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any fable, parable, allegory, symbolical action, representation, dream, or vision. It is plain that in this case the term μvornoiov is used comparatively; for, however clear the meaning intended to be conveyed in the apologue or parable may be to the intelligent, it is obscure compared with the literal sense, which to the unintelligent proves a kind of veil. The one is, as it were, open to the senses; the other requires penetration and reflection. Perhaps there was some allusion to the import of the term, when our Lord said to his disciples, "To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables," Mark iv. 11. The apostles were let into the secret, and got the spiritual sense of the similitude, whilst the multitude amused themselves with the letter, and searched no further.


In this sense μvorηpiov is used in these words: "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches," Rev. i. 20. Again, in the same book, "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her," &c. ch. xvii. 7. There is only one other passage to which this meaning of the word is adapted, and on which I shall have occasion to remark afterwards: "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church," Eph. v. 32. Nor is it any objection to this interpretation of the word mystery here, that the apostle alluded not to any fiction, but to an historical fact, the formation of Eve out of the body of Adam her husband. For, though there is no necessity that the story which supplies us with the body of the parable or allegory (if I may so express myself) be literally true, there is, on the other hand, no necessity that it be false. Passages of true history are sometimes allegorized by the sacred penmen. Witness the story of Abraham and his two sons, Isaac by his wife Sarah, and Ishmael by his bond-woman Hagar, of which the apostle has made an allegory for representing the comparative natures of the Mosaic dispensation and the Christian, Gal. iv. 22, &c.

8. As to the passage quoted from the Epistle to the Ephesians, let it be observed, that the word μvornotov is there rendered in the Vulgate sacramentum. Although this Latin word was long used very indefinitely by ecclesiastical writers, it came at length, with the more judicious, to acquire a meaning more precise and fixed. Firmilian calls Noah's ark the sacrament of the church of Christ. It is manifest, from the illustration he subjoins, that he means the symbol, type, or emblem of the church; alluding to an expression of the apostle Peter, 1 Ep. iii. 20, 21. This may, on a superficial view, be thought nearly coincident with the second sense of the word μvornotov above assigned. But, in fact, + Cyp. Epist. 75; in some editions 43.

Diss. X. Part iii. sect. 9.

it is rather an inversion of it. It is not, in Scripture language, the type that is called the mystery, but the antitype; not the sign in any figurative speech or action, but the thing signified. It would, therefore, have corresponded better to the import of the Greek word to say, "The church of Christ is the sacrament of Noah's ark; TO μvorηolov, the secret antitype, which that vessel, destined for the salvation of the chosen few from the deluge, was intended to adumbrate. This use, however, not uncommon among the fathers of the third century, has given rise to the definition of a sacrament as the visible sign of an invisible grace; a definition to which some regard has been paid by most parties, Protestant as well as Romish.

9. But to return to μvornolov: It is plain that the earliest perversion of this word, from its genuine and original sense, (a secret, or something concealed,) was in making it to denote some solemn and sacred ceremony. Nor is it difficult to point out the causes that would naturally bring ecclesiastic writers to employ it in a sense, which has so close an affinity to a common application of the word in profane authors. Among the different ceremonies employed by the heathen in their idolatrous superstitions, some were public and performed in the open courts, or in those parts of the temples to which all had access; others were more secretly performed in places from which the crowd was carefully excluded. To assist, or even be present at these, a select number only was admitted, to each of whom a formal and solemn initiation was necessary. These secret rites, on account of this very circumstance, their secrecy, were generally denominated mysteries. They were different, according to what was thought agreeable to the different deities in whose honour they were celebrated. Thus they had the mysteries of Ceres, the mysteries of Proserpine, the mysteries of Bacchus, &c. Now there were some things in the Christian worship, which, though essentially different from all Pagan rites, had as much resemblance in this circumstance, the exclusion of the multitude, as would give sufficient handle to the heathen, to style them the Christian mysteries.

10. Probably the term would be first applied only to what was called in the primitive church the eucharist, which we call the Lord's supper, and afterwards extended to baptism and other sacred ceremonies. In regard to the first-mentioned ordinance, it cannot be denied that in the article of concealment there was a pretty close analogy. Not only were all infidels, both Jews and Gentiles, excluded from witnessing the commemoration of the death of Christ, but even many believers, particularly the catechumens and the penitents: the former, because not yet initiated by baptism into the church; the latter, because not yet restored to the communion of Christians, after having fallen into some scandalous sin. Besides, the secrecy that Christians were often, on account of the persecutions to which they were exposed,

obliged to observe, which made them meet for social worship in the night-time, or very early in the morning, would naturally draw on their ceremonies from the Gentiles the name of mysteries. And it is not unreasonable to think, that a name which had its rise among their enemies might afterwards be adopted by themselves. The name Christians, first used at Antioch, seems, from the manner wherein it is mentioned in Acts xi. 26, to have been at first given contemptuously to the disciples by infidels, and not assumed by themselves. The common titles by which, for many years after that period, they continued to distinguish those of their own society, as we learn both from the Acts and from Paul's Epistles, were, the faithful or believers, the disciples, and the brethren. Yet, before the expiration of the . apostolic age, they adopted the name Christian, and gloried in it. The apostle Peter uses it in one place, (1 Ep. iv. 16,) the only place in Scripture wherein it is used by one of themselves. Some other words and phrases which became fashionable amongst ecclesiastical writers, might naturally enough be accounted for in the same manner.

11. But how the Greek μvornpov came first to be translated into Latin sacramentum, it is not easy to conjecture. None of the classical significations of the Latin word seems to have any affinity to the Greek term. For whether we understand it simply for a sacred ceremony, (sacramentum from sacrare, as juramentum from jurare,) or for the pledge deposited by the litigants in a process to ensure obedience to the award of the judge, or for the military oath of fidelity-none of these conveys to us either of the senses of the word μvornoIov explained above. At the same time it is not denied, that in the classical import the Latin word may admit an allusive application to the more solemn ordinances of religion, as implying in the participants a sacred engagement equivalent to an oath. All that I here contend for is, that the Latin word sacramentum does not, in any of these senses, convey exactly the meaning of the Greek name μvorηolov, whose place it occupies in the Vulgate. Houbigant, a Romish priest, has, in his Latin translation of the Old Testament, used neither sacramentum nor mysterium; but, where either of these terms had been employed in the Vulgate, he substitutes secretum, arcanum, or absconditum. Erasmus, though he wrote at an earlier period, has only once admitted sacramentum into his version of the New Testament, and said with the Vulgate sacramentum septem stellarum.

Now it is to this practice, not easily accounted for, in the old Latin translators, that we owe the ecclesiastical term sacrament, which, though properly not scriptural, even Protestants have not thought fit to reject: they have only confined it a little in the application, using it solely of the two primary institutions of the gospel, baptism, and the Lord's supper; whereas the Romanists



Yet even

apply it also to five other ceremonies, in all seven. this application is not of equal latitude with that wherein it is used in the Vulgate. The sacrament of God's will,* the sacrament of piety, the sacrament of a dream, the sacrament of the seven stars, § and the sacrament of the woman, || are phrases which sound very strangely in our ears.

12. So much for the introduction of the term sacrament into the Christian theology, which (however convenient it may be for expressing some important rites in our religion) has, in none of the places where it occurs in the Vulgate, a reference to any rite or ceremony whatever, but is always the version of the Greek word μvorηpiov, or the corresponding term in Hebrew or Chaldee. Now the term μvornρiov, as has been shown, is always predicated of some doctrine, or of some matter of fact, wherein it is the intention of the writer to denote, that the information he gives either was a secret formerly, or is the latent meaning of some type, allegory, figurative description, dream, vision, or fact referred to. No religion abounded more in pompous rites and ordinances than the Jewish, yet they are never in Scripture (any more than the ceremonies of the New Testament) denominated either mysteries or sacraments. Indeed with us Protestants, the meanings in present use assigned to these two words are so totally distinct, the one relating solely to doctrine the other solely to positive institutions, that it may look a little oddly to bring them together in the discussion of the same critical question. But to those who are acquainted with Christian antiquity, and foreign use in these matters, or have been accustomed to the Vulgate translation, there will be no occasion for an apology.

13. Before I finish this topic, it is proper to take notice of one passage, wherein the word vornotov, it may be plausibly urged, μυστηριον, must have the same sense with that which present use gives to the English word mystery, and denote something which, though revealed, is inexplicable, and to human faculties unintelligible. The words are, "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory," 1 Tim. iii. 16. I do not here inquire into the justness of this reading, though differing from that of the two most ancient versions, the Syriac and the Vulgate, and some of the oldest manuscripts. The words, as they stand, sufficiently answers my purpose. Admit, then, that some of the great articles enumerated may be justly called mysteries in the ecclesiastical and present acceptation of the term, it does not follow that this is the sense of the term here. When a word in a sentence of holy writ is susceptible of two interpretations, so that the sentence, whichsoever of the two ways the word be in

* Eph. i. 9.

t1 Tim. iii. 16. § Rev. i. 20.

Dan. ii. 18, 30, 47,

Rev. xvii. 7.

terpreted, conveys a distinct meaning suitable to the scope of the place--and when one of these interpretations expresses the common import of the word in holy writ, and the other assigns it a meaning which it plainly has not in any other passage of Scripture-the rules of criticism manifestly require that we recur to the common acceptation of the term. Nothing can vindicate us in giving it a singular, or even a very uncommon signification, but that all the more usual meanings would make the sentence involve some absurdity or nonsense. This is not the case here: The purport of the sentence plainly is, "Great unquestionably is the divine secret, of which our religion brings the discovery: God was manifest in the flesh," &c.



I PROPOSED, in the second place, to offer a few thoughts on the import of the word Bλaopnua, frequently translated blasphemy. I am far from affirming, that the present use of the English word there is such a departure from the import of the original, as in that remarked in the preceding article between μvorηolov and mystery; at the same time it is proper to observe, that in most cases there is not a perfect coincidence. Bλaopnuua properly denotes calumny, detraction, reproachful or abusive language, against whomsoever it be vented. There does not seem, therefore, to have been any necessity for adopting the Greek word into our language, one or other of the English expressions above mentioned being in every case sufficient for conveying the sense. Here, as in other instances, we have, with other moderns, implicitly followed the Latins, who had in this no more occasion than we for a phraseology not originally of their own growth. To have uniformly translated, and not transferred, the words Blaopnua and Bλaopnue, would have both contributed to perspicuity, and tended to detect the abuse of the terms when wrested from their proper meaning. That Blaopnuua and its conjugates are in the New Testament very often applied to reproaches not aimed against God, is evident from the passages referred to in the margin;* in the much greater part of which the English translators, sensible that they could admit no such application, have not used the words blaspheme or blasphemy, but rail, revile, speak evil, &c. In one of the passages quoted, (Jude 9,) a reproachful charge brought even against the devil is called κρισις βλασφημίας, and rendered by them railing accusation. That the word in some

iii. 8; xiv. 16. 1 Cor. iv. 13; x. 30. iv. 4, 14. Jude 9, 10.

* Matt. xii. 31, 32; xxvii. 39. Mark xv. 29. Luke xxii. 65; xxiii. 39. Rom. Eph. iv. 31. 1 Tim. vi. 4., Tit. iii. 2. 1 Pet. 2 Pet. ii. 10, 11.

Acts vi. 11, 13.

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