The Typology of Scripture, Volume 1 - Patrick Fairbairn - ebook

The Typology of Scripture, Volume 1 ebook

Patrick Fairbairn



There are few topics connected with Biblical interpretation, which seem to be more in need of re-investigation. The old opinions have gone out of vogue, without being replaced by any better, or indeed by any other system, so that the whole subject has been long in a most unsettled state. This would be no great evil if typology were merely a matter of curious speculation; but embracing as it does some of the most difficult and interesting questions of interpretation, its perversion or neglect cannot fail to be attended by the most pernicious consequences. Under these impressions, which have long been forming, in this book the difficulties of the subject are distinctly recognized and fairly appreciated. The author is acquainted with the history of his subject. .He does not come to the discussion of it, with a few ex parte notions gathered from some recent writer. He knows not only where the difficulty lies, but what attempts have heretofore been made for its removal. This is volume one out of two.

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The Typology of Scripture


Volume 1








The Typology of Scripture 1, P. Fairbairn

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849650650

[email protected]


Cover Design: based on an artwork by By Toby Hudson - Own work; this version sourced from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 au,








Preface. 1

Chapter I. Historical And Critical Survey Of The Past And Present State Of Theological Opinion On The Subject. 4

Chapter 2. The Proper Nature And Province Of Typology. 37

Chapter 3. The Same Subject Continued. 54

Chapter 4. Prophetical Types. 71

Chapter 5. The Interpretation Of Particular Types. 100

Chapter 6. The Place Due To The Subject Of Types. 123

Book II 141

Chapter 1. The Divine Truths Embodied In The Historical Transactions. 141

Chapter 2. The Tree Of Life. 152

Chapter 3. The Cherubim (And The Flaming Sword). 157

Chapter 4. Sacrificial Worship. 178

Chapter 5. The Sabbatical Institution. 191

Chapter 6. Typical Things In History During The Progress Of The First Dispensation. 196

Section First. The Seed Of Promise--Abel, Enoch. 196

Section Second. Noah And The Deluge. 201

Section Third. The New World And Its Inheritors---The Men Of Faith. 206

Section Fourth. The Change In The Divine Call From The General To The Particular -- Shem, Abraham. 211

Section Fifth. The Subjects And Channels Of Blessing. 222

Section Sixth. The Inheritance Destined For The Heirs Of Blessing. 250

Appendix. The Old Testament In The New. 278




The two volumes here offered to the public, are in substance a republication of those, bearing the same general title, which appeared, the one in 1845, the other in 1847; yet not without considerable differences. The principles brought out on the subject of Typology are, with a few slight modifications, the same in this as in the former edition, and the same view is consequently exhibited of the nature of the connection between the Old and the New Testament dispensations. The portion of the work, however, in which the principles of the subject are formally investigated, has been entirely re-written, and, by means both of omissions and additions, of alterations in thought and style, has been rendered more distinct in statement, and, it is hoped also, more clear and conclusive in argument. The remaining portion of the first volume, which treats in detail of primeval and patriarchal times, has been yet more materially changed, and by much the larger proportion of this part of the volume, as it now stands, differs from the corresponding volume of the former edition. Various fresh topics are here for the first time introduced, and in the discussion of others a more natural and appropriate method has been adopted. By adhering more closely to the guidance of Scripture, and keeping more carefully in view the progression in the Divine plan, a better, and to my own mind at least, a more satisfactory view has been presented of both the religion and the history of the periods before the Law. Several things, which might otherwise appear to be defects in the earlier records of Scripture, and which have often been felt to be somewhat anomalous, are thus seen to be entirely in place, and to have naturally arisen from the method of the Divine procedure.

The second volume differs both less frequently and less materially from the corresponding volume of the former edition. Occasional alterations, however, have been introduced throughout the volume; and several new sections have been added toward the close. A good deal of supplementary matter, closely connected with the main theme, has been thrown into the form of Appendices, a portion of which has already appeared elsewhere, and a portion also belonged to the first edition. But the larger part of an Appendix, in the first volume of that edition, on the restoration of the Jews, that, namely, which treated of the prophecies supposed to refer to the subject, has been omitted here. The chief reason for this omission is, not any change of opinion regarding the interpretation of those prophecies, but a conviction that the subject enters too largely into Old Testament prophecy to be quite satisfactorily discussed in so short a compass. And it is my intention, if time and opportunity are given, to institute a separate inquiry into the nature, function, and characteristics of Prophecy in general, in which occasion will be taken to resume what has been for the present withdrawn.

In making the alterations and improvements above referred to, I have not overlooked either the suggestions that have been privately tendered, or the strictures that have appeared in the public journals. The latter have not certainly been always made in the most genial and courteous spirit; though I feel that, on the whole, much more is due from me of grateful acknowledgment than of reasonable complaint. And as in the historical survey, which forms the Introduction, I have deemed it needful to notice at some length a hostile attack in a periodical on the other side of the Atlantic, I should not do justice to my own feelings if I did not also refer to a lengthened critique, which appeared in another Transatlantic Periodical--the Princeton Review--not less distinguished by the kindliness of its tone, than by the discriminative spirit of its remarks. It is impossible, in the treatment of such a subject, to give universal satisfaction. And I have no doubt, that even where there is a general acquiescence in the views that are unfolded, there may still appear, notwithstanding the additional pains taken to avoid them, certain faults and imperfections in the mode of execution. But in this respect, as well as others, impartial and competent judges will not refuse a certain measure of indulgence, especially when it is considered how little has been hitherto done for the correct treatment of the Typology of Scripture, and through how many intricate and perplexing topics the path of inquiry necessarily leads. It may justly be deemed matter of thankfulness, if any solid footing has been gained in such a field, and if but a few leading principles have been established with such a degree of certainty, as may be sufficient to pave the way for further investigations.

Fault has in some quarters been found with the extensive range of subjects embraced in the course of discussion, and especially with the large space devoted to the consideration of the Law in the second volume. It might, no doubt, have been possible to have considerably narrowed the field, if the object had been simply to pick out from the earlier dispensations, such portions as more peculiarly possess a typical character. But to have treated the typical in such an isolated manner, would have conduced little either to the proper elucidation of the subject itself, or to the satisfaction and enlightenment of intelligent readers. The Typology of the Old Testament touches at every point on its religion and worship. It is part of a complicated system of truth and duty; and we cannot possibly attain to a correct discernment and due appreciation of the several parts, without contemplating them in the relation they bear both to each other and to the whole.

Some, on the other hand, will probably feel dissatisfied at the omission, or comparatively brief treatment of certain controversial topics, which are agitated in the present day, and which partly depend for their settlement on the view that is taken of subjects belonging to the Old Testament dispensations. The proper object, however, of a work of this nature, is rather to lay a right foundation for the fair and legitimate use of Old Testament materials in matters of controversy, than actually to make that use in every case that might occur. There are cases in which a certain application of the views taken of Old Testament subjects to present controversies, could not fitly be avoided; but even in these it was necessary to keep within definite limits, to prevent the discussion from becoming unduly protracted.

With these explanations, the Work, in its more enlarged and matured form, is submitted to the judgment of the Public, and commended to the blessing of Him, whose ways it seeks to unfold and vindicate.


Aberdeen, November 1853.





The Typology of Scripture has been one of the most neglected departments of theological science. It has never altogether escaped from the region of doubt and uncertainty; and many still regard it as a field incapable, from its very nature, of being satisfactorily explored, or cultivated so as to yield any sure and appreciable results. Hence, it is not unusual to find those who otherwise are agreed in their views of divine truth, and in the general principles of scriptural interpretation, differing materially in the estimate they have formed of the Typology of Scripture. Where one hesitates, another is full of confidence; and the landmarks that are set up to-day are again shifted to-morrow. With such various and contradictory sentiments prevailing on the subject, it is necessary, in the first instance, to take an historical and critical survey of the field, that we may distinctly perceive what has been done in the past, and what remains yet to be done, in order to the establishment of a well-grounded and scriptural Typology.

I. We naturally begin with the Christian Fathers. Their typological views, however, are only to be gathered from the occasional examples to be met with in their writings; as they nowhere lay down any clear and systematic principles for the regulation of their judgments in the matter. Some exception might, perhaps, be made in respect to Origen. And yet with such vagueness and dubiety has he expressed himself regarding the proper interpretation of Old Testament Scripture, that by some he has been understood to hold, that there is a fourfold, by others a threefold, and by others again only a twofold sense in the sacred text. The truth appears to be, that while he contended for a fourfold application of Scripture, he regarded it as susceptible only of a twofold sense. And considered generally, the principles of interpretation on which he proceeded were not essentially different from those usually followed by the great majority of the Greek Fathers. But before stating how these bore on the subject now under consideration, it will be necessary to point out a distinction too often lost sight of, both in earlier and in later times, between allegorical and typical interpretations, properly so called. These have been very commonly confounded together, as if they were essentially one in principle, and differed only in the extent to which the principle may be carried. There is, however, a specific difference between the two, which it is not very difficult to apprehend, and which it is of some importance to notice in connection especially with the interpretations of patristic writers.

An allegory is a narrative, either expressly feigned for the purpose, or--if describing facts which really took place--describing them only for the purpose of representing certain higher truths or principles than the narrative, in its literal aspect, whether real or fictitious, could possibly have taught. The ostensible representation, therefore, is either invented, or at least used, as a mere cover for the higher sense, which may refer to things ever so remote from those immediately described, if only the corresponding relations are preserved. So that allegorical interpretations of Scripture properly comprehend the two following cases, and these only:

1. When the scriptural representation is actually held to have had no foundation in fact--to be a mere mythos, or fabulous description, invented for the sole purpose of exhibiting the mysteries of divine truth; or, 2. When--without moving any question about the real or fictitious nature of the representation--it is considered incapable as it stands of yielding any adequate or satisfactory sense, and is consequently employed, precisely as if it had been fabulous, to convey some meaning of an entirely different and higher kind. The difference between allegorical interpretations, in either of these senses, and those which are properly called typical, cannot be fully manifested till we have ascertained the exact nature and design of a type. It will be enough meanwhile to say, that typical interpretations of Scripture differ from allegorical ones of the first or fabulous kind, in that they indispensably require the reality of the facts or circumstances stated in the original narrative. And they differ also from the other, in requiring, besides this, that the same truth or principle be embodied alike in the type and the antitype. The typical is not properly a different or higher sense, but a different or higher application of the same sense.

Returning, then, to the writings of the Fathers, and using the expressions typical and allegorical in the senses now respectively ascribed to them, there can be no doubt that the Fathers generally were much given both to typical and allegorical explanations,--the Greek Fathers more to allegorical than to typical,--and to allegorical more in the second than in the first sense, described above. They do not appear, for the most part, to have discredited the plain truth or reality of the statements made in Old Testament history. They seem rather to have considered the sense of the latter true and good, as far as it went, but of itself so meagre and puerile, that it was chiefly to be regarded as the vehicle of a much more refined and ethereal instruction. Origen, however, certainly went farther than this, and expressly denied that many things in the Old Testament had any real existence. In his Principia (Lib. iv.) he affirms, that "when the Scripture history could not otherwise be accommodated to the explanation of spiritual things, matters have been asserted which did not take place, nay, which could not have taken place; and others again, which though they might have occurred, yet never actually did so." Again, when speaking of some notices in the life of Rebecca, he says-- "In these things, I have often told you, there is not a relation of histories, but a concoction of mysteries." [1] And, in like manner, in his annotations on the first chapters of Genesis, he plainly scouts the idea of God's having literally clothed our first parents with the skins of slain beasts--calls it absurd, ridiculous, and unworthy of God, and declares that in such a case the naked letter is not to be adhered to as true, but exists only for the spiritual treasure which is concealed under it. [2] 

Statements of this kind are of too frequent occurrence in the writings of Origen to have arisen from inadvertence, or to admit of being resolved into mere hyperboles of expression. They were, indeed, the natural result of that vicious system of interpretation which prevailed in his age, when it fell, as it did in his case, into the hands of an ardent and enthusiastic follower. At the same time it must be owned, in behalf of Origen, that however possessed of what has been called "the allegorical fury," he does not appear generally to have discredited the facts of sacred history; and that he differed from the other Greek Fathers, chiefly in the extent to which he went in decrying the literal sense as carnal and puerile, and extolling the mystical as alone suited for those who had become acquainted with the true wisdom. It would be out of place here, however, to go into any particular illustration of this point, as it is not immediately connected with our present inquiry. But we shall refer to a single specimen of his allegorical mode of interpretation, for the purpose chiefly of shewing distinctly how it differed from what is of a simply typological character. We make our selection from Origen's homily on Abraham's marriage with Keturah (Hom. vi. in Genes.). He does not expressly disavow his belief in the fact of such a marriage having actually taken place in real life, though his language most naturally bears that meaning; but he intimates that this, in common with the other marriages of the patriarchs, contained a sacramental mystery. And what might this be? Nothing less than the sublime truth, "that there is no end to wisdom, and that old age sets no bounds to improvement in knowledge. The death of Sarah (he says) is to be understood as the perfecting of virtue. But he who has attained to a consummate and perfect virtue, must always be employed in some kind of learning--which learning is called by the divine Word, his wife. Abraham, therefore, when an old man, and his body in a manner dead, took Keturah to wife. I think it was better, according to the exposition we follow, that the wife should have been received when his body was dead, and his members were mortified. For we have a greater capacity for wisdom when we bear about the dying of Christ in our mortal body. Then Keturah, whom he married in his old age, is, by interpretation, incense, or sweet odour. For he said, even as Paul said, 'We are a sweet savour of Christ.' Sin is a foul and putrid thing; but if any of you in whom this no longer dwells, have the fragrance of righteousness, the sweetness of mercy, and by prayer continually offer up incense to God, ye also have taken Keturah to wife." And on he goes to shew, how many such wives may be taken; hospitality is one, the care of the poor another, patience a third, each Christian excellence, in short, a wife; and hence it was, that the patriarchs are reported to have had so many wives, and that Solomon is said to have possessed them even by hundreds, he having received plenitude of wisdom like the sand on the sea-shore, and consequently grace to exercise the greatest number of virtues. We have here a genuine example of allegorical interpretation, if not actually holding the historical matter to be fabulous, at least treating it as if it were so. It is of no moment, for any purpose which such a mode of interpretation might serve, whether Abraham and Keturah had a local habitation among this world's families, and whether their marriage was a real fact in history, or an incident fitly thrown into a fictitious narrative, constructed for the purpose of symbolizing the doctrines of a divine philosophy. If it had been handled after the manner of a type, and not as an allegory, whatever shade of meaning might have been ascribed to it as a representation of gospel mysteries, the story must have been assumed as real, and the act of Abraham made to correspond with something essentially the same in kind--some sort of union, for example, between parties holding a similar relation to each other, as Abraham did to Keturah. In this, though there might have been an error in the special application that was made of it, there would at least have been some appearance of a probable ground for it to rest upon. But woven into the fine allegorical form it assumes under the hands of Origen, the whole, history and interpretation together, become like "the baseless fabric of a vision." For, what connection, either in the nature of things, or in the actual experience of the Father of the Faithful, can be shewn to exist between the death of one wife and the consummation of virtue in the husband; or the marriage of another and his pursuit of knowledge? Why might not the loss sustained in the first case as well represent the decay of virtue, and the acquisition in the second denote a relaxation in the search after the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge? There would evidently be as good reason for asserting the one as the other; and, indeed, with such an arbitrary and elastic style of interpretation, there is nothing, either false or true in doctrine, wise or unwise in practice, which might not claim support in Scripture. The Bible would be made to reflect every hue of fancy, and every shade of belief in those who assumed the office of interpretation; and instead of being rendered serviceable to a higher instruction, it would be turned into one vast sea of uncertainty and confusion.

In proof of this we need only appeal to the use which Clement of Alexandria, Origen's master, has made of another portion of sacred history which treats of Abraham's wives (Strom. L. I. p. 333). The instruction, which he finds couched under the narrative of Abraham's marriage successively to Sarah and Hagar, is, that a Christian ought to cultivate philosophy and the liberal arts before he devotes himself wholly to the study of divine wisdom. The way he takes to make out this is the following:--Abraham is the image of a perfect Christian, Sarah the image of Christian wisdom, and Hagar the image of philosophy or human wisdom (certainly a very ill-favoured likeness!). Abraham lived for a long time in a state of connubial sterility--whence it is inferred that a Christian, so long as he confines himself to the study of divine wisdom and religion alone, will never bring forth any great or excellent fruits. Abraham, then, with the consent of Sarah, takes to him Hagar, which proves, according to Clement, that a Christian ought to embrace the wisdom of this world, or philosophy, and that Sarah, or divine wisdom, will not withhold her consent. Lastly, after Hagar had borne Ishmael to Abraham, he resumed his intercourse with Sarah, and of her begat Isaac; the true import of which is, that a Christian, after having once thoroughly grounded himself in human learning and philosophy, will, if he then devotes himself to the culture of divine wisdom, be capable of propagating the race of true Christians, and of rendering essential service to the church. Thus we have two entirely different senses extracted from similar transactions by the master and the disciple; and still, far from being exhausted, as many more might be obtained, as there are fertile imaginations disposed to use the sacred narrative after the form of their own peculiar conceits.

It was not simply the historical portions of Old Testament Scripture which were thus allegorized by Origen and the other Greek Fathers, who belonged to the same school. A similar mode of interpretation was applied to the ceremonial institutions of the ancient economy; and a higher sense was often sought for in these, than we find any indication of in the epistle to the Hebrews. Clement even carried the matter so far as to apply the allegorical principle to the ten commandments, an extravagance in which Origen did not follow him; though we can scarcely tell why he should not have done so. For, even the moral precepts of the Decalogue touch at various points on the common interests and relations of life; and it was the grand aim of the philosophy, in which the allegorizing then prevalent had its origin, to carry the soul above these into the high abstractions of a contemplative theosophy. The Fathers of the Latin church were much less inclined to such airy speculations, and their interpretations of Scripture, consequently, possessed more of a realistic and unimaginative character. Allegorical interpretations are, indeed, occasionally found in them, but they are more sparingly introduced, and less extravagantly pushed. Typical meanings, however, are as frequent in the one class as in the other, and equally adopted without rule or limit. If in the Eastern church we find such objects as the tree of life in the garden of Eden, the rod of Moses, Moses himself with his arms extended during the conflict with Amalek, exhibited as types of the cross; in the Western church, as represented, for example, by Augustine, we meet with such specimens as the following:--"Wherefore did Christ enter into the sleep of death? Because Adam slept when Eve was formed from his side, Adam being the figure of Christ, Eve as the mother of the living, the figure of the church. And as she was formed from Adam while he was asleep, so was it when Christ slept on the cross, that the sacraments of the church flowed from his side." [3] So again, Saul is represented as the type of death, because God unwillingly appointed him king over Israel, as he unwillingly subjected his people to the sway of death; and David's deliverance from the hand of Saul foreshadowed our deliverance through Christ from the power of death; while in David's escape from Saul's hand, coupled with the destruction that befel Ahimelech on his account, if not in his stead, there was a prefiguration of Christ's death and resurrection. [4] But we need not multiply examples, or prosecute the subject farther into detail. Enough already has been adduced to shew, that the earlier divines of the Christian church had no just or well-defined principles to guide them in their interpretations of Old Testament Scripture, which could either enable them to determine between the fanciful and the true in typical applications, or guard them against the worst excesses of allegorical license. [5]

II. Overleaping the dark gulf of the middle ages, we come down to the period of the Reformation. At that memorable era a mighty advance was made, not only beyond the ages immediately preceding, but also beyond all that had passed from the commencement of Christianity, in the sound interpretation of Scripture. The original text then at last began to be examined with something like critical exactness, and a steadfast adherence was generally professed, and in good part also maintained, to the natural and grammatical sense. The leading spirits of the Reformation were here also the great authors of reform. Luther denounced mystical and allegorical interpretations as "trifling and foolish fables, with which the Scriptures were rent into so many and diverse senses, that silly poor consciences could receive no certain doctrine of any thing." [6] Calvin, in like manner, declares that "the true meaning of Scripture is the natural and obvious meaning, by which we ought resolutely to abide;" and speaks of the "licentious system" of Origen and the allegorists, as "undoubtedly a contrivance of Satan to undermine the authority of Scripture, and to take away from the reading of it the true advantage." [7] In some of his interpretations, especially on the prophetical parts of Scripture, he even went to an extreme in advocating what he here calls the natural and obvious meaning, and thereby missed the more profound import, which, according to the elevated and often enigmatical style of prophecy, it was the design of the Spirit to convey. On the other side, in spite of their avowed and generally followed principles of interpretation, the writers of the Reformation-period not unfrequently fell into the old method of allegorizing, and threw out typical explanations of a kind that cannot stand a careful scrutiny. It were quite easy to produce examples of this from the writings of those who lived at and immediately subsequent to the Reformation; but it would be of no service as regards our present object, since their attention was comparatively little drawn to the subject of types; and none of them attempted to construct any distinct typological system.

III. We pass on, therefore, to a later period--about the middle of the seventeenth century--when the science of theology began to be studied more in detail, and the types consequently received a more formal consideration. About that period arose what is called the Cocceian school, winch, though it did not revive the double sense of the Alexandrian (for Cocceius expressly disclaimed any other sense of Scripture than the literal and historical one), yet was chargeable in another respect with a participation in the caprice and irregularity of the ancient allegorists. Cocceius himself, less distinguished as a systematic writer in theology than as a Hebrew scholar and learned expositor of Scripture, left no formal ennunciation of principles connected with typical or allegorical interpretations; and it is chiefly from his annotations on particular passages, and the more systematic works of his followers, that these are to be gathered. How freely, however, he was disposed to draw upon Old Testament history for types of Gospel things, may be understood from a single example--his viewing what is said of Asshur going out and building Nineveh, as a type of the Turk or Mussulman power, which at once sprang from the kingdom, and shook the dominion of Antichrist (cur. Prior in Gen. x. 11.) He evidently conceived that every event in Old Testament history, which in any way resembled something under the New, was to be regarded as typical. And that, even notwithstanding his avowed adherence to but one sense of Scripture, he could occasionally adopt a second, appears alone from his allegorical interpretation of the eighth Psalm; according to which the sheep there spoken of, as being put under man, are Christ's flock--the oxen, those who labour in Christ's service--the beasts of the field, such as are strangers to the city and kingdom of God, barbarians and savages--the fowl of the air and fish of the sea, persons at a still greater distance from godliness; so that, as he concludes, there is nothing so wild and intractable on earth but it shall be brought under the rule and dominion of Christ.

It does not appear, however, that the views of Cocceius differed materially from those which were held by some who preceded him; and it would seem rather to have been owing to his eminence generally as a commentator than to any distinctive peculiarity in his typological principles, that he came to be so prominently identified with the school, which from him derived the name of Cocceian. If we turn to one of the earlier editions of Glass's Philologia Sacra, published before Cocceius commenced his critical labours (the first was published before he was born), we shall find the principles of allegorical and typical interpretations laid down with, a latitude which Cocceius himself could scarcely have quarrelled with. Indeed, we shall find few examples in his writings that might not be justified on the principles stated by Glass; and though the latter, in his section on allegories, has to throw himself back chiefly on the Fathers, he yet produces some quotations in support of his views, both on these and on types, from some writers of his own age. There seems to have been no essential difference between the typological principles of Glass, Cocceius, Witsius, and Vitringa; and though the first wrote some time before, and the last about half a century later than Cocceius, no injustice can be done to any of them by classing them together, and referring indifferently to their several productions. Like the Fathers, they did not sufficiently distinguish between allegorical and typical interpretations, but regarded the one as only a particular form of the other, and both as equally warranted by New Testament Scripture. Hence, the rules they adopted were to a great extent applicable to what is allegorical in the proper sense, as well as typical, though for the present we must confine ourselves to the typical department. They held, then, that there was a twofold sort of types, the one innate, consisting of those which Scripture itself has expressly asserted to possess a typical character; the other inferred, consisting of such as, though not specially noticed or explained in Scripture, were yet, on probable grounds, inferred by interpreters as conformable to the analogy of faith, and the practice of the inspired writers in regard to similar examples. [8] This latter class were considered not less proper and valid than the other; and pains were taken to distinguish them from those which were sometimes forged by Papists, and which were at variance with the analogies just mentioned. Of course, from their very nature they could only be employed for the support and confirmation of truths already received, and not to prove what was in itself doubtful. But not on that account were they to be less carefully searched for, or less confidently used, because thus only, it was maintained, could Christ be found in all Scripture, which all testifies of him.

It is evident alone, from this general statement, that there was something vague and loose in the Cocceian system, which left ample scope for the indulgence of a luxuriant fancy. Nor can we wonder that, in practice, a mere resemblance, however accidental or trifling, between an occurrence in Old, and another in New Testament times, was deemed sufficient to constitute the one a type of the other. Hence, in the writings of the very able and learned men above referred to, we find the name of Abel (emptiness) viewed as prefiguring our Lord's humiliation; the occupation of Abel, Christ's office as the Shepherd of Israel the withdrawal of Isaac from his father's house to the land of Moriah, Christ's being led out of the temple to Calvary; Adam's awaking out of sleep, Christ's resurrection from the dead; Samson's meeting a young lion by the way, and the transactions that followed, Christ's meeting Saul on the road to Damascus, with the important train of events to which it led; David's gathering to himself a party of the distressed, the bankrupt, and discontented, Christ's receiving into his Church publicans and sinners. And many others of a like nature.

Multitudes of examples perfectly similar--that is, equally destitute of any proper foundation in principle--are to be found in writers of our own country, such as Mather, [9] Keach, [10] Warden, [11] J. Taylor, [12] Guild, [13] who belonged to the same school of interpretation, and who nearly all lived toward the latter part of the seventeenth century. Excepting the two first, they make no attempt to connect their explanations with any principles of interpretation, and these two very sparingly. Their works were all intended for popular use, and rather exhibited by particular examples, than theoretically expounded the nature of their views. They, however, agreed in admitting inferred as well as innate types, but differed--more perhaps from constitutional temperament than on theoretical grounds--in the extent to which they severally carried the liberty they claimed to go beyond the explicit warrant of New Testament Scripture. Mather in particular, and Worden, usually confine themselves to such types as have obtained special notice of some kind from the writers of the New Testament; though they held the principle, that "where the analogy was evident and manifest between things under the law and things under the gospel, the one were to be concluded (on the ground simply of that analogy) to be types of the other." How far this warrant from analogy was thought capable of leading, may be learned from Taylor and Guild, especially from the latter, who has no fewer than forty-nine typical resemblances between Joseph and Christ, and seventeen between Jacob and Christ, not scrupling to swell the number by occasionally taking in acts of sin, as well as circumstances of the most trifling nature. Thus, Jacob's being a supplanter of his brother, is made to represent Christ's supplanting death, sin, and Satan; his being obedient to his parents in all things, Christ's subjection to his heavenly Father and his earthly parents; his purchasing his birthright by red pottage, and obtaining the blessing by presenting savoury venison to his father, clothed in Esau's garment, Christ's purchasing the heavenly inheritance to us by his red blood, and obtaining the blessing by offering up the savoury meat of his obedience, in the borrowed garment of our nature, &c.

Now, we may affirm of these, and many similar examples occurring in writers of the same class, that the analogy they found upon was a merely superficial resemblance found between things in the Old and other things in the New Testament Scriptures. But with such a loose and shifting foundation, it was manifestly left open to any one to introduce the most frivolous conceits, and to caricature rather than vindicate its grand theme. Then, if such weight was fitly attached to mere resemblances between the Old and the New, even when they were altogether of a slight and superficial kind, why should not profane as well as sacred history be ransacked for them? What, for example, might prevent Romulus (seeing that God is in all history) assembling a band of desperadoes, and founding a world-wide empire on the banks of the Tiber, from serving, as well as David in the circumstances specified above, to typify the procedure of Christ in calling to him publicans and sinners at the commencement of his kingdom? As many points of resemblance might be found in the one case as in the other; and the two transactions in ancient history, as here contemplated, stood much on the same fooling as regards the appointment of God; for both alike were the offspring of human policy, struggling against outward difficulties, and endeavouring with such materials as were available to supply the wrant of better resources. And thus, by pushing the matter beyond its just limits, we reduce the sacred to a level with the profane, and, at the same time, throw an air of uncertainty over the whole aspect of its typical character. [14]

That the Cocceian mode of handling the typical matter of ancient Scripture so readily admitted of the introduction of trifling, far-fetched, and even altogether false analogies, was one of its capital defects. It had no essential principles or fixed rules by which to guide its interpretations--set up no proper landmarks along the field of inquiry--left room on every hand for arbitrariness and caprice to enter. It was this, perhaps, more than anything else, which tended to bring typical interpretations into disrepute, and disposed men, in proportion as the exact and critical study of Scripture came to be cultivated, to regard the subject of its typology as hopelessly involved in conjecture and uncertainty. Yet this was not the only fault inherent in the typological system now under consideration. It failed, more fundamentally still, in the idea it had formed of the connection between the Old and the New in God's dispensations--between the type and the thing typified--which it made chiefly to consist in mere external resemblances, to the comparative neglect of the great fundamental principles which are common alike to all dispensations, and in which the more vital part of the connection must be sought. It was this more radical error, which in fact gave rise to the greater portion of the extravagances that disfigured the typical illustrations of our older divines; for it naturally led them to make account of resemblances that were sometimes trivial, and sometimes only apparent. And not only so; but it also led them to misapprehend the immediate object and design of the types in their relation to the Old Testament worshippers. While these as types speak a language that can be distinctly and intelligently understood only by us, who are privileged to read their meaning in the light of gospel realities, they yet had, as institutions in the existing worship, or events in the current providence of God, a present purpose to accomplish, apart from the prospective reference to future times, and we might almost say, as much as if no such reference had belonged to them.

IV. These inherent errors and imperfections in the typological system of the Cocceian school, were not long in leading to its general abandonment. But theology had little reason to boast of the change. For the system that supplanted it, without entering at all into a more profound investigation of the subject, or attempting to explain more satisfactorily the grounds of a typical connection between the Old and the New, simply contented itself with admitting into the rank of types what had been expressly treated as such in the Scripture itself, to the exclusion of all besides. This seemed to be the only safeguard against error and extravagance. [15] And yet, we fear, other reasons of a less justifiable kind contributed not a little to produce the result. An unhappy current had begun to set in upon the Protestant Church, in some places, while Cocceius still lived, and in still more soon after his death, which disposed many of her more eminent teachers to slight the evangelical element of Christianity, and, if not utterly to lose sight of Christ himself, at least to disrelish and repudiate a system which delighted to find traces of Him in every part of revelation. It was the redeeming point of the older typology, which should be allowed to go far in extenuating the occasional errors connected with it, that it kept the work and kingdom of Christ ever prominently in view, as the grand scope and end of all God's dispensations. It felt, if we may so speak, correctly, whatever it may have wanted in the requisite depth and precision of thought. But towards the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, a general coldness very commonly discovered itself, both in the writings and the lives of even the more orthodox sections of the Church. The living energy and zeal which had achieved such important results a century before, either inactively slumbered, or spent itself in doctrinal controversies; and the faith of the Church was first corrupted in its simplicity, and then weakened in its foundations by the pernicious influence of a widely cultivated, but esssentially anti-Christian philosophy. In such circumstances Christ was not allowed to maintain his proper place in the New Testament, and it is not to be wondered at if he should have been nearly banished from the Old.

Vitringa, who lived when this degeneracy from better times had made considerable progress, attributed to it much of that distaste which was then beginning to prevail in regard to typical interpretations of Scripture. With special reference to the work of Spencer on the Laws of the Hebrews--a work not less remarkable for its low-toned, semi-heathen spirit, than for its varied and well-digested learning--he lamented the inclination that appeared to seek for the grounds and reasons of the Mosaic institutions in the mazes of Egyptian idolatry, instead of endeavouring to discover in them the mysteries of the Gospel. These, he believed, the Holy Spirit had plainly intimated to be couched there, and they shone, indeed, so manifestly through the institutions themselves, that it seemed impossible for any one to perceive the type, who recognised the antitype. Nor could he conceal his fear, that the talent, authority, and learning of such men as Spencer would gain extensive credit for their opinions, and soon bring the Typology of Scripture, as he understood it, into general contempt. [16] In this apprehension he was certainly not mistaken. Another generation had scarcely passed away when Dathe published his edition of the Sacred Philology of Glass, in which the section on types, to which we have already referred, was quietly dropt out, as relating to a subject no longer thought worthy of a recognised place in the science of an enlightened theology. The rationalistic spirit, in the strength of its anti-Christian tendency, had now discarded the innate, as well as the inferred types of the older divines; and the convenient principle of accommodation, which was at the same time introduced, furnished an easy solution for those passages in New Testament Scripture, which seemed to indicate a typical relationship between the past and the future. It was only an adaptation, called forth by Jewish prejudice or conceit, of the facts and institutions of an earlier age to things essentially different under the Gospel; but now, since the state of feeling that gave rise to it no longer existed, deservedly suffered to fall into desuetude. And thus the bond was virtually broken by the hand of these rationalizing theologians between the Old and the New in Scripture, and the records of Christianity, when scientifically interpreted, were found to have marvellously little in common with those of Judaism.

In Britain various causes contributed to hold in check this downward tendency, and to prevent it from reaching the same excess of dishonour to Christ, which it soon attained on the Continent. Even persons of a cold and philosophical temperament, such as Clarke and Jortin, not only wrote in defence of types, as having a certain legitimate use in Revelation, but also admitted more within the circle of types than Scripture itself has expressly applied to Gospel times. [17] They urged, indeed, the necessity of exercising the greatest caution in travelling beyond the explicit warrant of Scripture; and in their general cast of thought they undoubtedly had more affinity with the Spencerian than the Cocceian school. Yet a feeling of the close and pervading connection between the Old and the New Testament dispensations restrained them from discarding the more important of the inferred types. Jortin especially falls so much into the current of the older writers, that he employs his ingenuity in reckoning up so many as forty particulars in which Moses typically prefigured Christ. A work composed about the same period as that to which the Remarks of Jortin belong, and one that has had more influence than any other in fashioning the typological views generally entertained in Scotland--the production of a young dissenting minister in Dundee (Mr M'Ewen) [18]--is still more free in the admission of types not expressly sanctioned in the Scriptures of the New Testament. The work itself being posthumous, and intended for popular use, contains no investigation of the grounds on which typical interpretations rest, and harmonises much more with the school that had flourished in the previous century, than that to which Clarke and Jortin belonged. As indicative of a particular style of biblical interpretation, it may be classed with the older productions of Mather and Taylor, and partakes alike of their excellencies and defects.

There was, therefore, a considerable unwillingness in this country to abandon the Cocceian ground on the subject of types. The declension came in gradually, and its progress was rather marked by a tacit rejection in practice of much that was previously held to be typical, than by the introduction of views avowedly different. It became the practice of theologians to look more into the general nature of things for the reasons of Christianity, than into the pre-existing elements and characteristics of former dispensations, and to account for the peculiarities of Judaism by its partly antagonistic, partly homogeneous relation to Paganism, rather than by any concealed reference it might have to the coming realities of the Gospel. As an inevitable consequence, the typological department of theology fell into general neglect, from which the Old Testament Scriptures themselves did not altogether escape. Those portions of them especially which narrate the history, and prescribe the religious rites of the ancient Church, were but rarely treated in a manner that bespoke any confidence in their fitness to minister to the spiritual discernment and faith of Christians. It seems, partly at least, to have been owing to this growing distaste for Old Testament inquiries, and this general depreciation of its Scriptures, that what is called the Hutchinsonian school arose in England--which, by a sort of recoil from the prevailing spirit, ran into the opposite extreme of searching for the elements of all knowledge, human and divine, in the writings of the Old Testament. This school possesses too much the character of an episode in the history of biblical interpretation in this country, and was itself too strongly marked by a spirit of extravagance, to render any formal account of it necessary here. It was, besides, chiefly of a physico-theological character, combining the elements of a natural philosophy with the truths of revelation, both of which it sought to extract from the statements, and sometimes even from the words and letters of Scripture. The most profound meanings were consequently discovered in the text of Scripture, in respect alike to the doctrines of the Gospel and the truths of science. One of the maxims of its founder was, that "every passage of the Old Testament looks backward and forward, and every way, like light from the sun; not only to the state before and under the law, but under the Gospel, and nothing is hid from the light thereof." [19] When such a depth and complexity of meaning was supposed to be involved in every passage, we need not be surprised to learn, respecting the exactness of Abraham's knowledge of future events, that he knew from preceding types and promises, that "one of his own line was to be sacrificed, to be a blessing to all the race of Adam;" and not only so, but that when he received the command to offer Isaac, he proceeded to obey it, "not doubting that Isaac was to be that person who should redeem man." [20]

The cabalistic and extravagant character of the Hutchinsonian system, if it had any definite influence on the study of types and other cognate subjects, could only tend to increase the suspicion with which they were already viewed, and foster a disposition to agree to whatever might keep investigation within the bounds of sobriety and discretion. Accordingly, while nothing more was done to unfold the essential and proper ground of a typical connection between Old and New Testament things, and to prevent abuse by making the subject more thoroughly understood in its fundamental principles, the more scientific students of the Bible came, by a sort of common consent, to acquiesce in the opinion, that those only were to be reckoned types to which Scripture itself, by express warrant, or at least by obvious implication, had assigned that character. We may take Bishop Marsh as the ablest and most systematic expounder of this view of the subject. He says,--"There is no other rule by which we can distinguish a real from a pretended type, than that of Scripture itself. There are no other possible means by which we can know that a previous design and a pre-ordained connection existed. Whatever persons or things therefore, 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." [21] This is certainly a very authoritative and peremptory decision of the matter. But the principle involved in this statement, though seldom so oracularly announced, has long been practically received. It was substantially adopted by Macknight, in his Dissertation on the Interpretation of Scripture, at the end of his Commentary on the Epistles, before Bishop Marsh wrote, and it has been followed since by Vanmildert and Coiiybeare in their Bampton Lectures, by Nares in his Warburtonian Lectures, by Chevalier in his Hulsean Lectures, by Home in his Introduction, and a host of other writers.

Judging from an article in the American Biblical Repository, which appeared in the number for January 1841, it would appear that the leading authorities on the other side of the Atlantic concur in the same general view. The reviewer himself advocates the opinion that "no person, event, or institution, should be regarded as typical, but what may be proved to be such from the Scriptures," meaning by that their explicit assertion in regard to the particular case. And in support of this opinion he quotes, besides English writers, the words of two of his own countrymen, Professors Stowe and Moses Stuart, the latter of whom says,-- "That just so much of the Old Testament is to be accounted typical as the New Testament affirms to be so, and no more. The fact, that any thing or event under the Old Testament dispensation was designed to prefigure something under the New, can be known to us only by revelation; and of course all that is not designated by divine authority as typical, can never be made so by any authority less than that which guided the writers of the New Testament." [22]

Now, the view embraced by this school of interpretation lies open to one objection, in common with the school that preceded it. While the field, as to its extent, was greatly circumscribed, and in its boundaries ruled as with square and compass, nothing was done in the way of investigating it internally, or of unfolding the grounds of connection between type and antitype. Fewer points of resemblance are usually presented to us between the one and the other by the writers of this school than are found in works of an older date; but the resemblances themselves are quite as much of a superficial and outward kind. The real harmony and connection between the Old and the New in the divine dispensations, stood precisely where it was. But other defects adhere to this modern typological system. The leading excellence of the system that preceded it was the constant reference it supposed the Scriptures of the Old Testament to bear toward Christ and the Gospel dispensation; and the practical disavowal of this may be said to constitute the great defect of the more exact and leaner system, which has now obtained the general suffrage of the learned. It drops a golden principle for the sake of avoiding a few lawless aberrations. With the narrow limits it sets to our inquiries, we cannot indeed wander far into the regions of extravagance. But in the very prescription of these limits, it wrongfully withholds from us the key of knowledge, and shuts us up to evils scarcely less to be deprecated than those it seeks to correct. For it destroys to a large extent the bond of connection between the Old and the New Testament Scriptures, and thus deprives the Christian Church of much of the instruction in divine things which they were designed to impart. Were men accustomed, as they should be, to search for the germs of Christian truth in the earliest Scriptures, and to regard the inspired records of both covenants as having for their leading object "the testimony of Jesus," they would know how much they were losers by such an undue contraction of the typical element in Old Testament Scripture. And in proportion as a more profound and spiritual acquaintance with the divine Word is cultivated, will the feeling of dissatisfaction grow in respect to a style of interpretation, that so miserably dwarfs and cripples the relation which the preparatory bears to the final in God's revelations.

It is necessary, however, to take a closer view of the subject. The principle on which this typological system is based, is, that nothing less than inspired authority is sufficient to determine the reality and import of any thing that is typical. But we can see no solid ground for such a principle. No one holds the necessity of inspiration to explain each particular prophecy, and decide even with certainty on its fulfilment, and why should it be reckoned indispensable in the closely related subject of types? This question was long ago asked by Witsius, and yet waits for a satisfactory answer. A part only, it is universally allowed, of the prophecies which refer to Christ and his kingdom have been specially noticed and interpreted by the pen of inspiration. So little necessary, indeed, was inspiration for such a purpose, that even before the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our Lord reproved his disciples as "fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken." And from the close analogy between the two subjects--for what is a type but a prophetical act or institution?--we might reasonably infer the same liberty to have been granted, and the same obligation to be imposed, in regard to the typical parts of ancient Scripture. But we have something more than a mere argument from analogy to guide us to this conclusion. For, the very same complaint is brought by an inspired writer against private Christians concerning their slowness in understanding the typical, which our Lord brought against his disciples in respect to the prophetical portions of ancient Scripture. In the epistle to the Hebrews a sharp reproof is administered for the imperfect acquaintance believers among them had with the typical character of Melchizedec, and subjects of a like nature--thus placing it beyond a doubt that it is both the duty and the privilege of the Church, with that measure of the Spirit's grace which it is the part even of private Christians to possess, to search into the types of ancient Scripture, and come to a correct understanding of them. To deny this, is plainly to withhold an important privilege from the church of Christ; to dissuade from it, is to encourage the neglect of an incumbent duty.

But the unsoundness of the principle, which would thus limit the number of types to those which New Testament Scripture has expressly noticed and explained, becomes still more apparent when it is considered what these really are, and in what manner they are introduced. Leaving out of view the tabernacle, with its furniture and services, which, as a whole, is affirmed in the epistles to the Hebrews and the Colossians to have been of a typical nature, the following examples are what the writers now referred to usually regard as having something like an explicit sanction in Scripture:--1. Persons or characters; Adam (Rom. v. 11, 12; 1 Cor. xv. 22); Melchizedec (Heb. vii.); Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, and by implication Abraham (Gal. iv. 22--35); Moses (Gal. iii. 19, Acts iii. 22--26); Jonah (Matth. xii. 40); David (Ezek xxxvii. 24, Luke i. 32., &c.); Solomon (2 Sam. vii.); Zerubbabel and Joshua (Zech. iii. iv. Hag. ii. 23), 2. Transactions or events; the preservation of Noah and his family in the ark (1 Pet. iii. 20); the redemption from Egypt and its passover-memorial (Luke xxii. 15, 16, 1 Cor. v. 7); the exodus (Matth. ii. 15); the passage through the Red sea, the giving of manna, Moses's veiling of his face while the law was read; the water flowing from the smitten rock; the serpent lifted up for healing in the wilderness, and some other things that befel the Israelites there (1 Cor. x. John iii. 14, v. 33, Rev. ii. 17). [23]

Now, let any person of candour and intelligence take his Bible, and examine the passages to which reference is here made, and then say, whether the manner in which these typical characters and transactions are there introduced, is such as to indicate, that these alone were held by the inspired writers to be prefigurative of similar characters and transactions under the gospel? as if in naming them they meant to exhaust the typical bearing of Old Testament history? On the contrary, we deem it impossible for any one to avoid the conviction, that in whatever respect these particular examples may have been adduced, it is simply as examples adapted to the occasion, and taken from a vast storehouse, where many more were to be found. They have so much at least the appearance of having been selected merely on account of their suitableness to the immediate end in view, that they cannot fairly be regarded otherwise than as specimens of the class they belong to. And if so, they should rather have the effect of prompting farther inquiry than of repressing it; since, instead of themselves comprehending and bounding the whole field of typical matter, they only exhibit practically the principles on which others of a like description are to be discovered and explained.

Indeed, were it otherwise, nothing could be more arbitrary and inexplicable than the Typology of Scripture. For, what is there to distinguish the characters and events, which Scripture has thus particularized, from a multitude of others, to which the typical element might equally have been supposed to belong? Is there anything on the face of the inspired record to make us look on them in a singular light, and attribute to them a significance altogether peculiar respecting the future affairs of God's kingdom? So far from it, that we instinctively feel, if these really possessed a typical character, so also must others, which hold an equally, or perhaps even more prominent place in the history of God's dispensations. Can it be seriously believed, for example, that Sarah and Hagar stood in a typical relation to gospel times, while no such place was occupied by Bebekah, as the spouse of Isaac, and the mother of Jacob and Esau? What reason can we imagine for Melchizedec and Jonah having been constituted types--persons to whom our attention is comparatively little drawn in Old Testament history--while such leading characters as Joseph, Sampson, Joshua, are omitted? Or, for selecting the passage through the Bed sea, and the incidents in the wilderness, while no account should be made of the passage through Jordan, and the conquest of the land of Canaan?

We can scarcely conceive of a mode of interpretation which should deal more capriciously with the word of God, and make so anomalous a use of its historical matter. Instead of investing these with a homogeneous character, it arbitrarily selects a few out of the general mass, and sets them up in solitary grandeur, like mystic symbols in a temple, fictitiously elevated above the sacred materials around them. The exploded principle, which sought a type in every notice of Old Testament history, had at least the merit of uniformity to recommend it, and could not be said to deal partially, however often it might deal fancifully, with the facts of ancient Scripture. But according to the plan now under review, for which the authority of inspiration itself is claimed, we perceive nothing but arbitrary distinctions and groundless preferences. And though unquestionably it were wrong to expect in the word of God the precise method and order, which might naturally have been looked for in a merely human composition, yet as the product, amid all its variety, of one and the same Spirit, we are warranted to expect that there shall be a consistent agreement among its several parts, and that distinctions shall not be created in the one Testament, which in the other seem destitute of any just foundation or apparent reason.

But then, if a greater latitude is allowed, how shall we guard against error and extravagance? Without the express authority of Scripture, how shall we be able to distinguish between a happy illustration and a real type? In the words of Bishop Marsh: " By what means shall we determine, in any given instance, that what is alleged as a type, was really designed for a type? The only possible source of information on this subject is Scripture itself. The only possible means of knowing that two distant, though similar historical facts, were so connected in the general scheme of divine Providence, that the one was designed to prefigure the other is the authority of that book in which the scheme of divine Providence is unfolded. [24] This is an objection, indeed, which strikes at the root of the whole matter, and its validity can only be ascertained by a thorough investigation into the fundamental principles of the subject. That Scripture is the sole rule, on the authority of which we are to distinguish what is properly typical from what is not, we readily grant--though not in the straitened sense contended for by Bishop Marsh and those who hold similar views, as if there were no way for Scripture to furnish a sufficient direction on the subject, except by specifying every particular case. It is possible, surely, that in this, as well as in other things. Scripture may unfold certain fundamental views or principles, of which it makes but a few individual applications, and for the rest leaves them in the hand of spiritually enlightened consciences. The more so, as it is one of the leading peculiarities of New Testament Scripture rather to develope great truths, than to dwell on minute and isolated facts. It is a presumption against, not in favour of, the system we now oppose, that it would shut up the Typology of Scripture, in so far as connected with the characters and events of sacred history, within the narrow circle of a few scattered and apparently random examples. And the attempt to rescue it from this position, if in any measure successful, will also serve to exhibit the unity of design which pervades the inspired records of both covenants, the traces they contain of the same divine hand, the subservience of the one to the other, and the mutual dependence alike of the Old upon the New, and of the New upon the Old.