« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
I know your Lordship fo well, as to think it would not be acceptable, if I fhould fucceed never fo well in it.
Your Lordship's Most Obedient,
and most humble Servant,
Work of this Nature ftands in need of no Apology, and therefore I fhall not trouble the Reader with the Reasons which induc'd me to fet about it at firft, and now to publish it. The Method I have taken is that of the Learned Grotius, who of all the Commentators I have met with is the most Rational: He keeps to the proper and genuine Signification of the Words, and carefully obferves the Connexion; which the reft not regarding, have fwell'd up their Notes to large Volumes, and given their own Fancies, inftead of the Senfe of the Prophet.
That this is no ill-grounded Cenfure, I fhall give fome Instances whereby it will appear, how little the generality of them mind the fignification of the Words; and then fhew that they altogether neglect the Connexion, make the Prophet frisk up and down, and skip from Subject to Subject, as if his Difcourfes were like the wild incoherent Raptures. of Lacy, without either Head or Tail; or as if, because he was infpir'd, he did not write Sense.
And firft for the Words: For through the voice of the Lord fball the Affyrian be beaten down; by which c. 30. 31. any unprejudic'd Reader would think the Prophet meant Sennacherib, or fome other Monarch of that firft Empire of the World, because that is the genuine fignification of the Word: And yet the very beft
c. 31. 1.
of the Antient Commentators will tell you, the Prophet by Affur means no less than the Devil; and one lea of Script. of our Modern Writers, that he means the Great Prophecies Turk, or Antichrifst. When the Prophet in the next Divif. 5.. Chapter denounces a Wo against thofe that go down to (a) Leo Caftri Aypt for help, (a) one is pofitive that by Ægypt must be understood the Romans; which if granted, it would be impoffible to make Senfe of the Prophet; and (b) another, in another place, understands by it the whole World. For tho' the Prophet infcribe his Prediction the burden of Egypt, I doubt not (fays he) but Ægypt here bears the Type of the World, which our Saviour affures us he conquer'd.
(b) Forerius 6.13.1. c.19.
) Cornelius A Lapide
And to Inftance in but one more proper Name: And Moab fhall be troden down under him; where St. Thomas very honeftly understands the Word in the usual acceptation of it, and thinks Ifaiah speaks of the Inhabitants of that Land, which went by the Name of Moab in those days. But if we will take a (c) Jefuit's Word the Prophet meant no fuch thing, but is to be understood of the Devil and the damn'd, by a Synecdoche; because the Moabites were perpetual Enemies of God's People. Now I cannot for my Life raise my felf up to fuch a pitch of Credulity, as to take St. Jerom or Mr. Whiston on their Words in this cafe, because at this rate of interpreting Scripture it may be made what we please; for why may not Affur fignify Aurenzebe, as well as Satan! What reafon can be affign'd why Egypt may not fignify the Weft-Indians, as well as the Romans? and Moab the Goths and Vandals, as well as the damn'd? As for other words the abuse is no lefs in them than in the proper Names, The Mountain of the Lord's Houfe, the Houfe of the God of Jacob,muft fignifie the Church of Chrift; Why? because the Temple of Jerufalem was fituated on an Hill, and the Church like a City
on a Hill is always vifible. The Law muft fignify the Gospel, c. 2. 3. A City, the World, In that Day, I don't know how many Thousands Years afterward, as it is all along falfly apply'd by Mr. Whiffon, in his Collection of Scripture Prophecies. But there would be no end, if I fhould defcend to Particulars, and fhew how the generality of Commentators overlook the genuin fignification of fingle Words, and make them like fo many Puppets just speak as they please: And this will appear as well by a few Inftances out of a great number I have gather'd, with reference not to fingle Words, but whole Sentences.
Thus when the Prophet fpeaks very figuratively of the Jews uniting together, and revenging the Injuries they fuffer'd from the Philistines, Moabites and Amorites, the inveterate Enemies of their Na- c. 11. 14. tion, They fball fly upon the Shoulders of the Philistines, A Lapide &c. That is, the Apoftles fhall fome by Land, and fome by Water, fly with all imaginable Expedition to the Converfion of the Nations; and the Learned' Critic quotes Adricomius and Baronius about the flourishing State of the Gofpel in thofe Parts, in the time of Athanafius and Chrifoftom. If one fhould ask Cornelius how he knows the Prophet fpeaks of those Perfons and Times? I know his Anfwer, the Fathers told me fo. But the Words fay no fuch thing, and Cyril I doubt whether the Authority of the Fathers will bear one out in fuch a cafe. Thus again, when the Prophet defcribes the condition to which the Jews fhould be reduc'd, a little before their Captivity; among other things he tells them, they fhould have the misfortune to be govern'd by weak Princes, Boys in Understanding and Women in Heart. The interpretation of Sasbout is very diverting, the Wifes of the Scribes and Pharifees fhall hen-peck their uxorious Husbands, and confquently govern the rest of the
C. 4. I.
Jews; according to that faying of Cato, Women govern us, we the Senate, the Senate Rome, and Rome the World.
In the next he fpeaks of the great Slaughter which should be made of them by the Chaldean Forces; and to give them a clear Idea of it, he tells them that Seven women fball lay hold of one man ; that is, the Number of Men fhall be fo few, that they fhall bear no proportion to the Number of Women; and yet 'tis ftrange to fee what Work the Antients make with this plain Text: Seven Women (fays one) that is, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghoft fhall lay hold of Christ. Seven Women (fays another) that is, the whole Synagogue living by their own Bread; that is, their Law fhall lay hold of Chrift, and defire to be delivered from the Scandal of Sterility. They shall behold the Land that is very far off; that is, as if he had faid, the Bleffed from the Empyreal Heaven, fhall behold the Earth at a vast distance, like a Point, and Men creeping upon the Minute Globe like Ánts. Whereas nothing can be plainer than that the Prophet is fpeaking there of the Jews coop'd in Jerufalem by Sennacherib, who upon the defeat of his Army fhould be at liberty to travel from one end of their Land to the other, without any danger of Surprize. Thus in a thousand places, fome of which I have taken notice of in the following Notes, the generality of Commentators are very wide from the Prophet's Meaning; and no wonder, fince they took little notice of his Words, and feem to have made it their Bufinefs to make them agree with the Notions fwimming in their own Fancies, rather than to difcover the true Defign and Intent of the Sacred Writer.
Another Caufe of their mistaking the Prophet's Meaning, I take to be their taking little notice of