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This is an omission of the word for, and the addition of two letters, making the word are, to be agree.
In respect to some quotations of the ancient fathers, my opponent complains, that they have added to the verse in debate, the word God. "These three are one God." In quoting, many writers aim to give the sense of a text, without confining themselves to its words;-and, therefore, such quotations are a powerful evidence of the authenticity of the passage in question.
My opponent's conclusion, "that it has been tampered with by more hands than one," is, probably true; for, it has been as much the interest of Anti-Trinitarians to annihilate its existence, or obscure its sense; as it has been the interest of the Orthodox to preserve its being, or defend its proper import. Granting it to be a genuine passage, it must have been a very "speckled bird" during the reign of Arianism, which was, with very little variation, from the early part of the fourth century to the middle of the sixth.
The gentleman's last remark, that "had it been written by St. John, quotations, versions and manuscripts would have been as much one as the heavenly witnesses are said to be," is very far from being conclusive. There are various readings of texts in the different versions of Scripture, which stand undisputed in respect to authenticity. We find quotations from the Old Testament in the New, differing as much in words, as the text in dispute. These quotations are from the Septuagint translation, which was made some hundred years before the birth of Christ. Gen. 5. 24, reads in our translation, "And Enoch walked with God;" but, as it is taken from the Septuagint, in Heb. 11. 5, it is rendered, "he pleased God." In that translation, it is said of Christ,-Heb. 1. 6," Let all the angels of God worship him :" but our translation of the 97th Psalm,
9th verse, is, "Worship him all ye gods." The authenticity of these passages, is not called in question on account of such variations.
When we take into view the state of the christian world in the Arian age, and the nature of the text in dispute, we need not wonder at finding it involved in some degree of obscurity. The gentleman's arguments are far from destroying the internal evidence of 1 John 5. 7, as a genuine text of Scripture; and his historical testimony against its authority, shall be carefully considered in the next dis
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
I have an opportunity, my hearers, of proceeding with my reply to the discourse which was delivered in this house in opposition to my sermons on this text. At our last meeting, an answer was given to the arguments of my opponent, on the internal evidence of its spuriousness.
It must be acknowledged, that much depends on the internal character of the passage in dispute. If it could be proved that it is in itself an absurdity, or, that it contains a doctrine at variance with the established principles of the Scriptures; no historical testimony against it would be necessary to silence its voice. On the contrary, if no solid argument appears against it in these respects, powerful historical evidence must be required, to condemn it as a spurious text in the view of impartial people. I must be allowed to think, that there is a conviction in your minds, that the purity of its internal character has been amply supported, in opposition to all the objections of my ingenious and ardent opponent.
Under this impression, I shall proceed to an examination of his historical testimony against the divine authority of the text in debate. The gentleman seems to proceed with admirable courage and alacrity in laying that before us. He goes on to say;
"In proving the spuriousness of this passage, it falls to our lot to show, that it could not have been in the autograph of St. John-i. e. to prove a negative. Much is said, by the advocates of this passage, to degrade what is styled negative evidence. But it is the only evidence by which any notorious and universally admitted interpolation can be proved to be such; and is often as convincing, as satisfactory and certain, as any positive proof whatever. The absence of a person from the place where he must be, `if alive, is absolute proof of his death; and to show and to prove a negative in the case, viz. that he is not in that place, is as substantial and irresistible evidence, as it would be to exhibit his lifeless body in the tomb."
It appears to be the leading object of my opponent, in what has now been stated, to convince us, that negative proof is sufficient to silence the text in question. If this kind of evidence were opposed by no positive proof to the contrary, it is readily granted that it would be sufficient. If, when Erasmus, in the fifteenth century, called the authenticity of the text in question, no account could be found of it in any manuscript, or version of the Scriptures; nor any quotations of it in the writings of the ancient fathers of the Christian church; the evidence would be irresistible, that it must have been forged near that very time. But in the historical evidence which was advanced in my third sermon, we have seen that in every century, back to the very first in the Christian era, it has been considered as an inspired passage. But if it could be proved that there was no possibility of erasing it from the ancient manu
scripts, versions and writings of the fathers; nor, of omitting it by transcribers, neither through design nor inadvertence; but, that forging and inserting it in such writings were practicable and easy, then we must conclude, that, as it does not appear in all these places, it must be an interpolation. So, my opponent reasons on the subject; but it is a kind of logic, that I cannot admit as being sound.
He has expressly admitted that it was quoted seven hundred years by the Latin authors, and two hundred years by the Greek writers, before it was questioned by Erasmus as being a spurious text. He says, "the passage of the heavenly witnesses is not quoted by any Greek writer before the thirteenth century, nor by any Latin writer earlier than the eighth." It is, however, very surprising, that a notorious and now universally admitted interpolation, should have been quoted in the christian world through a period of seven hundred years, without one faithful witness to oppose the iniquity!
In the eighth century, the art of printing was unknown; and therefore, all the .copies of the scriptures then existing were written with the pen. Surely, no writers would have quoted the text in debate, some of the sacred manuscripts. there were many manuscripts of scripture existing then far more ancient than any that are now in being. As my opponent allows, that the text was then quoted by the Latin writers, it is a strong evidence of its authenticity.
unless they found it in Without any doubt,
But if it should be said, that the text must have been forged in the eigth century, and that there were no AntiTrinitarians between that and the fifteenth, to announce the forgery to the world; we may reply, that such people have, no doubt, existed in every age. We have an account of a famous Italian father, called Joachim, who was tried for Arian sentiments in the beginning of the thir