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one has dared to pretend that there is any such manuscript existing, in any part of the globe.”
It seems the challenge was given “ to produce a decent Greek manuscript, ancient or modern." It is acknowledged by my opponent himself, that there are three Greek manuscripts which contain the passage ; namely, “the Berlin, the Dublin and that of Matthæi.” It is admitted that they have existed ever since the fifteenth century; and, if they are not entitled to the high character of ancient, surely they may be called modern Greek manuscripts. As the challenge is, “to produce either ancient or modern Greek manuscripts,” they could not have been set aside on the ground of their age. But it was, perhaps on account of not being decent, that they were rejected by Griesbach ; or for that reason the Trinitarian divines did not dare present them. To illustrate this case, the gentleman says, “ The Dublin manuscript is a transcript, in part, of Cardinal Zimminie's edition, and contains its typographical mistakes.” He says likewise, the Greek manuscript of Matthæi, is only a copy of the printed editions of Erasmus and Beza."
But why should printed editions of the Scriptures be copied into Greek manuscripts, unless it were to give the appearance of authenticity to the text in debate ? Such insinuations, are implications of Trinitarian honesty, but no hints must be given by us, that Anti-Trinitarians have ever had any inclination, to lay unhallowed hands on the Oracles of God. If we would only believe their word, however, their time and eminent learning, have been piously occupied in purifying the Scriptures, from Trinitarian adulterations. But
my opponent goes on to say," The Dublin manuscript is not earlier than the 15th century, probably forged by the British divines, to deceive Erasmus; and induce him to put 1 John 5. 7, into his Greek Testament." He then asserts,—“ So the only three Greek manuscripts in existence, which contain the passage of the three heavenly witnesses, are all written since the invention of the art of printing; for which no cause can be assigned, that I know of, except the base and wicked design of manufacturing authority for a vile interpolation, which has not the countenance of a solitary Greek manuscript on earth." The modesty of these assertions is submitted to my heafers. Admitting, however, that the gentleman's statement correct, it is far from settling the subject in dispute. If such Greek manuscripts, as Griesbach requires, are not to be found now, this does not prove that there never have been any, neither does it invalidate the historical testimony which is adduced in my sermons.
You see my opponent allows the dignified name of Greek manuscripts, to 109. only; but, that is not one to a thousand which must have existed since the apostolic age.
In ancient times, every Arian public library might have been furnished with such a manuscript of the Scriptures; and so might every family of that community, whose property was adequate to the expense of writing it. In the eastern section of the Christian world, manuscripts and versions, without the text in debate, were probably numerous; and the church in the western section, might have been less careful in preserving what are now deemed the only proper vouchers of the true reading of the Scriptures. From an excessive fondness of the Latin language, the church of Rome, preferred the Vulgate version to all others. This might have made them very indifferent about securing the Greek manuscripts which contained the text. There is no great want of it in the Latin manuscripts, which were used in the western section of Christendom; where the gentleman says, Arianism did not so generally prevail.
Since the art of printing has been in operation, there must be an agreement in all the copies and editions of the Scriptures. It was otherwise when all depended on the pen. A manuscript then, could easily have been formed according to the mind of the writer, and of those, for whose use the copy was designed. It might lie, in such hands for ages, without being exposed to the critical eye of any one who would compare it with other manuscripts, or expose its inaccuracies to the world. As this may have been the case, the internal character of a given text is, the best evidence of its spuriousness or authenticity. On this ground, the passage in debate stands high, bearing the marks of divinity and agreement with the. Scriptures in general; as has been largely proved in my discourses on the subject.
But my opponent proceeds to say of the Greek manuscripts, that two of them “are considered by the learned, as holding the first rank, in respect to age and correct
These are called, the Vatican and Alexandrian manuscripts." He “the Vatican manuscript stands first, in point of seniority, and other circumstances, which give dignity to its character.” Mr. Emlyn, however, who is a distinguished Anti-Trinitarian, gives the first rank to the Alexandrian copy, according to the authorities which I have consulted. The gentleman places the age of the Vatican manuscript very high-even up to the beginning of the third century: but, I think the evidence, on which this opinion is founded, is vague and uncertain, consisting principally in the conjectures of men who wish to give it weight on that account.
The author quoted by me, says-“The most ancient Greek manuscript which is now known to exist, is the Alexandrian, for which, Wetstein, who seems to have considered the question with great attention, claims no higher
antiquity than the close of the fifth century.” If this account is correct, it was made when Arianism was in the very zenith of its triumph; and made in the east, that very part of the world where my opponent says, Arianism “more generally prevailed.”
There is one circumstance, which greatly confirms me in the belief, that the Alexandrian and Vatican manuscripts, are of Arian origin and character; and that is, their reading of Rev. 1. 10, 11. In the English translation, St. John says in that passage_“I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “ I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book.” This passage is of as much importance in relation to the supreme Deity of Christ, as 1 John, 5. 7, is, in respect to the Trinity in unity; and they are both completely silenced by these manuscripts.
On this text, Dr. Doddridge says_“It has done more than any other in the Bible, toward preventing me from giving in to that scheme, which would make our Lord Jesus Christ no more than a deified creature.” “His remarks as to the effect of this passage on his own mind, shews its weight in supporting the proper Divinity of the Redeemer ; and we see how completely these famous manuscripts enervate its force and eclipse its glory on that subject
But the writers of these ancient manuscripts, in making them to read so contrary to our translation, have, I think, rendered their accuracy very suspicious.
Every reader may see at once, that the three first chapters in the book of Revelation, are very remarkable in the manner of their composition. There are seven churehes addressed, in seven distinct epistles. In the commencement of each epistle, some of the names, perfections and operations of Christ are mentioned, to turn the
apostle's attention to his majesty, authority and glory. “To the angel,” or minister of the church of Ephesus," he is directed to “ write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden sandlesticks.-And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead and is alive.--And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he who hath the sharp sword with two edges.--And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.—And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.--And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.-And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”
Can we imagine that our Lord would speak of himself in such a glorious manner, in each of these seven epistles, and yet, when he entered into conversation with St. John, respecting these churches in general, speak in the naked manner in which his address appears, in the Alexandrian and Vatican manuscripts; "saying” only, “ what thou seest, write in a book :" without giving himself
distinguishing names, perfections, or operations? I really think, that, if 1 John, 5. 7, “ bears the marks of forgery upon its very countenance ;" Rev. 1. 11,“ bears," in these manuscripts, the visible “ marks” of mutilation-a mutilation which leaves it divested of that glory and majesty, with which it is clothed in our translation-a mutilation