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attributes. All the temptations that ever existed compared with these, were nothing, and less than nothing."*
Finally, if, as it is said by Unitarians, we cannot and ought not to believe the doctrine of the Trinity, even though the Scriptures when interpreted, as all other books are, clearly teaches it, then, since God has given us no other laws of interpretation by which to understand their meaning, it would follow that the Scriptures cannot be received as an authoritative and inspired standard of faith and practice, and we are thrown upon the wide sea of scepticism and human conjecture as to what is truth. By the great majority of those who have candidly studied the Bible, it has been regarded as teaching the doctrine of the TRINITY of persons in the ONE Godhead, and therefore, it follows that the great majority of those who believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God, must, also, believe the doctrine of the Trinity. They have no alternative between infidelity and Trinitarianism, and since they cannot adopt the latter they must adhere to the former.
From these consequences, therefore, which follow from the rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity, and from all the reasons which constitute our presumptive argument in its favour, we are brought to the conclusion that it is very probably true, that it will be found clearly taught in the Scriptures, and that its opponents therefore, are bound to prove that christianity distinctly and equivocally condemns and rejects this doctrine before they can offer any valid argument against it on the ground of antecedent impossibility, or in any degree tamper with the plain meaning of the words of Scripture. In coming therefore to Scripture to ascertain what God has revealed on the subject of his own nature, we are not only freed from any prejudices against the probability of finding there the doctrine of the Trinity, but are presumptively led confidently to expect that it will be clearly and distinctly taught in those Scriptures which "were given by inspiration of God and are profitable for doctrine," "the law and testimony," the rule and standard of all revealed truth.†
*On the alleged idolatry of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the consequences it involves, and its futility, see Wynpersee on the Godhead of Christ, sec. 17, pp. 157-162.
+We would earnestly ask our readers to distinguish carefully between the doctrines proposed in Scripture to our belief, and the things themselves that are the matter and subject of them. The former may be known, and ground sufficient seen for receiving them; where our reason,
ON ELOHIM AS A TITLE OF GOD, AND AS IMPLYING A PLURALITY IN THE GODHEAD.*
The names of the Deity in general and constant use in the Hebrew language are more numerous than in either of the beautiful languages of classical antiquity, or in the most cultivated tongues of modern Europe. There was no shadow of necessity, difficulty, or even inducement, for the adoption of a phraseology which, on Unitarian principles, every candid mind must confess, can with difficulty, if at all, be defended from the charge of pernicious example and very dangerous tendency.
Among these names, are the term ELOAH, a singular form of a word signifying the object of fear, reverence, or the principal and mighty, or the swearer, or one who enters into covenant by oath, and ELOHIM, which is a regularly formed plural of the singular word, and having the same meaning, if regarded as derived from it. The etymology of this word, however, says Dr. Pye Smith, has been much contested; some making it a compound of El, and Jah, so as to signify "the Mighty Jah; others deriving it from Ala, "to enter into an engagement by oath," and thus signifying "the Being of sworn veracity and faithfulness." The most reasonable and probable derivation, so far as I can judge, is that of Schultens, Reineccius, and a
at least in this its weak and impaired state, can't reach the full clear, and adequate understanding of the latter.
"Would not advantage be given to Deists and Anti-Scripturists, not to say Atheists, to scoff at the Bible, if after pretences of its truth and authority, and that its great end is to call off the world from idolatry and polytheism to the knowledge, worship and service of the one only true God, and of its plainness to such purposes, being for the use of all; yet even as to this main point, the setting forth of this one true God, distinguishing him from all other beings, it is allowed to be done in such a manner, that not only one, or a few, through carelessness or prejudices, or judicial blindness might mistake; but that the generality of christians, in all ages, have mistaken, under as good capacity to understand it, as good means and helps thereto, as much concern and diligence, impartiality and faithfulness in the study of it, as sincere and earnest prayer to God for his guidance, and as good ground to hope for it from him as any can pretend to? What use, may they say, can such a book be of, or what likelihood that it is from God? Could he not speak plainly of himself, where 'tis pretended he designed to do so? Is all there so delivered, that the world might, and almost all actually have erred, as to the very object of their faith, worship and obedience, and in whom their felicity is placed? Would not that book, instead of leading to life and salvation, be the most insnaring and dangerous one that can be? Of what tendency must those notions be from which any such consequences would justly follow?"
*Intended to illustrate and confirm the argument from this name in the article on the objection to the Trinity, founded on the unity of God, in the January No. of this Reivew.
host of the most eminent orientalists, who make its primitive, Ala, which, though not occurring in the existing remains of the Hebrew, is preserved in the Arabic "Alaha," and denotes "to adore." Hence, the noun will signify "the object of adoration," or, as the illustrious Schultens well expresses it, "Numen Tremendum."*
Much however, may be said, and we think, with great force, and no little Scriptural support, in favour of the first derivation. The word Eloah signifies a denouncing of a curse, a curse denounced either upon oneself or others, or both, and therefore, an oath taken or given, for what is an oath but a conditional curse or execration? It was so used by the ancients; and, to this manner of swearing our blessed Lord himself submitted. (See Matt. xxvi: 63, 64.) Hence, the word Elohim, which is a regularly formed masculine plural of Eloah, would naturally signify the denouncers of a conditional curse. So, we find Jehovah swearing to Adoni, (Psalm cx.,) on oath, certainly prior to the creation. See Prov. viii: 23, and seq., comp., John xvii: 5, 24. Accordingly, Jehovah is at the beginning of the creation called Elohim, which implies that the divine persons had sworn when they created. It was from this oath that the ever blessed Three were pleased to take that glorious and fearful name. (Deut. xxviii: 58,) Jehovah Elohim; glorious, in as much as the transaction, to which it refers, displays in the most glorious manner, the attributes of God to men and angels; and fearful, in as much as, by one part of the oath, eternal and infinite power, Jehovah himself, is engaged to make the enemies of Christ his foot-stool.-Psalm cx.
Let those who have any doubt whether Elohim, when meaning the true God, Jehovah, is plural or not, consult the following passages, where they will find it joined with adjectives, pronouns, and verbs plural, Gen. i: 26, iii: 22, xi: 7, xx: 13, xxxi: 53, xxxv: 7; Deut. iv: 7, v: 23, or 26; Josh. xxiv: 19; 1 Sam. iv: 8; 2 Sam. vii: 23; Ps. lviii: 12; Is. vi: 8; Jere. x: 10; xxiii: 36. So, chald. Elohin, Dan. iv: 5, 6, 15, or 8, 9, 18. See also Prov. ix: 10, xxx: 3; Psal. cxlix: 2; Eccles. v: 7, xii: 1; Job v: 8; Is. vi: 3, liv: 5; Hos. xi: 12, or xii: 1; Mal. i: 6; Dan. vii: 18, 22, 25. It is also to be observed, that the Greeks had, from this name Elohim, by a perverted tradition, their Zevs ôpxos Jupiter, who presided over oaths. Hence, also, the corrupt tradition of Jupiter's oath which overruled even Fate
*Smith's Messiah, vol. i., p. 465.
itself, that is, the fated and necessary motions of the elements of this world.‡
The derivation here adduced, is very ably supported by Geddulph, in his Theology of the Early Patriarchs, vol. ii., pp. 1-27; and favourably regarded by Horsely in his Biblical Criticism.
This view was ably defended by Hutchinson, Calcott, Bates, Ahoab, and others in their dissertations on this word. See also, Calasio's Concordance, London Edition.
But, passing from the derivation of this word, we remark that this term Elohim, is the most usual appellation of the Deity in the Old Testament, which is constantly translated God. The singular form Eloah occurs chiefly in the poetical books;twice in the Hymn of Moses, (Deut. xxxii: 7,) several times in the Prophets, forty times in the book of Job, and in the other books sixteen times; but the plural Elohim, occurs about two thousand five hundred times. This plural appellative is generally put in agreement with singular verbs, pronouns, and adjectives, as in the first sentence of the Pentateuch, "Elohim created; creavit Dii;-les Dieux créa." This is the ordinary construction through the whole Hebrew Bible. But sometimes the apposition is made with verbs, pronouns, and adjectives in the "plural" number likewise; and sometimes singulars and plurals are put together in the same agreement.
"For example, Gen. xx: 13. "Elohim hithoo outhi," "the Gods have caused me to wander."
Gen. xxxv: 7, "Sham nighlo elau haelohim," "there were revealed to him the Gods."
Josh. xxiv: 19, "Laavod, eth Jehovah chi lo him kidoshim hoh," "to serve Jehovah, for he are holy Gods."
Is. liv: 5, "Chi boaalaich oosaich," "for thy husbands are thy makers.”* Nor is Elohim the only divine title used in the plural form. Drusius, Buxtorf, Heeser, Eichhorn, Gesenius, and other distinguished scholars, have maintained that "Adonai and Shaddai," are plurals of an obsolete form; and this very plural title is the word which the Jews of a very early age, certainly hundreds of years before Christ,† substituted for the use of the title Jehovah, which they never pronounce, and for
See Parkhurst's Heb. Lex., sub. nom. elohim.
*See also, Deut. v: 23; (Engl. v: 26;) 1 Sam. xvii: 26; 2 Sam. vii: 23; Psal. lviii: 12, cxlix: 2; Prov. ix: 10; Jere. x: 10; Dan. vii: 18, 22, 25, 27; Hos. xii: 1; (Engl. v. xi: 11.)
† Since it is so used in the Septuagint.
which singular title of God they have always employed, and now always employ, the plural title "Adonai, my Lords."
This Ewald controverts, but he assigns no satisfactory reason, as apparent to me, in either case; and Gesenius remains unconvinced; whose opinion in a case of philology, especially, if at all favourable to a doctrine of revelation is really equal to an argument.
It is further to be observed, that the first person plural, is used in reference to the Divine Being.-Gen. i: 26. "And Elohim said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness," chap. iii: 22. “And Jehovah Elohim said, behold the man is become as one of us," chap. xi: 7. "Come, we will go down, and there we will confound their language," Is. vi: 8. "And I heard the voice of the Lord (Adonai,) saying, whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?"
Such are the facts in regard to the employment of a plural title in connection with plural forms of speech, to designate the Deity. This use must be in accordance with a divine intention and direction, and not from any necessity in the case. It is evidently, the result of choice and design. In what then did this peculiarity of idiom originate?
The question is, why is the plural pronoun used, when the singular was required by the subject, and would have been, not only equally dramatic, but indeed, more terse, and vigorous, and striking? The question is not about the analogous, unfrequent, and secondary application of the title to express Gods who were false, or God's agent as Moses. "It is, says Dr. Smith, about the proper, primary, and direct signification of the word." That Elohim is ever so applied to any other being than God, has been denied. But, granting that it is so, this will not prove that in its proper and primary meaning it is applied to God, and that too, with unquestionable design. For the same is true of all the titles of God, not even excepting Jehovah which, as Oxlee remarks, "Though generally regarded by the Jews as a noun appropriated to the individual subsistency of the Godhead, is also common to many persons, for being found in construction, and accompanied with adjuncts restraining its signification, it necessarily ceases to be proper. Thus, we read: "The Jehovah of hosts." And R. Abraham ben Ezra, confesses, that when thus placed in regimen with the term hosts, it partakes of the nature of a common appellation." But, besides being found in construction, and having other marks of a noun common, it is absolutely equivocal; angels