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on this subject which bears the name of Achmet, an Arabian writer; and another by Artemidorus, an Ephesian, who lived about the end of the first century. Both of these works are compiled from preceding and very ancient writers. They are published together, under the title of “ Artemidori Daldiani et Achmetis Sereimi F. Oneirocritica, by Nicolus Rigaltius. Lutet. 1603.”
Dr. Hurd, in alluding to Daubuz's labours, in this particular department of sacred literature, thus observes : “ From these several sources, that is, from the Scriptures themselves, from the still subsisting monuments of Egyptian hieroglyphics, from the Gentile ceremonies and superstitions, and from the greater works of genius and fancy, transmitted to us from the Eastern and Western poets, such a VOCABULARY of the prophetic terms and symbols may be, nay, HATH BEEN, drawn up, as serves to determine the sense of them, in the same manner as any common art or language is explained, by its own proper key or dictionary; and there is, in truth, no more difficulty in fixing the import of the prophetic style, than of any other language or technical phraseology whatsoever."*
The Editor having in his own studies derived much assistance from this work, and being anxious that others might enjoy the same advantage, he, some years ago, suggested to one or two eminent persons, that a new edition of it would be very desirable : his suggestion however did not meet with a favourable recep
* Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies, Sermon ix.
tion. He next mentioned the subject to his friend Mr. Forbes, whose learning and talents, as well as his previous course of study, peculiarly qualified him for the task of preparing it for the press; and, accordingly, about four years ago, a Prospectus of the work was issued. It so happened, however, that, during the three subsequent years, Mr. Forbes was wholly occupied with other engagements; and the work was for the time laid aside. On those engagements terminating, it was again resumed ; and it is now brought out of that comparative obscurity in which it has lain for above a century, and presented to the public in a new form, in the hope that, under the blessing of God, it may answer the purpose for which it was originally designed by its most excellent author.
It may not be unnecessary just to observe, that no alteration whatever has been made in the text of the original edition, besides the correction of errors. And although additional important matter has been introduced into the work, in order to render it more complete, it is easily distinguished, as it is included in brackets. A few notes have also been added. The additional matter has been carefully selected from the works of the most eminent interpreters of Prophecy which have appeared during the last hundred years : amongst whom may be particularly mentioned Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Horsley, Bicheno, Dean Woodhouse, and Faber.
From want of due regard to the symbolical language, is chiefly to be ascribed the opposite and conflicting views which have been given of the “sure word of pro
phecy; whereunto we do well to take heed : " whereas an accurate knowledge of the symbols made use of by the Holy Ghost, would doubtless tend to prevent those vague modes of interpretation here alluded to, and lead to the development and elucidation of much prophetic truth.
The style of the Prophets being, as it were, a peculiar language or dialect, there is a necessity of understanding things according to the meaning of that dialect or language, and not according to our own. This knowledge being acquired, it is easy to render a prophecy or vision out of the prophetic style into ordinary language, which is indeed the first step, the sine qua non of all sound interpretation.
As it regards the importance of symbolical knowledge, I shall here adduce the testimony of two eminent writers. The Rev. William Jones, in his Lectures on the Figurative language of Scripture, observes, “To the scholar, the symbolical language of the Bible is so useful, that every candidate for literature will be but a shallow proficient in the wisdom of antiquity, till he works upon this foundation: and for want of it I have seen many childish accounts of things from men of great figure among the learned. In ancient times, sentiments and science were expressed by men of all professions, under certain signs and symbols, of which the originals are mostly to be found in Scripture, as being the most ancient and authentic of all the records of the world; and shewing itself to be such in the form of its language and expression. . . . Yet, after all, it will be found most valuable to the Christian believer. The knowledge of human languages prepares us for the reading of human authors; and a great part of our life is spent in acquiring them. But the interpretation of this sacred language takes off the seal from the Book of Life, and opens to man the treasures of divine wisdom, which far exceed all other learning, and will be carried with us into another world, where the variety of tongues shall cease, and every other treasure be left behind.”
Mr. Bicheno, speaking of the greater light which will be shed upon the subject of prophecy in the latter day, says, “ We are taught to expect that at the time of the end, the Prophetic Scriptures shall be better understood than in former ages.” (See Dan. xii. 4, 9.) And this, he thinks, will be brought about by the following means : “ First, by a greater attention to the prophetic language ; and second, by the accomplishment of some of the most remarkable prophecies.” “Symbolical learning," he observes, “constituted almost the whole of the learning of the most ancient nations; and till the study of this be revived, or attended to with more accuracy than it has been for many ages, this book of Revelation particularly will never be well understood : but when it is, half the work will be done; or we shall at least be prepared to improve the advantages to be derived from those great revolutions which inspiration has announced.”
The following is a list of the principal works on the Symbolical Language :
Kircheri (Edipus Ægyptiacus; hoc est, Universalis
Hieroglyphicæ veterum Doctrinæ, temporum injuriâ abolitæ, instauratio.
Hori Appollinis Hierogliphica.
Pierre L'Anglois, Discours des Hieroglyphics Egyptiens, Emblemes, &c.
Symbolik und Mithologie der alten volker besonders der Griechen, Von Dr. Friedrich Creuzer, Professor der Alten Literatur zu Hiedelberg.—This is the principal work, if not the only one, on the subject, in the German language. It is in four volumes, 8vo.
Hager's Analysis of the Symbols and Hieroglyphics of the Chinese.
Simsoni Hieroglyphica Animalium Terrestrium, &c. &c., quæ in Scripturis Sacris inveniuntur.
Vitringa de Theologia Symbolica.
Honerti Institutiones Theologia Typicæ Emblematicæ.
Mede's Works :-This author's works are extremely valuable ; and are, in themselves, almost a library of knowledge on prophetical subjects. The best edition is that of 1664, with a general Preface and Life by Worthington, 2 vols. folio.
Daubuz's Discourse on the Symbolical language. This is a very learned and highly valuable Discourse. It is prefixed to the folio edition of his Commentary on the Revelation; an abridgment of which forms the introduction to the present work.