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On Christian Doctrine In Four Books by St. Augustine

Chapter 36. Now the rule in regard to this variation has two forms.à

36. Now the rule in regard to this variation has two forms. For things that signify now one thing and now another, signify either things that are contrary, or things that are only different. They signify contraries, for example, when they are used metaphorically at one time in a good sense, at another in a bad, as in the case of the leaven mentioned above. Another example of the same is that a lion stands for Christ in the place where it is said, |The lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed;| and again, stands for the devil where it is written, |Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.| In the same way the serpent is used in a good sense, |Be wise as serpents;| and again, in a bad sense, |The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty.| Bread is used in a good sense, |I am the living bread which came down from heaven;| in a bad, |Bread eaten in secret is pleasant.| And so in a great many other case. The examples I have adduced are indeed by no means doubtful in their signification, because only plain instances ought to be used as examples. There are passages, however, in regard to which it is uncertain in what sense they ought to be taken, as for example, |In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red: it is full of mixture.| Now it is uncertain whether this denotes the wrath of God, but not to the last extremity of punishment, that is, |to the very dregs;| or whether it denotes the grace of the Scriptures passing away from the Jews and coming to the Gentiles, because |He has put down one and set up another,| -- certain observances, however, which they understand in a carnal manner, still remaining among the Jews, for |the dregs hereof is not yet wrung out.| The following is an example of the same object being taken, not in opposite, but only in different significations: water denotes people, as we read in the Apocalypse, and also the Holy Spirit, as for example, |Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;| and many other things besides water must be interpreted according to the place in which they are found.

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