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clusively, in private. But to hold it up as a critical edition to employ it in a discussion of this kind, where minute accuracy is above all desirable, as a standard of reference, either with respect to text or rendering—would be to employ it for a purpose for which it is ill adapted. I have given in one of my letters to Mr. Bagot the opinions of two most eminent Trinitarian writers, who fully justify my reluctance to admit the infallible accuracy of King James' Translators, in the rendering of every part of the original. I allude to Bishop Lowth and Dr. John Pye SMITH; the former an eminent critic and scholar, as is proved by his Translation of Isaiah, with an instructive preface and learned Notes; and the latter, the author of the Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, in 3 vols. 8vo.—unquestionably the most elaborate defence of the Proper Deity of the Word in the English language. The former, while he expresses his approbation -in which I entirely agree with him—of the style and phraseology of the Authorised Version, yet declares, that “in respect of the sense and accuracy of the interpretation, the improvements of which it admits are GREAT AND NUMBERLESS”! The latter, who, be it observed, is theological tutor in the Calvinistic College of Homerton, thus expresses himself, when writing of the errors and faults in the mode of arguing the present question, with which the “orthodox” are especially chargeable:
“It would seem truly superfluous, to express a caution against arguing from any translation of the Scripture, as if it were the original. But, it must be confessed, that not only unlearned Christians, but some men of respectable education, have fallen into this egregious error. Nor is this fault chargeable on the orthodox alone: their opponents are not perfectly clear from it. Respectable and excellent as our common version is, considering the time and circumstances in which it was made, no person will contend that it is incapable of important amendment. A temperate, impartial, and careful revision, would be an invaluable benefit to the cause of Christianity: and the very laudable exertions which are now made, to circulate the Bible, render such a revision, at the present time, a matter of still more pressing necessity.”—Vol. I.
p. 57, &c,
In perfect accordance with these sentiments, this distinguished writer, almost uniformly, gives his own translation of the passages upon which he comments. It would be easy to adduce a great variety of passages of similar import, from men of undoubted orthodoxy, --understanding that term in the common acceptation,-and even from persons who have signalised their zeal by writing in defence of the Proper Deity of the Word. But I have not taken the trouble to transcribe any more of them; because it appears to me, that those already given are sufficient to justify me in refusing to tie myself down to this particular translation of the Scriptures. How could I reasonably or conscientiously agree to argue on the basis of a version which, according to Bishop Lowth, gives the sepse and interpretation so imperfectly, that the improvements of which it admits in this respect are
GREAT AND NUMBERLESS”! How could I, with any degree of consistency, descend from the vantage-ground of truth and sound knowledge, to adopt the very error which the most illustrious champion of orthodoxy deplores in his brethren; not only the unlearned among them, but, as he asserts, in some persons of respect
able education ? Would not this be laying aside the panoply of divine truth, to clothe myself in ill-tempered armour, which my opponents themselves are beginning to throw from them, as insufficient to defend them in the hour of danger?
But I had another reason for declining to receive the Authorised Version of the Scriptures, as a full and sufficient guide. Not only is the translation, in many places, susceptible of great improvement; but the copy of the original from which it was made, is known and is acknowledged by scholars of all sects and parties, to have been in many places corrupted, mutilated, and interpolated, in a way which renders several of its statements, on this very subject, liable to strong suspicion, or entirely unworthy of notice. For the last one hundred and fifty years, learned men, of the greatest industry, and of unquestionable integrity, have been laboriously engaged in endeavouring to detect these corruptions, wherever they could be found. Bishop WalTON, by his Polyglot Bible, containing the original of the Scriptures, with several of the most ancient Versions, and a selection of various readings, may be said to have given the first impulse to this most interesting and important branch of criticism. He was succeeded by MILL, who published an edition of the New Testament, with various readings from a great number of M.SS. which he either collated himself, or procured to be collated, for the purpose of his edition. His work was republished in Holland, by Kuster, with additions and corrections. "Wetstein followed, who still farther enlarged the field by a prodigious number of various readings, collected from M.SS. which were unknown to Mill and KUSTER, or only partially inspected. MATTHÆI, ADLER, and BIRCH, have lent material aid :—the first by accurate collations of Greek M.SS. contained in the public libraries of Russia; the second by a similar collation of the Vienna M.SS.; the last by his ample details of the M.S. treasures of the Vatican, and other libraries of Italy, which he travelled to inspect, at the expense of the King of Denmark. Numerous important accessions have been made to the science by Michelis, and his annotator, Bishop MARSH; who, whatever may be thought of him in other respects, has honourably distinguished himself as a promoter of a liberal and enlightened criticism, on the text and exegesis or explanation of the Sacred Volume. The results of all these labours and researches (labours and researches, be it observed, which have all taken place since the received translation was compiled, and of which therefore it was impossible for King James's Translators to avail themselves,—had they been, as doubtless they would have been, so disposed,) are considered to be embodied in an edition of the Greek Testament by Professor GRIESBACH; which, on account of its accuracy, fidelity, and impartiality, has deservedly obtained a high rank in the estimation of theologians and scholars of all sects and parties. In particular, it is spoken of with great deference by Dr. J. Pre Smith; by Professor Moses STUART, of Andover; and by Dr. WARdlaw, of Glasgow:—and I am sure that my reverend opponent will agree with me, that men more distinguished for learning have not stepped forth of late years as champions of the Trinitarian doctrine. Indeed, so high is the reputation that this edition has acquired, that
it is now tacitly assumed as the standard of reference among theo. logical writers: insomuch that no person of character or standing among them would think it fair to build an argument on any of the readings which Professor GRIESBACH has rejected,—at least without giving notice of that circumstance,--and stating the ground of his dissent from the learned Professor's decision. Such is the Edition of the New Testament writings, which I mean to assume as my standard of reference: but let it be observed, that I do not seek and never did seek, to tie down my reverend opponent, to this or any other edition of the Sacred Volume.
I may take this opportunity of mentioning that GRIESBach was himself a conscientious believer in the Trinity: I do not appeal to his Edition, because it is the production of a partizan of my own, for such is not the fact; but simply because it is the most accurate I can find. If Mr. Bagot agrees with him in the reading of any text, he is at liberty to follow him: if he dissents from the opinions of that critic, he is equally at liberty to do so. I do not mean to tie up his hands, nor fetter his feet. I give him a clear stage and fair play. Let him make the best of his cause.
- I should not have mentioned the name of Griesbach at all in these preliminaries, had not my reverend opponent pressed me to send him a list of texts, in which I thought the received English Version of the Scriptures erroneous. In answer to this demand, I referred him to the work of the learned and orthodox critic, as a standard by which I was and am willing to abide.
But my friends before me, and around me, may perhaps ask, Why make this a point of importance? Why insist so strenuously on introducing this Edition to your notice, when I admit the Common Version to be sufficient for ordinary purposes ?—To this inquiry I answer, that Dr. GRIESBACH has clearly and satisfactorily shown that several of those texts which are most confidently relied on as proofs of the "Proper Deity of the Word," are spurious interpolations, or false and corrupted readings. If I admitted these to be genuine, I should not only enter into this contest with my hands tied up, but - which I regard as a much more serious evil—I should indirectly lend my countenance and sanction to fraud and imposture; if, indeed, I could in that case be said to do so only indirectly.
That it was of importance to me to urge this point, I am firmly convinced; and I am confirmed in this conviction, when I look at the first page of that pamphlet of Mr. Bagot, which gave rise to the present controversy. I find there,-at the close of the very first paragraph, and in the very first line which contains quotations of Scripture,-reference to a certain text, which is usually called 1 JOHN v. 7, and which in the common version reads thus:
There are three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. This passage is usually quoted as 1 John v.7; but, so far as authorship is concerned, the Father of lies may dispute claim to it with the venerable Apostle, and must be allowed to have a preferable title; for, if knowingly introduced, a more gross, impudent, and baseless forgery was never executed or attempted. At first when I saw this passage in Mr. Bagot's pamphlet, I was, I confess, struck with the ignorance of perhaps the most remarkable and clearly ascertained fact in the criticism of the sacred text, which the quotation displayed. It afterwards, however, occurred to me, that the reference might have been introduced to justify his own employment of the term Word, in the statement of his doctrine, by the example of the person who forged this verse, whoever he might be. But this opinion I felt myself afterwards obliged to abandon, by two considerations: The first is, that the authority of a convicted imposture could hardly be reckoned respectable; and the second, that the very next reference is to a verse in which the term Word does not occur at all, and which in that point of view could lend him no aid. And I may
here remark, that of three verses, which are all that Mr. Bagot has adduced to justify the statement of his doctrine as the “ Proper Deity of the Word,” one is a manifest and acknowledged forgery; another does not contain the term Word at all, but a different phrase, which he himself passes over as not sufficiently expressing the subject; and the remaining one is to the only other place in the whole Bible where the phrase Word is employed, or can be alleged to be employed, to denote a person.
But I John v. 7 is not the only one of the texts which are relied on by some as proofs of the Trinity, that are proved by Professor GRIESBACH to be spurious. I may refer, among others, to Acts xx. 28; where the Common Version reads, in the address of the Apostle Paul to the elders at Ephesus,
Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Here there is an unquestionable reference to the death of Christ; and in this allusion, his blood is expressly called the blood of God; a phraseology which, to say the least,—though objectionable, in other respects, to Protestant ears,- lends some countenance to Mr. Bagot's doctrine of the “ Proper Deity of the Word.” But the learned and orthodox Griesbach, after a laborious examination of the original manuscripts and other authorities, leaves it almost beyond a doubt that this is a false reading; and that the words really spoken by Paul, and recorded by Luke, were, “ Feed the church of the LORD, which he hath purchased with his own blood;" an expression which involves no doctrine but what Unitarians most gladly and gratefully receive.
There is another passage which is greatly relied on by the orthodox, and which this great critic, though himself of orthodox sentiments, felt himself compelled, by the weight of testimony and authority, to take out of the text. I allude to 1 Tim. iii. 16.— There is no phrase which popular preachers and speakers are in general more fond of applying to our Lord and Saviour, than God manifest in the flesh. This forms the beginning, middle, and end of every harangue on the subject of his alleged Divinity, or-speaking under the correction of my reverend opponent-his proper Deity.” One would think, by the frequency with which this phrase is repeated in their mouths, in conjunction with solemn appeals to the testimony of the Word of God, and cautions to form our doctrinal opinions
according to its testimony, that this is the common and usual name by which our Saviour is designated in the Sacred Volume. We might suppose, from the language of popular preachers, (what would he natural enough, I confess, if the doctrine in question were true,) that, in all the accounts of all the Evangelists, and in all the epistles of all the Apostles, our Saviour was customarily and usually designated by no other title. We might imagine, that, in the account of his nativity, it was declared that the babe born in Bethlelrem was God manifest in the flesh;—we might imagine, that, when the doctors and teachers were surprised at the intelligence and answers of the child Jesus when twelve years old, it was declared that this child was no other than God manifest in the flesh;—we might conclude, that, when at his baptism in Jordan a voice from Heaven gave attestation to his divine mission, he was proclaimed, by the celestial herald, to be God manifest in the flesh; -and so through his miracles, and labours, and dangers, and sufferings, and resurrection and ascension, we might expect to find the Sacred Historians every where reminding us, that they recorded the eventful history of God manifest in the flesh. But all such expectations are vain—all such imaginations deceitful. Our blessed Lord is nowhere called God manifest in the flesh, except in 1 Tim. iii. 16; and there, as GRIESBACH informs us, he is so called only by those who are ignorant of the true reading;—which is not that God was manifest in the flesh, but simply this,
Great is the mystery of godliness: he who was manifest in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, was seen of angels, was preached unto the Gentiles, was believed on in the world, was received up into glory! And well did a state of glory and bliss in the world above, suit the character and conduct of the meek, the gentle, the benevolent JESUS OF NAZARETH—the Lamb of God, without blemish and without spot!
It is needless for me to enumerate, at present, any more of those texts which this learned and candid critic has shown to be spurious or corrupt. Suffice it to say, that some of those most confidently relied on, and most prominently put forward by orthodox advocates, are in his opinion interpolations; and that learned and impartial men, on every side of the question, are, in general, fully satisfied of the accuracy of his decisions. If, however, any person is disposed to dissent from his conclusions, Professor GRIESBACH allows full opportunity to every reader of his books to form his own judgment; for he gives the evidence on both sides, against as well as in favour of his own conclusions.
This, then, is the standard to which I appeal : the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as they appear in the common text, interpreted by the aid of legitimate criticism; and the Books of the New Testament, as they are found in that edition which is universally allowed to make the nearest approach to the original autographs, as prepared by the Evangelists and Apostles ;—an edition, I repeat again, not published by one whose opinions lay on my side of the question, but all whose feelings and views pointed the other way.