Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

245 their invasion of Judea by an allegory formed on that symbol, Isa. viii. 7. "Behold the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters "of the river strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and "all his glory, and he shall come up over all his channels, and 66 go over all his banks. 8. And he shall pass through Judah, " he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck."

Sect. 2. No. 2. In picture writing, a crocodile being one of the symbols by which Egypt was denoted, Ezekiel, upon that symbol hath formed the following beautiful allegorical prophecy, chap. xxix. 2. "Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king "of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt. "3. Speak and say, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I am "against thee Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth "in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine

"own, and I have made it for myself. 4. But I will put "hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to "stick unto thy scales. 5. And I will leave thee thrown into "the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers : thou shalt "fall upon the open fields, thou shalt not be brought together "nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the "field, and to the fowls of heaven," &c. to ver. 17.

Sect. 2. No. 7. In the ancient picture writing, men being represented by the figures of the things to which they were metaphorically likened, the Jewish prophets have raised many allegories on that foundation. Thus, because princes and great men were likened to trees, the power of the Assyrian kings, and the greatness of their empire, are represented by Ezekiel in an allegory, formed on the qualities and circumstances of a tall cedar tree with fair branches, among which all the fowls of heaven made their nests; and under which all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; and under its shadow dwelt all great nations, Ezek. xxxi. 3.-9.-Moreover, the destruction of the Assyrian empire, is in the same allegory represented by the breaking of the boughs and the falling of the branches of this cedar, and by the departing of the people of the earth from its shadow, ver.

10.-14.

In like manner, nations being metaphorically compared to a forest, their desolation and destruction are represented by the burning of a forest; as in the following allegory, Ezek. xx. 46. "Son of man, set thy face towards the south, and drop thy word "towards the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south

"field; 47. And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word " of the Lord, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I will kindle a “fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and "6 every dry tree the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and "all faces from the south to the north shall be burnt therein. 48. "And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: It shall "not be quenched. 49. Then said I, Ah Lord God! they say "of me, Doth he not speak parables?"-On this allegory our Lord's expression, Luke xxiii. 31. If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? seems to have been founded.

"The

In allusion to the symbolical meaning of trees in picture writing, the introduction of the Israelites into Canaan, and their becoming a great nation in that land, are represented under the allegory of a vine brought from Egypt and planted in Canaan, which took deep root and filled the land, Psal. lxxx. 10. "hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs "thereof were like the goodly cedars, 11. She sent out her "boughs from the sea, (the Mediterranean sea,) and her branches "to the river (Euphrates). Why hast thou then broken down "her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way, do pluck "her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it," &c.

Sect. 2. No. 7. b. Because in ancient times kings, and magistrates, and priests, were metaphorically called shepherds, on account of their care in governing, defending, and instructing their people, the prophet Ezekiel hath, upon this metaphor, formed a beautiful allegorical discourse in which he severely reproved the Jewish princes, magistrates, and priests, for their negligence in the execution of their offices; for their enriching themselves and living luxuriously at the expense of their people; and for their being at no pains to promote their happiness. Ezek. xxxiv. 2. Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds, "Wo be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! "Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 3. Ye eat the fat, and

[ocr errors]

ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye "feed not the flock." For this unfaithfulness God threatened to punish the Israelitish princes, and priests, severely, ver. 10. "Thus saith the Lord, Behold I am against the shepherds, and "I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease "from feeding the flock.-For I will deliver my flock from their "mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”—The people, thus neglected and spoiled by their rulers, God comforted in the

same allegorical language, ver. 12. "I will seek out my sheep, " and I will deliver them out of all places, where they have been "scattered in the cloudy and dark day. ver. 14. I will feed "them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel "shall their fold be, there shall they lie in a good field." In the mean time, to prevent the wicked among the Israelites, from fancying themselves the objects of his love, God reproved them in the same pastoral dialect, ver. 17. "As for you, O my flock, "thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I judge between cattle and "cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18. Seemeth it a "small thing to you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye "must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? “And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the "residue with your feet? 19. But as for my flock, they eat that "which ye have trodden with your feet, and they drink that "which ye have fouled.-21. Because ye have thrust with side ❝and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, "till ye have scattered them abroad; 22. Therefore will I save 66 my flock, and they shall no more be a prey, and I will judge "between cattle and cattle. 23. And I will set up one Shepherd "over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David, a "prince among them," &c. On this allegory our Lord seems to have formed his parable of the sheep and the goats, in which he hath described the general judgment, Matt. xxv.

B. Of the proper Allegory, as set forth in a Dream, or in a Vision.

Having treated of verbal allegories, it remains to treat of those allegories which were set forth in symbols, actually presented to the imagination of the prophet in a dream while asleep, or in a vision while awake. These allegorical dreams and visions, the persons who were favoured with them, communicated to their contemporaries by word of mouth, and sometimes committed them to writing, for the instruction of posterity.-In these, as in other allegories, the persons or nations who were the subjects of them, were designed, sometimes by their known symbols, whose figure was presented to the imagination of the person who dreamed, or who saw the vision, and sometimes by arbitrary symbols, whose character, however, and attending circumstances, were so formed as to lead to their meaning.

Of allegorical. dreams formed on symbols which were generally known, that of Pharaoh, Gen. xli. 17. is a signal example. For, one of the symbols by which Egypt was designed being an heifer, the seven years of great plenty which were to be in Egypt, were represented in Pharaoh's dream by seven very fat and well favoured kine, which came up out of the Nile, and fed in an adjoining meadow; and the seven years of famine which were to succeed the years of plenty, by seven other kine lean and ill-favoured, which also came up out of the river after the former; and the greatness of the famine, by the lean kine eating up the fat kine, and remaining as lean and ill-favoured as at the beginning.-Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Dan. iv. is another example of an allegorical representation formed on a well known symbol. For, princes and great men being represented in picture writing by trees, the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, and the benefits which the nations over which he reigned, derived from the power of his kingdom, were represented by a tree which in his dream he saw growing in the midst of the earth, "whose height reached to heaven, whose leaves were fair and "its fruit was much, affording meat for all. The beasts of the "field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the air dwelt in "the boughs thereof."-In the same dream, the punishment which God was to inflict on that proud prince for his impiety and other sins, was allegorically represented by the hewing down of that great tree, the cutting off of its branches, the driving away of the beasts from under it, and of the fowls from its branches. On this symbol, our Lord formed his parable of the grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field, whereby he allegorically represented the wide spreading of the kingdom of heaven, or gospel dispensation, and its beneficial influence on the happiness of mankind, Matt. xiii. 32. "Which "indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the 66 greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree; so that the birds " of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

Of the allegorical dream formed on an arbitrary symbol, we have an example in the great and terrible image which stood before Nebuchadnezzar in his dream, recorded, Dân. ii. 31. and which, by the different materials of which it was composed, represented the four great empires which were to rule the nations of the earth in succession.

And

The head of this image, which was of fine gold, signified the Babylonian empire; its breast and its arms of silver, signified the Medo-Persian empire; its belly and its thighs of brass, the Grecian empire, and its legs of iron and its feet part of iron and part of clay, the Roman empire in its different states. whereas this great image was broken in pieces by a stone, which was cut out of a mountain without hands, and which afterwards became itself a great mountain and filled the whole earth, that accident signified the utter destruction of these idolatrous kingdoms, to make way for a kingdom which the God of heaven was to set up and which was never to be destroyed. The order in which these four empires were to arise, and the peculiar qualities by which they were to be distinguished, were shewed to Daniel himself, chap. vii. 2. in an allegorical vision formed on the arbitrary symbols of four beasts which arose out of the great sea, after it was violently agitated by storms, and whose forms and qualities were different from any beasts known to exist, See an interpretation of that vision in my Truth of the Gospel History, p. 219.

The living creatures which Ezekiel saw in his vision, chap. i. were still more monstrous and unlike any thing in nature, than the beasts in Daniel's vision. Each of them had four faces, namely, the face of a man, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. Their feet were straight with soles like those of calves' feet. They had the hands of a man under their wings, and their ap. pearance was that of burning coals of fire from which went flashes of lightning. They were accompanied with wheels of the colour of beryl. Each wheel had a wheel within it, and their wings were so high that they were dreadful, and had eyes round about; and when the living creatures went, the wheels went; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. The likeness of the firmament, which was stretched over the heads of the living creatures, was as the colour of chrystal. And above the firmament was the likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the throne the likeness of the appearance of a man above upon it. His loins downward had the appearance of fire, like the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain.

This allegorical vision not being accompanied with an interpretation, its meaning cannot be determined with any certainty. Only, as the prophet in the conclusion of his account of it says, ver. 18. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »