a word not found in Scripture, but used to express the doctrine of the unity of God as subsisting in three distinct Persons. This word is derived from the Gr. trias, first used by Theophilus (A.D. 168-183), or from the Lat. trinitas, first used by Tertullian (A.D. 220), to express this doctrine. The propositions involved in the doctrine are these: 1. That God is one, and that there is but one God (De 6:4; 1Ki 8:60; Isa 44:6; Mr 12:29,32; Joh 10:30). 2. That the Father is a distinct divine Person (hypostasis, subsistentia, persona, suppositum intellectuale), distinct from the Son and the Holy Spirit. 3. That Jesus Christ was truly God, and yet was a Person distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. 4. That the Holy Spirit is also a distinct divine Person.
1. The doctrine approached.
A word only used to convey the thought of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. This was revealed at the baptism of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit descended 'like a dove' and abode upon Him; and God the Father declared "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." That the Father is a distinct Person and is God is plainly stated, as in Joh 20:17. Many passages prove that the Lord Jesus is God: one will suffice: ". . . . in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." 1Jo 5:20. That the Holy Spirit is a Person and is God the following passages clearly prove: Ge 1:2; Mt 4:1; Joh 16:13; Ac 10:19; 13:2,4; 20:28; Ro 15:30; 1Co 2:10. The three Persons are also named in the formula instituted by Christ in baptism. Mt 28:19. Yet there is but one God. 1Ti 2:5. Satan will have an imitation of the Trinity in the Roman beast, the false prophet, and himself. Re 13:4,11; 20:10.
TRINITY. That nearly all the Pagan nations of antiquity, says Bishop Tomline, in their various theological systems, acknowledged a kind of Trinity, has been fully evinced by those learned men who have made the Heathen mythology the subject of their elaborate inquiries. The almost universal prevalence of this doctrine in the Gentile kingdoms must be considered as a strong argument in favour of its truth. The doctrine itself bears such striking internal marks of a divine original, and is so very unlikely to have been the invention of mere human reason that there is no way of accounting for the general adoption of so singular a belief, but by supposing that it was revealed by God to the early patriarchs, and that it was transmitted by them to their posterity. In its progress, indeed, to remote countries, and to distant generations, this belief became depraved and corrupted in the highest degree; and he alone who brought "life and immortality to light," could restore it to its original simplicity and purity. The discovery of the existence of this doctrine in the early ages, among the nations whose records have been the best preserved, has been of great service to the cause of Christianity, and completely refutes the assertion of infidels and skeptics, that the sublime and mysterious doctrine of the Trinity owes its origin to the philosophers of Greece. "If we extend," says Mr. Maurice, "our eye through the remote region of antiquity, we shall find this very doctrine, which the primitive Christians are said to have borrowed from the Platonic school, universally and immemorially flourishing in all those countries where history and tradition have united to fix those virtuous ancestors of the human race, who, for their distinguished attainments in piety, were admitted to a familiar intercourse with Jehovah and the angels, the divine heralds of his commands." The same learned author justly considers the first two verses of the Old Testament as containing very strong, if not decisive, evidence in support of the truth of this doctrine: Elohim, a noun substantive of the plural number, by which the Creator is expressed, appears as evidently to point toward a plurality of persons in the divine nature, as the verb in the singular, with which it is joined, does to the unity of that nature: "In the beginning God created;" with strict attention to grammatical propriety, the passage should be rendered, "In the beginning Gods created," but our belief in the unity of God forbids us thus to translate the word Elohim. Since, therefore, Elohim is plural, and no plural can consist of less than two in number, and since creation can alone be the work of Deity, we are to understand by this term so particularly used in this place, God the Father, and the eternal Logos, or Word of God; that Logos whom St. John, supplying us with an excellent comment upon this passage, says, was in the beginning with God, and who also was God. As the Father and the Son are expressly pointed out in the first verse of this chapter, so is the Third Person in the blessed Trinity not less decisively revealed to us in Ge 1:2: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters:" "brooded upon" the water, incubavit, as a hen broods over her eggs. Thus we see the Spirit exerted upon this occasion an active effectual energy, by that energy agitating the vast abyss, and infusing into it a powerful vital principle.
Elohim seems to be the general appellation by which the Triune Godhead is collectively distinguished in Scripture; and in the concise history of the creation only, the expression, bara Elohim, "the Gods created," is used above thirty times. The combining this plural noun with a verb in the singular would not appear so remarkable, if Moses had uniformly adhered to that mode of expression; for then it would be evident that he adopted the mode used by the Gentiles in speaking of their false gods in the plural number, but by joining with it a singular verb or adjective, rectified a phrase that might appear to give a direct sanction to the error of polytheism. But, in reality, the reverse is the fact; for in De 32:15,17, and other places, he uses the singular number of this very noun to express the Deity, though not employed in the August work of creation: "He forsook God," Eloah; "they sacrificed to devils, not to God," Eloah. But farther, Moses himself uses this very word Elohim with verbs and adjectives in the plural. Of this usage Dr. Allix enumerates many other striking instances that might be brought from the Pentateuch; and other inspired writers use it in the same manner in various parts of the Old Testament, Job 35:10; Jos 24:19; Ps 109:1; Ec 12:3; 2Sa 7:23. It must appear, therefore, to every reader of reflection, exceedingly singular, that when Moses was endeavouring to establish a theological system, of which the unity of the Godhead was the leading principle, and in which it differed from all other systems, he should make use of terms directly implicative of a plurality in it; yet so deeply was the awful truth under consideration impressed upon the mind of the Hebrew legislator, that this is constantly done by him; and, indeed, as Allix has observed, there is scarcely any method of speaking from which a plurality in Deity may be inferred, that is not used either by himself in the Pentateuch, or by the other inspired writers in various parts of the Old Testament. A plural is joined with a verb singular, as in the passage cited before from Ge 1:1; a plural is joined with a verb plural, as in Ge 35:7, "And Jacob called the name of the place El- beth-el, because the Gods there appeared to him;" a plural is joined with an adjective plural, Jos 24:19, "You cannot serve the Lord; for he is the holy Gods." To these passages, if we add that remarkable one from Ecclesiastes, "Remember thy Creators in the days of thy youth," and the predominant use of the terms, Jehovah Elohim, or, the "Lord thy Gods," which occur a hundred times in the law, (the word Jehovah implying the unity of the essence, and Elohim a plurality in that unity,) we must allow that nothing can be more plainly marked than this doctrine in the ancient Scriptures.
Though the August name of Jehovah in a more peculiar manner belongs to God the Father, yet is that name, in various parts of Scripture, applied to each person in the holy Trinity. The Hebrews considered that name in so sacred a light, that they never pronounced it, and used the word Adonai instead of it. It was, indeed a name that ranked first among their profoundest cabbala; a mystery, sublime, ineffable, incommunicable. It was called tetragrammaton, or the name of four letters, and these letters are jod, he, vau, he, the proper pronunciation of which, from long disuse, is said to be no longer known to the Jews themselves. This awful name was first revealed by God to Moses from the centre of the burning bush; and Josephus, who, as well as Scripture, relates this circumstance, evinces his veneration for it, by calling it the name which his religion did not permit him to mention. From this word the Pagan title of Iao and Jove is, with the greatest probability, supposed to have been originally formed; and in the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, there is an oath still extant to this purpose, "By Him who has the four letters." As the name Jehovah, however, in some instances applied to the Son and the Holy Spirit, was the proper name of God the Father, so is Logos in as peculiar a manner the appropriated name of God the Son. The Chaldee Paraphrasts translate the original Hebrew text by Mimra da Jehovah, literally, "the word of Jehovah," a term totally different, as Bishop Kidder has incontestably proved, in its signification, and in its general application among the Jews, from the Hebrew dabar, which simply means a discourse or decree, and is properly rendered by pithgam. In the Septuagint translation of the Bible, a work supposed by the Jews to have been undertaken by men immediately inspired from above, the former term is universally rendered ?????, and it is so rendered and so understood by Philo and all the more ancient rabbins. The name of the third person in the ever blessed Trinity