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the prophecies were delivered, and among the people, to whom they were addressed.
2. That this style, how dark or fanciful foever it may appear, is yet reducible to trule; that is, is constructed on fuch principles, as make it the subject of just criticism and reasonable interpretation; and, in particular, to us, at this day. .
For a language is not fanatical, that is authorised by general practice; nor can it be deemed unintelligible, when it is capable of having its meaning ascertained.
· I. The proof of these two points will most conveniently be given together, in a deduction of the caufes, which produced the character of the prophetic style.
That character, I believe, is truly given by those who affirm, That the style of the prophets was only the poetical, and highly figurative style of the Eastern nations. But if you go farther and ask, How it came to pass, that the oriental poetry was
fo much more figurative than ours, it may not be enough to say, as many others have done, that this difference of character was owing to the influence of the sun, and to the superior heat and fervour, which iç gave to an eastern imagination. For I know not whether there be reason to think, that the sun hath any such effect on the powers of the mind; or that the fancies of men are apter to catch, and blaze out in mataphor, within a warm climate, than a cold one: a figurative cast of style being observable in the native poetry of all countries; and that, fo far as appears from history and experience, in a pretty equal degree.
Besides, if the fact were allowed, the answer would scarce be fufficient. For, as we shall presently see; the symbolic language of Prophecy, is too consistent and uniform, hath too much of art and method in it, to be derived from the casual Aight' and fallies of the imagination only, how
powerfully soever you suppose it to have operated in the prophets.
We then must go much deeper for a true account of the emblematic and highly coloured expression, which glares so strongly in the prophetic scriptures : and we shall find it, partly, in the nature of the human mind; and, partly, in the genius, indeed, of the oriental nations, and especially of the Jews, but as fashioned, not by the influence of their climate, but by the modes of their learning and institution. · I must be as brief, as possible, on a subject, which many learned writers [a] have largely and fully discussed ; and, as the reflexions, I have to offer to you upon it, are chiefly taken from them, I may the rather bespeak your attention to what follows.
1. First, then, let it be observed, that the original language of all nations is ex. tremely imperfect. Their stock of words being small, they explain themselves very
[a] Mede, More, Daubuz, Vitringa, and, above all, the learned Founder of this Lecture.
much by hgns, or representative actions : and their conceptions, in that early state of fociety, being gross and rude, the few words, they have, are replete with material images, and so are what we call highly metaphorical; and this, not from choice or design, or even from any extraordinary warmth of fancy, but of necessity, and from the very nature of things. erto
Such is the primitive character of all languages: and it continues long in all, because the figurative manner is thought ornamental, when it is no longer necessary; and because the necessity of it is only, if at all, removed by long use and habit in abstract speculation : a degree of refinement, to which the orientals, and the Jews especially, never attained. And therefore in their languages, very long the
-Manserunt, hodieque manent vestigia rurisa xb Thus far we may go in accounting for the figured style of the east, from general principles. But this is by no means the whole of the case. For !
2. We are to reflect, that, before an álphabet 'was invented, and what we call literary writing was formed into an art, men had no way to record their concëp. tions, or to convey them to others at a dirtance, but by ferting down the figures and shapes of fuch things, as were the objects of their contemplation. Hence, the way of writing in pieture, was as universal, and almost as early, as the way of speaking in metaphor; and from the same reason, the hecessity of the thing.
In process of time, and through many successive improvements, this rude and fimple mode of pi&ture-writing was succeeded by that of symbols, or was enlarged at least, and enriched by it. By symbols, I mean certain representative marks, rather than express pictures ; or if pictures, such as were at the same time characters, and, besides presenting to the eye the resemblance of a particular object, suggested a general idea to the mind. As, when a born was made to denote strength, an eye and scèptér, G 2 .