Page images


danger than we are, was a matter of the highest importance. Now, when once a fence is established by statute, it is necessary, in der to support its authority, that the letter of the statute should be the rule in all cases. Hence it will happen, that there may be a defilement in the eye of the law, where there is no natural foulness at all.

This I call ceremonial uncleanness, to express the reverse of which, the term holy is frequently employed. Thus, by avoiding to eat what was accounted unclean food, they sanctified themselves, Lev. 11:42, etc. 20:25, 26 : they were likewise kept holy by avoiding the touch of dead bodies, to avoid which was particularly required of the priests, except in certain cases, they being obliged, by their ministry, to be bolier than others, ch. 21: 1–6. Moses is said (Exod. 19: 10: 14, 22,) to sanctify the people by making them wash their clothes, and go through the legal ceremonies of purification. Nor is it possible to doubt, that when men were ordered to sanctify themselves directly for a particular occasion, they were enjoined the immediate performance of something which could be visibly and quickly executed, and not the acquisition of a character, wbich is certainly not the work of an hour or of a day. Thus the priests were to sanctify themselves before they approached the Lord on Sinai ; and thus the people were commanded by Joshua to sanctify themselves in the evening, that they might be prepared for seeing the wonders which God was to perform among them next day, Josh. 3: 5. In the same sense Joshua also is said to sanctify the people, ch. 7: 13. In this sense we are also to understand what we are told of those who sanctified themselves for the observance of that great passover which Hezekiah caused to be celebrated. What is termed sanctifying in one verse, is cleansing in another; 2 Chron. 30: 17, 18. To prevent being tedious, I do not repeat the whole passages, but refer to them: the reader may consult them at his leisure.

Even in the New Testament, where the word is not so frequently used in the cereinonial sense, holy and unclean öylos and uxafupros, are contrasted as natural opposites ; 1 Cor. 7: 14. In one place in the Old Testament, (Numb. 5: 17), the Seventy have rendered the word kadosh, xajapós, as entirely equivalent, calling that pure or clean water, which in Hebrew is holy water; and of tener than once, in the Targums or Chaldee paraphrases, the Hebrew kadosh is rendered by their common term for clean. Thus, in that passage of the prophet, (Isa. 65: 5), “Stand by thyself; come not near me, for I am holier than thou," the last clause is in Chaldee, “I am cleaner than thou.”

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, called sanctifying them, Josh. 20: 7. To make ready for war

[ocr errors]

is, in several places, to sanctify war; Jer. 6: 4. Mic. 3: 5. 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 ayıášo in this manner. In one place, (Jer. 12: 3), men are said to be sanctified for destruction, 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 to sanctify the silver which she had devoted for making an idol for her and her family to worship, Judg. 17: 3. From this application probably has sprung such anomalous productions as TE?P, kedeshah, a prostitute, and 0.27: 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.

13. The fourth meaning mentioned, was, devoted to a religious or pious use. Thus Jeremiah (ch. 1: 5) was sanctified from the womb, in being ordained a prophet unto the nations; the priests and the Levites 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 adınits 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 prosess Christianity are denominated saints, having been dedicated to God in their baptism.

14. Of the fifth ineaning, according to which, to hallow or sanctify denotes to respect, to honor, to venerate; and holy denotes respectable, honorable, venerable; we have many examples. Thus, to hallow God is opposed to profaning his name, Lev. 22: 32, that is, to treating him with irreverence and disrespect. It is opposed also to the display of a want of confidence in bis power, and in his promise, Numb. 22: 12. 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, honored, revered.' It is in this meaning chiefly that the word 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 mor

tals. 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,” Josh. 24: 19. 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 natural 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 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 adınit this application, they serve to explain it. Thus the Psalmist, (99: 3), “Let them praise thy great and terrible name, for it is holy;" again, (111:9), “ 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 sovereignty and uncontrollable 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 both the Greek öylos and the Latin sanctus admit the same meaning, and are often equivalent to augustus, venerandus. The former term, augustus, Castalio bas 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 awe. 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, 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,” Isa. 6: 1, etc. 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 earth is full of his glory, are introduced as the ground of ascribing to him thrice, in the most solemn manner, the epithet holy.

There is a passage pretty similar to this in the Apocalypse, 4: 8, etc. “ The four beasts” (or, as the word ought to be rendered, living creatures) “ had each of them six wings about him, and they were full of eyes within ; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to

And when those creatures give glory and honor, and thanks, to him that sitteth on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever; the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sitteth on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and they were created." Here every circumstance points to the majesty, power, and dominion, not to the moral perfections of God; the action and doxology of the elders make ihe best comment on the exclamation of the four living creatures, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, etc.

It is universally adınitted, that to hallow or sanctify the name of God, is to venerate, to honor it. According to analogy, therefore, to affirm that the name of God is holy, is to affirm that it is honorable, that it is venerable. Nay, in the same sense, we are said to sanctify God himself; that is, to make him the object of our veneration and awe. In this way, to sanctify God is nearly the same as to fear hiin, differing chiefly in degree, and may be opposed to an undue fear of man. Thus it is employed by the prophet,“ Say not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say a consederacy, neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of Hosts bimself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread," Isa. 8: 12, 13. But nothing can give a more apposite example of this use than the words of Moses to Aaron, on occasion of the terrible fate of Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu : “This is that the Lord spake, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me; and before all the people I will be glorified,” Lev. 10: 1, etc. Their transgression was, that " they offered before the Lord strange fire,” or what was not the peculiar fire of the altar, lighted originally from heaven, but ordinary fire, kindled from their own hearths; an action which, in the eye of that dispensation, must be deemed the grossest indignity. Spencer (lib. i. cap. 7), has well expressed the sense of the passage in these words :

« Deum sanctum esse, id est, a quavis personã vel eminentiâ, incomparabili naturæ suæ excellentiâ, separaturn, ideoque postulare, ut sanctificetur, id est, augustė, docerè, et ritu naturæ suæ separata, imaginem quandam ferente, colatur.'

15. The sixth and last sense mentioned was moral purity and innocence; a sense which, by a very natural turn of thinking, arises out of the first two meanings assigned, namely, clean in the common import of the word, and clean in the eye of the ceremonial law. This meaning might, in respect of its connexion with these, have been ranked in the third place; but, because I consider this as originally a metaphorical use of the word, and requiring a greater degree of refinement than the other meanings, I have reserved it for the last. This acceptation is accordingly much more frequent in the New Testament than in the Old. In the latter, it oftener occurs in the prophetical and devotional writings, than in the Pentateuch and the other historical books, where we never find holy mentioned in the description of a good character. This, in my judgment, merits a more particular attention than seems to have been given it. In what is affirmed expressly in commendation of Noah, Abraham, or any of the patriarchs, of Moses, Joshua, Job, David, Hezekiah, or any of the good kings of Israel or Judah, or any of the prophets or ancient worthies, except where there is an allusion to a sacred office, the term kadosh, holy, is not once employed. Now there is hardly another general term, as just, good, perfect, upright, whereof, in such cases, we do not find examples. Yet there is no epithet which occurs oftener, on other occasions, than that whereof I am speaking. But, in the time of the evangelists, this moral application of the corresponding word hagios was become more familiar; though the other meanings were not obsolete, as they are almost all at present. Herod is said to have known that John the Baptist was a just man and a holy, Mark 6: 20. There is nothing like this in all the Old Testament. When David pleads that he is holy, (Ps. 86: 2), it is not the word kadosh that he uses. The many injunctions to holiness given in the law, as has been already hinted, have at least a much greater reference to ceremonial purity than to moral: the only immorality against which they sometimes seem immediately pointed is idolatry; it being always considered in the law as the greatest degree of defilement in both senses, ceremonial and moral.

« PreviousContinue »