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numerous as those in which the plurality of God, and the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, are taught. The frequent assertions with regard to this subject are very erroneous,-and are made at hazard, and without diligent and faithful comparison.* There are, indeed, many passages which speak of God as "the true God," and as one God in opposition to all other Gods. But the passages which even seem to teach that the Godhead is not a trinity but a simple uncompounded unity, are very few.
Let us turn to two of these passages, and these the strongest in the whole Bible; one from the Old, and the other from the New Testament.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Chap. vi: 4 and 5, we read these words, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might.”
This sentence was proclaimed as a kind of oracular afflatum, a solemn and authoritative principle, to the Israelites. By an express command in the oral law, the Jews believe that they are required twice a day to repeat this verse, which they call Shemah. The Talmud contains also a great many directions about the manner in which it should be pronounced, and its virtue when uttered in a dying hour. This was also one of the four passages which the Jews wrote upon their phylacteries and upon their door posts. And, as it is one form of what our Saviour calls the first and great commandment, it deserves very careful consideration.
In this passage we have a declaration, and an inference from it. The declaration, as it is in the original, is that "Jehovah, our Elohim, is one Jehovah," and the inference from it is, that we ought to love this "Jehovah our Elohim," with all our
From this passage it is inferred, by modern Jews and Unitarians, that Jehovah, the God of Israel, is numerically and metaphysically one; and that he exists a solitary person, and not a trinity of persons. But the text makes no such affirmation. It does not say that Jehovah is one numerically, one metaphysically, or one in person. Had this been the design of the inspired penman, he would have said “Our Jehovah is only one,” or “Jehovah, our Elohim, is one Elohim," and therefore, "thou shalt love him with all thy heart," &c.
*See Stuart's Letters to Channing, p. 47.
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 God 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 obedience, 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 number, 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,Ť ONLY ONE. On this account therefore, 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.”
*De Wette, Bauer, Wegscheider. * See Allix. pp. 121 and 268.
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 command 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 commandment," 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 universal 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 eminent 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 himself, 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 original in Oxlee's "Christian Doctrine of the Trinity maintained on the principles of Judaism."-Lon. 1815, 3 vols., vol. I, p. 334.
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 equivalent 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, Elohim, 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 himself used this word, it would have been unlawful for man to do so.† 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 Messiah, and according to the Cabbala, the term Elohim is composed of the two words El and Him, that is, they are God.||
*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.
See in Martini Pugeo Fidei, p. 488. $Allix. p. 132.
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 language, 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 himself in his own word? Either the language of the Scriptures is the language of polytheism and idolatry, as some have blasphemously 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, modern 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
$ This the Rabbi Ibba expressly affirms. || Rabbi Bachai in Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, pt. 3, p. 81. *See Oxlee, vol. i., pp. 68-94.