Joseph and Benjamin: A Series of Letters on
The Controversy Between Jews and Christians:
Comprising the Most Important Doctrines Of the Christian Religion

Joseph Samuel C. F. Frey
1841

"The faith of a true Christian is the same as that of Moses and the Prophets."

 

Part 6. The Divinity of the Messiah

 

Letter 1. A Plurality in Unity

My Dear Benjamin,

1. Having in my former letters shown that all the prophesies in the Old Testament, concerning Messiah's state of humiliation and exaltation, have been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, (adored be his name,) from which it is evident that he is the Christ the promised Messiah; I intend now, by the help of God, to prove that this Jesus Christ, is truly God. This you know, my dear brother, is a subject of the utmost importance. It was for this, and this only, that the high priest and council considered themselves warranted to condemn Jesus unto death as a blasphemer. They had frequently tried to convict him by bringing forward false witnesses, but could not succeed until the high priest adjured him upon oath, to tell whether he was "the Christ, the Son of God, or the Blessed." Jesus having answered in the affirmative, the high priest rent his garment, as a token of mourning, and said, "What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy" (Matt 26:62-65). This charge of blasphemy continues to be the stumbling-block of our people to the present day, and the reason why they consider every Christian to be an idolater. But I shall hereafter show more fully the importance of this subject to Christians as well as to our people. To present the subject to your view in a clear and convincing manner, it will be necessary to divide it into several parts, and I hope you will peruse them with patience and fervent prayer to God for the aid of the Ruach Hackodesh, i. e. the Holy Spirit.

2. Before I proceed to prove the doctrine proposed, viz. the Divinity of the Messiah, I wish you to understand that I consider him to be really and truly God by nature, and not God either in an inferior sense or by constitution. I am far from the opinion of those who say that Christ is a mere creature by nature, but, by the will of the Father, advanced to the dignity of a God; and, being so advanced, he is Deus verus, i. e. a true God. Wherein, my dear Benjamin, does this differ from the old heathenish practice of turning creatures into gods, acknowledging one superior and many inferior gods? If such a distinction be consistent with truth, then Baal, or Ashtaroth, or any of the gods of the nations, might be looked upon as inferior deities, and be served with the subordinate worship. Solomon might sacrifice to Ashtaroth. and Milcom, or Chemosh, or Moloch, provided he did serve the God of Israel with sovereign worship, acknowledging him supreme. Why was it considered a crime in the Samaritans to fear the Lord and serve their own gods? (2 Kings 17:33-41). Blessed be God that our people have been kept, for a long time past, from idolatry, and, without exception, do consider such worship idolatry; and hence it follows that if Christ be no more than a nominal God, inferior to the Father, all worship of him, and reliance upon him, would be idolatry as much as the worship of angels or men, or of the gods of the heathen world.

How just is the sentiment of St. Augustine, addressed to Maximin, an Arian Bishop, who considered Christ as inferior to God;

"Repeat it ever so often, that the Father is greater, the Son less, we shall answer you as often, that the greater and the less make two; and it is not said, thy greater Lord God is one Lord, but the words are, 'the Lord thy God is one Lord.' Nor is it said, there is none equal to me; but the words are, 'there is none other besides me.' Either, therefore, acknowledge that the Father and the Son are, one Lord God, or in plain terms deny that Christ is Lord God at all."(1)
It is equally against reason and Scripture to say that Christ was constituted God by the pleasure of the Father. How could the giver and disposer of all graces receive any thing as a matter of gift or favor? How could he be said to have obtained the privilege of being adored, who had long before been adored both by men and angels? He who is God from the beginning, who had glory with the Father before the world was, who is himself the Lord of glory and Creator and Preserver of all things, was infinitely too high, too great, and too divine to receive any accession to his dignity, or any real increase either of perfection or of glory. When the Scriptures speak of his exaltation, it refers to him as Mediator, as has been shown before.

3. You will further keep in mind, dear Benjamin, that when I speak in the following pages of a plurality or trinity in unity, you must conceive of distinct persons in the one Jehovah; i. e. there is one only God or Jehovah, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three distinct persons are but one Jehovah. I shall show hereafter that distinct personal properties are applied to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But these persons are not three characters or relations only, in the same substance, mind, or spirit; but something more, because the Scripture plainly makes a greater difference between them; nor, on the other hand, are they three distinct substances, minds, or spirits, because they would then be three gods.

I employ the word person, because language does not admit of a fitter term to express this great article of our faith. The word person has not always been in use, yet God was always believed to be Father, Son, and Spirit, as will be shown hereafter. It was first adopted to impress more clearly on the minds of Christians the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to strengthen them against the errors of those who said that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are only three different names of the same object; as if Christ, the eternal wisdom, would have used terms for the institution of baptism (Matt 28:19) which convey such different ideas to the mind, without designing us to make some sort of distinction, and without intending to show us that there really is some distinction, yet at the same time without exposing us to multiply the Godhead, and thus mislead us from that great truth which he always inculcated, viz. that there is but one God, and that it is impossible there can be more than one. The word of God is full of expressions drawn from natural objects familiar to us, and the Holy Spirit employs them for the purpose of giving us clearer conceptions of what God is in comparison with man. Hence these expressions, "God repents, he is angry, he has eyes," &c. &c. and similar figures, which are merely designed to exhibit to us spiritual and invisible things by means of objects which are familiar to our senses. In this sense, the word person ought to be understood in reference to the Deity.

4. I beseech you, my dear Benjamin, to guard against the common objection that this sacred doctrine is "absurd and contradictory, and therefore cannot be true; or incomprehensible, and therefore ought not to be believed." With respect to the former, viz. that it is absurd and contradictory, that three should be one, and one three. This may either be true or false. If I were to assert that my five fingers are one finger, or one finger to be five fingers, that would be absurd, contradictory, and impossible. But if I were to say my five fingers are one hand, and my one hand five fingers, this is neither absurd, contradictory, nor false. In like manner, to say that Jehovah is three persons, and three persons one Jehovah, is neither absurd, contradictory, nor impossible. I freely acknowledge that this, or any other similitude, is infinitely below the dignity of the subject; but as it has proved a blessing to my soul, I fervently pray that it may prove so to yours also.

I cannot deny myself the pleasure of transcribing the following lines from the learned Dr. Grotius, on Matthew 28:19,

"Why is one God set forth in persons three?
"In holy writ thus known is he.
"That three are one what reason can us teach?
"God is above all human, reach.
"Can it by no similitude be shown?
"The sun, light, heat, are three, yet one."
Again he says—
"May we not some such thing in mankind see?
"Life, reason, will, in one are three.
"Are Father, Son, and Spirit equal? they
"With equal might one sceptre sway."
5. As it regards the second objection, viz. that the doctrine is incomprehensible, and therefore ought not to be believed; I admit the fact, but deny the conclusion. We believe the real existence of many things whose nature and operation exceed our comprehension. Says Dean Swift,
"It is an old and true distinction that things may be above our reason without being contrary to it. Of this kind are the power, the nature, and the universal presence of God, with innumerable other points. How little do those who quarrel with mysteries, know of the commonest actions of nature. The growth of an animal, of a plant, or of the smallest seed, is a mystery among men. If an ignorant person were told that a loadstone would draw iron at a distance, he might say that it was a thing contrary to his reason, and he could not believe it before he saw it with his eyes. The matter whereby the soul and body are united, and how they are distinguished, is wholly unaccountable to us. We see but one part, and yet we know we consist of two; and this is a mystery we cannot comprehend any more than that of the Trinity."(2)
Since, then, almost every thing in nature is so mysterious and above our comprehension, why should it be thought strange that the doctrine of the blessed Trinity should be mysterious and incomprehensible? Dr. Priestly himself, the great opponent to this truth, has acknowledged
"that we can know nothing about the essence or nature of God."(3)
The great reasoner Mr. Fletcher says,
"It is one of the loudest dictates of reason, that as we cannot grasp the universe with our hands, so we cannot comprehend the Maker of the universe with our thoughts."
6. Our people, you know, my dear Benjamin, acknowledge that they are bound to believe certain truths respecting God, although they exceed their comprehension. For the third article of their creed runs thus:
"I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator, blessed be his name, is not corporeal, nor to be comprehended by an understanding capable of understanding what is corporeal, and that there is nothing like him in the universe."
The doctrine of the resurrection is attended with intricacies and difficulties above the comprehension of human reason, and yet it is one of the fundamental articles of our people, as will be shown hereafter. I freely acknowledge, my dear brother, that the subject is mysterious and incomprehensible as it respects the mode of existence, but as the reality of it is revealed in the Bible, it becomes an article of our holy faith, as well as that of the creation of the world, although it infinitely exceeds our comprehension how a universe could spring into being out of nothing.

Dr. Isaac Barrow, one of the first Christians and scholars, says

"that there is one Divine nature or essence common unto three persons incomprehensibly united by peculiar idioms and relations, all equally infinite in every divine perfection, each different from the other in order and manner of subsistence; that there is a mutual existence of one in all, and all in one. These are notions which may well puzzle our reason in conceiving how they agree, but should not stagger our faith in asserting that they are true; upon which we should meditate, not with hope to comprehend, but with dispositions to admire, veiling our faces in the presence and prostrating our reason at the feet of wisdom for transcending us."
7. No one ought to reject a doctrine which is plainly revealed in the Scriptures, under the pretence that it is incomprehensible. This is to wish to be wiser than God; for what he has revealed without explanation, he wills us to receive simply upon his word, without comprehending it. If there were any reasons for rejecting what is revealed because we do not understand it, we should, on this principle, renounce the doctrine of the creation of the world; for who can comprehend how something could be made out of nothing? Who can understand the union of soul and body? Yet who is there that can reason at all, but admits the existence of both? It is enough to know that God reveals anything, how far soever it may be above our understanding, in order to admit of it as a truth—we are bound to believe it, though it be incomprehensible by finite reason, yet there is something in it which is clear, viz. its discovery. Reason itself determines that there is more propriety in believing a revelation of God, although we cannot understand it, than in rejecting what is manifestly revealed, merely because it is incomprehensible. Reason, embraces the truth without understanding the manner of it; it receives it, because it comprehends that it is a revelation. In this way we believe God; we trust his veracity, his infallibility, and his word, and rest solely on the authority of his testimony. Faith is not an empty sound. We do understand what we believe, when we understand that it is God who proposes the matter of our faith; and we understand that he proposes it, when the doctrine, how far soever it be above the reach of our weak conceptions, has no absurdity in it; nothing unworthy of God; nothing contradictory, and nothing revolting against reason.

I shall, therefore, appeal to the law and the prophets, and proceed to show

That there is but one true and living God.

8. God is one in essence without mixture or composition, and one exclusively without any other. The sun is one, but the same God could make many suns; God is so one in essence, that it is impossible there could be any other. This, however, does not exclude three distinct persons, as will be shown hereafter.

That God is one, is a fundamental truth in religion. It has the concurring suffrage of reason and revelation to support it. To say there is more than one God, is as great folly as to say there is no God (Psa 14:1). The just and proper idea of Deity is, that he is self-existent, independent, prior to all other beings, and the cause of them. Now, the existence of two or more such beings is no less repugnant to sound reason than it is to the sacred oracles. It implies a contradiction; and what implies a contradiction, or is in itself absurd, is irrational no less than anti-scriptural. Hence the wiser heathens acknowledged a Supreme Being. The inscription on the Athenian altar, "To the unknown God" (Acts 17:23), carries in it an intimation that they had some faint notion of one supreme God superior to all other gods; but the Bible puts it beyond all reasonable controversy. The unity of God is taught in the Law, in the Prophets, and in the Book of Psalms, by Jesus Christ, and by his apostles, as is evident from the following passages: Exodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Deuteronomy 6:4,"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." Deuteronomy 32:39, "See now I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me." Isaiah 43:10, 11, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior." Isaiah 44:6, "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Isaiah 45:6, "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me: I am the Lord, and there is none else." Psalm 86:9, 10, "All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things; thou art God alone." Mark 12:29, 32.,"And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And the scribes said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God, and there is none other but he." 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."

Besides, dear Benjamin, you know that this truth is not denied by any of our people; for it is made the second article of their creed, which reads thus:

''I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator, blessed be his name, is only one in unity, to which there is no resemblance; and that he alone has been, is, and will be our God."
Neither would I have dwelt so long on this part of the subject, were it not to convince my dear Benjamin that I believe but in one Jehovah, the true and living God, as I did before I embraced the Christian religion, although I now most sincerely believe

That there is a plurality of persons in the self-same Jehovah, to which I shall now call your attention.

9. That there is a plurality in unity will appear from the language of Scripture.

The word Elohim, which we translate God, is plural and is used more than sixty times in the short history of the creation, and more than five hundred times more in the Pentateuch. Now, whilst I would freely acknowledge, that, if we had no other proofs in favor of a plurality, I should not lay much stress on this; yet I do not feel myself at liberty to pass it by unnoticed. Seeing that the Hebrew language is one of the most ancient, if not the original language of mankind, how came it to pass that the plural word should be the most common term used to signify the Deity? How came Moses, an inspired writer, to choose out this word, when another singular name (viz. Ail and Eloah, which he uses on other occasions) might have been employed to describe the creation of the world and the supreme God? Is it not extraordinary that he should use such a word, which at least was calculated to lead our brethren to a belief of a plurality, unless he himself knew and believed in a plurality in the unity of Jehovah?

10. The word Elohim is frequently joined with a verb, participle, or adjective in the plural number, which leads to the same conclusion. For example, Genesis 1:26, "Let us make man in our image, and in our likeness." R. Juda, in his comment on Sepher Yetzira, says,

"Who is it God did speak to in the creation? He spake to his word (Memra or Messiah). If you would know of them who is the spirit of whom we read in Genesis 1:2, 'that he moved on the face of the waters,' Moses Botril will inform you that it is the Holy Spirit. If you would learn of them who it was that God spake to in Genesis 1:26, saying, 'Let us make man,' Moses Botril tells us that these words are directed to the wisdom of God. If you would know what spirit it is that is spoken of in Job 28:12, again Moses Botril will tell it is the Holy Spirit. If you would know to whom that is to be referred which we read of in Isaiah 40:14, R. A. Ben David will tell you to the three Sephiroth."
It has been objected that God speaks here after the manner of kings, who, in their edicts, &c. use the plural number to express their dominion, honor, and majesty. To this it may be answered, that the reason of their speaking in the plural is because their edicts, &c. are the effect of consultation with their ministers or privy council, but Jehovah takes no counsel with any of his creatures. Besides, this courtly way of speaking was not known in the days of Moses: and to suppose that Moses alludes to a custom that would be in use in future, is as extravagant as the supposition of the German divine, who, in his comment on Genesis 2:7, says the expression, "he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," is not inelegantly by some observed that this is a metaphor drawn from glassmakers, who by their breath make their cups and glasses into their several forms. Says Bishop Kidder,
"That divine should have been sure that this art of blowing glasses had been as old as that expression of Moses, before he had commented on a metaphor which he fancies might be drawn from thence."
Again, Genesis 3:22, "Man is become as one of us":(4) and again, 11:7, "Let us go down": further, 19:24, "Jehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven." Menassa Ben Israel
"confesses this place too hard for him, unless by Jehovah who is on earth, you understand the angel Gabriel, who, as God's ambassador, bears the name of God."
You perceive, dear brother, that he acknowledges two distinct persons each called Jehovah; but he is mistaken in saying that the one was the angel Gabriel, and received the name Jehovah because he was God's ambassador; for I shall make it abundantly evident that this is an incommunicable name. Further, Genesis 20:13, "God caused me to wander." Original Hithoo Othi Elohim, the verb is plural as well as the noun Elohim. Again, 35:7, "God appeared unto him." Hebrew Nigloo Ailav Haelohim, i. e. the gods appeared unto him; the verb is plural as well as the noun. Again, Deuteronomy 4:7, Elohim Kerovim, "God so nigh"; again, 5:26, Elohim Chayim, "Living God"; in both these places the participle is plural. Once more, Ecclesiastes 12:1, Sechor Borecha, "Remember thy Creators," the noun is plural. R. Bechai, discoursing on the word Elohim, says,
"According to the cabalistical way, this name (Elohim) is two words, viz. El Hem, i. e. they are God; but the explanation of the yood (which is wanting in the second word) must be fetched from Ecclesiastes 12:1, 'Remember thy Creators.' He that is prudent will understand it."(5)
11. I need not tell you, dear Benjamin, that our Rabbins are greatly perplexed about the interpretation of these passages. R. Bechai, on the words, "Let us make," says
"that when Moses wrote the law, he gave an account of the several works of creation day by day; but when he came to write the words, Genesis 1:26, God questioned him about it, why he, after that manner, gave occasion to the heretics to open their mouths?"(6)
The same author tries to persuade us that God took counsel with some creatures; his words are these,
"With whom did he advise?" R. Joshua, in the name of R. Levi, says, "With his works of heaven and earth, like a king that has two counsellors, and would do nothing without them." R. Samuel, the son of Nachman says "that he advised with every day's work"; another Rabbi says, "with his ministering angels."(7)
But this opinion is rejected with scorn by Abarbanel;(8) besides, man is said to be made in the image and likeness of him or them with whom God consulted; but that man was not made in the image or likeness of angels, &c. but in the likeness of God, is expressly declared by Moses (Gen 1:27), and by our Rabbins; and the prophet declares that God never took counsel with any of his creatures (Isa 40:13). R Huna says,
"If this kind of language had not been written, it would not have been lawful to say, Bara Elohim, i. e. "the Elohim has created."(9)
12. Hence our Rabbins acknowledge that there are secrets and mysteries contained in these expressions which must not be revealed to the common people. I will just bring to your recollection what our most renowned Rabbi, Maimonides, says on this subject:
"All things which are mentioned in the history of the creation are not to be understood according to the letter, as the vulgar imagine; for otherwise our wise men would not have commanded the concealment of these things, nor would they have exercised such care in hiding and involving them in parables: nor would they have even so studiously prohibited the mention of such things in the presence of the ignorant rabble; for the literal senses of these things either beget wicked thoughts, imaginations, and opinions concerning the nature of God, or certainly subvert the foundations of the law, and introduce some heresy. Whoever has any skill in these subjects, ought to be on his guard that he do not divulge them; as we have many times given warning in our commentary on the Mischna. Hence, also, our Rabbins plainly say that it is for the glory of God to conceal these things that are written from the beginning of the book to this place, (i. e. Gen 1:26). But they have said this after what is written concerning the works of the sixth day. Hence the truth of what we have observed in evidence is evident. But because he who has acquired any perfection is bound to communicate it to others, it will unavoidably follow that those who have apprehended any of these secrets, whether by their own diligence or by the help of a master, will, at times, utter a few of them. But this must not be done openly and plainly, but under cover, and only by signs and symbols, such as are to be found, scattered and blended with other things, in the sayings of our more celebrated and excellent Rabbins, Therefore, I also, as you may observe in these mysteries, only mention one word or expression as the hinge of the whole. But I leave the rest to others, to whom it is to be left."(10)
On these words it has justly been remarked,
''What reason can the learned Jews have for speaking of secrets and mysteries; for commanding the concealment of these from the common people; the use of parables, of single words or phrases, blended with extraneous matter; and for giving frequent warnings to this purpose, if they really believe the interpretations which they give openly? When this intelligent writer says that the literal sense of the Scriptural language concerning creation introduces heresy, he undoubtedly refers to the support that it gives to the Christian doctrine, which they distinguish by this name; and especially to that of the Trinity."
Having now, in as brief a manner as possible, proved that Scripture language leads us to the idea of a plurality in unity, I will, in my next letter, show that this plurality is restricted to a Trinity of persons in the unity of Jehovah. Farewell.

 

Letter 2. Plurality Restricted to a Trinity

My dear Brother,

Agreeably to my promise, I will now endeavor to show that the plurality in Jehovah is restricted to a Trinity of persons.

1. This appears from many passages of Scripture. The manner in which the high priest was to bless the people is thus described, "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace" (Num 6:24-26). On this passage R, Bechai says:

"The name Jehovah is repeated three times with respect to the three periods of time, the present, the past, and the future, which the Divine Being has power over; of him it may be said, that he is, and was, and is to come, or will for ever be."(11)
Again it is said in the ancient and celebrated book Bachir,
"that the repeating Jehovah three times in this place teaches us that these names of the blessed God are three powers, and every distinct power is like to each other, and has the same name with it; i. e. every one is, and is called Jehovah."(12)
The same author adds,
"that in the words of the Psalmist where it is said, the Lord reigneth, that the words bear witness of the three, Hawiyoth, (i. e. existencies or subsistencies,) which are in the blessed Creator. And what is said that all is closed with Jehovah, the peculiar name of God, intimates that he is the fountain of all, and from him are the emanations of all."
He adds,
"that it is said in the book Zohar, that in those words, the Lord reigns, there is a great mystery."
How striking the agreement in the manner in which the high priest blessed the people of Israel, and the form of baptism, and the apostolic benedictions. Believers are to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt 28:19); and the apostle implores on the churches, grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost (2 Cor 13:14; Rev 1:4).

2. The next passage I shall notice is Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord." You know, dear Benjamin, that our people repeat this passage more than once every day, and consider it of such importance, that they believe that whoever repeats these words with his dying breath, is sure to go to heaven. Now, whilst in this passage the unity of the Divine essence is taught, a plurality or trinity of persons is clearly intimated. For the words in the original are, Jehowah Elohenoo Jehowah Echad, and may be rendered Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. This perfectly agrees with the preceding quotation from Sepher Bachir; and another of our Rabbins says,

"Jehovah, &c. Jehovah, is the head or beginning of all things in splendor, antiquity, and holiness, and he is called the Father, the Elohenoo, i. e. our God is the profundity of rivers and springs which go forth and flow unto all things. And again, Jehovah, that is the tree, the cabalistical tree, one of the sephiroth, called Binah or Tevoonah, by which the world was made, and all is one, one is knit to the other, and there is not found any separation, but all are one."(13)
3. The next passage to be considered is Psalm 50:1, "The mighty God, even the Lord hath spoken," Hebrew El, Elohim, Jehowah, here are three names of the Deity. Hence the author of Midresh Tehillim in Loco asks,
"Why does he mention the name of the blessed God three times? It is to teach thee that the blessed God created his world by these three names, which answer to the three Middoth, (or properties, or as they are called elsewhere, the Hawiyoth, Panim, Havpeninim, i. e. Hypostases or persons(14)) by which the world was created, and they are these—wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Wisdom, as it is said, the Lord by wisdom has founded the earth; understanding, as it is said, by understanding he has established the heavens; knowledge, as it is said, by his knowledge the depths were broken up. And this is it that is said Exodus 20:5, I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, (Hebrew Jehowah, Elohim, Ail,) answering to the three by which the world was made. And thus the children of Gad and the children of Reuben say Ail Elohim Jehowah, Ail Elohim Jehowah, he knows (Josh 22:22). And why are these mentioned twice? because by them the world was made."
4. I proceed to notice the remarkable language used by the seraphims and cherubims, and repeated daily by our people with apparent great solemnity, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isa 6:3). Permit me, my dear Benjamin, to bring to your recollection what two of our famous Rabbins, of blessed memory, have said on this passage. R. Simeon, the son of K. Yarchi, says,
"Kadosh se Av. Kadosh se Bain. Kadosh se Ruach Hackodish, i. e. "Holy that is the Father, Holy that is the Son, Holy that is the Holy Spirit."(15)
Another of our Rabbins says,
"There are three degrees or excellencies in God, and every one is called cavod, i. e. glory, or panim, i. e. faces or persons; the first is called supreme glory, the second, middle glory, and the third is called latter glory; this is the mystery, &c."(16)
5. The importance of the subject will, I hope, my dear Benjamin, be a sufficient apology for adding a few more testimonies from our most ancient Rabbins, to show the antiquity of this most holy and glorious doctrine. R. Menachen relates, that it is the doctrine of the Yezirah, and of the Zohar, that the wisdom is called beginning, although she is but the second, Sephirah being unknown to all creatures. They also maintain that it is the Shechinah, or wisdom, which rules the world.(17)

The author of Zohar(18) teaches three degrees in the Godhead. Says he,

"Come and see the mystery in the word Elohim; viz. there are three degrees, and every degree is distinct by himself; and notwithstanding they are all one, and yield in one, and one is not separated from the other."
Again,(19) upon the words Deuteronomy 6:4, he observes,
"Thou must know that those three, (viz. Jehowah, Elohainoo, Jehowah,) are one, unum; but it contains three modes; viz. the fire, the air, and the water; now these three are one, and the mystery of the voice and these are but one, unum; Jehowah, Elohim, Jehowah, are one, unum."
The same author renders Deuteronomy 6:4 in this manner,
"The Lord, or Jehovah, and our God, and Jehovah are one. He is the beginning of all things, the ancient of ancients, the garden of roots, and the perfection of all saints; and he is called the Father. The other Elohainoo, our God, is the depth and fountain of sciences, who proceeds from the Father, and is called the Son. The next, or Jehovah, he is the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from them both, and is called the measure of the voice. He is one, so that one concludes with the other, and unites them together. And therefore he says, hear, O Israel, i. e. join together the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and make him one essence and one substance. For whatsoever is the one, is in the other. He has been the whole, he is the whole, and he will be the whole."
On the same place he adds,
"This is the mystery of him who was before the rocks, and is united with the head and stem and the way. By Jehovah (the first) is meant the high or first beginning; by Elohainoo, the stem, is meant the stem spoken of Isaiah 11, the stem of Jesse, (the Messiah;) by Jehovah (last) is meant the way."

[JCR - John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."]

6. R. Menachem, in Sepher Yezira, says,
"In the cabalistic tree are ten sephiroth or members. The first is called the chief crown and the first glory, whose essence no creature can comprehend; the second is called wisdom, and the intelligence illuminating the crown of the creation, the brightness of equal unity, who is exalted above every head, and the second glory; and the third is called the sanctifying understanding, the worker and parent of faith. These three first numbers are intellectual, and not like the other seven properties or attributes."
On the same subject it is said,
''between him who produces, and those who are produced, there is no difference. He and they are all one and the same essence, in which, in three points or modes, are formed the crown, wisdom, and understanding, and in these are comprehended all the rest of the Sephiroth or numerations."
The learned Philo says,
"God attended with his two supreme powers, principality and goodness, being himself but one in the middle of these two, makes three appearances to the seeing soul."(20)
Again he says,
"In the middle is the Father of all things; on each side of him are the two powers, the eldest and the nearest to Jehovah, whereof one is the creative power, the other is the royal power; the creative power is called God, the royal power is called Lord."(21)
R. Hay Hagaon says,
"There are three lights in God, the ancient light, or Kadmon, the pure light, or Tzach, the purified light, or Metzuchtzach; and that these three make but one God, and that there is neither plurality nor polytheism in this."(22)
The cabalists frequently distinguish the three persons by the three Hebrew personal pronouns; Ani (I) the first person, called Ensoph, or infinite, the Father; Athtah (thou) the second person, called Chochmah, or wisdom; Hoo (he) called Binah, understanding, or Ruach Hackodesh, the Holy Spirit, by whom the prophets were inspired.

7. From the preceding statement I hope my dear Benjamin will be convinced that both the sacred Scriptures and our ancient Rabbins taught a trinity of persons in the unity of the Divine essence; and I should now proceed to point out the importance of this doctrine, but as I shall have occasion to speak of it hereafter, I will now say but a few words. Christians, as well as our people, believe that the first and fundamental principle of religion is, that there is a God; secondly, that there is but one living and true God; and lastly, that religious worship and divine honors are to be paid to this one living and true God alone. Either, therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are this one living and true God, or else we transgress these fundamental laws of nature and of God every time we pray and ascribe glory to either the Son or the Holy Ghost. The doctrine of the blessed Trinity, therefore, is by no means a speculative and insignificant thing as some would persuade us it is.

Says the learned Dr. Sherlock,

"The faith of the Holy Trinity is so fundamental to the Christian religion, that if Christianity be worth contending for, that is. For if God has not an eternal Son and an eternal Spirit, the whole mystery of our redemption by Christ, and of our sanctification by the Spirit, which, in its consequences, is the whole of the Gospel, and distinguishes it from all other religions, is utterly lost, and we are reduced again to a mere system of moral philosophy."(23)
Farewell.
When shall I see him face to face;
When to my dear Redeemer fly;
When shall I meet his kind embrace,
And find his welcome rest on high!

Come, dearest Savior, quickly come;
Life without thee is life forlorn:
O take thy Ionging pilgrim home—
My soul for earth was never born!

 

Letter 3. Distinguishing Marks of Deity

Dear Benjamin,

Having, in the preceding letter, shown that there is a plurality of persons in the divine essence, I will now proceed to show that Jesus, the promised Messiah, is truly God.

1. This will appear, if we consider that there are certain criteria by which the Creator is distinguished from the creature. If the peculiar marks of the human nature were to be found in brute animals, this would bring everlasting confusion into the affairs of life. Much more necessary is it, therefore, that there should be the most evident marks of distinction between God and the creature, lest we should bring the same confusion into all our religion and worship, by mistaking the creature for God, and God for the creature.

2. It is generally acknowledged that it was the great object of the religion given to our fathers, to preserve in the world the worship of the true God, notwithstanding the universal tendency to idolatry among all nations. One great source of idolatry, (i. e. giving the glory to the creature which belongs to the Creator,) especially to the most ignorant part of mankind, has been the mistaking the creature for the Creator. It must, therefore, be supposed that if God has ever employed mere creatures as instruments in delivering his will, he has used the most effectual means to prevent men from apprehending that the speaker was God. We can suppose no means so obvious, nor one that would so directly tend to prevent this mistake, as that of prohibiting those whom he employed from personating their great employer, using any of his names as if they might occasionally be given to them, or expressing themselves in such terms as might lead the hearers to imagine that God himself was the immediate speaker. If, on the contrary, this necessary caution has been neglected; if God has permitted a creature to say to his fellow, I am Jehovah, I am that I am; so far was he from using those means that were most consistent with infinite wisdom for the prevention of idolatry, that we cannot conceive that he could have taken more direct or effectual methods for establishing it, although this had been his avowed design in the whole of that revelation contained in the Old Testament.

Now, it is very evident from the sacred Scripture, that Jehovah is very jealous that no creature shall share in his incommunicable characteristics. Thus says Jehovah, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God" (Exo 20:3-5). "Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee; for the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God" (Deut 4:23,24). See also Deuteronomy 6:13-15, 32:16-21; Joshua 24:19.

3. It is agreed on all hands, that there can be no criteria more descriptive and distinctive of the true and living God than those of names, titles, attributes, works, and worship. The peculiar divine names are chiefly these two; viz. the name Jehovah, and the name God; with some additional word of honor, as the true God, the great God, the mighty God, the only wise God, God and none else, and God blessed for ever. The peculiar divine titles are, the God of Abraham, the Lord of hosts. King of kings, and Lord of lords, the First and the Last. The peculiar divine attributes are, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, eternity, and immutability. The peculiar divine works are, the creation and conservation of all things, the changing of the heart, and raising the dead. These are the distinguishing characters by which God was pleased to make himself known under the Old Testament, and it is upon these accounts that he, in opposition to other gods, claims to be received and honored as God. This is abundantly evident from the following passages of Scripture, which I would recommend to my dear Benjamin to read and meditate on: Gen 21:33; Deut 3:24, 4:7, 7:19, 10:17, 32:39, 33:32; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chron 29:11; Job 9:4, 12:16, 37:16, 42:2; Psa 8:4, 93:2, 113:7; Isa 26:4, 42:5, 45:7, 18, 57:15; Jer 10:12, 22:23, 24; Dan 2:20; Mal 3:6.

4. It may, however, not be improper, my dear Benjamin, to show more particularly that these criteria are incommunicable. With respect to the names and titles, I shall notice at present only the name Jehovah.

This is the grand, the peculiar and incommunicable name of God. It is not applied to any created being throughout the sacred Scriptures. This is evident,

a. From its peculiar structure and signification. It is composed of the three essential parts of the Hebrew verb to be, viz. the preter tense Hayah, he was; present participle Howe, he is; and the future tense Yihye, he shall be. Hence it imports the necessary, independent, unchangeable, and eternal existence of the Most High, whose name is "I am that I am" (Exo 3:14). If this name, therefore, be applied to any living being, it constitutes an irrefragable proof of his divinity from an infallible evidence.

It is much to be regretted that this sublime and awful name has not been retained in the sacred volume. There is nothing in the word Lord expressive of the grand and comprehensive ideas included in the word Jehovah. Besides, there are gods many and lords many, but to us there is but one Jehovah. True, the translators have distinguished it from the common word Lord, which signifies mere dominion or authority, by putting it in large or capital letters; but the generality of readers neither know the reason nor are apt to take notice of the distinction.

b. It is further evident from the express declaration of Jehovah himself. The attentive reader of the Scriptures must have observed how the one true God insists upon his being Jehovah in opposition to all other gods, glorying in a manner and triumphing in it, as the distinguishing character by which he will be known to be infinitely superior to all the gods of the nations. How expressive the language, "I am that I am"! (Exo 3:14). By the prophet Isaiah he speaks thus: "I am Jehovah, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another" (42:8). Again, "I am Jehovah, and there is no God beside me" (Isa 45:5). How striking the words of the Psalmist: "That men may know that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth" (83:18). See also 135:13; Deuteronomy 28:58; Hosea 12:5; Malachi 3:6. From these, and many other passages, it is evident that the Lord made himself known to his people by the name Jehovah, to express his peculiar nature, and to distinguish himself from all those whom he called gods, or who were so called by others; and when therefore this name was in composition imposed on a place, as Jehovah Shamah, Jehovah Nisi, or Jehovah Shalem, there could be no danger of its being mistaken by them for God, or of being supposed to be possessed of a divine nature: but as the idolatry of the world in general consisted in deifying intelligent creatures, had he permitted this name to be given to any such, he would have defeated his own design in the use of it, and would himself have signally contributed to idolatry.

5. The only place in the whole Bible, urged as an objection, is
Jeremiah 33:16, where Jerusalem, or the church, is said to be called Jehovah; but a little attention will show that it is not Jerusalem, or the church, but the Messiah which is called in that place Jehovah our Righteousness. You will observe that the prediction delivered by the prophet in this chapter (v 15, 16), is literally the same as that in chapter 23:5, 6, with no other difference except the last clause of the 16th verse, now under consideration. In chapter 23 it reads thus, "And this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness"; and in chapter 33 it is translated, "And this is the name wherewith she shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness." Now you will please to take notice,

1st. That in chapter 33:16, the words "is the name" are in italics, to show that they are not in the original text.

2d. That if it were the church that is called Jehovah, the word lah, translated she, ought to be the accusative, othah, her, and not the dative, lah, to her.

3dly. That several manuscript copies have the clause in chapter 33 the same as in chapter 23.

4th. That the Targum also translates both passages alike, viz. "This is the name wherewith they shall call him, the Lord our Righteousness."

5th. That the words in the original in chapter 33:16, are these, weseh Asher yikra, lah, literally, "and this that shall call to her."

Now, you know, dear Benjamin, that the word Kara, to call, means frequently to produce, effect, accomplish. Thus Jehovah says, "I will call for the corn, and will increase it" (Eze 36:29); the Hebrew word is Wekarathi, I will call, i. e. I will effect it, I will cause the earth to bring forth plentifully. Again, "Shall I call a nurse?" (Exo 2:7); i. e. shall I go and bring one? In the same sense the apostle Paul uses the word to call, when he says, "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called"; i. e. wrought a change in them, and brought them out of darkness into his marvelous light (Rom 8:30). Again he says, "God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not, as though they were": i. e, he causes, by a powerful word, those things to exist which had no being before. He said, let there be light, and there was light. You will then easily perceive, my dear Benjamin, that the plain meaning of the passage is, "this is he who shall call to her," i. e. that shall accomplish it for her. Substitute the word effect or accomplish in the place of call, and it contains an answer to the supposed question, Who shall cause Jerusalem to dwell in safety? Answer, Jehovah our Righteousness shall accomplish it for her. I am pleased to find, after much research, that this sense of the passage is sanctioned by R. Joseph Kimchi, who reads it thus:

"And he who calls her is Jehovah, our righteousness."
Pagninus, Montanus Vatabulus, translate it in the same manner.

In referring to the Jewish Expositor of 1819,(24) I find the following criticism, which will remove all difficulties. Says he,

"I shall confine my critical remarks to the latter part of the 16th verse; and this is the name whereby she shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness. In these few words there appears to be no less than three errors, which the collated readings enable us to correct. First, the omission of the word Shemo, Name, which our translators have very properly inserted in italics, as necessary to complete the verse. This word is preserved in three manuscripts collated by Kennecott, and was the original reading of two collated by De Rossi. It is also confirmed by the Chald. Vulg. Syr. Ar. (Waltoni Bib. Poly.)

"Secondly, for yickra, i. e. he shall call, two of De Rossi's manuscripts read yikreoo, i. e. they shall call, and it was the original reading of another manuscript (Doederlein). This reading is confirmed by the Chaldaic Vulg. Ar. (Walt. Bib. Poly.) as well as by the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:6, and by the Chald. Vulg. Syr. and Arab, versions of that passage

"The third error is the substitution of Lah, her, for Lo, him. But Lo is happily preserved in one of Kennicott's manuscripts, and in another Hay is on erasure. Lo is also in the margin of one of De Rossi's, (Doederlein,) and in the reading of Vulg. Arab, and perhaps Syr. Thus the two passages (Jer 23:6, and 33:16) read exactly alike, viz. 'And this is his name which they shall call him, Jehovah our Righteousness.'"

6. It is needless, however, to multiply testimonies on a subject on which our people are unanimous. I therefore proceed to the incommunicable attributes.

But before we consider these attributes singly, I would beg your attention, my dear Benjamin, to one general remark, viz. that he must be God, to whom God's essential attributes and perfections belong; for such attributes cannot be separated from the essence of God, or belong to any inferior being: for example, to be absolutely eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, uncreated, are attributes of God, which belong to his nature and being, and cannot belong to any creature; for how, then, could the distinction and difference between God and the creature be preserved?

For the same being to be created and uncreated, to have a being and to have no being, to be in all places, and yet limited to a certain place, carries in it an inconsistency and contradiction; the affirming of the one is the denial of the contrary. These opposite attributes cannot then belong to one and the same nature; for that must suppose it to be and not to be at the same time, and to be what it really is not.

To be a creature, is to be made in time; and therefore cannot be affirmed of that being which is not made, and never had a beginning: to be a creature, is to be limited in power, place and knowledge; for a finite nature cannot receive infinite perfections. That being, therefore, which is unlimited in power, place, and knowledge, cannot be a creature, and consequently must be God, to whom it is peculiar to be without beginning, to be infinite in power and knowledge, and to be immense, filling heaven and earth, but not to be limited or circumscribed by them.

A created and uncreated nature may be united in the same person, as in Christ; but to be infinite and finite, eternal and temporary; to know all things, and to know only some things; to be every where, and yet confined to one certain place, cannot belong to the same nature; for then that nature would be a contradiction to itself. If God's essential properties could be communicated to a creature, then the essence of God must be communicated to the creature; for the essence and essential properties cannot be separated; for then God must be separated from himself, and both be and not be at the same time. And further, if God's essence could be communicated to a creature, then the creature would that moment become God; but God cannot become a creature, nor can a creature become God; therefore God's essential attributes cannot be communicated to a creature.

Such perfections as require an infinite, independent, unchangeable being for their subject, are what may be called God's essential attributes; that is, they are such as belong to God, and can belong to no other being; such are immensity, omnipotency, omniscience, eternity, and immutability. A creature may bear some resemblance to God, in a lower degree, as to wisdom, goodness, holiness; yet even these, in creatures, are limited, both as to measure and duration; whereas in God they are eternal and infinite, as his essence is; but no creature can be every where present, be without beginning and without end; know all things, and be able to do all things. To return then to our subject.

Omniscience, or the knowledge of all things, and particularly of the heart of man and his secret thoughts, is a property which Jehovah claims as peculiarly his. "For thou, even thou, only knowest the hearts of all the children of men" (1 Kings 8:39). "Let them bring them forth and show us what shall happen, let them show the former things what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come, show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods (Isa 41:22,23). "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways" (Jer 17:9,10). See also Amos 4:13.

Omnipresence is a distinguishing perfection of God, which implies his immediate presence in all places, taking cognizance of, and managing all, the affairs of his universal kingdom (Psa 139:1-13) This is the common consolation which God gives to his people, wheresoever they are. "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isa 41:10).

Omnipotence, or almighty power, is another divine incommunicable attribute. I need not quote any passages of Scripture on the subject, for it has been justly observed that almighty is so peculiar a character of Deity, that God takes it for his very title in more than fifty places in the Old Testament.

Eternity, i. e. without beginning or end, is another peculiar distinguishing perfection of God. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or even thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God" (Psa 90:2). "Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts—I am the first and I am the last, and beside me there is no God" (Isa 44:6).

Immutability, or unchangeableness, is the last incommunicable attribute I shall name. "For I, the Lord, I change not" (Mal 3:6).

7. I proceed to the next incommunicable criterion of Jehovah, which is the work of creation. The Scriptures every where appropriate this work to God, and exclude all other beings from the glory of it. By this, Jehovah distinguishes himself from all other pretended deities, he challenges this as his peculiar glory, that he is the Maker of the heavens, and all things contained in them. "Thus shall ye say unto them, the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens: he has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens by his discretion" (Jer 10:11,12). "And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth" (2 Kings 19:15); see also Nehemiah 9:6; Job 9:8. Jehovah himself declares, "I have made the earth and created man upon it; I, even my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." And again, "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb; I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretched forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself" (Isa 44:24, 45:12). How unaccountable and unwarrantable are these expressions, if the great God had used another, even a created being, as his minister or instrument in the great work of creation; for none is said to do that alone and by himself, which he uses the assistance and ministry of another in the performance of.

The apostle, in writing to the Hebrews, lays this down as an undisputable maxim, that creation is the work of God; "for every house," says he, "is builded by some man, but he that built all things is God" (Heb 3:4). In the same manner he reasons in Romans 1:20, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." Now, if a creature might make all these things, that had no such eternal power and Godhead at all, the force of the apostle's argument would be lost. Creation requires almighty power. Almighty power is an incommunicable attribute of God, whoever has created a world must therefore be God; but the creation is attributed to the Messiah, as will be shown hereafter; the Messiah, therefore, must be God. But supposing, not granting, that some glorious uncreated spirit might be some way employed in the works of God, I demand whether this sublime being has infinite, or only a finite power, communicated to it for this end; if an infinite power, this is to deify a creature; if only a finite power, that can never go beyond itself, act where it is not, or produce something out of nothing. In perfect conformity with what has been said on this subject, is the first article of our national creed, which ascribes the creation of all things to God alone.

You perceive then, my dear Benjamin, that it is the favorite topic which God is pleased to insist most upon, whenever he would either distinguish his own peculiar majesty and power above and beyond all the gods of the nations, or when he would excite in his people the highest idea possible suitable to his transcendent excellency and peerless perfections. Nothing higher or greater could be said than this, that he had created the universe, had laid the foundations of the earth, and that the heavens were the works of his hands (Psa 102:25,26). If, therefore, it can be made evident that the Angel Jehovah is set forth to us under this same high character, let any man of common abilities, that has not his faculties prejudiced, or is not steeled against conviction, be left to draw the conclusion.

8. I proceed now to show that divine worship is another of the peculiar criteria of Deity.

Worship, in general, imports the respect we pay to another on account of his excellency and superiority. Divine worship must, therefore, import such respect as belongs to a Being of such infinite excellencies and supreme authority as the blessed God alone is possessed of. Such worship is either internal, consisting in those acts of our mind (such as esteem, reverence, love, trust, subjection, self-dedication) whereby we acknowledge such infinite excellencies and supreme authority to belong to the being we adore; or external worship, which is partly expressed by our words and our prayers, praises, &c. and partly by gestures, as merely standing, bowing, &c.

Now that such worship is due to God alone, is evident,

9. a. From reason: for to worship God supposes him to he present with us, to understand the homage we pay to him; nay, to know not only our particular case and circumstances, but even our very heart, and with what inward intentions and affections we offer such honor and respect to him. It supposes that he can both hear and help us, and that he can judge of the sincerity of our devotions. Now, such an unlimited knowledge of human affairs, and dominion over them, especially such a knowledge of the heart of man, and such a presence with all worshipers, wherever they are, are perfections which belong to no mere creatures, but to the blessed God alone.

10. b. From sacred Scripture: religious worship is so peculiar a prerogative of God, that he will by no means suffer any meaner being to share in it. He assumes the character to himself with a divine jealousy, lest any thing beneath God should partake of it. "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; for the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you" (Deut 6:13-15). This charge is repeated in chapter 10:20, and doubtless the first commandment includes the same truth: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exo 20:3), i. e. no other objects of worship; and this is again repeated (Exo 34:14). Indeed there is scarce any command more frequently renewed, or guarded with more awful sanctions and more terrible examples of the wrath of God against the breakers of it, than the worship of the one true God.

This truth is further proved by the fifth fundamental article of our people's creed, which reads thus:

"I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator, blessed be his name, is the only object of adoration, and that no other being whatever ought to be worshiped."
And now, my dear Benjamin, having shown at considerable length that there are certain names, titles, attributes, works, and worship which are the distinguishing characteristics of the true God, and incommunicable to any creature; it follows, therefore, that if it appear that such names, titles, &c. are given to any creature in the holy Scriptures, the argument from such names, titles, &c. will hold good to prove his being the supreme God. And if an angel is revealed to whom these titles, attributes, &c. belong, we must necessarily conclude that he is a divine person, and yet distinct from him whose angel he is said to be. I shall therefore endeavor to show, in my next letter,

That the angel Jehovah who appeared to our fathers under the Old Testament, possessed all these divine criteria, and therefore was a divine person. Farewell.

To thee alone ourselves we owe;
Let heaven and earth due homage pay;
All other gods we disavow,
Deny their claims, renounce their sway.

Spread thy great name through heathen lands;
Their idol deities dethrone;
Reduce the world to thy commands;
And reign, as thou art, God alone.

 

Letter 4. The Angel Jehovah

Dear Benjamin,

Permit me to invite your attention to the various appearances of the angel Jehovah to our fathers, under the Old Testament, who appears to possess all the Divine criteria, and therefore was a Divine person.

1. I am persuaded that my dear Benjamin, being so well acquainted with the Hebrew language, will require no apology for my calling the Malach Yehwaoh, the angel Jehovah, without the preposition of between; and it would have tended much to elucidate the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, had our translators done the same. Pardon this digression.

To present this subject in a clear, and I hope convincing light, I would beg the attention of my dear Benjamin to the following propositions, which I shall illustrate and confirm, both by sacred Scripture, and by testimonies from our ancient and modern Rabbins.

2. As I shall refer also to the writings of Philo, it will be proper to say a few words respecting him.

"Philo was an ancient Greek writer, of a noble family among the Jews, and flourished at Alexandria during the reign of Caligula. He was at Rome A. D. 42. There are certainly in his works many excellent things. Though he is continually allegorizing the Scriptures, he abounds with fine sentiments and lessons of morality; and his morals are rather the morals of a Christian than of a Jew. History, together with his own writings, give us every reason to believe that he was a man of great prudence, constancy and virtue."(25)
In all his writings there is no allusion either to the New Testament, or to Christ, or any of his apostles. The design of his writing was to make our people understand their law according to the Medrashim, i. e. explanations, in an allegorical way, and to teach the heathens that their prejudices against the law of Moses were unjust, and that they ought lo acknowledge the divine unity of the law. His writings are acknowledged by our Rabbins to be his as a Jew, and are frequently quoted as such for authority, by Menassah Ben Israel.(26) It is abundantly evident that Philo did not derive his opinions from Plato; but rather Plato, by conversing with Jews in Egypt, borrowed his best notions from them.(27)

3. I will now call your attention to the promised propositions.

  1. We read of one called the angel Jehovah, who appeared under the Old Testament to different persons.
  2. This angel Jehovah our Rabbins call by different names,
  3. In all these appearances they say it was the self-same person.
  4. This angel Jehovah they believed to have been the promised Messiah, who was to become incarnate.
  5. To this angel Jehovah are ascribed the incommunicable names, titles, &c. of Jehovah, and therefore he could not have been a created angel.
  6. This angel Jehovah was not the Father, but a distinct person from him.
  7. Hence it is evident that our ancient, and some modern Rabbins, believed the Messiah to be Jehovah, the true and living God, the second person in the blessed Trinity.

I proceed to illustrate these propositions, and begin with the first.

4. The angel Jehovah appeared to the following persons:

5. This angel our Rabbins call by different names, such as the Shechina, Memra, Logos, the Word of the Lord, the Angel of the covenant, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Only Begotten, and the Creator.

With respect to the Shechina, I need only to bring to the recollection of my dear Benjamin, that R. Menachem teaches, in the name of the most ancient and renowned Rabbins, that it was the Shechina which appeared to Adam, immediately after he had sinned, and clothed him;(28) that he appeared to Abraham;(29) to Jacob;(30) to Moses;(31) to the people on Mount Sinai;(32) and that it was the Shechina that gave the law.(33)

To the same Shechina they give the name of Adam from above, after whose image Adam was created; and they give to him the title of exalted and blessed, which they give to the true God only; and they say also that it was he to whom Noah sacrificed; that the temple was built to the honor of the Shechina, and that it was to him, and not to the ark, that the Levites said, "Arise, O Lord, unto thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength" (Psa 132:8); and we are further told, that by this Shechina is meant the living God, the Angel of the covenant, the God of Jacob, and the angel that redeemed him, whom the prophets called the angel of his presence.(34)

6. With respect to the Memra, or the word of the Lord, our Rabbins teach as follows: In Genesis 3:8, it is said they heard the word, instead of the voice; in this view, all the Targums agree. The Jerusalem Targum begins the next verse in this manner:

"And the word of the Lord God called unto Adam";
another says,
"They heard the word of the Lord God walking."
On this passage we have the following observation in Sepher Zeror Hammor:
"Before they sinned, they saw the glory of the blessed God speaking with him, i. e. with God; but after their sin, they only heard the voice walking."(35)
Onkelos paraphrases Genesis 31:22, "And the word from before the Lord came to Satan"; and Exodus 20:19, "Let not the word from before the Lord speak with us, lest we die."

The Memra is also called the Mediator.

According to the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 21:33,

"Abraham at Beersheba prayed in the name of the word of the Lord, the God of the world."
Deuteronomy 4:7, is thus paraphrased by Jonathan:
"God is near, and the name of the word of the Lord";
and, Jeremiah 29:14, he says,
"I will be sought by you and by my word, and I will be inquired of through you by my word."
Again in Hosea 4:9,
"God will receive the prayer of Israel by his word, and have mercy upon them, and will make them by his word like a beautiful fig-tree."
This is in perfect conformity with our Rabbins, who, when supplicating God, entreated him that he would look on the face of his anointed.

Further, the Memra is also called the Redeemer and the Messiah.

In the Jerusalem Targum, the words of dying Jacob, Genesis 49:18, "I have waited for thy salvation," are thus paraphrased:

"Our father Jacob said, my soul expects not the redemption of Gideon, the son of Joash, which is a temporal salvation, nor that of Sampson, which is a transitory salvation, but the redemption which thou didst promise should come through the Memra to thy people."
The reader will take notice, that what the Jerusalem Targum calls the Memra, Jonathan calls the Messiah; for says he,
"I expect the redemption of the Messiah, the Son of David, who shall come to gather to himself the people of Israel."
That by the word, the paraphrasts understood the Messiah, is evident from their interpretation of the 110th Psalm, verse 1,
"The Lord said unto his word,"
i. e. unto the Messiah, for this passage has ever been applied to him, (Part Four, Letter 5, Section 5; Part Four, Letter 10, Section 7). The promise of the seed of the woman, applied by our Rabbins to the Messiah (Part Two, Letter 3, Section 12), is applied by the Targum to the angel who says,
"And that Adam knew his wife Eve, who desired the angel, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said, I have obtained a man, the angel of the Lord."
Now as Jehovah is the word used in the original, we cannot conceive that the interpreter would have given this paraphrase, had he not known that it was believed by his countrymen, that he who was revealed in sacred Scripture as the angel of the Lord, was Jehovah or the true God, and also that he was to be incarnate as the angel of the covenant, or Messiah.

We observe once more, that the Memra is also described as the only begotten, the Creator.

Thus the remarkable verse, Genesis 3:22, "The Lord God said, behold the man has become as one of us," is in the Jerusalem Targum paraphrased in the following striking manner:

"The word of the Lord said, behold Adam whom I have created, the only begotten in the world, as I am the only begotten in the highest heavens."
You will notice, my dear Benjamin, how similar the language of our ancient Rabbins is to the language of the New Testament. "In the beginning was the word—all things were made by him—we beheld his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:1,3,14).

7. I proceed to consider the next proposition, viz. that all these appearances of the angel Jehovah are ascribed to the same person.

R. Moses. Gerundensis, Nechmanni, when explaining Joshua 5:14, where we have an account of the appearance of one called the "Captain of the Lord's host," he says,

"This angel, if we speak exactly, is the Angel Redeemer, of whom it is written, my name is in him, that very angel who said to Jacob, Genesis 31:13, I am the God of Bethel, he of whom it is said, and God called to Moses out of the bush (Exo 3:4). He is called an angel, because he governs the world; for it is written, Deuteronomy 6:21, The Lord brought you out of Egypt, and Numbers 20:16, He sent his angel and brought you out of Egypt. Besides it is written, Isaiah 63:9, And the angel of his face saved them. He is that angel who is the face of God, of whom it is said, Exodus 33:14, My face shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. In fine, he is that angel of whom the prophet Malachi says, 3:1, 'And the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in.'"
Again he says,
"Diligently attend to the meaning of these words, 'my face shall go before thee'; for Moses and the Israelites always desired the chief angel, but who this was they could not truly understand: for neither did they learn it from others, nor could they sufficiently attain it by prophecy. But the face of God signifies God himself, which is acknowledged by all our interpreters. But no one could have the least notion, of these things, unless he be truly instructed in the mysteries of the law."
Again he says,
"My face shall go before you, i. e. the angel of the covenant whom ye desire, in whom my face shall be seen, of whom it is said, in an acceptable time have I heard thee, my name is in him, and I will cause thee to rest; for I will cause that he shall be gentle and benign to thee, neither shall he lead thee with rigor, but calmly and mercifully."(36)
Concerning this angel, R. Solomon, on Genesis 48:16, says:
"The angel that delivered me, (that is Jacob,) that is the angel who was wont to be sent to me in my affliction, as it is said, the angel of the Lord spake to me in a dream, saying, Jacob, I am the God of Bethel, he of whom it is said, my name is in him."
Again he says on Exodus 3, where the appearance of the angel Jehovah is mentioned,
"This is he of whom it is said, and God called to Moses out of the bush; he is called angel, because he governs the world; for it is written in one place, Jehovah brought us out of Egypt, and again, the angel of his presence saved them, i. e. the angel who is the face of God, of whom it is said, my face shall go before you."
Lastly,

The angel of whom the prophet Malachi (3:1) speaks: "And the Lord whom ye seek, shall certainly come to his temple, even the Angel of the covenant whom ye desire." At length he adds,

"The face of God is God himself, as all interpreters do acknowledge, but no one can rightly understand this without being instructed in the law."
R. Menachem of Reka on the same passage (Gen 48:16) says,
"He (i. e. Jacob) means the Shechina whom he speaks of as the redeeming angel."(37)
8. I proceed now to show that all the incommunicable names, titles, attributes, &c. are ascribed to this angel Jehovah, and therefore he could not be a created angel. This proposition will appear evident, if we examine the different appearances of this angel referred to before. The first is that to Hagar. Here you will observe, my dear Benjamin, that she called him God; and in verse 13 we are assured that he was Jehovah, for she called the name Jehovah that spake unto her, "Thou Jehovah seest me." This expression may be considered as a personal character, signifying, not merely that the name Jehovah was given him, but that it was in him (Exo 23:21), as possessing the same nature with the Father. Hagar did not call him God who spake by the angel, but she called the name of the Lord that spake to her God. Further: she ascribes the attribute of omniscience to him, for she called him the God that saw her; he revealed himself and she believed in him as one to whom divine works belong. She gave this angel divine worship, for she addressed him in the language of faith and praise, and in the ascription of divine perfection to him, verse 13, "Thou God seest me": thus, in this single appearance of this angel, we find all the criteria of divinity appropriated to him.

The Chaldee paraphrase translates the 13th verse,

"And she called on the name of the Lord who spake with her."
And the Jerusalem Targum says,
"She prayed in the name of the Word as of the Lord that was revealed unto her, and said, Blessed art thou, O God!"
Here is prayer and praise ascribed to the angel. Further: the angel promised, "I will make of him a great nation," which requires the almighty power of God to perform.

9. Now, my dear Benjamin, I wish you well to consider that Hagar either believed him to be a mere angel, or a Divine being. If the former, then she was a willful blasphemer and idolater. If the latter, but by mistake, (i. e. she believed him to be a Divine person, but was mistaken,) then she was led into this most fatal mistake by the mode in which God communicated his will to her, which we cannot believe. Nor would God have accepted such ignorant and idolatrous worship; nor would this angel have suffered such conduct more than he who said, "See thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God" (Rev 19:10). You will further observe that it could not have been the Father, for he is never called an angel, and has never been seen by any creature, as has been shown before. And although some may tell us, but without proof, that a mere angel often assumes the name and claims the attributes of Jehovah, yet it is not credible that our fathers, who were so superstitiously tender of the name Jehovah that they would neither pronounce or write it lest they should take it in vain, would ever think of conferring it, or imagine that it was conferred by God on a created angel; when, therefore, they call this angel the Word, it argues a conviction that he was both distinct from the Father and equal to him. Now, this angel, called by the paraphrasts the Word, is called in the text Jehovah, is the object of prayer, and promises to multiply her seed, and therefore was the true God.

The remainder of this subject we will consider in the next letter. Farewell.

Yes, there is one of human frame,
Jesus, array'd in flesh and blood,
Thinks it no robbery to claim
A full equality with God.

Their glory shines with equal beams;
Their essence is for ever one;
Though they are known by different names,
The Father God, and God the Son.

 

Letter 5. The Subject Continued

Dear Brother,

I will now invite your attention to the remainder of the appearances of the angel Jehovah, and commence with that to Abraham our venerable father.

1. First, that which is recorded in Genesis 18 Here you will observe that the person who appeared to Abraham and spake about the destruction of Sodom, is repeatedly called Jehovah, but could not be Jehovah, the Father, for the reasons just mentioned, that he never appeared or was seen by any creature; but of this angel it is said that he was on the earth, for "Abraham stood yet before the Lord; and Abraham drew near, and Jehovah went his way." It was, therefore, the Memra, the word Jehovah, as is acknowledged by the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 18:2,

"Three angels were sent unto our father Abraham; and these three were sent for three purposes, since it is impossible for one of the highest angels to be sent but for one thing. The first angel was sent to tell our father Abraham that Sarah should bring forth Isaac; the second was sent to deliver Lot out of the midst of the overthrow; the third angel was sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Adman and Zeboim. Therefore he was the prophetic Memra, word, and the Memra, word of the Lord, appeared to him in the valley of vision."
Philo also, on the same passage, calls him the Memra, word of the Lord.

This Jehovah, or the word of the Lord, who destroyed Sodom, was a distinct person from Jehovah who was then in heaven; for it is said, Genesis 19:24, "Jehovah rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven." He who is called the word of the Lord, our Rabbins teach to be the same as he who is called the Angel Jehovah. Now this person assumes unto himself several of the incommunicable criteria. He is not only called Jehovah, but Abraham knew that it was Jehovah, for he calls him by that name, and also "the Judge of all the earth" (Gen 18:25), and directed his supplications in behalf of the cities to him. There is, therefore, in this place, an appearance of Jehovah in a human shape, and that of one distinct person from Jehovah in heaven; and as the Father and the Holy Ghost never appeared, as is acknowledged by our Rabbins, it must have been the Son of God, the second person in the blessed Trinity, who now presented himself to Abraham in the form and shape wherein he would dwell amongst men, when of his seed he should be made flesh. Herein was at once a revelation of his Divine nature and person, and a pledge of his incarnation. And it is more than probable that our Lord and Savior referred to this as one prominent instance in which Abraham saw his day and was glad (John 8:56,58).

2. Passing by the appearance of the same person mentioned Genesis 20, and again chapter 21, permit me to call your particular attention to that recorded Genesis 22, Abraham offering up his only son Isaac. Here you find the angel speaking twice to Abraham out of heaven. In verses 11, 12, he claims sovereign dominion, in having commanded Abraham to offer up his son; he receives divine worship, the offering up of an only son, and declares that he was the object of Abraham's fear, which is another part of divine worship.

In his second address, in verses 15-18, he renews the divine covenant, enlarges divine promises, and confirms them by an oath; and not being able to swear by a greater, (says the inspired writer in the epistle to our forefathers, Hebrews 6:13,) he swore by himself.

Now, my dear Benjamin, who could believe that our father Abraham would offer his son to a creature, or that any angel would dare to claim such an unequal act of worship? In vain is it said that the angel only repeated the words of Jehovah, because of the sentence in verse 16, "says Jehovah." Let it be noticed that this sentence is not in his first address, verses 15, 16; and yet he says, "thou hast not withheld thy son from me." Now, if the speaker, on this occasion, was a created angel, the proof that satisfied him that Abraham truly feared God, (seeing he was willing to offer up his son to the speaker, a mere creature,) was the strangest that could be imagined. Instead of being a proof that he feared God, it would have been the most daring act of idolatry.

Further: the very place mentioned where this angel spoke, both on this occasion and that of Hagar, evidently distinguishes him from a created angel; for it is mentioned as the prerogative of Jehovah to speak from heaven, and he appeals to it as an evidence of his Deity. "And the Lord said unto Moses, thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven; ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold" (Exo 20:22,23). Again Moses says, "Unto thee it was showed that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God: there is none else beside him: out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee" (Deut 4:35,36). This simple circumstance of speaking out of heaven, is a proof of omniscience and of almighty power. See Psalm 68:32-35; Nehemiah 9:27, 28.

3. The next appearance of this angel is that to our father Jacob when he fled from his brother Esau, and was favored with a very singular and encouraging vision from the Almighty, who declared himself to be the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac. You have doubtless, my dear Benjamin, read and compared the passages formerly recommended to you, in which you will observe that he who is called the God of our fathers Abraham and Isaac, is also called an angel: and you will again remember that Jehovah the Father never appeared nor is ever called an angel, and that our Rabbins ascribe all these appearances to the self-same person, even to the Messiah, who should hereafter become incarnate. Examine then carefully what is said by this angel, and what our father Jacob ascribed to him, and you will plainly perceive that most if not all the divine criteria are ascribed to him, and therefore he must be Jehovah the true God, in unison with, but distinct from Jehovah the Father. Let us further notice, in connection with this appearance, the appearance that is recorded Genesis 32, where we read of a man wrestling with Jacob, and by comparing this account with what is said in Hosea 12:3-5, we find that this man is called by different names, viz. God, Jehovah, and the God of hosts, and that it was the same that appeared to Jacob at Bethel. Here then we have, besides the name Jehovah, the title of the God of hosts also. Now this is the peculiar title of the true God, he that is supreme over all the hosts or armies of heaven and earth, as appears from the following passages: "And David arose and went with all the people that were with him from Baal of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims" (2 Sam 6:2); and again, "Let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, the Lord of hosts is the God of Israel" (2 Sam 7:26); again, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory" (Psa 24:10). Again it is said, "And one cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isa 6:3). You will further notice that divine worship is paid to this angel: "And he wept and made supplication to him" (Hosea 12:4). Also, divine work is ascribed to him: "To bless him there" (Gen 32:29); and Jacob made a religious vow unto him.

4. Now this angel at Bethel calls himself Jehovah the God of Abraham and of Isaac. He assumes the incommunicable attribute of omnipresence, "I will be with thee"; and of almighty power, "I will increase and multiply." No created angel but devils only would do so. Jacob must have believed him to be the true God, else he would have been guilty of idolatry. To what has been said we may add the remarkable saying of the patriarch Jacob at the time of his death, concerning the self-same angel, recorded Genesis 48:15, 16, "And he blessed Joseph and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." From these words it appears indeed that it was an angel that had appeared and spoken to him at Bethel; but if he considered him as a mere creature, instead of being a saint, he would have been a gross idolater; for he not only gave this angel his faith and worship, but ascribed the whole of his salvation, both temporal and eternal, to him as God, trusting in him and praying to him for all blessings when performing his last duty to his children. Further: if Jacob was an idolater in worshiping this angel, our fathers Abraham and Isaac were the same, for he declared that this angel was the God before whom they walked, an expression which includes the most solemn religious acts of piety, worship and devotedness to God. Hence Enoch and Noah are characterized by this expression (Gen 5:22, 6:9). Nay, he solemnly transmitted this idolatry to his posterity. Now in this case can we justify God from the charge of enticing his servants to idolatry, by allowing a messenger of his, a mere creature, to address them in such language that they could not consider him any other than God? Nay, on this supposition, can we give any credit to the Scriptures as a divine revelation, since these men are still exhibited as true worshipers?

5. We proceed to the remarkable appearances of this angel to Moses, recorded in Exodus 3. Here, my dear Benjamin, you will observe that the person who appeared to Moses in the burning bush is called the angel Jehovah (v 2); the same person calls himself "I am that I am" (v 14); gives Moses his commission to go to the children of Israel, and to say unto them, "The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me" (vv 15,16). And the same person commissions him to go with the elders of Israel and say unto them, "The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us, and now let us go'' (v 18). That he who appeared in the bush, and he who spoke to Moses, was the self-same person, is further evident from chapter 4:1, 5: "For they will say, the Lord has not appeared unto thee—that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared unto thee." To this angel Moses gave divine worship; for when he blessed the tribe of Joseph with the divine blessing and favor of God, he calls it the "good will of him that dwelt in the bush" (Deut 33:16). Now, my dear Benjamin, does it not appear to you most clearly from the whole context, and especially by his saying "I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham," &c. &c. that this angel was not a creature? The angels never speak that language in Scripture, but "I am sent from God," and "I am thy fellow-servant," &c. &c. It is a vain pretence to say that the angel, as God's ambassador, speaks in God's name and person; for what ambassador of any king in the world did ever speak thus: "I am the king," &c.? Ministers are God's ambassadors: but if any of them should say, "I am the Lord," they would be guilty of blasphemy; and so would any created angel too, for the same reason.

6. The next appearance to which I would call the attention of my dear Benjamin, is that to Joshua the son of Nun, the first time near Jericho, Joshua 5:13-15; this person calls himself the captain, or rather prince of the Lord's host, and makes use of the same words as the angel did to Moses: "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy"; and receives divine worship, and ascribes to himself the government of the world: "I have given into thy hands Jericho" (Josh 6:2), &c.; secondly, he appeared unto him at Bochim, saying, "I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you" (Judges 2:1). Here you will observe again, that this angel claims the covenant with Abraham to be his covenant; that it was he that made the promises to the fathers, and confirmed them by an oath; that he brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and led them to the land of Canaan, and reproved them for not obeying his voice; which makes it evident that it was he that was promised to be their leader, saying, "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way and to bring thee unto the place which I have prepared: beware of him and obey his voice; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him" (Exo 23:20,21).

7. The same angel Jehovah appeared to Gideon, according to Judges 6:11-24. Here again he is called the angel Jehovah, and also Jehovah. He claims the honor of sending Gideon. He promises to him his own presence, and by a mere look he communicates strength to him. Gideon addresses him as the object of prayer, and the sign he received is the same as the prophet Elijah asked to convince the worshipers of Baal of the nature and presence of Jehovah (1 Kings 18:24), and by this sign Gideon became convinced that it was not a created angel, but Jehovah himself that spoke to him, and hence he was afraid he should die.

8. The last of these appearances I shall name, is that to Manoah and his wife, Judges 13:2-22.

That they understood that he who spoke to them was Jehovah is evident, for they, like Gideon, were afraid that they should die because they had seen God. This angel says that his name is Wonderful, the same name which is given to the Messiah by the prophet Isaiah 9:6, and it was doubtless to this angel they offered a sacrifice.

9. These different manifestations of the Angel Jehovah are beautifully summed up by the learned Eusebius in the following manner:

''I will here explain myself upon the fundamental point of Christ's divinity and humanity, so as to silence those adversaries who call the Christian religion a new and upstart institution. They are, therefore, desired to understand that its Author's nature and substance is of an existence ineffably eternal; for 'who shall declare his generation? No one has known the Father but the Son, and no one the Son but the Father'; with whom and from whom he subsisted from everlasting, the glorious minister of his will; by whom, as he created, so he governs all things, his only begotten Son, truly God: for 'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made.' Accordingly Moses assures us that the Father communicated with him his counsel of creating man, where he says, 'Let us make man after our image.' To the same effect the Psalmist: 'He spake and they were made, he commanded and they were created.' The Father pronounced his pleasure, which the Son administered. This is he whom the patriarchs and the prophets, both before and after Moses, beheld frequently exhibited before their eyes, and as frequently received with adorations. This is the Lord God that appeared to Abraham in a human shape, before whom he kneeled, and to whom he addressed himself in these words: 'Shall not the Lord of all the earth judge righteously?' The Scripture cannot lie, nor the Godhead become a human body; so that unless by the 'Lord of the whole earth' in this place is meant the first begotten cause of things, which it cannot be, it must signify the Logos, or Word; concerning whom the Psalmist says, 'He sent out his Word and healed them, and they were saved from their destrucfion.' This is that Lord 'that rained fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven'; that God who wrestled with Jacob, and from whom he called the place where they strove, 'The vision of God,' because he had seen him face to face. Nor were these the appearance of angels; the Scripture ascribing them not, as at other times, to angels, but to God. Thus again, when he presented himself in the form of a man before Joshua, he tells him the place is sanctified by his presence; at which Joshua falls upon his knees and acknowledges him 'Captain of the host of the Lord.' So we find the place where he talked with Moses consecrated by his presence; for he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Wisdom of God before the foundations of the world, that pitched his tabernacle with prudence, and called to him knowledge and understanding; by whom princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth; whom the Lord created in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old. That it pleased the divine goodness to manifest itself, till the world being prepared for the entertainment of his divine truths, the Son of God came incarnate to perform, to teach and to suffer whatever the prophets had foretold concerning him; and lastly to receive that kingdom, that universal, everlasting dominion, which the prophet Daniel represents him invested with, in the midst of thousand thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand. All these characteristics are applicable only to the eternal Word incarnate."(38)
10. In closing the observations on this subject, I cheerfully adopt, as has been hinted before, the opinion of those who suppose that the appearances of the angel Jehovah were probably intended as a prelude or earnest of his assuming human nature in the fullness of time, and his dwelling among mortals. He was the immediate agent in the creation of the world, and the Father devolved upon him the whole economy of providence from the beginning; and hence he had frequent occasions to appear on some grand design. It cannot seem incredible that he should thus assume some visible form to such as believe that God was at length really manifested in the flesh; for this temporary apparent incarnation cannot be deemed more strange than his really being made flesh and dwelling among us.

11. From what has been said on the different appearances of this angel Jehovah, where we have seen that he assumed the names, titles, and attributes of the true and living God, promised to perform the works peculiar to Deity, confirmed those promises by an oath in the manner peculiar to Jehovah, and received with approbation the highest acts of worship; by these considerations I hope my dear Benjamin will be convinced that he was really Jehovah, a distinct person from Jehovah the Father, the Messiah who should, in due time, become incarnate. And before I proceed any further, permit me, my dear brother, once more to observe, that to say that this angel, or any other messenger of Jehovah, may assume any of the divine criteria, because he came in the name and by the authority of the true God, is not only a vain evasion, but it is against reason and Scripture, and the united sentiment of our ancient Rabbins.

Is it reasonable to believe that a holy angel would be so assuming and presumptuous as to personate God, without some plain distinguishing marks of his own inferiority? How different was the conduct of Paul and Barnabas when the priests of Jupiter would offer sacrifices to them! they rent their clothes and ran in among the people, crying out, saying, "Sirs, why do ye these things? we are men of like passions with you" (Acts 14:13-15). In like manner when John fell at the feet of an angel to worship him, the angel said, "See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God" (Rev 19:10).

The following remark, I doubt not, my dear Benjamin will read with pleasure:

"An earthly ambassador, indeed, represents the person of his prince; is supposed to be clothed with his authority, and speaks and acts in his name. But who ever heard of an ambassador assuming the very name of his sovereign, or being honored with it by others? Would one in this character be permitted to say, I, George; I, Louis; I, Frederick? As the idea is ridiculous, the action would justly be accounted high treason. Would the most illustrious plenipotentiary, referring to a treaty made by his sovereign with a neighboring power, and declaring his fixed resolution to abide by it, say, I will never break my covenant with you? or if sent to undutiful subjects to remind them of his master's kindness and their own ingratitude, would he presume to say, I brought you into this fertile country which you now possess, but ye have not obeyed my voice? Do not ambassadors, however great their powers in all memorials and deeds of every kind spoken or written, still use their own names, and distinguish themselves from their royal masters? And can we suppose that the humble minister of the King of kings may use far greater freedom with his names, attributes, works, and honors, than those of a petty fellow-worm with his? Satan is the only angel that we read of who ever claimed the honor due to God."(39)
Would not such conduct be an unavoidable temptation to give divine honors to a creature, and thus be guilty of idolatry?

Besides, would a holy and jealous God permit one of his messengers to assume to himself that glory which he has so frequently declared (as has been shown before) that he would give it to no other?

No! The religion of the Bible, my dear Benjamin, is rational, and does not admit of such a supposition.

12. Before I dismiss the subject I would notice the gracious promise of Jehovah to our fathers, of an angel that should be their guide and protector through the wilderness, and bring them safely to the land of Canaan. It is recorded, Exodus 23:20-23, "Behold, I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared; beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, then I wilt be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries; for my angel shall go before thee and bring thee in unto the Amorites," &c. Now, of this angel it is said, beware of him, or rather take heed to thyself before him: this is the caution that is usually given to people requiring that reverence and awe which is due unto the presence of the holiness of God. "Obey his voice"; this is the great precept which is solemnly given, and so often repeated in the law with reference unto God himself. Again it is said, provoke him not, or rebel not against him. This is the usual word whereby God expresses the transgression of his covenant, a rebellion that can be against God alone.

Further: of these precepts a two-fold reason is given. First, the sovereign authority of this angel, for he will not pardon your transgressions; that is, as Joshua afterwards tells the same people, "He is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins" (Josh 24:19).

Now, who can forgive sins but God? To suppose here a created angel is to open a door unto idolatry; for he in whose power it is absolutely to pardon and punish sins, may certainly be worshiped with religious adoration.

The next reason is, for my name is in him(40) a more excellent name than any of the angels do enjoy (Heb 1:4). He is God Jehovah; that is his name, and his nature answers thereunto; hence, verse 22, it is added, if indeed thou obey his voice and do all that I speak. His voice is the voice of God; in his speaking does God speak, and upon the people's obedience thereunto depends the accomplishment of the promise. Moreover, chapter 33:14, 15, God says concerning this angel, "My presence," i. e. "my face shall go with thee," which presence Moses calls his glory (v 18); his essential glory which was manifested unto him, chapter 34:6; though but obscurely in comparison of what it was unto them who in his human nature, wherein dwelt the "fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9), beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14). For this face of God is he whom whoso seeth, "he seeth the Father also" (John 14:19). Because he is "the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person" (Heb 1:3). These things evidently express God, and none other; and yet he is said to be an angel sent of God in his name, and unto his work; so that he can be no other but the second person in the blessed Trinity who accepted of this delegation, and was therein revealed unto the fathers as he who was to take upon him the seed of Abraham, their eternal Redeemer.

13. To close this part of our subject, I will observe that it is further evident that our ancient Rabbins expected that the Messiah was a divine person, from those passages which they applied to the Messiah, in which he is the object of divine worship, such as Psalm 2:12, where all people are commanded to love him, and to put their trust in him. See also Psalm 45:10, 11, 72:5, 8, 11, 15 and 17. That they applied these Psalms to the Messiah, see Part Two, Letter 1, Section 4, Part Four, Letter 5, Section 1.

Further: our Rabbins frequently speak of the Messiah as the Son of God. The Jerusalem Targum, on Genesis 3:22, says,

"Jehovah said, Here, Adam whom I created, is the only begotten son on the earth, as I am the only begotten Son (Yachid) in the high heaven";
on Proverbs 30:4,
"What is his name, and what is his son's name?"
The Zohar answers,
"Messiah";(41)
On Psalm 89:25, 26, "I will set his hand in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers; he shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father!" All the Targums apply this to the Messiah. On Psalm 2:7, "Thou art my Son," the Zohar interprets it thus:
"This Son is the faithful Shepherd, and he is the Prince of Israel, the Lord of things below, the Lord of ministering angels, the Son of the Highest, the Son of the God of the universe, the gracious Shechinah, he is the King Messiah."(42)
R. Sol. Yarchi says,
"What is the name of the Messiah? Abba, the son of Cashmah, replies, Jehovah is his name, for it is written, (Jer 23:6,) 'And this is his name whereby he shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness.'"(43)
R. Alshech says,
"Who will he be that shall thus call on Jerusalem to comfort her according to that exhortation, 'Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call on her?' (Isa 40:2). Is it not he, even Jehovah our Righteousness, the King Messiah? as it is written, and he is Jehovah from his righteousness and just conduct.''(44)
Hence our people, in the days of Christ Jesus, expected the Messiah to be the Son of God, as is evident from the following passages:

"Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (John 1:49). "We believe and are sure that thou art Christ the Son of the living God" (John 6:69). "Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). Martha says, "Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world" (John 11:27). The high priest says, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God" (Matt 26:63). Hear also the confession of devils, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?" (Matt 8:29).

14. Now, my dear Benjamin, I have endeavored to prove, both from the sacred Scriptures and the testimonies of our Rabbins, and I humbly hope to your perfect satisfaction, the doctrine of the Trinity of persons in the unity of Jehovah; and that the Messiah was expected to be the second person in the blessed Trinity. I should, perhaps, not have detained you so long, were it not to show that these all-important truths are as ancient as the Bible, and not "modern inventions, the invention of priestcraft and the mere productions of the illiterate fishermen."

And now, may the God of all grace open your eyes that you may behold wondrous things out of his word (Psa 119:18). Farewell.

Ere the blue heavens were stretch'd abroad,
From everlasting was the Word;
With God he was, the Word was God,
And must divinely be ador'd.

By his own power all things were made;
By him supported all things stand;
He is the whole creation's head,
And angels fly at his command.

Ere sin was born or Satan fell,
He led the host of morning stars;
(Thy generation who can tell,
Or count the number of thy years?)

But lo! he leaves those heavenly forms;
The Word descends and dwells in clay,
That he may converse hold with worms,
Dress'd in such feeble flesh as they.

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