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On the Interpretation of Prophecy.

On the Interpretation of Prophecy.

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Published by glennpease
BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.

WITH NOTES AND APPENDICES.
BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.

WITH NOTES AND APPENDICES.

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Published by: glennpease on Oct 05, 2013
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10/05/2013

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O THE ITERPRETATIO OF PROPHECY.BY THOMAS AROLD, D.D.WITH OTES AD APPEDICES.PREFACE.The great difficulty of the subject of Scripture Prophecymay be shortly stated. We find throughout the ewTestament references made to various passages in the OldTestament, which are alleged as prophetic of Christ, or of some particulars of the Christian dispensation. ow if we turn to the context of these passages, and so endeavourto discover their meaning, according to the only soundprinciples of interpretation, it will often appear that theydo not relate to the Messiah or to Christian times, butare either the expression of religious affections generally,such as submission, hope, love, &c., or else refer to someparticular circumstances in the life and condition of thewriter or of the Jewish nation, and do not at all showthat anything more remote^ or any events of a moreuniversal and spiritual character, were designed to beprophesied.For instance, in the account of our Lord's tempta-tion He is represented as allowing the application of Psalm xci. 11, 12, to Himself, as a prophecy of Crod's mira-culous care of the Messiah. Whereas, on referring to thewhole Psalm, it appears to be a devout expression of thePsalmist's sense of the happiness of those who serve andlove God ; a sense which is expressed very strongly afterthe oriental manner in descriptions at once figurative and328 PREFACE TO SERMOS
 
hyperbolical, althougli when divested of this colouringtheir meaning is perfectly discernible.Again, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is well knownas the passage which Philip interpreted to the Ethiopianeunuch as a Christian prophecy, and which led to theeunuch's conversion. Yet, when taken along with thecontext, the passage, although undoubtedly difficult, aeemato refer to events more closely connected with the returnof the Jews from the Captivity, as that, with its aooouHpanying blessings, appears to be the subject of the writer'sprophecy.ow first, if we take these and many other winilar'passages to be Christian prophecies, solely on the authoritf of the writers of the ew Testament, it is manifest notonly that we cannot urge them to those who deny tha£authority, but that our own use and application of theprophecies must be limited to those citations which wefind already applied for us in the ew Testament. Forunless we understand the principle on which they areapplied, we can understand no more of the Old Testamentthan is explained in the Christian Scriptures, and if weattempt at random to explain other passages in the sameway,— that way appearing to be at variance with theordinary rules of interpretation, and having been acceptedby us in certain particular cases solely on the authority of those who have adopted it, — a door will be instantly openedto the wildest fanaticism ; and no man will have any rightto reproach the comments of the Jewish Babbis with anypeculiar degree of extravagance.Or secondly, if we at once cut the knot, and say thatthese passages have not really the meaning which thewriters of the ew Testament attach to them, that theyare either referred to as affording some remarkable coinci*dence with the circumstances of the Christian times, orwhen quoted as expressly speaking of those times, are so
 
O THE ITERPRETATIO OF PROPHECY. 329quoted merely in compliance with a fanciful system of Scripture interpretation then prevalent amongst the Jews ;we shall then, to say nothing of the pain of so judging of the writers of the ew Testament, destroy a great part of our interest in the Old; we shall do away with theharmony and continuity of God's several dispensations,and deprive Christianity of a testimony which ChristHimself no less than His Apostles delighted in appealingto, as one of the most satisfactory proofs of its divineorigin.ow if, on the one hand, the applications of the OldTestament made by the writers of the ew can be main-tained as just and true : and, on the other hand, a principlecan be discovered which explains them and warrants them,which takes them out of the range of capricious andarbitrary quotation, and enables us to read the Old Testa-ment in the same spirit as the Apostles read it, and toapply safely and surely to Christ and Christian thingspassages which are not noticed in their writings ; — ^then itwill be probable that the principle so answering all theconditions required, is the true key to the difficulty, andwe shall need no further evidence to convince us that itis so.And if such a principle presents itself to us in thefirst place as the result of an a priori inquiry into thenature of Prophecy, and tlien when applied practically tothe case before us be found to solve its difficulties ; then thedouble proof thus afforded would seem to be as completeas we can possibly require, and we cannot doubt that^reason and experience at once concurring in the same con<*elusion, that conclusion may command our assent as cer-tainly true.

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