I wish, by way of Preface, to throw together a few thoughts on the mystic character of Scripture, and on other kindred matters.
Many are aware that the Books of Moses deal largely in typical representations, that is, figures of spiritual things, both facts and doctrines, of the Christian dispensation. We cannot read St. Paul without perceiving that he saw far more in Genesis than the mere letter. The creation with him is the figure of another work, which God accomplishes in every saved sinner. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts." Then, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new." As much as to say, that just as God began to work upon this earth, when all was dark and without form and void, and worked upon it, step by step, bringing forth fruits and forms of life, until the image of God, the man created in righteousness, was seen to rule it all; so is it with the soul of man, from "Let there be light, and there is light," till the new man in us rules every faculty. The story of Hagar and Sarah too, as is well known, has with St. Paul a sense far deeper than the mere letter. Melchisedek is another example, the import of whose name and acts is familiar to all readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews. These and St. Peter's allusion to the flood, as a figure of that judgment of the first creation which baptism declares, are too well known to need comment. In every age they have witnessed to the most unwilling that Genesis has treasures richer than those upon the surface, secrets of God's purpose and of man's ways, which the spiritual man may search, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.
But though many have a general notion that Genesis contains types, few have any idea of the immense extent or depth of this hidden wisdom. Just as in nature the distinct orders under which plants are found to range are quite beyond the conception of any but a botanist, though every one must have generally noticed their great differences, or marked some peculiarity of this or that flower. Just as it needs the patient study of years to make an astronomer, though every educated man understands something of the phenomena of the heavenly bodies. So is it with the Word. And in this book of Genesis, diligence and prayer and God's Spirit will bring to light worlds of truth infinitely beyond the conception of the carnal mind; and humble faith will discover systems of wisdom as complete and wondrous in the Word, as science with all her researches has found in the material universe. We may indeed read the Scriptures, as men cultivate the earth, simply to find food to support the life which God has given. But we may also read with higher views, to know the ways of God. He who has given us the earth to bring forth food, has shewn us vast and mysterious heavens above, the contemplation of which is fitted to raise and humble and spiritualise us. In the Word are not only fruitful fields, but heavenly depths full of unnumbered lights. Often as we regard them must we confess our ignorance. Why should we scruple to do so, when even in nature the keenest eye, and the mightiest mind, is baffled on every hand. Errors even may mingle with views in the main correct, as men have erred in studying the phenomena of the heavens, and indeed must err until they have learnt to correct the readings of sense by the conclusions of a higher faculty. Yet diligence reaps its fruits, which, though open to abuse, may also be an offering to God's glory.
The form of the Word, however, and the wisdom of its form, is a subject which yet waits to receive that attention which is its just due. Four Gospels have forced some in every age to notice the distinct purpose of God in each Gospel. But for the rest of Scripture, why its form is what it is, -- why like a man, and with man, it grew from age to age, -- why it looks and is so human, -- what connection all this has with the mystery of the Holy Incarnation, -- these are questions seldom asked, or, if asked, rarely answered as befits His dignity from whom we say the Scripture came.
I do not attempt here to enter on the reasons for this form; but I notice one fact, namely, that the Word is given to us in many books or sections, each of which, I am assured, is a divine chapter, with one special end, illustrating something in God and man, or the details of some relation between the Creator and the creature. (Note: As to the form of the Old Testament, Jerome notices that the number of the books, according to the Jewish division, (five books of the Law, eight of the Prophets, and nine Hagiographia,) answers exactly to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet; and that as there are five double letters in the Hebrew, so there are five double books, namely, two Samuels, two Kings, two Chronicles, two Ezras, (which we call Ezra and Nehemiah,) and two Jeremiahs, (that is, Jeremiah and the Lamentations.) The fact that part of the book of proverbs, (Prov. 31:10-31,) the whole of the Lamentations, and seven Psalms, (namely, Psalm 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, 145,) are acrostics, founded on the Hebrew alphabet, leads him to suppose that there is some mystery in these twenty-two sounds, which form all words, connected with the comprehensive character of the Word. Prol. Galeat. 1-8. Modern criticism may smile, but there is far more in this than appears at first sight.) As in the Gospels, one is to shew Christ as David's Son; the next to reveal Him, not so much as the King, as the meek and true Servant; the third, to set forth the Son of Adam; the fourth, the Son of God; each giving a distinct view of the various relationships of the same One Lord: so it is in the rest of Scripture; each book has its own end, and the order and contents of all, as they describe the progressive ways of God with man, answer to His ways in every soul, for within and without His ways are one, and His work the same from age to age.
As a base or ground for what is to follow, we first are shewn what springs from man, and all the different forms of life, which either by nature or grace can grow out of the root of old Adam. This is the book of Genesis. Then we see, that be it bad or good which has come out of Adam, there must be redemption; so an elect people by the blood of the Lamb are saved from Egypt. This is Exodus. After redemption is known, we come to the experience of the elect as needing access, and learning the way of it, to God the Redeemer in the sanctuary. This we get in Leviticus. Then in the wilderness of this world, as pilgrims from Egypt, the house of bondage, to the promised land beyond Jordan, the trials of the journey are learnt, from that land of wonders and man's wisdom, to the land flowing with milk and honey. This is the book of Numbers. Then comes the desire to exchange the wilderness for the better land, from entering which for a season after redemption is known the elect yet shrink; answering to the desire of the elect at a certain stage to know the power of the resurrection, to live even now as in heavenly places. The rules and precepts which must be obeyed, if this is to be done, come next. Deuteronomy, a second giving of the law, a second cleansing, tells the way of progress. After which Canaan is indeed reached. We go over Jordan: we know practically the death of the flesh, and what it is to be circumcised, and to roll away the reproach of Egypt. We know now what it is to be risen with Christ, and to wrestle, not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers in heavenly places. This is Joshua. Then comes the failure of the elect in heavenly places, failure arising from making leagues with Canaanites instead of overcoming them. This is Judges. After which the different forms of rule, which the Church may know, pass in review in the books of Kings; from the first setting up of rule in Israel down to its extinction, when for their sin the rule of Babylon supersedes that of the elect. When this is known with all its shame, we see the remnants of the elect, each according to its measure, doing what may be done, if possible, to restore Israel; some like Ezra returning to build the temple, that is, to restore the forms of true worship; and some coming up like Nehemiah to build the wall, that is, to re-establish by Gentile permission a feeble imitation of the ancient polity; while a third remnant in Esther is seen in bonds, but faithful, providentially saved, though God's name (and this is characteristic of their state) never appears throughout the whole record.
This subject would of itself fill a volume. I touch it here, not only to shew that each book has its own peculiar end, each being but the illustration of some one truth or fact, on which a revelation from God was needed by us; but to call attention also to their order and gradation, answering so exactly to the steps by which truth is ever apprehended by us in the world of thought within. In this light the position of Genesis is most suggestive. Its purport is to shew what Adam is, and what can spring out of him. And just as in our souls the Spirit of God first comes to shew us ourselves, that so "coming to ourselves," like the Prodigal, we may then "come to the Father" also; so does the Word open with the same, with Adam and his seed, that is the fruit of human nature. This, as it is the ground of all that follows, is not only an introduction: it is also an abridgment or summary of all the books. For what is the series but a revelation of God, shewing His resources by the very wants and failure of the creature. Genesis, in shewing us Adam and his outcome, man by grace and nature, reveals in embryo the whole mystery of grace and nature in the creature. It is thus an abstract of the Bible, with the long sum of the Divine counsels worked out and expressed in God's algebra.
Genesis then reveals to us all that can spring out of Adam. In the letter it gives us the story of Adam and his sons. Here we may read how Adam behaved, and what races and peoples sprung out of him. In spirit we may learn how old Adam behaves, what the old man is in each of us, and all the immense variety which can grow out of him. And what an outcome it is. Some forms of life there are which spring out of Adam or human nature, simply by nature, according to the course of nature; and some forms of life there are which spring out of Adam by grace, which are the result of a divine seed sown in that poor soil, contrary to nature, and to the common course of nature. It is a wondrous tale, yet within and without it is but one. For the development of Adam or human nature in the great world without, has its exact image and counterpart in the little world within; I call it "little," though indeed it is not little; for if "the kingdom of God is within us," there must be room enough. And what confusion it seems: life and death, evil and good, love and hate, and pride and meanness everywhere: men praying, cursing, blessing; palaces and hovels, churches and armies, schools and markets, jails, cities, asylums, unions; such are some of the fruits of old Adam, in whom all this was before it was seen, and is only seen without because it was and is within him.
But whether within him or without, man finds it hard to unravel all this tangled skein of life and being; for man looks only on the outward appearance; God who looketh upon the heart knows and can trace out the whole development. In the book of Genesis He tells the story, how both human society and divine spring by grace or nature from the same root. To illustrate this subject is my aim in this volume, the details of which I will not here anticipate, further than to say that there are seven very distinct forms of life, owned by God, which this book of Genesis fully reveals to us; first Adam, then Abel, then Noah, then Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, then at last Joseph. These seven are the various shades of the true light of life, as it appears when refracted through body, soul, and spirit, the triangular prism of human nature; from the red of Adam on the one hand, up to that regal purple, in which he may be said to shine who completes and is over all the rest. Connected with all these are other forms of life disowned of God, various shades, that is, and degrees of darkness; but these seven lives give us all the light which beams through this book. These are all representative men. In Adam we see the old man, human nature as it is in itself, ready to trust the tempter, and to distrust God and rob Him of His glory; then hiding from His presence, and covering its nakedness with fig leaves, and laying the blame on the very gifts which God has given it; yet pitied and visited with a promise and a gift, -- a promise that, weak as he is, the Seed of the woman shall at length prevail, -- a gift by which, naked as he is, his nakedness may be covered. All that can be said of mere human nature, -- of man as man, -- is set forth in the history of poor, fallen, yet pitied and redeemed Adam. Soon we have another stage or picture. In Adam's sons, the elder and younger, a type is given us of two seeds, the flesh and the spirit, the natural and the spiritual, which have grown by nature or by grace out of the root of old Adam. That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural. Both are seen here in all their main outlines. Then comes Noah who is more than the spiritual man; for there may be spiritual men who have not passed the mystic waters. Noah is a type of the regenerate, of those who know what it is to be taken out of one world and placed in another. His seed shew us all the works which may be, and have been, wrought by those who are regenerate. Then Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, set forth those four great forms of life, which are known and enjoyed after regeneration has been fully reached by us; Abraham being the life of faith, shewing how the man of faith goes forth, not knowing whither, yet seeking to go to Canaan; Isaac, revealing the life of sonship in the land, dwelling by wells of water, with many joys and few conflicts; Jacob, the life of service, begotten on resurrection ground, and going down into the far country, to win a bride and flocks, whom he may bring back to share his joy in heavenly places; Joseph, the last, most perfect life, the life of suffering, which first dreams of rule, and ends with all things brought into subjection to it.
How the order of these lives answers to the development of Adam in us is sufficiently known to all who understand much of that development. First, we learn old Adam; then the difference between flesh and spirit; then the way through the flood, that is, regeneration: after which faith begets sonship, and sonship service, and service that life of suffering, which now, as then, ends in glory. The series never changes, nor do its stages come by chance. Abraham or faith now and ever precedes sonship, even as sonship will ever precede that evangelic service of which Jacob is the figure. All the path we may not know, but as far as we know it, the order will be that set forth in Genesis. In each newborn man is some portion of this history fulfilled, from the day when he knows not that he is naked, when the thing which is true for him in fallen Adam is not yet realised, (for as things are true for us in Christ before we experimentally know them, so is it in old Adam,) until stage by stage the things which have been realised by man, both the old man and the new man, are all part and parcel of his own experience. Thus Genesis and its history becomes again incarnate. He, in whom man is developing after God, will have lived as in the world before the flood. He has known, because he is by nature in Adam, what it is to live in the old world, in the first creation, before its judgment. He has known too, like Noah, the judgment of the first creation, and that there is a way of safety through the deep waters. And he may know, if he is faithful, the walk and life in the new creation, and the many developments there, from sonship to service, and from service to glory; if unfaithful, other developments, the forms of which are foretold, and which though partaking of some of the blessings of the elect are not elect.
The measure therefore in which these truths will be apprehended will depend on the difference of spiritual experience or growth of different souls. Experience is proving the truth; and just in proportion as we have proved these truths, so far shall we be able to enter into the lives here depicted. Thus I can foretell that, inasmuch as all know something of human nature, all will have some understanding and apprehension of the parable set forth in Adam's life. Those who can discern the flesh and the spirit will decipher Cain and Abel: those who have reached to regeneration will understand Noah; those who know the path of faith will be at home in Abraham's trials; while the spirit of sonship will open Isaac's path. In like manner, service will explain Jacob, and suffering, Joseph; the likeness in each case being easily to be recognised by those who know and love the original. If we will do the works, we shall know of the doctrine.
But is not this all mere imagination? What proof have we that there is anything but fancy to support all this? I am not careful to answer this; first, because I write for those, who, though requiring help, fully believe that some such secrets are treasured here; and also because the spiritual sense is its own proof, as a key by opening a complicated lock sufficiently proves that it has been designed for it; a proof indeed which requires some capacity in the observer, and some exercise and intelligence in the things of God, but which will, I am assured, be increasingly satisfactory to those who will test it in the daily study and meditation of the Word of God.
Do I then despise the letter? God forbid. With sincerest faith I receive it, and thank God for it, throughout Scripture. Most precious is it, speaking to all in words of truth, shewing how the outward daily life on earth may be sanctified, and is watched and cared for by God. Especially now, when so many act as if the earthly calling were a path of which God took no notice, and in which faith availed us nought, most precious is the letter, as shewing God, for He changeth not, in all His providence over the outward path of those who love and fear Him; shewing how the path of lonely men, if they walk with Him, their wells, and sheep, and feasts, and wars, are all His interests; that not a marriage, birth, or death, -- not the weaning of a child, or the dismissal of a maid, -- not the bargain for a grave, or the wish respecting the place of burial, -- but He watches and directs it. Thus precious is the letter; a daily guide and comfort to us as dwellers here.
But holding this, I see much more, -- that while the letter is a guide for things on earth, in spirit it veils and yet reveals to us the things of heaven; in this like the world around us, which, while supplying means for this life, in those very supplies sets before the opened eye the secrets and treasures of the world within the veil; in this too like the Lord, coming under our hands in human form, under that lowly form veiling yet revealing the glory of the eternal Son. Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, seems to me, not an illustration only, but a proof, both of the preciousness of the letter, and of the deeper spirit which everywhere underlies the letter throughout the Word of God. He was a man, but He was God. There was the human form of the Word, the outcome of David and Abraham, for He sprung out of Judah. This was the humble form which men despised; but besides and under this was the Divine, full of the unspeakable depths of the wisdom of Almighty God; giving forth draughts of that wisdom, emitting rays of that light, to as many as had capacity to receive of His fulness; and yet in mercy hiding from others awful depths which they were unfit to know; being, like the world His hands had made, an "open secret" to all around Him.
Such also is the Written Word. Coming to us in human form, as the outcome of David or of some other Israelite, and judged by most as Joseph's son, it has a higher birth, truly human indeed, and yet no less divine; in its letter, in its human form, coming down to teach men upon the earth, full of lessons of love and truth for us pilgrims here; in its spirit to shew us the things within the veil, and to lift us up to live and walk and dwell above; in the letter, even as the flesh of Christ, "never to see corruption," though rejected; and in spirit to be seen as shining with unearthly glory. I have known Christ after the flesh. I can never cease to adore the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the grace of the mystery of His Holy Incarnation, by which He has come as a man to speak to men; but I have also seen His glorious resurrection and ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost. So have I known the Word in the letter. Most sweetly has it spoken. When I walked, it led; when I slept, it kept; when I awaked, it talked to me (Prov. 6:22). It has been my guide, my staff, my bread, my counsellor, my comfort, all through this lonely pilgrimage. But I have also felt its spirit, and seen the depth within the veil, where I could but fall down, and cry, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.
And to turn from God's Word to man's, our own words, which in their very form confess that human language can only speak of spiritual things under outward images, might prepare us to find that God, who is a Spirit, in speaking of outward things, in them is teaching spiritual things. All our words for spiritual things are, if we mark them, figures. We take something from outward nature and apply it morally. The language which forms the medium of our intercourse with heaven, is constituted out of the forms of this world, and if we look at its letter only points us to the outward world around. Thus sin (hamartia) is simply missing the mark; grace is outward beauty; right is straight; wrong twisted: spirit is wind: transgression is a stepping over: error is only wandering. The same is true of countless other words, which, originally forms of outward life, through that mysterious correspondence which exists between all works of the Divine Word, have come to express the relations of the mind and the world within. For, indeed, His works are words. There is a word in the forms of things, by which they are prepared to represent what is inmost in our souls. There is a word in all nature, in light and darkness, cold and heat, in summer and autumn, in fruits, in storms, in sunshine. There is a word in the lives of men, yea, even in beasts and birds, each saying somewhat to us, not unintelligibly. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their word unto the end of the world. Surely "there are many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification."
Wondrous, therefore, as it is, that the facts of man's first and natural development should figure the growth and progress of his spiritual life, -- that a chain of events, such as Genesis records, should spiritually express all the manifold history of man's inward life in every age, -- it is but the wonder which meets us everywhere, that all we see, and far more than any see, -- every law of nature, the seasons, the days, every tree in its laws of growth, each beast and creeping thing, -- speak to our souls of other higher things, and have been so felt to speak by man in every age. We do not make these things significant. Light, darkness, cold, warmth, spring, and winter, are in themselves significant. Why they are so, few may understand. The fact remains still undeniable. And as the growth of seeds is to the eye of Paul a silent yet sufficient witness of higher things (1 Cor. 15:35-36); so the growth of the human tree, as it is drawn in Genesis for us by One who knows it perfectly, tells of another higher growth in man, in which God's spiritual image may be discerned yet more perfectly.
But it is not a point for debate. He who walks as becomes his calling, will sooner or later, if he can bear it, have all the proof before him. Arguments are of little service here. He who saw Christ as the Eternal Word, whose eye, divinely taught, discerned in that human form, not so much the son of Abraham or Adam, as the Only Begotten Son, characterises himself as "the disciple which testifieth" (John 21:24); agreeably to which his Gospel, and his only, is peculiarly marked by the reiterated, "Verily, Verily;" for testimony, not proof, is all that disciples can offer the world, on those subjects which eye hath not seen, but which are revealed by God's Spirit. Paul may argue, if he will; but John, though he tells what he has seen and handled of the Word of Life, only testifies. The "Verily, Verily," has spoken to him. He relies on its finding its own witness in other hearts.
To brethren, therefore, who love the Word, who have seen cure upon cure wrought by it, but have not yet seen how its very form may be transfigured and shine with heavenly glory, I say, -- Yet love and abide by the Word; it may be you shall not taste death, until you see something of this transfiguration; and if you see not here on earth, you shall see it in heaven, where He who loves you is gone to prepare a dwelling. Yet if we walk with Christ, daily walking by the Word, (for of His disciples all do not follow all His steps, and therefore see not His transfiguration,) -- if we will not leave Him, no, not for a day, but will yet walk with Him, -- not by what this or the other man saith, but by the simple Word alone, living by it hour by hour, -- we may see it changed before us. Then the raiment of the letter shall be filled and beam with heavenly glory; the human form, which we have so long taken for a true prophet indeed, but only as the outcome of David, will shew with unearthly glory that it is something far higher; and we shall see Moses and Elias, law and prophets, not in the flesh, but transfigured also, shining like Him of whom they bear witness; no longer a mere letter, much less a dead letter, but full of God and radiant with His brightness. We must indeed come down again from thence; for though, as Peter says, "it is good for us" to be there, it is better for others that we descend to those who stay on lower ground; but they who have seen the glory there, even if they come down from that mount, at once to meet a devil (See Matt. 17:1-18), will not forget the glory, or the shining raiment of Moses and Elias, or the voice from heaven, witnessing to Him, who, though He veiled Himself, was the Only Begotten Son.
Others there are, hoping in the Word, who may see their likeness in that blind man who sat beside the way by Jericho (Mark 10:46-52); like him in darkness, nigh to that cursed and mystic city, whose walls, once blown down by the blast of rams' horns, have been rebuilt to tempt some Israelites again to seek a dwelling there (Joshua 6:26). (Note: The man, also, who fell among thieves, but was cared for by the good Samaritan, was "going down from Jerusalem to Jericho." -- Luke 10:30.) And there they sit, both poor and blind; yet they sit "by the way." They have not rightly seen the Word, even in the flesh or letter. They cry, "Thou Son of David," little thinking that the Word which is so nigh them has glories greater than those of David's Son. And some disciples, whose eyes are open to see and confess the Son of God, bid the blind to hold their peace, because they give not the Son His due title. Not so the living Word. Such as seek Him shall be healed. They may not see His transfiguration, but with open eyes they shall follow in the way.
I would that all who touched the Word were thus climbing the holy mount, or having blind eyes opened by the wayside near Jericho. There are, alas, many more who say and think they see, -- who see the letter, even as the Jews saw the flesh of Christ, -- who yet nor love nor follow His ways, and yet can sit and judge, and justify to themselves their own narrow views of the eternal Word. To them the Word is Joseph's son. They know exactly whence it is. They have never seen that human form transfigured; therefore it cannot be. With such souls, all that is above them is "imagination;" all that is below them is "carnal formalism." What they see, -- where they are, -- that is right. What they cannot receive is, if downright error, at least questionable. Such souls, instead of trying to understand what others speak, try rather to make others speak only what they understand. Thus their ignorance measures all things. But they too shall see one day, when the veil is taken away, and the Truth returns to judge all things.
The question is one of fitness to receive the Word; for He who is THE TRUTH, because he knows all men, and knows what is in man, will not commit Himself to all men, because all are not prepared to receive Him (John 2:24-25). If He has told us earthly things, and we believe not; how shall we believe if He tell us of heavenly things. But just as we can receive Him, so will He reveal Himself; shewing Himself after the flesh to fleshly men (Psalm 18:25-26); in the glory of His resurrection only to the elect and spiritual (Acts 10:40-41). But whether He veils or unveils, all is love. If He unveils, it is that we, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, may be changed into the same image. If He veils Himself, it is because He knows that His brightness would destroy us; therefore He tempers for us the glory through the cloudy veil. We cannot yet bear the best things. He has many things to say, which, for a season His children cannot bear. Isaac, the seed of promise, has but milk till he is weaned: when he is weaned, a great feast is made in Abraham's house (Gen. 21:8); even as to this day there are fat things on the lees for weaned souls, which unweaned souls receive not, only because they cannot bear them. For the spiritual man may say with Paul, "For me to depart, and be with Christ," -- for me to pass away from earthly things to the Word within the veil, to Christ out of sight of men in His heavenly glory, where Moses and Elias witness of Him, -- "this is far better. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh," -- in that which the world can apprehend, in outward forms of truth, -- "for others, this is more needful." So Paul abides on earth, saying little of what he had seen when he was caught up into Paradise; while John is permitted to record some of the wonders which an opened heaven had revealed to him.
All this, because unaccustomed, may to some seem strange. Then "as a stranger give it welcome;" receive the stranger; "for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." What is foreign to our notions, or to the notions of our age, may to us be new, while yet not new to saints. It is mere folly to condemn, because what meets us is new to us, and greater folly to mock things as mere dreams or fancies because we cannot see them. The wisdom of man is as nothing to a beast; so is the wisdom of God counted as nothing by carnal animal men. The chariots of fire were round Elisha, though his servant saw them not, until in answer to prayer the young man's eyes were opened to see what to the seer had all along been open vision" (2 Kings 6:13-17). A voice may come from a cloud, understood by sons of God, although scoffing Jews, who have no ears to hear, "said it thundered" (John 12:28-29). Even a prophet may be blind, and animal natures, like Balaam's ass, see more than those who ought to guide them (Numb. 22:23,31). Not without reason therefore is the prayer, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." For "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual discerneth all things, while he himself is discerned of no man" (1 Cor. 2:14-15).
For the views here given, there is the authority, not of one or two, but of many saints through many hundred years. And though these things were not first shewn me by the Fathers, but opened in solitary communings with the Word of God; yet I am thankful to see that I am in the same great circle and in the same spirit with the Church of other days. With them I see the letter, and within it what I call an inward, an outward, and a dispensational application. They may call these moral, allegoric and anagogic senses; but the thing meant remains the same, namely, a perception of the same work of God on different platforms. For they saw how God's work is reflected in many spheres, in the world within, and without, and through extended ages; His work on earth shadowing forth still higher forms of the same work of the same unchanging Lord. (Note: Readers of the Fathers know, that these different senses or applications of Scripture were generally received, and the principle of them apprehended, by the Church in earlier days. What I have called the inward application, they call moral or tropologic; what I call the outward or historic spiritual fulfilment, they call allegoric; while the future or dispensational fulfilment they call anagogic, (from anago [G321], to lead upwards or onwards,) according to the well-known lines, -- "Litera gesta docet; quod credas, allegoria; Moralis, quod agas; quo tendas, anagogia." Any one who cares to see the ground or principle of this triple interpretation of Scripture, will find the question briefly but clearly stated by Thomas Aquinas; Summ. Theol. pt. i. qu. i. art. 10. Nicholas Lira also, in the Prologue to his Notes on the Bible, goes fully into this subject.) Thankful am I that brethren gone before had eyes to see and hearts to apprehend all this. For what I owe them too I am thankful, thus proving that the members of the body from age to age are not independent of one another. Besides, some will not take truth for authority, but want authority for truth. Such may hearken to the witness of saints of other days. The spiritual sense has indeed a witness far higher than holy men: its works will prove from whence it is: but as the Son of God received John's witness, so may the spiritual sense, while possessing a higher testimony, refer to the witness of the burning and shining lights of other days. I have, therefore, added a few quotations from the Fathers. Some may hearken to Augustine, who would not receive truth as truth on its own authority. Such, having first heard the witness of men, may at length hear the witness of the Truth itself. But such lights shew where those are who need them; for the light of the heavenly city and its inhabitants is the Lamb.
Meanwhile He that hath the key of David is not far off. He can shut so that none can open, and open that none can shut. And my prayer is, that, where these things should be hidden, they may be hidden, and where they can be opened, they may be yet more opened. The book, though sealed with seven seals, opens to the once slain Lamb. And if we, as members of His body, reach to participation in His cross and resurrection, -- if with Him we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, daily dying that we may live another higher life, -- things once sealed will open, being opened by the Lamb to those who are partakers with Him in His death and resurrection. For it is the death of nature, not its improvement, which takes us through the veil. Improved nature will only better shew us the things of nature. But let nature die, -- let the flesh be judged, -- the spiritual world will dawn with glories never to pass away.
I now submit these notes to my brethren, in a deep sense of their imperfectness. I have written the things which I have seen; and they are the things which are, and the things which shall be. But I am assured that my view is but one of many, and if it is definite, it is only because I have not touched what is infinite. Of this view I have attempted to trace the fulfilment, not only within, but without, and in the dispensations. For in the world-fulfilment of some of the scenes of man's development, every eye will see the figure, which few will have eyes to discern in the little sphere of their own soul. In a larger sphere we may see what is beyond us in a smaller. In a globe of quicksilver we see the whole horizon reflected; but if this drop be shaken or sublimated so as to divide and form a hundred or a thousand smaller spheres, in each one of the globules every object will be reflected as perfectly as in the larger globe, though now the reflection on each is quite beyond the range of our unaided vision. Thus the world-fulfilment of the outcome of Adam will be perceived by many, who cannot see the same fulfilment as wrought within themselves. Let each learn what he may. The lengths and depths of this ocean are all unfathomed and unfathomable.
For myself, as one has said, to whom I am a debtor, "I now return from the utterance of words, to the chamber of my heart, to examine myself, whether in attempting right things I have spoken the truth in a wrong way. For a thing is rightly spoken, when he who speaks it, seeks by what he says to please Him alone from whom he has received it. And though I am not conscious of having said wrong things, I do not maintain that there are not any. If I have said any true things by a gift from above, it is my own fault that they are spoken so imperfectly. Yet when I look closely at the very root of my intention, I find that in this work I wished to please God; and yet the desire of human praise in some secret way may have crept in; and when at last and slowly I discern this, I find that I do a thing in one way, which I know I began in another. I believe it is worth my while to disclose this to my brethren; for since in my writing I have expressed my better thoughts, in this my confession I would not hide my failings. And because in the Church there are not wanting little ones, whom I may teach, nor yet great ones, who may pity and help my weakness, when made known to them, from the one I withdraw not the help of my words, from the other I conceal not the pain of my infirmities; by my words seeking to confer assistance on some at least of my brethren, by my confession hoping to receive aid in return from them. I therefore beg every one who reads this book, to give me before the Holy Judge the solace of his prayers, and with tears for me to wash away every filthiness he may discover in me. My reader will surpass me in his recompense, if, where he receives words by my means, he gives me tears in return." (Note: Greg. M., Moral. in Job, l. xxxv. c. 16.)
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