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The parable of the lighted lamp makes part of the sermon on the mount, Mat. v. 15; it was delivered again as the improvement of the parable of the sower, Luke, viii. 16; it was spoken a third time when Jesus confuted the calumny of the Pharisees, do. xi. 33. The parable of the marriage supper was delivered first in Perea, while Jesus was dining with one of the rulers, do. xiv. 16; then in the temple before a great number of the chief priests and Pharisees, Mat. xxii, 1. The parable of the talents was delivered in the house of Zaccheus, LUKE, xix. 12; also on the mount of Olives, as Jesus went from Jerusalem to Bethany a little before his passion, Mat. xxv. 14. The proverb, Whosoever exalteth himself, &c. was spoken no less than seven different times, Mat. xviii. 4 ; do. xx. 26 ; do. xxiii. 12; LUKE, xiv. 11 ; do. xviii. 14; do. xxii. 26; John, xiii. 14; and so of many others.
This observation may be applied with equal propriety to Christ's prophecies ; for he might judge it expedient to repeat them also to different audiences, and on different occasions. The following are a few examples :—The prediction that the apostles were to be brought before kings and rulers, delivered among the instructions previous to their first mission (MAT. X. 17--22), was repeated in the prophecy concerning the destruc: tion of the temple, Mark, xii. 9, 13; the prediction, that, by our Lord's appearing on earth, great animosities should be occasioned, delivered also among the instructions given to the twelve, was repeated in the charge to the disciples in general, Luke, xii. 49; the prophecy concerning the destruction of the Jewish state was first delivered in Samaria, in answer to one who asked when the kingdom of heaven should come, Luke, xvii. 20; it was repeated on the mount of Olives a little before Christ's passion, Mat. xxiv. 1 ; and Jesus predicted his own sufferings no less than six different times, Mat. xvi. 21; do. xvii. 22; do. xx. 18; do. xxvi. 1; Luke, xvii. 25; do. xxii. 15.
This observation may also be applied to our Lord's miracles, and to the other occurrences of his life, whether more ordinary or extraordinary. For as great multitudes every where followed him to be cured, it is not impossible that persons afflicted with like diseases might at different times accost him in the same forms of address, and be answered by him in one and the same manner; if so, it cannot by any means be thought incredible that he should have wrought like miraculous cures more than once, and with like circumstances. In a word, during the course of a life so full of action as Christ's, many similar occurrences, both ordinary and extraordinary, may be expected to have happened, which were really different, although attended with similar circumstances. The conclusion from hence is, that, when we meet with things in our Lord's
history like to one another, we must beware of hastily fancying that they are the same. EXAMPLES OF OCCURRENCES IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST,
MATERIALLY THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT IN RE. SPECT OF PERSONS AND TIME.
He dined with Pharisees thrice, LOKE, vii. 36; do. xi. 37; do. xiv. I; he lamented the approaching ruin of Jerusalem three times, do. xiii. 34 ; do. xix. 41; MAT. xxiii. 37; he seems to have been anointed three times by pious women while at meat, Luke, vii. 37; John, xxxvii. 3; Mat. xxvi. 7. The two latter anointings resembled each other in several respects. The first and last happened in the houses of two persons who had the common name of Simon. The Jews attempted twice to stone Christ, John, viii. 59 ; do. x. 31. The disciples contended thrice about the chief posts in their Master's kingdom-once as they entered into Capernaum, MARK, ix. 54 ; a second time as they were going up to celebrate the last Passover, MAT. XX. 24; and a third time immediately after the institution of the Lord's' supper, LUKE, xxii. 24. In the two latter instances Jesus composed their strife by the very same arguments. He drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple, at the Passover which was celebrated in the first year of his ministry, John, ii. 13; he made the like reformation there a second time, a little before his death, Mat. xxi. 12.
Upon the whole, it must be acknowledged that in the life of Jesus Christ, who performed so many miracles, preached so many sermons, and had so many people continually flocking after him from all places, a number of things may have happened, which, although they might be the same in kind and circumstances, must have been really different, because done at different times. But in writing an account of such a life, if the historian proposed to relate a few of the principal transactions only, he would not record very many of the similar particulars. The brevity which he studied constraining him to make a choice, he would naturally pitch upon things different in kind, that there might be as much variety in his work as its 'narrow compass would admit. And if a subsequent historian undertook to give another account of the same life, in order to make his work the more useful, he would mention some of the particulars which the former had omitted ; and if he also studied brevity while he took notice of these, he would omit the similar ones mentioned by his predecessors, at least as far as the order and perspicuity of his work would admit. The most superficial inspection of the Gospels will show the truth of this branch of the observation. For example, because Luke had related the parable of the marriage supper, as it was first delivered in Perea, chap. xiv. ver. 16, he does not give the repetition of it in the temple, recorded Mat. xxii. 1. In like manner, because he had told how Jesus was anointed in the house of Simon the Pharisee, chap. vii. ver. 37, he omits the anointing in the house of Lazarus, six days before the Passover ; being unwilling to swell a book too much, which it was the interest of every Christian to have in his possession. On the other hand, Matthew and Mark relate the anointing in the house of Simon the leper, because it was omitted by Luke; but say nothing of the anointing in the house of Simon the Pharisee, which that historian had recorded. We need not be afraid of multiplying our Lord's actions and miracles too much ; for the Apostle John has declared by a strong figure of speech, chap. xxi. ver. 25, that if all the things which Jesus did had been written, the world itself could not contain the books which should be written, In the space of one hour, when the Baptist's disciples were present, we find Jesus cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and unto many that were blind he gave sight, Luke, vii. 21 ; and doubtless there were many such hours in his life which the historians have passed over in silence. DR. CAMPBELL'S RULES FOR UNDERSTANDING
THE SCRIPTURES. 1. Get acquainted with each writer's style.
2. Inquire carefully into the character, the situation, and the office, of the writer; the time, the place, the occasion, of his writing; and the people for whose immediate use he originally intended his work.
3. Consider the principal scope of the book, and the particulars chiefly observable in the method by which the writer has purposed to execute his design.
4. Where the phrase is obscure, the context must be consulted. This, however, will not always answer.
5. If it do not, consider whether the phrase be any of the writer's peculiarities ; if so, it must be inquired what is the acceptation in which he employs it in other places.
6. If this be not sufficient, recourse should be had to the parallel passages, if there be any such, in the other sacred writers.
7. If this throws no light, consult the New Testament and Septuagint, where the word may be used.
8. If the term be only once used in Scripture, then recur to the ordinary acceptation of the term in classical authors.
9. Sometimes reference may be had to the fathers.
10. The ancient versions, as well as modern scholiasts, annotators, and translators, may be consulted.
11. The analogy of faith, and the etymology of the word, must be used with caution.
SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S OBSERVATIONS ON THE
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE OF SCRIPTURE.
For understanding the prophecies, we are in the first place to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the prophets. This language is taken from the analogy between the world natural, and an empire or kingdom, considered as a world politic.
Accordingly, the whole natural world, consisting of heaven and earth, signifies the whole world politic; consisting of thrones and people, or so much of it as is considered in the prophecies ; and the things in that world signify the analogous things in this. For the heavens, and the things therein, siga nify thrones and dignities, and those who enjoy them; and the earth, with the things thereon, the inferior people. Whence ascending towards heaven, and descending to the earth, are put for rising and falling in power and honour. A new dignity is signified by a new name; moral and civil qualifications by garments ; honour and glory by splendid apparel ; royal dignity by purple or scarlet, or by a crown; righteousness by white and clean robes ; wickedness by spotted and filthy garments. THE LEARNED ABBE TORNÉ ON DIVINE
REVELATION. For four thousand years Jesus was the object of the promises of heaven, and the desires of the earth : he was figured by righteous men, and by the worship of the ancient law; he was proclaimed by a long train of prophets, and his way prepared by a long chain of political events. Jesus crucified throws the brighest light upon the Old Testament. Without him what can we comprehend in the multitude of ceremonies and sacrifices of the law ? What images without him do the lives of the patriarchs offer? What can we find in the prophecies but impenetrable enigmas and gross contradictions ? The law would be a sealed book; and Judaism a confused heap of precepts and ceremonies, piled up without meaning. On the contrary, how beautiful is the history of the people of God, and all their worship, when the cross is the key! What order ! what design ! what plan! what an admirable economy! It is one whole, the different parts of which relate to the same end. It is an edifice which God himself founded, and insensibly raised, with a design of placing it upon the top of the cross of his Son. It is a long allegory which divine wisdom contrived and conducted during many ages, and of which, at length, the cross has given the true sense.
TO THE MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM. 1. It was foretold by many of the prophets, that the knowledge of the true God should be extended from Jerusalem over the whole earth ; and that Pagan idolatry should be entirely, or in a great measure, suppressed by it. Þs. xxii. 27 : All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord : and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. do. lxxxvi. 9: All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O LORD ; and shall glorify thy name. Isa. ii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 17, 18 : The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 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 shall be exalted above the hills ; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths : for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low : and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. do. xi. 9: They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain : for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. do. xlv. 22, 23: Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. JER. X. 11: Thus shall ye say unto them. The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. ZEP. ii. 11: The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth: and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. Mal. i. 11: For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering : for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
2. Immediately after the fall, as recorded by Moses, inti