INTRODUCTION.

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ON THE EXISTENCE AND PRINCIPLE OF A
MYSTIC SENSE.

In claiming a mystical import for the Books of Kings, I may be asked on what grounds the claim is made. Some few perhaps are willing to receive such an application of the Word, in submission to the witness of a certain spiritual sense within them, which, often far in advance of their spiritual intelligence, instinctively leads them to make such or similar applications. Others, again, may be favourably disposed to such interpretations, because the writings of the early Church invariably assume such a method of exposition. The greater number, however, in these days when men are so quick to doubt, if not to reject, all that is above them, even if struck with the correspondence between certain histories of old and certain spiritual realities within and around them, and while they feel that the New Testament in some degree recognises this correspondence, because they know neither its limit, nor the principle on which it proceeds, are cautiously afraid of recognising it any further than the express examples found in the New Testament. Such persons, however, if honest with themselves and with the Word of God, must continually feel that there is some principle recognised in the New Testament, in its quotations from, and applications of, the Prophets and the Law, which at present is hidden from them. I am fully satisfied that the Word itself contains the full answer and key to this, and indeed to every difficulty. I therefore throw together a few hints on the subject, which will sufficiently shew the grounds on which I have traced a mystical application throughout the Books of Kings. To my own mind the principle they involve is one more and more confirmed by a continually accumulating weight of evidence容vidence, indeed, which is not of such a nature as to be cognizable by all, inasmuch as it requires both a certain capacity and an exercise of it in the things of God; but which will be increasingly satisfactory, I believe, to those who will test it in the daily study and meditation of the Word of God.

Our question is of a mystic sense. Now is not this, in fact, simply a question respecting the character of the Word of God? Will not an apprehension of its true character, through grace, lead us on to what we want預 knowledge of its true sense and right interpretation?

1. For the character of the written Word, then, to whom can we better turn than to the Lord Himself, "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14)? If He is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8), "without variableness or shadow of turning" (James 1:17), may not His manifestations of Himself in the flesh be regarded as at least analogous to His manifestations in His Word of old? And if there be anything peculiar to His manifestations of Himself on earth, should we not, while we turn aside to see this great sight, ask ourselves, and ask of God, whether the same peculiarities are not to be expected and found in His words of old?

(i) Now the first thing I observe of Christ is that there was more in Him than met the eye or ear. Though seen and heard He was yet hidden. The vessel, indeed, was seen: the treasure was not seen. To discern Him a certain capacity was needed, vouchsafed of God. "Flesh and blood never revealed Him" (Matt. 16:17). "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (John 1:10): for "He came neither striving nor crying among men, neither was His voice heard in the streets" (Matt. 12:16-19). But "he that was of God heard God's words: the Jews heard them not, because they were not of God" (John 8:47). Antichrists came in other guise, "saying, I am Christ" (Matt. 24:5): the Christ of God never said this. "He bore not witness of Himself" (John 5:31): for He must be otherwise discerned. Even when asked, "Art thou the Christ?" His answer once and again was simply a reference to His works (Matt. 11:3-5; John 10:24); and the lost, who knew their need of such works, at once discerned Him.

Such was the Incarnate Word, and in such ways was He discerned: and such is also the written Word. Containing within itself far more than meets the eye or ear, yea, more than has entered into man's heart to conceive (1 Cor. 2:9), it comes under men's eyes, and is heard by their ears, and yet only reveals its treasures to the sons of God. The call of God, the Spirit's grace, a life of faith, a walk with Christ, pondering and treasuring up His words, even when dark and hidden,擁n such ways was the Incarnate Word discerned of old: in such ways is the written Word opened now. Mere intellect cannot open it. God speaks to the heart. If the heart is dead, the Word is sealed.

(ii) Again, Christ's manifestations of Himself were ever in proportion to the need and faith of those that sought Him. We see this everywhere. As Life-giver to the dead, as Healer to the sick, as Saviour to the lost, to the Pharisee He is only a teacher (John 3:2; Luke 7:39); to the Scribe, a doctor, proposing to them difficulties out of the law (Luke 20:41). According to your faith, according to your need,葉his seems to be the measure of His manifestation. The power of God in Him seemed ever ready, waiting upon faith and need in man. So is it with the written Word. Nothing rightly introduces us to it, nothing opens its treasures, but need and faith. A walk of faith very especially opens the Word; for faith ever brings us into need and trial; and trial wants a manifestation of God, and that manifestation is not denied. According to the need, the Word is opened. But let us come to it to prove our wisdom; to judge it rather than to be judged; to speculate about it with curious, captious, criticising eye; to find our own notions in its words, or else to reject them;様et us do this, and then, though we may be reckoned learned Scribes, the Word will remain really closed, its treasures hidden from us. We shall be dark and barren as ever, with this only added, the responsibility of having misused or rejected a revelation of the living God. The way, therefore, to read the Word is not to attempt to exhaust its contents; but simply to seek in it what we need. In this way, what we draw from it, as it suits our wants, will through grace be such as we can use. I have observed, that truth we do not need is, in general, truth we cannot bear, the possession of which, so far from being a help, either puffs up the possessor, or becomes a stumbling-block in his way, by leading his understanding first to forestall, and then supersede, his conscience.

2. From Christ I pass to His words, to inquire what light they throw upon the character, and so upon the interpretation, of the written Word. We have observed in Christ Himself, and the same is true of His works, that there was more in Him than met the eye; there was something below the surface; and that this hidden treasure was only opened out by the Spirit to faith and need. We shall find the self-same peculiarities in the words He spoke. Parables were His chosen form of speech. "Without a parable spake He not unto the multitude" (Matt. 13:34). Nay, such were His words, that even His own disciples, while they followed, often misunderstood Him. His exhortations to beware of leaven (Matt. 16:6); to sell a garment and buy a sword (Luke 22:36); to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:56-60); to ask of Him living water, which should be to those who received it a well of water springing up unto eternal life (John 4:10-14); these and many other such, which at once meet us, will sufficiently shew how often a secret meaning lay hidden under His plainest words. In fact they were like Himself"an open secret;" open to all, but opened to few; a revelation and a mystery; from the wise and prudent they hid those things which yet, as seemed good to the Father, were by them revealed to babes. But then comes the question,優o not these words of Christ throw some light on the character of the written Word? Is it not but reasonable to expect a correspondence between the character of His words, and the Word of His Spirit spoken by holy men of old?

3. This question is even more pressed upon us by our Lord's own references to the Word. Few, I suppose, have carefully read those references, and indeed the New Testament mode in general of quoting the Old, without feeling that there is something peculiar in it. The facts are simply these,佑hrist and His Apostles continually refer to various passages from the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms; but these references, though claimed as applicable either to the Church or Christ, appear, when we turn to them, to be quoted apart from their proper context, and to relate not to Christ, but rather to certain circumstances in the life of some Old Testament saint, or to some portion of the history of the ancient Israel.

(i) For instance, our Lord thus speaks to the Jews of His day:"Now have they seen and hated both Me and My Father: but this cometh to pass that the word which is written in their law might be fulfilled, They hated Me without a cause" (John 15:24, 25, compared with Psalm 35:19). But these words, when we turn to them, are found in a Psalm, which, even if it had not an inspired heading, claiming it to be a "Psalm of David," would yet, from its general character and tenor, shew that it applied to David himself, and was uttered by him in reference to the men of his own day. The same remarks apply to the passages quoted by our Lord, as also by St Peter, in reference to the traitor Judas. Our Lord's words are,"I know whom I have chosen: but it is done that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me" (John 13:18). Thus also St Peter,"Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and his bishopric let another take" (Acts 1:16-20, compared with Psalm 69:25; 109:8). Now this quotation, so remarkably introduced, is made up of extracts from two Psalms, both of which, like the one already referred to, are Divinely described as "Psalms of David" (See titles of Psalms 69 and 109). Similar in character are our Lord's words respecting John the Baptist:"For all the prophets prophesied until John, and if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come" (Matthew 11:13-14). It appears that the disciples, having received on the holy mount God's own witness that His Son was come, could not reconcile this with the statement of the Scribes that Elijah must first come. The case was evidently one of difficulty. The Scriptures had foretold that "Elias should first come," and John had said he was not Elias. Accordingly they submit the difficulty to their Lord:"Why then say the Scribes that Elias must first come? Jesus answered and said, Elias truly shall first come and restore all things; but I say unto you that Elias is come already; and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Then the disciples understood that He spake to them of John the Baptist" (Matthew 17:10-12).

(ii) Nor is our Lord alone in this method of applying the Word. The Evangelists use it quite as frequently. Thus St Matthew opens his Gospel with several quotations from the Prophets, applying them to Christ or to the circumstances which occurred in connexion with Him; yet these quotations, when we turn to their context, appear continually to belong to other persons, and to a very different age. Thus we read, "Joseph took the young child and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called my son" (Matthew 2:15, compared with Hosea 11:1). But this passage when we turn to it in Hosea evidently applies to the literal Israel, and to their deliverance from the house of bondage. Again we read, "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they were not" (Matthew 2:16-18). Now, I think it must strike every one that what is distinctly spoken by the Prophet in reference to Ramah, a town of Benjamin, is as distinctly applied by the Evangelist to Bethlehem, which was, as all know, a town of Judah. On turning to the passage in Jeremiah, too, its context further shews that the prophecy applies to Israel going into captivity; and that, while foretelling this, it gives hope to Rachel that her sons shall return; agreeably to which promise, Benjamin, Rachel's son, did return from Babylon with Judah. The passage in Jeremiah runs thus: "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they were not. Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border" (Jeremiah 31:15-17). Still more remarkable is the next quotation in the same chapter. "And Joseph, when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, was afraid to go thither: nevertheless, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee, and came and dwelt at Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:22, 23). Now there is no such passage as this in any prophet. The reference is simply a mystic application of the general tenor of all "the prophets."

(iii) Nor is this mode of applying the Old Testament peculiar to the Evangelists or to our Lord. The other New Testament writers continually use it. Thus St Paul, writing to the Hebrews, finds the proof of the fact, that "Christ who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one," in the words "Behold, I and the children which God hath given me" (Hebrews 2:11-13); words which, when we turn to the place in Scripture where they occur, appear to be an utterance of Isaiah of old, in reference to the children whom God had given him for signs in Israel (Isaiah 8:18). Similar is the passage where, in comparing the glory of angels with that of Christ, St Paul applies to Christ the words, "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a son" (Hebrews 1:5). But these words, in the passage whence they are cited, are spoken of Solomon, David's son (2 Samuel 7:14). The Apostle at once directly applies them to David's Lord. Now in these and similar passages we have words uttered of some ancient saint applied to Christ. Let us now take an example where this order is reversed, and where a passage, which in the Old Testament speaks of Christ, is in the New directly applied to Christians. We find examples of this in St Paul. One may suffice us here. In Isaiah 49 one is addressed by the name of Israel, to whom a promise is made, that He shall be a light to the Gentiles, and for salvation to the ends of the earth. Then follow these words, "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee, and I will give thee for a covenant to the people, and to establish the earth, and to cause to inhabit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; and to those that are in darkness, Shew yourselves" (Isaiah 49:8, 9). Now how is this passage quoted in the New Testament? Not of Christ, but of Christians. "We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain; for He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in a day of salvation have I succoured thee. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2).

The following passage may to some appear even more difficult. In the 10th of Romans, the Apostle, while speaking of Israel's unbelief, in proof that their rejection of the Gospel could not be attributed to their not having heard it, quotes a verse from the 19th Psalm. He had just cited the Scripture, "Whosoever believeth shall not be ashamed." The question remained, Had the Jews heard the Gospel? If not, how could they believe? The Apostle therefore asks, "Have they not heard?" And answers, "Yea, verily; their sound (the sound of the Gospel preachers) went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Romans 10:18). Now this answer, a verse from the 19th Psalm, thus applied by Paul to the preaching of the Gospel by the Church, in its first connexion speaks of the witness of the heavens to God's glory. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4). Thus what the Psalmist says of "the heavens," Paul applies to the Church. "Yea, verily, their sound is gone unto all lands." The witness of the heavens to God's glory, a witness heard by all lands, is cited as proof that the Church had proclaimed, nay, could not but proclaim, the Gospel to all, and that the Jews had heard it. (Note: I add a few more examples of New Testament applications of the Old, in all which we find the same characteristic peculiarity: Matt. 13:l4, compared with Isa. 6:9, 10; Matt. 13:35, compared with Ps. 78:2; Matt. 15:7, 8, compared with Isa. 29:13; John 2:17, compared with Ps. 69:9; John 19:36, compared with Exod. 12:46, and Ps. 34:20; Acts 13:41, compared with Habakkuk 1:5, 6; Acts 15:15, 16, compared with Amos 9:11, 12; Rom. 8:36, compared with Ps. 64:22; 1 Cor. 14:21, compared with Isa. 28:11, 12; 2 Cor. 6:16, compared with Leviticus 26:11, 12; 2 Cor. 8:15, compared with Exod. 16:18; Gal. 4:30, compared with Gen. 21:10; Heb. 13:5, compared with Joshua 1:5.)

Now when we remember that these applications of Scripture are applications made by the Holy Ghost, and that they pervade the entire writings of the New Testament, we shall, I think, feel that we have unexceptionable witness at least to the fact that the Word contains something beneath and beside its first and historic meaning. In saying this, I by no means deny the first or literal sense both of the histories and prophecies of the Old Testament; I am only contending that this first and historic sense is not the only one, nor indeed the highest one; for it will often be found hyperbolical in the extreme as respects its first and historic subject. For myself, therefore, I cannot regard these New Testament quotations from the Old but as grapes of Eshcol; examples of, not exceptions to, the fruitful Carmel whence they come; for I cannot so think of the Word of God, as that it lacks that unity of character which everywhere shines out so brightly even in this first creation.

Can we, by comparing these examples, trace the principle on which they are applied? or is the principle anywhere distinctly stated? or do any other Scriptures throw light either directly or incidentally upon the point, so as to enable us to use this principle in reference to the rest of Scripture? I reply, that though a mere examination of the letter of the Word will not shew to one lacking the needed capacity the principle on which the Apostles ever quote it, yet I am assured that the passages cited are one and all applied in conformity to one and the same principle of interpretation. Nay further, there are in the Epistles, not only incidental allusions, but more than one direct statement upon the subject, which lead us not only to recognise a mystic sense, but to trace the grounds on which it proceeds, and the true reason for it.

4. I now proceed, therefore, at once from examples of a mystic sense, to some of those passages in which we have a direct statement of the rule or principle of their application.

(i) The first I refer to is the well-known passage in St Peter, where we read, "No prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20; Gr. ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως). These words at once mark the distinctive character of the Word of God. Other books are "of private interpretation." What is said in them of any person, thing, city, or nation, relates to, and is to be understood of, that person, thing, city, or nation, only. Not so, however, what Scripture says, be the Scripture in the form of law, or history, or psalms, or what we call strictly prophecy. In saying this, I may appear to some to be exceeding the limits which St Peter has assigned to his own canon of interpretation, inasmuch as what he says of prophecy I apply to the entire Word. But this objection will not, I think, be urged by those who have carefully noted and understood the use which Christ and His Apostles make of the Old Testament. Such would rather confess that it would be hard to affirm of any part of the Word, that it is not prophetical in the widest sense. The New Testament again and again refers to simple narratives and historic scenes, to minute particulars in the histories of Melchisedec, Sarah, and Hagar, and applies them all as foreshadowing, and so foretelling other things, which have been fulfilled, or which are yet fulfilling. Moreover, the fact is, that the letter of the Word will often be found hyperbolical as respects its primary or historic subject. (Note: See Psalm 18, comparing the title with verses 20-24, and verses 42-44. See, also, Psalm 72, the title and verses 5-15, and, indeed, the whole Psalm. See, also, Isa. 22:20-24. Also Zechariah 6:11-13.) The inference is, as more than one Apostle has clearly shewn, that such and similar words must have a higher, that is, a prophetic import. (Note: See the Apostle's argument in Acts 2:25-36, and Acts 13:35-37. They argue thus優avid said, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption." But David fell asleep揺is sepulchre is with us揺e saw corruption; therefore these words uttered by David, apply to someone else.)

But to return to St Peter's words. He expressly says, that "no scripture is of private interpretation." Unlike man's words, it has more than one object and application. The letter covers another, though a kindred sense. For instance what is spoken of Egypt (Exodus 12:12), of leaven (Exodus 12:15), of the sprinkled blood (Exodus 12:13), of the Red sea (Exodus 14:22), of manna (Exodus 16:15), of crossing Jordan (Joshua 3:15-17), all this in the letter belongs to others, not to us; it was, as we know, historically fulfilled in the earthly Israel; but in spirit it as much applies, even in all its details, to us, and is only "profitable" (2 Timothy 3:16) to us in this secondary application.

And it is remarkable how the child of God naturally reads the Word in this way, long before he knows the reason why he does so; for the spiritual sense within him, far in advance of his spiritual discernment or strength, instinctively draws to and uses that which is suited to it. Thus, in tracing Israel's course from Egypt to the land, in the bondage and in the deliverance from it, the young Christian, as well as the more advanced pilgrim, instinctively discerns his own course, and traces his own experience. He sees that what is said of Israel is "not of private interpretation." For he feels that in all points it applies to him. And the more he meditates upon these subjects, the more is he amazed at the fulness and exactness of the analogy between himself and Israel. But he soon gets a step further. He has felt the application of the history to himself. He soon finds, that, if it is true of himself, it is true of the whole Church; nay, that it is only true of himself in virtue of his relation to that Church, and as one member of that redeemed body.

Nor is this the final application of this wondrous Word. He who reads it with a prayerful and humble heart soon finds that what was written of Israel, full of application though it be to himself and the Church, applies yet further to the Lord Himself. If Israel is called out of Egypt when a child, so is Christ (Matthew 2:15, and Hosea 11:1). If Israel has a day of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1, and Deuteronomy 8:2); if Israel lives there not by bread alone, but by every word of God (Matthew 4:4, and Deuteronomy 8:3); so in all points does Christ also. And this not in the letter only, but in the spirit also: in His flesh, and in resurrection.

I might multiply instances of this; but enough, perhaps, has been said to illustrate the rule that "no scripture is of private interpretation." Is it too presumptuous to ask, if any and what reason can be given for the resemblance or analogy which we have referred to? Why is it that the words, which primarily apply to Israel of old, equally apply to Christ, the Church, and the believer? I would not speak presumptuously; but if I mistake not, the reason is this, that whether it be Israel of old, or one of Israel, or Christ, or the Church, or the believer, each, if faithful to his calling, is or has been a vessel for the manifestation of the Word, whose path is and ever must be one. Israel of old was the chosen vessel of the Word of God (Exodus 29:45); so was the Israelite of a humble and contrite heart (Isaiah 57:45); so is the saint (1 Cor. 6:19); so is the Church (2 Cor. 6:16); so, above all, is Christ (John 1:14). In Him God was fully manifested. Yet the Word which dwelt among us in Christ, "in all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9), was the same Word which, in another manner, of old appeared in Israel, which yet dwells in a saint, and in the universal Church, making each a vessel as it pleases Him for His own manifestations. The history, therefore, of any of these is the history of a manifestation of the Word; and as He is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever," the words which describe any one of the vessels or modes in which He has manifested Himself, will apply in measure to all the vessels and all the manifestations. The objects, indeed, in or by which the Word has chosen to reveal Himself, as well as the character and measures of the revelation He has made by them, have varied. But the light has been one (John 1:9). The sun has been the same. The different vessels have only either reflected or manifested Him.

It is for this reason, if I err not, that to the spiritual eye the Old Testament is so full of Christ even while full of personal application to ourselves also. For this reason it is that Israel and David continually teach us the Christian's path, even when they also confessedly point to our blessed Lord. Some seem, indeed, to speak as though if any person or office prefigured Christ, it cannot apply to the Church likewise. But the truth is just the reverse. What is a type of one, will probably be of the other; if of the Head, it will be of the members also.

Nor is it Israel and David only which have been vessels to reveal the glory of God. "The heavens declare His glory" (Psalm 19:1). What is said of "the heavens," therefore, can be applied to that heavenly thing, God's Church. What is true of the one will be more or less true of the other also. So St Paul, without preface or apology, at once applies the Psalm, making the witness of the heavens to God's glory the proof of the Church's witness to His glory in the Gospel; saying, "Their sound is gone forth into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Romans 10:18). He might with equal truth have quoted any of the other verses. "In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming forth out of his chamber,"葉his is as true of God's Church as of the heavens. Nay, it is in the spiritual thing, not in the natural, that the highest fulfilment ever rests; even as in all the words respecting Israel and Egypt, the wilderness and the promised land. And here too, as in the passages respecting Israel, we know how often a young Christian makes some such spiritual application, without at all knowing why. The spiritual sense within feels what suits it, and uses it in spite of rules. (Note: The following example is from a well-known book勇dwards's Narrative of the Revival of Religion in New England. It occurs in the account of Abigail Hutchinson. "As she awoke on Monday morning, a little before day, such words as these were on her mind, 'The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin;' which were accompanied by a lively sense of the excellency of Christ, and His sufficiency to satisfy for the sins of the whole world. She then thought of that expression, 'It is a pleasant thing for the eyes to see the Sun,' words which then seemed to her to be very applicable to Jesus Christ. By these things her mind was led into such contemplations and views of Christ, as filled her exceedingly full of joy.")

(ii) Closely allied to the passage already quoted from St Peter is another from St Paul, which expresses the same doctrine though rather in another aspect,"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, ... who is the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:1-3). The contrast here, as others have observed, is not merely between God speaking by servants and by a Son, but between the completeness of the manifestation in the Son, as compared with the partial and imperfect character of each one of the previous manifestations. Hitherto God's manifestations had been piecemeal. He spake of old "at sundry times, in divers manners" (Gr. πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως), at one time making a revelation of His grace, at another of truth, at another of foreknowledge or mighty power. But in the Son we have all these combined. "Being the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person," He fully expresses God; and, in and by Himself alone, at once fulfils all those relations, of which righteous men of old had in their words and acts been partial and feeble shadows. God "in times past," in the words and deeds of prophets, kings, and priests; in their offices and relations towards Himself or Israel; even in the creatures whose blood was shed (Hebrews 9:19, &c.), the bullocks, lambs, and doves; yea, in things also without voice or life, in the laver, the altar, the ark, unceasingly was manifesting some aspect or office of His Son, the Word. The manifestations were indeed partial, "in divers manners," but they were all glimpses or manifestations of the self-same Word. All grant this in the victims for, and laws of, sacrifice. Many see it in the bread (John 6:32-35), the veil (Hebrews 10:20), the altar (Hebrews 13:10). But with not a few it seems too bold to apply this to prophets, kings, and priests, erring mortals like ourselves and stained with sin. Yet surely the latter, even as the former, ever point to Christ. Their offices and relationships, bestowed by God, bestowed for His people's good, though often miserably misused by some earthly prophet, or priest, or ruler, all stretch forth their arms to Christ, beseeching Him to fulfil what in man's hand had been only repeated failure. Often too their actings and experiences directly foreshadow Him; witness the Psalms of David quoted in the New Testament (such as Psalms 22, 40, and 69). Nay more, David (as in Psalm 18), and Solomon (as in Psalm 72), and many others, as Eliakim (Isaiah 22:20-24), and Joshua (Zechariah 6:11-13), and Zerubbabel (Zechariah 3 and 4); these prophets, priests, and kings, are spoken of in terms which, as applied to them alone, are most exaggerated. But this exaggeration vanishes at once when we see that their offices and works were, as one has said, "the preludings of the incarnation," the partial revelations of the offices and relationships of Him who should come and fulfil all things.

And a moment's thought will shew that such a mode of revelation was needed by the facts to be revealed, even as it was most graciously adapted to our infirmity. Such and so diverse are the offices of Christ; so varied are His works; so wondrous the truths respecting His blessed person; so manifold the relationships He bore, for man to God, and for God to man; so different the various stages and forms of His inward and outward kingdom; that no one statement or figure however perfect could possibly contain them all. God, therefore, as also in pity for our weakness, knowing how slow we should be to apprehend the varied fulness of His only begotten Son, laid hold of every creature and relation among men, by which He could shadow forth distinctly some one relation or office of His Son. Thus in the prophet we have the office of the Word as teaching in the Church, in the king as ruling, in the priest cleansing; their acts and relations, as also those of many others, leading us more definitely to understand the completeness of the work of redemption and the character of the Redeemer.

(iii) A third Scripture which bears upon this subject may be found in Romans 12. The Apostle is speaking there of teaching and exhortation, and characterises that teaching which is of God by the words, "according to the analogy of faith" (Romans 12:6, κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως). In other words, true teaching will not apply things commanded or commended to the Jew of old as literally commanded or binding now, but will ever take them "according to the analogy," or "proportion of the faith;" discerning the relation and proportion between this and other dispensations. Many seem wholly to forget that "the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change in the law" (Heb. 7:12); and that this change from a carnal to a spiritual priest involves a corresponding change in all the particulars of the former dispensation. Alas! the lack of spiritual capacity to discern God's mind in His Word has first been made a ground for denying that the Word is spiritual; and then its letter, not its spirit, directly in opposition to an Apostle's word (2 Cor. 3:6; see also John 6:63), has been used to consecrate the flesh and quench the Spirit. We say, indeed, that the literal Israel answers to a spiritual Israel now; we see the general analogy between the two dispensations; yet, in applying the details, how often is one thing taken spiritually, according to the analogy or proportion of faith; the next literally, contrary to that proportion. The consequences are around us everywhere in the confusion between the Spirit and the flesh, not only unmourned, but justified by the letter of the Word of God.

And yet the rule of the Apostle is very simple, at least as far as it refers to this and the preceding dispensation, turning directly upon the distinct character of Abraham's two-fold seed, first in the flesh, then in the Spirit. (Note: Abraham had two wives"these are the two covenants," (Gal. 4:24)預nd by each there is a seed, agreeing to the character of the mother: the first, "born after the flesh;" the second, "born after the Spirit." (Gal. 4:29.)) To the literal or carnal seed, the Old Testament word literally applied: to the spiritual seed the same words apply spiritually. Were they, the literal seed, to be circumcised, to keep the feasts, to leave Egypt, to cross the sea; were they to wander in a wilderness, to live by faith, eating bread from heaven forty years: were they to fight with, and utterly extirpate, their enemies in the promised land, Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites? Just so are we. The very words which in letter apply to them, in spirit equally apply to us also. For carnal birth in Abraham's family, we have spiritual birth in his family now:"if ye be Christ's ye are Abraham's seed" (Gal. 3:26, 29):庸or circumcision in the flesh we have spiritual circumcision now (Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11): for their carnal enemies our spiritual foes (Eph. 6:12): for their carnal weapons our spiritual weapons, "the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith" (2 Cor. 10:4, 5; Eph. 6:16, 17). The subject is indeed extensive as the Word, but the principle is "according to the analogy of faith," resting on the proportion between the outer and inner world. It is true indeed that the New Testament does not systematically explain this analogy. But the instances of it which we find are so numerous, the coincidences referred to are so deep and manifold, that we have enough to satisfy us of the existence of a vast system, even if quite unable to trace out that system or its limits in all its parts. It almost seems as if the natural world, of which the Jew was a part, was so formed as to be a fit shadow of that spiritual world of which the Church is a portion; so close is the correspondence and analogy between the natural things of the old and the spiritual things of the new creation. For my own part I cannot look into the Law, but I see all nature taken up and used to represent, as the New Testament shews us, some spiritual reality. The very infirmities and diseases of the flesh; its defilements and cleansings; its meats and drinks, clean and unclean; the times and the seasons, the harvest and firstfruits, the new moon and the sabbath day (Col. 2:16, 17); these and a thousand similar things in nature are all figures of higher and better things, which have been opened to us by Christ's resurrection. Nay more, the very laws of nature, as we call them, are referred to as a proof of spiritual truths: witness Paul's answer to the objector against the doctrine of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:35-37). It is all as in Ezekiel's vision, "as if a wheel were within a wheel," while yet also "the wheels are full of eyes round about" (Ezek. 1:16-18). Well may we say with Job, "Lo, these are parts of His ways, but how little a portion is heard of Him" (Job 26:14).

But enough in reference to a mystic sense. The subject is one which needs eyes to see rather than proofs and reasons. And though he that has even in measure seen the truth may be a means to point others to it, yet the capacity to receive it is the gift of God. That a man lacking this capacity may profess to apply the Word and so err, or that having a measure of capacity may go beyond his measure, is not only possible but easy, and is, I may perhaps add, the staple objection with some to mystic interpretations. But it is equally probable that the mind of God may in such interpretations be expressed, and many of His children, feeling it beyond them, be ready to reject it. For as it is in nature, so is it in grace. He that has looked into this world has found in it laws of light, and laws of motion, the very terms to express which will often be unintelligible to all save those whose minds have been exercised on the same subjects; so in the treasures of the written Word are "many things hard to be understood" (2 Peter 3:16), and which can only be understood by those "who by reason of use have had their senses exercised" (Heb. 5:11-14) in them. "O Lord, how great are thy works, and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not, neither doth a fool understand this" (Psalm 92:5, 6).


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