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spoke of me with honesty; and have rather wished me success in the work than otherwise; and, to the best of my remembrance, not one of this stamp ever treated me with contempt or ridicule; while such as you, who are almost as ignorant of English grammar as myself, have been hunting me with slander ever since God sent me out.
We come now to the mystery of the bottles; and, as you have brought this in to answer various purposes; namely, to justify your conduct in running to a college; to render those incapable of God's work who are not masters of the original languages; and to exalt yourself as a scholar; I shall criticize both your Greek and the mystery of the bottles; and endeavour to settle these things on their own bases, according to the original text.
With respect to bottles, or vessels; for the original does not confine us any more to the word bottle than it does to the word cask; it is clear that the Israelites had glass among them even in the days of Moses; for the inside of the laver, which was covered with brass, and had brazen feet, was made of the women's looking-glasses, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle to give their offerings, Exod. xxxviii. 8. We read also of potters' vessels, or bottles, Jer. xix. 1; and of wooden vessels, 2 Tim. ii. 20. And I believe of leather bottles, or vessels; because it is said of the Gibeonites that "they took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old and rent, and bound up," Josh. ix. 4.
But those to which the Saviour had reference
might just as well be wooden vessels as leather; for an old wooden cask is no more fit for new wine than an old one made of leather. However, according to the Greek text that you refer us to, where the parable of the vessels is mentioned, I think you rather take an advantage of us poor illiterate people; which to me appears no better than turning the blind out of his way. The Saviour mentions vessels, but says nothing about what sort, whether square, round, or bellied; whether they were bottles or casks, nor whether they were made of wood, skin, glass, or leather; for the text that you allude to has neither the word skin nor leather in it.
Οὐδὲ βάλλεσιν δινον νέον εις ἀσκὲς παλαιές.
I shall endeavour to explain the text in the spiritual meaning, and leave you to judge of the
The original text, which the Saviour quoted at the beginning of the parable, was taken from the evangelical speech of Elihu to Job. "And Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion. I said, days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But there is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment. They were amazed; they answered no more; they left
off speaking. I said, I will answer also my part; I also will shew mine opinion. For I am full of matter the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles," Job xxvii. 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18, 19.
In this wonderful speech of Elihu, he speaks of God's Spirit in man, which he calls the inspiration of the Almighty, that giveth men understanding. This spirit of inspiration he calls matter, or a constraining power, which, for the want of vent, he compares to wine; "My belly," or heart, "is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles."
The Saviour takes two texts from this speech; the first is this, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." Here the Saviour quotes from Elihu; "Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent." Elihu's saying, "I will speak, that I may be refreshed," or eased, the Saviour calls living water flowing out.
The reason of the Saviour's bringing in the other text was on account of the Pharisees, who found fault with his eating with publicans and sinners; to which the Saviour answers, 66 They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?" The Saviour answers, "Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn as
long as the bridegroom is with them?" My Spirit my presence is both their joy and their food. "But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." No man putteth new cloth on an old garment; nor do they pour wine new into vessels old, Matth. ix. 16, 17.
What Elihu calls the Spirit, the inspiration of the Almighty, and constraining matter, the Saviour here calls new wine; and, as Elihu compared his belly, or his heart, to bottles; and, being filled with inspiration, to wine which wanted vent; the Saviour intimates, that the believer shall become a new creature, by being born again, and shall be blessed with a new spirit, which, on the account of his enlivening comforting operations, he compares to new wine.
A man transformed by the renewing of his mind, and filled with the spirit of love, joy, and peace, is thus spoken of in scripture; "This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise." Again, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." A soul blessed with inspiration is called a vessel of mercy.
Again, a heart filled with the Spirit is compared to" a well of living water, springing up into everlasting life." And in the above text he is compared to a new vessel filled with new wine, which in reality is what God has promised; "I will give them a new heart," there is the vessel; and "a new spirit," there is the wine. But, if a man be not created anew, as Balaam and Saul were not,
though the Spirit, or the new wine, be said to come upon them; yet the wine ran out, the Spirit left them, and both those bottles, or vessels, perished-Balaam by the sword of Israel, and Saul by his own sword.
Had I been in company with that young gentleman who was sporting with the word of God, instead of the grave Divine you speak of, I should have addressed him in the following manner:
Young man, "all scripture is given by inspiration of God;" and "a natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." You must know, young man, that God speaks to us by similitudes, because of our shallow comprehensions. Sometimes in scripture an honest heart is compared to good ground, God's word and Spirit to good seed, and a holy life to a flourishing crop of corn. Sometimes a man is called a vessel of mercy. Sometimes a good heart is compared to the vessel of a lamp, and God's spirit to oil in it. Sometimes a good heart is compared to a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. And sometimes it is compared to a new vessel filled with new wine. And spiritual conversation from such a good heart is said to refresh and comfort others. While, on the other hand, such a heart as yours is compared to stony and thorny ground, that bears nothing but thorns, whose end is to be cursed, Heb. vi. 8. Your heart is compared to a vessel without oil; to a well without water; to a vessel of wrath. You are an old bottle, not created anew