A Key to the Figurative Language
F ound in the Sacred Scriptures
Form of Questions and Answers.
Ethan Smith, A. M.
Minister In Hopkinton, N. H.--author Of The
Dissertation On The Prophecies.
"I have used similitudes."--HOSEA.
"I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old.--
That they should make them known to their children."--THE PSALMIST.
PRINTED BY C. NORRIS & CO. AND SOLD AT THEIR BOOKSTORE.--
SOLD ALSO BY E. LITTLE & CO. NEWBURYPORT.
BE IT REMEMBERED, that on this third day of January, in the thirty eighth
year of the independence of the United States of America, ETHAN SMITH,
A. M. Minister in Hopkinton, N. H. author of the Dissertation on the Prophecies,
hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, whereof he claims the
right as author, in the following words,--viz:
"A Key to the Figurative Language found in the Sacred Scriptures,
in the form of question and answers. "I have used similitudes,"--Hosea.
"I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter dark sayings of old.--That
they should make them known to their children,"--The Psalmist."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled
An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by securing Copies of Maps,
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and an Act for the Encouragement of Learning. by securing Copies of Maps
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A true copy.
Attest, R. CUTTS SHANNON, Clerk.
REV. DOCTOR EMMONS'. "Having heard the Rev. E. Smith read his manuscript
upon the figurative language of scripture, I am satisfied that it is well
calculated to assist people in general to read many dark and difficult
parts of the sacred Volume with peculiar pleasure and advantage. I therefore
wish it may be published, and have a general circulation.
Franklin, July 13, 1813.
REV. DOCTOR MORSE'S. "I have heard Rev. E. Smith read a considerable
part of his manuscript on the figurative language of Scripture: And I
cheerfully express my cordial approbation of his plan and design; and,
so far as I can judge from a partial hearing, of the execution
of his plan. I think its publication will be useful to the christian
community at large, and to the new settlements in particular,
Charlestown, July 15, 1813.
REV. MESSRS. MORRISON, AND OTHERS'. We have heard read a considerable
portion of Rev. E. Smith's Key to the figurative language found in the
sacred Scriptures. And, judging from the specimens exhibited, we esteem
it a work well calculated to promote a correct knowledge of the figurative
scripture language. In this view we recommend it to the attention of the
Hopkinton, June 2, 1813.
REV. Mr. ROWLAND'S. "Dear Sir. I have with pleasure attended to your
Key to the figurative language found in the sacred Scriptures. The explanation,
which you have given of the symbolic language of the Holy Scriptures,
is, I think very happy. Such a work is greatly needed. An acquaintance
with this language is necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures
in many of their figurative parts. I entertain no doubt of its usefulness.
You have my best wishes for success in the publication.
W. F. ROWLAND."
Exeter, July 8, 1813
REV. MR. SANBORN'S. "Having seen the plan of Rev. E. Smith's Key to the
figurative language found in the sacred Scriptures, and attended in some
degree to his manner of illustrating the subject, I feel a peculiar pleasure
in recommending it to the notice of the American youth, and of Christians
generally, as a key, that will with ease and pleasure unlock to them many
dark and difficult parts of the word of God. As the subject is new, and
interesting, I wish that one of these keys may be introduced into every
family in our country; that each child may with his own hand unlock these
Reading, July 17,1813.
REV. DOCTOR M'FARLAND's. "I have read in manuscript the Rev. E. Smith's
Key to the figurative language of Scripture. I have been of the opinion,
that some treatise on this subject is highly necessary. I think
Mr. Smith's book is well calculated to enable youth, and even people
of age, to read the Scriptures with more understanding and profit. I therefore
wish that it may be published.
Concord, August 17, 1813.
IT has been to me matter of some wonder, that no small and cheap publication
has been given to the community, especially for the benefit of youth,
explaining the origin and sense of figurative language as found in the
Bible. The want of such a publication has kept a part of the most important
of all books veiled in much obscurity. The great doctrines and duties,
essential to salvation, are delivered mostly in plain and intelligible
language. But much of very important instruction, in the holy oracles,
especially in their prophetic parts, is delivered in language highly figurative;
and appears to youth and people not much instructed in this kind of language,
I recollect that during my puerile age at least, much that I read or
heard in some of the most figurative parts of the bible appeared exceedingly
strange. In the view of many passages, I seemed almost to fancy myself
in some unknown region, where all things were unaccountable. Burning mountains
cast into the sea; the sea turned to blood; strange beasts rising out
of it; four beasts of wonderful forms being seen in heaven; opening seals,
presenting strange horses and riders, with death and hell following some
of them; visible Angels sounding trumpets, and pouring out vials with
amazing effects; such things to me seemed exceedingly strange! It never
had been my lot to see events of this kind; and who had seen them, or
where they took place, I was unable to conceive. Nor had I any correct
idea of the instructions contained in such passages. Had I been favoured
with some small book, informing of the nature and meaning of such symbolic
language, I am persuaded I should have been prepared to read and hear
the word of God to much better advantage. Happy would it have been, had
some able writer furnished the community with such a publication, and
in such a form, as to render the subject familiar, and to circulate in
every part of the community. But as it has not been done, to my knowledge,
I am induced to present this small work; in hopes it may at least awaken
attention to the subject; and perhaps open the way for something much
better to be produced. [p.vi]
Why is it the case, that when language consists of two parts, literal,
and figurative, both in common conversation, and in the word of
God; while so much attention is justly paid to the teaching of that which
is literal; so little attention should be paid to the instructing of youth,
relative to that which is figurative. It is of great importance to teach
children to read; and to teach the literal import of our language? And
is it of no importance to teach them the common use and signification
of figures and symbols, which abound in our language, and in the sacred
oracles? Has there not been a neglect in this thing?
I can do but little more in this small book, than just to point the
way to the investigation of sacred figures, and the scriptural use of
the language of symbols. Various writers upon the prophecies and other
authors, (1) have treated or touched upon
this subject. But their volumes are in but few hands. And they ate not
altogether calculated to render this subject familiar to youth, whatever
they be to common readers. The following pages are designed as a kind
of easy introduction to the subject; in hopes it may prepare the way to
render some of the figurative language of the Bible, which many do not
readily understand, more familiar. It is designed to bring the subject
more easily to the doors of the christian community.
SOME further, prefatory remarks, more appropriate to the subject, will
here be made.
- In the most extensive sense of the word, all writing is figurative.
The letters of the alphabet are but figures. They may be called symbols
of simple sounds. And all words written may be called symbols of ideas.
All that is imprinted, is really but figures, or representations
of other things. But of this extensive sense of the word figure,
I shall not treat. I shall treat of it only in that limited sense,
in which a word or thing is applied, in a sense beyond what is called
its literal meaning, to represent some other thing. Creatures,
things, actions and relations, are often thus applied. They have ideas
annexed to them, which may be called their literal meaning. But
many of them are often taken from this literal application, to an application,
which, in a more appropriate sense, may, be called figurative.
To illustrate the use of figures, in this sense, as they are found in
the Bible, will be the object of the ensuing pages.
- This kind of language rhetoricians call the trope. This change
of words from their original, to a figurative sense, arose from necessity
in early days. It was retained, on account of the barrenness of language,
even after the use of letters. And it is retained, to add beauty and
force to language, even in its present improved state. This use of tropes
or figures is supported by the great influence of imagination on language.
Imagination, when an object is contemplated, at once accompanies it
with other similar objects by way of illustration. And some name of
the latter is often given to the former. For instance; a man contemplates
the rising of the sun. The imagination looks for a similitude. The idea
of royalty naturally strikes the mind, as the sun appears like
the monarch of the day, and of the visible heavens. This circumstance
furnishes the figure: And the man exclaims, perhaps in the words of
Thompson on the Seasons,
"But yonder comes the powerful king of day,
Rejoicing in the east."- [p.12-p.13]
The name of the figure takes the place of the proper name of
that bright orb. And then the human act of rejoicing is
added, to denote the pleasantness of the rays of the morning sun: Such
figures, used with judgment, instruct and please. The
trope often, by a metonymy, expresses the cause for the effect, the
antecedent for the consequent; and the reverse. And, by synecdoche,
it often puts the whole for a part, and a part for the whole. [p.13]
- But the similarity, found between different objects, furnishes
the most rich and fruitful tropes. Here is founded the use of metaphors,
symbols, and emblems, which abound in language, and in the bible. Metaphors
and symbols may be called the abridgments of comparisons. In comparisons
we say; One thing-- thus and thus resembles another; For instance; God
may be compared to a rock. Then, in an abridged form, metaphor says,
God is a rock. In comparisons we say, Christ (as the strength,
support and salvation of the faithful soul) may well be compared to
bread and wine. Symbol thus abridges the sentence, and says of bread,
This is Christ's body: And of wine, This is his blood.
And so of all other metaphors and symbols. One thing is called by the
name of another. But the sense understood truly is,--This may be
represented by that. Or, in some respects, the one is resembled
by the other. This is the true sense also of allegories and parables;
which are but metaphors continued, through a complete sentence, or more.
- Tropes operate also in the way of hyperbole; which consists in magnifying
an object beyond real fact: As we read, "And there are many other things,
which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose
that even the world itself could not contain books that should
be written." Again, "If these should hold their peace, the stones would
cry out." This figure is often used in descriptions. But it is oftener
suggested by passions, and a heated imagination. It needs to be (and
in the bible ever is) used with caution and propriety. The extravagant
use of it is bombast; and is disgusting. Personification
is one mode of the trope, in which an inanimate being is spoken of as
a person. Under this, the sun is represented, as "a strong man,
rejoicing to run a race:" The earth as thirsting for rain; or smiling
with plenty: The trees as clapping their hands: And the deep as lifting
up its hands on high. [p.13-p.14]
- A trope and a figure are of the same essential import.
A figure then, (we learn from what has been said,) may be viewed a genus,
comprizing the species of metaphor, symbol, type, hieroglyphic,
emblem, similie and whatever other application of the trope has
been noted; or rhetoricians may make. Between some of these, there is
a difference, the extremes of which are very discernible. But, as of
the different shades of the rainbow, it is difficult to describe the
bounds of all these species of figure. This therefore I shall not undertake,
in the ensuing work; which is not to write a system of rhetorick; but
to give the sense of scripture figures. The above different
species of figures I shall consider under the general term of
figurative language. And I shall consider that the affinity
between the different species of figures, is so great, (being
a representation of one thing by another,) that I shall feel at liberty
to call the whole of this kind of language, symbolic language;
not withstanding that some rhetoricians make a symbol but one
species of figurative language. Warburton gives this definition
of a symbol: that it is "the representation of one thing by the figure
of another." This gives it as great a latitude, as can be wished, in
order to speak of the figurative language, and the symbolic
language, of the bible, as essentially one and the same.
For most of the emblems found in the Bible are supposed to have figure
as well as existence. [p.14]
- The figurative language of the Bible has a two fold object;--to instruct;--and
to impress:--Or, to teach things not before known; and to affect
the soul with them. The latter is an important object in the use of
symbols. Men are more easily affected with things addressed to their
senses, than with abstract ideas. The sight of the eyes affects the
heart; and so of the other bodily senses. Figurative language is either
addressed to some of the senses; or it is the adopting of a thing better
known, to illustrate a thing less known.
- In the figures and symbols used in the Bible, we often find an unnatural
assemblage of properties and things, to render the figure a more perfect
expression of the thing represented. This holds true, especially of
symbols borrowed from the animal creation. Wings, heads and horns, are
often unnaturally added, to render the symbol more rich, instructive,
and impressive. [p.14-p.15]
- Let the reader ever recollect, that the words, and phrases, from the
word of God, (explained in the following pages, as figurative language)
have a literal meaning, as well as a figurative. To ascertain
the former is no part of the design of this book. This
readers already understand; or must learn from their dictionaries. When
they find the question asked, What does such or such a
thing denote, or import? The meaning is not, what is the literal
import of that word or phrase?--But what is its figurative import?
For this is the object of the book. [p.15]
- Too many readers need also, to be informed, that a figure, allegory
or parable usually is not designed to apply in all points. Many
seem to imagine, that every part of such figures and sentences,
must be full of what they call a spiritual meaning. It is thought,
by the greatest and best of men, to be a fact, that there is often but
one, and usually but few points, designed to be illustrated
by such forms of speech. And to attempt to find a spiritual meaning
in every part of an allegory, parable, or an object, used as a figure,
is to open a wide field to vain fancy and error. It does not follow,
that because the kingdom of God is like unto leaven hid in three measures
of meal, till the whole is leavened, therefore we must find a spiritual
meaning in the materials, of which leaven is composed, and in
the mode of producing it, and of keeping it, and in every thing in relation
to it. There is probably but one point, in which leaven was designed
to represent the kingdom of God; that of its efficacy to leaven the
whole lump, where it is placed. This figure applies to its object, as
two globes apply to each other. They touch only in one point. Various
of the parables may apply to spiritual things, in more points than one,
or two. But fanciful expositors may have need of caution, not
to apply them, where they were not designed to be applied. [p.15-p.16]
- One thing more must here be noted. The reasons why such and
such symbols and figures were adopted to denote such and such things,
are one thing. And the fact that they do denote
such and such persons or things, is another thing. And the latter,
not the former, is (for the most part) the object of the ensuing
pages. The former are important. But they open a field immensely wide;
to explore which, is to be one of the objects of the preaching of the
gospel. It would be instructive to shew the reasons, why God is called
a rock; Christ the sun of righteousness: Christians sheep and lambs;
and so of all other figures and symbols. But the object of the ensuing
book is chiefly to ascertain what such and such figures and symbols
do in fact import; and to adduce scripture evidences of the facts;
and perhaps to refer to some other scriptures of the like import. [p.16]
- In the following work, various figures and symbols most familiarly
known (to most of adult readers) as well as those more difficult, will
be noted and explained; both for the benefit of youth; and to evince
the abundant use of symbolic language; and that a great reason why some
parts of this kind of language are so well understood, and other parts
of it remain so obscure, is not because they belong to a different kind
of figurative language; but because our attention has been directed
to the former; while we have been led to neglect the latter. It is with
this, as with words in our literal language. With many words
we become familiarly acquainted, by use. We have a clear perception
of the ideas annexed to them. But with a great number of other words
in our language, which are no less legitimate, people generally remain
unacquainted, because they have not been led to pay attention to them.
Attention and use would render these words likewise familiar. In like
manner, due attention might render those symbols in holy writ, which
are now most obscure, very familiar.
- I shall prosecute this work in the form of questions and answers;
as this will most clearly keep the objects as we pass along in view;
and is a most familiar method of instructing youth; for whose benefit
this book is peculiarly designed.
I shall give a sketch of the origin of figurative language, in
a kind of introduction; Then attend to the subject, of explaining
some of the figurative language, found in the word God: And close with
some incidental considerations.
In attending to the subject, some regard will be had to the arranging
of figures and symbols under their respective classes, according to the
sources whence they are derived; as from the heaven, the earth, the vegetable
creation, a city, the human body, fowls and reptiles, the animal creation,
and other sources. This will be the rule of order pursued. Some incidental
figures will however, now and then, be interspersed, where some preceding
idea may seem to suggest them, and they are not more properly claimed
by any other connexion. The arranging of metaphors and symbols
is a minor object, compared with that of learning their true
Question 1. WHAT are we to understand by figurative language?
Answer. It is the representing of one person or thing by another,
or by some similitude. Bread and wine are used as symbols to represent
the body and blood of Christ sacrificed for man. And the act of eating
is taken figuratively to denote the exercise of the Christian faith.
- What is the benefit of figurative language?
To represent an abstract idea by a sensible sign, or a thing less known
by one better known, is a familiar mode of communicating instruction.
There is a great analogy between many different things;--between things
in the natural, and things in the moral worlds. Men form
a more ready acquaintance with things in the natural world, than with
things in the moral. Hence objects from the former are often taken to
represent things in the latter. Also historical events are sometimes
represented, with beauty and force, by figures and allusions.
- How long has figurative language been in use?
From the earliest ages of the world. The use of it originated in the
simplicity of the earlier stages of society; and in the analogy, which
was readily perceived to exist between different things. Familiar objects
and properties belonging to one species of things, were used to represent
those of another.
- Has this practice been very prevalent? [p.17-p.18]
It has. Some nations have been more abundant in the use of it
than others. But much of figurative and symbolic language has been used
in all ages, and nations, from the rudest, to the most refined stages
of society. [p.18]
- What was the necessity of adopting this kind of language?
Before the invention of the alphabet, and of literal writing, people
had no way of recording, their mental conceptions, but by adopting figures
of familiar things. Hence the custom of writing by pictures and
images was adopted from necessity, in early times. These
were improved to more significant hieroglyphics and symbols.
- But was not this a very loose method of communicating instruction;
especially before the invention of literal writing, by which the true
sense of symbols might be defined, and transmitted?
It was indeed; and we naturally conjecture, that unhappy consequences
followed, from erroneous constructions of symbols, transmitted from
- But if symbols are capable of exciting wild and dangerous conjectures,
is it not a sufficient objection against the propriety of the use of
The use of symbols has, in fact, obtained from the beginning. It is
too late to object to the propriety of their use. Our part now is to
adopt the best methods to understand, and to improve them. Since the
improvement of literal writing, men are not so much left to their own
wild conjectures, as were the ancients, relative to the sense of symbols.
Their sense is transmitted, and better understood.
- Was not the use of symbols discontinued, after the introduction
The Egyptians, though they are said to have invented the alphabet, and
to have made the first use of literature; (3)
yet they continued to make great use of their hieroglyphics, a kind
of picture-writing, by them invented, and improved into significant
- What reason can be assigned for this?
It afforded them a pleasure, as we may believe in exercising their inventive
curiosity, and in prying into the properties and analogies of things.
And they probably took a degree of pride in wrapping up their knowledge
in vehicles both curious and mysterious. Whatever were their
motives, it is a fact, that the ancient Egyptians did cultivate,
with great diligence, the hieroglyphical species of writing; and this
even after their use of the alphabet, and literal writing.
- Did other nations do the same, and use the language of figures?
They did. The antiquity and fame of ancient Egypt probably excited a
veneration for this their practice in neighbouring nations, and to a
distance. Hence the learning of early times (which proceeded from Egypt)
was much tinctured with the hieroglyphical character, or abounded in
figurative language. What was at first adopted from necessity, was afterward
retained and refined, to add embellishment and force to language. [p.20]
- Did the learned, of those and after times, make great use of
They did indeed. And it became the pride of the wise men of the east
to exercise their own, and each others capacities with questions, involved
in this form. Even the Greeks in after ages, and the Romans caught this
manner of symbolizing their mental conceptions. And much of their writings
appeared in the garb of the old Egyptian hieroglyphics, and of symbols.
Vast use they made of figurative language.
- What alteration took place, in relation to the use of symbols,
after the introduction of the alphabet, and literal writing?
Symbols, instead of being presented in their own figure, as in
the writing of pictures, were exhibited by letters and syllables;
for instance, the name of a lion was written; instead of his
picture exhibited. And so of other symbols. And the use of symbols
became more perspicuous and intelligible; as particular and literal
descriptions might attend them, and render perspicuous the subject,
in which they were found.
- What is to be inferred from these remarks, relative to the
use of figurative language by the ancient people of God?
It is no wonder, that the Israelites, who spent several centuries in
Egypt, during the minority of their nation, should learn, and adopt
the use of figurative language. And it is no wonder, that the prophetic
stile, afterward adopted, should abound in symbolic imagery.
- Would the writers of the holy scriptures be permitted to use
figurative language in this sacred book?
The inspired penmen were led to record their sacred conceptions in the
language in common use. And their prophetic writings especially might
be expected to abound in symbols, not only on account of their common
use, but because the prophecies were designed to be veiled in obscurity
for a time. Most of them were to be not literal, but mystical predictions.
- But is this kind of language sufficiently intelligent, for
a book of divine revelation? [p.21]
Symbolic writing, intermingled with that of letters, is more intelligible,
and definite, than many imagine. But few objections justly attend it,
which do not attend, in some degree, the most literal language. The
latter is unintelligible, till it is rendered familiar by attention
and use. And even then, it is imperfect. The same word often imports
different actions and things. And much is often to be decided by the
object and connexion of the writer; and by the judgment of the reader.
- How then, can the sense of any writer be known?
The difficulties raised against the precision of any language, either
figurative or literal, may be greater in speculation, than in reality.
They may appear formidable at a distance; and vanish on a near approach
before a judicious and improved mind.
- Does the same symbol, in different places in the Bible, sometimes
denote different things?
It does. One thing is of importance to be remembered. The Bible treats
of things temporal; and of things spiritual. Or of secular
kingdoms; and of the church and people of Christ. The same symbol relates
sometimes to the one of these; and sometimes to the other. And when
symbols are thus differently applied, their signification is no less
- How can it be known to which of these two systems a symbol,
in any given place, belongs?
The object of the writer, and circumstances will generally clearly decide
II. The Subject.
- From what sources are figures and symbols derived?
From the visible heavens, comprising the region of the air:--From the
earth, or terraqueous globe, and its appendages:-- Cities:--A city in
arms:--A temple:--A highway:--The human body:- -Its sustenance:--Its
clothing and ornaments:--Domestic relations and blessings:--Various
utensils and actions:--Times and seasons:--Fowls; reptiles:--Singular
heavenly forms:--And different species of animals.
- When secular things are the subject, what is symbolized
by the heavens? [p.22]
The system or polity of an empire, or kingdom. Rev. vi. 14.; The heavens
departed as a scroll. Or, the system of the pagan empire was subverted,
in the revolution of the Roman empire under Constantine. Matt. xxiv.
29.; "The powers of the heavens shall be shaken!" Or the whole political
world, at the introduction of the battle of the great day, shall be
- What does the sun, in such a case, denote?
Civil government generally. When it is said, "The sun shall be turned
into darkness;" the event predicted is to take place on civil government
generally. Sometimes the governments of a particular section of the
earth is meant; as in Rev. xvi. 8.; where the fourth vial is poured
upon the sun, and gives it power to scorch the men of the Papal earth.
- What is symbolized by the moon?
The body of the people; especially vast armies; as will by and by appear.
- Who are symbolized by the stars?
Particular rulers; as kings, governors, magistrates, in an empire or
nation: Matt. xxiv. 29.;--"And the stars shall fall from heaven; and
the powers of the heaven shall be shaken." Or in the battle of that
great day, God will destroy wicked kings, princes and rulers from the
earth, as is abundantly predicted. The morning star may denote an exalted
potentate, or dynasty; as in Isaiah, xiv. 12. a great power under the
name of the king of Babylon, is called, Lucifer, son of the morning.
Or the luminous morning star.
- What is imported by the darkening of the sun; or its eclipse?
The embarrassment, or confusion of civil governments generally: Joel,
iii. 31.; "The sun shall be turned into darkness." As Matt. xxiv. 29.;
"Immediately after the tribulations of those days shall the sun be darkened."
Also the utter subversion of the pagan government of Rome. Rev. vi.
12.; "The sun became black as sackcloth of hair," in the revolution
- What is to be understood by the turning of the moon to blood;
probably alluding to its eclipse? [p.22-p.23]
The vast slaughter of armies, and people by the sword: Joel, ii. 31.;
"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before
the great and terrible day of the Lord come." See also Matt. xxiv. 29.
Rev. vi. 12. [p.23]
- What is denoted by the falling of the stars; expressed from
the vulgar conception, that when a meteor is seen to shoot in the air,
it appears like the falling of a star?
The falling of the various grades of civil rulers from their stations,
by revolutions, and civil disasters: Rev. vi. 13.; "And the stars of
heaven fell unto the earth, as a figtree casteth her untimely figs,
when she is shaken of a mighty wind." Joel, iii. 15.; "The stars shall
withdraw their shining." See Matt. xxiv. 29. This is the same event,
predicted by the prophet, relative to the last days; "He shall cut off
the spirit of princes, and shew himself terrible to the kings of the
- Who are denoted by wandering stars; meaning comets with
fiery tails, and excentric orbits?
Agents of mischief, let loose in various directions: As in Jude 13 verse,
the abominable agents of Antichrist, in the last days, are called "wandering
stars; to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Isaiah,
1. 7.; "Your country is desolate; your cities are burned with fire;
your land strangers devour it in your presence; and it is desolate
as overthrown by strangers."
- What is denoted by the departing of the heavens like
The utter subversion of one government by another; as that of Pagan
Rome, by Constantine: Rev. vi. 12.; "And the heavens departed as a scroll,
when it is rolled together."
- What else is included in the visible heavens, from which symbols
The atmosphere, or globe of air, which surrounds the earth. In this
are generated clouds, lightning, thunder, wind, storms of rain and of
hail. These, when applied to secular concerns, are very expressive and
- What do clouds import?
Dark events;--judgments: Ps. xcvii. 2; "Clouds and darkness are round
about him." Isai. xix. I .; "Behold, the Lord rideth on a swift cloud."
See Matt. xxiv 30. Rev. i. 7.
- Who are denoted by clouds without water? [p.24]
The mischievous agents of Antichrist, in the last days. See Jude, 12th
verse. 2 Pet. ii. 17.
- What is denoted by wind;--a stormy wind;--a whirlwind;
Divine judgments of various degrees: Isaiah, xii. 16.; "The wind shall
carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them." Isai. xxvii.
8.; "He stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east wind." In Rev.
vii. 1. four Angels held the four winds; or the signal judgments of
God, from the northern invasions, are stayed; till the chosen
of God are sealed. In Ezek. xiii. 11-13. the stormy wind shall
rend the wall of hypocrisy, and great hailstones of judgment shall consume
it. See also Rev. xi. 19.; and xvi. 21.; where the fatal judgments of
the last days are symbolized by great hail.
- What is imported by lightning and thunder?
Wars, and bloody scenes. In Isai. xxix. 6. God's enemies are threatned
with thunder, meaning war, and with earthquake, and great noise,
with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. In Rev. xi.
19.; and xvi. 18. the exterminating judgments of the battle of that
great day, are represented (among other terrific emblems) by lightnings
- What then is the probable import of the seven thunders, uttering
their voices? Rev. x. 33.
The progress of an unprecedented series of wars: probably the wars,
and rumors of wars, foretold by Christ, Matt. xxiv. 6. as the beginning
of the sorrows of the last days. (See treatise on the fifth vial in
my dissertation on the Prophecies.)
- When these symbols, borrowed from the natural heavens, are applied
to spiritual things; who is denoted by the Sun?
God, and Christ: Ps. lxxxiv. 11.; "For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
Matt. iv. 2.; "Unto you that fear my name, shall the sun of righteousness
arise with healing in his wings." The sun denotes also holy comfort:
Job, xxx. 28.; "I went mourning without the sun."
- What does the moon, in this case denote? [p.24-p.25]
The interests of this world. In Rev. xii. 1. "The church is represented
with the moon under her feet." The true church is dead to the
world, in the exercise of that holy faith, which overcomes it.
And the moon is a similitude of the church herself: Song. vi. 10; "Who
is she, (says Christ of the church) that looketh forth as the morning,
fair as the moon?"- [p.25]
- Who are symbolized by the stars?
The apostles, and gospel ministers: Rev. xii. 1; "And on her head a
crown of twelve stars." The church is crowned with the twelve apostles.
Rev. i. 20; "The seven stars are the angels (meaning pastors) of the
seven churches." Chap. ii. 1; "These things saith he, who holdeth the
seven stars in his right hand."
A star, and the bright and morning star, also denote Christ, Balaam
predicted him, as the star to arise out of Judah; Numb. xxiv.
17. A star accordingly led the eastern sages to the Babe of Bethlehem;
Matt. ii. 2. 9. And Jesus calls himself, "the bright and morning star;"
Rev. xxii. 16. Wandering stars may denote not only agents of political
mischief; but also false teachers, aiding the same cause; Jude, 13 verse.
- What is imported by a star falling from heaven?
Some apostate teacher; as Mohammed; See Rev. ix. 1. where that impostor
is symbolized by a star falling from heaven, and unlocking the bottomless
- What is denoted by the natural light of heaven?
God: 1 John, i. 5; "God is light." Christ: John, viii. 12; "I
am the light of the world. John the Baptist: John. i. 35; "He
was a burning and a shining light." The ambassadors and followers
of Christ: Matt. v. 14; "Ye are the light of the world." Evangelical
wisdom: Isai. viii. 20; To the law and to the testimony if they speak
not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
The gospel: Matt. iv. 16; "To them, who sat in the regions and shadow
of death, light is sprang up." Support in trouble: Micah, vii. 8;
"When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me." The
good deeds of christians: Matt. v. 6; "Let your light so shine before
men." Great evangelical bliss: Isai. lviii. 8; "Then shall thy
light break forth as the morning." Chap. lx. 1; "Arise, shine;
for thy light is come; and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
- What is denoted by natural darkness? [p.26]
Sin: Eph. v. 11; "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works
of darkness." The wicked: Eph. vi. 12; "The rulers of darkness
of this world;" i.e. "the spirits that work in the children of
disobedience." The perverseness of unbelief: John, i. 5; "And
the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not:"
With chap. iii. 19; "Light is come into the world; and men loved
darkness, rather than light." Outward calamity: Joel, ii. 2.;--"A
day of darkness and gloominess; a day of clouds and of thick darkness."
The grave, in Job, x. 21. is called the land of darkness. And darkness
denotes the state of future punishment; hell. Matt. xxii. 13; "Cast
him into outer darkness."
- What is denoted by the great increase of natural light, predicted
to take place in the Millennium?
A great increase of knowledge, in religion, and in things useful and
ornamental: Isai. xxx. 26; "Moreover the light of the moon shall be
as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold,
as the light of seven days." Chap. xxiv. 23; Then the moon shall be
confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign
in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously."
- What is denoted by showers and rain?
The blessed influences of the spirit and of the doctrines of grace:
Ps. lxxii. 6; "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, and
as showers that water the earth." Dew is a similitude of the same blessing.
See Ps. cxxxiii. 3.
- What is denoted by the Lord's raining upon the wicked, snares;
Ps. xi. 6? [p.26-p.27]
His providentially confounding and destroying the wicked, as though
snares were rained out of heaven upon them: Ps. ix. 15, 16; "The heathen
are sum: down in the pit, that they made; in the net, which they hid,
is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment, which he
executeth: The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." It is
a principle in the divine government, and in the word of God, that he
who digeth a pit, shall himself fall into it. "He that taketh the sword,
shall perish by the sword." "Their sword shall enter into their own
heart." "He that leadeth into captivity, shall go into captivity." "God
taketh the wise in their own craftiness." God often makes mischievous
characters establish and mature the principles of their own defeat and
ruin; as did Haman; Esther, vii. 10. God will certainly, in some way,
ensnare and destroy therm. They will be caught in some evil net. And
this is forcibly expressed by God's raining snares upon
- What is denoted by the blowing of the wind?
The influences of the spirit of grace: Song, iv. 16; "Awake, O north
wind, and come thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof
may flow out." John, iii. 8; "The wind bloweth where it listeth;--so
is every one that is born of the spirit."
- What is symbolized by the rainbow?
The covenant faithfulness of God: Rev. iv. 3; "And there was a rainbow
round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." Chap. x. 1.
of the Angel of the covenant it is said; and a rainbow was upon his
head." The rainbow: Gen. ix. 13. is a token of God's covenant with Noah.
And in the other passages, it is a symbol of the divine faithfulness.
- What is denoted by a cloud?
The divine protection. God overshadowed the camp of Israel with his
cloud by day, and his fire by night, as an emblem of his protecting
power. In allusion to this it is promised, Isai. iv. 5; "And the Lord
will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies,
a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night;
for upon all the glory shall be a defence." See also chap. xviii. 4.
But a cloud sometimes denotes calamity: Lam. ii 1; "How hath the Lord
covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger. And in Ezek.
xxxiv. 12. we read of God's people being scattered in a cloudy and dark
- What, in spiritual subjects, is denoted by heaven, meaning the visible
The visible church, with all that is nominally the cause of God: Heb.
xii. 26; "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven,"
or the nominal church. Rev. xii. 7; "And there was war in heaven; "meaning
the Papal church, where Satan fought against the witnesses, in the dark
ages. The heavens also denote God in heaven: Dan. iv. 26; "Thy kingdom
shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens
do rule:" i. e. that God rules. [p.28]
- What are we to understand by new heavens, and a new earth?
Primarily, the gospel church especially in the Millennium. See Isai.
lxv. 17-22; and lxvi. 22. But ultimately, the phrase means the
glorified church in heaven, including all her state of glory. See 2
Pet. iii. 13; and Rev. xxi. 1. In the above passages in Isaiah, God
calls the millennial church the new heavens and new earth, as a man
would call his materials for a house, which he is preparing abroad,
his house. They may be thus called, by a prolepsis, because they
are, by and by, to be erected into an house.
The Earth, or Terraqueous Globe.
- The terraqueous globe furnishes a vocabulary for figurative
language. What parts of this globe are thus used?
The sea, lakes, fountains, rivers, water, mountains, hills, rocks, stones,
fire, smoke; yea, the whole world; the earth; and the parts and appendages
- What in figurative language, is imported by the world?
The people of a great empire: Luke ii. 1; "There went out a decree
from Caesar Augustus, that all the world (meaning the people of the
Roman empire) should be taxed." It sometimes imports a great multitude:
John xii. 19; "Behold, the world has gone after him." Sometimes the
non-elect: John xvii. 9; "I pray not for the world, but for them, whom
thou hast given me." Sometimes it means the mass of the impenitent:
1 John v. 19. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth
in wickedness." John xv. 18. "If the world hate you, ye know it hated
me, before it hated you." In Heb. ix. 26. the world is supposed to import
the Old Testament dispensation:--And in chap. ii. 5. the New.
- What is denoted by the earth?
The people of the earth: Gen. vi. 11; "The earth also was corrupt before
God." This figure is called a metonymy. The earth (as used in the Revelation)
sometimes imports the Roman empire: Rev. vi. 4; "And power was given
unto him to take peace from the earth;" i. e. from the Roman empire.
- In a secular view, what is symbolized by waters?
Multitudes of people. Rev. xviii. 1;--"The great whore that sitteth
upon many waters." Verse 15: "The waters, where the woman sitteth, are
peoples and multitudes, and nations and tongues." Proud waters denote
haughty oppressors: Ps. cxxiv. 5; "The proud waters had gone over our
- What is denoted by the sea?
The seat of an empire, into which the streams of wealth and influence
flow. In Rev. viii. 8. and xii. 3. the second trumpet, and second vial
(or cup of wrath) were executed upon the sea, meaning the seat of the
Roman empire. Sometimes the sea denotes the mass of the nations in great
commotion: As in Dan. vii. 2, 3. the four great symbolical beasts, denoting
the eastern, empires, rose out of the sea. The ragings of the nations,
and the revolutions of the last days, are denoted by this emblem: Ps.
xlvi. 2, 3; "Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: Though
the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake
with the swelling thereof." Luke xxi. 25, 26; "And there shall be distress
of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring: Men's hearts
failing them for fear, and for looking after those things, which are
coming on the earth."
- What is symbolized by a pit?
A plot of mischief: Ps. vii. 15: "He made a pit, and digged it; and
is fallen into the ditch, which he made." Or, is fallen, like Haman,
into his own plot of mischief. A pit denotes also great trouble: Ps.
xl. 2; "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of
the miery clay." It likewise denotes the grave: Ps. cxliii. 7;--"Lest
I be like them, that go down into the pit." A pit symbolizes the long
dispersion of the Jews: Zech. ix. 11; "As for thee also, by the blood
of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit
wherein is no water :" Or have recovered the Jews from their dispersion.
And a pit is a symbol of the destruction of God's enemies:
Ps. lv. 23; "But thou, O Lord, will bring them down into the pit
of destruction." Ps. xciv. 13; "Until the pit be digged for the
- What is symbolized by a lake and a bottomless pit? [p.30]
The state of eternal perdition; hell: See Rev. xix. 21; xx. 1. 14, 15;
- What is symbolized, (in secular subjects) by rivers and fountains
Nations, or parts of an empire. In Rev. viii. 10, the third trumpet,
and in chap. xvi. 4. the third vial, were executed on the rivers and
fountains of water; meaning the nations of the Roman empire. And Isai
xviii. 2; "Whose land the rivers have spoiled:" i. e. The land of the
Jews other nations have overrun.
- What is denoted by drying up such rivers?
Subverting kingdoms: Ps. lxxiv. 15; "Thou driest up mighty rivers,"
i. e. didst destroy mighty nations before the people of Israel. Fatal
judgments on nations are predicted in such language as the following;
Isai. xix. 5. "The waters shall fail from the sea; and the rivers shall
be wasted and dried up." As Rev. xvi. 12; And the sixth angel poured
out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was
dried up." Or, the power, symbolized by this river, was subverted. In
Joel i. 20. in finishing the descriptions of the day of the Lord, it
is said, "For the rivers of water are dried up; and the fire hath devoured
the pastures of the wilderness." This figure will be fulfilled upon
antichristian nations, in the battle of that great day, introductory
to the millennium.
- What are symbolized by floods?
Large collections of people, put in motion usually for wicked purposes:
Ps. xciii. 3; "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted
up their waves." An overflowing flood denotes a victorious army, or
a sweeping judgment: Nahum, i. 8; "But with an overflowing Hood he will
make an utter end thereof i, e. of Nineveh.
- What are symbolized by the floods poured out of the mouth of
the dragon, to cause the church to be carried away
with them; Rev. xii. 15?
Multitudes of secret, mischevious agents, sent forth; of impositions
and lies;--and of violent armies, and bloody measures, excited by the
devil, and his prime agents of mischief, in the last days, with a view
to break down the hedge about the church; and subvert the cause of Christ.
- What is denoted by the earth's helping the church, by opening her
mouth, and swallowing up those floods; verse 16?
Providential checks and restraints laid upon the enemies of the church:
such as the failing of expeditions; jarring interests arising among
themselves; some raised up to withstand their systems of mischief; and
various judgments inflicted. So that the great agents of Satan, of infidelity
and tyranny, shall be like an engine, which is "part of iron
and part of clay;-- partly strong, and partly broken:"
Dan. ii. 33, 41-43.
The earth's opening her mouth may be in allusion to the manner, in which
Korah and his company were destroyed; Numb. xvi. 32. They were literally
swallowed up in the earth. And it is predicted of the vile agents of
Satan, in the last days, (Jude 11 verse) that they shall perish in the
gainsaying of Korah.
- What is denoted by islands?
Provinces, or parts of an empire; probably those that are the most stable:
Rev. vi. 14; "And every mountain and island were moved out of their
places." See chap. xvi. 20.
- What are denoted by mountains and hills?
Kingdoms, greater or less: Jer. iv. 24; "I beheld the mountains, and
lo, they trembled; and all the hills moved lightly." And we read, "God
toucheth the hills, and they smoke." God touches the nations in his
anger, and they are, as it were on fire.
- What is denoted by mountains being removed and cast
into the midst of the sea?
Fatal revolutions in kingdoms: Ps. xlvi. 2 ;--"Though the mountains
be carried into the midst of the sea." Rev. xvi. 20; "and the mountains
were not found." Also the surmounting of great difficulties by faith:
Matt. xxi. 21; "If ye have faith, and doubt not,--If ye shall say unto
this mountain, Be thou removed and cast into the sea, and it shall be
done." Zech. iv. 7; "Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel
thou shall become a plain." Or every difficulty shall be made to give
way before the people of God, under the Captain of their salvation.
- What is to be understood by the mountains and hills
being made low; and the vallies exalted, at the introduction
of the Millennium; Isai. xl. 4? [p.32]
It includes the removal, in behalf of the cause of Christ, of all national
establishments, as well as of haughty individuals, that are hostile
to that cause: And the gracious liberation and exaltation of the oppressed
people of God. Ezek. xxi. 26; "Exalt him that is low; and abase him
that is high." James, iv. 6; "God resisteth the proud; but giveth grace
unto the humble."
- What is denoted by the skipping of the mountains like
rams, and of the hills like lambs, at the presence
of the Lord; Ps. cxiv. 4. 6?
It is an instructive and striking hyperbole, to represent the terrible
majesty of God; that his presence and voice are enough to make the very
mountains to skip and tremble. The mountains and the very earth do seem
to skip and tremble at his thunder, when it strikes near us. And they
no doubt did thus in the scene at Sinai. And the Symbolic mountains
(the nations) may be said to skip and tremble at God's tremendous
judgments: Heb. iii. 10; "The mountains saw thee, and they trembled;
the overflowing of the water passed by: The deep uttered his voice,
and lifted up his hands on high."
- What is imported by the feet of the wicked stumbling
upon the dark mountains?
Their being involved in fatal calamities: Jer. xiii 16; " Give glory
to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet
stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn
it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." This seems
to allude to the case of a person lost, and wandering upon a distant
craggy mountain, in the night. He must move forward. He looks and longs
for day. But instead of day it becomes gross darkness, and so remains.
This similitude may emphatically denote eternal destruction.
- What is signified by a burning mountain cast into the sea?
A furious nation in arms falling upon the seat of another nation: Rev.
viii. 8; "And the second angel sounded; and as it were a great mountain
burning with fi e was cast into the sea." This was fulfilled in the
Vandals taking and plundering Rome.
- What is symbolized by fire? [p.32-p.33]
Wrath or indignation, as it relates to the wicked: Isai. xxvi. 11; "The
fire of thine enemies shall devour them." Luke xii. 49; "I am come to
send fire on the earth." The gospel excites the fiery enmity of the
carnal mind. And the cause of the wicked will be as it were burnt up
by their own fire; Rev. xi. 18; "And the nations were angry, and thy
wrath is come." Matt. iv. 1; "Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn
as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall
be stubble; and that day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord
of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Fire symbolizes
God, in his anger against the wicked: Heb. xii.29; "For our God is a
consuming fire." [p.33]
- What is symbolized by smoke?
The presence and glory of God: Isai. iv. 5; "The Lord will create upon
every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud
and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night."
Chap. vi. 4; where the prophet had a vision of Christ in his Temple
above, among the emblems of glory, we read, "and the house was filled
with smoke." As in Rev. xv. 8; "And the temple was filled with smoke
from the glory of God, and from his power." These texts probably are
an allusion to Exod. xix. 18; where Sinai was altogether on smoke when
the Lord descended upon it.
Smoke is also a symbol of the selfrighteous. In Isai. lxv. 5. those
who say, stand by thyself, come not nigh unto me; I am holier than thou,
are "a smoke in God's nose." Smoke is an emblem of fatal delusion.
In Rev. ix. 2, the horrid imposture of Mohammed is symbolized by a smoke
let out from the bottomless pit. And smoke denotes also the perpetual
manifestation of the irretrievable destruction of the inveterate enemies
of God. In Isai. xxxiv. 10. among the terrible things said of the destruction
of Babylon, we find this; "The smoke thereof shall go up forever."
In allusion to which passage, it is announced of all who worship the
Roman beast, or have any affinity with him, that "the smoke of
their torment ascendeth up forever and ever." And in chap. xix. 3. it
is said of the Papal harlot, "And her smoke rose up forever and
ever." (For an explanation of this latter text, see Isai. lxvi. 23.
- What is denoted by the sea, and the rivers and fountains
being turned to blood? [p.34]
Terrible wars and judgments in the seat, and in the more remote kingdoms
or provinces of an empire. See Rev. xvi. 3, 4;-- the second and third
vials executed on Rome and Italy, and on the nations of the papal communions.
- What is denoted by an earthquake in symbolic language?
Great and sudden political convulsion. In Isai. xxix. 6. God threatens
to visit his enemies with thunder, and earthquake, and great noise,
with storm and tempest, and flame of devouring fire. In Rev. xi. 13.
19. and xvi. 18. the terrible judgments of the last days are predicted
under various similitudes; and among the rest by most terrible earthquakes.
- When parts of the globe are applied to spiritual things,
what do they import? What does water in that case denote?
The abundant grace of the gospel: Isai. Iv. 1; "Ho every one that thirsteth,
come ye to the waters." "If any man thirst let him come unto me, and
drink." But waters sometimes import trials: Isai. xliii. 2; "When thou
passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers,
they shall not overflow thee." Ps. lxix. 1 2; "The waters are come into
my soul:--I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me."
- What is symbolized by a fountain?
Christ, and the provisions of his salvation: Zech xiii. 1; "In that
day there shall be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." Rev.
xxi. 6; "I will give unto him, that is athirst of the fountain of the
water of life freely." See Ps. xxxvi. 9. Jer. ii. 13.
- What is symbolized by a river?
The covenant of grace; the glorious grace of the gospel. See in Ezek.
xlvii. 5-12. a rich description of the river of gospel grace, issuing
from the threshold of the house of God; becoming deep and vast; rolling
its waters through the east; till it reaches and heals the great sea.
This will be fulfiled in the Millennium, when the mass of the eastern
nation will be healed by the waters of life. In allusion to this emblem,
is the description of the pure river of the water of life, in Rev. xxii.
1. proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. [p.35]
- What is symbolized by a net?
Several things: Serpentine mischief, planned by the wicked: Ps. ix 15;
"In the net, which they hid is their own foot taken." See Prov. xii.
12, Hab. i. 13-17. Deep afflictions upon the righteous: Job. xix. 6;
"God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net." And it
denotes the means of gospel salvation: Christ says, "the kingdom of
heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea." And to his apostles and
gospel ministers he says, " I will make you fishers of men."
Their net then, is the gospel;--the means of salvation. It is
believed, that the great draught of fishes caught by the apostles when
they let down their net on the other side of his ship, at the direction
of Christ, and after they had toiled all night, and caught nothing,
was a lively emblem of the great success the apostles should have, in
their propagation of the gospel. See John xxi. 3-8; with Matt. iv. 19.
Preaching and the ministerial labors for the salvation of men, in the
last days, is thus expressed in Ezek. xlvii. 10; (where the glorious
grace of the gospel is symbolized by a river;) "And it shall
come to pass, that fishers shall stand upon it, from Engedi,
even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their
fish shall be, according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea,
- What is denoted by streams from the river of the gospel?
All the particular blessings of the covenant of grace: Ps. xlvi. 4;
"There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God."
Isai. xxxiii 21; "But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place
of broad rivers and streams." Chap. xii. 18; "I will open rivers in
high places, and fountains in the midst of valleys: I will make the
wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." See
also chap. xxxv 6, 7. lxvi. 12. xxxii. 2.
- Who are denoted by the miry and marshy places by the
sides of this river?
Hardened reprobates: Ezek. xlvii. 11; "But the miry places thereof,
and the marshy places thereof shall not be healed: they shall be given
to salt." i. e. There shall be hardened despisers given to eternal reprobation,
even under the choicest blessings of gospel grace. [p.36]
- What is denoted by still waters?
The blessings of divine grace enjoyed in peace: Ps. xxiii. 2; "He leadeth
me beside the still waters." Isai viii. 6; "Forasmuch as this people
refuseth the waters of Shiloah, that go softly."
- What is signified by the sea of glass, Rev. iv, 6?
Perhaps the eternal purity and stability of the heavenly state in opposition
to the tumultuous state of things in this life:--As a sea of glass,
clear as crystal, is perfectly pure and fixed; in opposition to the
natural sea, which is tumultuous, and casts up mire and dirt; and is
an emblem of this world, and of the wicked: See Isai. lvii. 20, 21 Luke
If the sea of glass have any relation to the state of the church
militant, Rev. xv. 2. it probably imports the purity and stability
of the christian faith, which purifies the heart, and overcomes the
world; in opposition to the defiling and tumultuous state of many depraved
- What (in relation to good people) is symbolized by fire?
Salutary trials for purification: Mal. iii. 2, 3;--"He is like a refiner's
fire, and like fuller's soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier
of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold
and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."
Isai. xlviii. 10; "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
Zech. xiii. 9; "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will
refine them as silver, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall
call on my name, and I will hear them; and will say, it is my people;
end they shall say, The Lord is my God."
- What spiritually, is denoted by a mountain?
The church, or kingdom of Christ on earth: Isai. ii. 2; "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 exalted above
the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." i. e. The church shall
be exalted above all worldly kingdoms. Christ's mountain shall rise
above all the mountains of this world.
- What is denoted by hills? [p.36-p.37]
Heaven: Ps. cxxi. 1; "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from
whence cometh my help." Gen. xlix. 26;--"unto the utmost bound of the
everlasting hills." [p.37]
- Who is symbolized by a rock?
God, and Christ: Ps. lxxviii. 35; "God was their rock." 1 Cor. x. 4;
"They drank of that spiritual rock, which followed them; and that rock
was Christ." God is frequently called a rock.
- What is imported by a shadow?
The divine protection; and the blessings of ordinances: Isai. xxxii.
2; Christ is "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Ps. xci.
1; "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide
under the shadow of the Almighty." Song ii. 3; "I sat down under his
shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
To the wicked, a shadow is an emblem of the vanity of their days, and
of the tokens of their approaching ruin: Eccle. viii. 13 ; "But it shall
not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which
are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God." Jer. vi. 4; "Woe
unto us! for the day goeth away; for the shadows of the evening are
stretched out." i. e. The tokens of our approaching ruin are manifest;
as long shadows indicate the setting of the sun, and the approach of
night. A shadow also is the same as a type: See Col. ii. 17.
Heb. viii. 5. x. 1.
- What is symbolized by a stone?
The carnal heart: Ezek. xxxvi. 26; "I will take away the stony heart
out of your flesh; and I will give you an heart of flesh."
- What are symbolized by precious stones?
The blessings of the millennial church: Isai. liv. 12; "I will make
thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders
of pleasant stones." Rev. xxi. 19; "And the foundations of the wall
of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones." A detail
of them there follows.
- Who is denoted by the "head of the corner;" meaning the "chief
Jesus Christ: Ps. cxviii. 22; "The stone, which the builders refused,
is become the head stone of the corner." See also Isai. xxviii. 16 Eph.
ii. 90. Pet. ii. 6, 7, 8. [p.38]
- What is meant by the white stone, with a new name upon it,
to be given to those, who overcome; Rev. ii. 17?
The white stone imports justification; in allusion to the custom of
some of the ancients, in trying a person indicted for a high crime.
Those, who were set to judge, gave their verdict for his condemnation,
by casting a black stone; and for his justification, by casting
a white one. Christ will justify and glorify him, that
overcometh, here, and publicly hereafter. The new name in this stone
is an addition to the symbol, and probably imports the special privilege
of the children of God. "They shall be my sons and daughters,
saith the Lord Almighty." This is indeed a new name, which none, knows,
but he who receives it. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God? Therefore
the world knoweth us not." This Spirit of adoption, which cries, "Abba
Father," is a "joy, which the stranger intermeddleth not with." In this
life the Spirit himself witnesseth with their spirits, that they are
the children of God. They are thus "sealed with the holy Spirit of promise."
And their future reward will be most glorious.
- The vegetable creation furnishes a variety of symbols.
What is denoted by an olive tree?
The state and privileges of the visible church. In Rom. xi. 17. the
Jews are represented as broken off from the true olive tree; and the
Gentiles grafted into it. And the Jews, he proceeds to inform, shall
be grafted again into this their own olive tree. See Hosea, xiv. 5,
7. Zeck. iv. 12-14. Ps. lii. 8 cxxviii. 3.
- What is signified by the wild olive tree?
Heathenism: In Rom. xi 24. the church there addressed are said to have
been taken out of the wild olive tree; or from heathenism.
- What is symbolized by a vineyard?
The visible church, in her spiritual privileges. See Isai. v. 1-7. relative
to the vineyard of the Well-beloved of the church, in a very fruitful
hill. And see the same allegory pursued, in the parable of the vineyard,
Matt. xxi 33-41. The church is God's vineyard, into which he sends laborers:
See Matt. xx. 1-7. [p.39]
- What is denoted by a garden?
The same as by a vineyard, just noted: Song, iv. 12; A garden enclosed
is my sister, my spouse." Chap; vi. 2; "My Beloved is gone down into
his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather
lilies." Chap. v. 1; "I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse."
Chap. viii. 13; "Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken
to thy voice; cause me to hear it." See Isai. li. 3. lviii. 11. lxi.
11. Jer. xxxi. 12.
- Who is denoted by a vine?
Jesus Christ: John xv. 1; "I am the true vine; and my Father is the
husbandman." It also denotes the people of God: Ps. lxxx. 8; "thou hast
brought a vine out of Egypt." Verse 14; "Behold and visit this vine."
Isai. v. 2.
- Who are denoted by branches in this vine?
Visible Christians: John xv. 5; "I am the vine; ye are the branches."
- Who are denoted by fruitless branches of the vine?
Hypocrites, in Christ only by profession, or privilege: John, xv. 2.
6; "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every
branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered:
and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
- Who are denotes by an empty vine?
Hypocrites: Hosea, x. 1; "Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth
fruit unto himself:" The barren vine denotes also all the wicked, in
their worthlessness. See Ezek. xv. 2-6; where Israel is compared to
a worthless vine, that is not fit for timber, nor to make pins, on which
to hang any vessel: It is fit only for fuel. A solemn passage for Gospel
- Who are denoted by a fruitless figtree? [p.39-p.40]
Hypocrites and sinners. See the parable of the figtree; Luke xiii. 6-9.
It is placed advantageously for bearing fruit. But it bears none. It
cumbers the ground. Justice says, Cut it down. Mercy pleads, that it
may be spared one year longer; and consents, that if it continue unfruitful,
it must be cut down. See also Matt. xxi. 19; where the fruitless figtree
is cursed, and withers. [p.40]
- What is denoted by a forest?
A city full of inhabitants. In Isai. xxxiii. 15. of the Millennium it
is said, "The wilderness shall become a fruitful field; and the fruitful
field shall be counted for a forest:" As in chap. lx. 22; "A
little one shall become a thousand; and a small one a strong nation."
- Who are symbolized by wheat?
All, who hold out in faith and well doing to the end: Matt. iii. 12;
"Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and
gather his wheat into his garner." Wheat denotes also the word of God:
l Jer. xxiii. 28; "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream:
and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully: what is
the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord?"
- What is denoted by chaff?
In the passage now rehearsed, it denotes false doctrine. It also
denotes the wicked: Matt. iii. 12; "But he will burn up the chaff with
unquenchable fire." And it denotes their wicked works: Isai. xxxiii.
11; "Ye shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble; your breath as
fire shall devour you." This figure is nearly allied to that of their
"treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath,"--Bringing
forth chaff for their own burnings.
- Who are denoted by wheat growing in the field, and tares?
The children of grace, during their probation here; in distinction from
hypocrites and sinners, who are denoted by tares: See parable;
Matt. xiii. 24-30.
- Who are symbolized by briers and thorns?
Persecutors and oppressors: Ezek. ii. 6; "Be not afraid of them, though
briers and thorns be with thee." Micah, vii. 4; "The best of them is
as a brier, and the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge." See
David's description of the infidels of the last days; 2 Sam. xxiii.
6. They are men of Beliel; can no more be managed than thorns; must
be bruised down with iron; and utterly burned with fire in the same
- Who are represented by nettles, and brambles? [p.41]
Base ungodly men. In Judges ix. 15. the ambitious, treacherous and bloody
Abimelech is represented by the worthless bramble, thinking to
reign over the trees. And it was threatened to Israel, Hosea, ix. 6;
"The pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them; thorns
shall be in their tabernacles." Or wicked men should oppress and destroy
- Who is denoted by the apple tree?
Jesus Christ: Song, ii. 3; "As the apple tree among the trees of the
wood, so is my Beloved among the sons." Chap. viii. s; "I raised thee
up under the apple tree."
- Who is symbolized by a branch?
Jesus Christ: Zech. iii. 8; "I will bring forth my servant the Branch."
Isai. xi. 1; "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse;
and a branch shall grow out of his roots." The description of this branch,
which follows, applies wholly and only to Christ.
- Who is denoted by a root?
Jesus Christ: Rev. xxii. 16; "I am the root and offspring of David;
the bright and morning star." Various things are also denoted by a root.--Grace
in the heart: Math. xiii. 6; "Because they had no root in themselves,
they withered away." Job, xix. 28; "Why persecute we him, seeing the
root of the matter is in him ?"--The occasion of a thing: 1 Tim. vi.
10; "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
- Of what is the palm (branch) an emblem?
Of victory; as an olive branch is of peace: In Rev. vii. 9. we read
of the great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, standing
before the throne--and palms (i. e. branches of the palm tree,
as symbols of their victory) in their hands.
- What is denoted by spices? [p.41-p.42]
The Christian graces: Song iv. 16; "Awake, O north wind, and come thou
south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." In
chap. iii. 6. the church, coming out of the wilderness, is "perfumed
with myrrh and frankincense." Ps. xiv. 8; " All thy clothes smell of
myrrh, aloes and cassia." Or, thy graces are the perfumed ornaments
of the soul. The members of the church are denoted by an orchard
of spices, Song iv. 13. 14; "Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates,
with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, and saffron, calamus,
and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with
all the chief spices." The holy oil was compounded with various of these
spices, being made of oil olive, sweet cinnamon, calamus, cassia, and
pure myrrh. Exod. xxx. 23-25. This circumstance probably led the way,
that the children of God should be represented by those plants,
and their graces by those spices. [p.42]
- What was denoted by the holy oil?
The gift of the Holy Ghost. Accordingly Christ, when he was set apart
to his high priest's office, and was baptized, received the Holy Ghost
in the emblem of a dove, instead of the anointing, which followed the
washing with water, in the induction of the Jewish high priests into
office. Exod. xl. 13. The Saviour is hence called the Anointed,
as the word Christ signifies; because he was anointed with the Holy
Ghost and with power; having had the Spirit without measure. The holy
oil was a symbol of grace, love and gladness. We hence read of the "oil
of gladness;" of "the oil of joy; and that holy love is "like the ointment
upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that
went down to the skirts of his garment." "Thou anointest my head with
oil; my cup runneth over." Kings and priests were designated to office,
(as types of Christ, the true Anointed,) by the holy oil. The utensils
of the temple were dedicated to God, by the anointing of the holy oil;
Exod. xl. 9: a type of the holy unction, possessed by all the true members
of God's spiritual temple; 1 John ii. 20. 27.
- What was denoted by common oil in the lamp?
Grace in the heart. See the parable of the virgins; Matt. xxv. 1-13.
The lamp there denotes the profession of religion. The lamp without
the oil, denotes graceless profession. And the lamp with the oil, a
profession with grace in the heart.
- What was symbolized by the rod of an almond tree showed
to the prophet, Jer. i. 11?
the great speed with which God would execute the judgments, then
to be announced: As the almond tree was the first tree to blossom in
the spring; so it was an emblem of the speed of an event.
- What is symbolized by trees and green grass;
or pastures? [p.43]
When secular concerns are the subject, trees denote the inhabitants
of a nation or empire; and green grass their privileges and tranquillity:
Rev. viii. 7; "And the first angel sounded; and there followed hail
and fire mingled with blood, and the, were cast upon the earth; and
the third part of trees was burnt up; and all green grass was burnt
up." i. e. The terrible northern invasions miserably destroyed the people
of the Roman empire; and the tranquil enjoyment of their temporal blessings
was utterly subverted: As Joel, i. 19; "O Lord, to thee will I cry;
for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame
hath burned all the trees of the field." As furious fires in the woods
destroy trees; so fiery judgments destroy men. And such judgments destroy
their pastures or worldly blessings.
When spiritual things are the subject, trees denote the saints; and
green grass, or pastures, their spiritual privileges. In Ezek. xlvii.
12 the trees beside the river of gospel grace, whose leaves and fruit
shall not fail, mean the righteous. Isai. lv. 12; "All the trees of
the field shall clap their hands." Ps. xxiii. 2; "Thou makest me to
lie down in green pastures." See Isai. xxxv. 7.
- What is resembled by the heath in the desert?
The wicked who receive no benefit from the gospel: Jer. xvii. 6. "For
he shall be like the heath in the desert, that shall not see when good
cometh." Or, the man who trusteth in man, who maketh flesh his arm,
and his heart departeth from the Lord, is like that worthless shrub
in the wilderness, which never vegetates in the spring; but appears
dead, when other trees around are blooming with verdure. The heath denotes
also retirement: Jer xlviii. 6; "Flee, save your lives: and be like
the heath in the wilderness." This allusion to the heath refers
not to its nature, or worthlessness; as when it is made
a similitude of the wicked; but to its retired situation. God's people
sometimes are obliged thus to retire. See Matt. xxiv. 16, 17 Rev. xii
14. xi. 7.
- Are various other trees often used to symbolize the different
characters and conduct of men? [p.43-p.44]
They are. The ancient enemies of God's people (as the king of Assyria,
and of Babylon) are represented as fellers, or cutters and destroyers
of the forests; coming up against the cedars of Lebanon, and against
the firtrees, and the forests of Carmel, to lay all waste before them.
And those trees, in the mountains of Israel, are noted as rejoicing,
when those invaders fell. See Isai. xiv. 8; and xxxvii. 21-24. Those
trees represented the Jews; and the oppressed nations, marked out for
a prey; and triumphing in the overthrow of their tyrants. See also Ezek.
xxxi. where we have a sublime instance of this kind of language. [p.44]
- What is imported by God's planting in the wilderness the cedar, the
myrtle and the oil tree; and setting in the desert other kinds of trees,
of different natures, together; that they may see and know, and
understand together, that God has done this: Isai. xli. 19.
These things denote the propagation of christianity through pagan lands:
or the bringing of the different heathen nations to the knowledge and
obedience of the Christian faith.-- The same that is predicted, Isai
lv. 12, 13; "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace:
the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing;
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the
thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come
up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, and for
an everlasting sign, that shall not be cut off." Or, the church shall
prevail; Kingdoms shall how before it; all men shall rejoice in it;
and instead of heathen, shall be pious christians: instead of the abominable,
as before, shall be the penitent and the holy: and this shall prevail
through the world: and continue through the Millennium.
Symbols From a City.
- A city furnishes a source of symbols. What is denoted
by a city?
Several systems, bad and good; as Popery, Antichrist, the Church, and
future glory. In Rev. xvii. 18. Popery is "that city that reigneth
over the kings of the earth." In Rev. xvi. 19. the last antichristian
empire is "the great city divided into three parts." Often the church
is represented as the "City of God:" Ps. lxxxvii 3. And heaven, Rev.
xxi. and xxii. is the New Jerusalem. [p.45]
- By what names are these cities known?
Popery, while predominant, was called Babylon; Rev. xvii. s; Mystery
Babylon the great." When the antichristian empire arose, this took the
name of Babylon. Rev. xvi. 19: And great Babylon came into remembrance
before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of
his wrath." And by other names of cities, or people hostile to the church
of God, those enemies under the gospel are designated; as Nineveh, Damascus,
Edom; Bozrah, and Sier. And the church, the city of God, is called Zion,
and Jerusalem. (See Isai. i. 27; Zack. ii. 7; Gal iv. 26; Isai. lii.
9.) One name of this city of God is given, Ezek. xlviii. 35; "And the
name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there."
- What is denoted by a street, in those hostile cities?
A most public situation. In Rev. xi. 8. the dead bodies of the witnesses
lie in the street of the great city, called Sodom and Egypt. Or, their
calamities are most publickly exposed, in the antichristian empire,
as of great notoriety, and a great occasion of Joy.
- What are we to understand by the merchants of the Papal city;
and their merchandise?
By these merchants, we probably may understand, the Jesuits, monks,
and the most active agents in the work of Papal delusion. Rev. xviii.
11; "And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for
no man buyeth her merchandise any more."
By their merchandise we probably are to understand, their traffic in
the arts of delusion, and ruin of the souls of men. See Rev. xviii.
- Who are denoted by citizens of Zion, the city of God?
The new born; called "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling."
Ps. lxxxvii. 5, 6; "And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man
was born in her; and the Highest himself shall establish her. The Lord
shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there."
- What is the merchandise of the citizens of Zion? [p.45-p.46]
Evangelical truth, wisdom and heavenly instruction: Prov. xxiii. 23;
"Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom and instruction, and understanding."
Rev iii. 1-8; "I counsel thee lo buy of me gold tried in the fire, that
thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed--and
anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see." Prov. viii
9. "My fruit is better than gold; and my revenue than choice silver."
Isai. xxiii. 18; "And her merchandise shall be shall be holiness to
the Lord;--her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord,
to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing." Isai. lv. 1;--"Come
ye, buy, and eat; yea come, buy wine and milk without money and without
- What is figuratively expressed by price?
A rich opportunity to secure a great good: Prov. xvii. 16; "Wherefore
is there a price in the hands of a fool to get wisdom, seeing
he hath no heart to it;" An opportunity to secure eternal salvation,
without money and without price, may well be represented as a price
indeed! And by this figure is denoted Christ's infinite atonement: 1
Cor. vi. 20; "For ye are bought with a price." As the atonement
was an event essential to fallen man's obtaining salvation, so it is
strikingly represented as a price paid for our salvation. 1 Pet. i.
18 ;--"We know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as
silver and gold-- but with the precious blood of Christ."
Symbols From a City in Arms.
- Who are denoted by Soldiers?
Soldiers from the above hostile cities, are papists, infidels, and all
the perverse, under the direction of the wicked one, operating against
the church. And soldiers in Zion are Christ, and his people: Rev. xii.
7; "And there was war in heaven; (i. e. in the nominal church) Michael
and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and
his angels." And in Rev. xix. 11--to end, is a description of the war
between Christ and the infidel empire of the last days.
- Christians then, are soldiers. What further is said of their
Leader? And of their following him? [p.46-p.47]
In Heb. ii. 10. he is called "The Captain of their salvation." In Joshua,
v. 14, he says, "As Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come."
Exod. xxxii 26; "Who is on the Lord's side ? Let him come unto me."
Judges, v. 23; "Curse ye Meroz, (said the angel of the Lord;) curse
ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help
of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." [p.47]
- What is represented by the Christian armor?
The Christian graces and privileges. This armor we find described in
Eph. vi. 11-18;--the girdle of truth; the breastplate of righteousness;
the sandals of the gospel; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation;
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; and the whole is
girded on with "all prayer and supplication."
- What is denoted by the fighting of Christian soldiers?
Their persevering in holy obedience to God, against all opposition,
from the wicked world, their own hearts or the devil. Subduing their
vile inclinations. And reproving the wicked world, by holy words and
deeds: 1 Tim. vi. 12; "Fight the good fight of faith." 1 Cor. ix. 26;
"So fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body,
and bring it into subjection." 1 Cor. xvi. 13; "Watch ye, stand fast
in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong." Eph. vi. 12; For we wrestle
not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this work, against spiritual wickedness
in high places." Matt. xi. 12; "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence;
and the violent take it by force." See Prov. xxviii. 4.
- What is symbolized by a bow and arrow in the hands of
the Most high? [p.47-p.48]
Instruments of judgment to destroy; as wars. pestilence, famine, or
any other fatal judgments: Ps. vii. 11-13; "God is angry with the wicked
every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his
bow and made it ready. He hath prepared for him the instruments
of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors." Ps.
xxi. 12; " There shalt thou make them (thine enemies) turn their back,
when thou shalt make ready thine arrows against the face of them."
God is represented as a "man of war;" and armed, according to the armor
of ancient soldiers, against the enemies of the church. Oft he lets
fly his arrows of death; and sweeps multitudes into destruction.
Christ, Rev. vi. 4. rode forth, in the first propagation of the gospel,
with his bow, and crown, conquering and to conquer. The bow here
was an emblem of victorious grace, in mercifully subduing people to
himself, in allusion to Ps. xiv. 3-5. In this latter passage it is added;
"Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby
the people fall under thee." Arrows here some sup~ pose to be arrows
of conviction, preparatory to salvation. But the bow and arrows of Jehovah
usually symbolize fatal judgments upon the wicked: Hab. iii. 9; "Thy
bow was made quite naked." Deut. xxxii. 40-42; "If I lift my hand to
heaven, and say, I live forever; if I whet my glittering sword, and
mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies,
and will reward them that hate me: I will make mine arrows drunk with
blood; and my sword shall devour flesh." [p.48]
- What is the indication of God's laughing at the wicked?
His despising the rage and opposition of his enemies, as impotent
and vain; and his infallible purpose to confound and destroy them: Ps.
ii. 4, 5; "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall
have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and
vex them in his sore displeasure." Ps. xxxvii. 12, 13; "The wicked plotteth
against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall
laugh at him; for he seeth that his clay is coming." This figure is
striking, and alarming, against the wicked; who, God says, "shall be
turned down to hell, with all the nations, that forget God."
- What is denoted by fleeing from the wrath to come. Matt. iii.
7; and flying for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set
before us; Heb. vi. 18?
A fervent exercising of faith in Christ, under a full conviction of
our desert of the wrath of God: expressed in allusion to the ancient
Israelite flying to the city of refuge, from the avenger of blood. Numb.
xxxv. 13-28. The city of refuge was a type of Christ. And fleeing to
the former was a type of fleeing by faith to the latter.
- Who are denoted by Zion's watchmen? [p.48-p.49]
The ministers of God's word: Ezek. iii. 17; "Son of man, I have made
thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at
my mouth, and give them warning from me." In Ezek. xxxiii. 1-9. God
compares the prophet to a watchman, selected by a people besieged, and
set as their sentinel, to blow the trumpet, when the enemy are approaching.
See also chap. iii. 18, 19. Acts, xx. 26, 27. [p.49]
- What is represented by the watchman's trumpet?
The word of God: Joel ii. 1, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion; sound an
alarm in my holy mountain." Isai. lxii. 6; "I have set watchmen upon
thy walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace, day nor night."
In Ezek. xxxiii. 7. God applies the blowing of the watchmen's trumpet,
in the preceding verses, thus, "Therefore thou shalt hear the word at
my mouth, and warn them from me " Isai. xxvii. 13;--"In that day the
great trumpet shall be blown." Matt. xxiv. 31; "And he shall send his
angels (or messengers) with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall
gather together his elect from the four winds."
- What is denoted by a trumpet blown by an Angel from heaven?
And by a trumpet blown by Christ?
A trumpet blown by an Angel denotes a new series of divine judgments.
The blowing of seven such trumpets, in the Revelation, are symbols of
the commencements of seven distinct series of judgments on the enemies
of God. See Rev. viii. 7-13. x 7. xi. 15-19. And a trumpet blown by
Christ denotes the introduction of the last judgment: 1 Cor. xv. 52;
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the
trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and
we shall be changed." 1 Thes. iv. 16; "For the Lord himself shall descend
from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with
the trump of God."
- What are denoted by the walls of the city of God?
The presence and protecting power of the Almighty: Isai. xxvi. 1; "We
have a strong city: Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks."
chap lx. 18; "Thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise."
Zech. ii. 5; "I will be unto her a wall of fire round about." [p.50]
- Who are the guards of the people of God?
Angels of heaven: Ps. xxxiv. 7; "The angel of the Lord encampeth round
about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Heb. i. 14; "Are they
not all ministering Spirits, sent forth to minister to them, who shall
be heirs of Salvation?" In 2 Kings, vi. 17, "The mountain was full of
horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." And God himself is
the guard of his people: Zech. ix. 8. "And I will encamp about
mine house, because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and
because of him that returneth." Isai. xxvii. 3; "I the Lord do keep
it, (the church) lest any hurt it I will keep it night and day."
- What are denoted by the tower, refuge and chambers,
of the people of God?
The divine Attributes: Prov. xviii. 10; "The name of the Lord is a strong
tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." Isai. xxvi. 20;
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy door about
thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment until the indignation
be overpass." Ps. xlvi. 1; " God is our refuge and strength; a very
present help in trouble." The most high is frequently represented by
- What are denoted by the wells of the city of God ?
The ordinances of grace; and the spirit of grace in the soul: Isai.
xii. 3; "With joy shall he draw water out of the wells of salvation."
John iv. 14; "The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well
of water springing up into everlasting life."
Symbols From a Temple.
- What is symbolized by a temple?
The residing tokens of the divine presence; heaven: Ps. xi. 4; "The
Lord is in his holy temple." See also Rev xi. 19.-- The body of Christ:
John, ii. 19, 21; "Destroy this temple; and in three days I will raise
it up:--But he spake of the temple of his body."--Also the church. 2
Cor. vi. 16; "Ye are the temple of the living God." See also 1 Cor.
iii. 16, 17. [p.50-p.51]
- What is symbolized by the outer court of the temple's being
left unmeasured, and being given to the Gentiles,
to be trodden under foot, forty and two months; Rev. xi. 1, 2?
The Papal apostasy; that their system does not accord with God's word;
but is real Gentilism, under the Christian name. This is a striking
representation of a system of false religion under the Christian name.
Every such system is a virtual treading of the holy city of God under
- What is symbolized by a candlestick?
The church of Christ. The candlestick in the temple of old, Exod. xxv.
31-40 all agree, was an emblem of the church. Its consisting of a principal
shaft, and six branches, making seven, upon one base, denotes the unity
of the different churches of Christ: Rev. 1. 20; "The seven candlesticks
(or seven branches in one candlestick) are the seven churches." See
also Zech. iv 2.
- What is denoted by the light, called a star, in each candlestick?
The pastor of the church. Rev. i. 20; "The seven stars are the angels
(meaning the pastors) of the seven churches." Chap. ii. 1; "These things
saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand; and walketh
in the midst of his seven golden candlesticks."
- What was denoted by the knops and flowers, of which
each branch in the candlestick was composed: Exod. xxv. 33?
They are supposed to denote the holy fruits, and holy profession, of
the true members of the church: The same that were denoted by the golden
bells and pomegranates on the hem of the high priest's robe. Exod. xxviii.
33, 34. The gospel demands a holy profession, and Christian fruit. See
Rom. x, 10; and Matt. v. 15. 10.
Symbols From a Way.
- What is symbolized by a way, meaning a path?
Jesus Christ: John, xiv. 6; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no man cometh to the Father, but by me." A way denotes also man's conversation,
or course of life: Prov. xvi. 24; "A man's heart deviseth his way; but
the Lord directeth his steps " Chap. v. 21; "The ways of man are before
the eyes of the Lord." [p.52]
- What is denoted by a highway?
The revealed system of gospel salvation: Isai. xxxv. 8; "And an high
way shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness:
the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; (the
converts of that day) the way fairing man, though a fool, (or a weak
but gracious person) shall not err therein." Chap. xlix. 11; "And I
will make all my mountains a way; and my high ways shall be exalted."
See chap. xxxiii. 8. Prov. xvi. 17.
- What is represented by working upon the high way?
Reformation, and promoting the cause of God: Isai. lvii. 14; "Cast ye
up, cast ye up; prepare the way; take up the stumbling blocks out of
the way of my people." Chap. xl. 3, 4; "Prepare ye the way of the Lord;
make strait in the desert an high way for our God. Every valley shall
be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked
shall be made strait, and the rough places plain." Chap. lxii. 10; "Go
through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast
up, cast up the high way; gather out the stones; lift up a standard
for the people." See also Jer. xxxi. 21.
- What do we find represented by steps in walking?
The particular acts of a man's life: Ps. xxxvii. 23; "The steps of a
good men are ordered by the lord, and he delighteth in his way." Prov.
v. 5; (of the harlot;) "Her feet go down to death; and her steps take
hold on hell."
- What is symbolized by falling as a body falls to the ground?
Sinning notoriously: Prov. xxiv. 16; "A just man falleth seven times,
and riseth up again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief." See Ps.
xxxvii. 24. It also denotes the destruction of the wicked: Prov. x.
8; " A prating fool shall fall." Ps. xci 7; "A thousand shall fall at
thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come
nigh unto thee: Ps. xxxv. 8; "Into that very destruction let him fall."
- What are symbolized by stumbling blocks? [p.52-p.53]
Offenders, offences, and temptations: In Zeph. i. 3. God says he will
consume the stumbling blocks with the wicked. In Ezek. vii. 19. their
silver and their gold were the stumbling block of their iniquity. In
chap. xiv. 3, 4. some, who inquired of the prophet, yet put the stumbling
block of their iniquity before their face; hence God abhorred them.
In Rev, ii. 14. it is noted, that Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumbling
block before the children of Israel, in tempting them to idolatry and
lewdness. Paul says, 1 Cor. viii. 9; "But take heel lest by any means
this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak."
And Rom. xiv. 13; "that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion
to fall, in his brother's way:" See Heb. xii. 13. [p.53]
- What is denoted by a race?
The faithful Christian life; expressed in allusion to the old Grecian
games. For those games, the racers prepared themselves, by temperance,
throwing off all cumbrous garments, and by various things. They were
surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, in their amphitheatres. A number
ran; but one received the prize; which was a crown of garlands;
or wreath of leaves and flowers; deemed very honourable. In allusion
to this game, Paul says, 1 Cor. ix. 24-27; "Know ye not that they, who
run in a race, run all; but one receiveth the prize? So run (i.
e. ye Christians in your race) that ye may obtain. And every man that
striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. (i. e. even the
Grecian gamester thus prepared himself.) Now they do it to obtain a
corruptible crown, (i. e. a crown of garlands) but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run not as uncertainly: So fight I, not as one that beateth
the air. But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection." Heb.
xii. 1; "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great
a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which
doth so easily beset us; and let us run with patience the race, that
is set before us."
The Human Body, Its Ornaments and Sustenance.
- Who are symbolized by the human body, and its head
and members? [p.53-p.54]
By the body is symbolized the church: Col. i. 24.--"For his body's
sake, which is the church "The members of the human body symbolize
Christians, as individuals: l Cor. xii. 27; "Now ye are the body of
Christ, & members in particular." Verse 20; "There are many members,
yet but one body." See verse 12-27. Eph. iv. 15, 16. 25. and v. 30.
Rom. xii. 4, 5. The head symbolizes Jesus Christ, as the Leader
of his people: Col. i. 18; "And he is the Head of the body, the church."
By a head is symbolized also the beginning of a river; and the top of
a thing; See Gen. ii. 10. Isai. xxviii. 4. Also civil rulers; See Isaiah,
i. 5. Micah, iii. 1. 9. 11. [p.54]
- What is symbolized by the clothing and ornaments of the body?
The Christian graces and virtues, adorning the soul, and interesting
it in the righteousness of Christ: Rev. xvi. 15; "Blessed is he that
watcheth, and keepeth his garments; lest he walk naked, and they see
his shame." Ps. xiv. 13; "The king's daughter is all glorious within;
her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king
in raiment of needle work." Rev. xix. 8; "And to her was granted, that
she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen
is the righteousness of saints." Here is the wedding garment spoken
of, Matt. xxii. 12;--The white raiment bought of Christ, Rev. iii. 18.
The apostle, 1 Pet. iii. 4. speaks of it; "Whose adorning let it be
the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even
the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is
of great price."
- What was symbolized by the veil on the face of Moses, when
he descended from the mount, and his face shone, and he covered it with
a veil; Exodus, xxxiv. 29--to the end?
The blindness and unbelief of Israel; 2 Cor. iii. 13-16; "Moses put
a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly
look to the end of that which is abolished. But their minds were blinded;
For until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away, in the reading
of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto
this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts. Nevertheless,
when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." Here
is a striking figure of the blindness of the carnal mind of infidelity,
of pride, selfishness, and wickedness of heart. [p.55]
- What is denoted by a chain (of gold) about the neck, or a necklace?
Devoutly receiving the pious instruction of parents and teachers: Prov.
i. 8, 9; "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not
the law of thy mother; for it shall be an ornament of grace to thy head,
and chains about thy neck." Song. iv. 9.
- What is symbolized by a crown?
Evangelical privileges: Rev; xii. 1; "And on her head a crown of twelve
stars." The twelve apostles, in their holy ministrations, are so many
gems in the crown of the church. A crown is an emblem also of victory
and of eternal glory: Ps. xxi. 3; "Thou settest a crown of pure gold
on his head." Rev. ii. 10; "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee a crown of life." See 1 Cor. ix. 25. 2 Tim. iv. 8. James,
i. 12 1 Pet. v. 4. Rev. iii. 11.
- What is denoted by gray hairs?
Tokens of imbecility and decay: Hosea, vii. 9: "Strangers have devoured
his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there
upon him; yet he knoweth it not." Here was a people devoured by secret
intriguing, mischievous foreigners, who had imperceptibly occasioned
tokens of decay and ruin.
- What is denoted by God's putting the tears of his saints in a bottle:
Ps. lvi. 8?
His graciously remembering & rewarding all their pious griefs. The
psalmist expresses the same idea, by his prayers, for his enemies, returning
into his own bosom; Ps. xxxv. 13. And the prophet expresses it by a
mark of salvation being set upon the foreheads of the men, who sigh
and cry for all the abominations done in the midst of them; Ezek. ix.
- What in figurative language, is denoted by the bosom? [p.55-p.56]
Several things:--The hidden man, the soul: Job xxxi. 33; "If I covered
my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom;" or
in my soul. The heart: Ps. lxxxix. 50; "Remember, Lord, the reproach
of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom i. e. in my heart, the reproach
of all the mighty people." Christ's bosom denotes his tender care: Isai.
xl. 11; "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the
lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom." Abraham's
bosom, to which the soul of Lazarus was carried; Luke, xvi. 32; denotes
heaven. Abraham was constituted the patriarch of the church from his
day to the end of the world:--the father of all the faithful. See Gen.
xii. 3 Rom. iv. 11, 12. 17, 18. Gal. iii. 29. Heaven is hence called,
Abraham's bosom; because there all his spiritual children are gathered.
A tender father presses his little children to his bosom. [p.56]
- What is the sense of the pslamist, Ps. xviii. 33; "He maketh my feet
like hinds feet?"
God had girded him with strength; and had made him active and alert
in the path of duty, as the hind is of most nimble foot.
- The supports of the body, food and drink, afford instructing
symbols. What is denoted by bread?
Jesus Christ: John, vi. 33. 35; "The bread of God is he that cometh
down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread of
life." Hence Christ says of the sacramental bread, " Take, eat: this
is my body broken for you."
- What is denoted by wine?
The blood of Christ shed for sin: Mark, xiv. 24; "This is my blood of
the new testament, which is shed for many."
- What is denoted by milk?
The grace of God: Isai. lv. 1; "Ho every one that thirsteth--come ye,
buy wine and milk without money and without price." Milk denotes the
plain doctrines of salvation: l Pet. ii. 2; "Desire the sincere milk
of the word, that ye may grow thereby." Also discreet conversations:
Song, iv. 11; "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey comb: honey
and milk are under thy tongue."
- What is imported by a feast of fat things?
The grace of the gospel: Isai. xxv. 6; "And in this mountain will the
Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of
wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow of wines on the lees,
well refined." Or, in the church the glorious grace of gospel salvation
shall be presented to all nations. See Matt. xxii. 1-10. Luke xiv. 16-24.
- What is symbolized by meat? [p.56-p.57]
Christ crucified: John, vi. 55; "My flesh is meat indeed." Spiritual
comforts: John, iv. 32; Jesus said, "I have meat to eat which ye know
not of.--My meat is, to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish
his work. Strong meat is a symbol of more difficult gospel truths: l
Cor. iii. 2; "I have fed vou with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto
ye were not able to bear it." Heb. v. 12; "For when for the time ye
ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be
the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have
need of milk and not of strong meat." [p.57]
- What is symbolized by salt?
Grace in the soul: Mark, ix. 50; "Have salt in yourselves."--Christians:
Matt, v. 13; "Ye are the salt of the earth."--Wisdom and discretion:
Col. iv. 6; "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt;
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Salt also denotes
duration: Numb. xviii. 19; "It is a covenant of salt forever before
the Lord unto thee." Ezek. xlvii. 11; "But the mity places thereof,
and the marshy places thereof shall not be healed, they shall be given
to salt." Or, the characters denoted shall be given to eternal reprobation.
- What is denoted by natural hunger and thirst?
The ardent desires of the gracious soul for holiness: Matt. v. 16; "Blessed
are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." Ps. xlii. 2; "My
soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear
before God." See Ps. lxiii. 1. cxliii. 6.
- What is denoted by the acts of eating and drinking?
The exercises of faith in Christ: John, vi. 54; "Whoso eateth my flesh,
and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." In the sacrament; "Take,
eat; this is my body."--And of the wine; Drink ye all of it." This eating
and drinking is an emblem of faith in Christ.
- What is denoted by eating of the hidden manna? [p.57-p.58]
The manna was an emblem of Christ; as our Lord decides, John, vi. 33;
where (upon the Jews speaking of their fathers eating manna in the wilderness)
Christ represents himself as the true bread which came down from heaven.
The hidden manna alludes to that which was hid in a golden pot,
in the ark of the Lord. (Exod. xvii. 33. Heb. ix. 4.) Eating this, so
far as it is fulfilled in this life, imports those invigorating consolations,
in the pious soul, which spring from a lively faith in Christ. These
are hid from the world. But the emblem will be gloriously fulfilled,
after death, in the full enjoyment, which the saints will have with
- What is imported by leaven?
Error, hypocrisy, malice: Matt. xvi. 6. 12; "Then Jesus said unto
them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the
Sadducees.--Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of
the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees, and of the
Sadducees: Luke xii. 1; "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which
is hypocrisy." 1 Cor. v. 7. 8; "Purge out therefore the old leaven,
that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.--Let us keep the feast,
not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness;
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Thus we see the
mystical import of the prohibition of leaven, Exod. xii. 15. Leaven
in a good sense, denotes the doctrines and efficacious grace of the
gospel: Matt. xiii. 33; "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,
which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole
- What is meant by the sacrifices demanded of Christians?
The dedication of their whole selves to God; and the daily exercise
of holy affections and obedience: Rom. xii. 1; "I beseech you therefore
brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
service." 1 Pet ii. 5; "Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual
house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ."
- What is symbolized by the cross which Christians are daily
to take up, to follow Christ? [p.58-p.59]
All proper occasions of suffering for Christ. Faithfulness in maintaining
christian doctrines and duties, will occasion sufferings from the wicked
to a greater or less degree. To neglect faithfulness in order to escape
such suffering, is to slide by the cross; or to refuse to take it up.
Phil. iii. 18; "For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now
tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
Gal. vi. 14; "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ' by whom the world is crucified unto me, and
I unto the world." Christ did his duty, though the death of the cross
was the certain consequence. All, who would obtain his salvation, must
do the same. They must maintain faithfulness though it be the certain
occasion of their suffering to ever so great degree. This occasion
of their suffering is called their cross. Their faithfully doing
their duty, is taking it up, or bearing their cross after Christ. And
Christ says; (Luke, xiv. 27;): "And whosoever doth not bear his cross,
and come after me, cannot be my disciple." This duty, Christ teaches
must be done daily:--And that he who would neglect it, to save
his life, shall lose his life. [p.59]
- What is denoted by our "old man?"
The natural heart; the carnal mind: "That ye put off, concerning
the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the
deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that
ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and
true holiness." Col. iii. 19; "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye
have put off the old man with his deeds."
- What is denoted by crucifying our old man?
A pious and zealous renunciation of the carnal mind; under the allusion
of nailing the body of the old man to the cross: Rom. vi. 6; "Knowing
this that our old man is crucified with him, (Christ) That the body
of our sins might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve
sin." Gal. vi. 41; "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Chap. v. 24; "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with
the affections and lusts." A faithful subduing of the carnal heart,
is the thing designed.
- What is symbolized by burying this crucified body of sin in
Christ's tomb? [p.59-p.60]
Being sealed to a perpetual renunciation of it. Col. ii. ii.
12; "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without
hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision
of Christ;--Buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are also risen with
him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from
the dead." Or, in Christ you are renewed in heart, in the renunciation
of the carnal mind; the obligations of which, renunciations were sealed
upon you in baptism, which is called "the circumcision of Christ " (or
the christian circumcision,) in which you are sealed as having the old
man buried in Christ's tomb; and yourselves as having risen from spiritual
death, by the power of God, as Christ was raised from the tomb. Rom.
vi 4; "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that
like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life." Thus the crucified
body of sin, personified as our old man, is represented as put in Christ's
tomb and our obligations to live a holy life, are sealed in baptism.
- What was symbolized by circumcision?
The new heart; the righteousness of faith; Jer. iv. 4; "Circumcise yourselves
to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart,--lest my fury
come forth like fire." Rom. ii. 29; "Circumcision is that of the heart."
Deut. x. 16; "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be
no more stiff necked.' Rom. iv. 11; "He (Abraham) received the sign
of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he
had yet being uncircumcised." It denoted the same with baptism. Hence
baptism is called, (Col. ii. 11,3 "the circumcision of Christ;" or the
christian circumcision. Both import man's native defilement; provision
made for cleansing: and the application of it, in a new heart. Both
seal the same covenant. Both seal a dedication to God.
- What is denoted by washing with water? [p.60-p.61]
A Sanctification; dedication to God: Matt. xxviii.: 19; "Baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The
term baptize here, signifies to wash. It is (in the original)
the same, that is translated wash, in Luke, xi. 38; where the
Pharisee marvelled that Christ "had not first washed before dinner."
And Mark, vii. 4; "And when they come from the market, except they wash,
they eat not." The word wash here in the Greek is baptize.
And in this verse baptism is translated by washing;--"the
washing," (baptism) of cups and pots, broken vessels, and of tables."
Heb. ix. 10; "Which stood only in meats and drinks and diverse washings,"
baptisms. All those washings demanded of old, performed in "diverse"
ways, Hence sanctification under the gospel is often expressed under
this figure: 1 Titus, iii. 5; "By the washing of regeneration, and renewing
of the Holy Ghost." Eph. v. 26; "That he might cleanse and sanctify
it (the church) by the washing of water, by the word." The same was
predicted under the old Testament: Isai. lii. 15; "So shall he (Christ)
sprinkle many nations." Ezek. xxxvi: 25, 26; "Then will I sprinkle
clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: A new heart also will I
give unto you." Christ's blood is called "the blood of sprinkling."
Heb. xii. 24. 1 Pet. i. 2. Thus washing with water denotes sanctification
by the blood of Christ. [p.61]
- Of what is the resurrection of the body an emblem?
Of a saving conversion to Christ, and holiness: Rom. vi. 4; "That like
as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even
so we also should walk in newness of life." Col. ii. 12; "Ye are risen
with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised
him from the dead." Col. iii 1; "If ye then be risen with Christ." A
resurrection is an emblem also of the restoration of the Jews and Israel,
in the last (lays:--See Ezek. xxxvii. 1-14. There this event is predicted
under the emblem of a resurrection of a valley full of dry bones. Their
restoration is represented as an opening of their graves, and bringing
them out from the regions of death. In Isai. xxvi. 19. the same event
is predicted under the same figure. A resurrection is also an emblem
of the revival of a cause. The terrible empire of the last days
is accordingly represented as the revival of that head of the Roman
beast, which had been wounded to death; Rev. xiii. 3: And is also called
Babylon, Edom, and Bozrah; names of ancient enemies of the church. The
saints in the Millennium are (under the same figure) represented as
being the martyrs, and all the former saints, raised from the
dead, to live and reign with Christ on earth: Rev. xx. 4. And the apostasy,
at the close of the Millennium (when the world shall again, and for
the last time, be filled with violent persecutors) is represented as
the resurrection of Gog and Magog, Rev. xx. 5- 8; because the anti-christian
empire, previous to the Millennium, goes into perdition under the denomination
of Gog, the land of Magog; See Ezek. xxxviii, and xxxix. [p.62]
- What is symbolized by the single eye; and its excellency?
A holy heart; a single regard to the glory of God, and consequent spiritual
knowledge. Matt. vi. 22; "The light of the body is the eye; if therefore,
shine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." As the
eye, clear of humours, and in good order, gives a correct perception
of things around us; so the heart, that is holy and judicious, and has
a tender regard to God's glory, will lead the soul, under the means
of grace, to obtain right perceptions of the things of God;--according
to the following texts; "The meek, God will guide in judgment; the meek
will he teach his way." "The wise shall understand." "He that is spiritual]
judgeth all things." "Being filled with the knowledge of his will in
all wisdom and spiritual understanding." The eyes of your understanding
being enlightened." "Ye have an unction from the holy one; and ye know
- What is denoted by an evil eye; and its consequences?
A graceless, selfish heart; and perverseness: Matt. vi. 23; "But if
thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore,
the light that is in thee, be darkness, how great is that darkness?"
As the eye, disordered by humours, or age, perceives things but confusedly;
and as the colour of things appears to the jaundiced eye, changed from
what is true; so the heart, that feels not for God's glory, but is selfish,
perverts the judgment, and gives a wrong colouring to the things of
the kingdom of God. And if your boasted love be thus but selfishness,
or enthusiasm, which colours and perverts the things of God, how great
is the evil!
- What is denoted by plucking out a right eye, or cutting
off a right hand? [p.62-p.63]
The same as crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts;--graciously
and utterly renouncing darling sins, be they ever so dear, or
gainful: Matt. v. 29, 30; "If thy right eye offend thee, (or cause thee
to offend, or to stumble; Scott.) pluck it out, and cast it from
thee: for it is profitable for thee, that one of thy members should
perish; and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if
thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee:"--See
Mark, ix. 43-48; where the foot must also be cut off; and where
it is three times over announced, that if the painful duty be not performed,
the person shall be "cast into hell, into the fire that never shall
be quenched: where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
- What is symbolized by a prison?
The lost es+ate of fallen man. Christ was anointed, Isai. lxi. 1. "to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them
that are bound." Chap. xlli. 7; "To open the blind eyes, to bring out
the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of
the prison house." A prison also denotes hell: Matt. v. 25, 26;--"And
the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till
thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
- What is symbolized by a house?
Several things:--The family residing in it: Acts, xvi. 31. "Believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ; and thou shalt be saved, and thine house."
Kindred: In Zech. xii. 10. the Jews, in the last days' are called the
house of David. The fleshly body: 2 Cor. v. 1; "For we know that if
our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved." And it denotes
heaven:--"We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal
in the heavens." It denotes also the church: 1 Tim. iii. 15; "That thou
mightest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God,
which is the church of the living God." And it denotes the grave: Job.
xxx. 23; "Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for
all living. Chap. xvii. 13; "The grave is mine house."
- What is symbolized by a bed? [p.63-p.64]
Conveniences of delight in idolatry. Isai. lxvii. 8; "Thou hast enlarged
thy bed, and made a covenant with them, (idolaters.) Thou lovedst their
bed where thou sawest it." Also, a fatal system of wickedness: Isai.
xxviii. 20; "For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself
on it." Saints have their bed, their conveniences of delight--holy
ordinances: Song, i. 16; "Our bed is green." Chap. iii. 7; "Behold
his bed, which is Solomon's." It denotes the grave of the righteous:
Isai. lxvii. 2; "They shall rest in their beds." The righteous (taken
away from the evil to come) shall find their graves a blessed bed of
rest. And it denotes hell, to the licentious: Rev. ii. 22; "Behold,
I will cast her into a bed; and them that commit adultery with her into
great tribulation, except they repent of their creeds." See Prov. v.
5. vi. 27. & ix. 18. Eph v. 5. Heb. xiii. 4. Rev. xxi. 8. [p.64]
- What is symbolized by sleep?
Sloth: Prov. xxiv. 33; "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little
folding of the hands to sleep." Carnal security: Eph v. 14; "Awake thou
that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
And it denotes the death of the Christian: 1 Thes. iv 14; " Them also,
who sleep in Jesus, God will bring with him." (See 1 Cor. xv. 6. 18.
1 Thes. iv. 13. 15. 2 Pet. iii. 4.) Sleep denotes likewise in some cases,
the death of a foe: Ps. lxxvi. 5; of the enemies of Zion it is
said, "They have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have
found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and
horse, (i. e. the troops, who managed them) are cast into a deep sleep;"
or are cut off.
- Who is symbolized by a husband?
Jesus Christ. In the Songs of Solomon, he is represented under this
relation to the church. And Isai. liv. 5; "For thy Maker is thine husband,
the Lord of Hosts is his name."
- Who is symbolized by a mother, a brother; and a sister?
The followers of Christ: Matt. xii. 49, so; "And he stretched forth
his hand toward his disciples, and said Behold my mother and my brethren?
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the
same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Heb. ii. 11; "He is not
ashamed to call them brethren." Song, v. 2; "Open to me, my sister,
my love, my dove, my undefiled;" See chap iv. 9, 10. 12. & v 1,
- Who is symbolized by a woman, a wife, a queen?
The church of Christ. In Rev. xii. 1. a woman appears away in the airy
region, clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on
her head a crown of twelve stars. This is an emblem of the christian
church. In Rev. xix. 7-9. the church is the bride, the Lamb's wife.
And in Ps. xiv. 9. the church is the queen in gold of Ophir. [p.65]
- Is the marriage covenant then, an emblem of the reflation which
God graciously owns between himself and his people?
It is: Jer. iii. 14; "For I am married unto you, saith the Lord."
- What is denoted by conjugal faithfulness; and the reverse?
The faithfulness of God's people in his covenant; and the reverse: Isai
i. 21; "How is the faithful city become an harlot?" Jer iii. l; "Thou
hast played the harlot with many lovers: yet return again to me saith
the Lord." This similitude is abundantly used in the prophets in God's
reproving his people for their idolatries. Idolatry in God's covenant
people is spiritual whoredom.
- What is denoted by a harlot, or whore?
An apostate church; a system of religious imposition, or of real
idolatry, under the Christian name. See Rev. xvii. 1-5 16. 18; where
Popery is the mother of harlots;" and "the great whore, with which the
kings of the earth have committed fornication." See also chap. xiv.
8. xviii. 9.
On the other hand, chastity is an emblem of the purity of the protestant
doctrines and worship from Papal corruption. See Rev. xiv. 4; where
the true worshippers of God are said to be "not defiled with women,"
because they were pure from idolatry, the idolatry of the papal see.
- What is denoted by regeneration?
The giving of the new heart, by the Holy Spirit: Titus, iii. 5; "Not
by works of righteousness, which we have done; but according to his
mercy hath he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing
of the Holy Ghost." 1 Pet i. 3; "Who hath begotten us again unto a lively
- What is symbolized by the birth of an infant? [p.65-p.66]
Being brought, by the Spirit of grace, into the kingdom of Christ: John,
iii. 3; "Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God." Verse 7; "Marvel not that I said
unto thee, ye must be born again." [p.66]
- Who is symbolized by a child?
A person renewed by grace. In 1 John, ii. 18. Christians are called,
"little children." And Matt. xviii. 2, 3; "Jesus called a little child
unto him, and set him in the midst of them; and said, Except ye be converted,
and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
heaven." A child is an emblem of a new born soul; as is a lamb, or a
cave. See John, xxi. 15. Ps. lxxiv. 19.
- What are represented by the maternal breasts?
The ordinances of Grace: Isai. lxvi. 11; "That ye, may suck and be satisfied
with the breasts of her consolation." See Song, iv. 5. and vii. 7; where
breasts (compared to twinroes, and to clusters of grapes) mean the divine
- What is denoted by the desire of an infant for the breast?
The desire of the gracious heart for the things of God: 1 Pet. ii. 2;
"As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may
- What is denoted by the "pillar and ground of the truth?"
The church is thus called, 1 Tim. iii. 15; because she is made the
means of the support of divine revelation in the world:- -As Rom. iii.
2; "For unto them were committed the oracles of God." And the church
are the great medium of the display of God's glory. See Eph.
Husbandry, Utensils, and Things.
- What is represented, in figure, by husbandry?
The church of Christ; 1 Cor. iii. 9; "Ye are God's husbandry." The church
is the same to God, as the farm to the husbandman, where he labors,
and exercises his economy, to procure his interest. In other figurative
passages, only parts of a farm, as a garden, orchard and vineyard,
are taken to denote the church; as has been noted.
- What is represented by the breaking up of land? [p.67]
A thorough amendment of the heart and life; Jer. i. 3; "Break up your
fallow ground; and sow not among thorns." Or let your heart, which has
lain neglected, and fruitless, as to Christian graces, be graciously
broken up, from all its wickedness, and rendered fruitful in the love
and service of God: As follows in the next verse, "Circumcise yourselves
unto the Lord; and take away the foreskins of your hearts." And as it
is again commanded: "Make you a new heart, and a new spirit: why will
ye die?" Hos. x. 12; "Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy;
break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he
come and rain righteousness upon you." Here the duty demanded is, to
have the heart immediately prepared to seek and serve God, as he demands.
- What is denoted by sowing among thorns? "Sow not among thorns!"
Misimproving our time and opportunities in the cares and lusts of the
world. Christ explains it in the parable of the Sower; Matt. xiii. 7.
22. Where some seeds fell among thorns and were choked; explained by
the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of
other things, choking the word. (Further attention will be paid to the
figures of sowing, reaping, harvest and vintage, under the head of times
- What is denoted by ploughing?
Engaging in a business: Luke, ix. 62; "Jesus said unto him, no man having
put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom
of heaven!" Job, iv. 8; "they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness,
reap the same." Hos. x. 13; "Ye have ploughed wickedness; ye have reaped
iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies." This ploughing of the wicked,
is a plotting of mischief engaging in scenes of iniquity. And ploughing
in the kingdom of God, is engaging to promote that kingdom; 1 Cor. ix.
10; "That he that plougheth, should plough in hope; and he that thresheth
in hope, should be partaker of his hope." i. e. That the ministers of
Christ, in labouring to build up his Kingdom, should be well supported.
- Who are symbolized by oxen? [p.67-p.68]
The ministers of the gospel. In 1 Cor. ix. where the apostle is pleading
for the ample support of the gospel ministry; that no man goeth a warfare
at his own expense; or planteth, a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit
of it; or feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock;
that those, who ministered at the altar, received their support from
it and the Lord hath ordained, that, they who preach the gospel should
live of the gospel; he quotes a passage from the law of Moses; "Thou
shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox, that treadeth out the corn." He
then inquires whether this divine order had its ultimate reference to
oxen? And he is inspired; to inform, that it had not; but was written
"altogether" for the sake of the ambassadors of Christ; that
they should be supported. Oxen then, in that passage of the law, were
symbols of the ministers of God's sanctuary. The twelve brazen oxen,
bearing the great laver in the ancient Jewish temple, are thought to
have been symbols of the ministers of Christ, bearing (under divine
commissions} the blessed apparatus of Gospel Grace. [p.68]
- What is symbolized by a yoke?
Several things. The burden of the ceremonial law: Acts, xv. 10; "Why
tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither
ye, nor your fathers, were able to bear?" It denotes political slavery:
See Deut. xxviii. 48; where God threatened Israel that they should serve
their enemies, in want, and with a yoke of iron upon their neck. It
denotes due subjection to a master: 1 Tim. vi. l; "Let as many servants,
as are under the yoke, count their masters worthy of all honour." It
denotes divine chastisement: Lam. iii. 27; "It is good for a man, that
he bear the yoke in his youth." It denotes the marriage covenant: 2
Cor. vi. 14; " Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." And
it denotes the blessed restraints of religion: Matt. xi. 29; "Take my
yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and
ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden
- What is denoted in symbolic language, by a chain? [p.68-p.69]
Divine restraints. In Rev. xx. 1. an Angel descends from heaven, with
a chain in his hand, with which he binds the devil. The sense is, God
will effectually restrain that adversary from that period. In Ps. cxlix.
8. the saints are represented as binding kings with chains, and nobles
with fetters of iron; which indicates, that God will restrain and confound
hostile kings and nobles, at the intercession of his saints. A chain
notes also the confinement of the damned in hell: Matt. xiii. 30; "Gather
ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them."
Chap. xxii. 13; "Then said the king to his servants, bind him hand and
foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall
be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Jude 6 verse; " Reserved in everlasting
chains under darkness." And this symbol denotes the deep affliction
of Saints: Lam. iii. 7; "He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get
out; he hath made my chain heavy." [p.69]
- What is denoted by a bridle?
Due restraints upon the tongue: Ps. xxxix. 1; "I said, I will take heed
to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with
a bridle, while the wicked is before me." James, l. 26; "If any
man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but
deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." Ps. cxli. 3;
"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." "Let
your speech be always with grace."
- What is denoted by an axe, a saw, a rod, a sword,
and a staff? [p.69-p.70]
Instruments of divine judgment; as tyrants, and persecutors. In Isai.
x. 5, 6. 15. the bloody Assyrian is called the rod of God's anger, his
staff, his saw, and his axe:--because by him the nations were beaten,
bruised, and destroyed. This prediction will probably have its ultimate
fulfilment in the terrible empire of the last days. In Psalm, xvii.
13. wicked oppressors are called God's sword. Dr. Watts paraphrases
"When men of spite against me join."
"They are the sword; the hand is thine."
A sword denotes also the word of God: Eph. vi. 17; "And the sword of
the Spirit, which is the word of God." And a sword is a symbol of the
exterminating vengeance of the King of kings, against his enemies of
the last days; Rev. xix. 15; "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword;
that with it he should smite the nations." A rod denotes also divine
chastisement: Ps. lxxxix. 32; "Then will I visit their transgressions
with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes." A staff is also an emblem
of support: Ps. xxiii. 4; "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
- What is denoted by a seal?
In Rev. vi. and viii. 1. we find the opening of seven seals. In the
opening of these seals, Christ represented seven periods of judgments
upon his enemies; six on pagan Rome; and one containing all his judgments
from the commencement of the fifth century, to the end of the world.
This Christ did under the emblem of opening a sealed book of ancient
form. The book consisted of seven distinct pieces, probably of parchment.
Each piece was written on one side in symbolical figures, and rolled
round a stick or roller, the writing inward, and the last edge sealed
down, upon the back side. The seven leaves were thus rolled and sealed,
one over the back of the other. Christ broke open the seal of the first
leaf; unrolled it; and exhibited its contents. Then the second: and
on to the seventh. The sense of the contents of those leaves would be
too long to be given here. (See chapter v. of my dissertation, second
edition.) Being sealed, as were those seven leaves, till Christ opened
them, denotes being kept secret: Rev. x. 4; "Seal up those things, which
the seven thunders uttered" i. e. "write them not."
- What further is denoted by the figure of sealing? [p.70-p.71]
Giving full evidence of approbation: John, vi 27; "For him (Christ)
hath God the Father sealed." Chap. iii. 33; "He that hath received his
testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true." It denotes the renewing
of the heart in which the image of Christ is created in the soul, as
the image of the seal is left on the wax. See Rev. vii. 2-8; where the
winds of divine judgment are staid, till the Angel, with the seal of
the living God, seals or converts, God's chosen. Sealing denotes also
a subsequent witnessing of the Spirit with our spirits, that we are
the children of God: Eph. i. 13; "In whom also, after that we believed,
ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise." In other passages it
means one or the other, of those two last mentioned acts of the Spirit;
or both: 2 Cor. i. 22; "Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest
of the Spirit in our hearts." Eph. iv. 30; "And grieve not the holy
Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Sealing
sometimes denotes the finishing of a christian duty begun: Rom. xv.
28; "When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this
fruit, I will come by you into Spain." [p.71]
- What is denoted by a vial, meaning a cup?
We find in Rev. xvi seven vials, or cups of divine wrath; symbols of
seven series of judgments, executed upon the enemies of the gospel,
in the latter and last days. A vial or cup is a noted emblem of a portion
from God, good or bad: Ps. lxxv. 8; "In the hand of the Lord there is
a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out
of the same; but the dregs thereof all the wicked of the earth shall
wring them out, and drink them." Ps. xi. 6; "Upon the wicked he shall
rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall
be the portion of their cup." Isai. li. 17; "Awake, awake, O Jerusalem,
which hast drank at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast
drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling." Matt. xxvi. 89; "If it be
possible let this cup pass from me." Relative to the cup of blessing;
we read Ps. cxvi. 13; "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon
the name of the Lord." Ps. xxiii. 5; "Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over." Hence we learn the origin of the figure, of the
vials of the wrath of God, in the last days.
Old Testament Types and Symbols.
- Was great use made of typical and symbolic language under
the old Testament?
Almost the whole of their religious instruction was thus communicated.
The temple, with all its vast variety of furniture, was but a collection
of types, symbols, and emblems to unfold the things of the kingdom of
God. The ark of the covenant, the altar, the incense, the sacrifice,
yea, and the brazen serpent, the manna, the water from the rock, the
passage over the Red Sea, and over Jordan, the deliverance from Egypt,
and the possession of Canaan, and almost all the affairs of Israel,
taught by symbols, as "shadows of good things to come." But to explore
this field would take a volume. [p.71-p.72]
It would be useful and pleasing, (did it not exceed the proposed bounds
of this little book,) to note the facts and the evidences, that the
ark of the covenant composed of cedar and of gold, was a type
of Christ, in his humanity, and Divinity, given as the covenant of his
people, as the law was kept in the ark; so the law of God was in Christ's
heart: Its mercy seat was an emblem of the throne of grace: and its
cherubim, of the Angels as ministering spirits, desiring to look into
the plan of salvation. [p.72-p.73]
That the table of shew bread was a type of Christ, the bread
of life: the renewal of this bread, every sabbath morning, prefigured
the administering of gospel ordinances on Lord's days:--and the eating
of this bread only by the priests, indicated that the bread of life
would be received only by God's royal priesthood under the gospel. That
the golden altar was a type of Christ in glory; and the incense
offered upon it, of the intercession of Christ, and the prayers of the
saints, rendered acceptable through him. That the brazen altar and its
sacrifices prefigured the atonement made through the sacrifice of Christ.
That the burning bush was an emblem of Christ in his two
natures, God, who is called a consuming fire, is so nearly allied to
humanity. It is thought we have here also an emblem of the sufferings
of Christ; and perhaps of the sufferings of his mystical body, the church.
That Jacob's ladder was a type of Christ, who is the way to heaven;
the medium on which the angels ascend and descend; and on which the
saints ascend to glory. That the shekinah (the shining cloud, called
the glory of the Lord, which resided in the tabernacle and temple
of old) was a symbol of God's residing and gracious presence. That the
breastplate of the highpriest, (set with twelve different precious stones
one for each tribe) containing the names of the tribes; "that the high
priest might bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate
of judgment upon his heart, when he went into the holy place, for a
memorial before the Lord continually." Exod. xxviii. 15-30) was probably
an emblem of the true church of Christ, set as a seal on his heart and
on his arm: Song, viii. 8. And that the Urim & Thummim
in this breastplate.(signifying lights, and perfections)
in which the divine will was taught in most important cases in Israel,
probably were emblems of Christ, as our teacher from God, and
the Judge of the world. Of him, those who lack wisdom are to
ask. And from him every thing is to receive its decision. But time would
- One thing further in the temple we will note. What was symbolized
by the blazen sea, of fifteen feet diameter, and setting upon
twelve brazen oxen?
As this sea was for the washing of the priests, it no doubt was a symbol
of Christ, and the fulness of gospel grace in him. Here we have the
true preparation for the cleansing of guilty souls. The brazen oxen
on which the sea stood, three looking to the east, three to the west,
three to the north and three to the south, are thought to be emblems
of the ministers of the gospel; bearing the sacred treasures of grace;
and going to the four quarters of the world, to "preach the gospel to
- What is symbolized by a key?
A power to do an important thing: as Christ has power to save
and to destroy;--to kill, and to raise from the dead. He is said,
Rev. i. 18. to have "the keys of hell and of death." And, chap iii.
7. Christ has "the key of David;" or, the divine power of the Son of
David, "who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth."
See Isai. xxii. 22. where this very thing was prefigured of Christ,
in Eliakim. In Rev. ix. 1. the falling star, denoting Mohammed, had
"the key of the bottomless pit," or, had power to introduce the
infernal delusion of Mohammedism. In chap. xx. 1. the Angel's key of
the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand, were symbols of his
power to restrain the devil. In Luke xi. 52. the key of knowledge, which
the lawyers had taken away, was the power of obtaining spiritual knowledge.
And the keys of the kingdom of heaven, annexed to the gospel ministry,
Matt. xvi. 19. denote the power, or commission, of performing its duties.
- Who are symbolized by reprobate silver, dross and tin?
Hypocrites, the graceless, and their wicked works: Jer. vi. 30; "Reprobate
silver shall men call them, (the graceless Jews) because the Lord hath
rejected them." Isai. i. 22; "Thy silver is become dross; thy wine mixed
with water." i. "Thy religion has become hypocrisy, and idolatry. Verse
24, 25; "Therefore, saith the Lord,--Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries,
and avenge me of mine enemies: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and
purely purge away thy dross, and take away thy tin." I will chastise
the Jews, till they are cured of their hypocrisy and idolatry. See Ezek.
xxii. 19-22. where the same symbolic language is pursued. And Ps. cxix.
119. Prov. xxv. 4, 5; and xxvi. 23. [p.74]
- What is symbolized by gold, tried in the fire?
Grace, gospel salvation: Rev. iii. 18; "I counsel thee to buy of me
gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich." Christians purged
from their sins by sanctified afflictions, are denoted by this similitude,
and by refined silver: Mal. iii. 3; "He, (Christ) shall sit as a refiner
and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge
them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering
- What is symbolized by a furnace?
Deep affliction: Isai. xlviii. 10; "Behold I have refined thee,--I have
chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." See Zech. xiii. 9. 1 Pet.
i. 7. Ezek. xxii. 19-22. A furnace also denotes hell: Matt. xiii.
41, 42; "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall
gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them, who do iniquity;
and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth."
- What are symbolized by pearls?
Precious gospel truths; and blessed Christian experiences: Matt. vii.
6; "Give not that which is holy unto dogs; neither east ye your pearls
before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again
and rend you." Or, be duly cautious as to the uttering of precious gospel
truths, and the experiences of grace, before gross despisers not in
a situation to be solemnized by them. For they will despise them, and
abuse you. A pearl denotes also Christ and his salvation: Matt.
xiii. 45, 46; "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking
goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went
and sold all that he had, and bought it." The renewed soul gives up
all for Christ, and his salvation. Pearls likewise symbolize the glorious
state of the saints in heaven: See Rev. xxi. 21; Where the gates in
heaven are pearls. [p.75]
- Do we find a great variety of things adopted as symbols and
figures, in the prophets?
We do, both in the longer and shorter prophets; too great a variety,
by far, to be noted in detail, in this small book. Isaiah predicts the
judgments of God on various nations, the final destruction of the enemies
of the gospel, and the millennial kingdom of Christ, in figurative language,
the most impressive, mingled with many literal descriptions, denunciations,
and promises of good.
- Can you furnish a specimen of the symbolic language of the
other larger prophets? [p.75-p.76]
Jeremiah, at God's command, hid a linen girdle in a hole of a rock,
near the Euphrates, where it soon became marred and good for nothing;
in order to announce to his people, that they had become worthless,
and God would cast them off; chap. xiii. He took a potter's vessel,
and broke it in their sight, in the place where they had committed their
greatest abominations; to signify that God would break and destroy them;
chap. xix. He put bonds and yokes upon his own neck; to import, that
God would deliver that people, as well as other nations, into bondage
to the king of Babylon: chap. xxvii. And by various other significant
actions and figures, he predicted the judgments of God upon the Jews.
Ezekiel, likewise, prefigured the captivity of the Jews, by, painting,
on a tile, the city of Jerusalem, and then laying siege against it:
chap. iv: Taking off his beard; dividing it into three parts; burning
one part; smiting a second part with a knife; and scattering the third
part to the wind, with a sword drawn out after it. Here was an emblem
of the destruction of that nation. A few hairs of this beard the prophet
bound up in his skirts, to denote that God would save a remnant of the
Jews: chap. li. The final restoration of Israel and Judah was prefigured,
by the resurrection of a valley of dry bones: and the union of the two
nations was prefigured, by the miraculous union of two sticks in the
prophet's hand: chap. xxxvii. And by various other signs, figures and
emblems, God instructed and warned that people, by this prophet. In
the nine last chapters of this book, we have a description of the prosperous
state of the church in the Millennium, under the symbolic description
of a vast city and temple, expressed in allusion to the ceremonial law
and the ancient state of the Jews. The description closes with giving
this name of the city, "The Lord is there." The shorter prophets
abound in symbolic language. That of Daniel will be noted in the following
pages. And specimens of the others likewise will be given under the
different heads, in this book, which note the sources of symbols. [p.76]
Times and Seasons.
- What is denoted by day and night?
Life and death; or, the time for the duties of life; and the succeeding
eternity: John, ix. 4; "I must work the works of him that sent me while
it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
- What is symbolized by morning and night, when connected?
Prosperity, and adversity: Isai. xxi. 11. 12, "Watchman, what of the
night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night." Prosperity
will dawn, and calamity will follow.
- What is denoted by seed time?
Special seasons for doing or obtaining good: Eccle. xi. 6; "In the morning
sow thy seed; and in the evening withhold not thy hand." Improve every
opportunity to do good, and to obtain good; and thus sow to yourselves
a rich harvest." "Sow to yourselves in righteousness." "Sow not among
thorns." Ps. cxxvi. 6; "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious
seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves
- What is denoted by the harvest and the summer?
A precious season for obtaining salvation; Jer. viii. 20; "The harvest
is past; the summer is ended; and we are not saved." See Prov. x. 5.
A harvest denotes also our future retribution; as in the text
just given from Ps. cxxvi. 6. And in Gal. vi. 7. we read, "whatsoever
a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh,
shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit,
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
- What else is denoted by a harvest? [p.76-p.77]
The time of great destruction upon the wicked: Jer. li. 33; "The daughter
of Babylon is like a threshing floor, it is time to thresh her; yet
a little while and the time of her harvest shall come." Relative
to the battle of the great day, introductory to the Millennium, See
Joel, iii. 9-16. Among other things there it is said; " Put ye in the
sickle; the harvest is ripe."' See also Rev. xiv. 14-21; where the same
scene is described. There it is also said; "Thrust in thy sickle, and
reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest: of the
earth is fully ripe. And he that sat on the cloud, thrust in his sickle
on the earth; and the earth was reaped." The sickle here denotes
those judgments, which shall destroy the wicked. God's
harvest denotes also the scene at the end of the world; See the
parable of the wheat and tares; Matt. xiii. 24-30. 36-43; "The harvest
is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels." [p.77]
- What is symbolized by the vintage?
The battle of that great day of God Almighty: See Isai. lxiii. l-6;
Joel iii. 13 ;, Rev. xiv. 18-20; where the unexampled terrors of this
scene are described under the emblem of the vintage.
- What is denoted by the evening?
Approaching ruin; Jer. vi. 4 ; "Wo unto us: for the day goeth away;
for the shadows of the evening are stretched out." Or, the tokens, of
our approaching ruin are as manifest, as is the setting of the sun,
when the shadows of the trees become very long on the earth.
- What is denoted by summer and winter, when connected?
Times of prosperity and of adversity: Zech. xiv. 8; "In summer and in
winter shall it be." i. e. The living waters from Jerusalem shall continue
to flow, or divine grace in the Millennium shall abound in prosperity,
and adversity: Or, through seasons when these were used to intermingle,.
Fowls and Reptiles.
- Fowls, and animate nature furnish instructive symbols.
What is denoted by an eagle? [p.77-p.78]
A great potentate, or government. In Ezek. xvii. 3. the king of Babylon,
captivating the Jews, is represented by a giant eagle, with long wings,
and full of feathers of divers colours, coming to Lebanon, cropping
the highest branch of a cedar; and carrying, and setting it out in the
land of traffic. [p.78]
- What is symbolized by the wings of an eagle?
The divine protection: Exod. xix. 4; "How I bear you on eagle's wings,
and brought you to myself." Rev. xii 14, "And to the woman were given
two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness,
into her place." They denote also enlivening grace Isai. xl. 31; "But
they that wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount
up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall
walk and not faint.
- Who is symbolized by a dove?
The Holy Ghost: Matt. iii. 16; "And he saw the Spirit of God descending
like a dove, and lighting upon him." The church is also symbolized by
a dove: Ps. lxxiv. 19; "O deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove unto
the multitude of the wicked." Song, ii. 14; " O my dove, that art in
the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see
thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and
thy countenance is comely." The dove flies to the clefts of the rock,
from birds of prey. The church flies to God for refuge. "God is my rock."
Chap. v. 2; "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled."
Chap. vi. 9; My dove, my undefiled is but one."
- Who is resembled by an owl and a pelican?
A person in a state of gloom and solitude. Ps. cii. 6; "I am like a
pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert."
- What are symbolized by swarms of devouring locusts?
Vast destructive armies. In Rev. ix. 3: the desolating armies of the
Saracens, (or Arabians,) propagating the Mohammedan delusion by fire
and sword, are denoted by locusts out of the smoke from the bottomless
- Who are represented by serpents and vipers? [p.78-p.79]
Bitter persecutors, and hypocrites: Matt. xxiii. 33; "Ye serpents, ye
generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell." In chap.
iii. 7. John the Baptist also calls the Pharisees, and Sadducees a "generation
of vipers." The self righteousness, and the vile conduct of such men,
are represented by hatching cockatrice's eggs, and weaving the spider's
web:--See Isai. lix. 5, 6. But their webs do not become garments. He
that eats of their eggs, (i. e. has affinity with them,) dies: And that
which is crushed, breaks out into a viper. Or, if they be detected,
they break out in rage and mischief. [p.79]
- Who are symbolized by the asp and the cockatrice?
The inveterate and hateful enemies of the church. Deut. xxxii. 31-33;
"Their rock is not our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of gall; their clusters are bitter. Their wine
is the poison of dragons and the cruel venom of asps." Job, xx.
14. 16, "His meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within
him.--He shall suck the poison of asps i the viper's tongue shall slay
him." Rom. iii. 13; "The poison of asps is under their tongue." But
the prophet says, Isai. xi. 8. relative to the introduction of the Millennium,
"The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp; and the
weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den; they shall
not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountains." i. e. Characters, who
have been the most revengeful and dangerous to the children of Christ,
shall then be out of the way, by having been destroyed or converted.
Christians shall have nothing more to fear from such men.
- What is symbolized by the deadly sting of poisonous animals?
Sin unrepented of, and unforgiven; 1 Cor. xv. 56; "The sting of death
is sin." Unpardoned guilt will sting the soul in death, and in eternity,
with the most keen, insupportable, and eternal tortures. But the sanctified
and pardoned may triumph; "O death, where is thy sting! O grave,
where is thy victory!"
- Who is symbolized by a worm? [p.79-p.80]
Man in his feeble state: Job, xxv. 6; "Man that is a worm; and the Son
of man that is a worm." Chap. xvii. 14; "I have said to the worm' thou
art my mother and my sister." Isai. xii. 14; " Fear not, thou worm Jacob,
and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord." The worm denotes
also the tormenting conscience of the damned: Mark, ix. 44; "Where the
worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." [p.80]
- Who are denoted by the three unclean spirits, like frogs; Rev.
xvi. 13, 14?
The hateful, intrusive, and most mischievous agents of antichrist, who
in the last day are to work the ruin of the wicked world. "And I saw
three unclean spirits like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon,
and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false
prophet. For they are spirits of devils, working miracles, which go
forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather
them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." These horrid
agents of satan, of atheism, and of false religion,
working disorganization and ruin, are predicted in the epistle of Jude,
in 2 Pet. ii. in 2 Tim. iii. 1-8; and in many other places. And their
operations have already shaken the civilized world with revolutions,
slaughter and terror.
- What is denoted by the Armageddon, Rev. vi. 16; whither three
unclean spirits collect the kings, of the earth, and of the whole world?
The term signifies, the mount of Megiddo. Megiddo, or Megiddon,
was a city in the west of Manasseh, toward 50 miles north of
Jerusalem. It was famous for noted battles and slaughters. Here Jabin's
army were destroyed, by Deborah and Barak: Judg. v. 19: A type of the
destruction of antichrist. Here, ("in the valley of Megiddo," which
implies also a mountain, or hills) Josiah received his death wound,
fighting with Pharaoh Necho (2 Cho. xxxv. 22-27;) and was greatly lamented.
The place was famous, as an occasion of mourning; See Zec. xii. 11.
The gathering of the enemies of the church thither in the last days,
may have both a literal and a mystical fulfilment. The armies of Gog
may be literally collected there, against the Jews; Ezek. xxxviii. xxxix.
And the inhabitants of the antichristian world may be mystically gathered
to Armageddon, (the mount of destruction, or of manifestation, or decision)
by being brought to that degree of wickedness, that God will detroy
Singular Heavenly Forms.
- We find singular heavenly forms exhibited to symbolize
certain characters and things. Who are symbolized by the four beasts,
represented as in heaven; Rev. iv. 9, 10?
They are supposed by Pool, Guise, Scott, and others to represent the
ministers of the gospel.
- Are those four symbolic beasts the same kind of beasts, with
those, taken to denote empires, hostile to the people of God?
They are not. The Greek word for the latter is theria; which
imports ferocious wild animals. (Rev. xiii. l. 11. and xvii. 3 in the
Greek.) The Greek word for these four beasts in the symbolic heaven,
(or opening in the upper region of the air, where the scene of his vision
was laid,) is Zoa, from Zoo, to live. It imports living creatures. And
expositors remark, that it should have been translated four living creatures;
according to Ezek. 1. 5. they are merely symbolic figures, to represent
the ambassadors of Christ.
- Where is the evidence that they represent gospel ministers? [p.81-p.82]
They are those who were redeemed by the blood of Christ from among men.
See Rev. v. 8-11. They there, with the elders praise Christ; "For thou
wast slain; and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred
and tongue, and people and nation." Angels cannot say thus. They add;--"and
hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the
earth." These things angels could never say. They are expressly distinguished
from the angels, who are represented in their own names and forms. !n
chap. v. 11. John beheld and heard many angels round the throne,
and the beasts and elders. Again, chap. xii. 11,
"And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders
and the four beasts." Certainly then, they are not angels. And they
are distinguished from the common members of the church; who are represented
by the four and twenty elders. They are a smaller number, redeemed from
among men, placed between the throne and the common members of the church,
and leading the elders in their worship;--See chap iv. 9, 10.
And when the seals of Providence are opened, they call on people to
"come and see." Chap. vi. 1. 3. 5. 7. [p.82]
- What is denoted by each of them having six wings?
Their alacrity in the service of God. Relative to the duties of their
office, they say with Isaiah, "Here am I; send me." True ministers fly
in obedience to the will of their Lord and Master. Paul says, "For the
love of Christ constraineth us." "By the space of three years I ceased
not to warn every man, night and day, with tears." "I have showed you,
and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying, both
to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith
in our Lord Jesus Christ."
- What is denoted by their being "full of eyes before and behind;"
and "full of eyes within?"
Their knowledge of God, of themselves, and of the way of salvation;
and their holy vigilance. They are "taught of God." They have the ascension-gifts
of Christ. They are scribes well instructed in the things of the kingdom;
and bring out of their treasures things new and old. And they watch
for souls, and watch unto duty, as those who must give an account to
- Why is it said "They rest not day nor night, saying, Holy,
holy, holy, Lord God Almighty?"
They are holy, as bearing the vessels of the Lord. And their
business is to proclaim the holiness, or goodness, of the Lord; and
to ascribe righteousness ut~to him. And they are repeatedly represented
as pursuing their business, day and night: As Paul says,
"I ceased not to warn every man night and day." And God
says by the prophet, "I have set watchmen on thy walls, O Jerusalem,
who will never hold their peace, day nor night." For they
are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing." If this
was said of civil, it certainly applies also to ecclesiastical
- What are denoted by the different forms of those four living
The different gifts of Christ's ministers: Eph. iii. 11; "And he gave
some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors
and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints; for the work of the
ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ." These different ministerial
gifts are often noted among the blessings of the church. 1 Cor. iii.
22; "For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas ;"
i. e. ministers of different gifts. See 1. Cor. xii. 4-11. 28-31. There
we learn, that there are diversities of gifts from the same Spirit;
dividing to every one as he will. [p.83]
- How would you explain those different symbolic forms?
The first was like a lion; denoting a class of ministers strong, bold,
undaunted; terrible to infidels, and the wicked. The second was like
a calf, or like an ox; (as one of the four forms of the living creatures
is rendered, Ezek. i. 10.) This may allude to the brazen oxen, under
the great laver in the temple of old; which were symbols of gospel ministers:--And
to 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10; where oxen symbolize gospel ministers. And it denotes,
that one class of ministers, if not like the class of the lion, are
yet patient, strong, and profitable. The third had a face as a man,
Here is a class metaphysical, deep; perhaps singularly humane and affectionate.
And the fourth was like a flying eagle:- -If not altogether like the
lion, the ox, or the class that had the face of a man; yet swift of
flight; of piercing vision: towering over lakes and mountains; darting
swiftly upon its prey; and mounting high toward heaven. This aptly symbolizes
one class of gospel ministers.
- One of these living creatures gives to the seven angels the seven
vials or cups of divine wrath; Rev. xv. 7, 8. How is this to be understood?
It is in answer to the special prayers of Zion, led by her ministers,
that God confounds her enemies with the vials of his wrath. See Rev.
xi. 5,6; where the witnesses have power to shut heaven and to smite
the earth with all plagues as oft as they will. And chap. ii. 26, 27;
where he that overcometh shall rule the nations with a rod of iron,
and break them to pieces. See also Ps. cxviii. 10-12; where the church
three times exults over all nations, compassing her about like bees:
"But in the name of the Lord will I destroy them."--And Ps. cxlix. 4-9;
where the high praises of God are in the mouths of the saints, and a
two edged sword in their hands, to bind kings with chains, and nobles
with fetters of iron: to execute upon the wicked all the judgments written.
This honor have all the saints. And Isai. xii. 15 i where the church
is to thresh the nations to chaff, with a new threshing instrument having
teeth. Truly, "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth
much." And the united prayers of Zion, led by her ministers in the last
days, will avail much. [p.84]
- Who are represented by the four and twenty elders, seen in
vision, as though in heaven; Rev. iv. 4?
I believe all agree, that they represent the church of Christ.
- Why is their number twenty-four?
This is twice the number of the patriarchs; else twice the number of
the apostles. Or, it is equal to the number of the twelve apostles,
and the twelve patriarchs, united. The priests under the old Testament
were divided into four and twenty courses. (See l Chro. xxiv. 1-19.)
Those priests were types of the Christian church. The latter are hence
called, "a royal priesthood;" and "a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual
sacrifices:" (1 Pet. ii. 5.9 :)--Being "made kings and priests unto
God:" (Rev. v. 10.) Among the Levites, also there were of old, four
and twenty courses of sacred musicians, for the worship of God in the
temple. (See l Chro. xxv. 8-31.) Possibly those numbers of twenty-four,
of the courses of the priests, and courses or the musicians, may account
for the number of the representatives of the gospel church being twenty
four. And perhaps it was so ordered, that those courses of the priests
and musicians, (types of the gospel church,) should each be twenty-four,
in order to equal the number of the patriarchs and apostles united,
as a peculiar number for the gospel church. The gospel church are indeed
the old Testament church and new Testament church united.
- Can any account be given of the design of the proportion of
these symbols; that there should be four, of the ambassadors
of Christ, to twenty-four of the members? [p.84-p.85]
It is doubtful whether any thing more is designed, than to give a view
of four classes of ministerial gifts. The following things however may
be said. The twelve tribes of Israel included and furnished one tribe
of Levites, for ministers of the temple. Here is one in twelve.
Twenty-four then, would include and furnish two. But as the number
of the twelve tribes is, in the elders who represent the gospel
church, doubled; so the proportion of the ministers of the house
of God may for the same reason be represented, under the gospel,
as doubled. Instead of being one in twelve, we have one in six:
and hence four to twenty four; We find also there were four of
the living creatures in Ezekiel's vision; chap. i ; perhaps one for
each quarter of the world. And we find four courses of brazen
oxen, bearing the great laver, and which were emblems (as it is thought)
of the ministers of Christ:--one course looking toward the east,
one toward the west; one toward the north; and one toward
the south. But the reason of this proportion may not be designed
to be known by men on earth. [p.85]
- Who are symbolized by angels, in Rev. xiv. 6-8, flying through
the midst of heaven?
The ministers, of the gospel; especially in the last days, administering
with redoubled zeal and strength, with the peculiar aid of the churches.
- What is denoted by the first, having the gospel to preach to
every nation, kindred, tongue and people?
A peculiar missionary spirit, and great exertions, in the same hour
with the judgments of God on papal Babylon, to proclaim salvation to
the ends of the earth; by translating and sending out the word of life
to the destitute nations; and the heralds of salvation to proclaim and
administer the gospel.
- What is indicated by the flight of the second angel; saying,
"Babylon is fallen, is fallen?"
A general propagation, and belief, through the Christian world, of the
sentiment here expressed; that papal "Babylon is fallen" indeed, and
that all the scenes. connected with that event, are rolling on, in a
most interesting train.
- What is indicated by the flight of the third angel, proclaiming
with a loud voice, that if any man worship the beast,; or his image,
or have his mark, openly or secretly he shall be totally and eternally
destroyed in hell? (verse 9-11.) [p.85-p.86]
This figure predicts a general propagation (through the christian world,
by the ambassadors of Christ, in preaching, and in publications) of
the very warnings, which are there given, relative to all affinity with
infidel beast of the last days. It is a prediction, that ministers,
and the people of God, will wake up to see the signs, and dangers of
the times; and that the warnings of God's word will be, with great engagedness,
proclaimed; according to the following command of God, relative to the
same period; "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm in my holy
mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of
the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand." [p.86]
- What is symbolized by the visible descent of an angel from heaven,
and proclaiming certain things with a loud voice?
The commencement of a new and very important era of judgments. In Rev.
x. 1-3. and xviii. 1, 2. we find such a symbol. And it no doubt indicates,
that new period, of most interesting events, has opened upon the church
and the world. The descent of the angel, Rev. xx. 1. is attended with
no loud cry. But he binds the devil. Here is prefigured the commencement
of the Millenium. But when God, or an angel, is said to cry with
a loud voice, it denotes great judgments: Isai. xlii. 13, 14;
"The Lord shall go forth as a might man; he shall stir up jealousy like
a man of war; he shall cry, yea roar: he shall prevail against his enemies.
I have long time holden my peace--now will I cry like a travailing woman;
I will destroy and devour at once." See also Jer. xxv. 30. Hos. xi.
10. Joel iii. 16. Amos i. 2. Ezek. ix. 1.
- What is symbolized by the Lamb on mount Zion, with him 144,000, with
his Father's name upon their foreheads; Rev. xiv. 1?
A great and signal appearance of Christ for his cause; such as at the
reformation under Luther.
- What is denoted by the Angel upon the white cloud, with a sharp sickle,
and his reaping the earth, gathering its vine, and treading the wine
press; Rev. xiv. 14--to the end? [p.86-p.87]
We have here a symbolic prediction of that coming of Christ to destroy
his enemies, which is just to precede the Millenium. The predictions
of this event are numerous, and very awful in the prophetic scriptures,
both in the old and new Testaments. Repeatedly it is predicted under
the emblem of a harvest. See Joel, iii. 13. where in the midst of a
terrible description of that day, we read, "Put ye in the sickle; for
the harvest is ripe." In Jer. li. 33. it is said of Babylon, (and will
be fulfilled on the mystical Babylon of the last days) "Yet a little
while, and the time of her harvest shall come." And in the passage under
consideration. "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap; for the time is come
for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that
sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was
reaped." Of the same event, under the emblem of a vintage, we read,
Joel. iii. 13; "Come, get ye down; for the press is full; the fats overflow;
for the wickedness thereof is great." Isai. lxiii. 1-6; "Who is this
that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is
glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?
I that speak in righteousness; mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red
in thine apparel, and thy garments like him, that treadeth in the winefat?
I have trodden the wide press alone; and of the people there was none
with me. For I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my
fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will
stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and
the year of my redeemed is come.--And I will tread down the people in
mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury; and I will bring down their
strength to the earth." Here is the vintage in the passage under consideration;
where we read; "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters
of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel
thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth,
and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress
was trodden without the city; and blood came out of the winepress, even
unto the horse's bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred
- What are we to understand by the battle array of Christ, in Rev. xix.
11-16 ? where he rides forth upon a white horse, with the armies of
heaven following him upon white horses:--His eyes as a flame of fire:---On
his head many crowns: --His vesture dipped in blood:---A sharp sword
going out of his mouth, by which to smite the nations:---And his name
in capitals on his vesture and on his thigh, KING OF KINGS; AND LORD
OF LORDS:--The armies of the beast and kings of the earth meet him in
hostile encounter: They are slain:--The fowls are filled with their
flesh:--And the beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire?
This is a symbolic description of the battle of that great day of God
Almighty, predicted under the seventh vial; Rev. xvi. 14--to end. It
is the same scene with that under the figures of the harvest, and the
vintage, just noted. And it will be fulfilled in the dreadful scenes
of vengeance with which Christ will sweep anti-christ and all the persecutors
of the church from the earth, under the third woe. Many and dreadful
are the descriptions of this event; such as, that God will gather the
nations, and assemble the kingdoms, and pour upon them his indignation,
even all his fierce anger; and all the earth shall be devoured with
the fire of his jealousy, (Zeph. iii. 8.)--That God will lay the wicked
world "desolate, and destroy the sinners thereof out of it." (Isai.
xiii. 9.) The predictions of this event are too numerous to be quoted,
or even referred to, in this place. Turn to the following as a specimen
of them. Ps. xlvi. 8- 10. Isai. xxiv. 1-6. xxvi. 20, 21. xxviii. 21,
22. xxxiv. 1-8. lix. 15-19. lxvi. 14-16. Jer. xxxv. 31-33. Dan. ii.
34, 35. vii. 11. Zeph. i. 2, 3, 14-18. Mal. iv. 1. Rev. xi. 15-19. (Various
of the singular forms found in the Revelation, have been or will be
noted under other heads.)
- What are symbolized by furious wild beasts?
Empires and nations hostile to the church of God.
- In these symbolic beasts do we not often find a departure from
We do. Various parts and properties of different creatures are often
united in figure; and wings, and an unnatural number of heads and horns,
are frequently superadded. Such wings are emblems of velocity in conquests;
heads usually denote different forms of government; and horns are emblems
of power, particularly of vassal kingdoms. See Dan. vii. 6. Rev. xvii.
3. 10. 16.
- Is a horn a noted emblem of power? [p.88-p.89]
It is. God is said to have "horns coming out of his hand, as the hiding
of his power;" Hab. iii, 4. In Rev. v. 6. Christ is symbolized by a
lamb of seven horns, and seven eyes;--emblems of the perfection
of his power and wisdom. David speaks of God, as the horn, (i.
e. the strength) of his salvation; 2 Sam. xxii. 3. The false
prophets made horns of iron.--to denote that the kings, whom
they flattered, should push and destroy their enemies, 1 Kings, xxii.
11. The horn of the righteous is said to be exalted; meaning
that their strength in the Lord is established. No wonder then,
that horns are frequently used, in prophecy, to denote the strength,
and particularly, the vassal kingdoms, of the wicked empires of the
world, when those empires are denoted by beasts. [p.89]
- Are empires, that are not hostile to the church symbolized
They are not. When a power, that has been hostile to the church, and
symbolized by a beast, ceases to be hostile, that beast is represented
as dying; as when the government of the Roman empire was turned,
under Constantine, from paganism to christianity, that beast was represented
as wounded to death. And if such a power (or one mystically the same)
became again hostile to the church, that beast, that was wounded to
death, is represented as rising again to life. See Rev. xiii, 3; and
xvii. 8. 11.
- Can two symbolic beasts exist on the same ground at the same time?
They cannot; any more than two things can at once be the greatest;
or than there can be two captain generals, at once, in the same army.
The beast is the government, or the sum total, of such a hostile empire.
Subordinate powers, or branches, are horns of that beast. When a new
beast rises, his predecessor ceases to be a beast. If he exist at all,
he is called a horn, or by some other name.
- Are different beasts symbols of different characteristics in man?
A lion is a symbol of courage, ferocity, and boldness;--a lamb--of innocence,
and meekness;--a horse of strength, and speed;--and an ox of patience,
and profitableness. See Rev. iv. 7: and v. 6: Jer. xii. 5; Ezek. i.
10; and xxxviii; 13.
- What is denoted by the lion, with eagle's wings; Dan. vii.
The ancient Babylonian empire.
- What is denoted by the bear, with a piece of raven in his mouth;
Dan. vii. 5?
The succeeding Persian empire.
- What is denoted by the leopard, with the four wings on his
back, and with four heads; Dan. vii. 6?
The Grecian empire, which followed, under Alexander, and his four succeeding
generals, who divided his empire. (See answer to question 273.)
- What is denoted by the fourth beast, dreadful and
terrible, with great iron teeth, and with ten horns' Dan. vii. 7?
The civil Roman power, from its origin, till it goes into perdition,
at the battle of the great day, just before the Millenium. See Rev.
xiii. 1-10. and xvii.
- What is denoted by the seven heads of this beast?
Seven mountains, on which Rome was built; also seven forms of government,
from the time of the origin of this nation, till the Millennium; viz.
the governments of king, consuls, tribunes, decemvirs, dictators, emperors,
and infidel democracy, soon succeeded by the revival of the imperial
government, which is represented as the old imperial head recovered
of its deadly wound. This last is numerically the eighth head of the
beast; yet it is truely "of the seven;" being specifically the sixth,
recovered to life. See Rev. xiii. 3: and xvii. 9-11
- Can you further explain this deep symbol ? [p.90-p.91]
The civil Roman nation, because at times it was to persecute the people
of God, is represented as a great uncommon, furious beast. Because Rome
was built on seven hills, this beast is represented as having seven
heads. And those seven heads were also to represent the above noted
seven forms of government. There were seven, and only seven, distinct
kinds of government in that nation. But one of them, (under which persecutions
were to take place,) viz. the imperial government, was to exist
twice, or at two periods, centuries distant from each other.
The imperial reign (under which Christ and the apostles lived) was denoted
by the sixth head of this beast. When this imperial head was forced,
by the emperor Constantine, to desist from persecution, and none might
govern, but the professed friends of Christ, this revolution
is represented by the sixth head of the beast being wounded to death.
The beast is now represented as lying dead, for a long time; till, in
the last days, he ascends out of the bottomless pit, or recovers his
life again, under the peculiar agency of the wicked one. This
event first appeared under an infidel democracy, in modern France. This
is represented as the seventh head of that beast, and continuing a short
time. It was soon succeeded by the revival of the imperial reign. The
latter, in counting forward, is the eigth head of the beast.
But it is, in kind, the sixth, the imperial head revived.
So that in one sense, it is the eigth head; and in another, it
is "of the seven," being the same in kind with the sixth;
Rev. xvii. 11. [p.91]
- What are denoted by the ten horns of this beast?
Vassal kingdoms under his power: Rev. xvii. 12; The ten horns, which
thou sawest, are ten kings," i. e: kingdoms. See Dan. vii. 23,
- What is denoted by the peculiar horn of this beast; Dan; vii.
The Papal hierarchy; into whose hands the saints were to be delivered
for 1260 years; verse 24, 25.
- By what else is this hierarchy denoted?
By a second beast, who had two horns like a lamb; but spake like a dragon;
See Rev. xiii. 11-13.
- What is denoted by the two horns of this beast?
Probably his ecclesiastical, and civil tyranny: 2 Thes. ii. 4; "So that
he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that be is God."
With Rev. xvii. 18; "That great city, that reigneth over the kings of
- What is denoted by the papal beast making an image to the pagan
beast; Rev. xiii 14, 15?
It probably relates to his system of real idolatry, instituted under
the christian profession, but essentially of the same nature with the
antecedent pagan idolatry.
- What is denoted by the ram; Dan. viii. 3?
The Persian empire; the same with the bear, with ribs in his mouth;
Dan. vii. 5.
- What is denoted by the he-goat, with his notable horn;
and four subsequent horns; Dan. viii. 5? [p.92]
The Macedonian empire; the same with the leopard of four heads, and
four wings; Dan. vii. 6. The notable horn, between the eyes of this
goat, symbolized Alexander the great. And the four subsequent notable
horns, towards the four winds, denoted Alexander's four generals. Seleucus
had Syria, and the east. Cassander had Greece in the west.
Lysimachus had Thrace, in the north. And Ptolemy had Egypt in
- What is denoted by the peculiar little horn from one of those
horns, which waxed great toward the south, and toward the east, and
toward the pleasant land; Dan. viii. 9-12?
Probably Mohammedism, introduced by the first woe: Rev. ix. 1-11.
- A horse, (it has been said) is an emblem of strength, and speed. What
is denoted by a white horse?
A victorious march. In Rev. vi. 2. Christ is represented as riding forth
upon a white horse, in the remarkable propagation of the gospel. And
in chap. xix. 11-16. he again rides forth upon a white horse, for the
destruction of his enemies.
- What is denoted by a red horse?
War and blood: Rev. vi. 4. under the second seal.
- What is denoted by a black horse?
Famine, calamity, and terror: Rev. vi. 5. under the third seal.
- What is denoted by a pale horse?
Death, with hell following. Rev. vi. 8: under the fourth seal.
- Who are denoted by bulls?
Violent enemies of Christ: Ps. xxii. 12; "Many bulls have compassed
me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round."
- What is represented by kine or cows?
Seasons, or years: As in Pharoah's dream, Gen. xli. 1, 2.
- Who are denoted by sheep?
The people of Christ: John, x. 27; "My sheep hear my voice, and I know
them, and they follow me." [p.92-p.93]
In the view of this symbol, Christ is called the shepherd, the
good shepherd of the sheep; John, x. 14. His ministers also are shepherds:
See Isai. lvi. 11. John xxi. 15-17. Also kings are thus denominated:
Isai. xliv. 28; "That saith to Cyrus, he is my shepherd." And in Jer.
xxv. 34-36, is an awful threatening to kings, under the name of shepherds.
- Who are denoted by lambs?
The people of Christ: John, xxi. 15; "Feed my lambs! i. e. my
people. This was Christ's direction to Peter. Christ was also symbolized
by a lamb. The paschal lamb of old was a type of Christ; as were all
the lambs offered in sacrifice. Christ is accordingly called, "The Lamb
of God, who taketh away the sin of the world,--"The Lamb slain:" He
is the "Lamb on the mount Zion." "Christ our passover was sacrificed
for us." He was meek as a lamb. "As a lamb before her shearers was dumb,
so he opened not his mouth."
- Who are symbolized by wolves?
False teachers: Acts, xx. 29; "For I know, that after my departure shall
grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." Matt. vii.
15; "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing;
but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
- What other animals are taken to denote false teachers?
Foxes; and dogs: Ezek. xiii. 4; "O Israel, thy prophets are like the
foxes in the deserts." Song, ii. 15; "Take us the foxes, the little
foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes." Isai.
lvi. 10; "His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant; They are all
dumb dogs, that cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber."
Phil. iii. 2; "Beware of dogs; beware of evil workers; beware of the
concision." Dogs symbolize also all the finally reprobate: Rev. xxii.
15; "For without are dogs."--And a fox denotes a subtile tyrant, like
Herod: Luke, xiii. 32; "Go and tell that fox."
- Who are symbolized by the wild boar?
Persecutors. In Ps. lxxx. 13. it is said of God's vine, the church,
"The boar out of the wood doth waste it; and the wild beast of the field
doth devour it."
- Who are symbolized by an unicorn, and lions? [p.93-p.94]
Persecutors, and bloody oppressors: Ps. xxii. 21; "Save me from the
lion's mouth: for thou has heard me from the horns of the horns of the
unicorns." In Isai. xxxiv. 7. speaking of the battle of the great day,
it is said, "And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullock
with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their
dust made fat with fatness." [p.94]
- Who are symbolized by Leviathan, and the dragon?
Abominable tyrants; and the devil. In Isai. xxvii. 1. the great tyrannical
power of the last days is called, Leviathan, that crooked serpent, and
the dragon that is in the sea." In Isai. li. 9. and Ezek. xxix. 3. Pharaoh
is called the dragon; probably in allusion to the crocodile of his river.
And in Rev. xii. the devil is symbolized by a great red dragon of seven
heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads, because he manages
an empire symbolized by a beast of seven heads and ten horns. And he
manages his empire, [as he laboured to tempt our Saviour,] with a promise
of crowns. These he is represented as having in plenty.
- Who else are symbolized by dragons?
Pagans: Isai. xxxv. 7; "And the parched ground shall become a
pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitations of dragons,
where each lay, shall; be grass with reeds and rushes." Chap. xliii.
19, 20; "I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the
desert: and the beasts of the field shall honor me, and dragons
and owls;" Or pagans shall come to the saving knowledge of the
- What is denoted by mountain of leopards, and mountains
of prey? [p.94-p.95]
The state of the church militant, in a wicked, persecuting world. Song
iv. 8; "Come with me, from Lebanon my spouse; with me from Lebanon,
look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir & Hermion, from
the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards." Here is a symbolic
description, given by Christ himself, of the state of his church in
this world. Those mountains named, were full of dens of devouring beasts;
wild, and gloomy. Here, or in a world represented by those mountains,
Christ's spouse must, for a season, wander, as an exile! But Christ
visits her; and will call her hence! With faith and solemn affection
she now addresses him. Ps. lxxvi. 4; "Thou are more glorious and excellent,
than the mountains of prey." Ps. xlii. 6; "O my God, my soul is cast
down within me; therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan,
and from the Hermonites, of the hill Mizar." Gloomy and disconsolate
among the children of darkness, as though on the solitary mountains
of Canaan, (the haunts of wild beasts,) I will turn mine eyes, and lift
up mine heart, toward thy holy temple. I will long for my admittance
- What is denoted by the strange harmony of the different beasts
of discordant natures predicted by the prophet.
The holy and cordial unity of the people of different nations, in the
Millennium, when all shall know the Lord; and unite in his service,
(See Isai. xi. 6-9.) The wolf and the lamb unite in meekness and peace.
The leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear,
peacefully unite. The child is safe upon the hole of the asp, and upon
the den of the cockatrice.
- What was symbolized by the great vessel, like a sheet, let down from
heaven to Peter, in his vision, Acts, x. 10- 16. containing all manner
of beasts, creeping things, and fowls, even such as the Jews were forbidden
to eat ; but Peter now had liberty to eat them freely?
We here have a symbol of the christian church, as being destitute of
all national distinctions. For 2000 years the Gentiles were cast off,
in their idolatries. The separation of the tribes of the Lord; in covenant,
from the Gentiles, was designated, among other things, by the Israelites
being prohibited the use of certain animals and fowls for food; Lev.
xi. But that distinction between Jews and Gentiles was now to cease.
The latter were to be admitted to all the blessings of the gospel. And
this thing was ascertained to Peter, by a promiscuous crowd of animals
and; fowls, both clean. and unclean according to the ceremonial law,
being now presented, as cleansed of God, and ready for use. Peter might
now go and administer to Cornelius, and the heathen. In every nation,
he that feared God, and wrought righteousness, should find equal acceptance.
- What is symbolized by the image of a giant, in
Dan. ii. 31-36? [p.96]
The four great eastern monarchies;--the Babylonian; the Medo-persian;
the Grecian; and the Roman.
- Which was denoted by the head of gold upon this image?
The Babylonian empire; the same with the lion with eagle's wings; Dan.
- Which was denoted by its breasts and arms of silver?
The Medo-persian empire, the same with the bear; Dan. vii. 5; and the
ram; Dan. vii. 3.
- Which was denoted by its belly and thighs of brass?
The Grecian empire; the same with the leopard with four heads and four
wings; Dan. vii. 6; and the he-goat; Dan. viii. 5.
- Which was symbolized by the legs of iron; and the feet and
toes, part of iron, and part of clay?
The Roman empire, till it goes into perdition at the battle of that
great day of God; the same with the terrible beast: Dan. vii. 7, 11.
Rev. xii. 1-10.
- Is much instruction contained in this symbolic image? [p.96-p.97]
It is a striking epitome of what is contained in volumes of history;
and epitome drawn to the life by the divine pencil. The closing part
is deeply interesting to this generation. The feet and toes, comprising
the existence of the Roman empire in the last days, (the same with the
last head of the secular beast, healed of its deadly wound, and with
the new and blasphemous beast, from the bottomless pit, Rev. xvii.)
are "part of iron, and part of clay." This the holy Spirit explains:
Dan. ii. 42; "The kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken."
In this mixture of strength and weakness, the last head of the Roman
empire continues, till the stone cut out without hands smites it, and
grinds it to powder. The surviving materials of the image are, at the
same time, destroyed, and blown away; and the stone becomes a great
mountain, and fills the world. Or Christ will destroy the great infidel
power of the last days, together with all the wicked persecuting powers
on earth; whether on the ground of ancient Babylon, Persia, Greece,
or Rome; and his own millennial kingdom shall fill the world. This kingdom
partly strong, and partly broken, is now exhibited to the view of the
For a more full and extensive explanation of the figurative language
found in the prophecies of Daniel, of the Revelation, and some other
parts of the bible, see my dissertation on the prophecies.
III. Incidental Considerations.
- Do we find much of figurative language?
We do indeed. The instances noted from the scriptures may be viewed
as but just an entering upon the subject of figurative language.
But perhaps instances enough have been exhibited, to give a clew
to this subject. It is not an object in this book to explain figurative
language in common use, not found in the word of God.
- Is much of figurative language, the language of allusion?
It is. An event is often expressed in allusion to another event, in
some respects similar;--though distant as to time or place.
- Can you illustrate this remark by an example, in modern language?
When a British officer, in the prospect of a battle, said, This is going
to be a Bunker hill scene, it was the language of allusion.
And the sense was not only perspicuous, but forcible;--that if they
gained the victory, it would be at a dear rate. And to say of a mischievous,
intriguing man, Haman will get executed upon his own gallows, is an
allusion, of perspicuity and force. Such of proverbial language
is essentially of this kind; being derived from various incidents in
life, either real or imaginary. "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into
- Is considerable of the figurative language of prophesy, the
language of allusion? [p.97-p.98]
It is. The battle of that great day, introductory to the Millenium,
is said to be in the valley of Jehosaphat; Joel, iii. 12; in
allusion to the place, where the vast combined armies against Jehosaphat
were made to destroy each other; 2 Chron. xx. 20-25. Some parts of the
Revelation to St. John are of this kind. And a mixture of it is found
through the prophecies. The turning of the sea and rivers to blood,
under the second and third vials, is thought to have been expressed
in allusion to the turning of the waters to blood in some of the plagues
on ancient Egypt. And the filling of the papal kingdom with darkness,
under the fifth vial, is probably an allusion to the plague of darkness
on Egypt: or the latter perhaps was a type of the former. The capital
superscription upon the forehead of the papal harlot, Rev. xvii. 5.
may be in allusion to the ancient Roman custom of presenting their capital
criminals for execution with a superscription, on or over their heads,
denoting their crimes. The superscription upon the cross, over the head
of Christ, was from this Roman custom. [p.98]
- What is to be inferred from this use of the language of allusion in
the prophecies, relative to knowledge of the bible?
The great importance of a thorough knowledge of scripture history; and
so far as may be, with the history of man, and of ancient times; in
order that the sense and force of allusions may be perceived.
- What benefit is derived from the use of allusions?
The imagery of the language of allusion is concise, rich and impressive,
beyond what is found in literal description. A word, a hint, presents
to the mind perhaps, the contents of pages, or of a whole volume, to
illustrate some given point. And, to one skilled in sacred history,
such language is often not only perspicuous, but very striking.
- Do we find precision and uniformity in the scriptural use of figures,
and of allusions?
We do, much greater than many imagine. It is true, the same figure,
in some cases, and different connexions, stand for different things.
And the same is true of words in literal language. But the connexion,
and a good judgment, will usually discover which is the true sense in
any given place. A most literal language is unintelligible to a person
unacquainted with it. And the language of figures and allusions is intelligible
and striking to one familiar with this kind of language. Very much depends
on use and improvement.
- Do attention and use in fact, render much of the language
of figures and allusions very familiar to most of people? [p.99]
They do. People are not aware how much of this kind of language mingles
in their daily conversation; and in many instances becomes more intelligible,
and forcible, than would be a more literal language.
- Can you illustrate this by some examples?
To say a man has a good heart, is at least as well understood, as to
say, he has a good disposition of soul. But the heart is but a symbol
of the disposition of the soul; being literally that fleshy organ in
the breast, which is the seat of animal life. To say a man has the heart
of a tiger, is well understood; and is sometimes more forcible, than
to say, he is very cruel. To say a man has an eagle eye, is as forcible
at least as to say, he is very discerning as to his self interest. To
say one has a heart of stone, is as intelligible as to say, he has no
proper affection. A hard heart, and a blind mind, are figurative expressions.
But they are well understood. Perhaps no literal expression could so
well convey their ideas. To say, a man has a long head, and an iron
constitution, is well understood as importing, that he has a strong
mind; and good bodily health. And with figures like these our language
- Are there various degrees in which sentences partake of figurative
There are. When a sentence is wholly figurative and the figure is pursued,
it becomes an allegory or parable. If it continue through successive
sentences, it becomes a climax, as in the speech of Jotham,.to the men
of Shechem, relative to the trees seeking a king; Judges, ix. 7-15.
Sentences partake of figurative language in various degrees from the
climax, to a sentence containing but one figurative expression.
- But must not every sentence be construed as wholly literal, or wholly
By no means. Where God gave the persecutors blood to drink;, because
they had shed the blood of prophets and of saints; their having shed
the blood of saints and of prophets, is to be construed as literal;
and their having blood to drink, as figurative. To say here, that because
their having blood to drink is figurative, therefore their having shed
the blood of saints and prophets, found in the same passage, must be
construed likewise as figurative, would be to destroy the sense of the
passage, and to do violence to common sense. [p.100]
- What do you establish by this very plain remark?
This proposition, that no conclusive objection can be made against a
literal construction of some parts of a passage, from
a supposed rule, that if a considerable part of a chapter or sentence
be clearly figurative, the whole must be so. For instance: it does not
neccassarily follow, that because the most part, at least, of the twentieth
chapter of the Revelation is highly figurative, therefore the thousand
years, mentioned there, for the duration of the Millenium, cannot
be literal, but must be figurative. That passage may mean a literal
thousand years; notwithstanding that the chapter is chiefly figurative.
Again. We cannot certainly infer, that because the representation of
the three unclean spirits like frogs, Rev. xvi. 13, 14. is most]y figurative,
therefore they are not to be expected to gather a coalition to the literal
Megiddo in Palestine, as well as to gather the wicked of the earth into
a situation to be destroyed. As the going forth of those delusive agents
of darkness, is to the kings or cabinets of the earth, and of the whole
world; so their gathering them to Armageddon or mount Megiddon, may
have both a literal, and a mystical fulfilment.
- Is there no certain rule then, by which to decide what parts of sentences
are to be understood literally, and what parts figuratively?
There is not. The literal sense is ever to be preferred to a figurative,
when the sense would be as good. But relative to this, wisdom alone
is profitable to direct.
- What are we to think of the conduct of those; who decline a faithful
investigation of the sense of the prophetic scriptures, on account
of the deeply figurative language, in which they are mostly written?
We must think they are not sufficiently attentive to the commands of
God, who says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith
to the churches;" "Whoso readeth, let him understand." "Blessed is he
that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophesy." So great
a part of the scriptures, as the prophecies, could not have been given
for no purpose, nor for a small purpose. This, as well as the other
parts, was given to be searched, believed, and improved. At the opening
of each of the four seals, in Rev. vi. 1-6. a living creature (denoting
the ministers of the gospel) called on others to "Come and see." [p.101]
- Is there not an impropriety in the conduct of those, who would discourage
laborious attempts to learn the sense of the prophecies, on account
of their mystical language?
Such are not aware of the extent of their objection. Their objections
would go to close, not only a great part of the sacred volume, but also
a considerable part of our common conversation.
- What parts of our familiar conversation would their objections, in
their full extent, close or expunge?
All that is figurative:--such as has been hinted. And all such as the
following:--That man has the heart of a lion. The times are dark.
Dark mountains rise before us. The ways of the wicked are crooked and
slippery. Should the above objection obtain, we must never more
speak of the heart, as meaning a moral power of the soul; of
cold affections; heat of passion; warmth of temper; hunger or thirst
of sour; feeding on the bread of life; and such like expressions. For
the words heart, cold, heat, and the like, literally relate only to
material bodies. And if we begin to expunge figurative language, we
may as well be thorough, and expunge it wholly. We should then loose
a great part of our language, which is now esteemed perspicuous, concise,
forcible and elegant.
- Is figurative language very abundant in the sacred scriptures?
It is indeed. And with much of it men becomes so familiar, as to forget
that it is not literal. This is the effect of use. While with other
parts of the same kind of language, in the same book,--(language as
properly introduced, abundantly used in the prophecies, and fully entitled
to our approbation,) many people remain unacquainted; and hence object
to them, as unintelligible.
- Is not this conduct unfavorable to the Christian faith? [p.101-p.102]
It is. For those holy oracles, which alone contain our religion, and
reveal the path of life, do abound with the kind of language, which
is thus slighted. A great part of this holy book is thus virtually rejected;
and course is taken which is calculated to bring the whole sacred volume
into discredit and neglect. [p.102]
- But is it best to encourage figurative, and symbolical language?
May we not indulge a fondness for that language, which is literal and
Perhaps we have enough of figurative language in use. And literal expressions,
especially in description, and in common conversation, are much to be
preferred. But to discourage that degree of figurative language actually
found in the word of God; or to neglect to investigate the sense of
the prophecies, on account of their symbolical language, would be to
charge God foolishly; and thus far to encourage infidelity. Should men
become ever so fond of the use of language the most literal; and indulge
ever so great a distaste to that, which is figurative; yet it is a fact,
that the bible will remain, as it is written, to the end of the world.
The Most High will never revise it, nor alter its language, to please
our literary taste. Men must receive it as it is; or forego its blessings.
- What further ought men to consider relative to the symbolic language
found in the word of God?
They ought to consider, that this mode of writing was most common and
familiar in ancient times. The wisest, and the most learned, the poet
and the sage, made great use of it. There is, and ever has been, something
in man which is captivated with this species of communication. And this
is found not only in the lowest stages of mental improvement, but also
in the highest. Blair says, "Figures have the same effect on language,
that rich and splendid apparel has on a person of rank and dignity."
Shall any then take offence, that God, in giving a revelation to man
for all ages and nations, should see fit to adapt its language to this
taste of the great mass of mankind? Such offence would argue great arrogance
in the objector, and great impiety toward God. A divine revelation,
if given at all, must be given in some language. And it must
be desirable, that this language should be adapted to the benefit of
all ages, nations, and stages of society; the barbarous, as well as
the refined. None ought to wish that so general a blessing should be
conveyed in a manner suited exclusively to their refined taste, or to
their local, or philosophical impressions. [p.103]
- But may not the most figurative and mystical parts of the bible be
Should men begin such a neglect, where would they end? Shall those scriptures
be passed by, as too figurative, which speak of God as having eyes,
ears, moth, hands, feet, and as setting on a throne?
And those also, which speak of Christ as the Lamb of God; the Lion of
the tribe of Judah; the Root and offspring of David; the bright and
morning star, and the bridegroom of the church? Shall the denunciation
be passed over, as too figurative, that the Lord is a man of war?
That Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron, and dash them
to pieces, as a potter's vessel? Christ is represented by a variety
of types and figures. Perhaps three score would not more than furnish
the detail. Nor has this been esteemed a blemish, but a beauty in the
word of life. The church likewise is represented under a variety of
emblems; which have not been esteemed as perplexing to the pious student;
but as enriching the subject of theology. But should men begin to neglect
the figurative parts of the bible, why not neglect all the types and
figures of Christ, and of the church?
- What other parts of the bible might be in danger of being neglected,
as too figurative, should a neglect of the figurative parts of scripture
Many, which denote the special operations of grace: and the privileges
of Christians. The former are noted under the figurative expressions
of pouring out the Spirit; circumcising the heart; washing the soul
from sin; healing wounds and broken bones. The christian is represented
as regenerated, born again, raised from a horrid pit; brought out of
darkness, into marvellous light; and grafted into the good olive tree.
And the privileges of Christians are noted under such figures as the
following; "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall
abide under the shadow of the Almighty." "The name of the Lord is a
strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." "With joy
shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." "Whoso eateth my
flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." [p.103-p.104]
- Would objections, against the study of the prophecies, and of the
most mystical parts of the word of God, in their consistent issue, exclude
from our attention such language in the blessed volume, as this just
They would. And when they had done their work of purging the bible of
figurative language, but little would be left; perhaps not a whole chapter,
if there were a whole text, in the sacred volume.
- Could not people as well or better have understood the things of God,
if they had been expressed in language wholly literal, and no symbols
or figures had been admitted into the word of God?
Men, formed as they now are, could not have understood. "How shall ye
believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" It is in mercy to man, that
the things of God and of heaven are expressed in language adapted to
his feeble conceptions, and thus in figurative language. Had
not this been the case, man on earth could have had no knowledge of
the things of heaven. A literal account of them, such as the inhabitants
of glory may understand, would probably be as far above our conceptions,
as they were, in fact, above the conceptions of St. Paul, when he was
caught up to the third heavens, and heard unspeakable words; which no
mortal could utter, or understand. God has kindly dealt with us, as
with children; and expressed things in the language of figures and symbols,
borrowed from things, with which we are acquainted, and which (from
their analogy to things in the invisible world) are the best adapted
to our spiritual instruction. Our bodily senses are now addressed, and
called into the aid of our instructions, and of faith. This is so far
from being matter of regret, that it is matter of substantial joy. And
it is further to be noted, that literal predictions of many of the events
of prophesy, would not have accorded with the divine purpose. Most of
these events were veiled in mystical language, that they should not
be very distinctly known, especially to many people, till they were
fulfilled. This was essentially necessary to that mode of their fulfillment,
(through the agency of men of different motives,) which God designed.
- Were many of the figurative parts of the bible, which are now well
understood, as dark to people, in days past, as the most difficult symbolic
passages now are to most people? [p.105]
They were. And it was devout attention and use, which rendered them
familiar. "The Jews strove and said, How can this man give us his flesh
to eat?" And Nichodemus, a master in Israel, when informed of the necessity
of a man's being born again, and of the blowing of the wind of
the Spirit, wondered and said, "How can these things be?" Had these
passages, and the figurative descriptions: already noted, (of Christ,
of the church, of the work of the Spirit, of the blessedness of christians,
and those passages which express christian duty by fighting,
crucifying the old man, plucking out eyes; and cutting off hands,) been
as much neglected, as have many of the prophecies;--people would, to
this day, have been as ignorant of their true import, as many now are
of those prophecies.
- May devout and proper attention then, bring people
to a familiar acquaintance with the most symbolical language of the
No reason can be assigned why it would not. It has in fact rendered
very much of the same kind of language very familiar to the church
generally. And it has rendered much of the most mystical language
of prophesy very familiar to many judicious expositors. Knowledge in
this, as in other things, is progressing. And probably the time will
come, when the language of many prophecies, which now appear the most
mysterious, will be as familiarly understood, as the language of Christ,
relative to the new birth, and to men's eating his flesh, and drinking
his blood, is at this day.
- Do not those who discourage the study of the prophecies, on account
of the dark symbolic language in which they are expressed, implicitly
censure all the use of figurative language; the study of it; and that
divine wisdom, which has adopted so much of this kind of language in
his holy word? [p.105-p.106]
They do. They implicitly say, that the prophecies, which form so great
a part of the bible, are useless. Their objections go to disapprobate
that devout attention of Christ's ministers and people, in days past,
which has rendered so much of the figurative parts of the bible familiar,
and most instructive. Their objections (in their consistent and final
issue) would expunge from the sacred volume, and from our common conversation,
all symbolic language. This would destroy the word of God, and confound
the language of man. [p.106]
- What is the just conclusion then, from these remarks?
That it is the duty and interest of men, devoutly to form a correct
acquaintance with the figurative language, found in the word of God,
and with obedient hearts, to learn and receive the instruction thus
- What inference is to be made from the stile and figurative
language of the bible relative to its divinity?
We are hence furnished with an argument against infidels. Had not the
bible come down to us in this figurative, symbolic, and peculiar stile;
the circumstance must have been an objection against its antiquity and
divinity. For the stile and language in which the bible is found, are
of the very kind used in the ancient eastern nations. The language of
the bible is precisely such, as must have been expected in a book written
by inspiration, in those days, in which the bible purports to have been
written. At the same time the simplicity, sublimity, grandeur and purity
of its conceptions, and of its imagery, are as much superior to what
is human, as the heavens are above the earth! The gift, and the
whole execution of this sacred book, are indeed such as to be worthy
of the infinite Giver.
1. As Mede, Moore, Daubur, Vitringer, the Newtons,
Calmet, Jones, Warburton, Hurd, Burder, Brown, Faber.
2. It is not unnatural to suppose, that the wild mythologies,
fables and idolatries of the ancient heathen, had their peculiar complexion
from a wrong and fanciful construction of symbols, transmitted from ancestors.
Symbols, designed, perhaps, to commemorate important facts; such as are
recorded in holy writ, might have constructions given them, which were
wild and erroneous; and such as opened the flood gates of fanciful errors,
and wild idolatries:--Such for instance, as the following:--The worship
of the serpent, which was so leading a feature in almost all the idolatries
of the ancient pagans, might have originated thus:--Some pious patriarch,
to transmit, in the most correct manner within his power, the true history
of the fall of man, through the instrumentality of the serpent in Paradise,
drew a picture of the serpent upon the fruit tree, in the act of seducing
our first parents. They likewise might be presented, in picture, as under
the tree, receiving the fruit from the serpent. This symbolic representation
might in process of time (being attended with no literal explanation)
suggest to the fancy of an uninformed posterity, that the serpent there
was a god, dispensing his favours to our first parents; who were receiving
the bounty; and adoring the giver. In like manner other symbols,- -of
the flood, of the ark, of the dove, and of other things, now on sacred
record, might be misconstrued; and hence might originate many of the wild
theories of the ancient pagans. Various of the radical points in their
mythologies are capable of being fairly traced to the events recorded
in the history of Moses.
3. Some suppose the alphabet and the art of literal
writing, to have been supernatural, and of divine origin; and they attribute
but little to human agency in the invention of them. No doubt the rich
blessing of the alphabet, and the origin of literature, is from that Father
of lights, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, But the question
is concerning the mode, in which it was given. Relative to this, I must
confess myself not fond of multiplying miracles. The temporal gifts of
God usually come through the medium of human invention and agency. Perhaps
the blessing of letters did thus. If it were of human invention as some
great authors believe, this derogates nothing from the sentiment, that
it is a rich gift from above. For "the preparation of the heart in man,
and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord."