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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 the 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 thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
And he that hath no money, come ye buy and eat
price. Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not
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
on the point of destruction, and a fire on the verge of extinction, is thus used to represent his patience and forbearance towards his people.
This figure is wholly unlike the simile, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and hyperbole. It is not a formal comparison of the act and its accompaniments which are used as the representatives, with that which they are employed to represent. It is not a direct affirmation, like the metaphor, that that which is represented, is that which is employed to represent it; nor has the one any such intimate connexion with the other as exists between the objects used by metonymy, synecdoche, and hyperbole; but one act, with its condition or accompaniments, is, without a formal notice, put in the place of another, and the hearer and reader is left to see, from the connexion, what it is which the substituted act and condition represents.
Its characteristics are: 1st. It is an artificial use of a thing, not of a word. It is an act, and its accompanying object or condition, that is employed for illustration, not a word applied in an unusual relation. 2d. It is confined to the predicate of the proposition in which it occurs. It is the act, with its conditions, which that proposition expresses, exclusive of the agent to which the act is ascribed. In the expression, for example, “he is rowing