The Berean Expositor
Volume 24 - Page 203 of 211
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The definition of analogy.
pp. 145 - 147
In our last paper we introduced the subject of analogy, and considered briefly, with a
few examples, its importance and prevalence. The limits of the validity of argument by
analogy are subjects of long-standing controversy.  Varying conclusions have been
reached, according to the state of mind of the times, and the approach to the subject,
whether philosophical, mathematical or religious. We are chiefly concerned here with
the use of analogy in the things of God and His revelation, and we need not, therefore,
take up valuable time and space in dealing with the history of the controversy. Whately,
speaking of analogy writes:--
"Two things may be connected together by analogy; though they have in themselves
no resemblance, for analogy is the resemblance of ratios or relations. Thus as a sweet
taste gratifies the palate, so does a sweet sound gratify the ear, hence the word sweet is
applied to both though no flavour can ever resemble a sound in itself."
Even Whately's use of the word "gratify" is an example of the analogous in language,
for "gratify" indicates "gratitude", and the giving of thanks. It is used here figuratively,
and of course rightly, for it is a false conception of truth and truth-telling to imagine that
figurative language is not true. Indeed, the opposite is often the case; a figure of speech
is often more true to the inner fact than any amount of "plain unvarnished speech" (to use
another figure). However, in spite of the attempt on the part of Whately to limit analogy
to relations, it will be found in ordinary use that:--
"Some identity of nature is always postulated in every analogy, as in the instance just
given both `hearing' and `tasting' are sensations."
When we turn to the Scriptures, we find that analogy is largely associated with what is
called anthropomorphism, that is, the ascription of human passions, actions and attributes
to God. The Hebrew name for this figure was Derech Benai Adam, "The way of the sons
of men"; the Latin name is Condescensio, indicating the condescension of the infinite
God, Who for the enlightenment of His creatures reveals Himself under human symbols
and figures. We will not here turn aside from our theme, to deal with the place of figures
of speech in general (this may well follow the present series); for the moment we must
consider the connection between analogy, anthropomorphism, and revealed truth:--
"That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto
them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so
that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1: 19, 20).
This verse shows without question that something may be known of God by analogy;
enough at least to make idolatry inexcusable. The question, however, that attracted the
close scrutiny of the "Schoolmen" was how far anthropomorphism could be justified in
the things of God. Anthropomorphic statements cannot be taken literally; yet they