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till they become internal ; nothing, except through the perceptions and notions we form of them; and that the variance therefore, even in the case of a physical impossibility, must lie between our own ideas. I may accordingly be reminded, that the notion of “ melting with fire” is as essentially a part of our idea of “ice," as the notion of “equal diameters” is of our idea of a “circle ;” so that the final appeal might, with as much reason, be made to our own consciousness in the one case as in the other. Might it not be said, “ so long as the word ice retains its meaning, the proposition in question is a self-contradiction ; for that word signifies a certain substance that will melt on the application of heat?” This is true; and resolves the distinction which I have endeavoured to explain into this form : the word “ice” may be kept open to modifications of meaning, the word “circle” cannot. And the reason is obvious. The idea of the material substance is a highly complex idea, comprising the notion of many independent properties, introduced to us through several of our senses : such as solidity, crystalline form, transparency, coldness, smoothness, whiteness, &c.; the quality of fusion by heat is only one among many of the ingredients composing the conception; and should this even be found to be accidental, and be withdrawn, the idea would still retain so vast a majority of its elements, that its identity would not be lost, nor its name undergo dismissal. But the notion of the circle is perfectly simple ; being wholly made up of the idea of equal diameters, and of other properties dependent on this ; so that if this be removed, the whole conception disappears, and nothing remains to be denoted by the word. Hence, a physical contradiction proposes to exclude from our notion of an object or event one out of many of its constituents,—an alteration perfectly akin to that which further experience itself often makes; a metaphysical contradiction denies of a term all, or the essential part, of the ideas attached to it. The materials for some sort of conception remain in the one case, yanish in the other.
Now the terms employed in the statement of the doctrine of the Trinity are abstract words; “person,” “substance,” “ being :" and the numerical words “One” and “ Three,” are all names for very simple ideas; not indeed (except the two last) having the precision of quantitative and mathematical terms ; but having none of that complexity which would allow them to lose any meaning, and yet keep any ; to change their sense without forfeiting their identity. The ideas which we have of these words are as much within ourselves, and as
capable of comparison by our own consciousness, as the ideas belonging to the words angle and triangle ; and when, on hearing the assertion that there are three persons in one mind or being, I proceed to compare them, I find the word “person” so far synonymous with the word “mind” or “ being,” that the self-contradiction would not be greater, were it affirmed that there are three angles in one ywriathe mere form of speech being varied to hide the absurdity from eye and ear. To say that our ideas of the words are wrong, is vain ; for the words were invented on purpose to denote these ideas : and if they are used to denote other ideas, which we have not, they are vacant sounds. To assert that higher beings perceive this proposition to be true, really amounts to this ; that higher beings speak English, (or at all events not Hebrew, or Hellenistic Greek,) but have recast the meaning of these terms; and to say that we shall hereafter find them to be true, is to say that our vocabulary will undergo a revolution; and words used now to express one set of ideas, will hereafter express some other. Meanwhile, to our present minds all these future notions are nonentities ; and using the words in question in the only seria e they have, they declare a plain logical contradiction. Hence, every attempt to give consistency to the statement of the Trinity, has broken out into a heresy; and the Indwelling and the Swedenborgian schemes, the modal Trinity of Wallis and Whately, the tritheistic doctrine of Dr. W. Sherlock, are so many results of the rash propensity to seek for clear ideas in a form of unintelligible or contradictory speech. Σαφής έλεγχος απιστίας το πώς περί Θεού λέγειν.
On the Hebrew Plural Elohim. The perseverance with which this argument from the Hebrew plural is repeated, only proves the extent to which learning may be degraded into the service of a system. The use of a noun, plural in form, but singular in sense, and the subject of a singular verb, to denote de dignity of the person named by the noun, is known to be an MODA common to all the Semitic languages. Every one who can read a Hebrew Bible is aware that this peculiarity is not confined
the name of God; and that it occurs in many passages, which eder absurd the inference deduced from it. For instance, from ek. xxix. 3, it would follow, that there is a plurality of natures * distinctions” in the crocodile, the name of which is there found
in the plural, with a singular adjective and singular verb ;99789 in) yann 59720 D'Inn, “ The great crocodile that lieth in the midst of his rivers.” So in Gen. xxiv. 51, the plural form 09317%, Lord, so constantly used of a human individual, is applied to Abraham : 72178 135 TON 1771, “ And she shall be a wife to the son of thy masters,” i.e. thy master Abraham. It is unnecessary to multiply instances, which any Hebrew Concordance will supply in abundance. I subjoin one or two additional authorities from eminent Hebraists, whose theological impartiality is above sus
Schroeder says: “Hebræi sermonis proprietas, quâ Pluralis, tam masculinus, quam femininus, usurpari potest de una re, quæ in suo genere magna est et quodammodo excellens ; ut dig', maria, pro mari magno ; D'IN, dracones, pro dracone prægrandi; D'3978, domini, pro domino magno et potente ; 01738, numina, pro numine admodum colendo ; D'Ui7p, sancti, pro deo sanctissimo; Jiang, bestia, pro bestiá grandi, qualis est elephas ; nian plaga, pro plagá gravi ; 0977), flumina, pro flumine magno.” N. G. Schroederi Institutiones ad fundamm. ling. Hebr. Reg. 100. not. i. .
Simonis. “ Plur. adhibetur de Deo vero; ad insinuandam, ut multis visum est, personarum divinarum pluralitatem ; quod etiam alii, maxime Judæi, rectè negant : quoniam vel ibi in plurali ponitur, ubi ex mente Theologorum de unâ modo triadis sacræ personâ sermo est, velut Ps. xlv. 7, adeoque gentium unus aliquis deus pluraliter 091758 dicitur, ut Astarte 1 Reg. xi. 33; Baal muscarum et quidem is, qui Ekronæ colebatur 2 Reg. i. 2, 3. Denique sanctam triadem si 09778 significasset, multo notior usuque adeo linguæ quotidiano tritior sub prisco fædere hæc doctrina fuisset, quam sub novo. Ex nostra sententiâ hic plur. indicio est, linguam Hebræam sub Polytheismo adolevisse; eo vero profligato plur. hic in sensum abiit majestatis et dignitatis." Eichhorn's Joh. Simonis' Lexicon Hebr. in verb. obx, p. 120.
Buxtorf. 09757, plurale pro singulari : Lex. Chaldaicum, Talmudicum et Rabbinicum : in verb.
Gesenius. 09758 pluralis excellentiæ : Gott, von der Einheit; wie 0978, Dibya. Hebr. und Chald. Handwörterbuch : in verb.
Even Lewis Capel, in his defence of this verbal indication of the Trinity, admits the absurdity of using the argument with Anti-trinitarians: “ Siquis ergo vellet adversus Judæos, Samosatenianos, aliosque sanctissimæ Trinitatis præfractos hostes, urgere hoc argumentum,
eoque uno et nudo uti, frustra omnino esset : ni prius demonstraret falsam esse quam illi causantur phraseos istius rationem, evinceretque eam in voce istå 09728 locum habere non posse : quod forte non usque adeo facile demonstrari posset. Atque eatenus tantùm jure possunt suggillari Theologi, si argumento illo nudo, et solo, non aliâ ratione fulto, utantur ad Judæos et Samosatenianos coarguendos et convincendos ; non vero si eo utantur ad piorum fidem jam ante aliunde stabilitam, porro augendam atque fovendam.” Lud. Cappelli Critica Sacra. De nom. On738 Diatriba. c. vii. Ed. 1650, p. 676.
May we ask of our learned opponents, how long the mysterious contents of this plural have been ascertained? Who was the discoverer, forgotten now by the ingratitude of Learning, but doubtless living still in the more faithful memory of Orthodoxy? And why those of the Christian Fathers, who devoted themselves to Hebrew literature, were not permitted to discern the Trinitarianism of the raelitish syntax? They had not usually so dull an eye for verbal
e celebrated Brahmin, Rammohun Roy, whose knowledge of I tal languages can be as little disputed, I presume, as the singuian greatness and simplicity of his mind, says: “ It could scarcely be believed, if the fact were not too notorious, that such eminent SchoL ars ... could be liable to such a mistake, as to rely on this verse (Gen .i. 26. And God said, let us make man in our image, after our liken ess,) as a ground of argument in support of the Trinity. It shows how easily prejudice, in favour of an already acquired opinion, gets the better of learning.” And he proceeds to argue on " the idiom of the Hebrew, Arabic, and of almost all Asiatic languages, in which the plural number is often used for the singular to express the respect due to the person denoted by the noun.” Rammohun Roy was, I believe, the first to call attention to the fact, obvious to any one who will read a few pages of the Koran, that Mohammed, whose belief n the strict personal Unity of the Divine Nature gave the leading cardre to his religion, constantly represents God as speaking in these plural forms. I extract a few instances from Sale's Koran. Lond.
God said; when we said unto the angels, worship Adam,” &c.
God said; and we said, O Adam, dwell thou,” &c. -Ch. ii. p. 31
We formerly created man of a finer sort of clay ; ... and we have ted over you seven heavens; and we are not negligent of what
we have created : and we send down rain from heaven by measure ; and we cause it to remain on the earth," &c. “And we revealed our orders unto him, saying ; . . . speak not unto me in behalf of those who have been unjust.” “ God will say, did ye think that we had created you in sport,” &c.-Ch. xxiv. pp. 281, 282, 287.
In the very passages in which Mohammed condemns the doctrine of the Trinity, the same form abounds: "We have prepared for such of them as are unbelievers a painful punishment.” “We have revealed our will unto thee.” “We have given thee the Koran, as we gave the psalms to David.” “Oye who have received the Scriptures, exceed not the just bounds in your religion ; neither say of God any other than the truth. Verily Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the apostle of God, and his Word, which he conveyed into Mary, and a spirit proceeding from him. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not, There are three Gods : forbear this; it will be better for you. God is but one God. Far be it from him that he should have a Son! Unto him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth. Ch. iv. pp. 80, 81.
the Roy, who his Se
C. On the Prophecy of an “ Immanuel.” For the interpretation which identifies “ the Virgin " with the city of Jerusalem, I am indebted to Rammohun Roy, who has justified it by reasons which appear to me satisfactory. See his Second Appeal to the Christian Public. Appendix II. Calcutta, 1821. p. 128 seqq. The use of the definite article with the word (7705877) points out the Virgin as some known object, who would be recognised by King Ahaz, without further description. It will hardly be maintained that this prince was so familiar with evangelical futurities, as to understand the phrase of Mary of Nazareth. Nor does it seem at all likely that either the prophet's wife, or any other person not previously the subject of discourse, should be thus obscurely and abruptly described. But if“ the Virgin” was a well-understood mode of speaking of Jerusalem, Ahaz would be at no loss to interpret the allusion. And that this metaphor was one of the common-places of Hebrew speech, in the time of the prophets, might be shown from every part of their writings. “ Thou shalt be built, 0 virgin of Israel : thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make inerry."* " Then shall the