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is nothing more dangerous than this licentious and deluding art, which changeth the meaning of words and bringeth in the end all truth to nothing.” Hooker's, Eccl. Pol. B. V. p. 275.
III. “Our third precept,—the importance. of which all who are perfect' will understand, consisteth in this; to adhere as much as possible to the literal sense, nor ever to depart from it, except when there is absolutely nothing, either in the design of the prophecy, or in the history of those times to support the literal meaning." STEPHEN GAUSENUS.
IV. 1. “We must not depart from the literal sense of any passage unless it would infer an absurdity, and disagree with the context, or other clear passages relating to the same subject. 2. We must explain the prophecies of the future as we do those of the past. Pirie's Works, Vol.I. p. 7.
V. “Although the prophets use words so frequently in a figurative or metaphorical meaning, yet we ought not without necessity to depart from the primitive and original sense of language; and such necessity there is, when the plain and original sense is less proper, less suitable to the subject and context, or contrary to other scriptures.” DR. JOHN SMITH, p. 13.
VI. “It is to be regretted that ministers and commentators should hesitate to receive
and expound things literally as they find them. Why cannot the divine writers be allowed to mean what they say, and to describe things as actually they were, and to call things by their proper names?" Memoir of Dr. CAREY, p. 161. . VII. “The literal meaning as expressed in the text must, (where there is no adequate necessity for leaving it,) always be primarily attended to, and made out, and adhered to: and this is only to be departed from, when necessity, the context, or subsequent inspiration, directs us to a symbolical or enlarged meaning.” A Practical Guide to the prophecies by the Rev. E. BICKERSTETH,* p. 15.
VIII. “We may now pass on to notice another principle to be observed in the interpretation of prophecy; and that is the adherence to the literal signification of the words of the text in all cases; unless there be some clear intimation in the text, or context, or some warrant from the general use of particular phrases to the contrary.” Elements of Prophetical Interpretation by Rev. J. W. BROOKS,* p. 129.
IX. “To put a forced and mystical con
*The works of Bickersteth and Brooks, are both judicious and worthy of the attention of the students in prophecy, and though the Authors still adhere to the day-year theory, yet they find it so uncertain in its application to chronological dates for the period of 1260 days, and of the times of the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, that they very prudently omit them.
struction on any part of the oracles of God, is an act of irreverence which cannot be sufficiently deprecated.” The Great Teacher, p. 12.
“We should never depart from the literal sense of Scripture without absolute necessity for so doing.” Bishop NewTON Diss. Vol. II. p. 358.
XI. Dr. J. Pye Smith condemns the “allegorizing ingenuity” of many writers as a “ready means of making void the word of God, and putting into its place their own proud dogmas and fantastical speculations.”
Previous to meeting with some of the above canons, I had after mature deliberation adopted the following as a good general rule.
XII. “Every passage of God's word should be interpreted literally, unless there is a necessity to the contrary. If this rule were universally adopted, there would yet be a diversity of opinion about the necessity. Therefore as no human rule will include every case, it is evident that every passage must stand upon its own merits, and the connexion and scope direct us to decide whether it be literal or figurative.” My Inquiry after Prophetic Truth, p. 12.