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of the prophets was seen, "which no man in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon." (That is, to perceive it.) The book was sealed with (the sacred number) seven seals. In chap. vi. 12-17, the sixth seal is opened at the coming of Christ, simultaneously with the sounding of the sixth trumpet, ix. 13-21; when the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the Levitical priesthood were destroyed.
The prophets wrote as God's Spirit moved and instructed them to write, of His mystery, will, and purpose, of the times of restitution of all things by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They wrote in a Divine Parabola. The Deity, no doubt, impressed their mind with a joyful confidence in Him, and a faith that He would, in His own time and manner, by His ELECT, of whom they wrote, restore the lapsed family of man in a mysterious way, which they had no conception of.
We have also conclusive evidence, that up to the time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, even his immediate disciples were profoundly ignorant of the spirituality of his mission, his offices, and his kingdom; and even after Christ's ascension into heaven, they were ignorant of the extension of his Gospel to the Gentiles! (See Sermon VII. p. 208.) The parables of Christ, therefore, with a small exception, must have been sealed to them, notwithstanding his private explanations, until Jesus sent the Holy Spirit of Truth into their understanding, and enlightened their mind, on the day of Pentecost.*
It is astonishing, the opinions that have been avowed by commentators, of the intention of the parables of Christ, etc. The idea that the metaphors in the parabola of the prophets, were intended to illustrate truth, make it plain to be understood, considered along side of the fact, that not so many as one of the prophets, themselves, understood their parabolic sayings, is a strange idea! And that any interpretation is to be admitted, rather than that of Christ's speaking parables for the reason assigned by
* IIEVTηKOOTH, (pentecostos, fiftieth.) It was a festival of thanks for the harvest, directly after the Passover; also called day of the first fruits. It was celebrated on the fiftieth day, counting from the second day of the festival of unleavened bread or passover; i. e. seven weeks after the 16th day of Nisan, (March,) which would bring it on the sixth of Sivan, (May.) It has been supposed that this day was also the anniversary of the giving the law from Sinai. See Lev. xxiii. 15, 16; Deut. xvi. 9-12.
him, etc., is yet more strange, if it were possible! See Isa. vi. 9-12. "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not," &c. But the strangest idea, yet, is to come, viz: That the parables had the effect to make them blind! And this whimsical notion was manufactured, probably, as a gratuitous boon, to those who are of opinion, that Paul understood what he said, when he affirmed of blinded Israel, that "God hath concluded them all in unbelief [or blindness,] that he might have mercy upon all." Also, that the Lord Jesus Christ really meant what he said, when he affirmed, without metaphor, figure, simile, or parabola, to his disciples, "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all things are done in parables; that seeing they may see, and NOT perceive; and hearing they may hear, and NOT understand; lest at any time they SHOULD be converted, and their sins be forgiven them." (Mark. iv.) "The mystery of the kingdom of God," the very thing that Paul says had been HIDDEN from the beginning of the ages, in God; and which even all God's holy prophets had NOT known; is the subject hidden in the parabola of Christ, from the Jews, whom God's PURPOSE had concluded in unbelief; and whom He treated as enemies, for the Gentiles' sake, concerning the Gospel, the very mystery which Christ's parables were designed to hide from them! (See Rom. xi. 7-15, 25-32.)
I am never surprised when I find Dr. A. Clarke kneedeep in absurdity; for the reason, that he is sometimes head and ears under. In his comments on Mark xiii., the Dr. says,
"I have taken some pains on this subject, and if I mistake not, I find the word [parable] has the ten following significations in Scripture."
Among the learned Dr's. ten different significations of one and the same term, are, “A simple comparison—an obscure similitude-an obscure prophecy," etc. Wonderful to relate, Dr. C. says,
"But it is not intimated that our Lord spoke to the Jews in parables, that they might not understand: the very reverse, I think, is plainly intended."-Then the Dr. slipped into one of his merciful moods, and exclaimed, of making the Jews blind, etc. of God-"Could the God of truth and sincerity act thus? If he had designed that
they should continue in darkness, he might have saved his time and labour [!] and not spoken at all, which would have as effectually answered the same purpose,"
The Dr's. merciful monomania, was always excited by the term design! He gloated on damnation; and he considered Hell, redhot, as the most valuable part of his orthodox estate; and would have sooner parted with his right hand, than with his endless Hell and misery, which he kept for his dearly beloved neighbours; only his ire was excited at the audacity of other sects, who presumed to damn sinners by a different process, than the one that he had decided to be the right one. (See Vol. I. Sermon xii. pp. 198-202.)*
Alas! for men with diplomas in their pockets-orthodoxy in their heads-and unrighteousness in their hearts— Reader, look at the simple truth, the blind Jews out of the question; for I will venture the assertion, in unqualified terms, that now, in this day of boasted light and knowledge, not more than one man of ten thousand, of all the inhabitants of Christendom, really understands the true signification of the parables of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will go further-I will venture the assertion, There is no subject whatsoever, that men have pretended to consider, that they are so profoundly ignorant of; and disagree, one with
* Commentators have contrived a way of escape, by inventing a mantle to cover their ignorance, or perversity, viz: When they find the imagery of the parabola to be too abstruse for their knowledge, or too sublimely appropriate to truth, to harmonize with their crude dogmas, they pretend, that "too much stress ought not to be laid upon single words and phrases-we need not be anxious about any thing but the moral, or useful instruction intended thereby"-also, "The moral, or application, the grand design, or useful intention of a parable, is not to be learned from single phrases, or incidental circumstances; but from the main scope and design of the parable taken together."
Miserable sophistry, this: What! The Lord Jesus Christ fill in, and complete the imagery of his parables, with "incidental circumstances!" Look at your lexicons, ye wise men, for the definition of the term incidental. Well may orthodox commentators excuse themselves from finding a use for the imagery of the parables. Query-Is not the great gulf in the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, a gulf that Dr. Adam Clarke's sophisms can never pass?
Reader, the Lord Jesus Christ has never been a Novelist. He never manufactured stories of fictions; nor filled up the crevices in his judg ment, or the interstitial, or vacuous portions of a tale, by selecting from the chaos of improbabilities, matter to garnish a story! He never taxed his imagination for accidents; nor foraged in the wilderness of contingents, for fortuitous circumstances, that happen by chance!
I See Sermon xx.
another, in their opinions about, as of the parables in question. Absurdity has been literally drained of all its inconsistency, and folly exhausted by the large draughts made on it, by clerical and lay-commentators, in making up. opinions on the parables and gospel of Christ.
Our text is from the parabola of the prophets. I ask, Can it be supposed for a moment, that the prophet Zecharia comprehended, and understood the dark saying, the mystery of the parabola that he was made the instrument of writing, and aiding to convey down to the third aionos or dispensation? I shall proceed, and attempt to show,
First That the parabola was sealed to the prophets, and constituted the mystery that the Lord Jesus Christ taught metonymically, in his parables; and that Paul affirmed, had been hid in God, from the beginning of the ages or dispensations.
Second-What is contained in this prophet's parabola. First-The HOLY ONE of Israel, is ONE LORD.-The Lord Jesus Christ, the ELECT of the LORD JEHOVAH, is His SON. The HOLY SPIRIT of the LORD, is the SPIRIT of TRUTH, in opposition to error and falsehood; or moral darkness. Here are represented in God's revelation, two persons, the Great Father of all; and His Son, or Elect, the Lord Jesus Christ; and one Spirit of Truth. A Divine duality of persons a one, sole, single Spirit of Truth, Light, and Love. This Spirit of God dwelt in Christ, the Messiah and Sent of God the Father; and will dwell in all men, when they shall be raised incorruptible and immortal in the Heavenly image. Then, all God's offspring will be one with God the Father, as He is one with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the amount of Christ's prayer, John xvii. 20, 21. (See Vol. I. Sermon vi. pp. 102, 103.)
During the ages or dispensations, when, according to Paul, as we have seen, the mystery of God's will, purpose and good pleasure, was "hid in God;" the Elect, the Son, was reposing in the Father's Glory. (See John xvii. 5.) In the second aionos, particularly, the Spirit of Truth conveyed, in a mysterious parabola, the mystery of God's will, which related to His Elect, His Son, to the prophets; and the prophets, through whom the Spirit of Truth conveyed the mysterious parabola, were God's chosen instruments for preserving, and conveying down to the third aionos; or, specially, to the evening or closing of the second aionos, the mystery of God's will; when the
Elect appeared on the earth, and expressed in Parables, "the dark sayings of the prophets:"-therefore Paul says, "By revelation he made known unto me the MYSTERY; as I wrote afore in few words; whereby when ye read ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages [yeveais, literally generations, signifying all previous generations of men,] was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his [God's] holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (Eph. iii. 35.) And Paul explains immediately, saying, "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his [God's] promise in Christ by the Gospel," etc. And in the first chapter, Paul affirms of this mystery of God's will, that it is "to gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him." And the Elect, Jesus Christ, (John vi. 39,) affirms of God's will, that it is, that he should lose nothing, of all that the Father hath given him, but should raise it up again at the last day. And in Luke xx., the Elect says, of those that are raised, that they are the children of God. These witnesses, and this testimony, are final. It would be superfluous to add another word in proof, that the mystery of God's will, was sealed to the prophets of the second aionos, before God's Elect appeared. (See Dan. xii.)
Second-What is contained in this prophet's (Zecharia's) parabola? If it should be objected by an infidel, Of what use were these parabolas, during the generations while they were hidden from the sons of men? Why not let Christ first promulgate them, in parables, or otherwise, at the time, when he appeared?
I reply-I know their use, from my own experience of the benefit I have derived from them. I find in these parabolas, that were hidden in God, (although by His Spirit conveyed through the instrumentality of God's holy prophets, and sealed to them,) irresistible evidence of the Lord Jesus Christ being the true Elect, and Messiah of God; which these parabolas pointed to, by the Finger of God, a Celestial Index to the Truth; afterward to be revealed by the Spirit of God, dwelling in the person of His Son, the predicted Elect; when He came, and took part of the one blood of all nations of men, his promised possession and inheritance. And the Parables of the Lord Jesus, are the COUNTERPART of the parabola of the prophets-they meet, and confirm, and corroborate each other; the Spirit of