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not absolutely impossible. Does Mr. Carson mean that, in assigning the meaning to words, we are not to regard the nature and properties of the things spoken of at all? Or that we are to regard them only when they render a particular meaning impossible? But why this distinction ? On what is it founded? Here are nine cases in which a given secondary meaning is probable, in different degrees, rising one above another, till at last we reach a tenth, in which no other meaning is possible. Here says Mr. Carson is something worthy of being regarded ; but all the nine preceding degrees must be dismissed as ciphers. Is this sound philosophy
But Mr. Carson says that my principle is the same with that of the Unitarians. I reply, so is his. My principle is, that in assigning secondary meanings to words, we are to regard the nature of the things spoken of; and this is his,-and it is also a principle of the Unitarians, and of all persons of common sense. Does a truth cease to be a truth because Unitarians hold it?
But Mr. Carson says that, on the ground of probabilities derived from the thing spoken of, Unitarians and Neologists explain away the word of God. So they do on the ground of possibilities derived from the nature of the things spoken of. Has Mr. Carson never heard the argument, that three persons
cannot be one God? and that the word God is therefore to be taken in a lower and secondary sense, when applied to Christ?
And will he reject a true principle of interpretation because it may be and has been falsely applied? The principle is true, let it lead to what results it may, that in the interpretation of all language we must look at the things spoken of, and regard all that we know of their nature, properties and laws, and not needlessly involve a writer in a contradiction of any of them ; and especially is this true of the word of God, for it is inspired; and he who made the laws of mind and matter is not to be represented as contradicting them in his word. And yet, what principle have Unitarians employed more than this against the Trinity? Is it then a Unitarian principle ? Nay, rather it is a true principle; falsely applied, indeed, but still true.
So the principle of regarding probabilities derived from the nature of the subject
, in assigning secondary senses to words, may be abused; yet, it is nevertheless a true principle, and one of vast importance.
We are also to regard the primary meaning in assigning secondary senses. It would not be rational to assign to Bantico
the sense to sing or dance, because no law of the mind, and no circumstances, manners or customs, led from the sense immerse to them, and no analogy illustrates such a transition: they are, a priori, and in every respect improbable. It is not so of the sense to purify. It denotes an effect of immersion in
water. Such a transition is natural; it follows the analogy of language and circumstances, and renders it probable; of course it admits of an easy proof by probabilities derived from the nature of the thing spoken of.
Such is my answer to Mr. Carson's vaunted argument from the Columbo bridge. The case is this: Near Columbo is a school, on the bank of a river; over this river is a bridge of boats. It is related by Whitecross, that certain boys, too poor to pay the toll, were accustomed to swim across the river to attend the school. Here, says Mr. Carson, according to Mr. Beecher's philology, if we had only a general statement of the fact, that the boys so swam, a foreigner must take swim, as meaning to walk over a bridge of boats, for it is entirely improbable that the boys would swim when there was a bridge. To this I reply: Mr. Carson admits that no one who reads the whole story in Whitecross could make such a mistake. For he tells us that they did not cross the bridge, and why ;—and why they swam, and carried their books, and how. As to Banticw, we have the whole story. If we had but a part of the story, as to the boys, still I reply, there is no relation between the sense to swim, and the sense to walk on a bridge, such as exists between immerse and purify. Immersion in pure water tends to produce purification. Does swimming in a river tend to produce walking over a bridge ? Mr. Carson alleges that words denoting unlike modes, have nothing in common. How then can swimming in water tend to the sense, walking on a bridge? Can Mr. Carson refer me to such a transition in the whole range of the Greek language, or any other ? Why then does he set this forth as a case parallel with mine, and adapted clearly to show my folly? Yet, he exults as if this case were an end of all controversy, and refers to it in his reply again and again. Miserable is that cause that drives its advocates to such shifts
§. 50. Appeal to facts.
But all principles are seen most clearly in the light of facts. To them then let us turn.
Clemens Alexandrinus (p. 387, Lugduni Batav. 1616,) says η εικών του βάπτισματος είη αν και η εκ Μωϋσέως παραδεδομένη τοϊς ποιηταίς ωδεπως :
‘H 8 úderuauévn xaongd xpoi čiuat' človod, (Odyss. 4: 759.) η Πενέλοπη επί την ευχήν έρχεται---Τηλέμαχος δε
Χείρας νιψάμενος πολιής αλός εύχετ Αθήνη (Odyss. 2: 261.) "Έθος τούτο Ιουδαιών ως και το πολλάκις επί κοίτη βαπτίζεσθαι.
On this I remark,
1. That Clement is in the context speaking of Christian baptism.
2. He states that “ that may be an image of baptism which has been handed down from Moses to the poets, thus
Penelope having washed herself, and having on her body clean apparel, goes to prayer, and Telemachus having washed his hands in the hoary sea, prayed to Minerva. This was the custom of the Jews that they also should be often baptized upon their couch.”
Let us now look at the nature of things. Here is before us as a nation, the Jews. They were accustomed to recline on couches at meals. These couches were large enough to hold from three to five persons. Clement states that it was their custom to be baptized often upon their couch. We know that as a matter of fact it was their custom to wash their hands often during their meals whilst reclining upon their couches-and the frequent immersion of men on a couch during their meals is an unheard of thing. We look at the context. He had just spoken of Telemachus as washing his hands-using-vinta-and of Penelope as washing herself, using úðgaivo, a word perfectly generic, and no more limited to one mode than our word wash. We look further on, and we find that these are spoken of as an image of baptism handed down from Moses to the poets. We reflect that these are rites of purification, and that Clement had been speaking of purity as essential in order to see God. And can we longer doubt? Washing the hands is a purification. Pilate used it to denote his innocence. The Pslamist says, I will wash my hands in innocence. All things point us to purity and purification. The sense is a priori probable we adopt it. We believe that the Jews were in the habit of purifying themselves often upon their couch at meals, just as Telemachus did, that is, by washing their hands.
But was it not possible to have a fixed pully over each couch in the dining room,
and ropes attached to the corners of the
couch, and a baptistery in the floor below covered by a trap door, and was it not possible to elevate the couches, open the trap doors, and immerse guests and couches together, and to do it often during the same meal ? But it would be excessively inconvenient. No matter for that, what will not superstition do? But washing hands is spoken of as an image of baptism. No matter, it is an image of it as to its nature, whatever may be the meaning of the name. (We shall hereafter see how much use Mr. Carson makes of this distinction.) Now all this may be said. Mr. Carson on his principles is obliged to say it. But whom will it convince? None but the man who has a cause to maintain which is lost so soon as he admits that the word Bantiso means to purify, irrespective of mode.
Now in this case, the probability is so high as to produce on every disinterested mind the impression of certainty, yet because it does not reach Mr. Carson's arbitrary canon it is to be rejected as a cipher. But who will dare to reject it! After the violence of party spirit has put forth all its energies, common sense will certainly resume her sway and cover all such evasions with merited disgrace.
Let us look at another case.
Justin Martyr (p. 164 London, 1772,) says, ci vào Aos εκεινού του βάπτισματος, και την σάρκα και μόνον το σώμα φαιδρύνει και βαπτίσθητε την ψυχήν από οργής, και από πλεονεξίας, από φθόνου, από μισούς και ιδού το σώμα καθαρόν έστι. «What is the profit of that baptism which purifies the flesh and the body alone ? Be baptized as to your souls, from anger and from covetousness, from envy and from hatred, and lo! your body is pure.” We look at the nature of things. An actual immersion for the sake of purity does not belong to the mind. We look at the usages of language. The mind is never spoken of as figuratively immersed, for mental purity. It is spoken of as immersed in cares, troubles, pollution, &c. We look at the lan
Bantita is followed by ånò preceding that from which the mind is to be cleansed--this suits the sense to purify, but not the sense to immerse. We say naturally be purified from anger-not be immersed from anger. We look at the context. Justin had been speaking of the atonement of Christ, and of its power to cleanse from sin. He had just spoken of the passage in Isaiah, wash you, make you clean, as referring to baptism. He has spoken of purifying, washing, cleansing, in various forms, but has used no undisputed equivalent of imNEW SERIES, VOL. IX, NO. I.
mersion, such as xaradúa. Whether then we look at the nature of things, or the general usages of language, or the particular language of this passage, or of the context, all tends to one result
. All things, with united voice, call out for the sense to purify. And it is the sense; and the true translation of the passage is this:“ What is the profit of that purification, which purifies the flesh and the body alone? Be purified as to your souls, from anger and from covetousness, from envy and from hatred, and lo! your body is pure.” And long after all the efforts of party spirit to wrest it to any other sense have found an ignominious grave, it will stand in its native simplicity and beauty, satisfying and delighting every candid mind by its inherent and self-evidencing power of truth. Another sense can indeed be forced on these words by the violence of arbitrary canons of logic and rhetoric. But the laws of language, and of the human mind, though for a time suppressed by force, cannot die. They will break through all rhetorical and logical chains, and assert and make good their indefeasible claims.
I do not advocate these principles so earnestly because there are no passages that can meet Mr. Carson's highest claims,-in my third number I have produced such, and I have many more to produce before I close, -- but because I wish to repel his unreasonable claims of evidence, and to restore the usages of language to their true and inherent liberties, against his violence and force.
The human mind is an instrument of wondrous delicacy, and language is its mirror. The slightest influences of taste, circumstances, and subjects of thought affect its meaning. The manner in which it passes from sense to sense in the use of words is to be ascertained by observation, and cannot be fixed, a priori, by theory. And if it passes easily from sense to sense, in words of a given class, no man has a right to make the proof that it has so passed difficult, yea, almost impossible, for party ends, and by arbitrary canons of evidence. Yet this, Mr. Carson has done. He has provided rhetorical and logical cords and chains, for forcing back and confining to the primitive sense all usages of the word Bantíšw which seem to have left it, and happy is that word which has energy enough to retain its inalienable rights of freedom after he has laid his hands
§ 51. Mr. Carson's principles subvert themselves. But happily, Mr. Carson furnishes the means of destroying