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every moment. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who blessest thy people Israel with peace! Amen."
Eliza. Excellent sentiments and desires, truly. I wonder that a people whose prayers were so good, could act so badly as did those Jews of Nazareth, who so wickedly treated the Messiah.
Olympas. Orthodox creeds, forms, prayers, and observances, my dear children, are poor substitutes for new and pure hearts.
[The following Essay on Parables, written and published more than 8
years since, is now, with some additions, inserted in the Millennial Harbinger, at the special request of a highly esteemed evangelist of Kentucky. The importance of having correct rules of interpretation for the Parables, which comprise so large a portion of our Lord's teaching, will be obvious to all, and we hope will render this Essay not unacceptable to the student of the Living Oracles,
ESSAY ON PARABLES. The word parable, (derived from the Greek, parabolee, formed from the verb paraballo, to compare, or 10 set one thing by the side of another.) signifies primarily, a comparison.
The Proverbs of Solomon were called Parables by the ancient Hebrews, probably because they abound in comparison, as may be seen in the fo'lowing extract:
18. A man that bears false witness against his neighbor, is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in lime of trouble, is like a broken tooth and a foot out of joini.
20. As he ihat takeih away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre; so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart.
21. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirs'y, give him water to drink;
22. För thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
23. 'The north wind bringeth forth rain; so doth a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.
24. li is better to dwell in the corner of a house top, than with a brawling woman and in wide house.
25. As cool water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.- Chap xxv.
On account perhaps of this application of the term, it came to sig. nify an adage, or wise saying, even where there was no comparison, It is twice used in this sense by the Saviour-as in Luke iv. 23"You will doubtless say unto me this parable, (pcrabole) Physician, heal thyself:” and in chapter xiv. 7-"He put forth a parable,” &c. afsaying, When thou art bidden to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room,” &c.; which injunction, indeed, resembles one in Solomon's Proverbs, ehap. xxv. 5,6,7. See also Habbakuk ii. 6.
Hence, ton, it was sometimes applied to a solemn declaration, whether prophetic or otherwise. This Balaam is said "10 take up his parable;' Job "10 continue his parable,' &c. See Micah ii: 4. Psalm lxxii. 2., and Matth. xv. 15.
The primitive and original signification of the word, however, is, as has been already stated, a comparison, or similitude, and in this sense it is used whenever it occurs in the New Testament, with the excep. tions mentioned. Thus in Hebrews is. 9. the tabernacle is called a parable (a model or figurative representation) of that more perfect one not made with hands; and in chapter xi. 19. Abraham is said to have received Isaac from the dead in a parable (or eniblematic figure:) that is, there was a comparison between the Jewish tabernacle and the trile one, and between Abraham receiving Isaac and a resurrec'ion from the dead.
Parables or similitudes are of various kinds. Some are simple, in which one thing is compared to another; for example-As swallows appear in summer, but reiire at the approach of winter; so false friends show themselves in prosperity, but disappear in the season of adversity. Compound similitudes are those in which one thing is compared to several others, as in the following: What light is to the world, physic to the sick, water to the thirsty, and rest to the weary, that is knowledge to the mind. *
Siinilitudes are often presented in an abbreviated form; as where it is simply sta'ed that one thing resembles another, and the mind is left to trace out for itself the points of comparison. At other times they are enlarged upon, and drawn out in the form of short historical narrations, whether fictitious or otherwise, or in that of accurate and striking descriptions of natural objects, presenting to the mind finished pictures, and requiring nothing but an application. Thus, when it is said, “As the apple-irce among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons,” the comparison is complete; yet it may be carried out more fully by speaking of the delight experienced in being "seated beneath his shadow," and the gratification enjoyed in partaking of his pleasant fruits." Again, when he who keeps the precepts of the Saviour is compared, by him, lo "a prudent man who built his house upon a rock," the comparison is perfect; yet it may be beautifully enlarged opon by introducing the torrents descending upon the house in vain, and by representing it as standing unmoved and uninjured by the overflowing rivers, and the stormy winds of heaven.
* Analogies are another species of similitudes, in which the comparison is het ween relations and not between things. In analogy we must always have at least three thing, because we must have two relations which cannot otherwise be obtained Simple resemblance may be traced between two things, as when we say 'Ice is like glass;' but here there is no analogy. The examples of simple and compound similitudes ahove given are analogical. Comparisons het wern things, and comparisons between the relations of things are, however, ollen blendeel. Things are so connected with their re. lations, that the comparison once introduced, is naturally and often insensibly extended
II then constitutes what is termed an Allegory.
Similitudes of this latter description are suscepiible of a subiivision into the fubulous and the rational. of fabulous similitudes we have well known examples in the Fables of Esop, and in Jothan's Fable of the Trees in the ninth chapier of Judges. In these, different ani. mate and inanimate objecis, are represenied as conversing, or addressed,* and as periorming the actions of nien. Rati nal similitudes con. sist of narrations of things that are natural and pos-ible-hings which did happen, or might have happened, and are thus distinguished from the fabulous; for the former, whether frigned or not, might be trut; while the latter are necessarily false, it being impossible for brutes or trees to speak.
There is yet another species of similitudes called symbols or iconisms, (from eicon, an image.) Here the objeci used for the purpose of coirparison is substituted for that which it represents. This seems to be what constitutes a symbol. These are found chiefly in the prophetic writings.
Concerning the purpose for which similitudes are employed, we have to observe that it is for illustration. Ii is a common error, and a very great one, to suppose that the use of this description of figure necessarily involves a subject in doubt and obscurity. On the con. trary, nothing tends so much to elucidate and explain as appropriate similitudes or comparisons, which communicate to the mind more perfect and determinate ideas of things before unknown, by comparing them with those with which we are already familiar. Indeed, in this respect they far surpass any literal language, as is evident from several considerations; as,
1. They are found by experience better fit:ed to communicate instruction 10 the infant mind. Thus if I want to elucidate or make plain to a child the prodential maxim, 'Do not undertake more than you can accomplish,' by what raked arguments, or logical process of reason
* These similitudes in which irrational crcatures are aldressed rs iliough they were rational, pren ist hergh they are not represented as replying, are properly cla-sed wit! The fabulous. Of this kind is The Epilogue of Cyrus, sent in the lonians, who. after hav. ing at first rejected the proposals of accomodarian offered by Cyrus, lieranie more submissive alirr some reverses of lorenne, ard surd for peace. "A piper," said lie, "on the sea shore, seein: some fishes in the waler, began to play in order to allure them lu Ja:id; but firding them insensibl. 10 tie musir, employra a net with heller success.When taken, they liegan to juinp about upon the shore; but he oliserved to them, It is unnecessary now to da:ce, as I lave ceased 10 piay."
ing, can I succeed so well, as by the use of some simple and striking comparison-as, for instance, the following from Epictetus:—"A boy discovering a jar with a narrow mouth, which contained some figs, thrust his hand into it, and seizing as many as he could hold, endea. vored to withdraw his hand, but found himself unable. Grasp but half the quantity, cried a person who observed him, and you will easily succeed”? Or if we would explain and enforce the moral precept, Indulge not extravagant desire,' where could we find any literal language capable of effecting this object in so perfect and brief a manner as the familiar fable of the Dog and his Image:—A hungry dog having obtained a large piece of meat at the butcher's, was carrying it in his mouth across a narrow bridge; but seeing his own image in the water, and supposing it to be another dog carrying another piece of meat, he attempted to lay hold of the imaginary prize, and in doing so lost what he already possessed'?
2. They have been found to be better adapted to the infant state of society. We would suppose, indeed, from analogy, that the method or means of instruction, best suited to a child, must necessarily be best adapted to man, in a state of incipient civilization, where the intellectual faculties are just beginning to be exercised in the pursuit of knowledge. And when we examine the early records of nations, we find their first teachers invariably clothing their instructions in the familiar language of similitudes. Thus the Fables of Esop formed the first step towards the literature of Greece, an/ were, no doubt, regarded by the people of that age as a very serious and useful composition. Thus too, picture-writing, and hieroglyphics, formed the early written language of Egypt, of China, and of Mexico; and hence, also, the Aborigines of our own country are so much addicted to the use of compari
It is evident, then, that a mode of instruction so well adapted to the infant mind, and the infant sta'e of society, must be pre-eminently calculated to elucidate, explain, or illustrate. But we would notice,
3dly. That they abound in the sacred writings more than in any other writings whatever; and as these are intended to be understood by the humblest as well as the most exalted capacity, this circumstance furnishes another proof that they possess, in a higher degree than any literal language, the power of elueidation. When drawn from Nature, they have also this additional advantage, that in all ages of the world they have the same meaning, Nature being always the
For example, when the Saviour is compared to a lamb, there is presented to the mind a more beautiful and perfect image of his character than could be afforded by any literal description; and this representation is unchangeably true, for a lamb has been at every VOL TINR
period, what it will always continue to be, the emblem of genileness and innocence. Again, when he is called “the Sun of Righteousness," what other expression could, in so few words, communicate an idea so brillian', so sublime, and at the same time so easy of apprehension, and so unchangeable in its meaning?
It is also worthy of remark, that the frequent use of similitudes, or parables, constituted one of the most striking traits in the character of our Saviour, as a teacher. He who 'spoke as never man spoke,' in preaching the gospel to the poor, and adapting his instructions 10 the ignorant, opened his mouth in parables, and, with the hand of a master, drew from Nature those charming pictures with which his discourses are adorned, and which are at once inimitable in design, and unrivalled for simplicity and beauty.
While, however, we thus clearly perceive that the effect and intena tion of parables, or comparisons, is to illustrate, or make plain, we are aware that there are some passages of scripture which seem to favor the idea that they are intended to obscure and conceal. For instance, we are told that Jesus taught the people in parables, ard explained every thing to his disciples in private. But that we may have the matter fairly before us, we will here quote a part of Matt. xiii , to which chapter we shall particularly advert, and to the consideration of which the preceding reinarks are in some degree introductory.
New Version --Matthew, sect. vii. verse 10–17. 10 “Then the disciples addressed him, saying, Why do ye speak to 11 theru in parables? He answering, said to them, Because it is your 12 privilege, and not theirs, to know the secrets of the reign of
Heaven, For to him that has, more shall be given, and he shall
abound; but from him that has not, even that which he has shall be 13 taken. For this reason I speak to them in parables; because they
seeing, see not; and hearing, hear not, nor regard; insomuch that this prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in them, “You will indeed
hear, but will not understand; you will look, but will not perceive. 15 For this people's understanding is stupified, their ears are deafen
ed, and their eyes they have closed, lest sering with their eyes,
hearing with their ears, and apprehending with their understand16 ing, they should reform, and I should reclaim them." But blessed
are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For, indeed, I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men
have desired to see the things which you see, but have not seen them; and to hear the things which you hear, but have not heard them." From this passage and some others it appears evident, and we are of course quite willing to admit, that the parables of the Saviour did, in certain cases, tend to veil the truths he taught, and confuse the minds of those who heard him. And here, then, we are presented with