words of the Talmud :-.“ Rab said, Israel will eat the years of the Messiah, (The gloss explains this by the abundance of the times of the Messiah will belong to Israel !) Rab Joseph said truly, but who will eat of it? (the abundance.) Will Chillek and Billek eat of it? This was said to meet the saying of Hillel,” &c.*
The Rabbins, therefore, understood the words of this doctor, not as applying to the Messiah, but to the abundance of his times; and then the figure is not in the eating, but in the word Messiah. Did they understand him rightly? Then Lightfoot's interpretation is totally wrong, and no parallelism exists between these words and those of our Saviour. For he certainly did not mean to inculcate the necessity of eating the abundance of his times. Did they misunderstand Hillel, and was it only Dr. Lightfoot who first arrived at his meaning? Then it follows that Hillel, in these phrases, departed from the intelligible use of language, and consequently ceases to be a criterion for explaining it. Add to this, that even allowing that Hillel could have meant, by eating the Messiah, receiving and embracing him, the expression, to eat the flesh
* Sanhedrim, fol. 98,2. Apud Lightfoot, ibid.
f the Messiah, is totally different. For I have already observed repeatedly, that, in conventional metaphors, the least departure from established phraseology plunges us into obscurity and nonsense. Take a parallel instance which comes across my mind. When Pope says
“ He kept the money, so the rogue was bit,” we understand immediately, what to bite means in this passage, for it is a conventional metaphor; but had he made here the alteration above supposed, and said the “rogue's flesh was bit,” would the phrase have been any longer vernacular or intelligible? In like manner, if to eat the Messiah, could have been understood by Hillel and his Rabbins in Lightfoot's sense, because it was a conventional phrase, the addition of “ eating the flesh of the Messiah,” would totally change the phrase, and make it no longer comprehensible. I have, in fact, demonstrated, that to eat the flesh of a person had its own determinate, invariable and conventional figurative signification ; and from this, if you turn to figures, you have no right to depart.
If I had to give an opinion upon the words of Hillel, I should say that they belong to that class of inexplicable things wherewith the Talmud abounds, most aptly indeed contrived for amazing, mystifying, and utterly confounding its readers, but not much calculated to instruct or to enlighten them. It is one of those hard shells which the Rabbins seem to delight in throwing into their scholars' laps, so hard, indeed, that they cannot by any possibility be cracked; and consequently there is no danger of their ever bringing it to a decision, whether they contain a kernel,
“For true no meaning puzzles more than wit."
For us, it suffices that we can prove them utterly worthless, when used against us by even such powerful men as Dr. Lightfoot.
LECTURE THE THIRD.
SECOND ARGUMENT FOR THE REAL PRESENCE, FROM THE SIXTH
CHAPTER OF ST. JOHN ; FROM THE PREJUDICES OF THE JEWS REGARDING HUMAN FLESH AND BLOOD. THIRD ARGUMENT ; FROM THE MANNER IN WHICH THE JEWS UNDERSTOOD OUR SAVIOUR'S WORDS, AND FROM HIS REPLY ; OBJECTIONS TO THIS PROOF ANSWERED.
my last lecture, I analyzed the phrases used by our divine Saviour in the two divisions of his discourse, in order to discover the ideas which they could convey to his hearers; and the result was, that while the expressions used in the first part were well selected to teach the necessity and advantages of listening to his doctrines, those of the second must have led the Jews astray, if they were meant to convey any doctrine but that of the Real Presence.
The second argument, which I now proceed to treat, is founded upon a reflection which you will remember in my first lecture, and the justness whereof I believe no one will deny. I quoted to you the remark of Burke, that in addressing popular assemblies it is necessary, in some respect, to adapt ourselves to the weaknesses and prejudices