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limits by the general reception of Griesbach's Text among those who have any competent acquaintance with sacred criticism; and as I have uniformly endeavoured to follow it, I have not thought it necessary to justify the readings which I have used. For a summary view of the grounds on which it rests for its great superiority over the Received Text, (and also for a general justification of departures from the Public Version where incorrect or obscure,) I beg leave to refer the reader to my Discourses lately published, On the Genuineness, Integrity, and Public Version of the New Testament *, and I feel a pleasure in bringing forwards for the same purpose, the opinion of a writer in the Eclectic Review (March 1809), who cannot be supposed to be in any way biassed by a predilection for Unitarian tenets. “We "hazard nothing in saying, that the venerable professor
(Griesbach) has achieved that honourable and necessary work, which has been for ages wanting, of li
berating the sacred text of the N. T. from unautho“rized intrusion and alterations ; and that he has exhi"bited it in a state so nearly approaching to its original " and native form, as to exclude all probable expecta"tion of any material improvement from future colla. "tions and critical labours."
In those passages in which I have left the Public Version, I have uniformly had in view, to make my renderings correct and literal. In a very few instances, howe
* It can scarcely be necessary to inform the readers of this volume, that in the Introduction to the Improved Version they will find a masterly and luminous summary of the chief points of criticism respecting the text of the New Testament.
ever, I have been obliged, in order to convey the foree of the original, to give up that closeness of translation, which the peculiarities of the two languages nost usually allow; for instance, p. 184.
It is my full and firm conviction, that the opinions which I have stated in p. 7, 8, are the doctrines of the Gospel ; and I shall rejoice if my present labours should establish others in the same conviction; not only because I regard them as evangelical truth, but because I believe that many of the opinions which must be false if these are true, are of very injurious tendency, and materially check the exercise of some of our best affections. Yet I cannot conclude without observing, that, after all, Christian obedience is the true test of Christian principle; and though it cannot be made a correct test of the truth of religious opinion, yet no one can doubt, that he is niost a Christian, who is most obedient to the precepts of Jesus, and most imbibes his spirit ; that he will taste most of the present blessings of that mind which was in Jesus ; and will be most approved and honoured by him, when “ all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation."
Exeter, September, 1809.
DOCTRINE OF THE GOSPEL,
Requisites for any Doctrine to be received as
Christian Doctrine.-Plain and obvious Sense of Scripture.-Person and Office of our Saviour. - Importance of his Sufferings and Death. Factitious Obstacles to the Spread of Unitarianisma. --Chief Opinions respecting the Nature of Jesus which oppose the Unitarian Doctrine.
The New Testament contains a faithful record of inspired doctrine, or, in other words, of the re ! velation of the will of God, communicated to mankind by Jesus Christ, either directly or through
I take this term, throughout these sheets, in its more limited, and at present more common acceptation, as including not only the proper unity of God, but the proper (or simple) humanity of Jesus.
his Apostles. This will be admitted by almost all of those who admit the divine origin of Christianity: and it necessarily follows, that no opinion, however true, " is to be received as Christian doctrine, unless it can be directly proved, or clearly inferred, from” the New Testament. On the other hand, to authorize the admission of any opinion as Christian doctrine, the following conditions are requisite: first, that the words on which the doctrine is founded, be contained in a book written by an Apostle, or by one who was a competent evidence as to the words which he relates as the words of Jesus or an Apostle ;-secondly, that there be no reasonable ground for believing that the words in question did not really proceed from the writer of the book ;--thirdly, that the words be the words of Jesus himself, or of one acting under his immediate authority and direction ; fourthly, that it should be sufficiently clear, that in using these words, our Lord (or the Apostle) used them in the sense affixed to them; and fifthly, that the speaker was declaring a truth in order to reveal or sanction ith. For instance, (1) if it cannot be satisfactorily shown that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by an Apostle', no
6 The reader is requested to bear in mind, that this is said in reference to doctrines, not to precepts of duty.
And that it cannot, must, I think, be obvious to every one who fully examines the evidence for its genuineness. On this point the reader is referred to Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 245, &c. I do not think that Michaelis has allowed its full weight to tlie evidence for the genuineness : yet taking into account the great deficiency of historical evidence
opinion which depends for its authority on that book alone, ought to be admitted as Christian doctrine: (2) If any opinion rest for its authority solely upon the common reading of Acts xx. 28, “the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood, it is not Christian doctrine, because the true reading is, the church of the Lord,' &c. : (3) Agreeably to the third position, the assertion that Jesus being a man made himself God", affords no adequate ground for admitting the hypothesis of two natures in the person of Jesus to be Christian doctrine, because it was a mere assertion of the Jews, in justification of their malicious attack
till we pass the times of Origen (near the middle of the third century), the historical evidence against it, and the material differences which are observable between both the language and the manner of this Epistle and those of the acknowledged Epistles of Paul, I think it more probable that this Epistle was not written by Paul; and even leaving out of account the internal evidence, the genuineness of the epistle appears to me involved in great uncertainty.
66 After all then,” says Michaelis, we must confess, that we do not know, whether St. Paul wrote this epistle, or not. An absolute decision on this subject is indeed to be wished, but in my opinion not to be obtained.” Even Lardner, who de. cidedly inclines to the opinion that the Epistle was written by Paul, classes it with ihose which “ should be reckoned doubtful and contradicted; though many might be of opinion, that there is a good deal of reason to believe them genuine, Of these (viz. the Epistle to the Hebrews, that of James, the second of Peter, the second and third of John, that of Jude, and the Revelation,) the same writer says " they should be allowed to be publicly read in Christian assemblies, for the edification of the people; but not alleged, as affording, alone, sufficient proof of any doctrine,"
John x. 33.- In the following verse our Lord shows that if he had made himself God, he should have been justified in so doing by the Scriptures.