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The Theocracy a Symbol.
ception of the theocracy as a symbol of God's moral government of men, it would be easy for him to pass to the conclusion that theocratic guilt must represent moral guilt, and that the method by which a Jew was cleared from theocratic guilt represented the way in which he was to be cleared from moral guilt. That this was actually the case we know from the New Testament, and we think it hardly credible that such a plain inference could have escaped the observation of thoughtful and earnest men under the ancient dispensation, even supposing they had no teaching to guide them to it. But they were not left destitute of teaching on this head. Even by Moses himself in the Law, they were taught to interpret some of his institutions as morally symbolic: thus circumcision was represented as symbolical of moral purification, the eating of the sin-offering by the priest as symbolical of the reconciliation of the offerer with God,† and, what is most of all noticeable, the inscription upon the plate which the High Priest was always to wear on his forehead, 'Holiness to the Lord,' was expressly described as designed to teach every offerer that it was only by deliverance from moral guilt and impurity that he could be acceptable unto God. In such passages we have, to say the least, the principle of symbolical interpretation suggested to the Israelites, the key put into their hands, by which the whole of this mystic cabinet may be unlocked. We learn, moreover, that part of the priests' duties was to teach the people the judgments and law of the Lord; and that this cannot be restricted to a mere inculcation of the ritual they had to observe, but must also be considered as including an explanation of the meaning of that, seems evident from the rebukes addressed by the prophets to the priests for their negligence in conveying to the people the needful spiritual instruction, so that they were left to perish for lack of knowledge,§ as well as from the fact that on occasions of spiritual revival after degeneracy, care was taken to restore to the people those means of priestly instruction, the neglect of which had led to their sinking into sin. We find also that the prophets, who were the familiar and constant teachers of the people in spiritual things, were not slow to press upon them, in the most emphatic manner, the necessity of an inner and spiritual cleansing, and the utter worthlessness of sacrifice and offering apart from this, as a medium of acceptance with God. Taking all these things into account, we think it would be in
+ Lev. x. 16, ff.
* Deut. x. 16; xxx. 6. Exod. xxviii. 36, ff. See the note on this passage in Kalisch's Historical and Critical Commentary on the Old Testament. London. 1855.
§ Compare Hos. iv. 6; Micah iii. 11; Mal. ii. 6, 7; 2 Chron. xv. 3. Compare 2 Chron. xvii. 7-9.
dulging a very undue and needless scepticism were we to doubt that the more earnest and pious of the ancient Jews perceived in the ritual of their public worship a symbolical representation. of spiritual truths and spiritual relations. In point of fact, we know that some of them, at least, did perceive the spiritual significancy of these external observances; and as they have recorded their experience in compositions intended for liturgical purposes, the conviction they have expressed could not be confined to them. We may adduce in illustration such passages as Ps. xl. 6; li. 7, 16—19.
But here a further question arises. These ceremonies were not only symbols of spiritual truths, they were also, as we know from the New Testament, prophetic adumbrations of the work of Christ as the great sacrifice for the sins of the world. Have we any reason to believe that the Jews understood their significancy in this respect? Mr. Litton somewhat peremptorily answers this question in the negative. Of the prophetic mean'ing of the types,' says he, 'no hint is given in the law, and it 'is not for us to intrude our tapers where the light from heaven 'fails us.' Very true, provided the light from heaven do really fail us; but this does not follow from the fact that the law itself does not afford the necessary illumination. The nature of the case, or other parts of Scripture, may furnish the guidance we require without any feeble flickerings from a taper of our own. Now if it be admitted, as it is by Mr. Litton, that the Mosaic symbols were not only symbols of spiritual ideas, but also designed prefigurations of Christian facts, it strikes us as very strange that it should be supposed that this part of their significancy was wholly hid from the ancient believers. Of necessity they could only have a dim and imperfect conception of what was thus prefigured, for no symbols whatever can give men a just idea of a new fact before it has happened; but that they gathered no lesson at all from these designed prefigurations of Christ and his work, seems to us a most extravagant assertion. In that case we ask, For whose benefit was this adaptation of the type to the antitype designed? According to what we infer to be Mr. Litton's opinion on this subject, we presume he would answer, For ours, who can read the record both of the type and of the antitype, and see their correspondence. But to this we would reply, with one of the Congregational Lecturers, who had treated this whole subject sixteen years before it was felt needful to introduce it into the Bampton Lecture, that it is doubly wrong: 1st, by confounding a type with the mere record of it; and 2nd, by maintaining that a transaction was performed many 'centuries before, for the instruction of persons who must possess
Types and Prophecies.
'the knowledge it embodies before they can find out that it was 'intended to convey it.'* A type, as the same writer observes, is an acted lesson,' to the utility of which intelligent'spectators are as indispensable as actors; and he argues that if under the ancient dispensation there were merely actors and not intelligent spectators, the divine appointment and preadaptation of the type to the antitype would have been in vain. That benefit of a certain kind may accrue to us Christians from viewing Christian facts in connexion with the typical adumbration of them under the law, we are far from denying; but we must maintain that, if to convey such benefit was the primary and chief intention of the ancient types, it will be difficult to defend the latter from the charge of being splendid superfluities. To quote again the words of the writer last cited, 'A was done to teach us B; 'but it is only after we have thoroughly mastered B that we can 'find out that such was the design of A:-in such a case of what use is A?'
The presumption then is, that the Jews did possess the means of understanding the typical import of their own ritual. As already observed, their perception of Christian facts thus obtained would necessarily be imperfect; but it did not require to be more so than what they could obtain by means of prophecy. Between types and prophecy the affinity is close: a type is an acted prophecy; a prophecy is a verbal type: the one seeks to convey by symbolical representations what the other teaches by words. And as the two went hand in hand under the ancient dispensation, so that the people continually heard from the lips. of the Prophet the same great predictions which were shadowed forth by the performances of the Priest, we cannot conclude that the whole ritual was to the earnest, pious, and inquisitive Jew destitute of any prophetic significancy, without presuming that the Jew was at a lower grade of intelligence than all we know of him otherwise will suffer us to suppose.
Mr. Litton, in discussing the part of his subject which relates to prophecy, has shown that all the leading doctrines which centre in the Saviour's person and work' find clear and impressive enunciation in the prophetical writings. A Jew, then, listening to these communications and receiving them with devout thoughtfulness as Divine truths of the profoundest interest, would be familiar with the fact that the Messiah, promised to his nation, was to come not only as a King to reign over the spiritual Israel, not only as a Prophet to teach his people and be the Light of the world, but also as a Priest to make atonement
Connexion and Harmony of the Old and New Testaments. By W. L. Alexander, D.D. Second Edition. p. 320.
and intercession for mankind. He might know also that the Messiah was not only to be a priest, but that he was to be the victim in His own sacrifice-that he was to bear the sins and pains of his people, to be bruised for their iniquities, and to be cut off in order to make an end of sins and to effect reconciliation for iniquity. Now, conceive a man familiar with these beliefs and expectations, witnessing every day atonement made by the priest for sin by means of animal sacrifice-witnessing every day the very thing done in symbol which he knew from the Prophets the Messiah was to do in reality; and can it be maintained that he would be so stupid and obtuse, though wishing and praying to be taught of God all the wondrous significancy of His Law, as not to see the connexion between these two, how the one adumbrated the other, and how they both pointed to the same great facts in which both were to find their fulfilment ?
In reasoning thus, we of course presume that pious Jews, under the ancient dispensation, enjoyed the aids of that spiritual illumination without which, even under the Christian dispensation, men are not able to discover aright the things of God. To this subject Mr. Litton has devoted a considerable portion of one of his lectures. In many of his observations we cordially agree. We concur with him in believing that the converting and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit were enjoyed by the saints under the former dispensation; and we concur with him in thinking that the difference between the two dispensations in respect of the gift of the Spirit, is not to be resolved into a mere superiority on the part of the later in the amount of Holy Scripture possessed by those living under it, or into the larger effusion of miraculous power conferred during the Apostolic age, or into the greater measure of sanctification now attainable, or into the greater formality with which the conveyance of the blessing has been made to the New Testament Church. On all these points we think his strictures just and conclusive; but when he proceeds to state his own theory on the subject, he diverges into a field whither we cannot follow him. According to his view, the influences of the Spirit under the ancient dispensation acted chiefly from without upon the believers, whereas now they act from within, and are now abiding, whereas formerly they were only occasional. Hitherto,' he says, 'it was a temple ' of human structure, a building in which Deity had manifested His presence; and in this only by symbol, the bright cloud 'which filled the tabernacle: if man had been the subject of such a spiritual inhabitation, it was only, as in the case of the Prophets, for special purposes, and therefore temporarily and
Spiritual Influences under both Dispensations.
irregularly; while ordinarily the impulses of the Spirit came from without, and operated upon the soul sufficiently for the purposes of sanctification, but without a permanent indwelling.'* On this theory we have to remark: 1. That we are at a loss to understand what spiritual blessing can be superior to sanctification. Hitherto we have been accustomed to regard that as the crown and consummation of Christian privilege; and that the Apostle, when he besought of God on behalf of the Thessalonians, that He would 'sanctify them wholly,' supplicated for them the highest blessing that they could receive. But, according to Mr. Litton, there is something higher still-viz., the permanent indwelling of the Spirit. We wish he had told us distinctly what this implies as distinct from sanctification; and further, we wish he would tell us how, if this be a superior blessing to sanctification, the Thessalonians, who, as living under the Christian economy, by the supposition, possessed this superior blessing, still needed to be sanctified. 2. There is, undoubtedly, a distinction, one which all divines have recognised, between the operations of the Spirit on man ab extra, and his operations ab intra; but it has been usual to regard the former as having reference to restraining and preparatory grace, the latter, as embracing all that has to do with the spiritual regeneration and sanctification of the man. Does Mr. Litton, then, think that the saints under the Old Testament had only the former of these blessings? He does not; for he emphatically asserts, that by the people of God under the ancient dispensation the gracious influences of the Spirit were enjoyed, and that to an extent which renders it doubtful whether their sanctification was not as complete as ours. What, then, does he mean by saying that, ordinarily the influences of the Spirit come on them from without? 3. It has been usual with divines to identify the inhabitation of the Spirit in man with His sanctifying and elevating operation on man's heart. According to Mr. Litton, these two are distinct, so that the one may exist without the other. Will he tell us explicitly wherein the distinction consists, or how a man can be sanctified without the indwelling operation of the Spirit? 4. Mr. Litton says, that when the
We find a view somewhat similar to this advanced in Bishop Martensen's Christliche Dogmatik (s. 376, 3te aufl.), a work rich in thought and spiritual feeling.
+ Thus Quensted:-' (Gratia) inhabitans (ipse Sp. Sanctus) quæ ipsum hominis cor ingreditur, illudque spiritualiter immutando inhabitat.' Buddæus :-' Cum homo jam conversus et justificatus est, templum rite præparatum inhabitat (Sp. S.) ex quo simul intelligitur renovationem, seu sanctificationem cum istâ Sp. Sancti inhabitatione arctissimo vinculo esse conjunctam.' Compare Owen's Pneumatologia, B. iv. c. 8, § 18, ff.