Typology of Scripture:





In vetere Testamento novum latet, et in novo vetus patet.







Preface to The Fourth Edition.

THE issue of a Fourth Edition of the following Treatise, however gratifying in one respect, is in another not unaccompanied with a measure of regret. This arises from the number of alterations which it has been found necessary to introduce into it, and which will naturally prove of injurious consequence to the Editions that have preceded. But, in truth, no alternative was left me, if the work was to keep pace with the age, and maintain relatively the place it occupied in the earlier stages of its existence. When I first gave to the public the fruit of my investigations upon the subject of Scripture Typology, not only was there great diversity of opinion among theologians respecting its fundamental principles, but many specific topics connected with it were only beginning to receive the benefit of modern research and independent inquiry. It is much otherwise now.

Even during the last ten years, since the Second Edition was published, from which the Third did not materially differ, productions, in very considerable number and variety, have appeared, especially on the Continent, in which certain portions of the field have been subjected to careful examination not unfrequently have become the occasion of earnest controversy; and to have sent forth another Edition of my Treatise, without regard being had to the fresh discussions that have taken place, [[@Page:4]] would only have been to leave it in a state of imperfect adaptation to the present times.

It is proper to mention, however, that the alterations in question have respect to the literature of the subject and modes of representation on particular parts, rather than to the views and principles which have been exhibited in connection with its general treatment. These have undergone no essential alteration; indeed, with the exception of a few minor points, which it is unnecessary to particularize, they remain much as they were in the two last Editions. The progress of discussion, however, with its varying tides of opinion, naturally called for an extension of the historical review in the introductory chapter, which has been coupled with a slight abridgment in some of its earlier details, and in the later with a softening of the controversial tone, which seemed occasionally to possess too keen an edge. The views, also, which in certain influential quarters have of late been ventilated, respecting the relation of God’s work in creation to the destined incarnation of the Son, appeared render the introduction of a new chapter (the fourth in Vol. I.) almost indispensible, that the subject, with reference more especially to its typological bearing, might receive the consideration that was due to it. These additions, with some other changes growing out of them, and the employment of a somewhat larger type for the Notes and Appendices, have together brought an enlargement of about fifty pages to the First Volume.

The alterations in the Second Volume, though more numerous, are not quite so extensive in respect to quantity of matter; and, partly consisting of more compressed statements, where such were practicable, they have not added very materially to the entire bulk of the Volume. They occur most frequently in the [[@Page:5]] portions which treat of the institutions and offerings of the Mosaic economy, on which there has recently been much discussion; and, in particular, the question respecting the relation of the sin-offerings to transgressions of a moral kind (Ch. III., sec. 5), and the topics handled in one or two of the Appendices, are here for the first time formally considered. On the whole, I trust it will be found that the work has been, both in form and substance, materially improved; and having now again (probably for the last time) traversed the field with some care, and expressed what may be considered my matured views on the topics embraced in it, I leave the fruit of my labours to the candid consideration of others, and commend it anew to the blessing of Him whose word it seeks to explain and vindicate.

As regards the general plan pursued in the investigation of the subject, I have only in substance to repeat what was said in previous editions. It might, no doubt, have been practicable to narrow at various points the field of discussion, and especially to abridge the space devoted to the consideration of the law in Volume Second (which some have thought disproportionate), if the object had been simply to extract from the earlier dispensations such portions as more peculiarly possess a typical character. But to have treated the typical in such an isolated manner would have conduced little either to the elucidation of the subject itself, or to the satisfaction of thoughtful inquirers. The Typology of the Old Testament touches at every point on its religion and worship. It is part of a complicated system of truth and duty; and it is impossible to attain to a correct discernment and due appreciation of the several parts, without contemplating them in the relation they bear both to each other and to the whole. Hence the professed aim of the work is to [[@Page:6]] view the Typology of Scripture, not by itself, but in connection with the entire series of the Divine dispensations.

It is possible some may think, that there is an occasional extreme on the other side, and that less has been said than might justly have been expected on certain controversial topics, which are ever rising afresh into notice, and which find, if not their root, at least a considerable part of their support, in the view that is taken of things pertaining to the institutions of former times. The proper aim, however, of a work of this sort is hermeneutical and expository, rather than controversial: it may, and indeed ought, to lay the foundation for a legitimate use of Old Testament materials, to the settlement of various important questions belonging to Christian times; but the actual application of the materials to the diversified phases of polemical discussion, belongs to other departments of theology. In certain cases the application is so natural and obvious, that it could not fitly be avoided; but even in these it had been improper to go beyond comparatively narrow limits; and if I have not erred by excess, I scarcely think judicious critics will consider me to have done so by defect.

Still more limited is the relation in which the inquiry pursued in a work like the present stands to the much agitated question respecting the historical verity of the earlier books of Scripture, and in particular to the authenticity and truthfulness of the books of Moses. Incidentally, not a few opportunities have occurred of noticing, and to some extent repelling, the objections that have been thrown out upon the subject. But, as a rule, it was necessary to take for granted the historical truthfulness of the sacred records; for, apart from the reality and Divine character of the transactions therein related, Typology in the proper sense has no foundation to stand upon. The [[@Page:7]] service which investigations of this kind, when rightly pursued, are fitted to render to the inspiration and authority of Scripture, is of a less formal description, and relates to points of agreement, of a somewhat veiled and hidden nature, between one part of the Divine scheme and another. To obtain a clear and comprehensive view of these one must stand, as it were, within the sacred edifice of God’s revelation, and survey with an attentive eye its interior harmony and proportions. They who do so will certainly find in the careful study of the Typology of Scripture many valuable confirmations to their faith.

Evidences of the strictly supernatural character of the plan it discloses will press themselves on their notice, such as altogether escape the observation of more superficial inquirers; and to them such evidences will be the more convincing and satisfactory, that it is only through patient research they come to be perceived in their proper variety and fulness. If one may have, as Dean Milman justly states (Hist, of Jews, i., p. 133, 3d ed.), “great faith in internal evidence, which rests on broad and patent facts, on laws, for instance, which belong to a peculiar age and state of society, and which there can be no conceivable reason for imagining in later times, and during the prevalence of other manners, and for ascribing them to an ancient people,” not less may such faith be called forth and exercised by that evidence, which arises from the perception of a profound harmony of principle and nicely adjusted relations, preserved amid the endless diversities of form and method naturally incident to a scheme of progressive development.

P. F.
GLASGOW, 2d November 1863.

Book First.—Inquiry into The Principles of Typical Interpretation, with a View Chiefly to The Determination of The Real Nature and Design of Types, and The Extent to which they Entered into God’s Earlier Dispensations.

Chapter First.—Historical and Critical Survey of the Past and Present State of Theological Opinion on The Subject.

[[@Page:17]] THE Typology of Scripture has been one of the most neglected departments of theological science. It has never altogether escaped from the region of doubt and uncertainty; and some still regard it as a field incapable, from its very nature, of being satisfactorily explored, or cultivated so as to yield any sure and appreciable results. Hence it is not unusual to find those who otherwise are agreed in their views of divine truth, and in the general principles of biblical interpretation, differing materially in the estimate they have formed of the Typology of Scripture. Where one hesitates, another is full of confidence; and the landmarks that are set up to-day are again shifted to-morrow. With such various and contradictory sentiments prevailing on the subject, it is necessary, in the first instance, to take an historical and critical survey of the field, that from the careful revision of what has been done in the past, we may the more [[@Page:18]] readily perceive what still remains to be accomplished, in order that we may arrive at a well-grounded and scriptural Typology.

I. We naturally begin with the Christian Fathers. Their typological views, however, are only to be gathered from the occasional examples to be met with in their writings; as they nowhere lay down any clear and systematic principles for the regulation of their judgments in the matter. Some exception might, perhaps, be made in respect to Origen. And yet with such vagueness and dubiety has he expressed himself regarding the proper interpretation of Old Testament Scripture, that by some he has been understood to hold, that there is a fourfold, by others a threefold, and by others again only a twofold, sense in the sacred text. The truth appears to be, that while he contended for a fourfold application of Scripture, he regarded it as susceptible only of a twofold sense. And considered generally, the principles of interpretation on which he proceeded were not essentially different from those usually followed by the great majority of the Greek Fathers. But before stating how these bore on the subject now under consideration, it will be necessary to point out a distinction too often lost sight of, both in earlier and in later times, between allegorical and typicalinterpretations, properly so called. These have been very commonly confounded together, as if they were essentially one in principle, and differed only in the extent to which the principle may be carried. There is, however, a specific difference between the two, which it is not very difficult to apprehend, and which it is of some importance to notice in connection especially with the interpretations of patristic writers.

An allegory is a narrative, either expressly feigned for the purpose, or—if describing facts which really took place—describing them only for the purpose of representing certain higher truths or principles than the narrative, in its literal aspect, whether real or fictitious, could possibly have taught. The ostensible representation, therefore, if not invented, is at least used, simply as a cover for the higher sense, which may refer to things ever so remote from those immediately described, if only the corresponding relations are preserved. So that allegorical interpretations of Scripture properly comprehend the two following [[@Page:19]] cases, and these only: 1. When the scriptural representation is actually held to have had no foundation in fact—to be a mere myth, or fabulous description, invented for the sole purpose of exhibiting the mysteries of divine truth; or, 2. When—without moving any question about the real or fictitious nature of the representation—it is considered incapable as it stands of yielding any adequate or satisfactory sense, and is consequently employed, precisely as if it had been fabulous, to convey some meaning of an entirely different and higher kind. The difference between allegorical interpretations, in either of these senses, and those which are properly called typical, cannot be fully exhibited till we have ascertained the exact nature and design of a type. It will be enough meanwhile to say, that typical interpretations of Scripture differ from allegorical ones of the first or fabulous kind, in that they indispensably require the reality of the facts or circumstances stated in the original narrative. And they differ also from the other, in requiring, beside this, that the same truth or principle be embodied alike in the type and the antitype. The typical is not properly a different or higher sense, but a different or higher application of the same sense.

Returning, then, to the writings of the Fathers, and using the expressions typical and allegorical in the senses now respectively ascribed to them, there can be no doubt that the Fathers generally were much given both to typical and allegorical explanations,—the Greek Fathers more to allegorical than to typical,—and to allegorical more in the second than in the first sense, described above. They do not appear, for the most part, to have discredited the plain truth or reality of the statements made in Old Testament history. They seem rather to have considered the sense of the latter true and good, so far as it went, but of itself so meagre and puerile, that it was chiefly to be regarded as the vehicle of a much more refined and ethereal instruction. Origen, however, certainly went farther than this, and expressly denied that many things in the Old Testament had any real existence. In his Principia (Lib. iv.) he affirms, that “when the Scripture history could not otherwise be accommodated to the explanation of spiritual things, matters have been asserted which did not take place, nay, which could not have taken place; and others again, which, though they might [[@Page:20]] have occurred, yet never actually did so.” Again, when speaking of some notices in the life of Rebecca, he says—”In these things, I have often told you, there is not a relation of histories, hut a concoction of mysteries.”[1] And, in like manner, in his annotations on the first chapters of Genesis, he plainly scouts the idea of God’s having literally clothed our first parents with the skins of slain beasts—calls it absurd, ridiculous, and unworthy of God, and declares that in such a case the naked letter is not to be adhered to as true, but exists only for the spiritual treasure which is concealed under it.[2]

Statements of this kind are of too frequent occurrence in the writings of Origen to have arisen from inadvertence, or to admit of being resolved into mere hyperboles of expression. They were, indeed, the natural result of that vicious system of interpretation which prevailed in his age, when it fell, as it did in his case, into the hands of an ardent and enthusiastic follower. At the same time it must be owned, in behalf of Origen, that however possessed of what has been called a “the allegorical fury,” he does not appear generally to have discredited the facts of sacred history; and that he differed from the other Greek Fathers, chiefly in the extent to which he went in decrying the literal sense as carnal and puerile, and extolling the mystical as alone suited for those who had become acquainted with the true wisdom. It would be out of place here, however, to go into any particular illustration of this point, as it is not immediately connected with our present inquiry. But we shall refer to a single specimen of his allegorical mode of interpretation, for the purpose chiefly of showing distinctly how it differed from what is of a simply typological character. We make our selection from Origen’s homily on Abraham’s marriage with Keturah (Horn. vi. In Genes.). He does not expressly disavow his belief in the fact of such a marriage having actually taken place between the parties in question, though his language seems to point in that direction; but he intimates that this, in common with the other marriages of the patriarchs, contained a sacramental mystery. And what might this be? Nothing less than the sublime truth, “that there is no end to wisdom, and that old age sets no bounds to improvement in knowledge. The [[@Page:21]] death of Sarah (he says) is to be understood as the perfecting of virtue. But he who has attained to a consummate and perfect virtue, must always be employed in some kind of learning—which learning is called by the divine Word, his wife. Abraham, therefore, when an old man, and his body in a manner dead, took Keturah to wife. I think it was better, according to the exposition we follow, that the wife should have been received when his body was dead, and his members were mortified. For we have a greater capacity for wisdom when we bear about the dying of Christ in our mortal body. Then Keturah, whom he married in his old age, is, by interpretation, incense, or sweet odour. For he said, even as Paul said, (We are a sweet savour of Christ. Sin is a foul and putrid thing; but if any of you in whom this no longer dwells, have the fragrance of righteousness, the sweetness of mercy, and by prayer continually offer up incense to God, ye also have taken Keturah to wife.” And forthwith he proceeds to show, how many such wives may be taken: hospitality is one, the care of the poor another, patience a third,—each Christian excellence, in short, a wife; and hence it was, that the patriarchs are reported to have had so many wives, and that Solomon is said to have possessed them even by hundreds, he having received plenitude of wisdom like the sand on the sea-shore, and consequently grace to exercise the largest number of virtues.

We have here a genuine example of allegorical interpretation, if not actually holding the historical matter to be fabulous, at least treating it as if it were so. It is of no moment, for any purpose which such a mode of interpretation might serve, whether Abraham and Keturah had a local habitation among this world’s families, and whether their marriage was a real fact in history, or an incident fitly thrown into a fictitious narrative, constructed for the purpose of symbolizing the doctrines of a divine philosophy. If it had been handled after the manner of a type, and not as an allegory, whatever specific meaning might have been ascribed to it as a representation of gospel mysteries, the story must have been assumed as real, and the act of Abraham made to correspond with something essentially the same in kind some sort of union, for example, between parties holding a similar relation to each other, that Abraham did to [[@Page:22]] Keturah. In this, though there might have been an error in the particular application that was made of the story, there would at least have been some appearance of a probable ground for it to rest upon. But sublimated into the ethereal form it receives from the fertile genius of Origen, the whole, history and interpretation together, presently acquires an uncertain and shadowy aspect. For what connection, either in the nature of things, or in the actual experience of the Father of the Faithful, can be shown to exist between the death of a wife, and the consummation of virtue in the husband; or the wedding of a second wife, and his pursuit of knowledge? Why might not the loss sustained in the former case as well represent the decay of virtue, and the acquisition in the latter denote a relaxation in the search after the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge? There would evidently be as good reason for asserting the one as the other; and, indeed, with such an arbitrary and elastic style of interpretation, there is nothing, either false or true in doctrine, wise or unwise in practice, which might not claim support in Scripture. The Bible would be made to reflect every hue of fancy, and every shade of belief in those who assumed the office of interpretation; and instead of being rendered serviceable to a higher instruction, it would be turned into one vast sea of uncertainty and confusion.

In proof of this we need only appeal to the use which Clement of Alexandria, Origen’s master, has made of another portion of sacred history which relates to Abraham’s wives (Strom. L. I. p. 333). The instruction which he finds couched under the narrative of Abraham’s marriage successively to Sarah and Hagar, is that a Christian ought to cultivate philosophy and the liberal arts before he devotes himself wholly to the study of divine wisdom. This he endeavours to make out in the following manner:—Abraham is the image of a perfect Christian, Sarah the image of Christian wisdom, and Hagar the image of philosophy or human wisdom (certainly a far from agreeable likeness!). Abraham lived for a long time in a state of connubial sterility; whence it is inferred that a Christian, so long as he confines himself to the study of divine wisdom and religion alone, will never bring forth any great or excellent fruits. Abraham, then, with the consent of Sarah, takes to him Hagar, [[@Page:23]] which proves, according to Clement, that a Christian ought to embrace the wisdom of this world, or philosophy, and that Sarah, or divine wisdom, will not withhold her consent. Lastly, after Hagar had borne Ishmael to Abraham, he resumed his inter course with Sarah, and of her begat Isaac; the true import of which is, that a Christian, after having once thoroughly grounded himself in human learning and philosophy, will, if he then devotes himself to the culture of divine wisdom, be capable of propagating the race of true Christians, and of rendering essential service to the Church. Thus we have two entirely different senses extracted from similar transactions by the master and the disciple; and still, far from being exhausted, as many more might be obtained, as there are fertile imaginations disposed to turn the sacred narrative into the channel of their own peculiar conceits.

It was not simply the historical portions of Old Testament Scripture which were thus allegorized by Origen, and the other Greek Fathers who belonged to the same school. A similar mode of interpretation was applied to the ceremonial institutions of the ancient economy; and a higher sense was often sought for in these, than we find any indication of in the epistle to the Hebrews, Clement even carried the matter so far as to apply the allegorical principle to the ten commandments, an extravagance in which Origen did not follow him; though we can scarcely tell why he should not have done so. For, even the moral precepts of the Decalogue touch at various points on the common interests and relations of life; and it was the grand aim of the philosophy, in which the allegorizing then prevalent had its origin, to carry the soul above these into the high abstractions of a contemplative theosophy. The Fathers of the Latin church were much less inclined to such airy speculations, and their interpretations of Scripture, consequently, possessed more of a realistic and common sense character. Allegorical interpretations are, indeed, occasionally found in them, but they are more sparingly introduced, and less extravagantly carried out.[3] [[@Page:24]] Typical meanings, however, are as frequent in the one class as in the other, and equally adopted without rule or limit. If in the Eastern church we find such objects as the tree of life in the garden of Eden, the rod of Moses, Moses himself with his arms extended during the conflict with Amalek, exhibited as types of the cross; in the Western church, as represented, for example, by Augustine, we meet with such specimens as the following:—”Wherefore did Christ enter into the sleep of death? Because Adam slept when Eve was formed from his side, Adam being the figure of Christ, Eve as the mother of the living, the figure of the church. And as she was formed from Adam while he was asleep, so was it when Christ slept on the cross, that the sacraments of the church flowed from His side.”[4] So, again, Saul is represented as the type of death, because God unwillingly appointed him king over Israel, as He unwillingly subjected His people to the sway of death; and David’s deliverance from the hand of Saul foreshadowed our deliverance through Christ from the power of death; while in David’s escape from Saul’s hand, coupled with the destruction that befell Ahimelech on his account, if not in his stead, there was a prefiguration of Christ’s death and resurrection.[5] In the treatment of New Testament Scripture also, the same style of interpretation is occasionally resorted to,—as when in the six waterpots of John’s Gospel he finds imaged the six ages of prophecy; and in the two or three firkins which they severally held, the two are taken to indicate the Father and the Son, the three the Trinity; or, as he also puts it, the two represent the Jews and the Gentiles, and the third, Christ, making the two one (Tract ix. in Joan.). But we need not multiply examples, or prosecute the subject further into detail. Enough has been adduced to show, that the earlier divines of the Christian church had no just or well-defined principles to guide them in their interpretations of Old Testament Scripture, which could either enable them to determine between the fanciful and the true in typical applications, or guard them against the worst excesses of allegorical licence.[6]

[[@Page:25]] II. Passing over the period of the middle ages, which produced nothing new in this line, we come to the divines of the Reformation. At that memorable era a mighty advance was made, not only beyond the ages immediately preceding, but also beyond all that had passed from the commencement of Christianity, in the sound interpretation of Scripture. The original text then at last began to be examined with something like critical exactness, and a stedfast adherence was generally professed, and in good part also maintained, to the natural and grammatical sense. The leading spirits of the Reformation were here also the great authors of reform. Luther denounced mystical and allegorical interpretations as “trifling and foolish fables, with which the Scriptures were rent into so many and diverse senses, that silly poor consciences could receive no certain [[@Page:26]] doctrine of anything.”[7] Calvin, in like manner, declares that “the true meaning of Scripture is the natural and obvious meaning, by which we ought resolutely to abide;” and speaks of the “licentious system” of Origen and the allegorists, as “undoubtedly a contrivance of Satan to undermine the authority of Scripture, and to take away from the reading of it the true advantage.”[8] In some of his interpretations, especially on the prophetical parts of Scripture, he even went to an extreme in advocating what he here calls the natural and obvious meaning, and thereby missed the more profound import, which, according to the elevated and often enigmatical style of prophecy, it was the design of the Spirit to convey. On the other hand, in spite of their avowed and generally followed principles of interpretation, [[@Page:27]] the writers of the Reformation-period not unfrequently fell into the old method of allegorizing, and threw out typical explanations of a kind that cannot stand a careful scrutiny. It were quite easy to produce examples of this from the writings of those who lived at and immediately subsequent to the Reformation; but it would be of no service as regards our present object, since their attention was comparatively little drawn to the subject of types; and none of them attempted to construct any distinct typological system.

III. We pass on, therefore, to a later period—about the middle of the seventeenth century—when the science of theology began to be studied more in detail, and the types consequently received a more formal consideration. About that period arose what is called the Cocceian school, which, though it did not revive the double sense of the Alexandrian (for Cocceius expressly disclaimed any other sense of Scripture than the literal and historical one), yet was chargeable in another respect with a participation in the caprice and irregularity of the ancient allegorists. Cocceius himself, less distinguished as a systematic writer in theology than as a Hebrew scholar and learned expositor of Scripture, left no formal enunciation of principles connected with typical or allegorical interpretations; and it is chiefly from his annotations on particular passages, and the more systematic works of his followers, that these are to be gathered. How freely, however, he was disposed to draw upon Old Testament history for types of Gospel things, may be understood from a single example—his viewing what is said of Asshur going out and building Nineveh, as a type of the Turk or Mussulman power, which at once sprang from the kingdom, and shook the dominion of Antichrist (cur. Prior, in Gen. 10:11). He evidently conceived that every event in Old Testament history, which had a formal resemblance to something under the New, was to be regarded as typical. And that, even notwithstanding his avowed adherence to but one sense of Scripture, he could occasionally adopt a second, appears alone from his allegorical interpretation of the eighth Psalm; according to which the sheep there spoken of, as being put under man, are Christ’s flock the oxen, those who labour in Christ’s service—[[@Page:28]] the beasts of the field, such as are strangers to the city and kingdom of God, barbarians and savages—the fowl of the air and fish of the sea, persons at a still greater distance from godliness; so that, as he concludes, there is nothing so wild and intractable on earth but it shall be brought under the rule and dominion of Christ.

It does not appear, however, that the views of Cocceius differed materially from those which were held by some who preceded him; and it would seem rather to have been owing to his eminence generally as a commentator than to any distinctive peculiarity in his typological principles, that he came to be so prominently identified with the school, which from him derived the name of Cocceian. If we turn to one of the earlier editions of Glass’s Philologia Sacra, published before Cocceius commenced his critical labours (the first was published before he was born), we shall find the principles of allegorical and typical interpretations laid down with a latitude which Cocceius himself could scarcely have quarrelled with. Indeed, we shall find few examples in his writings that might not be justified on the principles stated by Glass; and though the latter, in his section on allegories, has to throw himself back chiefly on the Fathers, he yet produces some quotations in support of his views, both on these and on types, from some writers of his own age. There seems to have been no essential difference between the typological principles of Glass, Cocceius, Witsius, and Vitringa; and though the first wrote some time before, and the last about half a century later than Cocceius, no injustice can be done to any of them by classing them together, and referring indifferently to their several productions. Like the Fathers, they did not sufficiently distinguish between allegorical and typical interpretations, but regarded the one as only a particular form of the other, and both as equally warranted by New Testament Scripture. Hence, the rules they adopted were to a great extent applicable to what is allegorical in the proper sense, as well as typical, though for the present we must confine ourselves to the typical department. They held, then, that there was a twofold sort of types, the one innate, consisting of those which Scripture itself has expressly asserted to possess a typical character; the other inferred, consisting of such as, though not specially noticed or explained in [[@Page:29]] Scripture, were yet, on probable grounds, inferred by interpreters as conformable to the analogy of faith, and the practice of the inspired writers in regard to similar examples.[9] This latter class were considered not less proper and valid than the other; and pains were taken to distinguish them from those which were sometimes forged by Papists, and which were at variance with the analogies just mentioned. Of course, from their very nature they could only be employed for the support and confirmation of truths already received, and not to prove what was in itself doubtful. But not on that account were they to be less carefully searched for, or less confidently used, because thus only, it was maintained, could Christ be found in all Scripture, which throughout testifies of Him.

It is evident alone, from this general statement, that there was something vague and loose in the Cocceian system, which left ample scope for the indulgence of a luxuriant fancy. Nor can we wonder that, in practice, a mere resemblance, however accidental or trifling, between an occurrence in Old, and another in New Testament times, was deemed sufficient to constitute the one a type of the other. Hence in the writings of the eminent and learned men above referred to, we find the name of Abel (emptiness) viewed as prefiguring our Lords humiliation; the occupation of Abel, Christ’s office as the Shepherd of Israel; the withdrawal of Isaac from his father’s house to the land of Moriah, Christ’s being led out of the temple to Calvary; Adam’s awaking out of sleep, Christ’s resurrection from the dead; Samson’s meeting a young lion by the way, and the transactions that followed, Christ’s meeting Saul on the road to Damascus, with the important train of events to which it led; David’s gathering to himself a party of the distressed, the bankrupt, and discontented, Christ’s receiving into His Church publicans and sinners; with many others of a like nature.

Multitudes of examples perfectly similar—that is, equally destitute of any proper foundation in principle—are to be found in writers of our own country, such as Mather,[10] Keach,[11] [[@Page:30]] Worden,[12] J. Taylor,[13] Guild,[14] who belonged to the same school of interpretation, and who nearly all lived toward the latter part of the seventeenth century. Excepting the two first, they make no attempt to connect their explanations with any principles of interpretation, and these two very sparingly. Their works were all intended for popular use, and rather exhibited by particular examples, than systematically expounded the nature of their views. They, however, agreed in admitting inferred as well as innate types, but differed more perhaps from constitutional temperament than on theoretical grounds in the extent to which they respectively carried the liberty they claimed to go beyond the explicit warrant of New Testament Scripture. Mather in particular, and Worden, usually confine themselves to such types as have obtained special notice of some kind from the writers of the New Testament; though they held the principle, that “where the analogy was evident and manifest between things under the law and things under the Gospel, the one were to be concluded (on the ground simply of that analogy) to be types of the other.” How far this warrant from analogy was thought capable of leading, may be learned from Taylor and Guild, especially from the latter, who has no fewer than forty-nine typical resemblances between Joseph and Christ, and seven teen between Jacob and Christ, not scrupling to swell the number by occasionally taking in acts of sin, as well as circumstances of an altogether trivial nature. Thus, Jacob’s being a supplanter of his brother, is made to represent Christ’s supplanting death, sin, and Satan; his being obedient to his parents in all things, Christ’s subjection to His heavenly Father and His earthly parents; his purchasing his birthright by red pottage, and obtaining the blessing by presenting savoury vension to his father, clothed in Esau’s garment, Christ’s purchasing the heavenly inheritance to us by His red blood, and obtaining the blessing by offering up the savoury meat of His obedience, in the borrowed garment of our nature, etc.

Now, we may affirm of these, and many similar examples occurring in writers of the same class, that the analogy they [[@Page:31]] found upon was a merely superficial resemblance appearing between things in the Old and other things in the New Testament Scriptures. But resemblances of this sort are so extremely multifarious, and appear also so different according to the point of view from which they are contemplated, that it was obviously possible for anyone to take occasion through them to introduce the most frivolous conceits, and to caricature rather than vindicate the grand theme of the Gospel. Then, if such weight was fitly attached to mere resemblances between the Old and the New, even when they were altogether of a slight and superficial kind, why should not profane as well as sacred history be ran sacked for them? What, for example, might prevent Romulus (seeing that God is in all history, if this actually were history) assembling a band of desperadoes, and founding a world-wide empire on the banks of the Tiber, from serving, as well as David in the circumstances specified above, to typify the procedure of Christ in calling to him publicans and sinners at the commencement of His kingdom? As many points of resemblance might be found in the one case as in the other; and the two transactions in ancient history, as here contemplated, stood much on the same footing as regards the appointment of God; for both alike were the offspring of human policy, struggling against outward difficulties, and endeavouring with such materials as were available to supply the want of better resources. And thus, by pushing the matter beyond its just limits, we reduce the sacred to a level with the profane, and, at the same time, throw an air of uncertainty over the whole aspect of its typical character.[15]

That the Cocceian mode of handling the typical matter of ancient Scripture so readily admitted of the introduction of trifling, far-fetched, and even altogether false analogies, was one of its capital defects. It had no essential principles or fixed rules by which to guide its interpretations set up no proper [[@Page:32]] landmarks along the field of inquiry—left room on every hand for arbitrariness and caprice to enter. It was this, perhaps, more than anything else, which tended to bring typical interpretations into disrepute, and disposed men, in proportion as the exact and critical study of Scripture came to be cultivated, to regard the subject of its typology as hopelessly involved in conjecture and uncertainty. Yet this was not the only fault inherent in the typological system now under consideration. It failed, more fundamentally still, in the idea it had formed of the connection between the Old and the New in God’s dispensations between the type and the thing typified which came to be thrown mainly upon the mere forms and accidents of things, to the comparative neglect of the great fundamental principles which are common alike to all dispensations, and in which the more vital part of the connection must be sought. It was this more radical error, which in fact gave rise to the greater portion of the extravagances that disfigured the typical illustrations of our elder divines; for it naturally led them to make account of coincidences that were often unimportant, and sometimes only apparent. And not only so; but it also led them to undervalue the immediate object and design of the types in their relation to those who lived amongst them. While these as types speak a language that can be distinctly and intelligently understood only by us, who are privileged to read their meaning in the light of Gospel realities, they yet had, as institutions in the existing worship, or events in the current providence of God, a present purpose to accomplish, apart from the prospective reference to future times, and we might almost say, as much as if no such reference had belonged to them.

IV. These inherent errors and imperfections in the typo logical system of the Cocceian school, were not long in leading to its general abandonment. But theology had little reason to boast of the change. For the system that supplanted it, without entering at all into a more profound investigation of the subject, or attempting to explain more satisfactorily the grounds of a typical connection between the Old and the New, simply contented itself with admitting into the rank of types what had been expressly treated as such in the Scripture itself, to the [[@Page:33]] exclusion of all besides. This seemed to be the only safeguard against error and extravagance.[16] And yet, we fear, other reasons of a less justifiable nature contributed not a little to produce the result. An unhappy current had begun to set in upon the Protestant Church in some places while Cocceius still lived, and in others soon after his death, which disposed many of her more eminent teachers to slight the evangelical element in Christianity, and, if not utterly to lose sight of Christ Himself, at least to disrelish and repudiate a system which delighted to find traces of Him in every part of revelation. It was the redeeming point of the earlier typology, which should be allowed to go far in extenuating the occasional errors connected with it, that it kept the work and kingdom of Christ ever prominently in view, as the grand scope and end of all God’s dispensations. It felt, if we may so speak, correctly, whatever it may have wanted in the requisite depth and precision of thought. But towards the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, a general coldness very commonly discovered itself, both in the writings and the lives of even the more orthodox sections of the Church. The living energy and zeal which had achieved such important results a century before, either inactively slumbered, or spent itself in doctrinal controversies; and the faith of the Church [[@Page:34]] Was first corrupted in its simplicity, and then weakened in its foundations by the pernicious influence of a widely cultivated, but essentially anti-Christian philosophy. In such circumstances Christ was not allowed to maintain His proper place in the New Testament; and it is not to be wondered at if He should have been nearly banished from the Old.

Vitringa, who lived when this degeneracy from better times had made considerable progress, attributed to it much of that distaste which was then beginning to prevail in regard to typical interpretations of Scripture. With special reference to the work of Spencer on the Laws of the Hebrews,—a work not less remarkable for its low-toned, semi-heathenish spirit, than for its varied and well-digested learning,—he lamented the inclination that appeared to seek for the grounds and reasons of the Mosaic institutions in the mazes of Egyptian idolatry, instead of endeavouring to discover in them the mysteries of the Gospel. These, he believed, the Holy Spirit had plainly intimated to be couched there; and they shone, indeed, so manifestly through the institutions themselves, that it seemed impossible for anyone not to perceive the type, who recognised the antitype. Nor could he conceal his fear, that the talent, authority, and learning of such men as Spencer would gain extensive credit for their opinions, and soon bring the Typology of Scripture, as he understood it, into general contempt.[17] In this apprehension he was certainly not mistaken. Another generation had scarcely passed away when Dathe published his edition of the Sacred Philology of Glass, in which the section on types, to which we have already referred, was wholly omitted, as relating to a subject no longer thought worthy of a recognised place in the science of an enlightened theology. The rationalistic spirit, in the progress of its anti-Christian tendencies, had now discarded the innate, as well as the inferred types of the elder divines; and the convenient principle of accommodation,which was at the same time introduced, furnished an easy solution for those passages in New Testament Scripture which seemed to indicate a typical relationship between the past and the future. It was regarded as only an adaptation, originating in Jewish prejudice or conceit, of the facts and institutions of an earlier age to things essentially [[@Page:35]] different under the Gospel; but now, since the state of feeling that gave rise to it no longer existed, deservedly suffered to fall into desuetude. And thus the bond was virtually broken by the hand of these rationalizing theologians between the Old and the New in Revelation; and the records of Christianity, when scientifically interpreted, were found to have marvellously little in common with those of Judaism.

In Britain various causes contributed to hold in check this downward tendency, and to prevent it from reaching the same excess of dishonour to Christ, which it soon attained on the Continent. Even persons of a cold and philosophical temperament, such as Clarke and Jortin, not only wrote in defence of types, as having a certain legitimate use in Revelation, but also admitted more within the circle of types than Scripture itself has expressly applied to Gospel times.[18] They urged, indeed, the necessity of exercising the greatest caution in travelling beyond the explicit warrant of Scripture; and in their general cast of thought they undoubtedly had more affinity with the Spencerian than the Cocceian school. Yet a feeling of the close and pervading; connection between the Old and the New Testament dispensations restrained them from discarding the more important of the inferred types. Jortin especially falls so much into the vein of earlier writers, that he employs his ingenuity in reckoning up as many as forty particulars in which Moses typically prefigured Christ. A work composed about the same period as that to which the Remarks of Jortin belong, and one that has had more influence than any other in fashioning the typological views generally entertained in Scotland—the production of a young dissenting minister in Dundee (Mr M’Ewen)[19]—is still more free in the admission of types not expressly sanctioned in the Scriptures of the New Testament. The work itself being posthumous, and intended for popular use, contains no investigation of the grounds on which typical interpretations rest, and harmonizes much more with the school that had flourished in [[@Page:36]] the previous century, than that to which Clarke and Jortin belonged. As indicative of a particular style of biblical interpretation, it may be classed with the productions of Mather and Taylor, and partakes alike of their excellences and defects.

There was, therefore, a considerable unwillingness in this country to abandon the Cocceian ground on the subject of types. The declension came in gradually, and its progress was rather marked by a tacit rejection in practice of much that was previously held to be typical, than by the introduction of views specifically different. It became the practice of theologians to look more into the general nature of things for the reasons of Christianity, than into the pre-existing elements and characteristics of former dispensations; and to account for the peculiarities of Judaism by its partly antagonistic, partly homogeneous relation to Paganism, rather than by any covert reference it might have to the coming realities of the Gospel. As an inevitable consequence, the typological department of theology fell into general neglect, from which the Old Testament Scriptures themselves did not altogether escape. Those portions of them especially which narrate the history and prescribe the religious rites of the ancient Church, were but rarely treated in a manner that bespoke any confidence in their fitness to minister to the spiritual discernment and faith of Christians. It seems, partly at least, to have been owing to this growing distaste for Old Testament inquiries, and this general depreciation of its Scriptures, that what is called the Hutchinsonian school arose in England, which, by a sort of recoil from the prevailing spirit, ran into the opposite extreme of searching for the elements of all knowledge, human and divine, in the writings of the Old Testament. This school possesses too much the character of an episode in the history of biblical interpretation in this country, and was itself too strongly marked by a spirit of extravagance, to render any formal account of it necessary here. It was, besides, chiefly of a physico-theological character, combining the elements of a natural philosophy with the truths of revelation, both of which it sought to extract from the statements, and sometimes even from the words and letters of Scripture. The most profound meanings were consequently discovered in the sacred text, in respect alike to the doctrines of the Gospel and the truths of [[@Page:37]] science. One of the maxims of its founder was, that “every passage of the Old Testament looks backward and forward, and every way, like light from the sun; not only to the state before and under the law, but under the Gospel, and nothing is hid from the light thereof.”[20] When such a depth and complexity of meaning was supposed to be involved in every passage, we need not be surprised to learn, respecting the exactness of Abraham’s knowledge of future events, that he knew from preceding types and promises, that “one of his own line was to be sacrificed, to be a blessing to all the race of Adam;” and not only so, but that when he received the command to offer Isaac, he proceeded to obey it, “not doubting that Isaac was to be that person who should redeem man.”[21]

The cabalistic and extravagant character of the Hutchinsonian system, if it had any definite influence on the study of types and other cognate subjects, could only tend to increase the suspicion with which they were already viewed, and foster a disposition to agree to whatever might keep investigation within the bounds of sobriety and discretion. Accordingly, while nothing more was done to unfold the essential and proper ground of a typical connection between Old and New Testament things, and to prevent abuse by tracing the matter up to its ultimate and fundamental principles, the more scientific students of the Bible came, by a sort of common consent, to acquiesce in the opinion, that those only were to be reckoned types to which Scripture itself, by express warrant, or at least by obvious implication, had assigned that character. Bishop Marsh may be named as perhaps the ablest and most systematic expounder of this view of the subject. He says, —”There is no other rule by which we can distinguish a real from a pretended type, than that of Scripture itself. There are no other possible means by which we can know that a previous design and a pre-ordained connection existed. Whatever persons or things, therefore, recorded in the Old Testament, were expressly declared by Christ or by His apostles to have been designed as prefigurations of persons or things relating to the New Testament, such persons or things so recorded in the former, are types of the persons or things with which they are compared in the latter. But if we assert that a person or thing [[@Page:38]] was designed to prefigure another person or thing, where no such prefiguration has been declared by divine authority, we make an assertion for which we neither have, nor can have, the slightest foundation.”[22] This is certainly a very authoritative and peremptory decision of the matter. But the principle involved in this statement, though seldom so oracularly announced, has long been practically received. It was substantially adopted by Macknight, in his Dissertation on the Interpretation of Scripture, at the end of his Commentary on the Epistles, before Bishop Marsh wrote; and it has been followed since by Vanmildert and Conybeare in their Bampton Lectures, by Nares in his Warburtonian Lectures, by Chevalier in his Hulsean Lectures, by Home in his Introduction, and a host of other writers.

Judging from an article in the American Biblical Repository, which appeared in the number for January 1841, it would appear that the leading authorities on the other side of the Atlantic concurred in the same general view. The reviewer himself advocates the opinion, that “no person, event, or institution, should be regarded as typical, but what may be proved to be such from the Scriptures,” meaning by that their explicit assertion in regard to the particular case. And in support of this opinion he quotes, besides English writers, the words of two of his own countrymen, Professor Stowe and Moses Stuart, the latter of whom says,—”That just so much of the Old Testament is to be accounted typical as the New Testament affirms to be so, and no more. The fact, that anything or event under the Old Testament dispensation was designed to prefigure something under the New, can be known to us only by revelation; and of course all that is not designated by divine authority as typical, can never be made so by any authority less than that which guided the writers of the New Testament.”[23]

Now, the view embraced by this school of interpretation lies open to one objection, in common with the school that preceded it. While the field, as to its extent, was greatly circumscribed, and in its boundaries ruled as with square and compass, nothing was done in the way of investigating it internally, or of unfolding the grounds of connection between type and antitype. Fewer points of resemblance are usually presented to us between the [[@Page:39]] one and the other by the writers of this school than arc found in works of an older date; but the resemblances themselves are quite as much of a superficial and outward kind. The real harmony and connection between the Old and the New in the divine dispensations, stood precisely where it was. But other defects adhere to this more recent typological system. The leading excellence of the system that preceded it was the constant reference it conceived the Scriptures of the Old Testament to bear toward Christ and the Gospel dispensation; and the practical disavowal of this may be said to constitute the great defect of the more exact, but balder system, which supplanted it with the general suffrage of the learned. It drops a golden principle for the sake of avoiding a few lawless aberrations. With such narrow limits as it sets to our inquiries, we cannot indeed wander far into the regions of extravagance. But in the very prescription of these limits, it wrongfully withholds from us the key of knowledge, and shuts us up to evils scarcely less to be deprecated than those it seeks to correct. For it destroys to a large extent the bond of connection between the Old and the New Testament Scriptures, and thus deprives the Christian Church of much of the instruction in divine things which they were designed to impart. Were men accustomed, as they should be, to search for the germs of Christian truth in the earliest Scriptures, and to regard the inspired records of both covenants as having for their leading object “the testimony of Jesus,” they would know how much they were losers by such an undue contraction of the typical element in Old Testament Scripture. And in proportion as a more profound and spiritual acquaintance with the divine word is cultivated, will the feeling of dissatisfaction grow in respect to a style of interpretation that so miserably dwarfs and cripples the relation which the preparatory bears to the ultimate in God’s revelations.

It is necessary, however, to take a closer view of the subject. The principle on which this typological system takes its stand, is, that nothing less than inspired authority is sufficient to deter mine the reality and import of anything that is typical. But what necessary reason or solid ground is there for such a principle? No one holds the necessity of inspiration to explain each particular prophecy, and decide even with certainty on its [[@Page:40]] fulfilment; and why should it be reckoned indispensable in the closely related subject of types? This question was long ago asked by Witsius, and yet waits for a satisfactory answer. A part only, it is universally allowed, of the prophecies which refer to Christ and His kingdom have been specially noticed and interpreted by the pen of inspiration. So little necessary, indeed, was inspiration for such a purpose, that even before the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our Lord reproved His disciples as “fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken.” And from the close analogy between the two subjects—for what is a type but a prophetical act or institution?— we might reasonably infer the same liberty to have been granted, and the same obligation to be imposed, in regard to the typical parts of ancient Scripture. But we have something more than a mere argument from analogy to guide us to this conclusion. For the very same complaint is brought by an inspired writer against private Christians concerning their slowness in understanding the typical, which our Lord brought against His disciples in respect to the prophetical portions of ancient Scripture. In the epistle to the Hebrews a sharp reproof is administered for the imperfect acquaintance believers among them had with the typical character of Melchizedek, and subjects of a like nature—thus placing it beyond a doubt that it is both the duty and the privilege of the Church, with that measure of the Spirit’s grace which it is the part even of private Christians to possess, to search into the types of ancient Scripture, and come to a correct understanding of them. To deny this, is plainly to withhold an important privilege from the Church of Christ; to dissuade from it, is to encourage the neglect of an incumbent duty.

But the unsoundness of the principle, which would thus limit the number of types to those which New Testament Scripture has expressly noticed and explained, becomes still more apparent when it is considered what these really are, and in what manner they are introduced. Leaving out of view the tabernacle, with its furniture and services, which, as a whole, is affirmed in the epistles to the Hebrews and the Colossians to have been of a typical nature, the following examples are what the writers now referred to usually regard as having something [[@Page:41]] like an explicit sanction in Scripture: 1. Persons or characters: Adam (Rom. 5:11, 12; 1 Cor. 15:22; Melchizedek (Heb. 7); Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, and by implication Abraham (Gal. 4:22-35); Moses (Gal. 3:19; Acts 3:22-26); Jonah (Matt. 12:40); David (Ezek. 37:24; Luke 1:32, etc.); Solomon (2 Sam. 7); Zerubbabel and Joshua (Zech. 3, 4; Hag. 2:23). 2. Transactions or events: the preservation of Noah and his family in the ark (1 Pet. 3:20); the redemption from Egypt and its passover-memorial (Luke 22:15, 16; 1 Cor. 5:7; the exodus (Matt. 2:15); the passage through the Red Sea, the giving of manna, Moses veiling of his face while the law was read; the water flowing from the smitten rock; the serpent lifted up for healing in the wilderness, and some other things that befell the Israelites there (1 Cor. 10; John 3:14, 5:33; Rev. 2:17).[24]

Now, let any person of candour and intelligence take his Bible, and examine the passages to which reference is here made, and then say, whether the manner in which these typical characters and transactions are there introduced, is such as to indicate, that these alone were held by the inspired writers to be prefigurative of similar characters and transactions under the Gospel? that in naming them they meant to exhaust the typical bearing of Old Testament history? On the contrary, we deem it impossible for anyone to avoid the conviction, that in whatever respect these particular examples may have been adduced, it is simply as examples adapted to the occasion, and taken from [[@Page:42]] a vast storehouse, where many more were to be found. They have so much at least the appearance of having been selected merely on account of their suitableness to the immediate end in view, that they cannot fairly be regarded otherwise than as specimens of the class they belong to. And if so, they should rather have the effect of prompting further inquiry than of repressing it; since, instead of themselves comprehending and bounding the whole field of Scriptural Typology, they only exhibit practically the principles on which others of a like description are to be discovered and explained.

Indeed, were it otherwise, nothing could be more arbitrary and inexplicable than this Scriptural typology. For, what is there to distinguish the characters and events, which Scripture has thus particularized, from a multitude of others, to which the typical element might equally have been supposed to belong? Is there anything on the face of the inspired record to make us look on them in a singular light, and attribute to them a significance altogether peculiar respecting the future affairs of God’s kingdom? So far from it, that we instinctively feel, if these really possessed a typical character, so also must others, which hold an equally, or perhaps even more prominent place in the history of God’s dispensations. Can it be seriously believed, for example, that Sarah and Hagar stood in a typical relation to Gospel times, while no such place was occupied by Rebekah, as the spouse of Isaac, and the mother of Jacob and Esau? What reason can we imagine for Melchizedek and Jonah having been constituted types—persons to whom our attention is comparatively little drawn in Old Testament history—while such leading characters as Joseph, Sampson, Joshua, are omitted? Or, for selecting the passage through the Red Sea, and the incidents in the wilderness, while no account should be made of the passage through Jordan, and the conquest of the land of Canaan?

We can scarcely conceive of a mode of interpretation which should deal more capriciously with the word of God, and make so anomalous a use of its historical records. Instead of investing these with a homogeneous character, it arbitrarily selects a few out of the general mass, and sets them up in solitary grandeur, like mystic symbols in a temple, fictitiously elevated above the sacred materials around them. The exploded principle, which [[@Page:43]] sought a type in everynotice of Old Testament history, had at least the merit of uniformity to recommend it, and could not be said to deal partially, however often it might deal fancifully, with the facts of ancient Scripture. But according to the plan now under review, for which the authority of inspiration itself is claimed, we perceive nothing but arbitrary distinctions and groundless preferences. And though unquestionably it were wrong to expect in the word of God the methodical precision and order which might naturally have been looked for in a merely human composition, yet as the product, amid all its variety, of one and the same Spirit, we are warranted to expect that there shall be a consistent agreement among its several parts, and that distinctions shall not be created in the one Testament, which in the other seem destitute of any just foundation or apparent reason.

But then, if a greater latitude is allowed, how shall we guard against error and extravagance? Without the express authority of Scripture, how shall we be able to distinguish between a happy illustration and a real type? In the words of Bishop Marsh: “By what means shall we determine, in any given instance, that what is alleged as a type, was really designed for a type? The only possible source of information on this subject is Scripture itself. The only possible means of knowing that two distant, though similar historical facts, were so connected in the general scheme of Divine Providence that the one was designed to prefigure the other, is the authority of that book in which the scheme of Divine Providence is unfolded.”[25] This is an objection, indeed, which strikes at the root of the whole matter, and its validity can only be ascertained by a thorough investigation into the fundamental principles of the subject. That Scripture is the sole rule, on the authority of which we are to distinguish what is properly typical from what is not, we readily grant—though not in the straitened sense contended for by Bishop Marsh and those who hold similar views, as if there were no way for Scripture to furnish a sufficient direction on the subject, except by specifying every particular case. It is possible, surely, that in this, as well as in other things, Scripture may indicate certain fundamental views or principles, of which it makes but [[@Page:44]] a few individual applications, and for the rest leaves them in the hand of spiritually enlightened consciences. The rather may we thus conclude, as it is one of the leading peculiarities of New Testament Scripture to develop great truths, much more than to dwell on minute and isolated facts. It is a presumption against, not in favour of, the system we now oppose, that it would shut up the Typology of Scripture, in so far as connected with the characters and events of sacred history, within the narrow circle of a few scattered and apparently random examples. And the attempt to rescue it from this position, if in any measure successful, will also serve to exhibit the unity of design which pervades the inspired records of both covenants, the traces they contain of the same Divine hand, the subservience of the one to the other, and the mutual dependence alike of the Old upon the New, and of the New upon the Old.

V. We have still, however, another stage of our critical survey before us, and one calling in some respects for careful discrimination and inquiry. The style of interpretation which we have connected with the name of Marsh could not, in the nature of things, afford satisfaction to men of thoughtful minds, who must have something like equitable principles as well as external authority to guide them in their interpretations. Such persons could not avoid feeling that, if there was so much in the Old Testament bearing a typical relation to the New, as was admitted on Scriptural authority by the school of Marsh, there must be considerably more; and also, that underneath that authority there must be a substratum of fundamental principles capable of bearing what Scripture itself has raised on it, and whatever besides may fitly be conjoined with it. But some, again, might possibly be of opinion that the authority of Scripture cannot warrantably carry us so far; and that both Scriptural authority, and the fundamental principles involved in the nature of the subject, apply only in part to what the disciples of Marsh regarded as typical. Accordingly, among more recent inquirers we have examples of each mode of divergence from the formal rules laid down by the preceding school of interpretation. The search for first principles has disposed some greatly to enlarge the typological field, and it has disposed others not less to curtail it.

[[@Page:45]] 1. To take the latter class first, as they stand most nearly related to the school last discoursed of, representatives of it are certainly not wanting on the Continent, among whom may be named the hermeneutical writer Klausen, to whom reference will presently be made in another connection. But it is the less needful here to call in foreign authorities, as the view in question has had its advocates in our own theological literature. It was exhibited, for example, in Dr L. Alexander’s Connection and Harmony of the Old and New Testament (1841), in which, while coinciding substantially with Bahr in his mode of explaining and applying to Gospel times the symbolical institutions of the Old Covenant, he yet declared himself opposed to any further extension of the typical sphere. He would regard nothing as entitled to the name of typical, which did not possess the character of “a divine institution;” or, as he formally defines the entire class, “they are symbolical institutes expressly appointed by God to prefigure to those among whom they were set up certain great transactions in connection with that plan of redemption which, in the fulness of time, was to be unfolded to mankind.” Hence the historical types of every description, even those which the school of Marsh recognised on account of the place given to them in New Testament Scripture, were altogether disallowed; the use made of them by the inspired writers was held to be “for illustration merely, and not for the purpose of building anything on them;” they are not thereby constituted or proved to be types.

The same view, however, was taken up and received a much keener and fuller advocacy by the American writer Mr. Lord, in a periodical not unknown in this country—the Ecclesiastical and Literary Journal (No. XV). This was done in connection with a fierce and elaborate review of the first edition of the Typology, in the course of which its system of exposition was denounced as “a monstrous scheme,” not only “without the sanction of the word of God,” but “one of the boldest and most effective contrivances for its subversion.” It is not my intention now less, indeed, when issuing this new edition (the fourth) than formerly to attempt to rebut such offensive charges, or to expose the misrepresentations on which to a large extent they were grounded. I should even have preferred, had [[@Page:46]] it been in my power to do so, repairing to some vindication of the same view, equally strenuous in its advocacy, but conducted in a calmer and fairer tone, in order that the discussion might bear less of a personal aspect. But as my present object is partly to unfold the gradual progress and development of opinion upon the subject of Scriptural Typology, justice could scarcely be done to it without hearing what Mr Lord has to say for the section of British and American theologians he represents, and meeting it with a brief rejoinder.

The writer’s mode was a comparatively easy one for proving a negative to the view he controverted. He began with setting forth a description of the nature and characteristics of a type, so tightened and compressed as to exclude all from the category but what pertained to “the tabernacle worship, or the propitiation and homage of God.” And having thus with a kind of oracular precision drawn his enclosure, it was not difficult to dispose of whatever else might claim to be admitted; for it is put to flight the moment he presents his exact definitions, and can only be considered typical by persons of dreamy intellect, who are utter strangers to clearness of thought and precision of language. In this way it is possible, we admit, and also not very difficult, to make out a scheme and establish a nomenclature of one’s own; but the question is, Does it accord with the representations of Scripture? and will it serve, in respect to these, as a guiding and harmonizing principle? We might, in a similar way, draw out a series of precise and definite characteristics of Messianic prophecy,—such as, that it must avowedly bear the impress of a prediction of the future—that it must in the most explicit terms point to the person or times of Messiah that it must be conveyed in language capable of no ambiguity or double reference; and then, with this sharp weapon in our hand, proceed summarily to lop off all supposed prophetical passages in which these characteristics are wanting—holding such, if applied to Messianic times, to be mere accommodations, originally intended for one thing, and afterwards loosely adapted to another. The rationalists of a former generation were great adepts in this mode of handling prophetical Scripture, and by the use of it dexterously got rid of a goodly number of the passages which in the New Testament are represented as finding their fulfilment [[@Page:47]] in Christ. But we have yet to learn, that by so doing they succeeded in throwing any satisfactory light on the interpretation of Scripture, or in placing on a Scriptural basis the connection between the Old and the New in God’s dispensations.

How closely the principles of Mr Lord lead him to tread in the footsteps of these effete interpreters, will appear presently. But we must first lodge our protest against his account of the essential nature and characteristics of a type, as entirely arbitrary and unsupported by Scripture. The things really possessing this character, he maintains, must have had the three following distinctive marks: They must have been specifically constituted types by God; must have been known to be so constituted, and contemplated as such by those who had to do with them; and must have been continued till the coming of Christ, when they were abrogated or superseded by something analogous in the Christian dispensation. These are his essential elements in the constitution of a type; and an assertion of the want of one or more of them forms the perpetual refrain, with which he disposes of those characters and transactions that in his esteem are falsely accounted typical. We object to every one of them in the sense understood by the writer, and deny that Scriptural proof can be produced for them, as applying to the strictly religious symbols of the Old Testament worship, and to them alone. These were not specifically constituted types, or formally set up in that character, no more than such transactions as the deliverance from Egypt, or the preservation of Noah in the deluge, which are denied to have been typical. In the manner of their appointment, viewed by itself, there is no more to indicate a reference to the Messianic future in the one than in the other. Neither were they for certain known to be types, and used as such by the Old Testament worshippers. They unquestionably were not so used in the time of our Lord; and how far they may have been at any previous period, is a matter only of probable inference, but nowhere of express revelation. Nor, finally, was it by any means an invariable and indispensable characteristic, that they should have continued in use till they were superseded by something analogous in the Christian dispensation. Some of the anointings were not so continued, nor the Shekinah, nor even the Ark of the Covenant; and some of them stood in occasional acts of [[@Page:48]] service, such as the Nazarite vow, in its very nature special and temporary. The redemption from Egypt was in itself a single event, yet it was closely allied to the symbolical services; for it was linked to an ever-recurring and permanent ordinance of worship. It was a creative act, bringing Israel as a people of God into formal existence, and as such capable only of being commemorated, but not of being repeated. It was commemorated, however, in the passover-feast. In that feast the Israelites continually freshened the remembrance of it anew on their hearts. They in spirit re-enacted it as a thing that required to be constantly renewing itself in their experience, as in the Lord’s Supper is now done by Christians in regard to the one great redemption-act on the cross. This, too, considered simply as an act in God’s administration, is incapable of being repeated; it can only be commemorated, and in its effects spiritually applied to the conscience. Yet so far from being thereby bereft of an antitypical character, it is the central antitype of the Gospel. Why should it be otherwise in respect to the type? The analogy of things favours it; and the testimony of Scripture not doubt fully requires it.

To say nothing of other passages of Scripture which bear less explicitly, though to our mind very materially, upon the subject, our Lord Himself, at the celebration of the last passover, declared to His disciples, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”—(Luke 22:15, 16) That is, there is a prophecy as well as a memorial in this commemorative ordinance,—a prophecy, because it is the rehearsal of a typical transaction, which is now, and only now, going to meet with its full realization. Such appears to be the plain and unsophisticated import of our Lord’s words. And the Apostle Paul is, if possible, still more explicit when he says, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (more exactly, For also our passover has been sacrificed, Christ): therefore let us keep the feast,” etc.—(1 Cor. 5:7, 8) What, we again ask, are we to understand by these words, if not that there is in the design and appointment of God an ordained connection between the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Passover, so that the one, as the means of redemption, takes the place of the [[@Page:49]] other? In any other sense the language would be only fitted to mislead, by begetting apprehensions regarding a mutual correspondence and connection which had no existence. It is alleged on the other side, that “Christ is indeed said to be our passover, but it is by a metaphor, and indicates only that it is by His blood we are saved from everlasting death, as the first-born of the Hebrews were saved by the blood of the paschal lamb from death by the destroying angel.” Were this all, the Apostle might surely have expressed himself less ambiguously. If there was no real connection between the earlier and the later event, and the one stood as much apart from the other as the lintels of Goshen in themselves did from the cross of Calvary, why employ language that forces upon the minds of simple believers the reality of a proper connection? Simply, we believe, because it actually existed; and our “exegetical conscience,” to use a German phrase, refuses to be satisfied with Mr Lord’s mere metaphor. But when he states further, that the passover, having been “appointed with a reference to the exemption of the first born of the Israelites from the death that was to be inflicted on the first-born of the Egyptians, it cannot be a type of Christ’s death for the sins of the world, as that would imply that Christ’s death also was commemorative of the preservation from an analogous death,” who does not perceive that this is to confound between the passover as an original redemptive transaction, and as a commemorative ordinance, pointing back to the great fact, and perpetually rehearsing it? It is as a festal solemnity alone that there can be anything commemorative belonging either to the Paschal sacrifice or to Christ’s. Viewed, however, as redemptive acts, there was a sufficient analogy between them: the one redeemed the first-born of Israel (the firstlings of its families), and the other redeems “the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.”

There is manifested a like tendency to evacuate the proper meaning of Scripture in most of the other instances brought into consideration. Christ, for example, calls Himself, with pointed reference to the manna, “the bread of life;” and in Rev. 2:17, an interest in His divine life is called “an eating of the hidden manna,” but it is only “by a metaphor,” precisely as Christ elsewhere calls Himself the vine, or is likened to a rock. As if [[@Page:50]] there were no difference between an employment of these natural emblems and the identifying of Christ with the supernatural food given to support His people, after a provisional redemption, and on the way to a provisional inheritance! It is not the simple reference to a temporal good on which, in such a case, we rest the typical import, but this in connection with the whole of the relations and circumstances in which the temporal was given or employed. Jonah was not, it is alleged, a type of Christ; for he is not called such, but only a “sign;” neither was Melchizedek called by that name. Well, but Adam is called a type τύποςτοῦ μέλλαντος, Rom. 5:14), and baptism is called is the antitype to the deluge ὃ καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀντίτυπον νῦν σῴζειβάπτισμα, 1 Pet. 3:21). True, but then, we are told, the word in these passages only means a similitude; it does not mean type or antitype in the proper sense. What, then, could denote it? Is there any other term more properly fitted to express the idea? And if the precise term, when it is employed, still does not serve, why object in other cases to the want of it? Strange, surely, that its presence and its absence should be alike grounds of objection. But if the matter is to come to a mere stickling about words, shall we have any types at all? Are even the tabernacle and its institutions of worship called by that name? Not once; but inversely, the designation of antitypes is in one passage applied to them: “The holy places made with hands, the antitypes of the true” (ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν, Heb. 9:24).

So little does Scripture, in its teachings on this subject, encourage us to hang our theoretical explanations on a particular epithet! It varies the mode of expression with all the freedom of common discourse, and even, as in this particular instance, inverts the current phraseology; but still, amid all the variety, it indicates with sufficient plainness a real economical connection between the past and the present in God’s dispensations,—such as is commonly understood by the terms type and antitype; and this is the great point, however we may choose to express it.

The passage in Galatians respecting Sarah and Isaac on the one side, and Hagar and Ishmael on the other, naturally formed one of some importance for the view sought to be established in the Typology, and as such called for Mr Lord’s special consideration. Here, as in other cases, he begins with the statement that [[@Page:51]] the characters and relations there mentioned have not the term type applied to them, and hence should not be reckoned typical. “It is only said,” he continues, “that that which is related of Hagar and Sarah is exhibited allegorically; that is, that there are other things that, used as allegorical representatives of Hagar and Sarah, exhibit the same facts and truths. The object of the allegory is to exemplify them by analogous things; not by them to exemplify something else, to which they present a resemblance. It is they who are said to be allegorized, that is, represented by something else; not something else that is allegorized by them. They are accordingly said to be the two covenants, that is, like the two covenants; and Mount Sinai is used to represent the covenant that genders to bondage; and Jerusalem from above—that is, the Jerusalem of Christ’s kingdom—the covenant of freedom or grace. And they accordingly are employed [by the Apostle] to set forth the character and condition of the bond and the free woman, and their offspring. He attempts to illustrate the lot of the two classes who are under law and under grace; first, by referring to the different relations to the covenant, and different lot of the children of the bond and the free woman; and then, by using Mount Sinai to exemplify the character and condition of those under the Mosaic law, and the heavenly Jerusalem, to exemplify those who are under the Gospel. The places from which the two covenants are proclaimed are thus used to represent those two classes; not Hagar and Sarah to represent those places, or the covenants that are proclaimed from them.” Now, this show of exact criticism—professing to explain all, and yet leaving the main thing totally unexplained—is introduced, let it be observed, to expose an alleged “singular neglect of discrimination” in the use we had made of the passage. We had, it seems, been guilty of the extraordinary mistake of supposing Hagar and Sarah to be themselves the representatives in the Apostle’s allegorization, and not, as we should have done, the objects represented. Does any of our readers, with all the advantage of the reviewer’s explanation, recognise the importance of this distinction? Or can he tell how it serves to explicate the Apostle’s argument? I cannot imagine how any one should do so? In itself it might have been of no moment, though it is of much for the Apostle’s [[@Page:52]] argument, whether Hagar and Sarah be said to represent the two covenants of law and grace, or the two covenants be said to represent them; as in Heb. 9:24, it is of no moment whether the earthly sanctuary be called the antitype of the heavenly, or the heavenly of the earthly. There is in both cases alike a mutual representation, or relative correspondence; and it is the nature of the correspondence, inferior and preparatory in the one case, spiritual and ultimate in the other, which is chiefly important. It is that (though entirely overlooked by the reviewer) which makes the Apostle’s appeal here to the historical transactions in the family of Abraham suitable and appropriate to the object he has in view. For it is by the mothers and their natural offspring he intends to throw light on the covenants, and their respective tendencies and results. It was the earlier that exemplified and illustrated the later, not the later that exemplified and illustrated the earlier; otherwise the reference of the Apostle is misplaced, and the reasoning he founds on it manifestly inept.

One specimen more of this school of interpretation, and we leave it. Among the passages of Scripture that were referred to, as indicating a typical relationship between the Old and the New in God’s dispensations, is Matt. 2:15, where the evangelist speaks of Christ being in Egypt till the death of Herod, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” The allusion to this passage in the first, as well as in the present, edition of this work, was never meant to convey the idea that it was the only Scriptural authority for concluding a typical relationship to have subsisted between Israel and Christ. It was, however, referred to as one of the passages most commonly employed by typological writers in proof of such a relationship, and in itself most obviously implying it. But what says our opponent? “The language of Matthew does not imply that it (the passage in Hosea) was a prophecy of Christ; he simply states, that Jesus continued in Egypt till Herod’s death, so that that occurred in respect to Him which had been spoken by Jehovah by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called My Son; or, in other words, so that that was accomplished in respect to Christ which had been related by the prophet of Israel.” Was there not good [[@Page:53]] reason for indicating a close affinity between the typological principles of this writer, and the loose interpretations of rationalism? One might suppose that it was a comment of Paulas or Kuinoel that we are here presented with, and we transfer their paraphrase and notes to the bottom of the page, to show how entirely they agree in spirit.[26] If the Evangelist simply meant what is ascribed to him, it was surely strange that he should have taken so peculiar a way to express it. But if the words he employs plainly intimate such a connection between Christ and Israel, as gave to the testimony in Hosea the force of a prophecy (which is the natural impression made by the reference), who has any right to tame down his meaning to a sense that would entirely eliminate this prophetical element,—the very element to which, apparently, he was anxious to give prominence? What we have here to deal with is inspired testimony respecting the connection between Israel and Christ; and it cannot have justice done to it, unless it is taken in its broad and palpable import. (See further, under Ch. IV., and Appendix A., c. 4.)

2. We turn now to the other class of writers, whose aim it has been in recent times to enlarge and widen the typological field. The chief, and for some time the only distinguished representatives of it were to be found in Germany; as it was there also that the new and more profound spirit of investigation began to develop itself. Near the commencement of the present century the religions of antiquity began to form the subject of more thoughtful and learned inquiry, and a depth of meaning was discovered (sometimes perhaps only thought to be discovered) in the myths and external symbols of these, which in the preceding century was not so much as dreamt of. Creuzer, in particular, by his great work (Symbolik) created quite a sensation in this department of learning, and opened up what seemed to be an entirely new field of research. He was followed by Baur (Symbolik und Mythologie), Görres (Mythengeschichte), Müller, and others of less note, each [[@Page:54]] endeavouring to proceed farther than preceding inquirers into the explication of the religious views of the ancients, by weaving together and interpreting what is known of their historical legends and ritual services. These inquiries were at first conducted merely in the way of antiquarian research and philosophical speculation; and the religion of the Old Testament was deemed, in that point of view, too unimportant to be made the subject of special consideration. Creuzer only here and there throws out some passing allusions to it. Even Baur, though a theologian, enters into no regular investigation of the symbols of Judaism, while he expatiates at great length on all the varieties of Heathenism. By and by, however, a better spirit appeared. Mosaism, as the religion of the Old Testament is called, had a distinct place allotted it by Görres among the ancient religions of Asia. And at last it was itself treated at great length, and with distinguished learning and ability, in a separate work the Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus of Bähr (published in 1837-9). This continues still (1863) to hold an important place in Germany on the subject of the Mosaic symbols, although it is pervaded by fundamental errors of the gravest kind (to which we shall afterwards have occasion to advert), and not unfrequently falls into fanciful views on particular parts. Some of these were met by Hengstenberg in the second volume of his Authentie des Pentateuchus, who has also furnished many good typical illustrations in his Christology and other exegetical works. Tholuck, in his Commentary on the Hebrews, has followed in the same tract, generally adopting the explanations of Hengstenberg, and still more recently (chiefly since the publication of our first edition), further contributions have been made particularly by Kurtz, Baumgarten, Delitzsch. Even De Wette, in his old age, caught something of this new spirit; and after many an effort to depreciate apostolic Christianity by detecting in it symptoms of Judaical weakness and bigotry, he made at least one commendable effort in the nobler direction of elevating Judaism, by pointing to the manifold germs it contained of a spiritual Christianity. In a passage quoted by Bähr (vol. i., p. 16, from an article by De Wette on the “Characteristik des Hebraismus”), he says—”Christianity sprang out of Judaism. Long before Christ appeared, the world [[@Page:55]] was prepared for His appearance: the entire Old Testament is a great prophecy, a great type of Him who was to come, and has come. Who can deny that the holy seers of the Old Testament saw in spirit the advent of Christ long before He came, and in prophetic anticipations, sometimes more, sometimes less clear, descried the new doctrine? The typological comparison, also, of the Old Testament with the New, was by no means a mere play of fancy; nor can it be regarded as altogether the result of accident, that the evangelical history, in the most important particulars, runs parallel with the Mosaic. Christianity lay in Judaism as leaves and fruits do in the seed, though certainly it needed the divine sun to bring them forth.”

Such language, especially as coming from such a quarter, undoubtedly indicated a marked change. Yet it must not be supposed, on reading so strong a testimony, as if everything were already conceded; for what by such writers as De Wette is granted in the general, is often denied or explained away in the particular. Even the idea of a coming Messiah, as expressed in the page of prophecy, was held to be little more than a patriotic hope, the natural product of certain circumstances connected with the Israelitish nation (see Hengs. Christology, vol. iv., p. 391, Trans.). Nor did the new light thus introduced lead to any well-grounded and regularly developed system of typo logy, based on a clear and comprehensive view of the Divine dispensations. Bähr confined himself almost entirely to the mere interpretation of the symbols of the Mosaic dispensation, and hence, even when his views were correct, rather furnished the materials for constructing a proper typological system, than himself provided. And it has been noted by Tholuck and other learned men as a defect in their literature, that they are without any work on the subject suited to the existing position and demands of theological science.[27]

[[@Page:56]] It is to be observed, however, that this new current of opinion among the better part of theologians on the Continent, leads them to find the typical element widely diffused through the historical and prophetical, as well as the more strictly religious portions of the Old Testament. No one who is in any degree acquainted with the exegetical productions of Hengstenberg and Olshausen, now made accessible to English readers, can have failed to perceive this, from the tone of their occasional references and illustrations. Their unbiassed exegetical spirit rendered it impossible for them to do otherwise; for the same connection, they perceived, runs like a thread through all the parts, and binds them together into a consistent whole. Indeed, the only formal attempt made to work out a new system of typological interpretation, prior to the incomplete treatise mentioned in the last note,—the essay of Olshausen (published in 1824, and consisting only of 124 widely printed pages), entitled, Ein Wort uber tiefern Schriftsinn,—has respect almost exclusively to the historical and prophetical parts of ancient Scripture. When he comes distinctly to unfold what he calls the deeper exposition of Scripture, he contents himself with a brief elucidation of the following points:—That Israel’s relation to God is represented in Scripture as forming an image of all and each of mankind, in so far as the divine life is possessed by them—that Israel’s relation to the surrounding heathen in like manner imaged the conflict of all spiritual men with the evil in the world that a parallelism is drawn between Israel and Christ as the one who completely realized what Israel should have been—and that all real children of God again image what, in the whole, is found imperfectly in Israel and perfectly in Christ (pp. 87-110).

These positions, it must be confessed, indicate a considerable degree of vagueness and generality; and the treatise, as a whole, is defective in first principles and logical precision, as well as [[@Page:57]] fulness of investigation. Klausen, in the following extract from his Hermeneutik, pp. 334-345, has given a fair outline of Olshausen’s views: “We must distinguish between a false and a genuine allegorical exposition, which latter has the support of the highest authority, though it alone has it, being frequently employed by the inspired writers of the New Testament. The fundamental error in the common allegorizing, from which all its arbitrariness has sprung, bidding defiance to every sound principle of exposition, must be sought in this, that a double sense has been attributed to Scripture, and one of them consequently a sense entirely different from that which is indicated by the words. Accordingly, the characteristic of the genuine allegorical exposition must be, that it recognises no sense besides the literal one none differing from this in nature, as from the historical reality of what is recorded; but only a deeper-lying sense ὑπόνοια, bound up with the literal meaning by an internal and essential connection a sense given along with this and in it; so that it must present itself whenever the subject is considered from the higher point of view, and is capable of being ascertained by fixed rules. Hence, if the question be regarding the fundamental principles, according to which the connection must be made out between the deeper apprehension and the immediate sense conveyed by the words, these have their foundation in the law of general harmony, by which all individuals, in the natural as well as in the spiritual world, form one great organic system the law by which all phenomena, whether belonging to a higher or a lower sphere, appear as copies of what essentially belongs to their respective ideas; so that the whole is represented in the individual, and the individual again in the whole. This mysterious relation comes most prominently out in the history of the Jewish people and their worship. But something analogous everywhere discovers itself; and in the manner in which the Old Testament is expounded in the New, we are furnished with the rules for all exposition of the Word, of nature, and of history.”

The vague and unsatisfactory character of this mode of representation, is evident almost at first sight; the elements of truth contained in it are neither solidly grounded nor sufficiently guarded against abuse; so that, with some justice, Klausen [[@Page:58]] remarks, in opposition to it,—”The allegorizing may perhaps be applied with greater moderation and better taste than formerly; but against the old principle, though revived as often as put down,—viz., that every sense which can be found in the words has a right to be regarded as the sense of the words,—the same exceptions will always be taken.” If the Typology of Scripture cannot be rescued from the domain of allegorizings, it will be impossible to secure for it a solid and permanent footing. It cannot attain to this while coupled with allegorical licence, or with a nearer and deeper sense. It is proper to add, that Klausen himself has no place in his Hermeneutik for typical, as distinguished from allegorical interpretations. In common with Hermeneutical writers generally, he regards these as substantially the same in kind; and the one only as the excess of the other. Some application he would allow of Old Testament Scripture to the realities of the Gospel, in consideration of what is said by inspired writers of the relation subsisting between the two; but he conceives that relation to be of a kind which scarcely admits of being brought to the test of historical truth, and that the examples furnished of it in the New Testament arose from necessity rather than from choice.

Later writers generally, however, on the Continent, who have meditated with a profound and thoughtful spirit on the history of the Divine dispensations, have shown a disposition to tread in the footsteps of Olshausen rather than of Klausen. And it cannot but be regarded as a striking exemplification of the revolving cycles through which theological opinion is sometimes found to pass, that after two centuries of speculation and inquiry, a substantial return has been made by some of the ablest of these divines—though by diverse routes—to the more fundamental principles of the Cocceian school. It was characteristic of that school to contemplate the dispensations chiefly from the divine point of view; according to which, the end being eyed from the beginning, the things pertaining to the end were often, by a not unnatural consequence, made to throw back their light too distinctly on those of the beginning, and the progressive nature of the Divine economy was not sufficiently regarded. It was further characteristic of the same school, that, viewing everything in the scheme of God as planned with reference[[@Page:59]] to redemption, they were little disposed to discriminate in this respect between one portion of the earlier things belonging to it and another; wherever they could trace a resemblance, there also they descried a type; and everything in the history as well as in the institutions of the Old Covenant, was brought into connection with the realities of the Gospel. Now, these two fundamental characteristics of Cocceianism, somewhat differently grounded, and still more differently applied, are precisely those to which peculiar prominence is given in the writings of such men as Hofmann, Kurtz, Lange, and others of the present day. The first of these, in a work (Weissagung und Erfüllung, 1841-44) which, from its spirit of independent inquiry, and the fresh veins of thought it not unfrequently opened up, exerted an influence upon many who had no sympathy with the doctrinal conclusions of the author, made even more of the typical element in Old Testament history than was done by the Cocceians. It is in the typical character of history, rather than in the prophetic announcements which accompanied it, that he would find the germ and presage of the future realities of the Gospel: the history foreshadowed these; the prophets, acting as the men of superior discernment, simply perceived and interpreted what was in the history. Therefore, to elevate the historical and depress the prophetical in Old Testament Scripture, might be regarded as the general aim of Hofmann’s undertaking; yet only formally and relatively to do so: for, as expressive of the religious state and development of the covenant people, both were in reality depressed, and the sacred put much on a level with the profane. This will sufficiently appear from the following illustration:—”Every triumphal procession which passed through the streets of Rome was a prophecy of Augustus Cassar; for what he displayed through the whole of his career, was here displayed by the triumphant general on his day of honour,—namely, the God in the man, Jupiter in the Roman citizen. In the fact that Rome paid such honours to its victorious commanders, it pointed to the future, when it should rule the world through the great emperor, to whom divine honours would be paid.” This he brings into comparison with the allusion made in John 19:36 to the ordinance respecting the passover lamb, that a bone of it should not be broken; and [[@Page:60]] then adds, “The meaning of the triumph was not fully realized in the constantly recurring triumphal processions; and so also the meaning of the passover was not fully realized in the yearly passover meals; but the essential meaning of both was to be fully developed at some future period, when the prophecy contained in them should also be fully confirmed” (I., p. 15). But what, one naturally asks, did the prophecy in such cases amount to? It will scarcely be alleged, that even the most gifted Roman citizen, who lived during the period of triumphal processions, could with any certainty have descried in these the future possessor of the imperial throne. It could at the most have been but a vague anticipation or probable conjecture,—if so much as that; for, however the elevation of Augustus to that dignity might, after the event actually occurred, have come to be regarded “as the top-stone and culminating point in the history,” assuredly the better spirits of the commonwealth were little disposed to long for such a culmination, or to think of it beforehand as among the destinies of the future. It is only as contemplated from the divine point of view, that the triumphal procession could with any propriety be said to foreshadow the imperial dignity,—a point of view which the event alone rendered it possible for men to apprehend; and the so-called prophecy, therefore, when closely considered and designated by its proper name, was merely the divine purpose secretly moulding the events which were in progress, and, through these, marching on to its accomplishment. This, and nothing more (since Zion is put on a footing with Rome) is the kind of prophecy which Hofmann would find, and find exclusively, in the facts and circumstances of Israelitish history. Because they in reality culminated in the wonders of redemption, they might be said to mark the progression of the Divine procedure toward that as its final aim. But who could meanwhile conjecture that there was any such goal in prospect? The prophets, it is affirmed, could not rise above the movements of the current history; not even the seers, by way of eminence, could penetrate further into the future than existing relations and occurrences might carry them. What signified it, then, that a latent prophecy lay enwrapped in the history? There was no hand to remove the veil and disclose the secret. The prophecy as such was known only in [[@Page:61]] the heavenly sphere; and the whole that could be found in the human was some general conviction or vague hope that principles were at work, or a plan was in progress, which seemed to be tending to loftier issues than had yet been reached.

This scheme of Hofmann is too manifestly an exaggeration of a particular aspect of the truth to be generally accepted as a just explanation of the whole; by soaring too high in one direction, fixing the eye too exclusively on the Divine side of things, it leaves the human bereft of its proper significance and value—reduces it, in fact, to a rationalistic basis. Hengstenberg has justly said of it, in the last edition of his Christology (vol. iv., p. 389), that “by overthrowing prophecy, in the strict sense, it necessarily involves acted prophecy (or type) in the same fate; and that it is nothing but an illusion to attempt to elevate types at the expense of prophecy.” Without, however, attempting after this fashion to sacrifice the one of these for the sake of the other, various theologians have sought to combine them, so as to make the one the proper complement of the other two divinely-appointed factors in the production of a common result, such as the necessities of the Church required. Thus Kurtz (Hist, of Old Cov., Introd., § 7, 8), while he contends for the proper function of prophecy, as having to do with the future not less than the present, maintains that the history also of the Old Covenant was prophetic, “both because it fore shadows, and because it stands in living and continuous relation to, the plan of salvation which was going to be manifested.” He thinks it belongs to prophecy alone to disclose, with requisite freedom and distinctness, the connection between what at any particular time was possessed and what was still wanted, or between the fulfilments of promise already made and the expectations which remained to be satisfied; but, in doing this, prophecy serves itself of the history as not only providing the occasion, but also containing the germ of what was to come. He therefore holds that the sacred history possesses a typical character, which appears prominently, continuously, markedly in decided outlines, and in a manner patent not only to posterity, but, by the assistance of prophecy, to contemporaries also, according to the measure that their spiritual capacity might enable them to receive it. This character belongs alike to events, institutions,[[@Page:62]] and dispensations; but in what manner or to what extent it is to be carried out in particular cases, nothing beyond a few general lines have been indicated.

These views of the typical element contained in the history and institutions of the Old Covenant, while they present certain fundamental agreements with the principles of the Cocceian school, have this also in common with it, that they take the need for redemption—the fall of man—as the proper starting-point alike for type and prophecy. But another and influential class of theologians, having its representatives in this country as well as on the Continent, has of late advanced a step further, and holds that creation itself, and the state and circumstances of man before as well as after the fall, equally possessed a typical character, being from the outset inwrought with prophetic indications of the person and kingdom of Christ. To this class belong all who have espoused the position (not properly a new one, for it is well known to have been maintained by some of the scholastic divines), that the incarnation of Godhead in the person of Christ was destined to take place irrespective of the fall, and that the circumstances connected with this only determined the specific form in which He was to appear, and the nature of the work He had to do, but not the purpose itself of a personal indwelling of Godhead in the flesh of man, which is held to have been indispensable for the full manifestation of the Divine character, and the perfecting of the idea of humanity. The advocates of this view include Lange, Dorner, Liebner, Ebrard, Martensen, with several others of reputation in Ger many, and in this country, Dean Trench (in his Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge). Along with these there are others—in particular, Dr M’Cosh, the late Hugh Miller, also the late Mr M Donald of Edinkillie—who, without properly committing themselves to this view of the incarnation, yet, on the ground of the analogy pervading the fields alike of nature and redemption in respect to the prevalence of typical forms, on this ground at least, more especially and peculiarly, hold not less decidedly than the theologians above named, the existence of a typical element in the original frame and constitution of things.

Such being the turn that later speculations upon this subject [[@Page:63]] have taken, it manifestly becomes necessary to examine all the more carefully into the nature and properties of a type. We must endeavour to arrive (if possible) at some definite ideas and fundamental principles on the general subject, before entering on the consideration of the particular modes of revelation by type, which undoubtedly constitute the great mass of what in Scripture is invested with such a character, and to which, with a view to the right understanding and proper application of these, our inquiry must be mainly directed.


[1] Opera, Vol. II., p. 88, Ed. Delarue.

[2] Ibid., p. 29.

[3] See, however, a thorough specimen of allegorizing after the manner of Origen, on the “Sacramentum,” involved in the name and office of Abishag, in Jerome’s letter to Nepotianus (Ep. 52 Ed. Yallars.), indicating, as he thinks, the larger development of wisdom in men of advanced age.

[4] On Psalm 41.

[5] On Psalm 42.

[6] The major part of our readers, perhaps, may be of opinion that they have already been detained too long with the subject, believing that such interpretations are for ever numbered among the things that were. So we were ourselves disposed to think. And yet we have lived to see a substantial revival of the allegorical style of interpretation, in a work of comparatively recent date, and a work that bears the marks of an accomplished and superior mind. We refer to that portion of Mr Worsley’s Produce of the Intellect in Religion, which treats of the Patriarchs in their Christian Import, and the Apostles as the Completion of the Patriarchs. His notion respecting the Patriarchs briefly is, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob respectively, “present to us the eternal triune object” of worship,—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that the marriages of the Patriarchs symbolize God’s union with His church, and with each member of it; and especially is this done through the wives and children of Jacob, at least in regard to its practical tendency and sanctifying results. In making out the scheme, the names of the persons mentioned in the history are peculiarly dwelt upon, as furnishing a sort of key to the allegorical interpretation. Thus Leah, whose name means wearisome and fatiguing labour, was the symbol of “services and works which are of little worth in themselves—labours rather of a painful and reluctant duty, than of a free and joyful love.” “She sets forth to us that fundamental repulsiveness or stubbornness of our nature, whose proper and ordained discipline is the daily taskwork of duty, as done not to man, nor to self, but to God.” Afterwards, Leah is identified with the ox, as the symbol of stubbornness and wearisome labour; and so “with Leah the ox symbolizes our taskwork of duty, and our capacity for it,” while the sheep (Rachel signifying sheep) symbolizes “our labours of love, i.e., our real rest and capacity for it.” (P. 71, 113, 128.) It may be conjectured from this specimen what ingenuities require to be plied before the author can get through all the twelve sons of Jacob, so as to make them symbols of the different graces and operations of a Christian life. We object to the entire scheme.—1. Because it is perfectly arbitrary. Though Scripture sometimes warrants us in laying stress on names, as expressive of spiritual ideas or truths connected with the persons they belong to, yet it is only when the history itself draws attention to them, and even then they never stand alone, as the names often do with Mr Worsley, the only keys to the import of the transactions: as if, where acts entirely fail, or where they appear to be at variance with the symbolical ideal, the key were still to be found in the name. Scripture nowhere, for example, lays any stress upon the names of Leah and Rachel; while it very pointedly refers to the bad eyes of the one, and the attractive comeliness of the other. And if we were inclined to allegorize at all, we should deem it more natural, with Justin Martyr (Trypho, c. 42) and Jerome (on Hos. 12:3), to regard Leah as the symbol of the blear-eyed Jewish church, and Rachel of the beloved church of the Gospel. Even this, however, is quite arbitrary, for there is nothing properly in common between the symbol and the thing symbolized—no real bond of connection uniting them together. And if by tracing out such lines of resemblance, we might indulge in a pleasing exercise of fancy, we can never deduce from them a revelation of God’s mind and will. 2. But further, such explanations offend against great fundamental principles—the principle, for example, that the Father cannot be represented as entering into union with the Church, viewed as distinct from the Son and the Spirit; and the principle that a sinful act or an improper relation cannot be the symbol of what is divine and holy. In such a case there never can be any real agreement. “Who, indeed, can calmly contemplate the idea of Abraham’s connection with Hagar, or Jacob’s connection with the two sisters and their handmaids—in themselves both manifestly wrong, and receiving on them manifest tokens of God’s displeasure in providence—should be the chosen symbol of God’s own relation to the Church? How very different an allegorizing of this sort is from the typical use made of them in Scripture will be shown in the sequel.

[7] On Gal. 4:26.

[8] On Gal. 4:22.

[9] Philologia Sac. Lib. II. P. I. Tract. II. Sect. 4. Vitringa Obs. Sac. Vol. II. Lib. VI. c. 20. Witsius De (Econom. Lib. IV. c. 6.

[10] The Figures and Types of the Old Testament.

[11] Key to open the Scripture Metaphors and Types.

[12] The Types Unveiled; or, The Gospel Picked out of the Legal Ceremonies.

[13] Moses and Aaron.

[14] Moses Unveiled.

[15] In the reference made above to the beginnings of David’s kingdom, it will be understood that the characters he associated with himself are simply viewed in the light contemplated by the writers more immediately in view. My own conviction is, that 1 Sam. 22:2, if rightly interpreted, would present those who gathered themselves to David as spiritually the better sort in Israel those who were partly made bankrupt by oppression, and partly were grieved and vexed in their minds at the existing state of things.

[16] The following critique of Buddeus, which belongs to the earlier part of last century, already points in this direction: “It cannot certainly be denied that the Cocceians, at least some of them, have carried this matter too far. For, besides that they everywhere seem to find images and types of future things, where other people can discern none, when they come to make the application to the antitype, they not unfrequently descend to minute and even trifling things, nay, advance what is utterly insignificant and ludicrous, exposing holy writ to the mockery of the profane. And here it may be proper to notice the fates of exegetical theology; since that in temperate rage for allegories which appeared in Origen and the Fathers, and which had been condemned by the schoolmen, was again, after an interval, though under a different form, produced anew upon the stage. For this typical interpretation differs from the allegorical only in the circumstance, that respect is had in it to the future things which are adumbrated by the types; and so, the typical may be regarded as a sort of allegorical interpretation. But in either way the amplest scope is afforded for the play of a luxuriant fancy and a fertile invention.”—I. F. Buddei Isagoge II. hist. Theolog. 1830.

[17] Obs. Sac. Vol. II., p. 460, 461.

[18] Clarke’s Evidences, p. 420, sq. Jortin’s Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I., p. 138-152.

[19] Grace and Truth, or the Glory and Fulness of the Redeemer displayed, in an attempt to explain the Types, Figures, and Allegories of the Old Testament, by the Rev. AY. M’Ewen.

[20] Hutchinson’s Works, Vol. I., p. 202.

[21] Ibid., Vol. VII., p. 325.

[22] Lectures, p. 373.

[23] Stuart’s Ernesti, p. 13.

[24] We don’t vouch, of course, for the absolute completeness of the above list. Indeed, it is scarcely possible to know what would be regarded as a complete list—some feeling satisfied with an amount of recognition in Scripture which seems quite insufficient in the eyes of others. There have been those who, on the strength of Gen. 49:24, would insert Joseph among the specially mentioned types, and claim also Sampson, on account of what is written in Judges 13:5. But scriptural warrants of such a kind are out of date now—they can no longer be regarded as current coin. On the other hand, there are not a few who deem the scriptural warrant insufficient for some of those we have specified, and think the passages where they are noticed refer to them merely in the way of illustration. The list, however, comprises what are usually regarded as historical types, possessing distinct scriptural authority, by writers belonging to the school of Marsh. The arguments of those who would discard them altogether will be considered under next division.

[25] Lectures, p. 372.

[26] Kuinoel: Ut adco hie recte possit laudari, quod dominus olim interprete propheta dixit, nempe: ex AEgypto vocavi filium meum. Paulus: “πληροῦσθαι is here fulfilling, as denoting a completion after the resemblance;” and he adopts as his own Ernesti’s paraphrase, “Here one might say with greater justice (in a fuller sense) what Hosea said of Israel.”

[27] This defect cannot yet be said to have been supplied; not by the Symbolique du Culte de L’ Ancienne Alliance (1860) of Neumann, published since the above was written the work of a German, though written—in French. For not only is the work incomplete (the first part only having appeared), but it possesses more the nature of a condensed sketch or outline of the subject, than a full investigation. So far as it goes, it is written with clearness and vigour, contains some fine thoughts, and is pervaded by an earnest and elevated spirit. Justice requires me to add, that it appears to be marred by two misleading tendencies: one of excess attempting to carry religion too much into the domain of science (for example, in the use made of Goethe’s Theory of Colours to explain some of the Old Testament symbols); the other of defect—viewing religion almost, if not altogether exclusively, on the subjective side, which necessarily leads to certain meagre and arbitrary explanations. Reference may possibly be made to some of them in the sequel.

Chapter Second.—The Proper Nature and Province of Typology.—1. Scriptural Use of The Word Type Comparison of This with The Theological Distinctive Characteristics of a Typical Relationship, Viewed with Respect to The Religious Institutions of The Old Testament.

[[@Page:64]] THE language of Scripture being essentially popular, its use of particular terms naturally partakes of the freedom and variety which are wont to appear in the current speech of a people; and it rarely if ever happens, that words are employed, in respect to topics requiring theological treatment, with such precision and uniformity as to enable us, from this source alone, to attain to proper accuracy and fulness. The word type (τύπος) forms no exception to this usage. Occurring once, at least, in the natural sense of mark or impress made by a hard substance on one of softer material (John 20:25), it commonly bears the general import of model, pattern, or exemplar, but with such a wide diversity of application as to comprehend a material object of worship, or idol (Acts 7:43), an external framework constructed for the service of God (Acts 7:44, Heb. 8:5), the form or copy of an epistle (Acts 23:25), a method of doctrinal instruction delivered by the first heralds and teachers of the Gospel (Rom. 6:17), a representative character, or, in certain respects, normal example (Rom. 5:14, 1 Cor. 10:11, Phil. 3:17, 1 Thess. 1:7, 1 Pet. 5:3). Such in New Testament Scripture is the diversified use of the word type (disguised, however, under other terms in the authorized version). It is only in the last of the applications noticed, that it has any distinct bearing on the subject of our present inquiry; and this also comprises under it so much of diversity, that if we were to draw our definition of a type simply from the Scriptural use of the term, we could give no more specific description of it than this—a certain pattern or exemplar exhibited in the position and character of some individuals, [[@Page:65]] to which others may or should be conformed. Adam stood, we are told, in the relation of a type to the coming Messiah, backsliding Israelites in their guilt and punishment to similar characters in Christian times, faithful pastors to their flocks, first converts to those who should afterwards believe,—a manifestly varied relationship, closer in some than in others, yet in each implying a certain resemblance between the parties associated together; something in the one that admitted of being virtually reproduced in the other. Thus defined and understood, it will be observed, also, that a type is no more peculiar to one dispensation than another. It is to be found now in the true pastor or the exemplary Christian as well as formerly in Adam or in Israel; and since believers generally are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, he might, of course, be designated for all times emphatically and preeminently the type of the Church.

But presented in this loose and general form, there is nothing in the nature of a type that can be said to call for particular investigation, or that may occasion material difference of opinion. The subject involves only a few leading ideas, which are familiar to every intelligent reader of Scripture, and which can prove of small avail to the satisfactory explication of what is peculiar in the history of the Divine dispensations. When, however, with reference more to the subject itself than to the mere employment of a particular word in connection with it, we pursue our researches into the testimony of Scripture, we presently find relations indicated between one class of things and another, which, while the same in kind, perhaps, with those just noticed, have yet distinctive features of their own, which call for thoughtful inquiry and discriminating treatment. These have already to some extent come into consideration in the historical and critical review that has been presented of past opinion (see p. 41 sq.). It is enough to refer here to such passages as Heb. 9:24 where the holy places of the earthly tabernacle are called the antitypes (ἀντίτυπα) of the true or heavenly; the latter, of course, according to this somewhat peculiar phraseology, being viewed as the types of the other: Heb. 8:5—where the whole structure of the tabernacle, with its appointed ritual of service, is designated an example and shadow (ὑπόδειγμα σκία) of heavenly things: Ps. 110:4; Heb. 6:10-12, 7—where Melchizedek is [[@Page:66]] exalted over the ministering priesthood of that tabernacle, as bearing in some important respects a still closer relationship to Christ than was given them to occupy: 1 Pet. 3:21—where Christian baptism is denominated the antitype to the deluge, and by implication the deluge is made the type of baptism: Matt. 2:15; Luke 22:16; 1 Cor. 5:7; John 2:19, 6:31-33; 1 Cor. 10:4—where Christ is in a manner identified with the corporate Israel, the passover, the temple, the manna, the water-giving rock. When reading these passages, and others of a like description, our minds instinctively inquire—what is the nature of the connection indicated by them between the past and the present in God’s economy? Is it such as subsists between things alike in principle, but diverse in form? Between things on the same spiritual level, or things rising from a lower to a higher level? Is the connection strictly the same in all, or does it vary with the objects and parties compared? What light is thrown by the different elements entering into it upon the revealed character of God, and the progressive condition of His Church? Can we discover in them the lines of a divine harmony in the one respect, and of a human harmony in the other? Such are the questions which here naturally press on us for solution; and they are questions altogether occasioned by peculiarities in preceding dispensations as compared with that of the Gospel. The relation of the present to the still coming future—which is that simply of the initial to the terminal processes of the salvation already accomplished—is of a much less complicated and embarrassing kind, and can scarcely be said to give rise to questions of the class now specified.

In another respect, however, substantially the same questions arise namely, in connection with much that is indicated of the anticipated future of the Christian Church, pointing, as it does, even after Christian realities had come, to further developments of the forms and relations of earlier times. For in the prospective delineations which are given us in Scripture respecting the final issues of Christ’s kingdom among men, while the foundation of all undoubtedly lies in the mediatorial work and offices of Christ Himself, it still is through the characters, ordinances, and events of the Old Covenant, not those of the New (with the exception just specified), that the things to come[[@Page:67]] are shadowed forth to the eye of faith; the forms of things in the remote past have here also, it would seem, to find their proper complement and destined realization. Thus, Israel still appears, among the prophetic glimpses in question, with his twelve tribes, his marvellous redemption, wilderness-sojourn, and rescued inheritance (Matt. 19:28; Rev. 7:4-17, 12:14, 15:3); and the tabernacle or temple, with its courts and sanctuaries, its ark of testimony and cherubim of glory, its altars and offerings (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 4:7, 8, 8:3, 11:1, 2, 15:6-8, 21:3); and the ancient priesthood, with their linen robes and angel-like service (Rev. 4:4, 15:6); Zion and Jerusalem, Babylon and Euphrates, Sodom and Egypt (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 11:8, 14:1-8, 16:12, 21:2); and more remote still, especially when the mystery of God in Christ is seen approaching its consummation, paradise with its tree of life and rivers of gladness, its perennial delights, and over all its heaven-crowned Lord, with the spouse formed from Himself to share with Him in the glory, and yield Him faithful service in the kingdom (Rev. 2:7, 7:17, 19:7, 21:9). No more, amid the anticipations of Christian faith and hope, are we permitted to lose sight of the personages and materials of the earlier dispensations, than in those which took shape under pre-Christian times.

Having respect, therefore, to the nature of the subject under consideration, and the more peculiar difficulties attending it, rather than to the infrequent and variable use of the word type in Scripture, theologians have been wont to distinguish between existing relationships (such as of a pastor to his people, or of Christ to the heirs of His glory) and those which connect together bygone with Christian times—the things pertaining to the Old with those pertaining to the New Covenant. The former alone they have usually designated by the name of types, the latter by that of antitypes. This mode of distinguishing by theologians has been represented as an unwise departure from Scriptural usage, and in itself necessarily fitted to mislead.[1] It [[@Page:68]] admits, however, of a reasonable justification; and to treat the subject with anything like scientific precision and fulness, without determining after such a method the respective provinces of type and antitype, would be found extremely inconvenient, if not impracticable. The testimony of Scripture itself, when fairly consulted, affords ground for the distinction indicated, in a great measure apart from and beyond the application of the specific terms. By adhering closely to its usage in respect to these, and disregarding other considerations, one might readily enough, indeed, present some popular illustrations, or throw off a few general outlines of the typical field; but to get at its more distinctive characteristics, and explicate with some degree of satisfaction the difficulties with which it invests, to our view, the evolution of God’s plan and ways, is a different thing, and demands a greatly more exact and comprehensive line of investigation. The extravagance which has too often characterized the speculations of divines upon the subject has arisen, not from their devising a theological sense for the word type(which Scripture itself might be said to force on them), but from their failure to search out the fundamental principles involved in the whole representations of Scripture, and to make a judicious and discriminating application of the light thence arising to the different parts of the subject.[2]

Understanding the word type, then, in the theological sense,—that is, conceiving its strictly proper and distinctive sphere to lie in the relations of the old to the new, or the earlier to the later, in God’s dispensations,—there are two things which, by general consent, are held to enter into the constitution of a type. It is held, first, that in the character, action, or institution which is denominated the type, there must be a resemblance in form or spirit to what answers to it under the Gospel; and secondly, that it must not be any character, action, or institution occurring in Old Testament Scripture, but such only as had their ordination of God, and were designed by Him to foreshadow and prepare for the better things of the Gospel. For, as Bishop Marsh has justly remarked, “to constitute one thing the type of another, something more is wanted than mere resemblance. [[@Page:69]] The former must not only resemble the latter, but must have been designed to resemble the latter. It must have been so designed in its original institution. It must have been designed as something preparatory to the latter. The type as well as the antitype must have been pre-ordained; and they must have been pre-ordained as constituent parts of the same general scheme of Divine Providence. It is this previous design and this pre-ordained connection [together, of course, with the resemblance], which constitute the relation of type and antitype.”[3] We insert, together with the resemblance; for, while stress is justly laid on the previous design and pre-ordained connection, the resemblance also forms an indispensable element in this very connection, and is, in fact, the point that involves the more peculiar difficulties belonging to the subject, and calls for the closest investigation.

I. We begin, therefore, with the other point the previous design and pre-ordained connection necessarily entering into the relation between type and antitype. A relation so formed, and subsisting to any extent between Old and New Testament things, evidently presupposes and implies two important facts. It implies, first, that the realities of the Gospel, which constitute the antitypes, are the ultimate objects which were contemplated by the mind of God, when planning the economy of His successive dispensations. And it implies, secondly, that to prepare the way for the introduction of these ultimate objects, He placed the Church under a course of training, which included instruction by types, or designed and fitting resemblances of what was to come. Both of these facts are so distinctly stated in Scripture, and, indeed, so generally admitted, that it will be unnecessary to do more than present a brief outline of the proof on which they rest.

1. In regard to the first of the two facts, we find the designation of “the ends of the world” applied in Scripture to the Gospel-age;[4] and that not so much in respect to its posteriority in point of time, as to its comparative maturity in regard to the things of salvation the higher and better things having now come, which had hitherto appeared only in prospect or existed [[@Page:70]] but in embryo. On the same account the Gospel dispensation is called “the dispensation of the fulness of times;”[5] indicating, that with it alone the great objects of faith and hope, which the Church was from the first destined to possess, were properly brought within her reach. Only with the entrance also of this dispensation does the great mystery of God, in connection with man’s salvation, come to be disclosed, and the light of a new and more glorious era at last breaks upon the Church. “The day-spring from the height,” in the expressive language of Zacharias, then appeared, and made manifest what had previously been wrapt in comparative obscurity, what had not even been distinctly conceived, far less satisfactorily enjoyed.[6] Here, therefore, in the sublime discoveries and abounding consolations of the Gospel, is the reality, in its depth and fulness, while in the earlier endowments and institutions of the Church there was no more than a shadowy exhibition and a partial experience;[7]and as a necessary consequence, the most eminent in spiritual light and privilege before, were still decidedly inferior even to the less distinguished members of the Messiah’s kingdom.[8] In a word, the blessed Redeemer, whom the Gospel reveals, is Himself the beginning and the end of the scheme of God’s dispensations; in Him is found alike the centre of Heaven’s plan, and the one foundation of human confidence and hope. So that before His coming into the world, all things of necessity pointed toward [[@Page:71]] Him; types and prophecies bore testimony to the things that concerned His work and kingdom; the children of blessing were blessed in anticipation of His promised redemption; and with His coming, the grand reality itself came, and the higher purposes of Heaven entered on their fulfilment.[9]

2. The other fact presupposed and implied in the relation between type and antitype,—namely, that God subjected the Church to a course of preparatory training, including instruction by types, before He introduced the realities of His final dispensation,—is written with equal distinctness in the page of inspiration. It is scarcely possible, indeed, to dissociate even in idea the one fact from the other; for, without such a course of preparation being perpetually in progress, the long delay which took place in the introduction of the Messiah’s kingdom would be quite inexplicable. Accordingly, the Church of the Old Testament is constantly represented as having been in a state of comparative childhood, supplied only with such means of instruction, and subjected to such methods of discipline as were suited to so imperfect and provisional a period of her being. Her law, in its higher aim and object, was a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ (Gal. 3:24); and everything in her condition—what it wanted, as well as what it possessed, what was done for her, and what remained yet to be done—concurred in pointing the way to Him who was to come with the better promises and the perfected salvation (Heb. 7, 8, 9). Such is the plain import of a great many scriptures bearing on the subject.

It is to be noted, however, in regard to this course of preparation, continued through so many ages, that everything in the mode of instruction and discipline employed ought not to be regarded as employed simply for the sake of those who lived during its continuance. It was, no doubt, primarily introduced on their account, and must have been wisely adapted to their circumstances, as under preparation for better things to come. But, at the same time, it must also, like the early training of a well-educated youth, have been fitted to tell with beneficial effect on the spiritual life of the Church in her more advanced state of existence, after she had actually attained to those better things [[@Page:72]] themselves. The man of mature age, when pursuing his way amid the perplexing cares and busy avocations of life, finds himself continually indebted to the lessons he was taught and the skill he has acquired during the period of his early culture. And, in like manner, it was undoubtedly God’s intention that. His method of procedure toward the Church in her state of minority, not only should minister what was needed for her immediate instruction and improvement, but should also furnish materials of edification and comfort for believers to the end of time. If the earlier could not be made perfect without the things belonging to the later Church (Heb. 11:40), so neither, on the other hand, can the later profitably or even safely dispense with the advantage she may derive from the more simple and rudimentary things that belonged to the earlier. The Church, considered as God’s nursery for training souls to a meetness for immortal life and blessedness, is substantially the same through all periods of her existence; and the things which were appointed for the behoof of her members in one age, had in them also something of lasting benefit for those on whom the ends of the world are come (1 Cor. 10:6, 11).

It is farther to be noted, that in this work of preparation for the more perfect future, arrangements of a typical kind, being of a somewhat recondite nature, necessarily occupied a relative and subsidiary, rather than the primary and most essential place. The Church enjoyed from the first the benefit of direct and explicit instruction, imparted either immediately by the hand of God, or through the instrumentality of His accredited messengers. From this source she always derived her knowledge of the more fundamental truths of religion, and also her more definite expectations of the better things to come. The fact is of importance, both as determining the proper place of typical acts and institutions, and as indicating a kind of extraneous and qualifying element, that must not be overlooked in judging of the condition of believers under them. Yet they were not, on that account, rendered less valuable or necessary as constituent parts of a preparatory dispensation; for it was through them, as temporary expedients, and by virtue of the resemblances they possessed to the higher things in prospect, that the realities of Christ’s kingdom obtained a kind of present realization to the [[@Page:73]] eye of faith. What, then, was the nature of these resemblances. Wherein precisely did the similarity which formed more especially the preparatory elements in the Old, as compared with the New, really lie? This is the point that mainly calls for elucidation.

II. It is the second point we were to investigate, as being that which would necessarily require the most lengthened and careful examination. And the general statement we submit respecting it is, that two things were here essentially necessary: there must have been in the Old the same great elements of truth as in the things they represented under the New; and then, in the Old, these must have been exhibited in a form more level to the comprehension, more easily and distinctly cognizable by the minds of men.

1. There must have been, first, the same great elements of truth,—for the mind of God, and the circumstances of the fallen creature, are substantially the same at all times. What the spiritual necessities of men now are, they have been from the time that sin entered into the world. Hence the truth revealed by God to meet these necessities, however varying from time to time in the precise amount of its communications, and however differing also in the external form under which it might be presented, must have been, so far as disclosed, essentially one in every age. For, otherwise, what anomalous results would follow! If the principles unfolded in God’s communications to men, and on which he regulates His dealings toward them, were materially different at one period from what they are at another, then either the wants and necessities of men’s natural condition must have undergone a change,—or these being the same, as they undoubtedly are—the character of God must have altered—He cannot be the immutable Jehovah. Besides, the very idea of a course of preparatory dispensations were, on the supposition in question, manifestly excluded; since that could have had no proper ground to rest on, unless there was a deep-rooted and fundamental agreement between what was merely provisional and what was final and ultimate in the matter. The primary and essential elements of truth, therefore, which are embodied in the facts of the Gospel, and on which its economy of grace is based, cannot, in the nature of things, be of recent origin—as if they [[@Page:74]] were altogether peculiar to the New Testament dispensation, and had only begun with the entrance of it to obtain a place in the government of God. On the contrary, their existence must have formed the groundwork, and their varied manifestation the progress, of any preparatory dispensations that might be appointed. And whatever ulterior respect the typical characters, actions, or institutions of those earlier dispensations might carry to the coming realities of the Gospel, their more immediate intention and use must have consisted in the exhibition they gave of the vital and fundamental truths common alike to all dispensations.

2. If a clear and conclusive certainty attaches to this part of our statement, it does so in even an increased ratio to the other. Holding that the same great elements of truth must of necessity pervade both type and antitype, we must also assuredly believe, that in the former they were more simply and palpably exhibited—presented in some shape in which the human mind could more easily and distinctly apprehend them—than in the latter. It would manifestly have been absurd to admit into a course of preparation for the realities of the Gospel, certain temporary exhibitions of the same great elements of truth that were to pervade these, unless the preparatory had been of more obvious meaning, and of more easy comprehension, than the ultimate and final. The transition from the one to the other must clearly have involved a rise in the mode of exhibiting the truth from a lower to a higher territory—from a form of development more easily grasped, to a form which should put the faculties of the mind to a greater stretch. For thus only could it be wise or proper to set up preparatory dispensations at all. These, manifestly, had been better spared, if the realities themselves lay more, or even so much, within the reach and comprehension of the mind, as their temporary and imperfect representations.

Standing, then, on the foundation of these two principles, as necessarily forming the essential elements of the resemblance that subsisted between the Old and the New in God’s dispensations, we may now proceed to consider how far they can legitimately carry us in explaining the subject in hand; or, in other words, to answer the question, how on such a basis the typical things of the past could properly serve as preparatory arrangements [[@Page:75]] for the higher and better things of the future? We shall endeavour to answer this question, in the first instance, by making application of our principles to the symbolical institutions of the Mosaic dispensation, which are usually denominated the ritual or legal types. For, in respect to these we have the advantage of the most explicit assertion in Scripture of their typical character; and we are also furnished with certain general descriptions of their nature as typical, which may partly serve as lights to direct our inquiries, and partly provide a test by which to try the correctness of our results.

Now, viewing the institutions of the dispensation brought in by Moses as typical, we look at them in what may be called their secondary aspect; we consider them as prophetic symbols of the letter things to come in the Gospel. But this evidently implies, that in another and more immediate respect they were merely symbols, that is, outward and sensible representations of Divine truth, in connection with an existing dispensation and a religious worship. It was only from their being this, in the one respect, that they could, in the other, be prophetic symbols, or types, of what was afterwards to appear under the Gospel; on the ground already stated, that the preparatory dispensation to which they belonged was necessarily inwrought with the same great elements of truth which were afterwards, in another form, to pervade the Christian. Had there not been the identity in the truths here supposed, assimilating amid all outward diversities the two dispensations in spirit to each other, the earlier would rather have blocked up, than prepared and opened, the way for the latter. A partial exhibition of a truth, or an embodiment of it in things comparatively little, easily grasped by the understanding, and but imperfectly satisfying the mind, may certainly make way for its exhibition in a manner more fully adapted to its proper nature:—The mind thus familiarized to it in the little, may both have the desire created, and the capacity formed for beholding its development in things of a far higher and nobler kind. But a partial or defective representation of an object, apart from any principles common to both, must rather tend to pre-occupy the mind, and either entirely prevent it from anticipating, or fill it with mistaken and prejudiced notions of, the reality. If such a representation of the mere objects of the Gospel had been all [[@Page:76]] that was aimed at in the symbolical institutions of the Old Testament—if their direct, immediate, and only use had been to serve, as pictures, to prefigure and presentiate to the soul the future realities of the divine kingdom—then who could wonder if these realities should have been wholly lost sight of before, or misbelieved and repudiated when they came? For, in that case, the preparatory dispensation must have been far more difficult for the worshipper than the ultimate one. The child must have had a much harder lessen to read, and a much higher task to accomplish, than the man of full-grown and ripened intellect. And Divine wisdom must have employed its resources, not to smooth the Church’s path to an enlightened view and a believing reception of the realities of the Gospel, rather but to shroud them in the most profound and perplexing obscurities.

Every serious and intelligent believer will shrink from this conclusion. But if he does so, he will soon find that there is only one way of effectually escaping from it; and that is, by regarding the symbolical institutions of the Old Covenant as not simply or directly representations of the realities of the Gospel, but in the first instance as parts of an existing dispensation, and, as such, expressive of certain great and fundamental truths, which could even then be distinctly understood and embraced. This was what might be called their more immediate and ostensible design. Their further and prospective, reference to the higher objects of the Gospel, was of a more indirect and occult nature; and stood in the same essential truths being exhibited by means of present and visible, but inferior and comparatively inadequate objects. So that in tracing out the connection from the one to the other, we must always begin with inquiring, What, per se, was the native import of each symbol? What truths did it symbolize merely as part of an existing religion? and from this proceed to unfold how it was fitted to serve as a guide and a stepping-stone to the glorious events and issues of Messiah’s kingdom. This—which it was the practice of the elder typological writers in great measure to overlook—is really the foundation of the whole matter; and without it every typological system must either contract itself within very narrow bounds, or be in danger of running out into superficial or fanciful analogies. The Mosaic ritual had at once a shell and a kernel,—its shell, [[@Page:77]] the outward rites and observances it enjoined; its kernel, the spiritual relations which these indicated, and the spiritual truths which they embodied and expressed. Substantially, these truths and relations were, and must have been, the same for the Old that they are for the New Testament worshippers; for the spiritual wants and necessities of both are the same, and so also is the character of God, with whom they have to do. There, therefore, in that fundamental agreement, that internal and pre-established harmony of principle, we are to find the bond of union between the symbolical institutions of Judaism and the permanent realities of Messiah’s kingdom. One truth in both—but that truth existing first in a lower, then in a higher stage of development; in the one case appearing as a precious bud embosomed and but partially seen amid the imperfect relations of flesh and time; in the other expanding itself under the bright sunshine of heaven into all the beauty and fruitfulness of which it was susceptible.

To make our meaning perfectly understood, however, we must descend from the general to the particular, and apply what has been stated to a special case. In doing so, we shall go at once to what may justly be termed the very core of the religion of the Old Covenant—the rite of expiatory sacrifice. That this was typically or prophetically symbolical of the death of Christ, is testified with much plainness and frequency in New Testament Scripture. Yet, independently of this connection with Christ’s death, it had a meaning of its own, which it was possible for the ancient worshipper to understand, and, so understanding, to present through it an acceptable service to God, whether he might perceive or not the further respect it bore to a dying Saviour. It was in its own nature a symbolical transaction, embodying a threefold idea: first, that the worshipper, having been guilty of sin, had forfeited his life to God; then, that the life so forfeited must be surrendered to Divine justice; and finally, that being surrendered in the way appointed, it was given back to him again by God, or he became re-established, as a justified person, in the Divine favour and fellowship. How far a transaction of this kind, done symbolically and not really—by means of an irrational creature substituted in the sinner’s room, and unconsciously devoted to lose its animal in lieu of his intelligent and rational [[@Page:78]] life—might commend itself as altogether satisfactory to his view; or how far he might see reason to regard it as but a provisional arrangement, proceeding on the contemplation of something more perfect yet to come;—these are points which might justly be raised, and will indeed call for future discussion, but they are somewhat extraneous to the subject itself now under consideration. We are viewing the rite of expiatory sacrifice simply as a constituent part of ancient worship,—a religious service which formally, and without notification from itself of anything farther being required, presented the sinner with the divinely appointed means of reconciliation and restored fellowship with God. In this respect it symbolically represented, as we have said, a threefold idea, which if properly understood and realized by the worshipper, he performed, in offering it, an acceptable service. And when we rise from the symbolical to the typical view of the transaction—when we proceed to consider the rite of expiation as bearing a prospective reference to the redemption of Christ, we are not to be understood as ascribing to it some new sense or meaning; we merely express our belief that the complex capital idea which it so impressively symbolized, finds its only true, as from the first its destined realization, in the work of salvation by Jesus Christ. For in Him alone was there a real transference of man’s guilt to one able and willing to bear it; in His death alone, the surrender of a life to God, such as could fitly stand in the room of that forfeited by the sinner; and in faith alone on that death, a full and conscious appropriation of the life of peace and blessing obtained by Him for the justified. So that here only it is we perceive the idea of a true, sufficient, and perfect sacrifice converted into a living reality—such as the holy eye of God, and the troubled conscience of man, can alike repose in with unmingled satisfaction. And while there appear precisely the same elements of truth in the ever-recurring sacrifices of the Old Testament, and in the one perfect sacrifice of the New, it is seen, at the same time, that what the one symbolically represented, the other actually possessed; what the one could only exhibit as a kind of acted lesson for the present relief of guilty consciences, the other makes known to us, as a work finally and for ever accomplished for all who believe in the propitiation of the cross.

[[@Page:79]] The view now given of the symbolical institutions of the Old Testament, as prophetic symbols of the realities of the Gospel, is in perfect accordance with the general descriptions we have of their nature in Scripture itself. These are of two classes. In the one they are declared to have been shadows of the better things of the Gospel; as in Heb. 10:1, where the law is said to have had “a shadow, and not the very image of good things to come;” in ch. [[8:5 >> Bible:He 8:5]] , where the priests are described as “serving unto the example (copy) and shadow of heavenly things;” and again in Col. 2:16, where the fleshly ordinances in one mass are denominated “shadows of good things to come,” while it is added, “the body is of Christ.” Now, that the tabernacle, with the ordinances of every kind belonging to it, were shadows of Christ and the blessings of His kingdom, can only mean that they were obscure and imperfect resemblances of these; or that they embodied the same elements of Divine truth, but wanted what was necessary to give them proper form and consistence as parts of a final and abiding dispensation of God. And when we go to inquire wherein did the obscurity and imperfection consist, we are always referred to the carnal and earthly nature of the Old as compared with the New. The tabernacle itself was a material fabric, constructed of such things as this present world could supply, and hence called “a worldly sanctuary;” while its counterpart under the Gospel is the eternal region of God’s presence and glory, neither discernible by fleshly eye, nor made by mortal hands. In like manner, the ordinances of worship connected with the tabernacle were all ostensibly directed to the preservation of men’s present existence, or the advancement of their well-being as related to an outward sanctuary and a terrestrial commonwealth; while in the Gospel it is the soul’s relation to the sanctuary above, and its possession of an immortal life of blessedness and glory, which all is directly intended to provide for. In these differences between the Old and the New, which bespeak so much of inferiority on the part of the former, we perceive the darkness and imperfection which hung around the things of the ancient dispensation, and rendered them shadows only of those which were to come. But still shadows are resemblances. Though unlike in one respect, they must be like in another. And as the unlikeness stood in the dissimilar [[@Page:80]] nature of the things immediately handled and perceived—in the different materiel, so to speak, of the two dispensations, wherein should the resemblance be found but in the common truths and relations alike pervading both? By means of an earthly tabernacle, with its appropriate services, God manifested toward His people the same principles of government, and required from them substantially the same disposition and character, that He does now under the higher dispensation of the Gospel. For look beyond the mere outward diversities, and what do you see? You see in both alike a pure and holy God, enshrined in the recesses of a glorious sanctuary, unapproachable by sinful flesh but through a medium of powerful intercession and cleansing efficacy; yet when so approached, ever ready to receive and bless with the richest tokens of His favour and loving-kindness as many as come in the exercise of genuine contrition for sin, and longing for restored fellowship with Him whom they have offended. The same description applies equally to the service of both dispensations; for in both the same impressions are conveyed of God’s character respecting sin and holiness, and the same gracious feelings necessarily awakened by them in the bosom of sincere worshippers. But then, as to the means of accomplishing this, there was only, in the one case, a shadowy exhibition of spiritual things through earthly materials and temporary expedients; while in the other, the naked realities appear in the one perfect sacrifice of Christ, the rich endowments of the Spirit of grace, and the glories of an everlasting kingdom.

The other general description given in New Testament Scripture of the prophetic symbols or types of the Old dispensation does not materially differ from the one now considered, and, when rightly understood, leads to the same result. According to it, the religious institutions of earlier times contained the rudiments or elementary principles of the world’s religious truth and life. Thus in Col. 2:20, the now antiquated ordinances of Judaism are called “the rudiments of the world;” and in Gal. 4:3, the Church, while under these ordinances, is said to have been “in bondage under the elements (or rudiments) of the world.” The expression, also, which is found in ch. [[3:24 >> Bible:Ga 3:24]] of this Epistle to the Galatians, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ,” conveys much the same idea; since it is the special [[@Page:81]] business of a schoolmaster to communicate to those under his charge the rudiments of learning, by which their minds may in due time be prepared for the higher walks of science and literature. The law certainly did this, to a considerable extent, by direct instructions in the great principles of truth and duty. But it did so not less by means of its symbolical institutions and ordinances, which were in themselves inherently defective, and yet in their spirit and design entirely analogous to the higher things of the Gospel. The animal, the fleshly, the material, the temporal, was what alone appeared in them, when viewed in respect merely to their ostensible character and object; yet all was arranged in a manner fitted to exhibit ideas and relations that reached far beyond these, and could only, indeed, find their suitable development in things spiritual, heavenly, and eternal. The Church had then to be dealt with after the manner of a child. But the child must have instruction administered to him in a form adapted to his juvenile capacities. If he is to be prepared for apprehending the outlines and proportions of the globe, these must be presented to his view on diagrams of a few spans long. Or, if he is to be made acquainted with the laws and principles which bear sway throughout the material universe, he must again see them exemplified in miniature among the small and familiar objects of everyday life. In like manner, the Church of the Old Testament, while in bondage to fleshly institutions and services, yet received through these the rudiments of all Divine truth and wisdom. In a form which the eye of a spiritual babe could scan, and its hand, in a manner, grasp, she had constantly exhibited before her the essential truths and principles of God’s everlasting kingdom. And nothing more was needed than that the instruction thus imparted should have been impartially received and properly cultivated, in order to fit the disciple of Moses for passing with intelligence and delight from his rudimental tutelage, under the shadows of good things, into the free use and enjoyment of the things themselves.

The general descriptions, then, given of the symbolical institutions and services of the Old Testament, in their relation to the Gospel, perfectly accord with the principles we have advanced. And viewed in the light now presented, we at once see the essential unity that subsists between the Old and the New dispensations, [[@Page:82]] and the nature of that progression in the Divine plan which rendered the one a fitting preparation and stepping-stone to the other. In its fundamental elements the religion of both covenants is thus found to be identical. Only it appears under the Old covenant as on a lower platform, disclosing its ideas, and imparting its blessings through the imperfect instrumentalities of fleshly relations and temporal concerns; while under the New everything rises heavenwards, and eternal realities come distinctly and prominently into view. But as ideas and relations are more palpable to the mind, and lie more within the grasp of its comprehension, when exhibited on a small scale, in corporeal forms, amid familiar and present objects, than on a scale of large dimensions, which stretches into the unseen, and embraces alike the Divine and human, time and eternity; so the economy of outward symbolical institutions was in itself simpler than the Gospel, and, as a lower exhibition of Divine truth, prepared the way for a higher. But they did this, let it be observed, in their character merely as symbolical institutions, or parts of a dispensation then existing, not as typically foreshadowing the things belonging to a higher and more spiritual dispensation yet to come. It was comparatively an easy thing for the Jewish worshipper to understand how, from time to time, he stood related to a visible sanctuary and an earthly inheritance, or to go through the process of an appointed purification by means of water and the blood of slain victims applied externally to his body: much more easy than for the Christian to apprehend distinctly his relation to a heavenly sanctuary, and realize the cleansing of his conscience from all guilt by the inward application of the sacrifice of Christ and the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. But for the Jewish worshipper to do—both his own and the Christian’s part both to read the meaning of the symbol as expressive of what was already laid open to his view, and to descry its concealed reference to the yet undiscovered realities of a better dispensation, would have required a reach of discernment and a strength of faith far beyond what is now needed in the Christian. For this had been, not like him to discern the heavenly, when the heavenly had come, but to do it amid the obscurities and imperfections of the earthly; not simply to look with open eye into the deeper mysteries of God’s kingdom, when these mysteries [[@Page:83]] are fully disclosed, but to do so while they were still buried amid the thick folds of a cumbrous and overshadowing drapery.

Yet let us not be mistaken. We speak merely of what was strictly required, and what might ordinarily be expected of the ancient worshipper, in connection with the institutions and services of his symbolical religion, taken simply by themselves. We do not say that there never was, much less that there could not be, any proper insight obtained by the children of the Old Covenant into the future mysteries of the Gospel. There were special gifts of grace then, as well as now, occasionally imparted to the more spiritual members of the covenant, which enabled them to rise to unusual degrees of knowledge; and it is a distinctive property of the spiritual mind generally to be dissatisfied with the imperfect, to seek and long for the perfect. Even now, when the comparatively perfect has come, what spiritual mind is not often conscious to itself of a feeling akin to melancholy, when it thinks of the yet abiding darkness and disorders of the present, or does not fondly cling to every hopeful indication of a brighter future? But even the best things of the Old Covenant bore on them the stamp of imperfection. The temple itself, which was the peculiar glory and ornament of Israel, still in a very partial and defective manner realized its own grand idea of a people dwelling with God, and God dwelling with them; and hence, because of that inherent imperfection (it was plainly declared), a higher and better mode of accomplishing the object should one day take its place.—(Jer. 3:16, 17) So, too, the palpable disproportion already noticed in the rite of expiatory sacrifice between the rational life forfeited through sin, and the merely animal life substituted in its room, seemed to proclaim the necessity of a more adequate atonement for human guilt, and could not but dispose intelligent worshippers to give more earnest heed to the announcements of prophecy regarding the coming purposes of Heaven. But yet, when we have admitted all this, it by no means follows that the people of God generally, under the Old Covenant, could attain to very definite views of the realities of the Gospel; nor does it furnish us with any reason for asserting that such views must ever of necessity have mingled with the service of an acceptable worshipper. For his was the worship of a preparatory dispensation. [[@Page:84]] It must, therefore, have been simpler and easier than what was ultimately to supplant it. And this, we again repeat, it could only be by being viewed in its more obvious and formal aspect, as the worship of an existing religion, which provided for the time then present a fitting medium of access to God, and hallowed intercourse with heaven. The man who humbly availed himself of what was thus provided to meet his soul’s necessities, stood in faith, and served God with acceptance,—though still with such imperfections in the present, and such promises for the future, that the more always he reflected, he would become the more a child of desire and hope.[10]

We have spoken as yet only of the symbolical institutions and services of the Old Testament; and of these quite generally, as one great whole. For it is carefully to be noted, that the Scriptural designations of rudiments and shadows, which we have shown to be the same as typical, when properly understood, are applied to the entire mass of the ancient ordinances in their prospective reference to Gospel realities. And yet, while New Testament Scripture speaks thus of the whole, it deals very sparingly in particular examples; and if it furnishes, in its language and allusions, many valuable hints to direct inquiry, it still contains remarkably few detailed illustrations. It nowhere [[@Page:85]] tells us, for example, what was either immediately symbolized, or prophetically shadowed forth, by the Holy Place in the tabernacle, or the shew-bread, or the golden candlestick, or the ark of the covenant, or, indeed, by anything connected with the tabernacle, excepting its more prominent offices and administrations. Even the Epistle to the Hebrews, which enters with such comparative fulness into the connection between the Old and the New, and which is most express in ascribing a typical value to all that belonged to the tabernacle, can yet scarcely be said to give any detailed explanation of its furniture and services beyond the rite of expiatory sacrifice, and the action of the high priest in presenting it, more particularly on the great day of atonement. So that those who insist on an explicit warrant and direction from Scripture in regard to each particular type, will find their principle conducts them but a short way even through that department, which, they are obliged to admit, possesses throughout a typical character. A general admission of this sort can be of little use, if one is restrained on principle from touching most of the particulars; one might as well maintain that these stood entirely disconnected from any typical property. So, indeed, Bishop Marsh has substantially done; for, “that such explanations,” he says, referring to particular types, “are in various instances given in the New Testament, no one can deny. And if it was deemed necessary to explain one type, where could be the expediency or moral fitness of withholding the explanation of others? Must not, therefore, the silence of the New Testament in the case of any supposed type, be an argument against the existence of that type?”[11]


[1] “We do not know what right divines have to construct a system of theological types, instead of a system of Scripture types. We are sure that had they kept to the Scripture use of the term, instead of devising a theological sense, they would have been saved from much extravagance, and evolved much truth.”—M’Cosh, in “Typical Forms,” p. 523.

[2] The question, whether the things of creation should be formally treated as typical, will be considered in Ch. IV.

[3] Marsh’s Lectures, p. 371.

[4] 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 11:40.

[5] Eph. 1:10.

[6] Luke 1:78; 1 John 2:8; Rom. 16:25, 26; Col. 1:27; 1 Cor. 2:7, 10.

[7] Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5.

[8] Matt. 11:11, where it is said respecting John the Baptist, “notwithstanding he that is least (ὁ μικρότερος) in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. The older English versions retained the comparative, and rendered “he that is less in the kingdom of heaven”—(Wickliffe, Tyndale, Cranmer, the Geneva); and so also Meyer in his Comm., “he who occupies a proportionately lower place in the kingdom of heaven.” Lightfoot, Hengstenberg, and many others, approve of this milder sense, as it may be called; but Alford in his recent commentary adheres still to the stronger, “the least;” and so does Stier in his Reden Jesu, who, in illustrating the thought, goes so far as to say, “A mere child that knows the catechism, and can say the Lord’s prayer, both knows and possesses more than the Old Testament can give, and so far stands higher and nearer to God than John the Baptist.” One cannot but feel that this is putting something like a strain on our Lord’s declaration.

[9] Rev. 1:8; Luke 2:25; Acts 10:43, 4:12; Rom. 3:25; 1 Pet. 1:10-12, 20.

[10] If any one will take the trouble to look into the elder writers, who formally examined the typical character of the ancient symbolical institutions, he will find them entirely silent in regard to the points chiefly dwelt upon in the above discussion. Lowman, for example, on the Rational of the Hebrew Worship, and Outram de Sac., Lib. i., c. 18, where he comes to consider the nature and force of a type, gave no proper or satisfactory explanation of the questions, wherein precisely did the resemblance stand between the type and the antitype, or how should the one have prepared the way for the other. We are told frequently enough that the “Hebrew ritual contained a plan, or sketch, or pattern, or shadow of Gospel things:” that “the type adumbrated the antitype by something of the same sort with that which is found in the antitype,” or “by a symbol of it,” or “by a slender and shadowy image of it,” or “by something that may somehow be compared with it,” etc. But we look in vain for anything more specific. Townley, in his Reasons of the Laws of Moses, still advances no farther in the Dissertation he devotes to the Typical Character of the Mosaic Institutions. Even Olshausen, in the treatise formerly noticed (Ein Wort über tiefern Schriftsinn), when he comes to unfold what he calls his deeper exposition, confines himself to a brief illustration of the few general statements formerly mentioned. See p. 46.

[11] Lectures, p. 392.

Chapter Third.—The Proper Nature and Province of Typology—2. The Historical Characters and Transactions of The Old Testament, Viewed as Exemplifying The Distinctive Characters of a Typical Relationship—Typical Forms in Nature Necessity of The Typical as a Preparation for The Dispensation of The Fulness of Times.

[[@Page:87]] IN the preceding chapter we have seen in what sense the religious institutions and services of the Old Covenant were typical.

They were constructed and arranged so as to express symbolically the great truths and principles of a spiritual religion—truths and principles which were common alike to Old and New Testament times, but which, from the nature of things, could only find in the New their proper development and full realization. On the limited scale of the earthly and perishable—in the construction of a material tabernacle, and the suitable adjustment of bodily ministrations and sacrificial offerings,—there was presented a palpable exhibition of those great truths respecting sin and salvation, the purification of the heart, and the dedication of the person and the life to God, which in the fulness of time were openly revealed and manifested on the grand scale of a world’s redemption, by the mediation and work of Jesus Christ. In that pre-arranged and harmonious, but still inherently defective and imperfect, exhibition of the fundamental ideas and spiritual relations of the Gospel, stood the real nature of its typical character.

Nor, we may add, was there anything arbitrary in so employing the things of flesh and time to shadow forth, under a preparatory dispensation, the higher realities of God’s everlasting kingdom. It has its ground and reason in the organic arrangements or appearances of the material world. For these are so framed as to be ever giving forth representations of Divine truth, and are a kind of ceaseless regeneration, in which, through [[@Page:88]] successive stages, new and higher forms of being are continually springing out of the lower. It is on this constitution of nature that the figurative language of Scripture is based. And it was only building on a foundation that already existed, and which stretches far and wide through the visible territory of creation, when the outward relations and fleshly services of a symbolical religion were made to image and prepare for the more spiritual and divine mysteries of Messiah’s kingdom. Hence, also, some of the more important symbolical institutions were expressly linked (as we shall see) to appropriate seasons and aspects of nature.

But was symbol alone thus employed? Might there not also have been a similar employment of many circumstances and transactions in the province of sacred history? If the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the blessings of His great salvation, was the object mainly contemplated by God from the beginning of the world, and with which the Church was ever travailing as in birth if, consequently, the previous dispensations were chiefly designed to lead to, and terminate upon, Christ and the things of His salvation,—what can be more natural than to suppose that the evolutions of Providence throughout the period during which the salvation was in prospect, should have concurred with the symbols of worship in imaging and preparing for what was to come? It is possible, indeed, that the connection here, between the past and the future, might be somewhat more varied and fluctuating, and in several respects less close and exact, than in the case of a regulated system of symbolical instruction and worship, appointed to last till it was superseded by the better things of the New dispensation. This is only what might be expected from the respective natures of the subjects compared. But that a connection, similar in kind, had a place in the one as well as in the other, we hold to be not only in itself probable, but also capable of being satisfactorily established. And for the purpose of showing this we lay down the following positions:—First, That the historical relations and circumstances recorded in the Old Testament, and typically applied in the New, had very much both the same resemblances and defects in respect to the realities of the Gospel, which we have found to belong to the [[@Page:89]] ancient symbolical institutions of worship; secondly, that such historical types were absolutely necessary, in considerable number and variety, to render the earlier dispensations thoroughly preparative in respect to the coming dispensation of the Gospel; and, thirdly, that Old Testament Scripture itself contains undoubted indications, that much of its historical matter stood related to some higher ideal, in which the truths and relations exemplified in them were again to meet and receive a new but more perfect development.

I. The first consideration is, that the historical relations and circumstances recorded in the Old Testament, and typically interpreted in the New, had very much the same resemblances and defects, in respect to the Gospel, which we have found to belong to the ancient symbolical institutions of worship. Thus—to refer to one of the earliest events in the world’s history so interpreted—the general deluge that destroyed the old world, and preserved Noah and his family alive, is represented as standing in atypical relation to Christian baptism (1 Pet. 3:21). It did so, as will be explained more at large hereafter, from its having destroyed those who by their corruptions destroyed the earth, and saved for a new world the germ of a better race. Doing this in the outward and lower territory of the world’s history, it served substantially the same purpose that Christian baptism does in a higher; since this is designed to bring the individual that receives it under those vital influences that purge away the corruption of a fleshly nature, and cause the seed of a divine life to take root and grow for the occupation of a better inheritance. In like manner Sarah, with her child of promise, the special and peculiar gift of heaven, and Hagar, with her merely natural and fleshly offspring, are explained as typically foreshadowing, the one a spiritual church, bringing forth real children to God, in spirit and destiny as well as in calling, the heirs of His everlasting kingdom; the other, a worldly and corrupt church, whose members are in bondage to the flesh, having but a name to live, while they are dead.—(Gal. 4:22, 31) In such cases, it is clear that the same kind of resemblances, coupled also with the same kind of differences, appear between the preparatory and the final, as in the case of the symbolical types. For here also [[@Page:90]] the ideas and relations are substantially one in the two associated transactions; only in the earlier they appear ostensibly connected with the theatre of an earthly existence, and with respect to seen and temporal results; while in the later it is the higher field of grace and the interests of a spiritual and immortal existence that come directly into view.

Or, let the use be considered that is made of the events which befell the Israelites on their way to the land of Canaan, as regards the state and prospects of the Church of the New Testament on its way to heaven. Look at this, for example, as unfolded in the third and fourth chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the essential features of a typical connection will at once be seen. For the exclusion of those carnal and unbelieving Israelites who fell in the wilderness is there exhibited, not only as affording a reasonable presumption, but as providing a valid ground, for asserting that persons similarly affected now toward the kingdom of glory cannot attain to heaven. Indeed, so complete in point of principle is the identity of the two cases, that the same expressions are applied to both alike, without intimation of any differences existing between them: “the Gospel is preached” to the one class as well as to the other; God gives to each alike “a promise of rest,” while they equally “fall through unbelief,” having hardened their hearts against the word of God. Yet there were the same differences in kind as we have noted between the type and the antitype in the symbolical institutions of worship—the visible and earthly being employed in the one to exhibit such relations and principles as in the other appear in immediate connection with what is spiritual and heavenly. In the type we have the prospect of Canaan, the Gospel of an earthly promise of rest, and, because not believed, issuing in the loss of a present life of honour and blessing; in the antitype, the prospect of a heavenly inheritance, the Gospel promise of an everlasting rest, bringing along with it, when treated with unbelief and neglect, an exclusion from eternal blessedness and glory.

Again, and with reference to the same period in the Church’s history, it is said in John 3:14, 15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have [[@Page:91]] everlasting life.” The language here certainly does not necessarily betoken by any means so close a connection between the Old and the New, as in the cases previously referred to; nor are we disposed to assert that the same connection in all respects really existed. The historical transaction in this case had at first sight the aspect of something occasional and isolated, rather than of an integral and essential part of a great plan. And yet the reference in John, viewed in connection with other passages of Scripture bearing on the subject, sufficiently vindicates for it a place among the earlier exhibitions of Divine truth, planned by the foreseeing eye of God with special respect to the coming realities of the Gospel. As such it entirely accords in nature with the typical prefigurations already noticed. In the two related transactions there is a fitting correspondence as to the relations maintained: in both alike a wounded and dying condition in the first instance, then the elevation of an object apparently inadequate, yet really effectual, to accomplish the cure, and this through no other medium on the part of the affected, than their simply looking to the object so presented to their view. But with this pervading correspondence, what marked and distinctive characteristics! In the one case a dying body, in the other a perishing soul. There, an uplifted serpent—of all instruments of healing from a serpent’s bite the most unlikely to profit; here the exhibition of one condemned and crucified as a malefactor—of all conceivable persons apparently the most impotent to save. There, once more, the fleshly eye of nature deriving from the outward object visibly presented to it the healing virtue it was ordained to impart; and here the spiritual eye of the soul, looking in stedfast faith to the exalted Redeemer, and getting the needed supplies of His life-giving and regenerating grace. In both the same elements of truth, the same modes of dealing, but in the one developing themselves on a lower, in the other on a higher territory; in the former having immediate respect only to things seen and temporal, and in the latter to what is unseen, spiritual, and eternal. And when it is considered how the Divine procedure in the case of the Israelites was in itself so extraordinary and peculiar, so unlike God’s usual methods of dealing in providence, in so far as these have respect merely to inferior and perishable interests, it seems to [[@Page:92]] be without any adequate reason—to want, in a sense, its just explanation, until it is viewed as a dispensation specially designed to prepare the way for the higher and better things of the Gospel.

Similar explanations might be given of the other historical facts recorded in Old Testament Scripture, and invested with a typical reference in the New. But enough has been said to show the essential similarity in the respect borne by them to the better things of the Gospel, and of that borne by the ritual types of the law. The ground of the connection in the one class, precisely as in the other, stands in the substantial oneness of the ideas and relations pervading the earlier and the later transactions, as corresponding parts of related dispensations; or in the identity of truth and principle appearing in both, as different yet mutually depending parts of one great providential scheme. In that internal agreement and relationship, rather than in any mere outward resemblances, we are to seek the real bond of connection between the Old and the New.

At first sight, perhaps, a connection of this nature may appear to want something of what is required to satisfy the conditions of a proper typical relationship. And there are two respects more especially, in which this deficiency may seem to exist.

1. It has been so much the practice to look at the connection between the Old and the New in an external aspect, that one naturally fancies the necessity of some more palpable and arbitrary bond of union to link together type and antitype. The one is apt to be thought of as a kind of pre-ordained pantomime of the other—like those prefigurative actions which the prophets were sometimes instructed, whether in reality or in vision, to perform (as Isaiah in ch. [[20 >> Bible:Is 20]] , or Ezekiel in ch. [[12 >> Bible:Eze 12]] ), meaningless in themselves, yet very significant as foreshadowing intimations of coming events in providence. Such prophecies in action, certainly, had something in common with the typical transactions now under consideration. They both alike had respect to other actions or events yet to come, without which, preordained and foreseen, they would not have taken place. They both also stood in a similar relation of littleness to the corresponding circumstances they foreshadowed—exhibiting on a comparatively [[@Page:93]] small scale what was afterwards to realize itself on a large one, and thereby enabling the mind more readily to anticipate the approaching future, or more distinctly to grasp it after it had come. But they differed in this, that the typical actions of the prophets had respect solely to the coming transactions they prefigured, and but for these would have been foolish and absurd; while the typical actions of God’s providence, as well as the symbolical institutions of His worship, had a moral meaning of their own, independently of the reference they bore to the future revelations of the Gospel. To overlook this independent moral element, is to leave out of account what should be held to constitute the very basis of the connection between the past and the future. But if, on the other hand, we make due account of it, we establish a connection which, in reality, is of a much more close and vital nature, and one, too, of far higher importance, than if it consisted alone in points of outward resemblance. For it implies not only that the entire plan of salvation was all along in the eye of God, but that, with a view to it, He was ever directing His government, so as to bring out in successive stages and operations the very truths and principles which were to find in the realities of the Gospel their more complete manifestation. He showed that He saw the end from the beginning, by interweaving with His providential arrangements the elements of the more perfect, the terminal plan. And, therefore, to lay the groundwork of the connection between the preparatory and the final in the elements of truth and principle common alike to both, instead of placing it in merely formal resemblances, is but to withdraw it from a less to a more vital and important part of the transactions—from the outer shell and appearance, to the inner truth and substance of the history; so that we can discern, not only some perceptible coincidences between the type and the antitype, but the same fundamental character, the same spirit of life, the same moral import and practical design.

To render this more manifest, as it is a point of considerable moment to our inquiry, let us compare an alleged example of historical type, where the resemblance between it and the supposed antitype is of an ostensible, but still only of an outward kind, with one of those referred to above—the brazen serpent, for [[@Page:94]] example, or the deluge. In this latter example there was scarcely any outward resemblance presented to the Christian ordinance of baptism; as in no proper sense could Noah and his family be said to have been literally baptized in the waters. But both this and the other historical transaction presented strong lines of resemblance, of a more inward and substantial kind, to the things connected with them in the Gospel—such as enable us to recognise without difficulty the impress of one Divine hand in the two related series of transactions, and to contemplate them as corresponding parts of one grand economy, rising gradually from its lower to its higher stages of development. Take, however, as an example of the other class, the occupation of Abel as a shepherd, which by many, among others by Witsius, has been regarded as a prefiguration of Christ in His character as the great Shepherd of Israel. A superficial likeness, we admit; but what is to be found of real unity and agreement? What light does the one throw upon the other? What expectation beforehand could the earlier beget of the later, or what confirmation afterwards can it supply? Admitting that the death of Abel somehow foreshadowed the infinitely more precious blood to be shed on Calvary, what distinctive value could the sacrifice of life in His case derive from the previous occupation of the martyr? Christ, certainly, died as the spiritual shepherd of souls, but Abel was not murdered on account of having been a keeper of sheep; nor had his death any necessary connection with his having followed such an employment. For what purpose, then, press points of resemblance so utterly disconnected, and dignify them with the name of typical prefigurations? Resemblances in such a case are worthless even if real, and from their nature incapable of affording any insight into the mind and purposes of God. But when, on the contrary, we look into the past records of God’s providence, and find there, in the dealings of His hand and the institutions of His worship, a coincidence of principle and economical design with what appears in the dispensation of the Gospel, we cannot but feel that we have something of real weight and importance for the mind to rest upon. And if, farther, we have reason to conclude, not only that agreements of this kind existed, but that they were all skilfully planned and arranged,—the earlier with a view to [[@Page:95]] the later, the earthly and temporal for the spiritual and heavenly,—we find ourselves possessed of the essential elements of a typical connection. We have reason, however, so to conclude, as has partly been shown already, and will still farther be shown in the sequel.

2. But granting what has now been stated—allowing that the connection between type and antitype is more of an internal than of an external kind, it may still be objected, in regard to the historical types, that they wanted for the most part something of the necessary correspondence with the antitypes; the one did not occupy under the Old the same relative place that the other did under the New—existing for a time as a shadow, until it was superseded and displaced by the substance. Perhaps not; but is such a close and minute correspondence absolutely necessary? Or is it to be found even in the case of all the symbolical types? With them also considerable differences appear; and we look in vain for anything like a fixed and absolute uniformity. The correspondence assumed the most exact form in the sacrificial rites of the tabernacle worship. There, certainly, part may be said to have answered to part; there was priest for priest, offering for offering, death for death, and blessing for blessing—throughout, an inferior and temporary substitute in the room of the proper reality, and continuing till it was superseded and displaced by the latter. We find a relaxation, however, in this closely adjusted relationship, whenever we leave the immediate province of sacrifice; and in many of the things expressly denominated shadows of the Gospel, it can hardly be said to have existed. In regard, for example, to the ancient festivals, the new moons, the use or disuse of leaven, the defilement of leprosy and its purification, there was no such precise and definite superseding of the Old by something corresponding under the New—nothing like office for office, action for action, part for part. The symbolical rites and institutions referred to were typical—not, however, as representing things that were to hold specifically and palpably the same place in Gospel times, but rather as embodying, in set forms and ever-recurring bodily services, the truths and principles that, in naked simplicity and by direct teaching, were to pervade the dispensation of the Gospel.

[[@Page:96]] There is quite a similar diversity in the case of the historical types. In some of them the correspondence was very close and exact; in others more loose and general. Of the former class was the calling of Israel as an elect people, their relation to the land of Canaan as their covenant portion, their redemption from the yoke of Egypt, and their temporary sojourn in the wilderness as they travelled to inherit it—all of which continued (the two latter by means of commemorative ordinances) till they were superseded by corresponding but higher objects under the Gospel. In respect to these we can say, the new dispensation presents people for people, redemption for redemption, inheritance for inheritance, and one kind of wilderness-training for another; objects in both precisely corresponding as regards the places they respectively held, and the one preserving their existence or transmitting their efficacy, till they were supplanted by the other. But we do not pretend to see the same close connection and the same exact correspondence between the Old arid the New in all, or even the greater part, of the historical transactions of the past which we hold to have been typical; nor are we warranted to look for it. The analogy of the symbolical types would lead us to expect, along with the more direct typical arrangements, many acts and institutions of a somewhat incidental and subordinate kind, in which a typical representation should be given of ideas and relations, that could only find in the realities of the Gospel their full and proper manifestation. If they were not appointed as temporary substitutes for these realities, and made to occupy an ostensible place in the divine economy till the better things appeared, they were still fashioned after the ideal of the better, and were thereby fitted to indoctrinate the minds of God’s people with certain notions of the truth, and to familiarize them with its spiritual ideas, its modes of procedure, and principles of working. And in this they plainly possessed the more essential elements of a typical connection.

II. Enough, however, for the first point. We proceed to the second; which is, that such historical types as those under consideration were absolutely necessary, in considerable number and variety, to render the earlier dispensations thoroughly preparative in respect to the coming dispensation of the Gospel. [[@Page:97]] This was necessary, first of all, from the typical character of the position and worship of the members of the Old Covenant. The main things respecting them being, as we have seen, typical, it was inevitable but that many others of a subordinate and collateral nature should be the same; for otherwise they would not have been suitably adapted to the dispensation to which they belonged.

But we have something more than this general correspondence or analogy to appeal to. For the nature of the historical types themselves, as already explained, implies their existence, in considerable number and variety. The representation they were designed to give of the fundamental truths and principles of the Gospel, with the view of preparing the Church for the new dispensation, would necessarily have been incomplete and inadequate, unless it had embraced a pretty extensive field. The object of their appointment would have been but partially reached, if they had consisted only of the few straggling examples which have been particularly mentioned in New Testament Scripture. Nor, unless the history in general of Old Testament times, in so far as its recorded transactions bore on them the stamp of God’s mind and will, had been pervaded by the typical element, could it have in any competent measure fulfilled the design of a preparatory economy. So that whatever distinctions it may be necessary to draw between one part of the transactions and another, as to their being in themselves sometimes of a more essential, sometimes of a more incidental character, or in their typical bearing being more or less closely related to the realities of the Gospel, their very place and object in a preparatory dispensation required them to be extensively typical. To be spread over a large field, and branched out in many directions, was as necessary to their typical as to their more immediate and temporary design.

Thus the one point grows by a sort of natural necessity out of the other. But the argument admits of being consider ably strengthened by the manner in which the historical types that are specially mentioned in New Testament Scripture are there referred to. So far from being represented as singular in their typical reference to Gospel times, they have uniformly the appearance of being only selected for the occasion. Nay, [[@Page:98]] the obligation on the part of believers generally to seek for them throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, and apply them to all the purposes of Christian instruction and improvement, is distinctly asserted in the Epistle to the Hebrews; and the capacity to do so is represented as a proof of full-grown spiritual discernment (Heb. 5:11-14). There is, therefore, a sense in which the saying of Augustine, “The Old Testament, when rightly understood, is one great prophecy of the New,”[1] is strictly true even in regard to those parts of ancient Scripture which, in their direct and immediate bearing, partake least of the prophetical. Its records of the past are, at the same time, pregnant with the germs of a corresponding but more exalted future. The relations sustained by its more public characters, the parts they were appointed to act in their day and generation, the deliverances that were wrought for them and by them, and the chastisements they were from time to time given to experience, did not begin and terminate with themselves. They were parts of an unfinished and progressive plan, which finds its destined completion in the person and kingdom of Christ; and only when seen in this prospective reference do they appear in their proper magnitude and their full significance.

Christ, then, is the end of the history as well as of the law, of the Old Testament. It had been strange, indeed, if it were otherwise; strange if its historical transactions had not been ordained by God to bear a prospective reference to the scheme of grace unfolded in the Gospel. For what is this scheme itself, in its fundamental character, but a grand historical development? What are the doctrines it teaches, the blessings it imparts, and the prospects it discloses of coming glory, but the ripened fruit and issue of the wondrous facts it records? The things which are there written of the incarnation and life, the death and resurrection, of the Lord Jesus Christ, are really the foundation on which all rests the root from which everything springs in Christianity. And shall it, then, be imagined, that the earlier facts in the history of related and preparatory dispensations did not point, like so many heralds and forerunners, to these unspeakably[[@Page:99]] greater ones to come? If a prophecy lay concealed in their symbolical rites, could it fail to be found also in the historical transactions that were often so closely allied to these, and always coincident with them in purpose and design? Assuredly not. In so far as God spake in the transactions, and gave discoveries by them of His truth and character, they pointed on ward to the one “Pattern Man,” and the terminal kingdom of righteousness and blessing of which He was to be the head and centre. Here only the history of God’s earlier dispensations attained its proper end, as in it also the history of the world rose to its true greatness and glory.[2]

III. The thought, however, may not unnaturally occur, that if the historical matter of the Old Testament possess as much as has been represented of a typical character, some plain indications of its doing so should be found in Old Testament Scripture itself; we should scarcely need to draw our proof of the existence and nature of the historical types entirely from the writings [[@Page:100]] of the New Testament. It was with the view of meeting this thought that we advanced our third statement; which is, that Old Testament Scripture does contain undoubted marks and indications of its historical personages and events being related to some higher ideal, in which the truths and relations exhibited in them were again to meet, and obtain a more perfect development. The proof of this is to be sought chiefly in the prophetical writings of the Old Testament, in which the more select instruments of God’s Spirit gave expression to the Church’s faith respecting both the past and the future in His dispensations. And in looking there we find, not only that an exalted personage, with His work of perfect righteousness, and His kingdom of consummate bliss and glory, was seen to be in prospect, but also that the expectations cherished of what was to be, took very commonly the form of a new and higher exhibition of what had already been. In giving promise of the better things to come, prophecy to a large extent availed itself of the characters and events of history. But it could only do so on the two fold ground, that it perceived in these essentially the same elements of truth and principle which were to appear in the future; and in that future anticipated a nobler exhibition of them than had been given in the past. And what was this but, in other words, to indicate their typical meaning and design? The truth of this will more fully appear when we come to treat of the combination of type with prophecy, which, on account of its importance, we reserve for the subject of a separate chapter. Meanwhile, it will be remembered how even Moses speaks before his death of “the prophet which the Lord their God should raise up from among his brethren like to himself” (Deut. 18:18)—one that should hold a similar position and do a similar work, but each in its kind more perfect and complete—else, why look out for another 1 In like manner, David connects the historical appearance of Melchizedek with the future Head of God’s Church and kingdom, when He announces Him as a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4); he foresaw that the relations of Melchizedek’s time should be again revived in this divine character, and the same part fulfilled anew, but raised, as the connection intimates, to a higher sphere, invested with a heavenly greatness, and carrying a world-wide signifcance [[@Page:101]] and power. So again we are told (Mal. 3:1, [[4:5 >> Bible:Ml 4:5]] ) another Elias should arise in the brighter future, to be succeeded by a more glorious manifestation of the Lord, to do what had never been done but in fragments before; namely, to provide for Himself a true spiritual priesthood, a regenerated people, and an offering of righteousness. But the richest proofs are furnished by the latter portion of Isaiah’s writings; for there we find the prophet intermingling so closely together the past and the future, that it is often difficult to tell of which he actually speaks. He passes from Israel to the Messiah, and again from the Messiah to Israel, as if the one were but a new, a higher and perfect development of what belonged to the other. And the Church of the future is constantly represented under the relations of the past, only freed from the imperfections that attached to its state, and rendered in every respect blessed and glorious.

Such are a few specimens of the way in which the more spiritual and divinely enlightened members of the Old Covenant saw the future imaged in the past or present. They discerned the essential oneness in truth and principle between the two; but, at the same time, were conscious of such inherent imperfections and defects adhering to the past, that they felt it required a more perfect future to render it altogether worthy of God, and fully adequate to the wants and necessities of His people. And there is one entire book of the Old Testament which owes in a manner its existence, as it now stands, to this likeness in one respect, but diversity in another, between the past and the future things in God’s administration. We refer to the Book of Psalms. The pieces of which this book consists are in their leading character devotional summaries, expressing the pious thoughts and feelings which the consideration of God’s ways, and the knowledge of His revelations, were fitted to raise in reflecting and spiritual bosoms. But the singular thing is, that they are this for the New as well as for the Old Testament worshipper. They are still incomparably the most perfect expression of the religious sentiment, and the best directory to the soul in its meditations and communings about divine things, which is anywhere to be found. There is not a feature in the divine character, nor an aspect of any moment in the life of faith, to which expression, more or less distinct, is not there [[@Page:102]] given. How could such a book have come into existence, centuries before the Christian era, but for the fact that the Old and the New dispensations—however they may have differed in outward form, and the ostensible nature of the transactions belonging to them were founded on the same relations, and pervaded by the same essential truths and principles? No otherwise could the Book of Psalms have served as the great hand-book of devotion to the members of both covenants. There the disciples of Moses and Christ meet as on common ground—the one still readily and gratefully using the fervent utterances of faith and hope, which the other had breathed forth ages before. And though it was comparatively carnal institutions under which the holy men lived and worshipped, who indited those divine songs; though it was transactions bearing directly only on their earthly and temporal condition, which formed the immediate ground and occasion of the sentiments they uttered; yet, where in all Scripture can the believer, who now “worships in spirit and in truth,” more readily find for himself the words that shall fitly express his loftiest conceptions of God, embody his most spiritual and enlarged views of the Divine government, or tell forth the feelings and desires of his soul even in many of its most lively and elevated moods?

But with this manifold adaptation to the spiritual thoughts and feelings of the Christian, there is still a perceptible difference between the Psalms of David and the writings of the New Testament. With all that discovers itself in the Psalms of a vivid apprehension of God, and of a habitual confidence in His faithfulness and love, one cannot fail to mark the indications of something like a trembling restraint and awe upon the soul; it never rises into the filial cry of the Gospel, Abba Father. There is a fitfulness also in its aspirations, as of one dwelling in a dusky and changeful atmosphere. Continually, indeed, do we see the Psalmist flying, in distress and trouble, under the shelter of the Almighty, and trusting in His mercy for deliverance from the guilt of sin. Even in the worst times he still prays and looks for redemption. But theredemption which dispels all fear, and satisfies the soul with the highest good, he knew not, excepting as a bright day-star glistening in the far-distant horizon. It was in his believing apprehensions a thing that should one day be [[@Page:103]] realized by the Church of God; and he could tell also somewhat of the mighty and glorious personage destined in the Divine counsels to accomplish it of His unparalleled struggles in the cause of righteousness, and of His final triumphs, resulting in the extension of His kingdom to the farthest bounds of the earth. But no more—the veil still hangs; expectation still waits and longs; and it is only for the believer of other times to say, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation;” “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ;” or again, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Such is the agreement, and such also the difference, between the Old and the New. “There we see the promise and prelude of the blessings of salvation; here, these blessings themselves, far surpassing all the previous foreshadowings of them. There, a fiducial resting in Jehovah; here, an unspeakable fulness of spiritual and heavenly blessings from the opened fountain of His mercy. There, a confidence that the Lord would not abandon His people; here, the Lord Himself assuming their nature, the God-man connecting Himself in organic union with humanity, and sending forth streams of life through its members. There, in the background, night, only relieved by the stars of the word of promise, and operations of grace in suitable accordance with it; here, in the background, day, still clouded, indeed, by our human nature, which is not yet completely penetrated by the Spirit, and is ever anew manifesting its sinfulness, but yet such a day as gives assurance of the cloudless sunshine of eternity, of which God Himself is the light.”[3]

We here conclude the direct proof of our argument for the typical character of the religion and history of the Old Testament; but it admits of confirmation from two distinct though related lines of thought,—the one analogical, derived from the existence of typical forms in physical nature, coupled with the evidences of a progression in the Divine mode of realizing them; the other founded inferentially on what might seem requisite [[@Page:104]] to render the progression, apparent in the spiritual economy, an effective growth towards “the dispensation of the fulness of times.” With a few remarks on each of these, we shall close this branch of our inquiry.

1. The subject of typical forms in nature has only of late risen into prominence, and taken its place in scientific investigations. It had the misfortune to be first distinctly broached by men who were more distinguished for their powers of fancy, and their bold spirit of speculation, than for patient and laborious inquiry in any particular department of science; so that their peculiar ideas respecting a harmony of structure running through the organic kingdoms, and bearing relation to a pattern-form or type, were for a time treated with contempt, or met with decided opposition. But further research has turned the scale in their favour: the ideas in question may now be reckoned among the established conclusions of natural science; and so far from occasioning any just prejudice to the interests of a rational deism (as was once supposed), they have turned rather to its advantage. For, in addition to the evidences of design in nature, which show a specific direction toward a final cause (and which remain untouched), there have been brought to light evidences, not previously observed, of a striking unity of plan. The general principle has been made good, that in organic structures, while there is an infinite variety of parts, each with its specific functions and adaptations, there is also a normal shape, which it more or less approaches, both in its construction as a whole, and in each of its organs. Thus, in plants which have leaves that strike the eye, the leaf and plant are typically analogous: the leaf is a typical plant or branch, and the tree or branch a typical leaf, with certain divergences or modifications necessary to adapt them to their respective places. In the animal kingdom the structural harmony is not less perceptible, and still more to our purpose. It has been found by a wide and satisfactory induction, that the human is here the pattern-form—the archetype of the vertebrate division of animated being. In the structure of all other animal forms there are observable striking resemblances to that of man, and resemblances of a kind that seem designed to assimilate the lower, as near as circumstances would admit, to the higher. In all vertebrate animals it is [[@Page:105]] found that the vertebrate skeleton is composed of a series of parts of essentially the same order, only modified in a great variety of ways to suit the particular functions it has to discharge in the different animal frames to which it belongs. Thus, every segment, and almost every bone, present in the human hand and arm, exist also in the fin of the whale, though apparently not required for the movement of this inflexible paddle, and the specific uses for which it is designed; apparently, therefore, retained more for the sake of symmetry, than from any necessity connected with the proper function of the organ.[4] Most strikingly, however, does the studied conformity to the human archetype appear in the formation of the brain, which is the most peculiar and distinguishing part of the animal frame. “Nature,” says Hugh Miller, “in constructing this curious organ in man, first lays down a grooved cord, as the carpenter lays down the keel of his vessel; and on this narrow base the perfect brain, as month after month passes by, is gradually built up, like the vessel from the keel. First it grows up into a brain closely resembling that of a fish; a few additions more impart the perfect appearance of the brain of a bird; it then developes into a brain exceedingly like that of a mammiferous quadruped; and finally, expanding atop, and spreading out its deeply corrugated lobes, till they project widely over the base, it assumes its unique character as a human brain. Radically such at the first, it passes through all the inferior forms, from that of the fish upwards, as if each man were in himself, not the microcosm of the old fanciful philosopher, but something greatly more wonderful—a compendium of all animated nature, and of kin to every creature that lives. Hence the remark, that man is the sum total of all animals—’the animal equivalent,’ says Oken, ‘to the whole animal kingdom.’”[5]

This, however, is not the whole. For, as geology has now learned to read with sufficient accuracy the stony records of the [[@Page:106]] past, to be able to tell of successive creations of vertebrate animals, from fish, the first and lowest, up to man, the last and highest; so here also we have a kind of typical history—the less perfect animal productions of nature having throughout those earlier geological periods borne a prospective reference to man, as the complete and ultimate form of animal existence. In the language of theology, they were the types, and he is the antitype, in the mundane system. Or, as more fully explained by Professor Owen, “All the parts and organs of man had been sketched out in anticipation, so to speak, in the inferior animals; and the recognition of an ideal exemplar in the vertebrated animals proves that the knowledge of such a being as man must have existed before man appeared. For the Divine mind which planned the archetype, also foreknew all its modifications. The archetypal idea was manifested in the flesh long prior to the existence of those animal species that actually exemplify it. To what natural laws or secondary causes the orderly succession and progression of such organic phenomena may have been committed, we are as yet ignorant. But if, without derogation of the Divine power, we may conceive the existence of such ministers, and personify them by the term NATURE, we learn from the past history of our globe, that she has advanced with slow and stately steps, guided by the archetypal light amidst the wreck of worlds, from the first embodiment of the vertebrate idea under its old ichthyic vestment, until it became arrayed in the glorious garb of the human form.”[[|Text: It is curious to notice that considerably before the progress of physical science had enabled its cultivators to draw this deduction from the lower to the higher forms of organic being, the same line of thought had suggested itself to the inventive mind of Coleridge from a thoughtful meditation of the successive stages of creation as described in Genesis, viewed in the light of progressive developments in the mental as well as material world. The passage as a whole is singularly characteristic of its distinguished author; but the part we have properly to do with is the following: “Let us carry ourselves back in spirit to the mysterious week, the teeming work-days of the Creator; as they rose in vision before the eye of the inspired historian of the generations of the heavens and of the earth, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. And who that hath watched their ways with an understanding heart, could, as the vision evolving still advanced toward him, contemplate the filial and loyal Bee; the home-building, wedded, and divorceless Swallow; and, above all, the manifoldly intelligent Ant tribes, with their commonwealths and confederacies, their warriors and miners, the husband-folk that fold in their tiny flocks on the honeyed leaf, and the virgin sisters with the holy instincts of maternal love, detached and in selfless purity—and not say to himself, Behold the shadow of approaching humanity, the sun rising from behind, in the kindling morn of creation! Thus all lower natures find their highest good in semblances and seekings of that which is higher and better.” (Aids to Reflection, i. p. 85.)[6]

In this view of the matter, what a striking analogy does the [[@Page:107]] history of God’s operations in nature furnish to His plan in providence, as exhibited in the history of redemption! Here, in like manner, there is found in the person and kingdom of Christ a grand archetypal idea, towards which, for successive ages, the Divine plan was continually working. Partial exhibitions of it appear from time to time in certain remarkable personages, institutions, and events, which rise prominently into view as the course of providence proceeds, but all marred with obvious faults and imperfections in respect to the great object contemplated; until at length the idea, in its entire length and breadth, is seen embodied in Him to whom all the prophets gave witness—the God-man, fore-ordained before the foundation of the world. “The Creator—to adopt again the exposition of Mr Miller—in the first ages of His workings, appears to have been associated with what He wrought simply as the producer or author of all things. But even in those ages, as scene after scene, and one dynasty of the inferior animals succeeded another, there were strange typical indications which pre-Adamite students of prophecy among the spiritual existences of the universe might possibly have aspired to read; symbolical indications to the effect that the Creator was in the future to be more intimately connected with His material works than in the past, through a glorious creature made in His own image and likeness. And to this semblance and portraiture of the Deity—the first Adam—all the merely natural symbols seem to refer. But in the eternal decrees it had been for ever determined, that the union of the Creator with creation was not to be a mere union by proxy or semblance. And no sooner had the first Adam appeared and fallen, than a new school of prophecy began, in which type and symbol were mingled with what had now its first existence on earth verbal enunciations; and all pointed to the second Adam, ‘the Lord from heaven.’ In Him, creation [[@Page:108]] and the Creator meet in reality, and not in semblance. On the very apex of the finished pyramid of being sits the adorable Monarch of all:—as the son of Mary, of David, of the first Adam—the created of God; as God and the Son of God—the eternal Creator of the universe. And these—the two Adams—form the main theme of all prophecy, natural and revealed. And that type and symbol should have been employed with reference not only to the second, but—as held by men like Agassiz and Owen—to the first Adam also, exemplifies, we are disposed to think, the unity of the style of Deity, and serves to show that it was He who created the worlds that dictated the Scriptures.”[7]

It is indeed a marvellous similitude, and one, it will be perceived, which is not less fitted to stimulate the aspirations of hope toward the future, than to strengthen faith in what the Bible relates concerning the history of the past. For, if the archetypal idea in animated nature has been wrought at through long periods and successive ages of being till it found its proper realization in man; now that the nature of man is linked in personal union with the Godhead for the purpose of rectifying what is evil, and raising manhood to a higher than its original condition, who can tell to what a height of perfection and glory it shall attain, when the work of God “in the regeneration” has fully accomplished its aim? “We know not what we shall be, but we know that we shall be like Him,” in whom the earthly and human have been for ever associated with, and assimilated to, the spiritual and divine. But the parallel between the method of God’s working in nature, and that pursued by Him in grace, especially as presented in the above graphic extract, naturally raises the question (to which reference has already been made, p. 62), whether, or how far, the creation as constituted and headed in Adam, is to be regarded as typical of the incarnation and kingdom of Christ? As the question is one that cannot be quite easily disposed of, while still it has a very material bearing on our future investigations, we must reserve it for separate discussion.[8]

2. If now we turn from God’s plan in nature to His plan in grace, and think of the conditions that were required to meet in it, in order to render the progression here also exhibited fitly [[@Page:109]] conducive to its great end, we shall find a still farther confirmation of our argument for the place and character of Scripture Typology. This plan, viewed with respect to its progressive character, certainly presents something strange and mysterious to our view, especially in the extreme slowness of its progression; since it required the postponement of the work of redemption for so many ages, and kept the Church during these in a state of comparative ignorance in respect to the great objects of her faith and hope. Yet what is it but an application to the moral history of the world of the principle on which its physicaldevelopment has proceeded, and which, indeed, is constantly exhibited before us in each man’s personal history, whose term of probation upon earth is, in many cases half, in nearly all a third part consumed, before the individual attains to a capacity for the objects and employments of manhood? Constituted as we personally are, and as the world also is, progression of some kind is indispensable to happiness and well-being; and the majestic slowness that appears in the plan of God’s administration of the world, is but a reflection of the nature of its Divine Author, with whom a thousand years are as one day. Starting, then, with the assumption, that the Divine plan behoved to be of a progressive character, the nature of the connection we have found to exist between its earlier and later parts, discovers the perfect wisdom and fore sight of God. The terminating point in the plan was what is called emphatically “the mystery of godliness,”—God manifest in the flesh for the redemption of a fallen world, and the establishment through Him of a kingdom of righteousness that should not pass away. It was necessary that some intimation of this ulterior design should be given from the first, that the Church might know whither to direct her expectations. Accordingly, the prophetic Word began to utter its predictions with the very entrance of sin. The first promise was given on the spot that witnessed the fall; and that a promise which contained, within its brief but pregnant utterance, the whole burden of redemption. As time rolled on, prophecy continued to add to its communications, having still for its grand scope and aim “the testimony of Jesus.” And at length so express had its tidings become, and so plentiful its revelations, that when the purpose of the Father drew near to its accomplishment, the remnant of sincere worshippers [[@Page:110]] were like men standing on their watch-towers, waiting and looking for the long-expected consolation of Israel; nor was there anything of moment in the personal history or work of the Son, of which it could not be written, It was so done, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.

It is plain, however, on a little consideration, that something more was needed than the hopeful announcements of prophecy. The Church required training as well as teaching, and training of a very peculiar kind; for she had to be formed for receiving things “which men had not heard, nor had the ear perceived, neither had the eye seen—the things which God had prepared for those that waited for Him” (Isa. 64:4). “The new dispensation was to be wholly made up of things strange and wonderful; all that is seen and heard of it is contrary to carnal wisdom.

The appearance of the Son of God in a humble condition—the discharge by Him in person of a Gospel ministry, with its attendant circumstances—His shame and sufferings—His resurrection and ascension into heaven—the nature of the kingdom instituted by Him, which is spiritual—the blessings of His kingdom, which are also spiritual—the instruments employed for advancing the kingdom, men devoid of worldly learning, and destitute of outward authority—the gift of the Holy Spirit, the calling of the Gentiles, the rejection of so many among the Jewish people:—these, among other things, were indeed such as the carnal eye had never seen, and the carnal ear had never heard; nor could they without express revelation, by any thought or natural ingenuity on the part of man, have been foreseen or understood.”[9] But lying thus so far beyond the ken of man’s natural apprehensions, and so different from what they were disposed of themselves to expect, if all that was done beforehand respecting them had consisted in the necessarily partial and obscure intimations of prophecy, there could neither have been any just anticipation of the things to be revealed, nor any suitable training for them; the change from the past to the future must have come as an invasion, rather than as the result of an ever-advancing development, and men could only have been brought by a sort of violence to submit to it.

To provide against this, there was required, as a proper [[@Page:111]] accompaniment to the intimations of prophecy, the training of preparatory dispensations, that the past history and established experience of the Church might run, though on a lower level, yet in the same direction with her future prospects. And what her circumstances in this respect required, the wisdom and fore sight of God provided. He so skilfully modelled for her the institutions of worship, and so wisely arranged the dealings of His providence, that there was constantly presented to her view, in the outward and earthly things with which she was conversant, the cardinal truths and principles of the coming dispensation. In everything she saw and handled, there was something to attemper her spirit to a measure of conformity with the realities of the Gospel; so that if she could not be said to live directly under “the powers of the world to come,” she yet shared their secondary influence, being placed amid the signs and shadows of the true, and conducted through earthly transactions that bore on them the image of the heavenly.

It is to this preparatory training, as being on the part of God sufficiently protracted and complete, that we are to regard the Apostle as chiefly referring, when he speaks of Christ having appeared, “when the fulness of the time was come.”—(Gal. 4:4) Chiefly, though not by any means exclusively. For there is a manifold wisdom in all God’s arrangements. In the moral as well as in the physical world He is ever making numerous operations conspire to the production of one result, as each result is again made to contribute to several important ends. It is, therefore, a most legitimate object of inquiry, to search for all the lines of congruity to be seen in the world’s condition, that opportunely met at the time of Christ’s appearing, and together rendered it in a peculiar manner suited for the institution of His kingdom, and advantageously circumstanced for the diffusion of its truths and blessings among the nations of the earth. But whatever light may be gathered from these external researches, it should never be forgotten that God’s own record must furnish the main grounds for determining the special fitness of the selected time, and the state of His Church the paramount reason. In everything that essentially affects the interests of the Church, pre-eminently therefore in what concerns the manifestation of Christ, which is the centre-point of all that [[@Page:112]] touches her interests, the state and condition of the Church herself is ever the first thing contemplated by the eye of God; the rest of the world holds but a secondary and subordinate place. Hence, when we are told that Christ appeared in the fulness of time, the fact of which we are mainly assured is, that all was done which was properly required for bringing the Church, whether as to her internal state or to her relations to the world, into a measure of preparedness for the time of His appearing. Not only had the period anticipated by prophecy arrived, and believing expectation, rising on the wings of prophecy, reached its proper height, but also the long series of preliminary arrangements and dealings was now complete, which were designed to make the Church familiar with the fundamental truths and principles of Messiah’s kingdom, and prepare her for the erection of this kingdom with its divine realities and eternal prospects.

It is true that we search in vain for the general and wide spread success which we might justly expect to have arisen from the plan of God, and to have made conspicuously manifest its infinite wisdom. With the exception of a comparatively small number, the professing Church was found so completely unprepared for the doctrine of Christ’s kingdom, as to reject it with disdain, and oppose it with unrelenting violence. But this neither proves the absence of the design, nor the unfitness of the means for carrying it into effect. It only proves how in sufficient the best means are of themselves to enlighten and sanctify the human mind, when its thoughts and imaginations have become fixed in a wrong direction proves how the heart may remain essentially corrupt, even after undergoing the most perfect course of instruction, and still prefer the ways of sin to those of righteousness. But while we cannot overlook the fatal ignorance and perversity that pervaded the mass of the Jewish people, we are not to forget that there still was among them a pious remnant, “the election according to grace,” who, as the Church in the world, so they in the Church ever occupy the foremost place in the mind and purposes of God. In the bosom of the Jewish Church, as is justly remarked by Thiersch, “there lay a domestic life so pure, noble, and tender, that it could yield such a person as the holy Virgin,” and could furnish an atmosphere [[@Page:113]] in which the Son of God might grow up sinless from childhood to manhood. There were Simeon and Anna, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, the company of Apostles, the converts, no small number after all, who flocked to the standard of Jesus, as soon as the truths of His salvation came to be fully known and understood, and the believing Jews and proselytes scattered abroad, who, in almost every city, were ready to form the nucleus of a Christian Church, and greatly facilitated its extension in the world. Did not the course of God’s preparatory dispensations reach its end in regard to these? Does not even the style of argument and address used by the Apostles imply that it did? How much do both their language and their ideas savour of the sanctuary! How constantly do they throw themselves back for illustration and support, not only on the prophecies, but also on the sacred annals and institutions of the Old Testament! They spake and reasoned on the assumption, that the revelations of the Gospel were but a new and higher exhibition of the principles which appeared alike in the events of their past history and the services of their religious worship. By means of these an appropriate language was already furnished to their hand, through which they could discourse aright of spiritual and divine things. But more than that, as they had no new language to invent, so they had no new ideas to discover, or unheard-of principles to promulgate. The scheme of truth which they were called to expound and propagate, had its foundations already laid in the whole history and constitution of the Jewish commonwealth. In labouring to establish it, they felt that they were treading in the footsteps, and, on a higher vantage-ground, maintaining the faith of their illustrious fathers. In short, they appear as the heralds and advocates of a cause which, in its essential principles, had its representation in all history, and gathered as into one glorious orb of truth the scattered rays of light and consolation which had been emanating from the ways of God since the world began. Thus wisely were the different parts of the Divine plan adjusted to each other; and, for the accomplishment of what was required, the training by means of types could no more have been dispensed with, than the glimpse-like visions and hopeful intimations of prophecy.


[1] Vetus Testamentum recte intelligentibus prophetia est Novi Testamenti (Contra Faust. L. xv. 2). And again, Ille apparatus veteris Testamenti In generationibus, factis etc. parturiebat esse venturum (Ib. L. xix. 31).

[2] Compare the remarks made by the author in “Prophecy viewed with respect to its Distinctive Nature,” etc., P. I., c. 2; also what has been said here in p. 54 sq. of the views which have obtained currency in Germany respecting the typical character of Old Testament history. Hartmann, in his Verbinnung des Alten Test, mit den Newen, p. 6, gives the following from a German periodical on the subject of Old Testament history, and its connection with the Gospel:—”Must not Judaism be of great moment to Christianity, since both stand in brotherly and sisterly relations to each other? The historical books of the Hebrews are also religious books; the religious import is involved in the historical. The history of the people, as a divine leading and management in respect to them, was at the same time a training for religion, precisely as the Old Testament is a preparation for the New.” Still more strongly Jacobi, as quoted by Sack, Apologetik, p. 356, on the words of Christ, that “as the serpent was lifted up, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (ὑψωθὴναι δεὶ): “ History is also prophecy. The past unfolds the future as a germ, and at certain points, discernible by the eye of the mind, the greater may be seen imaged in the smaller, the internal in the external, the present or future in the past. Here there is nothing whatever arbitrary: throughout there is a divine must, connection, and arrangement, pregnant with mutual relations.” More recently, Hofmann, in his Weissagung und Erfüllung, as noticed in Ch. I., has run to an extreme this view of Old Testament history, and in his desire to magnify the importance of it has depreciated prophecy—really, however, to the disparagement of the prophetical element in both departments.

[3] Delitzsch, Biblisch-prophetische Theologie, p. 232.

[4] It is right to say, only apparently retained, though not strictly required; for, as Dr M`Cosh has justly stated, there may still be uses and designs connected with arrangements of the kind which science has not discovered; and the respect to symmetry may be but an incidental and subordinate, not the primary or sole reason. See Typical Forms, p. 449.

[5] Footprints, p. 291.

[6] Now, this destined rise in the kingdom founded in David, and its culmination in a Divine-human Head, is also the theme of many prophecies. David himself took the lead in announcing it; for he already foresaw, through the Spirit, what in this respect would be required to verify the [[@Page:440]] wonderful promise made to him.—(2 Sam. 7; Ps. 2, 45, 72, 110; also Isa. 7:14, 9:6, etc.) But as David was himself the root of this new order of things, and the whole was to take the form of a verification of the word spoken to him, or of the perfectionment of the germ that was planted in him, so in his personal history there was given a compendious representation of the nature and prospects of the kingdom. In the first brief stage was exhibited the embryo of what it should ultimately become. Thus, the absoluteness of the Divine choice in appointing the king; his seeming want, but real possession, of the qualities required for administering the affairs of the kingdom; the growth from small, because necessarily spiritual, beginnings of the interests belonging to it—still growing, however, in the face of an inveterate and ungodly opposition, until judgment was brought forth unto victory;—these leading elements in the history of the first possessor of the kingdom must appear again they must have their counterpart in Him on whom the prerogatives and blessings of the kingdom were finally to settle. There was a real necessity in the case, such as always exists where the end is but the development and perfection of the beginning; and we may not hesitate to say, that if they had failed in Christ, He could not have been the anointed King of David’s line, in whom the purpose of God to govern and bless the world in righteousness was destined to stand. Here, again, we have another and lengthened series of predictions, connecting, in this respect, the past with the future, the beginning with the ending (for example, Ps. 16, 22, 40, 49, 109; Isa. 53; Zech. 9:9, 12:10, 13:1-7).

[7] Witness newspaper, 2d August 1851.

[8] See next chapter.

[9] Vitringa on Isa. 64:4.

Chapter Fourth.—The Proper Nature and Province of Typology—3. God’s Work in Creation, how Related to The Incarnation and Kingdom Of Christ.

[[@Page:114]] THE analogy presented near the close of the preceding chapter—in an extract from Hugh Miller[1]—between pre-Adamite formations in the animal kingdom, rising successively above each other, and those subsequent arrangements in the religious sphere which were intended to herald and prepare for the personal appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, is stated with becoming caution and reserve. It keeps strictly within the limits of revelation, and assumes the existence of nothing in the work of creation itself, with respect to typical forms or otherwise, such as could, even to the most profound intelligences of the universe, have suggested the idea of a further and more complete manifestation of God in connection with humanity. The commencement of the new school of prophecy, allying itself to type and symbol of another kind than had yet appeared, is dated from the era of Adam’s fall, as that which at once furnished the occasion and opened the way for their employment; while still, in the mind of Deity itself, or “in the eternal decrees,” as it is expressed in the extract, it had been for ever determined that there should yet be a closer union between the Creator and creation than was accomplished in Adam. In other words, God had from eternity purposed the Incarnation; though the events in providence which were to exhibit its need, and give rise to the prophetic announcements and foreshadowing symbols which should in due time point the eye of hope toward it came in subsequently to creation, and by reason of sin; so that the Incarnation was predestined, because the fall was foreseen.

The same caution, however, has not been always observed not even in ancient, and still less in recent times. The spirit [[@Page:115]] of Christian speculation, in proportion as the circumstances of particular times have called it into play, has striven to connect in some more distinct and formal manner God’s work in creation with a higher destiny for man in the future; but the modes of doing so have characteristically differed. Among the patristic writers the tendency of this speculation was to find in the original constitution of things pre-intimations or pledges of a higher and more ethereal condition to be reached by Adam and his posterity, as the reward of obedience to the will of God, and perseverance in holiness. The sense of various passages upon the subject gathered out of their writings has been thus expressed: “That Paradise was to Adam a type of heaven; and that the never-ending life of happiness promised to our first parents, if they had continued obedient, and grown up to perfection under that economy wherein they were placed, should not have continued in the earthly paradise, but only have commenced there, and been perpetuated in a higher state.”[2] It is impossible to say that such should not have been the case; for what in the event supposed might have been the ultimate intentions of God respecting the destinies of mankind, since revelation is entirely silent upon the subject, can be matter only of uncertain conjecture, or, at the very most, of probable inference. It is quite conceivable that some other region might have been prepared for their reception, where, free from any formal test of obedience, free even from the conditions of flesh and blood, and “made like unto the angels,” they should have reaped the fruits of immortality. But it is equally conceivable, that this earth itself, which “the Lord hath given to the children of men,” might have become every way suited to the occasion; that as, on the hypothesis in question, it should have escaped the blighting [[@Page:116]] influence of sin, so other and happier changes might have passed over it, and the condition of its inhabitants, not only than they have actually undergone, but than any we can distinctly apprehend; until by successive developments of latent energies, as well of a natural as of a moral kind, the highest attainable good for creation might have been reached. For anything we can tell, there may have been powers and susceptibilities inherent in the original constitution of things, which, under the benign and fostering care of its Creator, were capable of being conducted through such an indefinite course of progressive elevation. But everything of this sort belongs to speculation, not to theology; it lies outside the record which contains the revelation of God’s mind and will to man; and to designate paradise simply, and in its relation to our first parents, a type of heaven, is even more than to speak without warrant of Scripture,—it is to regard paradise and man’s relation to it in another light than Scripture has actually presented them. For there the original frame and constitution of things appears as in due accordance with the Divine ideal,—in itself good, therefore relatively perfect; and not a hint is dropped, or, so far as we know, an indication of any kind given, that could beget in man’s bosom the expectation or desire of another state of being and enjoyment than that which he actually possessed—none, till the entrance of sin had created new wants in his condition, and opened a new channel for the display of God’s perfections in regard to him. It was the influence of the ancient philosophy, which associated with matter in every form the elements of evil, or, at least, of imperfection, that so readily disposed the Fathers of the Christian Church to see in what was at first given to Adam only the image of some higher and better inheritance destined for him elsewhere. They did not consider what refinements matter itself might possibly undergo, in order to its adaptation to the most exalted state of being. But the same influence naturally kept them from connecting with this prospective elevation to a higher sphere the necessary or probable incarnation of the Word; since rather by detaching the human more from the environments of matter, than by bringing the divine into closer contact with it, did the prospect of a higher and more perfect condition for man seem possible to their apprehensions. Hence, [[@Page:117]] also, in what may be fitly called the great symbol of the early Church’s faith respecting the incarnation—the Nicene creed—goes no farther than this, that “for us men, and for the sake of our salvation, the Word was made flesh.”[3]

In recent times the speculative tendency, especially among the German divines, has shown a disposition to take the other direction—namely, to make the incarnation of itself, and apart altogether from the fall of man, the necessary and, from the first, the contemplated medium of man’s elevation to the final state of perfection and blessedness destined for him. Some of the scholastic theologians had already signalized themselves by the advocacy of this opinion—in particular, Rupprecht of Deutz, Alexander of Hales, Aquinas, Duns Scotus; but it was so strongly discountenanced by Calvin and the leading divines of the Reformation, who denounced the idea (propounded afresh by Osiander) of an incarnation without a fall as rash and groundless,[4] that it sunk into general oblivion, till the turn given to speculative thought by the revival of the pantheistic theology served, among other results, to bring it again into favour. This philosophy, while resisted by all believing theologians in its strivings to represent the created universe as but the self-evolution and the varied form of Deity, has still left its impress on the views of many of them as to the nature of the connection between Creator and creature—as if an actual commingling between the two were, in a sense, mutually essential; since a personal indwelling of Godhead in the form of humanity is conceived necessary to complete the manifestation of Godhead begun in Adam, and only by such a personal indwelling could the work of creation attain its end, either in regard to the true ideal of humanity, on the one side, or to the revealed character of God and the religion identified with it, on the other. Adam, therefore,[[@Page:118]] in his formation after the divine image, was the type of the God-man, or the God-man was the true archetype and only proper realization of the idea exhibited in Adam; the fall, with its attendant consequences, only determined the mode of Christ’s appearance among men, but by no means originated the necessityof his appearing.

The representatives of this transcendental school of Typology, as it may not inaptly be called— which undoubtedly includes some of the most learned theologians of the present day—differ to some extent in their mode of setting forth and vindicating the view they hold in common, according to the particular aspect of it which more especially strikes them as important. To give only a few specimens—Martensen presents the incarnation in its relation to the nature of God: the true idea of God is that of the absolute personality; and as the union of Christ with God is a personal union, the individual with whom God historically entered into an absolute union, must be free from everything individually subjective—he must reveal nothing save the absolute personality. Christ is not to be subsumed under the idea of humanity, but, inversely, humanity must be subsumed under Him, since it was He in whom and for whom all things were created (Col. 1:15). He is at once the centre of humanity and the revealed centre of Deity—the point at which God and God’s kingdom are personally united, and who reveals in fulness what the kingdom of God reveals in distinct and manifold forms. The second Adam is both the redeeming and the world-completing principle; the incarnate Logos, and as such the head not merely of the human race, but of all creation, which was made by Him and for Him, and is again to be recapitulated in Him.[5] Lange makes his starting-point the final issues of the incarnation, and from these argues its primary and essential place in the scheme of the Divine manifestations. The post-temporal, eternal glory of the humanity of Christ points back to its eternal, ideal existence in God. The eternal Son of God cannot, in the course of His temporal existence, have saddled Himself (behaftet sich) for ever with something accidental; or have assumed a form which, as purely historical, does not correspond to His eternal essence. We must therefore distinguish [[@Page:119]] between incarnation and assumption of the form of a servant (so as, he means, to place the latter alone in a relation of dependence to the fall of man); must also learn to understand the eternal beginnings of Christ’s humanity, in order to perceive how intimate a connection it has with the past—with the work of creation, with primeval times, and the history of the Old Testament. The whole that appeared in these of good is to be regarded as so many vital evolutions of the Divine life that is in Christ; but in Him alone is the idea of it fully realized.[6] Both of the writers just referred to, also Liebner, Kothe, and, greater than them all, Dorner, lay special stress on the argument derived from the headship of humanity indissolubly linked to Christ. Humanity, according to Dorner, as it appears before God—redeemed humanity—is not merely a mass or heap of unconnected individuals, but an organism, forming, with the world of higher spirits and nature, which is to be glorified for and through it, a complete and perfect organic unity. Even the natural world is an unity, solely because there is indissolubly united with it a principle which stands above it and comprises it within itself—namely, the Divine Logos, by whom the world was formed and is sustained, who is the vehicle and the representative of its eternal idea. But in a higher sense the world of humanity and spirits is an unity, because through the God-man who stands over it, and by His personal self-communication of Godhead-fulness pervades it, its creaturely susceptibility to God is filled; it now enters into the circle of the Divine life, and stands in living harmony with the centre of all good. But a matter so essential to the proper idea of humanity cannot belong to the sphere of contingency; it must be viewed as inseparably connected with the purpose of God in creation. And there is another thought, which Dorner conceives establishes beyond doubt the belief, that the incarnation had not its sole ground in sin, but had a deeper, an eternal, and abiding necessity in the wise and free love of God,—namely, that Christianity is the perfect religion, the religion absolutely, the eternal Gospel; and that for this religion Christ is the centre, without which it cannot be so much as conceived. Whoso, says he, maintains that Adam might have [[@Page:120]] become perfect even without Christ, inasmuch as no one can deem it possible to conceive of perfection without the perfect religion, maintains, either consciously or unconsciously, two absolute religions, one without, and one with Christ—which is a bare contradiction. No Christian, he thinks, will deny that it makes an essential difference, whether Christ, or only God in general, is the central point of a religion. At the same time, with Christian candour he admits, that the necessity of the truth he advocates will not so readily commend itself to theologians, who are wont to proceed in an experimental and anthropological manner (that is, who look at the matter as it has been evolved in the history and experience of mankind), as it must, and actually does, to those who recognise both the possibility and the necessity of a Christian speculation, that takes the conception of God for its starting-point.[7]

While this mode of contemplating the incarnation of Christ, and of connecting it with the idea of creation, has in its recent development had its origin in the philosophy, and its formal exhibition in the theology, of Germany, it is no longer confined to that country; and both the view itself, and its application to the Typology of Scripture, have already found a place in our own. theological literature. Dean Trench, in his Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge, although he advances nothing strictly new upon the subject, yet he speaks not less decidedly respecting the necessity of the incarnation, apart altogether from the fall, to enable the race of Adam “to attain the end of its creation, the place among the families of God, for which from the first it was designed.” Special stress is laid by him, as by Lange, on the issues of the incarnation, as reflecting light on its original intention: “The taking on Himself of our flesh by the Eternal Word was no makeshift to meet a mighty, yet still a particular, emergent need; a need which, conceding the liberty of man’s will, and that it was possible for him to have continued in his first state of obedience, might never have occurred. It was not a mere result and reparation of the fall,—such an act as, except for that, would never have been; but lay bedded at a far deeper depth in the counsels of [[@Page:121]] God for the glory of His Son, and the exaltation of that race formed in His image and His likeness. For, against those who regard the incarnation as an arbitrary, or as merely an historic event, and not an ideal one as well, we may well urge this weighty consideration, that the Son of God did not, in and after His ascension, strip off this human nature again; He did not regard His humanity as a robe, to be worn for a while and then laid aside; the convenient form of His manifestation, so long; as He was conversing with men on earth, but the fitness of which had with that manifestation passed away. So far from this, we know, on the contrary, that He assumed our nature for ever, married it to Himself, glorified it with His own glory, carried it as the form of His eternal subsistence into the world of angels, before the presence of His Father. Had there been anything accidental here, had the assumption of our nature been an afterthought (I speak as a man), this marriage of the Son of God with that nature could scarcely be conceived. He could hardly have so taken it, unless it had possessed an ideal as well as an historic fitness; unless pre-established harmonies had existed, such harmonies as only a divine intention could have brought about between the one and the other.”

The application of the view to Typology is apparent from the very statement of it; but it has also been formally made, and so as to combine the results obtained from the geological territory, with those of a more strictly theological nature. Thus, the late Mr Macdonald[8] speaks of “the scheme of nature, read from the memorials of creation inscribed on the earth’s crust, or recorded in the opening pages of Genesis, as progressive, and from its very outset prophetic;” and a little farther on he says, “There is no reason whatever for confining the typical to the events and institutions subsequent to the fall. The cause of this arbitrary limitation lies in regarding as typical only what strictly prefigured redemption, instead of connecting it with God’s manifestation of Himself and His purposes in all His acts and administrations, which, however varied, had from the very first one specific and expressed object in view—His own glory through man, at first created in the Divine image, and since the fall to be transformed into it; inasmuch as that moral disorder [[@Page:122]] rendered such a change necessary. The whole of the Divine acts and arrangements from the beginning formed parts of one system; for, as antecedent creations reached their end in man, so man himself in his original constitution prefigured a new and higher relation of the race than the incipient place reached in creation” (p. 457). The fall is consequently to be understood, and is expressly represented, merely as a kind of interruption or break in the march of providence toward its aim, in nature akin to such events as the death of Abel and the flood in after times; while the Divine plan not the less proceeded on its course, only with special adaptations to the altered state of things.

I. It is this more special bearing of the subject, its relation to a well-grounded and properly adjusted Scriptural Typology, with which we have here chiefly to do; and to this, accordingly, we shall primarily address ourselves. In doing so, we neither directly question nor defend the truth of the view under consideration; we leave its title to a place in the deductions of a scientific theology for the present in abeyance; and merely regard it in the light in which it is put by its most learned and thoughtful advocates, as a matter of inference from some of the later testimonies of Scripture concerning the purposes of God; and this, too, only as informed and guided by a spirit of Christian speculation, having for its starting-point the conception of God.

Now the matter standing thus, it would, as appears to us, be extremely unwise to lay such a view at the foundation of a typological system, or even to give it in such a system a distinctly recognised place. For this were plainly to bring a certain measure of uncertainty into the very structure of the system—founding upon a few incidental hints and speculative considerations concerning the final purposes of God, in which it were vain to expect a general concurrence among theologians, rather than upon the broad stream and current of His revelations. It were also, as previously noticed (p. 58), to make our Typology, in a very important respect, return to the fundamental error of the Cocceian school; that is, would inevitably lead to the too predominant contemplation of everything in the earlier dispensations of God as from the Divine [[@Page:123]] point of view, and with respect to the great archetypal idea in Christ, as from the beginning foreseen and set up in prospect. This tendency, indeed, has already in a remarkable manner discovered itself among the divines who bring into the fore ground of God’s manifestations of Himself the idea of the God-man. Lange, for instance, has given representations of the “Divine-human life” in the patriarchs and worthies of ancient times, which seem to leave no very distinctive difference between the action of divinity in them and in the person of Jesus.

Nägelsbach (in his work Der Gottmensch) even represents our first parent as Elohim-Adam (God-man), on the ground of his spiritual essence being of a divine nature; and both in Adam after the fall, and the better class who succeeded, there was what he calls an artificial realization of the idea of the God-manhood attempted, and in part accomplished. Hence, not without reason has Dorner delivered a caution to those who coincide with him in his view respecting the incarnation, to beware of darkening the preparation for Christ by throwing into their delineation of early times too much of Christ Himself, or of becoming so absorbed in the typical as to overlook the historical life and struggles of the people of the Old Covenant.[9] The caution, we are persuaded, will be of little avail, so long as the idea of the incarnation is placed in immediate relationship with God’s work in creation; for in that case it must ever seem natural to make that idea shine forth in all the more peculiar instruments and operations of God, and generally to assimilate humanity in its better phases too closely to the altogether singular and mysterious person of Immanuel—to find in it, in short, a kind of God-manhood, whereby the God-man hood itself would inevitably come to be in danger of gliding into the shadowy form of a Sabellian manifestation.

Even if this serious error could be avoided, another and slighter form of the same erroneous tendency would be sure to prevail,—if the incarnation, as the archetypal idea of creation, were formally introduced, and made the guiding-star of our Typology. It would inevitably lead us, in our endeavours to read out the meaning of God’s working in creation and providence, to put a certain strain upon the things which appear, in [[@Page:124]] order to bring out what is conceived to have been the ultimate design in them; we should be inclined to view them rather as an artificial representation of what God predestined and foresaw, than a natural and needed exhibition of things to be believed or hoped for by partially enlightened but God-fearing men. The Divine here must not be viewed as moving in a kind of lofty isolation of its own; it should rather be contemplated as letting itself down into the human. We should feel that we have to do, not simply with Heaven’s plan as it exists in the mind and is grasped by the all-comprehending eye of God, but with this plan as gradually evolving itself in the sphere of human responsibility, and developed step by step, in the manner most fitly adapted to carry forward the corporate growth of the Church toward its destined completeness, yet so as, at the same time, to mould the character and direct the hopes of successive generations in conformity with existing relations and duties. It is the proper aim and business of Typology to trace the progress of this development, and to show how, amid many outward diversities of form and ever-varying measures of light, there were great principles steadily at work, and in their operations forecasting, with growing clearness and certainty, the appearance and kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. To such a method also, Typology must owe much of the interest with which it may be able to invest its proper line of inquiry, and its success in throwing light on the history and mutual interconnection of the Divine dispensations. But it were to depart from this safe and profitable course, if we should attempt to bring all that, by dint of inference and speculation, expatiating in the strictly Divine sphere of things, we might find it possible to connect with the earlier acts and operations of God. These should rather be brought out in the aspect and relation they bore to those whom they immediately respected; in order that, from the effect they were designed and fitted to produce in the spiritual instruction and training of men who had in their respective generations to maintain the cause and manifest the life of God, the place and purpose may be learned that properly belonged to them in the general scheme of a progressive revelation.

The statement of Mr Macdonald may be referred to in proof of what is likely to happen from the neglect of such considerations,[[@Page:125]] and from attempting to carry the matter higher. The scheme of God, he says, as well that which commenced with Adam as the preceding one which culminated in him, was “from the outset prophetic;” and again: “The whole of the Divine acts and arrangements from the beginning formed parts of one system; for, as antecedent creations reached their end in man, so man himself, in his original constitution, prefigured a new and higher relation of the race to the Creator, than the incipient place reached in creation.” Now, taking the terms here used in their ordinary sense, we must understand by this statement that the work of creation in Adam carried in its very constitution the signs and indications of better things to come for man; for, to speak of it as being prophetic, or having a pre-figuration of a higher relation to the Creator than then actually existed, imports more than that such a destiny was in the purpose and decrees of the Almighty (which no one will dispute): it denotes, that the creation itself was of such a kind as to proclaim its own relative imperfection, and at the same time, by means of certain higher elements interwoven with it, to give promise of a state in which such imperfection should be done away. The question, then, is, How did it do so, or for whom? The Lord Himself, at the close of creation, pronounced it all very good; and the charge given to Adam and his partner spake only of a continuance of that good as the end they were to aim at, and of the loss of it as the evil they were to shun. What ground is there for supposing that more was either meant on God’s part, or perceived on man’s, than what thus appears on the broad and simple testimony of the divine record? Adam, indeed, was made, and doubtless knew that he was made, in the image of God; as such he was set over God’s works, and appointed in God’s name, to exercise the rights of a terrestrial lordship; but how should he have imagined from this, that it was in the purposes of Heaven to enter into some closer relationship with humanity, and that he, as the image of God, was but the figure of one who should be actually God and man united? Yet, supposing he could not. Might he not have been so in fact without himself knowing it, as in subsequent times we find prefigurations of Gospel realities, which were but imperfectly, sometimes perhaps not at all, understood in that character by those who had directly [[@Page:126]] to do with them? But the cases are by no means parallel. For, in regard to those later prefigurations, the promise had already entered of a restored and perfected condition; and believing men were not only warranted, but in a sense bound, to search into them for signs and indications of the better future. If they failed to perceive them, it was because of their feebleness of faith and defect of spiritual discernment. In the primeval constitution of things it was quite otherwise: man was altogether upright, and creation apparently in all respects as it should be; the Creator Himself rested with satisfaction in the works of His hand, and by the special consecration of the seventh day invited His earthly representative to do the same. How, in such a case, should the thought of imperfection and deficiency have entered, or any prospect for the future seemed natural, save such as might associate itself with the progressive development and expansion of that which already existed? Beyond this, whatever there might be in the purpose and decrees of God, it is hard to conceive how room could yet have been found for any expression being given by Him, or hope cherished on the part of man.

Unquestionably there was much beyond in the Divine mind and purpose. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” With infallible certainty He foresaw ere time began the issues of that constitution of things which was to be set up in Adam; foresaw also, and predetermined, the introduction of that covenant of grace by which other and hap Her issues for humanity were to be secured. On this account it is said of Christ, as the destined Mediator of that covenant, that He was “fore-ordained before the foundation of the world;” and of those who were ultimately to share in the fruits of His mediation, that they also were chosen in Him before the world was made (1 Pet. 1:20; Eph. 1:4). But it is one thing to assign a place to such ulterior thoughts and purposes in the eternal counsels of the Godhead, and another thing to regard them as entering into the objective revelation He gave of His mind and will at the creation of the world, so as to bring them within the ken of His intelligent creatures. In doing the one, we have both the warrant of Scripture and the reason of things to guide us; while the other would involve the introduction, out of due time, of those secret things which as yet belonged only to the Lord.

[[@Page:127]] According to what may be called the palpable and prevailing testimony of Scripture on the subject, the work of God in creation is to be regarded as the adequate reflection of His own infinite wisdom and goodness, adapted in all respects to the special purposes for which it was designed; but the sin of man through the cunning of the tempter presently broke in to mar the good; and following thereupon the predestined plan of grace began to give intimation of its purpose, and to open for itself a path whereby the lost good should be won back, and the destroyer be himself destroyed. This plan starts on its course with the avowed aim of rectifying the evil which originated in man’s defection; and it not less avowedly reaches its end when the restitution, or bringing back again, of all things is accomplished (Acts 3:21). It carries throughout the aspect of a remedial scheme, or restoration of that which had come forth in the freshness and beauty of life from the hand of God. A rise, no doubt, accompanies the process; and the work of God at its consummation shall assuredly be found on a much higher level than at the beginning, as it shall also present a much fuller and grander exhibition of the Divine character and perfections. But still, in the Scriptural form of representation, the original work continues to occupy the position of the proper ideal: all things return, in a manner, whence they came; and a new heavens and a new earth, with paradise restored and perennial springs of life and blessing, appear in prospect as the glorious completion to which the whole scheme is gradually tending. Since thus the things of creation are exhibited in a relation so markedly different to those of redemption, from that possessed by the preliminary, to the final processes of redemption itself, it were surely to intro duce an unjustifiable departure from the method of Scripture, and also to confound things that materially differ, were we, in a typological respect, to throw all into one and the same category. Creation cannot possibly be the norm or pattern of redemption, after the same manner that an imperfect or provisional execution of God’s work in grace is to that work in its full development and ripened form. Yet, for the very reason that redemption assumes the aspect of a restoration, not the introduction of something absolutely new, creation assuredly is a norm or pattern, to which the Divine agency in redemption assimilates its operations [[@Page:128]] and results: the one bases itself upon the other, and does not aim at supplanting, but only at rectifying, reconstructing, and perfecting it. Twin-ideals they may be called, and as such they cannot but present many points of agreement, bespeaking the unity of one contriving and all-directing mind, which it may well become us on proper occasions to mark. But the distinct ground this relationship occupies in Scripture should also find its correspondence in our mode of treating the things that belong to it; and for the province of Typology proper, we cannot but deem it on every account wise, expedient, and fitting that it should confine itself to what pertains to God’s work in grace, and should move simply in the sphere of “the regeneration.”

II. Passing now to the more general aspect of the view in question respecting the incarnation and kingdom of Christ, or its title to rank among the deductions of theological inquiry, it would be out of place here to go into a lengthened examination of it; and the indication of a few leading points is all that we shall actually attempt. The direction already taken on the typological bearing of the subject, is that also which I feel constrained to take regarding its general aspect. For, though it scarcely professes to be more than a speculation, and one purposely intended to exalt the doctrine of the incarnation, yet the tendency of it, I am persuaded, cannot be unattended with danger, as it seems in various respects opposed to the form of sound doctrine delivered to us in Scripture.

1. First of all, it implies, as already stated, a view of creation not only discountenanced by the general current of Scriptural representation, but not easily reconcileable with the perfect wisdom and goodness of the Creator. As a matter of fact, creation in Adam certainly fell short of its design; or, to express it otherwise, humanity, as constituted in our first parent, failed to realize its idea. But as so constituted, was it not endowed with all competent powers and resources for attaining the end in view? Was it absolutely and inherently incapable of doing so apart from the incarnation? In that case, one does not see how either the work of God could possess that character of relative perfection constantly ascribed to it in Scripture, or the defection of man should have drawn after it such fearful penalties. Both God’s [[@Page:129]] work and man’s, on the hypothesis in question, seem to take a position different from what properly belongs to them; and the manifestation of God’s moral character in this world enters on its course amid difficulties of a very peculiar and embarrassing kind. The perplexity thus arising is not relieved by the supposition, that mankind will be raised to a higher state of perfection and blessedness through the medium of the incarnation than had otherwise been possible, and that this was hence implied in creation as the means necessary to creation’s end; for we have here to do with the character of God’s work considered by itself, and what immediately sprang from it. Nor is it by any means certain, or we may even say probable, that if humanity had stood faithful to its engagements, the ultimate destiny of its members would have been in any respect lower than that which they may attain through sin and redemption. But on such a theme we have no sure light to guide us.

2. The view presented by this theory of the mission of Christ, however, is a still more objectionable feature in it; for, exalting the incarnation as of itself necessary to the higher ends of creation, apart from the concerns of sin and redemption, it inevitably tends to depress the importance of these, and gives to something else, which was no way essentially connected with them, the place of greatest moment for the interests of humanity. The earlier Socinians, it is well known, on this very ground favoured the scholastic speculations on the subject; they espoused the view, not, indeed, of an incarnation without a fall (for in no proper sense did they hold what these terms import), but of the necessity of the mission of Christ, independently of the sin of Adam and the consequences thence arising; in this they appeared to find some countenance for the comparatively small account they made alike of the evil of sin, and of the wondrous grace and glory of redemption. And to a simple, unbiassed mind it must be all but incredible, that if the incarnation of our Lord were traceable to some higher and more fundamental reason than that occasioned by the fall, no explicit mention should have been made of it, even in a single passage of Scripture. All the more direct statements presented there respecting the design and purpose of our Lord’s appearance [[@Page:130]] among men stand inseparably connected with their deliverance from the ruin of sin, and restoration to peace and blessing. The distinctive name He bore (Jesus) proclaimed SALVATION to be the grand burden of His undertaking; or, as He Himself puts it, “He came to save the lost,” “to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 18:11, 20:28); or still again, “that men might have life, and might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He was made of a woman, made under the law, in order that He might redeem them who were held under the condemnation of law (Gal. 4:4). He took part of flesh and blood, in order that by His death He might destroy him that had the power of death was made like in all things to His brethren, as it behoved Him to be, that He might be for them a faithful high priest and make reconciliation for their sins (Heb. 2:14-17). It is but another form of the same mode of representation, when St John says of Christ, that He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8); and that as the gift of God’s love to the world, it was to the end that men might not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). In the Supper also, the most distinctive ordinance of the Gospel, not the incarnation, but redemption is presented as the central fact of Christianity. Such is the common testimony of Scripture: redemption in some one or other of its aspects is perpetually associated with the purpose which Christ assumed our nature to accomplish; and the greatness of the remedy is made to throw light upon the greatness of the evil which required its intervention. But according to the view we now oppose, “both the consequences of sin and the value of redemption are lowered, since not the incarnation, but only its special form, is traceable to sin. That God became man is in itself the greatest humiliation; and yet this adorable mystery of divine love is not to stand in any [necessary] connection with sin! Only the comparatively smaller fact, that that man in whom God would at any rate have become incarnate had undergone sufferings and death, is due to sin! And what is even more dangerous, redemption ceases to be a free act of Divine pity, and is represented as a necessity implied in creation, which would have taken place whether man had remained obedient or not. Thus sin is not the sole cause of man’s present state; and however the incarnation [[@Page:131]] might remain an adorable mystery of love, redemption could no longer do so, since it had been involved in the decree of the incarnation, and could not be regarded as proceeding solely from divine mercy and compassion toward fallen man.”[10]

There are passages of Scripture sometimes appealed to on the other side, but they have no real bearing on the point which they are adduced to establish. One of these is Eph. 1:10, in which the purpose of God is represented as having this for its object, that “in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” The passage simply indicates, among the final issues of Christ’s work, the recapitulating or summing up (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι) of all things in Him, heavenly as well as earthly; but it is the historical Christ that is spoken of—the Christ in whom (as is stated immediately before) believers have redemption through His blood, and are predestinated to life eternal; and there is not a hint conveyed of the purpose or predestination of God, except in connection with the salvation of fallen man, and the work of reconciliation necessary to secure it. What might have been the Divine purpose apart from this, we may indeed conjecture, but it must be without any warrant whatever from the passage before us; and, as Calvin has justly said, not without the audacity of seeking to go beyond the immutable ordination of God, and attempting to know more of Christ than was predestinated concerning Him even in the Divine decree (Inst., B. ii., c. 12, § 5). The somewhat corresponding but more comprehensive passage in Col. 1:15-17, has been also referred to in this connection, but with no better result. For though expressions are there applied to Christ, which, if isolated from the context, might with some plausibility be explained to countenance the idea of an incarnation irrespective of a fall, yet when taken in their proper connection they contain nothing to justify such an application. The starting-point here also is redemption ([[ver. 14 >> Bible:Col 1:14]] , “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”); and the statements in what immediately follows (vers. [[15-17 >> Bible:Col 1:15-17]] ), have evidently for their main object the setting forth of the divine greatness of Him by whom [[@Page:132]] it is effected—as the One by whom and for whom all things were created Himself,—consequently, prior to them all, and infinitely exalted above them. But this plainly refers to Christ as the Logos, or Word, through whom as such the agency is carried on, and the works are performed, by which the Godhead is revealed and brought out to the view of finite intelligence. In that respect He is “the image of the invisible God” ([[ver. 15 >> Bible:Col 1:15]] ); because in Him exists with perfect fulness, and from Him goes forth into actual embodiment, that which forms a just representation of the mind and character of the Eternal. On the same account also, and with reference simply to His creative agency, He is “the first-born of every creature;” being the causal beginning, whence the whole sprang into existence, and the natural head, under whom all its orders of being must ever stand ranged before God. His divine Sonship is consequently the living root, in which the filial relationship of men and angels had its immediate ground; and His image of Godhead that which reflected itself in their original righteousness and purity. Hence, as all things came from Him at first in the character of the revealing Word, so they shall be again recapitulated in Him as the Word made flesh—though in degrees of affinity to Him, and with diverse results corresponding to the relations they respectively occupied to His redemptive agency. Hence, also, the Divine image, which by Him as the Creator was imparted to Adam, is again restored upon all who become related to Him as the Redeemer: they are renewed after the image of Him that created them (Col. 3:10, Eph. 4:24); implying that His work in redemption, as to its practical effect on the soul, is a substantial reproduction of that which proceeded from Him at creation.

We have looked at the only passages worth naming which have been pressed in support of the theory under consideration; and can see nothing in them, when fairly interpreted, that seems at variance with the general tenor of the testimony of Scripture on the subject. But this so distinctly and constantly associates the incarnation of Christ with the scheme of redemption, that to treat it otherwise must be held to be essentially anti-scriptural.

3. The matter is virtually disposed of, in a theological point [[@Page:133]] of view, when we have brought to bear upon it with apparent collusiveness the testimony of Scripture; nor is there anything in the collateral arguments employed by the advocates of the theory, as indicated in the outline formerly given of their views, which ought to shake our confidence in the result. That, for example, derived from the wonderful relationship, the personal and everlasting union, into which humanity has been brought with Godhead, as if the purpose concerning it should be turned into a kind of after-thought, and it should sink, in a manner derogatory to its high and unspeakably important nature, into something arbitrary and contingent, if placed in connection merely with the fall:—Such an argument derives all its plausibility from the limitations and defects inseparable from a human mode of contemplation. To the eye of Him who sees the end from the beginning, whose purpose, embracing the whole compass of the providential plan, was formed before even the beginning was effected, there could be nothing really contingent or uncertain in any part of the process. Nor, on the other hand, was the creation of man necessary (in the absolute sense of the term), any more than the fall of man: it depended on the movements of a will sovereignly free; and, hypothetically, must be placed among the things which, prior to their existence, might or might not, to human view, have taken place. Besides, since anyhow the mode of the incarnation was determined by the circumstances of the fall, and the mode, as well as the thing itself, decreed from the very first, how can we with propriety distinguish between the two? The one, as well as the other, has a most intimate connection with the perfections of Deity; and, for anything we know, the reality in any other form might not have approved itself to the infinitely wise and absolutely perfect mind of God. Otherwise than it is, we can have no right to say it would have been at all.

The argument founded on the supposed necessity of the incarnation to the proper unity of the human race, is entitled to no greater weight than the one just noticed. It assumes a necessity which has not and cannot be proved to have existed. Situated as the human family now is, it may no doubt be fitly designated, with Dorner, “a mere mass,” an aggregate of individuals, without any pervading principle to constitute them into [[@Page:134]] an organism. But this is itself one of the results of the fall; and no one is entitled to argue from what actually is, to what would have been, if the race had stood in its normal condition. In the transmission of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, with its fearful heritage of suffering, corruption, and death, we have continually before us the remains of a living organism,—the reverse side, as it were, of the original likeness of humanity. Why might there not have been, had its divinely constituted head proved stedfast to his engagements, the transmission through that head of a yet more powerful as well as happy influence to all the members of the family? We have no reason to affirm such a thing to have been impossible, especially as the human head was but the representative and medium of communication appointed by and for Him who was the causal or creative head of the family. Dorner himself admits, that even the natural world is an unity, because in the Divine Logos, as the world-former and preserver, who in Himself bears and represents its eternal idea, it has a principle which is above it, yet pervades it, and comprises it within itself.[11] If so much can be said even now, how much more might it have been said of the world viewed as it came from the hand of its Maker,—with no moral barrier to intercept the flow of life and blessing from its Divine fountainhead, and paralyze the constitution of nature in its more vital functions! In that case the unity in diversity, which is now the organic principle of the Christian Church, might, and doubtless would, have been that also of the Adamic family: only, in the one case, having its recognised seat and effective power in Christ as the incarnate Redeemer; in the other, in Him as the eternal and creative Word. Indeed, from the general relation of the two economies to each other, we are warranted in assuming, that as, in regard to individuals, Christ, the Redeemer, restores the Divine image, which, as to all essential properties, was originally given by Christ, the Word, so in regard to the race (considered as the subject of blessing), He restores in the one capacity what, as to germ and principle, He had implanted in the other. There are, of course, gradations and differences, but with these also fundamental agreements.

As to the argument that Christianity is the absolute religion, [[@Page:135]] and that without an incarnation there could be no Christianity in the proper sense, little more need be said, than that it starts a problem which, in our present imperfect condition, we want the materials for solving,—if, indeed, we shall ever possess them. To speak of the absolute in connection with what, from its very nature, and with a view to its distinctive aims, must be inter woven with much that pertains to the individual and the relative, is to employ terms to which we find it impossible to attach a very definite meaning. But if a religion is entitled to be called absolute, it surely ought to be because it is alike adapted to all, who through it are to contemplate and adore God—the whole universe of intelligent and moral creatures. How this, however, could have been found in a revelation which had the incarnation for its central fact,—found precisely on this account, and no otherwise,—is hard to be understood, since, to say nothing of the incarnation as now indissolubly linked to the facts of redemption, even an incarnation dissociated from everything relating to a fall, must still be viewed as presenting aspects, and bearing a relation, to the human family, which it could not have done to angelic natures. But, apart from this apparent incongruity, if there be such a thing possible as a religion that can justly be entitled to the name of absolute, we know as yet too little of the created universe, and the relations in which other portions of its inhabitants stand to the Creator, to pronounce with confidence on the conditions which would be required to meet in it. We stand awed, too, by the solemn utterance, “No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son may reveal Him;” and assured that the Son has nowhere revealed what, according to the mind of the Father, would be needed to constitute for all times and regions the absolute religion, we feel that on such a theme silence is our true wisdom.


[1] See page 107.

[2] This proposition, with the authorities that support it, may be found in the discourses of Bishop Bull, Works, Vol. II., p. 67. His proofs from the earlier Fathers—Justin Martyr, Tatian, Irenaeus—are somewhat inadequate. The first explicit testimony is from Theophilus of Antioch, who speaks of Adam being “at length canonized or consecrated and ascending to heaven,” if he had gone on to perfection. The testimony becomes more full, as the speculative tendency of the Greek philosophy gains strength in the Church. And Clement of Alexandria expressly says in his Liturgy, that “if Adam had kept the commandments, he would have received immortality as the reward of his obedience,” meaning thereby, eternal life in a higher sphere.

[3] The divines of the Reformation very commonly concurred, to a certain extent, in the view of the Fathers, and hence the position is defended by Turretine, that Adam had the promise of being carried to heaven and enjoying eternal life there as the reward of his obedience (Loc. Oct., Qwest. VI.). But he admits that Scripture makes no distinct mention of this, and that it is only matter of inference. The grounds of inference are in this case, however, rather far to seek.

[4] See, for example, Calvin’s Inst. L. ii. 12, 5. Maestricht, Theol. Lib. v., c. 4, § 17.

[5] Dogmatik, § 130, 131.

[6] See the outline of his views in Dorner on the Person of Christ, note 23, Vol. II., P. II. Of the original, note 34 of the Eng. Trans.

[7] Person of Christ, Vol. II., Pt. II., p. 1241. Eng. Trans., Div. II., Vol. III., p. 232, sq.

[8] Introd. To the Pent., Vol. II., p. 451.

[9] Vol. II., Ft. II., No. 23, or Eng. Trans., No. 34.

[10] [[|Text: Kurtz, Bible and Astronomy, Chap. II., § 12. Trans.

[11] Vol. II, Pt. II., p. 1242; Eng. Trans., Div. II., Vol. III., p. 235.

Chapter Fifth.—Prophetical Types, or The Combination of Type with Prophecy—Alleged Double Sense of Prophecy.

[[@Page:136]] A TYPE, as already explained and understood, necessarily possesses something of a prophetical character, and differs in form rather than in nature from what is usually designated prophecy. The one images or prefigures, while the other foretells, coming realities. In the one case representative acts or symbols, in the other verbal delineations, serve the purpose of indicating beforehand what God was designed to accomplish for His people in the approaching future. The difference is not such as to affect the essential nature of the two subjects, as alike connecting together the Old and the New in God’s dispensations. In distinctness and precision, however, simple prophecy has greatly the advantage over informations conveyed by type. For prophecy, however it may differ in its general characteristics from history, as it naturally possesses something of the directness, so it may also descend to something of the definiteness, of historical description. But types having a significance or moral import of their own, apart from anything prospective, must, in their prophetical aspect, be somewhat less transparent, and possess more of a complicated character. Still the relation between type and antitype, when pursued through all its ramifications, may produce as deep a conviction of design and pre-ordained connection, as can be derived from simple prophecy and its fulfilment, though, from the nature of things, the evidence in the latter case must always be more obvious and palpable than in the former.

But the possession of the same common character is not the only link of connection between type and prophecy. Not only do they agree in having both a prospective reference to the future, but they are often also combined into one prospective exhibition of the future. Prophecy, though it sometimes is of [[@Page:137]] a quite simple and direct nature, is not always, nor even commonly, of this description; it can scarcely ever be said to delineate the future with the precision and exactness that history employs in recording the past. In many portions of it there is a certain degree of complexity, if not dubiety, and that mainly arising from the circumstances and transactions of the past being in some way interwoven with its anticipations of things to come. Here, however, we approach the confines of a controversy on which some of the greatest minds have expended their talents and learning, and with such doubtful success on either side, that the question is still perpetually brought up anew for discussion, whether there is or is not a double sense in prophecy? That some portion of debateable ground will always remain connected with the subject, appears to us more than probable. But, at the same time, we are fully persuaded that the portion admits of being greatly narrowed in extent, and even reduced to such small dimensions as not materially to affect the settlement of the main question, if only the typical element in prophecy is allowed its due place and weight. This we shall endeavour, first of all, to exhibit in the several aspects in which it actually presents itself; and shall then subjoin a few remarks on the views of those who espouse either side of the question, as it is usually stated.

From the general resemblance between type and prophecy, we are prepared to expect that they may sometimes run into each other; and especially, that the typical in action may in various ways form the groundwork and the materials by means of which the prophetic in word gave forth its intimations of the coming future. And this, it is quite conceivable, may have been done under any of the following modifications. 1. A typical action might, in some portion of the prophetic word, be historically mentioned; and hence the mention being that of a prophetical circumstance or event, would come to possess a prophetical character. 2. Or something typical in the past or the present might be represented in a distinct prophetical announcement, as going to appear again in the future; thus combining together the typical in act and the prophetical in word. 3. Or the typical, not expressly and formally, but in its essential relations and principles, might be embodied in an accompanying [[@Page:138]] prediction, which foretold things corresponding in nature, but far higher and greater in importance. 4. Or, finally, the typical might itself be still future, and in a prophetic word might be partly described, partly pre-supposed, as a vantage-ground for the delineation of other things still more distant, to which, when it occurred, it was to stand in the relation of type to antitype. We could manifestly have no difficulty in conceiving such combinations of type with prophecy, without any violence done to their distinctive properties, or any invasion made on their respective provinces; nothing, indeed, happening but what might have been expected from their mutual relations, and their fitness for being employed in concert to the production of common ends. And we shall now show how each of the suppositions has found its verification in the prophetic Scriptures.[1]

I. The first supposition is that of a typical action being historically mentioned in the prophetic word, and the mention, being that of a prophetical circumstance or event, thence coming to possess a prophetical character. There are two classes of scriptures which may be said to verify this supposition; one of which is of a somewhat general and comprehensive nature, so that the fulfilment is not necessarily confined to any single person or period, though it could not fail in an especial manner to appear in the personal history of Christ. To this class belong such recorded experiences as the following:—”The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up” (Ps. 69:9; comp. with John 2:17); “He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me” (Ps. 41:9; comp. with John 13:18); “They hated Me without a cause” (Ps. 69:4; comp. with John 15:25); “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner” (Ps. 118:22; comp. with Matt. 21:42; 1 Pet. 2:6, 7). These passages are all distinctly referred to Christ in the Gospels, and the things that befell Him are expressly said or plainly indicated to have happened, that such Scriptures might [[@Page:139]] be fulfilled. Yet, as originally penned, they assume the form of historical statements rather than of prophetical announcements—recorded experiences on the part of those who indited them, and experiences of a kind that, in one form or another, could scarcely fail to be often recurring in the history of God’s Church and people. As such it might have seemed enough to say, that they contained general truths which were exemplified also in Jesus, when travailing in the work of man’s redemption. But the convictions of Jesus Himself and the inspired writers of the New Testament go beyond this; they perceive a closer connection—a prophetical element in the passages, which must find its due fulfilment in the personal experience of Christ. And this the passages contained, simply from their being, in their immediate and historical reference, descriptive of what belonged to characters—David and Israel—that bore typical relations to Christ; so that their being descriptive in the one respect necessarily implied their being prophetic in the other. What had formerly taken place in the experience of the type, must substantially renew itself again in the experience of the great antitype, whatever other and inferior renewals it may find besides.

To the same class also may be referred the passage in Ps. 78:2, “I will open my mouth in a parable (lit. similitude); I will utter dark sayings (lit. riddles) of old,” which in Matt. 13:5 is spoken of as a prediction that found, and required to find, its fulfilment in our Lord’s using the parabolic mode of discourse. As an utterance in the seventy-eighth Psalm, the word simply records a fact, but a fact essentially connected with the discharge of the prophetical office, and therefore substantially indicating what must be met with in Him in whom all prophetical endowments were to have their highest manifestation. Every prophet may be said to speak in similitudes or parables in the sense here indicated, which is comprehensive of all discourses upon divine things, delivered in figurative terms or an elevated style, and requiring more than common discernment to understand it aright. The parables of our Lord formed one species of it, but not by any means the only one. It was the common prophetico-poetical diction, which was characterized, not only by the use of measured sentences, but also by the predominant employment of external forms and [[@Page:140]] natural similitudes. But marking as it did the possession of a prophetical gift, the record of its employment by Christ’s prophetical types and forerunners was a virtual prediction, that it should be ultimately used in some appropriate form by Himself.

The other class of passages which comes within the terms of the first supposition, is of a more specific and formal character. It coincides with the class already considered, in so far as it consists of words originally descriptive of some transaction or circumstance in the past, but afterwards regarded as prophetically indicative of something similar under the Gospel. Such is the word in Hos. 11:1, “I called my son out of Egypt,” which, as uttered by the prophet, was unquestionably meant to refer historically to the fact of the Lord’s goodness in delivering Israel from that land of bondage and oppression. But the Evangelist Matthew expressly points to it as a prophecy, and tells us that the infant Jesus was for a time sent into Egypt, and again brought out of it, that the word might be fulfilled. This arose from the typical connection between Christ and Israel. The scripture fulfilled was prophetical, simply because the circumstance it recorded was typical. But in so considering it, the Evangelist puts no new strain upon its terms, nor introduces any sort of double sense into its import. He merely points to the prophetical element involved in the transaction it relates, and thereby discovers to us a bond of connection between the Old and the New in God’s dispensations, necessary to be kept in view for a correct apprehension of both.

The same explanation in substance may be given of another example of the same class—the word in Ex. 12:46, “A bone of Him shall not be broken,” which in John 19:36 is represented as finding its fulfilment in the remarkable preservation of our Lord’s body on the cross from the common fate of malefactors. The scripture in itself was a historical testimony regarding the treatment the Israelites were to give to the paschal lamb, which, instead of being broken into fragments, was to be preserved entire, and eaten as one whole. It could only be esteemed a prophecy from being the record of a typical or prophetical action. But, when viewed in that light, the Scripture itself stands precisely as it did, without any recondite depth or subtile ambiguity being thrown into its meaning. For the prophecy [[@Page:141]] in it is found, not by extracting from its words some new and hidden sense, but merely by noting the typical import of the circumstances of which the words in their natural and obvious sense are descriptive.

How either Israel or the paschal lamb should have been in such a sense typical of Christ, that what is recorded of the one could be justly regarded as a prophecy of what was to take place in the other, will be matter for future inquiry, and, in connection with some other prophecies, will be partly explained in the Appendix already referred to in this chapter. It is the principle on which the explanation must proceed, to which alone for the present we desire to draw attention, and which, in the cases now under consideration, simply recognises the prophetical element involved in the recorded circumstance or transaction of the past. Neither is the Old Testament Scripture, taken by itself, prophetical; nor does the New Testament Scripture invest it with a force and meaning foreign to its original purport and design. The Old merely records the typical fact, which properly constitutes the whole there is of prediction in the matter; while the New reads forth its import as such, by announcing the co-relative events or circumstances in which the fulfilment should be discovered. And nothing more is needed for perfectly harmonizing the two together, than that we should so far identify the typical transaction recorded with the record that embodies it, as to perceive, that when the Gospel speaks of a scripture fulfilled, it speaks of that scripture in connection with the prophetical character of the subject it relates to.

There is nothing, surely, strange or anomalous in this. It is but the employment of a metonymy of a very common kind, according to which what embodies or contains anything is viewed as in a manner one with the thing itself as when the earth is made to stand for the inhabitants of the earth, a house for its inmates, a cup for its contents, a word descriptive of events past or to come, as if it actually produced them.[2] Of course, the [[@Page:142]] validity of such a mode of explanation depends entirely upon the reality of the connection between the alleged type and antitype—between the earlier circumstance or object described, and the later one to which the description is prophetically applied. On any other ground such references as those in the one Evangelist to Hosea, and in the other to Exodus, can only be viewed as fanciful or strained accommodations. But the matter assumes another aspect if the one was originally ordained in anticipation of the other, and so ordained, that the earlier should not have been brought into existence if the later had not been before in contemplation. Seen from this point of view, which we take to have been that of the inspired writers, the past appears to run into the future, and to have existed mainly on its account. And the record or delineation of the past is naturally and justly, not by a mere fiction of the imagination, held to possess the essential character of a prediction. Embodying a prophetical circumstance or action, it is itself named by one of the commonest figures of speech, a prophecy.

II. Our second supposition was that of something typical in the past or present being represented in a distinct prophetical announcement as going to appear again in the future,—the prophetical in word being thus combined with the typical in act into a prospective delineation of things to come. This supposition also includes several varieties, and in one form or another has its exemplifications in many parts of the prophetic word. For it is in a manner the native tendency of the mind, when either of itself forecasting, or under the guidance of a Divine impulse anticipating and disclosing the future, to see this future imaged in the past, to make use of the known in giving shape and form to the unknown; so that the things which have been, are then usually contemplated as in some respect types of what shall be, even though in the reality there may be considerable differences of a formal kind between them.

How much it is the native tendency of the mind to work in this manner, when itself endeavouring to descry the events of the future, is evident from the examples, transmitted to us by the most cultivated minds, of human divination. Thus the [[@Page:143]] Pythoness in Virgil, when disclosing to AEneas what he and his posterity might expect in Latium, speaks of it merely as a repetition of the scenes and experiences of former times. “You shall not want Simois, Xanthus, or the Grecian camp. Another Achilles, also of divine offspring, is already provided for Latium.”[3] In like manner Juno, in the vaticination put into her mouth by Horace, respecting the possible destinies of Rome, declares, that in the circumstances supposed, “the fortune of Troy again reviving, should again also be visited with terrible disaster; and that even if a wall of brass were thrice raised around it, it should be thrice destroyed by the Greeks.”[4] In such examples of pretended divination, no one, of course, imagines it to have been meant that the historical persons and circumstances mentioned were to be actually reproduced in the approaching or contemplated future. All we are to understand is, that others of a like kind—holding similar relations to the parties interested, and occupying much the same position—were announced before hand to appear; and so would render the future a sort of repetition of the past, or the past a kind of typical foreshadowing of the future.

As an example of Divine predictions precisely similar in form, we may point to Hos. 8:13, where the prophet, speaking of the Lord’s purpose to visit the sins of Israel with chastisement, says, “They shall return to Egypt.” The old state of bondage and oppression should come back upon them; or the things going to befall them of evil should be after the type of what, their forefathers had experienced under the yoke of Pharaoh. Yet that the New should not be by any means the exact repetition of the Old, as it might have been conjectured from the altered circumstances of the time, so it is expressly intimated by the prophet himself a few verses afterwards, when he says, “Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria” (ch. [[9:3 >> Bible:Ho 9:3]] ); and again in ch. [[11:5 >> Bible:Ho 11:5]] , [[@Page:144]] “He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king.” He shall return to Egypt, and still not return; in other words, the Egypt-state shall come back on him, though the precise locality and external circumstances shall differ. In like manner Ezekiel, in ch. [[4 >> Bible:Eze 4]] , foretells, in his own peculiar and mystical way, the return of the Egypt-state; and in ch. [[20 >> Bible:Eze 20:1]] speaks of the Lord as going to bring the people again into the wilderness; but calls it “the wilderness of the peoples,” to indicate that the dealing should be the same only in character with what Israel of old had been subjected to in the desert, not a bald and formal repetition of the story.

Indeed, God’s providence knows nothing in the sacred any more than in the profane territory of the world’s history, of a literal reproduction of the past. And when prophecy threw its delineations of the future into the form of the past, and spake of the things yet to be as a recurrence of those that had already been, it simply meant that the one should be after the type of the other, or should in spirit and character resemble it. By type, however, in such examples as those just referred to, is not to be understood type in the more special or theological sense in which the term is commonly used in the present discussions, as if there was anything in the past that of itself gave prophetic intimation of the coming future. It is to be understood only in the general sense of a pattern-form, in accordance with which the events in prospect were to bear the image of the past. The prophetical element, therefore, did not properly reside in the historical transaction referred to in the prophecy, but in the prophetic word itself, which derived its peculiar form from the past, and through that a certain degree of light to illustrate its import. There were, however, other cases in which the typical in circumstance or action—the typical in the proper sense—was similarly combined with a prophecy in word; and in them we have a twofold prophetic element one more concealed in the type, and another more express and definite in the word, but the two made to coalesce in one prediction.

Of this kind is the prophecy in Zech. 6:12, 13, where the prophet takes occasion, from the building of the literal temple in Jerusalem under the presidency of Joshua, to foretell a similar but higher and more glorious work in the future: “Behold [[@Page:145]] the man, whose name is the Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and lie shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord,” etc. The building of the temple was itself typical of the incarnation of God in the person of Christ, and of the raising up in Him of a spiritual house that should be “an habitation of God through the Spirit.”—(John 2:19; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20, 2:22]] ) But the prophecy thus involved in the action is expressly uttered in the prediction, which at once explained the type, and sent forward the expectations of believers toward the contemplated result. Similar, also, is the prediction of Ezekiel, in chap. [[34:23 >> Bible:Ezek. 34:23]] , in which the good promised in the future to a truly penitent and believing people, is connected with a return of the person and times of David: “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.” And the closing prediction of Malachi, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” David’s kingdom and reign in Israel were from the first intended to foreshadow those of Christ; and the work also of Elias, as preparatory to the Lord’s final reckoning with the apostate commonwealth of Israel, bore a typical respect to the work of preparation that was to go before the Lord’s personal appearance in the last crisis of the Jewish state. Such might have been probably conjectured or dimly apprehended from the things themselves; but it became comparatively clear, when it was announced in explicit predictions, that a new David and a new Elias were to appear. The prophetical element was there before in the type; but the prophetical word brought it distinctly and prominently out; yet so as in no respect to materially change or complicate the meaning. The specific designation of “David, My servant,” and “Elijah the prophet,” are in each case alike intended to indicate, not the literal reproduction of the past, but the full realization of all that the past typically foretokened of good. It virtually told the people of God, that in their anticipations of the coming reality, they might not fear to heighten to the uttermost the idea which those honoured names were fitted to suggest; their anticipations would be amply borne out by the event, in which still higher prophecy than Elijah’s, and [[@Page:146]] unspeakably nobler service than David’s, was to be found in reserve for the Church.[5]

III. We pass on to our third supposition, which may seem to be nearly identical with the last, yet belongs to a stage further in advance. It is that the typical, not expressly and formally, but in its essential relations and principles, might be embodied in an accompanying prediction, which foretold things corresponding in nature, but of higher moment and wider import. So far this supposed case coincides with the last, that in that also the things predicted might be, and, if referring to Gospel times, actually were, higher and greater than those of the type. But it differs, in that this superiority did not there, as it does here, appear in the terms of the prediction, which simply announced the recurrence of the type. And it differs still farther, in that there the type was expressly and formally introduced into the prophecy, while here it is tacitly assumed, and only its essential relations and principles are applied to the delineation of some things analogous and related, but conspicuously loftier and greater. In this case, then, the typical transactions furnishing the materials for the prophetical delineation, must necessarily form the background, and the explanatory prediction the foreground, of the picture. The words of the prophet must describe not the typical past, but the corresponding and grander future, describe it, however, under the form of the past, and in connection with the same fundamental views of the Divine character and government. So that there must here also be but one sense, though a twofold prediction: one more vague and indefinite, standing in the type or prophetic action; the other more precise and definite, furnished by the prophetic word, and directly pointing to the greater things to come.

[[@Page:147]] The supposition now made is actually verified in a considerable number of prophetical scriptures. Connected with them, and giving rise to them, there were certain circumstances and events so ordered by God as to be in a greater or less degree typical of others under the Gospel. And there was a prophecy linking the two together, by taking up the truths and relations embodied in the type, and expanding them so as to embrace the higher and still future things of God’s kingdom,—thus at once indicating the typical design of the past, and announcing in appropriate terms the coining events of the future.

Let us point, in the first instance, to an illustrative example, in which the typical element, indeed, was comparatively vague and general, but which has the advantage of being the first, if we mistake not, of this species of prophecy, and in some measure gave the tone to those that followed. The example we refer to is the song of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1-10), indited by that pious woman under the inspiration of God, on the occasion of the birth of Samuel. The history leaves no room to doubt that this was its immediate occasion; yet, if viewed in reference to that occasion alone, how comparatively trifling is the theme! How strained and magniloquent the expressions! Hannah speaks of her “mouth being enlarged over her enemies,” of “the bows of the mighty men being broken,” of the “barren bearing seven,” of the “full hiring themselves out for bread,” and other things of a like nature,—all how far exceeding, and we might even say caricaturing, the occasion, if it has respect merely to the fact of a woman, hitherto reputed barren, becoming at length the joyful mother of a child! Were the song an example of the inflated style not uncommon in Eastern poetry, we might not be greatly startled at such grotesque exaggerations; but being a portion of that word which is all given by inspiration of God, and is as silver tried in a furnace, we must banish from our mind any idea of extravagance or conceit. Indeed, from the whole strain and character of the song, it is evident that, though occasioned by the birth of Samuel, it was so far from having exclusive reference to that event, that the things concerning it formed one only of a numerous and important class pervading the providence of God, and closely connected with His highest purposes. In a spiritual respect it was a time of [[@Page:148]] mournful barrenness and desolation in Israel: “the word of the Lord was precious, there was no open vision;” and iniquity was so rampant as even to be lifting up its insolent front, and practising its foul abominations in the very precincts of the sanctuary. How natural, then, for Hannah, when she had got that child of desire and hope, which she had devoted from his birth as a Nazarite to the Lord’s service, and feeling her soul moved by a prophetic impulse, to regard herself as specially raised up to be “a sign and a wonder” to Israel, and to do so particularly in respect to that principle in the Divine government, which had so strikingly developed itself in her experience, but which was destined to receive its grandest manifestation in the work and kingdom which were to be more peculiarly the Lord’s! Hence, instead of looking exclusively to her individual case, and marking the operation of the Lord’s hand in what simply concerned her personal history, she wings her flight aloft, and takes a comprehensive survey of the general scheme of God; noting especially, as she proceeds, the workings of that pure and gracious sovereignty which delights to exalt an humble piety, while it pours contempt on the proud and rebellious. And as every exercise of this principle is but part of a grand series which culminates in the dispensation of Christ, her song runs out at the close into a sublime and glowing delineation of the final results to be achieved by it in connection with His righteous administration. “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength unto His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.”[6]

[[@Page:149]] This song of Hannah, then, plainly consists of two parts, in the one of which only—the concluding portion—it is properly prophetical. The preceding stanzas are taken up with unfolding, from past and current events, the grand spiritual idea; the closing ones carry it forward in beautiful and striking application to the affairs of Messiah’s kingdom. In the earlier part it presents to us the germ of sacred principle unfolded in the type; in the latter, it exhibits this rising to its ripened growth and perfection in the final exaltation and triumph of the King of Zion. The two differ in respect to the line of things immediately contemplated,—the facts of history in the one case, in the other the anticipations of prophecy; but they agree in being alike pervaded by one and the same great principle, which, after floating down the stream of earthly providences, is represented as ultimately settling and developing itself with resistless energy in the affairs of Messiah’s kingdom. And as if to remove every shadow of doubt as to this being the purport and design of Hannah’s song, when we open the record of that better era, which she only descried afar off in the horizon, we find the Virgin Mary, in her song of praise at the announcement of Messiah’s birth, re-echoing the sentiments, and sometimes even repeating the very words, of the mother of Samuel: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of His hand maiden. He hath showed strength with His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” “Why should the Spirit, breathing at such a time in the soul of Mary, have turned her thoughts so nearly into the channel that had been struck out ages before by the pious Hannah? Or why should the circumstances connected with the birth of Hannah’s Nazarite [[@Page:150]] offspring have proved the occasion of strains which so distinctly pointed to the manifestation of the King of Glory, and so closely harmonized with those actually sung in celebration of the event? Doubtless to mark the connection really subsisting between the two. It is the Spirit’s own intimation of His ulterior design in transactions long since past, and testimonies delivered centuries before,—namely, to herald the advent of Messiah, and familiarize the children of the kingdom with the essential character of the coming dispensation.[7]

Hannah’s song was the first specimen of that combination of prophecy with type, which is now under consideration; but it was soon followed by others, in which both the prophecy was more extended, and the typical element in the transactions that gave rise to it was more marked and specific. The examples we refer to are to be found in the Messianic psalms, which also resemble the song of Hannah in being of a lyrical character, and thence admitting of a freer play of feeling on the part of the individual writer than could fitly be introduced into simple prophecy. But this again principally arose from the close connection typically between the present and the future, whereby the feelings originated by the one naturally incorporated themselves [[@Page:151]] with the delineation of the other. And as it was the institution of the temporal kingdom in the person and house of David which here formed the ground and the occasion of the prophetic delineation, there was no part of the typical arrangements tinder the ancient dispensation which more fully admitted, or, to prevent misapprehension, more obviously required, the accompaniment of a series of lyrical prophecies such as that contained in the Messianic psalms.

For the institution of a temporal kingdom in the hands of an Israelitish family involved a very material change in the external framework of the theocracy; and a change that of itself was fitted to rivet the minds of the people more to the earthly and visible, and take them off from the invisible and Divine. The constitution under which they were placed before the appointment of a king—though it did not absolutely preclude such an appointment—yet seemed as if it would rather suffer than be improved by so broad and palpable an introduction of the merely human element. It was till then a theocracy in the strictest sense; a commonwealth that had no recognised head but God, and placed everything essentially connected with life and well-being under His immediate presidence and direction. The land of the covenant was emphatically God’s land[8]—the people that dwelt in it were His peculiar property and heritage[9]—the laws which they were bound to obey were His statutes and judgments[10]—and the persons appointed to interpret and administer them were His representatives, and on this account even sometimes bore His name.[11] It was the peculiar and distinguishing glory of Israel as a nation, that they stood in this near relationship to God, and that which more especially called forth the rapturous eulogy of Moses,[12] “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee! The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” It was a glory, however, which the people themselves were too carnal for the most part to estimate aright, and of which they never appeared more insensible than when they sought to be like the Gentiles, [[@Page:152]] by having a king appointed over them. For what was it but, in effect, to seek that they might lose their peculiar distinction among the nations? that God might retire to a greater distance from them, and might no longer be their immediate guardian and sovereign?

Nor was this the only evil likely to arise out of the proposed change. Everything under the Old Covenant bore reference to the future and more perfect dispensation of the Gospel; and the ultimate reason of any important feature or material change in respect to the former, can never be understood without taking into account the bearing it might have on the future state and prospects of men under the Gospel. But how could any change in the constitution of ancient Israel, and especially such a change as the people contemplated, when they desired a king after the manner of the Gentiles, be adopted without altering matters in this respect to the worse? The dispensation of the Gospel was to be, in a peculiar sense, the “kingdom of heaven, or of God,” having for its high end and aim the establishment of a near and blessed intercourse between God and men. It attains to its consummation when the vision seen by St John, and described after the pattern of the constitution actually set up in the wilderness, comes into fulfillment—when “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He dwells with them.” Of this consummation it was a striking and impressive image that was presented in the original structure of the Israelitish common wealth, wherein God Himself sustained the office of king, and had His peculiar residence and appropriate manifestations of glory in the midst of His people. And when they, in their carnal affection for a worldly institute, clamoured for an earthly sovereign, they not only discovered a lamentable indifference towards what constituted their highest honour, but betrayed also a want of discernment and faith in regard to God’s prospective and ultimate design in connection with their provisional economy. They gave conclusive proof that “they did not see to the end of that which was to be abolished,” and preferred a request which, if granted according to their expectation, would in a most important respect have defeated the object of their theocratic constitution.

We need not, therefore, be surprised that God should have [[@Page:153]] expressed His dissatisfaction with the proposal made by the people for the appointment of a king to them, and should have regarded it as a substantial rejection of Himself, and a desire that He should not reign over them.—(1 Sam. 8:7) But why, then, did He afterwards accede to it? And why did He make choice of the things connected with it, as an historical occasion and a typical ground for shadowing forth the nature and glories of Messiah’s kingdom? The Divine procedure in this, though apparently capricious, was in reality marked by the highest wisdom, and affords one of the finest examples to be found in Old Testament history of that overruling providence, by which God so often averts the evil which men’s devices are fitted to produce, and render them subservient to the greatest good.

The appointment of a king as the earthly head of the commonwealth, we have said, was not absolutely precluded by the theocratic constitution. It was from the first contemplated by Moses as a thing which the people would probably desire, and in which they were not to be gainsayed, but were only to be directed into the proper method of accomplishing it.—(Deut. 17:14-20) It was even possible—if the matter was rightly gone about, and the Divine sanction obtained respecting it—to turn it to profitable account, in familiarizing the minds of men with what was destined to form the grand feature of the Messiah’s kingdom—the personal indwelling of the Divine in the human nature—and so to acquire for it the character of an important step in the preparatory arrangements for the kingdom. This is what was actually done. After the people had been solemnly admonished of their guilt in requesting the appointment of a king on their worldly principles, they were allowed to raise one of their number to the throne—not, however, as absolute and independent sovereign, but only as the deputy of Jehovah; that he might simply rule in the name, and in subordination to the will, of God.[13] For this reason his throne was called “the throne of the Lord,”[14] on which, as the Queen of Sheba expressed it to Solomon, he was “set to be king for the Lord his God;”[15] and the kingly government itself was afterwards designated [[@Page:154]] “the kingdom of the Lord.”[16] For the same reason, no doubt, it was that Samuel “wrote in a book the manner of the kingdom, and laid it up before the Lord;”[17] that the testimony in behalf of its derived and vicegerent nature might be perpetuated. And to render the Divine purpose in this respect manifest to all who had eyes to see and ears to hear, the Lord allowed the choice first to fall on one who as the representative of the people’s earthly wisdom and prowess—was little disposed to rule in humble subordination to the will and authority of Heaven, and was therefore supplanted by another who should act as God’s representative, and bear distinctively the name of His servant.[18]

It was, therefore, in this second person, David, that the kingly administration in Israel properly began; he was the root and founder of the kingdom—as a kingdom, in which the Divine and human stood first in an official, as they were ultimately to stand in a personal union. And to make the preparatory and the final in this respect properly harmonize and adapt themselves to each other, the Lord, in the first instance, ordered matters connected with the institution of the kingly government, so as to render the beginning an image of the end—typical throughout of Messiah’s work and kingdom. And then, lest the typical bearing of things should be lost sight of in consequence of their present interest or importance, He gave in connection with them the word of prophecy, which, proceeding on the ground of their typical import, pointed the expectations of the Church to corresponding but far higher and greater things still to come. In this way, what must otherwise have tended to veil the purpose of God, and obstruct the main design of His preparatory dispensation, was turned into one of the most effective means of revealing and promoting it. The earthly head, that now under God stood over the members of the commonwealth, instead of overshadowing His authority, only presented this more distinctly to their view, and served as [[@Page:155]] a stepping-stone to faith, in enabling it to rise nearer to the apprehension of that personal indwelling of Godhead the true Immanuel—which was to constitute the foundation and the glory of the Gospel dispensation. Not only was the work of God’s preparatory arrangements not arrested, and the prospective anticipation of the future not marred; but occasion was taken to unfold this future in its more essential features with an air of individuality and distinctness, with a variety of detail and vividness of colouring, not to be met with in any other portions of prophetic Scripture.

We refer for illustration to a single example of this combination of prophecy with type (others will be noticed, and in a somewhat different connection, in the Appendix)—the second Psalm. The production as to form is a kind of inaugural hymn, intended to celebrate the appointment and final triumph of Jehovah’s king. The heathen nations are represented as foolishly opposing it (vers. [[1, 2 >> Bible:Ps 2:1-2]] ); they agree among themselves, if the appointment should be made, practically to disown and resist it ([[ver. 3 >> Bible:Ps. 2:3]] ); the Almighty, however, perseveres in His purpose, scorning the rebellious opposition of such impotent adversaries ([[ver. 4 >> Bible:Ps. 2:4]] ); the eternal decree goes forth, that the anointed King is enthroned on Zion; that being Jehovah’s Son, He is made the heir of all things, even to the uttermost bounds of the habitable globe (vers. [[5-9 >> Bible:Ps 2:5-9]] ). And in consideration of what has thus been decreed and ratified in heaven, the psalm concludes with a word of friendly counsel and admonition to earthly potentates and rulers, exhorting them to submit in time to the sway of this glorious King, and forewarning them of the inevitable ruin of resistance. That in all this we can trace the lines of Messiah’s history, is obvious at a glance. Even the old Jewish doctors, as we learn by the quotation from Solomon Jarchi, given by Venema, agreed that “it should be expounded of King Messiah;” but he adds, “In accordance with the literal sense, and that it may be used against the heretics (i.e., Christians), it is proper to explain it as relating to David himself.” Strange, that this idea, the offspring of rabbinical artifice, seeking to withdraw an argument from the cause of Christianity, should have so generally commended itself to Christian interpreters! But if by literal sense is to be [[@Page:156]] understood the plain and natural import of the words employed, what ground is there for such an interpretation? David was not opposed in his appointment to the throne of Israel by heathen nations or rulers, who knew and cared comparatively little about it; nor was his being anointed king coincident with his being set on the holy hill of Zion; nor, after being established in the kingdom, did he ever dream of pressing any claims of dominion on the kings and rulers of the earth: his wars were uniformly wars of defence, and not of conquest. So palpable, indeed, is the discordance between the lines of David’s history, and the lofty terms of the psalm, that the opinion which ascribes it in the literal sense to David, may now be regarded as comparatively antiquated; and some even of those who formerly espoused it (such as Rosenmüller), have at length owned, that “it cannot well be understood as applying either to David or to Solomon, much less to any of the later Hebrew kings, and that the judgment of the more ancient Hebrews is to be followed, who considered it as a celebration of the mighty King whom they expected under the name of the Messiah.”

But has the psalm, then, no connection with the life and kingdom of David? Unquestionably it has; and a connection so close, that what took place in him was at once the beginning and the image of what, amid higher relations, and on a more extended scale, was to be accomplished by the subject of the psalm. While the terms in which the King and the kingdom there celebrated are spoken of, stretch far above the line of things that belonged to David, they yet bear throughout the mark and impress of these. In both alike we see a sovereign choice and fixed appointment, on the part of God, to the office of king in the fullest sense among men—an opposition of the most violent and heathenish nature to withstand and nullify the appointment—the gradual and successive overthrow of all the obstacles raised against the purpose of Heaven, and the extension of the sphere of empire (still partly future in the case of Messiah) till it reached the limits of the Divine grant. The lines of history in the two cases are entirely parallel; there is all the correspondence we expect between type and antitype; but the prophecy which marks the connection between them, while it was occasioned by the purpose of God respecting David, [[@Page:157]] and derived from his history the particular mould in which it was cast, was applicable only to Him who, with the properties of a human nature and an earthly throne, was to possess those also of the heavenly and divine.

We shall not here go further into detail respecting this class of prophecies, which belong chiefly to the Psalms; but we must remark, that as it was their object to explain the typical character of David’s calling and kingdom, and to connect this with the higher things to come, we may reasonably expect there will be some portions in the Messianic psalms which are alike applicable to type and antitype; and also entire psalms, in which there may be room for doubting to which of the two they may most fitly be referred. In some the distinctive, the superhuman and divine, properties of the Messiah’s person and kingdom are so broadly and characteristically delineated (as in Ps. 2, 22, 45, 72, 110), that it is impossible by any fair interpretation of the language to understand the description of another than Christ. But there are others in which the merely human elements are so strongly depicted (such as Ps. 40, 49, 109), that not a few of the traits might doubtless be found in the bearer also of the earthly kingdom; while still the excessive darkness of the picture, as a whole, on the one side, and the magnitude of the results and interests connected with it, on the other, shut us up to the conclusion that Christ, in His work of humiliation and His kingdom of blessing and glory, is the real subject of the prophecy. Viewed as an entire and prospective delineation, the theme is still one, and the sense not manifold, but simple. There are again others, however, of which Ps. 41 may be taken as a specimen, in which the delineation throughout is as applicable to the bearer of the earthly as to that of the heavenly kingdom; so that, if regarded as a prophecy at all, it can only be in the way explained under our first supposition, as an historical description of things that happened under typical relations, from which they derived a prophetical element.

Such varieties are no more than what might have been expected in the class of sacred lyrics now under consideration; and the rather so, as they were composed for the devotional use of the Church at a time when she required as well to be refreshed and strengthened by the faith of the typical past, as to be [[@Page:158]] cheered and animated by the hope of the still grander antitypical future. It was necessary that she should be taught so to look for the one as not to lose sight of the other; but rather, in what had already occurred, to find the root and promise of what was to be hereafter. The word of Nathan to David (2 Sam. 7:4-16), which properly began the series, and laid the foundation of further developments, presented the matter in this light. David is there associated with his filial successor, as alike connected with the institution of the kingdom in its primary and inferior aspect; and the high honour was conceded to his house of furnishing the royal dynasty that was destined to preside for ever in God’s name over the affairs of men. But this for ever, emphatically used in the promise, evidently pointed to a time when the relations of the kingdom, in its then provisional and circumscribed form, should give way to others immensely greater and higher. It pointed to a commingling of the divine and human, the heavenly and the earthly, in another manner than could possibly be realized in the case either of David himself, or of any ordinary descendant from his loins. And it became one of the leading objects of David’s prophetical calling, and of those who were his immediate successors in the prophetical function, to unfold, after the manner already described, something of that ulterior purpose of Heaven, which, though included, was still but obscurely indicated, in the fundamental prophecy of Nathan.[19]

IV. But we have still to notice another conceivable combination of type with prophecy. It is possible, we said, that the typical transactions might themselves be still future; and might, in a prophetic word, be partly described, partly presupposed, as a ground for the delineation of other things still more distant, in [[@Page:159]] respect to which they were to hold a typical relation. The difference between this and the last supposition is quite immaterial, in so far as any principle is involved. It makes no essential change in the nature of the relation, that the typical transactions forming the groundwork of the prophetical delineation should have been contemplated as future, and not as past or present. It is true that the prophet was God’s messenger, in an especial sense, to the men of his own age; and as such usually delivered messages, which were called forth by what had actually occurred, and bore its peculiar impress. But he was not necessarily tied to that. As from the present he could anticipate the still undeveloped future, so there was nothing to hinder—if the circumstances of the Church might require it—that he should also at times realize as present a nearer future, and from that anticipate another more remote. In doing so he would naturally transport himself into the position of those who were to witness that nearer future, which would then be contemplated as holding much the same relation typically to the higher things in prospect, as in the case last considered: that is, the matter-of-fact prophecy involved in the typical transactions viewed as already present, would furnish to the prophet’s eye the form and aspect under which he would exhibit the corresponding events yet to be expected.

The only addition which the view now suggested makes to the one generally held, is, that we suppose the prophet, while he spake as from the midst of circumstances future, though not distant, recognised in these something of a typical nature; and on the basis of that as the type, unfolded the greater and more distant antitype. There is plainly nothing incredible or even improbable in such a supposition, especially if the nearer future already lay within the vision of the Church. The circumstances, [[@Page:160]] however, giving rise to prophecies of this description were not likely to be of very frequent occurrence. They could only be expected in those more peculiar emergencies when it became needful for the Church’s warning or consolation to over shoot, as it were, the things more immediately in prospect, and fix the eye on others more remote in point of time, though in nature most closely connected with them.

Now, at one remarkable period of her history, the Old Testament Church was certainly in such circumstances—the period preceding and during the Babylonish exile. From the time that this calamity had become inevitable, the prophets, as already noticed, had spoken of it as a second Egypt—a new bondage to the power of the world, from which the Church required to be delivered by a new manifestation of redemptive grace. But a second redemption after the manner of the first would obviously no longer suffice to restore the heart of faith to assured confidence, or fill it with satisfying expectations of corning good. The redemption from Egypt, with all its marvellous accompaniments and happy results, had yet failed to provide an effectual security against overwhelming desolation. And if the redemption from Babylon might have brought, in the fullest sense, a restoration to the land of Canaan, and the re-establishment of the temple service; yet, if this were all the spirit of prophecy could descry of coming good, there must still have been room for fear to enter: there could scarcely fail even to be sad forebodings of new desolations likely to arise and undo again the whole that had been accomplished. At such a period, therefore, the prophet had a double part to perform, when charged with the commission to comfort the people of God. He had, in the first instance, to declare the fixed purpose of Heaven to visit Babylon for her sins, and thereby afford a door of escape for the captive children of the covenant, that as a people saved anew they might return to their ancient heritages. But he had to do more than this. He had to take his station, as it were, on the floor of that nearer redemption, and from thence direct the eye of hope to another and higher, of which it was but the imperfect shadow—a redemption which should lay the foundation of the Church’s well-being so broad and deep, that the former troubles could no longer return, and heights of prosperity and blessing [[@Page:161]] should be reached entirely unknown in the past. Thus alone could a ground of consolation be provided for the people of God, really adequate to the emergencies of that dismal time, when all that was of God seemed ready to perish, under the combined force of internal corruption and outward violence.

It was precisely in this way that the prophet Isaiah sought to comfort the Church of God by inditing the later portion of his writings (ch. [[40-46 >> Bible:Is 40:1-46:13]] ), in which we have the most important example of the class of prophecies now under consideration The central object in the whole of this magnificent chain of prophecy, is the appearance, work, and kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ—His spirit and character, His sufferings and triumphs, the completeness of His redemption, the safety and blessedness of His people, the certain overthrow of His enemies, and the final glory of His kingdom. The manner in which this prophetic discourse is entered on, might alone satisfy us that such is in reality its main theme. For the voice which there meets us, of one crying in the wilderness, is that to which, according to all the evangelists, John the Baptist appealed, as announcing beforehand his office and mission to the Church of God. And if the forerunner is found at the threshold, who should chiefly occupy the interior of the building but He whom John was specially sent to make known to Israel? The substance of the message also, as briefly indicated there, entirely corresponds: for it speaks not, as is often loosely represented, of the people’s return to Jerusalem, but of the Lord’s return to His people; it announces a coming revelation of His glory, which all flesh should see; and proclaims to the cities of Judah the tidings, Behold your God! We are not to be understood as meaning, that the Lord might not in a sense be said to come to His people, when in their behalf He brought down the pride of Babylon, and laid open for them a way of return to their native land. A reference to this more secret and preparatory revelation of Himself may certainly be understood, both here and in several kindred representations that follow; yet not as their direct and immediate object, but rather as something presupposed, similar in kind, though immensely inferior in degree, to the proper reality. There are passages, indeed, so general in the truths and principles they enunciate, that they cannot with [[@Page:162]] propriety be limited to one period of the Church’s history any more than to another. And again, there are others, especially the portion reaching from ch. [[44:24 >> Bible:Is. 44:24]] to [[48:22 >> Bible:Is. 48:22]] , as also ch. [[51 >> Bible:Is 51:1-23]] , [[52 >> Bible:Is 52:1-15]] , which refer more immediately to the events connected with the deliverance from Babylon, as things in themselves perfectly certain, and fitted to awaken confidence in regard to the greater things that were yet destined to be accomplished. He who could speak of Babylon as already prostrate in the dust, though no shade had yet come over the lustre of her glory—who, at the very moment she was the scourge and terror of the nations, could picture to himself the time when she should be seen as a spoiled and forlorn captive—who could behold the once weeping exiles of Judea, escaped from her grasp, and sent back with honour to revive the glories of Jerusalem, while the proud destroyer was left to sink and moulder into irrecoverable ruin—He who could foresee all this as in a manner present, and commit to His Church the prophetic announcement generations before it had been fulfilled, might well claim from His people an implicit faith, when giving intimation of a work still to be done, the greatness of which should surpass all thought, as its blessings should extend to all lands (ch. [[45:17 >> Bible:Is. 45:17]] , [[22 >> Bible:Is. 45:22]] , [[49:18-26 >> Bible:Is 49:18-26]] ). Thus the deliverance accomplished from the yoke of Babylon formed a fitting prelude and stepping-stone to the main subject of the prophecy—the revelation of God in the person and work of His Son. The certainty of the one—a certainty soon to be realized—was a pledge of the ultimate certainty of the other; and the character also of the former, as a singular and unexpected manifestation of the Lord’s power to deliver His people and lay their enemies in the dust, was a prefiguration of what was to be accomplished once for all in the salvation to be wrought out by Jesus Christ.[20]

There are few portions of Old Testament prophecy, which [[@Page:163]] altogether resemble the one we have been considering. Perhaps that which approaches nearest to it, in the mode of combining type with prophecy, is the thirty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, which is not a direct and simple delineation of the judgments that were destined to alight upon Idumea, but rather an ideal representation of the judgments preparing to alight on the enemies generally of God’s people, founded upon the approaching desolations of Edom, which it contemplates as the type of the destruction that awaits all the adversaries. Still more closely corresponding, however, is our Lord’s prophecy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and His own final advent to judge the world, in the twenty-fourth chapter of St Matthew’s Gospel; in which, undoubtedly, the nearer future is regarded as the type of the higher and more remote. It would almost seem as if the two events were, to a certain extent, thrown together in the prophetic delineation; for the efforts that have been made to separate the portions strictly applicable to each, have never wholly succeeded; and more, perhaps, than any other part of prophetic Scripture is there the appearance here of something like a double sense. What reasons may have existed for this we can still but imperfectly apprehend. One principal reason, we may certainly conclude, was, that it did not accord with our Lord’s design, as it would not have consisted with His people’s good, to have exhibited very precise and definite prognostics of His second coming. The exact period behoved to be shrouded almost to the very last in mystery, and it seemed to Divine wisdom the fittest course to order the circumstances connected with the final act of judgment on the typical people and territory, so as to serve, at the same time, for signs and tokens of the last great act of judgment on the world at large. As the acts themselves corresponded, so there should also be a correspondence in the manner of their accomplishment; and to contemplate the one as imaged in the other, without being able in all respects [[@Page:164]] to draw the line very accurately between them, was the whole that could safely be permitted to believers.

The result, then, of the preceding investigation is, that there is in Scripture a fourfold combination of type with prophecy. In the first of these the prophetic import lies in the type, and in the word only as descriptive of the type. In the others there was not a double sense, but a double prophecy—a typical prophecy in action, coupled with a verbal prophecy in word; not uniformly combined, however, but variously modified: in one class a distinct typical action, having associated with it an express prophetical announcement; in another, the typical lying only as the background on which the spirit of prophecy raised the prediction of a corresponding but much grander future; and in still another, the typical belonging to a nearer future, which was realized as present, and taken as the occasion and groundwork of a prophecy respecting a future greater, and also more distant. It is in this last department alone that there is anything like a mixing up of two subjects together, and a consequent difficulty in determining when precisely the language refers to the nearer, and when to the more remote transactions. Even then, however, only in rare cases; and with this slight exception, there is nothing that carries the appearance of confusion or ambiguity. Each part holds its appropriate place, and the connection subsisting between them, in its various shapes and forms, is very much what might have been expected in a system so complex and many-sided as that to which they belonged.

II. We proceed now to offer some remarks on the views generally held on the subject of the prophecies which have passed under our consideration. They fall into two opposite sections. Overlooking the real connection in such cases between type and prophecy, and often misapprehending the proper import of the language, the opinion contended for, on the one side, has been, that the predictions contain a double sense—the one primary and the other secondary, or the one literal and the other mystical; while, on the contrary side, it has been maintained that the predictions have but one meaning, and when applied in New Testament Scripture, in a way not accordant with that meaning, it is held to be a simple accommodation of the words. [[@Page:165]] A brief examination of the two opposing views will be sufficient for our purpose.

1. And, first, in regard to the view which advocates the theory of the double sense. Here it has been laid down as a settled canon of interpretation, that “the same prophecies frequently refer to different events, the one near and the other remote—the one temporal, the other spiritual, and perhaps eternal; that the expressions are partly applicable to one and partly to another; and that what has not been fulfilled in the first, we must apply to the second.” If so, the conclusion seems inevitable, that there must be a painful degree of uncertainty and confusion resting on such portions of prophetic Scripture. And the ambiguity thus necessarily pervading them, must, one would think, have rendered them of comparatively little value, whether originally as a ground of hope to the Old Testament Church, or now as an evidence of faith to the New.

Great ingenuity was certainly shown by Warburton in labouring to establish the grounds of this double sense, without materially impairing in any respect the validity of the prophecy. The view advocated by him, however, lies open to two serious objections, which have been powerfully urged against it, especially by Bishop Marsh, and which have demonstrated its arbitrariness. 1. In the first place, while it proceeds upon the supposition, that the double sense of prophecy is quite analogous to the double sense of allegory, there is in reality an essential difference between them. “When we interpret a prophecy, to which a double meaning is ascribed, the one relating to the Jewish, the other to the Christian dispensation, we are in either case concerned with an interpretation of words. For the same words which, according to one interpretation, are applied to one event, are, according to another interpretation, applied to another event. But in the interpretation of an allegory, we are concerned only in the first instance with an interpretation of words; the second sense, which is usually called the allegorical, being an interpretation of things. The interpretation of the words gives nothing more than the plain and simple narratives themselves (the allegory generally assuming the form of a narrative); whereas the moral of the allegory is learnt by an application of the things signified by those words to other things which resemble [[@Page:166]] them, and which the former were intended to suggest. There is a fundamental difference, therefore, between the interpretation of an allegory, and the interpretation of a prophecy with a double sense.”[21] 2. The view of Warburton is, besides, liable to the objection, that it not only affixes a necessary darkness and obscurity to the prophecies having the double sense, but also precludes the existence of any other prophecies more plain, direct, and explicit— until at least the dispensation, under which the prophecies were given, and for which the double sense specially adapted them, was approaching its termination. He contends that the veiled meaning of the prophecies was necessary, in order at once to awaken some general expectations among the Jews of better things to come, and, at the same time, to prevent these from being so distinctly understood as to weaken their regard to existing institutions. It is fatal to this view of the matter, that in reality many of the most direct and perspicacious prophecies concerning the Messiah were contemporaneous with those which are alleged to possess the double meaning and the veiled reference to the Messiah. If, therefore, the Divine method were such as to admit only of the one class, it must have been defeated by the other. And it must also have been not so properly a ground of blame as a matter of necessity, arising from the very circumstances of their position, that the Jews “could not stedfastly look to the end of that which was to be abolished.”—(2 Cor. 3:13) The reverse, however, was actually the case; for the more clearly they perceived the meaning of the prophecies, and the end of their symbolical institutions, the more heartily did they enter into the design of God, and the more nearly attain the condition which it became them to occupy.

These objections, however, apply chiefly to that vindication of the double sense which came from the hand of Warburton, and was interwoven with his peculiar theory. The opinion has since been advocated in a manner that guards it against both objections, and is put, perhaps, in its most approved form by Davison. “What,” he asks, “is the double sense? Not the convenient latitude of two unconnected senses, wide of each other, and giving room to a fallacious ambiguity, but the combination [[@Page:167]] of two related, analogous, and harmonizing, though disparate, subjects, each clear and definite in itself; implying a twofold truth in the prescience, and creating an aggravated difficulty, and thereby an accumulated proof, in the completion. For a case in point: to justify the predictions concerning the kingdom of David in their double force, it must be shown of them, that they hold in each of their relations, and in each were fulfilled. So that the double sense of prophecy, in its true idea, is a check upon the pretences of a vague and unappropriated prediction, rather than a door to admit them. But this is not all. For if the prediction distribute its sense into two remote branches or systems of the Divine economy; if it show not only what is to take place in distant times, but describe also different modes of God’s appointment, though holding a certain and intelligent resemblance to each other; such prediction becomes not only more convincing in the argument, but more instructive in the doctrine, because it expresses the correspondence of God’s dispensations in their points of agreement, as well as His fore knowledge.”[22]

This representation so far coincides with the one given in the preceding pages, that it virtually recognises a combination of type with prophecy; but differs in that it supposes both to have been included in the prediction, the one constituting the primary, the other the secondary, sense of its terms. And, undoubtedly, according to this scheme as well as our own, the correspondence between God’s dispensations might be sufficiently exhibited, both in regard to doctrine and general harmony of arrangement. But when it is contended further, that prophecy with such a double sense, instead of rendering the evidence it furnishes of Divine foresight more vague and unsatisfactory, only supplies an accumulated proof of it by creating an aggravated difficulty in the fulfilment, it seems to be forgotten that the terms of the prediction, to admit of such a duplicate fulfilment, must have been made so much more general and vague. But it is the precision and definiteness of the terms in a prediction which, when compared with the facts in providence that verify them, chiefly produce in our minds a conviction of Divine foresight and direction. And in so far as prophecies might have [[@Page:168]] been constructed to comprehend two series of disparate events, holding in each of the relations, and in each fulfilled, it could only be by dispensing with the more exact criteria, which we cannot help regarding in such cases as the most conclusive evidence of prophetic inspiration.

But as it was by no means the sole object of prophecy to provide this evidence, so predictions without such exact criteria are by no means wanting in the word of God. There are prophecies which were not so much designed to foretell definite events, as to unfold great prospects and results, in respect to the manifestation of God’s purposes of grace and truth toward men. Such prophecies were of necessity general and comprehensive in their terms, and admitted of manifold fulfilments. It is of them that we would understand the singularly pregnant and beautiful remark of Lord Bacon in the Second Book of the Advancement of Learning, that “Divine prophecies, being of the nature of their Author, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, are therefore not fulfilled punctually at once, but have springing and germinant accomplishment; though the height or fulness of them may refer to some one age.” The very first prophecy ever uttered to fallen man,—the promise given of a seed through the woman which should bruise the head of the serpent,—and that afterwards given to Abraham of a seed of blessing, may be fitly specified as illustrations of the principle; since in either case—though by virtue, not of a double sense, but of a wide and comprehensive import—a fulfilment from the first was constantly proceeding, while “the height and fulness” of the predicted good could only be reached in the redemption of Christ and the glories of His kingdom.

To return, however, to the matter at issue, we have yet to press our main objection to the theory of the double sense of prophecy; we dispute the fact on which it is founded, that there really are prophecies (with the partial exceptions already noticed) predictive of similar though disparate series of events, strictly applicable to each, and in each finding their fulfilment. This necessarily forms the main position of the advocates of the double sense; and when brought to particulars, they constantly fail to establish it. The terms of the several predictions are sure to be put to the torture, in order to get one of the two [[@Page:169]] senses extracted from them. And the violent interpretations resorted to for the purpose of effecting this, afford one of the most striking proofs of the blinding influence which a theoretical bias may exert over the mind. Such psalms, for example, as the second and forty-fifth, which are so distinctly characteristic of the Messiah, that some learned commentators have abandoned their early predilections to interpret them wholly of Him, are yet ascribed by the advocates of the double sense as well to David as to Christ. Nay, by a singular inversion of the usual meaning of words, they call the former the literal, and the latter their figurative or secondary sense,—although this last is the only one the words can strictly bear.

There is no greater success in most other cases; let us take but one example: “Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt make known to me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; and at Thy right hand are pleasures for ever more.” These words in the sixteenth Psalm were applied by the Apostle Peter to Christ, as finding in the events of His history their only proper fulfilment. David, he contends, could not have been speaking directly of himself, since he had seen corruption; and instead of regaining the path of life, and ascending into the presence of God (namely, in glorified humanity), had suffered, as all knew, the common lot of nature. And so, the Apostle infers, the words should be understood more immediately of Christ, in whose history alone they could properly be said to be accomplished. Warburton, however, inverts this order. Of the deliverance from hell, the freedom from corruption, and the return to the paths of life, he says, “Though it literally signifies security from the curse of the law upon transgressors, viz., immature death, yet it may very reasonably be understood in a spiritual sense of the resurrection of Christ from the dead; in which case the words or terms translated soul and hell are left in the meaning they bear in the Hebrew tongue of body and grave!” He does not, of course, deny that Peter claimed the passage as a prophecy of Christ’s resurrection; but maintains that he does so, “no otherwise than by giving it a secondary or spiritual sense.” In such a style of interpretation, one cannot but feel as if the terms primary and [[@Page:170]] secondary, literaland spiritual, had somehow come to exchange places; since the plain import of the words seems to carry us directly to Christ, while it requires a certain strain to be put upon them before they can properly apply to the case of David.

Such, indeed, is what usually happens with the instances selected by the advocates of this theory. The double sense they contend for does not strictly hold in both of the relations; and very commonly what is contended for as the immediate and primary, is the sense that is least accordant with the grammatical import of the words. We, therefore, reject it as a satisfactory explanation of a numerous class of prophecies, and on three several grounds: First, because it so ravels and complicates the meaning of the prophecies to which it is applied, as to involve us in painful doubt and uncertainty regarding their proper application. Secondly, should this be avoided, it can only arise from the prophecies being of so general and comprehensive a nature, as to be incapable of a very close and specific fulfilment. And, finally, when applied to particular examples, the theory practically gives way, as the terms employed in all the more important predictions are too definite and precise to admit of more than one proper fulfilment.

2. We turn now, in the last place, to the mode of prophetical interpretation which has commonly prevailed with those who have ranged themselves in opposition to the theory of the double sense. The chief defect in this class of interpreters consists in their having failed to take sufficiently into account the connection subsisting between the Old and the New Testament dispensations. They have hence generally given only a partial view of the relations involved in particular prophecies, and not unfrequently have confined the application of these to circumstances which only supplied the occasion of their delivery, and the form of their delineations. The single sense contended for has thus too often differed materially from the real sense. And many portions of the Psalms and other prophetical Scriptures, which in New Testament Scripture itself are applied to Gospel times, have been stript of their evangelical import, on the ground that the writer of the prophecy must have had in view some events immediately affecting himself or his country, and that no further [[@Page:171]] use, except by way of accommodation, can legitimately be made of the words he uttered.

Such, for example, has been the way that the remarkable prophecy in Isaiah, respecting the son to be born of a virgin (ch. [[7:14-16 >> Bible:Is 7:14-16]] ), has often been treated. The words of the prophecy are, “Behold the virgin conceiveth and beareth a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel. Butter [rather milk] and honey shall he eat, when he shall know (or that he may know) to refuse what is evil and choose what is good; for before this child shall know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good, the land shall become desolate, by whose two kings thou art distressed.” We have what may justly be called two inspired commentaries on this prediction, one in the Old, and another in the New Testament. The prophet Micah, the contemporary of Isaiah, evidently referring to the words before us, says, immediately after announcing the birth of the future Ruler of Israel at Bethlehem, “Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who shall bear hath brought forth” ([[5:3 >> Bible:Mic. 5:3]] ). The peculiar expression, “she who shall bear,” points to the already designated mother of the Divine King, but only in this prediction of Isaiah designated as the virgin; so that, in the language of Rosenmüller, “both predictions throw light on each other. Micah discloses the Divine origin of the Person predicted; Isaiah the wonderful manner of His birth.” The other allusion in inspired Scripture is by St Matthew, when, relating the miraculous circumstances of Christ’s birth, he adds, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child,” etc. And the prophecy, as Bishop Lowth has well stated, “is introduced in so solemn a manner; the sign is so marked, as a sign selected and given by God himself, after Ahaz had rejected the offer of any sign of his own choosing out of the whole compass of nature; the terms of the prophecy are so peculiar, and the name of the child so expressive, containing in them much more than the circumstances of the birth of a common child required, or even admitted; that we may easily suppose, that in minds prepared by the general expectation of a great deliverer to spring from the house of David, they raised hopes far beyond what the present occasion suggested; especially [[@Page:172]] when it was found, that in the subsequent prophecy, delivered immediately afterward, this child, called Immanuel, is treated as the Lord and Prince of Judah.—(Ch. [[8:8-10 >> Bible:Is 8:8-10]] ) Who could this be, other than the heir of the throne of David? under which character a great and even a Divine person had been promised.”

These things leave little doubt as to the real bearing of the prophecy. But as originally delivered, it is connected with two peculiarities: the one that it is given as a sign to the house of David, then represented by the wicked Ahaz, and trembling for fear on account of the combined hostility of Syria and Israel; the other that it is succeeded by a word to the prophet concerning a son to be born to him by the prophetess, which should not be able to cry, My Father, before the king of Assyria had spoiled both the kingdoms of Syria and Israel.—(Ch. [[8:1-4 >> Bible:Is 8:1-4]] ) And it has been thought, from these peculiarities, that it was really this son of the prophet that was meant by the Immanuel, as this alone could be a proper sign to Ahaz of the deliverance that was to be so speedily granted to him from the object of his dread. So Grotius, who holds that St Matthew only applied it mystically to Christ, and a whole host of interpreters since, of whom many can think of no better defence for the Evangelist than that, as the words of the prophet were more elevated and full than the immediate occasion demanded, they might be said to be fulfilled in what more nearly accorded with them. Apologies of this kind, it is easy to be seen, will not avail much in the present day to save the honesty or discernment, to say nothing of the inspired authority, of the Evangelist. But there is really no need for them. It is quite arbitrary to suppose that the child to be born of the prophetess (an ideal child, we should imagine, conceived and born in prophetic vision—since otherwise it would seem to have been born in fornication) is to be identified with the virgin’s son; the rather so, as an entirely different name is given to it (Maher-shalal-hash-baz)—an ideal but descriptive name, and pointing simply to the spoliation that was to be effected on the hostile kingdoms. Immanuel has another, a higher import, and bespeaks what the Lord should be to the covenant-people, not what He should do to the enemies. Nor is the other circumstance, of the word being uttered [[@Page:173]] as a sign to the house of David, any reason for turning it from its natural sense and application. A sign in the ordinary sense had been refused, under a pretence of pious trust in God, but really from a feeling of distrust and improper reliance on an arm of flesh. And now the Lord gives a sign in a peculiar sense,—much as Jesus met the craving of an adulterous gene ration for a sign from heaven, by giving the sign of the prophet Jonas—the reverse of what they either wished or expected,—a sign, not from heaven, but from the lower parts of the earth. So here, by announcing the birth of Immanuel, the prophet gave a sign suited to the time of backsliding and apostacy in which he lived. For it told the house of David, that, wearying God as they were doing by their sins, He would vindicate His cause in a way they little expected or desired; that He would secure the establishment of His covenant with the house of David, by raising up a child in whom the Divine should actually commingle with the human; but that this child should be the offspring of some unknown virgin, not of Ahaz or of any ordinary occupant of the throne; and that, meanwhile, everything should go to desolation and ruin—first, indeed, in the allied kingdoms of Israel and Syria ([[ver. 16 >> Bible:Is. 7:16]] ), but afterwards also in the kingdom of Judah (vers. [[17-25 >> Bible:Is 7:17-25]] ); so that the destined possessor of the throne, when he came, should find all in a prostrate condition, and grow up like one in an impoverished and stricken country, fed with the simple fare of a cottage shepherd (comp. [[ver. 16 >> Bible:Is. 7:16]] with [[22 >> Bible:Is. 7:22]] ). Thus understood, the whole is entirely natural and consistent; and the single sense of the prophecy proves to be identical, as well with the native force of the words, as with the interpretations of inspired men.

We have selected this as one of the most common and plausible specimens of the false style of interpretation to which we have referred. It is needless to adduce more, as the explanations given in the earlier part of the chapter have already met many of them by anticipation; and the supplementary treatise in the Appendix will supply what further may be needed. If but honestly and earnestly dealt with, the Scripture has no reason to fear, in this or in other departments, the closest investigation; the more there is of rigid inquiry, displacing superficial considerations, the more will its inner truth and harmony appear.


[1] It is proper to state, however, that we cannot present here anything like a full and complete elucidation of the subject; and we therefore mean to supplement this chapter by an Appendix on the Old Testament in the New, in which the subject will both be considered from a different point of view, and followed out more into detail. See Appendix A.

[2] So, for example, in Hos. 6:5, “I have hewed them by the prophets;” Gen. 27:37, “Behold I have made him thy lord;” 48:22, “I have given thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite” —each ascribing to the word spoken the actual doing of that which it only declared to have been done.

[3] Non Simois tibi, nee Xanthus, nee Dorica castra Defuerint. Alius Latio jam partus Achilles, Natus et ipse dea. —AEn. vi. 88-90.

[4] Trojse renascens alite lugubri Fortuna tristi clade iterabitur, etc.—Carm. L. III. 3, 6l-68. See also Seneca Medea, 374, etc.

[5] Those who contend for the actual reappearance of Elijah, because the epithet of “the prophet,” they think, fixes down the meaning to the personal Elijah, may as well contend for the reappearance of David as the future king; for “David, My servant,” is as distinctive an appellation of the one, as “Elijah the prophet” of the other. But in reality they are thus specified as both exhibiting the highest known ideal—the one of king-like service, the other of prophetic work as preparatory to a Divine manifestation. And in thinking of them, the people could get the most correct view they were capable of entertaining of the predicted future.

[6] The last clause might as well, and indeed better, have been rendered, “Exalt the horn of His Messiah.” Even the Jewish interpreter, Kimchi, understands it as spoken directly of the Messiah, and the Targum paraphrases, “He shall multiply the kingdom of Messiah.” It is the first pas sage of Scripture where the word occurs in its more distinctive sense, and is used as a synonym for the consecrated or divine king. It may seem strange that Hannah should have been the first to introduce this epithet, and to point so directly to the destined head of the Divine kingdom: it will even be inexplicable, unless we understand her to have been raised up for a “sign and a wonder” to Israel, and to have spoken as she was moved by the Holy Ghost. But the other expressions, especially “the adversaries of the Lord shall be destroyed, and the ends of the earth shall be judged,” show that it really was of the kingdom as possessed of such a head that she spoke. And the idea of Grotius and the Rationalists, that she referred in the first instance to Saul, is without foundation.

[7] The view now given of Hannah’s song presents it in a much higher, as we conceive it does also in a truer light, than that exhibited by Bishop Jebb, who speaks of it in a style that seems scarcely compatible with any proper belief in its inspiration. The song appears, in his estimation, to have been the mere effusion of Hannah’s private, and, in great part, unsanctified feelings. “We cannot but feel,” he says, “that her exultation partook largely of a spirit far beneath that which enjoins the love of our enemies, and which forbids personal exultation over a fallen foe.” He regards it as “unquestionable, that previous sufferings had not thoroughly subdued her temper, that she could not suppress the workings of a retaliative spirit, and was thus led to dwell, not on the peaceful glories of his (Samuel’s) priestly and prophetic rule, but on his future triumphs over the Philistine armies” (Sacred Literature, p. 397). If such were indeed the character of Hannah’s song, we may be assured it would not have been so closely imitated by the blessed Virgin. But it is manifestly wrong to regard Hannah as speaking of her merely personal enemies,—her language would otherwise be chargeable with vicious extravagance, as well as unsanctified feeling. She identifies herself throughout with the Lord’s cause and people; and it is simply her zeal for righteousness which expresses itself in a spirit of exultation over prostrate enemies.

[8] Lev. 25:23; Ps. 10:16; Isa. 14:25; Jer. 2:7, etc.

[9] Ex. 19:5; Ps. 94:5; Jer. 2:7; Joel 3:2.

[10] Ex. 15:26, 18:16, etc.

[11] Ex. 22:28; Ps. 77:6.

[12] Deut. 33:26, 29.

[13] See Warburton’s Legation of Moses, B. V. sect. 3.

[14] 1 Chron. 29:23.

[15] 2 Chron. 9:8.

[16] 2 Chron. 13:8.

[17] 1 Sam. 10:25.

[18] This appellation is used of David far more frequently than of any other person. Upwards of thirty times it is expressly spoken of David; and in the Psalms he is ever presenting himself in the character of the Lord’s servant.

[19] According to the view now given, there is no need for that alternating process which is so commonly resorted to in the explanation of Nathan’s prophecy, by which this one part is made to refer to Solomon and his immediate successors, and that other to Christ. There is no need for formally splitting it up into such portions, each pointing to different quarters; nor can the understanding find satisfaction in this method. The prophecy is to be taken as an organic whole, as the kingdom also is of which it speaks. David reigned in the Lord’s name, and the Lord, in the fulness of time, was born to occupy David’s throne—a mutual interconnection. The kingdom throughout is God’s, only existing in an embryo state, while presided over by David and his merely human descendants; and rising to its ripened form, as soon as it passes into the hands of one who, by virtue of His Divine properties, was fitted to bear the glory. The prophecy, therefore, is to be regarded as a general promise of the connection of the kingdom with David’s person and line, including Christ as belonging to that line, after the flesh; but in respect to the element of eternity, the absolute perpetuity guaranteed in the promise, it not only admitted, but required, the possession of a nature in Christ higher unspeakably than He could derive from David.

[20] The same view substantially of this portion of Isaiah’s writings was given by Vitringa, who thus sums up the leading topics of discourse:—”The great mystery of the manifestation of the kingdom of God and His righteousness in the world through the Messiah, His forerunner, and apostles, with the revival of an elect Church, then reduced to a very small number, with its more remarkable preceding signs, and the means that should be subservient to the whole work of grace,—among which preceding signs the deliverance from Babylon by Cyrus, in connection with the destruction of Babylon itself, as typical of the overthrow of all idolatrous and Satanic power, are chiefly dwelt upon, in like manner as the conviction both of Jews and Gentiles concerning the vanity of idols and the truth of God and His spiritual worship, hold the most prominent place among the concurrent means.”

[21] Marsh’s Lectures, p. 444.

[22] Davison on Prophecy, p. 196.

Chapter Sixth.—The Interpretation Of Particular Types—Specific Principles And Directions.

[[@Page:174]] IT was one of the objections urged against the typological views of our elder divines, that their system admitted of no fixed or definite rules being laid down for guiding us to the knowledge and interpretation of particular types. Everything was left to the discretion or caprice of the individual who undertook to investigate them. The few directions that were sometimes given upon the subject were too vague and general to be of any material service. That the type must have borne, in its original design and institution, a pre-ordained reference to the Gospel antitype—that there is often more in the type than in the antitype, and more in the antitype than the type—that there must be a natural and appropriate application of the one to the other—that the wicked as such, and acts of sin as such, must be excluded from the category of types—that one thing is sometimes the type of different and even contrary things, though in different respects and that there is sometimes an interchange between the type and the antitype of the names respectively belonging to each:—These rules of interpretation, which are the whole that Glassius and other hermeneutical writers furnish for our direction, could not go far, either to restrain the licence of conjecture, or to mark out the particular course of thought and inquiry that should be pursued. They can scarcely be said to touch the main difficulties of the subject, and throw no light on its more distinguishing peculiarities. Nor, indeed, could any other result have been expected. The rules could not be precise or definite, when the system on which they were founded was altogether loose and indeterminate. And only with the laying of a more solid and stable foundation could directions for the practical treatment of the subject come to possess any measure of satisfaction or explicitness.

[[@Page:175]] Even on the supposition that some progress has now been made in laying such a foundation, we cannot hold out the prospect, that no room shall be left for dubiety, and that all may be reduced to a kind of dogmatical precision and certainty. It would be unreasonable to expect this, considering both the peculiar character and the manifold variety of the field embraced by the Typology of Scripture. That there may still be particular cases in which it will be questionable whether anything properly typical belonged to them, and others in which a diversity of view may be allowable in explaining what is typical, seems to us by no means improbable. And in the specific rules or principles of interpretation that follow, we do not aim at dispelling every possible doubt and ambiguity connected with the subject, but only at fixing its more prominent and characteristic outlines. We believe, that with ordinary care and discretion, they will be sufficient to guard against material error.

1. The first principle we lay down has respect merely to the amount of what is typical in Old Testament Scripture; it is, that nothing is to be regarded as typical of the good things under the Gospel, which was itself of a forbidden and sinful nature. Something approximating to this has been mentioned among the too general and obvious directions which philological writers have been accustomed to give upon the subject. It is, indeed, so much of that description, that though in itself a principle most necessary to be observed and acted on, yet we should have refrained from any express announcement or formal proof of it here, were it not still frequently set at naught, alike in theological discussions and in popular discourses.

The ground of the principle, in the form here given to it, lies in the connection which the type has with the antitype, and consequently with God. The antitype standing in the things which belong to God’s everlasting kingdom, is necessarily of God; and so, by a like necessity, the type, which was intended to fore shadow and prepare for it, must have been equally of Him. Whether a symbol in religion or a fact in providence, it must have borne upon it the Divine sanction and approval; otherwise there could have been no proper connection between the ultimate reality and its preparatory exhibitions. So far as the institutions [[@Page:176]] of religion are concerned, this is readily admitted; and no one would think of contending for the idolatrous rites of worship which were sometimes introduced into the services of the sanctuary, being ranked among the shadows of the better things to come.

But there is not the same readiness to perceive the incongruity of admitting to the rank of types, actions which were as far from being accordant with the mind of God, as the impurities of an idolatrous worship. Such actions might, no doubt, differ in one respect from the forbidden services of religion; they might in some way be overruled by God for the accomplishment of His own purposes, and thereby be brought into a certain connection with Himself. This was never more strikingly done than in respect to the things which befell Jesus—the great antitype—which were carried into effect by the operation of the fiercest malice and wickedness, and yet were the very things which the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God had appointed before to be done. It is one thing, however, for human agents and their actions being controlled and directed by God, so as, amid all their impetuosity and uproar, to be constrained to work out His righteous purposes; but another thing for them to stand in such close relationship to Him, that they become express and authoritative revelations of His will. This last is the light in which they must be contemplated, if a typical character is ascribed to them. For the time during which typical things lasted, they stood as temporary representations under God’s own hand of what He was going permanently to establish under the Gospel. And, therefore, as amid those higher transactions, where the antitype comes into play, we exclude whatever was the offspring of human ignorance or sinfulness; so in the earlier and inferior transactions, which were typical of what was to come, we must, in like manner, exclude the workings of all earthly and sinful affections. The typical and the antitypical alike must bear on them the image and superscription of God.

Violations of this obvious principle are much less frequently met with now, than they were in the theological writings of last century. Still, however, instances are occasionally forcing themselves on one’s notice. And in popular discourses, none [[@Page:177]] perhaps occurs more frequently than that connected with Jacob’s melancholy dissimulation and cunning policy for obtaining the blessing. His receiving the blessing, we are sometimes told, in the garments of Esau, which his mother arrayed him with, “is to be viewed as a faint shadow of our receiving the blessing from God in the garments of Jesus Christ, which all the children of the promise wear. It was not the feigned venison, but the borrowed garments, that procured the blessing. Even so, we are not blessed by God for our good works, however pleasing to Him, but for the righteousness of our Redeemer.” What a confounding of things that differ! The garments of the “profane” Esau made to image the spotless righteousness of Jesus! And the fraudulent use of the one by Jacob, viewed as representing the believer’s simple and confiding trust in the other! Between things so essentially different there can manifestly be nothing but superficial resemblances, which necessarily vanish the moment the real facts of the case rise into view. It was not Jacob’s imposing upon his father’s infirmities, either with false venison or with borrowed garments, which in reality procured for him the blessing. The whole that can be said of these is, that in the actual circumstances of the case they had a certain influence, of an instrumental kind, in leading Isaac to pronounce it. But what had been thus spoken on false grounds and under mistaken apprehensions, might surely have been recalled when the truth came to be known. The prophet Nathan, at a later age, found no difficulty in revoking the word he had too hastily spoken to David respecting the building of the temple, though it had been elicited by something very different from falsehood by novel and unexpected display of real goodness.—(2 Sam. 7:3) And in the case now under consideration, if there had been nothing more in the matter than the mock venison and the hairy garments of Esau, there can be little doubt that the blessing that had been pronounced would have been instantly withdrawn, and the curse which Jacob dreaded made to take its place. In truth, Isaac erred in what he purposed to do, not less than Jacob in beguiling him to do what he had not purposed. He was going to utter in God’s name a prophetic word, which, if it had taken effect as he intended, would have contravened the [[@Page:178]] oracle originally given to Rebekah concerning the two children, even prior to their birth—that the elder should serve the younger. And there were not wanting indications in the spirit and behaviour of the sons, after they had sprung to manhood, which might have led a mind of spiritual discernment to descry in Jacob, rather than Esau, the heir of blessing. But living as Isaac had done for the most part of his life in a kind of luxurious ease, in his declining years especially yielding too much to the fleshly indulgences assiduously ministered to by the hand of Esau, the eye of his mind, like that of his body, grew dim, and he lost the correct perception of the truth. But when he saw how the providence of God had led him to bestow the blessing, otherwise than he himself had designed, the truth rushed at once upon his soul. “He trembled exceedingly”—not simply, nor perhaps chiefly, because of the deceit that had been practised upon his blindness, but because of the worse spiritual blindness which had led him to err so grievously from the revealed purpose of God. And hence, even after the discovery of Jacob’s fraudulent behaviour, he declared with the strongest emphasis, “Yea, and he shall be blessed.”

Thus, when the real circumstances of the case are considered, there appears no ground whatever for connecting the improper conduct of Jacob with the mode of a sinner’s justification. The resemblances that may be found between them are quite superficial or arbitrary. And such always are the resemblances which appear between the workings of evil in man, and the good that is of God. The two belong to essentially different spheres, and a real analogy or a divinely ordained connection cannot possibly unite them together. The principle, however, may be carried a step farther. As the operations of sin cannot prefigure the actings of righteousness, so the direct results and consequences of sin cannot justly be regarded as typical representations of the exercises of grace and holiness. When, therefore (to refer again to the history of Jacob), the things that befell him in God’s providence, on account of his unbrotherly and deceitful conduct, are represented as typical foreshadowings of Christ’s work of humiliation—Jacob’s withdrawal from his father’s house, prefiguring Christ’s leaving the region of glory and appearing as a stranger [[@Page:179]] on the earth—Jacob’s sleeping on the naked ground with nothing but a stone for his pillow, Christ’s descent into the lowest depths of poverty and shame, that he might afterwards be exalted to the head-stone of the corner, and so forth;[1] —in such representations there is manifestly a stringing together of events which have no fundamental agreement, and possess no mutual relations. In the one case Jacob was merely suffering the just reward of his misdeeds; while the Redeemer in the other and alleged parallel transactions, was voluntarily giving the highest display of the holy love that animated His bosom for the good of men. And whatever there might be in certain points of an outward and formal resemblance between them, it is in the nature of things impossible that there could be a real harmony and an ordained connection.

It is to be noted, however, that we apply the principle now under consideration to the extent merely of denying a typical connection between what in former times appeared of evil on the part of man, and the good subsequently introduced by God. And we do so on the ground that such things only as He sanctioned and approved in the past, could foreshadow the higher and better things which were to be sanctioned and approved by Him in the future. But as all the manifestations of truth have their corresponding and antagonistic manifestations of error, it is perfectly warrantable and scriptural to regard the form of evil which from time to time confronted the type, as itself the type of something similar, which should afterwards arise as a counter form of evil to the antitype. Antichrist, therefore, may be said to have had his types as well as Christ. Hagar was the type of a carnal church, that should be in bondage to the elements of the world, and of a spirit at enmity with God, as Sarah was of a spiritual church, that should possess the freedom and enjoy the privileges of the children of God. Egypt, Edom, Assyria, Babylon without, and Saul, Ahithophel, Absalom, and others within the circle of the Old Covenant, have each their counterpart in the things belonging to the history of Christ and His Church of the New Testament. In strictness of speech, it is the other class of relations alone which carry with them the impress and ordination of God; but as God’s acts and operations [[@Page:180]] in His Church never fail to call into existence the world’s enmity and opposition, so the forms which this assumed in earlier times might well be regarded as prophetic of those which were after wards to appear. And if so with the evil itself, still more with the visitations of severity sent to chastise the evil; for these come directly from God. The judgments, therefore, He inflicted on iniquity in the past, typified like judgments on all similar aspects of iniquity in the future. And the period when the good shall reach its full development and final triumph, shall also be that in which the work of judgment shall pour its floods of perpetual desolation upon the evil.

II. We pass on to another, which must still also be a somewhat negative principle of interpretation, viz., that in determining the existence and import of particular types, we must be guided, not so much by any knowledge possessed, or supposed to be possessed, by the ancient worshippers concerning their prospective fulfilment, as from the light furnished by their realization in the great facts and revelations of the Gospel.

Whether we look to the symbolical or to the historical types, neither their own nature, nor God’s design in appointing them, could warrant us in drawing very definite and conclusive inferences regarding the insight possessed by the Old Testament worshippers into their prospective or Gospel import. The one formed part of an existing religion, and the other of a course of providential dealings; and in that more immediate respect there were certain truths they embodied, and certain lessons they taught, for those who had directly to do with them. Their fitness for unfolding such truths and lessons formed, as we have seen, the groundwork of their typical connection with Gospel times. But though they must have been understood in that primary aspect by all sincere and intelligent worshippers, these did not necessarily perceive their further reference to the things of Christ’s kingdom. Nor does the reality or the precise import of their typical character depend upon the correctness or the extent of the knowledge held respecting it by the members of the Old Covenant. For the connection implied in their possessing such a character between the preparatory and the final dispensations was not of the Church’s forming, but of God’s; [[@Page:181]] and a very considerable part of the design which He intended these to serve with ancient believers, may have been accomplished, though they knew little, and perhaps in some cases nothing, of the germs that lay concealed in them of better things to come. These germs wereconcealed in all typical events and institutions, considered simply by themselves—since the events and institutions had a significance and use for the time then present, apart from what might be evolved in the future purposes of God. Now, we are expressly told, even in regard to direct prophecies of Gospel times, that not only the persons to whom they were originally delivered, but the very individuals through whom they were communicated, did not always or necessarily understand their precise meaning. Sometimes, at least, they had to assume the position of inquirers, in order to get the more exact and definite information which they desired (Dan. 12:8; 1 Pet. 1:12); and it would seem, from the case of Daniel, that even then they did not always obtain it. The prophets were not properly the authors of their own predictions, but spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Their knowledge, therefore, of the real meaning of the prophecies they uttered, was an entirely separate thing from the prophecies themselves; and if we knew what it was, it would still by no means conclusively fix their full import. Such being the case in regard even to the persons who uttered the spoken and direct prophecies of the Old Testament, how preposterous would it be to make the insight obtained by believers generally into the indirect and veiled prophecies (as the types may be called), the ground and standard of the Gospel truth they embodied! In each case alike, it is the mind of God, not the discernment or faith of the ancient believer, that we have properly to do with.

Obvious as this may appear to some, it has been very commonly overlooked; and typical explanations have in consequence too often taken the reverse direction of what they should have done. Writers in this department are constantly telling us, how in former times the eye of faith looked through the present to the future, and assigning that as the reason why our present should be contemplated in the remote past. Thus, in a once popular work, Adam is represented as having “believed the [[@Page:182]] promise concerning Christ, in whose commemoration he offered continual sacrifice; and in the assurance thereof he named his wife Eve, that is to say, life, and he called his son Seth, settled, or persuaded in Christ.”[2] Another exalts in like manner the faith of Zipporah, and regards her, when she said to Moses, “A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision,” as announcing “through one of her children, the Jehovah as the future Redeemer and bridegroom.”[3] Another presents Moses to our view as wondering at the great sight of the burning bush, “because the great mystery of the incarnation and sufferings of Christ was there represented; a great sight he might well call it, when there was represented God manifest in the flesh, suffering a dreadful death, and rising from the dead.”[4] And Owen, speaking of the Old Testament believers generally, says, “Their faith in God was not confined to the outward things they enjoyed, but on Christ in them, and represented by them. They believed that they were only resemblances of Him and His mediation, which, when they lost the faith of, they lost all acceptance with God in their worship.”[5] Writers of a different class, and of later date, have followed substantially in the same track. Warburton maintains with characteristic dogmatism, that the transaction with Abraham, in offering up Isaac, was a typical action, in which the patriarch had scenically represented to his view the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ; and that on any other supposition there can be no right understanding of the matter.[6] Dean Graves expresses his concurrence in this interpretation, as does also Mr Faber, who says that “Abraham must have clearly understood the nature of that awful transaction by which the day of Christ was to be characterized, [[@Page:183]] and could not have been ignorant of the benefits about to be procured by it.”[7] And, to mention no more, Chevallier intimates a doubt concerning the typical character of the brazen serpent, because “it is not plainly declared, either in the Old or the New Testament, to have been ordained by God purposely to represent to the Israelites the future mysteries of the Gospel revelation.”[8]

These quotations sufficiently show how current the opinion has been, and still is, that the persons who lived amid the types must have perfectly understood their typical character, and that by their knowledge in this respect we are bound in great measure, if not entirely, to regulate ours. It is, however, a very difficult question, and one (as we have already had occasion to state) on which we should seldom venture to give more than an approximate deliverance, how far the realities typified even by the more important symbols and transactions of ancient times were distinctly perceived by any individual who lived prior to their actual appearance. The reason for this uncertainty and probable ignorance is the same with that which has been so clearly exhibited by Bishop Horsley, and applied in refutation of an infidel objection, in the closely related field of prophecy. It was necessary, for the very ends of prophecy, that a certain disguise should remain over the events it foretold, till they became facts in providence; and therefore, “whatever private information the prophet might enjoy, the Spirit of God would never permit him to disclose the ultimate intent and particular meaning of the prophecy.”[9] Types being a species of prophecy, and from their nature less precise and determinate in meaning, they must certainly have been placed under the veil of a not inferior disguise. Whatever insight more advanced believers might have had into their ultimate design, it could neither be distinctly announced, nor, if announced, serve as a sufficient directory for us; it could only furnish, according to the measure of light it contained, comfort and encouragement to themselves.

And whether that measure might be great or small, vague and general, or minute and particular, we should not be bound, even if we knew it, to abide by its rule; for here, as in prophecy, the [[@Page:184]] judgment of the early Church “must still bow down to time as a more informed expositor.”

That the sincere worshippers of God in former ages, especially such as possessed the higher degrees of spiritual thought and discernment, were acquainted not only with God’s general purpose of redemption, but also with some of its more prominent features and results, we have no reason to doubt. It is impossible to read those portions of Old Testament Scripture which disclose the feelings and expectations of gifted minds, without being convinced that considerable light was sometimes obtained respecting the work of salvation. We shall find an opportunity for inquiring more particularly concerning this, when we come to treat, in a subsequent part of our investigations, respecting the connection between the moral legislation and the ceremonial institutions of Moses. But that the views even of the better part of the Old Testament worshippers must have been comparatively dim, and that their acceptance as worshippers did not depend upon the clearness of their discernment in regard to the person and kingdom of Christ, is evident from what was stated in our second chapter as to the relatively imperfect nature of the earlier dispensations, and the childhood-state of those who lived under them. It was the period when, as is expressly stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews (chap. [[9:8 >> Bible:Heb. 9:8]] ), “the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest;” or, in other words, when the method of salvation was not fully disclosed to the view of God’s people. And though we may not be warranted to consider what is written of the closing age of Old Testament times as a fair specimen of their general character, yet we cannot shut our eyes to the fact, that not only did much prevailing ignorance then exist concerning the better things of the New Covenant, but that instances occur even of genuine believers, who still betrayed an utter misapprehension of their proper nature. Thus Nathaniel was pronounced “an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile,” while he obviously laboured under inadequate views of Christ’s person and work. And no sooner had Peter received the peculiar benediction bestowed, on account of his explicit confession of the truth, than he gave evidence of his ignorance of the design, and his repugnance to the thought, of Christ’s sufferings and death. Such things occurring on the [[@Page:185]] very boundary-line between the Old and the New, and after the clearer light of the New had begun to be partially introduced, render it plain, that they may also have existed, and in all probability did not unfrequently prevail, even among the believing portion of Israel in remoter times.

But such being the case, it would manifestly be travelling in the wrong direction to make the knowledge, which was possessed by ancient believers regarding the prospective import of particular types, the measure of our own. The providential arrangements and religious institutions which constitute the types, had an end to serve, independently of their typical design, in ministering to the present wants of believers, and nourishing in their souls the life of faith. Their more remote and typical import was for us, even more than for those who had immediately to do with them. It does not rest upon the more or less imperfect information such persons might have had concerning it; but chiefly on the light furnished by the records of the New Testament, and thence reflected on those of the Old. “It is Christ who holds the key of the types, not Moses;” and instead of making everything depend upon the still doubtful inquiry, What did pious men of old descry of Gospel realities through the shadowy forms of typical institutions? we must repair to these realities themselves, and by the light radiating from them over the past, as well as the present and future things of God, read the evidence of that “testimony of Jesus,” which lies written in the typical not less than in the prophetical portions of ancient Scripture.

III. But if in this respect we have comparatively little to do with the views of those who lived under former dispensations, there is another respect in which we have much to do with them. And our next principle of interpretation is, that we must always, in the first instance, be careful to make ourselves acquainted with the truths or ideas exhibited in the types, considered merely as providential transactions or religious institutions. In other words, we are to find in what they were in their immediate relation to the patriarchal or Jewish worshipper, the foundation and substance of what they typically present to the Christian Church.

[[@Page:186]] There is no contrariety between this principle and the one last announced. We had stated, that in endeavouring to ascertain the reality and the nature of a typical connection between Old and New Testament affairs, we are not to reason downward from what might be known of this in earlier times, but rather upward from what may now be known of it, in consequence of the clearer light and higher revelations of the Gospel. What we farther state now is, that the religious truths and ideas which were embodied in the typical events and institutions of former times, must be regarded as forming the ground and limit of their prospective reference to the affairs of Christ’s kingdom. That they had a moral, political, or religious end to serve for the time then present, so far from interfering with their destination to typify the spiritual things of the Gospel, forms the very ground and substance of their typical bearing. Hence their character in the one respect, the more immediate, may justly be regarded as the essential key to their character in respect to what was more remote.

This principle of interpretation grows so necessarily out of the views advanced in the earlier and more fundamental parts of our inquiry, that it must here be held as in a manner proved. Its validity must stand or fall with that of the general principles we have sought to establish, as to the relation between type and antitype. That relation, it has been our object to show, rests on something deeper than merely outward resemblances. It rests rather on the essential unity of the things so related, on their being alike embodiments of the same principles of Divine truth; but embodiments in the case of the type, on a lower and earthly scale, and as a designed preparation for the higher development afterwards to be made in the Gospel. That, therefore, which goes first in the nature of things, must also go first in any successful effort to trace the connection between them. And the question, What elements of Divine truth are symbolized in the type I must take precedence of the other question, How did the type foreshadow the greater realities of the antitype? For it is in the solution we obtain for the one, that a foundation is to be laid for the solution of the other.

It is only by keeping stedfastly to this rule, that we shall be able, in the practical department of our inquiry, to direct our [[@Page:187]] thoughts to substantial, as opposed to merely superficial and fanciful, resemblances. The palpable want of discrimination in this respect, between what is essential and what is only accidental, formed one of the leading defects in our elder writers. And it naturally sprang from too exclusive a regard to the antitype, as if the things belonging to it being fully ascertained, we were at liberty to connect it with everything formally resembling it in ancient times, whether really akin in nature to it or not. Thus, when Kanne, in a passage formerly referred to, represents the stone which Jacob took for his pillow at Bethel, as a type of Christ in His character as the foundation-stone of His Church, there is, no doubt, a kind of outward similarity, so that the same language may, in a sense, be applied to both; but there is no common principle uniting them together. The use which Jacob made of the stone was quite different from that in respect to which Christ is exhibited as the stone laid in Zion—being laid not for the repose or slumber, but for the stability and support, of a ransomed people. For this the strength and durability of a rock were absolutely indispensable; but they contributed nothing to the fitness of what Jacob’s necessities drove him to employ as a temporary pillow. It was his misfortune, not his privilege, to be obliged to resort to a stone for such a purpose.

We had occasion formerly to describe in what manner the lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness might be regarded as typical of the lifting up of a crucified Redeemer; by showing how the inferior objects and relations of the one had their correspondence in the higher objects and relations of the other![10] But suppose we should proceed in the opposite direction, and should take these higher objects and relations of the antitype as the rule and measure of what we are to expect in the type; then, having a far wider and more complicated subject for our starting-point, we should naturally set about discovering many slight and superficial analogies in the type, to bring it into a fuller correspondence with the antitype. This is what many have actually done who have treated of the subject. Hence we find them expatiating upon the metal of which the serpent was formed, and which, from being inferior to some others, they regard as foreshadowing Christ’s outward meanness, [[@Page:188]] while in its solidity they discern His Divine strength, and in its dim lustre the veil of His human nature![11] What did it avail to the Israelite, or for any purpose the serpent had to serve, of what particular stuff it was made? A dead and senseless thing in itself, it must have been all one for those who were called to look to it, whether the material was brass or silver, wood or stone. And yet, as if it were not enough to make account of these trifling accidents, others were sometimes invented, for which there is no foundation in the inspired narrative, to obtain for the greater breadth of the one subject a corresponding breadth in the other. Thus Guild represents the serpent as not having been forged by man’s hand or hammer, but by a mould, and in the fire, to image the Divine conception of Christ’s human nature; and Justin Martyr, with still greater licence, supposes the serpent to have been made in the form of a cross, the more exactly to represent a suffering Redeemer. Suppose it had been modelled after this form, would it have been rendered thereby a more effective instrument for healing the diseased? Or would one essential idea have been added to what either an Israelite or a Christian were otherwise at liberty to associate with it? All such puerile straining of the subject arose from an inverted order being taken in tracing the connection between the spiritual reality and the ancient shadow. It would no longer be thought of, if the principle of interpretation here advanced were strictly adhered to; that is, if the typical matter of an event or institution were viewed simply as standing in the truths or principles which it brought distinctly into view; and if these were regarded as actually comprising all that in each particular case could legitimately be applied to the antitypical affairs of Christ’s kingdom.

The judicious application of this principle will serve also to rid us of another class of extravagances, which are of frequent occurrence in writers of the Cocceian school, and which mainly consist, like those already noticed, of external resemblances, deduced with little or no regard to any real principle of agreement. We refer to the customary mode of handling typical persons or characters, with no other purpose apparently than that of exhibiting the greatest possible number of coincidences [[@Page:189]] between these and Christ. As many as forty of such have been reckoned between Moses and Christ, and even more between Joseph and Christ. Of course, a great proportion of such resemblances are of a quite superficial and trifling nature, and are of no moment, whether they happen to be perceived or not. For any light they throw on the purposes of Heaven, or any advantage they yield to our faith, we gain nothing by admitting them, and we lose as little by rejecting them. They would never have been sought for had the real nature of the connection between type and antitype been understood, and the proper mode of exhibiting it been adopted; nor would typical persons or individuals, sustaining a typical character through the whole course and tenor of their lives, have been supposed to exist. It was to familiarize the Church with great truths and principles, not to occupy her thoughts with petty agreements and fanciful analogies, that she was kept so long conversant with preparatory dispensations. And as that end might have been in part served by a single transaction, or a special appointment in a lifetime; so, whenever it was served, it must have been by virtue of its exhibiting important aspects of Divine truth—such as were to reappear in the person and work of Christ. It is not, in short, individuals throughout the entire compass of their history, but individuals in certain divinely appointed offices or relations, in which we are to seek for what is typical in this province of sacred history.[12]

[[@Page:190]] IV. Another conclusion flowing not less clearly than the foregoing from the views already established, and which we propose as our next leading principle of interpretation, is, that while the symbol or institution constituting the type has properly but one radical meaning, yet the fundamental idea or principle exhibited in it may often be capable of more than one application to the realities of the Gospel; that is, it may bear respect to, and be developed in, more than one department of the affairs of Christ’s kingdom. But in illustrating this proposition, we must take in succession the several parts of which it consists.

1. The first part asserts each type to be capable of but one radical meaning. It has a definite way of expressing some fundamental idea—that, and no more. Were it otherwise, we should find any consistent or satisfactory interpretation of typical things quite impracticable, and should often lose ourselves in a sea of uncertainty. An example or two may serve to show how far this has actually been the case in the past. Glassius makes the deluge to typify both the preservation of the faithful through baptism, and the destruction of the wicked in the day of judgment; and the rule under which he adduces this example is, that “a type may be a figure of two, and even contrary things, though in different respects.”[13]In like manner, Taylor, taking the full liberty of such a canon, when interpreting the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea as a type of baptism, sees in that event, first, “the offering of Jesus Christ to their faith, through the Red Sea, of whose death and passion they should find a sure and safe way to the celestial Canaan;” and then this other truth, that “by His merit and mediation He would carry them through all difficulties and dangers, as deep as the bottom of the sea, unto eternal rest.”[14] In this last specimen the Red Sea is viewed as representing at the same time, and in relation to the same persons, both the atoning blood of Christ and the outward trials of life. The other example is not so palpably incorrect, nor does it in fact go to the entire length, which the rule it is designed to illustrate [[@Page:191]] properly warrants; for the action of the waters in the deluge is considered by it with reference to different persons, as well as in different respects. It is at fault, however, in making one event typical of two diverse and unconnected results. Many other examples might be produced of similar false interpretations from what has been written of the tabernacle and its services, equally indicative, on the part of the writers, of a capricious fancy, and in themselves utterly destitute of any solid foundation.

Our previous investigations, we trust, have removed this prolific source of ambiguity and confusion; for, if we have not entirely failed of our object, we have shown that the typical transactions and symbols of the Old Testament are by no means so vague and arbitrary as to be capable of bearing senses altogether variable and inconsistent. Viewed as a species of language, which they really were—a speaking by action instead of words—they could only reach the end they had to serve by giving forth a distinct and intelligible meaning. Such language can no more do this than oral or written discourse, if constructed so as to be susceptible of the most diverse and even opposite senses. By the necessities of the case, therefore, we are constrained to hold, that whatever instruction God might design to communicate to the Church, either in earlier or in later times, by means of the religious institutions and providential arrangements of past times, it must have been such as admits of being derived from them by a fixed and reasonable mode of interpretation. To suppose that their virtue consisted in some capacity to express meanings quite variable and inconsistent with each other, would be to assimilate them to the uncertain oracles of heathenism.

2. This is to be understood in the strictest sense of such typical acts and symbols, as, from their nature, were expressive of a simple, uncompounded idea. In that case, it would be an incongruity to make what was one in the type, present, like a revolving light, a changeful and varying aspect toward the antitype. But the type itself might possibly be of a complex nature; that is, it might embody a process which branched out into two or more lines of operation, and so combined two or more related ideas together. In such a case, there will require to be a corresponding variety in the application that is made from the type to [[@Page:192]] the antitype. The twofold, or perhaps still more complicated, idea contained in the one must have its counterpart in the other, as much as if each idea had received a separate representation; though due regard must be paid to the connection which they appear to have one with another, as component elements of the same type. For example, the event of the deluge, recently adverted to, which at once bore on its bosom an elect seed, in safe preservation for the peopling of a new world, and overwhelmed in perdition the race of ungodly men who had corrupted the old, unquestionably involves a complex idea. It embodies in one great act a double process—a process, however, which was accomplished simultaneously in both its parts; since the doing of the one carried along with it the execution of the other. In thinking, therefore, of the New Testament antitype, we must have respect not only to the two ideas themselves severally represented, but also to their relation to each other; we must look for some spiritual process, which in like manner combines a work of preservation with a work of destruction. In the different fates of the righteous and the wicked,—the one as appointed to salvation, and the other to perdition,—we have certainly a twofold process and result; but have we the two in a similar combination? We certainly have them so combined in the personal history and work of Christ, as His triumph and exaltation inevitably involved the bruising of Satan; and the same shall also be found in the final judgment, when, by putting down for ever all adverse authority and rule, Christ shall raise His Church to the dominion and the glory. If the typical connection between the deluge and God’s grander works of preservation and destruction, is put in either of these lights, the objection we lately offered to the interpretation of Glassius will be obviated, and the requirements of a Scriptural exegesis satisfied. A like combination of two ideas is found in the application made of the deluge by the Apostle Peter to the ordinance of baptism, as will be shown in due time. And there are, besides, many things connected with the tabernacle and its services—for example, the use made in them of symbolical numbers, the different kinds of sacrifice, the ritual of cleansing—which are usually so employed as to convey a complex meaning, and a meaning that of necessity assumes different shades, according to the different modifications employed [[@Page:193]] in the use of the symbolical materials. Such differences, however, can only be of a minor kind; they can never touch the fundamental character of the typical phenomena, so as to render them expressive in one relation of something totally unlike to what they denoted in another. A symbolical act or institution can as little be made to change its meaning arbitrarily, as a term in language. Its precise import must always be determined first by an intelligent consideration of its inherent nature, and then by the connection in which it stands.

3. It is one thing, however, to maintain that a type, either as a whole or in its component parts, can express only one meaning; and another, to allow more than one application of it to the affairs of Christ’s kingdom. Not only is there an organic connection between the Old and the New dispensations, giving rise to the relation of type and antitype, but also an organic connection between one part and another of the Gospel dispensation; in consequence of which the ideas and principles exhibited in the types may find their realization in more than one department of the Gospel system. The types, as well as the prophecies, hence often admit of “a springing and germinant accomplishment.” They do so especially in those things which concern the economical relation subsisting between Christ and His people; by reason of which He is at once the root out of which they grow, and the pattern after which their condition and destiny are to be formed. If, on this account, it be necessary that in all things He should have the pre-eminence, it is not less necessary that they should bear His image, and share in His heritage of blessing. So closely are they identified with Him. In their present experience and their future prospects, that they are now spoken of as having “fellowship with him in His sufferings,” being “planted with Him in the likeness of His death,” and again “planted with Him in the likeness of His resurrection,” “sitting with Him in heavenly places,” having “their life hid with Him in God,” and being at last raised to “inherit His kingdom, and sit with Him upon His throne.” In short, the Church as a whole is conformed to His likeness; while, again, in each one of her members is reproduced an image of the whole. Therefore the principles and ideas which, by means of typical ordinances and transactions, were perpetually exhibited before the eye of the Old Testament [[@Page:194]] Church, while they must find their grand development in Christ Himself, must also have further developments in the history of His Church and people. They have respect to our relations and experiences, our state and prospects, in so far as these essentially coincide with Christ’s; for, so far, the one is but a partial renewal or a prolonged existence of the other.

There are things of a typical nature, it is proper to add, which in a more direct and special manner bear respect to the Church and people of Christ. The rite of circumcision, for example, the passage through the Red Sea, the judgments in the wilderness, the eating of manna, and many similar things, must obviously have their antitypes in the heirs of salvation rather than in Him, who, in this respect, stood alone; He was personally free from sin, and did not Himself need the blessings He provided for others. So that, when the Apostle writes of the ordinances of the law, that they were “shadows of good things to come, but the body is of Christ” (Col. 2:17), he is not to be understood as meaning that Christ personally and alone is the object they prospectively contemplated, but Christ together with His body the Church—the events and interests of the Gospel dispensation. In this collective sense Christ is mentioned also in 1 Cor. 12:12, and Gal. 3:16. Nor is it by any means an arbitrary sense; for it is grounded in the same vital truth, on which we have based the admissibility of a twofold application or bearing of typical things, viz., the organic union subsisting between Christ and His redeemed people—”He in them, and they in Him.”

V. Another principle of interpretation arising out of the preceding investigations, and necessary to be borne in mind for the right understanding of typical symbols and transactions, is, that due regard must be had to the essential difference between the nature of type and antitype. For, as the typical is Divine truth on a lower stage, exhibited by means of outward relations and terrestrial interests, so, when making the transition from this to the antitypical, we must expect the truth to appear on a loftier stage, and, if we may so speak, with a more heavenly aspect. What in the one bore immediate respect to the bodily life, must in the other be found to bear immediate respect to the spiritual [[@Page:195]] life. While in the one it is seen and temporal objects that ostensibly present themselves, their proper counterpart in the other are the unseen and eternal:—there, the outward, the present, the worldly; here, the inward, the future, the heavenly.

A change and advance of the kind here supposed, enters into the very vitals of the subject, as unfolded in the earlier part of our inquiry. The reason why typical symbols and institutions were employed by God in His former dealings with His Church, arose from the adoption of a plan which indispensably required that very progression in the mode of exhibiting Divine truth. The world was treated for a period as a child that must be taught great principles, and prepared for events of infinite magnitude and eternal interest, by the help of familiar and sensible objects, which lay fully open to their view, and came within the grasp of their comprehension. But now that we have to do with the things themselves, for which those means of preparation were instituted, we must take care, in tracing the connection between the one and the other, to keep steadily in view the essential difference between the two periods, and with the rise in the Divine plan give a corresponding rise to the application we make of what belonged to the ancient economy. To proceed without regard to this—to look for the proper counterpart of any particular type in the same class of objects and interests, as that to which the type itself immediately referred, would be to act like those Judaizing Christians, who, after the better things had come, held fast at once by type and antitype, as if they stood upon the same plane, and were constructed of the same materials. It would be to remain at the old foundations, while the scheme of God has risen to a higher place, and laid a new world, as it were, open to our view. If, therefore, we enter aright into the change which has been effected in the position of the Divine kingdom, and give to that its proper weight in determining the connection between type and antitype, we must look for things in the one, corresponding, indeed, to those in the other, but, at the same time, proportionally higher and greater; and, in particular, must remember that, according to the rule, internal things now take the place of external, and spiritual of bodily.

Much discretion, however, which it is impossible to bound by [[@Page:196]] such precise and definite rules as might meet all conceivable cases, will be necessary in applying the principle now indicated to individual examples. In the majority of cases there will be no difficulty; for the distinction we mention between the Old and the New is so manifest, as to secure a certain degree of uniformity even among those who are not remarkable for discrimination. And, indeed, the writers most liable to err in other respects,—persons of delicate sensibilities and spiritual feeling,—are less in danger of erring here, as they have usually a clear perception of the more inward and elevated character of the Gospel dispensation. The point in regard to which they are most likely to err concerning it, and that which really forms the chief difficulty in applying the principle now under consideration, arises from what may be called the mixed nature of the things belonging to Messiah’s kingdom. As contradistinguished from those of earlier dispensations, and rising above them, we denominate the realities of the Gospel spiritual, heavenly, eternal. And yet they are not totally disconnected with the objects of flesh and time. The centre-point of the whole, Jesus Christ, not only sojourned in bodily form upon the earth, but had certain conditions to fulfil of an outward and bodily kind, which were described beforehand in prophecy, and may also, of course, have had their typical adumbrations. In the case of the Church, too, her life of faith is not altogether of an inward nature, and confined to the hidden man of the heart. It touches continually on the corporeal and visible; and certain events essentially connected with her progress and destiny—such as the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, the calling of the Gentiles, the persecutions of the world, the doom of Antichrist—could not take place without assuming an outward and palpable form. What, then, it may be asked, becomes of the characteristic difference between the Old and the New, so far as such things are concerned? Must not type and antitype still be found substantially on the same level?

By no means. The proper inference is, that there are cases in which the difference is less broadly marked; but it still exists. The operations, experiences, and blessings peculiar to the dispensation of the Gospel, are not all of a simply inward and spiritual nature; but they all bear directly on the interests [[@Page:197]] of a spiritual salvation, and the realities of a heavenly and eternal world. The members of Christ’s kingdom, so long as they are in flesh and blood, must have their history interwoven on every side with the relations of sense and time, and be themselves dependent upon outward ordinances for the existence and nourishment of their spiritual life. Yet, whatever is external in their privileges and condition, has its internal side, and even its avowed reason, in things pertaining to the soul’s salvation, and the coming inheritance of glory. So that the spiritual and heavenly is here always kept prominently in view, as the end and object of all; while in Old Testament times everything was veiled under the sensible relations of flesh and time, and, excepting to the divinely illuminated eye, seemed as if it did not look beyond them.

For example, the deluge and baptism so far agree in form, that they have both an outward operation; but the operation, in the one case, has to do directly with the preservation and destruction of an earthly life, while in the other it bears immediately upon the life of immortality in the soul. The crucifixion of Christ and the slaying of the paschal lamb were alike outward transactions; but the direct and ostensible result contemplated in the first, was salvation from the condemnation and punishment of sin; in the second, escape from corporeal death, and deliverance from the yoke of an earthly bondage. In like manner, it might be said to be as much an outward transaction for Christ to ascend personally into the presence of the Father, as for the high priest to go within the veil with the blood of the yearly atonement; but to rectify men’s relation to a worldly sanctuary and an earthly inheritance, was the immediate object sought by this action of the high priest, while the appearance of Christ in the heavenly places was to secure for His people access to the everlasting kingdom of light and glory. In such cases, the common property of a certain outwardness in the acts and operations referred to, is far from placing them on the same level; a higher element still appears in the one as compared with the other. But if, on the other hand, we should say, as has often been said, that Isaac’s bearing the wood for the altar typified Christ’s bearing His cross to Calvary, we bring together two circumstances which do stand precisely upon [[@Page:198]] the same level, are alike outward in their nature, and in the one no more than in the other involve any rise to a higher sphere of truth. Else, how should a common man, Cimon the Cyrenian, have shared with Christ in the bearing of the burden?

But, undoubtedly, the most pernicious examples of this false style of typical applications are those which, from comparatively early times, have been employed to assimilate the New Testament economy in its formal appearance and administration to the Old, and for which Koine is able to avail herself of the authority of many of the more distinguished fathers. By means chiefly of mistaken parallels from Jewish to Christian times, mistaken, because they virtually ignored the rise that had taken place in the Divine economy,—everything was gradually brought back from the apostolic ideal of a spiritual community, founded on the perfect atonement and priesthood of Christ, to the outwardness and ritualism of ancient times. The sacrifices of the law, it was thought, must have their correspondence in the offering of the Eucharist; and as every sacrificial offering must have a priest to present it, so the priest hood of the Old Covenant, determined by genealogical descent, must find its substitute in a priesthood determined by apostolical succession. It was but a step farther, and one quite natural in the circumstances, to hold that as the ancient hierarchy culminated in a High-priest of Jerusalem, so the Christian must have a similar culmination in the Bishop of Rome. In these and many similar applications of Old Testament things to the ceremonial institutions and devices of Romanism, there is a substantial perpetuation of the Judaizing error of apostolic times an adherence to the oldness and carnality of the letter, after the spiritual life and more elevated standing of the New has come. According to it, everything in Christianity as well as in Judaism is made to turn upon formal distinctions and ritual observances: and that not the less because of a certain introduction of the higher element, as in the substitution of apostolical succession and the impressed character of the new priesthood, for the genealogical descent and family relationship of the old. Such slight alterations only affect the mode of getting at the outward things established, but leave the outwardness [[@Page:199]] itself unaffected; they are of no practical avail in lifting Christianity above the old Judaistic level.[15]

The Protestant Church, however, has not been without its false typical applications, proceeding on the same fundamental mistake. They are found especially among the Grotian school of divines, whose low and carnal tone is continually betraying itself in a tendency to depress and lower the spiritual truths of the Gospel to a conformity with the simple letter of Old Testament Scripture. The Gospel is read not only through a Jewish medium, but also in a Jewish sense, and nothing but externals admitted in the New, wherever there is descried, in the form of the representation, any reference to such in the Old. It is one of the few services which neological exegesis has rendered to the cause of Divine truth, that by a process of exhaustion it has nearly emptied this meagre style of interpretation of the measure of plausibility it originally possessed. But it is still occasionally followed, in the particular respect now under consideration, by theological writers of a higher stamp. Thus, the doctrine of election, as unfolded in the epistles of the New Testament, is held by the advocates of a modified Arminianism to be improperly understood of an appointment to personal salvation and an eternal life, on the special ground that the election of the Jewish people was only their calling as a nation to outward privileges and a temporal inheritance. Rightly understood, however, this is rather a reason why election in the Christian sense should be made to embrace something higher and better. For the proper counterpart under the Gospel to those external relations of Judaism is the gift of grace and the heirship of glory—the lower in the one case shadowing the higher in the other—the outward and temporal representing the spiritual and eternal. Even Macknight, who cannot certainly be charged with any excess of the spiritual element in his interpretations, perceived the necessity of making, as he expresses it, “the natural seed the type of the spiritual, and the temporal blessings the emblems of the eternal.” Hence, he justly regards the outward professing Church in the one case, with its election to the earthly Canaan, as answering in the other to the “invisible [[@Page:200]] Church, consisting of believers of all nations, who, partaking the nature of God by faith and holiness, are truly the sons of God, and have the inheritance of His blessing.”[16]

The characteristic differences, with their respective limitations and apparent anomalies, may be briefly stated thus:—It belongs properly to the New dispensation to reveal divine and spiritual things distinctly to the soul, while in the Old they are presented under the veil of something outward and earthly.

The spiritual and divine itself, which always, as a living undercurrent, ran beneath this exterior veil, might, even during the existence of the Old, come directly into view; but whenever it did so, there was no longer a figure or type of the true, but the true itself. Thus, in so far as the seed of Israel were found an election of God, actually partaking of the grace and blessing of the covenant,—in so far as they were a royal priesthood, circumcised [[@Page:201]] in heart to the Lord,—they showed themselves to be possessed of the reality of a justified condition and a regenerated life. The exhibitions that may have been given by any of them of such a state, were not typical in the sense of foreshadowing something higher and better under the Gospel; and if those in whom they appeared are spoken of as types, it must be as specimens, not as adumbrations—patterns of what is common to the children of faith in every age. The only connection possible in such a case, is that which subsists between type and impression, exemplar and copy, not that between type and antitype.

Turning to the things of the New dispensation, we have simply to reverse the statement now made. While here the spiritual and divine are exhibited in unveiled clearness, it is quite conceivable that they may at times have appeared under the distinctive guise of the Old, imbedded in fleshly and material forms. Especially might this be expected to happen at the beginning of the Gospel, when the transition was in the course of being made from the Old to the New, as the Messiah came forth to lay the foundations of His spiritual and everlasting kingdom on the external theatre of a present world. It was natural at such a time for God graciously to accommodate His ways to a weak faith, and facilitate its exercise, by making the things that appeared under the New, wear the very livery of those that prefigured them under the Old. This is precisely what was done in some of the more noticeable parts of Christ’s earthly history. But in so far as it was done,—that is, in so far as some outward transaction in the Old reappeared in a like outward transaction in the New,—their relation to each other could not properly be that of type and antitype, but only of exemplar and copy, unless the New Testament transaction, while it bore a formal resemblance to that of the Old, was itself at the same time the sensible exponent of some higher truth. If it were this, then the relation would still be substantially that of type and antitype. And such indeed it is, in the few cases which actually fall within the range of these remarks, and which, when superficially viewed, seem at variance with the principle of interpretation we are seeking to establish.

Let us, in conclusion, glance at the cases themselves. The [[@Page:202]] recall of the infant Jesus from the land of Egypt, after a temporary sojourn there, is regarded by the Evangelist Matthew as the correlative in New Testament times to the deliverance of Israel under the Old. It is impossible to overlook the indication of a similar connection, though none of the evangelists have expressly noticed it, between Israel’s period of trial and temptation for forty years in the wilderness, and Christ’s withdrawal into the wilderness to be tempted forty days of the devil. The Evangelist John sets the singular and apparently accidental preservation of Christ’s limbs on the cross, beside the prescription regarding the paschal lamb, not to let a bone of him be broken, and sees in the one a divinely appointed compliance with the other (ch. [[19:36 >> Bible:John 19:36]] ). And in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ch. [[13:12 >> Bible:Heb. 13:12]] ), the crucifixion of Jesus beyond the gates of Jerusalem is represented, not indeed as done to establish a necessary, but still as exhibiting an actual, correspondence with the treatment of those sin-offerings which were burned without the camp. There can be no doubt that in each of these instances of formal agreement between the Old and the New, the transactions look as if they were on the same level, and appear equally outward in the one as in the other. Shall we say then, that on this account they do not really stand to each other in the relation of type and antitype? or that there was some peculiarity in the later transactions, which still, amid the apparent sameness, raised them to a sufficient elevation above the earlier? This last supposition we conceive to be the correct one.

First of all, it was not unnatural, when there was so little faith in the Church, and when such great things were in the course of being accomplished, that certain outward and palpable correspondences, such as we have noticed, should have been exhibited. It was a kind and gracious accommodation on the part of God to the ignorance and weakness of the times. The people were almost universally looking in the wrong direction for the things connected with the person and kingdom of Messiah; and He mercifully controlled in various respects the course and progress of events, so as, in a manner, to force on their notice the marvellous similarity of His working now to what He had done in the days of old. He did what was fitted to impress visibly upon the darker features of the evangelical [[@Page:203]] history His own image and superscription, and to mark them out to men’s view as wrought according to the law of a foreseen and pre-established harmony. Yet we should not expect such obvious and palpable marks of agreement to be commonly stamped by the hand of God upon the new things of His kingdom, as compared with the old; we should rather regard them as a sort of extraordinary and peculiar helps granted to a weak and unenlightened faith at the beginnings of the kingdom. And even when so granted, we should not expect them to constitute the whole of the matter, but should suppose something farther to be veiled under them than immediately meets the eye—a deeper agreement, of which the one outwardly appearing was little more than the sign and herald.

This supposition gathers strength when we reflect that the outward agreement, however manifest and striking in some respects, is still never so uniform and complete as to convey the impression that the entire stress lay there, or that it was designed to be anything more than a stepping-stone for the mind to rise higher. Thus, while the child Jesus was for a time located in Egypt, and again brought out of it by the special providence of God, like Israel in its youth; yet what a difference between the two cases—in the length of time spent in the transactions, and the whole circumstances connected with their accomplishment! Jesus and Israel alike underwent a period of temptation in a wilderness before entering on their high calling; but again, how widely different in the actual region selected for the scene of trial, and the time during which it was continued! Christ’s crucifixion beyond the gates of Jerusalem, and the preservation of His limbs from external violence, exhibited a striking resemblance to peculiarities in the sacrifices of the passover and sin-offering—enough to mark the overruling agency of God; but in other outward things there were scarcely less marked discrepancies—nothing, for example, in the sacrifices referred to, corresponding with the pierced side of Jesus, or His suspension on the cross; and nothing again in Jesus formally answering to the sacrificial rites of the imposition of hands, the sprinkling of blood, or the burning of the carcase. These, and other defects that might be named in the external correspondence between the New and the Old, plainly enough [[@Page:204]] indicate that the outward agreement was, after all, not the main thing, nor the thing that properly constituted the typical connection between them. Else, where such agreement failed, the connection must have failed too; and in many respects Christ should not have been the “body” of the ancient shadows in more, perhaps, than those in which He actually was. Who would not shrink from such a conclusion? But we can find no consistent reason for avoiding it, except on the ground that the occasional outward coincidences between our Lord’s personal history and things in God’s earlier dispensations, were the signs of a typical relationship rather than that relationship itself,—a likeness merely on the surface, that gave notice of a deeper and more essential agreement.

This peculiarity in some of the typical applications of Scripture, has its parallel in the applications also sometimes made of the prophecies. We merely point for examples to the employment by St John, ch. [[19:37 >> Bible:John 19:37]] , of Zech. 12:10, “They shall look on Me whom they have pierced,” or by St Matthew in ch. [[2:23 >> Bible:Matt. 2:23]] , [[8:17 >> Bible:Matt. 8:17]] .


[1] Kanne’s Christus in Alleii Testament, Th. ii., p. 133, etc.

[2] Fisher’s Marrow of Modern Divinity, P. 1, c. 2.

[3] Kanne’s Christus in Alt. Test., I., p. 100.

[4] History of Redemption, by Jonathan Edwards. Period I., p. 4.

[5] Owen on Heb. 8:5. In another part of his writings, however, we find him saying, “Although those (Old Testament) things are now full of light and instruction to us, evidently expressing the principal works of Christ’s mediation, yet they were not so unto them. The meanest believer may now find out more of the work of Christ in the types of the Old Testament, than any prophet or wise man could have done of old.”—On the Person of Christ, ch. 8.

[6] Legation of Moses, B. vi., sec. 5.

[7] Treatise on the Three Dispensations, vol. ii., p. 57.

[8] Historical Types, p. 221.

[9] Horsley’s Works, vol. i., p. 271-273.

[10] Chap. III., p. 81.

[11] Guild’s Moses Unveiled, and Watson’s Holy Eucharist.

[12] Scarcely any of the late works on the types, published in this country, are free from the extravagances we have referred to respecting personal types. They assume, however, the most extreme form in the German work of Kanne, published in 1818. There the mere similarity of names is held as a conclusive proof of a typical connection; so that Miriam, sister of Moses, was a type of Mary, for the Jews call the former Maria, as well as the latter. The work is full of such puerilities. It is the same tendency, however, to rest in merely superficial resemblances which led Schöttgen, for example, in his Horse Heb. On 1 Cor. 10:2, and leads some still, to hold that the Israelites must have been “bedewed and refreshed” by the cloud. It is true the sacred narrative is silent about that, nor is any support to be found for it in the Jewish writings; but it seemed to the learned author necessary to make out a typical relation to baptism, and so he regards it as in a manner self-evident. On the same ground, of course, Noah and his family must have been all sprinkled or dipped in the flood, since this too was the type of baptism!

[13] Philolog. Sac. Lib. II., p. 1, Trac. II., sec. 4, § 8. He quotes from Cornelius à Lapide, but adopts the rule as good.

[14] Moses and Aaron, p. 237.

[15] See this subject admirably treated in Mr Litton’s work on the Church, p. 53 5, sec. 7; also his Bampton Lecture, Sermon viii.

[16] On Rom. 9:8. For the other side see Whitby on the same chapter, and on 1 Pet. 2:9; Graves Works, vol. iii., p. 233. Archbishop Whately, in his Essays on the Peculiarities of the Gospel, p. 95, gives the representation a somewhat different turn from Whitby and Graves. He regards the Israelites as not having been “elected absolutely and infallibly to enter the promised land, to triumph over their enemies, and live in security, wealth, and enjoyment; but only to the privilege of having these blessings placed within their reach, on the condition of their obeying the law which God had given them.” Whence, he infers, Christians are only elected in the same sense to the privileges of a Gospel condition and the promise of final salvation. In regard to election in the Gospel sense, such a representation vanishes before a few plain texts,—such as, “Many are called, but few are chosen;” “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus;” “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world . . . having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself.” If such passages do not imply election to a state of personal salvation, it is not in the power of language to express the idea. In regard to the Israelites, also, the election and the promise were made absolutely, “to thy seed will I give this laud,” and the proper inference respecting those who afterwards perished in the wilderness, without being permitted to enter the land, is simply, that they were not of that portion of the seed who were elect, according to the foreknowledge of God, to the promised inheritance. It is true they might justly be said to have lost it for disobeying the law; but viewed in respect to their connection with the calling and promise of God, it was their want of faith to connect them with these, their unbelief, which was the source of perdition, the root at once of their disobedience, and of the disinheritance which ensued. (Heb. 3:19).

Chapter Seventh.—The Place Due to The Subject of Typology as A Branch of Theological Study, and The Advantages Arising from its Proper Cultivation.

[[@Page:205]] THE loose and incorrect views which so long prevailed on the subject of Typology, and which, till recently, had taken a direction tending at once to circumscribe their number and lessen their importance, have had the effect of reducing it to little more than a nominal place in the arrangement of topics calling for exact theological discussion. For any real value to be attached to it in the order of God’s revelations, or any light it is fitted to throw, when rightly understood, on the interpretation of Scripture, we search in vain amid the writings of our leading hermeneutical and systematic divines. The treatment it has most commonly received at their hands is rather negative than positive. They appear greatly more concerned about the abuses to which it may be carried, than the advantages to which it may be applied. And were it not for the purpose of exploding errors, delivering cautions, and disowning unwarrantable conclusions, it is too plain the subject would scarcely have been deemed worthy of any separate and particular consideration.

If the discussion pursued through the preceding chapters has been conducted with any success, it must have tended to produce a somewhat different feeling upon the subject. Various points of moment connected with the purposes of God and the interpretation of Scripture must have suggested themselves to the reflective reader, as capable both of receiving fresh light, and of acquiring new importance from a well-grounded system of Typology. One entire branch of the subject its connection with the closely related field of prophecy—has already, on account of the principles involved in it, been considered in a separate chapter. At present we shall look to some other points of a more general kind, which have, however, an essential bearing [[@Page:206]] on the character of a Divine revelation, and which will enable us to present, in a variety of lights, the reasonableness and importance of the views we have been endeavouring to establish.

I. We mark, first, an analogy in God’s methods of preparatory instruction, as adopted by Him at different but somewhat corresponding periods of the Church’s history. In one brief period of its existence, the Church of the New Testament might be said to stand in a very similar relation to the immediate future, that the Church of the Old Testament generally did to the more distant future of Gospel times. It was the period of our Lord’s earthly ministry, during which the materials were in preparation for the actual establishment of His kingdom, and His disciples were subjected to the training which was to fit them for taking part in its affairs. The process that had been proceeding for ages with the Church, had, in their experience, to be virtually begun and completed in the short space of a few years. And we are justly warranted to expect, that the method adopted during this brief period of special preparation toward the first members of the New Testament Church, should present some leading features of resemblance to that pursued with the Old Testament Church as a whole, during her immensely more lengthened period of preparatory training.

Now, the main peculiarity, as we have seen, of God’s method of instruction and discipline in respect to the Old Testament Church, consisted in the use of symbol and action. It was chiefly by means of historical transactions and symbolical rites that the ancient believers were taught what they knew of the truths and mysteries of grace. For the practical guidance and direction of their conduct they were furnished with means of information the most literal and express; but in regard to the spiritual concerns and objects of the Messiah’s kingdom, all was couched under veil and figure. The instruction given addressed itself to the eye rather than to the ear. It came intermingled with the things they saw and handled; and while it necessarily made them familiar with the elements of Gospel truth, it not less necessarily left them in comparative ignorance as to the particular events and operations in which the truth was to find its ultimate and proper realization.

[[@Page:207]] How entirely analogous was the course pursued by our Lord with His immediate disciples during the period of His earthly ministry! The direct instruction He imparted to them was, with few exceptions, confined to lessons of moral truth and duty—freeing the law of God from the false glosses of a carnal and corrupt priesthood, which had entirely overlaid its meaning, and disclosing the pure and elevated principles on which His kingdom was to be founded. But in regard to what might be called the mysteries of the kingdom,—the constitution of Christ’s person, the peculiar character of His work as the Redeemer of a sinful and fallen world, and the connection of all with a higher and future world,—little instruction of a direct kind was imparted up to the very close of Christ’s earthly ministry. On one or two occasions, when He sought to convey more definite information upon such points, the disciples either completely misunderstood His meaning, or showed themselves incapable of profiting by His instructions (Matt. 16:21-23; Luke 18:34; John 2:19-22, ch. [[6 >> Bible:Jn 6]] ). So that in the last discourse He held with them before His death, He spoke of the many things He had yet to say to them, but which, as they still could not bear them, had to be reserved to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, who should come and lead them into all the truth. Were they, therefore, left without instruction of any kind respecting those higher truths and mysteries of the kingdom? By no means; for throughout the whole period of their connection with Christ, they were constantly receiving such instruction as could be conveyed through action and symbol; or more correctly, through action and allegory, which was here made to take the place of symbol, and served substantially the same design.

The public life of Jesus was full of action, and in that, to a large extent, consisted its fulness of instruction. Every miracle He performed was a type in history; for, on the outward and visible field of nature, it revealed the Divine power He was going to manifest, and the work He came to achieve in the higher field of grace. In every act of healing men’s bodily diseases, and supplying of men’s bodily wants, there was an exhibition to the eye of sense at once of His purpose to bring salvation to their souls, and of the principles on which that salvation should proceed. In like manner, when He resorted to [[@Page:208]] the parabolic method of instruction, it was but another employment of the familiar and sensible things of nature, under the form of allegory, to convey still farther instruction respecting the spiritual and Divine things of His kingdom. The procedure, no doubt, involved a certain exercise of judgment toward those who had failed to profit, as they ought, by His more simple and direct teaching (Matt. 13:11-15). But for His own disciples it formed a cover, through which He could present to them a larger amount of spiritual truth, and impart a more correct idea of His kingdom, than it was possible for them, as yet, by any other method to obtain. Every parable contained an allegorical representation of some particular aspect of the kingdom, which, like the types of an earlier dispensation, only needed to be illuminated by the facts of Gospel history, to render it a clear and intelligible image of spiritual and Divine realities. In all, the outward and earthly was made to present the form of the inward and heavenly.

Thus, the special training of our Lord’s disciples very closely corresponded to the course of preparatory dispensations through which the Church at large was conducted before the time of His appearing. Such an analogy, pursued in circumstances so altered, and through periods so widely different, bespeaks the consistent working and presiding agency of Him “who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” It furnishes also a ready and effective answer to the Socinian argument against the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, on account of the comparative silence maintained respecting them in the direct instructions of Christ. “Can such doctrines,” they have sometimes asked, “enter so essentially, as is alleged, into the original plan of Christianity, when its Divine author Himself says so little about them—when in all He taught His disciples there is at most but a limited number of passages which seem even to point with any definiteness in that direction?” Look, we reply, to the analogy of God’s dealings with His Church, and let that supply the answer. Christ and the mysteries of His redemption were the end of all the earlier proceedings of God, and of the institutions of worship He gave to His Church; and yet many centuries of preparatory instruction and discipline were permitted to elapse before the objects themselves were brought distinctly [[@Page:209]] into view. Should it then be deemed strange or unaccountable that the persons immediately chosen by Christ to announce them, were made to undergo a brief but perfectly similar preparatory course, under the eye of their Divine Master? It could not have been otherwise. The facts of Christianity are the basis of its doctrines; and until those facts had become matter of history, the doctrines could neither be explicitly taught nor clearly understood. They could only be obscurely represented to the mind through the medium of typical actions, symbolical rites, or parabolical narratives. And it results as much from the essential nature of things as from the choice of its Divine Author, that the mode of instruction, which was continued through the lengthened probation of the Old Testament Church, should have found its parallel in “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

II. But there is an analogy of faith and practice which is of still greater importance than any analogy that may appear in the methods of instruction. However important it may be to note resemblances in the mode of communicating Divine truth, at one period as compared with another, it is more so to know that the truth, however communicated, has always been found one in its tendency and working; that the earlier and the later, the Old and the New Testament Churches, though differing widely in light and privilege, yet breathed the same spirit, walked by the same rule, possessed and manifested the same elements of character. A correct acquaintance with the Typology of Scripture alone explains how, with such palpable differences subsisting between them, there should still have been such essential uniformity in the result.

In the writings of the New Testament, especially in the epistles, it is very commonly the differences between the Old and the New, rather than the agreements, that are pressed on our notice. A necessity for this arose from the abuse to which the Jews had turned the handwriting of ordinances delivered to them by Moses. In the carnality of their minds, they mistook the means for the end, embraced the shadow for the substance, and so converted what had been set up for the express purpose of leading them to Christ, into a mighty stumbling-block to [[@Page:210]] obstruct the way of their approach to Him. On this account it became necessary to bring prominently out the differences between the preparatory and the ultimate schemes of God, and to show that what was perfectly suited to the one was quite unsuited to the other. But there were, at the same time, many real agreements of a most essential nature between them, and these also are often referred to in New Testament Scripture.

Moses and Christ, when closely examined and viewed as to the more fundamental parts of their respective systems, are found to teach in perfect harmony with each other. The law and the prophets of the Old Testament, and the gospels and epistles of the New, exhibit but different phases of the same wondrous scheme of grace. The light varies from time to time in its clearness arid intensity, but never as to the elements of which it is composed. And the very differences which so broadly distinguish the Gospel dispensation from all that went before it, when taken in connection with the entire plan and purpose of God, afford evidence of an internal harmony and a profound agreement.

The truth of what we say, if illustrated to its full extent, would require us to traverse almost the entire field of Scripture Typology. We shall therefore content ourselves here with selecting a single point, which, in its most obvious aspect, belongs rather to the differences than the agreements between the Old and the New dispensations. For in what do the two more apparently and widely differ from each other than in regard to the place occupied in them respectively by the doctrine of a future state? In the Scriptures of the New Testament, the eternal world comes constantly into view; it meets us in every page, inspirits every religious character, mingles with every important truth and obligation, and gives an ethereal tone and an ennobling impress to the whole genius and framework of Christianity. Nothing of this, however, is to be found in the earlier portions of the Word of God. That these contain no reference of any kind to a future state of rewards and punishments, we are far from believing, as will abundantly appear in the sequel. But still the doctrine of such a state is nowhere broadly announced, as an essential article of faith, in the revelations of Old Testament Scripture; it has no distinct and easily [[@Page:211]] recognised place either in the patriarchal or the Levitical dispensations; it is never set forth as a formal ground of action, and is implied, rather than distinctly affirmed or avowedly acted on, excepting when it occasionally appears among the confessions of pious individuals, or in the later declarations of prophecy; so that, though itself one of the first principles of all true religion, there yet was maintained respecting it a studied caution and reserve in the revelations of God to men, up to the time when He came who was to “bring life and immortality to light.[1]

This obvious difference between the Old and the New Testament revelations, in respect to a future state, has been deemed such a palpable incongruity, that sometimes the most forced interpretations have been resorted to with the view of getting rid of the fact, while, at other times, extravagant theories have been proposed to account for it. But we have no need to look farther than to the typical character of God’s earlier dispensations for a satisfactory explanation of the difficulty and we shall find it in nothing else. For, leave this out of view suppose that God’s method of teaching and training the Old Testament Church was not necessarily formed on the plan of unfolding Gospel ideas and principles by means of earthly relations and fleshly symbols, then we see not how it could have consisted with Divine wisdom to keep such a veil hanging for so many ages over the realities of a coining eternity. But let the typical element be duly taken into account; let it be understood that inferior and earthly things were systematically employed of old to image and represent those which are heavenly and Divine; and then we shall be equally unable to see how it could have consisted with Divine wisdom to have disclosed the doctrine of a future state, otherwise than under the figures and shadows of what is seen and temporal. For this doctrine, in its naked form, [[@Page:212]] stands inseparably connected with the facts of Christ’s death and resurrection, on which it is entirely based as a ground of consolation, and an object of hope to the believer. And if the one had been openly disclosed, while the other still remained under the veil of temporary shadows, utter confusion must necessarily have been introduced into the dispensations of God: the Old Covenant, with ordinances suited only to an inferior and preparatory course of training, should have possessed a portion of the light properly belonging to a complete and finished revelation. The ancient Church, with her faith in that case professedly directed on the eternal world, must have lost her symbolical relation to the present; her experiences must have been as spiritual, her life as hidden, her conflict with temptation, and victory over the world, as inward as those of believers under the Gospel. But then the Church of the Old Testament, being without the clear knowledge of Christ and His salvation, still wanted the true foundation for so much of a spiritual, inward, and hidden nature; and it must have been next to impossible to prevent false confidences from mingling with her expectations of the future, since she had only the shadowy and carnal in worship with which to connect the real and eternal in blessing.

Is this not what actually happened in the case of the later Jews? In the course of that preparatory training through which they were conducted, an increasing degree of light was at length imparted, among other things, in respect to a future state of reward and punishment; the later Scriptures contained not a few quite explicit intimations on the subject (as in Hos. 13:14; Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19); and by the time of Christ’s appearing, the doctrine of a resurrection from the dead to a world of endless happiness or misery, formed nearly as distinct and prominent an article in the Jewish faith as it does now in the Christian.—(Acts 23:6, 26:6-8; Matt. 5:29, 10:28, etc.) Now, this had been well, and should have only disposed the Jews to give to Jesus a more enlightened and hearty reception, had they been careful to couple with the clearer view thus obtained, and the more direct introduction of a future world, the intimations that accompanied it of a higher and better dispensation—of the old things, under which they lived, being to be done away, that others of a nobler description [[@Page:213]] might take their place. But this was what the later Jews, as a class, failed to do. Partial in their knowledge of Scripture, and confounding together the things that differed, they took the prospect of immortality as if it had been directly unfolded, and ostensibly provided for in the shadowy dispensation itself. The result necessarily was, that that dispensation ceased in their view to be shadowy; it contained in itself, they imagined, the full apparatus required for sinful men, to redeem them from the curse of sin, and bring them to eternal life; and whatever purposes the Messiah might come to accomplish, that He should supplant its carnal observances by something of a higher nature, and more immediately bearing on the immortal interests of man, formed no part of their expectations concerning Him. Thus, by coming to regard the doctrine of a future state of happiness and glory, as, in its naked or direct form, an integral part of the revelations of the Old Covenant, they naturally fell into two most serious mistakes. They first overlooked the shadowy nature of their religion, and exalted it to an undue rank by looking to it for blessings which it was never intended, unless typically, to impart; and then, when the Messiah came, they entirely misapprehended the great object of His mission, and lost all participation in His kingdom.

So much, then, for the palpable difference in this respect between the Old and the New. There was a necessity in the case, arising from the very nature of the Divine plan. So long as the Church was under symbolical ordinances and typical relations, the future world must fall into the background; the things concerning it could only appear imaged in the seen and present. But that they did appear so imaged—in this, with all the outward diversity that prevailed, there still lay an essential agreement between the Old dispensation and the New. The minds of believers under the former neither were, nor could be, an entire blank in regard to a future state of being. From the very first—as we shall see afterwards, when we come to trace out the elements of the primeval religion—there was in God’s dealings and revelations toward them, what in a manner compelled them to look beyond a present world; it was so manifestly impossible to realize here, with any degree of completeness, the objects He seemed to have in view. And the under-current [[@Page:214]] of thought and expectation thus silently awakened toward the future, was continually fed by everything being arranged and ordered in the present, so as to establish in their minds a profound conviction of a Divine retribution. The things connected with their relation to a worldly sanctuary, and an earthly inheritance of blessing, were one continued illustration of the principle so firmly expressed by Abraham, “that the Judge of all the earth must do right;” and, consequently, that in the final issues of things, “it must be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked.” The bringing distinctly out of this present recompense in the Divine administration, and with infinite variety of light and vividness of colouring, impressing it on the consciences of God’s people, was the peculiar service rendered by the ancient economy in respect to a coming eternity; and the peculiar service which, as a preparatory economy, it required to render. For the belief of a present retribution must, to a large extent, form the basis of a well-grounded belief in a future one. And for the believing Israelite himself, who lived under the operation of such strong temporal sanctions, and who was habituated to contemplate the unseen in the seen, the future in the past, there was everything in the visible movements of Providence around him, both to confirm in him the expectation of a coming state of reward and punishment, and to form him to the dispositions and conduct which might best prepare him for meeting it. His position so far differed from that of believers now, that he was not formally called to direct his views to the coming world, and he had comparatively slender means of information concerning its realities. But it agreed in this, that he too was a child of faith, believing in the retributive character of God’s administration; and in him, as well as in us, only in a more outward and sensible manner, this faith had its trials and dangers, its discouragements, its warrings with the flesh and the world, its times of weakness and of strength, its blessed satisfactions and triumphant victories. In short, his light, so far as it went, was the same with ours; it was the same also in the nature of its influence on his heart and conduct; and if he but faithfully did his part amid the scenes and objects around him, he was equally prepared at its close to take his place in the mansions of a better inheritance, though [[@Page:215]] he might have to go to them as one not knowing whither he went.[2]

Thus it appears, on careful examination, that all was in its proper place. A mutual adaptation and internal harmony binds together the Old and the New dispensations, even under the striking diversity that characterizes the two in respect to a future world. And the further the investigation is pursued, the more will such be found to be the case generally. It will be found that the connection of the Old with the New is something more than typical, in the sense of foreshadowing, or pre-figurative of what was to come; it is also inward and organic. Amid the ostensible differences, there is a pervading unity and agreement—one faith, one life, one hope, one destiny. And while the Old Testament Church, in its outward condition and earthly relations, typically shadowed forth the spiritual and heavenly things of the New, it was also, in so far as it realized and felt the truth of God presented to it, the living root out of which the New ultimately sprang. The rude beginnings were there, of all that exists in comparative perfection now.

III. Another advantage resulting from a correct knowledge and appreciation of the Typology of ancient Scripture, is the increased value and importance with which it invests the earlier portions of revelation. This has respect more especially to the historical parts of Old Testament Scripture; yet not to these exclusively. For the whole of the Old Testament will be found to rise in our esteem, in proportion as we understand and enter into its typological bearing. But the point may be more easily and distinctly illustrated by a reference to its records of history.

Many ends, undoubtedly, had to be served by these; and we must beware of making so much account of one, as if it were the whole. Even the least interesting and instructive parts of the historical records, the genealogies, are not without their use; for they supply some valuable materials both for the general knowledge of antiquity, and for our acquaintance, in particular, with that chosen line of Adam’s posterity which was to have its culmination in Christ. But the narratives in which [[@Page:216]] these genealogies are imbedded, which record the lives of so many individuals, portray the manners and customs of such different ages and nations, and relate the dealings of God’s providence and the communications of His mind with so many of the earliest characters and tribes in the world’s history—these, in themselves, and apart altogether from any prospective reference they may have to Gospel times, are on many accounts interesting and instructive. Nor can they be attentively perused, as simple records of the past, without being found “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”

Yet when viewed only in that light, one-half their worth is still not understood; nor shall we be able altogether to avoid some feeling of strangeness occasionally at the kind of notices embraced in the inspired narrative. For whatever interest and instruction may be connected with it, how trifling often are the incidents it records! how limited the range to which it chiefly draws our attention! and how easy might it seem, at various points, to have selected other histories, which would have led the mind through scenes more obviously important in themselves, and less closely, perhaps, interwoven with evil! Unbelievers have often given to such thoughts as these an obnoxious form, and have endeavoured by means of them to bring sacred Scripture into discredit. But in doing so, they have only displayed their own onesidedness and partiality; they have looked at this portion of the Word of God in a contracted light, and away from its proper connection with the entire plan of revelation. Let the notices of Old Testament history be viewed in their subservience to the scheme of grace unfolded in the Gospel—let the field which it traverses, however limited in extent, and the transactions it describes, however unimportant in a political respect, be regarded as that field, and those transactions, through which, as on a lower and common stage, the Lord sought to familiarize the minds of His people with the truths and principles which were ultimately to appear in the highest affairs of His kingdom—let the notices of Old Testament history be viewed in this light, which is the one that Scripture itself brings prominently forward, and then what dignity and importance is seen to attach to every one of them! The smallest [[@Page:217]] movements on the earth’s surface acquire a certain greatness, when connected with the law of gravitation; since then even the fall of an apple from the tree stands related to the revolution of the planets in their courses. And, in like manner, the relation which the historical facts of ancient Scripture bear to the glorious work and kingdom of Christ, gives to the least of them such a character of importance, that they are brought within the circle of God’s highest purposes, and are perceived to be in reality “the connecting links of that golden chain which unites heaven and earth.”

This, however, is not all. While a proper understanding of the Typology of Scripture imparts an air of grandeur and importance to its smallest incidents, and makes the little relatively great, it does more. It warrants us to proceed a step farther, and to assert, that such personal narratives and comparatively little incidents as fill up a large portion of the history, not only might, without impropriety, have been admitted into the sacred record, but that they must to some extent have been found there, in order to adapt it properly to the end which it was intended to serve. It was precisely the limited and homely character of many of the things related, which rendered them such natural and easy stepping-stones to the discoveries of a higher dispensation. It is one thing that an arrangement exists in nature, which comprehends under the same law the falling of an apple to the ground, and the vast movements of the heavenly bodies; but it is another thing, and also true, that the perception of that law, as manifested in the motion of the small and terrestrial body—because manifested there on a scale which man could bring fully within the grasp of his comprehension—was what enabled him to mount upwards and scan the similar, though incomparably grander, phenomena of the distant universe. In this case, there was not only a connection in nature between the little and the great, but also such a connection in the order of man’s acquaintance with both, that it was the knowledge of the one that conducted him to the knowledge of the other. The connection is much the same that exists between the facts of Old Testament history and the all-important revelations of the Gospel—with this difference, indeed, that the laws and principles developed amid the familiar objects and comparatively humble [[@Page:218]] scenes of the one, were not so properly designed to fit man for discovering, as for receiving when discovered, the sublime mysteries of the other. But to do this, it was not less necessary here than in the case above referred to, that the earlier developments should have been made in connection with things of a diminutive nature, such as the occurrences of individual history, or the transactions of a limited kingdom. A series of events considerably more grand and majestic could not have accomplished the object in view. They would have been too far removed from the common course of things; and would have been more fitted to gratify the curiosity and dazzle the imagination of those who witnessed or read of them, than to indoctrinate their minds with the fundamental truths and principles of God’s spiritual economy. This result could be best produced by such a series of transactions as we find actually recorded in the Scriptures of the Old Testament—transactions infinitely varied, yet always capable of being quite easily grasped and understood. And thus, what to a superficial consideration appears strange, or even objectionable, in the structure of the inspired record, becomes, on a more comprehensive view, an evidence of wise adaptation to the wants of our nature, and of supernatural foresight in adjusting one portion of the Divine plan to another.

It will be readily understood, that what we have said of the purpose of God with reference more immediately to those who lived in Old Testament times, applies, without any material difference, to such as are placed under the Christian dispensation. For what the transactions required to be for the accomplishment of God’s purpose in regard to the one, the record of these transactions required to be for the accomplishment of His purpose in regard to the other. Whatever confirmation such things may lend to our faith in the mysteries of God—whatever force or clearness to our perceptions of the truth whatever encouragement to our hopes or direction to our walk in the life of holiness and virtue, it may all be said to depend upon the history being composed of facts so homely in their character and so circumscribed in their range, that the mind can without difficulty both realize their existence and enter into their spirit.

IV. Another service, the last we shall notice, which a truly [[@Page:219]] Scriptural Typology is fitted to render to the cause of Divine knowledge and practice, is the aid it furnisher to help out spiritual ideas in our minds, and enable us to realize them with sufficient clearness and certainty. This follows very closely on the consideration last mentioned, and may be regarded rather as a further application of the truth contained in it, than the advancement of something altogether new. But we wish to draw attention to an important advantage, not yet distinctly noticed, connected with the typical element in Old Testament Scripture, and on which to a considerable extent the people of God are still dependent for the strength and liveliness of their faith.

It is true, they have now the privilege of a full revelation of the mind of God respecting the truths of salvation; and this elevates their condition as to spiritual things far above that of the Old Testament believers. But it does not thence follow, that they can in all respects so distinctly apprehend the truth in its naked spirituality, as to be totally independent of some outward exhibition of it. We are still in a state of imperfection, and are so much creatures of sense, that our ideas of abstract truth, even in natural science, often require to be aided by visible forms and representations. But things strictly spiritual and divine are yet more difficult to be brought distinctly within the reach and comprehension of the mind.—It was a relative advantage possessed by the Old Testament worshipper, in connection with his worldly sanctuary, and the more fleshly dispensation under which he lived, that spiritual and divine things, so far as they were revealed to him, acquired a sort of local habitation to his view, and assumed the appearance of a life-like freshness and reality. Hence chiefly arose that “impression of passionate in individual attachment,” as it has been called, which, in the authors of the Old Testament Scriptures, appears mingling with and vivifying their faith in the invisible, and which breathes in them like a breath of supernatural life. What Hengstenberg has said in this respect of the Book of Psalms, may be extended to Old Testament Scripture generally: “It has contributed vast materials for developing the consciousness of mankind, and the Christian Church is more dependent on it for its apprehensions of God than might at first sight be supposed. It presents God so clearly and vividly before men’s eyes, that they see Him, in a [[@Page:220]] manner, with their bodily sight, and thus find the sting taken out of their pains. In this, too, lies one great element of its importance for the present times. What men now most of all need, is to have the blanched image of God again freshened up in them. And the more closely we connect ourselves with these sacred writings, the more will God cease to be to us a shadowy form, which can neither hear, nor help, nor judge us, and to which we can present no supplication.”[3]

Besides, there are portions of revealed truth which relate to events still future, and. Do not at all come within the range of our present observation and experience, though very important as objects of faith and hope to the Church. It might materially facilitate our conception of these, and strengthen our belief in the certainty of their coming existence, if we could look back to some corresponding exemplar of things, either in the symbolical handwriting of ordinances, or in the typical transactions of an earthly and temporal kingdom. But this also has been prepared to our hand by God in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. And to show how much may be derived from a right acquaintance, both in this and in the other respect mentioned, with the typical matter of these Scriptures, we shall give here a twofold illustration of the subject—the one referring to truths affecting the present state and condition of believers, and the other to such as respect the still distant future.

1. For our first illustration we shall select a topic that will enable us, at the same time, to explain a commonly misunderstood passage of Scripture. The passage is [[ >> Bible:1 Pet. 1:2]] 1 Pet. 1:2, where, speaking of the elevated condition of believers, the Apostle describes them as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” The peculiar part of the description is the last—”sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ—”which, being represented along with obedience as the end to which believers are both elected of the Father and sanctified of the Spirit, seems at first sight to be out of its proper place. The application of the blood of Christ is usually thought of in reference to the pardon of sin, or its efficacy in the matter of the soul’s justification before God; [[@Page:221]] when, of course, its place stands between the election of the Father and the sanctification of the Spirit. Nor, in that most common reference to the effect of Christ’s blood, is it of small advantage for the attainment of a clear and realizing faith, that we have in many of the Levitical services, and especially in those of the great day of yearly atonement, an outward form and pattern of things by which more distinctly to picture out the sublime spiritual reality.

It is plain, however, that the sprinkling of Christ’s blood, mentioned by St Peter, is not that which has for its effect the sinner’s pardon and acceptance (although Leighton and most commentators have so understood it); for it is not only coupled with a personal obedience, as being somewhat of the same nature, but the two together are set forth as the result of the electing and sanctifying grace of God upon the soul. The good here intended must be something inward and personal; something not wrought for us, but wrought upon us and in us; implying our justification, as a gift already received, but itself belonging to a higher and more advanced stage of our experience—to the very top and climax of our sanctification. What, then, is it? Nothing new, certainly, or of rare occurrence in the Word of God, but one often described in the most explicit terms; while yet the idea involved in it is so spiritual and elevated, that we greatly need the aid of the Old Testament types to give strength and vividness to our conceptions of it. The blood of the sacrifices, by which the covenant was ratified at the altar in the wilderness, was divided into two parts, with one of which Moses sprinkled the altar, and with the other the people (Ex. 24:6-8). A similar division and application of the blood was made at the consecration of Aaron to the priesthood (Ex. 29:20, 21); and though it does not appear to have been formally, it was yet virtually, done on the day of the yearly atonement, since all the sprinklings on that day were made by the high priest, for the cleansing of defilements belonging to himself, his household, and the whole congregation. “Now” (says Steiger on 1 Pet. 1:2), “if we represent to ourselves the whole work of redemption, in allusion to this rite, it will be as follows:—The expiation of one and of all sin, the propitiation, was accomplished when Christ offered [[@Page:222]] His blood to God on the altar of the accursed tree. That done, He went with His blood into the most Holy Place. Whoso ever looks in faith to His blood, has part in the atonement (Rom. 3:25); that is, he is justified on account of it, receiving the full pardon of all his sins (Rom. 5:9). Thenceforth he can appear with the whole community of believers (1 John 1:7), full of boldness and confidence before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16), in order that he may be purified by Christ, as high priest, from every evil lust.” It is this personal purifying from every evil lust, which the Apostle describes in ritual language as “the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” and which is also described in the Epistle to the Hebrews, with a similar reference to the blood of Christ, by having “the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience,” and again, “by having the conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God.” The sprinkling or purging spoken of in these several passages, is manifestly the cleansing of the soul from all internal defilement, so as to dispose and fit it for whatever is pure and good, and the purifying effect is produced by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, or its spiritual application to the conscience of believers, because the blessed result is attained through the holy and divine life, represented by that blood, becoming truly and personally theirs.

Now, this great truth is certainly taught with the utmost plainness in many passages of Scripture,—as, when it is written of believers, that “their hearts are purified by faith;” that they “purify themselves, even as Christ is pure;” or when it is said, that “Christ lives in them,” that “their life is hid with Him in God,” that “they are in Him that is true, and cannot sin, because their seed (the seed of that new, spiritual nature, to which they have been quickened by fellowship with the life of Jesus) remains in them;” and, in short, in every passage which connects with the pure and spotless life-blood of Jesus an impartation of life-giving grace and holiness to His people. I can understand the truth, even when thus spiritually, and, if I may so say, nakedly expressed. But I feel that I can obtain a more clear and comforting impression of it, when I keep my eye upon the simple and striking exhibition given of it in the visible type. For, with what effect was the blood of atonement sprinkled upon [[@Page:223]] the true worshippers of the Old Covenant? With the effect of making whatever sacredness, whatever virtue (symbolically) was in that blood, pass over upon them: the life, which in it had flowed out in holy offering to God, was given to be theirs, and to be by them laid out in all pure and faithful ministrations of righteousness. Such precisely is the effect of Christ’s blood sprinkled on the soul; it is to have His life made our life, or to become one with Him in the stainless purity and perfection which expressed itself in His sacrifice of sweet-smelling savour to the Father. What a sublime and elevating thought! It is much, assuredly, for me to know, that, by faith in His blood, the crimson guilt of my sins is blotted out, Heaven itself reconciled, and the way into the holiest of all laid freely open for my approach. But it is much more still to know, that by faith in the same blood, realized and experienced through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am made a partaker of its sanctifying virtue; the very holiness of the Holy One of Israel passes into me; His life-blood becomes in my soul the well-spring of a new and deathless existence. So that to be sealed up to this fountain of life, is to be raised above the defilement of nature, to dwell in the light of God, and sit as in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. And, amid the imperfections of our personal experience, and the clouds ever and anon raised in the soul by remaining sin, it should unquestionably be to us a matter of unfeigned thankfulness, that we can repair to such a lively image of the truth as is presented in the Old Testament service, in which, as in a mirror, we can see how high in this respect is the hope of our calling, and how much it is God’s purpose we should enter into the blessing.

2. There are revelations in the Gospel, however, which point to events still future in the Messiah’s kingdom; and in respect to these, also, the typical arrangements of former times are capable of rendering important service: a service, too, which is the more needed, as the things indicated, in regard to these future developments of the kingdom, are not only remote from present observation, but also in many respects different from what the ordinary course of events might lead us to expect. We do not refer to the last issues of the Gospel dispensation, when the concerns of time shall have become finally merged in the [[@Page:224]] unalterable results of eternity; but to events, of which this earth itself is still to be the theatre, in the closing periods of Messiah’s reign. This prospective ground is in many points overlaid with controversy, and much concerning it must be regarded as matter of doubtful disputation. Yet there are certain great landmarks, which intelligent and sober-minded Christians can scarcely fail to consider as fixed. It is not, for example, a more certain mark of the Messiah who was to come, that He should be a despised and rejected man, should pass through the deepest humiliation, and, after a mighty struggle with evil, attain to the seat of empire, than it is of the Messiah who has thus personally fought and conquered, that He shall totally subdue all the adversaries of His Church and kingdom, make His Church co-extensive with the boundaries of the habitable globe, and exalt her members to the highest position of honour and blessing. For my own part, I should as soon doubt that the first series of events were the just object of expectation before, as the other have become since, the personal appearing of Christ; and for breadth and prominence of place in the prophetical portions, especially of New Testament Scripture, this has all that could be desired in its behalf. But how far still is the object from being realized? How unlikely, even, that it should ever be so, if we had nothing more to found upon than calculations of reason, and the common agencies of providence.

That the progress of society in knowledge and virtue should gradually lead, at however distant a period, to the extirpation of idolatry, the abolition of the grosser forms of superstition, and a general refinement and civilisation of manners, requires no great stretch of faith to believe. Such a result evidently lies within the bounds of natural probability, if only sufficient time were given to accomplish it. But, suppose it already done, how much would still remain to be achieved, ere the glorious King of Zion should have His promised ascendancy in the affairs of men, and the spiritual ends for which He especially reigns should be adequately secured! This happy consummation might still be found at an unapproachable distance, even when the other had passed into a reality; nor are there wanting signs in the present condition of the world to awaken our fears lest such may actually be the case. For in those countries where the [[@Page:225]] light of Divine truth and the arts of civilisation have become more widely diffused, we see many things prevailing that are utterly at variance with the purity and peace of the Gospel—numberless heresies in doctrine, disorders that seem to admit of no healing, and practical corruptions which set at defiance all authority and rule. In the very presence of the light of Heaven, and amid the full play of Christian influences, the god of this world still holds possession of by far the larger portion of mankind; and innumerable obstacles present themselves on every side against the universal diffusion and the complete ascendancy of the pure principles of the Gospel of Christ. When such things are taken into account, how hopeless seems the prospect of a triumphant Church and a regenerated world! of a Saviour holding the undivided empire of all lands! of a kingdom, in which there is no longer anything to offend, and all appears replenished with life and blessing! The partial triumphs which Christianity is still gaining in single individuals and particular districts, can go but a little way to assure us of so magnificent a result. And it may well seem as if other influences than such as are now in operation, would require to be put forth before the expected good can be realized.

Something, no doubt, may be done to reassure the mind, by looking back on the past history of Christianity, and contrasting its present condition with the point from which it started. The small mustard-seed has certainly sprung into a lofty tree, stretching its luxuriant branches over many of the best regions of the earth. See Christianity as it appeared in its Divine Author, when He wandered about as a despised and helpless individual, attended only by a little band of followers as despised and helpless as Himself; or again, when He was hanging on a malefactor’s cross, His very friends ashamed or terrified to avow their connection with Him; or even at another and more advanced stage of its earthly history, when its still small, and now resolute company of adherents, unfurled the banner of salvation, with the fearful odds everywhere against them of hostile kings and rulers, an ignorant and debased populace, a powerful and interested priesthood, and a mighty host of superstitions, which had struck their roots through the entire framework of society, and had become venerable, as well as strong, by their antiquity. [[@Page:226]] See Christianity as it appeared then, and see it now standing erect upon the ruins of the hierarchies and superstitions which once threatened to extinguish it—planted with honour in the regions where, for a time, it was scarcely suffered to exist—the recognised religion of the most enlightened nations of the earth, the delight and solace of the good, the study of the wise and learned, at once the source and the bulwark of all that is most pure, generous, free, and happy in modern civilisation. Comparing thus the present with the past—looking down from the altitude that has been reached upon the low and unpromising condition out of which Christianity at first arose, we are not without considerable materials in the history of the Gospel itself, for confirming our faith in the prospects which still wait for their fulfilment. On this ground alone it may scarcely seem more unlikely, that Christianity should proceed from the elevation it has already won to the greatly more commanding attitude it is yet destined to attain, than to have risen from such small beginnings, and in the face of obstacles so many and so powerful, to its present influential and honourable position.

But why not revert to a still earlier period in the Church’s history? Why withhold from our wavering hearts the benefit which they might derive from the form and pattern of divine things, formerly exhibited in the parallel affairs of a typical and earthly kingdom? It was the Divine appointment concerning Christ, that He should sit upon the throne of David, to order and to establish it. In the higher sphere of God’s administration, and for the world at large, He was to do what had been done through David in the lower and on the limited territory of an earthly kingdom. The history of the one, therefore, may justly be regarded as the shadow of the other. But it is still only the earlier part of the history of David’s kingdom which has found its counterpart in the events of Gospel times. The Shepherd of Israel has been anointed King over the heritage of the Lord, and the impious efforts of His adversaries to disannul the appointment have entirely miscarried. The formidable train of evils which obstructed His way to the throne of government, and which were directed with the profoundest cunning and malice by him who, on account of sin, had been permitted to become the prince of this world, have been all met and overcome[[@Page:227]] —with no other effect than to render manifest the Son’s indefeasible right to hold the sceptre of universal empire over the affairs of men. Now, therefore, He reigns in the midst of His enemies; but He must also reign till these enemies themselves are put down till the inheritance has been redeemed from all evil, and universal peace, order, and blessing have been established.

Is not this also what the subsequent history of the earthly kingdom fully warrants us to expect? It was long after David’s appointment to the throne, before his divine right to reign was generally acknowledged; and still longer before the overthrow of the last combination of adversaries, and the termination of the last train of evils, admitted of the kingdom entering on its ultimate stage of settled peace and glory. The affairs of David himself never wore a more discouraging arid desperate aspect, than immediately before his great adversary received the mortal blow which laid him in the dust. After this, years had to elapse before the adverse parties in Israel were even externally subdued, and brought to render a formal acknowledgment to the Lord’s anointed. When this point again had been reached, what internal evils festered in the kingdom, and what smouldering fires of enmity still burned! Notwithstanding the vigorous efforts made to subdue these, we see them at last bursting forth in the dreadful and unnatural outbreak of Absalom’s rebellion, which threatened for a time to involve all in hopeless ruin and confusion. And with these internal evils and insurrections, how many hostile encounters had to be met from without! some of which were so terrible, that the very earth was felt, in a manner, to shake under the stroke (Ps. 60). Yet all at length yielded; and partly by the prowess of faith, partly by the remarkable turns given to events in providence, the kingdom did reach a position of unexampled prosperity, peace, and blessing. But in all this we have the development of a typical dispensation, bringing the assurance, that the same position shall in due time be reached in the higher sphere and nobler concerns of Messiah’s kingdom. The same determinate counsel and foreknowledge, the same living energy, the same overruling Providence, is equally competent now, as it is alike pledged, to secure a corresponding result. [[@Page:228]] And if the people of God have but discernment to read aright the history of the past, and faith and patience to fulfil their appointed task, they will find that they have no need to despair of a successful issue, but every reason to hope that judgment shall at length be brought forth into victory.

This one illustration may meanwhile be sufficient to show (others will afterwards present themselves), how valuable an handmaid to the unfulfilled prophecies of Scripture may be found in a correct acquaintance with its Typology. Its province does not, indeed, consist in definitely marking out before hand the particular agents and transactions that are to fill up the page of the eventful future. It performs the service which in this respect it is fitted to accomplish, when it enables us to obtain some insight—not into the what, or the when, or the instruments by which—but rather into the howand the wherefore of the future,—when it instructs us respecting the nature of the principles that must prevail, and the general lines of dealing that shall be adopted, in conducting the affairs of Messiah’s kingdom to their destined results. The future here is mirrored in the past; and the thing that hath been, is, in all its essential features, the same that shall be.


[1] A clear proof in a single instance of what is here said of the Old Testament in respect to an eternal world, may be found in what is written of Enoch, “He was not, for God took him,” and this because he had walked with God. A causal connection plainly existed between his walk on earth and his removal to God’s presence; and yet this is so indicated as clearly to show that it was the Divine purpose to spread a veil of secrecy over the future world, as if the distinct knowledge of it depended on conditions that could not then be formally brought out.

[2] See Appendix B.

[3] Supplem. Treatises on Psalms, § 7.

Book Second.—The Dispensation of Primeval and Patriarchal Times.

Preliminary Remarks.

[[@Page:229]] HITHERTO we have been occupied chiefly with an investigation of principles. It was necessary, in the first instance, to have these ascertained and settled, before we could apply, with any prospect of success, to the particular consideration of the typical materials of Old Testament Scripture. And in now entering on this, the more practical, as it is also the more varied and extensive, branch of our subject, it is proper to indicate at the outset the general features of the arrangement we propose to adopt, and notice certain landmarks of a more prominent kind that ought to guide the course of our inquiries.

1. As all that was really typical formed part of an existing dispensation, and stood related to a religious worship, our primary divisions must connect themselves with the Divine dispensations. These dispensations were undoubtedly based on the same fundamental truths and principles. But they were also marked by certain characteristic differences, adapting them to the precise circumstances of the Church and the world at the time of their introduction. It is from these, therefore, we must take our starting-points; and in these also should find the natural order and succession of the topics which must pass under our consideration. In doing so we shall naturally look, first, to the fundamental facts on which the dispensation is based; then to the religious symbols in which its lessons and hopes were embodied; and finally, to the future and subsidiary transactions which afterwards carried forward and matured the instruction.

[[@Page:230]] 2. In the whole compass of sacred history we find only three grand eras that can properly be regarded as the formative epochs of distinct religious dispensations. For, according to the principles already set forth (in Ch. IV.), the things directly belonging to creation, however they may have to be taken into account as presupposed and referred to in what followed, still do not here come into consideration as a distinct class, and calling for independent treatment. The three eras, then, are those of the fall, of the redemption from Egypt, and of the appearance and work of Christ, as they are usually designated; though they might be more fitly described, the first as the entrance of faith and hope for fallen man, the second as the giving of the law, and the third as the revelation of the Gospel. For it was not properly the fall, but the new state and constitution of things brought in after it, that, in a religious point of view, forms the first commencement of the world’s history. Neither is it the redemption from Egypt, considered by itself, but this in connection with the giving of the law, which was its immediate aim and object, that forms the great characteristic of the second stage, as the coming of grace and truth by Jesus Christ does of the third. Between the first and second of these eras two very important events intervened the deluge and the call of Abraham—both alike forming prominent breaks in the history of the period. Hence, not unfrequently, the antediluvian is distinguished from the patriarchal Church, and the Church as it existed before, from the Church as it stood after, the call of Abraham. But important as these events were, in the order of God’s providential arrangements, they mark no material alteration in the constitutional basis, or even formal aspect, of the religion then established. As regards the institutions of worship, properly so called, Abraham and his descendants appear to have been much on a footing with those who lived before the flood; and therefore not primary and fundamental, but only subsidiary, elements of instruction could be evolved by means of the events referred to. The same may also be said of another great event, which formed a similar break during the currency of the second period the Babylonish exile and return. This occupies a very prominent place in Scripture, whether we look to the historical record of the event or to the announcements made beforehand concerning it in [[@Page:231]] prophecy. Yet it introduced no essential change into the spiritual relations of the Church, nor altered in any respect the institutions of her symbolical worship. The restored temple was built at once on the site and after the pattern of that which had been laid in ruins by the Chaldeans; and nothing more was aimed at by the immediate agents in the work of restoration, than the re-establishment of the rites and services enjoined by Moses. Omitting, therefore, the Gospel dispensation, as the antitypical, there only remain for the commencement of the earlier dispensations, in which the typical is to be sought, the two epochs already mentioned—those of Adam and Moses.

3. It is not simply the fact, however, of these successive dispensations which is of importance for our present inquiry. Still more depends for a well-grounded and satisfactory exhibition of Divine truth as connected with them, upon a correct view of their mutual and interdependent relation to each other; the relation not merely of the Mosaic to the Christian, but also of the Patriarchal to the Mosaic. For as the revelation of law laid the foundation of a religious state which, under the moulding influence of providential arrangements and prophetic gifts, developed and grew till it had assumed many of the characteristic features of the Gospel; so the original constitution of grace settled with Adam after the fall, comparatively vague and indistinct at first, gradually became more definite and exact, and, in the form of heaven-derived or time-honoured institutions, exhibited the germ of much that was afterwards established as law. In the primeval period nothing wears a properly legal aspect; and it has been one of the current mistakes, especially in this country, of theological writers,—a source of endless controversy and arbitrary explanations,—to seek there for law in the direct and obtrusive, when, as yet, the order of the Divine plan admitted of its existing only in the latent form. We read of promise and threatening, of acts and dealings of God, pregnant with spiritual light and moral obligation, meeting from the very first the wants and circumstances of fallen man; but of express and positive enactments there is no trace. Some of the grounds and reasons of this will be adverted to in the immediately following chapters. At present we simply notice the fact, as one of the points necessary to be kept in view for giving a right direction [[@Page:232]] to the course of inquiry before us. Yet, on the other hand, while in the commencing period of the Church’s history we find nothing that bears the rigid and authoritative form of law, we find on every hand the foundations of law; and these gradually enlarging and widening, and sometimes even assuming a distinctly legal aspect, before the patriarchal dispensation closed. So that when the properly legal period came, the materials, to a considerable extent, were already in existence, and only needed to be woven and consolidated into a compact system of truth and duty. It is enough to instance, in proof of what has been stated, the case of the Sabbath, not formally imposed, though divinely instituted from the first the rite of piacular sacrifice, very similar (as we shall show) as to its original institution the division of animals into clean and unclean the consecration of the tenth to God—the sacredness of blood—the Levirate usage—the ordinance of circumcision. The whole of these had their foundations laid, partly in the procedure of God, partly in the consciences of men, before the law entered; and in regard to some of them the law’s prescriptions might be said to be anticipated, while still the patriarchal age was in progress. As the period of law approached, there was also a visible approach to its distinctive characteristics. And, without regard had to the formal difference yet gradual approximation of the two periods, we can as little hope to present a solid and satisfactory view of the progressive development of the Divine plan, as if we should overlook either their fundamental agreement with each other, or their common relation to the full manifestation of grace and truth in the kingdom of Christ. It must be borne in mind, that the Law—the intermediate point between the fall and redemption—had its preparation as well as the Gospel.

4. In regard to the mode of investigation to be pursued respecting particular types, as the first place is due to those which belonged to the institutions of religion, so our first care must be, according to the principles already established, to ascertain the views and impressions which, as parts of an existing religion, they were fitted to awaken in the ancient worshipper. It may, of course, be impossible to say, in any particular case, that such views and impressions were actually derived from them, with as much precision and definiteness as may appear in our description;[[@Page:233]] for we cannot be sure that the requisite amount of thought and consideration was actually addressed to the subject. But due care should be taken in this respect, not to make the typical symbols arid transactions indicative of more than what may,with ordinary degrees of light and grace, have been learned from them by men of faith in Old Testament times. It is not, however, to be forgotten that, in their peculiar circumstances, much greater insight was attainable through such a medium, than it is quite easy for us now to realize. At first, believers were largely dependent upon it for their knowledge of Divine truth; it was their chief talent, and would hence be cultivated with especial care. Even afterwards, when the sources of information were somewhat increased, the disposition and capacity to learn by means of symbolical acts and institutions, would be materially aided by that mode of contemplation which has been wont to distinguish the inhabitants of the East. This proceeds (to use the language of Bähr) “on the ground of an inseparable connection subsisting between the spiritual and the bodily, the ideal and the real, the seen and the unseen. According to it, the whole actual world is nothing but the manifestation of the ideal one; the entire creation is not only a production, but, at the same time, also an evidence and a revelation of Godhead. Nothing real is merely dead matter, but is the form and body of something ideal; so that the whole world, even to its very stones, appears instinct with life, and on that account especially becomes a revelation of Deity, whose distinguishing characteristic it is to have life in Himself. Such a mode of viewing things in nature may be called emphatically the religious one; for it contemplates the world as a great sanctuary, the individual parts of which are so many marks, words, and letters of a grand revelation-book of Godhead, in which God speaks and imparts information respecting Himself. If, therefore, that which is seen and felt was generally regarded by men as the immediate impression of that which is unseen, a speech and revelation of the invisible Godhead to them, it necessarily follows, that if they were to have unfolded to them a conception of His nature, and to have a representation given them of what His worship properly consists in, the same language would require to be used which God spake with them; the same means of representation would need [[@Page:234]] to be employed which God Himself had sanctioned—the sensible, the visible, the external.”[1]

The conclusion here drawn appears to go somewhat farther than the premises fairly warrant. If the learned author had merely said that there was a propriety or fitness in employing the same means of outward representation, as they fell in with the prevailing cast of thought in those among whom they were instituted, and were thus wisely adapted to the end in view, we should have entirely concurred in the statement. But that such persons absolutely required to be addressed by means of a symbolical language in matters of religion could scarcely be admitted, without conceding that they were incapable of handling another and more spiritual one, and that consequently a religion of symbols must have held perpetual ascendancy in the East. Besides, it may well be questioned, whether this “peculiarly religious mode of viewing things,” as it is called, was not, to a considerable extent, the result of a symbolical religion already established, rather than the originating cause of such a religion. At all events, the real necessity for the preponderating carnality and outwardness of the earlier dispensations was of a different kind. It arose from the very nature of the institutions belonging to them, as temporary substitutes for the better and the more spiritual things of the Gospel; rendering it necessary that symbols should then hold the place of the coming reality. It is the capital error of Bähr’s system to give to the symbolical in religion a place higher than that which properly belongs to it; and so to assimilate too nearly the Old and the New—to represent the symbolical religion of the Old Testament as less imperfect than it really was, and inversely to convert the greatest reality of the New Testament—the atoning death of Christ—into a merely symbolical representation of the placability of Heaven to the penitent.

But with this partial exception to the sentiments expressed in the quotation above given, there can be no doubt that the mode of contemplation and insight there described has remarkably distinguished the inhabitants of the East, and that it must have peculiarly fitted them for the intelligent use of a symbolical worship. They could give life and significance, in a manner we [[@Page:235]] can but imperfectly understand, to the outward and corporeal emblems through which their converse with God was chiefly carried on. To reason from our own case to theirs would be to judge by a very false criterion. Accustomed from our earliest years to oral and written discourse, as the medium through which we receive our knowledge of Divine truth, and express the feelings it awakens in our bosom, we have some difficulty in conceiving how any definite ideas could be conveyed on the one side or the other, where that was so sparingly employed as the means of communication. But the “grey fathers of the world” were placed in other circumstances, having from their childhood been trained to the use of symbolical institutions as the most expressive and appropriate channels of Divine communion. So that the native tendency first, and then the habitual use strengthening and improving the tendency, must have rendered them adepts, as compared with Christian communities now, in perceiving the significance and employing the instrumentality of religious symbols.

5. When the symbolical institutions and services of former times shall have been explained in the manner now indicated, the next step will be to consider in detail the import and bearing of the typical transactions which took place during the continuance of each dispensation. In doing this, care will require, in the first instance, to be taken, that the proper place be assigned them as intended only to exhibit ideas subsidiary to those embodied in the religion itself. And as in reading the typical symbols, so in reading the typical transactions connected with them, we must make the views and impressions they were fitted to convey to those whom they immediately respected, concerning the character and purposes of God, the ground and measure of that higher bearing which they carried to the coming events of the Gospel. Nor are we here again to overlook that religious tendency and habit of mind which has been noticed as a general characteristic of the inhabitants of the East; for they would certainly be disposed to do with the acts of providence as with the works of creation—would contemplate them as manifestations of Godhead, or revelations in the world of sense of what was thought and felt in the higher world of spirit. Besides, it is to be borne in mind, that the historical transactions referred to [[@Page:236]] were all special acts of Providence. While they formed part of the current events of history, they were, at the same time, so singularly planned arid adjusted, that the persons immediately concerned in them could scarcely overlook either their direct appointment by God, or their intimate connection with His plans and purposes of grace. It is the hand of God Himself that ever appears to be directing the transactions of Old Testament history. And the acts in which He more peculiarly discovers Himself being the operations of One whose grand object, from the period of the fall, was the foiling of the tempter and the raising up of a seed of blessing, they could scarcely fail to be regarded by intelligent and pious minds as standing in a certain relation to this centre-point of the Divine economy. In proportion as the people of God had faith to “wait for the consolation of Israel,” they would also have discernment to read, with a view to the better things to come, the disclosures of His mind and will, which were interwoven with the history of His operations.

It is in this way we are chiefly to account for God’s frequent appearance on the stage of patriarchal history, and His more direct personal agency in the affairs of His chosen people. The things that happened to them could not otherwise have accomplished the great ends of their appointment; for through these God was continually making revelation of Himself, and bringing those who stood nearest to Him to a fuller acquaintance with His character as the God of life and blessing. It was therefore of essential moment to the object in view, that His people should be able without hesitation to regard them as indications of His mind: that they should not merely consider them as His, in the general sense in which it may be said that “God is in history;” but His also in the more definite and peculiar sense of conveying specific and progressive discoveries of the Divine administration. How could they have been recognised as such, unless the finger of God had, in some form, laid its distinctive impress upon them? Taking into account, therefore, all the peculiarities belonging to the typical facts of Old Testament history—the close relation in which they commonly stood to the rites and institutions of a religion of hope—the evident manner in which many of them bore upon them the interposition of God, and the place occupied by others in the announcements of prophecy;—they had quite [[@Page:237]] enough to distinguish them from the more general events of providence, and were perfectly capable of ministering to the faith and the just expectations of the people of God.

6. We simply note farther, that when passing under review acts and institutions of God which stretch through successive ages and dispensations, there will necessarily recur, under somewhat different forms, substantially the same exhibitions of Divine truth. It was unavoidable but that all the more fundamental ideas of religion, and the greater obligations connected with it, should be the subject of many an ordinance in worship, and many a transaction in providence. The briefest mode of treatment, as it would naturally involve fewest repetitions, would be to classify, first the primary heads of doctrine and duty, and then arrange under them the successive exhibitions given of each in the future enactments and dealings of God, without adhering rigidly to the period of their appearance. This plan was partially followed in our first edition, but was found impracticable as a whole. We deem it necessary to keep by the historical order, though it may be occasionally attended with the disadvantage of having the same truths brought anew before us.

For thus alone can we mark aright the course of development, which in a work of this nature is too important an element to be sacrificed to the fear of at times trenching on ground that may have been partially trodden before.


[1] Bähr’s Symbolik, B. I., p. 24.

Chapter First. The Divine Truths Embodied in The Historical Transactions on which The First Symbolical Religion for Fallen Man was Based.

[[@Page:238]] ASSUMING our proper starting-point here to be the fall of man from his primeval state of integrity and bliss,—since it was that which opened the way for the manifestation of grace and the hope of redemption,—we are still not to throw into abeyance whatever belonged to the primeval state itself. For, while all was sadly changed by the unhappy event which had taken place, all was not absolutely lost. The knowledge which our first parents had of the work of creation, and of the character of God as therein displayed, could not altogether vanish from their minds; it had formed the groundwork of that adoration of God and fellowship with Him which constituted the religion of Paradise; and even after Paradise was lost, they must still have derived from it, and preserved in the depths of their spiritual being, some of the more fundamental elements of truth and duty. That all things were made by God, after the manner described in the commencing chapters of Genesis (whether in the precise terms there used or not); that as they came from His hand they were, one and all, very good; that the work of creation in six days was succeeded by a day of peculiar sacredness and rest; that man himself was made on the sixth day, as the crowning-point of creation—made in the image of God, and as such had all here below placed in a relation of subservience to him, while, just because he bore God’s image, he was bound to use all in obedience to the will of God, and for the glory of His name; these, and various other collateral points of knowledge, which must have been familiar to man before the fall,—since otherwise he should have been ignorant alike of his proper place and calling in creation,—could not fail to abide also with him after it. And since it pleased God not to destroy His [[@Page:239]] fallen creature, but to perpetuate his existence on earth, and amid mingled experiences of good and evil to animate him with the prospect of ultimate recovery, it was to be understood of itself that all creation privileges and gifts stood as at first conferred, except in so far as they might be expressly recalled, or through the altered constitution of things placed in another relation to man than they originally held. Paradise itself, with its ample heritage of life and blessing, had ceased to be to him what it had been: though it was there still, and spoke as before of good, it spoke otherwise to him. But the mutual relation of the fallen pair themselves, the one to the other; their common relation to the world around them, with its living creatures and manifold productions; their farther and higher relation to God, as still bearing, though now sadly marred, His divine image, and called to reflect it by a becoming imitation of His example: these all remained in principle, only modified in action by the workings of sin on man’s part, and on God’s by the introduction of an economy of grace. Speaking generally, one may say, that in so far as a withdrawal took place of what had been originally given, or nature’s heritage of good was supplanted by experiences of evil, there was the bringing home to man’s bosom of the salutary truths and principles which required to enter as fundamental conditions into any religion which could be adapted to him as fallen. But in so far as the old things were allowed to remain, under altered relations or with other accompaniments than before, there was a linking of the past to the future, of creation to redemption—turning the one into a pledge, or requiring it to be understood as an image of a corresponding, though higher, good yet to be realized.

The justice of these remarks will more distinctly appear when we come to the consideration of the particulars. In looking at these, however, with a view to estimate aright their religious aspect and bearing, we must keep in mind what has already been indicated respecting the position of our first parents, as the recent possessors of a holy nature, and the occupants of an elevated moral condition. For, while they had miserably fallen and become guilty before God, they had not sunk into total ignorance and perversion; and so were not dealt with by means of rigid enactments and a minutely prescribed [[@Page:240]] directory of service, but rather with such consideration and regard as implied a recognition in them of a measure of that capacity and intelligence which had so lately been conversant with all that is pure and good. Possessing in God’s works and ways, along with the records of their own painful experience, the materials of knowing what concerning Him they should believe and do, they were left by the help of these, and with such grace as might now be expected by the penitent and believing, to discover the path of life and blessing. It was only as time proceeded, and dark events in providence betrayed the deep-seated and virulent corruption which had entered into humanity, that other and more stringent measures were resorted to, as well to inculcate lessons of necessary instruction, as to enforce a becoming obedience. Meanwhile, however, and looking to the conspicuous and intentional absence of these, we have to inquire what of divine truth and principle might be involved, first in the facts connected with the fall, then with the symbols and institutions of worship appointed to the fallen—indicating, as we proceed, the typical bearing which any of them might present to the future things of redemption. To the former of these, as the first in order, we now direct our attention.

1. What, in such an enumeration, is obviously entitled to rank first, is the doctrine of human guilt and corruption.

From the moment of their transgression, our first parents knew that their relation to God had become sadly altered. The calm of their once peaceful bosoms was instantly agitated and disturbed by tormenting fears of judgment. Nor did these prove to be groundless alarms; they were the forerunners of a curse which was soon thundered in their ears by the voice of God, and written out in their exiled and blighted condition. It was impossible for them to escape the conviction, that they were no longer in the sight of God very good. And as their posterity grew, and one generation sprung up after another, the story of the lost heritage of blessing (no doubt perpetually repeated), and the still continued exclusion from the hallowed region of life, must have served to keep up the impression that sin had wholly corrupted the nature and marred the inheritance of man.

Evidences were not long wanting to show, that sin [[@Page:241]] in the first pair was evil in the root, which must, more or less, communicate itself to every branch of the human family. In the first-born of the family it sprang at once into an ill-omened maturity, as if to give warning of the disastrous results that might be expected in the future history of mankind. And constantly as the well-spring of life flowed on, the stream of human depravity swelled into a deeper and broader flood. There were things in God’s earlier procedure that were naturally fitted to check its working, and repress its growth—especially the mild forbearance and paternal kindness with which He treated the first race of transgressors—the wonderful longevity granted to them—the space left for repentance even to the greatest sinners, while still sufficient means were employed to convince them of their guilt and danger,—all seeming to betoken the tender solicitude of a father yearning over his infant offspring, and restraining for a season the curse that now rested on their condition, if so be they might be won to His love and service. But it was the evil, not the good, in man’s nature, which took advantage of this benign treatment on the part of God, to ripen into strength and fruitfulness. And, ere long, the very goodness of God found it needful to interpose, and relieve the earth of the mass of violence and corruption which, as in designed contrast to the benignity of Heaven, had come to usurp possession of the world. So that, looking simply to the broad facts of history, the doctrine of human guilt and depravity stands forth with a melancholy prominence and particularity which could leave no doubt concerning it upon thoughtful minds.

2. Another doctrine, which the facts of primeval history rendered it equally impossible for thoughtful minds to gainsay or overlook, is the righteousness of God’s character and government.

For, that mankind should have been expelled from the region of life, and made subject to a curse which doomed them to sorrow and trouble, disease and death, in consequence of their violation of a single command of Heaven, was a proof patent to all, and memorable in the annals of the world, that everything in the Divine government is subordinate to the principles of rectitude. “There was in it,” as was strikingly and beautifully said by Irving, “a most sublime act of holiness. [[@Page:242]] God, after making Adam a creature for an image and likeness of Himself, did resolve him into vile dust through viler corruption, when once he had sinned; proving that one act of sin was, in God’s sight, of far more account than a whole world teeming with beautiful and blessed life, which He would rather send headlong into death than suffer one sin of His creature to go unpunished. And though creation’s teeming fountain might flow on ever so long, still the flowing waters of created life must ever empty themselves into the gulph of death. This is a most sublime exaltation of the moral above the material, showing that all material beauty and blessedness of life is but, as it were, the clothing of one good thought, which, if it become evil, straightway all departs like the shadow of a dream.” Who could seriously reflect on this—on the good that was lost, and the inheritance of evil that came in its place—without being solemnly impressed with the conviction, that the sceptre of God’s government is a sceptre of righteousness, and that blessing might be expected under it only by such as love righteousness and hate iniquity?

3. But if nothing more had been manifested of God in the facts of primeval history than this—had He appeared only as a righteous judge executing deserved condemnation on the guilty, Adam and his fallen offspring might have been appalled and terrified before Him, but they could not have ventured to approach Him with acts of worship. We notice, therefore, as another truth brought out in connection with the circumstances of the fall, and an essentially new feature in the Divine character, the exhibition of grace which was then given on the part of God to the fallen. That everything was not subjected to instantaneous and overwhelming destruction, was itself a proof of the introduction of a principle of grace into the Divine administration. The mere respite of the sentence of death (which, if justice alone had prevailed, must have been executed on the very day of transgression), and the establishment of an order of things which still contained many tokens of Divine goodness, gave evidence of thoughts of mercy and loving-kindness in God toward man. But as no vague intimations, or even probable conclusions of reason, from the general course of Providence, could be sufficient to re-assure the heart on such [[@Page:243]] a matter as this, an explicit assurance was given, that “the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent,”—which, however dimly understood at first, could not fail even then to light up the conviction in the sinful heart, that it was the purpose of God to aid man in obtaining a recovery from the ruin of the fall. The serpent had been the ostensible occasion and instrument of the fall,—the visible and living incarnation of the evil power which betrayed man to sell his birthright of life and blessing. And that this power should be destined to be not only successfully withstood, but bruised in the very head by the offspring of her over whom he had so easily prevailed, clearly bespoke the intention of God to defeat the malice of the tempter, and secure the final triumph of the lost.

But this, if done at all, must evidently be done in a way of grace. All natural good had been forfeited by the fall, and death—the utter destruction of life and blessing—had become the common doom of humanity. Whatever inheritance, therefore, of good, or whatever opportunity of acquiring it, might be again presented, could be traced to no other source than the Divine beneficence freely granting what could never have been claimed on the ground of merit. And as the recovery promised necessarily implied a victory over the might and malice of the tempter, to be won by the very victims of his artifice, how otherwise could this be achieved than through the special interposition and grace of the Most High? Manhood in Adam and Eve, with every advantage on its side of a natural kind, had proved unable to stand before the enemy, to the extent of keeping the easiest possible command, and retaining possession of an inheritance already conferred. How greatly more unable must it have felt itself, if left unaided and alone, to work up against the evil, and destroy the destroyer! In such a case, hope could have found no solid footing to rest upon for the fulfilment of the promise, excepting what it descried in the gracious intentions and implied aid of the Promiser. And when it appeared, as the history of the world advanced, how the evil continued to take root and grow, so as even for a time to threaten the extermination of the good, the impression must have deepened in the minds of the better portion of mankind, that the promised restoration must come through the intervention of Divine power [[@Page:244]] and goodness,—that the saved must owe their salvation to the grace of God.

4. Thus far the earliest inhabitants of the world might readily go in learning the truth of God, by simply looking to the broad and palpable facts of history. And without supposing them to have possessed any extraordinary reach of discernment, they might surely be conceived capable of taking one step more respecting the accomplishment of that salvation or recovery which was now the object of their desire and expectation. Adam saw—and it must have been one of the most painful reflections which forced itself on his mind, and one, too, which subsequent events came, not to relieve, but rather to embitter and aggravate—he saw how his fall carried in its bosom the fall of humanity; that the nature which in him had become stricken with pollution and death, went down thus degenerate and corrupt to all his posterity. It was plain, therefore, that the original constitution of things was based on a principle of headship, in virtue of which the condition of the entire race was made dependent on that of its common parent. And the thought was not far to seek, that the same constitution might somehow have place in connection with the work of recovery. Indeed, it seems impossible to understand how, excepting through such a principle, any distinct hope could be cherished of the attainment of salvation. By the one act of Adam’s disobedience, he and his posterity together were banished from the region of pure and blessed life, and made subject to the law of sin and death. Whence, in such a case, could deliverance come? How could it so much as be conceived possible, to re-open the way of life, and place the restored inheritance of good on a secure and satisfactory footing, except through some second head of humanity supernaturally qualified for the undertaking? A fallen head could give birth only to a fallen offspring—so the righteousness of Heaven had decreed; and the prospect of rising again to the possession of immortal life and blessing, seemed, by its very announcement, to call for the institution of another head, unfallen and yet human, through whom the prospect might be realized. Thus only could the Divine government retain its uniformity of principle in the altered circumstances that had occurred; and thus only might it seem possible to have the end it proposed accomplished.

[[@Page:245]] We do not suppose that the consideration of this principle of headship, as exhibited in the case of Adam and his posterity, could, of itself, have enabled those who lived immediately sub sequent to the fall, to obtain very clear or definite views in regard to the mode of its application in the working out of redemption. We merely suppose, that, in the circumstances of the case, there was enough to suggest to intelligent and discerning minds that it should in some way have a place. But the full understanding of the principle, and of the close harmony it establishes between the fall and redemption, as to the descending curse of the one and the distributive grace and glory of the other, can be perceived only by us, whose privilege it is to look from the end of the world to its beginnings, and to trace the first dawn of the Gospel to the effulgence of its meridian glory.

Even the Jewish Rabbins, who were far from occupying the vantage-ground we have reached, could yet discern some common ground between the heritage of evil derived from Adam, and the good to be effected by Messiah. “The secret of Adam,” one of them remarks, “is the secret of the Messiah;” and another, “As the first man was the one that sinned, so shall the Messiah be the one to do sin away.”[1] They recognised in Adam and Christ the two heads of humanity, with whom all mankind must be associated for evil or for good. On surer grounds, however, than lay within the ken of their apprehension, we know that Adam was in this respect “the type of Him that was to come.”[2]—(Rom. 5:14) But in this respect alone; for in all other points we have to think of differences, not of resemblances. [[@Page:246]] The principle that belongs to them in common, stands simply in the relation they alike hold, the one to a fallen, the other to a restored offspring. The natural seed of Adam are dealt with as one with himself, first in transgression, and then in death, the wages of transgression. And, in like manner, the spiritual seed of Christ are dealt with as one with Him, first in the consummate righteousness He brought in, and then in the eternal life, which is its appointed recompense of blessing. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive”—all, namely, who stand connected with Christ in the economy of grace, as they do with Adam in the economy of nature. How could this be, but by the sin of Adam being regarded as the sin of humanity, and the righteousness of Christ as the property of those who by faith rest upon His name I Hence, in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, along with the facts which in the two cases attest the doctrine of headship, we find the parallel extended, so as to include also the respective grounds out of which they spring: “As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation,; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

These statements of the Apostle are no more than an explanation of the facts of the case by connecting them with the moral government of God; and it is not in the power of human reason to give either a satisfactory view of his meaning, or a rational account of the facts themselves, on any other ground than this principle of headship. It has also many analogies in the constitution of nature and the history of providence to support it. And though, like every other peculiar doctrine of the Gospel, it will always prove a stone of stumbling to the natural man, it will never fail to impart peace and comfort to the child of faith. Some degree of this he will derive from it, even by contemplating it in its darkest side—by looking to the inheritance of evil which it has been the occasion of transmitting from Adam to the whole human race. For, humbling as is the light in which it presents the natural condition of man, it still serves to keep the soul possessed of just and elevated views of the goodness of God. That all are naturally smitten with the leprosy of a sore disease, [[@Page:247]] is matter of painful experience, and cannot be denied without setting aside the plainest lessons of history. But how much deeper must have been the pain which the thought of this awakened, and how unspeakably more pregnant should it have appeared with fear and anxiety for the future, if the evil could have been traced to the operation of God, and had existed as an original and inherent element in the state and constitution of man! It was a great relief to the wretched bosom of the prodigal, and was all, indeed, that remained to keep him from the blackness of despair, to know that it was not his father who sent him forth into the condition of a swine-herd, and bade him satisfy his hunger with the husks on which they fed; a truly consolatory thought, that these husks and that wretchedness were not emblems of his father. And can it be less comforting for the thoughtful mind, when awakening to the sad heritage of sin and death, under which humanity lies burdened, to know that this ascends no higher than the first parent of the human family, and that, as originally settled by God, the condition of mankind was in all respects “very good?” The evil is thus seen to have been not essential, but incidental; a root of man’s planting, not of God’s; an intrusion into Heaven’s workmanship, which Heaven may again drive out.

But a much stronger consolation is yielded by the consideration of this principle of headship, when it is viewed in connection with the second Adam; since it then assumes the happier aspect of the ground-floor of redemption—the actual, and, as far as we can perceive, the only possible foundation on which a plan of complete recovery could have been formed. Excepting in connection with this principle, we cannot imagine how a remedial scheme could have been devised, that should have been in any measure adequate to the necessities of the case. Taken individually and apart, no man could have redeemed either his own soul or the soul of a brother; he could not in a single case have recovered the lost good, far less have kept it in perpetuity if it had been recovered: and either Divine justice must have fore gone its claims, or each transgressor must have sunk under the weight of his own guilt and helplessness. But by means of the principle which admits of an entire offspring having the root of its condition and the ground of its destiny in a common head, a [[@Page:248]] door stood open in the Divine administration for a plan of recovery co-extensive (hypothetically) with the work of ruin. And unless we could have assured ourselves of an absolute and continued freedom from sin (which even angelic natures could not do), we may well reconcile ourselves to such a principle in the Divine government as that which, for one man’s transgression, has made us partakers of a fallen condition, since in that very principle we perceive the one channel, through which access could he found for those who have fallen, to the peace and safety of a restored condition.

He must know nothing aright of sin or salvation, who is in capable of finding comfort in this view of the subject. And yet there is a ground of comfort higher still, arising from the prospect it secures for believers of a condition better and safer than what was originally possessed by man before the fall. For the second Adam, who, as the new head of humanity, gives the tone and character to all that belongs to the kingdom of God, is incomparably greater than the first, and has received for Himself and His redeemed an inheritance corresponding to His personal worth and dignity. So that if the principle of which we speak appears, in the first instance, like a depressing load weighing humanity down to the very brink of perdition, it becomes at length a divine lever to raise it to a height far beyond what it originally occupied, or could otherwise have had any prospect of reaching. As the Apostle graphically describes in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” What an elevating prospect! destined to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, and in consequence to share with Him in the life, the blessedness, and the glory which He inherits in the kingdom of the Father! Coupling, then, the end of the Divine plan with the beginning, and entering with childlike simplicity into its arrangements, we find that the principle of headship, on which the whole hinges for evil and for good, is really fraught with the richest beneficence, and should call forth our admiration of the manifold wisdom and goodness of God; for through [[@Page:249]] this an avenue has been laid open for us into the realms above, and our natures have become linked in fellowship of good with what is best and highest in the universe.

It thus appears that there were four fundamental principles or ideas, which the historical transactions connected with the fall served strikingly to exhibit, and which must have been incorporated as primary elements with the religion then introduced. 1. The doctrine of human guilt and depravity; 2. Of the righteousness of God’s character and government; 3. Of grace in God as necessary to open, and actually opening, the door of hope for the fallen; 4. And, finally, of a principle of headship, by which the offspring of a common parent were associated in a common ruin, and by which again, under a new and better constitution, the heirs of blessing might be associated in a common restoration. In these elementary principles, however, we have rather the basis of the patriarchal religion, than the religion itself. For this, we must look to the symbols and institutions of worship. And, as far as appears from the records of that early time, the materials out of which these had at first to be fashioned were: The position assigned to man in respect to the tree of life, the placing before him of the cherubim and the flaming sword at the east of Eden, the covering of his guilt by the sacrifice of animal life, and his still subsisting relation to the day of rest originally hallowed and blessed by God. To this last may be added the marriage-relationship; for here also the general principle holds, that no formal change was introduced after the fall, and what was done at the first was virtually done for all times. But there still was a perceptible difference between the institution of marriage and the other things mentioned, viewed with respect to the matters now more immediately under consideration. This will be explained in the sequel; at present it is enough to state, that while we do not exclude marriage from our point of view, neither do we assign it exactly the same place as the other ordinances of primeval times.


[1] See Tholuck Comm. On Rom. 5:1 2.

[2] It is literally, “type of the future one” (τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος) the other or second Adam: not, however, generally, or in his creation state simply, for of that the Apostle is not speaking, but of his relation to an off spring whose case was involved in his own. The sentiment of the Apostle, taken in its proper connection, was quite correctly given by Theophylact, “For as the old Adam rendered all subject to his own fall, though they had not fallen, so Christ justified all, though they did nothing worthy of justification.” The Apostle’s authority, therefore, cannot be fairly quoted for anything more than we have stated in the text; and to isolate his expression, as some do, from the subject immediately discoursed of, and turn it into a general statement respecting a prefiguration of the second Adam irrespective of the fall in the first, is to bring in the Apostle as a witness to a point not distinctly before him.

Chapter Second.—The Tree of Life.

[[@Page:250]] THE first mention made of the tree of life has respect to its place and use, as part of the original constitution of things, in which all presented the aspect of relative perfection and completeness. “Out of the ground,” it is said, “made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The special notice taken of these two trees plainly indicates their singular and preeminent importance in the economy of the primeval world; but in different respects. The design of the tree of knowledge was entirely moral: it was set there as the test and instrument of probation; and its disuse, if we may so speak, was its only allowable use. The tree of life, however, had its natural use, like the other trees of the garden; and both from its name, and from its position in the centre of the garden, we may infer that the effect of its fruit upon the human frame was designed to be altogether peculiar. But this comes out more distinctly in the next notice we have of it—when, from being simply an ordinance of nature, it passed into a symbol of grace. “And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

These words seem plainly to indicate, that the tree of life was originally intended for the food of man; that the fruit it yielded was the divinely appointed medium of maintaining in him the power of an endless life; and that now, since he had [[@Page:251]] sinned against God, and had lost all right to the possession of such a power, he was debarred from access to the natural means of sustaining it, by being himself rigorously excluded from the garden of Eden. What might be the peculiar properties of that tree—whether in its own nature it differed essentially from the other trees of the garden, or differed only by a kind of sacramental efficacy attached to it—is not distinctly stated, and can be matter only of conjecture or of probable inference. But in its relation to man’s frame, there apparently was this difference between it and the other trees, that while they might contribute to his daily support, it alone could preserve in undecaying vigour a being to be supported. In accordance with its position in the centre of the garden, it possessed the singular virtue of ministering to human life in the fountainhead of upholding that life in its root and principle, while the other trees could only furnish what was needed for the exercise of its existing functions. They might have kept nature alive for a time, as the fruits of the earth do still; but to it belonged the property of fortifying the vital powers of nature against the injuries of disease and the dissolution of death.[1]

This was undoubtedly well known to Adam, as it was an essential part of the constitution of things around him. And if [[@Page:252]] he had remained stedfast in his allegiance to God, ever restraining his desire from the tree of knowledge, and partaking only of the tree of life, he would have continued to possess life, in incorrupt purity and blessedness, as he received it from the hand of God, possibly also might have been conscious of a growing enlargement and elevation in its powers and functions. But choosing the perilous course of transgression, he forfeited his inheritance of life, and became subject to the threatened penalty of death. The tree of life, however, did not lose its life-sustaining virtue, because the condition on which man’s right to partake of it had been violated. It remained what God origin ally made it. And though effectual precautions must now be taken to guard its sacred treasure from the touch of polluted hands, yet there it stood in the centre of the garden still, the object of fond aspirations as well as hallowed recollections though enshrined in a sacredness which rendered it for the present inaccessible to fallen man. Why should its place have been so carefully preserved? and the symbols of worship, the emblems of fear and hope, planted in the very way that led to it? If not to intimate, that the privilege of partaking of its immortal fruit was only for a season withheld, not finally withdrawn waiting till a righteousness should be brought in, which [[@Page:253]] might again open the way to its blessed provisions. For as the loss of righteousness had shut up the way, it was manifest that only by the return of righteousness could a fresh access to the forfeited food be attained. And hence it became, as we shall see, one of the leading objects of God’s administration, to disclose the necessity and unfold the nature and conditions of such a work of righteousness as might be adequate to so important an end. The relation man now occupied to the tree of life could of itself furnish no information on this point. It could only indicate that the inheritance of immortal life was still reserved for him, on the supposition of a true and proper righteousness being attained. So that in this primary symbolical ordinance, the hope which had been awakened in his bosom by the first promise, assumed the pleasing aspect of a return to the enjoyment of that immortal life from which, on account of sin, he was appointed to suffer a temporary exclusion.

But, coupled as this hope was with the present existence of a fallen condition, and the certainty of a speedy return for the body to the dust of death, it of necessity carried along with it the expectation of a future state of being, and of a resurrection from the dead. The prospect of a deliverance from evil, and of a restored immortality of life and blessing, was not to be immediately realized. The now forbidden tree of life was to continue unapproachable, so long as men bore about with them the body of sin and death. They could find the way of life only through the charnel-house of the grave. And it had been a mocking of their best feelings and aspirations, to have held out to them the promise of a victory over the tempter, or to have embodied that promise in a new direction of their hopes toward the tree of life, if there had not been couched under it the assured prospect of a life after death, and out of it. In truth, religious faith and hope could not have taken form and being in the bosom of fallen men, excepting on the ground of such an anticipated futurity. Nor were there long wanting events in the history of Divine providence which would naturally tend to strengthen, in thoughtful and considerate minds, this hopeful anticipation of a future existence. The untimely death of Abel, and the translation of Enoch in the mid-time of his days, must especially have wrought in this [[@Page:254]] direction; since, viewed in connection with the whole circumstances of the time, they could scarcely fail to produce the impression, that not only was the real inheritance of blessing to be looked for in a scene of existence beyond the present, but that the clearest title to this might be conjoined with a comparatively brief and contracted portion of good on earth. Such facts, read in the light of the promise, that the destroyer was yet to be destroyed, and a pathway opened to the lost for par taking anew of the food of immortality, could lead to but one conclusion that the good to be inherited by the heirs of promise necessarily involved a state of life and blessing after this.

We find the later Jews—notwithstanding their false views respecting the Messiah—indicating in their comments some knowledge of the truth thus signified to the first race of worshippers by their relation to the tree of life. For, of the seven things which they imagined the Messiah should show to Israel, two were, the garden of Eden and the tree of life; and again, “There are also that say of the tree of life, that it was not created in vain, but the men of the resurrection shall eat thereof, and live for ever.”[2] These were but the glimmerings of light obtained by men who had to grope their way amid judicial blindness and the misguiding influence of hereditary delusions. Adam and his immediate offspring were in happier circumstances for the discernment of the truth now under consideration. And unless the promise of recovery remained absolutely a dead letter to them, and nothing was learned from their symbolical and expectant relationship to the tree of life (a thing scarcely possible in the circumstances), there must have been cherished in their minds the conviction of a life after death, and the hope of a deliverance from its corruption. Religion at the very first rooted itself in the belief of immortality.[3]

So much for what the things connected with the tree of life imported to those whom they more immediately respected. Let us glance for a little to the fuller insight afforded into them for such as possess the later revelations of Scripture. “To-day,” said Jesus on the cross to the penitent malefactor, “to-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise”—showing how confidently He [[@Page:255]] regarded death as the way to victory, and how completely He was going to bruise the head of the tempter, since He was now to make good for Himself and His people a return to the region of bliss, which that tempter had been the occasion of alienating. “To him that overcometh,” says the same Jesus, after having entered on His glory, “will I give to eat of the tree of life, that is in the midst of the paradise of God.” And again, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”—(Rev. 2:7, 22:14) The least we can gather from such declarations is, that everything which was lost in Adam, shall be again recovered in Christ for the heirs of His salvation. The far distant ends of revelation are seen embracing each other; and the last look we obtain into the workmanship of God corresponds with the first, as face answers to face. The same God of love and beneficence who was the beginning, proves Himself to be also the ending. It is the intermediate portion alone which seems less properly to hold of Him—being in so many respects marred with evil, and chequered with adversity to the members of His family. There, indeed, we see much that is unlike God—His once beautiful workmanship defaced the comely order of His government disturbed—the world He had destined for “the house of the glory of His kingdom,” rendered the theatre of a fierce and incessant warfare between the elements of good and evil, in which the better part is too often put to the worse—and humanity, which He had made to be an image of Himself, smitten in all its members with the wound of a sore disease, beset when living with numberless calamities, and becoming, when dead, the prey of its most vile and loathsome adversaries. How cheering to know that this unhappy state of disorder and confusion is not to be perpetual—that it occupies but the mid-region of time—and is destined to be supplanted in the final issues of providence by the restitution of all things to their original harmony and blessedness of life! The tempter has prevailed long, but, God be thanked, he is not to prevail for ever. There is yet to come forth from the world, which he has filled with his works of evil, new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness shall dwell—another paradise with its tree of life—and a ransomed people [[@Page:256]] created anew after the image of God, and fitted for the high destiny of manifesting His glory before the universe.

But great as this is, it is not the whole. The antitype is always higher than the type; and the work of grace transcends in excellence and glory the work of nature. When, therefore, we are told of a new creation, with its tree of life, and its paradisiacal delights yet to be enjoyed by the people of God, much more is actually promised than the simple recovery of what was lost by sin. There will be a sphere and condition of being similar in kind, but, in the nature of the things belonging to it, immensely higher and better than what was originally set up by the hand of God. All things proceeding from Him are beautiful in their place and season. And it is true of the paradise which has been lost, that its means of life and enjoyment were in every respect wisely adapted to the frames of those who were made for occupying it. But of these it is written, that they were “of the earth, earthy”—only relatively, not absolutely good—in themselves lumpish and infirm tenements of clay, and as such necessarily imperfect in their tastes, their faculties of action and enjoyment, as compared with what is found in the higher regions of existence.

But, undoubtedly, the same adaptation that existed in the old creation between the nature of the region and the frames of its inhabitants, shall exist also in the new. And as the occupants here shall be the second Adam and His seed—the Lord from heaven, in whom humanity has been raised to peerless majesty and splendour there must also be a corresponding rise in the nature of the things to be occupied. A higher sphere of action and enjoyment shall be brought in, because there is a higher style of being to possess it. There shall not be the laying anew of earth’s old foundations, but rather the raising of these aloft to a nobler elevation—not nature revived merely, but nature glorified—humanity, no longer as it was in the earthy and natural man, but as it is and ever shall be in the spiritual and heavenly, and that placed in a theatre of life and blessing every way suitable to its exalted condition.

Such being the case, it will readily be understood, that the promise, symbolically exhibited in the Old, and distinctly expressed in New Testament Scripture, of a return to paradise and [[@Page:257]] its tree of life, is not to be taken literally. The dim shadow only, not the very image of the good to be possessed, is presented under this imperfect form. And we are no more to think of an actual tree, such as that which originally stood in the centre of Eden, than of actual manna, or of a material crown, which are, in like manner, promised to the faithful. These, and many similar representations found respecting the world to come, are but a figurative employment of the best in the past or present state of things, to aid the mind in conceiving of the future; as thus alone can it attain to any clear or distinct conception of them. Yet while all are figurative, they have still a definite and intelligible meaning. And when the assurance is given to sincere believers, not only of a paradise for their abode, but also of a tree of life for their participation, they are thereby certified of all that may be needed for the perpetual refreshment and support of their glorified natures. These shall certainly require no such carnal sustenance as was provided for Adam in Eden; they shall be cast in another mould. But as they shall still be material frameworks, they must have a certain dependence on the material elements around them for the possession of a healthful and blessed existence. The internal and the external, the personal and the relative, shall be in harmonious and fitting adjustment to each other. All hunger shall be satisfied, and all thirst for ever quenched. The inhabitant shall never say, “I am sick.” And like the river itself, which flows in perennial fulness from the throne of God, the well-spring of life in the redeemed shall never know interruption or decay. Blessed, then, it may be truly said, are those who do the commandments of God, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. What can a doomed and fleeting world afford in comparison of such a prospect?


[1] I have given here only what seems to be the fair and the general import of what is written in Genesis respecting the tree of life; but have avoided any deliverance on the much disputed point, whether by inherent virtue, or by a kind of sacramental efficacy, the fruit of this tree was intended to produce its life-giving influence upon man. The great majority of Protestant divines incline to the latter view; although it must be allowed, the idea of a sacramental virtue in a natural constitution of things seems somewhat out of place, and cannot very easily be distinguished from the Catholic view, which holds certain things to have been supernaturally conferred on Adam, and others to have belonged to him by natural constitution. But the subject, with reference to that specific question, is one on which we want materials for properly deciding, and regarding which opinions are almost sure to differ in the future, as they have done in the past. We could not well have a clearer proof of this, than is afforded by two of the latest commentators on Genesis two also, who are so generally agreed in sentiment, that they are engaged together in producing a commentary on the entire books of the Old Testament—Delitzsch and Keil. The former is of opinion that the passage, Gen. 3:22, distinctly intimates that the tree in question had “the power of life in itself,” “a power of perpetually renewing and gradually transforming the natural life of man.” (Comm. über die Genes., p. 154, 194, 2d ed.) And from this he draws the inference, that the fruit of the tree of knowledge also had the power of death in itself, rendering the participation of it deadly. Keil, however, is equally decided on the other side; he says, “We must not seek the power of the tree of life in the physical property of its fruit. No earthly fruit possesses the power of rendering immortal the life, to the support of which it ministers. Life has its root, not in the corporeity of man, but in his spiritual nature, in which it finds its stability and continuance, as well as its origin. The body formed of the dust of earth could not, as such, be immortal; it must either again return to earth and become dust, or through the Spirit be transformed into the immortal nature of the soul. The power is of a spiritual kind, which can transfuse immortality into the bodily frame. It could have been imparted to the earthly tree, or its fruit, only through a special operation of God’s word, through an agency which we can no otherwise represent to ourselves than as of a sacramental nature, whereby earthly elements are consecrated to become vessels and bearers of super natural powers.” (Bib. Comm. über die Bücher Moses, I. p. 45.) That such is the case now, there can be no doubt; but it may be questioned whether it does not proceed on too close an assimilation of matters in the primeval, to those of the existing, state of things.

[2] R. Elias ben Mosis, and R. Menahem, in Ainsworth on Gen. 3.

[3] See farther at beginning of Ch. VI., sec. 6.

Chapter Third.—The Cherubim (and The Flaming Sword).

[[@Page:258]] THE truths symbolized by man’s new relation to the tree of life have still to be viewed in connection with the means appointed by God to fence the way of approach to it, and the creaturely forms that were now planted on its borders. “And the Lord God,” it is said, “placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” We can easily imagine that the sword, with its flaming brightness and revolving movements, might be suspended there simply as the emblem of God’s avenging justice, and as the instrument of man’s exclusion from the region of life. In that one service the end of its appointment might be fulfilled, and its symbolical meaning exhausted. Such, indeed, appears to have been the case. But the cherubim, which also had a place assigned them toward the east of the garden, must have had some farther use, as the sword alone would have been sufficient to prevent access to the forbidden region. The cherubim must have been added for the purpose of rendering more complete the instruction intended to be conveyed to man by means of the symbolical apparatus here presented to his contemplation. And as these cherubic figures hold an important place also in subsequent revelations, we shall here enter into a somewhat minute and careful investigation of the subject. The view we mean to exhibit cannot be said to differ radically from that presented in the first edition of this work; but it will certainly differ considerably in the mode of investigation pursued, and in some also of the results obtained. We leant formerly too much upon the representations of Bähr, which we now perceive to be in themselves, as well as in the purpose to which they are applied, of a more fanciful and objectionable nature than they at one time appeared.

There is nothing to be expected here from etymological [[@Page:259]] researches. Many derivations and meanings have been ascribed to the term cherub; but nothing certain has been established regarding it; and it may now be confidently assigned to that class of words, whose original import is involved in hopeless obscurity.[1] In the passage of Genesis above cited, where the word first occurs, not only is no clue given in regard to the meaning of the name, but there is not even any description presented of the objects it denoted; they are spoken of as definite forms or existences, of which the name alone afforded sufficient indication. This will appear more clearly if we adhere to the exact rendering: “And He placed (or, made to dwell) at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim—”not certain unknown figures or imaginary existences, but the specific forms of being, familiarly designated by that name.

In other parts of Scripture, however, the defect is in great measure supplied; and by comparing the different statements there contained with each other, and putting the whole together, we may at least approximate, if not absolutely arrive at, a full and satisfactory knowledge of the symbol.

But in ascertaining the sense of Scripture on the subject, there are two considerations which ought to be borne in mind, as a necessary check on extreme or fanciful deductions. The first is, that in this, as well as in other religious symbols (those, for example, connected with food and sacrifice), there may have been, and most probably was, a progression in the use made of it from time to time. In that case, the representations employed at one period must have been so constructed as to convey a fuller meaning than those employed at another. Whatever aspects of Divine truth, therefore, may be discovered in the later passages [[@Page:260]] which treat of the cherubim, should not, as a matter of course, be ascribed in all their entireness to the earlier. Respect must always be had to the relative differences of place and time. Another consideration is, that whatever room there may be for diversity in the way now specified, we must not allow any representation that may be given in one place—a specific representation—to impose a generic meaning on the symbol, which is not borne out, but possibly contradicted, by representations in others. Progressive differences can only affect what is circumstantial, not what is essential to the subject; and all that is properly fundamental in the cherubic imagery, must be found in accordance, not with a partial, but with the complete testimony of Scripture respecting it.

With these guiding principles in our eye, we proceed to exhibit what may be collected from the different notices of Scripture on the subject—ranging our remarks under the following natural divisions: the descriptions given of the cherubim as to form and appearance, the designations applied to them, the positions assigned them, and the kinds of agency with which they are associated.

1. In regard to the first of these points—the descriptions given of the cherubim as to form and appearance—there is nothing very definite in the earlier Scriptures, nor are the accounts in the later perfectly uniform. Even in the detailed narrative of Exodus respecting the furniture of the tabernacle, it is still taken for granted, that the forms of the cherubim were familiarly known; and we are told nothing concerning their structure, besides its being incidentally stated that they had faces and wings. (Ex. 25, 37) It would seem, however, that while certain elements were always understood to enter into the composition of the cherub, the form given to it was not absolutely fixed, but admitted of certain variations. The cherubim seen by Ezekiel beneath the throne of God, are represented as having each four faces and four wings (ch. [[1:6 >> Bible:Ezek. 1:6]] ); while in the description subsequently given by him of the cherubic representations on the walls of his visionary temple (ch. [[41:18, 19 >> Bible:Eze 41:18-19]] ), mention is made of only two faces appearing in each. In Revelation, again (ch. [[4:7, 8 >> Bible:Re 4:7-8]] ), while four composite forms, as in Ezekiel, are adhered to throughout, the creatures are represented [[@Page:261]] as not having each four faces, but having each a face after one of the four types; and the number of wings belonging to each is also different—not four, but six.[2] In the Apocalyptic vision the creatures themselves appear full of eyes, before and behind, as they do also in Ezek. 10:12, where “their whole flesh, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings,” are said to have been full of eyes; but in Ezekiel’s first vision, the eyes were confined only to the wheels connected with the cherubim (ch. [[1:18 >> Bible:Eze 1:18]] ). It is impossible, therefore, without doing violence to the accounts given in the several delineations, to avoid the conviction, that a certain latitude was allowed in regard to the particular forms: and that, as exhibited in vision at least, they were not altogether uniform in appearance. They were uniform, however, in two leading respects, which may hence be regarded as the more important elements in the cherubic form. They had, first, the predominating appearance of a man—a man’s body and gesture—as is evident, first, from their erect posture; then from Ezek. 1:5, “they had the appearance of a man;” and also from the peculiar expression in Rev. 4:7, where it is said of the third, “that it had a face as a man”—which is best understood to mean, that while the other creatures were unlike man in the face, though like in the body, this was like in the face as well. The same inference is still further deducible from the part taken by the cherubim in the Apocalypse, along with the elders and the redeemed generally, in celebrating the praise of God. The other point of agreement is, that in all the descriptions actually given, the cherubim have a composite appearance with the form of a man, indeed, predominating, but with other animal forms combined those, namely, of the lion, the ox, and the eagle.

Now, there can be no doubt that these three creatures, along with man, make up together, according to the estimation of a remote antiquity, the most perfect forms of animal existence. [[@Page:262]] They belong to those departments of the visible creation which constitute the first in rank and importance of its three kingdoms—the kingdom of animal life. And in that kingdom they belong to the highest class—to that which possesses warm blood and physical life in its fullest development. Nay, in that highest class they are again the highest; for the ox in ancient times was placed above the horse, on account of his fitness for useful and patient labour in the operations of husbandry. And hence the old Jewish proverb—”Four are the highest in the world—the lion among wild beasts, the ox among tame cattle, the eagle among birds, man among all (creatures); but God is supreme over all.” The meaning is, that in these four kinds are exhibited the highest forms of creature-life on earth, but that God is still infinitely exalted above these; since all creature-life springs out of His fulness, and is dependent on His hand. So that a creature compounded of all these—bearing in its general shape and structure the lineaments of a man, but associating with the human the appearance and properties also of the three next highest orders of animal existence—might seem a kind of concrete manifestation of created life on earth—a sort of personified creaturehood.

But the thought naturally occurs, why thus strangely amalgamated and combined? If the object had been simply to afford a representation of creaturely existence in general by means of its higher forms, we would naturally have expected them to stand apart as they actually appear in nature. But instead of this they are thrown into one representation; and so, indeed, that however the representation may vary, still the inferior forms of animal life constantly appear as grafted upon, and clustering around, the organism of man. There is thus a striking unity in the diversity—a human ground and body, so to speak—in the grouped figures of the representation, which could not fail to attract the notice of a contemplative mind, and must have been designed to form an essential element in the symbolical representation. It is an ideal combination; no such composite creature as the cherub exists in the actual world; arid we can think of no reason why the singular combination it presents of animal forms, should have been set upon that of man as the trunk and centre of the whole, unless it were to exhibit [[@Page:263]] the higher elements of humanity in some kind of organic connection with certain distinctive properties of the inferior creation. The nature of man is incomparably the highest upon earth, and towers loftily above all the rest by powers peculiar to itself. And yet we can easily conceive how this very nature of man might be greatly raised and ennobled by having superadded to its own inherent qualities, those of which the other animal forms now before us stand as the appropriate types.

Thus, the lion among ancient nations generally, and in particular among the Hebrews, was the representative of king-like majesty and peerless strength. All the beasts of the field stand in awe of him, none being able to cope with him in might; and his roar strikes terror wherever it is heard. Hence the lion is naturally regarded as the king of the forest, where might is the sole ground of authority and rule. And hence, also, lions were placed both at the right and left of Solomon’s throne, as symbols of royal majesty and supreme power. As the lion among quadrupeds, so the eagle is king among birds, and stands preeminent in the two properties that more peculiarly distinguish the winged creation those of vision and flight. The term eagle-eyed has been quite proverbial in every age. The eagle perceives his prey from the loftiest elevation, where he himself appears scarcely discernible; and it has even been believed, that he can descry the smallest fish in the sea, and look with undazzled gaze upon the sun. His power of wing, however, is still more remarkable: no bird can fly either so high or so far. Moving with king-like freedom and velocity through the loftiest regions and the most extended space, we naturally think of him as the fittest image of something like angelic nimbleness of action. It is this more especially, or, we should rather say, this exclusively, which is symbolically associated with the eagle in Scripture. No reference is made there to the eagle’s strength of vision, but very frequent allusion to his extraordinary power of flight (Deut. 28:49; Job 9:26; Prov. 23:5; Hab. 1:8, etc.). And hence, too, in Rev. 4:7, the epithet flying is attached to the eagle, to indicate that this is the quality specially made account of.—Finally, the ox was among the ancients the common image of patient labour and productive energy. It naturally came to bear this signification from its early use in the [[@Page:264]] operations of husbandry in ploughing and harrowing the ground, then bearing home the sheaves, and at last treading out the corn. On this account the bovine form was so frequently chosen, especially in agricultural countries like Egypt, as the most appropriate symbol of Deity, in its inexhaustible productiveness. And if associated with man, the idea would instinctively suggest itself of patient labour and productive energy in working.

Such, then, not by any conjectural hypothesis or strained interpretations, but by the simplest reading of the descriptions given in the Bible, appear to have been the generic form and idea of the cherubim. It is absolutely necessary that we should apply the light furnished by those passages in which they are described, to those also in which they are not; and that what are expressly named and described as the cherubim, when seen in prophetic vision, must be regarded as substantially agreeing with those which had a visible appearance and a local habitation on earth—for, otherwise, the subject would be involved by Scripture itself in inextricable confusion. Assuming these points, we are warranted to think of the cherubim, wherever they are mentioned, as presenting in their composite structure, and having as the very basis of that structure, the form of man the only being on earth that is possessed of a rational and moral nature; yet combining, along with this, and organically uniting to it, the animal representatives of majesty and strength, winged velocity, patient and productive labour. Why united and combined thus, the mere descriptions of the cherubic appearances give no intimation; we must search for information concerning it in the other points that remain to be considered. So far, we have been simply putting together the different features of the descriptions, and viewing the cherubic figures in their individual characteristics and relative bearing.[3]

[[@Page:265]] 2. We named, as our second point of inquiry, the designations applied to the cherubim in Scripture. The term cherubim itself being the more common and specific of these, would naturally call for consideration first, if any certain key could be found to its correct import. But this we have already assigned to the class of things over which a hopeless obscurity may be said to hang. There is another designation, however, originally applied to them by “Ezekiel, and the sole designation given to them in the Apocalypse, from which some additional light may be derived. This expression is in the original חַיוֹת, animantia, living ones, or living creatures. The Septuagint uses the quite synonymous term ζῶα; and this, again, is the word uniformly employed by St John, when speaking of the cherubim. It has been unhappily rendered by our translators beasts in the Revelation; thus incongruously associating with the immediate presence and throne of God mere animal existences, and identifying in name the most exalted creaturely forms of being in the heavenly places, with the grovelling symbolical head of the antichristian and ungodly powers of the world. This is what bears, in the Apocalypse, the distinctive name of the beast (θηρίον) ; and the name should never have been applied to the ideal creatures, which derive their distinctive appellation from the fulness of life belonging to them—the living ones. The frequency with which this name is used of the cherubim is remarkable. In Ezekiel and the Apocalypse together it occurs nearly thirty times, and may consequently be regarded as peculiarly expressive of the symbolical character of the cherubim. It presents [[@Page:266]] them to our view as exhibiting the property of life in its highest state of power and activity; therefore, as creatures altogether instinct with life. And the idea thus conveyed by the name is further substantiated by one or two traits associated with them in Ezekiel and the Apocalypse. Such, especially, is the very singular multiplicity of eyes attached to them, appearing first in the mystic wheels that regulated their movements, and after wards in the cherubic forms themselves. For the eye is the symbol of intelligent life; the living spirit’s most peculiar organ and index. And to represent the cherubim as so strangely replenished with eyes, could only be intended to make them known to us as wholly inspirited. Accordingly, in the first vision of Ezekiel, in which the eyes belonged immediately to the wheels, “the spirit of the living creatures “is said to have been in the wheels (ch. [[1:20 >> Bible:Eze 1:20]] ); where the eye was, there also was the intelligent, thinking, directive spirit of life. Another and quite similar trait, is the quick and restless activity ascribed to them by both writers—by Ezekiel, when he represents them as “running and returning” with lightning speed; and by St John, when he describes them as “resting not day or night.” Incessant motion is one of the most obvious symptoms of a plenitude of life. We instinctively associate the property of life even with the inanimate things that exhibit motion—such as fountains and running streams, which are called living, in contradistinction to stagnant pools, that seem dead in comparison. And in the Hebrew tongue, these two symbols of life—eyes and fountains—have their common symbolical meaning marked by the employment of the same term to denote them both (עַיִן). So that creatures which appeared to be all eyes and all motion, are, in plain terms, those in which the powers and properties of life were quite peculiarly displayed.

We believe there is a still further designation applied to the same objects in Scripture—the seraphim of Isaiah (ch. [[6 >> Bible:Is 6]] ). It is in the highest degree improbable, that the prophet should by that name, so abruptly introduced, have pointed to an order of existences, or a form of being, nowhere else mentioned in Scripture; but quite natural that he should have referred to the cherubim in the sanctuary, as the scene of the vision lay there; and the more especially, as three characteristics—the possession [[@Page:267]] by each of six wings, the position of immediate proximity to the throne of God, and the threefold proclamation of Jehovah’s holiness—are those also which reappear again, at the very outset, in St John’s description of the cherubim. That they should have been called by the name of seraphim (burning ones) is no way inconsistent with this idea, for it merely embodies in a designation the thought symbolized in the vision of Ezekiel under the appearance of fire, giving forth flashes of lightning, which appeared to stream from the cherubim (ch. [[1:13 >> Bible:Eze 1:13]] ). In both alike, the fire, whether connected with the name or the appearance, denoted the wrath, which was the most prominent feature in the Divine manifestation at the time. But as, in thus identifying the cherubim with the seraphim, we tread on somewhat doubtful ground, we shall make no further use of the thoughts suggested by it.

It is right to notice, however, that the designation we have more particularly considered, and the emblematic representations illustrative of it, belong to the later portions of Scripture, which treat of the cherubim; and while we cannot but regard the idea thus exhibited, as essentially connected with the cherubic form of being, a fundamental element in its meaning, it certainly could not be by any means so vividly displayed in the cherubim of the tabernacle, which were stationary figures. Nor can we tell distinctly how it stood in this respect with the cherubim of Eden; we know not what precise form and attitude were borne by them. But not only the representations we have been considering—the analogy also of the cherubim in the tabernacle, with their outstretched wings, as in the act of flying, and their eyes intently directed toward the mercy-seat, as if they were actually beholding and pondering what was there exhibited, may justly lead us to infer, that in some way or another a life-like appearance was also presented by the cherubim of Eden. Absolutely motionless or dead-like forms would have been peculiarly out of place in the way to the tree of life. Yet of what sort this fulness of life might be, which was exhibited in the cherubim, we have still had no clear indication. From various things that have pressed themselves on our notice, it might not doubtfully have been inferred to be life in the highest sense—life spiritual and divine. But this comes [[@Page:268]] out more prominently in connection with the other aspects of the subject which remain to be contemplated.

3. We proceed, therefore, to the point next in order—the positions assigned to the cherubim in Scripture. These are properly but two, and, by having regard only to what is essential in the matter, might possibly be reduced to one. But as they ostensibly and locally differ, we shall treat them apart. They are the garden of Eden, and the dwelling-place or throne of God in the tabernacle.

The first local residence in which the cherubim appear, was the garden of Eden—the earthly paradise. What, however, was this, but the proper home and habitation of life? of life generally, but emphatically of the divine life? Everything there seemed to breathe the air, and to exhibit the fresh and blooming aspect of life. Streams of water ran through it to supply all its productions with nourishment, and keep them in perpetual healthfullness; multitudes of living creatures roamed amid its bowers, and the tree of life, at once the emblem and the seal of immortality, rose in the centre, as if to shed a vivifying influence over the entire domain. Most fitly was it called by the Rabbins “the land of life.” But it was life, we soon perceive, in the higher sense—life, not merely as opposed to bodily decay and dissolution, but as opposed also to sin, which brings death to the soul. Eden was the garden of delight, which God gave to man as the image of Himself, the possessor of that spiritual and holy life which has its fountainhead in God. And the moment man ceased to fulfil the part required of Him as such, and yielded himself to the service of unrighteousness, he lost his heritage of blessing, and was driven forth as an heir of mortality and corruption from the hallowed region of life. When, therefore, the cherubim were set in the garden to occupy the place which man had forfeited by his transgression, it was impossible but that they should be regarded as the representatives, not of life merely, but of the life that is in God, and in connection with which evil cannot dwell. This they were by their very position within the sacred territory—whatever other ideas may have been symbolized by their peculiar structure and more special relations.

The other and more common position assigned to the [[@Page:269]] cherubim is in immediate connection with the dwelling-place and throne of God. This connection comes first into view when the instructions were given to Moses regarding the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness. As the tabernacle was to be, in a manner, the habitation of God, where He was to dwell and manifest Himself to His people, the whole of the curtains forming the interior of the tent were commanded to be inwoven with cherubic figures. But as the inner sanctuary was more especially the habitation of God, where He fixed His throne of holiness, Moses was commanded, for the erection of this throne, to make two cherubim, one at each end of the ark of the covenant, and to place them so, that they should stand without stretched wings, their faces toward each other, and toward the mercy-seat, the lid of the ark, which lay between them. That mercy-seat, or the space immediately above it, bounded on either side by the cherubim, and covered by their wings (Ex. 25:20), was the throne of God, as the God of the Old Covenant, the ideal seat of the Divine commonwealth in Israel. I said God to Moses, “will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment to the children of Israel.”—(Ex. 25:22) This is the fundamental passage regarding the connection of the cherubim with the throne of God; and it is carefully to be noted, that while the seat of the Divine presence and glory is said to be above the mercy-seat, it is also said to be between the cherubim. The same form of expression is used also in another passage in the Pentateuch, which may likewise be called a fundamental one, Num. 7:89, “And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation (more properly, the tent of meeting) to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy-seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubim.” Hence the Lord was spoken of as the God “who dwelleth between the cherubims,” according to our version, and correctly as to the sense; though, as the verb is used without a preposition in the original, the more exact rendering would be, the God who dwelleth-in (inhabiteth,) שׁכַן, or occupies יָשַׁבviz., as a throne or seat) the cherubim. These two verbs are interchanged in the form of expression, which is used with considerable frequency (for example, 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; Ps. 80:1, 99:1, etc.); [[@Page:270]] and it is from the use of the first of them that the Jewish term Shekinah (the indwelling), in reference to the symbol of the Divine presence, is derived. The space above the mercy-seat, enclosed by the two cherubim with their outstretched wings, bending and looking toward each other, was regarded as the local habitation which God possessed as a peculiar dwelling-place or occupied as a throne in Israel. And it is entirely arbitrary, and against the plain import of the two fundamental passages, to insert above, as is still very often done by interpreters (“dwelleth,” or “sitteth enthroned above the cherubim”); still more so to make anything depend, as to the radical meaning of the symbol, on the seat of God being considered above rather than between the cherubim.

Hengstenberg is guilty of this error, when he represents the proper place of the cherubim as being under the throne of God, and holds that to be their first business though he disallows the propriety of regarding them as material supports to the throne (Comm. on Rev. 4:6). The meaning he adopts of the symbol absolutely required them to be in this position; since only by their being beneath the throne of God, could they with any fitness be regarded as imaging the living creation below, as subject to the overruling power and sovereignty of God. Hofmann and Delitzsch go still farther in this direction; and, adopting the notion repudiated by Hengstenberg, consider the cherubim as the formal bearers of Jehovah’s throne. Delitzsch even affirms, in opposition (we think) to the plainest language, that wherever the part of the cherubim is distinctly mentioned in Old Testament Scripture, they appear as the bearers of Jehovah and His throne, and that He sat enthroned upon the cherubim in the midst of the worldly sanctuary (Die Genesis Ausgelegt, p. 145). There are, in fact, only two representations of the kind specified. One is in Ps. 18:10, where the Lord is described as coming down for judgment upon David’s enemies, and in doing so, “riding upon a cherub, and flying upon the wings of the wind”—obviously a poetical delineation, in which it would be as improper to press closely what is said of the position of the cherub, as what is said of the wings of the wind. The one image was [[@Page:271]] probably introduced with the view merely of stamping the Divine manifestation with a distinctively covenant aspect, as the other for the purpose of exhibiting the resistless speed of its movements. But if the allusion is to be taken less ideally, it must be borne in mind, that the manifestation described is primarily and pre-eminently for judgment, not as in the temple, for mercy; and this may explain the higher elevation given to the seat of Divine Majesty. The same holds good also of the other representation, in which the throne or glory of the Lord appears above the cherubim. It is in Ezekiel, where, in two several places (ch. [[1:26 >> Bible:Ezek. 1:26]] , 10:1), there is first said to have been a firmament upon the heads of the living creatures, and then above the firmament the likeness of a throne. The description is so palpably different from that given of the Sanctuary, that it would be absurd to subordinate the one to the other. We must rather hold, that in the special and immediate object of the theophany exhibited to Ezekiel, there was a reason for giving such a position to the throne of God—one somewhat apart from the cherubim, and elevated distinctly above them. And we believe that reason may be found, in its being predominantly a manifestation for judgment, in which the seat of the Divine glory naturally appeared to rise to a loftier and more imposing elevation than it was wont to occupy in the Holiest. This seems to be clearly indicated in ch. [[10:4 >> Bible:Ezek. 10:4]] , where, in proceeding to the work of judgment, the glory of the Lord is represented as going up from the cherub, and standing over the threshold of the house; immediately after which the house was filled with the cloud—the symbol of Divine wrath and retribution. We may add, that the statement in Rev. 4:6, where the cherubic forms are said to have appeared “in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne,” is plainly at variance with the idea of their acting as supports to the throne. The throne itself is described in [[5:2 >> Bible:Ezek. 5:2]] , as being laid (ἐκεῖτο) in heaven, which excludes the supposition of any instruments being employed to bear it aloft. And from the living creatures being represented as at once in the midst of the throne, and round about it, nothing further or more certain can be inferred beyond their appearing in a position of immediate nearness to it. The elders sat round about the throne; but the cherubim appeared in it as well as around it—implying [[@Page:272]] that theirs was the place of closest proximity to the Divine Being who sat on it.

The result, then, which arises, we may almost say with conclusive certainty from the preceding investigation, is, that the kind of life which was symbolized by the cherubim, was life most nearly and essentially connected with God־־life as it is, or shall be, held by those who dwell in His immediate presence, and form, in a manner, the very inclosure and covering of His throne: pre-eminently, therefore, spiritual and holy life. Holiness becomes God’s house in general; and of necessity it rises to its highest creaturely representation in those who are regarded as compassing about the most select and glorious portion of the house—the seat of the living God Himself. Whether His peculiar dwelling were in the garden of Eden, or in the recesses of a habitation made by men’s hands, the presence of the cherubim alike proclaimed Him to be One, who indispensably requires of such as are to be round about Him, the property of life, and in connection with that the beauty of holiness, which is, in a sense, the life of life, as possessed and exercised by His intelligent offspring.

4. Our last point of scriptural inquiry was to be respecting the kinds of agency attributed to the cherubim.

We naturally again revert, first, to what is said of them in connection with the garden of Eden, though our information there is the scantiest. It is merely said that the cherubim were made to dwell at the east of the garden, and a flaming sword, turning every way to keep the way to the tree of life. The two instruments the cherubim and the sword are associated together in regard to this keeping; and, as the text draws no distinction between them, it is quite arbitrary to say, with Bähr, that the cherubim alone had to do with it, and to do with it precisely as Adam had. It is said of Adam, that “God put him into the garden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15)—not the one simply, but both together. He had to do a twofold office in respect to the garden to attend to its cultivation, as far as might then be needful, and to keep or preserve it, namely, from the disturbing and desolating influence of evil. The charge to keep plainly implied some danger of losing. And it became still plainer, when the tenure of possession was immediately [[@Page:273]] suspended on a condition, the violation of which was to involve the penalty of death. The keeping was to be made good against a possible contingence, which might subvert the order of God, and change the region of life into a charnel-house of death. Now it is the same word that is used in regard to the cherubim and the flaming sword: These now were to keep—not, however, like Adam, the entire garden, but simply the way to the tree of life; to maintain in respect to this one point the settled order of Heaven, and that more especially by rendering the way inaccessible to fallen man. There is here also, no doubt, a present occupancy; but the occupancy of only a limited portion, a mere pathway, and for the definite purpose of defending it from unhallowed intrusion.

Still, not simply for defence; for occupancy as well as defence. And the most natural thought is, that as in the keeping there was a twofold idea, so a twofold representation was given to it; that the occupancy was more immediately connected with the cherubim, and the defence against intrusion with the flaming sword. One does not see otherwise what need there could have been for both. Nor is it possible to conceive how the ends in view could otherwise have been served. It was beyond all doubt for man’s spiritual instruction, that such peculiar instruments were employed at the east of the garden of Eden, to awaken and preserve in his bosom right thoughts of the God with whom he had to do. But an image of terror and repulsion was not alone sufficient for this. There was needed along with it an image of mercy and hope; and both were given in the appearances that actually presented themselves. When the eye of man looked to the sword, with its burnished and fiery aspect, he could not but be struck with awe at the thought of God’s severe and retributive justice. But when he saw, at the same time, in near and friendly connection with that emblem of Jehovah’s righteousness, living or life-like forms of being, cast pre-eminently in his own mould, but bearing along with his the likeness also of the choicest species of the animal creation around him־־when he saw this, what could he think but that still for creatures of earthly rank, and for himself most of all, an interest was reserved by the mercy of God in the things that pertained to the blessed region of life? That region could not now, by [[@Page:274]] reason of sin, be actually held by him; but it was provisionally held—by composite forms of creature-life, in which his nature appeared as the predominating element. And with what design, if not to teach, that when that nature of his should have nothing to fear from the avenging justice of God, it should regain its place in the holy and blissful haunts from which it had mean while been excluded? So that, standing before the eastern approach to Eden, and scanning with intelligence the appearances that there presented themselves to his view, the child of faith might say to himself, That region of life is not finally lost to me. It has neither been blotted from the face of creation, nor entrusted to natures of another sphere. Earthly forms still hold possession of it. The very natures that have lost the privilege continue to have their representation in the new and unreal-like occupants that are meanwhile appointed to keep it. Better things, then, are doubtless in reserve for them; and my nature, which stands out so conspicuously above them all, fallen though it be at present, is assuredly destined to rise again, and enjoy in the reality what is there ideally and representatively assigned to it.

There is nothing surely unnatural or far-fetched in such a line of reflection. It manifestly lay within the reach of the very earliest members of a believing seed; especially since the light it is supposed to have conveyed did not stand alone, but was only supplementary to that embodied in the first grand promise to the fallen, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. The supernatural machinery at the east of the garden merely showed how this bruising was to proceed, and in what result it might be expected to issue. It was to proceed, not by placing in abeyance the manifestation of Divine righteousness, but by providing for its being exercised without the fallen creature being destroyed. Nor should it issue in a partial, but in a complete recovery—nay, in the possession of a state higher than before. For the creaturehood of earth, it would seem, was yet to stand in a closer relation to the manifested glory of God, and was to become capable of enduring sights and performing ministrations which were not known in the original constitution of things on earth.

It might not be possible, perhaps, for the primeval race of [[@Page:275]] worshippers to go farther, or to get a more definite insight into the purposes of God, by contemplating the cherubim. We scarcely think it could. But we can easily conceive how the light and hope therewith connected would be felt to grow, when this embodied creaturehood—or, if we rather choose so to regard it, this ideal manhood was placed in the sanctuary of God’s presence and glory, and so as to form the immediate boundary and covering of his throne. A relation of greater nearness to the Divine was there evidently won for the human and earthly. And not that only, but a step also in advance toward the actual enjoyment of what was ideally exhibited. For while, at first, men in flesh and blood were not permitted to enter into the region of holy life occupied by the cherubim, but only to look at it from without, now the way was at length partially laid open, and in the person of the high priest, through the blood of atonement, they could make an approach, though still only at stated times, to the very feet of the cherubim of glory. The blessed and hopeful relation of believing men to these singular attendants of the Divine majesty rose thus more distinctly into view, and in more obvious connection also with the means through which the ultimate realization was to be attained. But the information in this line, and by means of these materials, reaches its furthest limit, when, in the Apocalyptic vision of a triumphant Church, the four and twenty elders, who represent her, are seen sitting in royal state and crowned majesty close beside the throne, with the cherubic forms in and around it. There, at last, the ideal and the actual freely meet together—the merely symbolical representatives of the life of God, and its real possessors, the members of a redeemed and glorified Church. And the inspiring element of the whole, that which at once explains all and connects all harmoniously together, is the central object appearing there of “a Lamb, as if it had been slain, in the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders.” Here the mystery resolves itself; in this consummate wonder all other wonders cease, all difficulties vanish. The Lamb of God, uniting together heaven and earth, human gilt and Divine mercy, man’s nature and God’s perfections, has opened a pathway for the fallen to the very height and pinnacle of created being. With Him in the midst, as a [[@Page:276]] sun and shield, there is ground for the most secure standing, and for the closest fellowship with God.

We must glance, however, at the other kinds of agency connected with the cherubim. In the first vision of Ezekiel, it is by their appearance, which we have already noticed, not by their agency, properly speaking, that they convey instruction regarding the character of the manifestations of Himself which the Lord was going to give through the prophet. But at ch. [[10:7 >> Bible:Ezek. 10:7]] , where the approaching judgment upon Jerusalem is symbolically exhibited by the scattering of coals of fire over the city, the fire is represented as being taken from between the cherubim, and by the hand of one of them given to the ministering angel to be cast forth upon the city. It was thus indicated— so far we can easily understand the vision—that the coming execution of judgment was not only to be of God, but of Him in connection with the full consent and obedient service of the holy powers and agencies around Him. And the still more specific indication might also be meant to be conveyed, that as the best interest of humanity required the work of judgment to be executed, so a fitting human instrument should be found for the purpose. The wrath of God, represented by the coals of fire, should not want the service of an appropriate earthly agency, as the coals were ministered by a cherub’s hand for the work of destruction.

An entirely similar action, differing only in the form it assumes, is connected with the cherubim in ch. [[ >> Bible:Re 15:1-8]] 15 of Revelation, where one of the living creatures is represented as giving into the hands of the angels the seven last vials of the wrath of God. The rational and living creaturehood of earth, in its state of alliance and fellowship with God, thus appeared to go along with the concluding judgments, which were necessary to bring the evil in the world to a perpetual end. Nor is the earlier and more prominent action ascribed to them materially different—that connected with the seven-sealed Book. This book, viewed generally, unquestionably represents the progress and triumph of Christ’s kingdom upon earth over all that was there naturally opposed to it. The first seal, when opened, presents the Divine King riding forth in conquering power and majesty; the last exhibits all prostrate and silent before Him. The different seals, therefore, unfold the different stages of this mighty [[@Page:277]] achievement; and as they successively open, each of the living creatures in turn calls aloud on the symbolic agency to go forth on its course. That agency, in its fundamental character, represents the judicial energy and procedure of God toward the sinfulness of the world, for the purpose of subduing it to Himself, of establishing righteousness and truth among men, and bringing the actual state of things on earth into conformity with what is ideally right and good. Who, then, might more fitly urge forward and herald such a work, than the ideal creatures in which earthly forms of being appeared replete with the life of God, and in closest contact with His throne? Such might be said to be their special interest and business. And hence, as there were only four of them in the vision (with some reference, perhaps, to the four corners of the earth),[4] and so one for but the first four seals of the book, the remaining symbols of this part of the Apocalyptic imagery were thrown into forms which did not properly admit of any such proclamation being uttered in connection with them.[5]

We can discern the same leading characteristics in the farther use made of the cherubic imagery in the Apocalypse. They are represented as ceaselessly proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come,” thereby showing it to be their calling to make known the absolute holiness of God, as infinitely removed, not merely from the natural, but also, and still more, from the moral imperfections and evils of creation. In their ascriptions of praise, too, they are represented not only as giving honour and glory, but [[@Page:278]] also thanks, to Him that sitteth on the throne, and as joining with the elders in the new song that was sung to the Lamb for the benefits of His salvation.—(Rev. 4:9, 5:8) So that they plainly stand related to the redemptive as well as the creative work of God. And yet in all, from first to last, only ideal representatives of what pertains to God’s kingdom on earth, not as substantive existences themselves possessing it. They belong to the imagery of faith, not to her abiding realities. And so, when the ultimate things of redemption come, their place is no more found. They hold out the lamp of hope to fallen man through the wilderness of life, pointing his expectations to the better country. But when this country breaks upon our view—when the new heavens and the new earth supplant the old, then also the ideal gives way to the real. We see another paradise, with its river and tree of life, and a present God, and a presiding Saviour, and holy angels, and a countless multitude of redeemed spirits rejoicing in the fulness of blessing and glory provided for them; but no sight is anywhere to be seen of the cherubim of glory. They have fulfilled the end of their temporary existence; and when no longer needed, they vanish like the guiding stars of night before the bright sunshine of eternal day.

To sum up, then: The cherubim were in their very nature and design artificial and temporary forms of being—uniting in their composite structure the distinctive features of the highest kinds of creaturely existence on earth—man’s first, and chiefly. They were set up for representations to the eye of faith of earth’s living creaturehood, and more especially of its rational and immortal, though fallen head, with reference to the better hopes and destiny in prospect. From the very first they gave promise of a restored condition to the fallen; and by the use afterwards made of them, the light became clearer and more distinct. By their designations, the positions assigned them, the actions from time to time ascribed to them, as well as their own peculiar structure, it was intimated that the good in prospect should be secured, not at the expense of, but in perfect consistence with, the claims of God’s righteousness; that restoration to the holiness must precede restoration to the blessedness of life; and that only by being made capable of dwelling [[@Page:279]] beside the presence of the only Wise and Good, could man hope to have his portion of felicity recovered. But all this, they further betokened, it was in God’s purpose to have accomplished; and so to do it, as, at the same time, to raise humanity to a higher than its original destination—in its standing nearer to God, and greatly ennobled in its powers of life and capacities of working.

Before passing from the subject of the cherubim, we must briefly notice some of the leading views that have been entertained by others respecting them. These will be found to rest upon a part merely of the representations of Scripture to the exclusion of others, and most commonly to a neglect of what we hold it to be of especial moment to keep prominently in view—the historical use of the cherubim of Scripture. That such must be the case with an opinion once very prevalent both among Jews and Christians, and not without its occasional advocates still,[6] which held them to be celestial existences, or more specifically angels, is obvious at first sight. For, the component parts of the cherubic appearance being all derived from the forms of being which have their local habitation on earth, it is terrestrial, as contradistinguished from celestial objects, which we are necessitated to think of. And their original position at the east of Eden would have been inexplicable, as connected with a religion of hope, if celestial and not earthly natures had been represented in them. The natural conclusion in that case must have been, that the way of life was finally lost for man. In the Apocalypse, too, they are expressly distinguished from the angels; and in ch. [[5 >> Bible:Re 5:1-14]] the living creatures and the elders form one distinct chorus ([[ver. 8 >> Bible:Re 5:8]] ), while the angels form another ([[ver. 11 >> Bible:Re 5:11]] ). There is more of verisimilitude in another and at present more prevalent opinion, that the cherubim represent the Church of the redeemed. This opinion has often been propounded, and quite recently has been set forth in a separate work on the cherubim.[7] It evidently fails, however, to account [[@Page:280]] satisfactorily for their peculiar structure, and is of a too concrete and specific character to have been represented by such ideal and shifting formations as the cherubim of Scripture.

These are more naturally conceived to have had to do with natures than with persons. Besides, it is plainly inconsistent with the place occupied by the cherubim in the Apocalyptic vision, where the four and twenty crowned elders obviously represent the Church of the redeemed. To ascribe the same office to the cherubim would be to suppose a double and essentially different representation of the same object. To avoid this objection, Vitringa (Obs. Sac. i. 846) modified the idea so as to make the cherubim in the Revelation (for he supposed those mentioned in Gen. 3:24 to have been angels) the representatives of such as hold stations of eminence in the Church, evangelists and ministers, as the elders were of the general body of believers. But it is an entirely arbitrary notion, and destitute of support in the general representations of Scripture; as, indeed, is virtually admitted by the learned author, in so peculiarly connecting it with the vision of St John. An opinion which finds some colour of support only in a single passage, and loses all appearance of probability when applied to others, is self-confuted.

It was the opinion of Michaelis, an opinion bearing a vivid impress of the general character of his mind, that the cherubim were a sort of “thunder horses “of Jehovah, somewhat similar to the horses of Jupiter among the Greeks. This idea has so much of a heathen aspect, and so little to give it even an apparent countenance in Scripture, that no further notice need be taken of it. More acceptance on the continent has been found for the view of Herder, who regards the cherubim as originally feigned monsters, like the dragons or griffins, which were the fabled guardians among the ancients of certain precious treasures. Hence he thinks the cherubim are represented as first of all appointed to keep watch at the closed gates of paradise; and for the same reason were afterwards placed by Moses in the presence-chamber of God, which the people generally were not permitted to enter. Latterly, however, he admits they were differently employed, but more after a poetical fashion, and as creatures of the imagination. This admission obviously implies that the view [[@Page:281]] will not stand an examination with all the passages of Scripture bearing on the subject. Indeed, we shall not be far wrong if we say, that it can stand an examination with none of them. The cherubim were not set up even in Eden as formidable monsters to fray sinful man from approaching it. They were not needed for such a purpose, as this was sufficiently effected by the flaming sword. Nor were they placed at the door, or about the threshold of the sanctuary, to guard its sanctity, as on that hypothesis they should have been, but formed a part of the furniture of its innermost region. And the later notices of the cherubim in Scripture, which confessedly present them in a different light, are not by any means independent and arbitrary representations: they have a close affinity, as we have seen, with the earlier statements; and we cannot doubt that the same fundamental character is to be found in all the representations.

Spencer’s idea of the cherubim was of a piece with his views generally of the institutions of Moses: they were of Egyptian origin, and were formed in imitation of those monstrous compounds which played so prominent a part in the sensuous worship of that cradle of superstition and idolatry. Such composite forms, however, were by no means so peculiar to Egypt as Spencer represents. They were common to heathen antiquity, and are even understood to have been more frequently used in the East than in Egypt. Nor is it unworthy of notice, that of all the monstrous combinations which are mentioned in ancient writings, and which the more successful investigations of later times have brought to light from the remains of Egyptian idolatry, not one has an exact resemblance to the cherub: the four creature-forms combined in it seem never to have been so combined in Egypt; and the only thing approaching to it yet discovered, is to be found in India. It is quite gratuitous, therefore, to assert that the cherubim were of Egyptian origin. But even if similar forms had been found there, it would not have settled the question, either as to the proper origin or the real nature of the cherubim. If they were placed in Eden after the fall, they had a known character and habitation in the world many centuries before Egypt had a being. And then, whatever composite images might be found in Egypt or other idolatrous nations, these, in accordance with the whole character of heathen [[@Page:282]] idolatry, which was essentially the deification of nature, must have been representations of the Godhead itself, as symbolized by the objects of nature; while the cherubim are uniformly represented as separate from God, and as ministers of righteousness before Him. So well was this understood among the Israelites, that even in the most idolatrous periods of their history, the cherubim never appear among the instruments of their false worship. This separate and creaturely character of the cherubim is also fatal to the opinion of those who regard them as “emblematical of the ever-blessed Trinity in covenant to redeem man,” which is, besides, utterly at variance with the position of the cherubim in the temple; for how could God be said to dwell between the ever-blessed Trinity?[8] And the same objections apply to another opinion, closely related to this, according to which the cherubim represent, not the Godhead person ally, but the attributes and perfections of God; are held to be symbolical personifications of these as manifested in God’s works and ways. This view has been adopted with various modifications by persons of great name, and of very different tendencies—such as Philo, Grotius, Bochart, Rosenmüller, De Wette; but it is not supported either by the fundamental nature of the cherubim or by their historical use. We cannot perceive, indeed, how the cherubim could really have been regarded as symbols of the Divine perfections, or personifications of the Divine attributes, without falling under the ban of the second commandment. It would surely have been an incongruity to have forbidden, in the strongest terms and with the severest penalties, the making of any likeness of God, and, at the same time, to have set up certain symbolical images of His perfections in the very region of His presence, and in immediate contact with His throne. No corporeal representation could consistently be admitted there of anything but what directly pointed to creaturely [[@Page:283]] existences, and their relations and interests. And the nearest possible connection with God which we can conceive the cherubim to have been intended to hold, was that of shadowing forth how the creatures of His hand, and (originally) the bearers of His image on earth, might become so replenished with His spirit of holiness as to be, in a manner, the shrines of His indwelling and gracious presence.

Bähr, in his Symbolik, approaches more nearly to this view than any of the preceding ones, and theoretically avoids the more special objection we have urged against it; but it is by a philosophical refinement too delicate, especially without some accompanying explanation, to catch the apprehension of a comparatively unlearned and sensuous people. The cherubim, he conceives, were images of the creation in its highest parts—combining in a concentrated shape the most perfect forms of creature-life on earth, and, as such, serving as representatives of all creation. But the powers of life in creation are the signs and witnesses of those which, without limit or imperfection, are in God; and so the relative perfection of life exhibited in the cherubim symbolized the absolute perfection of life that is in God—His omniscience, His peerless majesty, His creative power, His unerring wisdom. The cherub was not an image of the Creator, but it was an image of the Creator’s manifested glory. We repeat, this is far too refined and shadowy a distinction to lie at the base of a popular religion, and to serve for instruction to a people surrounded on every hand by the gross forms and dense atmosphere of idolatry. It could scarcely have failed, in the circumstances, to lead to the worship of the cherubim, as, reflectively at least, the worthiest representations of God which could be conceived by men on earth. But if this evil could have been obviated, which we can only think of as an inseparable consequence, there is another and still stronger attaching to the view, which we may call an inseparable ingredient. For if the cherubim were representatives of created life, and thence factitious witnesses of the Creator’s glory; if such were the sum and substance of what was represented in them, then it was after all but a symbol of things in nature; and, unlike all the other symbols in the religion of the Old Testament, it must have borne no respect to God’s work, and character, and [[@Page:284]] purposes of grace. That religion was one essentially adapted to the condition, the necessities, and desires of fallen man; and the symbolical forms and institutions belonging to it bear respect to God’s nature and dealings, not so much in connection with the gifts and properties of creation, as with the principles of righteousness and the hopes of salvation. If the cherubim are held to be symbolical only of what is seen of God in nature, they stand apart from this properly religious province: they have no real adaptation to the circumstances of a fallen world; they have to do simply with creative, not with redemptive manifestations of God; and so far as they are concerned, the religion of the Old Testament would after all have been, like the different forms of heathenism, a mere nature-religion. No further proof surely is needed of the falseness of the view in question; for, in a scheme of worship so wonderfully compact, and skilfully arranged toward a particular end, the supposition of a heterogeneous element at the centre is not to be entertained.

We have already referred to the view of Hengstenberg, and shown its incompatibility to some extent with the scriptural representations. His opinions upon this subject, indeed, appear to have been somewhat fluctuating. In one of his earlier productions, his work on the Pentateuch, he expresses his concurrence with Bähr, and even goes so far as to say, that he regarded Bähr’s treatment of the cherubim as the most successful part of the Symbolik. Then in his Egypt and the Books of Moses, he gave utterance to an opinion at variance with the radical idea of Bähr, that the cherubim had a connection, both in nature and origin, with the sphinxes of Egypt. And in his work on the Revelation, he expressly opposes Bähr’s view, and holds that the living forms in the cherubim were merely the representation of all that is living on the earth. But representing the higher things on earth, they also naturally serve as representations of the earth itself; and God’s appearing enthroned above the cherubim symbolized the truth, that He is the God of the whole earth, and has everything belonging to it, matter and mind, subject to His control. As mentioned before, this view, if correct, would have required the position of the cherubim to be always very distinctly and manifestly below the throne of God; which, however, it does not appear to have been, except when the manifestation described was primarily for judgment. It leaves unexplained also the prominence given in the cherubic delineations to the form and likeness of man, and the circumstance that the cherubim should, in the Revelation, be nearer to the throne than the elders— placing, according to that view, the creation, merely as such, nearer than the Church. But the representation errs, rather as giving a partial and limited view of the truth, than maintaining what is absolutely contrary to it. It approaches, in our judgment, much nearer to the right view than that more recently set forth by Delitzsch, who considers the cherubim as simply the bearers of Jehovah’s chariot, and as having been placed originally at the eastern gate of Paradise, as if to carry Him aloft to heaven for the execution of judgment, should mankind proceed farther in the course of iniquity. A conceivable notion certainly! but leaving rather too much to the imagination for so early an age, and scarcely taking the form best fitted for working either on men’s fears or hopes! In the second edition of his work, published since the preceding was written, the learned author has somewhat modified his view of the cherubim. He still regards them as the bearers of Jehovah’s chariot; but lays stress chiefly upon the general idea that they appeared as the jealous guardians of Jehovah’s presence and glory—therefore, watchers by way of eminence. As this view has been already noticed, it does not call for any fresh consideration.


[1] Hofmann has lately revived the notion, that כְּרוּב (cherub) is simply: רְכוּב (chariot), with a not unusual transposition of letters; and conceives the name to have been given to the cherubim on account of their being employed as the chariot or throne of Jehovah (Weissagung und Erfüllung, L, p. 80). Delitzsch, too, is not disinclined to this derivation and meaning, though he would rather derive the term from כָּרַב (to lay hold of), and understands it of the cherubim as laying hold of and bearing away the throne of Jehovah (Die Genesis Ausgelegt, p. 46). Thenius in his Comm. on Kings also adopts this derivation, but applies it differently. Both derivations, and the ideas respecting the cherubim they are intended to support, are quite conjectural.

[2] Vitringa justly remarks as to the difference between St John’s representation and Ezekiel’s respecting the faces, that “it is not of essential moment; for the beasts most intimately connected together form, as it were, one beast-existence, and it is a matter of indifference whether all the properties are represented as belonging to each of the four, or singly to each.”

[3] Hengstenberg, in his remarks on Rev. 4:7, regarding the cherubim as simple representations of the animal creation on earth, objects to any symbolical meaning being attached to the separate animal forms, on the special ground, that in that passage of Revelation it is the calf, not the ox, which is mentioned in the description—as it is also found once in the description of Ezekiel, ch. 1:7. He thinks this cannot be accidental, but must have been designed to prevent our attributing to it the symbolical meaning of productiveness, or such like; as no one would think of associating that idea with a calf. We are surprised at so weak an objection from such a quarter. There can be no doubt—and it is not only admitted but contended for by Hengstenberg himself in his Beiträge, i., p. 161, sq.—that in connection with that symbolical meaning the ox-worship of Egypt was erected, and from Egypt was introduced among the Israelites at Sinai, and again by Jeroboam at a later period. Yet in Scripture it is always spoken of, not as ox, or bull, or cow, but as calf-worship. This conclusively shows that, symbolically viewed, no distinction was made between ox and calf. And in the description of such figures as the cherubim, calf might very naturally be substituted for ox, simply on account of the smaller and more delicate outline which the form would present. It is possible the same appearance may partly have contributed to the idols at Bethel and Dan being designated calves rather than oxen.

[4] We say only perhaps; for though Hengstenberg and others lay much stress upon the number four, as the signature of the earth, yet there being only two in the tabernacle, would seem to indicate that nothing material depends on the number. We think that the increase from the original two to four may, with more probability of truth, be accounted for historically. When the temple was built, two cherubim of immense proportions were put into the Most Holy Place, and under these were placed the ark with its old and smaller cherubim: so that there were henceforth actually four cherubim over the ark. And as the form of Ezekiel’s vision, in its leading elements, was evidently taken from the temple, and John’s again from that, it seems quite natural to account for the four in this way.

[5] Text: Compare what is said on this subject in “Prophecy in its Distinctive Nature,” etc., p. 404, 5.

[6] Text: Elliott’s Horse Apoc. Introd.; partially adopted also, and especially in regard to the cherubim of Eden, by Mr Mills in a little work on Sacred Symbology, p. 136.

[7] Text: Doctrine of the Cherubim, by George Smith, F.A.S.

[8] It is Parkhurst, and the Hutchinsonian school, who are the patrons of this ridiculous notion. Horsley makes a most edifying improvement upon it, with reference to modern times: “The cherub was a compound figure, the calf (of Jeroboam) single. Jeroboam, therefore, and his subjects were Unitarians!”—(Works, vol. viii., 241). He forgot, apparently, that there were four parts in the cherub; so that not a trinity, but a quaternity, would have been the proper co-relative under the Gospel.

Chapter Fourth.—Sacrificial Worship.

[[@Page:286]] THE symbols to which our attention has hitherto been directed, were simply ordinances of teaching. They spake in language not to be mistaken of the righteous character of God, of the evil of sin, of the moral and physical ruin it had brought upon the world, of a purpose of grace and a prospect of recovery; but they did no more. There were no rites of service associated with them; nor of themselves did they call men to embody in any outward action the knowledge and principles they were the means of imparting. But religion must have its active services as well as its teaching ordinances. The one furnish light and direction, only that the other may be intelligently performed. And a symbolical religion, if it could even be said to exist, could certainly not have perpetuated itself, or kept alive the knowledge of Divine truth in the world, without the regular employment of one or more symbolical institutions fitted for the suitable expression of religious ideas and feelings. Now the only thing of this description which makes its appearance in the earlier periods of the world’s history, and which continued to hold, through all the after stages of symbolical worship, the paramount place, is the rite of sacrifice.

We are not told, however, of the actual institution of this rite in immediate connection with the fall; and the silence of inspired history regarding it till Cain and Abel had reached the season of manhood, and the mention of it then simply as a matter of fact in the narrative of their lives, has given rise to much disputation concerning the origin of sacrifice—whether it was of Divine appointment, or of human invention? And if the latter, to what circumstances in man’s condition, or to what views and feelings naturally arising in his mind, might it owe its existence? In the investigation of these questions, a line of inquiry has not unfrequently been pursued by theologians, more [[@Page:287]] befitting the position of philosophical reasoners than of Christian divines. The solution has been sought for chiefly in the general attributes of human nature, and the practices of a remote and semi-barbarous heathenism, as if Scripture were entirely silent upon the subject till we come far down the stream of time. Discarding such a mode of conducting the investigation, and looking to the notices of Scripture for our only certain light upon the subject, we hope, without material difficulty, to find our way to conclusions on the leading points connected with it, which may be generally acquiesced in as legitimately drawn and firmly established.

1. In regard, first of all, to the Divine authority and accept able nature of worship by sacrifice,—which is often mixed up with the consideration of its origin,—Scripture leaves very little room for controversy. The only debateable ground, as concerns this aspect of the matter, respects that very limited period of time which stretches from the fall of Adam to the offerings of Cain and Abel. From this latter period,—verging, too, on the very commencement of the world’s history,—we are expressly informed that sacrifice of one kind had a recognised place in the worship of God, and met with His acceptance. Not only did Abel appear before God with a sacrificial offering, but by a visible token of approval—conveyed in all probability through some action of the cherubim or the flaming sword, near which, as the seat of the manifested presence of God, the service would naturally be performed—the seal was given of the Divine acceptance and blessing. Thenceforth, at least, sacrifice presented after the manner of Abel’s might be regarded as of Divine authority. It bore distinctly impressed upon it the warrant and approbation of Heaven; and whatever uncertainty might hang around it during the brief space which intervened between the fall and the time of Abel’s accepted offering, it was from that time determined to be a mode of worship with which God was well pleased. We might rather say the mode of worship; for sacrifice, accompanied, it is probable, with some words of prayer, is the only stated act of worship by which believers in the earlier ages appear to have given more formal expression to their faith and hope in God. When it is said of the times of Enos, the grandson of Adam in the pious line of Seth, that “then [[@Page:288]] men began to call upon the name of the Lord,” there can be little doubt that they did so after the example of Abel, by the presentation of sacrifice—only, as profiting by the fatal result of his personal dispute with Cain, in a more public and regularly concerted manner. It appears to have been then agreed among the worshippers of Jehovah, what offerings to present, and how to do so; as, in later times, it is frequently reported of Abraham and his family, in connection with their having built an altar, that they then “called upon the name of the Lord.”—(Gen. 12:8, 13:4, 26:25) That sacrifice held the same place in the instituted worship of God after the deluge, which it had done before, we learn, first of all, from the case of Noah—the connecting link between the old and new worlds—who no sooner left the ark than he built an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings of every clean beast and fowl, from which the Lord is said to have smelled a sweet savour. In the delineation given of the earlier patriarchal times in the Book of Job, we find him not only spoken of as exhibiting his piety in the stated presentation of burnt-offerings, but also as expressly required by God to make sacrifice for the atonement of his friends, who had sinned with their lips in speaking what was not right. And as we have undoubted testimonies respecting the acceptable character of the worship performed by Abraham and his chosen seed, so we learn that in this worship sacrificial offerings played the principal part, and were even sometimes directly enjoined by God.—(Gen. 15:9, 10, 17, 22:2, 13, 35:1, etc.)

The very latest of these notices in sacred history carry us up to a period far beyond that to which the authentic annals of any heathen kingdom reach, while the earliest refer to what occurred only a few years subsequent to the fall. From the time of Abel, then, downwards through the whole course of antediluvian and patriarchal history, it appears that the regular and formal worship of God mainly consisted in the offering of sacrifice, and that this was not rendered by a sort of religious venture on the part of the worshippers, but with the known sanction, and virtual, if not explicit, appointment of God. As regards the right of men to draw near to God with such offerings, and their hope of acceptance at His hands, no shadow of doubt can fairly be said to rest upon any portion of the field of inquiry, except what may [[@Page:289]] relate to the worship of the parents themselves of the human family.

2. It is well to keep in view the clear and satisfactory deliverance we obtain on this branch of the subject. And if we could ascertain definitely what were the views and feelings expressed by the worshippers in the kind of sacrifice which was accepted by God, the question of its precise origin would be of little moment; since, so recently after the institution of the rite, we have unequivocal evidence of its being divinely owned and approved, as actually offered. But it is here that the main difficulty presents itself, as it is only indirectly we can gather the precise objects for which the primitive race of worshippers came before God with sacrificial offerings. The question of their origin still is of moment for ascertaining this, and at the same time for determining the virtue possessed by the offerings in the sight of God. If they arose simply in the devout feelings of the worshipper, they might have been accepted by God as a natural and proper form for the expression of these feelings; but they could not have borne any typical respect to the higher sacrifice of Christ, as, in the things of redemption, type and antitype must be alike of God. And on this point we now proceed to remark negatively, that the facts already noticed concerning the first appearance and early history of sacrifice, present insuperable objections to all the theories which have sought on simply natural grounds to account for its human origin.

The theory, for example, which has received the suffrage of many learned men, both in this country and on the Continent,[1] and which attempts to explain the rise of sacrifice by a reference to the feelings of men when they were in the state of rudest barbarism, capable of entertaining only the most gross and carnal ideas of God, and consequently disposed to deal with Him much as they would have done with a fellow-creature, whose favour they desired to win by means of gifts,—this theory is utterly at variance with the earlier notices of sacrificial worship. It is founded upon a sense of the value of property, and of the effect wont to be produced by gifts of property between man and man, which could not have been acquired at a period when society as [[@Page:290]] yet consisted only of a few individuals, and these the members of a single family. And whether the gift were viewed in the light of a compensation, a bribe, or a feast (for each in different hands has had its share in giving a particular shape to the theory), no sacrifice offered with such a view could have met with the Divine favour and acceptance. The feeling that prompted it must in that case have been degrading to God, indeed essentially idolatrous; and the whole history of patriarchal worship, in which God always appears to look so benignly on the offerings of believing worshippers, reclaims against the idea.

Of late, however, it has been more commonly sought to account for the origin of sacrifice, by viewing it as a symbolical act, such as might not unnaturally have suggested itself to men, in any period of society, from the feelings or practices with which their personal experience, or the common intercourse of life, made them familiar. But very different modes of explaining the symbol have been resorted to by those who concur in the same general view of its origination. Omitting the minor shades of difference which have arisen from an undue regard being had to distinctively Mosaic elements, Sykes, in his Essay on Sacrifice, raised his explanation on the ground, that “eating and drinking together were the known ordinary symbols of friendship, and were the usual rites of engaging in covenants and leagues.” And in this way some plausible things may doubtless be said of sacrifice, as it appeared often in the later ages of heathenism, and also on some special occasions among the covenant people. But nothing that can seem even a probable account is thereby given of the offerings presented by believers in the first ages of the world. For it is against all reason to suppose that such a symbol of friendship should then have been in current use,—not to mention that the offerings of that period seem to have been precisely of the class in which no part was eaten by the worshippers—holocausts. Warburton laid the ground more deeply, and with greater show of probability, when he endeavoured to trace the origin of sacrifice to the ancient mode of converse by action, to aid the defects and imperfections of early language,—this being, in his opinion, sufficient to account for men being led to adopt such a mode of worship, whether the sacrifice might be eucharistical, propitiatory, or expiatory. Gratitude for good bestowed, [[@Page:291]] he conceives, would lead the worshipper to present, by an expressive action, the first-fruits of agriculture or pasturage—the eucharistical offering. The desire of the Divine favour or protection in the business of life would, in like manner, dispose him to dedicate a portion of what was to be sown or propagated—the propitiatory. And for sacrifices of an expiatory kind, the sense of sin would prompt him to take some chosen animal, precious to the repenting criminal who deprecated, or supposed to be obnoxious to the Deity who was to be appeased, and slay it at the altar, in an action which, in all languages when translated into words, speaks to this purpose: “I confess my transgressions at Thy footstool, O my God; and with the deepest contrition implore Thy pardon, confessing that I deserve the death which I inflict on this animal.”[2] If for the infliction of death, which Warburton here represents as the chief feature in the action of expiatory sacrifice, we substitute the pouring out of the blood, or simply the giving away of the life to God, there is no material difference between his view of the origin of such sacrifices, and that recently propounded by Bähr. This ingenious and learned writer rejects the idea of sacrifice having come from any supernatural teaching or special appointment of God, as this would imply that man needed extraneous help to direct him, whether he was to sacrifice, or how he was to do it. He maintains, that “as the idea of God, and its necessary expression, was not something that came upon humanity from without, nothing taught it, but something immediate, an original fact; so also is sacrifice the form of that expression. From the point of view at which we are wont to contemplate things, separating the divine from the natural, the spiritual from the corporeal, this [[@Page:292]] form must indeed always present a strange appearance. But if we throw ourselves back on that mode of contemplation which views the divine and spiritual as inseparable from the natural and corporeal, we shall find nothing so far out of the way in man’s feeling himself constrained to represent the internal act of the giving up of his whole life and being to the Godhead—and in that all religion lives and moves through the external giving away of an animal, perhaps, which he loved as himself, or on which he himself lived, and which stood in the closest connection with his own existence.”[3] Something of a like nature (though exhibited in a form more obviously liable to objection) has also received the sanction of Tholuck, who, in the Dissertation on Sacrifices, appended to his Commentary on Hebrews, affirms, that “an offering was originally a gift to the Deity—a gift by which man strives to make up the deficiency of the always imperfect surrender of himself to God.” And in regard especially to burnt-offerings, he says: “Both objects, that of thanksgiving and of propitiation, were connected with them: on the one hand, gratitude required man to surrender what was external as well as internal to God; and, on the other hand, the surrender of an outward good was considered as a substitution, a propitiation for that which was still deficient in the internal surrender.”[4] A salvation, it would seem, by works so far, and only where these failed,—a calling in of extraneous and supplementary resources!

These different modes of explanation are manifestly one in principle, and are but varying aspects of the same fundamental view. In each form it lies open to three serious objections, which together appear to us quite conclusive against it. 1. First, the analogy of God’s method of dealing with His Church in the matter of Divine worship, at other periods in her history, is opposed to the simply human theory in any of its forms. Certainly at no other era did God leave His people altogether to their own inventions for the discovery of an acceptable mode of approaching Him, and of giving expression to their religious feelings. Some indications He has always given of what in this respect might be accordant with His mind, and suitable to the position which His worshippers occupied in His kingdom. The extent to [[@Page:293]] which this directing influence was carried, formed one of the leading characteristics of the dispensation brought in by Moses; the whole field of religious worship was laid under Divine prescription, and guarded against the inventions of men. But even in the dispensation of the Gospel, which is distinguished for the spirituality of its nature, and its comparative freedom from legal enactments and the observance of outward forms, the leading ordinances of Divine worship are indicated with sufficient plainness, and what has no foundation in the revealed word is expressly denounced as “will-worship.” And if the Church of the New Testament, with all her advantages of a completed revelation, a son-like freedom, and an unction from the Holy One, that is said to “teach her all things,” was not without some direction and control in regard to the proper celebration of God’s service, is it conceivable that all should have been left utterly loose and indeterminate, when men were still in the very infancy of a fallen condition, and their views of spiritual truth and duty only in the forming? Where, in that case, would have been God’s jealousy for the purity of His worship? And where, we may also ask, His compassion toward men? He had disclosed to them purposes of grace, and awakened in their bosoms the hope of a recovery from the ruin they had incurred; but to set them adrift without even pointing to any ordinance fitted to meet their sense of sin, and reassure their hearts before God, would have been to leave the exhibition of mercy strangely defective and incomplete. For while they knew they had to do with a God of grace and forgiveness, they should still have been in painful uncertainty how to worship and serve Him, so as to get a personal experience of His blessing, and how, especially when conscience of sin troubled them anew, they might have the uneasiness allayed. Never surely was the tenderness of God more needed to point the way to what was acceptable and right, than in such a day of small things for the children of hope. And if it had not been shown, the withholding of it could scarcely seem otherwise than an exception to the general analogy of God’s dealings with men. 2. But, secondly, the simply human theory of the origin of sacrifice is met by an unresolved, and, on that supposition we are persuaded, an unresolvable difficulty in respect to the nature of ancient sacrifice. For as the earliest, and indeed the [[@Page:294]] only recorded mode of sacrifice in primitive times, among acceptable worshippers of God, consisted in the offering of slain victims, it seems impossible that this particular form of sacrifice should have been fallen upon at first, without some special direction from above. Let the symbolical action be viewed in either of the shades of meaning formerly described,—as expressive of the offerer’s deserved death, or of the surrender of his life to God, or as a propitiatory substitution to compensate for the conscious defect of such surrender,—either way, how could he have imagined that the devoting to death of a living creature of God should have been the appropriate mode of expressing the idea? Death is so familiar to us, as regards the inferior creation, and so much associated with the means of our support and comfort, that it might seem a light thing to put an animal to death for any purpose connected with the wants or even the convenience of men. But the first members of the human family were in different circumstances. They must have shrunk unless divinely authorized from inflicting death on any, and especially on the higher forms of the animal creation; since death, in so far as they had themselves to do with it, was the peculiar expression of God’s displeasure on account of sin. All, indeed, belonging to that creation were to be subject to them. Their appointment from the very first was to subdue the earth, and render everything in it subservient to their legitimate use. But this use did not originally include a right to deprive animals of their life for the sake of food; the grant of flesh for that end was only given at the deluge. And that they should yet have thought it proper and becoming to shed the blood of animals merely to express a religious idea, nay, should have regarded that as so emphatically the appropriate way of worshipping God, that for ages it seems to have formed the more peculiar medium of approach to Him, can never be rationally accounted for without something on the part of God directing them to such a course. 3. Finally, the theories now under consideration are still farther objectionable, in that they are confronted by a specific fact, which was evidently recorded for the express purpose of throwing light on the original worship of fallen man, and with which their advocates have never been able to reconcile them—the fact of Abel’s accepted offering from the flock, as contrasted with the [[@Page:295]] rejection of Cain’s from the produce of the field.—(Gen. 4; Heb. 11:4) The offerings of the two brothers differed, we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the account in Genesis implies as much, not only in regard to the outward oblation—the one being a creature with life, the other without it—but also in the principle which moved the two brothers respectively to present them. That principle in Abel was faith; not this, therefore, but something else, in Cain. And as it was faith which both rendered Abel’s sacrifice in itself more excellent than Cain’s, and drew down upon it the seal of Heaven’s approval, the kind of faith meant must obviously have been something more than a mere general belief in the being of God, or His readiness to accept an offering of service from the hands of men. Faith in that sense must have been possessed by him who offered amiss, as well as by him who offered with acceptance. It must have been a more special exercise of faith which procured the acceptance of Abel—faith having respect not simply to the obligation of approaching God with some kind of offering, but to the duty of doing so with a sacrifice like that actually rendered, of the flock or the herd. But whence could such faith have come, if there had not been a testimony or manifestation of God for it to rest upon, which the one brother believingly apprehended, and the other scornfully slighted? We see no way of evading this conclusion, without misinterpreting and doing violence to the plain import of the account of Scripture on the subject. Taking this in its obvious and natural meaning, Cain is presented to our view as a child of nature, not of grace as one obeying the impulse and direction only of reason, and rejecting the more explicit light of faith as to the kind of service he presented to his Maker. His oblation is an undoubted specimen of what man could do in his fallen state to originate proper ideas of God, and give fitting expression to these in outward acts of worship. But unhappily for the advocates of nature’s sufficiency in the matter, it stands condemned in the inspired record as a presumptuous and disallowed act of will-worship. Abel, on the other hand, appears as one who through grace had become a child of faith, and by faith first spiritually discerning the mind of God, then reverently following the course it dictated, by presenting that more excellent sacrifice (πλείονα θυσίαν) of the firstlings of the flock, with which God was well pleased.

[[@Page:296]] On every account, therefore, the conclusion seems inevitable, that the institution of sacrifice must have been essentially of Divine origin; for though we cannot appeal to any record of its direct appointment by God, yet there are notices concerning sacrificial worship which cannot be satisfactorily explained on the supposition, in any form, of its merely human origin. There is a recorded fact, however, which touches the very borders of the subject, and which, we may readily perceive, furnished a Divine foundation on which a sacrificial worship, such as is mentioned in Scripture, might be built. It is the fact noticed at the close of God’s interview with our first parents after the fall: “And unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed them.” The painful sense of nakedness that oppressed them after their transgression, was the natural offspring of a consciousness of sin—an instinctive fear lest the unveiled body should give indication of the evil thoughts and dispositions which now lodged within. Hence, to get relief to this uneasy feeling, they made coverings for themselves of such things as seemed best adapted to the purpose, out of that vegetable world which had been freely granted for their use. They girded themselves about with fig-leaves. But they soon found that this covering proved of little avail to hide their shame, where most of all they needed to have it hidden; it left them miserably exposed to the just condemnation of their offended God. If a real and valid covering should be obtained, sufficient to relieve them of all uneasiness, God Himself must provide it. And so He actually did. As soon as the promise of mercy had been disclosed to the offenders, and the constitution of mingled goodness and severity brought in, he made coats to clothe them with, and these coats of skins. But clothing so obtained argued the sacrifice of life in the animal that furnished them; and thus, through the death of an inferior yet innocent living creature, was the needed relief brought to their disquieted and fearful bosoms. The outward and corporeal here manifestly had respect to the inward and spiritual. The covering of their nakedness was a gracious token from the hand of God, that the sin which had alienated them from Him, and made them conscious of uneasiness, was henceforth to be in His sight as if it were not; so that in covering their flesh, He at the same time covered [[@Page:297]] their consciences. If viewed apart from this higher symbolical aim, the outward act will naturally appear small and unworthy of God; but so to view it were to dissever it from the very reason of its performance. It was done purposely to denote the covering of guilt from the presence of God—an act which God alone could have done. But He did it, as we have seen, by a medium of death, by a sacrifice of life in those creatures which men were not yet permitted to kill for purposes of food, and in connection with a constitution of grace which laid open the prospect of recovered life and blessing to the fallen. Surely it is not attributing to the venerable heads of the human family, persons who had so recently walked with God in paradise, an incredible power of spiritual discernment, or supposing them to stretch unduly the spiritual import of this particular action of God, if we should conceive them turning the Divine act into a ground of obligation and privilege for themselves, and saying, Here is Heaven’s own finger pointing out the way for obtaining relief to our guilty consciences; the covering of our shame is to be found by means of the skins of irrational creatures, slain in our behalf; their life for our lives, their clothing of innocence for our shame; and we cannot err, we shall but show our faith in the mercy and forgiveness we have experienced, if, as often as the sense of shame and guilt returns upon our consciences, we follow the footsteps of the Lord, and, by a renewed sacrifice of life, clothe ourselves anew with His own appointed badge of acquittal and acceptance.

We are not to be understood as positively affirming that our first parents and their believing posterity reasoned thus, or that they actually had no more of instruction to guide them. We merely say, that they may quite naturally have so reasoned, and that we have no authority from the inspired record to suppose that any further instruction was communicated. Indeed, nothing more seems strictly necessary for the first beginnings of a sacrificial worship. And it was still but the age for beginnings; in what was taught and done, we should expect to find only the simplest forms of truth and duty. The Gospel, in its clearer announcements, even the law with its specific enactments, would then have been out of place. All that was absolutely required, and all that might be fairly expected, was some natural and expressive [[@Page:298]] act of God toward men, laying, when thoughtfully considered, the foundation of a religious service toward Him. The claims of the Sabbatical institution, and of the marriage union, had a precisely similar foundation—the one in God’s personal resting on the seventh day, hallowing and blessing it; the other in His formation of the first wife out of the first husband. It was simply the Divine procedure in these cases which formed the ground of man’s obligations; because that procedure was essentially a revelation of the mind and will of Godhead for the guidance of the rational beings who, being made in God’s image, were to find their glory and their well-being in appropriating His acts, and copying after His example. So here, God’s fundamental act in removing and covering out of sight the shame of conscious guilt in the first offenders, would both naturally and rightfully be viewed as a revelation of God, teaching them how, in henceforth dealing with Him, they were to proceed in effecting the removal of guilt, and appearing, notwithstanding it, in the presence of God. They found, in this Divine act, the key to a justified condition, and an acceptable intercourse with Heaven. Had they not done so, it would have been incapable of rational explanation, how a believing Abel should so soon have appeared in possession of it. Yet it could not have been rendered so palpable as to obtrude itself on the carnal and unbelieving; otherwise it would scarcely be less capable of explanation, how a self-willed Cain should so soon have ventured to disregard it. The ground of dissension between the two brothers must have been of a somewhat narrower and more debateable character, than if an explicit and formal direction had been given. And in the Divine act referred to—viewed in its proper light, and taken in connection with the whole circumstances of the time—there was precisely what might have tended to originate both results: enough of light to instruct the humble heart of faith, mainly intent on having pardon of sin and peace with God, and yet not too much to leave proud and unsanctified nature without an excuse for following a course more agreeable to its own inclinations.[5]

[[@Page:299]] 3. We thus hold sacrifice—sacrifice in the higher sense, not as expressive of dependence and thankfulness merely, but as connected with sin and forgiveness, expiatory sacrifice to have been, as to its foundation, of Divine origin. It had its rise in an act of God, done for the express purpose of relieving guilty consciences of their sense of shame and confusion; and from the earliest periods of recorded worship it stands forth to our view as the religious solemnity in which faith had its most peculiar exercise, and for which God bestowed the tokens of His acceptance and blessing. For the discussion of some collateral points belonging to the subject, and the disposal of a few objections, we refer to the Appendix.[6] And we now proceed here briefly to inquire what sacrifice, as thus originating and thus presented, symbolically expressed. What feelings on the part of the worshipper, what truths on the part of God, did it embody?

Partly, indeed, the inquiry has been answered already. It was impossible to conduct the discussion thus far without indicating the leading ideas involved in primitive sacrifice. It must be remembered, however, that we are still dealing with sacrifice in its simplest and most elementary form—radically, no doubt, the same as it was under the more complex and detailed arrangements [[@Page:300]] of the Mosaic ritual, but in comparison of that wanting much in fulness and variety. As employed by the first race of believing worshippers, a few leading points are all that it can properly be regarded as embracing.

(1.) Both from the manner of its origin, and its own essential nature, as involving in every act of worship the sacrifice of a creature’s life, it bore impressive testimony to the sinfulness of the offerer’s condition. Those who presented it could not but know that God was far from delighting in blood, and that death, either in man or beast, was not a thing in which He could be supposed to take pleasure. The explicit connection of death, also, with the first transgression, as the proper penalty of sin, was peculiarly fitted to suggest painful and humiliating thoughts in the minds of those who stood so near to the awful moment of the fall. And when death, under God’s own directing agency, was brought so prominently into the Divine service, and every act of worship, of the more solemn kind, carried in its bosom the life-blood of an innocent creature, what more striking memorial could they have had of the evil wrought in their condition by sin? With such an element of blood perpetually mingling in their services, they could not forget that they stood upon the floor of a broken covenant, and were themselves ever incurring anew the just desert of transgression.

(2.) Then, looking more particularly to the sanction and encouragement of God given to such a mode of worshipping Him, it bespoke their believing conviction of His reconcileable and gracious disposition toward them, notwithstanding their sinfulness. They gave here distinct and formal expression to their faith, that as they needed mercy, so they recognised God as ready to dispense it to those who humbly sought Him through this channel of communion. Such a faith, indeed, had been presumption, the groundless conceit of nature’s arrogancy or ignorance, if it had not had a Divine foundation to rest upon, and tokens of Divine acceptance in the acts of service it rendered. But these, as we have seen, it plainly had. So that a sacrificial worship thus performed bore evidence as well to the just expectations of mercy and forgiveness on the part of those who presented it, as to their uneasy sense of guilt and shame prompting them to do so.

[[@Page:301]] (3.) But, looking again to the original ground and authority of this sacrificial worship,—the act of God in graciously covering the shame and guilt of sin,—and to the seal of acceptance after wards set so peculiarly and emphatically on it, the great truth was expressed by it, on the part of God, that the taking away of life stood essentially connected with the taking away of sin; or, as expressed in later Scripture, that a without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” In accordance with the general character of the primeval constitution of things, this truth comes out, not as a formal enunciation of principle, or an authoritative enactment of Heaven, but as an embodied fact; a fact, in the first instance, of God’s hand, significantly indicating His mind and will, and then believingly contemplated, acted upon, substantially re-enacted by His sincere worshippers, with His clearly marked approval. The form may be regarded as peculiar, but not so the truth enshrined in it. This is common to all times, and, after holding a primary place in every phase of a preparatory religion, it rose at last to a position of transcendent importance in the work and kingdom of Christ. How far Adam and his immediate descendants might be able to descry, under their imperfect forms of worship, and the accompanying intimations of recovery, the ultimate ground in this respect of faith and hope for sinful men, can be to us only matter of vague conjecture or doubtful speculation. Their views would, perhaps, consider ably differ, according as their faith was more or less clear in its discernment, more or less lively in its perceptions of the truth couched under the symbolical acts and revelations of God. But unless more specific information was given them than is found in the sacred record (and we have no warrant to suppose there was more), the anticipations formed even by the most enlightened of those primitive believers, regarding the way and manner in which the blood of sacrifice was ultimately to enter into the plan of God, must have been comparatively vague and indefinite.

(4.) For us, however, who can read the symbol before us by the clear light of the Gospel, and from the high vantage-ground of a finished redemption can look back upon the temporary institutions that foreshadowed it, there is neither darkness nor uncertainty respecting the prophetic import of the primeval rite of sacrifice. We perceive there in the germ the fundamental [[@Page:302]] truth of that scheme of grace which was to provide for the complete and final restoration of a seed of blessing—the truth of a suffering Mediator, giving His life a ransom for many. Here again we behold the ends of revelation mutually embracing and contributing to throw light on each other. And as amid the perfected glories of Messiah’s kingdom all appears clustering around the Lamb that was slain, and doing homage to Him for His matchless humiliation and triumphant victory, so the earliest worship of believing humanity points to His coming sacrifice as the one ground of hope and security to the fallen. At a subsequent period, when believers were furnished with a fuller revelation and a more complicated worship, symbolical representations were given of many other and subordinate parts of the work of redemption. But when that worship existed in its simplest form, and embodied only the first elements of the truth, it was meet that what was ultimately to form the groundwork of the whole, should have been alone distinctly represented. And we shall not profit, as we should, by the contemplation of that one rite which stands so prominently out in the original worship of the believing portion of mankind, if it does not tend to deepen upon our minds the incomparable worth and importance of a crucified Redeemer, as the wisdom and power of God unto salvation.


[1] Spencer de Leg. Heb. L. iii., c. 9. So also substantially, Priestly, H. Taylor, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Hofmann, etc.

[2] Warburton’s Div. Legation, B. ix., c. 2. Davison substantially adopts this view, with no other difference than that he conceives it unnecessary to make any account of the defects and imperfections of early language in explaining the origin of sacrifice; but, regarding “representation by action as gratifying to men who have every gift of eloquence,” and as singularly suited to great purposes of solemnity and impression,” he thinks “not simple adoration, not the naked and unadorned oblations of the tongue, but adoration invested in some striking and significative form, and conveyed by the instrumentality of material tokens, would be most in accordance with the strong energies of feeling, and the insulated condition of the primitive race.”—(Inquiry into the Origin and Intent of Sacrifice, p. 19, 20.)

[3] Bähr’s Symbolik, B. ii., p. 272.

[4] Biblical Cabinet, vol. xxxix., p. 252.

[5] Substantially the correct view was presented of this subject in a work by Dr Croly, though, like several other things in the same volume, attended with the twofold disadvantage, of not being properly grounded, and of being encumbered with some untenable positions. “God alone is described as in act, and His only act is that of clothing the two criminals. The whole passage is but one of many in which a rigid adherence to the text is the way of safety. The literal meaning at once exalts the rite and illustrates its purposes. . . . Adam in Paradise has no protection from the Divine wrath, but he needs none; he is pure. In his hour of crime, he finds the fatal difference between good and evil, feels that he requires protection from the eye of justice, and makes an ineffectual effort to supply that protection by his own means. But the expedient which cannot be supplied by man, is finally supplied by the Divine interposition. God clothes him, and his nakedness is the source of anguish and terror no more. The contrast of the materials of his imperfect and perfect clothing is equally impressive. Adam, in his first consciousness of having provoked the Divine displeasure, covers himself with the frail produce of the ground, the branch and leaf; but from the period of forgiveness he is clothed with the substantial product of the flock, the skin of the slain animal. If circumstances apparently so trivial as the clothing of our original parents are stated, what other reason can be assigned, than that they were not trivial, that they formed a marked feature of the Divine dispensation, and that they were important to be recorded for the spiritual guidance of man?—(Divine Providence, p. 194-196)

[6] Appendix D.

Chapter Fifth.—The Marriage Relation and The Sabbatical Institution.

[[@Page:303]] THE two ordinances of marriage and the Sabbath are here coupled together, as having so much in common, that they alike belonged to the primeval constitution of things, and were alike intended, without any formal alteration, to transmit their validity to times subsequent to the fall. They carried an import, and involved obligations, which should be co-extensive with the generations of mankind. Yet with this general agreement there is a specific difference, which is of moment as regards the point of view from which the subjects must here be contemplated. The formation of a partner for Adam out of a portion of his own frame, and the junction of the two under the direct sanction of their Maker, so as to form in a manner one flesh, however important in a social and economical respect, however fitted also to bear indirectly on the higher interests of the world, was still not formally of a religious nature. For the world’s secular well-being alone there were reasons amply sufficient to account for its Divine author resorting to such a method, when bringing into being the first family pair, and in them laying the foundations of the world’s social existence. For it was by an instructive and appropriate act, entwined with the very beginnings of social life on earth, that the essential conditions were to be exhibited—if exhibited so as to tell with permanent effect—of its right constitution and healthful working. And so far from being, as some have alleged, an unbecoming representation of the Divine character, a lowering of the Divine Majesty, that Eve should have been said to be formed out of Adam’s side, and thereafter presented to him as his own flesh and bone, on account of which they would turn the whole narrative into a myth, it will be found, when duly considered and viewed in the light of the important interests depending on it, every way worthy of the wise foresight and [[@Page:304]] paternal goodness of Deity. He has thus interwoven with the closing act of creation an imperishable moral lesson,—made it, indeed, the perpetual and impressive symbol of the great truth,—that the fundamental relation in family life was to consist in the union of one man and one woman; and these so bound together as that, while distinctions as to authority and power on the one side, and subordination and dependence on the other, should exist between them, they should still be regarded as a social unity—corporate manhood. So far from the Divine procedure in this violating our sense of the fitting and proper, or doing more than the circumstances of the case required, the records of history were not long in furnishing mournful evidence that it proved all too little to secure the end in view; it failed to perpetuate the intended unity and good order of families. Even among the chosen people, the practical inference drawn from it with instinctive sagacity and true spiritual insight by the first Adam. (“Therefore shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh,” Gen. 2:24), came to be so much lost sight of, that it required to be announced afresh, and with sterner authority imposed, by the second Adam (Matt. 19:5, 6).

The Scriptural evidence for the deep significance of the Divine act in respect to the formation of Eve, and the nature of the marriage union founded on it, is both explicit and ample. But in the circumstances of the parents themselves of the human family, and also of those of their posterity who lived in the earlier ages of the world, it could scarcely have occurred to them to carry that significance into any sphere beyond that of the family life. Nothing in the prospect as yet held out to them of a restored condition, was fitted to give their ideas so definite a shape as to suggest a spiritual relationship formed after the model of this natural one; and in the religion of patriarchal, or even much later times, scarcely anything is found that bears this specific impress. As the result of God’s fuller manifestation of Himself and closer intimacy with His people in the wilderness, a kind of marriage union indeed is implied to have sprung up between them, since their defection from His service is represented under the light of an adultery or whoredom (Num. 14:33),—a style of representation which [[@Page:305]] became of frequent occurrence in the writings of the later prophets (Isa. 57:3; Jer. 3:9, 13:27; Ezek. 16, 23; Hos. 1, 2, etc.). In one or two passages also the Lord expressly takes to Himself the name of the husband of Israel, or speaks of Himself as having been married to them (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:14). In the Book of Canticles this relation even forms the scene of a kind of spiritual drama; and in the [[45th >> Bible:Ps 45]] Psalm the hero of the piece, the King of Zion, is even represented as standing formally related to a queen who shares with Him in the honours of the kingdom, and by whom can only be understood the true Israel of God. It is not to be denied, however, that this series of Old Testament representations took its formal rise in the covenant engagement entered into at Sinai, and merely availed itself of the marriage-bond as one peculiarly adapted for portraying the obligations and advantages connected with fidelity to the engagement, or the guilt and folly of the reverse. In none of the passages does there seem any distinct reference to the primeval union in Eden; and rather as a fitting emblem, than a type in the proper sense, is the marriage relation in such cases employed much as also the relations of a pastor to his flock (Ps. 23; Ezek. 36; Zech. 11), of a husbandman to his vineyard (Ps. 80; Isa. 5:1-7; Ezek. 15), or of a king to his subjects (1 Sam. 8:7; Ps. 2, etc.).

We are not, therefore, disposed to connect with the religious worship or hopes which came in after the fall, any distinct reference to the marriage relation, viewed as growing out of Eve’s derivation from Adam, and subjection to him. In that particular form, and as an ideal pattern for the nourishment of faith and hope, it belongs to New rather than Old Testament times—the times, namely, when the Lord from heaven stands distinctly revealed in the character of the second Adam. As such, He also must have His spouse, and has it in part now; but shall have it in completeness hereafter, in the company of faithful souls who have been washed from their sins in His blood—the elect Church, which in all its members grows out of His root, lives by His life, and is called at once to share in His glory, and as an handmaid to minister to His will. So that the mystery of the primeval spouse (“a bone of Adam’s bone, flesh of his [[@Page:306]] flesh”) may justly be regarded as the mystery of the Church in her relation to Christ (Eph. 5:30-32; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7, 21:2). But in this special aspect of the matter,—an aspect that belongs to creation rather than to strictly historical times,—it must be allowed to stand in some respects apart from the typical relations with which we have now properly to deal, and which all in a greater or less degree contributed to mould the religious views and feelings of fallen men.

It is otherwise in the respects now mentioned with the Sabbatical institution, which also belongs to the primeval constitution of things. This at once bore a directly religious aspect, and pointed to the future as well as the present. The record given of it tells us that “on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:2, 3). This procedure of God appears in such immediate contact with the work of creation (for in that respect the passage admits but of one fair interpretation), that the bearing it was intended to have on man’s views and obligations must primarily have had respect to his original destination; and if designed to lay the foundation of a stated order, this must have been one perfectly suited to the paradisiacal state. Yet a slight reflection might have sufficed to convince any thoughtful mind, that whatever significance it might have for the occupants of such a state, that could not be lost, but must even have been deepened and increased, by the circumstances of their fall from it.

In the procedure itself of God there may be noted a threefold stage, each carrying a distinct and important meaning. First, the rest itself: “He rested on the seventh day from all His work;” and in Ex. 31:17, the yet stronger expression is used, of God’s refreshing Himself on that day. Figurative language this must, no doubt, be understood to be,—for “the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary,” that being rendered impossible by the infinitude of His perfections,—yet it is not the less expressive of a great truth, and one just as cognizable by man as the acts of creative energy by which it was preceded. What was it, indeed, but the proper [[@Page:307]] complement of creation—the immediate result at which it aimed, and in which, when realized, there was set the seal of Heaven on its beauty and completeness? The glorious Creator is presented to our view at the close of His six days work,—brought at length to its proper consummation in man, as clothed with the Divine image, and charged with the oversight and development of the territory assigned him,—surveying His own workmanship, looking with complacence on the product of His hands, taking it, as it were, to His bosom, and in the freshness of its joy and the prospect of its goodly order finding satisfaction to Himself. How near does not this show God to be to His creatures in particular to the rational and upright portion of them? And must there not have been on their part the response of an intelligent appreciation and living fellowship? Must not man, endowed as he was with God’s likeness, and crowned with glory and honour as God’s representative, here also have communion with his Maker? How could he fail to do so? As it was his calling to enter into God’s work—to take it up, as it were, where God left it, and carry it forward to its proper results; so it was his privilege to enter into God’s rest—making this in a sense his own, and thereby rendering earth the reflex of heaven. It was for this end that God disclosed His manner of distinguishing the seventh day from those which preceded, viz., to teach His earthly representative to go and do likewise; so that this day so kept might be an ever-recurring memorial and sign, both how man’s ordinary work should form a continuation and image of God’s, and man’s rest be a conscious appropriation and enjoyment of that blessed satisfaction and repose with which God was Himself refreshed.

But this was not left to be simply inferred; for if even the first stage of this Divine act has respect to man, still more has the second, which points directly and exclusively to him: “And God blessed the seventh day.” This blessing of the day is not to be confounded with the sanctifying of it, which immediately follows, as if the meaning were, God blessed it by sanctifying it. The blessing is distinct from the sanctification, and is, so to speak, the settling of a special dowry on it for every one, who should give due heed to its proper end and object. Let man—the Divine act of blessing virtually said—only enter into God’s [[@Page:308]] mind, and tread in His footsteps, by resting every seventh day from his works, and he shall undoubtedly find it to his profit; the blessing, which is life for evermore, shall descend on him. What he may lose for the moment in productive employment, shall be amply compensated by the refreshment it will bring to his frame—by the enlargement and elevation of his soul—above all, by the spiritual fellowship and interest in God which becomes the abiding portion of those who follow Him in their ways, and perpetually return to Him as the supreme rest of their souls.

Then, the last stage in the procedure of God on this occasion, indicates how the two earlier ones were to be secured: “He sanctified it,” set it sacredly apart from the others. Having appointed it to a distinctive end, he conferred on it a distinctive character, that His creature, man, might from time to time be doing in his line of things what the Creator had already done in His own—might, after six successive days of work, take one to reinvigorate his frame, to reflect calmly on the past, and view the part he has taken and the relations he occupies on the outward and visible theatre of the world, in the light of the spiritual and the eternal. It was to be his calling and his destiny on earth, not simply to work, but to work as a reasonable and moral being, after the example of his Maker, for specific ends. And for this he needed seasons of quiet repose and thoughtful consideration, not less than time and opportunity for active labour; as, otherwise, he could neither properly enjoy the work of his hands, nor obtain for the higher part of his nature that nobler good which is required to satisfy it. God, therefore, when He had finished the work of creation by making man, sanctified the seventh day—His own seventh, but man’s first; for man had not first to work and then to reap, but as God’s vicegerent, nature’s king and high-priest, could at once enter into his Maker’s heritage of blessing. And henceforth, in the career that lay before him, ever and anon returning from the field of active labour assigned him in cultivating and subduing the earth, he must on the hallowed day of rest gather in his thoughts and desires from the world, and, retiring into God as his sanctuary, hold with Him a sabbatism of peaceful and blessed communion.

[[@Page:309]] The Divine procedure, then, in every one of its stages, plainly points to man, and aims at his participation in the likeness and enjoyment of God. “With the Sabbath,” says Sartorius happily, and we rejoice and hail it as a token for good, that such thoughts on the Sabbath are finding utterance in the high places of Germany—”with the Sabbath begins the sacred history of man the day on which he stood forth to bless God, and, in company with Eve, entered on his Divine calling upon earth. The creation without the creation-festival, the world’s unrest without rest in God, is altogether vain and transitory. The sacred day appointed, blessed, consecrated by God, is that from which the blessing and sanctification of the world and time, of human life and human society, proceed. Nor is anything more needed than the recognition of its original appointment and sacred destination, for our receiving the full impression of its sanctity. How was it possible for the first man ever to forget it? From the very beginning was it written upon his heart, Remember the Sabbath-day to sanctify it.”[1] There is nothing new in such views. Substantially the same interpretation that we have given is put on the original notice in Genesis, in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ch. [[4 >> Bible:He 4]] ), where the record of God’s rest at the close of creation is referred to as the first form of the promise made to man of entering into, God’s rest. The record, then, of what God in that respect did, was a revelation. It embodied a call and a promise to man of high fellowship with the Creator in His peculiar felicity, and, consequently, inferred an obligation on man’s part both to seek the end proposed, and to seek it in the method of God’s appointment. But did the obligation cease when man fell? or was the promise cancelled? Assuredly not—not, at least, after the time that the introduction of an economy of grace laid open for the fallen the prospect of a new inheritance in God. So far from having lost its significance or its value, the Creator’s Sabbatism then acquired fresh meaning and importance, and became so peculiarly adapted to the altered condition of the world, that we cannot but regard it as having from the first contemplated the physical and moral evils that were to issue from the fall. In the language of Hengstenberg, with whom we gladly concur on this branch of [[@Page:310]] the subject, though on too many others we shall be constrained to differ from him, “It presupposes work, and such work as has a tendency to draw us away from God. It is the remedy for the injuries we are apt to incur through this work. If anything is clear, it is the connection between the Sabbath arid the fall. The work which needs intermission, lest the divine life should be imperilled by it, is not [we would rather say, is not so much] the cheerful and pleasant employment of which we read in Gen. 2:15; it is [rather] the oppressive and degrading toil spoken of in Gen. 3:19, work done in the sweat of the brow, upon a soil that brings forth thorns and thistles.”[2] We would put the statement comparatively rather than absolutely; for the rest of God being held on the first seventh day of the world’s existence, and the day being immediately consecrated and blessed, it must have had respect to the place and occupation of man even in paradise. Why should work there be supposed to have differed in kind from work elsewhere and since? There could be room only for a difference in degree; and being work from its very nature that led the soul to aim at specific objects, and put forth continuous efforts on what is outward, it required to be met by a stated periodical institution, that would recall the thoughts and feelings of the soul more within itself. Man’s perfection in that original state was only a relative one. It needed certain correctives and stimulants to secure the continued enjoyment of the good belonging to it. It needed, in particular, perpetual access to the tree of life for the preservation of the bodily, and an ever-returning Sabbatism for that of the spiritual life. But if such a Sabbatism was required even for man’s well-being in paradise, where the work was so light, and the order so beautiful, how could it be imagined that the Sabbatical institution might be either safely or lawfully disregarded in a world of sorrow, temptation, and hardship?

Was there really, however, any Sabbatical institution? There is no command respecting it in this portion of the inspired record. And may not the mention there made of God’s keeping the Sabbath, and blessing and sanctifying the day, have been made simply with a prospective reference to the precept that was ultimately to be imposed on the Israelites? So it has been alleged [[@Page:311]] with endless frequency by those who can find no revelation of the Divine will, and no obligation or moral duty excepting what comes in the authoritative form of a command; and it is still substantially reiterated by Hengstenberg, who certainly cannot be charged with such a bluntness of spiritual discernment. We meet the allegation with the statement that has already been repeatedly urged—that it was not yet the time for the formal enactments of law, and that it was by other means man was to learn God’s mind and his own duty. The ground of obligation lay in the Divine act; the rule of duty was exhibited in the Divine example: for these were disclosed to men from the first, not to gratify an idle curiosity, but for the express purpose of leading them to know and do what is agreeable to the will of God. If such means were not sufficient to speak with clearness and authority to men’s consciences, then it may be affirmed that the first race of mankind were free from all authoritative direction and control whatever. They were not imperatively bound either to fear God or to regard man; for, excepting in the manner now stated, no general obligations of service were laid on them. But to suppose this; to suppose, even in regard to what is written of the original Sabbatism of God, that it did not bear directly upon the privileges and duties of the very first members of the human family, is in truth to make void that portion of revelation—to treat it as if, where it stands, it were a superfluity or a blemish. We cannot so regard it. We hold by the truthfulness and natural import of the Divine record. And doing this, we are shut up to the conclusion, that it was at first designed and appointed by God, that mankind should sanctify every returning seventh day, as a season of comparative rest from worldly labour, of spiritual contemplation and religious employment, that so they might cease from their own works and enter into the rest of God.

But we shall not pursue the subject farther at present. We even leave unnoticed some of the objections that have been raised against the existence of a primeval Sabbath, as the subject must again return, and in a more controversial aspect, when we come to consider the place assigned to the law of the Sabbath in the revelation from Sinai. It is enough, at this stage of our inquiry, to have exhibited the foundation laid for the perpetual [[@Page:312]] celebration of a seventh-day Sabbath, in the original act of God at the close of His creation work. In that we have a foundation broad and large as the theatre of creation itself and the general interests of humanity, free from all local restrictions and national peculiarities. That in the infancy of the world, and during the ages of a remote antiquity, there would be much simplicity in the mode of its observance, may readily be supposed. Indeed, where all was so simple, both in the state of society and the institutions of worship, the symbolical act itself of resting from ordinary work, and in connection with that, the habit of recognising the authority of God, and realizing the Divine call to a participation in the blessed rest of the Creator, must have constituted no inconsiderable part of the practical observance of the day. And that this also in process of time should have fallen into general desuetude, is only what might have been expected from the fearful depravity and lawlessness which overspread the earth as a desolation. When men daringly cast off the fear of God Himself, they would naturally make light of the privilege and duty set before them of entering into His rest. And considering how partial and imperfect the observance of the day, in the earlier periods of the world’s history, was likely to become, it is not to be wondered at, that, beside the original record of its Divine origin and authoritative obligation, traces of its existence should be found only in some scattered notices of history, and in the wide-spread sacredness of the number seven, which has left its impress on the religion and literature of nearly every nation of antiquity. But however neglected or despised, the original fact remains for the light and instruction of the world in all ages; and there perpetually comes forth from it a call to every one who has ears to hear, to sanctify a weekly rest unto the Lord, and rise to the enjoyment of His blessing.


[1] Sartorius über den alt und neu-Test. Cultus, p. 17.

[2] Ueber den Tag des Herrn, p. 12.

Chapter Sixth.—Typical Things in History During The Progress of The First Dispensation.

[[@Page:313]] HAVING now considered the typical bearing of the fundamental facts and symbolical institutions belonging to the first dispensation of grace, it remains that we endeavour to ascertain what there might afterwards be evolved of a typical nature during the progress of that dispensation, by means of the transactions and events that took place under it. These, it was already noted in our preliminary remarks, could only be employed to administer instruction of a subsidiary kind. In their remoter reference to Gospel times, as in their direct historical aspect, they can rank no higher than progressive developments—not laying a foundation, but proceeding on the foundation already laid, and giving to some of the points connected with it a more specific direction, or supplementing them with additional discoveries of the mind and will of God. It is impossible here, any more than in the subjects treated of in the preceding chapters, to isolate entirely the portions that have a typical bearing from others closely connected with them. And even in those which exhibit something of the typical element, it can scarcely be expected, at so early a period in the world’s history, to possess much of a precise and definite character; for in type, as in prophecy, the progress must necessarily have been from the more general to the more particular. In tracing this progress, we shall naturally connect the successive developments with single persons or circumstances; yet without meaning thereby to indicate that these are in every respect to be accounted typical.

Section First.—The Seed of Promise Abel, Enoch.

THE first distinct appearance of the typical in connection with the period subsequent to the fall, is to be found in the case of Abel; but in that quite generally. Abel was the first member of the promised seed; and through him supplementary knowledge was imparted more especially in one direction, viz., in regard to the principle of election, which was to prevail in the actual fulfilment of the original promise. That promise itself, when viewed in connection with the instituted symbols of religion, might be perceived—if very thoughtfully considered—to have implied something of an elective process; but the truth was not clearly expressed. And it was most natural that the first parents of the human family should have overlooked what but obscurely intimated a limitation in the expected good. They would readily imagine, when a scheme of grace was introduced, which gave promise of a complete destruction of the adversary, with the infliction only of a partial injury on the woman’s seed, that the whole of their offspring should attain to victory over the power of evil. This joyous anticipation affectingly discovers itself in the exclamation of Eve at the birth of her first-born son, “I have gotten a man from (or, as it should rather be, with) the Lord”—gratefully acknowledging the hand of God in giving her, as she thought, the commencement of that seed which was assured through Divine grace of a final triumph. This she reckoned a real getting—gain in the proper sense—calling her child by a name that expressed this idea (Cain); and she evidently did so by regarding it as the precious gift of God, the beginning and the pledge of the ascendency that was to be won over the malice of the tempter.[1] Never was [[@Page:315]] mother destined to receive a sorer disappointment. She did not want faith in the Divine word, but her faith was still without knowledge, and she must learn by painful experience how the plan of God for man’s recovery was to be wrought out. A like ignorance, though tending now in the opposite direction, again discovers itself at the birth of Abel, whose name (breath, emptiness) seems, as Delitzsch has remarked, to have proceeded from her felt regard to the Divine curse, as that given to Cain did from a like regard to the Divine promise. It is possible that, between the births of the two brothers, what she had seen of the helpless and suffering condition of infancy in the first-born may have impressed the mind of Eve with such a sense of the evils entailed upon her offspring by the curse, as to have rendered her for the time forgetful of the better things disclosed in the promise. It is also possible, and every way probable, that the name by which this child is known to history, and which is not, as in the case of Cain, expressly connected with his birth, may have been occasioned by his unhappy fate, and expressed the feelings of vexation and disappointment which it awakened in the bosoms of his parents. However it might be, the result at least showed how little the operations of grace were to pursue the course that might seem accordant with the views and feelings of nature. In particular, it showed that, so far from the whole [[@Page:316]] offspring of the woman being included, there was from the first to pervade the Divine plan a principle of election, in virtue of which a portion only, and that by no means the likeliest, according to the estimation of nature, were to inherit the blessing; while the rest should fall in with the designs of the tempter, and be reckoned to him for a seed of cursing. Abel, therefore, in his acceptance with God, in his faith respecting the Divine purposes, and his presentation of offerings that drew down the Divine favour, stands as the type of an elect seed of blessing—a seed that was ultimately to have its root and its culmination in Him who was to be peculiarly the child of promise. In Cain, on the other hand, the impersonation of nature’s pride, waywardness, and depravity, there appeared a representative of that unhappy portion of mankind who should espouse the interest of the adversary, and seek by unhallowed means to establish it in the world.

The brief notices of antediluvian history are evidently framed for the purpose of exhibiting the antagonistic state and tendencies of these two seeds, and of rendering manifest the mighty difference which God’s work of grace was destined to make in the character and prospects of man. The name given by Eve to her third son (Seth, appointed), with the reason assigned for it, “For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew,” bespoke the insight the common mother of mankind had now obtained into this mournful division in her offspring. Cain she regards as having, in a manner, ceased to belong to her seed; he had become too plainly identified with that of the adversary. He seems now to her view to stand at the head of a God-opposing interest in the world; and as in contrast to him, the destroyer of the true seed, God is seen mercifully providing another in its room.[2] So that there were [[@Page:317]] again the two seeds in the world, each taking root, and bringing forth fruit after its kind. But how different! On the one hand appears the Cainite section, smitten with the curse of sin, yet proudly shunning the path of reconciliation—retiring to a distance from the emblems of God’s manifested presence—building a city, as if to lighten, by the aid of human artifice and protection, the evils of a guilty conscience and a blighted condition—cultivating with success the varied elements of natural strength and worldly greatness, inventing instruments of music and weapons of war, trampling under foot, as seemed good to the flesh, the authority of heaven and the rights of men, and at last, by deeds of titanic prowess and violence, boldly attempting to bring heaven and earth alike under its sway.—(Gen. 4:13-24, 6:4-6)[3] On the other hand appears the woman’s seed [[@Page:318]] of promise, seeking to establish and propagate itself in the earth by the fear of God, and the more regular celebration of His worship (Gen. 4:26), trusting for its support in the grace and blessing of God, as the other did in the powers and achievements of corrupt nature; and so continuing uninterrupted its line of godly descendants, yet against such fearful odds, and at last with such a perilous risk of utter extinction, that Divine faithfulness and love required to meet violence with violence, and bring the conflict in its first form to a close by the sweeping desolation of the flood. It terminated, as every such conflict must do, on the side of those who stood in the promised grace and revealed testimony of God. These alone live for ever; and the triumph of all that is opposed to them can be but for a moment.

This seed of the woman, however,—the seed that she produces in faith upon the promise of God, and in which the grace of God takes vital effect, is found, not only as to its existence, to be associated with a principle of election, but also as to the relative place occupied by particular members in its line. All have by faith an interest in God, and in consequence triumph over the power of the adversary. But some have a larger interest than others, and attain to a higher victory. There was an election within the election. So it appeared especially in the case of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, and again in Noah, who, as they alone of the antediluvians were endowed with the spirit of prophecy, so they alone, also, are said to have “walked with God” (Gen. 5:22, 6:9),—an expression never used of any who lived in later times, and denoting the nearest and most confidential intercourse, as if they had all but regained the old paradisiacal freedom of communion with Heaven. And as the Divine seal upon this higher elevation of the life of God in their souls, they were both honoured with singular tokens of distinction—the one having been taken, without tasting of death, to still nearer fellowship with God, to abide in His immediate presence (“He was not, for God took him”), while the other became under God the saviour and father of a new world. Of the latter we shall have occasion to speak separately, as there were connected with his case other elements of a typical nature. But in regard to Enoch, as the short and pregnant notice of his life [[@Page:319]] and of his removal out of it, plainly indicates something transcendently good and great, so, we cannot doubt, the contemporaries of the patriarch knew it to be such. They knew—at least they had within their reach the means of knowing—that in consideration of his eminent piety, and of the circumstances of the time in which he lived, he was taken direct to a higher sphere, without undergoing the common lot of mortality. That there should have been but one such case during the whole antediluvian period, could not but be regarded as indicating its exceptional character, and stamping it the more emphatically as a revelation from Heaven. Nor could the voice it uttered in the ears of reflecting men sound otherwise than as a proclamation that God was assuredly with that portion of the woman’s seed who served and honoured Him—that He manifested Himself to such, as a chosen people, in another manner than He did to the world, and made them sure of a complete and final victory over all the malice of the tempter and the evils of sin. If not usually without death, yet notwithstanding it, and through it, they should certainly attain to eternal life in the presence of God.

In this respect Enoch—as being the most distinguished member of the seed of blessing in its earlier division, and the most honoured heir of that life which comes through the righteousness of faith—is undoubtedly to be viewed as a type of Christ. Something he had in common with the line as a whole—he was a partaker of that electing grace and love of God, in virtue of which alone any could rise from the condemnation of sin to the inheritance of life in the Divine kingdom. But apart from others in the same line, and above them, he passed to the inheritance by a more direct and triumphant path—a conqueror in the very mode of his transition from time to eternity. These characteristics, which in Enoch’s case were broadly marked, though in themselves somewhat general and incapable of being understood to have reference to a personal Messiah, till such a Messiah had been more distinctly announced, are yet pre-eminently the characteristics of Christ, and in the full and absolute sense could be found only in Him. He is, as no other individual among men could be, the seed of the woman, considered as the seed of promise, destined by God’s purpose of grace to [[@Page:320]] bruise the head of the tempter, and reverse the process of nature’s corruption. In Him, as present from the first to the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” was the ultimate root of such a seed to be found which should otherwise have had no existence in the world. He therefore, beyond all others, was the chosen of God, “His elect in whom His soul delights.” And though to the eye of a carnal and superficial world, which judges only by the appearance, He wanted what seemed necessary to justify His claim to such a position, yet He in reality gave the clearest proof of it, by a faith that never faltered in the hardest trials, a righteousness free from every stain of impurity, and a life that could only underlie for a moment the cloud of death, but even then could see no corruption, and presently rose, as to its proper home, in the regions of eternal light and glory.

With our eyes resting on this exalted object in the ends of time, we have no difficulty in perceiving, that what appeared of supernatural in such men as Abel and Enoch, only foreshadowed the higher and greater good that was to come. The foreshadowing, however, was not such that from the appearance of Abel and Enoch a personal Messiah could have been descried, or as if, from the incidents in their respective lives, precisely similar ones might have been inferred as likely to happen in the eventful career of the man Christ Jesus. We could not descend thus to individual and personal marks of coincidence between the lives of those early patriarchs and the life of Messiah, without, in the first instance, anticipating the order of Providence, which had not yet directed the eye of faith and hope to a personal manifestation of Godhead, and then entangling ourselves in endless difficulties of practical adjustment—as in the case of Enoch’s translation, who went to heaven without tasting death, while Christ could not enter into glory till He had tasted it. But let those patriarchs be contemplated as the earlier links of a chain which, from its very nature, must have some higher and nobler termination; let them be viewed as characters that already bore upon them the lineaments and possessed the beginnings of the new creation: what do they then appear but embodied prophecies of a more general kind in respect to “Him who was to come?” They heralded His future redemptive work by exhibiting in part the [[@Page:321]] signs and fruits of its prospective achievements. The beginning was prophetic of the end; for if the one had not been in prospect, the other could not have come into existence. And in their selection by God from the general mass around them, their faith in God’s word, and their possession of God’s favour and blessing, as outwardly displayed and manifested in their histories, we see struggling, as it were, into being the first elements of that new state and destiny, which were only to find their valid reason, and reach their proper elevation, in the person and kingdom of Messiah.


[1] I think it quite impossible, in the circumstances, that the faith of Eve should have gone farther than this, as the promise of recovery had as yet assumed only the most general aspect; and though it might well have been understood to depend upon the grace and power of God for its accomplishment, yet who, from the revelations actually given, could have anticipated these to manifest themselves in the birth of Jehovah Himself as a babe? The supposition of Baumgarten,—who here revives the old explanation, “I have gotten a man, Jehovah,” that Eve thought she saw in Cain “the redeeming and coming God,” is arbitrary and incredible. The יְהוֹה אֵת should be taken as in ch. 5:24, 6:9, 43:16; Judg. 1:16, with, in fellowship with, the Lord; or, as in Judg. 8:7, with, with the help of. The former idea seems to be the more natural one, as in that sense also the אֵת is more frequently used. The assertion of Dr Pye Smith (Testimony, vol. i., p. 228), that there “seems no option to an interpreter, who is resolved to follow the fair and strict grammatical signification of the words before him, but to translate the passage, I have obtained a man, Jehovah,” is greatly too strong, and against the judgment of the best Hebrew scholars. He is himself obliged to repudiate the sense which such a rendering yields, as embodying too gross a conception; and the idea which he thinks Eve meant to express of “something connected with the Divine Being” in the child produced, is simply what is conveyed by the perfectly legitimate rendering we have preferred.

[2] It is to be noted, however, that both the parents of the human family, Adam as well as Eve, are associated with this seed of blessing. It is a circumstance that has been too much overlooked; but for the very purpose of marking it, a fresh commencement is made at Gen. 5 of the genealogical chain that links together Adam and Christ: “This is the book of the gene rations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him. . . . And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth:”—as if his progeny before this were not to be reckoned—the child of grace had perished, and the other in a spiritual sense was not. Adam, therefore, is here distinctly placed at the head of a spiritual offspring—himself, with his partner, the first link in the grand chain of blessing. And the likeness in which he begat his son “his own image”—must not be limited, as it too often is, to the corruption that now marred the purity of his nature—as if his image stood simply in contrast to God’s. It is as the parental head of the whole lineage of believers that he is represented, and such a sharp contrast would here especially be out of place.

[3] It is in connection with this later development of evil in the Cainites that Lamech’s song is introduced, and with special reference to that portion of his family who were makers of instruments in brass and iron—instruments, no doubt, chiefly of a warlike kind. It is only by viewing the song in that connection that we perceive its full meaning and its proper place, as intended to indicate that the evil was approaching its final stage: “And Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken to my speech: for men (the word is quite indefinite in the original, and may most fitly be rendered in the plural) I slay for my wound, and young men for my hurt: for Cain is avenged seven times, and Lamech seventy times seven.” He means apparently, that, with such weapons as he now had at command, he could execute at will deeds of retaliation and revenge. So that his song may be regarded, to use the words of Drechsler, “as an ode of triumph on the invention of the sword. He stands at the top of the Cainite development, from thence looks back upon the past, and exults at the height it has reached. How far has he got ahead of Cain! what another sort of ancestor he! No longer needing to look up in feebleness to God for protection, he can provide more amply for it himself than God did for Cain’s; and he congratulates his wives on being the mothers of such sons. Thus the history of the Cainites began with a deed of murder, and here it ends with a song of murder.”

Section Second.—Noah and The Deluge.

[[@Page:322]] THE case of Noah, we have already stated, embodied some new elements of a typical kind, which gave to it the character of a distinct stage in the development of God’s work of grace in the world. It did so in connection with the deluge, which had a gracious as well as a judicial aspect, and, by a striking combination of opposites, brought prominently out the principle, that the accomplishment of salvation necessarily carries along with it a work of destruction. This was not absolutely a new principle at the period of the deluge. It had a place in the original promise, and a certain exemplification in the lives of believers from the first. By giving to the prospect of recovery the peculiar form of a bruising of the tempter’s head, the Lord plainly intimated, that somehow a work of destruction was to go along with the work of salvation, and was necessary to its accomplishment. No indication, however, was given of the way in which this twofold process was to proceed, or of the nature of the connection between the one part of it and the other. But light to a certain extent soon began to be thrown upon it by the consciousness in each man’s bosom of a struggle between the evil and the good,—a struggle which so early as the time of Cain drew forth the solemn warning, that either his better part must vindicate for itself the superiority, or it must itself fall down vanquished by the destroyer. Still farther light appeared, when the contending elements grew into two great contending parties, which by an ever-widening breach, and at length by most serious encroachments from the evil on the good, rendered a work of judgment from above necessary to the peace and safety of the believing portion of mankind. The conviction of some approaching crisis of this nature had become so deep in the time of Enoch, that it gave utterance to itself in the prophecy ascribed in the Epistle of Jude to that patriarch: “Behold, the Lord [[@Page:323]] cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have committed against Him.” The struggle, it was thus announced, should ere long end in a manifestation of God for judgment against the apostate faction, and by implication for deliverance to the children of faith and hope.

By the period of Noah’s birth, however, the necessity of a Divine interposition had become much greater, and it appeared manifest to the small remnant of believers that the era of retribution, which they now identified with the era of deliverance, must be at hand. Indication was then given of this state of feeling by the name itself of Noah, with the reason assigned for its adoption, “This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” The feeling is too generally expressed, to enable us to determine with accuracy how the parents of this child might expect their troubles to be relieved through his instrumentality. But in their words we hear, at least, the groaning of the oppressed—the sighing of righteous souls, vexed on account of the evils which were thickening around them, from the unrestrained wickedness of those who had corrupted the earth; and, at the same time, not despairing, but looking up in faith, and even confident that in the lifetime of that child the God of righteousness and truth would somehow avenge the cause of His elect. Whether they had obtained any correct insight or not into the way by which the object was to be accomplished, the event proved that the spirit of prophecy breathed in their anticipation. Their faith rested upon solid grounds, and in the hope which it led them to cherish they were not disappointed. Salvation did come in connection with the person of Noah, and it came in the way of an overwhelming visitation of wrath upon the adversaries.

When we look simply at the outward results produced by that remarkable visitation, they appear to have been twofold—on the one side preservation, on the other destruction. But when we look a little more closely, we perceive that there was [[@Page:324]] a necessary connection between the two results, and that there was properly but one object aimed at in the dispensation, though in accomplishing it there was required the operation of a double process. That object was, in the words of St Peter, “the saving of Noah and his house” (1 Pet. 3:20)—saving them as the spiritual seed of God. But saving them from what? Not surely from the violence and desolation of the waters; for the watery element would then have acted as the preservative against itself, and instead of being saved by the water, according to the apostolic statement, the family of Noah would have been saved from it.[1] From what, then, were they saved? Undoubtedly from that which, before the coming of the deluge, formed the real element of danger—the corruption, enmity, and violence of ungodly men. It was this which wasted the Church of God, and brought it to the verge of destruction. All was ready to perish. The cause of righteousness had at length but one efficient representative in the person of Noah; and he much “like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, like a besieged city,”—the object of profane mockery and scorn, taunted, reviled, plied with every weapon fitted to overcome his constancy, and, if not in himself, at least in his family, in danger of suffering shipwreck amid the swelling waves of wickedness around him. It was to save him—and with him, the cause of God—from this source of imminent danger and perdition, that the flood was [[@Page:325]] sent; and it could only do so by effectually separating between him and the seed of evil-doers—engulphing them in ruin, and sustaining him uninjured in his temporary home. So that the deluge, considered as Noah’s baptism, or the means of his salvation from an outward form of spiritual danger, was not less essentially connected with a work of judgment than with an act of mercy. It was by the one that the other was accomplished; and the support of the ark on the bosom of the waters was only a collateral object of the deluge. The direct and immediate object was the extermination of that wicked race, whose heaven-daring impiety and hopeless impenitence was the real danger that menaced the cause and people of God,—”the destroying of those (to use the language that evidently refers to it in Rev. 11:18) who destroyed the earth.”

This principle of salvation with destruction, which found such a striking exemplification in the deluge, has been continually appearing anew in the history of God’s dealings among men. It appeared, for example, at the period of Israel’s redemption from Egypt, when a way of escape was opened for the people of God by the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host; and again at the era of the return from Babylon, when the destruction of the enemy and the oppressor broke asunder the bands with which the children of the covenant were held captive. [[@Page:326]] But it is in New Testament times, and in connection with the work of Christ, that the higher manifestation of the principle appears. Here alone perfection can be said to belong to it. Complete as the work in one respect was in the days of Noah, in another it soon gave unmistakeable evidence of its own imperfection. The immediate danger was averted by the destruction of the wicked in the waters of a deluge, and the safe preservation of Noah and his family as a better seed to replenish the depopulated earth. But it was soon found that the old leaven still lurked in the bosom of the preserved remnant itself; and another race of apostates and destroyers, though of a less ferocious spirit, and under more of restraint in regard to deeds of violence and bloodshed, rose up to prosecute anew the work of the adversary. In Christ, however, the very foundations of evil from the first were struck at, and nothing is left for a second beginning to the cause of iniquity. He came, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah (ch. [[61:2 >> Bible:Is 61:2]] ), “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God,” which was, at the same time, to be the “year of His redeemed.” And, accordingly, by the work He accomplished on earth, “the prince of this world was judged and cast out” (John 12:31); or, as it is again written, “principalities and powers were spoiled,” and “he that had the power of death destroyed” (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14), thereby giving deliverance to those who were subject to sin and death. He did this once for all, when He fulfilled all righteousness, and suffered unto death for sin. The victory over the tempter then achieved by Christ no more needs to be repeated than the atonement made for human guilt; it needs to be appropriated merely by His followers, and made effectual in their experience. Satan has no longer any right to exercise lordship over men, and hold them in bondage to his usurped authority; the ground of his power and dominion is taken away, because the condemnation of sin, on which it stood, has been for ever abolished. Christ, therefore, at once destroys and saves—saves by destroying—casts the cruel oppressor down from his ill-gotten supremacy, and so relieves the poor, enthralled, devil-possessed nature of man, and sets it into the glorious liberty of God’s children.

[[@Page:327]] In the case of the Redeemer Himself, this work is absolutely complete; the man Christ Jesus thoroughly bruised Satan under His feet, and won a position where in no respect whatever He could be any more subject to the power of evil. Theoretically, we may say, the work is also complete in behalf of His people; on His part, no imperfection cleaves to it. By virtue of the blood of Jesus, the house of our humanity, which naturally stood accursed of God, and was ready to be assailed by every form of evil, is placed on a new and better foundation. It is made holiness to the Lord. The handwriting of condemnation that was against us is blotted out. The adversary has lost his bill of indictment; and nothing remains but that the members of the human family should, each for themselves, take up the position secured for them by the salvation of Christ, to render them wholly and for ever superior to the dominion of the adversary. But it is here that imperfection still comes in. Men will not lay hold of the advantage obtained for them by the all-prevailing might and energy of Jesus, or they will but partially receive into their experience the benefits it provides for them. Yet there is a measure of success also here, in the case of all genuine believers. And it is to this branch of the subject more immediately that the Apostle Peter points, when he represents Christian baptism as the antitype of the deluge. In the personal experience of believers, as symbolized in that ordinance, there is a re-enacting substantially of what took place in the outward theatre of the world by means of the deluge. “The like figure whereunto (literally, the antitype to which, viz., Noah’s salvation by water in the ark) even baptism doth also now save us; not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:21) Like the Apostle’s delineations generally, the passage briefly indicates, rather than explicitly unfolds, the truths connected with the subject. Yet, on a slight consideration of it, we readily perceive, that, with profound discernment, it elicits from the ordinance of baptism, as spiritually understood and applied, the same fundamental elements, discovers there the same twofold process, which appeared so strikingly in the case of Noah. Here also there is a salvation reaching its accomplishment by [[@Page:328]] means of a destruction—”not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” not so superficial a riddance of evil, but one of a more important and vital character, bringing “the answer of a good conscience,” or the deliverance of the soul from the guilt and power of iniquity. The water of baptism—let the subject be plunged in it ever so deep, or sprinkled ever so much—can no more of itself save him than the water of the deluge could have saved Noah, apart from the faith he possessed, and the preparation it led him to make in constructing and entering into the ark. It was because he held and exercised such faith, that the deluge brought salvation to Noah, while it overwhelmed others in destruction. So is it in baptism, when received in a spirit of faith. There is in this also the putting off of the old man of corruption—crucifying it together with Christ, and at the same time a rising through the resurrection of Christ to the new and heavenly life, which satisfies the demands of a pure and enlightened conscience. So that the really baptized soul is one in which there has been a killing and a making alive, a breaking up and destroying of the root of corrupt nature, and planting in its stead the seed of a divine nature, to spring, and grow, and bring forth fruit to perfection. In the microcosm of the individual believer, there is the perishing of an old world of sin and death, and the establishment of a new world of righteousness and life everlasting.

Such is the proper idea of Christian baptism, and such would be the practical result were the idea fully realized in the experience of the baptized. But this is so far from being the case, that even the idea is apt to suffer in people’s minds from the conscious imperfections of their experience. And it might help to check such a tendency—it might, at least, be of service in enabling them to keep themselves well informed as to what should be, if they looked occasionally to what actually was, in the outward pattern of these spiritual things, given in the times of Noah. Are you disinclined, we might say to them, to have the axe so unsparingly applied to the old man of corruption? Think, for your warning, how God spared not the old world, but sent its mass of impurity headlong into the gulph of perdition. Seems it a task too formidable, and likely to prove hope less in the accomplishment, to maintain your ground against the [[@Page:329]] powers of evil in the world? Think again, for your encouragement, how impotent the giants of wickedness were of old to defeat the counsels of God, or prevail over those who held fast their confidence in His word; with all their numbers and their might, they sunk like lead in the waters, while the little house hold of faith rode secure in the midst of them. Or does it appear strange, at times perhaps incredible, to your mind, that you should be made the subject of a work which requires for its accomplishment the peculiar perfections of Godhead, while others are left entire strangers to it, and even find the word of God—the chosen instrument for effecting it—the occasion of wrath and condemnation to their souls? Remember “the few, the eight souls” of Noah’s family, alone preserved amid the wreck and desolation of a whole world—preserved, too, by faith in a word of God, which carried in its bosom the doom of myriads of their fellow-creatures, and so, finding that which was to others a minister of condemnation, a source of peace and safety to them. Rest assured, that as God Himself remains the same through all generations, so His work for the good of men is essentially the same also; and it ever must be His design and purpose, that Noah’s faith and salvation should be perpetually renewing themselves in the hidden life and experience of those who are preparing for the habitations of glory.


[1] I am aware many eminent scholars give a different turn to this expression in the first Epistle of Peter, and take the proper rendering to be, “saved through (i.e., in the midst of) the water”—contemplating the water as the space or region through which the ark was required to bear Noah and his family in safety. So Beza, who says that “the water cannot be taken for the instrumental cause, as Noah was preserved from the water, not by it;” so also Tittmann, Bib. Cab., vol. xviii., p. 251; Steiger in his Comm., with only a minute shade of difference; Robinson, in Lex., and many others. But this view is open to the following objections: 1. The water is here mentioned, not in respect to its several parts, or to the extent of its territory from one point to another, but simply as an instrumental agent. Had the former been meant, the expression would have been, “saved through the waters,” rather than saved by water. But as the case stood, it mattered nothing whether the ark remained stationary at one point on the surface of the waters, or was borne from one place to another; so that through, in the sense of passing through, or through among, gives a quite unsuitable meaning. That Noah needed to be saved from the water, rather than by it, is a superficial objection, proceeding on the supposition that the water had the same relation to Noah that it had to the world in general. For him, the water and the ark were essentially connected together; it took both to make up the means of deliverance. In the same sense, and on the same account, we might say of the Red Sea, that the Israelites were saved by it; for though in itself a source of danger, yet, as regarded Israel’s position, it was really the means of safety (1 Cor. 10:2). 2. The application made by the Apostle of Noah’s preservation requires the agency of the water as well as of the ark to be taken into account. Indeed, according to the best authorities (which read ὅ καὶ), the reference in the antitype is specially to the water as the type. But apart from that, baptism is spoken of as a saving, in consequence of its being a purifying ordinance, which implies, as in the deluge, that the salvation be accomplished through means of a destruction. This is virtually admitted by Steiger, who, though he adopts the rendering “through the water,” yet in explaining the connection between the type and the antitype, is obliged to regard the water as also instrumental to salvation. “The flood was for Noah a baptism, and as such saved; the same element, water, also saves us now—not, however, as mere water, but in the same quality as a baptism.”

Section Third.—The New World and its Inheritors The Men of Faith.

[[@Page:330]] IN one respect the world seemed to have suffered material loss by the visitation of the deluge. Along with the agents and instruments of evil, there had also been swept away by it the emblems of grace and hope—paradise with its tree of life and its cherubim of glory. We can conceive Noah and his house hold, when they first left the ark, looking around with melancholy feelings on the position they now occupied, not only as being the sole survivors of a numerous offspring, but also as being themselves bereft of the sacred memorials which bore evidence of a happy past, and exhibited the pledge of a yet happier future. An important link of communion with heaven, it might well have seemed, was broken by the change thus brought through the deluge on the world. But the loss was soon fully compensated, and, we may even say, more than compensated, by the advantages conferred on Noah and his seed from the higher relation to which they were now raised in respect to God and the world. There are three points that here, in particular, call for attention.

1. The first is, the new condition of the earth itself, which immediately appears in the freedom allowed and practised in regard to the external worship of God. This was no longer confined to any single region, as seems to have been the case in the age subsequent to the fall. The cherubim were located in a particular spot, on the east of the garden of Eden; and as the symbols of God’s presence were there, it was only natural that the celebration of Divine worship should there also have found its common centre. Hence the two sons of Adam are said to have “brought their offerings unto the Lord”—which can scarcely be understood otherwise than as pointing to that particular locality which was hallowed by visible symbols of the Lord’s presence, and in the neighbourhood of which life and [[@Page:331]] blessing still lingered. In like manner, it is said of Cain, after he had assumed the attitude of rebellion, that “he went out from the presence of the Lord,” obviously implying that there was a certain region with which the Divine presence was considered to be more peculiarly connected, and which can be thought of nowhere else than in that sanctuary on the east of Eden. But with the flood the reason for any such restriction vanished. Noah, therefore, reared his altar, and presented his sacrifice to the Lord where the ark rested. There immediately he got the blessing, and entered into covenant with God—proving that, in a sense, old things had passed away, and all had become new. The earth had risen in the Divine reckoning to a higher condition; it had passed through the baptism of water, and was now, in a manner, cleansed from defilement; so that every place had become sacred, and might be regarded as suitable for the most solemn acts of worship.[1]

This more sacred and elevated position of the earth after the deluge appears, farther, in the express repeal of the curse originally laid upon the ground for the sin of Adam: “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake” (Gen. 8:21), was the word of God to Noah, on accepting the first offering presented to Him in the purified earth. It is, no doubt, to be understood relatively; not as indicating a total [[@Page:332]] repeal of the evil, but only a mitigation of it; yet such a mitigation as would render the earth a much less afflicted and more fertile region than it had been before. But this again indicated that, in the estimation of Heaven, the earth had now assumed a new position; that by the action of God’s judgment upon it, it had become hallowed in His sight, and was in a condition to receive tokens of the Divine favour, which had formerly been withheld from it.

2. The second point to be noticed here, is the heirship given of this new world to Noah and his seed—given to them expressly as the children of faith.

Adam, at his creation, was constituted the lord of this world, and had kingly power and authority given him to subdue it and rule over it. But on the occasion of his fall, this grant, though not formally recalled, suffered a capital abridgment; since he was sent forth from Eden as a discrowned monarch, to do the part simply of a labourer on the surface of the earth, and with the discouraging assurance that it should reluctantly yield to him of its fruitfulness. Nor, when he afterwards so distinctly identified himself with God’s promise and purpose of grace, by appearing as the head only of that portion of his seed who had faith in God, did there seem any alleviation of the evil: the curse that rested on the ground, rested on it still, even for the seed of blessing (Gen. 5:29); and not they, but the ungodly Cainites, acquired in it the ascendency of physical force and political dominion.

A change, however, appears in the relative position of things, when the flood had swept with its purifying waters over the earth. Man now rises, in the person of Noah, to a higher place in the world; yet not simply as man, but as a child of God, standing in faith. His faith had saved him, amid the general wreck of the old world, to become in the new a second head of mankind, and an inheritor of earth’s domain, as now purged and rescued from the pollution of evil. “He is made heir,” as it is written in Hebrews, “of the righteousness which is by faith,”—heir, that is, of all that properly belongs to such righteousness, not merely of the righteousness itself, but also of the world, which in the Divine purpose it was destined to possess and occupy. Hence, as if there had been a new creation, [[@Page:333]] and a new head brought in to exercise over it the right of sovereignty, the original blessing and grant to Adam are substantially renewed to Noah and his family: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you, and the dread of you, shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hand are they delivered.” Here, then, the righteousness of faith received direct from the grace of God the dowry that had been originally bestowed upon the righteousness of nature—not a blessing merely, but a blessing coupled with the heirship and dominion of the world.

There was nothing strange or arbitrary in such a proceeding; it was in perfect accordance with the great principles of the Divine administration. Adam was too closely connected with the sin that destroyed the world, to be reinvested, even when he had through faith become a partaker of grace, with the restored heirship of the world. Nor had the world itself passed through such an ordeal of purification, as to fit it, in the personal lifetime of Adam, or of his more immediate offspring, for being at all represented in the light of an inheritance of blessing. The renewed title to the heirship of its fulness was properly reserved to the time when, by the great act of Divine judgment at the deluge, it had passed into a new condition; and when one was found of the woman’s seed, who had attained in a peculiar degree to the righteousness of faith, and along with the world had undergone a process of salvation. It was precisely such a person that should have been chosen as the first type of the righteousness of faith, in respect to its world-wide heritage of blessing. And having been raised to this higher position, an additional sacredness was thrown around him and his seed: the fear of them was to be put into the inferior creatures; their life was to be avenged of every one that should wrongfully take it; even the life-blood of irrational animals was to be held sacred, because of its having something in common with man’s, while their flesh was now freely surrendered to their use;—the whole evidently fitted, and, we cannot doubt, also intended to convey the idea, that man had by the special gift of God’s grace been again constituted heir and lord of the world, that, in the [[@Page:334]] words of the Psalmist, “the earth had been given to the children of men,” and given in a larger and fuller sense than had been done since the period of the fall.[2]

3. The remaining point to be noticed in respect to this new order of things, is the pledge of continuance, notwithstanding all appearances or threatenings to the contrary, given in the covenant made with Noah, and confirmed by a fixed sign in the heavens. “And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish My covenant with you: neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant” (more exactly: My bow I have set in the cloud, and it shall be for a covenant-sign) “between Me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.”—(Gen. 9:8-15)

There can be no doubt that the natural impression produced [[@Page:335]] by this passage in respect to the sign of the covenant, is, that it now for the first time appeared in the lower heavens. The Lord might, no doubt, then, or at any future time, have taken an existing phenomenon in nature, and by a special appointment made it the instrument of conveying some new and higher meaning to the subjects of His revelation. But in a matter like the present, when the specific object contemplated was to allay men’s fears of the possible recurrence of the deluge, and give them a kind of visible pledge in nature for the permanence of her existing order and constitution, one cannot perceive how a natural phenomenon, common alike to the antediluvian and the postdiluvian world, could have fitly served the purpose. In that case, so far as the external sign was concerned, matters stood precisely where they were; and it was not properly the sign, but the covenant itself, which formed the guarantee of safety for the future. We incline, therefore, to the opinion that, in the announcement here made, intimation is given of a change in the physical relations or temperature of at least that portion of the earth where the original inhabitants had their abode; by reason of which the descent of moisture in showers of rain came to take the place of distillation by dew, or other modes of operation different from the present. The supposition is favoured by the mention only of dew before in connection with the moistening of the ground (Gen. 2:6); and when rain does come to be mentioned, it is rain in such flowing torrents as seems rather to betoken the outpouring of a continuous stream, than the gentle dropping which we are wont to understand by the term, and to associate with the rainbow.

The fitness of the rainbow in other respects to serve as a sign of the covenant made with Noah, is all that could be desired. There is an exact correspondence between the natural phenomenon it presents, and the moral use to which it is applied. The promise in the covenant was not that there should be no future visitations of judgment upon the earth, but that they should not proceed to the extent of again destroying the world. In the moral, as in the natural sphere, there might still be congregating vapours and descending torrents; indeed, the terms of the covenant imply that there should be such, and that by means of them God would not fail to testify His displeasure against [[@Page:336]] sin, and keep in awe the workers of iniquity. But there should be no second deluge to diffuse universal ruin; mercy should always so far rejoice against judgment. Such in the field of nature is the assurance given by the rainbow, which is formed by the lustre of the sun’s rays shining on the dark cloud as it recedes; so that it may be termed, as in the somewhat poetical description of Langé, “the sun’s triumph over the floods; the glitter of his beams imprinted on the rain-cloud as a mark of subjection.” How appropriate an emblem of that grace which should always show itself ready to return after wrath! Grace still sparing and preserving, even when storms of judgment have been bursting forth upon the guilty! And as the rainbow throws its radiant arch over the expanse between heaven and earth, uniting the two together again as with a wreath of beauty, after they have been engaged in an elemental war, what a fitting image does it present to the thoughtful eye of the essential harmony that still subsists between the higher and the lower spheres! Such undoubtedly is its symbolic import, as the sign peculiarly connected with the covenant of Noah; it holds out, by means of its very form and nature, an assurance of God’s mercy, as engaged to keep perpetually in check the floods of deserved wrath, and continue to the world the manifestation of His grace and goodness. Such also is the import attached to it, when forming a part of prophetic imagery in the visions of Ezekiel (ch. [[1:28 >> Bible:Eze 1:28]] ) and of St John (Rev. 4:3); it is the symbol of grace, as ever ready to return after judgment, and to stay the evil from proceeding so far as to accomplish a complete destruction.[3]

Yet gracious as this covenant with Noah was, and appropriate and beautiful the sign that ratified it, all bore on it still the stamp of imperfection; there was an indication and a prelude of the better things needed to make man truly and permanently blessed, not these things themselves. For what was this new [[@Page:337]] world, which had its perpetuity secured, and over which Noah was set to reign, as heir of the righteousness that is by faith? To Noah himself, and each one in succession of his seed, it was still a region of corruption and death. It had been sanctified, indeed, by the judgment of God, and as thus sanctified it was not to perish again as it had done before. But this sanctification was only by water—enough to sweep away into the gulf of perdition the mass of impurity that festered on its surface, but not penetrating inwards, to the elements of evil which were bound up with its very framework. Another agency, more thoroughly pervasive in its nature, and in its effects more nobly sublimating, the agency of fire, is required to purge out the dross of its earthliness, and render it a home and an inheritance fit for those who are made like to the Son of God.—(2 Pet. 3:7-13) And Noah himself, though acknowledged heir of the righteousness by faith, and receiving on his position the seal of heaven, in the salvation granted to him and his household, yet how far from being perfect in that righteousness, or by this salvation placed beyond the reach of evil! Ere long he miserably fell under the power of temptation; and unmistakeable evidence appeared that [[@Page:338]] the serpent’s seed had found a place among the members of his household. High, therefore, as Noah stood compared with those who had gone before him, he was, after all, but the representative of an imperfect righteousness, and the heir of a corruptible and transitory inheritance. He was the type, but no more than the type, of Him who was to come—in whom the righteousness of God should be perfected, salvation should rise to its higher sphere, and all, both in the heirs of glory, and the inheritance they were to occupy, should by the baptism of fire be rendered incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading.


[1] If we are right as to the centralization of the primitive worship of mankind (and it seems to be only the natural inference from the notices referred to), then the antediluvian population cannot well be supposed to have been of vast extent, or to have wandered to a very great distance from the original centre. The employment also of a special agency after the flood to disperse the descendants of Noah, and scatter them over the earth, seems to indicate, that an indisposition to go to a distance, a tendency to crowd too much about one locality, was one of the sources of evil in the first stage of the world’s history, the recurrence of which well deserved to be prevented, even by miraculous interference; and it is perfectly conceivable, indeed most likely, that the tower of Babel, in connection with which this interference took place, was not intended to be a palladium of idolatry, or a mere freak of ambitious folly, but rather a sort of substitution for the loss of the Edenic symbols, and, as such, a centre of union for the human family. It follows, of course, from the same considerations, that the deluge might not absolutely require, so far as the race of man was concerned, to extend over more than a comparatively limited portion of the earth. But its actual compass is not thereby determined.

[2] It presents no contrariety to this, when rightly considered, that the Lord should also have connected His purpose of preserving the earth in future with the corruption of man: “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour (viz., from Noah’s sacrifice); and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”—(Gen. 8:21) The meaning is, that God delighted so much more in the offerings of righteousness than in the inflictions of judgment, that He would now direct His providence so as more effectually to secure the former—would not allow the imaginations of man’s evil heart to get such scope as they had done before; but, perceiving and remembering their native existence in the heart, would bring such remedial influences into operation that the extremity of the past should not again return.

[3] Far too general is the explanation often given of the symbolic import of the rainbow by writers on such topics—as when it is described to be “in general a symbol of God’s willingness to receive men into favour again” (Wemyss’ Clavis Symbolica), or that “it indicates the faithfulness of the Almighty in fulfilling the promises that He has made to His people.”—(Mill’s Sacred Symbology.) Sound Christian feeling, with something of a poetic eye for the imagery of nature, finds its way better to the meaning as in the following simple lines of John Newton:— “When the sun with cheerful beams Smiles upon a low ring sky, Soon its aspect softened seems, And a rainbow meets the eye; While the sky remains serene, This bright arch is never seen. Thus the Lord’s supporting power Brightest to His saints appears. When affliction’s threat’ning hour Fills their sky with clouds and fears; He can wonders then perform, Paint a rainbow on the storm. Favoured John a rainbow saw Circling round the throne above; Hence the saints a pledge may draw Of unchanging covenant-love: Clouds awhile may intervene, But the bow shall still be seen.”

Section Fourth.—The Change in The Divine Call from The General to The Particular—Shem, Abraham.

[[@Page:339]] THE obvious imperfections just noticed, both in the righteousness of the new head of the human family, and in the constitution of the world over which he was placed, clearly enough indicated that the divine plan had only advanced a stage in its progress, but had by no means reached its perfection. As the world, however, in its altered condition, had become naturally superior to its former state, so—in necessary and causal connection with this—it was in a spiritual respect to stand superior to it: secured against the return of a general perdition, it was also secured against the return of universal apostasy and corruption. The cause of righteousness was not to be trodden down as it had been before, nay, was to hold on its way and ultimately rise to the ascendant in the affairs of men.

Not only was this presupposed in the covenant of perpetuity established for the world, as the internal ground on which it rested, but it was also distinctly announced by the father of the new world, in the prophetic intimation he gave of the future destinies of his children. It was a melancholy occasion which drew this prophecy forth, as it was alike connected with the shameful backsliding of Noah himself, and the wanton in decency of his youngest son. When Noah recovered from his sin, and understood how this son had exposed, while the other two had covered, his nakedness, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants (i.e., a servant of the lowest grade) shall he be to his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”—(Gen. 9:25-27)

There are various points of interest connected with this prophecy, and the occurrence that gave rise to it, which it does [[@Page:340]] not fall within our province to notice. But the leading scope of it, as bearing on the prospective destinies of mankind, is manifestly of a hopeful description; and in that respect it differs materially from the first historical incident that revealed the conflict of nature and grace in the family of Adam. The triumph of Cain over righteous Abel, and his stout-hearted resistance to the voice of God, gave ominous indication of the bad pre-eminence which sin was to acquire, and the fearful results which it was to achieve in the old world. But the milder form of this outbreak of evil in the family of Noah—the immediate discouragement it meets with from the older members of the family—the strong denunciation it draws down from the venerable parent—above all, the clear and emphatic prediction it elicits of the ascendancy of the good over the evil in these seminal divisions of the human family,—one and all perfectly accorded with the more advanced state which the world had reached; they bespoke the cheering fact, that righteousness should now hold its ground in the world, and that the dominant powers and races should be in league with it, while servility and degradation should rest upon its adversaries.

This, any one may see at a glance, is the general tendency and design of what was uttered on the occasion; but there is a marked peculiarity in the form given to it, such as plainly intimates the commencement of a change in the Divine economy. There is a striking particularism in the prophetic announcement. It does not, as previously, give forth broad principles, or fore tell merely general results of evil and of good; but it explicitly announces—though still, no doubt, in wide and comprehensive terms the characteristic outlines of the future state and relative positions of Noah’s descendants. Such is the decided tendency here to the particular, that in the dark side of the picture it is not Ham, the offending son and the general head of the worse portion of the postdiluvian family, who is selected as the special object of vengeance, nor the sons of Ham generally, but specifically Canaan, who, it seems all but certain, was the youngest son.—(Gen. 10:6) Why this son, rather than the offending father, should have been singled out for denunciation, has been ascribed to various reasons; and resort has not unfrequently been had to conjecture, by supposing that this son may probably [[@Page:341]] have been present with the father, or some way participated with him in the offence. Even, however, if we had been certified of this participation, it could at most have accounted for the introduction of the name of Canaan, but not for that being substituted in the room of the father’s. Nor can we allow much more weight to another supposition, that the omission of the name of Ham may have been intended for the very purpose of proving the absence of all vindictive feeling, and showing that these were the words, not of a justly indignant parent giving vent to the emotions of the passing moment, but of a divinely inspired prophet calmly anticipating the events of a remote futurity. Undoubtedly such is their character; but no extenuating consideration of this kind is needed to prove it, if we only keep in view the judicial nature of this part of the prophecy. The curse pronounced is not an ebullition of wrathful feeling, not a wish for the infliction of evil, but the announcement of a doom, or punishment for a particular offence; and one that was to take, as so often happens in Divine chastisements, the specific form of the offence committed. Noah’s affliction from the conduct of Ham was in the most peculiar manner to find its parallel in the case of Ham himself: He, the youngest son of Noah,[1] had proved a vexation and disgrace to his father, and in meet retaliation his own youngest son was to have his name in history coupled with the most humiliating and abject degradation.

It was, therefore, in the first instance at least, for the purpose of marking more distinctly the connection between the sin and its punishment, that Hävernick states[[@Page:342]] in his Introduction to the Pentateuch—that the curse, properly belonging to Ham, was to concentrate itself in the line of Canaan; and, beyond doubt, it is more especially in connection with that line that Scripture itself traces the execution of the curse. But these are somewhat remote and incidental considerations; the more natural and direct is the one already given—which Hofmann, we believe, was the first to suggest.[2] And as the word took the precise form it did, for the purpose more particularly of marking the connection between the sin and the punishment, it plainly indicated that the evil could not be confined to the line of Ham’s descendants by Canaan; the same polluted fountain could not fail to send forth its bitter streams also in other directions. The connection is entirely a moral one. Even in the case of Canaan there was no arbitrary and hapless appointment to inevitable degradation and slavery; as is clearly proved by the long forbearance and delay in the execution of the threatened doom, expressly on the ground of the iniquity of the people not having become full, and also from the examples of individual Canaanites, who rose even to distinguished favour and blessing, such as Melchizedek and Rahab in earlier, and the Syrophenician woman in later times. Noah, however, saw with prophetic insight, that in a general point of view the principle should here hold, like father like child; and that the irreverent and wanton spirit which so strikingly betrayed itself in the conduct of the progenitor, should infallibly give rise to an offspring whose dissolute and profligate manners would in due time bring upon them a doom of degradation and servitude. Such a posterity, with such a doom, beyond all question were the Canaanites, to whom we may add also the Tyrians and Sidonians, with their descendants the Carthaginians. The connection of sin and punishment might be traced to other sections besides, but it is not necessary that we pursue the subject farther.

Our course of inquiry rather leads us to notice the turn the prophecy takes in regard to the other side of the representation, and to mark the signs it contains of a tendency toward the particular, in connection with the future development of the scheme of grace. This comes out first and pre-eminently in the case of [[@Page:343]] Shem: “And he said, Blessed is (or be) Jehovah, the God of Shem”—a blessing not directly upon Shem, but upon Jehovah as his God! Why such a peculiarity as this? No doubt, in the first instance, to make the contrast more palpable between this case and the preceding; the connection with God, which was utterly wanting in the one, presenting itself as everything, in a manner, in the other. Then it proclaims the identity as to spiritual state between Noah and Shem, and designates this son as in the full sense the heir of blessing: “Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem,” My God is also the God of my son; I adore Him for Himself; and now, before I leave the world, declare Him to be the covenant God of Shem. Nor of Shem only as an individual, but as the head of a certain portion of the world’s inhabitants. It was with this portion that God was to stand in the nearest relation. Here He was to find His peculiar representatives, and His select instruments of working among men here emphatically were to be the priestly people. A spiritual distinction, therefore—the highest spiritual distinction, a state of blessed nearness to God, and special interest in His fullness—is what is predicated of the line of Shem. And in the same sense—namely, as denoting a fellowship in this spiritual distinction—should that part of the prophecy on Japheth also be understood, which points to a connection with Shem: “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” It obviously, indeed, designates his stock generally as the most spreading and energetic of the three—pre-eminent, so far as concerns diffusive operations and active labour in occupying the lands and carrying forward the business of the world and thus naturally tending, as the event has proved, to push their way, even in a civil and territorial respect, into the tents of Shem. This last thought may therefore not unfairly be included in the compass of the prediction, but it can at most be regarded as the subordinate idea. The prospect, as descried from the sacred heights of prophecy, of dwelling in the tents of Shem, must have been eyed, not as an intrusive conquest on the part of Japheth, subjecting Shem in a measure to the degrading lot of Canaan, but rather as a sacred privilege—an admission of this less honoured race under the shelter of the same Divine protection, and into the partnership of the same ennobling benefits [[@Page:344]] with himself. In a word, it was through the line of Shem that the gifts of grace and the blessings of salvation were more immediately to flow—the Shemites were to have them at first hand; but the descendants of Japheth were also to participate largely in the good. And by reason of their more extensive ramifications and more active energies, were to be mainly instrumental in working upon the condition of the world.

It is evident, even from this general intimation of the Divine purposes, that the more particular direction which was now to be given to the call of God, was not to be particular in the sense of exclusive, but particular only for the sake of a more efficient working and a more comprehensive result. The exaltation of Shem’s progeny into the nearest relationship to God, was not that they might keep the privilege to themselves, but that first getting it, they should admit the sons of Japheth, the inhabitants of the isles, to share with them in the boon, and spread it as wide as their scattered race should extend. The principle announced was an immediate particularism for the sake of an ultimate universalism. And this change in the manner of working was not introduced arbitrarily, but in consequence of the proved inadequacy of the other, and, as we may say, more natural course that had hitherto been pursued. Formally considered, the earlier revelations of God made no difference between one person and another, or even between one stem and another. They spoke the same language, and held out the same invitations to all. The weekly call to enter into God’s rest—the promise of victory to the woman’s seed—the exhibition of grace and hope in the symbols at the east of Eden—the instituted means of access to God in sacrificial worship—even the more specific promises and pledges of the Noachic covenant, were offered and addressed to men without distinction. Practically, however, they narrowed themselves; and when the effect is looked to, it is found that there was only a portion, an elect seed, that really had faith in the Divine testimony, and entered into possession of the offered good. Not only so, but there was a downward tendency in the process. The elect seed did not grow as time advanced, but proportionally decreased; the cause and party that flourished was the one opposed to God’s. And the same result was beginning to take place after the flood, as [[@Page:345]] is evident from what occurred in the family of Noah itself, and from other notices of the early appearance of corruption. The tendency in this direction was too strong to be effectually met by such general revelations and overtures of mercy. The plan was too vague and indeterminate. A more specific line of operations was needed from the particular to the general; so that a certain amount of good, within a definite range, might in the first instance be secured; and that from this, as a fixed position, other advantages might be gained, and more extensive results achieved.

It is carefully to be noted, then, that a comprehensive object was as much contemplated in this new plan as in the other; it differed only in the mode of reaching the end in view. The earth was to be possessed and peopled by the three sons of Noah; and of the three, Shem is the one who was selected as the peculiar channel of Divine gifts and communications—but not for his own exclusive benefit; rather to the end that others might share with him in the blessing. The real nature and bearing of the plan, however, became more clearly manifest, when it began to be actually carried into execution. Its proper commencement dates from the call of Abraham, who was of the line of Shem, and in whom, as an individual, the purpose of God began practically to take effect. Why the Divine choice should have fixed specially upon him as the first individual link in this grand chain of providences, is not stated; and from the references subsequently made to it, we are plainly instructed to regard it as an example of the absolutely free grace and sovereign election of God.—(Josh. 24:2; Neh. 9:7) That he had nothing whereof to boast in respect to it, we are expressly told; and yet we may not doubt, that in the line of Shem’s posterity, to which he belonged, there was more knowledge of God, and less corruption in His worship, than among other branches of the same stem. Hence, perhaps, as being addressed to one who was perfectly cognizant of what had taken place in the history of his progenitors, the revelation made to him takes a form which bears evident respect to the blessing pronounced on Shem, and appears only indeed as the giving of a more specific direction to Shem’s high calling, or chalking out a definite way for its accomplishment. Jehovah was the God of Shem that in the word of Noah was declared [[@Page:346]] to be his peculiar distinction. In like manner, Jehovah from the first made Himself known to Abraham as his God; nay, even took the name of “God of Abraham” as a distinctive epithet, and made the promise, “I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee,” a leading article in the covenant established with him. And as the peculiar blessing of Shem was to be held with no exclusive design, but that the sons of Japheth far and wide might share in it, so Abraham is called not only to be himself blessed, but also that he might be a blessing,—a blessing to such an extent, that those should be blessed who blessed him, and in him all the families of the earth should be blessed. Yet with this general similarity between the earlier and the later announcement, what a striking advance does the Divine plan now make in breadth of meaning and explicitness of purpose! How wonderfully does it combine together the little and the great, the individual and the universal! Its terminus a quo the son of a Mesopotamian shepherd; and its terminus ad quem the entire brotherhood of humanity, and the round circumference of the globe! What a Divine-like grasp and comprehensiveness! The very projection of such a scheme bespoke the infinite understanding of Godhead; and minds altogether the reverse of narrow and exclusive, minds attempered to noble aims and inspired by generous feeling, alone could carry it into execution.

By this call Abraham was raised to a very singular preeminence, and constituted in a manner the root and centre of the world’s future history, as concerns the attainment of real blessing. Still, even in that respect not exclusively. The blessing was to come chiefly to Abraham, and through him; but, as already indicated also in the prophecy on Shem, others were to stand, though in a subordinate rank, on the same line; since those also were to be blessed who blessed him; that is, who held substantially the same faith, and occupied the same friendly relation to God. The cases of such persons in the patriarch’s own day, as his kinsman Lot, who was not formally admitted into Abraham’s covenant, and still more of Melchizedek, who was not even of Abraham’s line, and yet individually stood in some sense higher than Abraham himself, clearly showed, and were no doubt partly provided for the express purpose of showing, that there was nothing arbitrary [[@Page:347]] in Abraham’s position, and that the ground he occupied was to a certain extent common to believers generally. The peculiar honour conceded to him was, that the great trunk of blessing was to be of him, while only some isolated twigs or scattered branches were to be found elsewhere; and even these could only be found by persons coming, in a manner, to make common cause with him. In regard to himself, however, the large dowry of good conveyed to him in the Divine promise could manifestly not be realized through himself personally. There could at the most be but a beginning made in his own experience and history; and the widening of the circle of blessing to other kindreds and regions, till it reached the most distant families of the earth, could only be effected by means of those who were to spring from him. Hence the original word of promise, which was, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” was afterwards changed into this, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”—(Gen. 22:18)

Yet the original expression is not without an important meaning, and it takes the two, the earlier as well as the later form, to bring out the full design of God in the calling of Abraham. From the very nature of the case, first, as having respect to so extensive a field to be operated on, and then from the explicit mention of the patriarch’s seed in the promise, no doubt whatever could be entertained, that the good in its larger sense was to be wrought out, not by himself individually and directly, but by him in connection with the seed to be given to him. And when the high character as well as the comprehensive reach of the good was taken into account, it might well have seemed as if even that seed were somehow going to have qualities associated with it which he could not perceive in himself—as if another and higher connection with the heavenly and Divine should in due time be given to it, than any he was conscious of enjoying in his state of noblest elevation. We, at least, know from the better light we possess, that such actually was the case; that the good promised neither did nor could have come into realization but by a personal commingling of the Divine with the human; and that it has become capable of reaching to the most exalted height, and of diffusing itself through the widest bounds, simply by reason of this union in Christ. He, therefore, is the essential [[@Page:348]] kernel of the promise; and the seed of Abraham, rather than Abraham himself, was to have the honour of blessing all the families of the earth. This, however, by no means makes void the in thee of the original promise; for by so expressly connecting the good with Abraham as well as with his seed, the organic connection was marked between the one and the other, and the things that belonged to him were made known as the beginning of the end. The blessing to be brought to the world through his line had even in his time a present though small realization—precisely as the kingdom of Christ had its commencement in that of David, and the one ultimately merged into the other. And so, in Abraham as the living root of all that was to follow, the whole and every part may be said to take its rise; and not only was Christ after the flesh of the seed of Abraham, but each believer in Christ is a son of Abraham, and the entire company of the redeemed shall have their place and their portion with Abraham in the kingdom of God.

Such being the case with the call of Abraham,—in its objects, so high, and its results so grand and comprehensive,—it is manifest that the immediate limitations connected with it, in regard to a fleshly offspring and a worldly inheritance, must only have been intended to serve as temporary expedients and fit stepping-stones for the ulterior purposes in view. And such statements regarding the covenant with Abraham, as that it merely secured to Abraham a posterity, and to that posterity the possession of the land of Canaan for an inheritance, on the condition of their acknowledging Jehovah as their God, is to read the terms of the covenant with a microscope—magnifying the little, and leaving the great altogether unnoticed—in the preliminary means losing sight of the prospective end.[3] Another thing also, and one more closely connected with our present subject, is equally manifest; which is, that since the entire scheme of blessing had its root in Abraham, it must also have had its representation in [[@Page:349]] Him—he, in his position and character and fortunes, must have been the type of that which was to come. Such uniformly is God’s plan, in respect to those whom it constitutes heads of a class, or founders of a particular dispensation. It was so, first of all, with Adam, in whom humanity itself was imaged. It was so again in a measure with the three sons of Noah, whose respective states and procedure gave prophetic indication of the more prominent characteristics that should distinguish their offspring. Such, too, at a future period, and much more remarkably, was the case with David, in whom, as the beginning and root of the everlasting kingdom, there was presented the foreshadowing type of all that should essentially belong to the kingdom, when represented by its Divine head, and set up in its proper dimensions. Nor could it now be properly otherwise with Abraham. The very terms of the call, which singled him out from the mass of the world, and set him on high, constrain us to regard him as in the strictest sense a representative man—in himself and the things belonging to his immediate heirs, the type at once of the subjective and the objective design of the covenant, or, in other words, of the kind of persons who were to be the subjects arid channels of blessing, and of the kind of inheritance with which they were to be blessed. It is for the purpose of exhibiting this clearly and distinctly, and thereby rendering the things written of Abraham and his immediate offspring a revelation, in the strictest sense, of God’s mind and will regarding the more distant future, that this portion of patriarchal history was constructed.

Abraham himself, in the first instance, was the covenant head and the type of what was to come; but as the family of the Israelites were to be the collective bearers and representatives of the covenant, so, not Abraham alone, but the whole of their immediate progenitors, who were alike heads of the covenant people, along with Abraham, Isaac also, and Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs,—possess a typical character. It shall be our object, therefore, in the two remaining sections,—which must necessarily extend to a considerable length,—to present the more prominent features of the instruction intended to be conveyed in both of the respects now mentioned first in regard to the subjects and channels of blessing, and then in regard to the inheritance destined for their possession.


[1] Gen. 9:24. The expression in the original is בּנוֹ הַקָּטָן, and is the same that is applied to David in 1 Sam. 17:14. There can, therefore, be no reasonable doubt that it means youngest, and not tender or dear, as some would take it. It is not so expressly said that Canaan was Ham’s youngest son; but the inference that he was such is fair and natural, as he is mentioned last in the genealogy, ch. 10:6, where no sufficient reason can be thought of for deviating from the natural order.

[2] Weissagung und Erfüllung, i., p. 89.

[3] This is exactly the course taken in a late volume, Israel after the Flesh, by the Rev. William H. Johnstone, pp. 7, 8. He appears also to slump together the covenant with Abraham and the covenant at Sinai, as if the one were simply a renewal of the other. And this notwithstanding the distinction drawn so pointedly between them in the Epistle to the Galatians, and while the author, too, professes to have gone to work with the thorough determination to be guided only by Scripture!

Section Fifth.—The Subjects and Channels of Blessing—Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and The Twelve Patriarchs.

[[@Page:350]] WHILE we class the whole of these together, on account of their being alike covenant heads to the children of Israel, who became in due time the covenant people, we are not to lose sight of the fact, that Abraham was more especially the person in whom the covenant had its original root and representation.

It is in his case, accordingly, that we might expect to find, and that we actually have, the most specific and varied information respecting the nature of the covenant, and the manner in which it was to reach its higher ends. We shall therefore look, in the first instance, to what is written of him, coupling Isaac, however, with him; since what is chiefly interesting and import ant about Isaac concerns him as the seed, for which Abraham was immediately called to look and wait: so that, as to the greater lines of instruction, which are all we can at present notice, the lives of the two are knit inseparably together. And the same is, to a considerable extent, the case also with Jacob and the twelve patriarchs. The whole may be said to be of one piece, viewed as a special instruction for the covenant people, and through them for the Church at large, in respect to her calling and position in the world.

I. Abraham, then, is called to be in a peculiar sense the possessor and dispenser of blessing; to be himself blessed, and through the seed that is to spring from him, to be a blessing to the whole race of mankind. A divine-like calling and destiny! for it is God alone who is properly the source and giver of blessing. Abraham, therefore, by his very appointment, is raised into a supranatural relationship to God; he is to be in direct communication with heaven, and to receive all from above; God is to work, in a special manner, for him and by [[@Page:351]] him; and the people that are to spring out of him, for a blessing to other peoples, are to arise, not in the ordinary course of nature, but above and beyond it, as the benefits also they should be called to diffuse belong to a higher region than that of nature. As a necessary counterpart to this, and the in dispensable condition of its accomplishment, there must be in Abraham a principle of faith, such as might qualify him for transacting with God, in regard to the higher things of the covenant. These were not seen or present, and were also strange, supernatural, in the view of sense unlikely or even impossible; yet were not the less to be regarded as sure in the destination of heaven, and to be looked, waited, or, if need be, also striven and suffered for by men. This principle of faith must evidently be the fundamental and formative power in Abraham’s bosom—the very root of his new being, the life of his life—at once making him properly receptive of the Divine goodness, and readily obedient to the Divine will in the one respect giving scope for the display of God’s wonders in his behalf, and in the other prompting him to act in accordance with God’s righteous ends and purposes. So it actually was. Abraham was pre-eminently a man of faith; and on that account was raised to the honourable distinction of the Father of the Faithful. And faith in him proved not only a capacity to receive, but a hand also to work; and is scarcely less remarkable for what it brought to his experience from the grace and power of God, than for the sustaining, elevating, and sanctifying influence which it shed over his life and conduct. There are particularly three stages, each rising in succession above the other, in which it is important for us to mark this.

1. The first is that of the Divine call itself, which came to Abraham while still living among his kindred in the land of Mesopotamia.—(Gen. 12:1-3) Even in this original form of the Divine purpose concerning him, the supernatural element is conspicuous. To say nothing of its more general provisions, that he, a Mesopotamian shepherd, should be made surpassingly great, and should even be a source of blessing to all the families of the earth—to say nothing of these, which might appear in credible only from their indefinite vastness and comprehension, the two specific promises in the call, that a great nation should [[@Page:352]] be made of him, and that another land—presently afterwards determined to be the land of Canaan—should be given him for an inheritance, both lay beyond the bounds of the natural and the probable. At the time the call was addressed to Abraham, he was already seventy-five years old, and his wife Sarah, being only ten years younger, must have been sixty-five.—(Gen. 12:4, 17:17) For such persons to be constituted parents, and parents of an offspring that should become a great nation, involved at the very outset a natural impossibility, and could only be made good by a supernatural exercise of Divine Omnipotence—a miracle. Nor was it materially different in regard to the other part of the promise; for it is expressly stated, when the precise land to be given was pointed out to him, that the Canaanite was then in the land.—(Gen. 12:6) It was even then an inhabited territory, and by no ordinary concurrence of events could be expected to become the heritage of the yet unborn posterity of Abraham. It could only be looked for as the result of God’s direct and special interposition in their behalf.

Yet, incredible as the promise seemed in both of its departments, Abraham believed the word spoken to him; he had faith to accredit the Divine testimony, and to take the part which it assigned him. Both were required—a receiving of the promise first, and then an acting with a view to it; for, on the ground of such great things being destined for him, he was commanded to leave his natural home and kindred, and go forth under the Divine guidance to the new territory to be assigned him. In this command was discovered the inseparable connection between faith and holiness; or between the call of Abraham to receive distinguishing and supernatural blessing, and his call to lead a life of sincere and devoted obedience. He was singled out from the world’s inhabitants to begin a new order of things, which were to bear throughout the impress of God’s special grace and almighty power; and he must separate himself from the old things of nature, to be in his life the representative of God’s holiness, as in his destiny he was to be the monument of God’s power and goodness.

It is this exercise of faith in Abraham which is first exhibited in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as bespeaking a mighty energy in its working; the more especially as the exchange in the case [[@Page:353]] of Abraham and his immediate descendants did not prove by any means agreeable to nature. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; arid he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” It may seem, indeed, at this distance of place and time, as if there were no great difference in the condition of Abraham and his household, in the one place as compared with the other. But it was quite otherwise in reality. They had, first of all, to break asunder the ties of home and kindred, which nature always feels painful, especially in mature age, even though it may have the prospect before it of a comfortable settlement in another region. This sacrifice they had to make in the fullest sense: it was in their case a strictly final separation; they were to be absolutely done with the old and its endearments, and to cleave henceforth to the new. Nor only so, but their immediate position in the new was not like that which they had before in the old: settled possessions in the one, but none in the other; instead of them, mere lodging-room among strangers, and a life on Providence. Nature does not love a change like that, and can only regard it as quitting the certainties of sight for the seeming uncertainties of faith and hope. These, however, were still but the smaller trials which Abraham’s faith had to encounter; for, along with the change in his outward condition, there came responsibilities and duties altogether alien to nature’s feelings, and contrary to its spirit. In his old country he followed his own way, and walked after the course of the world, having no special work to do, nor any calling of a more solemn kind to fulfil. But now, by obeying the call of Heaven, he was brought into immediate connection with a spiritual and holy God, became charged in a manner with His interest in the world, and bound, in the face of surrounding enmity or scorn, faithfully to maintain His cause, and promote the glory of His name. To do this was in truth to renounce nature, and rise superior to it. And it was done, let it be remembered, out of regard to prospects which could only be realized if the power of God should forsake its wonted channels of working, and perform what the carnal mind would [[@Page:354]] have deemed it infatuation to look for. Even in that first stage of the patriarch’s course, there was a noble triumph of faith, and the earnest of a life replenished with the fruits of righteousness.

It is true, the promise thus given at the commencement was not uniformly sustained; and Abraham was not long in Canaan till there seemed to be a failure on the part of God toward him, and there actually was a failure on his part toward God. The occurrence of a famine leads him to take refuge for a time in Egypt, which was even then the granary of that portion of the East; and he is tempted, through fear of his personal safety, to equivocate regarding Sarah, and call her his sister. The equivocation is certainly not to be justified, either on this or on the future occasion on which it was again resorted to; for though it contained a half truth, this was so employed as to render “the half truth a whole lie.” We are rather to refer both circumstances—his repairing to Egypt, and when there betaking to such a worldly expedient for safety—as betraying the imperfection of his faith, which had strength to enable him to enter on his new course of separation from the world and devotedness to God, but still wanted clearness of discernment and implicitness of trust sufficient to meet the unexpected difficulties that so early presented themselves in the way. Strange indeed had it been otherwise. It was necessary that the faith of Abraham, like that of believers generally, should learn by experience, and even grow by its temporary defeats. The first failure on the present occasion stood in his seeking relief from the emergency that arose by withdrawing, without the Divine sanction, to another country than that into which he had been conducted by the special providence of God. Instead of looking up for direction and support, he betook to worldly shifts and expedients, and thus became entangled in difficulties, out of which the immediate interposition of God alone could have rescued him. In this way, however, the result proved beneficial. Abraham was made to feel, in the first instance, that his backsliding had reproved him; and then the merciful interposition of Heaven, rebuking even a king for his sake, taught him the lesson, that with the God of heaven upon his side, he had no need to be afraid for the outward evils that might beset him in his course. [[@Page:355]] He had but to look up in faith, and get the direction or support that he needed.

The conduct of Abraham, immediately after his return to Canaan, gave ample evidence of the general stedfastness and elevated purity of his course. Though travelling about as a stranger in the land, he makes all around him feel that it is a blessed thing to be connected with him, and that it would be well for them if the land really were in his possession. The quarrel that presently arose between Lot’s herdsmen and his own, merely furnished the occasion for his disinterested generosity, in waiving his own rights, and allowing to his kinsman the priority and freedom of choice. And another quarrel of a graver kind, that of the war between the four kings in higher Asia, and of the five small dependent sovereigns in the south of Canaan, drew forth still nobler manifestations of the large and self-sacrificing spirit that filled his bosom. Regarding the unjust capture of Lot as an adequate reason for taking part in the conflict, he went courageously forth with his little band of trained servants, overthrew the conquerors, and recovered all that had been lost. Yet, at the very moment he displayed the victorious energy of his faith, by discomfiting this mighty army, how strikingly did he, at the same time, exhibit its patience in declining to use the advantage he then gained to hasten forward the purposes of God concerning his possession of the land, and its moderation of spirit, its commanding superiority to merely worldly ends and objects, in refusing to take even the smallest portion of the goods of the king of Sodom! Nay, so far from seeking to exalt self by pressing outward advantages and worldly resources, his spirit of faith, leading him to recognise the hand of God in the success that had been won, causes him to bow down in humility, and do homage to the Most High God in the person of His priest Melchizedek. He gave this Melchizedek tithes of all, and as himself the less, received blessing from Melchizedek as the greater.

Viewed thus merely as a mark of the humble and reverent spirit of Abraham, the offspring of his faith in God, this notice of his relation to Melchizedek is interesting. But other things of a profounder nature were wrapt up in the transaction, which the pen of inspiration did not fail afterwards to elicit (Ps. 110:4; [[@Page:356]] Heb. 7), and which it is proper to glance at before we pass on to another stage of the patriarch’s history. The extraordinary circumstance of such a person as a priest of the Most High God, whom even Abraham acknowledged to be such, starting up all at once in the devoted land of Canaan, and vanishing out of sight almost as soon as he appeared, has given rise, from the earliest times, to numberless conjectures. Ham, Shem, Noah, Enoch, an angel, Christ, the Holy Spirit, have each, in the hands of different persons, been identified with this Melchizedek; but the view now almost universally acquiesced in is, that he was simply a Canaanite sovereign, who combined with his royal dignity as king of Salem[1] the office of a true priest of God. No other supposition, indeed, affords a satisfactory explanation of the narrative. The very silence observed regarding his origin, and the manner of his appointment to the priesthood, was intentional, and served to draw more particular attention to the facts of the case, as also to bring it into a closer correspondence with the ultimate realities. The more remarkable peculiarity was, that to this person, simply because he was a righteous king and priest of the Most High God, Abraham, the elect of God, the possessor of the promises, paid tithes, and received from him a blessing; and did it, too, at the very time he stood so high in honour, and kept himself so carefully aloof from another king then present—the king of Sodom. He placed himself as conspicuously below the one personage as he raised himself above the other. Why should he have done so? Because Melchizedek already in a measure possessed what Abraham still only hoped for—he reigned where Abraham’s [[@Page:357]] seed were destined to reign, and exercised a priesthood which in future generations was to be committed to them. The union of the two in Melchizedek was in itself a great thing—greater than the separate offices of king and priest in the houses respectively of David and Aaron; but it was an expiring greatness: it was like the last blossom on the old rod of Noah, which thenceforth became as a dry tree. In Abraham, on the other hand, was the germ of a new and higher order of things: the promise, though still only the budding promise, of a better inheritance of blessing; and when the seed should come in whom the promise was more especially to stand, then the more general and comprehensive aspect of the Melchizedek order was to reappear, and reappear in one who could at once place it on firmer ground, and carry it to unspeakably higher results. Here, then, was a sacred enigma for the heart of faith to ponder, and for the spirit of truth gradually to unfold: Abraham, in one respect, relatively great, and in another relatively little; personally inferior to Melchizedek, and yet the root of a seed that was to do for the world incomparably more than Melchizedek had done; himself the type of a higher than Melchizedek, and yet Melchizedek a more peculiar type than he! It was a mystery that could be disclosed only in partial glimpses beforehand, but which now has become comparatively plain by the person and work of Immanuel. What but the wonder-working finger of God could have so admirably fitted the past to be such a singular image of the future!

There are points connected with this subject that will naturally fall to be noticed at a later period, when we come to treat of the Aaronic priesthood, and other points also, though of a minor kind, belonging to this earlier portion of Abraham’s history, which we cannot particularly notice. We proceed to the second stage in the development of his spiritual life.