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best possible types, and the very best possible figures in every respect, under which to couch the great truths of the gospel, and to portray the testimony of Jesus. And hence it is because he is both a divine teacher, and the church's appointed teacher, that the more closely we adhere to his words, the more exactly we establish the literal sense, with the more light, accuracy, force, and truth shall we be able to elicit the real spiritual sense; and with the more ease shall we unfold it in its various bearings, whenever the Spirit of God shall give us an understanding heart to understand those Scriptures which can, however, only make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Some persons are prone to be scandalized by comments which profess to unite a spiritual to a literal exposition of Scripture. But let them consider, that in this respect we are not left to form the rule of interpretation according to our own discretion; but that the inspired writers of the New Testament have established the point, both by the method which they themselves uniformly adopt in their own continual references and explanations of Old Testament passages, and likewise by the express directions they have given to the church on the subject. So that we have both the express precept and its illustration afforded by the continual example of the inspired writers, on which to ground the rule of spiritual interpretation.
As illustrations, we refer to St. Matthew's application of Isaiah vii. 14. to the birth of Christ; that of Isaiah xl. 3, 4. to John the Baptist; that of Jeremiah's prophecy of the voice of lamentation in Ramah, to the murder of the innocents; that of Hosea, out of Egypt have I called my Son, to the return of Christ from that land ; that of the Evangelists, of the passage in Zechariah, to the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem; that of St. Peter, of the second and the sixteenth Psalms, to Christ in the Acts. St. Paul's application to Christ, not only of the eighth Psalm, in the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but of the whole levitical code in the course of it. St. Paul's application of the sons of the bondwoman and the free, to the children of the legal and the gospel dispensation. St. Peter's application of the ark to Christ. Also our Saviour's first dis. course at Nazareth, in which he applied to him. self Isaiab lxi. His application of the type of the temple, and of the brazen serpent, to himself. His explanation of the type of Jonah, as fulfilled in his resurrection. St. Philip's application of Isaiah liii. to the sufferings of Christ.
All these are but a very little specimen of the multitude of examples which prove that the inspired writers considered the literal interpretation of Scripture as the body, of which the spiritual sense was the inseparable soul; and without a discernment of which, the literal sense became a mere dead letter, for the letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alide. Of this the Pharisees and formalists of all ages have the woful experience; for it is only through faith in Christ, the Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation. And it is to no purpose that we search the Scriptures, thinking to find in them eternal life; if, the veil being on our heart, like the Jews, we do not perceive that they throughout testify of Christ, and therefore do not come to Christ that we may have life.
The few examples adduced will sufficiently show that our Lord and his apostles left us the pattern of always founding a spiritual interpretation, centering in Christ, upon the direct and literal sense of Scripture. If any of my readers doubt it, I will request them to convince them. selves of the fact by the same method which I myself adopted viz. by reading through the whole New Testament, and referring to every
passage quoted or applied from the Old, and there reading it in its connection: and that these quotations are applications, and not accommodations, as urged by some unspiritual persons, must be plain to every candid mind from this circumstance, that they are, in the Acts of the Apostles, perpetually appealed to as proofs, and not adduced as illustrations, which could not be the case were they only accommodations.
But were it possible after this search, in de. fiance of the uniform and consenting example of all the New Testament writers, to entertain any doubt on the matter; their precepts and declarations on the subject are so express, that they afford no loophole of escape.
Our Saviour expressly declares, not only that the Scriptures, by which he meant the writings of the Old Testament, (which were alone then extant) testified of him; but he expressly tells us that Moses, the Psalms, and ALL the prophets speak concerning him. Now if we consider that by the term ALL the prophets, are meant all the historic Scripture writers, called by the Jews the former prophets; as well as those we call prophets, whom the Jews term the latter prophets; we shall see that this includes the whole canon of Scripture. But as these books, in very few instances, make what may be termed a direct and literal mention of Christ; we are reduced to the alternative, either of ourselves adopting the figurative and spiritual mode of interpretation, of which Christ and his apostles have set us the example; or of abrogating all those passages in the New Testament, which declare the whole of the Old to be prophetic of him.
We are then assured by the example, as well as by the precepts of the inspired writers, that the law, the Psalms, and all the prophets, speak of and bear testimony to Christ. Consequently no one can be said to understand them, as to their true scope or end, who does not principally see Christ in them : since he is the fulfilment of the law, the end of prophecy, and the key of David. But as, in the literal sense, Christ is not spoken of in the law, nor in the former prophets, the historians of Israel; nor yet in the latter prophets, its instructors; and as he is no where expressly named in the Psalms, we must, therefore, be assured that there runs throughout the whole of Scripture a real spiritual interpretation, which is not a mere pious adaptation; but which is, in every case, the true, substantial, spiritual sense of each passage. A sense which is not only as definitely intended,