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Here, however, a difficulty of some importance occurs, which is felt in ascertaining what constitutes that authority. If nothing less is to be considered as entitled to that appellation than what is found in the words of Scripture, or given in an express form (as some of late have contended), it is very evident that the number of types is very small : accordingly, those who have made that the criterion have discarded a great many which former typographers were accustomed to retain with satisfaction, and some to which they attached the greatest importance, as containing much Gospel truth. That the rule is not to be so circumscribed, however, will appear evident, if we consider the types in relation to the ancient church of God. Like prophecy, they were to lay a foundation for the faith of the people of God, and to encourage its exercise. In order to accomplish this end, a degree of obscurity was necessary for the time being; but even then, to say nothing of their immediate use in the forms of worship employed, they must have been known to have a foundation in fact, and to stand connected with gospel truths, or the end which God designed by their appointment as types could not have been answered. Without this they would have appeared strange, if not absurd ; and attention being confined to them, their use would have engendered idolatry, and in some cases even of the worst description.
But, how was it to be known by the Old Testament worshippers that they were so connected? It is clear, that if it could be in no other way than by an express declaration, they could not have become acquainted with this at all; for
neither in immediate connection with their institution, nor in any of their after uses, in the Old Testament dispensation, do we find allusions made to their ultimate design.
In all cases where they are explained and applied, it is by the New Testament, and after the antitypes to which the types referred had actually appeared. In many places the allusion is such as to show that the ancient believers might have known the truth of the Gospel from them, without such explanation being given, if this knowledge was not actually acquired of them; and often the reference is such as to cast a reflection upon those addressed, because they did not, prior to the allusion being made, perceive the connection between the type and the antitype: nor can it be at all safely inferred, from the manner in which the writers of the New Testament speak of the types of the Old, that the mention which they make includes the whole; but they seem to select only a few out of many to which they might have referred, on which, in consequence of their silence, no light beyond what is contained in them is obtained.
From these considerations it seems right and necessary to conclude, not only that ancient believers did know what things and persons were types and what were not, but also that they derived their ability to distinguish them not from any express declaration directly or indirectly from God, but by other means more in accordance with his manner at that time of giving a revelation of his mind and will to rational and intelligent creatures, whose faculties, in connection with Divine revelation, he intended to
exercise. He had from eternity decreed to have a church particularly his own, especially in the last days of the world, which should be distinguished by the spirituality of its constitution, and one in which Christ was to appear to make a full manifestation of the Divine Being; to harmonize all his perfections; and as one comprising in his own person the Sacrifice and the Priest, to put away sin by the offering of himself. Of these things the world might have formed some idea, by the teachings of holy men of God, addressed to their understandings; but the most effectual way to impress them was by instituting presentations to their senses, and giving the models of them in a tangible form, by referring to which they might be able to understand what was intended by those offices and relations which it was predicted the true Messiah should sustain before they were actually fulfilled. Those offices being spiritual, men could form no idea of them but from what they saw in the representations placed before their eyes. That the whole dispensation under which they lived was typical God's ancient people must have known, and therefore were prepared to meet with particular instances of types in detail. General truths were stated,—as when it is declared, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; but it was left to them to discern the illustration of those truths, as from time to time they were set before them in the various symbols and prefigurations with which they were favoured.
Had our Lord or his Apostles laid down any express rule by which the types were to
be known and explained, we should of course have been obliged to abide by it; or had they spoken of them in such a way as to show, without leaving any room for doubt, that what they mention are the only ones in existence, we must then have taken their limits as the proper prescribed bounds. This, however, is not the case. They seem only to allude to them for the sake of illustration, or as occasion occurred, to point out the agreement between type and antitype, while the very manner in which they speak seems to show that there were others. This being the case, and many things appearing in the history of the ancient church which seem to carry upon the very face of them as evident marks of a typical character as others they have alluded to as such, we are thrown back upon
the same rule as was possessed and used by the patriarchs and people of old, and are justified in considering some persons and some things as designed to be types, although they may not be expressly declared to be such. We are required to be controlled by the Scriptures themselves, explained and applied by prudence and wisdom.
Section III. On the extent of the application of the types. When the Apostle says of the peculiarities of the former dispensation, “Which are shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ, we are not to understand that the Saviour only, either in his own person, or work,
* Col. ii., 17.
or offices, was the subject exclusively prefigured by them; but by the term Christ is meant his church and people,-a sense in which it is often used. Indeed such is the connection between him and them, and so much are their circumstances alike, that what is applicable to him the Head will also apply to them who are his body. We are not, it is true, expressly taught in the Scriptures that such was the extent of reference intended; but proceeding upon the principles already laid down, that of considering the whole of the Old Testament dispensation as typical of the New, and inferring particular truths from those which are general, there can be no impropriety in applying these types in any instance where the application can be judiciously made. There were, however, a number of circumstances, events, and peculiarities in the history of God's ancient people admitted to have been typical which could have no counterpart at all in Christ personally, and must therefore relate to his people and his kingdom in the world. Of this kind is the nation of Israel- the passage through the Red Sea—the veil of Moses—the city of Jerusalem, and many others.
But although it would appear from these considerations that the types are numerous, and that some of them will admit of an application to the church and people of Christ, as well as to Christ himself, and notwithstanding the same types may sometimes be considered as applicable to both, yet the number of truths set forth in any particular type is generally small, and in all cases perfectly harmonious in themselves. One great doctrine is commonly sustained in each ;