Webster’s First Dictionary

When you read the word “dictionary,” you might immediately starting yawning.  Dictionaries aren’t exactly the most exciting books on the shelf.  But before you tune me out, let me tell you something interesting.  Noah Webster’s first dictionary in 1828 was based off of the Bible.  Webster considered education completely useless if it was without the Bible.  In fact, many of his definitions had Scripture references!  Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • “Marriage” – “The act of uniting a man and woman for life… Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children. ‘Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. Heb.13.’”
  • Mercy “That benevolence, mildness or tenderness which disposes a person…to treat an offender better than he deserves. ‘The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num.14.’”

Those are great definitions.  But here is where the problem lies.  Take a look at the 1981 Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary definition of those same words.

  • Marriage – “Man and woman are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family…an intimate or close union”
  • Mercy – “Compassion or forbearance shown esp. to an offender or to one subject to one’s power…an act of divine favor or compassion…a fortunate circumstance.”

Clearly all Scripture references and religious thoughts are gone.  I suppose it isn’t that surprising considering today’s culture.  People have taken God out of schools, sporting events, signs, monuments, etc.  They are currently trying to take God out of our currency and even our National Anthem.

Webster really had a great thing going in his first dictionary.  He realized the importance God should play in our words and in our lives.  Despite how godless our culture is becoming, they won’t be able to “hide” God forever.  Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him….”  Let’s see them try to hide that!

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