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text in debate is not in any copy of the Syrian Scriptures which he had seen; he expressly says:
"But notwithstanding this omission, and notwithstanding the great display of learning in maintaining a contrary opinion, I believe the passage to be genuine." We see, therefore, that one European Trinitarian divine of the first eminence, and who, to use the words of my opponent, "has lived with ourselves in the same enlightened age, has not abandoned the text in question. The reasons which induced him to be of this opinion, must, undoubtedly, have an equal weight with many Trinitarians in England, and on the European continent.
It is highly probable, that the same reasons induced Dr. Buchannan to believe in the authority of the text at issue, on which my own mind rests. There is no other way,
that I can see, in which he could account for the want of it in the Syrian Scriptures. But the opinion of that learned and justly celebrated divine, must have great weight on candid minds. The character he sustained-the abilities he possessed-the time in which he lived-and the advantage he was under to know the true merits of this controversy; set him on high ground, to judge with accuracy in the case.
I shall now close my reply to the gentleman in opposition, without changing my mind as to the authority of the text in dispute. It is my design, in the next sermon, to sum up the evidence on each side of the grand question; carefully to weigh it; and then, make some reflections on. the subject. 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
In the view of my sermons on this passage, and the contest with my opponent on its authenticity; I shall now proceed in summing up the evidence on each side of the question, and then make some reflections.
The testimonies, for and against the text in debate, have been sufficiently illustrated. It only remains, to select the main things on which a reliance may be placed; and to form an impartial decision in relation to its spuriousness or authenticity.
Here, the seat of the disinterested and unbiassed judge should be taken, instead of the stand of the warm advocate, or the zealous feelings of the partizan of a particular system. Candor and close attention are very necessary, to form a correct judgment in a case of this nature. But, to take this elevated stand, which is so beautiful in theory, so proper in itself, and so expressive of a noble and generous mind, is not very easy for beings, who possess the feelings of fallen men. We can very easily see the want of
candor in an opponent; but, to discern it in ourselves, is more difficult.
Prejudices which are deeply rooted and of long standing, are very powerful, and not easily removed. We are apt to view our honor and interest, as inseperably connected with the stand that we take in relation to religious senti
It is not an easy thing, therefore, to change our opinion on subjects of this nature; and, more especially, when that opinion is in favor of a doctrine which is congenial with the depraved feelings of the heart. We, who profess to be Orthodox, may find some difficulty in divesting ourselves of biasses, which are unfavorable to correct judging, in respect to the subject in view; and, if our opponents think, that they are wholly unbiassed, and prepared to judge according to truth in this matter; the judgment day, perhaps, may convince them of their mistake.
As the text in question relates to an infinitely interesting doctrine, it is not to be expected that people of opposite principles will feel very disinterested, in forming their conclusions for or against its authenticity. Under these impressions, we may now proceed to take a summary view of the evidence on each side of this momentous and contested subject. In doing this, it will be proper,
I. To state the testimony which lies against the passage in dispute. No notice, however, will be taken of what my opponent has urged against its internal character; for, no candid mind can deem it to have any weight. But, that there is external evidence against it, is a thing, that I have not denied. In giving a condensed account of that, on which reliance may be placed, it may be observed,
1. It is not an evidence in its favor, that there is not more account of it in the writings of the early fathers, against the Anti-Trinitarians. We have seen, however,
that it has been quoted by some writers of every century, up to the apostolic age; but if that kind of testimony were more abundant, the evidence that it was actually in the autograph of St. John, would be greater. How far the reasons which have been given for this deficiency ought to have weight, it is your province to decide. They were these, That, but few writings, so ancient, have come down to us; and such as have, may have been greatly al-. tered, through the want of care, in transcribing; or with the design of involving the text in suspicion, in the view of succeeding generations. But let the cause of this deficien
cy be what it may, it is an argument which will be urged, by some, against the authority of the passage.
2. The want of this text in so many versions of the Scriptures, is an unfavorable circumstance. No candid advocate for its authority will deny this, whose mind is well informed. The gentleman in opposition has stated, that there are seven versions, in which the text is not found; namely: the two Syriac versions; the Schidie and Coptic versions; and the Ethiopic, Arabic and Sclavonic versions. Dr. Buchannan says also, that it is not to be found in any manuscript, or copy of the Scriptures which he had seen, among those Christians that he discovered, in the interior of Asia. This, we must acknowledge, is unfavorable. These considerations, with the manner in which they have been accounted for, should be very carefully weighed. To say these things form no ground to doubt of the authenticity of this text, would be an evidence of imbecility and prejudice. They have caused some of the Orthodox to hesitate, and all its enemies to oppose it with great apparent confidence. An entire disregard to these unfavorable things, is inconsistent with impartiality in judging,
3. The want of this text in the Greek manuscripts, is far from being in its favor. My opponent says, that “one
hundred and thirty two Greek Manuscripts have been examined by the learned," in the various ages of Christianity, "with a particular reference to" the text in debate, "and have all been found silent," in respect to it. This is something unfavorable to its authority. He says likewise, that there are one hundred and nine such manuscripts now in being, testifying against its authenticity. These things constitute the main objections, against the passage in controversy. But, if they did not exist, no defence of it would be necessary; for its authority would stand on as high ground as any other text in the Bible. The argument, that the passage is now given up by all the learned in Europe, is not conclusive, even if it were true; for that would only show their opinion on the subject, which may be erroneous. Opinions sometimes prevail extensively, from the mere circumstance that they have been introduced by men, whose fame is great in the world. It is, however, an unsupported assertion. I never have seen a real Trinitarian, who would avow himself to be an entire unbeliever in the genuineness of the text.
II. We may now proceed to sum up the evidence in favor of the text in question; and in doing it we may speak,
1. Of its internal character. It has been clearly shown that the passage in this respect stands fair, and above the reach of its adversaries. I have never seen it attacked on this ground by any Anti-Trinitarian, before my oppo
When Mr. Emlyn addressed his petition to both houses of convocation in England, in 1715, he did not object to the passage on the internal, but on the external evidence of its spuriousness. As to internal character, it may justly be said, that it is merely a summary declaration of what is contained in many other express passages of the divine word.