« AnteriorContinuar »
the Sun must be as old as the orb from which they proceed, since the very instant in which the Sun was created, it undoubtedly began to shine. If, then, the light and heat which are produced by the orb, are as old as the orb which , produces them, so that there never was a moment in which the orb existed without them, where is the absurdity in our believing that the everlasting Word, who is the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, are both co-eternal with the Father, so that there never was a moment in which he existed without them? In this case, likewise, the allegation of contradiction to reason is sufficiently answered to show the utter futility of the objection; and the Christian disputant finds little difficulty in turning the weapons of the assailant against himself, even on the true principles of natural philosophy and common sense.
But while we thus show that the doctrine of the Trinity involves nothing contrary to reason, let it be distinctly understood, that we do not use these illustrations either as proofs of its truth, or as at all affording an example of the mode in which the Unity and Trinity of the ineffable Godhead exist together. Far from us be the presumptuous folly, the daring arrogance, that would attempt an explanation of the being of the Almighty. * It is. higher, than heaven, what can we do? Deeper than hell, what can we know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth - and broader than the sea.' .But when the pride of intellectual men boldy undertakes to call the Scripture doctrine unreasonable and absurd, we think it lawful to answer this charge by showing, that the proposition, in itself, is perfectly consistent with reason ; yea more, that a similar proposition is found to be true according to a certain mode in many created things ; how much more, then, may it h% true in the great Creator. At this point, however, reason must stop short. Whether the Divine Unity does include a Trinity or not, is a question that God alone can answer. Reason may guess and conjecture forever, and at last nothing can possibly be known on a subject so awfully removed above us, without the express guidance of the word of inspiration. And here after all, is the chief difference » between the rationalist and the Trinitarian, that the first frames his ideas of God by the strength of his own intellect, and takes from the Bible such. passages only as justify his own preconceived opinions; while the other submits his judgment to the whole word of the Lord and abides by it with the same humble confidence in all things, truly believing that 'the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,' and that the Christianity, which in the time of the Apostle Paul, was ' to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,' cannot fail to be equally exposed to the cavils of the sceptical and self-confident sciolists of the present day.
Let us then, my brethren, come to the word of God for our knowledge, and reverently ask him to teach us how to worship him, and here we shall find every thing accord with the doctrine of the Church, that the true God is One in essence, while yet he is three in another mysterious aspect, which we call persons/marked out to us distinctly, by the terms, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To do full justice to the evidence on this point would require a volume. • The limits of our course will confine us to the most prominent proofs, and of these only the first branch will now be laid before you.
First, then, we turn to the Old Testament to see how the Almighty speaks of himself, and in the very first sentence of the book of Genesis we find a plain intimation of this doctrine. For in the original Hebrew language in which the major part of the Old Testament is written, the word translated God, is presented to us, not in the singular but in the plural number, and yet connected with verbs and pronouns in the singular,—a circumstance which is entirely peculiar, which hardly ever occurs in the Hebrew, except where God is concerned, and which does not admit of a correct translation into any other language.*
There are very few places in the Bible where it was possible for our translators to exhibit this remarkable singularity so as to correspond at all with the grammatical construction of the English tongue. Yet a few may be found in which it appears clearly. Thus, where we read that God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,' the plurality of persons in the Godhead is distinctly declared. Again, after the fall, the Lord God said, 'Behold the man is become like one of us.' And, again 'The Lord rained fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven,' with some others. The answer which some writers set up against this is, that God speaks like a king, who usually addresses his subjects in the plural number. But this argument can only be applied to the least important part of the peculiarity ,\and even then not fairly. For it must be recollected that the Hebrew plural which we translate God, united to the singular form of the verb, is currently used by the sacred writers in speaking historically of the words and actions of the Deity. But what historian, representing the speech of a king, ever mixed the singular and the plural together? Or what historian, speaking of the actions of one single king, ever used the plural for the singular? To this most
* See, for a fuller examination of this, the Dissertation in the Second Part of the Volume.
striking peculiarity of the case, the explanatio.il offered by our adversaries has no application whatever. And even as it regards those passages, in which the Deity speaks in the form customary amongst monarchs, there is a reason for the human form of speech, which can never be applied to the Divine Being. For, it is to be considered, that such phrases as 'us' and ' we' are used by kings, because in their official capacity they include and represent the body of the people, while in their nature, they are exactly on a level with the lowest of their subjects; but with what propriety can we suppose that the Almighty Creator, who is more highly elevated above the brightest Archangel than an earthly king is above the meanest reptile,—that the only living and true God should use such language, as,' Let us make man in our image,' when, in the work of creation, the Godhead was of necessity alone? The earthly king says, 'Let us make a law,' 'let us pass a decree,' because, however absolute he may be, he is obliged to use the instrumentality of his subjects to carry his will into execution. But what application has this to the case of creation, when we know that all the hosts of heaven and earth together, could not call into being a single atom? Clearly, then, neither in reason nor in point of fact, is this commentary justified; and we are consequently obliged to admit, according to the plain propriety of the words and grammar of the Hebrew Scriptures, that there is a plurality existing in the Godhead, and that this divine plurality is intimated when it is said,'Let us make man in our likeness.' 'The man is become as one of us,'' Let us go down and confound their speech,' 'The Lord rained fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven,' and so of the rest. On this foundation, therefore, we place our first argument, that in speaking of the Godhead at once in the plural number and in the singular)—that is, acknowledging the Trinity and Unity, We Speak Of Him As He Speaks Of Himself. Where can our adversaries direct us to so high an authority?
But the testimony of the Old Testament does not stop with teaching us that in the one God there is a mysterious plurality ; it farther intimates, with considerable clearness, the number of this plurality to be three. Thus we read, in many places, of God, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God; and in some places we find a Trinity indicated in the very same verse. For instance, in the 18th Psalm, * The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted.' In the blessing commanded to be used among the children of Israel, 'The Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make his face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee, the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.' And again, saith the Psalmist, ' By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Spirit of his mouth.' And again, the Prophet, speaking in the person of Christ, saith, 'And now the Lord God and his Spirit'hath sent me.' And again, saith Isaiah, speaking in the same person of Christ, 'Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read, for my mouth it hath commanded and.his Spirit it hath gathered them.' Many other passages might be added to strengthen this branch of the evidence, but these may suffice to prove that, even in the Old Testament, the Deity has presented himself to man, not only as the one living and true God, but also as possessing in this Unity a mysterious plurality, which, by various passages, appears to extend to the number three. Now although to us these considerations are by no means so conclusive as the proof derived from the New Testament, yet are they, in my mind, more than enough to show the error of the anti-trinitarian argument. And