Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Images of Divine Things

Cindy Mercer Photography

Jonathan Edwards accepted Samuel Mather’s definition of a “type”: “A Type is some outward or sensible thing ordained of God under the Old Testament, to represent and hold forth something of Christ in the New.” So, every “type” in the Old Testament is to be interpreted as a figurative prophecy that will be fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. Types must be understood in an historical, linear way as type and antitype, prefiguration and fulfillment, shadow and reality, prophecy and “when the time had fully come” (Gal. 4:4).

So far so good. But, as is often the case with Edwards, there’s more. Edwards extends typology to the natural world: “EXTERNAL THINGS are intended to be IMAGES of things spiritual, moral and divine.” He sees an immediate, timeless system of types displayed in the natural world. “The Book of Scripture is the interpreter of the book of nature in two ways. . . by declaring to us those spiritual mysteries that are indeed signified or typified in the constitution of the natural world; and secondly, in actually making application of the signs and types in the book of nature as representations of those spiritual mysteries.”

In other words, according to Scripture the Spirit of God is found using the process of analogy and correspondence throughout the entire created universe. So, some types are temporal, some are timeless. Some are historical, some are eternal.

Whether one completely agrees with Edwards' typological system or not, the advent of spring is good time to see the world through Edwards' eyes.

155. The spring season is spoken of in Scripture as representing a season of the outpouring of the Spirit of God.

212. The immense magnificence of the visible world, its inconceivable vastness, the incomprehensible height of the heavens, etc. is but a type of the infinite magnificence, height and glory of God’s work in the spiritual world: the most incomprehensible expression of his power, wisdom, holiness and love, in what is wrought and brought to pass in that world; and in the exceeding greatness of the moral and natural good, the light, knowledge, holiness and happiness which shall be communicated to it.

28. As thunder, and thunder clouds, as they are vulgarly called, have a shadow of the majesty of God, so the blue sky, the green fields and trees, and pleasant flowers have a shadow of the mild attributes of goodness, grace and love of God, as well as the beauteous rainbow.

33. The extreme fierceness and extraordinary power of the heat of lightning is an intimation of the exceeding power and terribleness of the wrath of God.

40. The gradual vanishing of stars when the sun approaches is a type [of] the gradual vanishing of Jewish ordinances as the Gospel dispensation was introduced.

50. The rising and setting of the sun is a type of the death and resurrection of Christ.

93. Blue, that is, the color of the sky, fades not, intimating that the beauty and luster of heavenly things is unfading.

111. The morning of the day and the spring of the year are remarkable types of the commencement of the glorious times of the church.

137. When we first get up in the morning, we rake open and kindle up the fire. So Christians, when they awake out of a spiritual sleep, re-enkindle their graces.

2. A great RIVER, with its various branches, represents the course of divine providence; thus Christ, when he appeared as the Lord and superintendent of the course of things in providence, is represented in Daniel once and again as standing in the river Hiddekel [Dan. 10].

208. Our BREATH to support life is a representation of our dependence on the Spirit of God for spiritual life.

quotations are taken from Typological Writings, Vol. 11 of the Works of Jonathan Edwards, edited by Wallace E. Anderson, Mason I. Lowance, Jr., and David Watters (New Haven: Yale, 1993).


Anonymous said...

Awesome stuff.

Even within the church of today, there exists a movement to a slight transcendetal or existential approach to understanding nature and its habits.

Thanks for pointing out what Edwards said, as he pointed us towards the scripture once again as the final interpreter. It is amazing to think of how often we like to "interpret" something,thinking we can figure out for ourselves the true meaning behind something, and yet the Holy Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit are the one true being that utimately interpret us and the world in which we live, revealing that all glory and existance find their origin in a benevolant creator!

P.S. I enjoy reading this blog. It is nice to find a Evangelical perspective and biblical approach, compared to so many other blogs.

jazzycat said...

Great post. I am glad to hear Edwards had those opinions. I know I felt an overwhelming presence of God's power and majesty when I viewed delicate arch in Arches Nat. Park a few years ago. If Cindy has never photographed that area, I am sure she would love it.