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in the faith, pious and learned; but "great men are not always wise." Many who are as eminent in every respect as the divines in view, are exactly of my opinion, in relation to the authenticity of the text in debate.
Among these are, the Rev. William Jones, the Rev. George Travis, and Dr. Gill; with many other shining lights in the Christian church. Dr. Emmons, and the Rev. John Brown, author of the Family Bible, have viewed the evidence against the passage to be so trivial, that they have made no mention of the controversy, in writing on it. For a Trinitarian to express a single doubt, or to make the most distant approach to a concession that it is spurious, gives a greater blow to its authenticity, in the view of mankind, than all the arguments that can be set in array against it, by its avowed enemies. This should prevent every incautious observation from men, who firmly believe the doctrine of a Triune God. Believing that the text contains no false principle, it may be properly vindicated, as far as there is any testimony in its favor; and no concessions need be made of its spuriousness, unless there is positive evidence of the fact. As no Trinitarian appears to be prepared to say this, no steps should be taken, to expose any part of the professed word of God to the rage of its adversaries. Every saying of Trinitarians, which could be, with any colour of plausibility, construed into an acknowledgment of the spuriousness of this text, has been eagerly seized by Anti-Trinitarians, as a ground, on which to raise their fabric of opposition to the doctrine of the Trinity.
It appears to me that the Rev. Drs. Scott, Doddridge, and Wardlaw, have not been sufficiently guarded, in relation to the sacred authority of this text; as their thoughts evidently preponderated in favor of its authenticity.
It has been asserted by a writer of the Anti-Trinitarian school, and with an air of triumph, that "no gentleman,
possessing a competent share of Biblical and critical knowledge, would now venture to call the text in question, a genuine passage of scripture." I have a strong impression, that such sayings as these, have a very imposing effect on many of the advocates of divine truth. Some very able writers and divines, seem to have a dread of having their judgment and critical talents, called in question; and this, they see will be done, if they attempt to use or vindicate 1 John, 5. 7, as a text of Scripture. In my opinion, therefore, this important passage suffers greatly, both from the neglect of its friends, and the opposition of its enemies. It would be well if more caution were used by the Orthodox about it; and more exertion made on their part, to support its credit; seeing it bears such visible internal marks of being inspired.
If the text be in fact, a genuine passage, I must dissent from the opinion that it is unimportant, on the ground, that the doctrine of the Trinity can be supported independent of its aid. This seems like a reflection on Divine wisdom, in giving us superfluous evidence of an important truth; and betrays a want of fidelity, in defending the Holy Oracles, which God has committed to the care and use of his Church.
But though this text, evidently, contains an important gospel doctrine, it ought to be rejected, if there were plenary and positive testimony against its authenticity. In a book, divinely inspired, there can be no deficiency, nor any thing redundant. Though the doctrine of the Trinity may be maintained without the text, yet, proving it to be an interpolation, may settle some wavering minds forever, on the side of Anti-Trinitarianism. I fear, that this thought may not have been sufficiently weighed by some Trinitarian divines. Such an entering wedge, into the system of truth, may have a fatal influence, on the salvation of many
souls. No doubt the Anti-Trinitarians are fully aware of this; and are thereby excited to make every possible ef fort to subvert the text in view.
It is extremely unwise, therefore, to retreat before them from an inch of ground, that can be maintained by an ingenuous contest. Unless more evidence can be produced than I have yet seen, I must remain in the belief, that there is no need of surrendering 1 John 5. 7, into the hands of its enemies. It is too precious to be sacrificed in this manner,
4. From what has been said on this subject, we may be convinced that the Trinity in Unity is a doctrine that rests on evidence as solid as the throne of God,
The text that has been vindicated in these discourses, and many others, are incontestible proofs of its truth, There are, however, some general facts, clearly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, which more strongly prove the doctrine, than this text, or any other single passage, Many texts might, indeed, be selected, confirming the Trinity in the view of candid minds; but artful reasoners will invent ways of evading their force. 1 John 5. 7 is the most conclusive proof of a Triune God of any one text in the Bible; but it is construed by many in such a way as to impose silence on it, in respect to that doctrine.
But, there are certain leading facts revealed in the Scriptures, whose force cannot be evaded, namely, that there are three agents, called "the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;" whose names, perfections, works and worship, prove the proper Deity of each, in connexion with the repeated declarations of the Bible, that there is only one God. On strict Unitarian principles, these facts form a paradox; but on Trinitarian grounds, they are of easy explication.
In relation to this subject, Anti-Trinitarians have no other alternative, but to argue, that the names, perfections, H
works and worship, ascribed to Christ and the Holy Spirit, are not proper evidences of their supreme divinity. But, this course is extremely arduous and difficult; and their united labors evince, that they feel the pressure of these obstacles to their system. To explain away all the testimony which the Scriptures present, in relation to the Supreme Deity of Christ and his atonement, the personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost, requires talents and exertion. It is surprising that they can satisfy their own minds on the subject, or convince their hearers of the practicability of supporting such a baseless scheme on the ground of Scripture testimony. But, after all their elaborate and subtile reasoning, we must believe an inspired apostle, when he says of Christ, "This is the true God, and eternal life." 1 John 5. 20.
It will not be expected that I can enter, at present, into a discussion of the great facts, which have been briefly mentioned. Let it be remembered, however, that in va-rious sermons, these things have been amply supported from this desk. In three discourses from Rev. 1. 8, it was clearly shown, that Christ is eternal, almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, the creator of all things, forgives sin, rules the universe, receives supreme worship, will ultimately raise the dead, and judge accountable agents with a judgment from which there is no appeal. No higher evidence of his supreme Deity can be consistently required. To men in whose minds this point is established, no doubt can suggest itself concerning the personality and Deity of the Holy Ghost. As there can be no more than one God, these great facts prove, the Unity of three persons, agents
or subsistencies, in one undivided essence. of the Trinity in Unity, therefore, is capable of being maintained, if 1 John 5. 7 should fall. But I think, we have great reason to believe that if St. John were now on
earth, he would freely declare that it was, either written with his own hand, or by his amanuensis. It has been fully shown, in what has been said, that the text rests on ample testimony.
You, however, my hearers, must weigh the evidence that has been adduced in its favor for yourselves. But, remember, that you are accountable to God for the judgment you form on this important question.
The Trinity of persons in one God, is a truth, on which, the whole plan of redemption is founded. If it is not true, then Christ is no more than a creature-no atonement has been made for sin-the Spirit is only a name of the Father-or one of his attributes, or modes of his operation. The infinite evil of sin-the total depravity of the human heart-the necessity of regeneration by the Spirit -the eternal punishment of finally impenitent sinners, are points which must fall to the ground with that doctrine. We are warranted, therefore, in believing that Anti-Trinitarian principles subvert the plan of salvation from the foundation to the top stone. If I know my own heart, I have no unkind feelings towards those people who are believers in that doctrine; but christian fidelity requires me to vindicate the truth, and oppose dangerous errors.
The doctrine of the Trinity is not a matter of mere speculation. No; it is of a highly practical nature. Receiving or rejecting it, is an expression of moral character, and holds a connection with consequences of unlimited magnitude. The difference between Trinitarians and Anti-Trinitarians, as a certain writer states, "respects the object of worship-the ground of hope-and the rule of duty." Surely, these are momentous considerations. If I am not greatly deceived, however, I as ardently desire the salvation of my Anri-Trinitarian fellow creatures, as any other class of mankind. God grant, that any cause