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at Rome, 'tis hoped, will not be stigmatized as such here. Calvin warns his readers against such strained interpretations of scripture :* and many other learned men besides, who have defended the received doctrine from other passages of scripture, have rejected the kind of proof here brought, as too slender and precarious a foundation to rest such a doctrine upon it.
The state of the matter is this :- The first words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." But the word used for God is Elohim, or Aleim (as some write it), with a plural termination : and the verb created is singular, as though one should say in English, Gods hath created; whence they would infert the One God to be made up of more per
* “ Habetur apud Mosen Elohim, nomen pluralis numeri. Unde colligere solent hic in Deo notari tres personas. Sed quia parum solida mihi videtur tantæ rei probatio, ego in voce non insistam. Quin potius monendi sunt lectores, ut sibi à violentis ejusmodi glossis caveant." Calvin Comment. in Gen. j. 1.
† It would hence follow, that Dagon, the god of the Phi. listines, consisted of a trinity or plurality of persons : for Judges xvi. 23, there is exactly the same construction as bere, where, instead of our present translation—“Our God hath delivered Samson,"—it is in the Hebrew, “Our Gods hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand."--In this way also a trinity or plurality of Gods might be proved as well as a trivity or plurality of persons, as they term it: for in some instances, not only the nominative case but the sons than one, although of how many, whether three or more, cannot hence be determined.
But whoever knoweth aught of the Hebrew language, and will judge without prejudice, will perceive that there is no such thing to be inferred, nor any mystery at all couched under this construction of a verb singular with a nominative case plural, or the similar construction of a noun substantive of plural termination with an adjective singular, that language abounding with such irregularities.
Thus Gen. xxxix. 3, “ His master saw,” is in the Hebrew,“ his masters hath seen.” Gen. xlii. 30,
“ The man who is the lord of the land," is "the man- the lords of the land."
So Exod. xxi. 4. See also Prov. xxvii. 18, xxv. 13, Isaiah xix. 4.
And yet we do not conclude any plurality or mystery to be concealed here.
Instances of the like usage, are Psalm cxlix.
verb itself is plural; as 2 Sam. vii. 23, where we translate “ whom God went, or hath gone to redeem :" it is in the Hebrew, Gods have gone to redeem. And so also in two other places, where also the One true God is spoken of, in Gen. xx. 13, xxxv. 7, but which cannot so well be made to appear in our language, where the singular and plural fermination of the verb is the same. But in the French it is more evident, where, in the first instance, instead of Dieu m'a conduit, it is in the Hebrew, Dieux m'ont conduit; and in the latter, instead of Dieu lui étoit apparu là, it is in the Hebrew, Dieux lui étoient apparu là.
2, “Let Israel rejoice in him that made him," is in the Hebrew, “ rejoice in his makers.”
Eccles. xii. 1, “Remember thy Creator," is, thy Creators.
Isa, liv. 6, Thy maker is thine husband," is, “ thy makers--thine husbands."
The Septuagint translation* of the Bible, which was made before our Saviour's time, and most probably made use of and quoted occasionally by his apostles in the writings of the New Testament, constantly renders Elohim, or Aleim, Deos, God, when signifying the true God. And
* St. Jerome, who saw that the Septuagint translation of the Bible did by no means favour his Trinitarian notions, pretended, for he has no sort of authority for it, that the Jewish translators. “believed the doctrine of the Trinity, but concealed it on purpose in their Greek translation, lest Ptolemy, who was a worshiper of the One true God, should suspect the Jews of holding a twofold divinity. And they were the more induced to it, (proceeds he) because it fell in with Plato's doctrine,” (i. e. their notion of Christ being a second God). “ Lastly,” says he," wherever the Scripture asserts any thing concerning the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, they either gave a different turn to it, or passed it over in silence, out of complaisance to the king, and for fear of divulging too much the mystery of the faith."
See Le Clerc's remarks on Jerome, in his Questiones Hieronymiana, pp. 304,905. This slanderous device and apology of Jerome's shews how nearly their new invented doctrine of the Trinity bordered upon the polytheism and idolatry of the Heathens, when there was such danger of its being miscon. strued and taken for it.
all other translations agree in rendering it in the singular number, considering its plural termination merely as an idiom of the Hebrew language, which makes use of the plural to give dignity to the person treated of. And on this account, other words in the same language, as Adonaim, Baalim, implying power, authority, and dignity, although of plural termination, are always of singular signification, when one subject or person is spoken of.*
Mr. Madan, in his late Scriptural Comment on the Thirty-nine Articles, p. 61, where we render Deut. vi. 4, “ the Lord our God is one Lord,"--he paraphrases
“ Jehovah - (subsisting in) our Aleim (or plurality of persons) (is but) one Jehovah."
According to this interpretation, what we read Deut. x. 17, “ For the Lord your God is God of Gods," would be paraphrased, “ For the Lord, or Jehovah, subsisting in your plurality of persons, is plurality of persons of plurality of persons."
If any are pleased with such interpretations, they have a right to judge for themselves, but let them not condemn those who are content with what is plainer and less mysterious.
See some good remarks on this point, in the appendix to “ An Appeal to the Common Şense of all People, particularly the Members of the Church of England, with regard to an important point of Faith and Practice, imposed upon their Consciences by Public Authority," first printed for Millar, 1753.-A serious, unanswerable work, and which has been useful in coufirming many in the true Unitarian doctrine of the Scriptures, that the One God of Christians is the Father
Texts supposed to Favour a Plurality of Persons
in God, or the Trinity in Unity. 1 John v. 7, 8: " For there are three that bear record [in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are One. And there are three that bear witness in earth], the spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one."
The words here put in a parenthesis and different character, are not the genuine words of the apostle St. John.* The reasons for their not being genuine, are thus briefly summed Dr. Clarke:t
“ This passage was never cited by any of the numerous writers in the whole Arian controversy: nor ever cited at all by any Greek father, (in any genuine work) either before or after the council of Nice; though many of them quote the
only. It is since much enlarged and improved, and printed for Johnson, 1775.
* Dr. Jortin calls it “ a spurious text, which is still maintained in bold defiance to the fullest and clearest evidence against it.” Ecclesiastical History, Vol. III. p. 100. The famous Dr. Waterland gave
up as indefensible. Luther. aud Bullinger, at the time of the Reforınation, omitted it in their German translations of the Bible.
+ But whoever, as he observes, would see the whole matter learnedly and decisively discussed, may have recourse to Mr. Emlyn's full Inquiry into that Text 1 John v. 7, with the Defences of it.