Page images

80 much within the reach and comprehension of the mind, as their temporary and imperfect resemblances.

In what then, precisely, did these resemblances consist? And how, as parts of a preparatory scheme for something higher, did they serve the purpose for which they were appointed? We shall best answer these questions by considering them, in the first instance, exclusively in reference to the symbolical institutions of the Mosaic dispensation, and which are usually denominated the ritual or legal types. That these institutions possessed a typical character, is so plainly asserted in New Testament scripture, that no believer in inspiration can cherish a single doubt concerning it'; and we are also furnished with explanations concerning some of them, which may enable us, with the sure guidance and direction of Heaven, not only to understand their real nature and proper bearing, but also to unravel the intricacies of the whole typological system.

In so far as the institutions of the Mosaic dispensation were typical, they carried a reference, of course, to the dispensation of the gospel,--they were prophetic symbols of the better things to come. But this evidently presupposes and implies, that in another and more immediate respect, they were symbols, forming, as they did, the component parts of an existing worship. They were simply in their own nature, religious symbols, that is, outward representations of divine truths, belonging to the religion with which they were connected, and only from being this could they become, in their prospective reference, prophetic symbols of what was afterwards to appear in the gospel, --serving the double purpose for the reason already stated, viz., because the preparatory dispensation, to which they belonged, and just because of its being preparatory, was necessarily inwrought with the same great elements of truth, which were afterwards in another form to pervade the Christian. If the Mosaic institutions had merely been representations of the objects of the gospel, having no other use and design than to present these to the mind, with what propriety could they have been made the substance of a preparatory dispensation ? partial exhibition of a truth, or an embodiment of it in things comparatively little, and easily grasped by the eye of the mind, may certainly prepare the way for its fuller exhibition or its development in regard to things of a nobler and higher kind; but a lame and imperfect representation of an object, instead of preparing the way for its unveiled appearance, will rather tend to fill the apprehension with mistaken and prejudiced notions of the reality. If such a representation of the objects of the gospel had been all that was aimed at by the symbolical institutions of Moses, then the preparatory dispensation must have been far more difficult for the worshipper, than the ultimate one; the child must have had a much harder lesson 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, but to shroud it in the most profound and perplexing obscurities.

No intelligent believer can imagine this to have been the case; and the only possible way in which he can escape from it, is in the conviction, that the institutions of Moses were not merely representations of the objects of the gospel, but first of all in their own nature, and as parts of an existing worship, religious symbols, expressive of certain. great and fundamental truths, which were even then understood and acted upon. This is what may be called their primary and immediate object; and to understand distinctly how, or in what respects, they at the same time bore another, and prospective reference to the future realities of the gospel, or how the one, as types, presented to the eye of faith resemblances of the things typified, we must first of all inquire and ascertain, what, in the former point of view, was the native religious import of each symbol? what truths it symbolized to him, who looked to it simply as a part of the existing religion ? and hence learn its import and use as part of a preparatory dispensation, intended to issue in the events and glories of Messiah's kingdom. Thiswhich it was the practice of the older typological writers almost entirely to overlook, as if the ritual services of the ancient economy had no use or meaning apart from the better things to come,this is in truth the foundation of the whole matter; and to overlook or disregard it, is to leave out the most essential elements of the subject, and of necessity to substitute in their room, superficial and often fanciful analogies. The Mosaic ritual, like every other form of religion, had a shell and a kernel,—its shell, the outward rites and observances which it enjoined, its kernel, the spiritual relations which these implied, and the spiritual truths which they embodied and expressed. Substantially, these truths and relations were, and must have been, the same for the Jew, that they are for the Christian; for the wants and necessities of the worshipper under both dispensations are the same, and so also is the character of the God with whom they have to do. There, therefore, in that fandamental, internal harmony and agreement, we are to seek for the resemblance, which constituted the relation between type and antitype. So that the symbolical institutions of Moses shall appear, when properly understood, as manifestations of Christ's truth in a lower and earlier stage of existence,—the curiously wrought bud, which contained within its sacred folds every essential principle and relation, that was afterwards to expand, in the work and kingdom of Christ, into full blossom and fruitfulness.

This will be better understood by the illustration of a particular example, which we shall take from what entered into the very core of the Mosaic system,—the rite of expiatory sacrifice. That this was typical, or prophetically symbolical of the death of Christ, as Scripture in many places declares, did not destroy its significance as part of the worship then required by God of his people, or render it by any means a dead service to one, who might be entirely ignorant, or very imperfectly aware of its having any such respect

VOL. I.-4

to a dying Saviour. It was in its own nature a symbolical act, purporting that his sins being transferred to the head of the victim, the life of the one was given up as a substitution for that of the other.* The pouring out of the blood, in which was the life of the offered victim, symbolized the pouring out of the life of the worshipper, or the rendering of it back, as of a thing forfeited, to the God who gave it; and on this surrender of the life, thus symbolically represented, depended the re-establishment of the worshipper in that friendly relation to God, which had been subverted by sin. This is the fundamental principle, the ground-idea, which lay at the root, and constituted the real essence of expiatory sacrifice,-an idea, which is peculiar to no one dispensation in particular, but common to true religion in all ages. And when, from thus viewing the rite of expiatory sacrifice as simply symbolical, we proceed to speak of it as prophetically symbolical of the death of Christ, we are not to be understood as ascribing to it another sense or meaning, but only as affirming, that the capital idea of which it was by itself, and in its own nature, symbolical, was, and only could be properly realized in the one offering of Christ for sin upon

the cross. For in him alone was there a real transference of man's guilt to one able and willing to bear it, and in his death, the giving up of a life infinitely dear and precious; hence, there alone can we find the idea of a true, sufficient, and perfect sacrifice, converted into a living reality, on the appearance of which all its inferior and imperfect exhibitions vanish of themselves. Thus, we see it was one and the same great truth, which was embodied in the ever recurring sacrifices of the Old Testament, and the one perfect sacrifice of the New; only, what the former represented in the symbol, the latter possesses in the reality; what the one had no other way of exhibiting, but by the offering up of irrational victims for the purifying of the flesh, the other presents to our view as made good in the purging of the soul, the real seat of defilement, from all sin, by the offering up once for all of the immaculate and precious Lamb of God.

That this account of the nature of the ritual types, or prophetic symbols of the Old Testament, and this mode of investigating them, is the sound and scriptural, as well as the only satisfactory one, will appear by a brief consideration of the language that is used concerning them by the inspired writers of the New Testament. In several passages, they are represented as having been all shadows of gospel things; as in Heb. x., where the law is said to have had, “not the perfect image, but the shadow of good things to come;

in chap. viii. 5, where the priests are described as “serving unto the example (copy) and shadow of heavenly things;' and again in Col. ii. 16, where the fleshly ordinances in one mass are declared to be “shadows of good things to come,” while it is added, “the body is of Christ." Now, that the tabernacle, with the rites and services connected with it, were shadows of Christ,

* See Outram de Sac. Lib. I. c. XXI., and Magee on the Atonement.

and of the divine realities of his kingdom, can only mean, that they were obscure and imperfect resemblances of the latter, -presenting the same outlines of divine truth, but wanting the great substance or reality, in which these were to find their due manifestation, and fitting development. And when we come to inquire in what the obscurity and imperfection consisted, we find it uni-' formly stated to have arisen from the carnal and earthly nature of the typical. The tabernacle itself was a material frame-work, constructed, though of rich and costly, yet still of gross and corruptible things; whereas the things, after the pattern of which it was formed, are imperishable and divine. So also, the endless round of services belonging to it, had respect only to the body, being done, primarily and ostensibly at least, for its purification from uncleanness and deliverance from evil ;* whereas the things corresponding to them under the gospel are all spiritual, and issue in the inheritance of a life that cannot die. In these differences, which are such as must ever subsist between flesh and spirit, corruption and incorruption, time and eternity, we perceive the darkness and imperfection, which hung around the things of the former dispensation, as shadows 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 nature of the things immediately handled and received, in the completely different material 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 sanctuary and the manifold carnal ordinances growing out of it, and continually circling around it, God manifested on his part the same character and government toward his people, and required on their part the same exercises of principle toward him, which he does now under the spiritual and heavenly dispensation of the gospel. In the immediate ends to be accomplished, and the apparatus provided for accomplishing them, the two dispensations are as far asunder as heaven is from the earth; but in both alike we see a pure and holy God, enshrined in the recesses of a glorious sanctuary,—unapproachable by guilty and polluted flesh, but through a medium of powerful intercession and cleansing efficacy,--yet to those, who so approach, most merciful and gracious, full of lovingkindness, and plenteous in redemption,—while in every act of sincere approach on their part, there is necessarily brought into exercise, the same feelings of contrition and abasement, self-renunciation, realizing faith, child-like dependence, and adoring gratitude. So that the preparatory, and the ultimate dispensation, considered in their general character and design, disclosed substantially the same views of God, and in doing so, awoke the same feelings in the hearts of his worshippers ;-but the former only as the shadow of the latter,-a resemblance, but not the substance,

-a representation in outward, earthly, and perishable materials,

* Heb. x. 9, 13, 14. «The entire mass of Jewish sacrifices were offered for the purpose of obtaining the advantages of this life.”-Outram.

and with respect to the concerns of flesh and time, of the spiritual ideas and principles which the dispensation of the gospel embodies in things not made with hands, and with respect to objects truly heavenly and divine.

We find in New Testament scripture only another mode of explaining the general nature of the prophetic symbols belonging to the dispensation of Moses; and the light in which it presents the subject does not materially differ from that already unfolded. According to it the Levitical institutions contained the rudiments or elementary principles of the gospel. Thus, in Col. ii. 20, all carnal ordinances are named “the rudiments of the world;" and, in Gal. iv. 3, the Jewish worshippers are said to have been “in bondage under the elements, or rudiments of the world," so long as they lived in subjection to the ordinances of Moses. The expression also in the third chapter of the same Epistle, of the law having been ordained as a "schoolmaster to bring men to Christ," if understood of the Levitical institutions, as it must in great measure be, may be said to include the same view of the subject, since it is the part of a schoolmaster to communicate to those under his tuition the elements or rudiments of learning, and by so doing to form and prepare their minds to a capacity for receiving the higher branches of knowledge. Such certainly was the design, which the institutions and ordinances of the law were intended to serve, as typical of gospel things. The objects, with which they were immediately conversant, were visible, fleshly, and temporal; but the mould or pattern according to which it presented these to the view was so far from being exclusively adapted to things of such a nature, that it seems to apply most appropriately to things spiritual and divine, and, apart from such application, appears like a cumbrous apparatus for working out a comparatively insignificant result. And just as the child is prepared for apprehending the outlines and proportions of the globe by seeing them traced before him on maps of a few spans long, or as in learning the properties of figures, which his eye can take in at a glance, he become familiar with the laws and principles which regulate the movements of the material universe; so the church of the Old Testament in handling the fleshly ritual of Moses, had her mind familiarized to the elements of all divine truth and wisdom; the great lines and features of God's everlasting kingdom were there presented in a form, which could be grasped by the hand, on a scale of things which could be scanned by the eye, of a spiritual babe; and with every essential principle and idea he had already imbibed, only transferred from things fleshly and temporal to things heavenly and eternal, he might have been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Thus were the members of the Jewish church under the rudiments of the world, receiving as from the hand of a schoolmaster, and in reference to objects easily known and understood, that elementary instruction, that acquaintance with first truths and principles, which might best prepare them for apprehending the sublime realities of the gospel.

« PreviousContinue »