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that destroys its consistency with the chapter in which it stands. In this case the iniquity of so forming these manuscripts, must appear with great clearness to every candid reader. We have no little reason to believe, that the gentleman's 109 Greek manuscripts, form an army, of which, the Alexandrian and Vatican manuscripts are the generals. If we may rely on the testimony of the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, these manuscripts are deficient in most of the texts of primary importance, relating to the Trinity and the Deity of Christ.
In the view of what he has said, my opponent adds "I submit it to you all, fellow Christians, and to every man's conscience, whether you do not see, in this event, the hand of Divine providence visibly stretched out to preserve the purity of his holy word from the corruptions of man, so ordering things that all the Greek manuscripts on earth should, with one accord, down to the days of the invention of printing, bear united and solemnly silent testimony against so absurd, contradictory and blasphemous an interpolation."
In what the gentleman has said, our reason and conscience are addressed in an awfully solemn manner.
But if we are in fact going in opposition to the dictates of our own mind, in adhering to the text in debate, we are exceedingly criminal, and are bound to acknowledge our guilt, and to rely on the spurious passage no more. Eyeing the providence of God in all events is, undoubtedly, a Christian's duty; and it is very becoming in my opponent, to express such a sense of the Divine hand, in preserving the Scriptures from human corruptions.
It is truly pleasing to hear the gentleman calling them “God's holy word;" but it is painful to hear him saying, that 1 John, 5. 7, is “ an absurdity, a contradiction, an abomination," a "blasphemous” text, and "a vile interpolation," These charges, however, are very far from being just, whether the passage is spurious or genuine. He displays such a hostility to the doctrine contained in it, as should put us on our guard, as to his arguments against its authority. He
“the hand of Divine providence” is against the passage; but we should remember, that providence is often deep and mysterious.
Very wrong conclusions may be drawn from the dealings of providence. A sacred writer says, of God; “ His way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known.” Another exclaims, “ How unsearchable are his judgments! and his ways past finding out.” But, providence has preserved such an evidence of the authenticity of the disputed text, as induces Christians in general to receive it as a testimony of a Trinity of persons in the Godhead.
It may be placed in this situation, that the humble may believe, and the proud be left to think there is sufficient ground to reject it, and to renounce a doctrine, on which, salvation depends. Sinners in general, endeavor to support themselves in their unbelief, by reasoning in conformity to the feelings of their own hearts. Providence is concerned in hardening, as well as in softening the hearts
“ The Lord of hosts" said to Isaiah, “Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and convert, and be healed.” St. Paul says of some sinners, “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; God shall send them strong delusion, that they may believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
The providence of God, involving this text in a degree of uncertainty, as some consider it to be, is no more proof of its spuriousness, than the burying of the only copy of the law in the rubbish of the temple, proved, that no such book was ever given to Israel. We think, that we are no more disposed to believe, independently of evidence, than our opponents.
I shall pass over a considerable part of the gentleman's discourse, as answering it would be a recapitulation of arguments, which I have already endeavored to meet. I will just apprise you, however, that mention is made of Mr. Travis, as "a blundering copyist of a French author, called Martyn;" but I intend to make some remarks on Mr. Travis hereafter ; and, therefore, I shall drop the matter at present.
There is an observation in what is passed over, in regard to Athanasius ; calling him “the god-father of
Trinitarianism,” the reducer of it “ to its present orthodox form.” A reply, however, is not deemed necessary; for it has been largely shown that the doctrine of the Trinity in unity, was understood and firmly believed by the church of Christ, long before the days of Athanasius, even up to the time of the apostles.
In the gentleman's next paragraph, some anathemæs appear against the text in question ; and a prediction, that it is soon to be annihilated from the book of God. He calls its supporters also " enthusiastic devotees ;" but, as these things are not arguments, they require no answer. This discourse may, therefore, be closed with that apostolic injunction ; “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” AMEN.
I JOHN, v. 7.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the fa
ther, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are
The gentleman in opposition, has been followed through the greater part of his arguments against the Divine authority of this passage ;--but the closing part of his discourse, remains to be answered. As he seems to place great reliance on what he has yet to say, a more particular reply is requisite. He
says, “One more short argument, and I will relieve your patience.” It is an “argument which cannot fail of its becoming influence with all those, who, as they do not profess to be versed in Biblical criticism, must of course, depend, in these matters, upon the united decisions of the learned."
By " the learned," on whose " united decisions,” the unlettered part of mankind “ must depend,” my opponent seems to mean, such writers as have signalized themselves in their critical opposition to the text; for, if the suffrage of “the learned” were to be taken, we cannot doubt, but the majority would be in its favor. If “the united decisions of the learned,” were against the passage, it ought to be given up by common readers, and be printed no more in
any of the subsequent translations and editions of the New-Testament. It rather appears, however, to be the opinion of my opponent, that all who undertake in favor of the text, are', so deficient in oriental learning, critical ability, close investigation, and theological integrity, that no confidence can be placed in their judgment.
If this be the case, it is highly necessary that this class of “the learned,” should immediately produce a corrected translation of the Scriptures, that the illiterate and dependent part of mankind, may be rescued from the base idolatry of worshipping Jesus Christ; and, from the crime of resting on his atonement for salvation, instead of their own merits. If Trinitatarian forgery, and their imposition in “ manufacturing authority for vile interpolations,” has led to such a departure from the pure worship of God, it is high time that some efficient measures should be taken with the Scriptures. But, alas! the “united decisions” of the Anti-Trinitarians appear to have little effect in reforming the world; for they do not seem to “commend” themselves to the “conscience in the sight of God.”
I shall now proceed to examine my opponent's“ short," but powerful argument. He commences with saying, “ The passage of the three heavenly witnesses, in 1 John, 5. 7, namely, these words, “ In heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one; and there are three that bear record on earth,” is a passage now admitted by the most eminently learned divines in Europe, of various denominations, Trinitarians as well as others, to be a vile forgery; and so notoriously is this the fact, that there is not a learned man, at this day, in Europe, whether divine or civilian, who would degrade his character as a Biblical critic, by venturing on the defence of it."
In this strong sentence, the first thing to be noticed, is,