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Some have supposed angels to be associated with God, when these plural forms occur. For this there is no foundation in the texts themselves, and it is beside a manifest absurdity. Others, that the style of royalty was adopted, which is refuted by two considerations—that Almighty God in other instances speaks in the singular and not in the plural number; and that this was not the style of the sovereigns of the earth, when Moses or any of the sacred penmen composed their writings; no instance of it being found in any of the inspired books. A third opinion is, that the plural form of speaking of God was adopted by the Hebrews from their ancestors, who were Polytheists, and that the ancient theological term was retained after the unity of God was acknowledged. This assumes what is totally without proof, that the ancestors of the Hebrews were Polytheists; and could that be made out, it would leave it still to be accounted for, why other names of the Deity, equally ancient, for any thing that appears to the contrary, are not also plural, and especially the high name of Jehovah; and why, more particularly, the very appellation in question, Aleim, should have a singular form also, in the same language. The grammatical reasons which have been offered are equally unsatisfactory. If then no hypothesis explains this peculiarity, but that which concludes it to indicate that mode of the Divine existence which was expressed in later theology by the phrase, a Trinity of persons, the inference is too powerful to be easily resisted, that these plural forms must be considered as intended to intimate the plurality of persons in essential connection with one supreme and adorable Deity.
This argument, however, taken alone, powerful as it has often been justly deemed, does not contain the strength of the case. For natural as it is to expect, presuming this to be the mode of the Divine existence, that some of his names which, according to the expressive and simple character of the Hebrew language, are descriptions of realities, and that some of the modes of expression adopted even in the earliest revelations, should carry some intimation of a fact, which, as essentially connected with redemption, the future complete revelation of the redeeming scheme was intended fully to unfold; yet, were these plural titles and forms of construction blotted out, the evidence of a plurality of Divine persons in the Godhead would still remain in its strongest form. For that evidence is not merely, that God has revealed himself under plural appellations, nor that these are constructed with sometimes singular and sometimes plural forms of speech; but that three persons, and three persons only are spoken of in the Scriptures under Divine titles, each having the peculiar attributes of Divinity ascribed to Him ; and yet that the first and leading principle of the same book, which speaks thus of the character and works of these persons, should be, that there is but one God. This point being once established, it may be asked which of the hypotheses, the Orthodox, the Arian, or the Socinian, agrees best with this plain and explicit doctrine of Holy Writ. Plain and explicit, I say, not as to the mode of the Divine existence, not as to the comprehension of it, but as to this particular, that the doctrine itself is plainly stated in the Scriptures.
Let this point then be examined, and it will be seen even that the very number three has this pre-eminence; that the application of these
names and powers is restrained to it, and never strays beyond it; and that those who confide in the testimony of God, rather than in the opiaions of men, have sufficient Scriptural reason to distinguish their faith from the unbelief of others by avowing themselves Trinitarians.*
WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY. An American Dictionary of the English Language: intended to
exhibit, I. The origin, affinities, and primary signification of English words,
as far as they have been ascertained, II. The genuine orthography and pronunciation of words, according
to general usage, or to just principles of analogy. III. Accurate and discriminating definitions, with numerous autho
rities and illustrations. To which are prefixed, an Introductory
Quarto. LANGUAGE has been divided by philologists into two sorts, namely, Natural and Conventional, or Artificial. By natural language, we understand those gestures of the body, and that expression of the countenance, by which the passions, emotions, or sentiments of the heart are made known. This is the language of infancy, of the deaf and dumb, and in a great measure of those barbarous nations, whose words are few, and whose minds have not been cultivated by science and letters. Thus the unsophisticated language of infancy expresses the pain or pleasure of the heart involuntarily by the contraction or expansion of the countenance, the smile playing upon the lips, the sparkling of the eyes, or the frown upon the forehead ; until, finally, the emotions find a vent in loud cries or laughter. Among adults, the angry countenance, the scowling eye, the indignant frown, and the contemptuous sneer, indicate with great precision what is passing within the breast; while on the other hand, the composed mien, the placid look, the benignant smile,' and the nod of approbation, denote the feeling of pleasure with which the heart is actuated. Nor are the gestures and motions of the body less indicative of the passions of the heart. Violent agitations of the mind are easily inferred from the violent agitations of the body. When we see a man swing his fist with a rapid and yet determinate motion, while his body remains erect, we infer the agitated state of his mind with as much certainty as if we actually heard him denounce his antagonist with boisterous words. And these natural signs are instinctively interpreted anterior to all reasoning. The untaught savage, equally with the polished citizen. * The word spias, trinitas, cameinto use in the second century.
perfectly comprehends their meaning. And hence the despot, who designs to make himself feared, resorts to these expressions whenever he wishes to intimidate a rival, or rid himself of troublesome intruders. The word “retire,' when uttered by Buonaparte to his attendants, whenever they became troublesome by their expostulations or petitions, and uttered with that tremendous scowl of indignation, which he could so easily assume or lay aside, as suited his purpose, soon cleared the room, and left him to his lonely musings. And it is also asserted of him, that the • bewitching smile' of his countenance had in it that indescribable charm, which all who came in contact with him felt to be almost irresistible.
Is it not from this inimitable language of nature, that inanimate objects are represented as if endowed with speech? Thus it is said by the sublime writer of the nineteenth Psalm, that. The heavens DECLARE the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day UTTERETH speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.' These symbols of the Creator's glory, though literally dumb, on account of their magnitude, beauty, and order, and more especially their vast utility to the world, are represented as speaking so loudly, that their words go to the end of the world ; and at the same time, as uttering their language so intelligibly, that they declare, in most forcible words, the glory of God. But how do they speak? Not audibly, but by signs ; not by an articulate voice, but by a natural speech, alike understood by the untaught barbarian and the refined citizen; and by an exhibition of their shining qualities, they display the power and wisdom and goodness of their Creator, as forcibly as do the countenance and gestures of man what are the hidden sentiments and emotions of his heart.
Words are artificial. They are often resorted to only to deceive. While the tongue utters them, the heart is often meditating other things. While the oil of kindness flows in the softest accents from the lips, 'war may be in his heart.' A traitor may cry, “Hail master,' and even betray him with a kiss whom he is murdering in his heart. On this account it is contended by many that the surest index of the heart are the gestures of the body, or the lineaments of the countenance. It is true, a man who has learned to command himself may suppress his emotions, may disguise his sentiments, and thus deceive the most observing. And it is equally true, that the timid may betray symptoms of fear, and a consciousness of guilt, though perfectly innocent, while the hardened criminal may appear entirely composed amidst wellfounded reproaches and accusations. It is only when a man is taken by surprise, or is observed in his lonely musings, that you read the emotions of his heart in the lineaments of his countenance; or when he unreservedly vents himself in the expressive gestures and motions of his body.
Another class of natural signs, by which the inward feelings of the heart are expressed, is the modulation or tones of the voice. In the earliest periods of life, or in any sudden emergency, these cries, so expressive of fear, of desire and hope, are uttered involuntarily, and may, therefore, be reckoned among the most infallible signs of the particular passion which predominates in the breast. Joy, grief, sorrow, or desire, admiration, suspicion, fear, and hope, are all thus expressed. So exactly suited is this organ of the body for the soul to pour forth all its feelings in distinctive notes, that the hearer, by attending to the modulations of the speaker's voice, may be satisfied of the particular passion which actuates his heart; and even in the progress of a continued discourse, these tones mingle together or succeed each other in alternate strains of love or hate, joy and sorrow, &c, according as the various subjects which are calculated to excite those
passions come under consideration. And the effect which the human voice has upon the hearer is truly astonishing. Of this all orators are sensible, and therefore endeavor so to modulate its tones as to give that effect to their discourse which they wish to produce. These intonations of the voice, however, are accompanied with words more or less distinctly uttered. This leads us to notice, in the second place,
Conventional, or Artificial Language. A writer on this subject has observed, that the situation of man as a member of society, and his possession of powers and faculties as a rational being, rendering a much more extended and enlarged mode of communication necessary for him than could be accomplished by mere natural signs, an obvious question arises, What means the Author of our being has furnished for the attainment of an object so important to the great ends of human existence ? It is by no means inconceivable, that any one of the classes of natural signs, or instinctive expressions of thought, might have been adopted as the ground work of a more enlarged conventional language; the features of the face, or the gestures of the body, might perhaps have been moulded into forms, to each of which an arbitrary but determinate meaning might have been attached, and these, united with mere inarticulate cries, might have served to carry on some kind of intercourse among men. But how inadequate must all these have been even in their most improved state, to answer the ends, to which speech is subservient. All the variations of which they are susceptible would mark only a few emotions, but by much the greater and more important subjects of thought and volition would have been beyond their reach.' Hence, necessity dictated some other mode of communication, in order that the great ends of human existence should be realized. This has been happily provided for by the beneficent
Author of our existence. The human voice is so constructed as to be susceptible of alınost an endless variety of modulations, and thus, to a certain extent, the power of forming these varieties of sounds is pos. sessed by all human beings whose faculties are perfect.
How does the beneficence of our Creator appear in making this provision for the convenience and happiness of the human race! The mind of man is provided with an organ so constructed that, however richly laden may be that mind, however diversified its thoughts, judgments, and volitions, it can make these thoughts, judgments, and volitions known with ease and intelligence to all who come within the range
of sound. How mankind were first induced to resort to the use of articulate sounds for the purpose of intercommunication with each other, is a question which has given origin to many curious speculations. Into those speculations we shall not enter. It is sufficient for us to know that our Creator has endowed us with physical and mental powers to enable us to think, reason, and speak-to express our thoughts and reasonings intelligibly--and thus to derive both profit and pleasure from this intellectual intercourse—and that whatever might have been the difficulties to be encountered in reducing the perceptions of our minds to the form of words, or articulate sounds, He furnished us with the means and gave us the ingenuity to overcome all such difficulties.
As the use of language is to convey to another the exact thought and perception which occupy our own minds, it is a matter of great importance that the meaning of words should be generally understood, and that they should be used, as far as practicable, in a fixed and determinate sense. Hence the utility of some common standard of lan. guage to which all may resort for information on this subject. For we may easily conceive that when the knowledge of letters was confined to but few, and especially before alphabetical writing was generally known, language, so far at least as its orthography and pronunciation were concerned, must have been extremely fluctuating, and no doubt also, that words must have varied in their meaning with the progress of society. “As language,' says Dr. Johnson, was at its beginning merely oral, all words of necessary or common use were spoken before they were written; and, while they were unfixed by any visible signs, must have been spoken with great diversity, as we now observe those who cannot read, catch sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. When this wild and barbarous jargon was first reduced to an alphabet, every penman endeavored to express, as he could, the sounds which he was accustomed to pronounce or receive, and vitiated in writing such words as were already vitiated in speech.' Hence the necessity of fixing the precise meaning of words has led to the compiling of dictionaries, which, of late especially, have greatly multiplied on our hands.