« PreviousContinue »
THE Hyperbole is an exhibition of things as greater or less in dimensions, more or less in number, or better or worse in kind than they really are: as it is said of a large man he is a giant;
of a small one he is a pigmy; of an elegant and expensive house it is a palace; and of a small, cheap, and unfashionable one it is a hovel. The figure is of rare occurrence in the sacred volume. There is an example (Job xl. 23), “He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.” There are several in Isaiah; as, “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures ; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots; their land also is full of idols' (chap. ii. 7, 8), where the land is said to be full of those objects, to denote that they were very abundant.
Expressions like the following—he is the first orator of the age; he is the greatest of the living poets; she is the most elegant woman of the time
-are often used of those who are only distinguished for oratory, poetry, and beauty, not the most eminent for them.
The objects to which the figure is applied actually have the qualities that are ascribed to them; as it is only those who are truly beautiful who are said to be most beautiful, only those who are large who are called giants, and only those who are dwarfish who are said to be pigmies; and the figure lies in representing their peculiarities as greater than they
It differs, accordingly, from the comparison and metaphor, which are founded on resemblance; from the metonymy, which is founded on the relation of different things to one another; and from the synecdoche, which is founded on the relation of a part to the whole, or of the whole to a part.
What is the hyperbole? What is its peculiarity compared to the simile, metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche! Give examples of it.
A Hypocatastasis is a substitution, without a formal notice, of an act of one kind, with its object or conditions, for another, in order, by a resemblance, to exemplify that for which the substitute is used.
Thus a person attempting to accomplish something that, either from its nature or his condition, is impossible, or extremely difficult, is said to “undertake to force his bark against wind and tide:” a work of one kind which is known to be hopeless, being employed to exemplify the impracticableness of the other. In like manner, it is said of one who encounters strong opposing influences in the accomplishment of an object, “he is struggling against th current,” or “he is trying to swim up stream;" and of one who is endeavoring to effect an object without the requisite means," he is attempting to make brick without straw," to exemplify the disadvantages under which he is working.
The figure occurs very frequently in the Scriptures. One of the most beautiful examples of it is in the invitation (Is. lv. 1, 2):
“ Ho, every one that thịrsteth, come ye to the waters,
And he that hath no money, come ye buy and eat
bread, And your
labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat that which is good, And let your soul delight itself in fatness."
Here the gifts which God invites men to accept, are not really water, milk, honey, and bread; nor the wants he proposes to supply, hunger and thirst; but thirst and hunger, necessities of the body, are substituted for the analogous wants of the soul ; and water, milk, honey, and bread, for the gifts of grace by which those spiritual wants are supplied; and the invitation to take the one is substituted for an invitation to accept and enjoy the other. In an equivalent invitation given by Christ, labor, and the pressure of a heavy burden, are used to represent the analogous feelings produced by a sense of
guilt; and an easy yoke and light burden, to indicate the ease and peace of his service,
« Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. xi. 28–30). It is not those who are struggling under the weight of an excessive burden whom Christ proposes to relieve, but those who are engaged in an analogous conflict for the salvation of their souls; nor is it a literal yoke and burden which he calls them to assume, but they are used to represent the easy conditions of his service. To take Christ's yoke and burden is to submit to his rule, and bear the self-denial which obedience to him involves ; and the cheerful and joyous feeling of his disciples, compared to theirs who are depressed by a hopeless sense of guilt, is what an easy and light burden is compared to labor that exhausts, and a load that overwhelms by its excessive weight.
The restraints and self-denials of his service are represented by him on another occasion by a cross. “If any man will come after me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke ix. 23). Bearing a literal cross, the instrument of crucifixion, and literally following Christ in the route he pursued in his ministry in Judea and