The Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language -- By: W. M. Thomson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 031:121 (Jan 1874)
Article: The Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language
Author: W. M. Thomson

The Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language1

Rev. W. M. Thomson

Divine Names And Titles

The subject discussed in the previous Article is far from being exhausted, and the present is a continuation of it; with this difference, however, that the names which will now come under consideration have no necessary connection with, or dependence upon, the Theocracy. They may have grown out of it, and have derived much of their significance from it, yet their true basis can be traced to something else in, or belonging to, this land of the Bible: something in the physical features of the country and its productions; in its geographical position and relations; in the manners, customs, and institutions of the people dwelling in it,’ and in the marvellous incidents which have symbolized its wonderful history. Our present task, therefore, is to ascertain, if we can, by what process of analogy, or otherwise, these common things, and the names for them, became so transfigured from the earthly to the spiritual and the divine, that they could be safely applied to the invisible and incomprehensible God; and when so applied, what is their true significance, what the specific nature and amount of revelation which they contain and teach?

Those who may never have had occasion to make a special study of this subject will probably be somewhat surprised at the number and variety of these divine names. They may even think many of them quite beneath the dignity of the subject, or wanting in due reverence, and some which even violate the requirements of modesty; but it will appear on

examination that none of them can be justly charged with these deviations from propriety, when due allowance i& made for the age, the country, and the customs of the people; nay, those most open to the objections referred to (such, for example, as the names, offices, actions, and emotions emanating from the domestic, parental, and conjugal relations) will be found to be eminently beautiful, instructive, and comforting.

It may be thought by some that in the entire course of this discussion too much importance is attached to the matter of mere language. “What is in a name”? Words are but empty air; names are but the exterior and useless shell; the thing signified is the kernel. But this is a very inadequate statement. Language is far more than the mere vesture, or even the vehicle, of thought; it is both parent and nurse of the thought. There is much in a name; most of all in these divine names. They are our teachers and guides, without which we can make no valuable acquisitions in this field of knowledge. They are self-luminous lamps, hung around the inf...

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