Reading The Hidden Life of Prayer: The Life Blood of the Christian by David McIntyre, I ran smack into some old-fashioned language (the work was first published in 1893). As I considered the meaning of the words, I began to understand how we can lose meaning when we change language. And language has changed a lot since 1893.
Here’s how a contemporary English translation might say it:
“We’re told to give praise for three possible reasons: blessings, thanks for salvation, and/or worship.”
Both mean essentially the same thing, but consider what is lost in the contemporary version.
That praise is tribute.
That we are the saints.
That we are instructed to offer.
That we should acknowledge mercies from God.
That mercies are daily.
That thanks-giving is not a noun but an action verb (it’s hyphenated).
That salvation is a “great redemption.”
That worship is a contemplation – a deep thinking.
That what we are to contemplate is a “divine perfection.” (And McIntyre capitalizes “Divine” because it is a placeholder word for God. Think how common it is for us to lowercase “he” and “him” when we refer to God.)
Reading that short passage, and thinking about it, I was rather stunned. I began to think about all the other things we do – things other than our utilitarian, socially-mediated language – that loses meaning and a sense of awe.
Because that is what McIntyre is communicating – that praise is a form of awe.
Over at Informing the Reforming, Tim Challies is leading a discussion of The Hidden Life of Prayer. Please visit the site to see what’s happening the comments.