Page images

being so used in the plural form, than in its being so used at all. The same principle which accounts for the name God being given to heathen Deities at all, will equally well account for its being given to them in the particular form in which it is applied to the true God. We know that an idol is no“ thing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.” Yet the name of God is given to them in the Scriptures, in accommodation to the false conceptions and customary phraseology of their deluded worshippers. We never think of inferring that idols in general possess divinity, from their being called Gods ;-and neither do we infer, on the same principle, plurality in the particular idol, from the plural name of the One God being used in speaking of it. The circumstance of the plural name being applied to individual idols, does not, therefore, by any means “ show the futility' of the reasoning against which Mr. Yates argues ; because, if the name was first given to the true God, and then transferred in its application to false Gods, the cause of its assuming the plural form in its primary application, may, after all, have been what we allege, the threefold distinction in the Divine Unity.--And, if these remarks be well founded, the reason which accounts for the use of the plural name of God, when a false Deity is spoken of, will, of course, account also for the occurrence, on such occasions, of any peculiarities of syntactical phraseology which arise out of it.

4. Mr. Yates mentions, that many of the most learned Trinitarians have rejected the argument from the plural form of the name of God. Who these many are, I am not at present very careful to inquire. The argument may be a tolerably sound one after all;—even although Calvin himself should have questioned it. " That celebrated man,” says Mr. Yates, 66 had too much learning, and too much sense, to build his 66 system on such a sandy foundation."— The answer to this is, So have we. We do not build our system on this foundation. It is only one consideration amongst many, which mutually derive and communicate strength to one another. Even if Mr. Yates should make out this to be sand, we have abundance of solid rock besides. With respect to learning (that is, Hebrew learning--the only description of learning that has to do with the case) we have higher authorities on our side than Calvin.

The following is the conclusion to which Gousset draws his argument, in the learned work before referred to: “ Ex his 66 sequitur pluralem de Deo locutionem propriè ac in tota vi 66 sua sumendam, ut idiomatis Ebraicæ linguæ obtemperetur ; 66 ideoque fatendum esse illam pluralitatem in Deo disertis

simè et validissimè asseri.” Comm. Ling. Ebr. p. 52.6 From these considerations it follows, that the plural form 66 of speech concerning God, is to be taken strictly and in its “ full force, if we would comply with the idiom of the Hebrew 66 tongue; and that therefore it ought to be acknowledged, “ that by this phraseology, plurality in Deity is most distinctly 5 and strongly affirmed."-In the same connexion he expresses himself in these remarkable words :-" At inquis, plu• ralitati isti obstat Dei natura. Ego, contra, quî scis ? plus 66 valet locutio Dei qui scit, quam ratiocinatio tua, qui ness cis. Regeris, sunt aliæ causæ pluralis locutionis. Ego re6 pono, propria et naturalis ejus causa est rerum insignitarum

pluralitas : ex ea venire solet pluralis forma nominis, nec 6 efficaciori modo illa indicari potuisset quam locutione ista " et diserta et solenni. Omnis ergo humilis verbi Dei disci* pulus, quid ille dicat, bona fide, excipere studens acquies6 cat.” Ibid. p. 52. “ But you will say, This plurality is 6 inconsistent with the nature of God. I ask, in return, “ How do you know that? The declaration of God, who « knows, is of more weight than your reasoning, who do not

know. There are other causes, you retort, of a plural form 6 of speech. I answer, its proper and natural cause is plu6 rality in the things signified. It is from this that the plu- . “ ral form of a noun usually arises ; nor could it have been in« dicated in a manner more effectual than by this description of 66 phrase, at once elegant and consistent with use. Let every “ humble learner, therefore, of the word of God, settle it in 6 his mind, to receive, in sincerity and truth, whatever he “may dictate.”

Kennicott himself, that master in Hebrew literature, maintains the validity of our argument. In mentioning the facts respecting the construction of ALEIM, when used as the name of the true God, I took for granted the correctness of the ordinary statement, that it is sometimes connected with plural verbs, as well as with plural adjectives and pronouns. In the following passage, Kennicott denies the accuracy of this statement, and places the argument in a different and interesting light:- Marsilius Ficinus, qui etiam medio sec. 15. floruit, 6 in tractatū de Christiana religione, cap. 30. ait-se in dispu6 tationibus adversus Judæos translatione LXX. Interpretum li66 benter ută, ut eos egregiis illustrium Judæorum armis convinceret. “ Hujus viri annotatio, quam statim proferemus, respicit rem s consideratione dignissimam, quamvis eam ipse leviter attige“ rit. Est autem hæc-Jungitur nomen Dei plurale verbo plurasli in Reg. lib. 2. Quæ est gens, ut populus Israël ; propter 6 quam ivit Deus.' Veritas Heb. dicit IVERUNT Dii. Dicere de"buisset, tria dari loca in quibus verbum nunc plurale est, licet “ ibi nominativus ALEIM de uno vero Deo certissimè intelligen6 dus sit. Tria loca sunt Gen. xx. 13.; xxxv. 7.; et 2 Sam. vii. “ 23. Notatu quidem dignum est, hanc differentiam fere semper


co observari; scilicet, quando plurale hoc nomen ALEIM de falsis “ diis usurpatur, verbum ipsi annexum plurale est; et quando " de Deo adhibetur, verbum est singulare. Argumentum vero “ hac differentia nixum, sæpius adhibitum ad probandam plue cralitatem, et tamen unitatem, in Numine Divino, non valet “concluśè, nisi verba, in unum omnia, hoc modo annexa, singularia vel nunc sint, vel olim fuerint. Tum enim denique, “quando probatum est, hanc regulam scribendi, prorsus pecusliarem, ab omnibus Scriptoribus Divinis, et in singulis ex6 emplis observari-tum denique, inquam, argumentum inde “petes firmum, atque (uti videtur) minimè refellendum. Mo

menti igitur haud levis est, si notetur, tria verba, hujus regulæ “ exceptiones, pro certo esse corrupta : quum horum duo prio6 ra ab omnibus, quotquot reperiri potuerunt, Pentateuchi Samaritani exemplis corriguntur; tertiumque corrigitur a loco 66 parallelo in ipso textu Hebraico 1 Chron. xvii. 21.” Marsi6 lius Ficinus, who also flourished in the middle of the 15th 6 century, in a treatise on the Christian religion, chap. 30th, “ says--that in disputing against the Jews, he made liberal “ use of the translation of the Seventy, that he might over6 come them with the excellent weapons of eminent country5 men of their own. The remark of this writer, which we are « about to notice, respects a matter highly worthy of con66 sideration, although he himself has touched it but lightly. “ It is this-In the 2d Book of Kings?? (in our Bibles the 2d Book of Samuel, “ the plural name of God is joined to a 66 plural verb What nation is like the people Israel, for 66 which GoD WENT, &c.'-in the original Hebrew, GODS “ WENT.-He ought to have said, that three passages are ad$ duced, in which the verb is now in the plural number, al" though in all of them the nominative ALEIM is, without “ controversy, to be understood of the one true God. The ,

6 three passages are, Gen. xx. 13.; xxxv. 7.; and 2 Sam. vii. 23.
“ It is well deserving of notice, that the following distinction
6 is almost invariably observed; namely, when this plural name
66 ALEIM is used to signify false Gods, the verb connected with
“ it is plural; but when it is a designation of God himself,
" the verb is singular. But the argument which rests on this
6 distinction, frequently adduced to prove plurality and yet
unity in the Godhead, is not conclusively valid, unless all
66 the verbs, without exception, which are so connected,
66 either now are singular, or were so originally. Then, how-
“ ever, when it has been shown, that this rule of writing, so
66 entirely peculiar, is observed by all the sacred penmen,
6 and in every instance,—then, I say, you will obtain from
6 the circumstance an argument, well founded, and, as it
66 seems to me, incapable of refutation. It is, therefore, of no
66 small consequence to observe, that the three verbs, in the
6 cases of exception to this rule, are unquestionably corrupt
“ readings; the two former being corrected by all the copies
66 which have yet been discovered of the Samaritan Penta-
6 teuch ; and the third by the parallel passage in the Hebrew
6 text itself, 1 Chron. xvii. 21.” (Dissert. Gener. p. 48. $. 100.)

Mr. Yates, with a contemptuous appeal to “those who 66 have learned Hebrew," is pleased to school me for speaking of the plural name for God, and of certain constructions connected with it, as anomalies, or irregularities. (Pages 136. 138.)-Does Mr. Yates, then, deny the existence of any principles of general grammar? If their existence is admitted, then peculiar idioms, even although uniform in their use in the particular language where they occur, are, with reference to such principles, in strict propriety of speech, anomalous or irregular. And it becomes a matter of curious and sometimes interesting speculation, to trace such idioms to

« PreviousContinue »