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so often as they needed one, as it would be to render them inspired in order that they might understand what had been already communicated. Nothing then could be gained by such a Bible as the case before us supposes.
We must therefore either concede that the usual laws of language are to be applied to the Bible, or else that it is, and can be, no proper revelation to men, unless they are also to be inspired in order to understand it. For if we suppose words are to be employed, and sentences constructed and interpreted, in a manner entirely new and different from all that has hitherto been known or practised, then there is no source from which we can derive rules to interpret the Bible, unless it be one which is supernatural and miraculous. Who then is it, that has a just claim to supernatural instruction or illumination ? Among all the contending and antagonist parties, some of whom have virtually claimed such inspiration, who is in the right, and is to be heard and confided in with respect to his claim ?
These views may serve to show, that we must give up any pursuit, in this direction, after a terra firma on which we can with confidence fix our resting place. Either God has spoken more humano by men to men, or he has not spoken what they can with any good assurance pretend to understand without miraculous aid.
A divine book therefore, must, like all other books, be intelligible in order to be useful; and if intelligible, then it must conform to the usus loquendi, both in respect to the choice of words and the meaning of them. How then can the Scriptures present us every where with examples of the ûnóvoia or double sense, when we find, and expect to find, such a sense in no other grave book on the face of all the earth ?
To prevent all misunderstanding of what I mean, however, it is proper to add here, that I do not by any means design to detract from the force of those passages of Scripture, which declare that religious experience is necessary to a full and spiritual understanding of some portions of the Bible. What is true of other books must, in the
of analogy, be true of the Bible also. We do not expect any one fully to understand Milton's Paradise Lost, who has little or nothing of a poetical taste. We can not suppose that any one, who is destitute of attachment to mathematical and philosophical science, should enter fully into the comprehension of a La Place or a Bowditch. Even so with the Scriptures which unfold a spiritual and experimental religion. Religious experience is necessary to the full and adequate understanding of such passages as relate to such experience. But all this is far enough from establishing a double sense.
In truth, all this is only in the way of analoĝy with regard to other books besides the Scriptures. If now there were no other obstacle in the
of a double sense, except that it is entirely different from and opposed to all analogy in respect to interpreting language, this one consideration would come near to settling the question. Nothing but divine authority for such a mode of interpretation could make it proper to practise it.
But secondly, there are other difficulties in abundance; and a few of them must be brought into notice. The very name, únóvolu or occult sense, shows that the meaning in question is not deducible from or by the laws of language; for it is against the usage of all times and nations to employ language in such a way. The question then arises, of course : How is an occult sense to be ascertained ?
Lexicons, grammars, hermeneutics, yea vernacular power over a language, are all set aside by the process that we are investigating. To what arbiter then shall we repair ?
Who or what is to decide, so that we may put confidence in the decision ?
Is fancy, or imagination, or the spirit of allegorizing, to sit on the throne of judgment? These judges, as I apprehend, are hardly grave and sober and considerate enough to be trusted with so weighty and difficult questions. Besides, inasmuch as the matter now before us is not one within the province of common sense, but one sui generis and altogether beyond the reach of scientific principles, who among the many judges, differing widely from each other, and often standing opposed to each other, is to be acknowledged as the Supreme Court? Candidates for this honor, I am aware, make their appearance on all sides. All, moreover, possess equal authority, unless some one or more can show that he or they are inspired. By what rule or principle shall we adjust their conflicting claims? By the degree of learning which they possess, or the strength of imagination, or the dexterous power to draw vivid fancy-sketches, or the depth of piety? None of these principles of judging will answer our purpose. It were easy to name men to whom some one of these characteristics belongs in a high degree, who nevertheless have indulged in most extravagant phantasies as to making out the double or second sense of Scripture. Some examples of this nature will be produced in the sequel, but at present we are merely concerned with the principle. In the usual cases of exegetical error, we have a test to which an appeal may be made, and this is, the laws and usages of language in general. If men will not conform to these, in their criticisms, then one may justly show their unreasonableness, and thus deprive their exegesis of any important influence. But in the case before us, we have launched on an ocean without bottom or shore, and have neither chart, compass, or rudder. How we are safely and surely
to steer our course, no one, so far as my knowledge extends, has yet shown us.
In fact, unless we say that every man's own fancy is his rule, in the matter of an occult sense, I wot not where we are to find a rule. Is there any resort except to inspiration? I can see no other. If then we should resort to inspiration as the guide—whose inspiration, or alleged inspiration, is to be trusted ? I am aware that there are claimants, even on this ground. But we are not accustomed to give credit to claims of such a nature, since apostolic times. When interpreters will heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cast out devils, we will begin to bow submissively to their alleged authority for making out a second or occult
Until that time has arrived, I would hope that we may be permitted to withhold our assent from their decisions, provided we find them not well supported.
From its very nature, an occult sense is one which language does not naturally convey. Of course, nothing less than the authority and influence which dictated any particular passage of Scripture, can with certainty inform us what the hidden or secondary sense of it is.
In the third place, if such a principle of interpreting Scripture be admitted, how is it possible to ascertain within what bounds it shall be confined ?
By some, every part and parcel of the Old Testament is regarded as capable of a double sense; and consequently, whenever it becomes in their view desirable, on any account, to resort to such a sense, they hold themselves at liberty to do so. Nor have such views always been confined to minds of the lower order, or to men of little knowledge. Origen, who believed in the eternity of matter, interpreted the first chapter of Genesis as having an occult moral or spiritual sense throughout. The waters of the firmament above were the good thoughts and desires of
men; those in the depths below, the bad ones. The history of the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve he regarded as an allegory, in order to set forth the power of sin. Even so the history of Sarah and Hagar. The Mosaic ritual was never intended to be taught as a literal and historic reality, but in all its parts it must be regarded as conveying an occult sense. Of course all other parts of the Scripture may be subjected to a similar process; but more especially the Canticles. Origen, moreover, has had many followers, both in ancient and modern times. Who has not heard, too, of Cocceius, in recent times, who, with much more learning than Origen, and with equal strength of fancy, outdid his illustrious predecessor ? The piety and learning, which were united in Cocceius, have given great authority to his exegesis ; and throughout all Protestant Christendom, even down to the present hour, there are followers of his mode of interpretation to be found, although with great varieties both in the theory and practice of expounding
In the Roman Catholic church the practice of spiritualizing, (as the developing of a double sense is called), has been even more general and more unlimited than among the Protestants. The Jesuit, who found that the account of the creation of “the sun to rule the day, and of the moon and stars to rule the night," in the first chapter of Genesis, was intended, mystically and in the way of inóvoia, to teach the supremacy of the Pope and the inferiority of kings and cardinals, was merely a specimen of what has been very common in that church. But who among all the Protestant mystical interpreters can refute the Jesuit ? I know of no argument that can reach him, when ünóvoia in the Scriptures is once fairly and fully conceded. He has as good a right to say, that Gen. 1: 16 was designed to convey an occult sense, as such Protestants have to aver, that