Page images

the last clause is in Chaldee, “I am cleaner than 6 thou."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

$ 12. In regard to the third sense, separated or prepared for a special purpose, there are several examples. The appointing of places for cities of refuge is, both in the original, and in the Septuagint 69, called sanctifying them. To make ready for war is, in several places, to sanctify war 165. In such places, however, the Seventy have not imitated the Hebrew penmen, probably thinking it too great a stretch for the Greek language to employ ayrazw in this manner. In one place, men are said to be sanctified for destruction 105, that is, devoted or prepared for it. To devote to a bad, even to an idolatrous use, is called to sanctify. Thus, both in Hebrew, and in Greek, Micah's mother is said 167 to sanctify the silver which she had devoted for making an idol, for her and her family to worship. From this application, probably, has sprung such anomalous productions as op kedeshah, a prostitute, and Diw7p kedeshim, Sodomites. Nor is this so strange as it may at first appear. Similar examples may be found in most tongues. The Latin sacer, which commonly signifies sacred, holy, venerable, sometimes denotes the contrary, and is equivalent to scelestus. Auri sacra fames, the execrable thirst of gold.

[ocr errors]

164 Josh. xx. 7. 166 Jer. xii. .3.

165 Jer, vi. 4. Mic. iii. 5. 167 Judg. xvii. 3.

[ocr errors]

§ 13. The fourth meaning mentioned, was de voted to a religious or pious use. Thus Jeremiah was sanctified 168, from the womb, in being ordained a Prophet unto the nations; the priests and the Le. vites were sanctified or consecrated for their respective sacred offices. It were losing time to produce examples of an use so frequently to be met with in Scripture, and almost in every page of the Books of Moses. In this sense, (for it admits degrees) the Jewish nation was called holy, they being consecrated to God by circumcision, the seal of his covenant; in this sense also, all who profess Christianity are denominated saints, having been dedicated to God in their baptism.

[ocr errors]

g 14. Of the fifth meaning, according to which, to hallow or sanctify denotes to respect, to honour, to venerate ; and holy denotes respectable, honourable, venerable; we have many examples. Thus to hallow God is opposed to profaning his name that is, to treating him with irreverence and disre. spect. It is opposed also to the display of a want of confidence in his power, and in his promise I7o. It is in this meaning the word is used, when we are required to sanctify the Sabbath, that is, to treat it with respect; and are commanded to pray that God's name may be hallowed, that is, honoured, revered. It is in this meaning chiefly that the word

768 Jer, i. 5.

169 Lev. xxii. 32.

170 Numb. XX, 12.

seems, in a lower degree, applied to angels, and, in the highest, to the Lord of heaven and earth.

There are some things which incline me to conclude, that this is more properly the import of the word, at least in the application to God, than, as is commonly supposed, moral excellence in general. Doubtless, both the moral, and what are called the natural, attributes of God, may be considered as, in some respect, included, being the foundations of that profound reverence with which he ought ever to be mentioned, and more especially addressed by mortals. But it is worthy of our notice, that when the term holy is applied to God, and accompanied with other attributives, they are such as infuse fear rather than love, and suggest ideas of vengeance rather than of grace.

When Joshua found it necessary to alarm the fears of an inconsiderate nation, he told them, Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God, he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions and sins 171. Again, this epithet holy is more frequently than any other applied to God's name. Now, if we consider what other epithets are thus applied in Scripture, we shall find that they are not those which express any natu. ral or moral qualities abstractedly considered; they are not the names of essential attributes, but such only as suggest the sentiments of awe and reverence with which he ought to be regarded by every reasonable creature. No mention is made of God's

171 Joshua, xxiv. 19.

wise name, powerful name, or true name, good name, or merciful name, faithful name, or righteous name; yet all these qualities, wisdom, power, truth, goodness, mercy, faithfulness, and righteousness, are, in numberless instances, ascribed to God, as the eternal and immutable perfections of his nature: but there is mention of his fearful name, his glorious name, his great name, his reverend name, and his excellent name, sometimes even of his dreadful name, but oftenest of his holy name ; for all these terms are comparative, and bear an immediate reference to the sentiments of the humble worshipper. Nay, as the epithet holy is often found in conjunction with some of the others above mentioned, which admit this application, they serve to explain it. Thus the Psalmist 173, Let them praise thy great and terrible name, for it is holy. Again 173, Holy and reverend is his name.

What was the display which Jehovah made to the Philistines, when his ark was in their possession, a display which extorted from them the acknowledgment that the God of Israel is a holy God, before whom they could not stand ? It was solely of sove. reignty and uncontroullable power in the destruction of their idol god Dagon, and great numbers of the people. This filled them with such terror at the bare sight of the ark, the symbol of God's presence, as was too much for them to bear. And indeed

172 Psal. xcix, 3.

173 Psal. cxi, 9.


both the Greek áylos, and the Latin sanctus, admit the same meaning, and are often equivalent to augustus, venerandus.

The former term augustus, Castalio has frequently, and not improperly, adopted in his version, when the Hebrew word kadosh is applied to God. The change of the epithet sanctus is not necessary ; but if perspicuity be thought in a particular case to require it, I should prefer the latter term venerandus, as more expressive of religious

Further, when the term holy is ascribed by angels to God, we find it accompanied with such words or gestures as are expressive of the profoundest awe and veneration.

The description, action, and exclamation of the seraphim in Isaiah 174, lead our thoughts more to the ideas of majesty and transcendent glory than to those of a moral nature. I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lofty, and his train filled the temple : above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings : with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah the God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. And the pillars of the porch were shaken by the voice of him that cried; and the house was filled with smoke. Every thing in this description is awful and majestic. That he is the Lord of hosts who dwelleth on high, in whose august presence even the seraphim must veil their faces, and that the whole

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »