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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:125 (Jan 1875)
Article: The Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language
Author: W. M. Thomson


The Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language

Rev. W. M. Thomson

No. IV. —Types And Symbols

The above caption is sufficiently broad to include most of the topics that will now claim attention. It introduces a subject which is, of course, too large and comprehensive to be adequately developed in the space allowed to a single Article. The prophet-poets of the Bible, and poet-prophets as well, held most intimate communion with external nature, and were quick to discover the latent symbols and emblems of spiritual things, higher and holier than themselves, which lay enshrined in all the visible works of God. And, because they were wise, they gave good heed and sought out acceptable words for the thoughts and emotions that stirred within them. Hence they dealt largely and boldly in figure and type and emblem. They could not do otherwise. Mere verbal formulas were quite inadequate to express the marvellous revelations of things divine which they were commissioned to proclaim. They looked up through the clear, bright heavens of Palestine, and they declared the glory of God. Day unto day uttered speech, night unto night showed knowledge.

“Though nor real voice nor sound
Amidst their radiant orbs be found,
In reason’s ear they all rejoice
And utter forth a glorious voice;
Forever singing as they shine
The hand that made us is divine.”

And so, too, does the wide and teeming earth and old ocean, with all that on and in them is. The wild storm has a

voice, and the sweet calm. Lightning and thunder and rain and snow,

“Seasons and months and weeks and days
Utter successive songs of praise.”

The beasts of the forest and cattle on a thousand hills, birds of the air and fish in the sea, all natural objects, in fact, hold within them, and reveal to eyes inspired, suggestive emblems and shadows of moral and religious truth; and so, of course, and in a higher sphere, do the ways and works and institutions of man. We are prepared therefore to find the book written, by nature’s inspired interpreters, crowded with words and thoughts derived immediately from this exhaustless source. To show how and to what extent this has pervaded and permeated our spiritual vocabulary is the specific object of the present Article.

The existence of genuine biblical types is here assumed, and no special attempt will be made to establish this fact, nor to illustrate the legitimate method of their interpretation. The belief in them has formed part of the common heritage of the church in all ages. The devout student of the Bible has always recognized and accepted them, and greatly delighted to meditate upon and expla...

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