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fore, "thou shalt love him with all thy heart," &c.

♦See Stuart*9 letters to Channing, p. 47.



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ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY. 123

Had God meant to teach that he was only one, and in no
sense three in one, he would have used also the term yahid,
which is now employed by the Jews in stating this doctrine of
the divine unity in their creed. This term yahid, means only
one; as when God required Abraham to slay his only son
Isaac, where the term is yahid. (See also, Gen. xii: 16, Jud.
xi: 34.) God might thus have said that he was Eloah yahid,
only one God. But he does not say this. He does not use
Eloah in the singular, but Elohim in the plural; and he does
not use yahid, only one, but the very indefinite word ahad, one;
which concludes nothing as to his trinity of persons in one
Godhead, nor as to the numerical or personal unity of God.
The language of the text, as God has given it, therefore, affirms
merely, '*that Jehovah the Grod of Israel is one." And if the
adjunct one is made to refer to number, then the passage would
teach that the Jehovah of Israel was one Jehovah, but not
necessarily that he was the only one. The inference would
then be entirely inappropriate, and the duty it enjoins contrary
to what would be the duty of every man if there were other
Jehovahs equally divine; unless indeed, we adopt the opinion
of some German scholars at the present time, that the God of
Israel was only regarded and worshipped by them as a tutelar
or national God, and not as the only God.* Their love would
in this case, be required merely on the ground of national obedi-
ence, an idea however, totally inconsistent with every portion
of the Bible.

But the term one, cannot refer to number, so as to mean
that God is numerically one ; because further, a plural term is
added, and interposed between the two Jehovahs, in order to
qualify their import. The declaration which God here makes
of himself is, that "Jehovah, Elohim, is one Jehovah," that is,
in English, "Jehovah, our Gods, is one Jehovah." "Our
Gods," who has been pleased to call himself by the name
Jehovah, from the consideration that he is self-existent, he is
the only Jehovah, that is, the only God that exists, — the only
God who is Jehovah, — ^the self-existent and ever blessed God.
The passage, therefore, plainly does not refer to unity of num-
ber, but to unity of essence, or of nature ; and teaches, as the
Jews in their books of prayers express it, that God is unus,
one, not UNicus,t ONLY ONE. On this account therefore,

♦De Wette, Bauer, Wegscheider.
tSee Allix. pp. 121 and 268.



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124 ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY.

because Jehovah Elohim is the only living and true God, he
alone, is to be loved with all our heart and soul, and strength,
and mind. And hence it is added, in the 14th verse, "ye shall
not go after other gods, of the gods of the people, which are
round about you."

In like manner, the prophet Zachariah, in speaking of the
times of Messiah says: "In that day, there shall be Jehovah
one, and his name "one." And that this conmiand was so
understood by the Jews in our Saviour's time, is evident ; for
when he quoted this passage in reply to the inquiry, "which
was the first and great conmiandment," the Scribe answered,
"Well master thou hast said the truth, for there is one God,
and there is none other but he." — (Mark xii: 28-34.) And
thus also, the apostle Paul, the learned converted Jewish Rabbi,
says, "There is none other God but one." — (1 Cor. viii: 4.)
Such also, is the interpretation given by ancient Jewish writers.
This has been proved by many both converted Jews and learned
christians. Thus, in explaining the passage quoted from
Zachariah, Rabbi David Kimchi interprets it as teaching that
"the heathen will acknowledge that Jehovah is alone, that there
is no God besides him, consequently there will be his name
alone; as they will not make mention by name of any other
God in the world; but will make mention of his name only."
Indeed, so great is the sameness of this text, and that in Deut.
vi : 4, that Rabbi Solomon has explained the one by the other,
and has made the former, instead of a solemn attestation of
the numerical unity of God, to be a prediction of the imiversal
worship of Jehovah in the reign of Messiah. "He who is our
God now, and not the God of the Gentiles, will hereafter be
one common Jehovah." So also. Rabbi Abraham, another emi-
nent Jewish Commentator, interprets Deut. vi: 4. "In other
words," says he, "he, our God, is the foundation of our faith ;
and is likewise doubled, on being called one ; meaning by him-
self, or alone ; for that Jehovah is in this sense one, there are
proofs without end." To the same effect might be quoted
Rabbi Bechai Lipman and Rabbi Isaac Abarbinel.* It is,
therefore, very plain, both from the passage itself, from other
similar passages, and from Jewish authorities themselves, that
the term one in Deut. vi : 4, does not refer to a numerical, or

♦See given in the ori^^inal in Oxlee's "Christian Doctrine of the Trinity
maintained on the principles of Judaism." — Lon. 1815, 3 vols., vol. i, p. 334.



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ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY. 125

metaphysical unity of person in the Diety, but to a unity of
Godhead.

The term Jehovah in Hebrew, like the term God in English,
refers to the Divine nature, form, or essence, and is thus
equivalent to our word Deity or Godhead, which is undoubtedly
and invariably in Scripture, declared to be one. And thus this
passage, in a most definite and expressive manner, conveys the
idea that notwithstanding the real plurality which is intimated
in the term Elohim, Jehovah is still one in his incomprehensible
essence. Unity and plurality are, therefore, evidently united in
the one God, who is alone Jehovah.

The propriety of the emphatic one is lost in the Greek (which
employs the term Lord for Elohim,) and in the English also,
which renders the passage, "the Lord our God is one Lord."
To say that our Lord, or God, is one, is an unmeaning tautology
in comparison with "our Elohim is one." The plurality of
that term shows the necessity of the restriction, and is equiva-
lent to saying, "Jehovah our Elohim, though three persons, is
one Jehovah. As there is only one God, there can be only one
true God ; and therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are
the only true God." For why else, we ask, does God in this
passage, written "by holy men who spake as they were moved
by the Holy Ghost," employ these three terms, — ^Jehovah, Elo-
him, Jehovah, in apposition to each other and one of them
plural? The term Elohim, in Hebrew, has a singular form
Eloah or Eloh, which is found as we have seen, above seventy
times in the Old Testament, (as in Deut. xxxii : 15, 17.) Why
then, is this word most frequently introduced in the plural
form, signifying Gods ; and that too, when the Deity himself is
exclusively the subject, and authoritatively the speaker?*

To this enquiry the Jews themselves admit the necessity of
some reply, since Rabbi Huna remarks that had not God him-
self used this word, it would have been unlawful for man to do
so.f The common people among the Jews, have also been
prohibited from reading the history of the creation, lest they
should be led into heresy,^ and the Hebrew doctors have
regarded this portion of Scripture as containing some latent
mystery, — ^a mystery not to be revealed till the coming of the

*The term Elohim is used by Moses alone, thirty times in the history
of the creation ; and five hundred times, in one form or other, in the five
Books of the Pentateuch.

tSee in Martini Pugeo Fidei, p. 488.

tAllix. p. 132.



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126 ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY.

Messiah,§ and according to the Cabbala, the term Elohim is
composed of the two words El and Him, that is, they are God.\ \

The only reply attempted to be given to this inquiry is an
assumed idiom of the Hebrew language, by which it is said to
be merely an honorary, or complimentary form of speech. But
this is a complete begging of the question. The Hebrew is a
sacred language — ^the language of that people whom God chose
out of all others, to be the depository of his truth, — ^and the
language in which for ages, that truth was revealed. It was
imparted by God, as many have thought, as the original lan-
guage, or when he gave the law at Sinai. At any rate, God
had the choosing of the language in which to reveal his truth,
and the particular form in which his truth should be revealed.
The Hebrew language which God has employed, has singular
forms, not only of the name Elohim, but also for the other
names by which God is designated. And if God, in his person,
had been numerically and only one, he would always, employ,
as he has sometimes, employed the singular title ; and thus have
avoided a plural form, which, he must have foreknown, would
be regarded as an evidence of plurality and not of Unity, in the
one Divine nature. Why then, did God, by holy men, who
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, employ these
plural titles of God? Why did this so-called idiom originate
with the sacred Scriptures, and with God's revelation of him-
self in his own word ? Either the language of the Scriptures
is the language of polytheism and idolatry, as some have blas-
phemously supposed, or else this appellation of the Deity in the
plural number is employed to express a plurality of persons in
that Godhead to which it is appropriated.*

In order to meet this argument, modem Jews and Unitarians
have instituted two general modes of interpretation; the first
of which is, that this is the regal form of speaking, in which
the plural is used for the singular ; the other, that it refers to
the Deity in conference with his angels in council. The former
opinion has been maintained on the ground of a number of
Scriptural texts, all which Rabbi Abraham, one of their own
doctors, is pleased to call false allegations; and has not only
shown their irrelevancy, but demonstrated, that the opinion
itself, has no manner of foundation. Indeed, there is not the
smallest authority for it in the composition of the Old Testa-

SThis the Rabbi Ibba expressly affinns.

1 1 Rabbi Bachai in Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, pt 3, p. 81.

*See Oxlee, vol. i., pp. 68-94.



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ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY. 127

ment ; which, being penned with that simplicity peculiar to the
early ages of the world, introduce all princely characters
expressing themselves invariably in their own proper number,
and with the strictest grammatical propriety; nor does it dis-
tinguish, in that respect, between the most potent of sovereigns
and the very lowest of the human species.*

And as it regards the second opinion : That angels should act
as coadvisers and coadjutors in the administration of the
affairs of the world, is not only repugnant to the very meaning
of the term angel, itself; which denotes a being deputed on a
mission from God ; but is wholly unsanctioned by any declara-
tion to that effect, either in Moses or in the Prophets. It is,
indeed, difficult to determine, whether the absurdity or the
impiety with which the Creator is thus supposed to consult
with created beings on such highly important matters, deserves
the greater execration, for, says Scripture, "Who hath known
the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor."

John Xeres, a Jew, converted in England some years ago,
published a sensible and affectionate address to his unbelieving
brethren, in which he lays before them his reasons for leaving
the Jewish religion and embracing the christian. "The chris-
tians," 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." Then, he undertakes to prove that the
imity of God is not such as he once understood it to be, an
unity of persons, but of essence, under which more persons
than one are comprehended; and the first proof he offers is
that of the name Elohim. "Why else," says he, "is that fre-
quent mention of God by nouns of the plural number? as in
Gen. i: 1, where the word Elohim, which is rendered God, is
of the plural number, 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."

To what has been said, we will add the testimony of the
celebrated Jewish work called Zohar,t a work esteemed by the
orthodox Jews, and by all former Jews, as scarcely second in
authority to the Bible, and believed by them to have been writ-

*Sct also, the exposure of this objection in Smith's Messiah, vol. 1., pp.
486-488.

tSee quoted in Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, pt. iii, p. 83,
and Jameson's Reply to Priestly, vol. 1., pp. 75, 76.



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128 ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY.

ten before the Talmud, if not before the time of Christt The
author of this work renders Deut. vi : 4, in this manner : "The
Lord, (or Jehovah,) and our God, and the word, are one." In
his exposition of the passage banning with Jehovah, he says :
"He is the beginning of all things, the ancient of ancients, the
Garden of Roots, and the perfection of all things." The other,
or our God, is the depth, and the Fountain of Sciences, which
proceed from that Father. The other (or Lord,) is called the
measure of the Voice. He is one ; so that one concludes with
the other, and unites them together. Neither can one be
divided from the other. And, therefore, he saith. Hear, O
Israel, that is, join these together and make him one substance.
For whatsoever is in the one, is in the other. He hath been
the whole, he is the whole, and he will be the wholcj

To the above exposition we would add the following, taken
from the work itself. "Hear, O Israel : The Lord our God is
one Lord: Israel unites the three hypostases, the Lord, our
God, one Lord, to make all, to be but one." — (Zohar, vol. ii.,
fol.*160, col. 2.) The following passage is also found on the
same page, viz : "The Lord, our God, Lord : this is the mystery,
of the unity in three hypostases.

tit certainly dates from the first to the eighth Century.

tThese words are also given by Rabbi Markante, which undoubtedly
implies his approbation of them. Such is the remarkable exposition of
this passage, as given by Dr. Jameson, in his reply to Dr. Priestly. (1)
From other portions of this work these expressions are quoted, (2) Jeho-
vah, Elohenu, Jehovah, (i. e, Jehovah, our God, Jehovah.) These are
the three degrees with respect to this sublime mystery; "in the begin-
ning God (Elohim,) created the heavens and the earth," and again, "Jeho-
vah, Elohenu, Jehovah, they are one ; the three forms (modes or things)
which are one." Elsewhere it is observed, "there are two and one is
joined to them, and they are three, and when the three are one, he says
to (or of) them these arc the two names that Israel heard, Jehovah, Jeho-
vah, and Elohenu (our (jod) is joined to them ; and it is the seal of the
ring of truth, and when they are joined, they are one in unity. This is
illustrated by the three names the soul of man is called by, the soul, spirit
and breath. The great Phillippes de Mamay, (3) among other ancient
authors, quotes the exposition of Rabbi Ibba of this text, to this pur-
port, that the first Jehovah, which is the incommunicable name of God,
is the Father; by Elohim is meant the Son, who is the fountain of all
knowledge ; and by the second, Jehovah, is meant the Holy Ghost proceed-
ing from them, and he is called Achad, one, because (jod is one. Ibba
adds, that this mystery was not to be revealed till the coming of the
Messiah. The author of the Zohar applies the word holy, which is thrice
repeated in the vision of Isaiah, (4) to the three persons in the Deity,
whom he elsewhere calls three suns, or lights, three sovereigns, — without
beginning and without end.

[1] See vol. i., p. 76, and the references.
[2] See Gill's Comment, in loco, and Univ. Hist. vol. iii., 11.
[3] Advertisement aux Juifs, see in Anct Hist. voL i., p. 11.
[4] Chapter vi., 3.



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ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY. 129

But it is not merely to the use of the plural term as that by
which the Old Testament Scriptures usually designate the
Deity, that we refer as a proof, that according to God's own
revelation of what his nature is, it unites a plurality of persons
in a unity of essence. Written at a time when polytheism
abounded, and to a people ever prone to fall into idolatry, the
use of this term by God in reference to himself, and that even
when announcing his Unity, is, indeed, most powerful evidence.
This conclusion is, however, confirmed by another remarkable
anomaly in the language used by the Old Testament writers
when speaking of God, viz: the combination of these plural
appellatives with singular verbs, pronouns and adjectives. To
this usage only a few exceptions are found in the Hebrew
Scriptures, from among hundreds of cases in which the plural
appellative is used, — a circumstance which, whilst it shows that
this was the regular usage of the sacred writers, at the same
time proves that it would have been equally consistent with the
idiom of the language, to have followed the ordinary rule of
grammar applying to such cases. "For this anomaly, the
Trinitarian hypothesis suggests a natural and easy solution.
Apart from this hypothesis, however, no explanation of this
usage can be furnished ; and it must remain as one of the most
unaccountable and capricious departures from one of the
fundamental laws of human speech, of which we have an
instance in the literature of any nation.":!:

We are thus brought to the conclusion, that in this first and
great commandment, God makes known the unity of his God-
head, and yet, at the same time, the trinity of his persons, and
that such was the interpretation given of it by the most ancient,
the wisest, and the most authoritative Jewish Rabbis. And it
is no small confirmation of this that when the Jews, long before
the christian era,* ceased to use the word Jehovah which they
never utter, they employed instead of it, the word Adonai,
which is another plural title for the Deity.

When, therefore, in this, and some four or five other pas-
sages in the Old Testament, God declares that "he is one God
and there is none else,"t the question arises, who is the being

tSmith's Messiah.

♦Our evidences are found in the Septuagent.

tExod. XX : 2, 3, Is. xliv: 8, and xlvi: 9, and xlv: 21, 22.

These remarks apply to the first and second commandment, in which the
same combination of Jehovah and Elohim takes place, and we are required
to have no other Gods but this one, who unites in his one Godhead three
persons.

9— VoL IX.



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130 ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY.

who is thus expressly declared to be the only true God ? He is
called the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But who, we again ask, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob ? Jacob and the prophet Hosea concur in declaring that
he is a certain angel or messenger before whom they walked ;
who fed Jacob all his life long, who redeemed him from all
evil, with whom he had power and prevailed, and who yet is
Jehovah the God of hosts.J But to be an angel or messenger
he must be sent. Who then, is the sender of this messenger ?
This question is resolved by the prophets Zechariah and Mala-
chi. They teach us that the messenger of the covenant,
though himself Jehovah and the God of Israel, is nevertheless,
SENT, in his quality of a messenger, by Jehovah.§ Here, most
unequivocally, we have two distinct persons, a sender and a
SENT ; each of whom is declared to be Jehovah ; and the latter
of whom, or Jehovah the messenger, is declared by Jacob and
Hosea to be the God of Israel. But further, according to
Malachi and Haggai, he is a being who is characterized, as the
desire of all nations, who is announced as about to come sud-
denly to his temple ; and whose act of coming to his temple is
chronologically limited to the days of the second temple, which
is thence to exceed the first temple in glory, and which was
finally destroyed by Titus and the Romans. But to such char-
acteristics Christ alone will be found to answer. Whence,
christians have, in all ages, most logically and Scripturally con-
cluded that Christ, or the second person of the blessed Trinity,
or in other words, that God the Son is that messenger Jehovah,
who is declared to have been sent by Jehovah, and who is yet
Jehovah, and who is also, equally declared to be the God of
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.

But still further. In many passages of the Old Testament
the phrase "The Spirit of God," or "Jehovah," occurs in con-
junction with certain attributes, qualities and acts, which lead
to the conclusion that by that phrase is designated a Divine
person. These would seem to conduct to the inference, that
by this "Spirit of Jehovah" was intended as by the phrase
already examined, "Angel of Jehovah," a Divine person, in
some sense distinct from, and yet in another sense, one with
the invisible Jehovah.

tExod. iii: 15, Gen. xlviii: 15, 16, and xxxii : 24, 30, Hos. xii : 2, 15.
S Zechariah ii : 6, 11, Malachi iii : 1.



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ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY. 131

In Other passages again, these three persons are introduced
together. Thus, in Isaiah, Ixiii : 9, 10, it is said, "In all their
afflictions he was afflicted, but the Angel of his presence saved
them ; in his love and grace he redeemed them, and bare them,
and carried them from the beginning. But they rebelled and
grieved his Holy Spirit, so that he was turned to be their
enemy, and himself fought against them."

Another passage to the same effect occurs in Isaiah xlviii:
16. "Approach unto me, hear this; from the beginning have
I not spoken occultly, from the time when it was I was there,
and now the Lord hath sent me and his Spirit."' The speaker
here is the same who, in verse 12, calls himself "The First and
the Last," and who, in verse 13, claims to himself the work of
creation. The speaker therefore, must be regarded as Divine.
But in the verse before us, this divine being speaks of himself
as distinct from the Lord God, and as sent by him. He
describes himself also, as the author of communications to men
from the first. Now, such a being can be none other than the
second person in the Trinity, the revealer of God to man, at
once the equal and the messenger of the Father; and so the
passage has been viewed by the great body of interpreters,
ancient and modem.

What then, was the design of God in all these revelations of
himseM, of which, we have only given an illustration? To
use the language of Bishop Hinds, "It surely must have been
designed to suggest to the minds of his people, and to habituate
their minds to contemplate God as Three. Three different
divine Persons appear as the agents and rulers, in a threefold
dispensation ; so different indeed, that if left to form our con-
jectures of the divine nature, from the facts of this progressive
economy, all view of one God must have been discarded. The
facts of Revelation represent God as a Trinity ; and it is only
by express and perpetual qualifications of a view so suggested,
that we are assured of his Unity.

The doctrine of the Trinity in short, rests primarily on his-
torical facts ; the doctrine of the Unity on a series of declara-
tions and other provisions made in reference to those facts.
If we suppose the Bible stript of all those provisions which it
contains for qualifying its historical representations of the
Divine nature, it would exhibit three Gods; but with those
provisions, that representation becomes a Trinity in Unity.*

♦See The Three Temples of the One True God Contrasted.— Oxf. 1850.



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132 ARTICLES ON THE TRINITY.

Having thus disposed of the fundamental proof-text for the
unity of God in contradistinction to all other pretended deities,
as found in the Old Testament, let us now take one of the
most striking declarations respecting the Unity of God in the
•New Testament. This is found in John xvii: 1-3. "These
words spake Jesus and lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said,
Father; the hour is come, glorify the Son, that thy Son may
also glorify thee. As thou hast given him power over all flesh,
that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given
him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 14 of 68)