Page images
PDF
EPUB

This particular explanation of one of the types mentioned in Corinthians, might obviously be applied, with very little variation, to the others mentioned there; and in regard to some of them, so little account does the apostle make of the differences existing between the case of the Israelites and that of Christians, that we find him using, as was also done in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the language furnished by the circumstances of the one indiscriminately to the other—when he speaks of the Israelites being " baptized, and “eating spiritual food,” and “ drinking spiritual drink.” He perceived in the outward events of their earthly history, to which he refers, the same truths and principles in operation, which are displayed in the higher sphere of the Christian life-and because at one in this respect, he applies the terms borrowed from the latter, without reserve or qualification, to the former.

It is the same substantially with all the other historical types, of which special mention is made in the New Testament; the resemblances between them and gospel things, are precisely similar, and the differences also are similar to those just noticed. Take as an example, the facts connected with the brazen serpent,--the looking unto which as lifted up on the pole, was the means appointed by God for conveying restored health to the serpent-bitten İsraelite. As symbolical of the method of recovery propounded to sinners in the gospel, the leading ideas in both are manifestly the same,-on the part of those respectively concerned, a wounded, dying condition, -on the part of God, the conspicuous elevation of something apparently inadequate, yet really effectual to accomplish the cure, and the simple looking to this object as the medium, through which its healing virtue was to flow into the experience of the dying. But these ideas, though common to both cases alike, receive a poor and imperfect manifestation in the one, compared with what they do in the other; there we behold a dying body, but here a perishing soul,—there an uplifted serpent, of all instruments of healing the most unlikely, here a dead man hanging on a tree, of all imaginable persons seemingly the most impotent to save, there the fleshly eye of the outward man directed to the one, here the spiritual eye of the inner man, the eye of faith, directed to the other. We see the same relations pervading both,-transactions in each, running as it were in parallel directions, but these developing themselves first on a lower, afterwards on a higher territory; in the one case having to do only with things seen, fleshly and temporal, in the other embracing what is unseen, spiritual and eternal. And apart from the purpose of making the history of the church in such things expressive of the truths and principles of the gospel, and prepare the way for their development there, it is impossible to conceive any adequate reason for so singular and extraordinary a mode of procedure being adopted toward the Israelites. • To multiply examples, were but to repeat what has been in substance advanced already, for one characteristic distinguishes all. Yet, as another example, we may select the deluge, which in 1st Peter is declared, without any explanation, to have been a type of the Christian ordinance of Baptism. The apostle does not tell us how this was typified by the deluge, but by giving us to understand what baptism, as he views it, in its life and power, actually does, he renders the solution of the matter comparatively plain and simple. Baptism, he informs us, saves by virtue of its connexion with the risen power of Christ, and in doing so, puts away, not the filth of the flesh, but the impurity of a sinful and ruined nature, and so makes room for the exercise of a holy nature, or the answer of a good conscience. Sealing our interest in Christ for the cleansing and vital efficacy of his redemption, it may be said to free the soul from the ruinous defilement of sin, and implant in its stead the holy root of that pure and spiritual life which is from Christ. And how did the waters of the deluge typify such a work as this? They did it by sweeping away into the gulf of ruin the mighty mass of the world's corruption, and at the same time bearing on their bosom in safety the ark with its precious treasure of a godly seed, the root of a new order of life not to be destroyed in such a perdition. Here there was the extermination of a polluted race, which, while it continued, would not suffer the world to live, and the preservation of a godly remnant to serve as the germ of another race, destined to replenish the earth under better auspices,-on the one hand the destruction of a professedly corrupt society, tending only to violence and death, making way, on the other, for a new state of being, to establish and perpetuate itself on earth, and thus fitly shadowing forth on the scale of terrestrial things what takes place upon the soul, when being sealed up to a fellowship with the risen life of Jesus, the deadly corruption of its fleshly nature is put off, and the powers of a new, divine and imperishable nature begin to unfold themselves in its history.

This may suffice to show, that the historical types, in their root and principle, are essentially the same with the ritual,-one character is common to both,--and the proper mode of interpreting the ritual, is also the proper mode of interpreting the historical. Our first business is to ascertain what ideas they unfold, simply as events or transactions in the earlier providence of God, and in their immediate connexion with those, who were personally interested in them; and the ideas thus unfolded on the theatre of an earthly existence, and with respect to things only of a temporal nature, are again reproduced, and far more magnificently developed in the mighty plan of redemption, by means of the sublime realities of God's everlasting kingdom. It is not the mere outward resemblances which may happen to exist between the earlier and the later transactions, for these may not be found, when we have the best reason to conclude that there is a substantial agreement, a typical connexion, as in the example just adverted to of the deluge and baptism, and may, on the other hand, be found, when there is no agreement or connexion of the kind now in question; it is not these outward resemblances, but the oneness of the ideas or principles brought out in the two classes of events, and that as belonging to two different parts of one connected scheme of providence, which constitutes the essential character of the one as typical of the other.

It is probable that a connexion of this nature may appear at first sight, not to possess all that is required to satisfy the conditions of a proper typical relationship. People have been so much accustomed to view it in an external aspect, that they naturally figure to themselves some connexion of a more palpable and arbitrary kind, as binding together the type and the antitype. They are disposed to conceive of the former as if it were a kind of preordained pantomime of the latter, or like one of those prefigurative actions, which the prophets were sometimes commanded to perform, meaningless in themselves, yet most significantly foreshowing some impending dispensations of providence. Those typical or prophetical actions of the prophets, doubtless, had much in common with the typical actions of God's providence, of which we now speak. They both alike had respect to other actions yet to come, without which, pre-ordained and foreseen, they would not have existed. They both also stood in a corresponding relation of littleness to the future actions they foreshadowed, representing, on a comparatively small scale, what was afterwards to happen on a much larger one, and thus forming a fit preparation for enabling the minds of men to take in the ideas belonging to the latter. But they differed in this, that the typical actions of the prophets had respect solely to the events they prefigured, and apart from them were altogether devoid of significance; whereas the typical actions of God's providence, as well as his symbolical institutions of worship, had a moral meaning of their own, apart from, and above the reference they carried to the future transactions of the gospel. Such a connexion, therefore, as that which existed between those prophetical actions and the judgments they predicted, however it may accord with the notions usually entertained of the typical matter of ancient Scripture, is not warranted by Scripture itself, nor, supposing the connexion to have been of such a nature, could the typical transactions have served the purposes for which they were appointed. Indeed, when rightly considered, the connexion which we seek to establish, is of a more close and vital, as it certainly is of a more important natue, than such as stands merely in outward resemblances. For it proves that God not only had in view, so many centuries before, the coming events and dispensation of the gospel, but modelled his plan of government so as to embody in the current transactions of his providence, the very principles and ideas, which were to receive in the realities of the gospel their ultimate and highest manifestation. It was from the respect they carried to these great realities, that those providential arrangements possessed the essential character they did. On this account God not only ordained their existence, but threw into them, so to speak, his very mind and soul, and made them expressive of his grandest truths and final ends of government. To make the connexion, therefore, between the earlier and the later events, consist chiefly in their exemplifying the same principles and ideas, with the view of rendering the one a preparation for the other, is only to withdraw it from a less to a more vital and important part of the transactions, from the outer shell and form, to the inner truth and substance of the history,—so that in the type there is not merely some perceptible resemblance to the antitype, but the same character, the same life and meaning.

To render this more clear and manifest, let us compare, for a moment, an alleged example of historical type, where the resemblance between it and the supposed antitype is entirely of an outward or superficial kind, with either of the two specified above, the brazen serpent or the deluge. In the latter of these, there could scarcely be said to be any outward resemblance to the ordinance it typified, but in both of them alike there were very strong lines of resemblance, of a more inward and substantial kind, between them and their respective antitypes,--the same principles of government on the part of God, the same kind of experiences on the part of man. So that we can easily recognise in them the impress of one divine hand, or view them as corresponding parts of one gtand economy, and from being assured of the one having taken effect in temporal things, should have no difficulty in concluding that the other must receive a similar accomplishment in spiritual. But take as an example of the other class, the occupation of Abel as a shepherd, which is considered by Witsius to have been prefigurative of Christ in his character as the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. Here we certainly have a sort of outward resemblance between the two facts, but what substantial, what real connexion can we discern between them? What light does the one throw upon the other? What expectation beforehand could the earlier beget of the later, or what confirmation afterwards could it supply? Supposing there was any thing typical in the death of Abel, and that his blood bore a respect to the blood of sprinkling shed upon the cross, yet what additional value could the circumstance derive from the previous occupation of the martyr? Christ died, indeed, as the spiritual shepherd of the sheep, but Abel did not die on account of his having literally followed the occupation of a shepherd,—his death was not necessary to his fulfilling the duties of that occupation, nor so far as we know had any essential connexion with it. What purpose, then, could be served by investing this part of Abel's history with a typical character? In hunting out such loose and shallow resemblances, and dignifying them with the name of types, do we not seem to be amusing ourselves with superficial inanities, worthless even if real, rather than obtaining any insight into the mind and dispensations of God? But when, on the contrary, we look into the past records of God's providence, and find there in the characters, events and institutions of former times, an identity of principle, a coincidence of plans and operations with those unfolded in the work of redemption, we cannot but feel that we have something of real weight and magnitude to grapple with. And in so far as we have reason further to conclude, not only that such agreements existed, but that they were purposely designed, and skilfully arranged, the earlier for the later, the earthly and temporal for the spiritual and heavenly, we are manifestly furnished with what deeply affects each series of facts, and by thus being enabled to read the records of both covenants, as under one aspect, and in close relationship with each other, we may bring the one materially to illustrate, or confirm the other.

But should it be admitted, that the view we have endeavoured to establish as to the nature of the historical types, is the sound and scriptural one, how, it may still be asked, does this bear upon the other question, which respects their number or frequency? Let it be granted that their essential character is precisely what has been described, how do we thereby come nearer to the point of determining, whether we are to adhere closely to the examples specified and explained in New Testament scripture, or may be warranted in travelling beyond this narrow limit? There is, first of all, as we noticed at the beginning of this chapter, a strong presumption, since the character of the historical types is so precisely similar to the ritual, that in point of extent also the one shall bear a close resemblance to the other. It is not a few only, but the whole of the rites and ceremonies belonging to the Old Testament church, which possess a typical character; and so we may reasonably conclude, that the same character belongs, not to some isolated facts of Old Testament history, but to the whole of these, in so far as they can be viewed as expressing the will, and manifesting the purposes of God. Nor is this conclusion weakened by the circumstance, that it is comparatively so small a portion of the facts of Old Testament history, which have received a typical explanation in the scriptures of the New,-for, as has already been remarked, the same holds true of the ritual part of the Old Testament, of which a very small portion only has been particularly explained, though it was throughout typical.

But if the view itself, which we have adopted, of the historical types, be the correct one, it is quite obvious, that besides this argument from analogy, there is a still stronger argument arising out of the very nature of the types themselves. If their essential character stood in representing the ideas, relations and principles of the gospel, with the view of preparing the way for its introduction, then a certain degree of frequency was absolutely necessary to fulfil the design of their appointment; and the more the past dealings and providence of God was pervaded by them, the more certainly would that design be accomplished. A few straggling examples, such as those specified in New Testament scripture, could scarcely have been of any avail for such a purpose. They must have been of sufficient number and variety to familiarize the members of the ancient church with the great lineaments of the gospel plan, -and this, indeed, they could only have done by pervading all the history, as well as all the religion of the old covenant. Not that every action of each individual there mentioned, and every

« PreviousContinue »