Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

k

The vision of St. Peter is another instance of a similar nature.

Now allowing that some of the symbolical actions, mentioned by the prophets of the Old Testament with the boldness of poetical imagery, were transacted in vision only, many are related as real with such simplicity

of expression, that we cannot regard the narrative as any other than the plain assertion of a fact.

In such passages sober interpretation forbids us to regard the recital as fictitious, or aš representing what took place in vision. We must consider these actions as the familiar and expressive mode adopted by the Spirit of God, to declare to mankind events which should afterwards be fulfilled. IV. We are now led to a method of in

! formation still more recondite than any of those methods which have been considered, that conveyed by a personal or historical type.'!:"

One person is an historical type of another, when the real actions of his ordinary life designedly, by the Providence of God, prefigure the real actions of the life of the person to whom reference is made. And an event is historically typical of a future event, when the

i Acts x. 9–16.

As Ezek. xii. 6-11. Isai. vii. Zech. iij. 8..111**,

k

first has the same designed connection with the second.

This mode of conveying information differs from a moral allegory or a parable, in which the narrative is fictitious; but is very nearly allied to prophetical instruction delivered by action, which is also sometimes called typical.

Those acts of the prophets, however, were individual acts, avowedly performed for an especial purpose. Some of them, as those recorded in the first three chapters of Hosea, might occupy a long portion of time; but they were not completely interwoven into the ordinary business of the prophet's life.

But the typical actions, which are to be made the foundation of our enquiry, arose immediately out of the events in which the typical person was engaged. They often formed part of the daily occurrences of his life. The character in which he performed them was not an assumed character, but his own.

As the prophet sometimes knew what events he predicted, or set forth by a significant action, so the person, who prefigured another,' was sometimes conscious of his typical character.

Sometimes, although he himself knew not the fact, the connection was declared by the spirit of prophecy before the events prefigured came to pass.

Sometimes, again, the person who typified another was not even declared to be typical, until after the antitype had appeared: but the relation subsisting between them is ratified by prophecy delivered by him who was prefigured.

The Scriptures of the New Testament contain also many references to types in the Old Testament, which were not declared to have existed, until after the events which fulfilled them had taken place.

In all these instances, if once the fact of à designed prefiguration is established, we have a species of prophecy of a most remarkable kind, extending itself over successive ages, embodied in the transactions of private and national history.

Thus then we find the Spirit of the most High God accommodating its mode of

operation to human apprehension, adopting various methods of instructing mankind; and requiring on their part corresponding pains to investigate and to comprehend His revealed will.

The word of God, as we possess it, is a written word.

Hence there arise the difficulties of comprehending the idiom of the languages in which it is expressed; and of knowing the al customs, manners, and laws of the people to whom it was first delivered.

[ocr errors]

· In addition to the particular difficulties of the original languages of Scripture, there are others arising from the general structure of all language.

I 11:, 19 There are verbal difficulties arising from the : necessary use of figurative terms. There are difficulties which arise from the allegorical use of words, in parables and even in enigmas;' and from the introduction of symbolical terms, There are also difficulties which arise from the substitution of peculiar actions for words, either to designate the past, or to foretel the future.

And there is an extensive class of real events occurring, even when miraculous, in the ordinary course of the lives of individuals, and in the history of nations, which require to be interpreted with peculiar care, because they are set forth to us as connected with other future events, as prefiguring and prefigured, type and antitype, shadow and substance.

The difficulties which occur in the interpretation of types are not merely verbal difficulties. When Christ is called “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,”m the assertion is more than the application of a metaphorical term.

Neither are the difficulties of interpreting types altogether of the same nature as those

1

Judges xiv. 14.

m John i. 29.

с

which occur in the interpretation of parables. The parables of Scripture are conversant with fictitious events : types with real. The connection of the primary and secondary senses in parables, may often be discovered by the context, or by considering the occasion on which they were delivered. The connection of typical events with those which they foreshew, can be determined by authority only. For unless the Scripture has declared that the connection exists, we can never ascertain that any resemblance, however accurate, is any thing more than a fanciful adaptation; and we may go on to multiply imaginary instances without end.

Supported, however, by such a declaration, we may boldly take one stand;' and examine with reverence and with care how accurate the claim is. In this examination we shall tread upon the confines of prophecy, and there recognize the infallible tokens of Divine foreknowledge, and an overruling Providence. And if at any time we approach those high things of God, into which the very angels in heaven desire to look," we must thence take occasion not to indulge an unhallowed curiosity, but to adore that inscrutable wisdom and goodness which hath done so great things for man.

n 1 Pet. i. 12.

« AnteriorContinuar »