Chapter II:48: Hermeneutical Canons, Part 2

2.  That there is to be an adherence, as far as possible, to Propriety of Speech. The Most Illustrious GOMAR, on Matthew 6:11, opera, part I, page 65a, says that it is an altogether certain rule of right interpretation that there is to be no withdrawal from the proper signification of the word to an improper, unless a counterbalancing consideration necessarily requires this. Christ and the Apostles everywhere observe this Canon, in citing the prophecies of the Old Testament in their native signification; and that this is to be embraced is urged, α. both by the Perspicuity of Scripture, § 25, 26, asserted against the Papists; β. and by the Goodness of God, through which there is to be no thought of withdrawing from the most ἐμφύτῳ/natural signification of the words without sufficient warrant, either in the text, or in the context, or in parallels; γ. and by the prohibition of ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως, private interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20, which is nothing other than that by which we alter at will the signification of the phrases and words with the thread of the text and the force of the words neglected, and pervert it from the intention of the Spirit; which is exactly what is done, if this rule does not prevail.  Thus, when the Lord commands us to ask, Matthew 6:11, τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον, our daily bread, this rule urges us to explain this petition of corporeal food, as long as no necessity of drawing back from the propriety of the words presses us, which does not appear to be the case here; see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Juveniles, Disputations XVII-XXI.  So in Isaiah 65:20 this rule requires us to explain the words of the Prophet of a promise of extraordinary Longevity; not rashly to explain these things improperly of an eminent measure of spiritual gifts, Knowledge, etc.:  see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XXV, Part IV.

Nevertheless, on the other hand, there is not to be an excessive adherence to the Propriety of Words, neither is τὸ ῥητὸν, what is expressly stated, to be so urged that we attribute to the Spirit either contradiction, or overturning of faith, or manifest absurdities:  which three inconveniences concur, when we wish to adhere to the propriety of the letter in the explication of the words of the Eucharist, This is my body; see below, Chapter XXXI, § 20:  or when we attribe to God, an infinitely perfect Spirit, bodily members, and human affections; see Chapter IV, § 14, 26:  or when the Word is said to have become Flesh; see Chapter XIX, § 19, etc.; consult GLASSIUS’ Philologiam Sacram, book II, part I, tractate II, section I, article IV, pages 182-185.

3.  Similarly that there is to be no passing from the Literal Sense to a Mystical Sense upon slight grounds. Accordingly, in our AUTHOR’S Medulla Theologiæ it is read: A Mystical Sense is not to be imposed without slight grounds. Perhaps it is better to delete that without, if you consult the Compendium:  otherwise only those will be refuted that impose a Mystical Sense without any foundation at all, however slight, although there is to be no passing to this without weighty grounds.  Since otherwise, α. faith is converted into vain opinion; β. we easily fall into the vice of ἀλληγορομανίας/allegoromania, so highly prized of old in ORIGEN; γ. Scripture is explained with manifold frivolities, while by this practice we made that similar to a Lesbian rule, a wax nose, from which profane calumny we rightly shrink, when with words the Papists prate against Scripture.

But a Mystical Sense is not always to be altogether rejected, especially in the Prophetic Writings:  for example, when the moral and spiritual Worship of the New Testament is described in phrases taken from the Ceremonial Worship of the Old Economy, Isaiah 19:19; 66:20, 21, 23; Zechariah 14:16; Malachi 1; 2; 4:5.  While the overly carnal and crass conceptions of the Jews in the explication of the Prophecies verily hold them blinded in unbelief:  consult Chapter XVIII, § 13, Objections 1, 4, and Chapter XX, § 32, in which is treated the Spirituality of the Kingdom of Messiah against the Jews.

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