« PreviousContinue »
credidissent. Et Conc. Niceonum, ubi contra Arium Trinitatem probat ex John X. 3. 1 John v. 6. hunc tamen versum 7, qui aptissimus, omittent. Aut ergo eum non legerent, aut tanquain suspećtum & dubiæ fidei neglexerunt."
If, in the time of the disputes referred to, this passage had been found in any of the ancient copies, those who wrote against the Arians would not have omitted quoting of it, it being “ aptissimus."
Sir I. Newton says, “ It is a matter of surprise the present reading should be found in the printed copies of the Greek, &c. editions of the New Testament, since all the Greek MSS. of the New Testament, and all the ancient versions that have been made into any language whatever, even the vulgate, before the time of Jerome, are quite silent in regard to the testimony of the “ three in heaven;" and all the councils, fathers, commentators, and other writers of the church, for the first four centuries, shew plainly, by their references to this passage, that it stood in their books thus - It is the spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth: for there are three that bear record, the spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one*."
Some of the fathers, who wrote upon the doctrine of the Trinity, gave a mystical interpretation to the passage, but never used the words three in heaven: this will appear by tle following question from one of them, who says, “ Nam et Johannes apostolus in epistola sua de Patre, et Filio, et Spirițu Sancto, sic dicit: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, shiritus, aqua, et sanguis, et hi tres unum sunt. In Spiritu significans Patrem; in aqua vero Spiritum sanctum significans; in sanguine vera Filium significanst.""
This writer would not have needed to have made such a forced interpretation, if the words W. B. contends for had existed in any
of the copies extant in his time.
It appears pretty plain that the passage in question was first written in the margin, by way of explication of the doctrine of the Trinity, and by degrees crept into the text itself.,
The first daring innovator upon record is Jerome, who inserted this verse in the translation he made, or rather the connection he made, of the vulgate Latin. His blaming other Latin translators for not inserting it is a sufficient proof that it was not in the Latin version before his tiine: his words are, “ In qua etiam ab infidelibus translatoribus, multam erratum esse a fidei veritate comperimus, trium tantummodo vocabula, hoc est aquæ, sauguinis, et spiritus, in ipsa sua editione ponentibus, et Patris, Verbique, ac Spiritus testimonium omittentibus." This is the father of the corrupted yulgate, of whom Erasmus says, “Sepe numero violentus harumque ftudens, sæpe, varius, parumque sibi constans." And Father Simon, « Il n'est pas toujours exact, parcequ'il ne meditoit pas assez, et qu'il se contentoit ordinairement de dicter a se copistes mais conime
* Newton's Letter to Mons. Le Clerc.
+ Facundus, cap. i. p. 16.
il estoit auteur d'une nouvelle traduction de la Bible, il n'a pas garde quelque fois assez de moderation dans sa critique. Il corrige les Septante en beaucoup d'endroits ou il n'estois pas besoia de les corriger.” And this is the first and greatest authority for the present reading of 1 John,
Hesychius, who lived soine little time after Jerome, cites this passage thus, “ Audi Johannem dicentum, Tria sunt, qui testimonium proebent, et tres Unum sunt, Spiritus, et Sanguis, et Aqua." Cassiodorus reads thus, “Quia tres sunt, qui testificantur tui Spiritus, et Aqua, et Sanguis, et hi tres Unum sunt."
Bede, in his commentary on the place, reads it thus, “ Et spiritus est, qui testificatur, quoniam Christus est veritas. Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra spiritus, aqua, et sanguis, et tres unum sunt.
Pope Eusebius reads it as Bede does, omitting the words in terra. And Pope Leo the Great cites the passage thus, “Et, spiritus est qui Testificatur, quoniam spiritus est veritas ; quia tręs sunt, qui testimonian dant, Spiritus, et Aqua, et Sanguis, et hi tres unum sy
sunt." St. Ambrose, in the sixth chapter of his book, De Spritus San&o, disputing for the Triniiy, says, “ Hi tres, unum sunt, Johannes dixit, Aqua, Sanguis, et Spiritus, unum in misterio, non in natura."--This was all he could say–These lived after St. Jerome's time, to whom his version must be known; but by their not quoting it, it would appear that it was not received by thein.
Innuenerable more evidences might be brought forward to shew that 1 John, v. 7. is spurious. It was not met with in any. Greek manuscript written before the sixteenth century, and it is pretty evident that it crept out of the Latin into the Greek.
The words “ three in heaven" were omitted in Erasmus's edition of the Greek Testament, Anno Christi 1516 & 1519:- in that of Francis Asulan, printed at Venice by Aldus, 1.518-In that of Nicholas Gerbelius, printed at Haganau 1521; In that of Wolfius Cephalius, printed at Strasbourg 1524, and again in 1526; In that of Simon Colinæus, at Paris, 1534; and at the same time it was omitted in some editions of the Western languages, as in the Saxon and German editions of Luther, and in the Latin Tugurine editions of Peter Cholms, 1543 and 1544
Cardinal Ximenes's edition of the Greek Testament is the first that has the words three in heaven; it is well known to have been manufactured at Complutum in Spain, where the cardinal had his conclave, and, as W. B.
says, ..no doubt had his reasons for printing it thus. W. B. is afraid, if this passage be given up, we shall all be Deists; or as a modern Priest has said, “ disguised Atheisis;" but W. B. ought to have more regard for the testimonies Z. Y. has cited, which are those of Popes, Fathers, Councils, &c. Michælis, who was a good man and a firm Trinitarian, gives the passage up as spurions (see his Lectures). Sir Isaac Newton was a learned and pious man; and though he gave up this passage, he did not become a Deist-and Z. Y. knows some living Trinitarians, godly and learned men, and yet they give it up.
As the other ways of proof adduced by W. B. do not appear to Z. Y. to be in point, he shall, for the present, pass them over-and, waiting for his reply, or rather opposition, remains, yours and his,
ON THE NECESSITY
CULTIVATING RIGHT THOUGHTS OF GOD.
- DEAR SIR, I Conceive a just representation of the character and designs of God to
be of very great importance to mankind at large, to the rising generation in particular, and that an improper statement thereof inay do great mischief in the world. My ideas upon this point are the result of observation, study, and experience. -. I have long thought the study of the human mind and its operations to be of the first importance : . that of all philosophical enquiries that which relates to morals, to the constitution of mind, the laws by which it is operated upon, by which thoughts are elicited, motives discovered and felt, dispositions excited, and actions produced, ought to occupy the first pláče": for I think mind is operated upon, and operates, by laws as determinate as those which are established in the physical world, by a process as regular as the economy of nature, and that' there is as clear and certain a connexion between cause and effect in morals as in the material universe. This inay be inferred from a belief that the moral is as much under the government of God -as the physical world : for where he governs there must be fixed order and established laws. -Observation and experience will help to substantiate suggestions. ¿... Our first observations are made upon the actions of men'; but we maturally conceive that there must exist in their minds dispositions corresponding with the nature and manner of their actions, and that the motives which they feel must agree with the dispositions produced by hthem' further, we suppose that their ideas of things must be such as t'o turn the oljećt of their contemplation into the motives manifested by the dispositioris discoverable in their actions :- hence we are led to enceive of the impressions made upon them through the medium of Cheir senses. Thus; hy going froin effect to cause, from actions to
dispositionis; from dispositions to motives, from motives to ideas, froih Ideas to the impressions which excite them, and by marking the connexion of all these, we arrive at a tħeory of the human mind, which agrees both with Christiarity and sound philosopliy:
We are born into the world witliout ideas; we receive impressions from outward é bjė&s, titough the medium-of-our senses; our first ideas arise from those impressions and reflection upon them; nor do I know of any ideas we have but what we received in the same way: even those which relate to God and religion are the effect of what we have seen, heard, or felt upon these subjects. We know no subject operates upon us as a motive otherwise than according to the views we have of it.
For instance, the character of God is calculated to operate upon every creature as a constant motive to love, confidence, and obedience: but it does not so operate upon men in general. What is the reason ? Because they do not know his true character; for they who know his name will put their trust in him, (Psalm ix. 10.) they who perceive his love will love him, (1 John, iv. 19.) and love is the principle of all obedience. (Rom. xiii. 10. 1 Tim. i. 5) Men, having unjust views of God, instead of loving, hate him; instead of confiding in, fly from him; not viewing his commands as proceeding from love, and designed for their benefit, they rebel against him. Thus the same subject operates in different ways upon different persons, according as they have just or unjust ideas thereof. The gospel was sent into the world to effect the most important change in the hearts and lives of men; but how was this to be done? By its being preached to them. They were capable of hearing, they were called to hear; through hearing, one of the senses, it was to make impressions upon them; unless they heard it, 'no impression could be made upon them thereby. It was intended, through the impressions which it made when they heard it, to open tlie eyes
of their understanding, and bring them from darkness to light, i. e. to new ideas of things. The gospel's leading men to new motives, dispositións, and actions, depends upon its furnishing them with new ideas of things; for they are estranged froin the life of God through the ignornace that is in them. (Eph. iv. 18.) The Gentiles became vain in their imaginations, their foolish hearts were darkened, and their abominable deeds followed as the consequence : (Rom. i.) had they loved to retain God in their knowledge, such abominations would have been prevented.
I have made the above observations to shew that if we would bring men to fear, trust in, love, and obey God, we must do all we can to lead them to just views of his character and designs; and that if we would be instrumental in preserving the rising generation from infidelity, vice, and misery, it must be by the same means.
I fear many persons have been disaffected to God and his governinent by the shocking representations which have too frequently been given of the divine character : something of this kind l experienced in my childhood, of which I will add a short account.
My mind was seriously and religiously affected from the earliest period of my recollection; but the ideas conveyed' to me respecting God and his government, instead of producing love and confidence in him,'excited horror and dread in my mind.
It was either in the seventh or eighth year of any age, that I was one day left for some time by myself; the thoughts of God, death, and an endless hell rushed upon me. From what I had heard upon thoše subjects, the following reflections arose in my mind
“ God is a being extremely difficult to please, and unbounded in his severity towards those who displease him: there is no probability of my avoiding his displeasure; and if I displease him, he will give me into the hands of the devil, who, like a jailor, must keep me in hold, and torment me to all eternity. What a good thing it would be if there was no God, or if the devil was God for whai he does is by the appointment of God, who delivers offending mortals over to him to be tormented." And I uttered words expressive of those dreadful thoughts, My infant mind was in the greatest anguish, and for years after I was at times in the greatest horror at the remembrance of having conceived and given vent to such blasphemous thoughts : but my having been told that if I displeased God he would cease to love me, and cast me into hell fire, there to be tormented by the devil to all eternity, produced them.
Had I been led to understand that God can never cease to love or seek the good of any part of his works--that whatever he had prohibited my doing was from love, because he knew the doing of it would be injurious, not to him, but to me that whatever he had commanded me to do was not from any personal advantage which he could derive from my doing it, but from a regard to my happiness--that he loved me with the tenderest affection, and would never suffer me to be subjected to any pain, but with a view, to my advantage - I certainly should have felt very differently, and the thought that his existence and government were inimical to the happiness of any of his creatures, could never have obtruded itself upon my mind.
I recommend the advocates for divine implacability, vindictive justice, eternal wrath, and endless misery, seriously to enquire whether they be not the unintentional instruments of exciting atheistical and blasphemous thoughts in the minds of their fellow creatures.
ON THE FIRST SIN OF ADAM,
WITH ITS EFFECTS.
A LETTER TO A FRIEND.
YOURS I received, and should be glad if I could answer your
questions on original sin, &c. to any good purpose. In this, as in all points, we ought,, as far as we are able, “justify the ways of God to men," to be exceedingly careful we do not err on the right hand or on the left, never 10 say any thing which may suggest an idea of unrighteousness in the character of the most high God, as though he had placed the creature in such a state and under such circumstances as to make sin unavoidable, and thereby extenuate the crime; nor, en