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especially the names of God, an appropriate sense is undoubtedly to be given to the divine name, when used in the plural number. It is hard to conceive what appropriate sense can be extracted from this mode of expression, unless it be a certain plurality in the divine nature.
The principal Jewish cabalistic authors, both ancient and modern, believed a plurality in the nature of God. In one of the most ancient Jewish books, a book said to be as ancient as Abraham himself, there is this passage. “They are three lights, an ancient light, a pure light, and a most pure light; nevertheless all these are only one God.” In another place, the same author, on the same subject says, “And know ye, the three high nominations all are united together; and never are divided.” Another cabalistic author observes, “The three highest no eye ever saw, and there is not there either separation or division.”* A
passage in Deuteronomy, 6:4, offers its aid in support of the sentiment under consideration. In our translation it is, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God is one Lord.” A modern Jew,t who was a considerable critic in the Hebrew language translates this passage probably more justly. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one.” After some explanation of this interpretation, the author adds, “Do not mistake me and think that there are three Gods of three different essences, neither one God without the plurality of persons; but yet there is one only God in nature and essence, and three distinct persons, all equal in power and glory; and coequal and coeval from all eternity.” The opinion of the Jewish rabbies is of no inconsiderable weight in this argument. They were expert in the Hebrew scriptures; and they well understood the idiom and the peculiar force of their own language.
The different works of the Supreme Being, which are recorded in the sacred scriptures, form an argu
• See Monis.
ment in favor of a plurality in his nature. It is re'corded that God created the world; that he gave a law to the human race; that the blood of God was shed to purchase his church;* and that those who are born again are born of God. Here are three distinct kinds of work, the formation and government of mang an expiation for sin, and a reparation of ruined human nature. God formed and published a law for the regulation of human life, and sanctioned it by threatening punishment for disobedience. The Son of God magnified and honored this law by humbling himself and bearing the sins of men in his own body on the accursed tree. The Spirit of God sanctifies the human heart, and restores unto it the divine moral likeness. If there be no kind of plurality, no kind of individuality in the divine nature, then the same, who threatened, made satisfaction to himself to support his own authority; the same, whose authority was violated, paid the ransom and gives willingness to accept its benefits. Should the supreme ruler of a nation adopt this method of government; should he suffer the evil consequences incurred by his rebellious subjects; and then restore them to his favor, would he support his authority? would he manifest disapprobation of rebellion? The same difficulties would seem to lie against divine government, if there were entire singularity in the divine nature. In the whole economy of redemption there is abundant evidence that there is a ground in the divine nature for mutual
• Acts 20:28. There are found five different readings of this passage, beside that of the received text, which is ti Bes, viz. Tô Kugis, 78 Xgoti, TË Kugis Osố, ti bes ni Kugis, and tô Kugir xià Deś. Wetstein and Griesbach consider the evidence to be in favor of Ti Kugis. Wakefield, who was not disposed to give his aid to support the doctrine of Christ's divinity, prefers the received reading to Des; but he is careful to explain away all the natural meaning of the text. He states that Griesbach's testimony, respecting the Ethiopic version is infamously false.” “The MSS. in which it” (i. e. Ti Oss) “is found amounts to fourteen; and it is quoted or referred to by a great many of the fathers." See Middleton on the Greek article, pp. 227–232.
In five exemplaribus legitur Kugis seels Des. Beza. Illustris sententia de Deitate
intercourse; for mutual contract, and for mutual fulfilment. One proposes, another accepts. One supplicates, another hears and answers. One sends, another is sent; and the whole is done with unity of design, unity of pursuit, and unity of nature.
In the scheme of redemption there are three distinct offices; and they are filled by three of distinct and characteristic names. The Father sends the Son; the Son sends the Spirit. The Spirit purifies the heart. The Son makes expiation for sin, and intercession for sinners. The Father accepts what both have done. There is no foundation for saying that God may
be one in all respects, and at the same time may fill three separate offices. It appears to be inconsistent that God in simple unity should act in different offices at one and the same time. It is inconsistent that one should negotiate with himself; that he should supplicate himself; mediate between an offending party and himself; and in a formal manner accept his own transactions. To avoid this inconsistency
appears to be necessary to admit a plurality in the Deity. It is equally absurd to account for the different offices in the scheme of redemption, filled by different ones of different names, by personifying particular attributes of the Deity. It is hard to conceive how the faculties of the human mind could hold intercourse with each other, and be distinct parties in any transaction. It is equally hard to conceive how individual divine attributes could separate themselves into different parties; negotiate with each other, and each fulfil its appointment. Wisdom could form a plan of salvation; but, without power, it could not carry it into operation. Power could effect any proposed design, but it could not project the method of its accomplishment Benevolence could effectuate nothing without wisdom to devise, and power to execute. A single divine attribute, therefore, cannot fill any office in the work of redemption, nor perform the duties of such office. This hypothesis, then, does not account for the appearance of plurality in the divine nature.
The opinion and practice of the people in India, and in other parts of the East, serve to corroborate this sentiment. “The Hindoos believe in one god Brahma, the creator of all things; and yet they represent him as subsisting in three persons; and they worship one or other of these persons throughout every part of India. And what proves that they hold this doctrine distinctly is, that their most ancient representation of the Deity is formed of one body and three faces. Nor are these representations confined to India alone; but they are to be found in other parts of the East."* : In this quarter of the world God created man, and made the first communications of his will. Here Christ was born; and nature, men and angels bore testimony to his birth. The Hindoo history bears some striking features of the history of the gospel. In India there have been discovered vernacular writings, which contain testimonies of Christ. They mention a Prince, who reigned about the time of the Christian era. His history relates events, which bear a striking resemblance to the advent, birth, miracles, death and resurrection of the Savior. In this part of the world Christ published the gospel. Here the apostles propagated the glad tidings of salvation. But before their decease many of the churches of Asia, became exceedingly corrupt in sentiment and practice. Religion declined by degrees. People fell into idolatry. After a lapse of ages the same people, who were distinguished for Christian knowledge, became grossly ignorant and superstitious; and practised idolatry, which was marked with indecency and cruelty. But in the midst of their ignorance and idolatrous practice there were found some vestiges of Christianity. Some events, which occurred when Christ was upon earth stood recorded; and some
doctrines of the gospel were strikingly represented. Doctrines relating to the true God, they applied to their false gods. The doctrine of the atonement they used in their idolatry. Whence originated these rays of Christianity in this benighted quarter of the world? Whence originated among them the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the atonement? These were not human inventions. These were undoubtedly relics of revealed truth, which had long been preserved amidst the rubbish of heathenish ignorance and superstition. These fundamental doctrines of Christianity, like the pillars of nature, have remained where they were first established. The ignorance, the wickedness, the imaginations of men have perverted these doctrines; but they never have destroyed them. How did these fundamental principles of Christianity find existence; how have they been preserved in the heart of heathenish Asia, if they were not planted there by their Author, and supported by his power? Let people, who have ever lived under the sunshine of the Gospel, and have so refined it, that they have robbed it of almost every divine feature, go to India, and from the three-faced idol of the poor Hindoo, learn the doctrine of the Trinity.
Plurality in the divine nature is a mystery. Some pretend to discover mystery in every part of scripture. Others attempt to explain mystery; and consequently they explode it
. In treating this subject it is necessary only to shew that the doctrine of divine plurality is contained in the scriptures; and that it does not contradict the dictates of reason. Mystery signifies "something above human intelligence; something awfully obscure.” It is not surprising that the subject under consideration should be above human apprehension. It cannot be expected that a finite mind can comprehend the infinite Spirit. We do not understand the mode of our own existence. We do not understand the operations of our own minds. We do not understand the union of soul and body; and