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laid, and the directions for building on it were consequently of little value,—without depth or point,—obvious generalities, which were alike incapable of promoting sound inquiry, or of restraining fanciful conjecture.
We are far from pretending to master every difficulty connected with the practical management of the subject, and reducing it all to clear and undoubted certainty. No one will expect this, who rightly understands its nature, and considers either the vastness of the field over which it stretches, or the peculiar character of the ground which it embraces. How many difficulties still remain connected with the interpretation of particular prophecies! What different views, even, may be rightfully entertained concerning them! And yet what can be more conclusively settled, than the general principles of prophetical interpretation, and the events, whether past or future, which many of them foretell! But if prophecy present such a mixture of clearness and obscurity, of doubt and certainty, how much more may the same be expected in the still more difficult and complicated subject of types? That there will be particular cases, in which it is doubtful whether they really are typical, or, if they are, what is their precise typicał import, need not be questioned. It will be enough, for the present, at least, if the way is distinctly ascertained and marked out, for reading what may be termed the broader and more important lines of the system.
I. The first conclusion or principle we shall lay down, has reference simply to the extent of typical matter in ancient Scripture, -it is, that nothing is to be regarded as typical, which is of an improper and sinful nature. This has just been mentioned as one of the too general and obvious directions, which philological writers have been accustomed to give upon the subject. It is indeed so much of that character, that though in itself a most important and necessary rule to be observed, yet we should have conceived any express or formal announcement of it here unnecessary, were it not that, in popular discourses at least, violations of it are sometimes to be met with even in the present day.
The ground of this rule lies in the connexion, which the type has with its antitype, and consequently with God. The antitype being of God's appointment, and of the things which belong to his everlasting kingdom, the type, which was intended to foreshadow, and prepare the way for it, must also have been of his appointment, and, whether a symbol in religion or a fact in providence, must have been of the things, which he has at least sanctioned and approved. A pre-ordained connexion, such as of necessity existed between the corresponding parts of the earlier and the later dispensations, could not imply less than this. And that being the case, nothing of course admitted into religion, or permitted to have a place in providence, contrary.to the mind and will of God, could by possibility be endowed with a typical character. So far, indeed, as the services of religion are concerned, the principle is readily acknowledged; and no one that we are aware
of, either in former or in present times, has thought proper to reckon the false rites of worship, which God's ancient people sometimes adopted among the things which typified the blessed realities of the gospel.
But there is not the same ready and general perception of an incongruity in admitting to the rank of types actions or circumstances in providence, which, though permitted by God to take place, were yet equally opposed to his righteous will with corruptions in worship. God may overrule, and doubtless often has overruled these, for the accomplishment of his own purposes; and, indeed, he never did so more conspicuously, than when the operation of all malice and wickedness, which manifested itself against the blessed Redeemer, was constrained to issue in the infliction of those very things, which “ the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” had before appointed to be done. That, however, is a very different thing from such acts and counsels being adopted by him as in any proper respect the out-goings of his will, or the indications of his mind. And it were equally unwarrantable to ascribe to his interference, or identify with his name and authority, things done in a sinful course of procedure, as things wrongfully and in a spirit of gross idolatry received into the services of religion. Nor could the question in either case be at all affected by any circumstances connected with the time when, or the person by whom, the things might be done. No period of the church's history, however grand or perilous, and no individual belonging to her, however high in place or holy in character, could ever have the effect of so changing the essential nature of things, as to obtain the sanction and appointment of Heaven for an iniquity in behaviour or an impurity in worship. And as amid the transactions of gospel history, where the antitype comes into play, we exclude all that properly belonged to man's ignorance or sinfulness, so amid the transactions of Old Testament history, where the materials of type are to be found, we must, in like manner, exclude all that had its source in the polluted fountain-head of human depravity. Whether type or antitype, it must be something worthy of God, and bearing, not only the impress of his character, but also the seal of his authority.
This principle, which will scarcely be disowned by any one who brings his mind seriously to contemplate the subject, is much less frequently traversed now, than it once was. Yet there are to be found occasional violations of it both in popular discourses, and in works which, if not of very recent date, are still in current circulation. Thus we are told, by a certain author, of Jacob, “that his receiving the blessing from his father in the garments of Esau, which his mother arrayed him with, may 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 unto him, but for the righteousness of our Re
deemer," &c.* What is this but to sanctify Jacob's fraud, and make his worst crime the real ground of the interest he obtained in the peculiar blessing of Heaven? To give such a hallowed air to his misconduct, and bring the highest purposes of God into such near contact and alliance with man's depravity, is in the worst sense to confound light with darkness, and destroy the essential distinctions that must ever subsist between the artifices of sin and the principles of holiness. ' It proceeds, besides, upon mere superficial resemblances, to the misunderstanding of the real facts of the case. For it was manifestly not Jacob's practising upon his father's infirmities, either with false venison or with borrowed garments, that procured him the blessing. Doubtless these led his father to pronounce it; but what had been thus spoken under the misleading influence of a gross imposition, might surely have been recalled, when the imposition was detected. Is any man, especially one who is called to utter the mind of God, to be held irrevocably bound by what has escaped him in such circumstances ? Unquestionably not: and if there had been nothing more in the matter, than the mock venison and the hairy garments of Esau, the word of blessing would speedily have been recalled, and the curse, which Jacob dreaded, substituted in its place. The truth is, Isaac was in error in what he intended to do, as well as Jacob in beguiling him to do what he did not intend. He was going to thwart the purpose of God concerning his children, already intimated to their parents with sufficient plainness even before their birth. They were then informed by an oracle from heaven, that the younger was to be emphatically the heir of blessing. And the fact was abundantly confirmed by the spirit which respectively discovered itself in the two children, as they grew to manhood ;—the elder manifestly becoming a man of gallantry and pleasure, sensual and worldly, mindful only of his present comfort, and regardless of the future,—the younger, on the other hand, as manifestly becoming a man of faith and piety, alive to the value of God's blessing, and falling into transgression only from his disposition to grasp at this by wrongful and improper means. Their venerable father, having experienced little, any time, of the trials of faith, and in his declining years giving way to a luxurious ease, which was assiduously ministered to by the delicate food, constantly brought to his hand by Esau, suffered himself to overlook these plain indications of the real standing of the two sons, and of Heaven's counsel regarding them. He had allowed the pleasures and affections of nature so to blind him to the purposes of grace, that he meant, in God's name, to bestow the blessing on him, whom God's word and his own behaviour had plainly excluded from it. But when he saw, how God had allowed him to be misled by the fraudulent transaction of Jacob, and to bestow the blessing otherwise than he intended, then the truth rushed upon his mind; "he trembled exceedingly,” not merely on account of the imposition, which had
• M“Ewen on the Types, p. 52. So also Guild, in his Moses Unveiled, and several of our older authors.
been practised upon his blindness, but on account of the far worse blindness, which had beguiled him into the thought of doing, what would have contravened the declared will of Heaven; and therefore, even when he told with what deceit Jacob had obtained the blessing, he added with the strongest emphasis, “Yea, and he shall be blessed."
Thus, when we look at the real circumstances of the case, we find no proper resemblance between them and the method of a sinner's justification before God. It was not the fraud of Jacob in using his brother's garments, nor was it Isaac's mistake regarding these, which actually procured the blessing; and there could not possibly exist, therefore, any ordained connexion between them and the righteousness of Christ, or between the manner of Jacob's entering on the blessing, and that of a sinner's justification. The same want of a real connexion might be proved to exist in regard to every sinful transaction, which has been made to typify something apparently similar under the gospel. For in none is the resemblance more than apparent, and in all, the principle, which respectively pervades the two transactions, must be essentially different. This is now, however, so generally understood, and so few departures from it occur in writings of the present day, that it were needless to enter more at large into the subject. But it may not be improper to remark, that the ground, on which sinful acts and operations are rejected from the number of types, extends also to the natural and immediate consequences of these. The circumstances into which a person gets, or the line of policy "he is led to adopt, simply in consequence of having fallen into some transgression, though not in themselves to be reprobated as sinful, are yet so obviously disconnected from God as to any expression of his mind, or revelation of the principles, on which he acts in the dispensations of grace, that to regard them as containing prophetic intimations of the good things to come in Christ, would be to invest them with an importance and relationship to God they were far from possessing. Thus, to refer again to the case of Jacob, his exile from his father's house, his lonely and destitute condition, while he went to sojourn in the foreign land, where he was to find a temporary abode, his taking for his pillow a stone in the neighbourhood of Luz, &c., were just the obvious results of his flagrant iniquity in provoking the vengeance of an ungodly brother; he was in the pitiable condition of a culprit fleeing for his life, and the hard necessities, through which he passed, were not the immediate and proper expressions of divine principle on the part of God, excepting as the manifestations of God's displeasure on account of Jacob's iniquity. On a most solemn occasion he had acted the part of a wicked man, and he was made to know by the calamities which followed, that it was ill with the wicked-that if he was guilty of backslidings, even for a pious object, these backslidings would certainly reprove him. Yet, in a late work on the types, we find Jacob's withdrawment from his father's house viewed as a prophetic representation of Christ's leaving the Father's bosom and coming as a stranger to the earth-Jacob's being obliged to sleep in the open field, with nothing but a stone for his pillow, as a type of Christ's voluntary humiliation to the lowest depths of poverty and shame, on account of which he was exalted—and even the stone, on which the weary and disconsolate patriarch rested his head, and which he afterwards anointed with the oil of gladness, is made to prefigure him who is the corner-stone of his church, the Messiah, or anointed one.* What a confounding of things that differ! Two series of events strung together, as if one character belonged to them, because the same language is partly applicable to both, but to the utter disregard of the grounds and principles connected with them! It is not the part of an enlightened faith, but of an unregulated fancy, to delight in such superficial, unmeaning combinations, and it would require something more than what the author hints at—the repudiation of neology—to make such interpretations of the word of God be received as the dictates of soberness and truth.
We can conceive it to be objected to the principle laid down under this head, that in one place (1 Cor. x. 6, 11,) the apostle, referring to the murmurings and rebellions of the Israelites in the wilderness, affirms the things, which took place regarding them, to have been types or ensamples to us. It is in reality, however, a confirmation of what has been advanced. For the apostle carefully distinguishes between the human and the divine—between the sinful transactions, which were man's, and the retributions of judgment, which were God's. It is the latter alone, as being an expression of the divine mind, and embodying an unalterable principle in the divine government, to which he gives the name of types. He says it was, not the things, which they did, but the things, which happened to them, that were for ensamples; and he extracts the essential principle they were designed to bring out on the theatre of earthly events, for the special behoof of the members of Christ's spiritual kingdom, by speaking of them as done “to the intent that we should not lust after evil things.”
It is possible, however, to exercise an undue and excessive caution in the application of this principle of interpretation. For though it is to confound the things, which essentially differ, to suppose that the forbidden works and operations of sin, could ever be converted into the accredited means for symbolizing or foreshadowing the realities of salvation; yet, as all the manifestations of truth have their corresponding and antagonist manifestations of error, it is perfectly warrantable and just to regard the form of evil; which in certain cases stood counter to the type, as itself the type of something similar, which should afterwards arise as a counter form of evil to the antitype. As one instrument or action of holy principle may represent and foreshadow another, so one instrument or action of sin may in particular situations represent and foreshadow another. Thus, while Sarah typified a church in
Kanne's Christus in Alten Testament, Th. 11. p. 133, 154, 157.