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3. That there does not appear to have been any necessity, of committing such a forgery. If the text was inserted, it must have been done for the purpose of supporting the Trinity. No sufficient motive for this can be made to appear; for the Scriptures in general, contain plenary evidence of that doctrine. Every one, who is not biassed against that glorious truth, must be convinced of it, by reading the Bible, independent of this contested text; and those men who lean to their own understanding, and prefer what they call reason, to Revelation, would not acknowledge the doctrine, if a thousand such passages as 1 John 5. 7, were to be found in the Scriptures, and without any objection to their authenticity.
Mr. Robinson, who was converted to Anti-Trinitarianism by Dr. Priestley, observes, in his "History of Baptism," page 47, concerning Unitarians, "The sufficiency of reason is the soul of their system.' See Fuller's Letters, page 298. On this ground divine Revelation is unnecessary; and, whenever it is consulted, it must bow to the dictates of reason. To forge a passage, for the conviction of gentlemen of this cast, would amount to very little, for every doctrine of Scripture, must be tried at the bar of their own reasoning. Humble inquirers, however, will easily be convinced, that the doctrine of a Trinity in Unity is, the Alpha and Omega of Revelation-the grand hinge, on which, every one of its doctrines turns.
4. It is a powerful argument in favor of the passage in debate, that to have forged it, would have been a heinous crime, and attended with great danger. If there were any piety among the orthodox, when such a sentence was inserted in the epistle of John; they would surely have detected and exposed the guilty. Such an addition to the Holy Scriptures, would have subjected the impious agent, or agents, to these solemn threatenings, in the book of
God; "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." Rev. 22. 18. "Every word of God is pure."-" Add thou not unto his word, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Prov. 30. 5, 6. Surely, no one would be willing to expose himself to divine anger, and to the detestation and reproofs of men, who had any fear of God before his eyes; and a man of different character, would have no motive to vindicate the doctrine of the Trinity. Such an interpolater, must have anticipated these painful events.
It is difficult to see, how it was any more possible to have inserted this passage in any past period of time, without being detected, than it would be at present. Friends and enemies, have always been eyeing the Holy Scriptures very closely. If any person, church, or, denomination, had in fact, made such an addition to the sacred canon, it must have been discovered, and he, or they, exposed to the merited contempt of the whole christian world. We ought not to think so meanly of the church of God, as that they would universally, and silently, have suffered such a criminal forgery, even, if all the enemies of truth had consented to shut their mouths, in respect to the crime.
It is said by respectable authority, that the Jews were so careful in preserving their Scriptures from being corrupted, "that, when copies of the Law or the Prophets were transcribed, they observed the most scrupulous exactness: they not only diligently compared the one with the other, but even counted the number of letters in each book, and compared and recorded the numbers." We need not doubt, but the christian church, has taken some care in this respect, as well as the Jewish church. The same Holy Providence has, no doubt, watched over the Scriptures in
every age, to preserve them from corruption. The Lord of Hosts, is "the Shepherd and the Stone of Israel;" and, "he doth, neither slumber nor sleep," in guarding the concerns of his kingdom, and securing the honor of his own glorious and eternal name.
5. The entire silence of Anti-Trinitarians, in ancient times, in relation to the spuriousness of the text in question, is an argument of great weight, in favor of its authenticity.
We must believe, that if the text in debate, be an interpolation, it is not of modern date.
Mr. Emlyn, in his "Enquiry into the original authority of 1 John 5. 7," states, that the christian world, "had it not in their Bibles, for above 700 years." If this be a fact, it must have been inserted in some copy, or copies, of the sacred writings, as early as the beginning of the eighth century. On this calculation, it must have existed for as long as 1000 years. This is a sufficient proof of my argument, that if the passage has been inserted, it is an ancient crime. If there was no debate among christians at that time, about the doctrine of the Trinity, to insert such a text, was unnecessary: but, if that thing was then disputed, those, who did it, would, undoubtedly, have proclaimed to the world its spuriousness. Justice to themselves, must have forbidden their silence. If such an event had transpired, there would have been some account of it transmitted down to us. A learned debate, on the authority of this passage, as far back as the 8th or 9th century, would throw great light on the subject.
Many ancient manuscripts, existed then, which have since perished by the devouring hand of time. It is very possible, that the autograph of St. John, might have been then produced. No doubt the church, would have preserved that, as an authentic copy, and as a memorial, of
one of the dearest servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, A sight of the original, must have settled all controversy on the subject at once. As the Scriptures then, were all in manuscripts, and not very ancient, the difficulty might have been canvassed with more certainty, than it can be now, Perhaps, it was on that very account, that Anti-Trinitarians chose to let the matter rest, until a more auspicious age, should favor the undertaking. If they could show by authentic records, when this text was inserted, by what hands, and for what purpose, the victory would be their's. If the thing were as they pretend, this could be done 1; but, as no one attempts it, we have a right to consider this controverted passage, as being genuine, until it is proved to be otherwise, by positive testimony, In examining this subject, it will be made to appear, that the evidence, on which, they set aside, the words in question, is purely negative; and, to this, I hope, to be able to oppose much positive proof, in my next discourse.
I JOHN, V, 7.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
ON a former occasion, two discourses were delivered from this celebrated text. The general arrangement which was adopted in the outset of the subject was, to explain the doctrine contained in this passage-to show its agreement with the Scriptures at large-and then, adduce evidence for the divine authority of the text itself.
The two first heads have been discussed, and some attention has been given to the third and last. Under that, it was argued.
1. That the divine authority of the text, appears from its strict connection with what precedes and follows it, in the chapter where it stands.
2. From the similarity of the style and doctrine, with the style and doctrine of St. John's other writings.
3. That there does not appear to have been any necessity on the part of the Orthodox, of committing such a forgery.
4. That to have forged the passage would have been a heinous crime, and attended with great danger.
5. That the entire silence of Anti-Trinitarians, in ancient times, in respect to the spuriousness of this text, is