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u mind cafting about for something in the divine nature analo
gous to the image, lays hold on fome great, obscure, vague * idea, which she endeavours in vain to comprehend, and is * loft in immenfity and astonishment. See De S. Poefi. Hebr. « Prel. xvi. Sub. fin. where this matter is treated and illustrated " by examples.”
From the above ingenious remarks it appears, that notwithstanding metaphors and other figures derive their origin from the
poverty of language, they infuse both strength and beauty into any discourse where they are judicioudy used. By exhibiting fenfible pictures of our conceptions accompanied with pleasant images, they make a strong impression on the mind of the hearers : for which reason they have found a place, not in the ancient languages only, but in all the modern tongues also ; not excepting those which are the most copious and the most refined : in fo much that it hath become the business of the poets and orators, to ransack the whole compass of nature in search of resemblances between fenfible and intellectual objects, on which to graft metaphors. And, not satisfied with natural and apparent likenesses, the most remote and disparate re. semblances, nay resemblances founded merely on popular opiRion, local prejudices, and national customs, have been made the foundation of metaphors.-Hence that diversity of figurative expressions observable in the languages of nations living at a distance from each other. Hence also, the figures, which to one nation appear natural and exprellive, to others appear annatural, tumid, and ridiculous.
Sect. II. Of Picture-writing : and of its Influence in the
Formation of the Primitive Languages.
In the early ages, after men had acquired any branch of use. ful knowledge, either by research or by observation, they naturally wished to communicate that knowledge to their con, temporaries, and even to transmit it to pofterity. But this they could not do effectually, till they contrived a method of making speech the object of light. When this was accomplished, the
knowledge which cheyconveyed to the ears of a few by protounced speech, it was in their power to convey to multitudes, even in the moft di tant countries, by the eye.
The first method of rendering speech visble, was that which history informs us was practised by all the ancient nations we have any knowledge of, from the Chinese in the eaft to the Mexicans in the west, and from the Egyptians in the South to the Scythians in the north. All these, taught by nature, formed images or pictures on wood, or itone, or clay, of the senable objects for which they had invented names, and of which they had occafon to discourse. By these pictures they represented not only the things themselves, but the articulate founds or names also by which they were called. Thus to express, in that kind of writing, a man, or a horse, that is, to express both the name and the thing, they drew its picture on some permanent fubftance, whereby, not only the thing itself, but its name was immediately suggested to those who looked on its picture. But this method being tedious, the Egyptians, who it is supposed were the inventers of picture writing, shortened it by converting the picture into a fymbol, which, as Warburton, to whom I am irdebted for many particulars in this section, observes in his Die vine Legation, they did in three ways. s. By making the prinecipal part of the symbol ftand for the whole of it, and by agreeing that that part fhould express the character of the thing reprefenced by the symbol. Thus, they exprelled a fuller by two feet ftanding in water ; and a charioteer by an arın holding a whip. This is what is called the Curiologic Hieroglyphic.---From this, the Egyptians proceeded to a more artful method of rendering speech visible and permanent ; namely, by putting the inftruments, whether real or metaphorical, by which a thing was done, for the thing done. Thus, they expreffed a batile by two hands, the one holding a fbield, the other a bow: a frege by a scaling ladder : the divine omniscience, by an eye eminently placed: a monarch by an eye and a fceptre. Sometimes they represented the agent without the instrument, to thew the quality of the action. Thus a judge was expressed by a man without hands looking downwards, to sew that a judge ought not to be moved either by intereft or pity. This method was called The Tropologic Hieroglyphic.-3. Their third, and most artificial method of abridging picture writing, was to make one thing stand for another, where any resem. blance or analogy, however far fetched, could be observed between the thing represented and the thing by which it was represented, whether that resemblance was founded in nature, or in popular opinion only. Thus a serpent, on account of its vigour and spirit, its longevity and revirescence, was made the fymbol of the divine nature : a mouse was used to reprefent deAruction : a wildgoat, uncleanness: a Ay, impudence : an ant, knowledge: a serpent in a circle, the universe : and the variegated spots of the serpent's skin, the stars. This method of writing was called, The allegorical, analogical, or symbolical Hieroglyphic. And being formed on their knowledge of physics, the marks of which it was composed increased in number, as the Egyptians, the inventers of picture writing, increased in science.
But, in regard there are many qualities and relations of things which are not objects of sense, and many complex moral modes and other mental conceptions, which cannot be likened to any object of sense, confequently, which cannot be expressed by any picture natural or symbolical, it became neceffary, in all kinds of picture writing, to introduce arbitrary marks for expressing these qualities, relations, and modes. Yet even with this aid, picture writing was still very defective and obscure. The Chinese, therefore, to improve the method of rendering speech visible and permanent by writing, threw away the images or pi&tures altogether, and substituted in their place new marks, formed, it is said, from the images. However, as in this way of writing every word required a distinct character or mark, and as the greatest part of these characters were arbitrary, the difficulty of acquiring the knowledge of the meaning of fuch a multitude of characters, was so great, that very few could attain to it. Meanwhile, the Chinese method of denoting the separate words of which speech consisteth, by feparate marks, is supposed by fome to have suggested to the ingenious in other nations, the idea of exprefling, by feparate marks, the distinct articulate sounds of which words are composed. Hence, the alphabetical or literal method of writing arose,
which, on account of its great facility and utility, hath come into general use among all civilized nations, except the Chinese themselves.
The literal method of writing, is generally said to have been first practised by the Phenicians. But whether they, or who. ever else first used that method of rendering speech visible, were the inventers of the art; or, whether, as Plato and Tully thought, De Leg. lib. iv. sect. 4. they were supernaturally affisted in the invention, is hard to determine. This however is certain, that the books of Moses were written in the literal method. And some learned men have thought, the first speci. men of literal writing was that which God himself engraved on the two tables of stone, and gave to Moses on the Mount; who being taught the meaning of the characters by inspiration, communicated the knowledge of the fame to the Israelites, from whom it pafled to the Phenicians. Perhaps it may be some confirmation of this conjecture to observe, that the Chinese, though they have long poffessed the art of writing by characters, have never been able to attain the method of writing by letters.
I have given the above account of the art of rendering speech visible and permanent by picture writing, not as a matter of curiosity, but to shew the influence which the hieroglyphical manner of writing had on the ancient languages. For the symbols used in that kind of writing, denoting the names of things, as well as the things themselves, in speaking, men would naturally give to the things represented, both the name and the qualities of the symbol by which it was represented. Hence arose a new species of metaphor, altogether unknown in the speech of modern nations, and forming a kind of language which, though it may appear to us fanciful and dark, was well understood, and made a strong impression on those who were accustomed to it. This higher kind of metaphorical language claims particular attention, because it is that in which the di. vine revelations, especially those concerning future events, were communicated to mankind, and in which they still remain recorded in scripture. Wherefore, to thew the influence which picture writing, particularly of the symbolical kind, had to introduce into the ancient languages the boldest, and in the VOL. VI.
opinion of modern nations, the most extravagant metaphors, the following examples are proposed to the reader's consideration.
1. A supreme ruler being represented in symbolical writing by å man with four wings, and his lieutenants or princes by one with two wings; and the stretching out of wings fignifying action or design, (Divine Leg. b. iv. sect. 4.) the names of these symbols were naturally used in the ancient languages for the things fignified by them. Hence Isaiah predicting the invasion of Judea by the king of Assyria, hath termed it the Aretching out of his wings so as to cover and desolate the whole land, Isai. viii. 8. “ The stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy « land, o Immanuel.”—By the like metaphor, Jeremiah predicted the defolation of Moab, chap. xlviii. 40. " He shall “ fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.” - In the same highly figurative language, Isaiah denounced destruction to a kingdom which oppressed other countries by the greatness of its power, chap. xviii. I. “ Woe to the land shadowing with wings.”—This use of the symbol shews the propriety of giving the wings of a fowl to two of the four beasts, which in Daniel's vision represented the four great monarchies. By that fymbol, the devastation which these mo. narchies were to bring on other nations, and the speed and force with which they would act, were strongly and beautifully represented to those who understood symbolical picture writing. -It shews us likewise how the power of God in protecting his people, came to be termed his feathers and his wings; and the confidence of his people in his power to protect them, by their trusting in the covert of his wings.
2. A crocodile was one of the symbols, by which in the ancient picture writing the kingdom of Egypt was represented, Div. Leg. b. iv. lect. 4. Hence the Egyptians are called, Pfal. lxxiv. 13. Dragons in the waters; and, ver. 14. their king is called leviathan. - And, “The great dragon that lieth in is the midst of his rivers, Ezek. xxix. 3."-So also, Isa. xxvii. 1. “ In that day the Lord with his fore, and great, and strong “ sword, fhall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even le
viathan that crooked serpent, and he shall flay the dragon.”