« AnteriorContinuar »
able comment on these has been given to us by St. Paul; which, upon mature consideration, will, I think, be found to concur with the views here offered. It has been usual, however, to step out from these ceremonial and symbolical representations, and to take both persons and circumstances peculiar to the Jews, as typical also of Christ. Moses, we know, was in many respects like Christ; but it will not hence follow, as far as I can see, that he was therefore typical of Christ. Nor does the Scripture allow us to make even David, Solomon, or any other person, mentioned in its pages, typical of the Messiah. David, it is true, was termed the anointed, or Messiah; and so was every priest, prophet, and king, among the Jews. David, moreover, held the kingdom which was peculiarly Christ's: but then, in this sense, he was only Christ's vicegerent, not a type of him. David, too, in many of his Psalms, passes from his own sufferings to those of the Messiah; from his own conquests to those of his Lord; and so do all the prophets it is a sort of writing peculiar to the Scriptures. Our Lord often passes on from the circumstances around him, to those of a more sublime and spiritual nature, as in his address about the labourers being sent into God's harvest. But these circumstances cannot be cited as constituting types: there is something, undoubtedly similar in the circumstances, and on this account they are mentioned; but they are not, therefore, either symbolical or typical. They are only
as symbolical, like Isaiah and his children (Is. viii. 18), or Ezekiel, as mentioned above, of which St. Paul had authority sufficient to determine, then must they have been capable of receiving one fulfilment, and no more. It is not in our power either to "speak particularly” (Heb. ix. 5) or definitively now, on many of the things intended to be shadowed out by the ancient system. Enough seems to have been given, on this subject, for the edification of the Church; and if so, it is the duty of Christian teachers to take the safe side in other words, while they anxiously endeavour to inculcate all the truths of Scripture, not to incur the risk of being found guilty of adding thereto, by recurring to the dangerous, but plausible, system of allegorising, which indeed proved so fruitful a source of error in primitive times.
* See the parallel cases admirably drawn out by Eusebius, Dem. Evang. lib. iii. § ii.
+ If it be objected, that these circumstances are often termed types (rúwo) in the Scriptures themselves; e. g. 1 Cor. x. 6, 11, &c. I answer: My question is not about the word, but the thing meant; and I shall contend,
resemblances, which in the language of poets would be termed similes.
Some arguments, however, have been offered in favour of the double interpretation of prophecy: these we shall now consider. It is said, then, that "throughout the whole of prophetical scripture, a time of retribution and of vengeance on God's enemies is announced. It is called 'the day of the Lord' the day of wrath and slaughter, of the Lord's anger, visitation, and judgment;''the great day;' and 'the last day.' At the same time," it is added, "it is to be observed, that this kind of description, and the same expressions, which are used to represent this great day, are also employed by the prophets to describe the fall and punishment of particular states and empires; of Babylon, by Isaiah, (ch. xiii.); of Egypt, by Ezekiel, (chap. xxx. 2-4; xxxii. 7, 8); of Jerusalem, by Jeremiah, Joel, and by our Lord, (Matt. xxiv.); and in many of these prophecies, the description of the calamity, which is to fall on any particular state or nation, is so blended and intermixed with that general destruction, which, in the final days of vengeance, will invade all the inhabitants of the earth, that the industry and skill of our ablest interpreters have been scarcely equal to separate and assert them."
There is, I think, only one objection to all this, which is: That it states too much in the outset. It takes for granted, that certain expressions can properly refer to only some one great event; and then it states that, notwithstanding this, it is applied also to others; and accordingly concludes that both must be meant; or, that such prophecy must have a double interpretation. But let us examine one or two of the places referred to. First it is used by Isaiah, with reference to this great event whatever that be, and also to the fall of Babylon (chap. xiii.). The first thing we learn in this chapter is, that it relates to Babylon (ver. 1). In the next place, the banner is elevated, a multitude assembled, and these come from a far country. It then is said, "the day of the Lord is at hand:" that is, a day in which he is about to punish some nation (ver. 2-5). In the next
that in such instances similitudes, ensamples, or examples, only were meant; but not in the sense of the types as set up in the ceremonial law.
place, the terrors which are to accompany this are stated (ver. 6-8). We have the coming of this day again noticed and followed by its consequences, the destruction of sinners, the fall of powers (the stars, constellations, &c. darkened). The punishment of the world (rather the state or empire) for their evil. Man to be purified or rather made scarce. The heavens to be shaken and the earth from its place or station, not out of its place. Then follow the particulars of the war or slaughter; and we are next informed, that the Medes shall do this; and, lastly, that the Babylonians are to be the sufferers, and that here the pride of Babylon shall end. We need not now suppose, therefore, that any thing else whatever, besides this visitation and destruction, is had in view. The prophet is simple and consistent: and the only thing which made him appear to be complex, was the unfounded canon by which it was proposed to interpret him. The next place is Ezek. xxx. 2, 4: but here we have nothing more than vengeance denounced against Egypt, which is termed, the approach of the day of the Lord. And why may it not? Why may not any day of vengeance be so named, particularly when God is to be the executor of such vengeance? But I leave this. Similar denunciations are uttered in chap. xxxii. 7, 8, where it is said that the lights of heaven shall be extinguished over Egypt: alluding perhaps to the general darkness witnessed there in the days of Moses. But no reason can I discover, why we are to look out for a double sense here. The most remarkable, however, of this kind of prophecy is thought to be Isaiah, chap. xxxiv. In the first place, the nations are called upon to hear the declarations of the prophet, the world and all its produce. We are then told that the indignation of the Lord is to fall on all the nations (Diana). Their slain are to be cast out, and the mountains to be bathed in blood. The host of heaven (kingly powers) are next to be laid aside and perish as an untimely fig. In ver. 5, Idumea, and in ver. 6, Bozrah, is mentioned, as places in which this is to happen. At ver. 8, this is, as before, styled the day of the Lord's vengeance: a year in which Zion shall be vindicated. Then follows a general description of the destruction and finally, we are directed to look back to this prediction, in order to be able to attest its truths, and to
compare it with the event of Zion's vindication. But where, I ask, is the necessity here, for looking out for any secondary interpretation? That this prediction has been fulfilled, there can be no doubt; and in a manner too, just as conformable with the prophecy as could be wished: as will be seen by comparing the fourth verse in particular with its parallel passages. Nor can the occurrence of Idumea and Bozrah, in any way invalidate this application of it, unless it can be shewn, that these really did not suffer in the great visitation which happened after our Lord's death. See Mal. i. and Is. Ixiii. with the parallel places, on those subjects.
Let us now consider a few of those which are said to be cited in the New Testament in such a manner as to warrant a double interpretation. The second Psalm is, it is affirmed, primarily an inaugural hymn composed by David, &c.; but in Acts, iv. 25, it is cited as descriptive of the exaltation of the Messiah.* This may all be true, and yet no double sense lie hidden in this Psalm. David will perhaps be allowed to be Christ's vicegerent. The kingdom of Israel was His in a peculiar sense: it was a polity which stood only by faith. In this sense, the conspiracy of the nations, &c. was in reality against the Sovereign himself; it was mainly directed against the Lord (in Jehovah); and this David expressly declares: it was against David only as his vicegerent, and in no other sense. And so the Psalm generally runs on. David considers himself merely as a servant and hence the very little that can be applied to him in this Psalm. The same may be remarked of other prophets. They speak of their own services occasionally; but this is always done in a subdued and humble tone. I think, therefore, that the Apostles have in the Acts cited this Psalm in its proper sense; and that there is no double meaning in it. The xxiid Psalm is said to be another example of this sort, which has been cited and applied to Christ in
* And so Justin Martyr applies this prophecy in his First Apology for the Christians, p. 78, &c. (edit. 1700.)
+ And so it is taken by Justin Martyr, Apol. p. 79, 80, (ed. 1700.) See also some very excellent remarks on certain Psalms, &c. relating to Christ, in the Dialogue with Trypho, not far from the beginning, and running nearly through it.
Matt. xxvii. 46. My answer is: Still I can see no necessity whatever, for giving it a double interpretation. I think I may premise, that two persons at least speak in this Psalm; and that these were perhaps personated by a division of the choir in the Temple. The first two verses seem to be enounced by the Messiah: the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, by the choir. The 6th and 7th by the Messiah: the 8th by the people. Then from ver. 9, to the end of the 22nd, by the Messiah and from ver. 23, to the end, by the whole choir. The greater part of this Psalm, therefore, will refer solely to the Messiah: the remainder not to the prophet, but to the people generally. There is, consequently, no double sense here we have only a change of persons; a thing common to all the prophets. Another Psalm, said to be of this sort, is the xlvth, first composed as an epithalamium on the nuptials of Solomon with Pharaoh's daughter, and secondly applied to Christ, Heb. i. 8. I may ask: Who has told us that this Psalm was first composed as an epithalamium ? No one who knew any thing about the matter: it is purely a conjecture, formed for the purpose of making a thing plain, which was much plainer without it. The prophet, whoever he was, seems to state his purpose in the first verse. From that to the 8th, inclusive, we have the praises of the Messiah sung in a most beautiful and engaging strain. At ver. 9, the calling in of foreign nations to his Church seems to be clearly intimated :* and hence their prosperity, glory, and greatness, is to arise. And the whole ends with religious praise, which could have been addressed to none but God. Excluding the epithalamic notion, therefore, attributed to this prophecy, every necessity for a double interpretation vanishes at once; not to insist upon the incongruity of ascribing several parts of it to Solomon in any sense whatsoever.
On Isaiah, chap. vii. 14, we are told, that in the primary but lower sense, the sign given was to assure Ahaz, that the land of Judea would speedily be delivered from the kings of Samaria and Damascus ;....the sign given had secondarily
So Eusebius in his Demonstratio Evangelica, lib. v. cap. ii. p. 219. Σμύρνα, καὶ στακτὴ, καὶ κασσία ἀπὸ τῶν ἱματίων σου, τάτε ἐπὶ τούτοις, ὡς περὶ βασιλίδος δηλούμενα καὶ θυγατρὸς τὸν πατρῷον οἶκον ἀπολιπούσης, καὶ τῷ προδηλωθέντι Χριστῷ, καὶ Βασιλεῖ, καὶ Θεῷ νυμφευθείσης, Κύριόν τε αὐτὸν ἀναγορευούσης, &c.