« PreviousContinue »
would force an hog one way, he endeavours to run the other way; so that he cannot be driven unless he is tied by the leg; but the sheep goes quietly to the place appointed, and is obedient to the voice of the Shepherd. Wash a Sheep, and it preserves its whiteness till it comes to be sheared : but when you have washed an Hog, he buries himself in the mire, and becomes more filthy than he was before. Sottishness and immodesty go together, as do also temperance and chastity. A Tail is given to the Sheep and other four-footed beasts for decency ; but the Swine, by a certain twist of the tail, common to the species, discorer what other animals conceal, as if it were divested of all shame. It is stiff necked too (a reproach which the Scripture hath fixed upon your forefathers *) beyond all other beasts, and its snout is so inflexibly pointed to the ground, that it cannot look upwards to the sky.
You see then, friend Mordecai, that the difference between the Sheep and the Swine is much more in the manners than in the meat; and that you ought to abhor the Swine, only as an example of every thing that is hateful in the sight of God. What honour do you expect to get by abstaining scru. pulously from Swine's flesh, if you are like an hog at last in your manners and inclinations? Have the Jews no swine of this sort among them ?
Jew. Yes, we have many who are wicked in all manner of wickedness, and beastly like the Hog.
Chr. Such men ought not to expect that their diet will recommend them to God, if in their appetites and actions they are more nearly allied to the Devil. We Christians, though we have too many bad men amongst us, make it our rule to fulfil the law of Moses in a more rational manner than you, by coming up to the spirit of it; that is, by avoiding the earthly, unclean, and groveling affections of the swine ; and then we are sure that the eating of Swine's flesh will nei. ther offend God, nor do us any harm. Here you may learn the true difference between a Christian and a Jew. You have the form, but we have the sense of it: you value yourselves upon the preservation of the husk, while we are in possession of the kernel. And hence one of our interpreters
* Exod. xxxii. 9.
puts a question, the answer to which is of more value than all the glittering trinkets in the Boxes of all the Jews in Christendom-- Do we muke void the Law ? -Yea, we establish the Law. If you could understand the meaning of these few words, they would lead you at once out of all your errors.
Jewe. I shall never leare my Religion : they are only the worst of the Jews who leave their Religion, and they never prosper afterwards. · Chr. I suppose it is your custom to harden one another with such sayings : but if you look back upon the Jews as a nation, you will not find that they have prospered much within the last seventeen hundred years. You will argue better when it shall please God to open your eyes ; without which it will be rain for any man to hold up the 'Truth, expecting that you should see and embrace it. However, there was no harm in desiring to know your opinion on this subject; and I wish you would speak of it to some of the more learned of your brethren. · Jew. I will ask them about it: and I think you are right in what you said about the Hog: but we have many Jews who will make a very good dinner of hog's flesh.
Such was the issue of this Conference, if that can properly be called a Conference, in which a Jew, who understands nothing of what he professes, and whose grand object is the vending of his wares, had one side of the argument. I never received any report from this Jew concerning the sentiments of his brethren ; but by the information he gave me very soon after, I have reason to think there are some Christians, who regard the Subject with equal ignorance, and, perhaps, greater indifference, I must take it patiently, if such persons should never find themselves much interested in the following enquiry. The writer who would return to the unfrequented Paths of primitive Theology, must look for his encouragement from Readers of the sanie taste, if such are to be found. In every age they have been always few in comparison, who were animated by an attachment to the peculiar wisdom of Revelation. If I had written five hundred years ago, my thoughts might have been offered to a set of indolent monks, as little concerned about the Spirit
of Prophecy, as the modern student of the coffee-house, whose whole attention is devoted to Plays, Novels, and face tioús Newspapers.
In the Age of the Reformation, when all the ancient foun. tains of Literature were opened, the Evangelical Spirit of the Old Testament was cultivated by some of the most emi. nent writers of that time; and the sight of it, even to this day, hath scarcely ever been lost anong the Puritans. We of the Church of England are now risen above that sort of learning, as we think ; though it is to be feared, we are rather degenerated and fallen below it: and this is one reason why so many false and dangerous speculations have been making their way into the fashionable Divinity: for they who depart from the proper stile and genius of the Scripture, will hardly escape some defection from its doctrines.
I do not here mean to become an accuser under the more popular Character of the Reformer; neither would I be thought to have discovered what is unknown to other men. We have Authors of eminence and genius amongst üs, who are undoubtedly sensible of the value of that literature for which I am now pleading, because their writings shew thein to be far advanced in the knowledge of it; particularly the celebrated Prælector de Sacra Poesi Hebreorum, and the learned Author of Dissertations òn the Prophecies; from each of whom I might produce many excellent observations to justify that praise which they merit from a better hand. As to myself, I would be considered only as an humble follower of such learned Interpreters : and if I have ventured to pursue the matter of the following Disquisition farther than they would have done, I hope that hath happened, only because I have meditated long upon this particular Subject. I found it more fruitful than I expected, and have been led by it into many speculations, which have been exceedingly pleasant to me in the hours of my Solitude. I am sensible they would be more pleasant to the public, if it were the fashion to be somewhat better versed in that sort of Learning, by which we are essentially distinguished from the Jews; I mean, in the figurative sense of the sacred Writings; which no Jew can possibly understand and continue to be a Jew; on which account it is so largely insisted upon by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, a discourse particularly calculated for their instruction., Where the Scripture is stu. died by those who have no private ends to serve by misrepresenting it, its figurative mode of expression will be studied of course; because no great progress can be made on any other principle. It is as necessary to the understanding of the Bible, as its proper Alphabet is to the decyphering of any Language. “ Certain images (says Dr. Lowth) bor“ rowed chiefly from nature, express certain other notions « less obvious to the understanding ; a constant uniformity " being observed in the application of them: and I believe “ this one thing, if it were diligently studied, would alas ways be of excellent use to explain the meaning of the « Hebrew Prophets *.”.
A gentleman formerly educated at Christ Church College in Oxford, and known to the Physicians as the Editor of Aretæus, had formed a design of dedicating his Life to a complete Work on the Symbolical Language of the Scrip. ture; and if I had a faithful account of him from a contemporary and fellow-collegian who knew him well, great things might have been expected from him, when his abilities and experience had so great a Subject to work upon. I have much reason to wish that he had accomplished his design: but, alas! it became abortive on the same principle with many other excellent undertakings, the mortality of the un. dertaker ; who did not live to make any progress in the work. . This loss, however, is already supplied in some measure by the judicious Criticisms of Dr. Lowth ; and we shall have yet less reason to lament it, if ay introductory Dis. course to a new Commentary on the Psalms of David, which is now in manuscript, by an able and ingenious hand, should see the light.
Some small specimen of this Symbolical language may be collected from the ensuing pages. Other hints may be gathered from Erasmus his Enchiridion militis Christiani ; and
* certæ Imagines, plurimum Naturales, certas alias notiones, quarum subtilior est ratio, lege quadam constanter servata, expri. munt; quam rem unam arbitror, si accurate investigetur, ad intel·ligendos Vates Hæbros semper maximo adjumento fore.
Prelect. xxxi. p. 1.
many more may be found in the collection entitled Philocalia, at the end of the works of Origen ; whom the income parable Erasmus delighted to follow in his capacity of an Expositor. But as I am now only writing a Preface, without taking upon me to deliver rules for the interpretation of the Scripture, I must content myself with committing these few hasty reflections to the farther consideration of the intelligent Reader; after I have informed him, that this Disquisition will be followed by other like Disquisitions and Discourses on Scriptural and Moral Subjects, till the whole shall amount to an octavo volume.