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SKETCHES FROM SCRIPTURE
THE ROBE OF CHRIST.
IN a psalm written by King David more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ—a psalm which has always been considered prophetical of the Saviour's sufferings, and which commences with the very words of deep agony which were uttered by him when hanging on the cross,- -a circumstance is introduced as if intended to indicate the extremity of his distress :-"They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."
The literal fulfilment of this prophecy is mentioned by all the evangelists. St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, merely state the fact, that the soldiers, who attended at the Saviour's crucifixion,
parted his garments, casting lots." St. John alone states why they did so. "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," (St. John, xix. 23, 24.)
Although this extraordinary and exact fulfilment of an ancient prophecy, is the only reason professedly assigned for mentioning the circumstance here stated, some have thought that there is an emblematical meaning couched under the fact, that one of these garments, here called his coat, was woven of one entire piece, without a seam.
We are informed by Josephus,* that the High Priest of the Jews wore a garment of this very description. Now the Jewish High Priest was typical of Christ, and every thing respecting his vestments and ornaments had also some typical signification. We need not, therefore, be surprised, that his great antitype, the High Priest of our profession, wore, while on earth, a garment similar to that of his type or representative; and we may reasonably conclude, that this may also have borne some typical or emblematical meaning.
What, then, shall we say, was the emblematical meaning, or mystery, shadowed forth under the form and texture of the Saviour's robe?
May not the texture of this robe-woven of one entire piece, without a seam-have been intended as an emblem of the uniformity, consistency, and close indissoluble connection, subsisting throughout every part of the Sacred Scriptures? Whether it have been so intended or not, the parallel between them, in these respects, holds in a remarkable degree: and if this is admitted, the question of intention is one of very inferior consequence; but some circumstances make it probable that this parallel is not altogether accidental.
The mere writings or compositions constituting the Holy Scriptures, expressed in human language, in accomodation to human weakness and ignorance, cannot of themselves be considered as the "Word" (or message) of God; but merely as the vehicle by which it is conveyed to the human understanding. Much of the language of Scripture is figurative, and the true meaning concealed under a variety of types, and dark metaphorical allusions. This was necessarily the case, for the things of heaven cannot be directly and literally expressed in the language of the earth. By a too literal interpretation of their own prophetical writings, the Jews failed of discovering their true scope and meaning, and their
minds are not opened to the genuine sense of them, even to this day.
The true "Word"-the real import and meaning of the Scriptures-the Spirit which animated the prophets, and which lives and breathes in their writings-is, we are told, "quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the joints and the marrow." This cannot be said of the mere letter of the Scripture. "The letter killeth; the Spirit maketh alive."
Holding then the Scriptures taken as compositions-considered merely as a book, or a series of books. not to be themselves "the Word," but merely the outward vehicle or covering of the Word— the garb or clothing in which it is exhibited to man— perhaps it may be permitted us to imagine, that the vesture worn by the Saviour, the real living "Word made man," -was formed as it was, as a sensible emblem or type of those sacred writings by which his mind and will are made known to the human race.
Let us consider the parallel a little farther. The robe, (or coat,) was without seam, woven from the top throughout."
And do not the Scriptures agree with this in a most remarkable degree? Though written by various hands-in distant ages and countries, and in different languages-the whole hang together with
a closeness and consistency in the substance and matter—an unity of purpose and object, which no other writings equally extensive possess, and such as to render them one entire and indivisible whole. There is no artificial joining of parts-nothing in their union that appears the result of human contrivance. The manner in which one part grows upon, and is united to another, more resembles the successive additions to, and growth of some productions of nature.
As the garment was "woven from the top throughout," we may trace this oneness and consistency of purpose, from the very commencement to the end of Scripture-from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of Revelation.
Throughout the Old Testament, history, law, and prophecy are so interwoven with one another, that there is no possibility of their being torn asunder. The first dark promise or prophecy of a Saviour, is given even in the words of the sentence pronounced on man at the Fall. The whole history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is interspersed with a vein of prophecy. The call of the former patriarch to leave his people and his kindred, was connected with a prophecy, often renewed, that " in him, and in his seed, should all the families of the earth be blessed." A particular promise was afterwards given to him of a son, and another that his des