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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:133 (Jan 1877)
Article: Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language
Author: W. M. Thomson

Natural Basis Of Our Spiritual Language

Rev. W. M. Thomson

VI.—The Sun Of Righteousness

From circumstances in which the readers of the Bibliotheca Sacra have no interest, the writer of these Essays cannot extend them so far as the nature of the subject may seem to demand. He is aware that many departments of the general subject remain to be developed, including such wide and suggestive topics as agriculture, architecture, domestic economy, food, garments, personal ornaments, amusements, occupations, trades, navigation, commerce, education, superstitions, diseases and medicines, death, funerals, and mourning, crimes and modes of punishment, miscellaneous manners and customs, and other things, almost innumerable, which have contributed more or less to the wealth of our religious language, but which do not readily group themselves around any common centre. Many of these considerations must be relegated to some future period.

The present Number will be devoted to certain topics which show that as the time drew nigh when the religion of the Bible ceased to be exclusively, or even mainly, confined to the Hebrews, the verbal vehicle — the names, metaphors, figures, and symbols — also ceased to be exclusively Palestinian. When, in the fulness of time, Christ came, and introduced that dispensation which contemplates all lands and is to include all people, these names, symbols, and similitudes became likewise universal, and many of them even Western and European. In a word, the natural basis for this part of our spiritual language must be sought for outside the Holy Land. To establish and illustrate this important fact, we select our

first example from the last chapter of the Old Testament. This selection will also show that some of these terms admit of indefinite expansion. So the amount of revelation — if the expression be allowable — which they contain will vary according to the knowledge and antecedent education of the recipients. This is pre-eminently true with regard to the sayings and parables of our Lord; but even such familiar words as Creator, Redeemer, King, Shepherd, and many others, will impart more or less of important truth in proportion to the previous culture of these who employ them. No better example of this principle can be selected than the prophetic title given to the promised Saviour by Malachi: “Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2). The attributes and offices of the material sun, obvious to all mankind, and which probably suggested the application of this name to the promised Redeemer, are, light-giver, ruler of the day, and source of genial warmth and universal li...

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