« AnteriorContinua »
that all the "learned Trrinitarian divines in Europe, admit" this text "to be a vile forgery." This statement is distinctly denied by me; and, in doing it, the following reasons may be offered.
1. The late Rev. Claudius Buchannan, D. D. who held a high rank in England as a pious divine, and a pre-eminent orientalist, whose praise is in the churches, has unequivocally declared, that he fully believed 1 John, 5. 7, to be a genuine text of Scripture. For this fact, I appeal to all who have read his Christian Researches in Asia.
2. The late Dr. Scott, also, who both as a divine and a scholar is well known, has given his opinion in favor of the . text, as has been clearly shown in my sermons.
3. The Rev. Ralph Wordlaw, who is a very learned and distinguished divine in Scotland, in speaking of this text, suggests no belief of its being "a vile forgery." In respect to its authenticity, I have acknowledged, that he expressed some degree of doubt; but, that is very far from admitting it to be "a vile interpolation."
4. There is a case, that is obvious to every one, the. consideration of which, must reflect great light on this subject. It is this:-New editions of the Scriptures are constantly appearing from the presses of Europe in general, and England in particular, which all contain the verse in question. If the learned, throughout Europe and Great Britain, all know that the text in dispute is "a vile forgery," why have they not prevented its appearance in every edition of the Bible that has been published, since this conviction has taken place in their minds? Bible Societies are very extensive in that section of the globe; and by their exertions, the Scriptures have been recently translated into many languages, and largely circulated throughout the world; but, we have no account that the text has been left out of any edition or translation what
If the gentleman's bold assertion be correct, what can we think of the orthodox divines of Europe? Will they impose "vile forgeries," on the poor heathen, for the word of the living God, when they not only know, but have admitted that they are such? My opponent's assertion, I think, must be questioned on sober reflection, and, doubtless, he would not have ventured it, unless he had received such communications from the British Anti-Trinitarians; but it is surprising, that he should either rely on such information himself, or hold it up to the world as deserving credit.
In his mind, however, this difficulty may be surmounted, by a belief, that no Trinitarian divines are entitled to the honor of being learned, who do not appear in opposition to the text; and that the number of those is so small, that they find themselves incapable of correcting the wilfulness and ignorance of the others. The Anti-Trinitarian divines, seem to flatter themselves with the idea, that they are all learned and great; and that the Trinitarian clergy, are almost universally deficient in these respects. The public mind, however, may differ with them in this Self complacency is natural.
The second thing to be noticed in my opponent's sweeping statement, is-"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 a defence of this text." He says further-"The learned Porson, in his reply to Travis, has settled this controversy forever."
But, to this assertion, my reply is-If by "this day," be meant strictly the present one; it is neither in the gentleman's power, nor in mine, to determine the case. If. however, by "this day," be meant, any time past in this enlightened century, he is certainly incorrect in his assertion; for, Dr. Scott, in his note on the text, has ventured
to say many things in its defence. Are we to think he is not "a learned man," a "divine," nor a "civilian ?" He had the vanity to think, when he was an Anti-Trinitarian, that few could equal him in mental endowments; which he has freely acknowledged in a book, called, "The Force of Truth," which is an account of his life and conversion.
I cannot say, however, that there has been any elaborate treaties recently written in defence of the text in debate. It is very probable, the European divines on the side of Orthodoxy, may be of the opinion that the passage, has been sufficiently vindicated by the writers of former times.
But, if the learned Trinitarians of Europe, dare not "venture their character as Biblical critics," in "defence" of the passage; to act an ingenuous part, they ought to abandon it; but this, they have never done.
My opponent says-" The learned Porson, has settled this controversy forever." If this be in fact the case, Dr. Scott must have known it; and, instead of vindicating the words, he ought to have announced their spuriousness. These considerations must have weight with candid people; and evince the vanity of my opponent's triumphant assertions. What "the learned Porson" has done, I cannot say; but, we may fairly suppose, that the grand arguments on that side of the question have been exhibited by the gentleman himself, the examination of which, is now in progress. We see the difficulties, therefore, with which the orthodox European divines and civilians, would have to contend. I cannot see yet, that they are insuperable; nor how any man would have to "sacrifice his character as a Biblical critic," in facing them.
The next thing in the gentleman's discourse, is, "The celebrated Griesbach, whose critical and purified Greek Testament is now used as the standard in the European Colleges, and is taking the same rank in the literary institutions of this country, has left out this passage from his text."
This stands acknowledged. That, however, does not positively prove that the text is an interpolation; unless the infalibility of that learned critic can be maintained. It is no new thing for great men to undertake against truth, and to influence the public mind on the side of error, to a high degree.
The reasons are before us, which led him to renounce the text in question; namely, the want of it in the Greek manuscripts. He, undoubtedly, felt himself justified as a learned critic, to relinquish it on that ground; and, being probably disposed to do it, he might think, that the evidence he acted on, would be a sufficient apology, in the view of the world. We, however, have a right to judge for ourselves concerning the evidence on which he decided. His "purified Testament," as my opponent calls it, is corrected in conformity to some of the Greek manuscripts; but, I really believe their accuracy is very questionable, and my reasons for this opinion have been assigned.
In respect to Griesbach's Testament, my opponent says, with an air of exultation, that, "it is now used as the standard in the European colleges, and is taking the same rank in the literary institutions of our country." But to this I reply, although his Testament may have its excellencies, it must be allowed, that, like all other human productions, it may have also its defects.
With all the boasted accuracy of Griesbach, his reading of 1 Tim. 3. 16; "and without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: he who was manifested in the flesh;" iustead of "God was manifest in the flesh," as it is in our translation, is boldly disputed by Mr. Wakefield, who is himself an Anti-Trinitarian. Mr. W. contends for the correctness of the English New-Testament in this respect; that instead of "He who," it ought to be," God was manifest in the flesh;" but, he endeavors to effect an escape from the meaning of the passage, by an Anti-Trinitarian exposition.
But, there are two considerations in respect to Griesbach's performance, which make me feel some apprehension of danger. The first is-Anti-Trinitarians seem to be anticipating a complete victory over the Orthodox; and his Greek Testament, appears to be one ground on which their hope of this is founded. The second consideration is-The learned, on the Orthodox side of the question, seem not to be apprehending any danger from that quarter. But what the event of these high anticipations on the one hand, and such apparent security on the other, will finally amount to, time only can determine. I have some fear; but my prayer is, that it may be groundless. The great Head of the Church, says in one of his instructive parables, that it was "while men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. The learned are liable to their peculiar prejudices, and exposed to alarming changes, under the operation of certain causes, as well as the illiterate, and less discerning part of men. It was by some such means, undoubtedly, that in the Arian period of time, the learned, as well as others, were enveloped with the sable cloud of théological delusion. We must admit, on the principle of analogical reasoning, that such painful scenes may be realized again, in this fallen and God-opposing world. With due deference to, and confidence in the learned among the Orthodox, it behoves the Church to watch, and to take the alarm, whenever the grand doctrines of the gospel are attacked, directly or indirectly. The great adversary is not asleep; and he may invent ways of leading the scholar, as well as the unlettered Christian, into the devious paths of heresy and danger. To pollute the fountains of religious knowledge, is the most direct method that can be adopted, to defile all the streams which issue from them. In this case, however, our hope must be placed in God; for he is the tower of