« PoprzedniaDalej »
mystic sense to the nation at the point of entrance into the waters, and deny it to them in their antecedent state. If the parallel have any force, it must reach back to the state which rendered any baptism or immersion necessary at all to both conditions of men. The Christian requires it, because before baptism he is fettered by sin, and the child of wrath;
-and the Jew required it, in order that he might be emancipated from the bondage of Egypt—the typical representation of the soul under Satan. And the comparison, which otherwise were most imperfect, is thus rendered complete and full.
But he has also stated, that in the wilderness they—the same people eat and drank food which in an inner and recondite sense was to be acknowledged as spiritual or sacramental food : “they drank of that Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Who then were these men, thus sustained with spiritual food ? Does the comparison between them and the Christian world commence first at this point-the descent of manna and the striking of the rock ? Are they not the men who, the bondmen of Egypt, were emancipated through the baptismal waters of the Red Sea; and who after that rite entered into the wilderness ? Did they not pass through the desert under the same emblematical character, which, even by the express interpretation of St. Paul, they had gained at the passage? The representative of the Christian soul passing through the waters of baptism, were they not still, under the same figure, journeying after baptism through the wilderness of life? Does not the position of the nation keep up the resemblance? Yes truly ;-Like
the soul by nature, Israel is without spiritual food ; it is faint and weary ;-it hungers and thirsts; until Christ in the descent of a full knowledge and a satisfying Revelation of the Truth, feeds it with “ angel's food” and water from the living rock. They did “all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink.”
It really seems impossible to judge by fair and ordinary deduction, and to disjoin these two facts, thus interpreted by the Apostle, from the surrounding history. If we allow the correctness of his views in regard to the things, we must allow it in regard to the persons by whose agency they were foreshadowed ; and these, if standing in an emblematical form in regard to the events, must necessarily stand under that view in the facts which led to them ; — or the intimacy and coherence of the parallel is at once lost.
What, therefore, becomes of the rule, which would limit our judgment to the precise instances which have been specifically explained in Scripture ? It cannot stand the test of a strict enquiry. It sinks under a single concession; and the examples introduced by our Saviour and the Apostle appear then simply as those facts which best illustrated the particular doctrines they intended to inculcate; and were therefore chosen out of the great body of Jewish history, and given as specimens of its real power of interpretation.
It seems a clear truth to my own mind, that St. Paul in the cases which he has drawn from the Jewish Covenant, intended to give a rule to men in their study of Scripture, by following which, they
might gain the same results in other portions of the Bible which he had acquired in those quoted by himself. He gave them a principle; - showed its movements and power of working in regard to Christianity ; — and having accomplished this, left the extension of it to their own wisdom and ability. The very mode in which he himself has exhibited it, is sufficiently declarative of its breadth of application; and as we should imagine, conclusive, that the passages he has selected could not be the only ones it was intended to embrace. In regard to things, he has produced two events, separated from each other; and which, as we have shown, could not have been endowed with a mystic power independent of the transactions which immediately preceded them. And in regard to persons, he has chosen two - Isaac and Melchizedek -- who were distinct from each other; bound by no connection in history; by no tie of relationship; but who stood as much alone and by themselves as did Noah and David ; or Abraham and Solomon. Why these -- (with the given exceptions of Elijah and Jonah, who were altogether as distant from each other, as from the examples of the Apostle) --- why these, and only these should possess that inner bearing out of the characters of Scripture, would be a matter of some difficulty satisfactorily to account for. In all that regards this particular question, such an opinion divests the Bible of all plan and harmony. It has no authority of Scripture for its limitation of the principle ; and it is against the mode of reasoning adopted by the Apostle. It supposes the subject closed for ever against enquiry or enlargement; while in all the other doctrines of Christianity, witbout exception, much is left to exercise the faith, zeal, and faculties of the believer. And above all, it has to contend with a long succession of evidences and types of the same nature, equally powerful;——equally adapted to Christ and the Gospel Dispensation: embracing in them precisely the same principle as that already exhibited in Scripture, and bringing those transactions, which otherwise stand disjoined and insulated, into a perfect form, regularity and proportion.
Where then it may be urged are we to stop? If this free licence is to be conceded, at what point are we to draw the line between what is figurative and what has no title to that character? We reply ;The internal evidence must decide it; - the visible presence of a means overruled and guided to a given end; the accuracy of resemblance in the parts subjected to analysis; and the identity in spirit and tendency of all the types with each other, as well as with their antitype ; — so that the whole volume from its commencement to the end may show forth in this, as in other respects, one harmonious and perfect continuity of design. Wherever these things cease, the line of limit should be drawn.
It is of course impossible to set bounds to the extravagance of an enthusiast. Truth itself, in the hand of an unguarded theorist, may be distorted into a thousand incongruous and fantastic shapes, which have no possible reality, save in his own wanton imagination. But it follows not, that in admitting the predominance of a principle, we are bound to adopt the errors with which it may be dis
figured. Man is endowed with Reason to direct him; and we must rely on his using it: - we must suppose that he will not take up an opinion without a deep personal investigation ; and we must take for granted that the man who enters upon so grand and sublime a study as that of fathoming the mysteries of the Bible, is gifted with that degree of judgment and discretion, which will prevent him from running into absurdity, and receiving into his belief a set of idle suppositions which are derogatory to God.
In short, we reply to the question of limit, that so long as a fact evolves itself, and the natural action of its parts tends, without constraint, to the end we aim at, we may take it for granted, that we are following out the true design of Scripture; - but that as soon as we are obliged to exercise our ingenuity to find resemblances; – to bring together remote and unconnected facts ;-to force words and ideas from their usually received sense ; – to fill up gaps and intervals in the matter tested ; either to invent, modify or refine; we may be morally certain, that such is not the way of Scripture, and that it will show a true wisdom at once to stop.
Under the restrictions then of this law, we endeavour to give currency to the expressed opinions by substantiating them by proofs ; — premising yet again, that if true, they must accompany the entire progress of Revelation; and that the strength of the theory depends not so much on its equal power, in every transaction in which it is exhibited, as on its completeness as a system.