Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

brace a religion which had nothing in common with their former opinions, and directly opposed some of their strongest prejudices." P. 101.

In chapter the fourth, the same line of reasoning is pursued; and in order to carry on his proof of the impossibility of doctrines such as those of the Gospel, being merely fictions of the human imagination, he proceeds to take a new position, though still on the same ground. Most of our theological readers are probably aware, that the manner in which the Socinians endeavour to account for the origin of the doctrine of the atonement, is by supposing the whole to have been merely an accommodation to Jewish prejudices and forms of speaking. The whole language of the Christian mysteries was borrowed, they tell us, from the Jewish law; insomuch, that had the service of the Temple never existed, such notions as those, which Christians now believe concerning the sacrifice and atonement of Christ, would never have entered into the minds of men. Now it is plain, that if an orthodox believer should be able to prove that, the service of the Temple was instituted by God, expressly with this very design, that is, of familiarizing the minds of men to the connexion of ideas, which is implied in a propitiatory sacrifice, and to the language and phrases in which such a notion was to be expressed, we should at once be put in possession of a demonstration of the truth of this great doctrine of Christianity. Instead of the doctrine of the atonement being merely a figure borrowed from the Jewish ceremonial, the Jewish ceremonial will be a figure foretelling the doctrine of the atonement; and the whole will rest upon that, which, if properly authenticated, is the most immoveable of all bases, that of prophecy.

That this is the theory of the connection of the Old and New Testament, will not, we think, be called in question, by any sound theologian. The difficulty, however, in the instance of the types, to establish this hypothesis to the satisfaction of reasoners in the present day, is by no means small. When the subject of the prophecy is a matter of fact, the fulfilment is easily brought to an intelligible criterion; but when the subject, as in the case of the typical prophecies, is not matter of fact, but matter of doctrine, it is extremely difficult to bring the proof into the form of a sound argument. Until we have established, to the conviction of those with whom we reason, that the types were actually in the nature of prophecies, by arguments antecedent to the question of the truth of Christianity, we can make no progress whatever; for unless this point be admitted, the mere naked cir

cumstance of the coincidence between the Christian doctrines and the Jewish rites, falls in, at least, as aptly with the Socinian hypothesis as with the orthodox belief. Because,

supposing the orthodox belief to be, what the former assert, no doubt, such a coincidence will afford an intelligible explanation, so far as it goes, of the existence of opinions, for which otherwise it might be difficult to account.

We shall not enter upon this wide field of argument, more than we can help; but we must observe, that there is one condition, which we really think indispensable to the supposition of the prophetical character of the Jewish ceremonial law; which is, that this supposed character, should not be an after-thought of the Christians. If the theory of types was unknown to the Jews, and only introduced after the revelation of Christianity, we are free to confess, that we do not see our way very clearly in the argument which is to be built: upon it. It may furnish a useful and elevating topic, in a discourse from the pulpit; but it affords a very doubtful kind of topic, in a book upon the Evidences.

Surely it was therefore somewhat inexpedient, to say the least of it, in Mr. Sumner to assert, in broad and positive terms, that the Jews had no knowledge or suspicion, that the service of their Temple was only figurative and prophetical; nor do we think that the reasons which he produces to be such as fairly warrant, so startling an opinion. He tells us,

"It was before mentioned, that no expectation of any such fulfilment of the law existed among the Jews. They observed the type, without looking towards the antitype. They considered their law to be perfect in itself; and it does not appear that they generally interpreted it in a figurative point of view. Jesus was not understood, when he made allusions to the historical types, and applied them to himself. And the Apostle, who explains, in an elaborate treatise, the prophetical institutions of the law, and their fulfilment in what Jesus had done and suffered, thinks it necessary. to prove the agreement point by point, as if he was laying before his countrymen a novel and unexpected interpretation." P. 108.

Now, we cannot but think that a little more-consideration of the very Epistle which Mr. Sumner quotes, will afford the best possible contradiction to the conclusion which he has drawn from it. The Apostle indeed " explains," as Mr. S. justly remarks, in an elaborate treatise," the prophetical institutions of the law;" just as in other places he explains the true scope of the prophecies. But unless we suppose that the Jews believed in the prophetical character of their institutions generally, his argument has no consistency whatever. Had the Jews observed the type,

without looking towards the antitype," the Apostle ought to have prefaced his reasoning with arguments to explain and establish the general doctrine. But the very assumption of this first principle, the absence of so much as an allusion to any doubt or difference of opinion, as to the premises from which he is evidently reasoning, establish the fact of the Jewish belief in the general doctrine, much more unambiguously, according to our opinion, than we can hope to do, on the strength of any direct Jewish authority. If this last, however, is thought necessary, the proof is ready at hand; for, in fact, the whole of the writings of the Jewish doctors furnish an evidence of the strong hold which, the doctrine of types must have taken upon the imagination of that nation. It is almost the single important fact, which can be deduced from their Talmudical interpretations of Scripture; which appear to have proceeded upon a supposition, that not only the rites and institutions of their law possessed a prophetical meaning, concealed under the literal, but that even the very words and letters of it were types and symbols. The extravagant dreams into which the doctrine of types appears to have the Rabbinical commentators, were probably of an age posterior to Christianity. But for the doctrine itself, we have better authority than that of these writers; for we have the authority of writers who were contemporary with the very age of the Apostles. In proof of this, we would refer to the seventh section of the third book of the Jewish Antiquities, in which Josephus rebuts the ridicule which, as he says, had been cast against the Jews, by the enemies of his nation, on the subject of their worship. His answer is, that the things which were derided, in their institutions, were all of them intended to signify and prefigure certain important truths, which he proceeds to name: απομίμησιν και διατύπωσιν, are his words. In Philo, the same things are called zagadelyμara τῶν μελλόντων σωμάτων; and in other places τύπος το παραδείγματος, and ἀπεικονισμὸς τῶν νοητῶν. He tells us, that the recesses of the tabernacle were only to be understood symbolically: rà ἄδυτα τῆς σκηνῆς εἶναι συμβολικῶς νοητά. But in order to set this question at rest, we think it will be sufficient to extract the following passage from the same writer, in which it will at once be seen with what justice Mr. Sumner so broadly asserts, that "the Jews observed the type without looking to the antitype;* and that they considered their law to be

Mr. Sumner seems to suppose that type is opposed to antitype. But we have always understood type and antitype to mean nearly, if not quite, the same thing.

perfect in itself." In the third book of the life of Moses, p. 146, Ed. Mangay, we have these words: En ägyov ἱερώτατον, δημιεργειν ἔδοξεν, ἧς τήν κατασκευὴν, θεσφάτοις λόγοις, ἐπὶ τᾶ ὄρος Μωϋσῆς ἀνεδιδάσκετο, τῶν μελλόντων ἀποτελεῖσθαι σωμάτων ασωμάτες ἰδέας τῇ ψυχῇ θεωρῶν, πρός ἄς ἔδει, καθαπερ απ' ἀρχετύπε γράφῆς και νοητῶν παραδείγματων αισθητά μιμήματα απεικονισθῆναι. Ergo tabernaculi sanctissimum opus ædificari placuit, cujus constructionem, divinis oraculis Moses in monte edocebatur, rerum corporearum species corporis expertes animo intuens, ad quas oporteret, tanquam archetype imaginis et exemplarium que intelligentia perciperentur, imitationis sub sensum cadentis effingi.

We trust that the importance of this subject will excuse the length to which our remarks have been drawn out. A proposition, which comes before our readers upon the authority of a person with Mr. Sumner's character, must not be passed over lightly, if there be any reason to doubt its truth. It is evident, we think, from what we have said, that the types of the Old Testament follow, as exactly as the difference of the subjects would admit, the analogy of the prophecies in general: at least, of those prophecies which regarded our Saviour. These, like the types, were known to possess a meaning, the exact import of which was concealed from the Jews until the moment of fulfilment, when a key was to be put into their hands by which the true sense was to be. opened. But we have every reason to think that they as fully understood that their law was typical" of good things to come," omàs Taν MENÓVтWV αyadav, as St. Paul expresses it, as we have for supposing that they regarded the prophecies in this light. And, indeed, unless we believe this, we do not very clearly see what use can be made of them in a work upon the Evidences; for, as we before said, the coincidences of many facts in the Old, with others in the New Testament, is by itself an argument with two edges. But if once we can establish the truth of the general doctrine of types, upon testimony independent of Christianity, it then takes the same place in the evidences of the doctrines of the Gospel, as is occupied by the other prophecies in relation to the general facts. The same place which the latter holds in the proof of the divine mission of our Saviour, is held by the former in the proof of his mediatorial office. When the Jew compared the birth, and life, and death of our Saviour, with the predictions of the prophets, he could not but be forcibly struck with the exact, though unexpected, manner in which they had been fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. And when he compared the doctrines which the Apostles taught with the rites and institutions of their law, he could not but

be equally struck with the coincidence between these also. This is well put by Mr. Sumner.

When the teachers of the Gospel first claimed his attention, the Jew should have reasoned thus with himself. Do they say that Jesus died for our redemption? So did the paschal lamb die to redeem our whole nation in Egypt. Did he ascend afterwards into heaven? So did our high priest go yearly into the most holy place, carrying thither the blood of a sacrifice slain in the worldly sanctuary. Is there no remission of sins without shedding of blood? There was certainly none under the law. Has Jesus appointed a baptism with water? So had our law its purifications for the washing away of uncleanness. Numberless other questions might be asked, which would bring their own answers with them out of the law of Moses; and such was the use which the Jew ought to have made of it.*"" P. 116.

Now, in order to understand the importance of the proposition which we have here been endeavouring to establish: that the Jews, as well as the Christians, admitted the general principle, which is the ground work of the Apostle's argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews; we have only to consider in our minds, what would be the difference in the force of the above reasoning on the mind of a Jew, in the case of his believing antecedently in the prophetical character of the law, and in that of his only hearing this doctrine, for the first time, from the mouth of an adversary. In the one case the explanation of the Apostle would break like a new light upon his understanding; in the other, he would probably reply like the modern Socinian, that Christianity was a plagiarism from the law, not a fulfilment of it. And although this answer is altogether preposterous in the mouth of the Socinian, who pretends to believe in the divine authority of Jesus Christ, and in the inspiration of his Apostles, yet in the mouth of a Jew who denied these facts, or in that of any one in the present day, who requires to be convinced of them, it is an answer which places the advocate of Christianity upon ground which it is very troublesome to make good, even though we are willing to believe it possible.

In the next chapter, which is the fifth, Mr. Sumner argues, that the same originality which is observable in the doctrines which the Apostles taught, is also to be traced in the language which they used. The words, carnal,'' grace,'' saved,' faith,' righteousness,' have all of them a technical meaning in the Gospel. Mr. Sumner argues, that this is exactly

[ocr errors]

*Jones on Figurative Language of Scripture,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »