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every good resolution, and assisted in every pious effort-that our souls and bodies may daily become holier and yet more holy temples for the Spirit that dwelleth in them-and that Jesus Christ, being the chief cor
ner-stone, the building fitly framed together may grow unto an holy temple in the Lord, and that thus may we be builded together for an habitation of God through Jesus Christ. T. R.
To the Editor of the Remembrancer. been allegorizing the eighth verse,
THE next general accusation, which I have to urge against the espousers of the disputed passage, is, that in all their attempts to confirm its authenticity, they constantly take refuge in those intrenchments which have been already demolished and completely thrown down. This is observable wherever I cast my eye. In the long extract, which is brought from Ittigius by the bishop of St. David's, for the purpose of setting aside in St. Cyprian the allegorical interpretation of the eighth verse; as well for disproving the assertion of Simon, that before the times of Victor, Vitensis, and Fulgentius, no Christian Father had ever cited this verse of St. John; we find nothing further advanced, by way of argument, than the old controverted testimony of St. Cyprian again; and some trivial objections to the mode of expounding that father, as adopted by Facundus. Now the testimony of St. Cyprian, as I have previously remarked, extends no farther than to the words, Tres unum sunt; words which, according to the Latin version itself, are as much a part of the eighth as they are of the seventh verse; and which that father would never have quoted alone by themselves, had there been in his text any express mention of the persons, Father, Word, and Spirit, as they now stand in the interpolation. But as to the frivolous objection started by Ittigius, that, if Cyprian had
he would have been led to speak of the three persons of the Trinity in an order different from that which he has actually followed; there will be no room for the least exception of this kind, if we allow him only to have construed his Greek, in the manner in which, I think he must have construed it; and in which, I strenuously maintain, it ought to be construed at this day. For there are three who bear testimony, as to the spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are for one. Here the three baptismal witnesses of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are suggested to the mind of the Apostle by the occurrence of the water, and the blood, and the spirit, in the preceding verses; and, though from the superior dignity of its nature, the spirit, either by John himself, or by some later hand, is made to take the precedence of the water and the blood; yet was St. Cyprian naturally right in following the order of the baptismal formula, even on the supposition, that in his copy of the epistle, the term, spirit, stood the first in order, as it does with us; and not the last, as in some authorities which I have noticed.
To the above extremely weak and highly unsatisfactory arguments of Ittigius I must subjoin the subsequent paragraph, as copied into the Remembrancer from the bishop of St. David's.
The whole of the external ar. gument from the absence of the verse in the Greek manuscripts, and from the silence of the Greek
Fathers, will avail nothing, .if it can be proved, that the verse was ever extant in the most ancient Greek copies of the original epistle of St. John. That it was so extant, Mill, Bengelius, and others affirm on the authority of the Latin version, and the the express citation of the verse by Cyprian.'
Here the projected proof of the verse having been once extant in the most ancient Greek copies of the epistle of St. John, dwindles into the peremptory affirmation of Mill, Bengelius, and others, that it was so, on the authority of the Vulgate, and the testimony of St. Cyprian. It has always been to me matter of the most painful regret to see so many of our first champions, in the field of criticism, bringing their very profession into disrepute and contempt, by an obstinate perseverance in maintaining what cannot possibly be maintained, without renouncing at the same time those fundamental principles, on which all sober criticism is of necessity established. To such scholars as Mill and Bengelius it could not have been unknown; and to my lord of St. David's, I am sure it must be perfectly known, that, though by the decision of the Council of Trent the seventh verse is now become a canonical part of the Latin version; yet, before the invention of printing, many of the most ancient and valuable of the Latin manuscripts did not contain the interpolation: and that, if the first printers of the Latin version as well as of the Greek original had dealt uprightly and fairly with the Christian world, the passage of the Heavenly Witnesses would have been consigned to oblivion long before the commencement of the nineteenth century. For the Latin editors, indeed, there was some excuse; as the major part of their then existing manuscripts, probably contained the passage: nevertheless, when they saw, that even their own manuscripts differed; and above all, when they considered, that it was
to be found neither in the Greek original, nor in any of those ancient versions, which had been severally and independently made from the very oldest of the Greek manuscripts; if they had been influenced by Christian sobriety and modesty, they would either have discarded the interpolation altogether; or, at least, have inserted it in the text with some accompanying mark of suspicion and doubtfulness. But, if such be the case, then the passage in question has little or no more right to be in the Vulgate than in any other authorized version of the New Testament; how, I would ask, can we argue with Mill, Bengelius, and the Bishop of St. David's, that, because on the first impression of the Vulgate it was actually existing in many of the Latin manuscripts; therefore, it must needs have been in the Greek original, from which the Vulgate was first made? The acknowledged and incontrovertible fact, that many of the very oldest of the Latin manuscripts contained it not, dashes this argument head and tail to the ground. To retain and to propa gate the Heavenly Witnesses, when once clandestinely inserted, there would naturally arise in the mind of the transcriber a pious and zealous wish; and, I may also add, a certain religious scruple, lest by wilfully discarding so striking a mention of the three persons of the Godhead, he should be incurring some guilt; but for the deliberate and wanton omission of the whole verse in copying from one manuscript into another, and that too in an age and part of Christendom in which the sacred doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity was held in such sovereign esteem, there could be no possible motive whatever; and, if not wilfully and purposely omitted, then it must have been equally wanted in those still older manuscripts from which the new transcripts were made.
There are some statements by the Bishop of St. David's, which I am
somewhat at a loss to comprehend; such as, that during the first three centuries there is no external evidence against the verse; and, that for the first fifteen centuries of the Christian Church, during all the controversies of the conflicting parties, no suspicion was ever raised of corruption or interpolation in the Latin version of this passage. Now this, if I rightly comprehend it, goes to the length, first, of assuming, that the passage in dispute, generally speaking, was in all the Latin copies from the very first promulgation of the Christian code; and, then, of inferring, that, if it had not been a genuine text, it would have been openly opposed by the Fathers of the first ages. But that the verse ever found its way at all into any of the Latin manuscripts till the beginuing of the eighth century, is a supposition which I stoutly deny; and which I have already confuted with arguments that I should be happy to see disproved, before any such assumption as that of my lord of St. David's can be suffered to obtain. How, in the name of common sense, could the Fathers, in their several disputations, have objected to the genuineness of the passage, if the passage was never produced; and how could it ever be produced, if it was not in the Epistle? Surely that is a most unpardonable way of vindicating the Heavenly Witnesses, to assume contrary to the clearest evidence, that the verse always had a place in the Latin canon; and then again to deduce from the silence of the Fathers, another argument for its genuineness; when it is that very general and universal silence of the primitive Fathers, which more especially militates against its authenticity, and condemus it for an interpolation.
Nearly allied to the above shadows of argument is that delusive hope, with which the supporters of the passage still cherish the thought, that additional evidence may be yet
obtained from a further search into the uncollected manuscripts; and that there will soon be little or no occasion to doubt of its authenticity. But, I would ask, have not these Heavenly Witnesses been a most interesting question amongst the learned ever since the age of Erasmus? During this long inter., val, has not every sacred critic and antiquarian, catholic as well as protestant, whenever an old manu-. script containing the epistle fell in his way, had the curiosity to examine, whether it contained the disputed passage or not? And is it probable, that if any thing further could have been alleged from ancient manuscripts towards establishing its authenticity, so welcome a discovery would have been so long concealed from the Christian world? So far then, from cherishing any hope, that the evidence for it may yet derive some accession of strength from future researches; I argue the very contrary; that, as nothing hitherto, after so long an interval, has been found; so nothing in future will be found, to save it from that sentence of condemnation to which it has been so generally and so justly consigned.
There ought not, surely, to be any stress laid on the circumstance, that in the Syriac version the eighth verse is connected by a copulative conjunction. For admitting this always to have been the case, the Syriac copulative, like the Hebrew and the Ethiopic, is of too various and uncertain application to authorize any weighty inference from it, in a matter of verbal criticism. If the statement which I have translated from the Armenian editor in a preceding communication, be precisely correct, and worthy of being strictly relied upon; neither the Syriac, nor the Arabic, nor the Armenian version, according to the copies which were lying before him, had any conjunction at all. In the Coptic version, certainly, we have the causal conjunction only, as in
the Greek and the Latin; and, whether we insist on retaining the Syriac copulative or not, seeing that it may signify, for, as well as, and; affects not the question about the Heavenly Witnesses.
I have perused what Epiphanius says concerning the Alogi, and come to the same conclusion with my lord of St. David's; that these Alogi rejected all the writings of St. John; not that they despised the authority of St. John, but because they denied, that he had ever written any such books. I cannot, however, hence collect any confirmation; but rather a confutation of the Heavenly Witnesses. For, if they rejected the whole of the Apocalypse on account of the solitary instance in which the term Word, is once applied to Christ; well might they reject the first Epistle; since, in the very opening of it, Christ is expressly denominated the Word of Life. Besides, if the disputed passage had been actually at that time in the Epistle of St. John, and had occasioned, as it must have done, offence to these Alogi; it is something more than probable, that Epiphanius would have adverted to the circumstance, and have left some remarks on the passage itself.
I perfectly accord, however, with his lordship in the justness and ac. curacy of his grammatical strictures in reply to Dr. Pye Smith. The Greek original of the eighth verse appears to me to have been misunderstood and misconstrued from the very first; and, by being mistranslated into other tongues, necessarily caused such doubt and perplexity, that the Fathers in general were unwilling to meddle with it; and, when they did take notice of it, were totally at a loss what to do with it. The exceptions, however, which his lordship has drawn together from a consideration of the context, apply not to the manner in which I construe the eighth verse: and what is more, by re
garding the spirit, the water, and the blood, as having afforded the occasion of the testimony being given, but not as having given the testimony themselves; I keep clear of that most unintelligible and inexplicable theology of the water and the blood bearing any kind of actual testimony to the divine mission of Christ. The Spirit of God, indeed, from the diversity of its forms and operations, can either afford the occasion of divine testimony being given; or can give it itself: and in both these ways it was subservient to the Messias. For when it descended in a bodily shape, and under the form of a dove alighted upon his head, it did not thereby of itself afford any actual testimony, that Jesus was the Christ; but it immediately gave occasion to testimony being given by John the Baptist; and from that moment the Holy Ghost began to bear public testimony to the divine mission of our Lord in the miracles which he wrought. I need scarcely add, that, as I restrict the water to that particular water of his Baptism, and the blood to that particular blood which he shed upon the cross; so the Spirit in this verse I restrict to that visible and bodily appearance of the Spirit which alighted and rested upon him, when he was baptized in the Jordan.
Though, I think, I have already replied to every thing in the Remembrancer, which meets the eye, under the shape of an argument; yet as there is an erroneous attempt to support the interpolation from the testimony of the Rabbinical school, I shall just consider, what that testimony is. It seems, then, that Mr. Nolan and Dr. Hales recite from the most ancient Rabbinical Books the phrase, The three are one; with its Rabbinical exposition. There are three ones, and lo! they are one; which, it is thought not only furnishes the identical clausule of the seventh verse; but points to the source from which the
Apostle had derived it. Now admitting, that Mr. Nolan and Dr. Hales know something of what they are here descanting upon; and that they are not, like the common herd of authors, making a borrowed display of their Rabbinical learning at the third, or the fourth, or, perhaps, the fifth hand; what is there in that cabalistic phraseology, I pray, which does not apply to the clausule of the eighth verse equally with that of the seventh? I probably have read more Jewish literature of this complexion, than Mr. Nolan and Dr. Hales, put both together, ever saw with their eyes; but I do not remember having any where met with the precise phrase, The three are one; though I readily grant, that, in my volumes on the Doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, I have produced expressions, which, in reference to the three persons of the Godhead, amount to the same thing. The phrase, The ten are one, is much more likely to occur in a cabalistic author than the precise phrase, The three are one; as stated in the Remem brancer. The chief complaint, however, is, that the seventh verse derives no more confirmation than the eighth from this Rabbinical illus
I have now to thank you, Mr. Editor, for the manly candour with which you have given such ready admission to the insertion of my papers. Indeed the chief delicacy which I felt in stepping forward on this occasion, was, lest I should be appearing to thwart the noble efforts of that illustrious ornament of the English episcopate, the present Bishop of St. David's, against the venom of the Unitarians. But since it is the duty of every Chrstian Priest to reject an interpolation no less than to defend the genuine text; that great and learned prelate, for whom I feel both veneration and gratitude, will, I am sure, be the first to give me credit for the sin cerity of my motives.
THE only thing of which I have to complain in both the letters of your correspondent, T. M. is the inference which he has proceeded to draw from one of my concessions in favour of the heavenly witnesses. I certainly have said amongst other things, that, if the advocates of the disputed verse could point out to me any one authentic and important passage of the New Testament, which had been equally passed over in silence by all the Greek and Latin Fathers, I would admit, not, as T. M. has made me speak, the authenticity of the verse; but the reasonableness of allowing it to remain in the sacred canon, on the
simple ground, that it might possibly have been, at one time, in the Greek and other texts, though afterwards not to be found. In this I am met by your correspondent, T. M. who tells me, that there is the twentieth verse of the very same chapter, containing a clause of great importance in the many controversies respecting the divinity of Christ, during the second and third centuries; and yet it was never quoted by any of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. That there is, likewise, 1 Tim. iii. 16. of which Sir Isaac Newton, speaking of the writers of the first five centuries, affirms, that in all their discourses to prove the deity of the Son, they never allege