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passage in St. John.-" which three are one"-a literal. quotation of the text in debate."
Thus, in the documents which have been produced, we have an account of no less than twenty-three authors, of great eminence, who lived from the second down to the fourteenth century, who all cited and referred to this disputed text. This, I think, is sufficient to satisfy the most doubtful mind.
But, to the evidence of individuals of such eminence, Mr. Travis, subjoins the testimony of councils, and other collective bodies of learned men.
He says, "The council of Lateran was held at Rome, under Innocent III. in 1215. Of all the assemblies, of this kind, the Christian world ever saw, this was the most numerous. It was composed of more than four hundred Bishops, with about eight hundred inferior clergy, and an equal number of deputies. The Greek Patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem, were present. The chief purpose of convening this council, was, for the examination of certain opinions of a famous Italian divine, who was accused of Arianism. He was unanimously condemned by this august body, in whose public act, we find the verse now in question, set forth in these words:—“ It is read in the canonical epistle of St. John, that, there are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one."
"About the close of the eighth century, the Emperor Charlamagne, called together the learned of that ageinstructing them to revise the manuscripts of the Bible then in use. To effect this great purpose, he furnished these commissioners with every manuscript that could be procured in his extensive dominions. In their correctorium, the result of their united labors, the testimony of the three heavenly witnesses is read, without the smallest impeachment of its authenticity.
In the famous conference at Carthage, which has been already mentioned, the Orthodox in their own defence, left this protest,-"That it may appear more clear than the light, that the divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is one, see it proved by the Evangelist St. John, who writes thus: "There are three who bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one."
This verse of St. John, is inserted in the ancient service-book of the Latin church; in the confession of faith of the Greek church, and in their liturgy. The ancient version of the New Testament, in the Armenian language, contains this verse. The most ancient of all the versions of the books of the New Testament, from the language in which they were originally written, is the Old Italic. This version was made in the first century, and, therefore, while St. John was yet alive; and was used by all the Latin churches in Europe, Asia, and Africa, for many centuries after his death.
"Thus, the origin of the verse in question, is, at length, carried up, not by inferences, or implications, alone, however fair and obvious, but by plain and positive evidence, to the age of St. John himself. For this most valuable, as well as most ancient version hath constantly exhibited the verse, 1 John, 5. 7, throughout the vast series of one thousand and four hundred years, which intervened between the days of Praxeas, and the age of Erasmus, not a single author whether Patripassian, Cerinthian, Ebionite, Arian, Macedonian, Sabellian, whether of the Greek or Latin, whether of the Eastern, or Western churchwhether in Asia, Africa or Europe-hath ever taxed the various quotations of this verse-with interpolation or forgery. Such silence speaks, most emphatically speaks, in favor of the verse, now in dispute." See Travis's works, page 319 and 320.
The result, then, of the whole, is,-that the verse in question, seems, beyond all degree of serious doubt, to have stood in this epistle, when it originally proceeded from the pen of St. John.
"In the Latin, or Western church, the suffrages of Tertullian, and Cyprian, of Marcus Celedensis, and Phabadius, in its favor, aided by the early, the solemn, the public appeal to its authority, by the African Bishops under Huneric; the preface, Bible, and conscripta-fides, of Jerom; the frequent, and direct citations of the verse by Eucherius, Augustine, Fulgentius, Vigilius, and Cassiodorius: these, supported, as to the Greek, or Eastern churches, by the dialogue between Arius and Athanasius, as well as by the synopsis of this epistle-by the Armenian version, which was framed from Greek manuscripts, by the very early, and constant use of the Apostolos in the same Greek church, and by its public confession of faith: All these evidences, arising within the limit of the sixth century, to pass over the immense accumulation of testimony which has been produced subsequent to that era, offering themselves to the test of the judgment, combined in one point of view, unchecked by a single negation, unrebuked by any positive contradiction, unresisted by the smallest direct impeachment of the authenticity of the verse, throughout all the annals of all antiquity: All these circumstances seize the mind, as it were, by violence, and compel it to acknowledge the verity, the original existence of the verse in question." Travis's works, page 344-346.
To the evidence which has been advanced by Mr. Travis, I will add a brief statement of facts, from the writings of Dr. Gill. He says, "Concerning this text, there has been a dispute whether it is genuine or not. It is objected, that some of the ancient fathers did not quote it.
But what then? others did; and a sufficient number of them to prove it genuine. It is quoted by Fulgentius against the Arians in the beginning of the sixth century, without the least scruple or hesitation. It is found in Jerom's translation, which was made near the close of the fourth century. It is quoted by Athanasius, about the fourth, and by Cyprian about the middle of the third century. It is manifestly referred to, by Tertullian, in the beginning of the third, and by Clemens of Alexandria, toward the close of the second century. Thus it is to be traced up within one hundred years, or less, of the time when the epistle was written. This ought surely, to satisfy any one, that the passage is genuine. There never was any dispute about it, until Erasmus left it out, in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of an old British copy, put it into another edition of his translation." The Dr. adds, "Yea, the Socinians themselves, did not dare to leave it out, in their German Racovian version, which was made in 1630." See Dr. Gill's body of divinity, vol. 1, page 198.
It will be readily perceived, that Dr. Gill, has only given us a condensed view of the evidence, adduced by Mr. Travis; with the additional testimony of Clemens; and the Socinians, feeling the necessity of retaining the text in debate, in their own version. But, as Clemens lived in the close of the second century, his quoting the words, is a solid proof that they are genuine.
The Rev. Caleb Alexander says, in the appendix of his essay on the Deity of Christ," "We are very happy that it is in our power to produce very direct and peremptory testimonies, to establish the originality and authenticity of this disputed text. For these testimonies we are indebted to the judicious and learned works of the Rev.
George Travis, A. M. Prebendary of Chester, and Vicar of Eastham, who, in his letters to Edward Gibbon, Esq. has rescued this text from the hands of its adversaries, and conferred on the church an obligation of the liveliest gratitude and love." Alexander's Essay on the Deity of Christ, page 62.
Thus, I have now, my hearers, laid before you the evidence I intended, relative to the divinity of 1 John, 5. 7. The inferences, naturally arising from the subject, must necessarily be omitted, until the next occasion. They will be sufficiently interesting and copious, to form an entire discourse. I shall, therefore, close this sermon, with that apostolical injunction, "Contend earnestly for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints."