|Vol. IV, No. 2
Iyar 5606, May 1846
Dias’ Letters, Letter 18.
[Note.—We regret that a leaf, containing the commencement of the 18th letter of Mr. Dias, is wanting in the manuscript from which we have been hitherto copying; we are, however, in hopes of being able before long to supply the deficiency from either one of the two original copies in existence; one of which is, as we informed our readers in our first volume, in possession of the descendants of the author in England, the other is in the hands of Chapman Levy, Esq., of Kosciusko, Attala county, Mississippi, as we ascertained some time since. In the mean time our readers will be able no doubt to supply the deficiency from their own reflection. Mr. Dias promised in the conclusion of letter seventeen to examine several prophecies, not noticed in the New Testament, on which Christians rely for a justification of their belief; and the part now missing doubtless commences with taking up the discussion.]
I have put all these passages together, tending, as is pretended, to prove the divinity of Jesus, and the doctrine of the trinity. The which I shall consider. As to that passage of Isaiah,* it plainly concerns the person and character of king Hezekiah, who was born about the time in which he delivered that prophecy. The word El, translated God, I shall prove to be an appellation given to a great or a mighty hero, and ought to be rendered in this place as in Moses’ song, where Elé Moab, is rendered the mighty men of Moab† Abi Ad, rendered everlasting father, is, rightly translated, Pater Seculi, father of the age, by Arias Montanus, not everlasting father; for this even Jesus never pretended to be. Indeed there is the highest probability to think that no other than Hezekiah was meant; for on him a wonderful cure was wrought, and for him the sun’s shadow went back ten degrees. For the character of this prince, I refer you to his history‡ I cannot, however, forbear quoting a passage from an ingenious author: “Justin Martyr, (says he, cites the following passage of the same prophet: ‘Unto us a child is born, and a young man given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder;’ which he (Justin Martyr) says is a prophetic description of the power of the cross, to which Jesus applied his shoulder at his crucifixion. Though the passage as it stands in Isaiah relates in its obvious and primary sense to Hezekiah, and that part of it, whereon Justin Martyr lays stress, most manifestly relates to the bearing the office of a civil magistrate, and not to carrying the cross.”§
As to the word elohim, it is well-known to such as are acquainted with the Hebrew language, that it bears very different senses in Scripture; and is accordingly made use of to denote very different things. For instance, “And the Lord said to Moses, See I have made they a God (Elohim) unto Pharaoh.”|| Here it means a superior. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God (Elohim).”¶ Here it signifies an angel, which Manoah in the preceding verse is declared to have seen. “Then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges (Elohim).”** Here it is made use of for the magistrate. Here, then, to produce no more examples, you have the same word used to denote different things; would it not be absurd to suppose in these applications of the word, that because it is plural, that it therefore signifies s a plurality of persons in each case, or that Moses, by having the word applied to him, was a triune person? that when applied to the angel, it meant not one, but three? or, that a judge signified a trinity? Now, if it be absurd to put such a construction on the word Elohim, when used to denote these three persons, or offices, how much more must it be to put the like construction on the word when applied to God, who is also named in the singular; for instance, “Then he forsook God (Eloah);”†† “Now consider this ye that forget God.”‡‡ Besides, if Elohim implies more than one, why not more than three?
It is equally absurd to pretend that, because the Scripture, says “Let us make man,” that the consultation was made with the other persons in the Trinity; for either the other persons knew it, or were ignorant of it; if the first, then was the consultation needless; if the latter, then were both the other persons deficient in knowledge, and consequently could neither be gods, nor of the same essence with God; to this dilemma must they be reduced, who interpret this verse as referring to a trinity. Besides, the Scripture presently says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him,”* all which is in the singular. The whole passage very plainly indicates that God, being about to make an extraordinary creation, condescended to consult the angels, to whom he thought proper to impart beforehand so important an event. Besides which, this erode of speaking in the plural for the singular, is common and agreeable to the majesty of the Hebrew language. Thus one of Job’s companions tells him, “How long will it be ere you make an end of words? mark and afterwards we will speak.”† Daniel, when he was speaking to the king, says “And we will tell the interpretation.”‡ Thus it is also said, “The sons of Dan, Hushim,” which, however, was only one;§ and again, “The sons of Pallu, Eliab.”|| But these things are so plain, and so well-known to you, that I shall trouble you no farther; tho’ I can’t forbear inserting a passage from one, who will not be accused of favouring the Jews. The person I mean is Father Calmet, who thus delivers his sentiments on the word: “Elohi, or Eloi-Elohim, one of the names of God, Angels, Princes, Great Men, Judges; and even false gods are sometimes called by this name; the sequel of the discourse is what assists us in judging rightly concerning the true meaning of this word. It is the same as Eloah, one is the singular, the other is the plural; nevertheless, Elohim is often construed in the singular number.”¶ According to which rule, whenever this name is applied to men, it cannot imply any divinity in them; therefore, the word El Gibbor cannot mean mighty God, as it is rendered (in the ninth chapter of Isaiah) in the english version, but means, as it does in other places, a great or mighty person, or hero.
Thus have I examined the passage from which they pretend to prove the divinity of Jesus, or the trinity. I shall in my next show how repugnant such doctrine is, not only to the Old Testament, but also prove from the new, that Jesus had no such pretensions, and how contradictory such doctrine is to many passages therein contained, and conclude the whole from some of the most learned and eminent men.