Page images


ten thee.' • This Is HE THAT, after the Jews had long expected him, CAME, first in a mortal body, BY baptism of WATER, AND then in an immortal one by shedding his Blood upon the cross, and rising again from the dead ; NOT BY WATER ONLY, BUT BY WATER AND BLOOD; being the Son of God, as well by his resurrection from the dead, Acts xiii. 33. as by his supernatural birth of the Virgin, Luke i, 35. AND IT IS THE SPIRIT also that, together with the water and blood, BEARETH WITNESS of the truth of his coming ; BECAUSE THE SPIRIT IS TRUTH ; and so a fit and unexceptionable witness. FOR THERE ARE THREE THAT BEAR RECORD of his coming; SPIRIT, which he promised to send, and which was shed forth upon us in the form of cloven tongues, and in various gifts; The baptism of WATER, wherein God testified, “This is my beloved Son ; AND THE shedding of his blood, accompanied with his resurrection, whereby he became the most faithısul martyr or witness of this truth. AND THESE THREE, the spirit, the baptism, and passion of Christ, AGREE IN witnessing One and the same thing, namely, that the Son of God is come, and, therefore, their evidence is strong; for the law requires but two consenting witnesses, and here we have three.

AND IF WE RECEIVE THE WITNESS OF MEN, THE threefold witNESS OF GOD, which he bare of his Son, by declaring at his baptism, “This is my beloved Son;' by raising him from the dead, and by pouring out his spirit on us, IS GREATER ; and therefore ought to be more readily received."

XXXVI. Thus is the sense plain and natural, and the argument full and strong; but, if you insert the testimony of “the Three in heaven," you interrupt and spoil it. For the whole design of the apostle being here to prove to men by witness the truth of Christ's coming, I would ask how the testimony of 6 the Three in heaven” makes to this purpose. If their testimony be not given to men, how does it prove to them the truth of Christ's coming ? If it be, how is the testimony in heaven distinguished from that on earth? It is the same spirit which witnesses in heaven and in earth. If in both cases it witnesses to us men, wherein lies the difference between its witnessing in heaven, and its witnessing in earth ? If, in the first case, it does not witness to men, to whom doth it witness ? And to what purpose ? And how does its witnessing make to the design of St John's discourse ? Let them make good sense of it, who are able. For my part, I can make none.

If it be said that we are not to determine what is scripture, and what not, by our private judgments; I confess it in places not controverted; but in disputable places, I love to take up with what I can best understand. It is the temper of the hot and superstitious part of mankind, in matters of religion, ever to be fond of mysteries; and for that reason, to like best what they understand least.

Such men may use the apostle John as they please ; but I have that honour for him, as to believe that he wrote good sense ; and therefore take that sense to be his, which is the best; especially since I am defended in it by so great authority. For I have on my side the authority of the Fourth General Council, and, so far as I know, of all the churches in all ages, except the modern Latin, and such others as have lately been influenced by them; and that also of all the old versions, and Greek manuscripts, ard ancient Latin ones; and nothing against me, but the authority of Jerome, and the credulity and heat of his followers.

For to tell us of other manuscripts, without ever letting us know in what libraries they were to be seen; to pretend manuscripts, which, since their first discovery, could never be heard of; nor were then seen by persons whose names and credit we know; is plainly to impose on the learned world, and ought not to pass any longer for plain dealing. The Spaniards tell us plainly that they followed the Latin, and by the authority of Thomas left out the clause, “And these Three are One," in the eighth verse, as inserted by the Arians. And yet St Ambrose, St Austin, Eucherius, and other Latins, in the Arian age, gathered the unity of the Deity from this clause; and the omission of it is now, by printing it, acknowledged to be an erroneous correction. The manuscript in England wanted the same clause, and therefore, if there was any such MS, it was a corrected one, like the Spanish edition, and the manuscript of Valesius. Erasmus, who printed the triple testimony in heaven by that English manuscript, never saw it; tells us it was a new one; suspected its sincerity ; and accused it publicly in his writings on several occasions, for several years together; and yet his adversaries in England never answered his accusation ; never endeavoured to satisfy him and the world about it ; did not so much as let us know, where the record might be consulted for confuting him; but, on the contrary, when they had got the Trinity into his edition, threw by their manuscript, if they had one, as an almanac out of date. And can such shuffling dealings satisfy considering men ? Let manuscripts at length be produced, and freely exposed to the sight of the learned world ; but let such manuscripts be produced as are of authority; or else let it be confessed, that whilst Jerome pretended to correct the Latin by the Greek, the Latins have corrected both the Latin and the Greek by the sole authority of Jerome.



On the Text concerning the Mystery of Godliness

manifest in the Flesh. 1. What the Latins have done to the foregoing, the Greeks have done to that of St Paul, 1 Timothy iii. 16. For by changing • into oc, the abbreviation of oeds, they now read, “ Great is the mystery of godliness; GOD manifested in the flesh.” Whereas all the churches for the first four or five hundred years, and the authors of all the ancient versions, Jerome, as well as the rest, read, “Great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh.” For this is the common reading of the Ethiopic, Syriac, and Latin versions to this day ; Jerome's manuscripts having given him no occasion to correct the old vulgar Latin in this place. Grotius adds the Arabic, but the Egyptian Arabic version has Ords; and so has the above mentioned Sclavonian version of Cyrillus ; for these two versions were made long after the sixth century, wherein the corruption began. With the ancienter versions agree the writers of the first five centuries, both Greeks and Latins. For they, in all their discourses to prove the Deity of the Son, never allege this text, that I can find, as they would all have done, and some of them frequently, had they read “God manifested in the flesh;" and therefore they read ő. Ter

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »