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hands of men.
When the Arians had the christian world so long under their controul, they had some opportunity to alter the works of the early fathers, as well as to mutilate the Scriptures. If it should be said-These things cannot be proved against the Arians; my answer is, neither can forgery be supported against the Orthodox; yet, the one or the other of these evils has taken place.
The next conclusion of my opponent, is, that the Arians, for the reason which he has assigned, could not have altered the Scriptures, nor the writings of the fathers, if they had been so disposed. He says, "So barefaced an attempt could neither have escaped detection, nor fail of forming a notorious item of depravity in the history of that abominable period."
The gentleman, undoubtedly, means the Arian "period;" and, why he should call it "abominable," is really mysterious:-But I have no desire to oppose him on that ground. I am fully convinced, that, if in the age in view, they could not have been guilty of erasure, nor of omissions, they have of forgery and insertion; and either of these cases must form such "a notorious item of depravity in their history" as he thinks to be impossible. His argument goes on the ground, that erasures and omissions, were crimes that would have stained the character of that age-that these things were so difficult, that they could not have been done; and, that the Anti-Trinitarians were so upright, they would not have attempted them. In respect to omitting and erasing, he says-" There is no such charge exhibited against the Arians, in either the historical or theological writers of that age." This stands acknowledged; but, does it certainly follow, that no such crimes were committed? There is no charge of forging and inserting any text in our translation " exhibited against the"
Orthodox, "by the historical and theological writers of that age," nor of any age antecedent to the fifteenth century; yet, it is acknowledged by my opponent himself, that the text in debate was quoted seven hundred years before; and, therefore, according to his mode of reasoning we may infer, that it was never forged.
In my sermons on this subject, it has been clearly shown that, adding is as great a sin as omitting; and, far more difficult to be done without detection. If the gentleman's arguments on this head have weight, they prove that 1 John 5. 7, has neither been erased, omitted nor forged;
→yet, he says, "It is a vile interpolation," and lashes the supposed forger, as "a hotheaded Trinitarian zealot." Certainly, such reasoning is inadmissible; and far beneath the talents of my acute and learned opponent.
Notwithstanding the mysterious silence of “the historical and theological writers" of ancient times, the text in dispute, must have been either inserted, or erased from the sacred manuscripts; and the impartial mind must be convinced, that one of these crimes must have been committed in that very period of time, in which the controversy about the Trinity agitated the christian world.
In respect to erasing or omitting the text in question, my opponent says, that, after the reign of Justinian, down to the reformation in the sixteenth century, " Anti-Trinitarians have been in a condition altogether inauspicious for so wild an undertaking." But, if that be admitted; surely, the Trinitarians were not then under any necessity of forging a passage, to support their cause against a fallen enemy. It was in the Arian period of time, therefore, that the mischief must have been done in relation to the text under consideration, which ever of the contending parties has been guilty.
But my opponent, after showing that the Anti-Trinitarians could not have erased nor omitted the text, proceeds to what he seems to consider as invincible conclusions against its authenticity. Through divine assistance, therefore, I shall endeavor to meet them in the next discourse; for which, may the Lord prepare us. AMEN.
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
As my answer to the gentleman, in opposition, is not yet completed, I must proceed with it.
He seems to be very confident, that the Anti-Trinitarians, could not have been guilty of erasing this passage from the scriptures, nor of omitting it in their transcriptions. Some reasons for thinking otherwise have been given, and more will be offered.
One of my opponent's formidable conclusions, runs in the following summary manner:-"So, we may not only expect, but be absolutely sure, that, on the supposition of the genuineness of the three heavenly witnesses, the passage must, and undoubtedly does, appear in the best and most ancient Greek manuscripts—in the most ancient and respectable versions-in the controversial writings of the Trinitarian fathers of every age-and in the orthodox creeds and catechisms which have regulated the faith of Christendom."
Some of these objections have been fully answered; and others have been passed by, to which I shall make my re
served replies. This method has been adopted, to preserve, as far as possible, a correct arrangement, and avoid repetition.
The gentleman, after closing his supposed invincible conclusions, proceeds to mourn over the fallen text, in the following plaintive expressions ;-" Alas! for the famous passage, it is not contained in any Greek manuscript of respectability, early or late now in existence !"
But to this, my reply is;-If it is not contained" in any respectable Greek manuscript, this seems to be an acknowledgment that, it may be found in some which my opponent is unwilling to honor with that elevation of character. Allowing, that there are no such Greek manuscripts now in being, does that fairly prove, that there never have been any such manuscripts on earth? Are we bound wholly to overlook in this case, historical testimony? There are no such cities as the ancient Babylon, Nineveh and Tyre, now to be found on the globe; is it therefore, a just conclusion, to say, that no such cities ever existed? In my third sermon on the text, it was made to appear, that, "Laurentius Valla, an Italian nobleman of great erudition, undertook a correction of the Greek manuscripts of the New-Testament, in the 14th century; which was 100 years before the days of Erasmus. If the historical testimony which I have adduced, may be relied on, he, "by assiduous and long continued exertions, obtained seven Greek manuscripts; and "the text in debate" was found in them all." Since that event, five hundred years have elapsed; and, therefore, those manuscripts, like ers, are lost with time.
It is acknowledged by my opponent himself, that " 132 manuscripts have been examined by the learned with a particular reference to this passage, and have all been found silent in relation to the three heavenly witnesses." He