Page images
PDF
EPUB

thy footstool. If the Messiah were David's Son, would David call him his Lord ? To this none of them could answer. They were confounded; yet from our very different usages, whereby such titles, if due at all, are due alike from superiors as from inferiors and equals; we cannot easily, at first, feel the strength of this argument. I have observed already, that an independent monarch, such as David, acknowledged no lord or master but God. Far less would he bestow this title on a son or descendant. It was customary, because respectful, and in the natural order of subordination, for a son so to address his father. Accordingly, in the parable of the man who had two sons, the elder son is thus represented as answering his father, Eyw xypus 27. It is the same word which is commonly rendered lord, but in this place sir. The same title was also given by Rachel to her father Laban, when he came into her tent, in quest of his images 5, and even by Jacob, after his return from Padam Aram, to his elder brother Esau ". In no instance, however, will it be found given by a father to his son. This, according to their notions of paternal dignity and authority, which were incomparably higher than ours, would have been preposte

The Pharisees, and other hearers, were so sensible of this that, however much they showed themselves, on most occasions, disposed to cavil, our Saviour's observation struck them dumb. None of them could answer. 27 Matth. xxi. 30.

28 Gen. xxxi. 35. 29 Gen. xxxii. 4, 5.

60

rous.

VOL. I.

$ 9. Though the general belief of the Jews at that time was, that the Messiah would be a much greater man than David, a mighty conqueror, and éven a universal monarch, the sovereign of the kings of the earth, who was to subdue all nations, and render them tributary to the chosen people ; yet they still supposed him to be a mere man, possessed of no higher nature than that which he derived from his earthly progenitors. Though their Rabbies at that time agreed that the words quoted were spoken of the Messiah, and spoken by David, the diffi. culty suggested by our Lord seems never to have occurred to them ; and now that it was pointed out, they appeared, by their silence, to admit that, on the received hypothesis, it was incapable of a solution. It was plainly our Saviour's intention to insinuate, that there was, in this character, as delinea. ted by the Prophets, and suggested by the Royal Psalmist, something superior to human, which they were not aware of. And, though he does not, in express words, give the solution, he leaves no person who reflects, at a loss to infer it. I have been the more particular in this illustration, in order to shew of how much importance it is, for attaining a critical acquaintance with the import of words in the sacred languages, to become acquainted with the customs, sentiments, and manners of the people.

§ 10. The name xvpios, in the New Testament, is most frequently translated, in the common version, lord, sometimes sir, sometimes master, and

may oc

once owner. It corresponds pretty nearly, except when it is employed in translating the name Jehovah, to the Latin dominus, and to the Italian signore. But there is not any one word, either in French or in English, that will so generally answer. It casionally be applied to a man in any station, except the very lowest, because, to men of every other station there are inferiors. It is always proper, as applied to God, to whom every creature is inferior. In the former of these applications, namely to man, it frequently corresponds, but not invariably, to the French monsieur, and to the English sir, or master. In the application to God, it answers always to the French seigneur, and to the English lord. There is a necessity, in these two languages, of changing the term, in compliance with the idiom of the tongue. Domine in Latin, and signor in Italian, in like manner as kyrie in Greek, and adoni in Hebrew, are equally suitable, in addressing God or man.

But every body must be sensible, that this cannot be affirmed of the compellation of monsieur in French, or sir in English.

ý 11. There is something so peculiar in the English use of these familiar titles, that it may

be

proper to take particular notice of it, before I proceed to the application of them in translating. In regard to the term sir, the most common of all, let it be observed, first, that, in its ordinary acceptation, it is never used, except in the vocative answering to kyrie and domine ; secondly, that it is never joined to the

name of a person, neither to the Christian name, nor to the surname. When the proper name is used, master, not sir, must be prefixed. I say this of the word sir, in its ordinary acceptation; for when it serves as the distinguishing title of knighthood, it is used in all the cases, and is always pre. fixed to the Christian name. But for this application there is no occasion in translating. The third thing I shall observe, on the ordinary acceptation of the word, is, that it never admits the article, either definite or indefinite. This, indeed, is a consequence of its use being confined to the vocative. Lastly, it has not a proper plural. The word sirs, originally the plural, and equally respectful with the singular, is now rarely used. When it is used, it is with some difference in meaning. The compellation sir, almost always shows respect; but sirs shows a degree of familiarity hardly consistent with respect. It is most commonly employed in speaking to a crowd, or to inferiors. We usually supply the plural of sir, in our addresses to others, by the word gentlenien. But this bears so strong a signature of the distinctions which obtain in modern Europe, that it could not be used with propriety in the translation of an ancient author.

Now, as to the title of lord, I have several peculiarities to observe. In the first place, when in the vocative, without either the possessive pronoun my prefixed, or any name or title annexed, the application is invariably, according to the best use at present, to God or Christ. When it is addressed to men

(now it is only to noblemen, and to persons in certain eminent stations that use permits us to give it), it is always either preceded by the pronoun my, or followed by the title, or both. Thus, to say, Lord, or, O Lord, help me! is nowhere proper but in an address to God: whereas, Help me, my lord, is proper only when spoken to a man.

The distinction now taken notice of, is, if I mistake not, sacredly observed in the common version of the Old Testament. There are two cases, indeed, in which my Lord, in the vocative, is applied to God; but the intention, in both, is sufficiently marked. In one case, whereof there occur a few examples, it is preceded by the interjection 0! which adds solemnity to the invocation: O! my Lord 3". The other is, when it is coupled with my God, as in this ", Awake to my judgment, my God, and my Lord. Another thing to be remarked is, that when the term lord has the definite article prefixed, with no name, title, or description subjoined, it is to be understood as spoken of God, or of Christ. When the word is applied to men, whether the article be, or be not, used, the name or title should be annexed. If the frequent recurrence of the title render it proper to omit it, we must say, my lord, not the lord, acted thus; or we may say,

his lordship, this last form being never used of a celestial superior.

g 12. So much for the words sir and lord, as used by us at present. In regard to the term master,

30 Exod. iv, 10. 13.

31 Psalm. XXXV. 23.

« PreviousContinue »