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far they are rightly rendered by the words supposed to correspond to them, and that we may not be misled, by the resemblance of sound, to determine concerning the sameness of signification.
The Greek word uv5nplov occurs frequently in the New Testament, and is uniformly rendered, in the English translation, mystery. We all know that by the most current use of the English word mystery, (as well as of the Latin ecclesiastic word mysterium, and the corresponding terms in modern languages,) is denoted some doctrine to human reason incomprehensible ; in other words, such a doctrine as exhibits difficulties, and even apparent contradictions, which we cannot solve or explain. Another use of the word, which, though not so universal at present, is often to be met with in ecclesiastic writers of former ages, and in foreign writers of the present age, is to signify some religious ceremony or rite, especially those now. denominated sacraments. In the communion-office of the church of England, the elements, after consecration, are sometimes termed holy mysteries. But this use seems not now to be common among protestants, less perhaps in this country
than in any other. Johnson has not so much as mentioned it in his Dictionary. Indeed, in the fourth, and some succeeding, centuries, the word uusaplov was so much in vogue with the Greek fathers, and mysterium or sacramentum, as it was often rendered, with the Latin, that it would be impossible to say in what meaning they used the words; nay, whether or not they affixed any meaning to them at all. In every thing that related to religion, there were found mysteries and sacraments, in doctrines and precepts, in ordinances and petitions : they could even discover numbers of them in the Lord's Prayer. Nay, so late as Father Possevini, this unmeaning application of these terms has prevailed in some places. That Jesuit is cited with approbation by Walton, in the prolegomena to his Polyglot, for saying, “ Tot esse Hebraica in Scrip“ tura sacramenta, quot literæ ; tot mysteria, quot
puncta; tot arcana, quot apices,” a sentence, I acknowledge, as unintelligible to me as Father Simon owns it was to him. But passing this indefinite use, of which we know not what to make, the two significations I have mentioned, are sufficiently known to theologians, and continue, though not equally, still in use with modern writers.
§ 2. When we come to examine the scriptures critically, and make them serye for their own interpreters, which is the surest way of attaining the true knowledge of them, we shall find, if I mistake not, that both these senses are unsupported by the usage
of the inspired penmen. After the most careful examination of all the passages in the New Testament, in which the Greek word occurs, and after consulting the use made of the term, by the ancient Greek interpreters of the Old, and borrowing aid from the practice of the Hellenist Jews, in the writings called Apocrypha, I can only find two senses, nearly related to each other, which can strictly be called scriptural. The first, and what I may call the leading sense of the word, is arcanum, a secret, any thing not disclosed, not published to the world, though perhaps communicated to a select number.
s 3. Now let it be observed, that this is totally different from the current sense of the English word mystery, something incomprehensible. In the former acceptation, a thing was no longer a mystery than whilst it remained unrevealed ; in the latter, a thing is equally a mystery after the revelation as before. To the former we apply, properly, the epithet unknown, to the latter we may, in a great measure, apply the term unknowable. Thus, the proposition that God would call the Gentiles, and receive them into his church, was as intelligible, or, if you like the term better, comprehensible, as that he once had called the descendants of the Patriarchs, or as any plain proposition, or historical fact. Yet, whilst undiscovered, or, at least veiled under figures and types, it remained, in the scriptural idiom, a mystery, having been hidden from ages and generations. But, after it had pleased God to reveal this
his gracious purpose to the Apostles, by his Spirit, it was a mystery no longer.
The Greek words, αποκαλυψις and μυςηριον, stand in the same relation to each other, that the English words discovery and secret do. Musnplov anoxaavoSev is a secret discovery, and consequently a secret no longer. The discovery is the extinction of the secret as such. These words accordingly, or words equivalent, as μυςηριον γνωρισθεν, φανερωθεν, are often brought together by the Apostles, to show that what were once the secret purposes and counsels of God, had been imparted to them, to be by them promulgated to all the world. Thus, they invited the grateful attention of all, to what was so distinguished a favour on the part of heaven, and must be of such unspeakable importance to the apostate race of Adam. The terms, communication, revelation, manifestation, plainly show the import of the term uvsmprov, to which they are applied.
As this, indeed, seems to be a point now universally acknowledged by the learned, I shall only refer the judicious reader, for further proof of it from the New Testament, to the passages quoted in the margin?; in all which, he will plainly perceive, that the Apostle treats of something which had been concealed for ages (and for that reason called uusaplov), but was then openly revealed ; and not of any thing, in its own nature, dark and inconceivable.
Rom. xvi. 25, 26. 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8, 9, 10. Eph. 1. 9. iii. 3. 5, 6. 9. vi. 19. Col. i. 26, 27.
§ 4. IF, in addition to the evidence arising from so many direct and clear passages in the writings of Paul, it should be thought necessary to recur to the usage of the Seventy, we find that, in the Prophet Daniel”, the word uusaplov occurs not fewer than nine times, answering always to the Chaldaic 877 raza, res arcana, and used in relation to Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which was become a secret, even to the dreamer himself, as he had forgot it. The word there is uniformly rendered in the common version secret ; and it deserves to be remarked that, in those verses, it is found connected with the verbs γνωριζω, φωτιζω, and αποκαλυπτω ; in a way exactly similar to the usage of the New Testament above observed. It occurs in no other place of that version, but one in Isaiah, of very doubtful import. In the apocryphal writings (which, in matters of criticism on the Hellenistic idiom, are of good authority), the word uusinprov frequently occurs in the same sense, and is used in reference to human secrets, as well as to divine. Nay, the word is not, even in the New Testament, confined to divine secrets. It
It expresses sometimes those of a different, and even contrary, nature. Thus, the Apostle, speaking of the antichristian spirit, says, The mystery of iniquity doth already work. The spirit of antichrist hath begun to operate ; but the operation is latent and unperceived. The Gospel of Christ is a blessing, the spirit of
9 Dan. ii. 18, 19. 27, 28, 29, 30. 47. iv. 9.
4 2 Thess.ji. 7.