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we should seldom be in danger of mistaking; when I expres the taste of an apple, which we call the bitter-sweet, none cao inistake what I mean.
Yet this sort of composition would make all language a most tedious and unweildly thing, since most of our ideas are complex, and many of thein have eight of ten simple ideas in them; 80 that the remedy would be worse than the diseasc; for what is now expressed in one short word, as month, or year, would reguire two lines to express it. It is necessary therefore, that single words be invented to express complex ideas, in order to make language short and useful.
But here is our great infelicity, that wben single words sig: nify complex ideas, one word can never distinctly manifest all the parts of a complex 'idea ; and thereby it will often happen, that one man includes more or less in his idea, than another does, while be affixes the same word to it. In this case there will be danger of mistake between them, for they do not nean the same object, though they use the same name. So, if one person or nation, by the word year mean twelve months of thirty days each, that is, three hundred and sixty days, another intend a solar year of three hundred and sixty-five days, and a third mean a lunar year, or twelve lunar inonibs, that is, three hundred fifty-four days, there will be a great variation and error in their account of things, unless they are well apprized of each other's meaning beforehand. This is supposed to be the reason, why some ancient histories and prophecies, and accounts of chronology, are so hard to be adjusted. And this is the true reason of so furious and endless debates on many points in divinity ; the words church, worship, idolatry, repentance, faith, election, merit, grace, and many others which signify very complex ideas, are not apo plied to include just the same simple ideas, and the same nunber of them, by the various contending parties ; thence arise confusion and contest.
4. Though a single name does not certainly manifest to us all the parts of a complex idea, yet it must be acknowledged, that in inany of our complex ideas, the single name may point out to us some chief property which belongs to the thing that the vord signifiés ; especially when the word or name is traced up to its original, through several languages from whence it is bora rowed. So an aposile signifies one who is sent forth.
But this tracing of a word to its original, (which is called etymology) is sometimes a very precarious and uncertain things and after all, we bave made but very little progress towards the attainment of the full meaning of a complex iden, by known ing some one chief property of it. We koow but a small part of the notion of au apostle, by kyowing barely that he is sent forth.
5. Many (if not most) of our words which are applied to
moral and intellectual ideas, when traced up to the original in the learned languages, will be found to signify sensible and corporeal things ; thus the words apprehension, understanding, abstraction, invention, idea, inference, prudence, religion church, adoration, &c. bave all a corporeal signification in their original. The name spirit itself signifies breath or air, in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew ; such is the poverty of all languages, they are forced to use these names for incorporeal ideas, which thing has a tendency to error and confusion.
6. The last thing I shall mention that leads us into many a mistake is, the multitude of objects that one name soinetimes signifies; there is almost an infinite variety of things and ideas, both simple and complex, beyond all the words that are invented jo any language; thence it becomes almost necessary that one name should signify several things. Let us but consider the two colours of yellow and blue, if they are mingled together in any considerable proportion, they make a green; now there may be 'infinite differences of the proportions in the mixture of yellow and blue; and yet we have only these three words, yellow, blue, and green, to signify all of them, at least by one single term.
When I use the word shore, I may intend thereby a coast of land near the sea, or a drain to carry off water, or a prop to support a building; and by the sound of the word porter, who can tell whether I mean a man who bears burdens, or a servant who waits at a nobleman's gate? The world is fruitful in the in vention of utensils of life, and new characters and offices of men, yet names entirely new are seldom invented ; therefore old names are almost necessarily used to signify new things, which may occasion much confusion and error in the receiving and communicating of knowledge.
Give me leave to propose one single instance, wherein all these notes shall be remarkably exemplified. It is the word bishop, which in French is called eveque ; upon which I would make these several observations:-1. That there is no natural connexion between the sacred office hereby signified, and the letters or sound which signify this office; for both these words eveque and bishop signify the same office, though there is not one letter alike in them; nor bave the letters which compose the English or the French word any thing sacred belonging to them more than the letters that compose the learned by its derivation
king or soldier. If the meaning of be or etymology, yet the original derivation of words is oftentimes pery dark and unsearchable; for who would imagine that eachi of these words are derived from the Latin Episcopus, or the Greek EuroOTOS?! Yet in this instance we happen to know certainly the true decivation; the French being anciently writ evesque, is borrowed froin the first part of the Latin word, and the old English biscop from the middle of it.-3. The original Greek
, fellows and overlooks them; it is a compound word, that prima. rily signifies sensible ideas, translated to signify or include several moral or intellectual ideas; therefore all will grant that the pa. ture of the office can never be known by the mere sound or sepse of the word overlooker.-4. I add farther, that the word bishop or episcopus, even when it is thus translated from a sensible idea, to include several intellectual ideas, may yet equally signify an overseer of the poor; an inspector of the customs; a surveyor of the highways; a supervisor of the excise, &c. but by the consent of men, and the language of scripture, it is appropriated to signify a sacred office of the church.---5. This very idea and name, thus translated from things sensible to signify a spiritual and sacred thing, contains but one property of it, namely, one that has the oversight or care over others; but it does not tell us whether it includes a care over one church, or many; over the laity or the clergy.--6. Thence it follows, that those who in the complex idea of the word bishop, include an oversight over the clergy, or over a whole diocese of people, a superiority of presbyters, a distinct power of ordination, &c. must necessarily disagree with those who include in it only the care of a single congregation. Thus, according to the various opinions of men, this word signifies a pope, a Gallican Bishop, a Lutheran superintendant, an English prelate, a pastor of a single assembly, or a presbyter or elder. Thus they quarrel with each other perpetually; and it is well if any of thein have hit precisely the sease of the sacred writers, and included just the same ideas in it, and no others.
I might make all the same remarks on the word church or kirk, which is derived from Kupi oixos, or the house of the Lord, contracted into Kyrioik, wbich some suppose to signify an as'sembly of christians, some take it for all the world that pro. fesses christianity, and some make it to mean only the clergy ; and on these accounts it has been the occasion of as many and as furious controversies as the word bishop which was mentioned before.
Sect. II.--Of negative and positive Terms. FROM these and other considerations it will follow, that if we would avoid error in our pursuit of knowledge, we must take good heed to the use of words and terms, and be acquaioted with the various kinds of them.
I. Terms are either positive or negative.
Negative terins are such as have a little word or syllable of dengiug jointed to them, according to the various idio.ns of every
language, as unpleasant, imprudent, immortal, irregular, ignorant, infinite, endless, lifeless, deuthless, nonsense, abyss, anonymous, where the prepositions, un, im, in, non, a, an, and the termination tess, signify a negation, either in English, Latin, or Greek.
Posilive terms' are those which bave no such negative appen. dices belonging to them, as life, death, end, sense, mortal.
But so unhappily are our words and ideas linked together, that we can never know which are positive ideas, and which are negative, by the word that is used to express thein, and that for these reasons:
1st, There are some positive terms which are made to signify a negative idea ; as deudis properly a thing that is deprived of life; blind implies a negation or privation of sight; deaf a want of hearing; dumb a denial of speech.
2dly, There are also some negative terms which imply positive ideas, such as, immortal and deathless, which signify everliving, or a continuance in life ; insolent signifies rude and haughty; indemnify to keep safe ; and infinite perhaps has a positive idea too, for it is an idea ever growing; and when it is 'applied to God, it signifies bis complete perfection.
3dly, There are both positive and negative terms, invented to signify the same, instead of contrary ideas ; as unhappy, and miserable, sinless and holy, pure and undefiled, impure and filthy, unkind and cruel, irreligious and profane, unforgiving and revengeful, &c. and there is a great deal of beauty and convenience derived to any language from this variety of expression ; though sometimes it a little confounds our conceptions of being and not being, our positive and negative ideas.
4thly, I may add also that there are some words which are negative in their original language but seem positive to an Eng.
lishman, because the negation is unknown; an abyss, a place - without a bottom; anodyne, an easing medicine; amnesty, an unrenembrance, or general pardon; anarchy, a state without government; anonymous, that is, naineless; inept, that is, not fit ; iniquity, that is, unrighteousness; infant, one that cannot speak, namely, a child ; injurious, not doing justice or right.
The way therefore to know whether any idea be negative or not, is to consider whether it primarily imply the absence of any positive being, or mode of being; if it doth, then it is a negation or negative idea; otherwise it is a positive one, whether the 'word that expresses it be positive or negative. Yet after all, in many cases, this is very hard to determine, as in amnesty, infinite, abyss, which are originally relative terms, but they signify pardon, &c. which seem to be positive. So darkness, madness, clown, are positive terms, but they inply the want of light, the want of reason, and the want of manners; and perhaps thene may be ranked among the negative ideas.
Here note, that in the English tongue two negative terms gre equal to one positive, and signify the same thing, as not unhappy, signifies happy ; not immortal, signifies mortal; be is no imprudent man, that is, he is a man of prudence : but the sepse and furce of the word in such a negative way of expression, seem to be a little diminished.
Sect. III.-Of simple and compler Terms. II. TERMS are divided into simple or complex. A simple term is one word, a complex term is when more words are used to signify one thing.
Some terms are complex in words, but not in sense, such in the second Emperor of Rome; for it excites in our mind only the idea of one man, namely, Augustus.
Some terms are compler in sense, but not in words; - 50 when I say an army, a forest, I mean a multitude of men or trees; and almost all our moral ideas, as well as many of our natural ones, are expressed in this manner; religion, piety, loyalty, knavery, theft, include a variety of ideas, in each term.
There are other terms which are complex both in words and sense ; so when I say a fierce dog, or a pious man, it excites an idea not only of those two creatures, but of their peculiar cheracters also.
Among the terms that are complex in sense, but not in words, we may reckon those simple terms which contain a primary and a secondary idea in them ; as when I hear my neighbour speak that which is not true, and I say to him, this is not true, or this is false, I only convey to him the naked idea of his error; this is the primary idea : But if I say it is a lie, the word lie carries also a secondary idea in it, for it implies both the falsehood of the speech, and my reproach und censure of the speaker. On the other hand, if I say it is a mistake, this carries also a' secondary idea with it : for it not only refers to the falsehood of his speech, but includes my tenderness and civility to him at the same time. Another instance may be this; when I use the word, incest, adultery, and murder, I convey to another not only the primary idea of those actions, but I include also the secondary idea of their unlawfulness, and my abhorrence of them.
Note Ist, Hence it comes to pass, that among words which signify the same principal ideas, some are clean and decent, others unclean; some chaste, others obscente ; some are kind, others are affronting and reproachful, because of the secondary idea wlrich custom bas aflixed to thelo. And it is the part of a wise inan, when there is a necessity of expression any evil actions, to do it either by a word that has a secondary idea of kindness or poftness, or a ford that carries with it an idea of rebuke and