Page images
PDF
EPUB

plained the nature of their views. They agree so far with each other, and with writers of the Cocceian school, that they admit of inferred, as well as innate types, although some of them manifested much more caution in adopting these than others. Mather in particular, and Worden also, very rarely go beyond the express warrant of Scripture, notwithstanding that they claimed the liberty of doing so, holding 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 to be types of the other." How far this analogy was sometimes carried, we may best learn, perhaps, from Taylor and Guild, who follow much in the same track, and the latter of whom has no fewer than forty-nine typical resemblances between Joseph and Christ, and seventeen between Jacob and Christ, not scrupling to swell the number by taking in acts of sin occasionally, as well as the merest trifles. 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 the birthright by red pottage, and obtaining the blessing by presenting savoury venison 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, &c.

Now we may say of these, and the similar examples, with which the writings of that school abound, that they all proceed upon the wrong principle, that a resemblance of any sort, is sufficient to constitute the relation of type and antitype. And to deal in this arbitrary manner with the word of God, is to caricature, rather than to vindicate, its great theme, and throw it open to every frivolous or extravagant conceit. Let the resemblance between the earlier and the later circumstance be ever so exact, yet if the resemblance is all we have to found upon, who can assure us that there is any thing typical in the matter? any thing more, indeed, than is to be met with in all history, profane as well as sacred ? What, for example, might prevent Romulus, assembling a band of desperadoes of every description to found his commonwealth, from serving, as well as David in the situation alluded to above, to typify the procedure of Christ in calling to him publicans and sinners? There is at least as striking a resemblance in the one case as the other, and both stood on precisely the same footing as far as concerns the will and appointment of God; for both alike were the offspring of human policy, struggling against outward difficulties, and endeavouring to supply the want of better resources. And thus, by pushing the matter beyond its just limits, we reduce. sacred history in this respect to the level of profane, and at the same time throw an air of uncertainty over the whole aspect of its typical character.

That such a loose and unregulated method of handling the typical matter of ancient Scripture should have given rise to many trifling and far-fetched analogies, is no more than what might have been expected. It had no fixed rules and clear principles, by which to guide its investigations, at least those it had were so vague and general that they set up no proper land-marks in the field of inquiry, and left every thing connected with the subject in an arbitrary and uncertain state. It was this, perhaps, more than any thing else, which had the effect of bringing typical interpretations into disrepute, and of leading men, in proportion as the exact and critical study of Scripture came to be cultivated, to regard the subject as hopelessly involved in uncertainty and conjecture. This, however, was not the only fault inherent in the typological system, which was adopted by those who belonged to the Cocceian school. It failed even more fundamentally in the idea it conceived of the connexion between the Old and the New Testament dispensations -between the type, and the thing typified, which was made to consist chiefly in points of mere outward resemblance, to the comparative neglect of the great principles common aliké to both dispensations, and which formed the essential link of connexion between them. It was this fundamental error which principally occasioned the many extravagances, that disfigured the typical illustrations of our older divines: it led them to make account of numberless superficial or accidental resemblances; and it further led them to overlook or misapprehend the immediate object and design of the types in their relation to the Old Testament worshippers. For while as types they speak a language that can be distinctly and intelligently understood only by us, who are privileged to read their meaning in the gospel antitype, they yet had, as events or institutions, a present purpose to accomplish apart altogether from their prospective reference, and as much as if they had possessed no such reference at all.

3. The obvious errors and imperfections of the typological system just described, were not long in leading to its general abandonment, both in this country and on the continent. And it was succeeded by another, which, without entering at all into a more profound investigation of the subject, or explaining more satisfactorily the grounds of a typical connexion between the Old and New Testament dispensations, would admit those, and those only, to be types, which were expressly declared to be such in Scripture itself. This seemed to be the only proper safeguard against error and excess. * And yet, we fear, the evils connected with the for

I suppose it is in this way we are to understand the following critique of. Buddeus: “It cannot certainly be denied, that the Cocceians, at least some of them, have carried this matter too far. For besides that they every where 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 condescend to minute and even trilling 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 intemperate rage for allegories, which appeared in Origen and the fathers, and which has already been condemned by the Schoolmen, was again, after an interval, though under a different form, produced, upon the stage. For that typical interpretation differs from the allegorical only in this, that in it respect is had to the future things, which are adum

mer system were not by any means the only reason for adopting this more circumscribed and meagre one; but that an unhappy current had begun to set in upon the Protestant church, which led men comparatively to lose sight of Christ amid much learning and philosophy, and consequently disposed them to disrelish and repudiate a doctrine, which gloried in finding evidences of Christ throughout the whole of Scripture. It was indeed the redeeming point of the older typological system, which should be allowed to go far in extenuating the occasional errors connected with it, that it supposed Christ and the gospel dispensation to be the grand aim and object of all Scripture. But about the commencement of the eighteenth century, a general coldness began to manifest itself in the writings, as well as the lives of even the more orthodox part of the church. The vital spirit of Christianity, which had been all energy and zeal a century before, had now become dull and languid; faith, the one great well-spring of soundness of doctrine and devotedness of life, was first weakened, and ultimately in many instances supplanted by a worldly philosophizing spirit, which softened down, if it did not entirely renounce, all that was peculiar in the gospel. Under the influence of such a spirit, Christ was not allowed to maintain his proper place in the New Testament, and how much less, then, in the Old ?

Vitringa who lived to see the commencement of this deterioration, attributed to it nearly the whole of that distaste, which was then beginning to discover itself to typical interpretations, according to the existing method. With special reference to the famous work of Spencer on the Laws of the Hebrews, a work full indeed of profound learning, but throughout low and carnal in its tone, he deplored the disposition which appeared to seek for the grounds and reasons of the Mosaic institutions, in the mazes of Egyptian idolatry, and not rather to find in them the mystery of Christ, by the Holy Spirit himself plainly declared to be there indicated, and in the institutions themselves so distinctly delineated, that no one could fail to discern the type, who loved 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 contempt.* In that certainly he was not mistaken. Another generation had scarcely passed, when Dathe published the Sacred Philology of Glass, so changed in many respects by the new spirit of rationalism, that Glass himself could scarcely have recognised it as his own; and the section on types, to which we formerly referred, was quietly dropped out altogether, as relating to a subject no longer thought worthy of a recognised place in the science of an enlightened theology. That spirit of rationalism, in the majesty of its antichristian pride, had by this time succeeded in discarding the innate, as well as the inferred types of the older divines; and the convenient doctrine of accommodation, at the same time introduced, provided an easy explanation for those passages of the New Testament, which explicitly asserted such and such things in the Old to have been types of Christ. It was only an adaptation, dictated by Jewish prejudice or conceit, of certain facts and institutions belonging to a former age, beside their original purpose, to the events of the gospel dispensation; and so, Christ and Moses, the shadows of the law, and the substance of the gospel, stood virtually dissevered from each other in the new system of the leading divines on the continent.

brated by the types; and so the typical may be considered as a sort of allegorical interpretation. But in either way the amplest scope is afforded for the play of a luxuriant imagination and a fertile mind.” 'I. F. Buddei Isagoge II. Hist. Theolog., published in 1730.

Obs. Sac. Vol. II. p. 460, 461.

In this country, various causes, which we need not at present investigate, contributed to render the downward progress much slower, and also to prevent it from running to the same excess of dishonour to the name of Christ. Even authors of such a cold and philosophizing spirit as Clarke and Jortin, not only wrote in defence of types as having a certain use in revelation, but also admitted more within the circle of types, than those which were expressly named in New Testament scripture.* They certainly urged the necessity of exercising the greatest caution in travelling beyond the plain record of Scripture, and in the whole cast of their thoughts they manifestly belonged much more to the Spencerian, than to the Cocceian school; yet a feeling of the close connexion existing between the Old and the New Testament dispensations, prevented them from rejecting the more important, at least, of the inferred types. And Jortin, especially, falls so much into the current of the older writers, that he reckons up no fewer than forty points, in which Moses as a type resembled Christ. A work, composed much about the same period that Jortin published his first volume of Remarks, and one that has had more influence than any other in forming the general opinion on types in Scotland, the production of a young minister in Dundee, Mr. M‘Ewen, † is still more free in the 'admission of circumstances into the rank of types, which are not expressly characterized as typical in Scripture itself. The work is entirely of a popular cast, contains no investigation of the grounds on which typical interpretations rest, and harmonises much more with the school which had flourished in the previous century, than that to which Clarke and Jortin belonged. As indicative of a particular mode of interpretation, it is precisely similar to the older productions of Mather and Taylor, and partakes alike of their excellencies and their defects.

There was therefore in this country a considerable unwillingness to depart altogether from the principles of the Cocceian school. The declension came in gradually, and in its progress was rather marked by the tacit rejection in practice of much that was formerly reckoned typical, than by the introduction of avowedly different opinions on the subject. The spirit which prevailed among the more eminent divines, was one that led them to look more for the reasons of Christianity in the general nature of things, than in any thing which it had in common with the Old Testament religion, and to account for the peculiarities of the latter by its relation to paganism, rather than by tracing its connexion with the coming dispensation of the gospel. As an inevitable consequence, the typological province of theology fell into general neglect. Nay, the Old Testament scriptures at large came to be regarded in an inferior light, and in those parts especially, which relate the history, or describe the worship of the ancient church, they were seldom viewed as containing what could be of much service to the faith and knowledge of those, who live under the gospel. It seems partly, at least, to have been owing to this growing distaste for Old Testament inquiries, and undervaluation of its contents, that what is called the Hutchinsonian school arose in England, -running by a sort of revulsion from the prevailing taste, into the opposite extreme of searching for the elements of all knowledge, human and divine, in the Scriptures 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 much characterized by extravagance, to require any particular description at present. It was, besides, chiefly of a physico-theological character, combining the elements of a natural philosophy with the truths of revelation, and pretending to discover both together in the statements, and words even, of the sacred Scriptures. With this object in view, it of course naturally sought to draw the most profound meanings from the Old Testament writings, in reference to the doctrines of the gospel, as well as to the truths of science. And one of the maxims of the school was, that "every passage in 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."* When such a depth and complexity of meaning was supposed to be involved in every passage, we need not be greatly surprised to learn, not only that the offering of Isaac was a type of the sacrifice of Christ, but that Abraham himself knew from the 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 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.”'ť

* Clarke's Evidences, p. 420. Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 1. p. 138—152.

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. W.M.Ewen.

The cabalistic character, and utter extravagance of the Hutchinsonian system, if it had any definite effects at all upon the study of types and other cognate subjects, could only tend to increase the suspicion with which they were already viewed, and

• Hutchinson's Works, vol. I. p. 202.

1 Ibid. vol. VII. p. 325.

« PreviousContinue »