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petent knowledge of, and firm belief in, the doctrines of Divine revelation,
Therefore, whatever is calculated to increase our knowledge of the word of God, or to render our knowledge of any portions of Divine revelation more distinct and certain, is a useful branch of education, and, as such, should ever be considered as coming within the limits prescribed to this society by its constitution.
Influenced by the preceding sentiments, I have thought proper to submit to the inspection of this society the result of my labors, in examining certain passages of the Hebrew Scriptures, which, in my humble opinion, are calculated to reflect some additional light upon one of the most important doctrines of Divine revelation ; viz. the doctrine of A Trinity of Persons in the Godhead.
be proper to add, that I entered upon this examination some time ago, purely for my own benefit, without intending to publish the result of my labors. With a view to the end proposed, I have endeavored to render the passages hereafter introduced as literally as possible.
1. Gen. i, 26. And 07768 Aleim (literally Gods) said, Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.
2. Gen. iii, 22. And JEHOVAH, Aleim, said, Behold, the man was as one of us, to know good and evil.
3. Gen. xi, 7. Come on, We will go down, and we will there confound their speech, that they may not hearken, each man to the speech of his companion.
4. Gen. xx, 13. And it was when Alein they caused me to wander from my father's house.
5. Gen. xxxi, 53. The Alei of Abraham, and the Alei of Nahor, the Alei of their father, they shall judge between us.
6. Gen. xxxv, 7. And he built an altar there, and he called that place Al-beth-Al, because there Aleim they were discovered to him, when he fled from the presence of his brother.
7. Deut. iv, 7. For what nation is so) great, which has Aleim they that are so nigh to it, as Jehovah our Aleim (is) to us, in all (that) we call upon him (for.)
8. Deut. v. 23, in the Heb. In the Eng. version, v. 26. For who of all flesh have heard the voice of Aleim the living Ones speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we (have,) and lived.
9. Josh. xxiv, 19. And Joshua said to the people, Ye will not be able to serve Jehovah, for Aleim the Holy Ones He is a jealous (AL) God. He will not bear with your transgressions nor with your sins.
10. 1 Sam. iv, 8. Wo unto us! who will deliver us from the hand of the Aleim—the Mighty Ones ? These, these, (are) those Aleim, the smiters of the Egyptians, with all the plagues in the wilderness.
11. 2 Sam. vii, 23. And what one nation in the earth (is) as thy people, as Israel, whom they the Aleim went to redeem for a people unto Himself.
12. Psa. lviii, 12, in the Heb. In the Eng. version lviii, 11. Truly He (is) Aleim, the Judges in the earth.
13. Isa. vi, 8. And I heard the voice of Adoni, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us ?
14. In Jer. x, 10, and xxüi, 36, the phrase Aleim the living Ones is applied to Jehovah.
15. Psa. cxlix, 2. Let Israel rejoice in his Makers.
16. Prov. ix, 10. The knowledge of the Holy Ones (is) understanding. The phrase D'vip nyar The knowledge of the Holy Ones, occurs again in Prov. xxx, 3.
17. Eccl. xii, 1. Remember now thy CREATORS, &c.
18. Dan. iv, 5, 6, 15, in the aldee. In our English version iv, 8, 9, 18, the phrase Alein the Holy Ones occurs in each verse.
N. B. Nebuchadnezzar is the speaker in each place.
19. Isa. vi, 3. And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy (is) Jehovah of hosts, the whole earth (is) full of his glory. N. B. Here Jehovah is thrice called holy by the seraphim.
20. Hosea xii, 1, in the Heb. In our Eng. version xi, 12, JEHOVAH is called the Holy Ones. N. B. It is far more probable, that Jehovah is meant here, than that the people of God should be intended by the expression.
21. In Dan. vii, 18, 22, 25, the phrase, saints of the High Ones, severally occurs. N. B. By the High Ones, no other being than Jehovah can be meant.
The unity of the Divine nature is every where maintained in the Holy Scriptures, and even in the foregoing passages, but the following passages are very expressive.
22. Deut. vi, 4. Israel, hearken; Jehovah, 13'03'yx our Gods (is) one JEHOVAH.
23. Gen. i, 1. In the beginning Aleiin (Gods) created the substance na of the heavens, and the substance of the earth.
N. B. Here the plural D'n Gods is connected with the singular verb sya he created.
That the words in the above-cited passages are in the plural form in the Hebrew text, no man at all acquainted with the language will attempt to deny. For what reason could the Holy Spirit have dictated the use of these plural words, but that the doctrine of a plurality of persons in the Godhead might be made known to man? I know that some eminent men have insisted that the plural form is used to dignify the subject. But it should be recollected, that the use of the plural, as applied to a single individual, is far more modern than these ancient scriptures, and therefore, though proud mortals may have thought to add consequence to themselves by such forms of speech, surely the God of truth would not thus mislead the minds of men respecting a doctrine of such vast importance, when His dignity could as fully appear without as with it. I, therefore, conclude that God designed, from the beginning, to teach man both the unity of His nature and the plurality of persons in that nature.
P. P. SANDFORD. New-York, July 15, 1833.
Although the doctrine of the Trinity does not rest solely on such forms of expression as those noticed above, yet it unquestionably derives much support from them. Among other authors who have introduced these in favor of the doctrine, we may mention the Rev. Ralph Wardlaw of Scotland, in his controversy with the Unitarian advocate, the Rev. James Yates. The following are his remarks, which we Gommend to the consideration of our readers :
• Mr. Yates next proceeds to the argument in support of a plurality of persons in the Godhead, from the plural termination of Aleim, Adnim, and other Hebrew names for God.
The force of this argument should be viewed as arising rather from the combined effect of the different considerations which I have so briefly touched upon. Mr. Yates takes them one by one, makes a distinct and formal argument for me out of each of them, discusses them in this insulated state, so as to prevent the reader from observing the support which they mutually afford to each other. Let us take his remarks, however, as they stand.
He first of all thinks it necessary formally to acquit me of any intention to burlesque the Scriptures, in giving as a “translation" or "version" of my text, “ Hear, O Israel, Jehovah OUR GODs (Aleim) is one Jehovah.” Now, surely, Mr. Yates could hardly fail to be aware that I never meant to propose this as a preferable translation or version of this and similar passages ; but used the term Gods in the plural, for no other purpose than to show to the eye of the mere English goeader, that the Hebrew Aleim was in that number. I had originally written it, and perhaps it would have been better to have kept it so, " Jehovah, our Aleim (Gods) is one Jehovah.”
Mr. Yates goes on to observe—“1. First, if the plural termination of Aleim, &c, indicates plurality at all, it denotes not only a plurality of persons or subsistences, but a plurality of Gods ; for on this supposition, Mr. Wardlaw's translation is undoubtedly correct, · Jehovah, our Gods. But this, I presume, is more than even Trinitarians will be diposed to admit.” (p. 135.)
Yes, indeed. It is more, certainly, than even Trinitarians, with all their voracious credulity, are disposed to admit. My very first remark on the text was in these words :
Unity and plurality are both here asserted ; and the plurality is emphatically declared to be consistent with the unity.” (p. 12.) The unity is not disputed. It is affirmed in the Scriptures :—it is pointedly asserted in the very text on which the observations are founded :-it is alike maintained by Trinitarians and Unitarians. The only inference that can be drawn, if any is to be drawn at all, from the plural name for God, is, that this unity is a unity of such a nature as admits distinction; that God is one, but that, at the same time, there is a plurality in the Godhead. The text itself, in which the Divine unity is so peremptorily affirmed, necessarily precludes all inference beyond this.
2. Mr. Yates next quotes a rule, as “resolving the whole mystery," from “ that useful book the Hebrew Grammar." The rule quoted in this tone of sarcastic triumph is :—“Words that express dominion, dignity, majesty, are commonly put in the plural.”
On this I observe, 1st. The rule, supposing it to be one, is beyond all doubt, stated in terms by far too general. If it were a rule of any thing like common application, one should expect to find it in all the Hebrew grammars. Now, although I find it in Wilson, and in Robertson, I do not find it in Parkhurst, nor in Pike, nor in an anonymous grammar used by the teacher from whom I got the rudiments of the language. This appears somewhat strange as to a common rule of syntax.
2dly. All the instances adduced of the application of this rule, in
which the reference is to Jehovah, must be set aside as not at all in point. It is from these that we derive our evidence : and therefore, to bring forward these, as exemplifications of a rule, which is alleged to subvert this evidence, is to beg the question in dispute. The rule, if established, must be established from other cases.
Now the particular words enumerated by Wilson are, Aleim, Gods, ADNIM, Lords, Bolim, husbands, masters : -and the exemplification of the rule which he adduces, is Isa. liv, 5, “ For thy Maker (Heb. Makers) is thy husband (Heb. husbands) Jehovah (God) of hosts is his name," &c,one of the very passages on which we ground our inference ; and which, therefore, can never go to disprove that inference, until it has been otherwise shown, that the phraseology is common in Hebrew syntax, and that there is nothing at all peculiar in the case of its application to Jehovah. The remark applies to all passages similarly circumstanced.
3dly. If the rule were one of common application, we might reasonably expect to find frequent instances of all the words mentioned by Wilson occurring in the plural, with a singular application. only instances of Bol, when it signifies a husband, (and indeed of any of the different Hebrew words so translated in our common sion,) occurring in the plural, are, so far as I have been able to discover, two in number,-viz: Isa. liv, 5, already quoted, and Jer. xxxi, 32 ; in both of which, it is rather singular, the application happens to be to Jehovah. As to the same word, when used to signify a master or owner, the instances of its occurrence, when considered as exemplifications of dominion, dignity, and majesty, are somewhat curious. It is applied, Exod. xxi, 28 ; xxii, 11, to the “ owner” of an ox, or an ass, or a sheep ; and in Isa. i, 3, to the “ master” of an ass : in which places it is in the plural number. I am not sure that the plural form of it occurs in this acceptation any where else. There is a high degree, no doubt, of dominion, dignity, and majesty, in being the proprietor of an ox, or an ass, or a sheep; a degree eminently worthy of a departure from the ordinary established principles of language to express it. I should think it, for my own part, more simple and reasonable to conclude, that since, throughout the context of the passages referred to, the word, when not in construction with the pronoun suffix, is in the singular number, and only assumes an apparently plural form, when in such construction, (a variation not readily accounted for on the principles of the rule in question ; the dominion of the master over his ox or his ass, and his dignity as its possessor, continuing the same) -either that Boli is used as a singular form of the noun, when in these circumstances of regimen, or that owner in the singular, and owners in the plural, are used promiscuously, because an ox, or an ass, or a sheep, may be the property either of one owner, or of more than
4thly. With respect to the word ADNIM, to which Mr. Yates confines his examples of the rule ;-it is, first of all, to be noticed, that in no one of the instances which are adduced by him, does it occur in its full plural form, ADNIM. It is, in every one of them, in a state of regimen with some pronominal affix, and appears in the form ADNI. I am not quite such a tyro as to be ignorant that the Mem of the plural termination is dropt in such circumstances. But I find ADNI considered by some Hebrew grammarians as a form of this noun in the singular number.
Thus Parkhurst : “9. , postfixed is formative in some nouns, both substantive, as 4378 (Adni) Lord, 'no fruit; and adjective," &c. Thus, too, Pike : "3778, 278, 178, (ADNI) a Master, a Lord, a Sustainer.” Allir, also, in his “ Judgment of the Jewish Church against the Unitarians,” (a scarce, and, in some respects, a valuable work) says :“ This notion of plurality must have sunk deep into the minds of the Jews, seeing they have constantly read the word Jehovah, which is singular, with the vowels of the word Adonai, which is plural, instead of ADONI, which is singular.” (p. 132.)
The only instance in which I find Adnim in its complete and decidodly plural form, and yet translated by the singular, (with exception of those which relate to Jehovah,) occurs in 1 Kings xxi, 17,
• These have no master,” (Heb. masters,) in which case, although the expression refers to the fall of Ahab, we yet should not feel as if the sense were very palpably violated, as to the state to which his fall reduced the people, although the plural had been retained in the translation.
5thly. Had the rule in question been a common idiom of the language, we might very reasonably have expected to find it in application, in the case of such words as king, prince, ruler, and many
others of a similar description, which convey the ideas of dominion, dignity, and majesty, surely much more impressively than the word used for the owner or master of an ox or an ass. No such instances, however, are adduced.
6thly. While the commonness of this rule or idiom is far from being established by the facts in the practice of the language, I almost wonder that it should not :-because it appears to me that an idiom of this kind would find an origin so natural in the very circumstance of the name of the One God in three persons having a plural form. In Hin are concentrated all the ideas we can form, and infinitely more, of dominion, dignity, and majesty. And, in these circumstances, it might have been highly natural for the Hebrews to give a plural termination to other words in their language, expressive of similar qualities and attributes.
3. The last observation is applicable, with particular force, to the case of false gods. It is surely not at all a surprising thing, that when the plural name has been applied to the true God, it should be used also in application to the idols of the heathen. There is nothing more wonderful in the name being so used in the plural form, than in its being so used at all. The same principle which accounts for the name GOD being given to heathen deities at all, will equally well account for its being given to them in the particular form in which it is applied to the true God. "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one." Yet the name of God is given to them in the Scriptures in accommodation to the false conceptions and customary phraseology of their deluded worshippers. We never think of inferring that idols in general possess divinity, from their being called gods ;-and neither do we infer, on the same principle, plurality in the particular idol, from the plural name of the One God being used in speaking of it. The circumstance of the plural name being applied to individual idols, does not, therefore, by any means “ show the futility" of the reasoning against which Mr. Yates argues ; because, if the name was first given to the true God, and then transferred in its applin