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It is to us, however, a consolation, that the whole Bible, accords with the statement made in 1 John 5. 7. That the Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Word, as a Person, and yet one with them in essence, and in every divine perfection and glory. We know, that the Holy Spirit is spoken of in all the Scriptures, as being God, possessing an eternal, independent existence, and almighty power. The apostle Peter said to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost?-thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5. 3, 4.
In respect to the duration of the Spirit's existence, St. Paul says, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God." If the Spirit is eternal, it sufficiently proves his independence, for there could be no antecedent being, to operate as a cause of his existence. To labor for farther proof on this point, would be a waste of time.
That the divine Spirit possesses almighty power, the works ascribed to him expressly testify. In speaking of the creating power of Jehovah, Job says, "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens." Job 26. 13. At the commencement of creation, Moses states, that "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Gen. 1. 2. In relation to the great variety of pestiferous creatures, which were to devour the land of Edom, and to possess it forever, the prophet Isaiah says, God's "mouth it hath commanded, and his Spirit it hath gathered them." Isa. 34. 18.
Creating the heart of man anew, is the work of the Spirit, and it is as great a work as the creating of the world, requiring no less power. It is said in John 3. 5. "Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ;" and, that event is called by St. Paul, being "created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
But as Anti-Trinitarians contend that the Holy Spirit is either the Father himself, or his power personified, more evidence of this kind is unnecessary. If the things which have been mentioned of the Holy Ghost are true, and his distinct personality from the Father and the Word, has been made to appear, then the doctrine contained in our text agrees with the Scriptures; which is now the only point in question.
As that point is sufficiently settled, I shall proceed in conformity with my general plan, to adduce,
III. The evidence of the divine authority of the text in dispute.
From the view we have taken of the Scriptures in gencral, it fully appears, that our contested text, contains no false doctrine, whether it is spurious or genuine. This may be justly considered, as a strong presumptive argument in favor of its inspiration. We are not, however, reduced to the necessity of resting its authenticity on that argument alone, although its weight is great. But in entering into a connected series of evidence, in favor of the divine authority of 1 John, 5. 7, we may observe,
1. That its strict connection with the rest of the chapter, evinces this.
If it were inserted by an uninspired pen, it would surely disturb and weaken the apostle's reasoning, instead of elucidating his subject, or strengthening his argument. This does not appear to be the case; for, if the text were removed from its present position, the force of his reasoning would be greatly enervated. It is evidently his object, in ver. 6, to shew, that "Jesus Christ come by water and blood." In this saying, he undoubtedly alludes to the blood and water, which issued from the Redeemer's side, when it was pierced with the spear. By that precious blood, an atonement was made for sin; and, the
water was an emblem of the purifying influence of the Spirit, which is poured out on men, in consequence of his death on the cross. This contested passage, evidently holds a close connection with the last part of verse 6, and the whole of verse 8. In the first part of verse 6, the apostle says, "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood." The close of the verse says, " and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood and these three agree in one.
The text in debate, stands connected with the preceding verse, by the word "for ;" and with the following verse, with the copulative conjunction, "and.” It falls into its present position, therefore, with peculiar facility.
It has been made to appear from the Scriptures in general, that there are three such witnesses in heaven, as are mentioned in verse 7; and, it certainly forms a strong and beautiful union in testimony, with the witnesses in earth, which are spoken of in verse 8.
That we may perceive the force of this reasoning more fully, let the words of verse 6 and verse 8 be stated, leaving out the supposed insertion:-"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood and these three agree in one."
In reading the apostle's statement in this manner, there evidently appears to be a great deficiency; but, in reading it with the pretended interpolation, there is neither falsehood nor redundency. Dr. Scott, in his note on the text,
says, "It may be doubtful, whether the passage connects with so much propriety, if the contested words be omitted, as it otherwise does: for if we read with the copies in which they are wanting," "The Spirit beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth: for there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood," &c. "there seems to be a remarkable repetition, and a want of the apostle's usual energy in the passage."
I have seen this argument, set in a very powerful light by the pen of a learned Deist, in an address to Unitarians; but, I cannot, at present, quote his words.* I shall now submit the point, to the judgment of my hearers, without pursuing it any farther, at present.
2. It may be argued, that 1 John 5. 7, is a genuine text, from the similarity of the style and doctrine of St. John's other writings. In the very commencement of his gospel, he calls the Lord Jesus Christ the Word; and he gives him the same appellation, in the book of Revelation. The Son of God, is not called the Word by any other sacred writer.
It appears that this apostle, was very particular in all his writings in teaching the personality, divinity, and record, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and, also, their Unity in one glorious essence. These facts, were
"In connection with the above argument for the genuineness of this verse from the connection, another may be added which appears in the Greek, but is not seen in the English translation. In the last clause of the 8th verse, "and these three agree in one," the article is used before one. Middleton, in his essay on the Greek article, lays it down as a rule, that the article is used in such cases for one of two purposes, that of hypothesis or that of reference. It is plain that its use in this place cannot he hypothetic. It must therefore, be used by way of reference. But to what can it refer? There is nothing to which it can refer, if the 7th verse is left out. If that is inserted, the reference is plain. The testimony of the three that bear witness on earth agrees ~ in the same one thing which is asserted in the 7th verse, namely, the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. (See Panoplist for 1811, p. 541.
fully substantiated, under the second general head of this subject.
This apostle was also much in the habit of vindicating Christ's proper Deity, and equality with the Father. In 1 John 5. 20, he says of him, "This is the true God, and eternal life." This completely establishes all that is contained in the text in question.
But as the opposers of a Trinity in Unity, profess to esteem the talents and candor of Dr. Doddridge, I shall cite a note of his, on the words, "This is the true God, and eternal life." He says, "To paraphrase this of the true religion as a celebrated divine does, is quite enervating the force of Scripture, and taking a liberty with plain words, by no means to be allowed. It is an argument of the Deity of Christ, which almost all those who have wrote in its defence, have urged, and which, I think, none who have opposed it, have so much as appeared to answer." These remarks are very pointed, and made by him, whom the Unitarians acknowledge to be candid, pious and learned. But, if the Deity of Christ be a Scriptural doctrine, the statement in 1 John 5. 7, stands as fast as the pillars of heaven. The style and doctrine, of this disputed passage, exactly agree with the style, character, and sentiment of St. John. We have no right, therefore, to consider it as being an inser-. tion, unless the thing can be positively proved, which, no one pretends, has ever been done. It is on the ground of negative proof, that its enemies are striving to erase it from the Bible. A learned divine, observes, "Negative evidence has, in determining the judgment of a candid mind, but little weight. One positive fact, well supported, is of more importance than a thousand negations."
In defending the authenticity of the text in debate, I proceed to observe,