Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

attached to them, than to the immediate representation of an Allegory.

We have reason therefore to complain, that the early Fathers have afforded by their own conduct a pretext to modern unbelievers for such a mode of allegorical interpretation. It is true, that a mode, which is indefensible in itself, can derive no real support from the practices of those, to whom authority no more attaches, than to any modern interpreter. And whatever confidence the Church of Rome may repose in the expositions of her Fathers, we may hence learn, that such confidence is ill bestowed. Indeed the early Fathers, by their injudicious conduct in the interpretation of the Bible, not only affected many parts of its history, but placed the Bible itself in a very false and in. jurious light. Though they silenced, by the aid of Allegory, their immediate opponents, who argu. ed on the same principles, yet the very circum. stance, that principles, applied to the defence of the Heathen mythology, were applied also to the defence of the Bible, could produce no other effect, than that of degrading the latter to the level of the former. When a passage of the Bible, conveying professedly an historical fact, was defended against the objections of the Heathens by resolving that passage into a mere Allegory, the veil, which was thus drawn over it, served only to present it in the same dress, in which the Heathens exhibited the fables of their Gods. The latter indeed had some

cere.

excuse for their allegorical interpretations; they had reason for concealing under the veil of Allego. ry their ludicrous and indecorous legends. Hence Arnobius, in his treatise adversus Gentes, addresses himself to a Heathen in the following manner: Istæ omnes historiæ, quæ tibi turpes videntur, atque ad labem pertinere divinam, mysteria in se continent sancta, rationes miras atque altas, nec quas facile quivis possit ingenii vivacitate pernos

Neque enim quod scriptum est, atque in primâ est positum verborum fronte, id significatur et dicitur, sed allegoricis sensibus, et subditivis intelliguntur omnia illa Secretis. But that Chris. tian Commentators should in like manner have sought for allegorical senses and hidden meanings in the Bible, where the Sacred Writers have recorded the plain and simple words of Truth, of Truth which has no deformity to hide, and needs not the veil of Allegory, affords equal matter of surprise and of regret.

Nor is this the only evil, which has arisen from such a treatment of Scripture. If the literal or grammatical meaning of a passage may be exchanged at pleasure for an allegorical meaning, the meaning of Scripture will be involved in perfect ambiguity: it will assume as many different forms, as the fancies of interpreters are multifarious. In grammatical interpretation, which is an interpre. tation of words, there are certain rules of inter. pretation, from which we cannot depart. But al.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

attached to them, than to the immediate represen. tation of an Allegory.

We have reason therefore to complain, that the early Fathers have afforded by their own conduct a pretext to modern unbelievers for such a mode of allegorical interpretation. It is true, that a mode, which is indefensible in itself, can derive no real support from the practices of those, to whom authority no more attaches, than to any modern interpreter. And whatever confidence the Church of Rome may repose in the expositions of her Fathers, we may hence learn, that such confidence is ill bestowed. Indeed the early Fathers, by their injudicious conduct in the interpretation of the Bible, not only affected many parts of its history, but placed the Bible itself in a very false and in. jurious light. Though they silenced, by the aid of Allegory, their immediate opponents, who argued on the same principles, yet the very circumstance, that principles, applied to the defence of the Heathen mythology, were applied also to the defence of the Bible, could produce no other effect, than that of degrading the latter to the level of the former. When a passage of the Bible, conveying professedly an historical fact, was defended against the objections of the Heathens by resolving that passage into a mere Allegory, the veil, which was thus drawn over it, served only to present it in the same dress, in which the Heathens exhibited the fables of their Gods. The latter indeed had some

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]

ugh a ed to

if an 3 pur

excuse for their allegorical interes had reason for concealing under the ry their ludicrous and indecoroas Arnobius, in his treatise edende ses himself to a Heathen in dasie Istu omnes historie, our first atque ad labem pertinere simtes continent sancta, rationes man quas facile quivis possitamente cere. Neque enim quor prima est positum terier et dicitur, sed allegorias intelliguntur omnia illor tian Commentators sboek sought for allegorical stats in the Bible, where the same corded the plain and see Truth which has a not the veil of Allery surprise and of regras

Nor is this the one such a treatment grammatical meanin ed at pleasure meaning of Sorin ambiguity: its as the fancies grammatical tation of a

mptand for le of it aken of Ldy exen once ontroverle Greek be equal. tion. And zrammatiJuld be as ition. But nething atin, delightallegorical matical inbject of its ud also by xercise of rpreter, at ment. It as learn terpretatical inminished

Pretarian

legorical interpretation, which is an interpretation of things, is subjected to neither rule nor limit. As soon as an interpreter has learnt, what things are literally signified by the words of a passage, he has nothing else to do, than to let loose his imagination for the discovery of some other things, which may resemble the things literally signified, and then those other things will at once be alle. gorically signified. And since the same thing may to various interpreters suggest various resem. blances, the same passage may have as many allegorical meanings, as there are persons, who undertake its interpretation. Hence Arnobius, in continuatiou of this subject, observes, Potest alius aliud, et argutius fingere, et veri cum similitudine suspicari. Potest aliud tertius ; potest aliud quartus : atque, ut se tulerint ingeniorum opinan. tium qualitates, ita singulæ res possunt infinitis interpretationibus explicari. Cum enim e rebus occlusis omnis ista, quæ dicitur Allegoria, sumatur, nec habeat finem certum, in quo rei, quo dicitur, sit fixa atque immota sententia, unicuique liberam est in id, quo velit, attrahere lectionem, et affirmare id positum, in quod eum sua suspicio, et conjectura opinabilis duxerit.

But, notwithstanding the numerous objections, to which this mode of interpretation is exposed, it bas prevailed, more or less, in almost every age of Christianity. Indeed the very causes, wbich should have led to the rejection of it, are the causes

« AnteriorContinuar »