« 이전계속 »
I must be as brief as possible, on a subject, SERMON which many learned writers a have largely and fully discussed; and, as the reflexions I have to offer to you upon it, are chiefly taken from them, I may the rather bespeak your attention to what follows.
1. First, then, let it be observed, that the original language of all nations is extremely imperfect. Their stock of words being small, they explain themselves very much by signs, or representative actions: and their conceptions, in that early state of society, being gross and rude, the few words they have, are replete with material images, and so are what we call highly metaphorical; and this, not from choice or design, or even from any extraordinary warmth of fancy, but of necessity, and from the very nature of things.
Such is the primitive character of all languages : and it continues long in all, because the figurative manner is thought ornamental, when it is no longer necessary; and because the necessity of it is only, if at all, removed by long use and habit in abstract speculation :
a Mede, More, Daubuz, Vitringa, and, above all, the learned Founder of this Lecture,
a degree of refinement, to which the orientals, and the Jews especially, never attained. And therefore in their languages, very long
— Manserunt, hodieque manent vestigia ruris.
Thus far we may go in accounting for the figured style of the east, from general principles. But this is by no means the whole of the case.
2. We are to reflect, that, before an alphabet was invented, and what we call literary writing was formed into an art, men had no way to record their conceptions, or to convey them to others at a distance, but by setting down the figures and shapes of such things, as were the objects of their contemplation. Hence, the way of writing in picture, was as universal, and almost as early, as the way of speaking in metaphor; and from the same reason, the necessity of the thing.
In process of time, and through many successive improvements, this rude and simple mode of picture-writing was succeeded by that of symbols, or was enlarged at least, and enriched by it. By symbols, I mean certain representative marks, rather than express pic
tures; or if pictures, such as were at the same time characters, and, besides presenting to the eye the resemblance of a particular object, suggested a general idea to the mind. As, when a horn was made to denote strength, an eye and scepter, majesty, and in numberless such instances; where the picture was not drawn to express merely the thing itself, but something else, which was, or was conceived to be, analogous to it. This more complex and ingenious form of picture-writing was much practised by the Egyptians, and is that which we know by the name of HIEROGLYPHICS.
Indeed, these symbolic characters were likely, in a course of successive refinements, to pass into characters by institution : and have, in fact, undergone that change among the Chinese: and it might be expected that both would be laid aside by any people that should come to be acquainted with the far more convenient and expeditious niethod of alphabetic writing. But the event, in some instances, hath been different. The Chinese adhere to their characters, though from their late intercourse with the European nations, one cannot but suppose, that the knowledge of letters has been conveyed to them : and the Egyptians, through all the extent of their long
SERMON subsisting and highly polished empire, retained
their hieroglyphics, notwithstanding their invention and use of an alphabet.
Their inducement to this practice might be, the pleasure they took in a mode of writing, which gratified their inventive curiosity in looking into the natures and analogies of things; or, it might be a strain of policy in them to secrete by this means, their more important discoveries from the vulgar; or, vanity might put them on raising the value of their knowledge by wrapping it up in a vehicle, so amusing at the same time, and mysterious.
What account soever be given of it, the fact is, that the Egyptians cultivated the hieroglyphic species of writing, with peculiar diligence; while the antiquity, the splendor, the fame of that mighty kingdom excited a veneration for it, in the rest of the world. Hence it came to pass, that the learning of those times, which was spread from Egypt, as from its center, took a strong tincture of the hieroglyphic spirit. The East was wholly infected by it; so that it: became the pride of its wise men to try the reach of each other's capacity by questions conceived and proposed in this form. Even the Greeks, in much later ages, caught the man
*ner of symbolizing their conceptions from SERMON Egypt; and either drew their mythology from that quarter, or dressed it out in the old Egyptian garb. But the Israelites, especially, who had their breeding in that country, at the time when the hieroglyphic learning was at its height, carried this treasure with them, among their other spoils, into the land of Canaan. And, though it be credible that their great Law-giver interdicted the use of hieroglyphic characters, yet the ideas of them were deeply imprinted on their minds, and came out, on every occasion, in those symbols and emblems, with which, under the names of riddles, parables, and dark sayings, their writings are so curiously variegated and imbossed.
This then is the true and proper account of that peculiar style, which looks so strangely, and to those, who do not advert to this original of it, perhaps so fantastically, in the writings of the prophets. And what more natural, than that a mode of expression, which was so well known, so commonly practised, and so much revered ; which was effected by the wittiest, nay, by the wisest men of those times; which was employed in the theology of the Eastern world, in its poetry, its philosophy, and all the sublimer forins of composition; What