Those who have never investigated concerning the truth, nor enquired concerning the deity, but have merely believed, and have been mixed up in business affairs and riches and heathen friendships, and many other affairs of this world - as many, I say, as devote themselves to these things, comprehend not the parables of the deity; for they are darkened by these actions, and are corrupted and become barren. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 26

"Whosoever," said he, "is a servant of God, and has his own Lord in his heart, asks understanding of Him, and receives it, and interprets every parable, and the words of the Lord which are spoken in parables are made known unto him. But as many as are sluggish and idle in intercession, these hesitate to ask of the Lord." Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 35

But when you hear the utterances of the prophets spoken as it were personally, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired themselves, but by the Divine Word who moves them. For sometimes He declares things that are to come to pass, in the manner of one who foretells the future; sometimes He speaks as from the person of God the Lord and Father of all; sometimes as from the person of Christ; sometimes as from the person of the people answering the Lord or His Father, just as you can see even in your own writers, one man being the writer of the whole, but introducing the persons who converse. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.175

For these words have neither been prepared by me, nor embellished by the art of man; but David sung them, Isaiah preached them, Zechariah proclaimed them, and Moses wrote them. Are you acquainted with them, Trypho? They are contained in your Scriptures, or rather not yours, but ours. For we believe them; but you, though you read them, do not catch the spirit that is in them. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.209

But since parables admit of many interpretations, what lover of truth will not acknowledge, that for them to assert God is to be searched out from these, while they desert what is certain, indubitable, and true, is the part of men who eagerly throw themselves into danger, and act as if destitute of reason? And is not such a course of conduct not to build one's house upon a rock which is firm, strong, and placed in an open position, but upon the shifting sand? Hence the overthrow of such a building is a matter of ease. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 399

But those who possess the Holy Spirit "search the deep things of God," - that is, grasp the secret that is in the prophecies. "To impart of holy things to the dogs" is forbidden, so long as they remain beasts. For never ought those who are envious and perturbed, and still infidel in conduct, shameless in barking at investigation, to dip in the divine and clear stream of the living water. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.348

For neither prophecy nor the Savior Himself announced the divine mysteries simply so as to be easily apprehended by all and sundry, but express them in parables. The apostles accordingly say of the Lord, that "He spoke all things in parables, and without a parable spoke He nothing unto them;"… For many reasons, then, the Scriptures hide the sense. First, that we may become inquisitive, and be ever on the watch for the discovery of the words of salvation. Then it was not suitable for all to understand, so that they might not receive harm in consequence of taking in another sense the things declared for salvation by the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables - preserved for chosen men, selected to knowledge in consequence of their faith; for the style of the Scriptures is parabolic. Wherefore also the Lord, who was not of the world, came as one who was of the world to men….Wherefore also He employed metaphorical description; for such is the parable, - a narration based on some subject which is not the principal subject, but similar to the principal subject, and leading him who understands to what is the true and principal thing; or, as some say, a mode of speech presenting with vigor, by means of other circumstances, what is the principal subject. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.509

They (the heretica) have found their opportunity, as is usual with heretics, in wresting the plain meaning of certain words… We, however, insist on the proper signification of every word, and say that principium means beginning,- being a term which is suitable to represent things which begin to exist. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 488

Take away, indeed, from the heretics the wisdom which they share with the heathen, and let them support their inquiries from the Scriptures alone: they will then be unable to keep their ground. For that which commends men's common sense is its very simplicity, and its participation in the same feelings, and its community of opinions; and it is deemed to be all the more trustworthy, inasmuch as its definitive statements are naked and open, and known to all. Divine reason, on the contrary, lies in the very pith and marrow of things, not on the surface, and very often is at variance with appearances. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 574-576

And, indeed, (since some passages are more obscure than others), it cannot but be right - as we have shown above - that uncertain statements should be determined by certain ones, and obscure ones by such as are clear and plain; else there is fear that, in the conflict of certainties and uncertainties, of explicitness and obscurity, faith may be shattered, truth endangered, and the Divine Being Himself be branded as inconstant. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.560

In this way, then, they choose to set forth these things, and they make use only of one class of passages; …And these words he cites without understanding what precedes them. For whenever they wish to attempt anything underhand, they mutilate the Scriptures. But let him quote the passage as a whole, and he will discover the reason kept in view in writing it. Hippolytus (A.D. 225) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 224

For Paul is not to be despised when he passes over the literal meaning, and shows that the words extend to Christ and the Church… For it is a dangerous thing wholly to despise the literal meaning, as has been said, and especially of Genesis, where the unchangeable decrees of God for the constitution of the universe are set forth, in agreement with which, even until now. Methodius (A.D. 311) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.6 pg. 317