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QN THE PROPER AND IMPROPER USE OF TERMS
Notwithstanding the number of words found in even – guage, they are far from being equal to the nun, ideas found in the human mind. Hence it is that one and to term has a variety of meanings; and hence arises the dis between the proper, and improper, or figurative use of The word xx abib, e.g. the first in the Hebrew lexicon, . First, verdure, or greenness. Job. viii. 12. Secondly, ... eorn on its first appearance, being then of a green colou ii. 14. Thirdly, a month in the Jewish year, falling sc about March or April, when corn in that country began Here we see the progress of language, and the causes of ideas being affixed to the same term. When a name is express an idea, men do not think of making a new on it by something already known, to which it bears are and as this resemblance is frequently confined to or property, and some times to one that is not so, hence to pass that the more objects a term is applied to ther it commonly advances from the original idea. tioning the month Abib, e. g. a Jew would think greenness or verdure, which is its true and primar but merely of the time of his forefathers comi o Egypt, and of the institution of the passover. Yet in *ofrom the meaning of scripture terms, it becomes of im ascertain the true primitive, or proper sense, and to . #econdary and figurative applications by it as a standa peers to me, that many important errors have been int defended, for want of attending to this rule, which is common sense. Instead of defining a term according ry or proper meaning, and resting nothing upon its so figurative applications, any further than they accor feverse has been the practice. The pronor mean _ "
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sion of the Holy Spirit, and to some other things wherein immersion is inadmissible. Be it so: still it amounts to no more than this, —That the term baptizo, like almost every other term, has its sec. ondary and figurative senses. Its proper and primary meaning is allowed by the most learned paedobaptists in all ages, to be that which the antipaedobaptists contend for; and this is the only mean. ing which ought to be called in to settle a dispute. By the contrary method, it were easy to prove that the English word immersion does not mean dipping or plunging; for if a person be very wet by rain, it is common to say he is immersed, merely because he is as wet as if he had been immersed. To generalize the meaning of a term, in order to include its secondary or figurative senses, is the way to lose its true and proper sense ; and if applied universally, might go to undermine all the great doctrines of Christianity.
Williams on Solomon's Song, which appeared in your last number, was calculated, whatever might be the design, to undermine the divine authority of that book; and by consequence, of revelation in general. I must add, I wish that some other pieces, particularly that on the Time of the Creation, had had less of a skeptical tendency. The reviewer puts the following query : “Had Solomon, in writing this poem, any spiritual intentions in reference to the Mes
siah; or was it accommodated by some pious teachers in the Jewish church, to illustrate the sublime connexion between the Son of God and his chureh, as the domestic relation of Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael,do that of the two covenants?" p. 392.
In answering this query, I shall put a few others to him, and to the reader.
First: If there be no spiritual intention in this poem, wherein consists its excellence as the Song of Songs; and has it any right to a place in the oracles of God?
Secondly: If it have no right there, by what evidence, except what is merely internal, can it be proved that several other books have any right there; (hose especially to which no express reference is made in the New Test»ment?
Thirdly: If it have no right there, it had none in the time of our Saviour and his apostles. Th»t it tens there at that time, is, I believe, denied by none: but if the Old Testament scriptures then contained a book which had nothing spiritual or divine in it. How came they to appeal to them as being All given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, reproof , correction, instruction in righteousness, &c. Why, especially, did they whose work it was to finish the canon of scripture, leave in it a book uninspired of God, and of no spiritual use?
Fourthly: What reason can be given for questioning the divine authority of Solomon's Song, which does not apply with equal force to the forty-fifth Psalm, which in the New Testament is expressly applied to the Son of God?
Fifthly : Is not the insinuation concerning pious teachers who are supposed to have invented the spiritual meaning of this Song, designed to detract from their wisdom; and while it detracts from theirs, does it not contain an unworthy reflection upon the apostle Paul?
Whether I can understand the meaning of every part of this divine Song or not; or whether it has ever been rightly interpreted, is no part of the question; all I am concerned about at present is, that its divine authority should not be called in question.
THE NECESSITY OF SEEKING THOSE THINGS FIRST, WHICH ARE OF THE FIRST IMPORTANCE.
A Great part of the evil which prevails in the world, consists in an entire neglect of what God commands, or in doing what he has expressly forbidden; but not the whole of it. There may be an attachment to many things, which in themselves are right, and yet the whole may be rendered worse than void by the want of order, or a regard to things according to their importance. Our Lord did not censure the Pharisees for attending to the lesser matters of the law, but for attending to them to the neglect of the greater. If we pursue things as primary, which ought to occupy only a secondary or subordinate place in the system, we subvert the whole, and employ ourselves in doing what is worse than nothing.
I think I see the operation of this principle among us, and that to a wide extent. I see it among the unconverted, among the converted, and among different parties or denominations of Christians.
First: It is by this that great numbers who lay their accounts with obtaining the kingdom of heaven will be found to have deceived themselves. It may be too much to say of them, that they do not seek the kingdom of God; but they seek it not as a first or primary object. The world is their chief good, and the kingdom of God only occupies a secondary plaee in their affections. They wish to attend to their everlasting concerns; but they cannot spare time. Now, we can commonly spare time for that which we love best. The sensualist can find time for his pleasures, and the man of the world for getting money. They can think of these things when sitting in the house, or walking in the way; and every thing else is made to bend, or give way to them. The result is, this preposterous conduct mars the whole; for God and religion must be supreme, or nothing. There are certain relations, even among us, in which it is impossible to be contented with a secondary place, [fa wife give her heart to another than her husband