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ON THE INTERPRETATION OF TYPES.
1. Nature of a Type. - II. Different species of Types. - 1. Legal Types. — 2. Prophetical Types
. - 3. Historical Types. - III. Rules for the Interpretation of Types.-IV. Remarks on the In
terpretation of Symbols. I. A TYPE, in its primary and literal meaning, simply denotes a rough draught, or less accurate model, from which a more perfect image is made; but, in the sacred or theological sense of the term, a type may be defined to be a symbol of something future and distant, or an example prepared and evidently designed by God to prefigure that future thing. What is thus prefigured is called the antitype.
1. The first characteristic of a type is its adumbration of the thing typified.
One thing may adumbrate another, - either in something which it has in common with the other : as the Jewish victims by their death represented Christ, who in the fulness of time was to die for mankind : or in a symbol of some property possessed by the other ; as the images of the cherubim, placed in the inner sanctuary of the temple, beautifully represented the celerity of the angels of heaven, not indeed by any celerity of their own, but by wings of curious contrivance, which exhibited an appropriate symbol of, swiftness : in any other way, in which the thing representing can be compared with the thing represented; as Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God represented Jesus Christ our priest. For though Melchizedek was not an eternal priest, yet the sacred writers have attributed to him a slender and shadowy appearance of eternity, by not mentioning the genealogy of the parents, the birth or death of so il. lustrious a man,
as they commonly do in the case of other eminent persons, but under the divine direction concealing all these particulars.
2. The next requisite to constitute a type, is that it be prepared and designed by God to represent its antitype.?
This forms the distinction between a type and a simile : for many things are compared to others, which they were not made to resemble, for the purpose of representing them. For, though it is said that “all flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass” (1 Pet. i. 27.), no one can consider the tenderness of grass as a type of human weakness, or the flower of grass as a type of human glory. The same remark must be applied also to a metaphor, or
1 Outram de Sacrificiis, lib. i. c. 18. or p. 215. of Mr. Allen's accurate translation. This work is of singular value to the divinity student; as affording, in a comparatively small compass, one of the most masterly vindications of the vicarious atonement of Christ that ever was published.
2" It is essential,” observes Bp. Vanmildert, “ to a type, in the scriptural acceptation of the term, that there should be a competent evidence of the divine inten. tion in the correspondence between it and the antitype, - a matter not left to the imagination of the expositor to discover, but resting on some solid proof from Scripture itself, that this was really the case." Bampton Lectures, p. 239. VOL. II.
that species of simile in which one thing is called by the name of another ; for, though Herod from his cunning is called a foz (Luke xiii. 32.), and Judah for his courage a lion's whelp (Gen. xlix. 9.), yet no one supposes foxes to be types of Herod, or young lions types of Judah.
3. Our definition of a type includes also, that the object represented by it is something future.
Those institutions of Moses, which partook of the nature of types, are called “a shadow of things to come” (Col. ii. 17.); and those things which happened unto the fathers for types are said to have been written for our admonition," upon whom the ends of the world are come." (1 Cor. x. 1. 11.) In the same sense the Mosaic law, which abounded with numerous types, is declared to have had “a shadow of good things to come. (Heb. x. 1.) And those things which by the command of God were formerly transacted in the tabernacle, are described as prefiguring what was afterwards to be done in the heavenly sanctuary. (Heb. ix. 11, 12. 23, 24.) Hence it appears, that a type and a symbol differ from each other as a genus and species. The terın symbol is equally applicable to that which represents a thing, past, present, or future: whereas the object represented by a type is invariably future. So that all the rites which signified to the Jews any virtues that they were to practise, ought to be called symbols rather than types ; and those rites, if there were any, which were divinely appointed to represent things both present and future, may be regarded as both symbols and types ; - symbols, as denoting things present; and types, as indicating things future.
4. We may further remark, that a type differs from a parable, in being grounded on a matter of fact, not in a fictitious narrative, but is much of the same nature in actions, or things and persons, as an allegory is in words; though allegories are frequently so plain, that it is scarcely possible for any man to mistake them; and thus it is, in many cases, with respect to types.
Where, indeed, there is only one type or resemblance, it is in some instances not so easily discernible; but where several circumstances concur, it is scarcely possible not to perceive the agreement subsisting between the type and the antitype. Thus, the ark was a type of baptism ; the land of Canaan, of heaven ; the brazen serpent, and the prophet Jonah, of our Saviour's crucifixion and resurrection.
II. In the examination of the sacred writings, three species of types present themselves to our consideration ; viz. legal types, or those contained in the Mosaic law; prophetical types, and historical types.
1. Legal Types. --- It evidently appears, from comparing the history and economy of Moses with the whole of the New Testament, that the ritual law was typical of the Messiah and of Gospel blessings: and this point lias been so clearly established by the great apostle of the Gentiles in his Epistle to the Hebrews, that it will suffice to adduce a very few examples, to show the nature of Legal Types.
Thus, the entire constitution, and offerings of the Levitical priesthood, typically prefigured Christ the great high priest (Heb. v. vii. viii.): and especially the seremonies observed on the great day of atonement. (Lév. xvi. with Heb. is.
throughout, and x. 1--22.). So, the passover and the paschal lamb typified the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Exod. xii. 3. et sey. with John xix. 36. and 1 Cor. v. 7.): so, the feast of pentecost, which commemorated the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, (Exod. xix. xx.) prefigured the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, who were thus enabled to promulgate the Gospel throughout the then known world. (Acts ii. 1-11.) And it has been conjecturedl that the feast of tabernacles typifies the final restoration of the Jews. In like manner, the privileges of the Jews were types of those enjoyed by all true Christians; “ for their relation to God as his people, signified by the name Israelite (Rom. ix. 4.), prefigured the more honourable relation, in which believers, the true Israel, stand to God. Their adoption as the sons of God, and the privileges they were entitled to by that adoption, were types of believers being made partakers of the dirine nature by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and of their title to the inheritance of heaven.
The residence of the glory, first in the tabernacle and then in the temple, was a figure of the residence of God by His Spirit in the Christian church, His temple on earth, and of His eternal residence in that church brought to perfection in Heaven. - The covenant with Abraham was the new or Gospel covenant, the blessings of which were typified by the temporal blessings promised to him and to his natural seed : and the covenant at Sinai, whereby the Israelites, as the worshippers of the true God, were separated from the idolatrous nations, was an emblem of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked. -- In the giving of the laro, and the formation of the Israelites into a nation or community, was represented the formation of the city of the living God, and of the general assembly of the church of the first-born. – Lastly, the heavenly country, the habitation of the righteous, was typified by Canaan, a country given to the Israelites by God's promise2.
2. Prophetical Types are those by which the divinely inspired prophets prefigured or signified things either present or future, by means of external symbols.
Of this description is the prophet Isaiah's going naked (that is, without his prophetic garment) and barefoot (Isa. xx. 2.), to pretigure the fatal destruction of the Egyptians and Ethiopians. -The hiding of a girdle in a rock on the banks of the Euphrates, which, on being subsequently taken thence, proved to be rotten, to denote the destruction which would speedily befal the abandoned and ungrateful Jewish people, (Jer. xiii. 147.compared with the follo ving verses) : the abstaining from marriage (Jer. xvi. 2.), mourning (ver. 5.), and feasting (ver. 8.), to indicate the woeful calamities denounced by Jehovah against his people for their sins. Similar calamities are prefigured by breaking a potter's *vessel. (Jer. xviii. 9–10.). By making bonds and yokes (Jer. xxvii. 1—8.) is prefigured the subjugation of the kings of Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, Tyre, and Sidon, by Nebuchadnezzar : and in like manner, Agabus's binding his own hands with Paul's girdle intimated the apostle's captivity at Jerusalem. (Acts xxi. 10, 11.)3
To this class of types may be referred prophetical and typical visions of future events : some of these have their interpretation annexed : as Jeremiah's vision of the almond tree and a seething pot (Jer. i. 11–16.), Ezekiel's vision of the resurrection of dry bones (Ezek. xxxvii.), with many similar instances recorded in the sacred writings. Other typical visions, however, will in all probability be explained only by their actual accomplishment; as Ezekiel's vision of the temple and holy city (ch. xl. to the end), and especially the Revelation of Saint John : which will then be most clear and intelligible when the whole is fulfilled ; as we can now plainly read the calling of the Gentiles in many parts of the Old Testament, which seemed so strange a thing, before it was accomplished, even to those who were well acquainted with the writings of the prophets. See an instance of this in Acts xi. 1-18.
3. Historical Types are the characters, actions, and fortunes of some eminent persons recorded in the Old Testament, so ordered by Divine Providence as to be exact prefigurations of the characters,
1 By the Rev. Dr. Elrington, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. See the grounds of this conjecture ably supported in Dr. Graves's Lectures on the Pentateuch, vol. ii. pp. 393-395. notes.
2 Dr. Macknight on Rom. ix. 4. note 1. 3 Other examples of, and observations on, prophetical types, may be seen in Dr. Nares's Warburtonian Lectures on the Prophecies concerning the Messiah, pp. 70 -86. 117–125.
actions, and fortunes of future persons who should arise under the Gospel dispensation.
In some instances, the persons whose characters and actions prefigured futura events, were declared by Jehovah himself to be typical, long before the events which they prefigured came to pass : these have been termed innate, or natural historical types. But, in other instances, many persons really typical were not known to be such, until after the things which they typified had actually happened: these have been called inferred types, because in general they are consequentially ascertained to be such by expositors and interpreters of the Scriptures, by fair proba bilities agreeable to the analogy of faith. The most remarkable typical persons and things mentioned in the Old Testament are Adam, Abel, Noah, Melchizedec, Isaac, the ram sacrificed by Abraham, Joseph, the pillar of fire, the manna, the rock in the desert whence water flowed, the scape-goat, the brazen-serpent, Me ses, Aaron, Joshua, Sampson, Samuel, David, Solomon, Jonah, and Zerubbabel, It would swell this chapter almost into a commentary upon very numerous passages of Scripture, were we to attempt to show how clearly these characters, &c. correspond with their great antitype the Lord Jesus Christ : the principal only have been enumerated, and we refer the reader to the writers mentioned below, by whom they have been best explained.
III. From the preceding remarks and statements it will be obvious, that great caution is necessary in the interpretation of types; for imless we have the authority of the sacred writers themselves for it, we cannot conclude with certainty that this or that person or thing, which is mentioned in the Old Testament, is a type of Christ on account of the resemblance which we may perceive between them : but we may admit it as probable. “Whatever persons or things recorded in the Old Testament, were expressly declared by Christ, or by his apostles, to have been designed as prefigurations of persons or things relating to the New Testament, such persons or things so recorded in the former, are types of the persons or things, with which they are compared in the latter. But if we assert, that a person or thing was designed to prefigure another person or thing, where no such prefiguration has been declared by divine authority, we make an assertion for which we neither have, nor can have, the slightest foundation. And even when comparisons are instituted in the New Testament between antecedent and subsequent persons or things, we must be careful to distinguish the examples, where a comparison is instituted merely for the sake of illustration, from the examples where such a connection is declared, as exists in the relation of a type to its antitype.” In the interpretation of types, therefore,
1. There must be a fit application of the Type to the Antitype. " To constitute one thing the type of another, as the torm is generally understood in reference to Scripture, something more is wanted than mere resemblance. The former must not only resemble the latter, but must have been designed to resemble the latter. It must have been so designed in its original institution. It must have been designed as soinething preparatory to the latter. The type, as well as the antitype, must havo been pre-ordained; and they must have been
1 The subject of historical types is fully elucidated by Huet in his Demonstratio Evangelica, cap. 170. vol. ii. pp. 1056–1074. Amst. 1080; by Dr. Macknight in his Essay on the right Interpretation of the Language of Scripture, in vol. iv. o vi. (4to. or 8vo.) of his translation of the Apostolical Epistles, Essay vüi. sect. 15; and by Mr. M'Ewen in his “Grace and Truth, or the Glory and Fulness of the Redeemer, displayed, in an attempt to explain, illustrate, and enforce the most ramarkable types, figures, and allegories of the Old Testament.” 12mo. Edinburgh, 1803. Though fancitul in soine of his expositions, this author may nevertheless be consulted with advantage.
2 Bishop Marsh's Lectures, part iii. p. 115.
pre-ordained as constituent parts of the same general scheme of Divine Providence. It is this previous design and this pre-ordained connection, which constitute the relation of type and antitype. When these qualities fail, where the previous design and the pre-ordained connection we wanting, the relation between any two things, however similar in themselves, is not the relation of type to antitype.'l In further explanation of this canon it may be remarked, that in a type every circumstance is far from being typical, as in a parable there are several in. cidents, which are not to be considered as parts of the parable, nor to be insisted upon as such. From not considering the evident relation which ought to subsist between the type and the antitype, some fanciful expositors, under pretence that the tabernacle of Moses was a figure of the church or of heaven, have converted even the very boards and nails of it into types. Thus Cardinal Bellarmine,2 found the mass to be typified by Melchizedec's bringing forth bread and wine, he being a priest of the Most High God. The same great adversary of the Protestants in his Treatise de Laicis) in like manner discovered that their secession under Luther“ was typified by the secession of the ten tribes under Jeroboam ; while the Lutherans with equal reason retorted that Jeroboam was a type of the Pope, and that the secession of Israel from Judah typified, not the secession of the Protestants under Luther, but the secession of the church of Rome from primitive Christianity. But, to whichever of the two events the secession under Jeroboam may be supposed the most similar (if similarity exist there at all beyond the mere act of secession,) we have no authority for pronouncing it a type of either. We have no proof of previous design and of pre-ordained connection between the subjects of comparison ; we have no proof that the secession of the Israelites under Jeroboam was designed to prefigure any other secession whatever."3 From the same inattention to considering the necessarily evident relation betweon the type and the antitype, the Hebrew
monarch Saul, whose name is by interpretation Death, has been made a type of the moral law, which Saint Paul terms the “ministration of death.” (2 Cor. iii. 7.) In like manner, the period, which elapsed between the anointing of David and the death of Saul, has been made to typify the time of Christ's ministry upon earth!! And the long war between the house of Saul and the house of David (2 Sam. iii. 1.) in which David wared stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul weaker and weaker, has been represented as strikingly portrayed in the lengthened contests between the righteousness of faith and that of works, so often alluded to in the epistles, espocially in those addressed to the Romans and Galatians !!!4
It were no difficult task to adduce numerous similar examples of abuse in the interpretation of types : but the preceding will suffice to show the danger of falling into it, and the necessity of confining our attention to the strict relation between the type and the antitype. In further illustration of this canon it may be remarked, that in expounding typical passages three points should be always kept in mind, viz.
(1.) The TYPE must in the first instance be explained according to its literal sense ; and if any part of it appear to be obscure, such obscurity must be removed : as in the history of Jongh, who was swallowed by a great fish, and cast ashore on the third day.
(2.) The Analogy between the thing prefiguring and the thing prefigured must be soberly shown in all its parts.
The criteria for ascertaining this analogy are to be found first in the sacred writings themselves ; for whenever the Holy Spirit refers any thing to analogy, either expressly or by implication, there we may rest assured that such analogy was designed by God. We shall also derive material assistance, in the interpretation of types, from the exercise of legitimate reasoning and deduction, the crude notions urged by every person of warm devotional feelings or vivid imagination, but such fair reasoning as depends upon the scope and circumstances,
1 Bishop Marsh's Lectures, part iii. p. 113.
2 De Missa, lib. i. cap. 9. 3 Bishop Marsh's Lectures, part iii. p. 117.
4 The reader who may be desirous of seeing the above extravagant typifications treated at length, will find them minutely stated, with other similar particulars equally extravagant, in the “ Bible Magazine," vol. iv. pp. 22-29.