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to the unerring judgment of God; and includes such a combination of qualities as no species of polytheism could give a foundation for. It implies, along with a modest self-diffidence, a sense of unworthiness in the sight of God, accompanied with a profound ve. neration of his perfections. Accordingly piety, meekness, and modesty, make, if I may so express myself, the principal figures in the groupe. So far from involving any thing of that weak timidity and irresolution expressed in the passage quoted from the philosopher, as comprehended in the classical sense of the term humilis ; it, on the contrary, implies, in every situation, a submission to the will of Heaven, without repining or reserve, founded in a consciousness of ones own ignorance of what is best, upon the whole, and an unshaken confidence in the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, by whose providence all events are over-ruled.
This is one of those terms which, in the mouth of a Jew or a Christian, an idolater could not comprehend, till he had previously acquired some no. tion of the Biblical theology. To some people it may appear strange, that so much knowledge should be thought necessary for qualifying one to understand the words in current use in any language. But to those more deeply versed in these matters there will be nothing surprising in the remark. They will be sensible that the modern names, pedantry, gallantry, foppery, coquetry, prudery, and many others, could not be translated into any ancient language, otherwise than by circumlocutions. Mon.
tesquieu o observes of what is called honour in the monarchies of Europe, that it is unknown, and consequently unnamed in the despotisms of Asia, and that it would even be a matter of some difficulty to render the term, as understood by Europeans, intelligible to a Persian.
§ 3. I SHOULD not have been so particular on the different acceptations of some words, as used by Jews and by Pagans, but in order to illustrate more effectually that important proposition, that Scripture will ever be found its own best interpreter ; and to evince, what was remarked before, that the manners and sentiments of a people, being closely connected with their constitution and customs, sacred and civil, have a powerful influence on the language, especially on those combinations of ideas, which serve to denote the various phases (pardon the unusual application of the term) both of virtue and of vice, as displayed in the characters of individuals. For, though some traces of all the virtuous, and all the vicious, qualities of which human nature is susceptible, will perhaps be found in every country; these qualities are greatly diversified in their appearance, inasmuch as they invariably receive a kind of signature, or peculiar modification, from the national character. One plain consequence of this doctrine has been already considered, namely, that there will be
43 L'Esprit des Loix, liv. iii. ch. 8. Lett. Pers. 88.
a diversity in the associated ideas classed under the appellatives, and consequently in the genius of the languages, wherever there is a diversity of character, in the nations which use them.
$ 4. I am now going to exemplify another consequence of this doctrine, which is, that the language of the same people will vary from itself, or, to speak more properly, from what it was in a former period, when the people themselves undergo a material alteration from what they were, in any of the respects above mentioned. Indeed it is manifest that, if a nation should continue at the same precise degree of advancement in the sciences and arts, both elegant and useful, should undergo no variation, in their form of government, religion, and laws, and should have little or no intercourse with foreigners, their language and idiom would, in all essential characters, remain the same. These two, language and idiom, though often confounded, I have had occasion to discriminate before. The distinction deserves our attention the more, as some of the causes mentioned, operate more upon the one, and others more upon the other; and as one of them may be even totally altered, whilst the other is retained. This was accordingly the case with the Jewish nation.
5. During the Babylonish captivity, the Jews scattered through the Assyrian provinces lost irrecoverably, in consequence of the mixture with strangers so much superior to them in number and con. sideration, their vernacular dialect. But, in consequence of their attachment to their religion (which included their polity and law); in consequence of their inviolable regard to their own customs, and of their detestation, both of the customs, and of the arts, of the heathen ; in consequence of their veneration for the sacred books, and their never hearing any other than a literal version of them in the public offices of religion, they still, in a great measure, preserved the idiom ; insomuch that, if the Chaldee of Jerusalem was not as different from the Chaldee of Babylon as the Greek of the synagogue was from the Greek of the classics, the only assignable reason perhaps is, that the idiom of the Hebrew and that of the Chaldee were originally more akin to each other, than the idiom of the Greek was to either. Now the idiom keeps a much firmer hold of the mind, than the words, which are mere sounds, do, and which, compared with the other, may be considered as but the body, the material part of a language, whereof the idiom is the soul.
Though the Jewish tongue therefore became different, their idiom was nearly the same. I
say nearly so ; hence we infer, that the knowledge of the style and idiom of the Old Testament must throw light upon the New: but it was not entirely the same. Hence we conclude the utility of knowing the state of the rabbinical and traditionary learning of that peo
ple in the days of our Saviour, this being the most effectual means of illustrating those particulars wherein the idiom of the New Testament differs from that of the Old. It was indeed impossible that such an intercourse with strangers as extirpated their language, should not be productive of some effect on their notions of things, sentiments, and manners. And changes produced in the sentiments and manners of a people, never fail to show themselves in their writings.
$ 6. But, if what happened during their captivity had some effect on these ; what followed after their
; return to Judea had a much greater. The persecu'tions they endured under the Grecian empire, on account of their religion, did, as is often the case, greatly endear it to them, and make them consider it in a light, in which (whatever may be said of individuals) they seem never as a nation to have considered it in before. It became more an object and a study to them. Sensible how little their perseyerance secured them the temporal advantages held forth in the letter of the law, they became fond of attending to those spiritual and sublime interpretations, both of the law, and of the prophets, which served to fortify the mind against all secular losses and misfortunes, and inspire it with hope, in the immediate views of torture, and of death. Besides, the intercourse which, from the time of the Macedonian conquests, they unavoidably had with the Greeks, introduced insensibly, into their manner of treating re