Page images

and as literally and solidly true, and as capable of a fixed interpretation, as the literal sense; but one which, in fact, may be termed even more principally the true sense, than the historic fact, type, &c. which is its basis. For the latter was principally instituted, if a custom; or permitted, if an event; or recorded, whichever it be; in order to convey a palpable illus. tration of the former, as the body by which its soul is made visible. And a person who should imagine that the chief object of recording the Mosaic ritual, the materials of the Tabernacle or Temple, the wanderings of the children of Israel, or the wars of their kings, was to furnish an accurate view of obsolete ceremonies, the state of ancient arts, architecture, or history, would only expose his ignorance and folly. It is said that the noblemen who accompanied Charles the Second in his exile before the restoration, wore seals bearing the device of an oak cut down, yet girt with its ivy, with the appropriate motto_I cling to the fallen.Now, what should we think of the folly of that per son who should contend that the idea princi. pally intended was, what is however indispu. tably true, that ivy clings to its parent tree although cut down. The former case is spiritually just as absurd, as the latter is temporally

nay, it is yet more so, because a natural truth relating to sensible thiogs, for there is no natural truth which cannot be conveyed in literal and direct language; whereas spiritual truth, relating to things invisible, cannot be made ma. nifest to man, a creature of time and sepse, un. less it be clothed in some parabolic languageunless it be translated into that language of sense which may bring it within the scope of human perception.

Thus, with respect to the legal sacrifices, Christ was in truth their object; since we learn from his own lips that he came to fulfil the law, and that he is written of in Moses. It is indeed likewise the fact, that these sacrifices are not a merely imaginative allegory, but that they are historically true, and that they did actually take place. But though both the literal and spiritual seuse are equally true, yet the type or historic truth is the subordinate truth; seeing that it was instituted solely on account of the spiritual truth connected with it. Accordingly, the historic fact was a transitory truth, which has had its day, and is gone by; whilst Christ, its spiritual object, is that eternal truth which endures for ever. The first has dwindled into the obsolete ritual of the Jewish nation; whilst the latter is the central truth, in which all those that shall be saved shall ever rejoice,

So in the Psalms and in the historic books of the Old Testament, we learn the actual facts that David was oppressed by Saul, that he fled into the wilderness, that he triumphed over bis enemies, and fled from his son Absalom: por are these events to be disputed; but they would very little have concerned us, were this the only truth conveyed. Nor can we easily make a more extravagant, enthusiastic, or fanatical supposition than to imagine that the HOLY GHOST should degrade his inspiration to the mere purposes of amusing antiquaries and historians with the fortunes of the kings of Judah; or with a catalogue of the curtains and fringes of the Temple. Our Saviour, indeed, puts it out of doubt that he was the object both of the historians (the former prophets) and the Psalms; since he expressly declares that he came to fulfil the prophets as well as the law; and since he thought it necessary to instruct his disciples in what the Psalms, and all the prophets, (of course the anterior or historical ones amongst the rest) had written of him. But even had we not had our Saviour's express word, does not the fact appear most reasonable? The individual

events of David's life, bis sorrows, his joys, his triumphs, and his defeats, are passed away with himself: he is departed from the stage of human life; his pation is scattered over the face of the earth: nor could these events, in the nature of things, have occupied the pen of inspiration, or have been of any importance to the church, but on the principle of an eternal or spiritual truth couched beneath them in types, and as offering in every line the double but indissoluble portraitures of Christ, the Son of God, and the church, his inseparably united bride. The first of these spiritual interpretations, revealing the great object of the believer's faith; the latter, unfolding the vast treasury of the church's experience. But as Christ is the head of his body, the church; so is the first spiritual sense, as applied to him, pre-eminent in dignity to the second, as applied to his church.

That this capacity of double spiritual interpretation must subsist throughout Scripture, and that these two clews of truth must ever run parallel to each other, is obvious, from the perfect and indissoluble union between Christ and bis church. He takes upon himself not only her frailty and her sorrows; but he, who knew no sin, was made sin for her. As her bridegroom, therefore, all the most humiliating expressions of sin, sorrow, temptation, &c. &c. belong to him. His bride again, the church, bears his name, partakes his righteousness, his triumphs, and his glories. In him, therefore, she may take into her own lips all the expressions of innocence, triumph, and glory to be met with in these books.

On him was laid the iniquity of us all,is the key by which alone we can unlock all the passages in the Psalms, in which Messiah declares himself a sinner; and all the types in the law, as that of the brazen serpent, and the scapegoat, in which he is represented under the image of sinners; as well as the only principle on which we can conceive the humiliation of Christ in the flesh, and the stupendous scenes of Mount Calvary and Gethsemane.

And when we consider the repeated declaration, not only of St. Paul, that “all are guilty before God," but the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the corruption of the human heart; that none is righteous, no, not one; we must either suppose the writer of the Psalms to be an nobeliever, when speaking of his own innocency, (in which case it is wonderful the Holy Ghost admitted his work in the canon of Scripture,) or we must unlock the passage by this

« PreviousContinue »