Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and which harmonises with the nature of things. For instance, would we ascertain the spiritual analogy of the coverings of the tabernacle, we must previously direct our attention to its scope or primary design, which was to be as it were the palace of the Most High, who was there worshipped by the Israelites during their journeyings in the wilderness: whence it is clear that the tabernacle adumbrated the church of the living God, which is termed the House of God. (1 Tim. iii. 15.) The harmony or agreement of the thing typifying and the thing typified is then to be elicited and on consideration it will be found, that as the tabernacle was planned under the immediate direction of Jehovah, (whose spirit rested on the artificers Bezaleel and Aholiab,) and, when finished, was said to be the dwellingplace of the God of Israel; so the true church of Christ is under his immediate care and protection, his Holy Spirit having descended plenarily on the apostles by whom it was founded, and his gracious influences and teachings being also promised to all ministers of the Gospel, and to all true Christians, who live in the enjoyment of communion with God. And as in the tabernacle there were found bread, light, &c. these probably were emblematical of the ample provision made in Christ for the direction, support and salvation of the soul of man. Beyond this typical interpretation of the tabernacle we cannot safely go, without deviating into all the vagaries of imagination.

2. There is often more in the Type than the Antitype.

God designed one person or thing in the Old Testament to be a type or shadow of things to come, not in all things, but only in respect to some particular thing or things: hence we find many things in the type, that are inapplicable to the antitype. The use of this canon is shown in the epistle to the Hebrews, in which the ritual and sacrifices of the Old Testament are fairly accommodated to Jesus Christ the antitype, although there are many things in that priesthood which do not accord. Thus the priest was to offer sacrifice for his own sins (Heb. v. 3.), which is in no respect applicable to Christ. (Heb. vii. 27.) Again the Mosaic priesthood is (vii. 18.) weak and unprofitable, neither of which characters can be applied to the Redeemer, who continueth ever, and hath an unchangeable priest: hood. (vii. 24, 25.)

3. Frequently there is more in the Antitype than in the Type.

The reason of this canon is the same as that of the preceding rule: for, as no single type can express the life and particular actions of Christ, there is necessarily more in the antitype than can be found in the type itself; so that one type must signify one thing, and another type another thing. Thus one goat could not typify Christ both in his death and resurrection: therefore two were appointed (Lev. xvi. 7.), one of which was offered, and prefigured his "full, perfect, and sufficient atonement;" while the other, which was dismissed, typified his triumph over death and the grave. In like manner, Moses was a type of Christ as a Redeemer, in bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, and Joshua, in bringing them into Canaan, which was a type of heaven, the true country of all sincere Christians.

[ocr errors]

4. Where there are many partial Types of one and the same thing, we are in such cases to judge of the antitype, not from one Type, but from all of them jointly considered.

The reason of this can also depends upon the three former ones: for, as the persons and events mentioned in the New Testament were prefigured at sundry times, and in divers manners (Heb. i. 1.), if we would form a correct judgment of the thing prefigured by types, we must not examine or meditate upon one type singly, but upon many of them collectively taken together. The propriety of this rule is so obvious as to render any further illustration unnecessary: we may however remark, that such a comparison of several types of the same evangelical truth will not only afford admirable illustrations of it; but will also show the imbecility of the types themselves as contrasted with the pre-eminent excellence of the great antitype, and at the same time teach us to prosecute our investigations with becoming humility.

5. In interpreting the Old Testament types, we must accurately exa mine whether the shadow, or the truth represented by a shadow, be proposed; in other words, whether the prophets uttered their predictions concerning the Messiah under the shadow of types, or in express terms, namely, speaking of him in a literal sense.

This canon is rendered necessary by the well known custom of prophetical dic

tion; in which the prophets frequently make sudden transitions from the type to the antitype, from corporeal to spiritual things. An example of such transition occurs in Psal. ii. 7., which, though literally to be understood of David, is prophetically and typically applicable to Jesus Christ; and so it was understood and applied by Saint Paul. (Acts xiii. 33.)

6. The wicked, as such, are not to be made Types of Christ.

For how can a thing, which is bad in itself, prefigure or typify a thing that is good? Yet, for want of attending to this obvious and almost self-evident proposition, some1 expositors have interpreted the adultery of David, and the incest of Amnon, as typical of the Messiah! and the oak on which Absalom was suspended by the hair of his head, has been made a type of the cross of Christ 2 It is not, however, to be denied, that the punishments of some malefactors are accommodated to Christ as the antitype. Thus Deut. xxi. 23. is by Saint Paul accommodated typically to him, Gal. iii. 13. Jonah, we have already observed, was a type of Christ, by his continuance three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish but the point of resemblance is to be sought, not in his being there as the punishment of his disobedience to the divine command, but in his coming forth, at the expiration of that time, alive, and in perfect vigour; which coming forth prefigured the resurrection of Christ.

7. One thing is sometimes a Type of two, and even of contrary things, but in different respects.

Thus the deluge, in which Noah and his family were preserved, was to believers a type of baptism (1 Pet. iii. 21.): but in regard to the wicked who perished it prefigured the sudden and unexpected destruction of the wicked at the great day of judgment. (Matt. xxiv. 37-39. Luke xvii. 26, 27.) To this head also may be referred those passages in which Christ, who is called a rock and a corner-stone, is said to be a rock of salvation to believers, but, to the wicked and disobedient, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.

8. In Types and Antitypes, an enallage or change sometimes takes place; as when the thing prefigured assumes the name of the type or figure; and, on the contrary, when the type of the thing represented assumes the name of the antitype.

Of the first kind of enallage we have examples in Ezek. xxxiv. 23. xxxvii. 24, 25. and Hos. iii. 5.; in which descriptions of Messiah's kingdom he is styled David; because as he was prefigured by David in many respects, so he was to descend from him. In like manner Christ is called a lamb, (John i. 29. 36. and Rev. xix. 7. 9.) because the paschal lamb was an eminent type of him. So, the Christian church is sometimes called Mount Sion and Jerusalem (Gal. iv. 26. Heb. xii. 22. Rev. xxi. 2.), because these places were types of her.

Of the second kind of enallage we have instances: -1. In prophetical types, in which the name of a person or thing, properly agreeing with the antitype, and for which the type was proposed, is given to any one: as in Isa. vii. 3. and viii. 1 -3. So the wife of the prophet Hosea, and his legitimate children, are by the command of Jehovah termed a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms, (Hos. i. 2.) on account of the Israelites, who were the antitype, and were guilty of spiritual whoredom or adultery. See Hos. i. 4. 6. 9. 2. In historical types, as when hanging was called in the Old Testament the curse of the Lord because it was made a type of Christ, who was made a curse for our sins, Gal. iii. 13.

9. That we may not fall into extremes in the interpretation of types, we must, in every instance, proceed cautiously, "with fear and trembling," lest we imagine mysteries to exist where none were ever intended.

No mystical or typical sense, therefore, ought to be put upon a plain passage of Scripture, the meaning of which is obvious and natural; unless it be evident from some other part of Scripture that the place is to be understood in a double senso. When Saint Paul says, (Gal. iii 24. Col. ii. 17.) that the law was a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, and a shadow of things to come, we must instantly acknowledge that the ceremonial law in general was a type of the mysteries of the Gospel. Nothing can be more contrary to that sober judgment which is so strenuously urged by the apostle (Rom. xii. 3.), than to seek for types where there are

1 Azorius, the Spanish Jesuit, in his Institutiones Morales, lib. viii. c. 2.; and Cornelius à Lapide, in Prefat. ad Pentateuch, canon 40.

2 Gretzer, De Cruce, lib. i. c. 6.

not the smallest marks or traces of any; and that too, by contradicting the plain and literal meaning of Scripture, and not unfrequently in direct opposition to common sense. "Should not the prudence and moderation of Christ and his apostles in this respect be imitated? Is it not pretending to be wiser than they were, to look for mysteries where they designed none? How unreasonable is it to lay an useless weight on the consciences of Christians, and to bear down the true and revealed, under the unwieldy burthen of traditional mysteries."1

IV. Closely connected with the interpretation of types is the expounding of Symbols; which, though often confounded with them, are nevertheless widely different in their nature. By symbols we mean certain representative marks, rather than express pictures; or, if pictures, such as were at the time characters, and, besides presenting to the eye the resemblance of a particular object, suggested a general idea to the mind. As, when a horn was made to denote strength, an eye and sceptre, majesty, and in numberless such instances; where the picture was not drawn to express merely the thing itself, but something else, which was, or was conceived to be, analagous to it. This more complex and ingenious form of picture-writing was much practised by the Egyptians, and is that which we know by the name of Hieroglyphics."3

It has been doubted whether symbolical language should be referred to figurative or spiritual interpretation; in the former case, it would have occupied a place in the discussion respecting the figurative language of Scripture; but, on consideration, it will appear that it is most nearly allied to mystical interpretation. For a symbol differs from a type in this respect, that the former represents something past or present, while a type represents something future. The images of the cherubim over the propitiatory were symbols; the bread and wine in the last supper also were symbols. The commanded sacrifice of Isaac was given for a type; the sacrifices of the law were

66

1 Beausobre's Introduction to the New Testament. (Bishop Watson's Tracts, vol. iii. p. 140.) In the preceding observations on the interpretation of types, the author has chiefly been indebted to Glassii Philologia Sacra, lib. ii. part i. tract ii. sect. iv. col. 442-472., which has been unaccountably omitted by Prof. Dathe in his otherwise truly valuable edition of that work; Langii Hermeneutica Sacra, pp. 97-119.; J. E. Pfeiffer, Inst. Herm. Sacr. pp. 775-795.; Viser, Hermeneutica Sacra Novi Testamenti, part ii. pp. 184-188. The subject of types is particu larly considered and ably illustrated in Dr. Outram de Sacrificiis, particularly lib. i. cap. 18. and lib. ii. c. 7. (pp. 217-228. 361-384. of Mr. Allen's translation already noticed); Mr. Faber's Hora Mosaicæ, vol. ii. pp. 40-173.; Bishop Chandler's Defence of Christianity from the Prophecies of the Old Testament, &c. chap. iii.; and Mr. Wilson's popular Inquiry into the Doctrine of Scripture Types. Edinburgh, 1823. 8vo. But the fullest view of this subject is stated by Dr. Graves to be found in the Rev. Samuel Mather's work on the Figures and Types of the Old Testament. Dublin, 1683. 4to.

2 Before an alphabet was invented, and what we call literary writing was formed into an art, men had no way to record their conceptions, or to convey them to others at a distance, but by setting down the figures and tropes of such things as were the objects of their contemplation. Hence, the way of writing in picture was as universal, and almost as early, as the way of speaking in metaphor; and from the same reason, the necessity of the thing. In process of time, and through many successive improvements, this rude and simple mode of picture-writing was succeeded by that of symbols, or was enlarged at least and enriched by it. Bishop Hurd's Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies, serm. ix. (Works, vol. v p. 238.)

3 Bishop Hurd's Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies, serm. ix. (Works, vol. v. p. 239.)

types. So far, Bishop Warburton has remarked, symbols and types agree in their genus, that they are equally representations, but in their species they differ widely. It is not required, he further observes, that the symbol should partake of the nature of the thing represented : the cherubim shadowed out the celerity of angels, but not by any physical celerity of their own; the bread and wine shadowed out the body and blood of Christ, but not by any change in the elements. But types being, on the contrary, representations of things future, and so partaking of the nature of prophecy, were to convey information concerning the nature of the antitypes, or of the things represented; which they could not do but by the exhibition of their own nature. And hence we collect, that the command to offer Isaac, being the command to offer a real sacrifice, the death and sufferings of Christ, thereby represented, were a real sacrifice.1

As the same rules, which regulate the general interpretation of the tropes and figures occurring in the Scriptures, are equally applicable to the interpretation of symbols, it will be sufficient to refer to a former part of this volume, in which that topic is particularly discussed. Much light will also be thrown upon the symbolical language of Scripture, by a careful collation of the writings of the prophets with each other; for "the symbolical language of the prophets is almost a science in itself. None can fully comprehend the depth, sublimity, and force of their writings, who are not thoroughly acquainted with the peculiar and appropriate imagery they were accustomed to use. This is the main key to many of the prophecies; and, without knowing how to apply it, the interpreter will often in vain essay to discover their hidden treasures."3 Lastly, the diligent comparison of the New Testament with the Old will essentially contribute to illustrate the symbolical phraseology of the prophets. For instance, we learn what what is intended by the water promised to the Israelites in Isa. xliv. 3., and to which the thirsty are invited in ch. lv. 1., from John iv. 10. and vii. 37-39.; where it is explained of the Holy Spirit and his gifts which were afterwards to be dispensed.*

1 Divine Legation of Moses, book ix. ch. ii. (Works, vol. vi. p. 289. 8vo. edit.) 2 See pp. 581-589. supra.

3 Bp. Vanmildert's Lectures, p. 240.

4 See a Concise Dictionary of the Symbolical Language of Prophecy, infra, Vol, IV. Index I.

VOL. II.

83

CHAPTER IX.

ON THE DOCTRINAL INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.

As the Holy Scriptures contain the revealed will of God to man, they not only offer to our attention the most interesting histories and characters for our instruction by example, and the most sublime prophecies for the confirmation of our faith, but they likewise present to our serious study, doctrinal truths of the utmost importance. Some of these occur in the historical, poetical, and prophetical parts of the Bible but they are chiefly to be found in the apostolic epistles, which, though originally designed for the edification of particular Christian churches or individuals, are nevertheless of general application, and designed for the guidance of the universal church in every age. For many of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity are more copiously treated in the epistles, which are not so particularly explained in the gospels and as the authors of the several epistles wrote under the same divine inspiration as the evangelists, the epistles and gospels must be taken together, to complete the rule of Christian faith. The doctrinal interpretation, therefore, of the sacred writings is of paramount consequence; as by this means we are enabled to acquire a correct and saving knowledge of the will of God concerning us. In the prosecution of this important branch of sacred literature, the following observations are offered to the attention of the student.

I. The meaning of the sacred writings is not to be determined according to modern notions and systems: but we must endeavour to carry ourselves back to the very times and places in which they were written, and realise the ideas and modes of thinking of the sacred writers.

This rule is of the utmost importance for understanding the Scriptures; but is too commonly neglected by commentators and exposi tors, who, when applying themselves to the explanation of the sacred writings, have a preconceived system of doctrine which they seek in the Bible, and to which they refer every passage of Scripture. Thus they rather draw the Scriptures to their system of doctrine, than bring their doctrines to the standard of Scripture; a mode of interpretation which is altogether unjust, and utterly useless in the attainment of truth. The only way by which to understand the meaning of the sacred writers, and to distinguish between true and false doctrines, is, to lay aside all preconceived modern notions and systems, and to carry ourselves back to the very times and places in which the prophets and apostles wrote. In perusing the Bible, therefore, this rule must be most carefully attended to:- It is only an unbiassed mind that can attain the true and genuine sense of Scripture.1

II. A knowledge of the authors of the different books of Scripture, particularly of the New Testament, is essentially necessary to our understanding their writings.

Although all the authors of Scripture were inspired, yet, in regard to their manner of writing, they were each left to follow his own

1 Turretin, de Interp. Sacr. Script. pp. 312. 314. See also some sensible remarks on these perversions of the sacred writings in the Christian Observer for 1818, vol. xvii. p. 317.

« ZurückWeiter »