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word star in its proper and strict sense it is applied only to the fixed stars, but in a larger sense it ivcludes the planets also.'
This equivocal sense of words belongs also to many proper names : so Asia, taken in the largest sense, is one quarter of the world; in a more limited sense it signifies Natolia, or the lesser Asia ; but in the strictest sense it means no more than one little province in Natolia, where stood the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Sardis, &c. And this is the most frequent sense of it in the New Testament. Flanders and Holland, in a strict sense, are but two single provinces among the scventeen, but in a large sense Holland includes seven of them, and Flanders ten.
There are also some very common and little words in all languages, that are used in a more extensive or more limited sense ; such as, all, every, whatsoever, &c. When the apostle says, all men have sinned, and all men must die, all' is taken in its most universal and extensive sense, including all inankiod'; Rom. v. 12. When he appoints prayer to be made for all men, it appears by the following verses, that he restrains the word all to signify chiefly all ranks and degrees of men ; 1 Tim. ii. I. But when St. Paul says, 1 please all men in all things ; I'Cor. X. 33. the word all is exceedingly limited, for it reaches to farther than that he pleased all those inen whom he conversed with in all things that were lawful.
4thly, Equivocal words are, in the fourth place, distin guished by their literal or figuratite sense. Words are used in a proper or literal sense, when they are designed to signify those ideas for which they were originally made, or to which they are primarily and generally annexed; but they are used in a figura. tire or tropical sense, when they are made to signify some things, which only bear either a reference or å resemblance to the priniary ideas of them. So when two princes contend by their armies, we say they are at war, in a proper sense; but whep we say there is a war betwixt the winds and the waves in a storm, tbis'is called figurative, and the peculiar figure is a metaphor. So when the scripture says, Riches make themselves wings, and fly away as an eagle toward heaven, the wings and the flight of the eagle are proper expressions ; but when flight and wings are applied to rielies, it is only by way of figure and mieluphor. So wheh a man is said to repent or laugh, or grieve, it is literally taken ; but when God is said to be grieved, to repent, or laugh, &c. these are all figurative expressions borrowed from a resemblance to mankind. And when the words Job or Esther are used to signify those very persons, it is the literal sense of them; but when they signify those two books of scripture, this is a figurative sense. The names of Horace, Juvenal, and Milton, are used in the same munger, either for books or
When a word, which originally signifies any particular idea or object, is attributed to several other objects, not so much by way of resemblance, but rather on the account of some evident reference or relation to the original idea, this is sometimes peculiarly called an analogical word; so a sound or healthy pulse ; a sound digestion ; sound sleep; are all so called with reference to a sound and healthy constitution : but if you speak of sound doctrine or sound speech, this is by way of resemblance to health: and the words are metaphorical; yet many times analogy and metaphor are used promiscuously in the saine sense, and not distinguished.
Here note, That the design of metaphorical language, and figures of speech, is not merely to represent our isléas, but to represent them with vivacity, spirit, affection and power; and thougli they often make a deeper impression on the mind of the hearer, yet they do as often lead him into a mistake, if they are ased at improper times and places. Therefore, where the design of the speaker or writer is merely to explain, instruct, and to lead into the knowledge of naked truth; he ought for the most part to use plain and proper words, if the language affords them, and not to deal much in figurative speech. But this sort of terms is used very profitably by poets and orators, whose business is to move, and persuade, and work on the passions, as well as on the understanding. Figures are also happily employed in proverbial moral sayings by the wisest and ibe best of men, to impress them deeper on the memory by sensible images ; and they are often used for other valuable purposes in the sacred writings.
5thly, I might adjoin another sort of equivocal words ; as there are some which have a different meaning in common language, from what they have in the sciences ; the word passion signifies the receiving any action in a large philosophical sense ; in a more limited philosophical sense, it signifies any of the affections of human nature, as love, fear, joy, sorrow, &c. But the common people confine it ovly to anger : so the word simple, philosophically, signifies single, but vulgarly it is used for foolisha
6thly, Other equivocal words are used sometimes in an absolute sense, as when God is called perfect ; which allows of no defect; and sometimes in a comparative sense, as good men are oftentimes called perfect in scripture, in comparison of those who are much inferior to them in knowledge or holiness : but I have dwelt rather too long upon this subject already, therefore I add no more, Sect. VIII.-The Origin or Causes of equivocal Words.
NOW, that we may become more skilful in guarding ourselves and others against the danger of mistakes which may arise from eqnivocal words, it may not be amiss to conclude this chapo ter with a short account of the various ways or means whereby a word changes its signification, or acquires any new sense, and thus becomes equivocal, especially if it keeps ils old sense also.
1. Mere chance sometimes gives the same word different senses; as the word light signifies a body that is not heavy; and it also signifies the effect of sun-beams, or the mediumn whereby. we see objects : this is merely accidental, for there seems to be no connection between these two senses, nor any reason for them.
2. Error and mistake is another occasion of giving various senses to the same word; as when different persons read the names of priest, bishop, church, Easter, &c. in the New 'Tes tament, they affix different ideas to them, for waot of acquaintance with the true meaning of the sacred writer; though it must be confessed, these various senses, which might arise at first from honest mistake, may be culpably supported and propagated by interest, ambition, prejudice, and a party-spirit op any side.
3. Time and custom alters the meaning of words. Knave heretofore signified a diligent servant (Gnavus ;) and a villain was an under tenant to the Lord of the manor (Villicus ;) bat! now both these words carry an idea of wickedness and reproach to them. A ballad once signified a solemn and sacred song, as well as one that is trivial, when Solomon's song was called the ballad of ballads : but now it is applied to nothing but trilling verse, or comical subjects.
4. Words change their sense by figures and metaphors, wbich are derived from some real analogy or resemblance between several things, as when wing and flight are applied to riches, it significs only, that the owner may as easily lose them, as he would lose a bird who flew away with wings.
And I think, under this head we may rank those words which signify different ideas, by a sort of an unaccountable fars : fetcht analogy, or distant resemblance that fancy has introduced between one thing and another; as when we say, the meat is, green, when it is half-roasted; we speak of airing linen by the fire, when we mean drying or warming it : We call for round coals for the chimney, when we mean large square ones ; and we talk of the wing of a rabbit, when we mean the fore-leg: The true reason of these appellations we leave to the critics. : 5. Words also change their sense by the special occasion of using them, the peculiar manner of pronunciation, the sonod of the voice, the motions of the face, or gestures of the body, 50 when an angry master says to bis servant, il is bravely done! or you are a fine gentleman! he means just the contrary, namely, it is very ill done ; you are a sorry fellow ; it is one way of gix. , ; ing a severe reproach, for the words are spoken by way of sarcasm or irony.
6. Words are applied to various senses, by new ideas appearing of arising faster than new words are framed. So when gunpou der was found out, the word powder, which before sig, nified only dast; was made then to signify that inixture or composition of vitre, charcoal, &c. And the name canon, which before signified a law or a rule, is now also given to a great gun, which gives laws to nations. So foot-boys, who liad frequently the common name of Jack given them, were kept to turn thie spit; or to pull off their master's boots; but when instruments were invented for both those services, they were botir called jacks, though one was of iron, the other of wood, and very different in their form.
311 7. Words alter their significations according to the ideas of the various persons, sects, or parties, who'uise them as we have binted before; 80 when a papist uses the word heretics, he generally means the protestants : when a protestant uses the word, he means any persons who were wilfully and perhaps contentiously) obstinate in fundamental errors. When a Jew speaks of the true religion, he means the institution of Moses; when a Tark mentions it, he intends the doctrine of Mahomet: but when a christian makes use of it, he designs to signify christianity, or the truths and precepts of the gospel.
8. Words have different significations according to the book, writing, or discourse in which they stand. So in a treatise of anatomy, a foot signifies that member in the body of a man but in a book of geometry or mensuration, it signifies twelve inches.
0! If I bad room to exemplify most of these particulars in one single word, I know not where to choose a fitter than the word sound, which seems, as it were by chance, to signify three distinet ideas, namely, healthy, (from sunits) as a sound body; noise, (from sonus) as a skrill sound; and to sound the sea (perhaps from the French sonde, a probe, or an instrument to find the depth of water.). From these three, which I may call original senses, various derivative senses arise; as sound sleep, sound luogs, sound wind and limh, a sound heart, a sound mind, sound doctrine, a sound divine, sound reason, a sound cask, sound timber,sa i sound reproof, to beat one soundly; to sound one's meaning or inclination, and a sound or narrow sea; turn these all into Latin, and the variety will appear plain.
79 I confess, some few of these which I have mentioned as the different springs of equivocnl words may be reduced in some
1. that there's may be other ways besides these whereby a word comes to extend its signification, to include various ideas, and become equia vocal. And though i is the business of a grammariau to pursue
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these remarks with more variety and particularity, yet it is also the work of a logician to give notice of these things, lest darks ness, confusion,
and perplexity, be brought into our conceptions by the means of words, and thence our judgments and season. ings become erroneous.
CHAP. V.-General Directions relating to our Ideas.
Direction 1. FURNISH yourselves with a rich variety of ideas ; acquaint yourselves with things ancient and modern; things natural, civil and religious ; things domestic and national: things of your native land, and of foreign countries ; things present, past, and future, and above all, be well acquainted with God and yourselves; learn animal nature, and the workings of your own spirits.
Such a general acquaintance with things will be of very great advantage.
The first benefit of it is this: it will assist the use of reason in all its following operations ; it will teach you to judge of things aright, to argue justly, and to methodise your thoughts with accuracy. When you shall find several things a-kin to each other, and several different from each other, agreeing in some part of their idea, and disagreeing in other parts, you will range your ideas in better order, you will be more easily led into a distinet knowledge of things, and will obtain a rich store of proper thoughts and arguments upon all occasions.
You will tell me, perhaps, that you design the study of the law or divinity; and what good can natural philosophy or mathematics do you, or any other science, not directly subordinate to your chief design ? But let it be considered, that all sciences have a sort of mutual connection ; and knowledge of all kinds fits the mind to reason and judge better concerning any particular subject. I have known a judge upon the bench betray his ignorance, and appear a little confused in his sentiments about a case of suspected murder brought before him, for want of some acquaintance with animal nature and philosophy.
Another benefit of it is this ; such a large and general acqnaintance with things will secure you from perpetual admirations and surprizes, and guard you against that weakness of ignorant persons, who have never seen anything beyond the confines of their own dwelling, and therefore they wonder, at almost every thing they see ; every thing beyond the smoke of their own chimney, and the reach of their
own windows, is new and strange to them.
A t'ird benefit of such an universal acquaintarce with z! things, is this; it will keep you from being too positive, and dognatical from an excess of credulity and unbelief, that is, a