enlarged upon the promises and mercies of the Christian covenant*.

Being constrained then, as I have been, to treat the Types of the Ceremonial Law, as no more than a concealed prophetic symbol of the Gospel, I would assign to them their office in a moral use, as preparations, from their first appointment, to the essential habits of Christian faith and virtue. They were not totally insignificant signs to the ancient worshipper; they contributed, by the sense which they gave of their weakness and imperfection, to send him to seek some other atonement, or to meditate upon the promises of it which were occasionally given. As such, they were a yoke indeed, but a yoke fitted to bend his neck by a suitable disposition “to the law of Christ."

To the Gospel then, they were subservient, whether as a reserved evidence of its chief truths, or as the immediate instrument of a moral direction towards its habits. Nor can this latter use of them be invalidated by the small effect which, in the event, they seem to have produced. For, if "a stubborn people" resisted, or eluded, the right influence of their Typical Worship, it was not more than they did at the last, in rejecting the evidence inherent in the same worship. But a remnant believed in the one case; and it is reasonable to think that a like portion was instructed in the other.

See Isaiah i. 11, 12. Micah vi. 6, 7. Isaiah liii.

If I have dwelt with some prolixity upon the elucidation of the state of Religion, as it was moulded by the Law, it has been to enable me, by that previous argument, to exhibit the use and import of Prophecy connected with it: whether we look for the prophetic sense in a multifarious ritual, framed to a general symbolical character, or in the more direct revelation of oracles delivered. And, having finished what it may be necessary to say of the Types of the Law, I go to the contemporary predictions which point to the same object, a future, the Christian dispensation.

I. The prophecy of Balaam, coincident with the approach of the Israelites to Canaan, is such as was clearly intended, in one part of it, to carry their view to some more distant prospect. This professed diviner had been summoned by the king of Moab, to interrupt by his curse, by the spell of some malevolent or sinister prediction, their successful progress. His will to that effect was not wanting; but it was overruled. A word of real divination was put into his mouth; he was constrained to bless those whom he wished to curse; and to pass the word of prophecy for their present victory and triumphant establishment. This was the question on which he had been consulted. But in the end of these predictions he is carried to a new line of prophecy, and introduces the vision of a Star and a Sceptre, a divine messenger, and a prince, whose advent

however was still remote. "I shall see him, but "not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh; there "shall come a Star out of Jacob; and a Sceptre shall "rise out of Israel; and shall smite the corners of "Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth *."

Every candid interpreter of prophecy will confess that this prediction could not be understood at the first, as afterwards when the accomplishment of it in the mission of Christ supplied its interpretation; nor could it direct men's ideas either as to the character of the person whom it foretold, or the nature of his mission, so strongly when it stood by itself, as when supported by other predictions relating, or seeming to relate, to the same general subject. But yet it was a vivid prophecy, and adapted to keep men's minds and hopes intent, and prepare them for something beyond the law; and that of no small importance; since it was to be ushered in by a person of a remote advent, whose symbols, a Star and a Sceptre, imported most naturally the display of some new revelation, and a dominion combined with it. The historic facts related of the man, who was made to deliver this prophecy; his solemn summons from the East; his compact with the king of Moab; his duplicity; his reluctant submission to the word put into his mouth; his strange rebuke; all were of use to draw attention to his prediction, and signalize the memory of it.

* Numbers xxiv. 17.

[ocr errors]

Some, indeed, have sought the Star and the Sceptre of Balaam's prophecy, where they cannot well be found, in the reign of David; for though a Sceptre might be there, the Star properly is not: and perhaps that vision of the prophet's mind carried far into futurity, "I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh," is expressive of something more than an ideal vision, the mirrour of prophecy; perhaps it is nothing less than the mysterious foreboding of that real sight, which all shall have in beholding Him who is the chief object of prophecy, when "he cometh with "clouds, and every eye shall see him; and they also "which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth "shall wail because of him *."

But whatever degree of completion this prophecy may be thought to have received in the reign of David, it is clearly no more than in those points of view wherein the kingdom of David is emblematic of the dominion of Christ. And if its sense could possibly be thought to reach no farther than to the scene of David's reign, even so it would have in part that effect which I ascribe to it, in raising the expectation of some considerable display of God's Providence beyond the Law; and when one prophecy had brought men to the age of David, they would not be able to stop there; for there they would find other predictions opening the designs of

* Revel. i. 7.

God to a greater extent. This indeed is a principle of ancient prophecy, that it was constantly advancing in some or other of its prospects, till the point of rest was given to so many of them, in the advent and religion of Christ.

[ocr errors]


II. But let us turn from Balaam to Moses.

[ocr errors]

"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, "like unto me: unto him ye shall hearken. According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy "God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my "God; neither let me see this great fire any more, "that I die not.

"And the Lord said unto me: They have well "spoken that which they have spoken.

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among "their brethren like unto thee, and I will put my "words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them "all that I shall command him.

[ocr errors]

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will "not hearken unto my words which he shall speak " in my name, I will require it of him *."

Here is a Prophet announced like unto Moses, an inspired Teacher or Lawgiver, who might deserve to be compared, in the magnitude and clearness of his revelations, with the Prophet of the first

* Deuteronomy xviii. 15-18.


« VorigeDoorgaan »