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THE

PLURALITY

AND

TRINITY OF PERSONS.

I.

The Hebrew name so often used in the Old Testament, which we have translated by the word God, is Elohim, a noun substantive of the plural number, regularly formed from its singular,* and very frequently joined with plural verbs and plural adjectives, to express a plurality in the divine nature: though for another obvious reason, it is generally constructed with verbs and pronouns of the sin, gular number, and gives a good sense, though the grammar of it be somewhat irregular.

The Jews would persuade us not to consider this word as a plural noun, but on some

*77158 and 1768 see the Heb. of Deat. xxi. 17. and Heb. i. 11.

can

particular occasions. Whoever will be at the pains to examine their reasoning, will find it to be very childish and inconsistent, wholly owing to their hatred against the divinity of Fesus Christ, and the notion of a trinity. But when the yew is become a Christian, and the stumbling block of the cross removed out of his way, he

allow the name Elohim to be plural as readily as other men; and it is one of the principal points he chuses to insist upon, to convince the world that his eyes are open, and he is sincere in his profession of te Christian religion.

John Xeres, a Jew, converted here in England about forty years ago, published a sensible and affectionate address to his unbelieving brethren, wherein he lays before them his reasons for leaving the fewish

religion and embracing the Christian. “The Christians (says he)* confess Jesus to be God; and it is this that makes us look upon the gospels as books that overturn the very principles of religion, the truth of whịch is built upon this article, the unity of God. In this argument lies the strength of what you object against the Christian religion.” Then he undertakes to prove that the unity of God is not such as he once understood it to be, an unity of person, but of essence, under which more persons than one are comprehended;

* P. 53.

and the first proof he offers is that of the name Elohim.

“Why else, says hent is that frequent mention of God by nouns of the plu. ral number? as in Gen. i. i. where the word Elohim, which is rendered God, is of the plu. ral nnmber, though annexed to a verb of the singular number, which demonstrates as evidently as may be, that there are several persons partaking of the same divine nature and essence.

II.

Gen, i. 26. And GOD said, let us

make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.

No sensible reason can be given, why God should speak of himself in the plural number, unless he consists of more persons than one. Dr. Clarke contrived the plan of his Scripture Doctrine so as to leave out this difficulty with many more of the same kind. Others there are who tell us it is a figurative way of speaking, only to express the dignity of God, not to denote any plurality in him. For they observe it is customary for a king, who is only one person, to speak of himself in the same style. But how absurd is it, that God should

P. 57.
M

borrow his way of speaking from a king, be. fore a man was created upon the earth! And even granting this to be possible, yet the cases will not agree. For though a king or governor may say us and we, there is certainly no figure of speech that will allow any single person to say, one of us, when he speaks of himself. It is a phrase that can have no meaning, unless there be more persons.than one to chuse out of. Yet this, as we shall find, is the style in which God has spoken of himself in the following article. Though it be impossible to apply this plural expression to any but the persons of the godhead, there is a writer who has attempted to turn the force of it by another text, in which, as he says very truly, the weakness of the argument will appear at sight. God invites the people by the prophet Isaiah, and says, come now and let us reason together," chap. i. ver. 18. Upon which he remarks that, “ if this form of expression puts the children of Israel upon an equality with God, then we may allow some force in this argument."

And so we may if it does not. For let us reason refers to an act common to all spirits ; and therefore no Christian ever thought of arguing from it. But let us make man, refers only to an act of the godhead. All spirits . can reason: but only the supreme Spirit can

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a See an Appeal to the Common Sense of an Christian People. p. 139.

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create. Therefore the author, instead of answering the expression, hath only brought together two texts as widely different as God and man.

If the King were to say to another, “ let us see," or let us breathe," no man would be so weak as to think that the expression denoted any equality or co-ordination in the person so spoken to.

But if he should say, “ let us pardon a malefactor condemned by the law," then the expression would admit of such an inference. And the objector might have been aware of these distinctions, if he had prematurely settled his faith before he had consulted the holy scripture.

III.

Gen. iii. 22. And the LORD GOD said,

behold the man is become like ONE OF US.

The Jews are greatly perplexed with this passage. They endeavour to put it off, by telling us, God must here be understood to speak of himself and his council, or as they term it for a his house of judgment, made up of angels, &c. to which there needs no answer but that of the prophet, who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor ?a

a Rom. xi. 34, and Isa. sl. 13:

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