In searching for the true relation between the natural and the spiritual, we are called to look again at the types and allegories. It has been seen and is a familiar fact to most of our readers, that the Lord uses natural things to represent spiritual things. This method of teaching is doubtless more common in the Bible than is generally supposed. We have long been convinced that the writings of Moses are largely allegorical; but we would guard against extremes. Some deny the literal meaning, because of the allegorical and typical, but our view is that in addition to the literal they have a superior value, on account of their representing the great plan of salvation. They mean all they say, but they mean much more than they say.
What they say is the letter, but the deeper meaning is the Spirit. To the Jew and to many Christians, the letter is as the veil which hides or obscures the real and deeper truth. Paul treats of this subject in 2 Cor. 3, and we might truly say still, as he said of the Jew: "Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart."—(Ver. 15.) The tendency of seeing only the letter is killing, but the Spirit, appreciated, tends to liberty and life. "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life."—(Ver. 6.) "Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."—(Ver. 17.) Combining the teachings of Paul and the Saviour himself (Jno. 5:45-47,) we draw the conclusion that the writings of Moses contain the gospel of the Son of God, as a shell contains a kernel; that both are real and each is valuable in its own place and for the purpose designed; but the kernel is more valuable than the shell. We regard the whole Bible as none too large, and all teaching directly or indirectly the gospel of Christ. The Lord is the Golden Thread of revelation, as he is the soul of the plan of salvation. From all who can see the fullness and harmony of the writings of the Old Testament with the gospel of Christ, [R67 : page 5] the spirit of doubt as to the Divine inspiration of the Bible will flee away. The fact that the truth has been hidden for ages and yet there, under cover of the mere history, is, to us, a strong evidence that no human mind laid the plan of the book or the great salvation brought to light by it.
When men begin to see the flood of light from this source, there may be a liability to lose balance or to be carried too far in the application. An extreme spiritualism should be avoided as well as an extreme materialism. We do not believe that every portion of the Bible has double meaning as do some. Some portions relate wholly to the natural and some wholly to the spiritual, and the natural represents the spiritual, so that the relation of the two in the plan is preserved. For instance, there are two Jerusalems—the old and the new, the natural and the spiritual—and the old is doubtless a type of the new, but sometimes the Lord speaks of the one and sometimes of the other and we should be careful not to confound them.
We would call special attention to the fact that antitypes are not always wholly spiritual. This has been overlooked by some in the treatment of this subject, and confusion instead of light has been the result. Adam is a type of Christ, but in Christ is combined both the natural and the spiritual, in the order of development. So this antitype is not wholly spiritual. The spirit of a type is what it means. Many types foreshadow the great plan of salvation, but the plan has the two elements: First the natural and afterward the spiritual; and therefore the type represents both.
Christ's life is the key to the plan; two births and two lives are brought to view, and at his death and resurrection is the turning point between them. He was born of the flesh first, and afterward of the spirit. He was "put to death in the flesh, and made alive by the spirit." 1 Pet. 3:18. The life he lived before his death was natural, and the life by resurrection was spiritual, and Adam as a type represented both. In the natural life Christ was alone, (he had no church, then) and "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." Jno. 12:24. He died to bring forth fruit. So Adam was alone for a time, and the Lord said "it is not good for a man to be alone, and the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon him;" and so his wife was developed from his side.
That part of Adam's life which was before he fell asleep, represented Christ's natural life, and Adam's falling asleep, represented Christ's natural death. So we see that Christ's flesh life and his natural death are a part of the antitype, and an important part of the plan; let no man dare to belittle them; on the other hand let no one confound the natural with the after and spiritual life of Christ. Adam's life, after awaking from sleep, represented Christ's life after his resurrection. His marriage represented the marriage of the Lamb, the generation of the race the regeneration of the race, and the dominion over all given to Adam and his wife, represents the united reign of Christ and his wife—the church—over the Earth and the nations in the world to come. "Come hither, and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife, and he showed me...that great [R68 : page 5] city, the holy Jerusalem." "And the nations shall walk in the light of it." Rev. 21:9,10,24.
The bride in both type and antitype becomes a mother, and therefore imparts her own nature to her offspring. No one can see this great fact, without being impressed with the magnitude of the plan, and the fullness of the love of God. Isaac, the son of faithful Abraham, is a type of the Son of God, the Father of the faithful in the highest sense. Isaac was offered a sacrifice, being three days subject to death, and was received from the dead, all in figure, and Jesus the Son of God died, and rose again the third day, in fact. The calling of the wife, the marriage and the development of the family, in both type and antitype, follow the resurrection in proper order. Isaac's life, before he was offered, represents Christ's life, before he was offered—the natural life, the sacrifice of Isaac in figure represented the sacrifice of Christ's natural life; for Christ gave his natural life (psuchee) a ransom for many; and the after life of Isaac represented the spiritual life of Christ. Here again it is clear that the antitype is both natural and spiritual. Joseph went into the pit and came out again, and was exalted to the right hand of power in Egypt, and became the Bread keeper and Life preserver for both Egypt and Israel. Joseph had a life before he went into the pit, as well as after he came out, and so had Christ the antitype.
Moses came twice to his own people—natural Israel, and was rejected at the first, but delivered them at the second coming. So of Christ, He comes twice to the same people, is rejected at the first and at the second delivers them. The coming in flesh, and the coming in glory are both represented, in that type, and yet both are to the natural seed. In each of these types, Adam, Isaac, Joseph and Moses, the death of Christ is foreshadowed, though none actually died. Adam fell asleep; Isaac was offered in spirit; Joseph went into the pit; and Moses had to flee for his life. The death of Christ is shown, in this and many other ways to be an important part of the plan. It is the turning point between the natural and the spiritual; and to say that the natural life, the flesh and blood life of Christ profiteth nothing, is to say that God's plan is all spiritual, instead of "first the natural and afterward the spiritual." This would be a strange perversion of Christ's words, "The flesh profiteth nothing;" for Christ was speaking figuratively, when he said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Eating literal flesh, and drinking literal blood, of course would profit nothing, in giving spiritual life, and therefore Christ wanted them to understand that he was not talking of the literal. But that does not destroy the fact, that Christ had literal flesh and blood, that he took it for a purpose, (Heb. 2:9,14,15.) and that he actually died.
The spirit could not take the place of the flesh, any more than the flesh could take the place of the spirit: both would be equally unprofitable, out of their order. Observe the order and all is clear, harmonious and beautiful. Christ gave his natural life (psuchee) to redeem man, and gives us the spiritual to live by, and we must eat it (i.e. receive the truth) in order to sustain life, (spiritual.) The value of the cross (death) of our Lord Jesus, is beautifully enforced by the two cherubim. The centre is the meeting place, the point of reconciliation between God and man, and so Paul says we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Rom. 5:10. The one cherub represents the Jewish church looking forward, and the second the Gospel church looking back. The first therefore represents the natural and the second the spiritual, and the antitype is again proved to contain both. From these facts we may see another. Because Elijah was a type of the Gospel church, and Elijah healed the sick and raised the dead (physically) it does not follow that the antitypical Elijah can only deal with spiritual life. Just as surely as to restore is to give back what was lost, so surely Christ and the church, will restore natural life to the world; It has not been proved yet, though often assumed and asserted, that man lost spiritual life by Adam's sin. But because restoration is the work of Christ and the church, let no one conclude that they will do nothing more. Elijah represents Christ as Restorer, and Adam represents Christ as Head of an immortal race.
We do not presume to have exhausted this subject; no doubt there is much more to be learned. Each new truth learned must be retained if we would grow, and we are quite sure that any idea advanced, that ignores either the natural or the spiritual in the plan, is darkness instead of light, and if taken as the key to other ideas, will lead to greater darkness. It is doubtless true that many stumble because they fail to discern the spiritual; and as a means of safety we suggest the necessity of keeping in mind the relation between the natural and the spiritual.