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Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife; and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle.”
Here the fact of Amaziah sending to Jehoash is allegorized, and by it the pride and certain 'fall of the king of Israel is pointed out. .
3. Of the same nature is the advice of the woman of Tekoah—the speech of Nathan the prophet to David, when he was sent to bring to his remembrance his sin in the case of Uriah, and to lead him to repentance for it—and other instances contained in the Scriptures.
Of allegory the New Testament is, from its nature, very sparing. There is one instance, however, which, because it possesses a decided character, and from its having been so often noticed by writers on the subject of types, deserves particular attention here. It is,
4. That of Abraham and Agar. This is recorded in Galatians iv. 22: “ For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now
we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture ? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. . So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." • One of the greatest advantages we possess in having the New Testament is, the light which it throws upon the Old. There are many things in the providence of God recorded in it which are still dark to us, but they would have been much more so but for this assistance. God often permitted events to take place in the world, and a line of conduct to be adopted by his servants, which, for the time being, must have seemed to involve a reflection upon his character, and for purposes which centred in himself. He was willing to let them remain in the obscurity in which they were involved at the period of their occurrence, and for years afterwards; but viewed in the lustre which this last dispensation sheds around them, what was before hidden is revealed, and the Divine wisdom is seen in events which it was difficult before to explain.
Of this description was the circumstance in the history of Abraham to which the above reference was made by the Apostle. The father of the faithful, at the suggestion of Sarah, put the bondmaid in the place of her mistress. That this act was in itself highly injudicious, and even involved in it a breach of the law of
God, there could have been no doubt in the mind of the patriarch; yet it was not only permitted by the Almighty, but it is here spoken of in such a way as to show that it was allowed to take place to shadow forth important truths in connection with his purposes and designs.
Some, indeed, have made it a question, whether this circumstance was really designed of God for the purpose to which the Apostle here applies it, or whether he only takes advantage of it to illustrate the difference between the situations of the believing and unbelieving Jews; and they have rendered the words, these things are allegorized, referring to Isaiah liv. 1, considering the words in Galatians an allusion to it,-“ Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.” But to say nothing of the impropriety which this would involve, in the Prophets calling Hagar the married wife, rather than Sarah, who was more properly so, it is not easy to conceive how what Isaiah says can be an allegory at all, if, indeed, it can be an allusion to the event of which the Apostle speaks. Several learned and judicious commentators are of opinion that the words of the Apostle are correctly rendered; and they maintain that his meaning is, that these things would not only admit of such a construction as that now put upon them, but that they were designed to be so considered; besides which, there is something very decided in the manner in which the Apostle makes the allusion. He says, Do ye not hear the law ? and he seems to include in that the design for which the occurrence was permitted to take place, as well as the words which he quotes. It is not merely with the use which the Apostle makes of this, then, but with its original intention, that we now have to do. He tells us that it is an allegory; that is, these things were representations of the carnal and spiritual seeds of Abraham, and the allegory holds good
I. In regard to the two mothers, Sarah and Hagar.
1. In their characters, one was a bondwoman, the other a freewoman : these, the Apostle tells us, were the “ two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem, which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
The covenant here referred to is the national covenant made with the Jews at Sinai, and the tendency which is specified applies more particularly to that part of the Mosaic dispensation which consisted of rites and ceremonies. It was this, with the additions which the Pharisees had made, that our Lord, in the days of his flesh, called a heavy burden, and which he charges them with binding on men's shoulders, and which is so often designated by the same term by Paul, particularly in his Epistles to the Galatians and Romans. He calls it bondagethe yoke of bondage, and the spirit which it produces the spirit of bondage. Since, however, that covenant which God made with the Jews at Mount Sinai was based upon the moral law
which was then re-published, that must be considered as forming a part of the bondage which Hagar represented; nor is the application of the term less proper to one than to the other; for, although the moral law is holy, just, and good, and yielding to a renewed mind delight and great reward, the design for which it was given, and its natural tendency upon our fallen unrenewed nature is to condemnation and hopeless despair, for its language is, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the Book of the Law to do them.-The soul that sinneth, it shall die.—The man that doeth these things shall live in them.” Hence it is called our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, also the ministration of death, written and graven in stone; and the Apostle, speaking of his own experience in connection with it, says, that “ sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in him all manner of concupiscence."*
But the new covenant here denominated “ Jerusalem, which is above," and represented by Sarah, is the opposite of all this. Its character and tendency is that of liberty. It frees from condemnation and death-gives full access to God through Jesus Christ-is disencumbered with rites and ceremonies, and tends to a nobleness and enlargement of soul. Hence the gospel in which it is proclaimed is called “the law of liberty." Speaking of its effects upon himself, the Apostle says, “ The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death;”+ and writing to the Galatians, he exhorts them to “stand fast in the
* Rom. vii. 8. Rom. viii. 2.