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In conclusion, we will only add one more extract from Mr Du Ponceau's discourse, which forcibly illustrates the considerations that we have just now suggested, and would serve as no unfit introduction to the delightful descriptions of scenery and manners in Gertrude of Wyoming.
• Let it not be imagined that the annals of Pennsylvania are not sufficiently interesting to call forth the talents of an eloquent historian. It is true, that they exhibit none of those striking events which the vulgar mass of mankind consider as alone worthy of being transmitted to posterity. No ambitious rival warriors occupy the stage, nor are strong emotions excited by the frequent description of scenes of blood, murder and devastation. But what country on earth ever presented such a spectacle as this fortunate commonwealth held out to view for the space of near one hundred years, realizing all that fable ever invented, or poetry ever sang of an imaginary golden age! Happy country, whose unparalleled innocence already communicates to thy history the interest of romance! Should Pennsylvanians hereafter degenerate, they will not need, like the Greeks, a fabulous Arcadia to relieve the mind from the prospect of their crimes and follies, and to redeem their own vices by the fancied virtues of their forefathers. Pennsylvania once realized what never existed before, except in fabled story: Not that her citizens were entirely free from the passions of human nature, for they were men, and not angels ; but it is certain that no country on earth ever exhibited such a scene of happiness, innocence, and peace, as was witnessed here during the first century of our social existence. I well remember them, those patriarchal times, when simple, yet not inelegant manners prevailed every where among us; when rusticity was devoid of roughness, and polished life diffused its mild radiance around, unassuming and unenvied; when society was free from the constraint of etiquette and parade; when love was not crossed by avarice or pride, and friendships were unbroken by ambition and intrigue. This was the spectacle which Pennsylvania offered even in the midst of the storms of our revolution, and which she continued to exhibit until a sudden influx of riches broke in upon the land, and brought in its train luxury more baneful than war.'
Art. XXIV.--Elements of Interpretation, translated from the
Latin of J. A. Ernesti, accompanied with Notes. By Moses Stuart, Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological Seminary at Andover.
The Bible, of all books, is most worthy of every effort which can be made to throw light upon its sacred communications, and to convey them with clearness and emphasis to the human mind. The truth of this proposition is too generally admitted to need illustration ; and, in point of fact, the Bible has engaged as much of the attention of learned men, in some connexion or other, as perhaps all the other writings which have descended to us from antiquity. Notwithstanding, however, what it deserves, and what has been done, probably no other book has suffered so much, both from the learned and the unlearned, as the sacred volume. We have reference now more particularly to the pretended principles of interpretation, which have been applied to it, of some of which we shall give a short sketch, in order to show the desirableness of such a work, as that which heads this article.
The mode of interpretation, which was earliest formed into any thing like a system, has been denominated the allegorical, and may be traced back even beyond the days of Philo, who was contemporary with the apostles. If it be not allowable to call Philo the great master of allegorical interpretation, it is only because he found a superior in Origen. But it was not the fault of Philo alone to interpret the scriptures allegorically, it was the fault also of the Jews generally of the age in which he lived. The Jews derived this method of interpretation from the Greeks, and the latter, if we mistake not, must attribute the glory, if so it may be called, of its first introduction among them to the inventive genius of Plato. Although this last named philosopher had been a poet himself in his younger days, yet, owing to his ill success in this vocation, or some other cause, he gradually acquired, not merely a dislike, but apparently a decided antipathy to the whole Parnassian tribe. He excluded them from his ideal republic, and, to rectify the influence of their fictions on the popular belief, he gave an allegorical interpretation to the whole of their mythology. In pursuit of this system, the Jupiter, who, in the estimation of the people, was enthroned on the snowy cliffs of
Olympus, became nothing more than the pure æther which extends over our heads; Juno was discovered to be the earth; and the monster Saturn, who was guilty of the destruction of his own children, was identified at last as the personified representative of Time, which indeed looks both forwards and backwards, and crumbles all things into nothing.
After the conquest of Alexander, the Jews became mingled in a very considerable degree with the Greeks. One of his successors, Ptolemy Lagus, carried at one time an hundred thousand of them into Egypt, and settled them in Alexandria, a city in the main, peopled by the Greeks. Here the Jewish institutions and histories were made the subject of ridicule, but the Greeks had set them an example; and the Jews, in order to shield themselves, determined to follow it, and allegorized the Bible, as the Greeks had allegorized Homer. This seems to have been the origin of the allegorical interpretation of the Bible, which has prevailed more or less to the present day.
We are unable at present to enter into a minute investigation of this method of interpretation, and would only refer our readers to a work upon this subject, entitled, Commentatio de principiis et causis Interpretationis Philonianæ allegorica,' written by professor H. Planck, of Göttingen. In this treatise, the distinction between allegories and allegorical interpretation, the education and intellectual character of Philo, the grounds of his interpretation, the influence of the Greeks, and other points involved, are discussed in a learned and philosophical
In the next generation, we find in the writings of the apostolical fathers, a few instances of the allegorical interpretation. An example may be found in the epistle of Barnabas, if indeed it be not thought to approach too near to the strange inventions of the cabbalistic rabbins. Certainly we should be a little surprised at this day to find the doctrine of the atonement taught in the rite of the circumcision, as first performed in the family of Abraham, but such we must suppose to be the fact, if we adopt the exposition of the ingenious father. The number circumcised, we are informed, was three hundred and eighteen. In Greek eta stands for eight, iota for ten, and tau for three hundred. Here, says Barnabas, we have IH, the two first letters of the name of Jesus, (lyrous,) and the letter T, which is a cross; an ample testimony, in the opinion of the
writer to the crucifixion of the Saviour, and a proof that this part of the Old Testament at least is an allegory, and that we are to search in it for a deeper and sublimer sense.
This is a single instance, and whatever others there may be, during the whole time from the days of Philo to those of Origen, a period of about two hundred and fifty years, may be found collected together in the work of D. J. G. Rosenmüller, professor at Leipsic, entitled, “Historia Interpretationis Librorum Sacrorum inde ab Apostolorum ætate usque ad Originem.'
• From the time of Origen,' says professor Stuart,' who converted into allegory the account of the creation of the world, the creation and fåll of man, and multitudes of other simple facts related in the Bible, down to the Jesuit, who makes the account of the creation of the greater light to rule the day to mean the pope, and the creation of the lesser light and the stars to mean the subjection of kings and princes to the pope, there have been multitudes in and out of the catholic church, who have pursued the same path. The most sacred doctrines of religion have often been defended and assailed by arguments of equal validity, and of the same nature with the exposition of the Jesuit just mentioned. The spirit, which prompts to this, may in some cases be commendable, but as it is a mere business of fancy, connected with no principles of philology, and supported by no reasons, drawn from the nature of language, so it is, for the most part, not only worthless, but dangerous. And of what possible use in the end can a principle be, which can prove the most important doctrine, either of Judaism or Christianity, as well from the first verse of the first chapter of Chronicles, as from any part of the Bible ? Or rather of what use can the Bible be, if it be interpreted on such principles ?
During that night of the human mind, which has been denominated the dark ages, although it must be admitted, that the disposition still continued to make the scriptures speak in allegories, it would be nearer the truth to say, that the scriptures themselves, as well as all rational interpretation of them, had fallen into general oblivion. The study of the scriptures revived in the protestant church after the reformation, yet so late as the year seventeen hundred, we find a system promulgated, defended and embraced, which can vie with the cabbalistic for conceit, and with the allegorical for mysticism. We allude now to the interpretation of Cocceius, formerly professor of theology at Leyden; a man, who was acknowledged learned, especially in the Hebrew and the Greek. It is the New Series, No. 10.
great prerogative of the Coccejan interpretation, to discover worlds.of meaning, while it is given to others to elicit only an ordinary share. Thus, according to the faith of Coccejus and his followers, the story of the creation of the world is a history of the church, and the seven days of the divine operations are the seven great periods of the earthly pilgrimage of our holy religion. The same mighty range of history is contained in the difficult book of Canticles, and is repeated, as was very natural, in the seven seals of the apocalypse.
The younger Turretin, in his book “De Sacra Scriptura Interpretatione,' says, that there was a certain man in Germany, a follower of Cocceius, and a scholar withal, who had lately published a treatise, entitled, “ Mysterium Jesu revelatum, seu spiritus Prophetia. In this book, the writer gives the following exposition of the war, made by Abraham against certain kings, of which we find an account in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. The king Chedorlaomer represents those who seek for justification by works, because according to this writer's system of etymology, Chedorlaomer means one, who heads an army for the sake of gain. By the king of Sodom is meant antichrist; by Lot, the faithful who are living in the abodes of antichrist; by Abraham, the reformers; by Melchisedek, Christ; and by the war, in which Abraham conquered Chedorlaomer and his allies, is meant the contest which was agitated about the time of the Reformation, respecting grace and the merit of works. Of a kindred characier is his exposition of the twenty eighth chapter of Exodus. And yet the system of Coccejus found a multitude of followers, and was defended with a great deal of zeal at least, if not with judgment and ingenuity. As a proof of its popularity, it will be sufficient to refer to the controversy which commenced in 1707. In this year, a treatise was published by Peter Joncourt, French preacher in the Walloon church at the Hague, with the following title; Entretiens sur les differentes methodes d'expliquer l'Ecriture et de precher de ceux qu'on appelle Cocceiens et Vöetiens, dans les Provinces unies' &c. Joncourt, says Rosenmüller, shows in his examination of the opinions alluded to in the title just quoted, that they have as little foundation as the interpretations of the Jewish midrashes, and if we reject the latter, to be consistent with ourselves, we must reject the former. This severe attack awoke the slumbering ire of the Cocceians, and was soon answered in a book