Page images

property of God; who died and was raised from the dead by the Father ; who declares that he was not the best and greatest of beings, but that there was one greater, and better than himself ; who was ignorant of the day of judgment; and who shall at last deliver up the kingdom to the Father, and become subject to him. It is evident, I say, that such a being cannot be the most high God; nor equal to the Lord of heaven and earth, to whom these things are utterly inapplicable; but must only be consi. dered as a dependent being, and a subject of the great Sovereign of the universe. Now to the one God and Father of all; the sovereign, independent, and unchange. able Deity, be ascribed all glory, and praise, by Christ Jesus for ever. Amen.

[ocr errors]


John xvii. 3. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the

only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. When we took these words under our consideration at first, we proposed to make them the ground work and basis of our reasoning; and by an appeal to the scriptures at large, to endeavour to enforce and establish the follow. ing propositions.

First, that there is one person or intelligent agent, who alone is God, supreme, almighty and eternal; and that this one person is the Father or as he is sometimes called in scripture, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God.'

Secondly, that Jesus Christ is not the most high God l; but a being inferior to him, dependent upon him, and acting by his command and authority ; or in other words his Son, Servant, and Messenger; and by the Father's appointment, the Messiah, or only Mediator between God and man. That they might know Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.

And thirdly ard lastly, to consider and answer the objections, that the Trinitarians make to our hypothesis, and urge in support of their own, founded on various places both of the Old and New Testament.

It was the object, of our first, second, and third dis. courses, to prove the truth of the first proposition. And in our fourth, fifth, and sixth discourses, we fully esta

be en.

blished the truth and certainty of the second. We now enter upon the third and last part of our subject, which was to consider and answer the objections that the Tripi. tarians make to our hypothesis, and urge in support of their own, founded on various places both of the Old and New Testament. I sincerely wish, that I may abled to do this in such a clear and satisfactory manner, as to enlighten the understanding, and produce a conviction in the minds of those who are unhappily entangled in the paths of error, and misled by those who have an inte. rest to deceive them; and who imagine that they are con. tending for the faith of Christ, when they are undermin. ing the foundation of all true and rational religion.

In combating our opponents, I shall confine myself solely to their scriptural objections, founded on false readings, mistranslations, or erroneous interpretations of the word of God. For I apprehend, that nothing deserving confutation can be offered in vindication of a trinity in unity, from principles of reason. That noble facultythat candle of the Lord, which he hath lighted up in the breast of man, can never be reconciled to this doctrine, but must always pronounce it a contradiction: and some Trinitarians have been ready enough to own the truth of this assertion. One eminent opponent observes, that if the doctrine of the Trinity were not to be adored as a mys. tery, it would be exploded as an absurdity* mand another thinks it an argument in favour of this opinion, that it is a thing so inexplicable in its own nature, that if it had not been revealed, it could never have entered into the mind of 'mant, which plea might be urged with great propriety in defence of transubstantiation. In obviating objections, we shall follow the order of the books of scriptụre as much as possible; and never depart from this rule, unless by bringing passages of a similar nature together, where one reply will serve them all equally well. First, we shall con. sider the objections which are taken from the Old Testament: next those which are supposed to occur in the Evangelists : and, lastly, those which are found in the Acts of the Apostles ; the Epistles of St. Paul and others;

and in the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John. As every

[blocks in formation]

person who has perused the preceding discourses, must be supposed to be now fully acquainted with our method ; we shall, therefore, in order to prevent unnecessary repe. titions, forbear to recapitulate the propositions as usual, in the beginning of every discourse; but shall enter directly upon our subject, and pursue the train of objections without interruption.

We proceed then to consider the objections from the Old Testament, Gen. i. 1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,' Heb. Bara ELOHIM, Gods He created. In our first discourse (page 9, 10. to which we' refer the reader) we said enough to prove the singular signification of the Hebrew word Elohim or Aleim. But as we would wish to give as much satisfaction as possible, to those who may be apt to lay a stress upon this objection, we shall here add the following observations. Moses, whom all must grant to be a single person, is called Elohim in scripture, Exod. vii. 1. (See I have made thee a God (Heb. Elohim) to Pharaoh.' The plural number is also used in regard to Dagon the false god of the Philistines, Judges, xvi. 23. “Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice : for they said our god (Heb. ELOHENU) hath delivered Sampson our enemy into our hand.' It has been frequently observed by learned men, that words denoting power, dominion, dignity and autho. rity ; such as A DONIM and BA ALIM, are of a plural ter. mination in Hebrew. In particular the word A DON, which siguifies a lord, or a master, is several times used in the plural concerning single persons, thus Gen. xxxix. 20. "And Joseph's master (Heb. A DONE, masters, which is the plural in construction) took him, and put him into prison.' Gen. xlii. 30. The man who is the lord (Heb. ADONE, lords) of the Jand. Ver. 33. • And the man, the lord (Heb. A DONE, lords) of the country.' i Kings, xvi. 24. • And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer, for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner (Heb. A DONE, owners or proprietors) of the hill, Samaria.' This word also occurs in the same form in some other places. The like usage of the plural for the singular is found in the following passages, Psal. cxlix. 2.

'Let Israel rejoice in him that made him' (Heb. in his makers) Eccles. xii. 1. “Remember thy Creator.' (Heb. creators). Isaiah liv. 5. Thy Maker is thine husband.” (Heb. thy makers is thine husbands). Prov. ix. 10. 6 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy (Heb. holy ones) is understanding.'

A Trinitarian writer, * would infer from the four last quotations; and from three or four passages of a like nature, as well as from the word Elohim, that there are a plurality of persons in the Deity; but there is just as good reason for concluding, that there was a plurality of persons in Moses, in Dagon the false god of the Philistines, in Poti. phar, in Joseph, or in Shemer, the original proprietor of the hill of Samaria. These quotations are, I think, fully sufficient to prove, that the word ELOHIM ought to be considered as an irregularity or peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue; and our translators have done extremely well in rendering it, and other words of a similar nature, in the singular num, ber. Some learned men have imagined, that the word Elohim is an elliptical form of speaking for ELOHA ELOHIM the God of gods. But Le Clerc is of opinion, that it took its rise from the ancient inhabitants of Palestine, who worshipped a plurality of gods, and so had frequent occasion to speak of Ecohim the gods : and that the patriarchs and their descendants, who lived among them, and spoke the same language, came in time to use this word in a singular signification, to denote the one true God. Sem veral learned Trinitarians, such as Drusius, Cajetan, Bellarmine, and Mercer, have given up the word Elohim, and fairly owned its singular signification : and Calvin in particular expresses himself in the following manner con. cerning this word, speaking of those who make use of it as an argument in favor of the Trinity. They think they are in possession of a testimony against the Arians, in order to prove the divinity of the Son and Spirit: but in the mean time they involve themselves in the error of Sahel. lius. For Moses afterwards adds that Elohim spoke; and that the spirit of Elohim moved upon the waters. If three persons are note] here, there will be no distinction between them. And it will follow that the Son was be

* Mr. Joncs, author of the Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity,

« PreviousContinue »