Key to Figurative Language...
(1st ed., Exeter, NH, 1814)
K E Y
FOUND IN THE
IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
BY ETHAN SMITH, A. M.
MINISTER IN HOPKINTON, N. H. -- AUTHOR OF THE
DISSERTATION ON THE PROPHECIES.
"I have used similitudes." -- HOSEA.
"I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old. -- That they
should make them known to their children." THE PSALMIST.
PRINTED BY C. NORRIS & CO. AND SOLD AT THEIR BOOKSTORE. --
SOLD ALSO BY E. LITTLE & CO. NEWBURYPORT.
REV. DOCTOR EMMONS'. "Having heard the Rev. E. Smith read his manuscript upon the figurative language of scripture, I am satisfied that it is well calculated to assist people in general to read many dark and difficult parts of the sacred Volume with peculiar pleasure and advantage. I therefore wish it may be published, and have a general circulation.
REV. MR. SANBORN'S. "Having seen the plan of Rev. E. Smith's Key to the figurative language found in the sacred Scriptures, and attended in some degree to his manner of illustrating the subject, I feel a peculiar pleasure in recommending it to the notice of the American youth, and of Christians generally, as a key, that will with ease and pleasure unlock to them many dark and difficult parts of the word of God. As the subject is new, and interesting, I wish that one of these keys may be introduced into every family in our country; that each child may with his own hand unlock these sacred treasures.
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It has been to me matter of some wonder, that no small and cheap publication has been given to the community, especially for the benefit of youth, explaining the origin and sense of figurative language as found in the Bible. The want of such a publication has kept a part of the most important of all books veiled in much obscurity. The great doctrines and duties, essential to salvation, are delivered mostly in plain and intelligible language. But much of very important instruction, in the holy oracles, especially in their prophetic parts, is delivered in language highly figurative; and appears to youth and people not much instructed in this kind of language, unintelligible.
I recollect that during my puerile age at least, much that I read or heard in some of the most figurative parts of the bible appeared exceedingly strange. In the view of many passages, I seemed almost to fancy myself in some unknown region, where all things were unaccountable. Burning mountains cast into the sea; the sea turned to blood; strange beasts rising out of it; four beasts of wonderful forms being seen in heaven; opening seals, presenting strange horses and riders, with death and hell following some of them; visible Angels sounding trumpets, and pouring out vials with amazing effects; such things to me seemed exceedingly strange! It never had been my lot to see events of this kind; and who had seen them, or where they took place, I was unable to conceive. Nor had I any correct idea of the instructions contained in such passages. Had I been favoured with some small book, informing of the nature and meaning of such symbolic language, I am persuaded I should have been prepared to read and hear the word of God to much better advantage. Happy would it have been, had some able writer furnished the community with such a publication, and in such a form, as to render the subject familiar, and to circulate in every part of the community. But as it has not been done, to
my knowledge, I am induced to present this small work; in hopes it may at least awaken attention to the subject; and perhaps open the way for something much better to be produced.
Why is it the case, that when language consists of two parts, literal, and figurative, both in common conversation, and in the word of God; while so much attention is justly paid to the teaching of that which is literal; so little attention should be paid to the instructing of youth, relative to that which is figurative. It is of great importance to teach children to read; and to teach the literal import of our language? And is it of no importance to teach them the common use and signification of figures and symbols, which abound in our language, and in the sacred oracles? Has there not been a neglect in this thing?
I can do but little more in this small book, than just to point the way to the investigation of sacred figures, and the scriptural use of the language of symbols. Various writers upon the prophecies and other authors,* have treated or touched upon this subject. But their volumes are in but few hands. And they ate not altogether calculated to render this subject familiar to youth, whatever they be to common readers. The following pages are designed as a kind of easy introduction to the subject; in hopes it may prepare the way to render some of the figurative language of the Bible, which many do not readily understand, more familiar. It is designed to bring the subject more easily to the doors of the christian community
* As Mede, Moore, Daubur, Vitringer, the Newtons, Calmet, Jones, Warburton, Hurd, Burder, Brown, Faber.
C O N T E N T S.
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Some further, prefatory remarks, more appropriate to the subject, will here be made.
1. In the most extensive sense of the word, all writing is figurative. The letters of the alphabet are but figures. They may be called symbols of simple sounds. And all words written may be called symbols of ideas. All that is imprinted, is really but figures, or representations of other things. But of this extensive sense of the word figure, I shall not treat. I shall treat of it only in that limited sense, in which a word or thing is applied, in a sense beyond what is called its literal meaning, to represent some other thing. Creatures, things, actions and relations, are often thus applied. They have ideas annexed to them, which may be called their literal meaning. But many of them are often taken from this literal application, to an application, which, in a more appropriate sense, may, be called figurative. To illustrate the use of figures, in this sense, as they are found in the Bible, will be the object of the ensuing pages.
2. This kind of language rhetoricians call the trope. This change of words from their original, to a figurative sense, arose from necessity in early days. It was retained, on account of the barrenness of language, even after the use of letters. And it is retained, to add beauty and force to language, even in its present improved state. This use of tropes or figures is supported by the great influence of imagination on language. Imagination, when an object is contemplated, at once accompanies it with other similar objects by way of illustration. And some name of the latter is often given to the former. For instance; a man contemplates the rising of the sun. The imagination looks for a similitude. The idea of royalty naturally strikes the mind, as the sun appears like the monarch of the day, and of the visible heavens. This circumstance furnishes the figure: And the man exclaims, perhaps in the words of Thompson on the Seasons,
Rejoicing in the east." --
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instruct and please. The trope often, by a metonymy, expresses the cause for the effect, the antecedent for the consequent; and the reverse. And, by synecdoche, it often puts the whole for a part, and a part for the whole.
3. But the similarity, found between different objects, furnishes the most rich and fruitful tropes. Here is founded the use of metaphors, symbols, and emblems, which abound in language, and in the bible. Metaphors and symbols may be called the abridgments of comparisons. In comparisons we say; One thing -- thus and thus resembles another; For instance; God may be compared to a rock. Then, in an abridged form, metaphor says, God is a rock. In comparisons we say, Christ (as the strength, support and salvation of the faithful soul) may well be compared to bread and wine. Symbol thus abridges the sentence, and says of bread, This is Christ's body: And of wine, This is his blood. And so of all other metaphors and symbols. One thing is called by the name of another. But the sense understood truly is, -- This may be represented by that. Or, in some respects, the one is resembled by the other. This is the true sense also of allegories and parables; which are but metaphors continued, through a complete sentence, or more.
4. Tropes operate also in the way of hyperbole; which consists in magnifying an object beyond real fact: As we read, "And there are many other things, which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain books that should be written." Again, "If these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out." This figure is often used in descriptions. But it is oftener suggested by passions, and a heated imagination. It needs to be (and in the bible ever is) used with caution and propriety. The extravagant use of it is bombast; and is disgusting. Personification is one mode of the trope, in which an inanimate being is spoken of as a person. Under this, the sun is represented, as "a strong man, rejoicing to run a race:" The earth as thirsting for rain; or smiling with plenty: The trees as clapping their hands: And the deep as lifting up its hands on high.
5. A trope and a figure are of the same essential import. A figure then, (we learn from what has been said,) may be viewed a genus, comprizing the species of metaphor, symbol, type, hieroglyphic, emblem, similie
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and whatever other application of the trope has been noted; or rhetoricians may make. Between some of these, there is a difference, the extremes of which are very discernible. But, as of the different shades of the rainbow, it is difficult to describe the bounds of all these species of figure. This therefore I shall not undertake, in the ensuing work; which is not to write a system of rhetorick; but to give the sense of scripture figures. The above different species of figures I shall consider under the general term of figurative language. And I shall consider that the affinity between the different species of figures, is so great, (being a representation of one thing by another,) that I shall feel at liberty to call the whole of this kind of language, symbolic language; not withstanding that some rhetoricians make a symbol but one species of figurative language. Warburton gives this definition of a symbol: that it is "the representation of one thing by the figure of another." This gives it as great a latitude, as can be wished, in order to speak of the figurative language, and the symbolic language, of the bible, as essentially one and the same. For most of the emblems found in the Bible are supposed to have figure as well as existence.
6. The figurative language of the Bible has a two fold object; -- to instruct; -- and to impress: -- Or, to teach things not before known; and to affect the soul with them. The latter is an important object in the use of symbols. Men are more easily affected with things addressed to their senses, than with abstract ideas. The sight of the eyes affects the heart; and so of the other bodily senses. Figurative language is either addressed to some of the senses; or it is the adopting of a thing better known, to illustrate a thing less known.
7. In the figures and symbols used in the Bible, we often find an unnatural assemblage of properties and things, to render the figure a more perfect expression of the thing represented. This holds true, especially of symbols borrowed from the animal creation. Wings, heads and horns, are often unnaturally added, to render the symbol more rich, instructive, and impressive. Ethan Smith, A Key to the Figurative Language Found in the Sacred Scriptures,
8. Let the reader ever recollect, that the words, and phrases, from the word of God, (explained in the following pages, as figurative language) have a literal meaning, as well as a figurative. To ascertain the former is no part of the design of this book. This readers
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already understand; or must learn from their dictionaries. When they find the question asked, What does such or such a thing denote, or import? The meaning is not, what is the literal import of that word or phrase? -- But what is its figurative import? For this is the object of the book.
9. Too many readers need also, to be informed, that a figure, allegory or parable usually is not designed to apply in all points. Many seem to imagine, that every part of such figures and sentences, must be full of what they call a spiritual meaning. It is thought, by the greatest and best of men, to be a fact, that there is often but one, and usually but few points, designed to be illustrated by such forms of speech. And to attempt to find a spiritual meaning in every part of an allegory, parable, or an object, used as a figure, is to open a wide field to vain fancy and error. It does not follow, that because the kingdom of God is like unto leaven hid in three measures of meal, till the whole is leavened, therefore we must find a spiritual meaning in the materials, of which leaven is composed, and in the mode of producing it, and of keeping it, and in every thing in relation to it. There is probably but one point, in which leaven was designed to represent the kingdom of God; that of its efficacy to leaven the whole lump, where it is placed. This figure applies to its object, as two globes apply to each other. They touch only in one point. Various of the parables may apply to spiritual things, in more points than one, or two. But fanciful expositors may have need of caution, not to apply them, where they were not designed to be applied. Ethan Smith, A Key to the Figurative Language Found in the Sacred Scriptures,
10. One thing more must here be noted. The reasons why such and such symbols and figures were adopted to denote such and such things, are one thing. And the fact that they do denote such and such persons or things, is another thing. And the latter, not the former, is (for the most part) the object of the ensuing pages. The former are important. But they open a field immensely wide; to explore which, is to be one of the objects of the preaching of the gospel. It would be instructive to shew the reasons, why God is called a rock; Christ the sun of righteousness: Christians sheep and lambs; and so of all other figures and symbols. But the object of the ensuing book is chiefly to ascertain
16     PRELIMINARY REMARKS.
what such and such figures and symbols do in fact import; and to adduce scripture evidences of the facts; and perhaps to refer to some other scriptures of the like import.
11. In the following work, various figures and symbols most familiarly known (to most of adult readers) as well as those more difficult, will be noted and explained; both for the benefit of youth; and to evince the abundant use of symbolic language; and that a great reason why some parts of this kind of language are so well understood, and other parts of it remain so obscure, is not because they belong to a different kind of figurative language; but because our attention has been directed to the former; while we have been led to neglect the latter. It is with this, as with words in our literal language. With many words we become familiarly acquainted, by use. We have a clear perception of the ideas annexed to them. But with a great number of other words in our language, which are no less legitimate, people generally remain unacquainted, because they have not been led to pay attention to them. Attention and use would render these words likewise familiar. In like manner, due attention might render those symbols in holy writ, which are now most obscure, very familiar.
12. I shall prosecute this work in the form of questions and answers; as this will most clearly keep the objects as we pass along in view; and is a most familiar method of instructing youth; for whose benefit this book is peculiarly designed.
I shall give a sketch of the origin of figurative language, in a kind of introduction; Then attend to the subject, of explaining some of the figurative language, found in the word God: And close with some incidental considerations.
In attending to the subject, some regard will be had to the arranging of figures and symbols under their respective classes, according to the sources whence they are derived; as from the heaven, the earth, the vegetable creation, a city, the human body, fowls and reptiles, the animal creation, and other sources. This will be the rule of order pursued. Some incidental figures will however, now and then, be interspersed, where some preceding idea may seem to suggest them, and they are not more properly claimed by any other connexion. The arranging of metaphors and symbols is a minor object, compared with that of learning their true sense.
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Question 1. WHAT are we to understand by figurative language?
Answer. It is the representing of one person or thing by another, or by some similitude. Bread and wine are used as symbols to represent the body and blood of Christ sacrificed for man. And the act of eating is taken figuratively to denote the exercise of the Christian faith.
Q. 2. What is the benefit of figurative language?
A. To represent an abstract idea by a sensible sign, or a thing less known by one better known, is a familiar mode of communicating instruction. There is a great analogy between many different things; -- between things in the natural, and things in the moral worlds. Men form a more ready acquaintance with things in the natural world, than with things in the moral. Hence objects from the former are often taken to represent things in the latter. Also historical events are sometimes represented, with beauty and force, by figures and allusions.
Q. 3. How long has figurative language been in use?
A. From the earliest ages of the world. The use of it originated in the simplicity of the earlier stages of society; and in the analogy, which was readily perceived to exist between different things. Familiar objects and properties belonging to one species of things, were used to represent those of another.
Q. 4. Has this practice been very prevalent?
A. It has. Some nations have been more abundant in the use of it than others. But much of figurative and
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symbolic language has been used in all ages, and nations, from the rudest, to the most refined stages of society.
Q. 5. What was the necessity of adopting this kind of language?
A. Before the invention of the alphabet, and of literal writing, people had no way of recording, their mental conceptions, but by adopting figures of familiar things. Hence the custom of writing by pictures and images was adopted from necessity, in early times. These were improved to more significant hieroglyphics and symbols.
Q. 6. But was not this a very loose method of communicating instruction; especially before the invention of literal writing, by which the true sense of symbols might be defined, and transmitted?
A. It was indeed; and we naturally conjecture, that unhappy consequences followed, from erroneous constructions of symbols, transmitted from patriarchs.*
Q. 7. But if symbols are capable of exciting wild and dangerous conjectures, is it not a sufficient objection against the propriety of the use of them?
* It is not unnatural to suppose, that the wild mythologies, fables and idolatries of the ancient heathen, had their peculiar complexion from a wrong and fanciful construction of symbols, transmitted from ancestors. Symbols, designed, perhaps, to commemorate important facts, such as are recorded in holy writ, might have constructions given them, which were wild and erroneous; and such as opened the flood gates of fanciful errors, and wild idolatries: -- Such for instance, as the following: -- The worship of the serpent, which was so leading a feature in almost all the idolatries of the ancient pagans, might have originated thus: -- Some pious patriarch, to transmit, in the most correct manner within his power, the true history of the fall of man, through the instrumentality of the serpent in Paradise, drew a picture of the serpent upon the fruit tree, in the act of seducing our first parents. They likewise might be presented, in picture, as under the tree, receiving the fruit from the serpent. This symbolic representation might in process of time (being attended with no literal explanation) suggest to the fancy of an uninformed posterity, that the serpent there was a god, dispensing his favours to our first parents; who were receiving the bounty; and adoring the giver. In like manner other symbols, -- of the flood, of the ark, of the dove, and of other things, now on sacred record, might be misconstrued; and hence might originate many of the wild theories of the ancient pagans. Various of the radical points in their mythologies are capable of being fairly traced to the events recorded in the history of Moses.
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A. The use of symbols has, in fact, obtained from the beginning. It is too late to object to the propriety of their use. Our part now is to adopt the best methods to understand, and to improve them. Since the improvement of literal writing, men are not so much left to their own wild conjectures, as were the ancients, relative to the sense of symbols. Their sense is transmitted, and better understood.
Q. 8. Was not the use of symbols discontinued, after the introduction of letters?
A. The Egyptians, though they are said to have invented the alphabet, and to have made the first use of literature; * yet they continued to make great use of their hieroglyphics, a kind of picture-writing, by them invented, and improved into significant symbols.
Q. 9. What reason can be assigned for this?
A. It afforded them a pleasure, as we may believe in exercising their inventive curiosity, and in prying into the properties and analogies of things. And they probably took a degree of pride in wrapping up their knowledge in vehicles both curious and mysterious. Whatever were their motives, it is a fact, that the ancient Egyptians did cultivate, with great diligence, the hieroglyphical species of writing; and this even after their use of the alphabet, and literal writing.
Q. 10. Did other nations do the same, and use the language of figures? Ethan Smith, A Key to the Figurative Language Found in the Sacred Scriptures,
A. They did. The antiquity and fame of ancient Egypt probably excited a veneration for this their practice in neighbouring nations, and to a distance. Hence
* Some suppose the alphabet and the art of literal writing, to have been supernatural, and of divine origin; and they attribute but little to human agency in the invention of them. No doubt the rich blessing of the alphabet, and the origin of literature, is from that Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, But the question is concerning the mode, in which it was given. Relative to this, I must confess myself not fond of multiplying miracles. The temporal gifts of God usually come through the medium of human invention and agency. Perhaps the blessing of letters did thus. If it were of human invention as some great authors believe, this derogates nothing from the sentiment, that it is a rich gift from above. For "the preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord."
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the learning of early times (which proceeded from Egypt) was much tinctured with the hieroglyphical character, or abounded in figurative language. What was at first adopted from necessity, was afterward retained and refined, to add embellishment. and force to language.
Q. 11. Did the learned, of those and after times, make great use of figurative language?
A. They did indeed. And it became the pride of the wise men of the east to exercise their own, and each others capacities with questions, involved in this form. Even the Greeks in after ages, and the Romans caught this manner of symbolizing their mental conceptions. And much of their writings appeared in the garb of the old Egyptian hieroglyphics, and of symbols. Vast use they made of figurative language.
Q. 12. What alteration took place, in relation to the use of symbols, after the introduction of the alphabet, and literal writing?
A. Symbols, instead of being presented in their own figure, as in the writing of pictures, were exhibited by letters and syllables; for instance, the name of a lion was written; instead of his picture exhibited. And so of other symbols. And the use of symbols became more perspicuous and intelligible; as particular and literal descriptions might attend them, and render perspicuous the subject, in which they were found.
Q. 13. What is to be inferred from these remarks, relative to the use of figurative language by the ancient people of God?
A. It is no wonder, that the Israelites, who spent several centuries in Egypt, during the minority of their nation, should learn, and adopt the use of figurative language. And it is no wonder, that the prophetic stile, afterward adopted, should abound in symbolic imagery.
Q. 14. Would the writers of the holy scriptures be permitted to use figurative language in this sacred book?
A. The inspired penmen were led to record their sacred conceptions in the language in common use. And their prophetic writings especially might be expected to abound in symbols, not only on account of their common use, but because the prophecies were designed to be veiled in obscurity for a time. Most of them were to be not literal, but mystical predictions.
Q. 15. But is this kind of language sufficiently intelligent, for a book of divine revelation?
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A. Symbolic writing, intermingled with that of letters, is more intelligible, and definite, than many imagine. But few objections justly attend it, which do not attend, in some degree, the most literal language. The latter is unintelligible, till it is rendered familiar by attention and use. And even then, it is imperfect. The same word often imports different actions and things. And much is often to be decided by the object and connexion of the writer; and by the judgment of the reader.
Q. 16. How then, can the sense of any writer be known?
A. The difficulties raised against the precision of any language, either figurative or literal, may be greater in speculation, than in reality. They may appear formidable at a distance; and vanish on a near approach before a judicious and improved mind.
Q. 17. Does the same symbol, in different places in the Bible, sometimes denote different things?
A. It does. One thing is of importance to be remembered. The Bible treats of things temporal; and of things spiritual. Or of secular kingdoms; and of the church and people of Christ. The same symbol relates sometimes to the one of these; and sometimes to the other. And when symbols are thus differently applied, their signification is no less different.
Q. 18. How can it be known to which of these two systems a symbol, in any given place, belongs?
A. The object of the writer, and circumstances will generally clearly decide this point.
II. THE SUBJECT.
THE HEAVENS.Q. 20. When secular things are the subject, what is symbolized by the heavens?
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A. The system or polity of an empire, or kingdom. Rev. vi. 14.; The heavens departed as a scroll. Or, the system of the pagan empire was subverted, in the revolution of the Roman empire under Constantine. Matt. xxiv. 29.; "The powers of the heavens shall be shaken!" Or the whole political world, at the introduction of the battle of the great day, shall be shaken.
Q. 21. What does the sun, in such a case, denote?
A. Civil government generally. When it is said, "The sun shall be turned into darkness;" the event predicted is to take place on civil government generally. Sometimes the governments of a particular section of the earth is meant; as in Rev. xvi. 8.; where the fourth vial is poured upon the sun, and gives it power to scorch the men of the Papal earth.
Q. 22. What is symbolized by the moon?
A. The body of the people; especially vast armies; as will by and by appear.
Q. 23. Who are symbolized by the stars?
A. Particular rulers; as kings, governors, magistrates, in an empire or nation: Matt. xxiv. 29.; -- "And the stars shall fall from heaven; and the powers of the heaven shall be shaken." Or in the battle of that great day, God will destroy wicked kings, princes and rulers from the earth, as is abundantly predicted.
The morning star may denote an exalted potentate, or dynasty; as in Isaiah, xiv.
12. a great power under the name of the king of Babylon, is called, Lucifer, son of the morning. Or the luminous morning star.
Q. 24. What is imported by the darkening of the sun; or its eclipse?
A. The embarrassment, or confusion of civil governments generally: Joel, iii. 31.; "The sun shall be turned into darkness." As Matt. xxiv. 29.; "Immediately after the tribulations of those days shall the sun be darkened." Also the utter subversion of the pagan government of Rome. Rev. vi. 12.; "The sun became black as sackcloth of hair," in the revolution under Constantine.
Q. 25. What is to be understood by the turning of the moon to blood; probably alluding to its eclipse?
A. The vast slaughter of armies, and people by the sword: Joel, ii. 31.; "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible
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day of the Lord come." See also Matt. xxiv. 29. Rev. vi. 12.
Q. 26. What is denoted by the falling of the stars; expressed from the vulgar conception, that when a meteor is seen to shoot in the air, it appears like the falling of a star?
A. The falling of the various grades of civil rulers from their stations, by revolutions, and civil disasters: Rev. vi. 13.; "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, as a figtree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind." Joel, iii. 15.; "The stars shall withdraw their shining." See Matt. xxiv. 29. This is the same event, predicted by the prophet, relative to the last days; "He shall cut off the spirit of princes, and shew himself terrible to the kings of the earth.
Q. 27. Who are denoted by wandering stars; meaning comets with fiery tails, and excentric orbits?
A. Agents of mischief, let loose in various directions: As in Jude 13 verse, the abominable agents of Antichrist, in the last days, are called "wandering stars; to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Isaiah, 1. 7.; "Your country is desolate; your cities are burned with fire; your land strangers devour it in your presence; and it is desolate as overthrown by strangers."
Q. 28. What is denoted by the departing of the heavens like a scroll?
A. The utter subversion of one government by another; as that of Pagan Rome, by Constantine: Rev. vi. 12.; "And the heavens departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together."
Q. 29. What else is included in the visible heavens, from which symbols are borrowed?
A. The atmosphere, or globe of air, which surrounds the earth. In this are generated clouds, lightning, thunder, wind, storms of rain and of hail. These, when applied to secular concerns, are very expressive and significant.
Q. 30. What do clouds import?
A. Dark events; -- judgments: Ps. xcvii. 2; "Clouds and darkness are round about him." Isai. xix. I .; "Behold, the Lord rideth on a swift cloud." See Matt. xxiv 30. Rev. i. 7.
Q. 31. Who are denoted by clouds without water?
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A. The mischievous agents of Antichrist, in the last days. See Jude, 12th verse. 2 Pet. ii. 17.
Q. 32. What is denoted by wind; -- a stormy wind; -- a whirlwind; and hail?
A. Divine judgments of various degrees: Isaiah, xii. 16.; "The wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them." Isai. xxvii. 8.; "He stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east wind." In Rev. vii. 1. four Angels held the four winds; or the signal judgments of God, from the northern invasions, are stayed; till the chosen of God are sealed. In Ezek. xiii. 11-13. the stormy wind shall rend the wall of hypocrisy, and great hailstones of judgment shall consume it. See also Rev. xi. 19.; and xvi. 21.; where the fatal judgments of the last days are symbolized by great hail.
Q. 33. What is imported by lightning and thunder?
A. Wars, and bloody scenes. In Isai. xxix. 6. God's enemies are threatned with thunder, meaning war, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. In Rev. xi. 19.; and xvi. 18. the exterminating judgments of the battle of that great day, are represented (among other terrific emblems) by lightnings and thunderings."
Q. 34. What then is the probable import of the seven thunders, uttering their voices? Rev. x. 33.
A. The progress of an unprecedented series of wars: probably the wars, and rumors of wars, foretold by Christ, Matt. xxiv. 6. as the beginning of the sorrows of the last days. (See treatise on the fifth vial in my dissertation on the Prophecies.)
Q. 35. When these symbols, borrowed from the natural heavens, are applied to spiritual things; who is denoted by the Sun?
A. God, and Christ: Ps. lxxxiv. 11.; "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; Matt. iv. 2.; "Unto you that fear my name, shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." The sun denotes also holy comfort: Job, xxx. 28.; "I went mourning without the sun."
Q. 36. What does the moon, in this case denote?
A. The interests of this world. In Rev. xii. 1. "The church is represented with the moon under her feet." The true church is dead to the world, in the exercise
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of that holy faith, which overcomes it. And the moon is a similitude of the church herself: Song. vi. 10; "Who is she, (says Christ of the church) that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon?" --
Q. 37. Who are symbolized by the stars?
A. The apostles, and gospel ministers: Rev. xii. 1; "And on her head a crown of twelve stars." The church is crowned with the twelve apostles. Rev. i. 20; "The seven stars are the angels (meaning pastors) of the seven churches." Chap. ii. 1; "These things saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand."
A star, and the bright and morning star, also denote Christ, Balaam predicted him, as the star to arise out of Judah; Numb. xxiv. 17. A star accordingly led the eastern sages to the Babe of Bethlehem; Matt. ii. 2. 9. And Jesus calls himself, "the bright and morning star;" Rev. xxii. 16. Wandering stars may denote not only agents of political mischief; but also false teachers, aiding the same cause; Jude, 13 verse.
Q. 38. What is imported by a star falling from heaven?
A. Some apostate teacher; as Mohammed; See Rev. ix. 1. where that impostor is symbolized by a star falling from heaven, and unlocking the bottomless pit.
Q. 39. What is denoted by the natural light of heaven?
A. God: 1 John, i. 5; "God is light." Christ: John, viii. 12; "I am the light of the world. John the Baptist: John. i. 35; "He was a burning and a shining light." The ambassadors and followers of Christ: Matt. v. 14; "Ye are the light of the world." Evangelical wisdom: Isai. viii. 20; To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." The gospel: Matt. iv. 16; "To them, who sat in the regions and shadow of death, light is sprang up." Support in trouble: Micah, vii. 8; "When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me." The good deeds of christians: Matt. v. 6; "Let your light so shine before men." Great evangelical bliss: Isai. lviii. 8; "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning." Chap. lx. 1; "Arise, shine; for thy light is come; and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
Q. 40. What is denoted by natural darkness?
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A. Sin: Eph. v. 11; "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." The wicked: Eph. vi. 12; "The rulers of darkness of this world;" i.e. "the spirits that work in the children of disobedience." The perverseness of unbelief: John, i. 5; "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not:" With chap. iii. 19; "Light is come into the world; and men loved darkness, rather than light." Outward calamity: Joel, ii. 2.; -- "A day of darkness and gloominess; a day of clouds and of thick darkness." The grave, in Job, x. 21. is called the land of darkness. And darkness denotes the state of future punishment; hell. Matt. xxii. 13; "Cast him into outer darkness."
Q. 41. What is denoted by the great increase of natural light, predicted to take place in the Millennium?
A. A great increase of knowledge, in religion, and in things useful and ornamental: Isai. xxx. 26; "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days." Chap. xxiv. 23; Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously."
Q. 42. What is denoted by showers and rain?
A. The blessed influences of the spirit and of the doctrines of grace: Ps. lxxii. 6; "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth." Dew is a similitude of the same blessing. See Ps. cxxxiii. 3.
Q. 43. What is denoted by the Lord's raining upon the wicked, snares; Ps. xi. 6?
A. His providentially confounding and destroying the wicked, as though snares were rained out of heaven upon them: Ps. ix. 15, 16; "The heathen are sum: down in the pit, that they made; in the net, which they hid, is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment, which he executeth: The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." It is a principle in the divine government, and in the word of God, that he who digeth a pit, shall himself fall into it. "He that taketh the sword, shall perish by the sword." "Their sword shall enter into their own heart." "He that leadeth into captivity, shall go into captivity." "God taketh the wise in their own craftiness." God often makes mischievous
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characters establish and mature the principles of their own defeat and ruin; as did Haman; Esther, vii. 10. God will certainly, in some way, ensnare and destroy therm. They will be caught in some evil net. And this is forcibly expressed by God's raining snares upon them.
Q. 44. What is denoted by the blowing of the wind?
A. The influences of the spirit of grace: Song, iv. 16; "Awake, O north wind, and come thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." John, iii. 8; "The wind bloweth where it listeth; -- so is every one that is born of the spirit."
Q. 45. What is symbolized by the rainbow?
A. The covenant faithfulness of God: Rev. iv. 3; "And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." Chap. x. 1. of the Angel of the covenant it is said; and a rainbow was upon his head." The rainbow: Gen. ix. 13. is a token of God's covenant with Noah. And in the other passages, it is a symbol of the divine faithfulness.
Q. 46. What is denoted by a cloud?
A. The divine protection. God overshadowed the camp of Israel with his cloud by day, and his fire by night, as an emblem of his protecting power. In allusion to this it is promised, Isai. iv. 5; "And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence." See also chap. xviii. 4. But a cloud sometimes denotes calamity: Lam. ii 1; "How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger. And in Ezek. xxxiv. 12. we read of God's people being scattered in a cloudy and dark day.
Q. 47. What, in spiritual subjects, is denoted by heaven, meaning the visible heaven?
A. The visible church, with all that is nominally the cause of God: Heb. xii. 26; "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven," or the nominal church. Rev. xii. 7; "And there was war in heaven; "meaning the Papal church, where Satan fought against the witnesses, in the dark ages. The heavens also denote God in heaven: Dan. iv. 26; "Thy kingdom shall
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be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule:" i. e. that God rules.
Q. 48. What are we to understand by new heavens, and a new earth?
A. Primarily, the gospel church especially in the Millennium. See Isai. lxv. 17-22; and lxvi. 22. But ultimately, the phrase means the glorified church in heaven, including all her state of glory. See 2 Pet. iii. 13; and Rev. xxi. 1. In the above passages in Isaiah, God calls the millennial church the new heavens and new earth, as a man would call his materials for a house, which he is preparing abroad, his house. They may be thus called, by a prolepsis, because they are, by and by, to be erected into an house.
THE EARTH, OR TERRAQUEOUS GLOBE.Q. 49. The terraqueous globe furnishes a vocabulary for figurative language. What parts of this globe are thus used?
A. The sea, lakes, fountains, rivers, water, mountains, hills, rocks, stones, fire, smoke; yea, the whole world; the earth; and the parts and appendages of it.
Q. 50. What in figurative language, is imported by the world?
A. The people of a great empire: Luke ii. 1; "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world (meaning the people of the Roman empire) should be taxed." It sometimes imports a great multitude: John xii. 19; "Behold, the world has gone after him." Sometimes the non-elect: John xvii. 9; "I pray not for the world, but for them, whom thou hast given me." Sometimes it means the mass of the impenitent: 1 John v. 19. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." John xv. 18. "If the world hate you, ye know it hated me, before it hated you." In Heb. ix. 26. the world is supposed to import the Old Testament dispensation: -- And in chap. ii. 5. the New.
Q. 51. What is denoted by the earth?
A. The people of the earth: Gen. vi. 11; "The earth also was corrupt before God." This figure is called a metonymy. The earth (as used in the Revelation) sometimes imports the Roman empire: Rev. vi. 4; "And power was given unto him to take peace from the earth;" i. e. from the Roman empire.
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Q. 52. In a secular view, what is symbolized by waters?
A. Multitudes of people. Rev. xviii. 1; -- "The great whore that sitteth upon many waters." Verse 15: "The waters, where the woman sitteth, are peoples and multitudes, and nations and tongues." Proud waters denote haughty oppressors: Ps. cxxiv. 5; "The proud waters had gone over our souls."
Q. 53. What is denoted by the sea?
A. The seat of an empire, into which the streams of wealth and influence flow. In Rev. viii. 8. and xii. 3. the second trumpet, and second vial (or cup of wrath) were executed upon the sea, meaning the seat of the Roman empire. Sometimes the sea denotes the mass of the nations in great commotion: As in Dan. vii. 2, 3. the four great symbolical beasts, denoting the eastern, empires, rose out of the sea. The ragings of the nations, and the revolutions of the last days, are denoted by this emblem: Ps. xlvi. 2, 3; "Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Luke xxi. 25, 26; "And there shall be distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring: Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things, which are coming on the earth."
Q. 54. What is symbolized by a pit?
A. A plot of mischief: Ps. vii. 15: "He made a pit, and digged it; and is fallen into the ditch, which he made." Or, is fallen, like Haman, into his own plot of mischief. A pit denotes also great trouble: Ps. xl. 2; "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miery clay." It likewise denotes the grave: Ps. cxliii. 7; -- "Lest I be like them, that go down into the pit." A pit symbolizes the long dispersion of the Jews: Zech. ix. 11; "As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water :" Or have recovered the Jews from their dispersion. And a pit is a symbol of the destruction of God's enemies: Ps. lv. 23; "But thou, O Lord, will bring them down into the pit of destruction." Ps. xciv. 13; "Until the pit be digged for the wicked."
Q. 55. What is symbolized by a lake and a bottomless pit?
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A. The state of eternal perdition; hell: See Rev. xix. 21; xx. 1. 14, 15; xxi. 8.
Q. 56. What is symbolized, (in secular subjects) by rivers and fountains of water?
A. Nations, or parts of an empire. In Rev. viii. 10, the third trumpet, and in chap. xvi. 4. the third vial, were executed on the rivers and fountains of water; meaning the nations of the Roman empire. And Isai xviii. 2; "Whose land the rivers have spoiled:" i. e. The land of the Jews other nations have overrun.
Q. 57. What is denoted by drying up such rivers?
A. Subverting kingdoms: Ps. lxxiv. 15; "Thou driest up mighty rivers," i. e. didst destroy mighty nations before the people of Israel. Fatal judgments on nations are predicted in such language as the following; Isai. xix. 5. "The waters shall fail from the sea; and the rivers shall be wasted and dried up." As Rev. xvi. 12; And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up." Or, the power, symbolized by this river, was subverted. In Joel i. 20. in finishing the descriptions of the day of the Lord, it is said, "For the rivers of water are dried up; and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness." This figure will be fulfilled upon antichristian nations, in the battle of that great day, introductory to the millennium.
Q. 58. What are symbolized by floods?
A. Large collections of people, put in motion usually for wicked purposes: Ps. xciii. 3; "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their waves." An overflowing flood denotes a victorious army, or a sweeping judgment: Nahum, i. 8; "But with an overflowing Hood he will make an utter end thereof
Q. 59. What are symbolized by the floods poured out of the mouth of the dragon, to cause the church to be carried away with them; Rev. xii. 15?
A. Multitudes of secret, mischevious agents, sent forth; of impositions and lies; -- and of violent armies, and bloody measures, excited by the devil, and his prime agents of mischief, in the last days, with a view to break down the hedge about the church; and subvert the cause of Christ.
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Q. 60. What is denoted by the earth's helping the church, by opening her mouth, and swallowing up those floods; verse 16?
A. Providential checks and restraints laid upon the enemies of the church: such as the failing of expeditions; jarring interests arising among themselves; some raised up to withstand their systems of mischief; and various judgments inflicted. So that the great agents of Satan, of infidelity and tyranny, shall be like an engine, which is "part of iron and part of clay; -- partly strong, and partly broken:" Dan. ii. 33, 41-43.
The earth's opening her mouth may be in allusion to the manner, in which Korah and his company were destroyed; Numb. xvi. 32. They were literally swallowed up in the earth. And it is predicted of the vile agents of Satan, in the last days, (Jude 11 verse) that they shall perish in the gainsaying of Korah.
Q. 61. What is denoted by islands?
A. Provinces, or parts of an empire; probably those that are the most stable: Rev. vi. 14; "And every mountain and island were moved out of their places." See chap. xvi. 20.
Q. 62. What are denoted by mountains and hills?
A. Kingdoms, greater or less: Jer. iv. 24; "I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled; and all the hills moved lightly." And we read, "God toucheth the hills, and they smoke." God touches the nations in his anger, and they are, as it were on fire.
Q. 63. What is denoted by mountains being removed and cast into the midst of the sea?
A. Fatal revolutions in kingdoms: Ps. xlvi. 2 ; -- "Though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." Rev. xvi. 20; "and the mountains were not found." Also the surmounting of great difficulties by faith: Matt. xxi. 21; "If ye have faith, and doubt not, -- If ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and cast into the sea, and it shall be done." Zech. iv. 7; "Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shall become a plain." Or every difficulty shall be made to give way before the people of God, under the Captain of their salvation.
Q. 64. What is to be understood by the mountains and hills being made low; and the vallies exalted, at the introduction of the Millennium; Isai. xl. 4?
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A. It includes the removal, in behalf of the cause of Christ, of all national establishments, as well as of haughty individuals, that are hostile to that cause: And the gracious liberation and exaltation of the oppressed people of God. Ezek. xxi. 26; "Exalt him that is low; and abase him that is high." James, iv. 6; "God resisteth the proud; but giveth grace unto the humble."
Q. 65. What is denoted by the skipping of the mountains like rams, and of the hills like lambs, at the presence of the Lord; Ps. cxiv. 4. 6?
A. It is an instructive and striking hyperbole, to represent the terrible majesty of God; that his presence and voice are enough to make the very mountains to skip and tremble. The mountains and the very earth do seem to skip and tremble at his thunder, when it strikes near us. And they no doubt did thus in the scene at Sinai. And the Symbolic mountains (the nations) may be said to skip and tremble at God's tremendous judgments: Heb. iii. 10; "The mountains saw thee, and they trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by: The deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high."
Q. 66. What is imported by the feet of the wicked stumbling upon the dark mountains?
A. Their being involved in fatal calamities: Jer. xiii 16; " Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." This seems to allude to the case of a person lost, and wandering upon a distant craggy mountain, in the night. He must move forward. He looks and longs for day. But instead of day it becomes gross darkness, and so remains. This similitude may emphatically denote eternal destruction.
Q. 67. What is signified by a burning mountain cast into the sea?
A. A furious nation in arms falling upon the seat of another nation: Rev. viii. 8; "And the second angel sounded; and as it were a great mountain burning with fi e was cast into the sea." This was fulfilled in the Vandals taking and plundering Rome.
Q. 68. What is symbolized by fire?
A. Wrath or indignation, as it relates to the wicked: Isai. xxvi. 11; "The fire of thine enemies shall devour
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them." Luke xii. 49; "I am come to send fire on the earth." The gospel excites the fiery enmity of the carnal mind. And the cause of the wicked will be as it were burnt up by their own fire; Rev. xi. 18; "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come." Matt. iv. 1; "Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and that day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Fire symbolizes God, in his anger against the wicked: Heb. xii.29; "For our God is a consuming fire."
Q. 69. What is symbolized by smoke?
A. The presence and glory of God: Isai. iv. 5; "The Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night." Chap. vi. 4; where the prophet had a vision of Christ in his Temple above, among the emblems of glory, we read, "and the house was filled with smoke." As in Rev. xv. 8; "And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power." These texts probably are an allusion to Exod. xix. 18; where Sinai was altogether on smoke when the Lord descended upon it.
Smoke is also a symbol of the selfrighteous. In Isai. lxv. 5. those who say, stand by thyself, come not nigh unto me; I am holier than thou, are "a smoke in God's nose." Smoke is an emblem of fatal delusion. In Rev. ix. 2, the horrid imposture of Mohammed is symbolized by a smoke let out from the bottomless pit. And smoke denotes also the perpetual manifestation of the irretrievable destruction of the inveterate enemies of God. In Isai. xxxiv. 10. among the terrible things said of the destruction of Babylon, we find this; "The smoke thereof shall go up forever." In allusion to which passage, it is announced of all who worship the Roman beast, or have any affinity with him, that "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever." And in chap. xix. 3. it is said of the Papal harlot, "And her smoke rose up forever and ever." (For an explanation of this latter text, see Isai. lxvi. 23. 24.)
Q. 70. What is denoted by the sea, and the rivers and fountains being turned to blood?
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A. Terrible wars and judgments in the seat, and in the more remote kingdoms or provinces of an empire. See Rev. xvi. 3, 4; -- the second and third vials executed on Rome and Italy, and on the nations of the papal communions.
Q. 71. What is denoted by an earthquake in symbolic language?
A. Great and sudden political convulsion. In Isai. xxix. 6. God threatens to visit his enemies with thunder, and earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and flame of devouring fire. In Rev. xi. 13. 19. and xvi. 18. the terrible judgments of the last days are predicted under various similitudes; and among the rest by most terrible earthquakes.
Q. 72. When parts of the globe are applied to spiritual things, what do they import? What does water in that case denote?
A. The abundant grace of the gospel: Isai. Iv. 1; "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." "If any man thirst let him come unto me, and drink." But waters sometimes import trials: Isai. xliii. 2; "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." Ps. lxix. 1 2; "The waters are come into my soul: -- I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me."
Q. 73. What is symbolized by a fountain?
A. Christ, and the provisions of his salvation: Zech xiii. 1; "In that day there shall be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." Rev. xxi. 6; "I will give unto him, that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." See Ps. xxxvi. 9. Jer. ii. 13.
Q. 74. What is symbolized by a river?
A. The covenant of grace; the glorious grace of the gospel. See in Ezek. xlvii. 5-12. a rich description of the river of gospel grace, issuing from the threshold of the house of God; becoming deep and vast; rolling its waters through the east; till it reaches and heals the great sea. This will be fulfiled in the Millennium, when the mass of the eastern nation will be healed by the waters of life. In allusion to this emblem, is the description of the pure river of the water of life, in Rev. xxii. 1. proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb.
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Q. 75. What is symbolized by a net?
A. Several things: Serpentine mischief, planned by the wicked: Ps. ix 15; "In the net, which they hid is their own foot taken." See Prov. xii. 12, Hab. i. 13-17. Deep afflictions upon the righteous: Job. xix. 6; "God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net." And it denotes the means of gospel salvation: Christ says, "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea." And to his apostles and gospel ministers he says, " I will make you fishers of men." Their net then, is the gospel; -- the means of salvation. It is believed, that the great draught of fishes caught by the apostles when they let down their net on the other side of his ship, at the direction of Christ, and after they had toiled all night, and caught nothing, was a lively emblem of the great success the apostles should have, in their propagation of the gospel. See John xxi. 3-8; with Matt. iv. 19. Preaching and the ministerial labors for the salvation of men, in the last days, is thus expressed in Ezek. xlvii. 10; (where the glorious grace of the gospel is symbolized by a river;) "And it shall come to pass, that fishers shall stand upon it, from Engedi, even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be, according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many."
Q. 76. What is denoted by streams from the river of the gospel?
A. All the particular blessings of the covenant of grace: Ps. xlvi. 4; "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God." Isai. xxxiii 21; "But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams." Chap. xii. 18; "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." See also chap. xxxv 6, 7. lxvi. 12. xxxii. 2.
Q. 77. Who are denoted by the miry and marshy places by the sides of this river?
A. Hardened reprobates: Ezek. xlvii. 11; "But the miry places thereof, and the marshy places thereof shall not be healed: they shall be given to salt." i. e. There shall be hardened despisers given to eternal reprobation, even under the choicest blessings of gospel grace.
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Q. 78. What is denoted by still waters?
A. The blessings of divine grace enjoyed in peace: Ps. xxiii. 2; "He leadeth me beside the still waters." Isai viii. 6; "Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah, that go softly."
Q. 79. What is signified by the sea of glass, Rev. iv, 6?
A. Perhaps the eternal purity and stability of the heavenly state in opposition to the tumultuous state of things in this life: -- As a sea of glass, clear as crystal, is perfectly pure and fixed; in opposition to the natural sea, which is tumultuous, and casts up mire and dirt; and is an emblem of this world, and of the wicked: See Isai. lvii. 20, 21, Luke xxi. 25.
If the sea of glass have any relation to the state of the church militant, Rev. xv. 2. it probably imports the purity and stability of the christian faith, which purifies the heart, and overcomes the world; in opposition to the defiling and tumultuous state of many depraved passions.
Q. 80. What (in relation to good people) is symbolized by fire?
A. Salutary trials for purification: Mal. iii. 2, 3; -- "He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Isai. xlviii. 10; "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Zech. xiii. 9; "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them; and will say, it is my people; end they shall say, The Lord is my God."
Q. 81. What spiritually, is denoted by a mountain?
A. The church, or kingdom of Christ on earth: Isai. ii. 2; "And it shall come to pass! in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." i. e. The church shall be exalted above all worldly kingdoms. Christ's mountain shall rise above all the mountains of this world.
Q. 82. What is denoted by hills?
A. Heaven: Ps. cxxi. 1; "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." Gen.
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xlix. 26; -- "unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills."
Q. 83. Who is symbolized by a rock?
A. God, and Christ: Ps. lxxviii. 35; "God was their rock." 1 Cor. x. 4; "They drank of that spiritual rock, which followed them; and that rock was Christ." God is frequently called a rock.
Q. 84. What is imported by a shadow?
A. The divine protection; and the blessings of ordinances: Isai. xxxii. 2; Christ is "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Ps. xci. 1; "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Song ii. 3; "I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
To the wicked, a shadow is an emblem of the vanity of their days, and of the tokens of their approaching ruin: Eccle. viii. 13 ; "But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God." Jer. vi. 4; "Woe unto us! for the day goeth away; for the shadows of the evening are stretched out." i. e. The tokens of our approaching ruin are manifest; as long shadows indicate the setting of the sun, and the approach of night. A shadow also is the same as a type: See Col. ii. 17. Heb. viii. 5. x. 1.
Q. 85. What is symbolized by a stone?
A. The carnal heart: Ezek. xxxvi. 26; "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh; and I will give you an heart of flesh."
Q. 86. What are symbolized by precious stones?
A. The blessings of the millennial church: Isai. liv. 12; "I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones." Rev. xxi. 19; "And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones." A detail of them there follows.
Q. 87. Who is denoted by the "head of the corner;" meaning the "chief corner stone?"
A. Jesus Christ: Ps. cxviii. 22; "The stone, which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner." See also Isai. xxviii. 16 Eph. ii. 90. Pet. ii. 6, 7, 8.
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Q. 88. What is meant by the white stone, with a new name upon it, to be given to those, who overcome; Rev. ii. 17?
A. The white stone imports justification; in allusion to the custom of some of the ancients, in trying a person indicted for a high crime. Those, who were set to judge, gave their verdict for his condemnation, by casting a black stone; and for his justification, by casting a white one. Christ will justify and glorify him, that overcometh, here, and publicly hereafter. The new name in this stone is an addition to the symbol, and probably imports the special privilege of the children of God. "They shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." This is indeed a new name, which none, knows, but he who receives it. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God? Therefore the world knoweth us not." This Spirit of adoption, which cries, "Abba Father," is a "joy, which the stranger intermeddleth not with." In this life the Spirit himself witnesseth with their spirits, that they are the children of God. They are thus "sealed with the holy Spirit of promise." And their future reward will be most glorious.
VEGETABLE CREATION.Q. 89. The vegetable creation furnishes a variety of symbols. What is denoted by an olive tree?
A. The state and privileges of the visible church. In Rom. xi. 17. the Jews are represented as broken off from the true olive tree; and the Gentiles grafted into it. And the Jews, he proceeds to inform, shall be grafted again into this their own olive tree. See Hosea, xiv. 5, 7. Zeck. iv. 12-14. Ps. lii. 8 cxxviii. 3.
Q. 90. What is signified by the wild olive tree?
A. Heathenism: In Rom. xi 24. the church there addressed are said to have been taken out of the wild olive tree; or from heathenism.
Q. 91. What is symbolized by a vineyard?
A. The visible church, in her spiritual privileges. See Isai. v. 1-7. relative to the vineyard of the Well-beloved of the church, in a very fruitful hill. And see the same allegory pursued, in the parable of the vineyard, Matt. xxi 33-41. The church is God's vineyard, into which he sends laborers: See Matt. xx. 1-7.
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Q. 92. What is denoted by a garden?
A. The same as by a vineyard, just noted: Song, iv. 12; A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse." Chap; vi. 2; "My Beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies." Chap. v. 1; "I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse." Chap. viii. 13; "Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice; cause me to hear it." See Isai. li. 3. lviii. 11. lxi. 11. Jer. xxxi. 12.
Q. 93. Who is denoted by a vine?
A. Jesus Christ: John xv. 1; "I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman." It also denotes the people of God: Ps. lxxx. 8; "thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt." Verse 14; "Behold and visit this vine." Isai. v. 2.
Q. 94. Who are denoted by branches in this vine?
A. Visible Christians: John xv. 5; "I am the vine; ye are the branches."
Q. 95. Who are denoted by fruitless branches of the vine?
A. Hypocrites, in Christ only by profession, or privilege: John, xv. 2. 6; "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit,
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
Q. 96. Who are denotes by an empty vine?
A. Hypocrites: Hosea, x. 1; "Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself:" The barren vine denotes also all the wicked, in their worthlessness. See Ezek. xv. 2-6; where Israel is compared to a worthless vine, that is not fit for timber, nor to make pins, on which to hang any vessel: It is fit only for fuel. A solemn passage for Gospel despisers!
Q. 97. Who are denoted by a fruitless figtree?
A. Hypocrites and sinners. See the parable of the figtree; Luke xiii. 6-9. It is placed advantageously for bearing fruit. But it bears none. It cumbers the ground. Justice says, Cut it down. Mercy pleads, that it may be spared one year longer; and consents, that if it continue unfruitful, it must be cut down. See also
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Matt. xxi. 19; where the fruitless figtree is cursed, and withers.
Q. 98. What is denoted by a forest?
A. A city full of inhabitants. In Isai. xxxiii. 15. of the Millennium it is said, "The wilderness shall become a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be counted for a forest:" As in chap. lx. 22; "A little one shall become a thousand; and a small one a strong nation."
Q. 99. Who are symbolized by wheat?
A. All, who hold out in faith and well doing to the end: Matt. iii. 12; "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner." Wheat denotes also the word of God: l Jer. xxiii. 28; "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream: and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully: what is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord?"
Q. 100. What is denoted by chaff?
A. In the passage now rehearsed, it denotes false doctrine. It also denotes the wicked: Matt. iii. 12; "But he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And it denotes their wicked works: Isai. xxxiii. 11; "Ye shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble; your breath as fire shall devour you." This figure is nearly allied to that of their "treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath," -- Bringing forth chaff for their own burnings.
Q. 101. Who are denoted by wheat growing in the field, and tares?
A. The children of grace, during their probation here; in distinction from hypocrites and sinners, who are denoted by tares: See parable; Matt. xiii. 24-30.
Q. 102. Who are symbolized by briers and thorns?
A. Persecutors and oppressors: Ezek. ii. 6; "Be not afraid of them, though briers and thorns be with thee." Micah, vii. 4; "The best of them is as a brier, and the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge." See David's description of the infidels of the last days; 2 Sam. xxiii. 6. They are men of Beliel; can no more be managed than thorns; must be bruised down with iron; and utterly burned with fire in the same place.
Q. 103. Who are represented by nettles, and brambles?
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A. Base ungodly men. In Judges ix. 15. the ambitious, treacherous and bloody Abimelech is represented by the worthless bramble, thinking to reign over the trees. And it was threatened to Israel, Hosea, ix. 6; "The pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them; thorns shall be in their tabernacles." Or wicked men should oppress and destroy them.
Q. 104. Who is denoted by the apple tree?
A. Jesus Christ: Song, ii. 3; "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons." Chap. viii. s; "I raised thee up under the apple tree."
Q. 105. Who is symbolized by a branch?
A. Jesus Christ: Zech. iii. 8; "I will bring forth my servant the Branch." Isai. xi. 1; "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse; and a branch shall grow out of his roots." The description of this branch, which follows, applies wholly and only to Christ.
Q. 106. Who is denoted by a root?
A. Jesus Christ: Rev. xxii. 16; "I am the root and offspring of David; the bright and morning star." Various things are also denoted by a root. -- Grace in the heart: Math. xiii. 6; "Because they had no root in themselves, they withered away." Job, xix. 28; "Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is in him ?" -- The occasion of a thing: 1 Tim. vi. 10; "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
Q. 107. Of what is the palm (branch) an emblem?
A. Of victory; as an olive branch is of peace: In Rev. vii. 9. we read of the great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, standing before the throne -- and palms (i. e. branches of the palm tree, as symbols of their victory) in their hands.
Q. 108. What is denoted by spices?
A. The Christian graces: Song iv. 16; "Awake, O north wind, and come thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." In chap. iii. 6. the church, coming out of the wilderness, is "perfumed with myrrh and frankincense." Ps. xiv. 8; " All thy clothes smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia." Or, thy graces are the perfumed ornaments of the soul. The members of the church are denoted by an orchard of spices, Song iv. 13. 14; "Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with
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spikenard, and saffron, calamus, and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices." The holy oil was compounded with various of these spices, being made of oil olive, sweet cinnamon, calamus, cassia, and pure myrrh. Exod. xxx. 23-25. This circumstance probably led the way, that the children of God should be represented by those plants, and their graces by those spices.
Q. 109. What was denoted by the holy oil?
A. The gift of the Holy Ghost. Accordingly Christ, when he was set apart to his high priest's office, and was baptized, received the Holy Ghost in the emblem of a dove, instead of the anointing, which followed the washing with water, in the induction of the Jewish high priests into office. Exod. xl. 13. The Saviour is hence called the Anointed, as the word Christ signifies; because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power; having had the Spirit without measure. The holy oil was a symbol of grace, love and gladness. We hence read of the "oil of gladness;" of "the oil of joy; and that holy love is "like the ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garment." "Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." Kings and priests were designated to office, (as types of Christ, the true Anointed,) by the holy oil. The utensils of the temple were dedicated to God, by the anointing of the holy oil; Exod. xl. 9: a type of the holy unction, possessed by all the true members of God's spiritual temple; 1 John ii. 20. 27.
Q. 110. What was denoted by common oil in the lamp?
A. Grace in the heart. See the parable of the virgins; Matt. xxv. 1-13. The lamp there denotes the profession of religion. The lamp without the oil, denotes graceless profession. And the lamp with the oil, a profession with grace in the heart.
Q. 111. What was symbolized by the rod of an almond tree showed to the prophet, Jer. i. 11?
A. the great speed with which God would execute the judgments, then to be announced: As the almond tree was the first tree to blossom in the spring; so it was an emblem of the speed of an event.
Q. 112. What is symbolized by trees and green grass; or pastures?
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A. When secular concerns are the subject, trees denote the inhabitants of a nation or empire; and green grass their privileges and tranquillity: Rev. viii. 7; "And the first angel sounded; and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and the, were cast upon the earth; and the third part of trees was burnt up; and all green grass was burnt up." i. e. The terrible northern invasions miserably destroyed the people of the Roman empire; and the tranquil enjoyment of their temporal blessings was utterly subverted: As Joel, i. 19; "O Lord, to thee will I cry; for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field." As furious fires in the woods destroy trees; so fiery judgments destroy men. And such judgments destroy their pastures or worldly blessings.
When spiritual things are the subject, trees denote the saints; and green grass, or pastures, their spiritual privileges. In Ezek. xlvii. 12 the trees beside the river of gospel grace, whose leaves and fruit shall not fail, mean the righteous. Isai. lv. 12; "All the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Ps. xxiii. 2; "Thou makest me to lie down in green pastures." See Isai. xxxv. 7.
Q. 113. What is resembled by the heath in the desert?
A. The wicked who receive no benefit from the gospel: Jer. xvii. 6. "For he shall be like the heath in the desert, that shall not see when good cometh." Or, the man who trusteth in man, who maketh flesh his arm, and his heart departeth from the Lord, is like that worthless shrub in the wilderness, which never vegetates in the spring; but appears dead, when other trees around are blooming with verdure. The heath denotes also retirement: Jer xlviii. 6; "Flee, save your lives: and be like the heath in the wilderness." This allusion to the heath refers not to its nature, or worthlessness; as when it is made a similitude of the wicked; but to its retired situation. God's people sometimes are obliged thus to retire. See Matt. xxiv. 16, 17 Rev. xii 14. xi. 7.
Q. 114. Are various other trees often used to symbolize the different characters and conduct of men?
A. They are. The ancient enemies of God's people (as the king of Assyria, and of Babylon) are represented
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as fellers, or cutters and destroyers of the forests; coming up against the cedars of Lebanon, and against the fir trees, and the forests of Carmel, to lay all waste before them. And those trees, in the mountains of Israel, are noted as rejoicing, when those invaders fell. See Isai. xiv. 8; and xxxvii. 21-24. Those trees represented the Jews; and the oppressed nations, marked out for a prey; and triumphing in the overthrow of their tyrants. See also Ezek. xxxi. where we have a sublime instance of this kind of language.
Q. 115. What is imported by God's planting in the wilderness the cedar, the myrtle and the oil tree; and setting in the desert other kinds of trees, of different natures, together; that they may see and know, and understand together, that God has done this: Isai. xli. 19.
A. These things denote the propagation of christianity through pagan lands: or the bringing of the different heathen nations to the knowledge and obedience of the Christian faith. -- The same that is predicted, Isai lv. 12, 13; "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, and for an everlasting sign, that shall not be cut off." Or, the church shall prevail; Kingdoms shall how before it; all men shall rejoice in it; and instead of heathen, shall be pious christians: instead of the abominable, as before, shall be the penitent and the holy: and this shall prevail through the world: and continue through the Millennium.
SYMBOLS FROM A CITY.Q. 116. A city furnishes a source of symbols. What is denoted by a city?
A. Several systems, bad and good; as Popery, Antichrist, the Church, and future glory. In Rev. xvii. 18. Popery is "that city that reigneth over the kings of the earth." In Rev. xvi. 19. the last antichristian empire is "the great city divided into three parts." Often the church is represented as the "City of God:" Ps. lxxxvii 3. And heaven, Rev. xxi. and xxii. is the New Jerusalem.
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Q. 117. By what names are these cities known?
A. Popery, while predominant, was called Babylon; Rev. xvii. s; Mystery Babylon the great." When the antichristian empire arose, this took the name of Babylon. Rev. xvi. 19: And great Babylon came into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." And by other names of cities, or people hostile to the church of God, those enemies under the gospel are designated; as Nineveh, Damascus, Edom; Bozrah, and Sier. And the church, the city of God, is called Zion, and Jerusalem. (See Isai. i. 27; Zack. ii. 7; Gal iv. 26; Isai. lii. 9.) One name of this city of God is given, Ezek. xlviii. 35; "And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there."
Q. 118. What is denoted by a street, in those hostile cities?
A. A most public situation. In Rev. xi. 8. the dead bodies of the witnesses lie in the street of the great city, called Sodom and Egypt. Or, their calamities are most publickly exposed, in the antichristian empire, as of great notoriety, and a great occasion of Joy.
Q. 119. What are we to understand by the merchants of the Papal city; and their merchandise?
A. By these merchants, we probably may understand, the Jesuits, monks, and the most active agents in the work of Papal delusion. Rev. xviii. 11; "And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth her merchandise any more."
By their merchandise we probably are to understand, their traffic in the arts of delusion, and ruin of the souls of men. See Rev. xviii. 23.
Q. 120. Who are denoted by citizens of Zion, the city of God?
A. The new born; called "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling." Ps. lxxxvii. 5, 6; "And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her; and the Highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there."
Q. 121. What is the merchandise of the citizens of Zion?
A. Evangelical truth, wisdom and heavenly instruction: Prov. xxiii. 23; "Buy the truth and sell it not;
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also wisdom and instruction, and understanding." Rev iii. 1-8; "I counsel thee lo buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed -- and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see." Prov. viii 9. "My fruit is better than gold; and my revenue than choice silver." Isai. xxiii. 18; "And her merchandise shall be shall be holiness to the Lord; -- her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing." Isai. lv. 1; -- "Come ye, buy, and eat; yea come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
Q. 122. What is figuratively expressed by price?
A. A rich opportunity to secure a great good: Prov. xvii. 16; "Wherefore is there a price in the hands of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it;" An opportunity to secure eternal salvation, without money and without price, may well be represented as a price indeed! And by this figure is denoted Christ's infinite atonement: 1 Cor. vi. 20; "For ye are bought with a price." As the atonement was an event essential to fallen man's obtaining salvation, so it is strikingly represented as a price paid for our salvation. 1 Pet. i. 18 ; -- "We know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold -- but with the precious blood of Christ."
SMBOLS FROM A CITY IN ARMS.Q. 123. Who are denoted by Soldiers?
A. Soldiers from the above hostile cities, are papists, infidels, and all the perverse, under the direction of the wicked one, operating against the church. And soldiers in Zion are Christ, and his people: Rev. xii. 7; "And there was war in heaven; (i. e. in the nominal church) Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels." And in Rev. xix. 11 -- to end, is a description of the war between Christ and the infidel empire of the last days.
Q. 124. Christians then, are soldiers. What further is said of their Leader? And of their following him?
A. In Heb. ii. 10. he is called "The Captain of their salvation." In Joshua, v. 14, he says, "As Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." Exod. xxxii 26; "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me."
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Judges, v. 23; "Curse ye Meroz, (said the angel of the Lord;) curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty."
Q. 125. What is represented by the Christian armor?
A. The Christian graces and privileges. This armor we find described in Eph. vi. 11-18; -- the girdle of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the sandals of the gospel; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; and the whole is girded on with "all prayer and supplication."
Q. 126. What is denoted by the fighting of Christian soldiers?
A. Their persevering in holy obedience to God, against all opposition, from the wicked world, their own hearts or the devil. Subduing their vile inclinations. And reproving the wicked world, by holy words and deeds: 1 Tim. vi. 12; "Fight the good fight of faith." 1 Cor. ix. 26; "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." 1 Cor. xvi. 13; "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong." Eph. vi. 12; For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this work, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Matt. xi. 12; "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence; and the violent take it by force." See Prov. xxviii. 4.
Q. 127. What is symbolized by a bow and arrow in the hands of the Most high?
A. Instruments of judgment to destroy; as wars. pestilence, famine, or any other fatal judgments: Ps. vii. 11-13; "God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow and made it ready. He hath prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors." Ps. xxi. 12; " There shalt thou make them (thine enemies) turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows against the face of them." God is represented as a "man of war;" and armed, according to the armor of ancient soldiers, against the enemies of the church. Oft he lets fly his arrows of death; and sweeps multitudes into destruction. Christ, Rev. vi. 4.
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rode forth, in the first propagation of the gospel, with his bow, and crown, conquering and to conquer. The bow here was an emblem of victorious grace, in mercifully subduing people to himself, in allusion to Ps. xiv. 3-5. In this latter passage it is added; "Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee." Arrows here some suppose to be arrows of conviction, preparatory to salvation. But the bow and arrows of Jehovah usually symbolize fatal judgments upon the wicked: Hab. iii. 9; "Thy bow was made quite naked." Deut. xxxii. 40-42; "If I lift my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever; if I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me: I will make mine arrows drunk with blood; and my sword shall devour flesh."
Q. 128. What is the indication of God's laughing at the wicked?
A. His despising the rage and opposition of his enemies, as impotent and vain; and his infallible purpose to confound and destroy them: Ps. ii. 4, 5; "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure." Ps. xxxvii. 12, 13; "The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him; for he seeth that his clay is coming." This figure is striking, and alarming, against the wicked; who, God says, "shall be turned down to hell, with all the nations, that forget God."
Q. 129. What is denoted by fleeing from the wrath to come. Matt. iii. 7; and flying for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us; Heb. vi. 18?
A. A fervent exercising of faith in Christ, under a full conviction of our desert of the wrath of God: expressed in allusion to the ancient Israelite flying to the city of refuge, from the avenger of blood. Numb. xxxv. 13-28. The city of refuge was a type of Christ. And fleeing to the former was a type of fleeing by faith to the latter.
Q. 130. Who are denoted by Zion's watchmen?
A. The ministers of God's word: Ezek. iii. 17; "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the
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house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me." In Ezek. xxxiii. 1-9. God compares the prophet to a watchman, selected by a people besieged, and set as their sentinel, to blow the trumpet, when the enemy are approaching. See also chap. iii. 18, 19. Acts, xx. 26, 27.
Q. 131. What is represented by the watchman's trumpet?
A. The word of God: Joel ii. 1, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm in my holy mountain." Isai. lxii. 6; "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace, day nor night." In Ezek. xxxiii. 7. God applies the blowing of the watchmen's trumpet, in the preceding verses, thus, "Therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me " Isai. xxvii. 13; -- "In that day the great trumpet shall be blown." Matt. xxiv. 31; "And he shall send his angels (or messengers) with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds."
Q. 132. What is denoted by a trumpet blown by an Angel from heaven? And by a trumpet blown by Christ?
A. A trumpet blown by an Angel denotes a new series of divine judgments. The blowing of seven such trumpets, in the Revelation, are symbols of the commencements of seven distinct series of judgments on the enemies of God. See Rev. viii. 7-13. x 7. xi. 15-19. And a trumpet blown by Christ denotes the introduction of the last judgment: 1 Cor. xv. 52; "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Thes. iv. 16; "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God."
Q. 133. What are denoted by the walls of the city of God?
A. The presence and protecting power of the Almighty: Isai. xxvi. 1; "We have a strong city: Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." chap lx. 18; "Thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise." Zech. ii. 5; "I will be unto her a wall of fire round about."
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Q. 134. Who are the guards of the people of God?
A. Angels of heaven: Ps. xxxiv. 7; "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Heb. i. 14; "Are they not all ministering Spirits, sent forth to minister to them, who shall be heirs of Salvation?" In 2 Kings, vi. 17, "The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." And God himself is the guard of his people: Zech. ix. 8. "And I will encamp about mine house, because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth." Isai. xxvii. 3; "I the Lord do keep it, (the church) lest any hurt it I will keep it night and day."
Q. 135. What are denoted by the tower, refuge and chambers, of the people of God?
A. The divine Attributes: Prov. xviii. 10; "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." Isai. xxvi. 20; "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy door about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment until the indignation be overpass." Ps. xlvi. 1; " God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble." The most high is frequently represented by such emblems.
Q. 136. What are denoted by the wells of the city of God ?
A. The ordinances of grace; and the spirit of grace in the soul: Isai. xii. 3; "With joy shall he draw water out of the wells of salvation." John iv. 14; "The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
SYMBOLS FROM A TEMPLE.Q. 137. What is symbolized by a temple?
A. The residing tokens of the divine presence; heaven: Ps. xi. 4; "The Lord is in his holy temple." See also Rev xi. 19. -- The body of Christ: John, ii. 19, 21; "Destroy this temple; and in three days I will raise it up: -- But he spake of the temple of his body." -- Also the church. 2 Cor. vi. 16; "Ye are the temple of the living God." See also 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.
Q. 138. What is symbolized by the outer court of the temple's being left unmeasured, and being given to the
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Gentiles, to be trodden under foot, forty and two months; Rev. xi. 1, 2?
A. The Papal apostasy; that their system does not accord with God's word; but is real Gentilism, under the Christian name. This is a striking representation of a system of false religion under the Christian name. Every such system is a virtual treading of the holy city of God under foot.
Q. 139. What is symbolized by a candlestick?
A. The church of Christ. The candlestick in the temple of old, Exod. xxv. 31-40 all agree, was an emblem of the church. Its consisting of a principal shaft, and six branches, making seven, upon one base, denotes the unity of the different churches of Christ: Rev. 1. 20; "The seven candlesticks (or seven branches in one candlestick) are the seven churches." See also Zech. iv 2.
Q. 140. What is denoted by the light, called a star, in each candlestick?
A. The pastor of the church. Rev. i. 20; "The seven stars are the angels (meaning the pastors) of the seven churches." Chap. ii. 1; "These things saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand; and walketh in the midst of his seven golden candlesticks."
Q. 141. What was denoted by the knops and flowers, of which each branch in the candlestick was composed: Exod. xxv. 33?
A. They are supposed to denote the holy fruits, and holy profession, of the true members of the church: The same that were denoted by the golden bells and pomegranates on the hem of the high priest's robe. Exod. xxviii. 33, 34. The gospel demands a holy profession, and Christian fruit. See Rom. x, 10; and Matt. v. 15. 10.
SYMBOLS FROM A WAY.Q. 142. What is symbolized by a way, meaning a path?
A. Jesus Christ: John, xiv. 6; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me." A way denotes also man's conversation, or course of life: Prov. xvi. 24; "A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps " Chap. v. 21; "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord."
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Q. 143. What is denoted by a highway?
A. The revealed system of gospel salvation: Isai. xxxv. 8; "And an high way shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; (the converts of that day) the way fairing man, though a fool, (or a weak but gracious person) shall not err therein." Chap. xlix. 11; "And I will make all my mountains a way; and my high ways shall be exalted." See chap. xxxiii. 8. Prov. xvi. 17.
Q. 144. What is represented by working upon the high way?
A. Reformation, and promoting the cause of God: Isai. lvii. 14; "Cast ye up, cast ye up; prepare the way; take up the stumbling blocks out of the way of my people." Chap. xl. 3, 4; "Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make strait in the desert an high way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made strait, and the rough places plain." Chap. lxii. 10; "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the high way; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people." See also Jer. xxxi. 21.
Q. 145. What do we find represented by steps in walking?
A. The particular acts of a man's life: Ps. xxxvii. 23; "The steps of a good men are ordered by the lord, and he delighteth in his way." Prov. v. 5; (of the harlot;) "Her feet go down to death; and her steps take hold on hell."
Q. 146. What is symbolized by falling as a body falls to the ground?
A. Sinning notoriously: Prov. xxiv. 16; "A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief." See Ps. xxxvii. 24. It also denotes the destruction of the wicked: Prov. x. 8; " A prating fool shall fall." Ps. xci 7; "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh unto thee: Ps. xxxv. 8; "Into that very destruction let him fall."
Q. 147. What are symbolized by stumbling blocks?
A. Offenders, offences, and temptations: In Zeph. i. 3. God says he will consume the stumbling blocks with the
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wicked. In Ezek. vii. 19. their silver and their gold were the stumbling block of their iniquity. In chap. xiv. 3, 4. some, who inquired of the prophet, yet put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face; hence God abhorred them. In Rev, ii. 14. it is noted, that Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, in tempting them to idolatry and lewdness. Paul says, 1 Cor. viii. 9; "But take heel lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak." And Rom. xiv. 13; "that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way:" See Heb. xii. 13.
Q. 148. What is denoted by a race?
A. The faithful Christian life; expressed in allusion to the old Grecian games. For those games, the racers prepared themselves, by temperance, throwing off all cumbrous garments, and by various things. They were surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, in their amphitheatres. A number ran; but one received the prize; which was a crown of garlands; or wreath of leaves and flowers; deemed very honourable. In allusion to this game, Paul says, 1 Cor. ix. 24-27; "Know ye not that they, who run in a race, run all; but one receiveth the prize? So run (i. e. ye Christians in your race) that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. (i. e. even the Grecian gamester thus prepared himself.) Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, (i. e. a crown of garlands) but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run not as uncertainly: So fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection." Heb. xii. 1; "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which doth so easily beset us; and let us run with patience the race, that is set before us."
THE HUMAN BODY, ITS ORNAMENTS AND SUSTENANCE.Q. 149. Who are symbolized by the human body, and its head and members?
A. By the body is symbolized the church: Col. i. 24. -- "For his body's sake, which is the church "The members
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of the human body symbolize Christians, as individuals: l Cor. xii. 27; "Now ye are the body of Christ, & members in particular." Verse 20; "There are many members, yet but one body." See verse 12-27. Eph. iv. 15, 16. 25. and v. 30. Rom. xii. 4, 5. The head symbolizes Jesus Christ, as the Leader of his people: Col. i. 18; "And he is the Head of the body, the church." By a head is symbolized also the beginning of a river; and the top of a thing; See Gen. ii. 10. Isai. xxviii. 4. Also civil rulers; See Isaiah, i. 5. Micah, iii. 1. 9. 11.
Q. 150. What is symbolized by the clothing and ornaments of the body?
A. The Christian graces and virtues, adorning the soul, and interesting it in the righteousness of Christ: Rev. xvi. 15; "Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments; lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Ps. xiv. 13; "The king's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle work." Rev. xix. 8; "And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Here is the wedding garment spoken of, Matt. xxii. 12; -- The white raiment bought of Christ, Rev. iii. 18. The apostle, 1 Pet. iii. 4. speaks of it; "Whose adorning let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price."
Q. 151. What was symbolized by the veil on the face of Moses, when he descended from the mount, and his face shone, and he covered it with a veil; Exodus, xxxiv. 29 -- to the end?
A. The blindness and unbelief of Israel; 2 Cor. iii. 13-16; "Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished. But their minds were blinded; For until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away, in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." Here is a striking figure of the blindness of the carnal mind of infidelity, of pride, selfishness, and wickedness of heart.
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Q. 152. What is denoted by a chain (of gold) about the neck, or a necklace?
A. Devoutly receiving the pious instruction of parents and teachers: Prov. i. 8, 9; "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; for it shall be an ornament of grace to thy head, and chains about thy neck." Song. iv. 9.
Q. 153. What is symbolized by a crown?
A. Evangelical privileges: Rev; xii. 1; "And on her head a crown of twelve stars." The twelve apostles, in their holy ministrations, are so many gems in the crown of the church. A crown is an emblem also of victory and of eternal glory: Ps. xxi. 3; "Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head." Rev. ii. 10; "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." See 1 Cor. ix. 25. 2 Tim. iv. 8. James, i. 12 1 Pet. v. 4. Rev. iii. 11.
Q. 154. What is denoted by gray hairs?
A. Tokens of imbecility and decay: Hosea, vii. 9: "Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him; yet he knoweth it not." Here was a people devoured by secret intriguing, mischievous foreigners, who had imperceptibly occasioned tokens of decay and ruin.
Q. 155. What is denoted by God's putting the tears of his saints in a bottle: Ps. lvi. 8?
A. His graciously remembering & rewarding all their pious griefs. The psalmist expresses the same idea, by his prayers, for his enemies, returning into his own bosom; Ps. xxxv. 13. And the prophet expresses it by a mark of salvation being set upon the foreheads of the men, who sigh and cry for all the abominations done in the midst of them; Ezek. ix. 4.
Q. 156. What in figurative language, is denoted by the bosom?
A. Several things: -- The hidden man, the soul: Job xxxi. 33; "If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom;" or in my soul. The heart: Ps. lxxxix. 50; "Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom i. e. in my heart, the reproach of all the mighty people." Christ's bosom denotes his tender care: Isai. xl. 11; "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his
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bosom." Abraham's bosom, to which the soul of Lazarus was carried; Luke, xvi. 32; denotes heaven. Abraham was constituted the patriarch of the church from his day to the end of the world: -- the father of all the faithful. See Gen. xii. 3, Rom. iv. 11, 12. 17, 18, Gal. iii. 29. Heaven is hence called, Abraham's bosom; because there all his spiritual children are gathered. A tender father presses his little children to his bosom.
Q. 157. What is the sense of the pslamist, Ps. xviii. 33; "He maketh my feet like hinds feet?"
A. God had girded him with strength; and had made him active and alert in the path of duty, as the hind is of most nimble foot.
Q. 158. The supports of the body, food and drink, afford instructing symbols. What is denoted by bread?
A. Jesus Christ: John, vi. 33. 35; "The bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread of life." Hence Christ says of the sacramental bread, " Take, eat: this is my body broken for you."
Q. 159. What is denoted by wine?
A. The blood of Christ shed for sin: Mark, xiv. 24; "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."
Q. 160. What is denoted by milk?
A. The grace of God: Isai. lv. 1; "Ho every one that thirsteth -- come ye, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Milk denotes the plain doctrines of salvation: l Pet. ii. 2; "Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." Also discreet conversations: Song, iv. 11; "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey comb: honey and milk are under thy tongue."
Q. 161. What is imported by a feast of fat things?
A. The grace of the gospel: Isai. xxv. 6; "And in this mountain will the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow of wines on the lees, well refined." Or, in the church the glorious grace of gospel salvation shall be presented to all nations. See Matt. xxii. 1-10. Luke xiv. 16-24.
Q. 162. What is symbolized by meat?
A. Christ crucified: John, vi. 55; "My flesh is meat indeed." Spiritual comforts: John, iv. 32; Jesus said,
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"I have meat to eat which ye know not of. -- My meat is, to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Strong meat is a symbol of more difficult gospel truths: l Cor. iii. 2; "I have fed vou with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it." Heb. v. 12; "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat."
Q. 163. What is symbolized by salt?
A. Grace in the soul: Mark, ix. 50; "Have salt in yourselves." -- Christians: Matt, v. 13; "Ye are the salt of the earth." -- Wisdom and discretion: Col. iv. 6; "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt; that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Salt also denotes duration: Numb. xviii. 19; "It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord unto thee." Ezek. xlvii. 11; "But the mity places thereof, and the marshy places thereof shall not be healed, they shall be given to salt." Or, the characters denoted shall be given to eternal reprobation.
Q. 164. What is denoted by natural hunger and thirst?
A. The ardent desires of the gracious soul for holiness: Matt. v. 16; "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." Ps. xlii. 2; "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God." See Ps. lxiii. 1. cxliii. 6.
Q. 165. What is denoted by the acts of eating and drinking? p.57
A. The exercises of faith in Christ: John, vi. 54; "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." In the sacrament; "Take, eat; this is my body." -- And of the wine; Drink ye all of it." This eating and drinking is an emblem of faith in Christ.
Q. 166. What is denoted by eating of the hidden manna?
A. The manna was an emblem of Christ; as our Lord decides, John, vi. 33; where (upon the Jews speaking of their fathers eating manna in the wilderness) Christ represents himself as the true bread which came down from heaven. The hidden manna alludes to that which was hid in a golden pot, in the ark of the Lord. (Exod. xvii. 33. Heb. ix. 4.) Eating this, so far as it is fulfilled in this life, imports those invigorating consolations, in
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the pious soul, which spring from a lively faith in Christ. These are hid from the world. But the emblem will be gloriously fulfilled, after death, in the full enjoyment, which the saints will have with Christ.
Q. 167. What is imported by leaven?
A. Error, hypocrisy, malice: Matt. xvi. 6. 12; "Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees. -- Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees: Luke xii. 1; "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." 1 Cor. v. 7. 8; "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. -- Let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Thus we see the mystical import of the prohibition of leaven, Exod. xii. 15. Leaven in a good sense, denotes the doctrines and efficacious grace of the gospel: Matt. xiii. 33; "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
Q. 168. What is meant by the sacrifices demanded of Christians?
A. The dedication of their whole selves to God; and the daily exercise of holy affections and obedience: Rom. xii. 1; "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." 1 Pet ii. 5; "Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
Q. 169. What is symbolized by the cross which Christians are daily to take up, to follow Christ?
A. All proper occasions of suffering for Christ. Faithfulness in maintaining christian doctrines and duties, will occasion sufferings from the wicked to a greater or less degree. To neglect faithfulness in order to escape such suffering, is to slide by the cross; or to refuse to take it up. Phil. iii. 18; "For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." Gal. vi. 14; "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' by whom the world is
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crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Christ did his duty, though the death of the cross was the certain consequence. All, who would obtain his salvation, must do the same. They must maintain faithfulness though it be the certain occasion of their suffering to ever so great degree. This occasion of their suffering is called their cross. Their faithfully doing their duty, is taking it up, or bearing their cross after Christ. And Christ says; (Luke, xiv. 27;): "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." This duty, Christ teaches must be done daily: -- And that he who would neglect it, to save his life, shall lose his life.
Q. 170. What is denoted by our "old man?"
A. The natural heart; the carnal mind: "That ye put off, concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Col. iii. 19; "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds."
Q. 171. What is denoted by crucifying our old man?
A. A pious and zealous renunciation of the carnal mind; under the allusion of nailing the body of the old man to the cross: Rom. vi. 6; "Knowing this that our old man is crucified with him, (Christ) That the body of our sins might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Gal. vi. 41; "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Chap. v. 24; "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." A faithful subduing of the carnal heart, is the thing designed.
Q. 172. What is symbolized by burying this crucified body of sin in Christ's tomb?
A. Being sealed to a perpetual renunciation of it. Col. ii. ii. 12; "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; -- Buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are also risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Or, in Christ you are renewed in heart, in the renunciation of the carnal mind; the obligations of which, renunciations were sealed upon you in baptism, which is called
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"the circumcision of Christ " (or the christian circumcision,) in which you are sealed as having the old man buried in Christ's tomb; and yourselves as having risen from spiritual death, by the power of God, as Christ was raised from the tomb. Rom. vi 4; "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Thus the crucified body of sin, personified as our old man, is represented as put in Christ's tomb and our obligations to live a holy life, are sealed in baptism.
Q. 173. What was symbolized by circumcision?
A. The new heart; the righteousness of faith; Jer. iv. 4; "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, -- lest my fury come forth like fire." Rom. ii. 29; "Circumcision is that of the heart." Deut. x. 16; "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked.' Rom. iv. 11; "He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he had yet being uncircumcised." It denoted the same with baptism. Hence baptism is called, (Col. ii. 11,3 "the circumcision of Christ;" or the christian circumcision. Both import man's native defilement; provision made for cleansing: and the application of it, in a new heart. Both seal the same covenant. Both seal a dedication to God.
Q. 174. What is denoted by washing with water?
A Sanctification; dedication to God: Matt. xxviii.: 19; "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The term baptize here, signifies to wash. It is (in the original) the same, that is translated wash, in Luke, xi. 38; where the Pharisee marvelled that Christ "had not first washed before dinner." And Mark, vii. 4; "And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not." The word wash here in the Greek is baptize. And in this verse baptism is translated by washing; -- "the washing," (baptism) of cups and pots, broken vessels, and of tables." Heb. ix. 10; "Which stood only in meats and drinks and diverse washings," baptisms. All those washings demanded of old, performed in "diverse" ways, (Heb. ix. 10,) were designed to prefigure sanctification
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Hence sanctification under the gospel is often expressed under this figure: 1 Titus, iii. 5; "By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Eph. v. 26; "That he might cleanse and sanctify it (the church) by the washing of water, by the word." The same was predicted under the old Testament: Isai. lii. 15; "So shall he (Christ) sprinkle many nations." Ezek. xxxvi: 25, 26; "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: A new heart also will I give unto you." Christ's blood is called "the blood of sprinkling." Heb. xii. 24. 1 Pet. i. 2. Thus washing with water denotes sanctification by the blood of Christ.
Q. 175. Of what is the resurrection of the body an emblem?
A. Of a saving conversion to Christ, and holiness: Rom. vi. 4; "That like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Col. ii. 12; "Ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Col. iii 1; "If ye then be risen with Christ." A resurrection is an emblem also of the restoration of the Jews and Israel, in the last (lays: -- See Ezek. xxxvii. 1-14. There this event is predicted under the emblem of a resurrection of a valley full of dry bones. Their restoration is represented as an opening of their graves, and bringing them out from the regions of death. In Isai. xxvi. 19. the same event is predicted under the same figure. A resurrection is also an emblem of the revival of a cause. The terrible empire of the last days is accordingly represented as the revival of that head of the Roman beast, which had been wounded to death; Rev. xiii. 3: And is also called Babylon, Edom, and Bozrah; names of ancient enemies of the church. The saints in the Millennium are (under the same figure) represented as being the martyrs, and all the former saints, raised from the dead, to live and reign with Christ on earth: Rev. xx. 4. And the apostasy, at the close of the Millennium (when the world shall again, and for the last time, be filled with violent persecutors) is represented as the resurrection of Gog and Magog, Rev. xx. 5- 8; because the anti-christian empire, previous to the Millennium, goes into perdition under the denomination of Gog, the land of Magog; See Ezek. xxxviii, and xxxix.
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Q. 176. What is symbolized by the single eye; and its excellency?
A. A holy heart; a single regard to the glory of God, and consequent spiritual knowledge. Matt. vi. 22; "The light of the body is the eye; if therefore, shine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." As the eye, clear of humours, and in good order, gives a correct perception of things around us; so the heart, that is holy and judicious, and has a tender regard to God's glory, will lead the soul, under the means of grace, to obtain right perceptions of the things of God; -- according to the following texts; "The meek, God will guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way." "The wise shall understand." "He that is spiritual] judgeth all things." "Being filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." The eyes of your understanding being enlightened." "Ye have an unction from the holy one; and ye know all things."
Q. 177. What is denoted by an evil eye; and its consequences?
A. A graceless, selfish heart; and perverseness: Matt. vi. 23; "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore, the light that is in thee, be darkness, how great is that darkness?" As the eye, disordered by humours, or age, perceives things but confusedly; and as the colour of things appears to the jaundiced eye, changed from what is true; so the heart, that feels not for God's glory, but is selfish, perverts the judgment, and gives a wrong colouring to the things of the kingdom of God. And if your boasted love be thus but selfishness, or enthusiasm, which colours and perverts the things of God, how great is the evil!
Q. 178 What is denoted by plucking out a right eye, or cutting off a right hand?
A. The same as crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts; -- graciously and utterly renouncing darling sins, be they ever so dear, or gainful: Matt. v. 29, 30; "If thy right eye offend thee, (or cause thee to offend, or to stumble; Scott.) pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee, that one of thy members should perish; and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee:" -- See Mark, ix. 43-48; where
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the foot must also be cut off; and where it is three times over announced, that if the painful duty be not performed, the person shall be "cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Q. 179. What is symbolized by a prison?
A. The lost es+ate of fallen man. Christ was anointed, Isai. lxi. 1. "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Chap. xlli. 7; "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." A prison also denotes hell: Matt. v. 25, 26; -- "And the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Q. 180. What is symbolized by a house?
A. Several things: -- The family residing in it: Acts, xvi. 31. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and thou shalt be saved, and thine house." Kindred: In Zech. xii. 10. the Jews, in the last days' are called the house of David. The fleshly body: 2 Cor. v. 1; "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved." And it denotes heaven: -- "We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." It denotes also the church: 1 Tim. iii. 15; "That thou mightest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God." And it denotes the grave: Job. xxx. 23; "Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living. Chap. xvii. 13; "The grave is mine house."
Q. 181. What is symbolized by a bed?
A. Conveniences of delight in idolatry. Isai. lxvii. 8; "Thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made a covenant with them, (idolaters.) Thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it." Also, a fatal system of wickedness: Isai. xxviii. 20; "For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it." Saints have their bed, their conveniences of delight -- holy ordinances: Song, i. 16; "Our bed is green." Chap. iii. 7; "Behold his bed, which is Solomon's." It denotes the grave of the righteous: Isai. lxvii. 2; "They shall rest in their beds." The righteous (taken away from the evil to come) shall find their graves a blessed bed of rest. And it denotes
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hell, to the licentious: Rev. ii. 22; "Behold, I will cast her into a bed; and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their creeds." See Prov. v. 5. vi. 27. & ix. 18. Eph v. 5. Heb. xiii. 4. Rev. xxi. 8.
Q. 182. What is symbolized by sleep?
A. Sloth: Prov. xxiv. 33; "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep." Carnal security: Eph v. 14; "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." And it denotes the death of the Christian: 1 Thes. iv 14; " Them also, who sleep in Jesus, God will bring with him." (See 1 Cor. xv. 6. 18. 1 Thes. iv. 13. 15. 2 Pet. iii. 4.) Sleep denotes likewise in some cases, the death of a foe: Ps. lxxvi. 5; of the enemies of Zion it is said, "They have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse, (i. e. the troops, who managed them) are cast into a deep sleep;" or are cut off.
DOMESTIC RELATIONS.Q. 183. Who is symbolized by a husband?
A. Jesus Christ. In the Songs of Solomon, he is represented under this relation to the church. And Isai. liv. 5; "For thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name."
Q. 184. Who is symbolized by a mother, a brother; and a sister?
A. The followers of Christ: Matt. xii. 49, so; "And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said Behold my mother and my brethren? For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Heb. ii. 11; "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Song, v. 2; "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled;" See chap iv. 9, 10. 12. & v 1, 2.
Q. 185. Who is symbolized by a woman, a wife, a queen?
A. The church of Christ. In Rev. xii. 1. a woman appears away in the airy region, clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. This is an emblem of the christian
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church. In Rev. xix. 7-9. the church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. And in Ps. xiv. 9. the church is the queen in gold of Ophir.
Q. 186. Is the marriage covenant then, an emblem of the reflation which God graciously owns between himself and his people?
A. It is: Jer. iii. 14; "For I am married unto you, saith the Lord."
Q. 187. What is denoted by conjugal faithfulness; and the reverse?
A. The faithfulness of God's people in his covenant; and the reverse: Isai i. 21; "How is the faithful city become an harlot?" Jer iii. l; "Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers: yet return again to me saith the Lord." This similitude is abundantly used in the prophets in God's reproving his people for their idolatries. Idolatry in God's covenant people is spiritual whoredom.
Q. 188. What is denoted by a harlot, or whore?
A. An apostate church; a system of religious imposition, or of real idolatry, under the Christian name. See Rev. xvii. 1-5 16. 18; where Popery is the mother of harlots;" and "the great whore, with which the kings of the earth have committed fornication." See also chap. xiv. 8. xviii. 9.
On the other hand, chastity is an emblem of the purity of the protestant doctrines and worship from Papal corruption. See Rev. xiv. 4; where the true worshippers of God are said to be "not defiled with women," because they were pure from idolatry, the idolatry of the papal see.
Q. 189. What is denoted by regeneration?
A. The giving of the new heart, by the Holy Spirit: Titus, iii. 5; "Not by works of righteousness, which we have done; but according to his mercy hath he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." 1 Pet i. 3; "Who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope."
Q. 190. What is symbolized by the birth of an infant?
A. Being brought, by the Spirit of grace, into the kingdom of Christ: John, iii. 3; "Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see
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the kingdom of God." Verse 7; "Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again."
Q. 191. Who is symbolized by a child?
A. A person renewed by grace. In 1 John, ii. 18. Christians are called, "little children." And Matt. xviii. 2, 3; "Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them; and said, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." A child is an emblem of a new born soul; as is a lamb, or a cave. See John, xxi. 15. Ps. lxxiv. 19.
Q. 192. What are represented by the maternal breasts?
A. The ordinances of Grace: Isai. lxvi. 11; "That ye, may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolation." See Song, iv. 5. and vii. 7; where breasts (compared to twinroes, and to clusters of grapes) mean the divine ordinances.
Q. 193. What is denoted by the desire of an infant for the breast?
A. The desire of the gracious heart for the things of God: 1 Pet. ii. 2; "As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."
Q. 194. What is denoted by the "pillar and ground of the truth?"
A. The church is thus called, 1 Tim. iii. 15; because she is made the means of the support of divine revelation in the world:- -As Rom. iii. 2; "For unto them were committed the oracles of God." And the church are the great medium of the display of God's glory. See Eph. iii. 10.
HUSBANDRY, UTENSILS, AND THINGS.Q. 195. What is represented, in figure, by husbandry?
A. The church of Christ; 1 Cor. iii. 9; "Ye are God's husbandry." The church is the same to God, as the farm to the husbandman, where he labors, and exercises his economy, to procure his interest. In other figurative passages, only parts of a farm, as a garden, orchard and vineyard, are taken to denote the church; as has been noted.
Q. 196. What is represented by the breaking up of land?
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A. A thorough amendment of the heart and life; Jer. i. 3; "Break up your fallow ground; and sow not among thorns." Or let your heart, which has lain neglected, and fruitless, as to Christian graces, be graciously broken up, from all its wickedness, and rendered fruitful in the love and service of God: As follows in the next verse, "Circumcise yourselves unto the Lord; and take away the foreskins of your hearts." And as it is again commanded: "Make you a new heart, and a new spirit: why will ye die?" Hos. x. 12; "Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you." Here the duty demanded is, to have the heart immediately prepared to seek and serve God, as he demands.
Q. 197. What is denoted by sowing among thorns? "Sow not among thorns!"
A. Misimproving our time and opportunities in the cares and lusts of the world. Christ explains it in the parable of the Sower; Matt. xiii. 7. 22. Where some seeds fell among thorns and were choked; explained by the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, choking the word.
(Further attention will be paid to the figures of sowing, reaping, harvest and vintage, under the head of times and seasons.)
Q. 198. What is denoted by ploughing?
A. Engaging in a business: Luke, ix. 62; "Jesus said unto him, no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven!" Job, iv. 8; "they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." Hos. x. 13; "Ye have ploughed wickedness; ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies." This ploughing of the wicked, is a plotting of mischief engaging in scenes of iniquity. And ploughing in the kingdom of God, is engaging to promote that kingdom; 1 Cor. ix. 10; "That he that plougheth, should plough in hope; and he that thresheth in hope, should be partaker of his hope." i. e. That the ministers of Christ, in labouring to build up his Kingdom, should be well supported.
Q. 199. Who are symbolized by oxen?
A. The ministers of the gospel. In 1 Cor. ix. where the apostle is pleading for the ample support of the gospel
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ministry; that no man goeth a warfare at his own expense; or planteth, a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit of it; or feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock; that those, who ministered at the altar, received their support from it and the Lord hath ordained, that, they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel; he quotes a passage from the law of Moses; "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox, that treadeth out the corn." He then inquires whether this divine order had its ultimate reference to oxen? And he is inspired; to inform, that it had not; but was written "altogether" for the sake of the ambassadors of Christ; that they should be supported. Oxen then, in that passage of the law, were symbols of the ministers of God's sanctuary. The twelve brazen oxen, bearing the great laver in the ancient Jewish temple, are thought to have been symbols of the ministers of Christ, bearing (under divine commissions) the blessed apparatus of Gospel Grace.
Q. 200. What is symbolized by a yoke?
A. Several things. The burden of the ceremonial law: Acts, xv. 10; "Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither ye, nor your fathers, were able to bear?" It denotes political slavery: See Deut. xxviii. 48; where God threatened Israel that they should serve their enemies, in want, and with a yoke of iron upon their neck. It denotes due subjection to a master: 1 Tim. vi. l; "Let as many servants, as are under the yoke, count their masters worthy of all honour." It denotes divine chastisement: Lam. iii. 27; "It is good for a man, that he bear the yoke in his youth." It denotes the marriage covenant: 2 Cor. vi. 14; " Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." And it denotes the blessed restraints of religion: Matt. xi. 29; "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Q. 201. What is denoted in symbolic language, by a chain?
A. Divine restraints. In Rev. xx. 1. an Angel descends from heaven, with a chain in his hand, with which he binds the devil. The sense is, God will effectually restrain that adversary from that period. In Ps. cxlix. 8. the saints are represented as binding kings with chains,
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and nobles with fetters of iron; which indicates, that God will restrain and confound hostile kings and nobles, at the intercession of his saints. A chain notes also the confinement of the damned in hell: Matt. xiii. 30; "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them." Chap. xxii. 13; "Then said the king to his servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Jude 6 verse; "Reserved in everlasting chains under darkness." And this symbol denotes the deep affliction of Saints: Lam. iii. 7; "He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out; he hath made my chain heavy."
Q. 202. What is denoted by a bridle?
A. Due restraints upon the tongue: Ps. xxxix. 1; "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me." James, l. 26; "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." Ps. cxli. 3; "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." "Let your speech be always with grace."
Q. 203. What is denoted by an axe, a saw, a rod, a sword, and a staff?
A. Instruments of divine judgment; as tyrants, and persecutors. In Isai. x. 5, 6. 15. the bloody Assyrian is called the rod of God's anger, his staff, his saw, and his axe: -- because by him the nations were beaten, bruised, and destroyed. This prediction will probably have its ultimate fulfilment in the terrible empire of the last days. In Psalm, xvii. 13. wicked oppressors are called God's sword. Dr. Watts paraphrases it;
"They are the sword; the hand is thine."
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also an emblem of support: Ps. xxiii. 4; "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
Q. 204. What is denoted by a seal?
A. In Rev. vi. and viii. 1. we find the opening of seven seals. In the opening of these seals, Christ represented seven periods of judgments upon his enemies; six on pagan Rome; and one containing all his judgments from the commencement of the fifth century, to the end of the world. This Christ did under the emblem of opening a sealed book of ancient form. The book consisted of seven distinct pieces, probably of parchment. Each piece was written on one side in symbolical figures, and rolled round a stick or roller, the writing inward, and the last edge sealed down, upon the back side. The seven leaves were thus rolled and sealed, one over the back of the other. Christ broke open the seal of the first leaf; unrolled it; and exhibited its contents. Then the second: and on to the seventh. The sense of the contents of those leaves would be too long to be given here. (See chapter v. of my dissertation, second edition.) Being sealed, as were those seven leaves, till Christ opened them, denotes being kept secret: Rev. x. 4; "Seal up those things, which the seven thunders uttered" i. e. "write them not."
Q. 205. What further is denoted by the figure of sealing?
A. Giving full evidence of approbation: John, vi 27; "For him (Christ) hath God the Father sealed." Chap. iii. 33; "He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true." It denotes the renewing of the heart in which the image of Christ is created in the soul, as the image of the seal is left on the wax. See Rev. vii. 2-8; where the winds of divine judgment are staid, till the Angel, with the seal of the living God, seals or converts, God's chosen. Sealing denotes also a subsequent witnessing of the Spirit with our spirits, that we are the children of God: Eph. i. 13; "In whom also, after that we believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise." In other passages it means one or the other, of those two last mentioned acts of the Spirit; or both: 2 Cor. i. 22; "Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." Eph. iv. 30; "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Sealing sometimes
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denotes the finishing of a christian duty begun: Rom. xv. 28; "When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain."
Q. 206. What is denoted by a vial, meaning a cup?
A. We find in Rev. xvi seven vials, or cups of divine wrath; symbols of seven series of judgments, executed upon the enemies of the gospel, in the latter and last days. A vial or cup is a noted emblem of a portion from God, good or bad: Ps. lxxv. 8; "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same; but the dregs thereof all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them." Ps. xi. 6; "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup." Isai. li. 17; "Awake, awake, O Jerusalem, which hast drank at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling." Matt. xxvi. 89; "If it be possible let this cup pass from me." Relative to the cup of blessing; we read Ps. cxvi. 13; "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." Ps. xxiii. 5; "Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." Hence we learn the origin of the figure, of the vials of the wrath of God, in the last days.
OLD TESTAMENT TYPES AND SYMBOLS.Q. 207. Was great use made of typical and symbolic language under the old Testament?
A. Almost the whole of their religious instruction was thus communicated. The temple, with all its vast variety of furniture, was but a collection of types, symbols, and emblems to unfold the things of the kingdom of God. The ark of the covenant, the altar, the incense, the sacrifice, yea, and the brazen serpent, the manna, the water from the rock, the passage over the Red Sea, and over Jordan, the deliverance from Egypt, and the possession of Canaan, and almost all the affairs of Israel, taught by symbols, as "shadows of good things to come." But to explore this field would take a volume.
It would be useful and pleasing, (did it not exceed the proposed bounds of this little book,) to note the facts
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and the evidences, that the ark of the covenant composed of cedar and of gold, was a type of Christ, in his humanity, and Divinity, given as the covenant of his people, as the law was kept in the ark; so the law of God was in Christ's heart: Its mercy seat was an emblem of the throne of grace: and its cherubim, of the Angels as ministering spirits, desiring to look into the plan of salvation. That the table of shew bread was a type of Christ, the bread of life: the renewal of this bread, every sabbath morning, prefigured the administering of gospel ordinances on Lord's days: -- and the eating of this bread only by the priests, indicated that the bread of life would be received only by God's royal priesthood under the gospel. That the golden altar was a type of Christ in glory; and the incense offered upon it, of the intercession of Christ, and the prayers of the saints, rendered acceptable through him. That the brazen altar and its sacrifices prefigured the atonement made through the sacrifice of Christ. That the burning bush was an emblem of Christ in his two natures, God, who is called a consuming fire, is so nearly allied to humanity. It is thought we have here also an emblem of the sufferings of Christ; and perhaps of the sufferings of his mystical body, the church. That Jacob's ladder was a type of Christ, who is the way to heaven; the medium on which the angels ascend and descend; and on which the saints ascend to glory. That the shekinah (the shining cloud, called the glory of the Lord, which resided in the tabernacle and temple of old) was a symbol of God's residing and gracious presence. That the breastplate of the highpriest, (set with twelve different precious stones one for each tribe) containing the names of the tribes; "that the high priest might bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he went into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually." Exod. xxviii. 15-30) was probably an emblem of the true church of Christ, set as a seal on his heart and on his arm: Song, viii. 8. And that the Urim & Thummim in this breastplate.(signifying lights, and perfections) in which the divine will was taught in most important cases in Israel, probably were emblems of Christ, as our teacher from God, and the Judge of the world. Of him, those who lack wisdom are to ask. And from
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him every thing is to receive its decision. But time would fail.
Q. 208. One thing further in the temple we will note. What was symbolized by the blazen sea, of fifteen feet diameter, and setting upon twelve brazen oxen?
A. As this sea was for the washing of the priests, it no doubt was a symbol of Christ, and the fulness of gospel grace in him. Here we have the true preparation for the cleansing of guilty souls. The brazen oxen on which the sea stood, three looking to the east, three to the west, three to the north and three to the south, are thought to be emblems of the ministers of the gospel; bearing the sacred treasures of grace; and going to the four quarters of the world, to "preach the gospel to every creature."
Q. 209. What is symbolized by a key?
A. A power to do an important thing: as Christ has power to save and to destroy; -- to kill, and to raise from the dead. He is said, Rev. i. 18. to have "the keys of hell and of death." And, chap iii. 7. Christ has "the key of David;" or, the divine power of the Son of David, "who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth." See Isai. xxii. 22. where this very thing was prefigured of Christ, in Eliakim. In Rev. ix. 1. the falling star, denoting Mohammed, had "the key of the bottomless pit," or, had power to introduce the infernal delusion of Mohammedism. In chap. xx. 1. the Angel's key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand, were symbols of his power to restrain the devil. In Luke xi. 52. the key of knowledge, which the lawyers had taken away, was the power of obtaining spiritual knowledge. And the keys of the kingdom of heaven, annexed to the gospel ministry, Matt. xvi. 19. denote the power, or commission, of performing its duties.
Q. 210. Who are symbolized by reprobate silver, dross and tin?
A. Hypocrites, the graceless, and their wicked works: Jer. vi. 30; "Reprobate silver shall men call them, (the graceless Jews) because the Lord hath rejected them." Isai. i. 22; "Thy silver is become dross; thy wine mixed with water." i. "Thy religion has become hypocrisy, and idolatry. Verse 24, 25; "Therefore, saith the Lord, -- Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries, and avenge
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me of mine enemies: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away thy tin." I will chastise the Jews, till they are cured of their hypocrisy and idolatry. See Ezek. xxii. 19-22. where the same symbolic language is pursued. And Ps. cxix. 119. Prov. xxv. 4, 5; and xxvi. 23.
Q. 211. What is symbolized by gold, tried in the fire?
A. Grace, gospel salvation: Rev. iii. 18; "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich." Christians purged from their sins by sanctified afflictions, are denoted by this similitude, and by refined silver: Mal. iii. 3; "He, (Christ) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."
Q. 212. What is symbolized by a furnace?
A. Deep affliction: Isai. xlviii. 10; "Behold I have refined thee, -- I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." See Zech. xiii. 9. 1 Pet. i. 7. Ezek. xxii. 19-22. A furnace also denotes hell: Matt. xiii. 41, 42; "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them, who do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Q. 213. What are symbolized by pearls?
A. Precious gospel truths; and blessed Christian experiences: Matt. vii. 6; "Give not that which is holy unto dogs; neither east ye your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." Or, be duly cautious as to the uttering of precious gospel truths, and the experiences of grace, before gross despisers not in a situation to be solemnized by them. For they will despise them, and abuse you. A pearl denotes also Christ and his salvation: Matt. xiii. 45, 46; "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." The renewed soul gives up all for Christ, and his salvation. Pearls likewise symbolize the glorious state of the saints in heaven: See Rev. xxi. 21; Where the gates in heaven are pearls.
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Q. 214. Do we find a great variety of things adopted as symbols and figures, in the prophets?
A. We do, both in the longer and shorter prophets; too great a variety, by far, to be noted in detail, in this small book. Isaiah predicts the judgments of God on various nations, the final destruction of the enemies of the gospel, and the millennial kingdom of Christ, in figurative language, the most impressive, mingled with many literal descriptions, denunciations, and promises of good.
Q. 215. Can you furnish a specimen of the symbolic language of the other larger prophets?
A. Jeremiah, at God's command, hid a linen girdle in a hole of a rock, near the Euphrates, where it soon became marred and good for nothing; in order to announce to his people, that they had become worthless, and God would cast them off; chap. xiii. He took a potter's vessel, and broke it in their sight, in the place where they had committed their greatest abominations; to signify that God would break and destroy them; chap. xix. He put bonds and yokes upon his own neck; to import, that God would deliver that people, as well as other nations, into bondage to the king of Babylon: chap. xxvii. And by various other significant actions and figures, he predicted the judgments of God upon the Jews. Ezekiel, likewise, prefigured the captivity of the Jews, by, painting, on a tile, the city of Jerusalem, and then laying siege against it: chap. iv: Taking off his beard; dividing it into three parts; burning one part; smiting a second part with a knife; and scattering the third part to the wind, with a sword drawn out after it. Here was an emblem of the destruction of that nation. A few hairs of this beard the prophet bound up in his skirts, to denote that God would save a remnant of the Jews: chap. li. The final restoration of Israel and Judah was prefigured, by the resurrection of a valley of dry bones: and the union of the two nations was prefigured, by the miraculous union of two sticks in the prophet's hand: chap. xxxvii. And by various other signs, figures and emblems, God instructed and warned that people, by this prophet. In the nine last chapters of this book, we have a description of the prosperous state of the church in the Millennium, under the symbolic description of a vast city and temple, expressed in allusion to the ceremonial
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law and the ancient state of the Jews. The description closes with giving this name of the city, "The Lord is there." The shorter prophets abound in symbolic language. That of Daniel will be noted in the following pages. And specimens of the others likewise will be given under the different heads, in this book, which note the sources of symbols.
TIMES AND SEASONS.Q. 216. What is denoted by day and night?
A. Life and death; or, the time for the duties of life; and the succeeding eternity: John, ix. 4; "I must work the works of him that sent mc while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
Q. 217. What is symbolized by morning and night, when connected?
A. Prosperity, and adversity: Isai. xxi. 11. 12, "Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night." Prosperity will dawn, and calamity will follow.
Q. 218. What is denoted by seed time?
A. Special seasons for doing or obtaining good: Eccle. xi. 6; "In the morning sow thy seed; and in the evening withhold not thy hand." Improve every opportunity to do good, and to obtain good; and thus sow to yourselves a rich harvest." "Sow to yourselves in righteousness." "Sow not among thorns." Ps. cxxvi. 6; "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Q. 219. What is denoted by the harvest and the summer?
A. A precious season for obtaining salvation; Jer. viii. 20; "The harvest is past; the summer is ended; and we are not saved." See Prov. x. 5. A harvest denotes also our future retribution; as in the text just given from Ps. cxxvi. 6. And in Gal. vi. 7. we read, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
Q. 220. What else is denoted by a harvest?
A. The time of great destruction upon the wicked:
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Jer. li. 33; "The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor, it is time to thresh her; yet a little while and the time of her harvest shall come." Relative to the battle of the great day, introductory to the Millennium, See Joel, iii. 9-16. Among other things there it is said; " Put ye in the sickle; the harvest is ripe."' See also Rev. xiv. 14-21; where the same scene is described. There it is also said; "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest: of the earth is fully ripe. And he that sat on the cloud, thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped." The sickle here denotes those judgments, which shall destroy the wicked. God's harvest denotes also the scene at the end of the world; See the parable of the wheat and tares; Matt. xiii. 24-30. 36-43; "The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."
Q. 221. What is symbolized by the vintage?
A. The battle of that great day of God Almighty: See Isai. lxiii. l-6; Joel iii. 13 ;, Rev. xiv. 18-20; where the unexampled terrors of this scene are described under the emblem of the vintage.
Q. 222. What is denoted by the evening?
A. Approaching ruin; Jer. vi. 4 ; "Wo unto us: for the day goeth away; for the shadows of the evening are stretched out." Or, the tokens, of our approaching ruin are as manifest, as is the setting of the sun, when the shadows of the trees become very long on the earth.
Q. 223. What is denoted by summer and winter, when connected?
A. Times of prosperity and of adversity: Zech. xiv. 8; "In summer and in winter shall it be." i. e. The living waters from Jerusalem shall continue to flow, or divine grace in the Millennium shall abound in prosperity, and adversity: Or, through seasons when these were used to intermingle.
FOWLS AND REPTILES.Q. 224. Fowls, and animate nature furnish instructive symbols. What is denoted by an eagle?
A. A great potentate, or government. In Ezek. xvii. 3. the king of Babylon, captivating the Jews, is represented by a giant eagle, with long wings, and full of
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feathers of divers colours, coming to Lebanon, cropping the highest branch of a cedar; and carrying, and setting it out in the land of traffic.
Q. 225. What is symbolized by the wings of an eagle?
A. The divine protection: Exod. xix. 4; "How I bear you on eagle's wings, and brought you to myself." Rev. xii 14, "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place." They denote also enlivening grace Isai. xl. 31; "But they that wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Q. 226. Who is symbolized by a dove?
A. The Holy Ghost: Matt. iii. 16; "And he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him." The church is also symbolized by a dove: Ps. lxxiv. 19; "O deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove unto the multitude of the wicked." Song, ii. 14; " O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." The dove flies to the clefts of the rock, from birds of prey. The church flies to God for refuge. "God is my rock." Chap. v. 2; "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled." Chap. vi. 9; My dove, my undefiled is but one."
Q. 227. Who is resembled by an owl and a pelican?
A. A person in a state of gloom and solitude. Ps. cii. 6; "I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert."
Q. 228. What are symbolized by swarms of devouring locusts?
A. Vast destructive armies. In Rev. ix. 3: the desolating armies of the Saracens, (or Arabians,) propagating the Mohammedan delusion by fire and sword, are denoted by locusts out of the smoke from the bottomless pit.
Q. 229. Who are represented by serpents and vipers?
A. Bitter persecutors, and hypocrites: Matt. xxiii. 33; "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell." In chap. iii. 7. John the Baptist also calls the Pharisees, and Sadducees a "generation
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of vipers." The self righteousness, and the vile conduct of such men, are represented by hatching cockatrice's eggs, and weaving the spider's web: -- See Isai. lix. 5, 6. But their webs do not become garments. He that eats of their eggs, (i. e. has affinity with them,) dies: And that which is crushed, breaks out into a viper. Or, if they be detected, they break out in rage and mischief.
Q. 230. Who are symbolized by the asp and the cockatrice?
A. The inveterate and hateful enemies of the church. Deut. xxxii. 31-33; "Their rock is not our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall; their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of dragons and the cruel venom of asps." Job, xx. 14. 16, "His meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him. -- He shall suck the poison of asps i the viper's tongue shall slay him." Rom. iii. 13; "The poison of asps is under their tongue." But the prophet says, Isai. xi. 8. relative to the introduction of the Millennium, "The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp; and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den; they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountains." i. e. Characters, who have been the most revengeful and dangerous to the children of Christ, shall then be out of the way, by having been destroyed or converted. Christians shall have nothing more to fear from such men.
Q. 231. What is symbolized by the deadly sting of poisonous animals?
A. Sin unrepented of, and unforgiven; 1 Cor. xv. 56; "The sting of death is sin." Unpardoned guilt will sting the soul in death, and in eternity, with the most keen, insupportable, and eternal tortures. But the sanctified and pardoned may triumph; "O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory!"
Q. 232. Who is symbolized by a worm?
A. Man in his feeble state: Job, xxv. 6; "Man that is a worm; and the Son of man that is a worm." Chap. xvii. 14; "I have said to the worm' thou art my mother and my sister." Isai. xii. 14; " Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the
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Lord." The worm denotes also the tormenting conscience of the damned: Mark, ix. 44; "Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Q. 233. Who are denoted by the three unclean spirits, like frogs; Rev. xvi. 13, 14?
A. The hateful, intrusive, and most mischievous agents of antichrist, who in the last day are to work the ruin of the wicked world. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." These horrid agents of satan, of atheism, and of false religion, working disorganization and ruin, are predicted in the epistle of Jude, in 2 Pet. ii. in 2 Tim. iii. 1-8; and in many other places. And their operations have already shaken the civilized world with revolutions, slaughter and terror.
Q. 234. What is denoted by the Armageddon, Rev. vi. 16; whither three unclean spirits collect the kings, of the earth, and of the whole world?
A. The term signifies, the mount of Megiddo. Megiddo, or Megiddon, was a city in the west of Manasseh, toward 50 miles north of Jerusalem. It was famous for noted battles and slaughters. Here Jabin's army were destroyed, by Deborah and Barak: Judg. v. 19: A type of the destruction of antichrist. Here, ("in the valley of Megiddo," which implies also a mountain, or hills) Josiah received his death wound, fighting with Pharaoh Necho (2 Cho. xxxv. 22-27;) and was greatly lamented. The place was famous, as an occasion of mourning; See Zec. xii. 11. The gathering of the enemies of the church thither in the last days, may have both a literal and a mystical fulfilment. The armies of Gog may be literally collected there, against the Jews; Ezek. xxxviii. xxxix. And the inhabitants of the antichristian world may be mystically gathered to Armageddon, (the mount of destruction, or of manifestation, or decision) by being brought to that degree of wickedness, that God will detroy them.
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SINGULAR HEAVENLY FORMS.Q. 235. We find singular heavenly forms exhibited to symbolize certain characters and things. Who are symbolized by the four beasts, represented as in heaven; Rev. iv. 9, 10?
A. They are supposed by Pool, Guise, Scott, and others to represent the ministers of the gospel.
Q. 236. Are those four symbolic beasts the same kind of beasts, with those, taken to denote empires, hostile to the people of God?
A. They are not. The Greek word for the latter is theria; which imports ferocious wild animals. (Rev. xiii. l. 11. and xvii. 3 in the Greek.) The Greek word for these four beasts in the symbolic heaven, (or opening in the upper region of the air, where the scene of his vision was laid,) is Zoa, from Zoo, to live. It imports living creatures. And expositors remark, that it should have been translated four living creatures; according to Ezek. 1. 5. they are merely symbolic figures, to represent the ambassadors of Christ.
Q. 237. Where is the evidence that they represent gospel ministers?
A. They are those who were redeemed by the blood of Christ from among men. See Rev. v. 8-11. They there, with the elders praise Christ; "For thou wast slain; and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue, and people and nation." Angels cannot say thus. They add; -- "and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth." These things angels could never say. They are expressly distinguished from the angels, who are represented in their own names and forms. !n chap. v. 11. John beheld and heard many angels round the throne, and the beasts and elders. Again, chap. xii. 11, "And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts." Certainly then, they are not angels. And they are distinguished from the common members of the church; who are represented by the four and twenty elders. They are a smaller number, redeemed from among men, placed between the throne and the common members of the church, and leading the elders in their worship; -- See chap iv. 9, 10.
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And when the seals of Providence are opened, they call on people to "come and see." Chap. vi. 1. 3. 5. 7.
Q. 238. What is denoted by each of them having six wings?
A. Their alacrity in the service of God. Relative to the duties of their office, they say with Isaiah, "Here am I; send me." True ministers fly in obedience to the will of their Lord and Master. Paul says, "For the love of Christ constraineth us." "By the space of three years I ceased not to warn every man, night and day, with tears." "I have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying, both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
Q. 239. What is denoted by their being "full of eyes before and behind;" and "full of eyes within?"
A. Their knowledge of God, of themselves, and of the way of salvation; and their holy vigilance. They are "taught of God." They have the ascension-gifts of Christ. They are scribes well instructed in the things of the kingdom; and bring out of their treasures things new and old. And they watch for souls, and watch unto duty, as those who must give an account to God.
Q. 240. Why is it said "They rest not day nor night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty?"
A. They are holy, as bearing the vessels of the Lord. And their business is to proclaim the holiness, or goodness, of the Lord; and to ascribe righteousness ut~to him. And they are repeatedly represented as pursuing their business, day and night: As Paul says, "I ceased not to warn every man night and day." And God says by the prophet, "I have set watchmen on thy walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace, day nor night." For they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing." If this was said of civil, it certainly applies also to ecclesiastical ministers.
Q. 241. What are denoted by the different forms of those four living creatures?
A. The different gifts of Christ's ministers: Eph. iii. 11; "And he gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints; for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ." These different ministerial gifts are often noted among the blessings
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of the church. 1 Cor. iii. 22; "For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas ;" i. e. ministers of different gifts. See 1. Cor. xii. 4-11. 28-31. There we learn, that there are diversities of gifts from the same Spirit; dividing to every one as he will.
Q. 242. How would you explain those different symbolic forms p.83
A. The first was like a lion; denoting a class of ministers strong, bold, undaunted; terrible to infidels, and the wicked. The second was like a calf, or like an ox; (as one of the four forms of the living creatures is rendered, Ezek. i. 10.) This may allude to the brazen oxen, under the great laver in the temple of old; which were symbols of gospel ministers: -- And to 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10; where oxen symbolize gospel ministers. And it denotes, that one class of ministers, if not like the class of the lion, are yet patient, strong, and profitable. The third had a face as a man, Here is a class metaphysical, deep; perhaps singularly humane and affectionate. And the fourth was like a flying eagle: -- If not altogether like the lion, the ox, or the class that had the face of a man; yet swift of flight; of piercing vision: towering over lakes and mountains; darting swiftly upon its prey; and mounting high toward heaven. This aptly symbolizes one class of gospel ministers.
Q. 243. One of these living creatures gives to the seven angels the seven vials or cups of divine wrath; Rev. xv. 7, 8. How is this to be understood?
A. It is in answer to the special prayers of Zion, led by her ministers, that God confounds her enemies with the vials of his wrath. See Rev. xi. 5,6; where the witnesses have power to shut heaven and to smite the earth with all plagues as oft as they will. And chap. ii. 26, 27; where he that overcometh shall rule the nations with a rod of iron, and break them to pieces. See also Ps. cxviii. 10-12; where the church three times exults over all nations, compassing her about like bees: "But in the name of the Lord will I destroy them." -- And Ps. cxlix. 4-9; where the high praises of God are in the mouths of the saints, and a two edged sword in their hands, to bind kings with chains, and nobles with fetters of iron: to execute upon the wicked all the judgments written. This honor have all the saints. And Isai. xii. 15 i where the church is to thresh the nations
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to chaff, with a new threshing instrument having teeth. Truly, "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." And the united prayers of Zion, led by her ministers in the last days, will avail much.
Q. 244. Who are represented by the four and twenty elders, seen in vision, as though in heaven; Rev. iv. 4?
A. I believe all agree, that they represent the church of Christ.
Q. 245. Why is their number twenty-four?
A. This is twice the number of the patriarchs; else twice the number of the apostles. Or, it is equal to the number of the twelve apostles, and the twelve patriarchs, united. The priests under the old Testament were divided into four and twenty courses. (See l Chro. xxiv. 1-19.) Those priests were types of the Christian church. The latter are hence called, "a royal priesthood;" and "a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices:" (1 Pet. ii. 5.9 :) -- Being "made kings and priests unto God:" (Rev. v. 10.) Among the Levites, also there were of old, four and twenty courses of sacred musicians, for the worship of God in the temple. (See l Chro. xxv. 8-31.) Possibly those numbers of twenty-four, of the courses of the priests, and courses or the musicians, may account for the number of the representatives of the gospel church being twenty four. And perhaps it was so ordered, that those courses of the priests and musicians, (types of the gospel church,) should each be twenty-four, in order to equal the number of the patriarchs and apostles united, as a peculiar number for the gospel church. The gospel church are indeed the old Testament church and new Testament church united.
Q. 246. Can any account be given of the design of the proportion of these symbols; that there should be four, of the ambassadors of Christ, to twenty-four of the members?
A. It is doubtful whether any thing more is designed, than to give a view of four classes of ministerial gifts. The following things however may be said. The twelve tribes of Israel included and furnished one tribe of Levites, for ministers of the temple. Here is one in twelve. Twenty-four then, would include and furnish two. But
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as the number of the twelve tribes is, in the elders who represent the gospel church, doubled; so the proportion of the ministers of the house of God may for the same reason be represented, under the gospel, as doubled. Instead of being one in twelve, we have one in six: and hence four to twenty four; We find also there were four of the living creatures in Ezekiel's vision; chap. i ; perhaps one for each quarter of the world. And we find four courses of brazen oxen, bearing the great laver, and which were emblems (as it is thought) of the ministers of Christ: -- one course looking toward the east, one toward the west; one toward the north; and one toward the south. But the reason of this proportion may not be designed to be known by men on earth.
Q. 247. Who are symbolized by angels, in Rev. xiv. 6-8, flying through the midst of heaven?
A. The ministers, of the gospel; especially in the last days, administering with redoubled zeal and strength, with the peculiar aid of the churches.
Q. 248. What is denoted by the first, having the gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people?
A. A peculiar missionary spirit, and great exertions, in the same hour with the judgments of God on papal Babylon, to proclaim salvation to the ends of the earth; by translating and sending out the word of life to the destitute nations; and the heralds of salvation to proclaim and administer the gospel.
Q. 249. What is indicated by the flight of the second angel; saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen?"
A. A general propagation, and belief, through the Christian world, of the sentiment here expressed; that papal "Babylon is fallen" indeed, and that all the scenes. connected with that event, are rolling on, in a most interesting train.
Q. 250. What is indicated by the flight of the third angel, proclaiming with a loud voice, that if any man worship the beast,; or his image, or have his mark, openly or secretly he shall be totally and eternally destroyed in hell? (verse 9-11.)
A. This figure predicts a general propagation (through the christian world, by the ambassadors of Christ, in preaching, and in publications) of the very warnings, which are there given, relative to all affinity with infidel
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beast of the last days. It is a prediction, that ministers, and the people of God, will wake up to see the signs, and dangers of the times; and that the warnings of God's word will be, with great engagedness, proclaimed; according to the following command of God, relative to the same period; "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand."
Q. 251. What is symbolized by the visible descent of an angel from heaven, and proclaiming certain things with a loud voice?
A. The commencement of a new and very important era of judgments. In Rev. x. 1-3. and xviii. 1, 2. we find such a symbol. And it no doubt indicates, that new period, of most interesting events, has opened upon the church and the world. The descent of the angel, Rev. xx. 1. is attended with no loud cry. But he binds the devil. Here is prefigured the commencement of the Millenium. But when God, or an angel, is said to cry with a loud voice, it denotes great judgments: Isai. xlii. 13, 14; "The Lord shall go forth as a might man; he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war; he shall cry, yea roar: he shall prevail against his enemies. I have long time holden my peace -- now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once." See also Jer. xxv. 30. Hos. xi. 10. Joel iii. 16. Amos i. 2. Ezek. ix. 1.
Q. 252. What is symbolized by the Lamb on mount Zion, with him 144,000, with his Father's name upon their foreheads; Rev. xiv. 1?
A. A great and signal appearance of Christ for his cause; such as at the reformation under Luther.
Q. 253. What is denoted by the Angel upon the white cloud, with a sharp sickle, and his reaping the earth, gathering its vine, and treading the wine press; Rev. xiv. 14 -- to the end?
A. We have here a symbolic prediction of that coming of Christ to destroy his enemies, which is just to precede the Millenium. The predictions of this event are numerous, and very awful in the prophetic scriptures, both in the old and new Testaments. Repeatedly it is predicted under the emblem of a harvest. See Joel, iii. 13. where in the midst of a terrible description of that
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day, we read, "Put ye in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe." In Jer. li. 33. it is said of Babylon, (and will be fulfilled on the mystical Babylon of the last days) "Yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come." And in the passage under consideration. "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped." Of the same event, under the emblem of a vintage, we read, Joel. iii. 13; "Come, get ye down; for the press is full; the fats overflow; for the wickedness thereof is great." Isai. lxiii. 1-6; "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness; mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him, that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the wide press alone; and of the people there was none with me. For I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. -- And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury; and I will bring down their strength to the earth." Here is the vintage in the passage under consideration; where we read; "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city; and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse's bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
Q. 254. What are we to understand by the battle array of Christ, in Rev. xix. 11-16 ? where he rides forth upon a white horse, with the armies of heaven following him upon white horses: -- His eyes as a flame of fire: -- On his head many crowns: -- His vesture dipped in blood: -- A sharp sword going out of his mouth, by which to smite the nations: -- And his name in capitals on his vesture and on his thigh, KING OF KINGS; AND LORD OF LORDS: -- The armies of the beast
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and kings of the earth meet him in hostile encounter: They are slain: -- The fowls are filled with their flesh: -- And the beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire?
A. This is a symbolic description of the battle of that great day of God Almighty, predicted under the seventh vial; Rev. xvi. 14 -- to end. It is the same scene with that under the figures of the harvest, and the vintage, just noted. And it will be fulfilled in the dreadful scenes of vengeance with which Christ will sweep anti-christ and all the persecutors of the church from the earth, under the third woe. Many and dreadful are the descriptions of this event; such as, that God will gather the nations, and assemble the kingdoms, and pour upon them his indignation, even all his fierce anger; and all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of his jealousy, (Zeph. iii. 8.) -- That God will lay the wicked world "desolate, and destroy the sinners thereof out of it." (Isai. xiii. 9.) The predictions of this event are too numerous to be quoted, or even referred to, in this place. Turn to the following as a specimen of them. Ps. xlvi. 8- 10. Isai. xxiv. 1-6. xxvi. 20, 21. xxviii. 21, 22. xxxiv. 1-8. lix. 15-19. lxvi. 14-16. Jer. xxxv. 31-33. Dan. ii. 34, 35. vii. 11. Zeph. i. 2, 3, 14-18. Mal. iv. 1. Rev. xi. 15-19. (Various of the singular forms found in the Revelation, have been or will be noted under other heads.)
BEASTS -- ANIMALS.Q. 255. What are symbolized by furious wild beasts?
A. Empires and nations hostile to the church of God.
Q. 256. In these symbolic beasts do we not often find a departure from nature?
A. We do. Various parts and properties of different creatures are often united in figure; and wings, and an unnatural number of heads and horns, are frequently superadded. Such wings are emblems of velocity in conquests; heads usually denote different forms of government; and horns are emblems of power, particularly of vassal kingdoms. See Dan. vii. 6, Rev. xvii. 3. 10. 16.
Q. 257. Is a horn a noted emblem of power?
A. It is. God is said to have "horns coming out of his hand, as the hiding of his power;" Hab. iii, 4.
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In Rev. v. 6. Christ is symbolized by a lamb of seven horns, and seven eyes; -- emblems of the perfection of his power and wisdom. David speaks of God, as the horn, (i. e. the strength) of his salvation; 2 Sam. xxii. 3. The false prophets made horns of iron. -- to denote that the kings, whom they flattered, should push and destroy their enemies, 1 Kings, xxii. 11. The horn of the righteous is said to be exalted; meaning that their strength in the Lord is established. No wonder then, that horns are frequently used, in prophecy, to denote the strength, and particularly, the vassal kingdoms, of the wicked empires of the world, when those empires are denoted by beasts.
Q. 258. Are empires, that are not hostile to the church symbolized by beasts?
A. They are not. When a power, that has been hostile to the church, and symbolized by a beast, ceases to be hostile, that beast is represented as dying; as when the government of the Roman empire was turned, under Constantine, from paganism to christianity, that beast was represented as wounded to death. And if such a power (or one mystically the same) became again hostile to the church, that beast, that was wounded to death, is represented as rising again to life. See Rev. xiii, 3; and xvii. 8. 11.
Q. 259. Can two symbolic beasts exist on the same ground at the same time?
A. They cannot; any more than two things can at once be the greatest; or than there can be two captain generals, at once, in the same army. The beast is the government, or the sum total, of such a hostile empire. Subordinate powers, or branches, are horns of that beast. When a new beast rises, his predecessor ceases to be a beast. If he exist at all, he is called a horn, or by some other name.
Q. 260. Are different beasts symbols of different characteristics in man?
A. A lion is a symbol of courage, ferocity, and boldness; -- a lamb -- of innocence, and meekness; -- a horse of strength, and speed; -- and an ox of patience, and profitableness. See Rev. iv. 7: and v. 6: Jer. xii. 5; Ezek. i. 10; and xxxviii; 13.
Q. 261. What is denoted by the lion, with eagle's wings; Dan. vii. 43?
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A. The ancient Babylonian empire.
Q. 262. What is denoted by the bear, with a piece of raven in his mouth; Dan. vii. 5?
A. The succeeding Persian empire.
Q. 263. What is denoted by the leopard, with the four wings on his back, and with four heads; Dan. vii. 6?
A. The Grecian empire, which followed, under Alexander, and his four succeeding generals, who divided his empire. (See answer to question 273.)
Q. 264. What is denoted by the fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, with great iron teeth, and with ten horns' Dan. vii. 7?
A. The civil Roman power, from its origin, till it goes into perdition, at the battle of the great day, just before the Millenium. See Rev. xiii. 1-10. and xvii.
Q. 265. What is denoted by the seven heads of this beast?
A. Seven mountains, on which Rome was built; also seven forms of government, from the time of the origin of this nation, till the Millennium; viz. the governments of king, consuls, tribunes, decemvirs, dictators, emperors, and infidel democracy, soon succeeded by the revival of the imperial government, which is represented as the old imperial head recovered of its deadly wound. This last is numerically the eighth head of the beast; yet it is truely "of the seven;" being specifically the sixth, recovered to life. See Rev. xiii. 3: and xvii. 9-11
Q. 266. Can you further explain this deep symbol ?
A. The civil Roman nation, because at times it was to persecute the people of God, is represented as a great uncommon, furious beast. Because Rome was built on seven hills, this beast is represented as having seven heads. And those seven heads were also to represent the above noted seven forms of government. There were seven, and only seven, distinct kinds of government in that nation. But one of them, (under which persecutions were to take place,) viz. the imperial government, was to exist twice, or at two periods, centuries distant from each other. The imperial reign (under which Christ and the apostles lived) was denoted by the sixth head of this beast. When this imperial head was forced, by the emperor Constantine, to desist from persecution, and none might govern, but the professed
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friends of Christ, this revolution is represented by the sixth head of the beast being wounded to death. The beast is now represented as lying dead, for a long time; till, in the last days, he ascends out of the bottomless pit, or recovers his life again, under the peculiar agency of the wicked one. This event first appeared under an infidel democracy, in modern France. This is represented as the seventh head of that beast, and continuing a short time. It was soon succeeded by the revival of the imperial reign. The latter, in counting forward, is the eigth head of the beast. But it is, in kind, the sixth, the imperial head revived. So that in one sense, it is the eigth head; and in another, it is "of the seven," being the same in kind with the sixth; Rev. xvii. 11.
Q. 267. What are denoted by the ten horns of this beast?
A. Vassal kingdoms under his power: Rev. xvii. 12; The ten horns, which thou sawest, are ten kings," i. e: kingdoms. See Dan. vii. 23, 24.
Q. 268. What is denoted by the peculiar horn of this beast; Dan; vii. 8?
A. The Papal hierarchy; into whose hands the saints were to be delivered for 1260 years; verse 24, 25.
Q. 269. By what else is this hierarchy denoted?
A. By a second beast, who had two horns like a lamb; but spake like a dragon; See Rev. xiii. 11-13.
Q. 270. What is denoted by the two horns of this beast?
A. Probably his ecclesiastical, and civil tyranny: 2 Thes. ii. 4; "So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that be is God." With Rev. xvii. 18; "That great city, that reigneth over the kings of the earth."
Q. 971. What is denoted by the papal beast making an image to the pagan beast; Rev. xiii 14, 15?
A. It probably relates to his system of real idolatry, instituted under the christian profession, but essentially of the same nature with the antecedent pagan idolatry.
Q. 272. What is denoted by the ram; Dan. viii. 3?
A. The Persian empire; the same with the bear, with ribs in his mouth; Dan. vii. 5.
Q. 273. What is denoted by the he-goat, with his notable horn; and four subsequent horns; Dan. viii. 5?
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A. The Macedonian empire; the same with the leopard of four heads, and four wings; Dan. vii. 6. The notable horn, between the eyes of this goat, symbolized Alexander the great. And the four subsequent notable horns, towards the four winds, denoted Alexander's four generals. Seleucus had Syria, and the east. Cassander had Greece in the west. Lysimachus had Thrace, in the north. And Ptolemy had Egypt in the south.
Q. 274. What is denoted by the peculiar little horn from one of those horns, which waxed great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land; Dan. viii. 9-12?
A. Probably Mohammedism, introduced by the first woe: Rev. ix. 1-11.
Q. 275. A horse, (it has been said) is an emblem of strength, and speed. What is denoted by a white horse?
A. A victorious march. In Rev. vi. 2. Christ is represented as riding forth upon a white horse, in the remarkable propagation of the gospel. And in chap. xix. 11-16. he again rides forth upon a white horse, for the destruction of his enemies.
Q. 276. What is denoted by a red horse?
A. War and blood: Rev. vi. 4. under the second seal.
Q. 277. What is denoted by a black horse?
A. Famine, calamity, and terror: Rev. vi. 5. under the third seal.
Q. 278. What is denoted by a pale horse?
A. Death, with hell following. Rev. vi. 8: under the fourth seal.
Q. 279. Who are denoted by bulls?
A. Violent enemies of Christ: Ps. xxii. 12; "Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round."
Q. 280. What is represented by kine or cows?
A. Seasons, or years: As in Pharoah's dream, Gen. xli. 1, 2.
Q. 281. Who are denoted by sheep?
A. The people of Christ: John, x. 27; "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
In the view of this symbol, Christ is called the shepherd, the good shepherd of the sheep; John, x. 14. His
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ministers also are shepherds: See Isai. lvi. 11. John xxi. 15-17. Also kings are thus denominated: Isai. xliv. 28; "That saith to Cyrus, he is my shepherd." And in Jer. xxv. 34-36, is an awful threatening to kings, under the name of shepherds.
Q. 282. Who are denoted by lambs?
A. The people of Christ: John, xxi. 15; "Feed my lambs! i. e. my people. This was Christ's direction to Peter. Christ was also symbolized by a lamb. The paschal lamb of old was a type of Christ; as were all the lambs offered in sacrifice. Christ is accordingly called, "The Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, -- "The Lamb slain:" He is the "Lamb on the mount Zion." "Christ our passover was sacrificed for us." He was meek as a lamb. "As a lamb before her shearers was dumb, so he opened not his mouth."
Q. 283. Who are symbolized by wolves?
A. False teachers: Acts, xx. 29; "For I know, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." Matt. vii. 15; "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Q. 284. What other animals are taken to denote false teachers?
A. Foxes; and dogs: Ezek. xiii. 4; "O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts." Song, ii. 15; "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes." Isai. lvi. 10; "His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, that cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber." Phil. iii. 2; "Beware of dogs; beware of evil workers; beware of the concision." Dogs symbolize also all the finally reprobate: Rev. xxii. 15; "For without are dogs." -- And a fox denotes a subtile tyrant, like Herod: Luke, xiii. 32; "Go and tell that fox."
Q. 285. Who are symbolized by the wild boar?
A. Persecutors. In Ps. lxxx. 13. it is said of God's vine, the church, "The boar out of the wood doth waste it; and the wild beast of the field doth devour it."
Q. 286. Who are symbolized by an unicorn, and lions?
A. Persecutors, and bloody oppressors: Ps. xxii. 21; "Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou has heard me from the horns of the horns of the unicorns." In Isai. xxxiv. 7.
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speaking of the battle of the great day, it is said, "And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullock with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness."
Q. 287. Who are symbolized by Leviathan, and the dragon?
A. Abominable tyrants; and the devil. In Isai. xxvii. 1. the great tyrannical power of the last days is called, Leviathan, that crooked serpent, and the dragon that is in the sea." In Isai. li. 9. and Ezek. xxix. 3. Pharaoh is called the dragon; probably in allusion to the crocodile of his river. And in Rev. xii. the devil is symbolized by a great red dragon of seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads, because he manages an empire symbolized by a beast of seven heads and ten horns. And he manages his empire, [as he laboured to tempt our Saviour,] with a promise of crowns. These he is represented as having in plenty.
Q. 288. Who else are symbolized by dragons?
A. Pagans: Isai. xxxv. 7; "And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitations of dragons, where each lay, shall; be grass with reeds and rushes." Chap. xliii. 19, 20; "I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert: and the beasts of the field shall honor me, and dragons and owls;" Or pagans shall come to the saving knowledge of the truth.
Q. 289. What is denoted by mountain of leopards, and mountains of prey?
A. The state of the church militant, in a wicked, persecuting world. Song iv. 8; "Come with me, from Lebanon my spouse; with me from Lebanon, look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir & Hermion, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards." Here is a symbolic description, given by Christ himself, of the state of his church in this world. Those mountains named, were full of dens of devouring beasts; wild, and gloomy. Here, or in a world represented by those mountains, Christ's spouse must, for a season, wander, as an exile! But Christ visits her; and will call her hence! With faith and solemn affection she now addresses him. Ps. lxxvi. 4; "Thou are more glorious and excellent, than the mountains of prey." Ps. xlii. 6; "O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.     95
thee from the land of Jordan, and from the Hermonites, of the hill Mizar." Gloomy and disconsolate among the children of darkness, as though on the solitary mountains of Canaan, (the haunts of wild beasts,) I will turn mine eyes, and lift up mine heart, toward thy holy temple. I will long for my admittance there.
Q. 290. What is denoted by the strange harmony of the different beasts of discordant natures predicted by the prophet.
A. The holy and cordial unity of the people of different nations, in the Millennium, when all shall know the Lord; and unite in his service, (See Isai. xi. 6-9.) The wolf and the lamb unite in meekness and peace. The leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, peacefully unite. The child is safe upon the hole of the asp, and upon the den of the cockatrice.
Q. 291. What was symbolized by the great vessel, like a sheet, let down from heaven to Peter, in his vision, Acts, x. 10-16. containing all manner of beasts, creeping things, and fowls, even such as the Jews were forbidden to eat; but Peter now had liberty to eat them freely?
A. We here have a symbol of the christian church, as being destitute of all national distinctions. For 2000 years the Gentiles were cast off, in their idolatries. The separation of the tribes of the Lord; in covenant, from the Gentiles, was designated, among other things, by the Israelites being prohibited the use of certain animals and fowls for food; Lev. xi. But that distinction between Jews and Gentiles was now to cease. The latter were to be admitted to all the blessings of the gospel. And this thing was ascertained to Peter, by a promiscuous crowd of animals and; fowls, both clean. and unclean according to the ceremonial law, being now presented, as cleansed of God, and ready for use. Peter might now go and administer to Cornelius, and the heathen. In every nation, he that feared God, and wrought righteousness, should find equal acceptance.
IMAGE.Q. 292 What is symbolized by the image of a giant, in Dan. ii. 31-36?
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A. The four great eastern monarchies; -- the Babylonian; the Medo-persian; the Grecian; and the Roman.
Q. 293. Which was denoted by the head of gold upon this image?
A. The Babylonian empire; the same with the lion with eagle's wings; Dan. vii. 4.
Q. 294. Which was denoted by its breasts and arms of silver?
A. The Medo-persian empire, the same with the bear; Dan. vii. 5; and the ram; Dan. vii. 3.
Q. 295. Which was denoted by its belly and thighs of brass?
A. The Grecian empire; the same with the leopard with four heads and four wings; Dan. vii. 6; and the he-goat; Dan. viii. 5.
Q. 296. Which was symbolized by the legs of iron; and the feet and toes, part of iron, and part of clay?
A. The Roman empire, till it goes into perdition at the battle of that great day of God; the same with the terrible beast: Dan. vii. 7, 11. Rev. xii. 1-10.
Q. 297. Is much instruction contained in this symbolic image?
A. It is a striking epitome of what is contained in volumes of history; and epitome drawn to the life by the divine pencil. The closing part is deeply interesting to this generation. The feet and toes, comprising the existence of the Roman empire in the last days, (the same with the last head of the secular beast, healed of its deadly wound, and with the new and blasphemous beast, from the bottomless pit, Rev. xvii.) are "part of iron, and part of clay." This the holy Spirit explains: Dan. ii. 42; "The kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken." In this mixture of strength and weakness, the last head of the Roman empire continues, till the stone cut out without hands smites it, and grinds it to powder. The surviving materials of the image are, at the same time, destroyed, and blown away; and the stone becomes a great mountain, and fills the world. Or Christ will destroy the great infidel power of the last days, together with all the wicked persecuting powers on earth; whether on the ground of ancient Babylon, Persia, Greece, or Rome; and his own millennial kingdom shall fill the
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.     97
world. This kingdom partly strong, and partly broken, is now exhibited to the view of the world.
For a more full and extensive explanation of the figurative language found in the prophecies of Daniel, of the Revelation, and some other parts of the bible, see my dissertation on the prophecies.
A. We do indeed. The instances noted from the scriptures may be viewed as but just an entering upon the subject of figurative language. But perhaps instances enough have been exhibited, to give a clew to this subject. It is not an object in this book to explain figurative language in common use, not found in the word of God.
Q. 299. Is much of figurative language, the language of allusion?
A. It is. An event is often expressed in allusion to another event, in some respects similar; -- though distant as to time or place.
Q. 300. Can you illustrate this remark by an example, in modern language?
A. When a British officer, in the prospect of a battle, said, This is going to be a Bunker hill scene, it was the language of allusion. And the sense was not only perspicuous, but forcible; -- that if they gained the victory, it would be at a dear rate. And to say of a mischievous, intriguing man, Haman will get executed upon his own gallows, is an allusion, of perspicuity and force. Such of proverbial language is essentially of this kind; being derived from various incidents in life, either real or imaginary. "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it."
Q. 301. Is considerable of the figurative language of prophesy, the language of allusion?
A. It is. The battle of that great day, introductory to the Millenium, is said to be in the valley of Jehosaphat; Joel, iii. 12; in allusion to the place, where the vast combined armies against Jehosaphat were made to destroy each other; 2 Chron. xx. 20-25. Some parts of the Revelation to St. John are of this kind. And a mixture of it is found through the prophecies. The turning of the sea and rivers to blood, under the second and third
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vials, is thought to have been expressed in allusion to the turning of the waters to blood in some of the plagues on ancient Egypt. And the filling of the papal kingdom with darkness, under the fifth vial, is probably an allusion to the plague of darkness on Egypt: or the latter perhaps was a type of the former. The capital superscription upon the forehead of the papal harlot, Rev. xvii. 5. may be in allusion to the ancient Roman custom of presenting their capital criminals for execution with a superscription, on or over their heads, denoting their crimes. The superscription upon the cross, over the head of Christ, was from this Roman custom.
Q. 302. What is to be inferred from this use of the language of allusion in the prophecies, relative to knowledge of the bible?
A. The great importance of a thorough knowledge of scripture history; and so far as may be, with the history of man, and of ancient times; in order that the sense and force of allusions may be perceived.
Q. 303. What benefit is derived from the use of allusions?
A. The imagery of the language of allusion is concise, rich and impressive, beyond what is found in literal description. A word, a hint, presents to the mind perhaps, the contents of pages, or of a whole volume, to illustrate some given point. And, to one skilled in sacred history, such language is often not only perspicuous, but very striking.
Q. 304. Do we find precision and uniformity in the scriptural use of figures, and of allusions?
A. We do, much greater than many imagine. It is true, the same figure, in some cases, and different connexions, stand for different things. And the same is true of words in literal language. But the connexion, and a good judgment, will usually discover which is the true sense in any given place. A most literal language is unintelligible to a person unacquainted with it. And the language of figures and allusions is intelligible and striking to one familiar with this kind of language. Very much depends on use and improvement.
Q. 305. Do attention and use in fact, render much of the language of figures and allusions very familiar to most of people?
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A. They do. People are not aware how much of this kind of language mingles in their daily conversation; and in many instances becomes more intelligible, and forcible, than would be a more literal language.
Q. 306. Can you illustrate this by some examples?
A. To say a man has a good heart, is at least as well understood, as to say, he has a good disposition of soul. But the heart is but a symbol of the disposition of the soul; being literally that fleshy organ in the breast, which is the seat of animal life. To say a man has the heart of a tiger, is well understood; and is sometimes more forcible, than to say, he is very cruel. To say a man has an eagle eye, is as forcible at least as to say, he is very discerning as to his self interest. To say one has a heart of stone, is as intelligible as to say, he has no proper affection. A hard heart, and a blind mind, are figurative expressions. But they are well understood. Perhaps no literal expression could so well convey their ideas. To say, a man has a long head, and an iron constitution, is well understood as importing, that he has a strong mind; and good bodily health. And with figures like these our language abounds.
Q. 307. Are there various degrees in which sentences partake of figurative language?
A. There are. When a sentence is wholly figurative and the figure is pursued, it becomes an allegory or parable. If it continue through successive sentences, it becomes a climax, as in the speech of Jotham,.to the men of Shechem, relative to the trees seeking a king; Judges, ix. 7-15. Sentences partake of figurative language in various degrees from the climax, to a sentence containing but one figurative expression.
Q. 308. But must not every sentence be construed as wholly literal, or wholly figurative?
A. By no means. Where God gave the persecutors blood to drink;, because they had shed the blood of prophets and of saints; their having shed the blood of saints and of prophets, is to be construed as literal; and their having blood to drink, as figurative. To say here, that because their having blood to drink is figurative, therefore their having shed the blood of saints and prophets, found in the same passage, must be construed likewise as figurative, would be to destroy the sense of the passage, and to do violence to common sense.
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Q. 309. What do you establish by this very plain remark?
A. This proposition, that no conclusive objection can be made against a literal construction of some parts of a passage, from a supposed rule, that if a considerable part of a chapter or sentence be clearly figurative, the whole must be so. For instance: it does not neccassarily follow, that because the most part, at least, of the twentieth chapter of the Revelation is highly figurative, therefore the thousand years, mentioned there, for the duration of the Millenium, cannot be literal, but must be figurative. That passage may mean a literal thousand years; notwithstanding that the chapter is chiefly figurative. Again. We cannot certainly infer, that because the representation of the three unclean spirits like frogs, Rev. xvi. 13, 14. is most]y figurative, therefore they are not to be expected to gather a coalition to the literal Megiddo in Palestine, as well as to gather the wicked of the earth into a situation to be destroyed. As the going forth of those delusive agents of darkness, is to the kings or cabinets of the earth, and of the whole world; so their gathering them to Armageddon or mount Megiddon, may have both a literal, and a mystical fulfilment.
Q. 310. Is there no certain rule then, by which to decide what parts of sentences are to be understood literally, and what parts figuratively?
A. There is not. The literal sense is ever to be preferred to a figurative, when the sense would be as good. But relative to this, wisdom alone is profitable to direct.
Q. 311. What are we to think of the conduct of those; who decline a faithful investigation of the sense of the prophetic scriptures, on account of the deeply figurative language, in which they are mostly written?
A. We must think they are not sufficiently attentive to the commands of God, who says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches;" "Whoso readeth, let him understand." "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophesy." So great a part of the scriptures, as the prophecies, could not have been given for no purpose, nor for a small purpose. This, as well as the other parts, was given to be searched, believed, and improved. At the
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.     101
opening of each of the four seals, in Rev. vi. 1-6. a living creature (denoting the ministers of the gospel) called on others to "Come and see."
Q. 312. Is there not an impropriety in the conduct of those, who would discourage laborious attempts to learn the sense of the prophecies, on account of their mystical language?
A. Such are not aware of the extent of their objection. Their objections would go to close, not only a great part of the sacred volume, but also a considerable part of our common conversation.
Q. 313. What parts of our familiar conversation would their objections, in their full extent, close or expunge?
A. All that is figurative: -- such as has been hinted. And all such as the following: -- That man has the heart of a lion. The times are dark. Dark mountains rise before us. The ways of the wicked are crooked and slippery. Should the above objection obtain, we must never more speak of the heart, as meaning a moral power of the soul; of cold affections; heat of passion; warmth of temper; hunger or thirst of sour; feeding on the bread of life; and such like expressions. For the words heart, cold, heat, and the like, literally relate only to material bodies. And if we begin to expunge figurative language, we may as well be thorough, and expunge it wholly. We should then loose a great part of our language, which is now esteemed perspicuous, concise, forcible and elegant.
Q. 314. Is figurative language very abundant in the sacred scriptures?
A. It is indeed. And with much of it men becomes so familiar, as to forget that it is not literal. This is the effect of use. While with other parts of the same kind of language, in the same book, -- (language as properly introduced, abundantly used in the prophecies, and fully entitled to our approbation,) many people remain unacquainted; and hence object to them, as unintelligible.
Q. 315. Is not this conduct unfavorable to the Christian faith?
A. It is. For those holy oracles, which alone contain our religion, and reveal the path of life, do abound with the kind of language, which is thus slighted. A great part of this holy book is thus virtually rejected; and a
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course is taken which is calculated to bring the whole sacred volume into discredit and neglect.
Q. 316. But is it best to encourage figurative, and symbolical language? May we not indulge a fondness for that language, which is literal and philosophical?
A. Perhaps we have enough of figurative language in use. And literal expressions, especially in description, and in common conversation, are much to be preferred. But to discourage that degree of figurative language actually found in the word of God; or to neglect to investigate the sense of the prophecies, on account of their symbolical language, would be to charge God foolishly; and thus far to encourage infidelity. Should men become ever so fond of the use of language the most literal; and indulge ever so great a distaste to that, which is figurative; yet it is a fact, that the bible will remain, as it is written, to the end of the world. The Most High will never revise it, nor alter its language, to please our literary taste. Men must receive it as it is; or forego its blessings.
Q. 317. What further ought men to consider relative to the symbolic language found in the word of God?
A. They ought to consider, that this mode of writing was most common and familiar in ancient times. The wisest, and the most learned, the poet and the sage, made great use of it. There is, and ever has been, something in man which is captivated with this species of communication. And this is found not only in the lowest stages of mental improvement, but also in the highest. Blair says, "Figures have the same effect on language, that rich and splendid apparel has on a person of rank and dignity." Shall any then take offence, that God, in giving a revelation to man for all ages and nations, should see fit to adapt its language to this taste of the great mass of mankind? Such offence would argue great arrogance in the objector, and great impiety toward God. A divine revelation, if given at all, must be given in some language. And it must be desirable, that this language should be adapted to the benefit of all ages, nations, and stages of society; the barbarous, as well as the refined. None ought to wish that so general a blessing should be conveyed in a manner suited exclusively to their refined taste, or to their local, or philosophical impressions.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.     103
Q. 318. But may not the most figurative and mystical parts of the bible be neglected?
A. Should men begin such a neglect, where would they end? Shall those scriptures be passed by, as too figurative, which speak of God as having eyes, ears, moth, hands, feet, and as setting on a throne? And those also, which speak of Christ as the Lamb of God; the Lion of the tribe of Judah; the Root and offspring of David; the bright and morning star, and the bridegroom of the church? Shall the denunciation be passed over, as too figurative, that the Lord is a man of war? That Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron, and dash them to pieces, as a potter's vessel? Christ is represented by a variety of types and figures. Perhaps three score would not more than furnish the detail. Nor has this been esteemed a blemish, but a beauty in the word of life. The church likewise is represented under a variety of emblems; which have not been esteemed as perplexing to the pious student; but as enriching the subject of theology. But should men begin to neglect the figurative parts of the bible, why not neglect all the types and figures of Christ, and of the church?
Q. 319. What other parts of the bible might be in danger of being neglected, as too figurative, should a neglect of the figurative parts of scripture be sanctioned?
A. Many, which denote the special operations of grace: and the privileges of Christians. The former are noted under the figurative expressions of pouring out the Spirit; circumcising the heart; washing the soul from sin; healing wounds and broken bones. The christian is represented as regenerated, born again, raised from a horrid pit; brought out of darkness, into marvellous light; and grafted into the good olive tree. And the privileges of Christians are noted under such figures as the following; "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life."
Q. 320. Would objections, against the study of the prophecies, and of the most mystical parts of the word
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of God, in their consistent issue, exclude from our attention such language in the blessed volume, as this just noted?
A. They would. And when they had done their work of purging the bible of figurative language, but little would be left; perhaps not a whole chapter, if there were a whole text, in the sacred volume.
Q. 321. Could not people as well or better have understood the things of God, if they had been expressed in language wholly literal, and no symbols or figures had been admitted into the word of God?
A. Men, formed as they now are, could not have understood. "How shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" It is in mercy to man, that the things of God and of heaven are expressed in language adapted to his feeble conceptions, and thus in figurative language. Had not this been the case, man on earth could have had no knowledge of the things of heaven. A literal account of them, such as the inhabitants of glory may understand, would probably be as far above our conceptions, as they were, in fact, above the conceptions of St. Paul, when he was caught up to the third heavens, and heard unspeakable words; which no mortal could utter, or understand. God has kindly dealt with us, as with children; and expressed things in the language of figures and symbols, borrowed from things, with which we are acquainted, and which (from their analogy to things in the invisible world) are the best adapted to our spiritual instruction. Our bodily senses are now addressed, and called into the aid of our instructions, and of faith. This is so far from being matter of regret, that it is matter of substantial joy. And it is further to be noted, that literal predictions of many of the events of prophesy, would not have accorded with the divine purpose. Most of these events were veiled in mystical language, that they should not be very distinctly known, especially to many people, till they were fulfilled. This was essentially necessary to that mode of their fulfillment, (through the agency of men of different motives,) which God designed.
Q. 322. Were many of the figurative parts of the bible, which are now well understood, as dark to people, in days past, as the most difficult symbolic passages now are to most people?
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A. They were. And it was devout attention and use, which rendered them familiar. "The Jews strove and said, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" And Nichodemus, a master in Israel, when informed of the necessity of a man's being born again, and of the blowing of the wind of the Spirit, wondered and said, "How can these things be?" Had these passages, and the figurative descriptions: already noted, (of Christ, of the church, of the work of the Spirit, of the blessedness of christians, and those passages which express christian duty by fighting, crucifying the old man, plucking out eyes; and cutting off hands,) been as much neglected, as have many of the prophecies; -- people would, to this day, have been as ignorant of their true import, as many now are of those prophecies.
Q. 323. May devout and proper attention then, bring people to a familiar acquaintance with the most symbolical language of the prophecies?
A. No reason can be assigned why it would not. It has in fact rendered very much of the same kind of language very familiar to the church generally. And it has rendered much of the most mystical language of prophesy very familiar to many judicious expositors. Knowledge in this, as in other things, is progressing. And probably the time will come, when the language of many prophecies, which now appear the most mysterious, will be as familiarly understood, as the language of Christ, relative to the new birth, and to men's eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, is at this day.
Q. 324. Do not those who discourage the study of the prophecies, on account of the dark symbolic language in which they are expressed, implicitly censure all the use of figurative language; the study of it; and that divine wisdom, which has adopted so much of this kind of language in his holy word?
A. They do. They implicitly say, that the prophecies, which form so great a part of the bible, are useless. Their objections go to disapprobate that devout attention of Christ's ministers and people, in days past, which has rendered so much of the figurative parts of the bible familiar, and most instructive. Their objections (in their consistent and final issue) would expunge from the sacred volume, and from our common conversation, all symbolic
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language. This would destroy the word of God, and confound the language of man.
Q. 325. What is the just conclusion then, from these remarks?
A. That it is the duty and interest of men, devoutly to form a correct acquaintance with the figurative language, found in the word of God, and with obedient hearts, to learn and receive the instruction thus communicated.
Q. 326. What inference is to be made from the stile and figurative language of the bible relative to its divinity?
A. We are hence furnished with an argument against infidels. Had not the bible come down to us in this figurative, symbolic, and peculiar stile; the circumstance must have been an objection against its antiquity and divinity. For the stile and language in which the bible is found, are of the very kind used in the ancient eastern nations. The language of the bible is precisely such, as must have been expected in a book written by inspiration, in those days, in which the bible purports to have been written. At the same time the simplicity, sublimity, grandeur and purity of its conceptions, and of its imagery, are as much superior to what is human, as the heavens are above the earth! The gift, and the whole execution of this sacred book, are indeed such as to be worthy of the infinite Giver.
?? ?? from bottom (without note,) for form read fume.
25 17 from top, for babtist, read baptist.
31 4 from bottom, for captain, read Captain.
80 2 from bottom, for derision, read decision.
85 18 from top, for heat, read zeal.
do. 2 from bottom, for at, read of.
91 1 from top, for revelation, read revolution.
do. 13 from top, for at, read in.
94 18 from top, before is, insert he.
do. 6 from bottom, for wonder, read wander.
96 19 from top, for of, read at.
97 12 from top, for clue, read clew.
do. 24 from bottom, for this, read This.
do. 3 from bottom, for is, read are.
98 20 from bottom, for min, read mind.
102 8 from top, for is, read are.
do. 13 from top, for for, read far.
do. 11 from bottom, for adopt, read adapt.
do. same line, for test, read taste.
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